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Monthly Archives: August 2009

tea leaves

Since starting Cinemaelectronica as a blog I’ve been able to track to some degree the internet search methodology which seems to guide people to a given site.  For example, since posting the items on Tehran, I’d say the number of hits on average have been doubled, with the new ones concentrated mostly on those two items labeled Tehran #1 & #2.  On a more detailed level there have been a lot of hits for various spellings of Molotov cocktail, as on one of the Tehran posts was printed a diagram on how to make one.   There seem to be a handful a day of these.  Likewise, though I don’t know which images or words prompted the hits, there are daily a handful of porn oriented looks.  Perhaps from the items on Aureaus Solito’s film, Boy, or an image from Imburnal  This random array of looks makes me wonder just what those searchers think when they arrive – are some hooked into other interests, or do they scurry on to the hard-core they need at the moment?   Do they get a bottle out of the closet and some rags and construct a little flame bomb?   Or, on a deeper level, does the spike in molotov cocktail hits suggest an underlying political impulse?  In Iran or elsewhere?  Or is it a police swoop?

As a little probe, maybe the posting of something like big boobs:


would bring in a few hundred quickly disappointed lurkers.

Or cockncuntor hot cock


I would guess the hits once this has been posted will tilt wildly to the porn side of things.  Or, to make matters messier, perhaps a listing of  American Right Wing buzz words would bring in a flush of others:

Obama = Nazi

Obama = Socialist

medical reform = socialism

blackwater heli over baghdad

Of course, if we’re not careful one of Blackwater’s helicopters might swoop down for a bit of extreme renditioning.  Though these days it would be XE’s helicopter as the privatized military force which Blackwater was has done a name change, though the policies remain the same.   As the slow curdle of the recent past comes boiling up, the top scum has them engaged in out-sourced torture and assassinations for the CIA, the better to absolve Uncle Sam for responsibility for “bad” things.   It is against the law for the American government to engage in assassinations.  Erik Prince, its former CEO of Blackwater/XE should maybe commence to look over his shoulder, if he, by nature of his business, did not start doing so some time ago.

Much of the traffic also seems to come by cultural surfing:  lots of Joel Sternfeld, Vermeer, Guston, Basquiat, Koons…




Or in architecture, hits for Foster, Richard Rogers

ghurkin foster

In a few days I’ll leave Matera behind for now, fly to Seoul.  Another teaching term arrives and lots to do.  For the moment we leave the tea-leave reading to others.




“This court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent….  Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached.”     Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

saez07 stat on income inequity biggerIn the past years, while the Republicans chronically screamed about “class warfare” as soon as one pointed out the stagnant or falling income levels of the middle-class, or noted that there was indeed a large way-under-middle-class segment of the US population, the oligarchy which controls America – its government, its corporations, its legal system, its economic system, its press – orchestrated the above figures.   More and more of the populace owning less and less, while a thin cream at the top owns and controls ever more.   It happened, as the currently fashionable boiling-frog metaphor would have it, so slowly it wasn’t noticed.

  • Main Entry: ol·i·gar·chy
  • Pronunciation: \ˈä-lə-ˌgär-kē, ˈō-\
  • Function: noun
  • Inflected Form(s): plural ol·i·gar·chies
  • Date: 1542

1 : government by the few
2 : a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes; also : a group exercising such control
3 : an organization under oligarchic control

Webster’s Dictionary

With the fiscal crash of 2008, and the subsequent bail-out-the-banks “solution,” suddenly class-war is back on the front burner, especially as those trillion-plus bail-out bosses promptly rewarded themselves for their smooth con-job with still more bonuses, while others found themselves retreating to tent cities and waiting on food-lines.   Class war indeed.

marx & engelsEngels, Marx and wives

The present political furor over the matter of health care is basically an extension of this class warfare and its intricate minuet of orchestration from the top.    The shrieking of “Socialist!” and “Nazi!” provides an easily consumed mind-bite diversion, as swarthy gun-toting rednecks of the Fox “news” persuasion, goaded by the NRA, and supported by nice suit-and-tie Republican sorts drown out any discourse with rabble-rousing noise.  Tut-tut the nice liberals say, and health reform gets jiggled like a nice plate of Jello into a glistening political Rorschach test.   Distilled to its essence is that Republicans simply do not want the broad public to be healthy – they prefer them quivering, like the Jello, with fear, popping costly BigPharm mood pills to which they’ve become dependent, rolling their obese bodies in ambulatory vehicles down the supermarket aisles, and so exhausted by their Market Economy hampster-wheel devotion to more productivity with more hours to buy more things, that even under the most dire of circumstances they’re not prone to hit the streets or commence learning themselves the ins and outs of an AK-47, or building home-made bombs.   Fed and medicated into permanent Soma-land, whip-sawed by economic bubbles and bursts, propagandized 24/7, the great American public is pliable and compliant with its own destruction.   No “class warfare” from US:  the big corporations managed to get that one all sorted out.  Dumbed-down with edumacashun, punked out with political shell games, strung out on a plastic line of debt longer than your job, lost in a fog of pharmaceuticals and fine-printed on the insurance that just got canceled, Americans are prime sucker-bait, ripe for the final fleecing before the Titantic “best country in the whole world” (usually spoken by the great unwashed passport-free) sinks and the oligarchy – long ago fled via UBS and other off-shore accounts – counts its casino winnings while moving on to other realms ripe for the picking.

phil_gramm_0123Phil Gramm, former Texas Senator, BoD of UBS, etc. etc.

From Supreme Court Justices who mouth moral obscenities like Scalia and Thomas, to corporate shills like Phil Gramm, the American ruling oligarchy, follows the maxim of Lord John Dalberg-Acton (1887) and is utterly corrupt – morally, fiscally, politically.

“I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it. “[3]

james ensor


The other night, following the suggestion of Marcella and friend Joe Comerford, who said it was worth watching, I took a look via an internet download at Steve McQueen’s Hunger.   I’d seen a few of his installation works, and thought little (or less) of them, and a few small snippets of the film hadn’t nudged me into taking a look.  But Joe and Marcella gave enough oomph to things, so I sat down and watched, admittedly on the degraded internet version (not so bad actually).

I can’t say I thought it was a knock-out, though it was strong.  On the other hand a depiction of the reality depicted here in direct terms is a can’t-lose proposition, just like shooting death or sex.  There is something primal in us that finds these things, if shown directly, irresistible.   Hunger is a depiction of Bobby Sands, Irish IRA member, and his blanket and then hunger-strike-to-death.   McQueen for the most part shows this in blunt direct terms, and in this the film is most effective; it’s when he opts for more conventional modes that the film stumbles a touch – whether it be with an obvious and klutzy focus pull in one of the opening scenes (in a sink, a prison hack cooling his bloodied knuckles, that does a rack-focus pull to the drain) or in a few needless over-the-shoulder shots, and other nods to film ABC’s.

The lead actor, Michael Fassbender is strong, though it seems less his acting than his self-discipline in semi-starving himself into an Auschwitzian body, ribs sticking out in the end.   The make-up department did a good job for the most part in adorning him with parched lips, bedsores, and the gruesome signs of imminent death.  On the way Fassbender grows his hair long and a beard, has it cut, and does a long static single-take 17 minute or so conversation with a priest (unfortunately then marred with a few closeups of a cigarette and pack, and a shift to a more conventional bit of oblique angled cross-cutting) along with a few other talking parts (in sometimes difficult to understand for Americans Irish slang and pronunciation).  But mostly it is the physical aspect which strikes home.



McQueen’s directorial work is best when his installation mentality is brought to the fore: long static takes, as the one mentioned, or another in which a prison screw mops up the piss in the hallway of a cell block, where the striking IRA members have dumped it (and shit, rather artfully portrayed in the cell scenes, on the walls), and the shot holds as he approaches the camera from far back, virtually to the camera.  The orchestration of violence, and a touch of ambivalence about it is effective as dramatic orchestration, particularly an unexplained killing of the central prison screw when he is visiting his mom in an old folks home.   Remarked on by others were somewhat frequent cuts to very closeups of details, which were found interesting/strong – a view I don’t share: I found them somewhat obtrusive and obvious.  They didn’t carry that Bressonian ring for me.  In terms of time, the actual hunger-strike (which lasted 66 days) is contracted into a handful of scenes towards the end, and works more powerfully for the contraction.

Unfortunately all of this is somewhat spoiled with a somewhat sentimental ending as Bobby lays dying and hallucinates of his youth as a long distance runner, and we get a bit of soppy way-back-then (it wasn’t in the case so way back: Sands died at 26, having been elected as a Member of Parliament in his dying days) and a bit too much of a kind of didactic lesson that Bobby who ran harder than the others had a will of iron.   McQueen had a nice hallucinatory last shot out of the film which would have, I think, made it more powerful had he stopped then.  Instead we get a Mom and Dad deathbed visit, a final dead-body wheeled away, and the previously mentioned dissolves to sappy emotional heart-tug.

That said, it was a pretty good film, if not quite up to the raves it received in Cannes where it won Camera d’Or for first film.  Funded by UK’s Channel Four, it is a film which wouldn’t have found a dime in the US.  Being adamantly uncommercial at base, it is too bad either McQueen’s tastes let him put in the more conventional elements, or that he felt compelled to do so for audience reasons.  Hard as the film is, it would have been better if it were harder.

For you Americans, Hunger won’t be coming to a cinema near you.  Watch for festival listings or go on-line.

_44665048_hunger512McQueen directs Michael Fassbender

MATERAView from the window, periferia, Matera

Matera.  Blessedly cool, at an altitude of 800 meters or so, and after a torrid few weeks just before we arrived when the temperatures were 40c.   It is Ferragosto, a time in Italy when seemingly everyone flees to the beach or the mountains. In other places in Europe much the same occurs as massive traffic jams and crammed airports and vacated cities testify. As it really is almost everyone, much closes down in the cities and towns, and the urban masses migrate to cram the sands with tanning souls, there to chatter, fight, have little flings, disport their bodies whether beautiful or not, and otherwise escape for a week or two the humdrum of their ordinary lives.  Though in fact they simply continue the daily norm in another setting, minus the work (or its absence):  at the beach or mountain town they gather from 7-10pm or so for the passegiata, just as they would at home, strolling up and down whichever central street, chatting to the same people, night after night, about gossip, politics, and basically the same old thing.   In America the same people would inhabit the same bar, or cafe, to do much the same, though not with the same compulsory pressure that exits here.   Italians, being culturally highly social, like to congregate to talk at any excuse, and the concept of being alone is almost absent.  To be alone is to be without friends, to be shunned, in exile, and in this culture that is about the worst possible.  Hence the parade, 20 deep, of neatly laid out umbrellas, marching down the sands as far as the eye can see, each accompanied with a folding lounge seat, and a bill of so many Euro per half-day.  Come Ferragosto these are stuffed with families, cavorting, crying, laughing, sunning, all in the name of “fun” and vacanze.

When I lived in Rome this was my favorite time of year – a sudden quiet come to usually hectic streets, to walk virtually along in the deep August shadows, the world briefly turned into a vacant di Chirico or Antonioni world, cars and bodies gone, and something close to urban silence.


row1eclipseAntonioni’s “L’Eclisse”

[Note: new post up on paginasparaclara.]

gridJoseph Cornell

This week the stock markets, following the pattern of the last months, edged higher, to 9,300+, apparently encouraged by the flush of trillions of dollars of newly minted money printed by the Obama administration to stave off a Great Depression. To the dismay of rigorous market-economy rightists this government intervention, celebrated by economists as Nouriel Roubini, Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman as a proper Big Government action, has momentarily righted the sinking ship, giving the appearance of some stability. While applauding this correction, none of these economists are so sanguine as to suggest we are out of any woods. The stock market reaction is tainted with the reality that much of that crisp new money was slipped in the form of bonuses directly into the pockets of the very persons at AIG, Goldman Sachs, etc., whose reckless leveraging produced the crisis in the first place.

dow one year 08-09Dow Jones 2008-09

So, for the moment, instead of a headlong crash to the 5,000 Dow scale level, the market has crawled back from near 6,000 upward to the new figures. Congratulating themselves on surviving this near-death experience, the honchos of Wall Street are already rewarding themselves with bonus figures rivaling those of the glossy years of yore – a year or two ago. Their motto is surely Take While the Getting Is Good.

On Main Street it is another story, of course, though through the warped vision of Washington and the moneyed canyons of Manhattan, that story is celebrated as well:   this past month job losses were “only” 270,000, considerably down numerically from the 700,000+ losses of some months ago. As DC and the Street would have it, things are improving, though those quarter million pink-slipped families might not see it quite that way. And further, so say the economists, the official (farcical) unemployment rate improved a little, from 9.5% to 9.4%. Rah rah!

What they don’t tell you is that this little statistical burp occurred because a mere 450,000 on-paper Americans quit looking for work which they knew damned well wasn’t there, and in this act of ceasing to beat their heads against a wall, they erased themselves from the unemployment figures. Go figger. While it is only a rule-of-thumb, we can bet (unleveraged) that the real unemployment figures in the USA are double the official one, at minimum. Wall Street and the Beltway are whistling past the graveyard, but, just to be safe, grabbing while there’s something to grab. Bonus up, boys.

Meantime US consumer credit card debt is 2.7 trillion, a little hiccup in the balance sheets which recently has emerged as the next big threat after the housing bubble. Of course this makes a certain circular sense – many people, with their fantasies of ever more valuable assets in the form of a bubble-house, were given a free rein and duly spent, running up sizable debts. According to latest statistics, this cumulative debt is lessening as some pay-off.  August reports say this consumer debt is 10 billion less as credit card holders pay up. 10 billion is a very tiny slice of 2.7 trillion.  On the other hand banks just announced they’d made a killing mere 40 billion or so on over-due fees. When the jobless, houseless, credit-card-indebted new tent-dweller can’t be squeezed anymore, bankruptcy declaration or not, these trillions of minus money will tilt the bank ledgers once again. More dog-chases-tail.  Another too-big-to-fail bailout for the banks?   Meantime, to compensate for these fiscal fantasies, in exchange for the 7,000 square foot popcorn house bought with a subprime loan, many recently middle-class (so they thought) professionals are moving into 50 square foot tents in these temporary towns sprouting up all over.

tent city

As noted by some commentators, there is no evident end to this cycle, short of some kind of radical overhaul of America’s philosophy about how to go about life. As the recent ugly “town hall” fracases have shown, there is little space to maneuver for substantive “change” in this. While the drug makers and health-service-for-profit companies shell out to defeat any reform from their bonanza business, their shills shouting “socialism” to still all argument, there is scarcely a visible politician able to succinctly articulate what is really going on. Walk in most American’s home, make a bee-line for the bathroom cabinet, and open it or pull a drawer. There you will usually find a vast compendium of mysteriously labeled drugs, all “legal” to which the citizenry has long since become addicted habituated, and for which they run up $400 average annual, per capita (2002), in bills. Need we say this is skewed since a lot of people don’t have that money (perhaps because they spent it on multiple 6-packs of Hamms) so many are spending much much more than that. Bottom-line is that prescription drugs are just like the illegal ones, except they are socially sanctioned and pushed by massive advertising programs, but do just like the dealer’s do: they get you hooked. And like the corner dealer, the big pharma guys like to get you on and then drive up the prices and make a bundle thereby.

hirst drug store

Worry not, the doctor who prescribed for you this magical substance is on the take. The “health” business is the same except that being a “life or death” matter, the stakes are higher. And in turn, so is – in a culture which prizes profit over all else – the tendency to jack up the price. You really really really need this care, so you are told, and it’s going to cost you since you really really really need it. The sales pitch is clear. At the same time some corporate entity is selling you this line, its subsidiary has been busy peddling you the salt/sugar encrusted, scientifically calculated-to-addict-you hunks of puffed air for maximum profit for them and maximal damage to your bodily system to you. Dog chases tail again. The doctor’s office is open. If you have insurance.

muybridge_galloping_horseEadweard Muybridge

In old cowboy movies the good guys would mount their horses, cluster together, and someone would utter “Cut ’em off at the pass” and all would gallop away for a final shoot-out in some dead-end canyon. High Noon in the sage brush. These days the ambush comes from Rushbo’s and Glenn Becker’s, shrieking about government take-overs of your doctor, your guns, and (subtext) niggers screwing your daughters or rising beyond their station and getting fucking uppity. They’re cutting ’em off at the pass, and so far doing a good job of it, since the American political system is unable to have a meaningful conversation in a world in which the media is owned and controlled by the same people who run about everything else. We are the United States of Corporations, and the aim is maximum profit for an elite little few, and apparently, so myopic are these troglodytes of the grand Market Economy ideology, that for a short-term killing they’re game to lay waste to the entire nation. Presumably they’ll private-jet themselves to some South Pacific paradise at the end, while their army of ignorant shrieking goons cite the 2nd Amendment as they lay down a curtain of fire worthy of Armageddon.


There is in this scenario, nothing new. America has, since the outset, been going in this circle. We have always had our mad sects, our elites, our immigrants, our “only good Indian is a dead Indian,” our Elmer Gantry, our bizarre phobia against all things “socialistic” while we’ve wielded for some time the biggest stick around, nosing in on the bedroom, the neighboring continents, and proclaiming our “national interest”  to be any place there’s a fast buck to be made by buggering the natives. This B  US.


Pandora-box Iraq, as the US military withdraws to allegedly non-urban enclaves and turns its attentions to nearby Afghanistan, resumes its Shia-Sunni-Kurd bloodletting (all in the name of the recently acquired Bush mandated “democracy”) and the new military consul in Kabul calls for 40,000 more troops to add to the mix, announcing we’ll be there a long time. Elsewhere in our Maginot Line of some 700 golf course equipped bases sprinkled about the globe in the name of Eisenhower’s feared military-industrial complex, our privatized army of mercenaries goes nuts, committing suicide while, as usual, politicians mumble about honor and duty and patriotism and sacrifice.


Of officially acknowledged US military deaths in Afghanistan are listed, as of August 11, 2009 as 763.

ferrara cath crpd3

August 8 2009.   The landscape of Campagna glides by quickly, the sun slanting through the dirty windows of a Eurostar train.  We’re enroute to Bari, and then a car ride to Marcella’s hometown, Matera.  It’s been a whirlwind trip: Bologna with friend Pina and excellent organic food, tasty and healthy; then to Marcella’s cousin, also in Bologna, with side-trips to Ferrara.  Bologna is a lovely place, walkable, seeming the optimal size for a city, 370,000 to a half million, depending on where you count.  Civil, with handsome architecture, and the recent peripheral sprawl well-managed.  Likewise Ferrara and Imola  and Carpi.   The cities are clean, well kept and provide a sharp contrast to the messiness found to the south, somewhat warranting the negative views of those up North – it’s not just money, but certain cultural attitudes.

Visited the archive in Bologna and secured their agreement to replace a long lost (1996) best print of Last Chants for a Slow Dance with an HD transfer off original, liquid gate and otherwise electronically optimized.  Will do this perhaps in winter 2010, if invited to Rotterdam or Berlin.  Step one in getting all the films put onto optimal HD format.  The archive is an impressive one, in a new/old building – an old industrial building converted to cultural uses.  There’s two cinemas, an impressive and comfortable library, and the archiving things of the future.  They can do frame-for-frame 4K digital restoration, liquid gate transfers, HD, the works.  I guess the regional government covers some of the bill, perhaps the EU other.



Following Bologna traveled to nearby Ravenna, family house of a young musician, Christian Ravaglioli – excellent pianist and oboist, who was working with French-American singer Marianne Dissard on new album.  Christian’s mother was a contadina mom who spent her life in a small store, and kept the household together.  She has never been to see the mosaics in Ravenna, a mere 15 minute ride away, nor been in a church there, nor she said, has she any interest to do so.  She said her house and family were quite enough.  She gorged us on the greatest Emilia Romagna food – tortellini, ravioli, cappelletti, linguine – all handmade and with an admonition to eat up double servings which I could not refuse so good was it.  Take while the taking is good.  I think I put on a few kilos in a week or so.  Along the way got to go to a few concerts and meet some new people – Antonio, the local impresario, who organised a summer-long festival of local events, among them one with a friend of Marianne’s, Vicky Brown, classically trained violinist who five years ago in Tucson decided to jump into avant garde music, and plays with looping electronics, improvising.  Was fun.  The another American, Will Oldham aka Bonnie Prince William, whose music was slightly perverse, excellently done with two side(1 wo)men, a violinist/singer and a guitarist/singer.  His stage presence was pure weirdness of a riveting kind.  I learned later he’d played lead role in Kelly Reichart’s Old Joy.  Before finding that out I’d already had thoughts of him playing perhaps in Mexico border film should it happen.




Christian, Marianne, Oldham

While near, went to Ravenna to see famed mosaics, which warrant their reputation, though being honest I am not that taken with mosaics of this kind which seem to strangely amplify the Catholic kitsch element of Christian motifs.  I preferred the less spectacular and more primitive floor designs done in larger scale tiles.



Then went to Rimini, a small city cum beach town, just as the August crowds descended, to visit Marcella’s sister Francesca, who works there as a nurse.  As “beach town” it is low key though I find the Italian go-to-the-beach to hang around with an urban density of population, nattering in the sand all a little dubious.  The regimented rows of umbrellas stretched for kilometers down the coast, ready for the touring masses to “sun” themselves.  Central Rimini, old and handsome, seemed quasi-deserted, its excellent little museum virtually vacant.




After some days we moved along to Montepulciano, a lovely Tuscan hilltown, small, near Siena, to visit Lorenzo Taiuti, a friend of mine, professor of media in Milano and La Sapienza in Roma.  He’s staying at an agri-tourism place just outside the town, a very nice two room place nestled under some trees on the flank of a farm.  Lorenzo showed us around town – a walk of an hour – stopping to taste wine, buy cheese and bread and salami, and of course, a bottle of the local wine.  He spends the summer there, writing in his little country room, walking, stopping in cafes and, of course, imbibing the local vino.  Lucky Lorenzo.

new photo of lorenzoLorenzo Taiuti

However, his talk was mostly of a lost Italian culture, and particularly that of Milano, where he recalled a youth of vibrant discussions of arts and literature and politics, and which today has devolved – like more or less everywhere else – to talk of money and its getting and spending.  No more the vivid conversations of his youth; instead words of stocks and Berlusconi and ….     My view is that Lorenzo is merely lamenting the loss of his youth and its excitements, and has grown a bit jaded.  As time will do to most of us.  By his own accounting, the current arts are tired and worn – which I agree is mostly so, as the academic professionalization of the arts cranks out “artists” (who expect due payment) like sausages.  Their art is mostly regurgitation of the last years, po-mo play on genres,  po-po intellectual conceits, little new, and less passion.  It’s just a job.  And Lorenzo I think misses the illusions of his youth – the vaunted 60’s for which he is nostalgic – when, in fact, things weren’t really so different.  Well, actually they were, but that is another story.   But he was different – young and excited about the brand new world which was unfolding before him.  So he takes succor in a fine wine and slice of cheese.  Like a good contadino, settling for reality.




From Montepulciano we went, by train, down to Capalbio, just on the Tuscan side of the border with Lazio.  Stayed two  nights with Eliana Miglio and Paolo Grisenti in their lovely well-done new home-in-the-country.  Eliana was in my film Uno a te, back in 1994, and then in La Lunga Ombra in 2006.  Her son, now 20, is studying acting at the Centro Sperimentale (national film school).  I’ve watched him grow now from a young little boy to a towering lanky young man – smart, funny, and talented.  Over dinner last night I made a handshake deal with him to be in a film for me.  Maybe with Eliana too, maybe in part in the very house we were staying in (would make a perfect setting for a certain film in mind, and being all “in the family” could make it cheap).  We’ll see.  Capalbio has blossomed in the last years into a little liberal left outpost of writers and such, second homes a drive or train ride from Rome, with the appropriate cultural addendums of little literary and film festivals, readings, bookstores and the like.



From Capalbio we took train today down to Roma for a lunch with co-scriptor on Uno a te, Edoardo Albinati, writer somewhat well regarded and published – has a new book coming out in September, a fat one of short stories collected in last 15 years.  Visiting was a critic, also with new book out, and theater friend, and arriving later a painter based in New York.  Was a 4 hour feast of enjoyable talk and wine and simple meal.  We had only 5 hours in Roma which was, as usual in August, somewhat vacated – my favorite time of year there.   And now we’re on the train, headed to Matera.




Ferrara, Ravenna, sunset near Comacchio

[More thoughts on Italy soon at ]