Monday, March 1, 2010

Florentine trifecta, 3 posts as we dont have internet

Morning in Florence, we awake and have our Lincoln Continental breakfast, and prepare for the day. We start at the Duomo tour, and are surprised to find that it incorporates the climbing of 432 steps through the structure of the building, a vertical catacomb that one can imagine time parading through it, in it’s dank narrow stairs climbing upward in elevation, but downward in feeling as you see close up the paintings on the upper dome depicting heaven , middle earth, and hell. Heaven is light and cloudy, with winged wonders flying about effortlessly, middle earth, or life as we know it is a proving ground for the afterlife, you are tested for your worthiness, your good deeds and your obedience to the scriptures, hell on the other hand is the large stick Christianhood has yielded over the sheep like followers. The graphically depicted hell contains such reassuring images as a flaming post stuck in your rectum or vagina depending on the manner of plumbing you possess. And for the children watching it depicts less offensive recreational activities. The stairs continue “upward” to the inner roof structure, which terminates at the top of the church dome, on a rotunda overlooking the city of Florence. Then we slowly climb down the interior of the church walls to the main level. Wow, incredible hike, felt like the hunchback of Notre Dame going to work. We then made our way to the Gallerie del Uffizi museum, and enjoyed the lack of a crowd. We must have seen twelve hundred paintings by Italian masters, mostly religious, but the portraits were fascinating. We finished the museum and made our way down the street to the Ponte Vecchio, the bridge that spans crap and nouveau wealth, all sorts of stuff that I can’t understand who buys, trinkets and brica crap. After that we made our way to the Piazza Signoria and people watched in the square of statues. We had a nice overpriced lunch at a outdoor restaurant. It was nice to sit down as we had covered an incredible amount of history and mileage. I think if I can get a chance to view some etchings by Piranesi tomorrow I will have more than accomplished seeing some of my favorite Italian masters. We finished our day by going to a real nice Italian restaurant, and shared a half bottle of Villa Antinori Toscana blend. Then home to the Hotel Accedemia for sleep and perchance a chance to dream of heaven, without the flaming posts.
Second full day in Italy, we get up and have our breakfast and coffee, and head out to the other side of old Florence to the Mucee Accedemia, we are followed by the usual 20-30 same mopeds which seem to lap whichever block we walk, that will give them the opportunity to constantly come toward us and push us from one side of the street too the other. I’m not sure but I thought I heard one say, “hey sorry I’m late today my dog wasn’t feeling well” as he joined the pack 20 minutes later then the rest. I was really impressed by Michelangelo’s David, it took him two years to carve, chisel, out of a spare block of marble, but what a testament to mans artistic talent. Awe inspiring, I wasn’t as impressed by the four thousand plus gold tempura shriney depictions of the crucifixion. I get it already, guilt inducing reminders of the bible story. Funny they are all gathered up in two or three museums, still having people pay to see them whether in the collection plates for the ancient corporate catholic organization, or the modern day Italian Museum fund.
Then we made our way to the Salvatore Ferragamo museum, located in his home corporate office, he having passed away in 1960. Interesting guy, born in Italy in 1898, moved to Boston, picked up the trade, moved to Hollywood during the start of the movie industry, gleamed a few wealthy clients and then moved back to Italy as he couldn’t find people talented enough to build his shoes in the states. Well you know the rest of the story after that. On the way back to our Piazza I noticed in the crowd, I kid you not, one of the beggars who usually drifts in and out of the mass of tourists. He was walking on the sidewalk, as normal as you or I, and he had hanging from his right arm, a partial crutch. I literally stopped in my tracks and turned around and watched him, both his feet were walking normally, they were parallel to each other, and no noticeable limp. “Well, I’ll be god-dammed” I said out loud. This man while “ at work” is hobbling around with his torso wretched and about a foot from the ground, his back is arched and he is only supported by the miraculous use of this half crutch, he ambles around with both his feet grotesquely pointed towards each other, with one hand sadly reaching out for what ever kindness this cruel cold world can pitifully give him from the warmth of their wonderful humanity. I am positive this person is one and the same, it made me sick to my stomach seeing this guy in his normal guise, sure I was happy that he wasn’t this sad lame soul, but I resented how seeing him in his act made me feel full of such pity, then feel duped. I started thinking of the other few beggars that had made an impression on me, the woman with the folded up newspaper, chanting “mi bambino, mi bambino “ then switching to “ mi baby, food for mi baby” when her fishing lines didn’t work, this was as we were enjoying our one splurge at a posh sidewalk cafĂ© in one of the Piazzas, she stayed on station until I was so embarrassed by having the good fortune to be sitting in the lap of luxury, and ignoring her, that she finally left. Boy, didn’t that really add to the experience. I think that if these people put half as much effort into a normal job, they would excel and climb their way up to corporate ladder, with the cutthroat ability they display, without the least regard of other peoples feelings as they play on any angle they can use, they now remind me of Donald Trump without the ridiculous comb over.

It’s a great evolution ( or creation?, for the more Christian among us) watching the decision making process as it matures in front of your eyes. On our trip from France to Italy for ten days, we; consist of My wife, Cindy, My Daughter, Caleigh, her friend, Hannah, and myself. Firstly of the four I require the most in regards to maturing but with that aside, I’m thinking of the two thirteen year old girls. I have just returned from watching the decision making process at its most critical, that being the shopping, hunting, snipeing, that is; for young women’s fashions. Specifically for the purchase of a purse, while in Florence. Not an easy formula, as it includes the following givens and the following not givens, in no order or relevance; What to wear with it that they already own, how it will look, others perception of it, texture, function ability, aesthetics, and the other intangibles, color selection, what’s sheik, and blasĂ©’ what others will think of it, what they can buy to accent it, price, how much will mom add in, what’s in fashion, not only now but in a year or so. Essentially its like graphing the sub nuclear particle reaction when hydro synthetic molecules are introduced in a vacuum, and the cyclic growth rate of the waste silica manganese solution that would naturally occur when the synthetic molecules are introduced. That simple. I liked the cheap black one, with the chrome button thingy.

Day Six, we have been isolated in the same car and hotel rooms for six days, they have left me alone in our room at the Hotel Alex in Venice. We had a wonderful dinner and returned to the room and they realized they needed ice cream or chocolate or something, the sensation is surreal, like the end of a bad dream. Alone at last, savoring each second like a glass of cool water with ice after a four day journey across the scorching desert. No more relentless noise for the sake of noise, no more talking as a means of getting oxygen. They have recharged my sanity just by the sacrifice of their leaving me alone for five minutes, euphoric, giddy at the thought of being able to not answer a question three times to ensure each of them isn’t slighted. Crap I hear footfalls on the stairs, is it them?, nope some other family trudging to their own solitary confinement. The feeling of me time, no having to listen to idle chatter, busy talk, thoughtless how do we keep our selves amused, while traveling through Italy, how do you keep us amused. I hear them crawling toward me like a mutinous crew, with their sabers drawn, blood in their nostrils, foam in their mouths. The key in the lock rattles like a thousand cutlasses, they are throwing rope over the yardarm, the noose spells my name in coils. They walk in like the third Reich in a blitzkrieg through the room. Oh they brought me ice cream, glad you’re back. The enzyme that eradicates the memory of individuality.


  1. Oh thank you for the insane laughter...the tears are still running down my cheeks. It was worth the wait. I suppose the fermentation of the feelings coupled with the fabulous flow of frazzeled frustration from your fried brain to your fingertips frees you ? Mais OUI. Now you know what every day is like for us. ha ha ha hahahah haha. At the same time you become Saint like...rising above it all...floating silently only to observe...and careful to deflate and descend... so as not to be carried off to that irretrievable place where no one could ever find you or even recognize you anymore. Just two steps short of the tutti frutti hostel where they serve gelato non stop Oh Yeah. Hang in there Hank.
    We offered to watch the lemur cat girl and give you two a sane break. She would have been subjected to our painful world of daily disgusting discomfort and deprivation. Sort of a Franco Americain rehabilitation center. Imagine her grateful lemur eyes welling up with tears upon seeing you after your long awaited arrival? If they hadn't reduced down to squinty myopic size due to darkness inside where we hide from the artic cold. Imagine the money you'd have saved while she got a priceless education that only life can give? Ahhh next time perhaps.
    Hannah on the other hand will need serious deprogramming. No shopping & no outings of overly intellectual stimulation. Beauty deprivation while she seriously cleans out the space designated as her room and finally finds the 2 dozen pair of shocking underwear that became the fertile compost of a colorful champignon forest. No more leather to haggle over, no smart shoes to slide her sisty fugly feet into, no antipasto,primo, secondo,contorno, or dolce to decide, nada, just 5 stinkin brothers to rule over her while actually ignoring her. C'est la vie ici.
    "Chapeau" to both of you as they say here.
    That means a deep bow and long sweep of a feathered musketeers hat across the ground in front of him. You've outdone yourselves...and don't you know it!

    Cheering you on, Lena & Paolo

  2. Hank, so pleased you are getting some "fucking" Culture, god knows you could stand some of it. There is a grand life beyond the patriots and its comforting to know that you are out clomping around in it. From the weather reports we are getting out of France it seems to be a wonderful time to be in Italy what with all the winds (99 mph), inches of rain with flooding everywhere......oh forgive me, that was the forcast for Topanga Canyon...and how wonderful that you darling wife brings you ice cream to top of the day's solitude. I know how cranky you get when your blood sugar levels