Just some thoughts and ideas going around in my head while trying to figure out where I am and where everyone else is going.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

One Verse One Chorus

Oh my God, get the room ready at the Home because I think I’m ready for it. Why? Because I think I am getting too old and I’m doing things that I used to laugh at when other people did it.

It was Saturday night, which meant that it was fun times at my house if you are into being alone staring at the TV and wondering why is life passing you by, when between channels I noticed Tony Orlando from Tony Orlando and Dawn pitching 70’s songs for Time-Life. Now I’m not going to say I hadn’t seen these types of paid 30 minute commercials before, but I had never been able to relate to most 60’s songs let alone early rock and roll and or Glen Miller. Did they ever find him? But 10 minutes into this Romancing the 70’s, the remote must have gotten stuck, I started to notice that not only did I recognize most of the songs but I had started to sing along with them.

You know I was one of those people who said that Rap would never last, but 30 years ago if you had told me I would have been singing “You Needed Me” with Anne Murray at 12 midnight I would have said that you and whoever brought you into the world were crazy. But there I was belting out tunes at the top of my voice searching for the right note to go with the Captain and Tennille and Melissa Manchester and people and groups whose names I had forgotten so long ago.

Speaking of forgetting, I had forgotten how bald Elton John was before he got his knighthood and how close he was to getting totally blind every other week according to the magazines. However Tony and crew didn’t show Sir Elton doing b’b’b’ ”Benny and the Jets”, which would have sent me screaming off the wall and dialing that toll free number. I would have been so loud they would have called the cops on me. They do that in this neighborhood you know. I know because I’ve done it at least twice myself.

So there I was last night being nostalgic and remembering how I used to sing some of these songs on my bike at the crack of dawn delivering newspapers when I realized that I could write something and relate it to this old video I found. Well I didn’t really find it and it’s not that old since it was finished today, but I was feeling almost sorry for myself this week and this was one of the ”woe is me” songs that I sometimes cling to.

So here is one verse and one chorus of it.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Body

Why is it that the more I see of Jesse "The Body" Ventura my respect for him increases geometrically? Ever since I saw that Ventura wasn't just a dumb wrestler clowning around in the squared circle on TV, but was someone who could not only read, but emote and act as he did in Predator, I thought this man may have a brain. He was also someone who could state his beliefs and take it to the people and have them support him as he took the governor's office in Minnesota. Not a small accomplishment. And now he went up against the Aryan chick in The View and beat her down as well "The Darkside" Cheney and all those people who seem to have forgotten about the trials at Nuremburg after the Big One, all in the same two minutes.

I shall never look down on a wrestler again.

BTW, if the war in Iraq continues any longer, can we still call World War II the Big One?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

You like-a, me Leica

I think it was last year or maybe the year before that I heard that a certain 35mm Leica camera of not a very vintage age was worth thousands dollars on eBay.

I called Florida and asked my mother and asked if she knew where my father’s cameras were. I had known that he had bought a Leica back in the 70’s but I didn’t know what model it was. I did remember that it was a nice piece of work. It was the type of workmanship that would have made Himmler proud and brought a tear to his eye. A solid example of German engineering with a smooth action and movement that made you feel confident in whatever activity you were about to participate in. I would stare through the view finder and watch the little circle in the middle focus and refocus as I played with the lenses mesmerized by the control that I seemed to have over light and images and maybe the future.

Unfortunately, I never really used the camera and now that I think about it, I never saw my father use it either. He was more of a cheap, plastic throwaway camera user back before people bought disposable cameras and still turned their noses up at anything plastic. In fact later on in life he would thrill at the idea of having as many forms inexpensive cameras as possible. He would have Polaroids of course, as well as cameras with a revolving disk of film or something. He had many others that came in a box that you mailed back somewhere when you were done and others that I swear looked like they came out of a box of cereal or free with a purchase of under arm deodorant.

So as far as I knew the Leica was untouched and in pristine condition in its shiny black leather and red velvet lined case, or at least it would have been if my mother hadn’t thrown everything out when my father had died.

I bring this up only because a couple of weeks before my last trip I bought a video camera. It was Panasonic that cost way to little for something that was supposed to brand new from Amazon and yes when I opened the box I had the distinct feeling that someone else’s hand touched the merchandise before mine and I was sort of upset. But for $300 less than the cost at Best Buy was $300 that I could use elsewhere so I kept it and moved on. However, what I also noticed was that the lens for the Panasonic was made by Leica. I had finally gotten my own Leica product and even if it was just a little lens, it still made me feel a little warm inside. Funny that, I think I’m still competing with a dead man that I don’t think I ever liked.

Anyway, here below is the reason that I bought the thing. It’s much too long but I didn’t want to make 2 or 3 videos. If you watch it enjoy, if not, trust me you’re not going to miss anything that you haven’t seen before and I promise, this will be the last time on this subject.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Angeli e Demoni

Bridge of Angels
Vatican Museum
“Football, American football?” asked the little man as he spread his back and flexed his arms and smiled at me. I smiled back at him. Sure when you’re only 5ft 2in everybody looks like a football player to you I thought. Then he said, “Obama, yes, Obama?” and he gave me the thumbs up. ”Look my friend, just put your finger,” and he held up two pieces of string held in a loop, “and two wishes…blah blah blah.” I knew where this was going but my only wish was that he would leave me alone. I brushed him off.

Why is it that Arab men love to ask, “what you want my friend?” no matter where you are or what you are doing. Is this the first phrase they learn to say in English in their foreign language classes, or do they actually say this in Yemen or Syria or wherever they are from and just literally translate it word for word when they leave home? Anyway, that was what I noticed all the waiters seemed to ask me. I’m not saying that all waiters are Arabs in Rome but it certainly seemed to be a hell of a lot of them who were.

There was this one time when I was walking in Travestere which is a residential area in the city and I was looking for something to eat. I was starving, it was close to 3pm and the free breakfast at the hotel could only take me so far in the day. I had to get something or face collapsing in the middle of the street or turning into the Hulk. I was no longer in the mood for pictures so I can’t show you any here, but I found a place where the people were jumping and everyone seemed to be having a good time eating. I should have noticed that they were all eating pizzas with the thin crust or salads. I had had that the day before somewhere else and loved it, but I wanted to get something different this time.

“What you want my friend?” asked the waiter. He was an Arab I noticed after I decided the menu was going to be a waste of time since I couldn’t read it.
“I want some sort of chicken,” I said. I was thinking of fried chicken and fries actually. Look I’m a black man and it’s in our genes.
“I bring you chicken done Roman style. Chicken Roma huh? It is chicken with potatoes and sweet peppers like how we do it here.”

I agreed to that, a salad and a beer and he brought it out fifteen, twenty minutes later. To say that it looked like something that I might have thrown up ten years ago after a night of heavy drinking would have been to put it lightly, but I was hungry and there only one place that plate was going, down into my stomach. The fact that it was almost tasteless didn’t seem to matter either, I had been rescued. The €20 that I paid or about $28 seemed to be a trivial amount since I think most of cost was for the beer anyway.

I found out two days later when I ordered the “Pollo con Peperoni” from the menu of another restaurant and the same plate came out, that there are at least two ways of making this food. One way is for tourists done quick and easy which was what I had at the first place, and the other made with a flavor and a texture that will lift your empty soul and soothe your spirit. However, that was not going to be my best meal in Italy or even maybe the best meal that I’ve had since St Martin. That would go to the one I had in Orvieto, a town about 75 miles northeast of Rome. There is a little video of this town under My Stuff to the right of this if you’d like to see the place. I wish that I had taken pictures of the meal that I had in this little restaurant on this little side street on the way to the Duomo (cathedral).

Again I had trouble with the menu and the waitress didn’t speak any more English than I spoke Italian but I knew that pollo meant chicken so I went for the Petto di Pollo something something. This turned out to be a thinly sliced chicken breast covered with a really flavorful cheese topped with prosciutto and drizzled with herbs and olive oil. Looking at it I wasn’t sure if the chicken was grilled or boiled, but as I started to eat it I didn’t care. All I knew that was that my dick had started to dribble from the excitement and pleasure this food was giving me. It was more than “molto bene”, it was the kind of thing that would have made me shave the chef’s nuts for a week just to get another plate, but they were closing down for a couple of hours and it was time for me to leave. Siesta time you know. Now that’s true civilization; to eat scratch and then sleep and not feel guilty.

sietsa at Palatine Hill
Palatine Hill
Anyway, I took close to 900 pictures of my trip all together and I have erased about 400 of them. That’s the beauty of digital. Here are a few of the rest which if you scroll over them some will have their names listed if I can remember them and you can click on them to enlarge them if you want. Also, no there are no pictures of the Sistine Chapel since they don’t allow you to take pictures there but uh…what more you want my friend?

Colosseum and Trajan's Arch
Roman Forum
Roman Forum
Palatine Hill
Oculus in the Pantheon
St Angelo's Castle
Basillica St Maria Maggiore
Great Synagogue of Rome
young girls at Piazza di Repubblica

Trevi Fountain

Spanish Steps
Victor Emamanuel Monument
Vatican Museum
Vatican Museum

Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona

Friday, May 15, 2009

Roman Holiday

I promise that I will do just one more post on Rome before I completly lose all readership through boredom after this one. But I saw Roman Holiday sometime before I was 10 and there has always been one scene that I remember about it and I thought wouldn't it be fun to re-live it.

So I'm walking around for for what seemed like half a day looking for this thing, well really maybe an hour and I realized that I had been circling it a couple times because...

La Bocca della Verità
the Mouth of Truth
...isn't life a bitch?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Agony and the Ecstacy

You know the one good thing about being in Europe is that when it comes to beggars, it’s not going to be black people doing it, at least in general. That’s because most black people are immigrants who have left wherever they are from in search of a better life, so the desire to beg is not really on the agenda. In fact as in New York City, many unskilled immigrants will tend to sell merchandise on the streets, often without a license. I’ve noticed that was what they were doing in it Rome. Young boys who would sell faux designer hand bags and other things and were often kept on the move as they were chased by the police over their wares. The Carabinieri would drive up outside the Vatican walls where many of these sellers were and with sirens blaring, drive after the long legged boys at a terrific rate of speed scattering them in all directions. It was like a case of ”run Forrest run” but with some color.

I remember seeing a story about this on 60 minutes late last year but I didn’t take much notice at the time. Apparently the police really aren’t concerned in arresting them, but more interested in keeping them moving from one area to another. It is a sort of dance of fools.

The real beggars are the ones that you’ll find outside of the Vatican or the Rome’s Central Terminal where they got me a couple of times. These are usually gypsies that hang out at the train stations looking for handouts for food. The ones at the Vatican are the cripples and I don’t mean to be PC. I’m not talking about the disadvantaged that have a touch of carpal tunnel or irritable bowel syndrome. I’m talking about old school cripples, the ones with limbs that point in five different directions east of Sunday, the ones that make you think this must be a scene in a biblical epic just waiting for Charlton Heston to come and save the day as they lay on the sidewalks with outstretched arms crying with tears in some incomprehensible form of babble.

It’s funny though, you would think that if you were a cripple and you are at the same spot that St Peter was killed and buried, you would be able to get some sort blessing that would cure you of your ails. I mean, if you can’t get healed there by the Holy Father then you can’t get healed anywhere. Anyway, I would show pictures of those people but I thought it would have been too much of an intrusion to take pictures of people in a dire moments of their lives while I stepped over them feeling uncompelled to share a few cents with them, so here are some other pictures of the area.

St Peter's Basillica
St Peter's Square

The Swiss Guard

Baldachin Alter

the Foot of St Peter
Michelangelo's Pieta


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