Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Visited the casa Buonarotti today, the house that Michelangelo lived in when he came back from Rome and lived in Florence. They call it a palace because it takes up a whole block or two. Right next to the school. Unbelievable. What an honor to go there. 

Studying ancient Egypt a little just to get my mind off of Italy for a moment. Two important things occurred to me. one, while watching the episodes concerning the Nile and the landscape of Egypt, I realized that I do not have too much of an interest in nature. things like natural wonders of the earth do not interest me very much. As compared to things that have to do with mankind. I am much more interested in humans than I am in the earth. Frankly I think the earth is worthless except for how it relates to us. sounds crazy I know. but I am just completely fascinated by and in awe and admiration of humanity itself. I am passionate about it. I find myself only caring about things that relate directly to us. The earth without man? Who really cares about it? I am glad that other people do, because we need them to think about protecting the earth and all that or we wouldn’t have an earth. But for me, it was just this major realization I had. I just don't care about nature too much. Only us. What is most important to me is studying mankind. I do not care about things that are outside of us. 

And then later when they were talking about the pharos and how their tombs and temples would show their power, their wealth, and their eternal devotion to the gods. Something very strong occurred to me. How easy it was for them to say they were devoted to the gods. What an easy way out this is. To say this. Devoted to “God.” Really, what is a God except a symbol of our highest morals and values, yes? How easy it is to say I am devoted to this or that God. And people really do wave it around like this all important flag. And wear it on their sleeves. Because to them it stands for all the morals and values that they associate with that particular God. So yes one can see the importance of the symbol because of what values they associate with it. Christian or Jewish or Muslim or whatever. but to me as I get older I find myself caring less and less about the particular God I am “devoted to,” and more and more about the actual human morals and values that the god represents to me. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I am back in Florence. Went to the palazzo vechio today. This huge palace of the medician court from the fourteen hundreds. After a while of seeing all these huge palaces all it makes me think of is building my own empire and getting my own palace. I lose interest in seeing other people’s stuff. I want my own fucking palace. And my own court of eager worshippers.

Thinking a lot about languages. Italian gives a big payoff. Its difficult but speaking it is a pleasure so its worth it. its so musical, speaking it is like a roller coaster of tone, up and down. And the other thing about Italian is it’s the first language I have learned where they do not use “s” to make words plural. It doesn’t exist, this way of doing that. so it’s a totally different way of thinking about the plural. I think French is the same way. Difficult to learn, a real pain, but when you start to flow with it it’s a lot of fun to speak. Of course Portuguese is a lot of fun to speak and feels great in your mouth because you soften a lot of the sounds so its just a lot of fun to say a lot of their words. English is so easy to learn because you don't really conjugate verbs that much. I learn you learn he/she learns (boy that's a big jump) they learn, we learn, you learn, etc. and that's about it. if you want to make it in the past tense you add an “ed.” I learned. How easy is that? Its not fair. What takes years to learn in the romance languages takes about a minute to learn in English. In Italian for the same word “learn” you have 12 different words or phrases to match those same two you need in English as above. And in total, I have counted just the simple tenses, you have about 60 different words for the word “learn” that you have to learn to speak the language, not including the compound tenses, which means you are only speaking half the language. Same with Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Its maddening if you are a native English speaker. We aren't used to it. it feels like a circus in your head when you are trying to form sentences. But the great thing about these other languages unlike the bastard of English is that they’re spelling makes sense, as in most languages. English is the only language where the spelling is just fuck all crazy and anyone can just do what they want to. just make up words that have no sense with the spelling. We've all heard the examples before, through, tough, dough, mow, toe, etc. its ridiculous. it just makes no sense. When you're a kid and they are trying to teach you spelling in English they always tell you to sound it out phonetically. Remember that? it was such bullshit because there is no phonetic logic in English, compared to most other languages. There are too many languages in english. You just have to learn each and every damn word. Cause they are all different. No logic in them because the language has its roots in so many different languages. In the romance languages, once you get it, you got it. there are rules and its very easy to spell within weeks, days even. The other thing about English that is really messed up is that we don't have a word for ‘you’ plural. Its totally crazy, and it causes no end of trouble once you begin to notice it. All the other languages have an actual word for you plural. We don't. we are stuck either saying ‘you all’ or ‘you guys’ both of which make you sound like you just time-warped back to the second grade. But that's English. As everything in this life, the ironies are unbounded.

Last screening: prendimi l’anima. The story of Sabina Spielrein. This is a wonderful movie. This is a must see film. Watching the DVDs is a great way to learn the language. 

Monday, July 28, 2003

I am at the foot of the Alps now in a little town called Bolzano near the Austrian border. I am now most definitely lost, which is fine. It is much cooler here. I needed a break. Traveled all day yesterday. Finally settled here.

I woke up at about 5 am this morning crying from a dream. I don't know if I have ever experienced that before. Where you are asleep and then you become aware that you are dreaming and actually crying in it and in real life also and so then you wake up. It was very vivid. I was sitting on a couch. Cleopatra came to me. And she was very young again. Youthful and innocent and worry free still, like when I first met her. And she asked me why I wasn't taking care of her anymore. She was very sad. And she gave me this little piece of paper with all her tears on it, and told me, “this is for you,” like she always used to. I tried to explain to her why we weren't together anymore. Then she curled up in my lap and cried. It crushed me. my soul will ache forever from this.

I went to a palm reader last year. I had never done this before, but had always been intrigued by the idea of it. I was amazed at the telling accuracy with which she was able to recount various events of my life from the past. She knew me. and she had no doubts about the things she knew. Things such as when my father left the family to when I reunited with him for the first time as an adult. She knew my health challenges by looking at my palm. Etc. Things that no one knows but me. I was impressed. A humble woman who took her gift, the gift, for granted. She had been a palm reader all her life, as had her mother, and her mother’s mother before her. I recount all of this because when she looked at the outside of my index finger she said ‘there will be two great loves in your life. One of them is about to end or has just recently ended. (I laughed, of course, slightly in awe) The other will come soon. This one will last almost your entire life if not your entire life.’ I laughed again. she asked me why I laughed. “How do you know this?” I asked her. I was just in awe. ‘Its right there,’ she said matter of factly, and pointed to the outside of my index finger at the base of it. Pointing to two lines. One longer than the other. “There is the one who is about to end or is ending.” She pointed, “And there is the next one.” I paid her double what she normally charges because I was so impressed by her. So I don't mind waking up to these occasional dreams about Cleo. I consider it part of the letting go process. I mean, if a man is lucky enough to have two great loves in his life, wow, then he is truly blessed. And if Cleo was one of those two great loves, which I believe she is, then it is only natural that it would take some time for us to fully separate. And really I don't know if when two people get that close if they ever really separate. Maybe physically, but not emotionally. Not completely. I consider myself truly blessed. 

This morning I spent a lot of time at breakfast thinking about marriage. Maybe from the dream. I don't think it is marriage that we are after. I think it is true love. I think it is folly to even think about marriage or dream about it or plan all of that. Maybe it comes with it maybe it doesn’t it. What our heart really longs for is another heart. A pure heart. Something real and genuine and glorious. It is true love. When you have true love, nothing else seems to matter. I remember watching Cleo fall in love with her now husband after we had broken up. It sounds twisted but throughout their whole courting process I kind of guided her through whenever I could. I watched the precarious push and pull of it as they got closer and closer. Until they eventually married. It was beautiful. it really was as if nothing else mattered in her life. all she talked about was them. It was inspirational. Infinito and the goddess Marilyn are another amazing example of true love. You feel it when you are in their presence. It is kind of contagious. 

Today I went hiking around. There isn't much going on here in Bolzano. A lot of mountains and fields. Not my scene. Although it is much cooler and breezier than the South, and that is nice. This town is half German and half Italian. Its like something from outer space. Industrial on one hand and farm land on the other. Strange. I'm bailing tonight. Head further north.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

I am on my way to Austria. It is too hot in Italy. I am not going to Rome right now. Maybe later. I am going up high into the Alps where it is cold, like winter cold. I cannot take the heat another day. I will meet Manuela in Salzburg later. My laptop and my guitar are my most trusted companions as always. The new open D2 tuning is glorious. I have written the greatest thus far on it today. Very simple. Pure. Passionate. this is five or six now in the last four weeks in this tuning. This song will be in Italian. I believe it is maybe the first which actually sounds like it should be in Italian. The others maybe just working up to this one. 

Michelangelo took three years to make his statue of David. He ate and slept in his workspace, right around the corner from my apartment. He would only sleep a few hours. Wake up and work some more, and then maybe sleep a bit more. 

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Today I saw some real Italian. the only drag about starting to speak Italian all the time is that you stop becoming a tourist to the people and you start becoming a regular person. so I'm in this restaurant where I always go for breakfast because they will actually make me breakfast which is a miracle here—they don't actually like doing it and look at me like I am crazy for wanting anything but espresso and bread. And I go in and grab this sugar thing off the counter and this young guy working there gives me this sopranos like ‘eeehhh what the fuck?!’ but in Italian, and I'm like taken aback. And then he throws a couple of sugar packs to me. I'm like fuck I'm getting too comfortable here. They think I'm one of them. and then the father sees this and starts screaming at the guy and hitting him up side his  head. And they are in this big shouting match over how he acted. ‘o.k. enough!!!’ “no its not enough. Stop treating the customers like that!!!! what's wrong with you. you're stupid. Why are you so rude?!!!’ ‘o.k. enough!’ I swear to God it was just like being back at home when I was a little kid with my whole family screaming at each other. I was like o.k. now I'm seeing some real Italian shit. Cause they are doing this right in the middle of their restaurant in front of all the customers. Classic.

I will say this. The books I have been reading spend a lot of time talking about how split up Italy is and has always been. That is why it has never achieved the kind of unity and power that other countries have. the regions are so different and are happy to stay that way. they have been fighting over this for fifteen hundred years. seriously. There are two different factions in the country. One set says that they should all unite and be one country and be governed by one government so to speak, and the other set says that they should be separate and not even be a country but a bunch of little city-states. Much blood has shed over this debate. They have over 1500 different dialects still being spoken, each of them almost entirely different from the other. Italian as it is now spoken, which is Toscana Italian, has only been the official language for 100 years. and still when you leave Tuscany, you find a lot of towns don't speak it. They say that Florentines are stuck up and aloof. I would agree. You do not feel the heart of the Florentine. It is hard. It is nothing like Latin America say where they open the door to their own house and say come on in, eat our food, watch our TV, lets hang out and dance. Here it is more like o.k. fine you're here, what do you want? 

I think that because they are so bombarded by tourists all the time that they have this big block up to their persons. You do see the way they are treated themselves as Florentines by all the tourists. It really is like living in Disney world. People just walk into a store or restaurant and start talking in English as if it is Disney world, can we get some water please. very rude and the waiter or whoever doesn’t even know what they are talking about. And you see all these people with these maps everywhere just walking around as if this whole town is not really a place where people live but more of just a stop on someone's vacation. so I can certainly understand the feeling they have. after all people really do live here. 350,000 of them. 

Ps--there are no blacks here. Maybe in other cities but not in Florence. Very few. And the only time you see them is when they are on the street peddling some merchandise. It is not like the states at all where they have achieved like super-human status. In America the black people define our pop culture at this point. And the rest of us go along. I am curious to see other parts of other Italy and Europe to see what the brother scene is like there.

By the way, this bastard at the restaurant this morning way over charges me for my breakfast just because his father yelled at him. I just went to pick up my dry cleaning. And they are closed. It is fucking Saturday for God sakes! I leave tomorrow for a week and I will have no shirts to take with me. I hate this fucking place. There is no order here. our teacher constantly complains that Italy is portrayed as disorganized, happy go lucky clowns in the press and the TV and cinema, and he hates it. well, then get some order or some rules people and stick to them. it is very strange, on the one hand they are the epitome of modernity. World leaders in style and design, and on the other hand it is like we are still living in the fifteen hundreds here. it just befuddles the mind.  

Went up into the hills tonight to go out to dinner with the landlord lady and her husband. I'm on a bus. I'm going up and down these mountains and all these curves. I'm up maybe an hour out of Florence. Up in these hills. Past the poor tenement buildings with all these poor children playing the streets and these toothless mothers sitting in rocking chairs. Past fields of sunflowers and vineyards. And more poor families in the streets. and we are winding around yet another curve. And it is hot. More than hot. It is scalding. And the whole bus is perspiring. The driver, the passengers. I got out at my destination. It was night time now. it was dark. I was up in the hills, only God knows where. I ran to the cliff with the bright lights of Florence shining down below and I just hurled. I'm talking yards out in front of me. it was like a horror movie. Throwing up like crazy... More than sick. Exhausted. Combination of the heat and the stress from the pressure of the music business. This is most up in the air I have ever felt, I thought, and I hurled again. The most lonely, and I hurled again. I was standing over this cliff just yards from a bus stop crowded with people. But this was way beyond me worrying about who was there or who was watching. I was in my own little private Idaho. Maybe this is the most without a home I have ever felt I thought, and I hurled again. Without a purpose, without the surety that comes from knowing where you're going tomorrow or why. And I hurled again. I could not stop throwing up. There was nothing left. I was just standing there yakking. Like a monster from a movie or something. It was brilliant and pathetic. 

I fell to my knees on the rocks below. I held my stomach. I said a few Hail Mary’s. I always like to say some Hail Mary’s when I'm throwing up. “Hail Mary full of grace, the lord is with thee, please help me stop throwing up, blessed art thou among women....” I prayed, ‘Virgin Mary, where am I? I wander. I wonder. I stroll. I take notes. I make plans. I work on my songs. Why? What am I doing up on this mountain meeting these people I do not know for dinner?’ and why am I throwing up? I hurled again. How am I expected to carry on this mission all my life making these songs and these albums and never getting paid for it? what is the purpose of this? what is the plan for me? am I just supposed to starve all my life and live in squalor just so I can carry out this mission? What kind of cruel joke is this life I have been given? I threw up again. Is this purgatory? Am I supposed to suffer all of my life? Where is my wife? I want to have children. I want to meet my wife Mary. Why has God forsaken me?’ who am I and why am I alive? I could not throw up anymore. I passed out on the rocks on this cliff thousands of feet above the sparkling city of Florence from sheer exhaustion. I did not wake up till the next morning. The sun was rising over me. I was alone and lying on the ground. 

“are you going to leave really?”
yes, I told you I was leaving. I am.”
” this weekend?”
” this weekend, maybe Monday.”
“did you buy your ticket yet?”
“no. we have been working on it all week. Its expensive.”
“it doesn’t matter. Just buy it. well maker it happen. How much is it?”
“maybe two thousand, maybe fifteen hundred.”
“just do it. what are you waiting for?”
“I don't know. where am I going? part of me doesn’t want to go? once I leave, I know I'm really leaving.”
“yes I know. I feel it. in my stomach. You have to go. it is for the best. don't come back for a really long time.”
“why am I going exactly?”
“to see your homeland. To explore Europe. To get away from all of this.”
“and then what? There is feeling I have inside of me that is very ominous. Like me leaving is like a symbol of me leaving all of this behind forever. Once I sign these papers, then its really over. I mean, then I'm really gone. I don't even have a reason to come back.”
” you have your band.”
“yea. I know. I love my boys. But in Miami. This place isn't for me. its not like with you. I don't have a family here now. I don't have this huge fan base anymore here. we sell ten times as many records in the Midwest or the northeast than we do here. Miami isn't like that anymore. The last American left years ago. this isn't the place for what I do. I stick around cause I have friends. I have you and Bas here. and the Ferret. But I have to get to a place that is more my scene.”
“then just go to New York. You’ve been talking about for years. just leave.”
“I have to leave don't I?”
“yes. I can feel it already. It is what we need to do. just go. Remember Tristan in that movie a walk in the clouds? That's where you are now. You can’t hang onto this anymore. You need to leave. Start fresh. You are an artist. You are some kind of a genius.”
“you know I am a big fan. If we never would have been lovers and then broken and up and everything, I would be your biggest fan in the world..... do you know that? I love what you do. don't think because I get so hostile and insane that I don't love your music. I love it more than anything. And I want your success more than anything. That is just my way of coping with this. This situation sucks right now. You just come here everyday to this office because it makes you feel good. me too. but its not right. You’re wasting your life. and I cant begin mine completely while you are still around. I need you to get away from me now.”
“Well I won't see you then after today. I will leave tomorrow or Sunday then.”

Friday, July 25, 2003

Our last day of school for this class. Everyone was really sad. We took a lot of pictures. Funny how you spend time with strangers and then you get to know them and get to be friends and then you don't know them anymore. We have spent 4 weeks together all day sitting in class making jokes and making fun of each other as we struggled, each of us with our own special reason, to learn the INSANE language of Italian. Most of us will never see each other again. some of us will. I will stay on for a while maybe in a week or so I will go back to the school. Although I think the school is lame. And the city of Florence is hot and it is like living in Disney world. but I think it is nice place to start off because it is so modern and European compared to other places. Although I assume Rome will be all that and more. This week though I am going to the South to visit Rome with some friends I have met and then on to Napoli, and then to see the ancient city of Pompeii and then off to see the little towns where my family came from. 

For the last two days one of my teachers has been helping me call to the different communities and speak with people to look up the archived records of my family. There was a little bit more info we needed. Now I have enough. My grandmother’s family came from Itri, not atri, in the region of Lazio, just South of Rome. My grandfather’s came from Eboli in the Campania region just South of Naples. Both on the coast. So after Rome I will head to these towns on my own. Stay a few days on the Mediterranean and try to get the feel of these towns and the people. then and only then can I actually speak with the main person who is in charge of archival records of these towns and then if they like me I can search their records to trace the families back even further. They will not let you do this over the phone or via letter. Only in person. and only if they believe you, that you really are related to the people you are looking up. so the adventure will begin. 

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Good day. Went to the museo del’opera del Duomo. Saw la Pieta’ by Michelangelo. This is an amazing sculpture. Huge, passionate. He started it when he was 79 to be placed on his tomb. He never finished it. 

Hooked up with this girl from Austria. Very cool. Not very good English or Italian so communication is funny. Maybe I go to Rome this weekend or Amsterdam. Thinking about going to Israel in a week or two. See the sites and see some friends. 

Renting movies in Italian now to watch at night. good way to learn. 

Reading more about the political history of Italy. In the 90’s they really had a rough time here. they discovered that a lot of the politicians were raking money for themselves and other corporations for just a few of them to get. millions of dollars in misappropriated funds. Money from the tax payers. This really rocked their world. And they got rid of them all but it was hard on them gave them a feeling of who can you trust. And with their long history of this kind of thing, it is easy to understand their bad taste for politics. Although here a higher percentage of their population comes to the polls to vote than in almost any other civilized country in the world. 

So I'm studying this and I'm thinking what about America? What the hell is happening in America. The officers of Enron funded Bush’ presidential campaign. The oval office was literally referred to as the “second office” of the CEO of Enron once Bush became president. He told Bush months before the scandal broke out that Enron was broke and all these people were losing all their money, and they all just took what they could get and tried to hide. Bush actually advised him not say anything and try to hold as long as possible. And there are hundreds of these kinds of scandals about Bush and obviously Clinton before him, but Bush I mean so far they have really just run rampant since they have been there. and I am aghast literally as to why the American people don't do anything about it. I know that there are a lot of groups in America trying to help. Trying to bring some or any kind of justice back to America. But nothing seems to be done. It is just the same old status quo. Really they just do whatever they want, legal or illegal, fraud, corruption, lies, whatever, and everyone seems o.k. well whatever. Lets not think about it. Except all these small and medium sized groups around the country. But why don't the people as a whole just get together and demand investigations and such there? it really is beyond me. Some European friends said tonight that America is just too big. Too many people. it is so easy for our government to get away with anything because there are so many people and they are so spread out. Maybe it is this. I don't know. I love America so much. But it makes me sad. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Spoke with Cleo a bit today online and for some reason it was a little healing, relaxing. I have had this stomach ache for three days over this thing. But hearing from her made things seem easier. Knowing that we both are going through it a bit. More later.  

Today I learned that over half of what are considered the world’s artistic treasures are in Italy. Compared to all the other countries combined. You could spend years here just going to see stuff. 
Made me contemplate, as an American, and with our country being so young, where are our grand works of art? where are our great treasures? Maybe more in music and literature I think rather than in the visual arts like painting and of course the beloved art of film! The new painting. Painting is one thing but film, that's another. I wonder what will be next great art-form after film. What will be the next great new art form?

Got another bike. White one. 

Last screening: more on the presidents. Learned about president ford, who wasn’t even the vice president as it turns out but who just took over when then vp Spiro agnew took over and then bam he gets pushed on to be president. His speech:
“I know you did not elect me as your president. But I hope you will confirm me in your prayers. My fellow Americans our long national nightmare is over. Our constitution works. Our great national republic is a government of laws and not of men.” Inspiring words by a man in a tough spot who tried to do his best. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Woke up from a few bad dreams about Cleo. Still many things in my life that have to do with her, little things that she gave me or that were once hers. Just laying around, considering that I packed pretty light for this trip. It is amazing how even the smallest simplest items like face cream or something can remind you of a person. Or a pen they gave you. I understand why she went through this phase where she took everything out of her house that had anything to do with us. I think you have to. 

Today was the first day of my history of renaissance art class. 

Our art history professor Donatello, a cool mofo...

Besides being truly badass because I am in Florence the home of the fucking renaissance, it is also cool because it is entirely in Italian. So I pretty much sit there and look at the pictures and don't understand anything being said. Which is nice. Cause I can’t take notes cause I don't know what s going on. But the pictures are nice. and I find it actually to be a good way to learn the language cause you have to. what a pleasure it is to be learning this here rather than in some other school somewhere. When he talks about the major figures and the works, he is talking about our own neighborhood that we are living in. Right here where the school is. So he shows us the birth of Venus by Bottecelli and then asks me, “did you see it the other day at the Uffizi gallery when you were there?” or “yes I think he painted this right over there and points to some piazza somewhere. He used to sit and paint there everyday at lunch, referring to di fillipo or some other artist. Its hard to believe actually. And we are sitting in a room in some building next door to Michelangelo’s house. The school is called the institute of Michelangelo and has been around since God was a little boy. It would be like studying opera in Vienna I guess, or fashion in Paris or Milan. In our class we are still working from the very beginning of when it all began, the search for proper perspective and depth in painting and sculpture. It is fascinating.     

And if that weren't enough, I just recently learned that ice cream (gelato) was invented here in Florence also during the renaissance. This is amazing, no? Seriously. In the summer of 1565 this cat named Buontalenti who is actually a famous architect responsible for a few of the cities most famous buildings was so hot that he invented ice cream because he discovered how to freeze fat working on his chemistry experiments in the nights. A renaissance man of course. These people are amazing. And yes there is a gelato place on every single corner. I told my teacher that this was more impressive than all this art lying all over the place in this city. He looked at me like I said something sacrilegious. 

Robbing a Train

On the train. Feeling such a strong compulsion to come home. I miss home so much but at the same time I am right on that edge of having this language just spill open for me. right on that edge and my brain is struggling so much during the classes to learn and learn so I am really getting off on this. but the neighborhood I am in Rome just sucks so much that my heart is dying. I long for beauty so much. Rome has beauty yes but it is a zoo of tourists so you don't get that beautiful vibe. You end up copping a tourist vibe. And my neighborhood is in the worst part of town. All graffiti and bums and Asians selling cheap shit on the streets. 

So today I hopped on a train and headed for the tiny beach town of Gaeta. It is right on the ocean. The reason is because five miles inland is Itri. The town where my grandmothers mother and both of her parents are from. I am at the hotel now. right on the water. I got chills the whole way here. when I got here I felt so good for some reason. Little by little the pieces are coming together, the story of my life. of who I am and how I got to be who I am. It makes my heart beat faster. To think that tomorrow morning I will go this city where part my family lived for so many years before coming to America. 

The train I took was very old. It had these little booths inside each car that I have never seen before. you go in the booth with like five other people and close the door to get the AC. Very weird. As usual the train was packed and so I'm sitting in this little booth with like five total degenerate guys. They look totally different than northern Italians. They honestly look like middle eastern. Italy was invaded and taken over by the middle east in the first millennium I think so and it shows in the people of the South a lot. We were headed for napoli, which is the big town near the town of Eboli where my grandpa is from. so I was fascinated to be in the same booth with these men. They were dark skinned like grandpa. Very dirty. Bad teeth. Their accents are much different. They soften all their words with a “ssssshhhhh” sound. I could not understand their Italian very well at all. they were very animated, like you see in the movies. Their hands flailing around. They touched each other a lot. Grabbing each others faces and saying things like “and you, your so fucking beautiful you sonata bitch “ things like this. slapping each other’s backs. They spoke really loud. And very aggressive. I have only seen this in the movies. It was right out of a gangster movie. I kept quiet. Tried to mind my own biz. A little intimidated. For the first fifteen minutes they talked about salads and cheeses and argued vehemently about it. then into something I did not understand. 

Then the main guy, like the leader of their group, talks to me and asks me if he can light up a joint. I'm like go ahead and then they all realized that I didn't speak italian very well so we all started talking. they were very nice if not pretty fucking scary. I didn't tell them I was Fishy or who I was. Instead I told them my name was Edoardo, Ed for short, just made up this name out of the blue. I told them where my family was from and they were very happy. They told me my name was classic italian. They introduced themselves. Federico, Alfonzo, Frankie, Tony, and Gaetano. I told them my great great grandfather’s name was gaetano and we all laughed. By this time the booth was totally filled with pot smoke and they had the window closed. So we were all laughing our heads off at their attempt at English and my attempt at Italian. and the fact that we couldn’t see a damn thing in the car now from all the smoke...

I looked out the window and watched the landscape of Italy totally change. Big mountains in the background. Little hills in front. Hundreds of houses stacked up on top of each other on these mountains and hills. And below that tons of fields and vineyards. I'm in fucking Italy I thought. With a bunch of guys from napoli, just like my grandfathers family. This is cool. After a while they quieted.

Towards the end of the trip, they started talking again aggressively. They went into the hallway area on the car and keep looking. Some guys came up and gave them weird signals to the main guy in our booth Federico. One by one they all got out of the booth. I'm like “o.k. what the fuck is going on here?”

Tony comes back in the car and takes down a big bag from the baggage rack above me. he opens it up and pulls out a gun. My heart started racing so fast I thought I surely looked scared shitless. But I just sat there and tried to stare out the window at the scenery. He looked at me to see what I was doing. But I did not look back at him. he left me alone in the booth. And walked into the hallway. Then I started hearing all this commotion. And I could recognize the voices of the boys from my booth screaming and being aggressive. I could see their reflection sometimes through this window in the hallway area. They were robbing people on the train. One booth at a time. over a period of ten minutes they proceeded to rob from everyone on that car. they were very nervous and they were yelling at each other. After about ten minutes of this they came back into the booth the five of them and sat down. All of them were shaking their legs and moving around a lot. They all looked at me. and they all lit up cigarettes. I looked at the main guy Federico. Like I was next to be robbed. I noticed that my brain immediately started calculating what I could afford to lose and not. I can lose everything but the camera and the laptop because these have things on them that I cannot replace. All my pictures and all my writing. they can have everything else. I can always buy the stuff again. I wasn't carrying barely any money anyway. 

Monday, July 21, 2003

Today I climbed to the top of the Cathedral Duomo, the largest dome in the world. And one of the largest religious buildings in history. This place is more than famous. The doors of it being responsible for starting the entire renaissance they say. O.k. so you wait in this line and then you go into this cave inside of the walls of the cathedral and you begin to climb these ancient stone steps in a spiral going straight up. you get dizzy and very hot and you pray it ends and it doesn’t for 460 steps. The absolute worst part is when you exit the inside of the walls and you think you are there you are actually on this very narrow balcony that encircles the entire dome. You are hundreds of feet up in the air suspended over this very thin balcony. Your walking space is less than a yard. More like a foot. Only one person at a time and no one can pass you. over looking the whole cathedral below you and above you is the beautifully painted dome. I'm not afraid of heights necessarily but this could give pause to anyone. My heart was racing. And then finally you climb a bit more this time it gets really steep straight up these old stone steps and then you come out and you are on the very top of this dome outside of it. overlooking the entire city. It is amazing. and up there are all these other people from all over the world with you who also made the climb. So you may take a picture of a couple from Japan or England or Poland. Its very cool. 

what is the meaning of one life? pondering. If a person does not have a family, and does not have a job they necessarily like, what is the meaning of this life? or more, what is the meaning of any of our lives? I think about it. it is haunting. 

Working on several songs in Italian. One is called a morning in Venice, maybe. And the only lyrics are the Italian pronouns: mi ti lo la ci vi li and le. Because I was so taken by the sound of them all strung together when they teach them. My teacher asks me what kind of a song is that going to be? How strange. ow HowI told her just you wait and see.

Leaning about president Ulysses s. Grant tonight. You know the S. in his name didn't even stand for anything. It was a mistake someone made on his application at WestPoint and he just carried it into the wars and into the presidency. Only in America. A George Washington he wasn't. but a valiant if not ruthless war hero that helped save our country, and who later as president championed for the rights of black people adamantly. 

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Palazzo di Medici Ricardi—

And then off to the Academia dell’ Arte. Which houses a lot of Michelangelo. The fucking statue of David is what is going on in here. 

The real deal. it really is fucking unbelievable. It is mammoth. And it is perfect. Like better than any picture. You just stare at it for a long time because it is so perfect.

Then rode into the center of town. Sat and had a cold beer and finally finished reading the history of Italian government and politics. Two thousand years in two weeks. Their history? Crazy. insane. A mess. Never stable. Always paradoxical. They have twenty straight years of peace and they name it, like it is some kind of a miracle. Unbelievable. From an objective perspective they really should have ousted the catholic church thousands of years ago. You read this history and its like, “the allied armies of the city states were a few days away from defeating the invaders after five years of hardship and finally uniting Italy once and for all but the Vatican or pope such and such went behind their backs and decided to side with Austria (or France, or Germany, or the Lombards, etc etc.) the fucking church has always just been fucking them over as a people and they not only let them stay here, but they let them control things. Now I don't know how much they do that anymore. But for two thousand years the popes really fucked everything up. that would never happen in America. We’d be like, “you're going to get involved in our fucking wars now are you? well out with you then. Haven't you ever heard of separation of church and state? Go on get out of here. go be a church for some other people.” “But the force of God has empowered us with the holy Roman blah blah blah...” “and we’d be like “well we don't believe in that God anymore, so please seriously get out of here. we have a war to fight. for God sakes, take your big hats and that weird cane thing you carry around and get the hell out of here before we hurt you. we have a country to save.” 

That's America. But here in Italy you seriously read about two thousand years of this fucking church and all these mean and greedy popes getting involved in the business of the country and the government and the politics and the finances and everything else. having people killed and stabbing their once allies behind their backs. creating total havoc for centuries. And the Italians God bless them--just stand around and wonder what the fuck is wrong with the picture when the rest of the world ousted the catholic church centuries ago. And they are still tolerating it. but this just shows that God is a very powerful weapon... it can be a  wonderful thing, but its also very dangerous. 

The beer in Italy is delicious. I have taken quite a liking to it. 

Tonight I rode all over the city with a camera and a tape recorder getting footage for the album. I taped and photographed lots of cool stuff. I wish they would make one device that did this exceptionally and was very small. Maybe a very small digital video camera would be all we need. 

Last Movie:  the American president documentary. the last one in the series—Washington, grant, and Eisenhower. I brought a bunch of DVDs with me. It is cool watching this now after some time studying Italy’s government and political history. Gives perspective on American political life. we are very lucky to live in America. Our government is fucked up. Has been since the start. I'm not going to back down on that. Since its inception it has been a veritable testament to how a country can still thrive in spite of its political leaders constant lies greed deceit and corruption, but I think what is liked about America still is that maybe its not as fucked up as a lot of other countries, at least it has not been. And we as a people are just very strong and willful and kick ass and we will only take so much. I think this is one of the greatest assets we have. how kick ass we are, how strong, how willful. I wish in my heart because I love America so much that we would turn it up a notch and be even stronger and more vigilant and more willful and even more demanding of our leaders. One thing you get from studying our presidents, not all of them, but a few of them, especially the first few, is this immense awe at how lucky we were to have had these very intelligent and very pragmatic and very open minded and liberal minded and humble and revolutionary men start our great country. Washington seems like such an honorable person. if it were not for these men, we wouldn’t have the country we now have today. I enjoy studying it immensely.  

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Sienna, and the Rules of Manhood

Slept late today. And then I went had an omelet and a few cappuccinos and to read. Called a cab and headed to the train station. What an amazing place these train stations are. We just don't have them yet in the states. Maybe America is too big and spread out for them I don't know. but they just never caught on compared to driving. I wasn't sure where I was going. I looked up at the schedule and decided on Sienna. See some Tuscan countryside. And some mediaeval architecture. 

They have the most beautiful ceramic in sienna. Breathtaking. I spent hours drooling over it. 

Yes I am madly insanely and entirely self obsessed. It is something I am very good at. So please, there is no need to remind me of it. I know all too well... Hehe. 

I love the train. I love sitting in the train and reading and writing. hard to write in English now. I am totally losing it. Writing half in English and half in Italian now and then going back and rewriting in English. Crazy. sat next to this old Italian couple. Man they must be 80. they teased me how excited I was. But every weekend I get up and go to some other town and just take off, just me and a book bag. And it is very exciting. in America it seems a lot harder to do that because you have to drive and all or take a plane. Here you just hop on this train and you pay like nothing for it. and then a few hours a later your in another  town. If I wasn’t a tourist I am sure I would hate the train. And fly everywhere. so yea I am aware of that. you hear a lot of languages at the station. Every language you can imagine in a matter of an hour you hear all of them. but whenever someone tries to communicate with someone else they always go for the English. Like if the Italian attendant is trying to help some Japanese tourists she will go for English. Or the Germans or the French or the Israelis or the Spanish. English is now the standard. Its like our blackboard. I am happy I was raised speaking English as my first language. It is a relief. we are lucky with that. Italian is getting harder and harder. It has become a joke in our class how hard it is getting, rather than easier. Yes it is a little like Spanish and Portuguese. But grammatically it is way out there. our teacher takes a lot of pride in it and says that Spanish and Portuguese are very primitive languages compared to Italian and then laughs of course. They have a word for everything. ten words for everything. way more than we do. This is fun but it makes learning difficult. He says they have had thousands of years to perfect it. Grammatically the thing that really throws you the most is this. They have all these rules, and then right after you learn them, he teaches you that they break them all. a lot of times they just break the rules because they don't like the way it sounds the other way, so they change it to a totally different word that doesn’t even exist just because they like the sound better. Its crazy. I guess its no different than if you try to explain to someone why we say ‘gonna’ or ‘wanna’ etc.  

We do not stop sweating here. it is non stop sweating morning till night. one of the students at the school told us last night that he sleeps in the bathroom in the shower. He is from central America and is here learning Italian. He cannot believe it. We were all laughing at him. Everyone has their own way of dealing with it. today it was 41 degrees. Hottest day in like hundreds of years. I don't mind it that much I have to say. But I'm not having to sleep in it so that could be why. 

On the train I met a bunch of travelers from San Diego. Cool people. Seriously asked me if I knew this guy from cocoa beach Florida which is like seven hours away from Miami. That is a classic joke but this guy really did ask me. so I asked him if he was friends with Tony Robbins since he lived in San Diego. And of course he said no. and we all had a laugh. But it was great hanging with some Americans. I love America. 

Museo civico in sienna---amazing frescoes on the walls that span hundreds of feet. It was in this museum that I had this epiphany.

Lunch in Sienna.

Studying the life and art of Leonardo and Michelangelo now. Bought tons of books. So now we are knee deep in the renaissance. Today I went to the church and museum of Santa Croche. This place is beyond famous. Just in complete shock the whole time. it is so big and so beautiful. I found myself walking around with my mouth hanging open the whole time. I had to keep remembering to close it. today in this magnificent church I saw the actual tombs of Michelangelo, Rossini, Machiavelli, and Galileo, Dante, Bruneleschi, and Gibertti who is known as the person who started the renaissance with his famous doors of Il Duomo. It is unbelievable. Like in these tombs are the bones of these guys you grow up hearing about all your life. these men were like gods to me when I was growing up. and then you're like o.k. there is his body, and there is this painting he painted. And there is the house he grew up in. It really helps bring it all down to earth a bit.

I hooked up with some tourist group from Seattle Washington in the good old us of a and I learned so much from the lady who was leading it. she is an art historian there at their college. And they told me I could follow along and listen so I did. I think that the Americans are such nice kind but kick ass people. yes they are the absolute loudest here in Europe. And yes you can hear them coming from a mile away. it is true. I will not take that away from all the Europeans who loath us for how obnoxious we are. If I hear really loud obnoxious voices from behind me or whatever it always turns out to be some Americans rather than the French or Germans or English or Japanese—who actually do not speak. I am told they go their whole lives without speaking. They just take pictures. But all that aside, every time I run into Americans I am so enthused by how nice and happy and kick butt they are. Every time I help someone cross the street or carry something in a store or at a station they get all red and say oh thank you, thank you, you guys are so nice, so polite. And I'm thinking man this is easy. “lady I don't think you understand. All the guys are like this in America. Its no big deal. Seriously.” When I get back to the states I have got to move out of Miami and move back to America. I miss it. 

Friday, July 18, 2003

God is it really the 18th

Last night I had the most amazing experience. I was in a club with Mohamed and some other friends from school. After a while we got so drunk. I was hanging with this French girl who is studying here for most of the night. I said I was going to the restroom. She came with me. we kind of happily stumbled to the restroom area and she came in with me. seriously. I laughed and said no you have to go to the other ones in a very sloppy broken Italian and French invention of mine.... And I pointed. And she shook her head and kept walking in. We went into a stall. Before I knew it, we were making out and fooling around in this stall in this super loud club in the men's room. This was just total hedonism. Drunken sexual liberation. I did not see her at school today. Everything cool. But it is true about what they say about the French. She did have this smell you know that was very French. the French chicks always have it. I won't say anymore than that.   

Great classes today. we are learning the future tenses. in my private class I have the opportunity to just ask questions and converse so this is cool. 

Man I am falling for my teacher. Her personality is so cool. She is very fresh. Sarcastic and intelligent. She constantly makes fun of me. We flirt like crazy. I love that. Throughout our entire lesson I just stare at her and fantasize about making love with her. I don’t hear a word she says. I wonder if she can tell this. she is at the blackboard writing down names of food for me to repeat after her, and I'm just picturing her laying naked in the grass with a bunch of grapes in her hand. “Fishy!” she screams, “Pay attention!” [One day at lunch she screamed at me for flirting with her so much. “You are crazy! You just want to sleep with me and then in a month you’ll be off back to America. you aren't going to stay here and marry me! So stop acting this way unless you plan on doing something about it!” and in that moment I just stared at her... like, man, could I marry this girl? I mean, fuck, do I have to marry her? “Listen Peli, can’t we just make love every night for the next few weeks? And drink and dance and talk about music and art and literature? And just enjoy that? Look at you! You are so sexy I would make love with you right now on this table. And the whole time you could be speaking to me in Italian in that cute little voice of yours.”  She snaps back, “Be quiet! You are a beast Fishy! I'm not going to teach you anymore!” But I caught her vibe. I understood what she was saying. I still couldn’t stop myself from flirting with her. I just told her, ‘look, you’re my teacher. I'm paying for you. I can’t help it. if you don't like it, then by all means, request that some other teacher takes over my private classes. Because I can’t help it.’ She never did do that. We became best friends, went out all the time, and eventually we both accepted the inevitability of our situation.] I mean, in a way she was right. She’d kill me if she knew I posted her picture. But I will be long dead by the time these diaires ever make it to market, so no big deal. I need to find a girl here fast. Because I am starting to build these little things with too many other girls here and before you know it one or more of them is going to turn into something and then we’re fucked. 

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Studying the renaissance. Fits right in the middle of the whole Italian history lesson. So that's where we are now. and the center of it was Florence. What an amazing city. This is no accident. I am in the right place to fully realize the freedom beauty truth love album. Tomorrow I start bel canto opera lessons. In Italy. This is fucking amazing. this teacher doesn’t even speak English. So we will sing Italian and learn Italian opera songs. I will be inside of it, as deep as you can get, mastering the techniques and the meaning of the lyrics. I rode around all night tonight drinking a bottle of wine. Going from one large open square [piazza] to another. thousands of people in the streets, drumming, singing, drinking, talking, hanging out. Tons of musicians in the streets. bagpipes, violins, guitars, singers. People dancing. And performing. Tomorrow I will take pictures and record whatever I hear that is cool for the album. the fucking Sony clie promises a voice recorder and then builds it so you cannot actually transfer your voice recordings to your PC. So it is worthless, that aspect of it. 

the electricity is out in our entire building, maybe the whole block. I am drunk and hot as hell. It is like a furnace in here. I am on the fourth floor. My laptop my only source of light. The windows are open and I can hear all the noises from all the other peoples little apartments all around me on both sides and up and down because everyone has their windows open. There is this woman making the most passionate sex sounds right now across the little alley, making love with her husband I assume. In other apartments I hear the dishes rattling and the people talking and laughing. My entire body is perspiring now, all over. and I have to lie down on my sheets and try to sleep. This heat wave sucks. 

But the city is so alive. I feel exhilarated being here.   

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Today I got a haircut. I was so worried being in a strange place and not speaking Italian. But this guy was amazing. he spent hours with my hair. He was so passionate. Reminded me of Federico in New York who was also Italian and very passionate about hair. He told me how awful whoever has been cutting my hair is in Miami. I told him I just haven't been able to find anyone in Miami. Very nice to connect with someone again so passionate about hair and style. The salon was very styled out. Not pretentious. Again, it is a cool without pretension. Something Miami has not learned yet. You can be cool and nice and open and real. They are not opposite qualities. People smile here. men play with children in the street even though they look like they just walked out of a photo shoot for GQ magazine. it is very nice. it is an innocence that is very refreshing and heart warming. Very different than the New York, LA, Miami vibe of ‘if you’re cool/good/successful, then you’re kind of a snob or a tough guy or a jerk. [this is really funny but one time when I was getting my haircut from Federico I asked him where he was going for the weekend and he didn't want to tell me, I pressured him and he said he was supposed to keep it a secret that he was going to Disney world with his wife and kids, because his boss would get mad at him cause it did not seem cool—it could hurt the salon’s image. Can you imagine? Well that's New York. Not here in Italy. Guys are more than happy to show off their families.]

Riding through the narrow cobblestoned streets amongst the very tall old old old brick buildings and churches and squares and palaces, I was thinking tonight that I could see how this could get old if you grew up here. especially if you see America on TV with all its new stuff and shiny happy people. this could definitely get old. Everything is old here. climbing the stairs tonight looking at the old stairs and the old walls, it made me long for something new and clean and pristine looking. 

Received an email from Cleopatra tonight. It was so thoroughly depressing. It was so simple but it just brought it all rushing onto me. Just this agonizing feeling of loss. She tells me that she knows by the pain in her stomach that we are doing the right thing. I emailed back I will stay away for as long as it takes. I hope one day after we are all dead we will be able to sit down and chat and laugh and say wow, I tell her.

I don't know what it is, just this pain inside like I have no one, no family. If I really just let go of Cleo and Bas and her whole family and the different companies we have built over the years I just don't know who I am right now. who is my family. Realizing that I have been living through them and with them for so long I don't know how to feel safety or comfort right now on my own. we have all been living together for eight years. o.k. so now I leave it all, and start a new life. what? Where? With who? Thank God I still have my mom and my real family and all that but I have just felt so close to Cleo and her whole family for so long its crazy. I feel like an orphan. This awful feeling. Like I am studying over here for 6 hours a day. Why? For who? Can I live for just myself? Do stuff for just myself? I think I am having an identity crisis. It is truly fucked up. So there we are. That's how I feel. thank God for Little Tree. She is like a surrogate mother/wife for me. takes good care of me. Madelynne too. The Artisan does too. Send me things in the mail. Emails all the time. It is very nice. to have these women in your life who take care of you and you aren't going out or anything. what I don't like is when chicks are just being nice to you and taking care of you because they want you to be their boyfriend.   

Found this on my desktop. Relevant now since la Princesa is running off to get married in a few weeks.

From: la princesa []
Sent: Saturday, September 14, 2002 5:29 AM
To: Fishy
Subject: Re: sleep well....

Dear Fishy,
I cant go to sleep right now because I'm so awake so I decided to write to you my thoughts, knowing its hard for me to talk to you sometimes because your mind is flying most of the times. you are insane. You know that right? 

I don't want to intrude and impose my thoughts and image of you but here I go.

the way we see ourselves, our awareness, and the emotions we feel, all of this is embedded in the way you can portray that to other people. you are far more complex Fishy to be playing in such small standards. I believe you’re here for larger scale and that has to be where you stand firmly and believe and taste and smell your success. I know we’ve talked about your ideal moment in life but im not sure your in that image. I can hear and feel that you belong much bigger. stop concentrating where you can play, these small, insignificant places without soul and concentrate with the big people. go straight for the source. THINK BIG, because you’re there baby. 

Your to professional to be dealing with who's going to be on your guest list. Your September 11th song, I think is the most beautiful, you were confident, remorse and patient with your emotions directed to your audience. it crawls inside me and I want to love the fact we are all alive and bond with our piers dealing together with life. start working on a plan to hit the big people but in a harmonious way. don't be aggressive and cocky feel inside your inner mind to reach that goal and that will transpire to the others that are on the same wave length. analyze and really listen to your dreams and reconstruct how your going to share that with the world. stop acting like that star become that star.

when you play to your audience, bow your head down, and get them to be part of that mission we are all here for. I see you sitting in a stool-at the same level as them, transpire peace and patience so they can stop and belong to that with you. 1st start off with a slow and moving song so your not too aggressive at first so you can relax your crowd. no lights, completely dark, your band on stage but the ambassador nowhere to be found. maybe sing from back stage, so your alone and they cant find you, eagerly waiting to see your face. talk to them before you start a new song and explain where that song came about. imagine looking at a painting and not being able to understand what the creator was trying to convey. art is art but the understanding is much deeper. Chupito your there, you have been chosen to sing the songs of never-ending circumstances. 

stop believing in the image and become who your destined to become. there is no time to be wasted when every other day can be the last. love who needs to be loved and love yourself before that even happens..............

I’m sorry if I set up disappointments in the way im seeing you but im feeling it inside my heart and I only want to be the vehicle to direct you to your destination. I sometimes feel you don't get our journey together, im not upset but I wish you can stop and make our time more productive. you shut me out (not intently) and I have soooooooooo much to offer.

“I want to be the world book for you.
All my love,
la Princesa”

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Anna Lisa spent one night.

When you don't know anything about a country or speak its language, some of the simplest things are difficult. Yesterday just trying to find this store to buy tickets for a show was so hard. They don't really have addresses here. The direction was go to where this street meets this other street and its in there somewhere. When I finally found it two hours later it was closed. In the music store later to buy some CDs I realized I had no idea what Cds to buy. I asked the lady behind the counter and she was like I don't speak English and you can fuck off if you think I am going to try. So I went up to these two guys and we all tried in English and Italian to make it happen. I told them I was looking for the best of Italian pop and rock. Like the top ten albums of all time. And they were so psyched. I told them to choose any range of styles and just go for it. And they had a ball. Showing me all the best albums from the last thirty years. it was so cool. I have been listening and so far they did great. I walked away thinking that you can make it happen. No matter what it is. You just have to keep trying and if one thing doesn’t work you have to try something else and just be persistent. I cannot tell you how frustrated I was feeling yesterday. Several times I was just like fuck it I am going home to study. I'll try this shit tomorrow. but I ended up walking away with a handful of great music. This Gregori CD is awesome. And thank God cause I wasn't really digging their stuff too much. And if I don't get that passion about a culture’s music I just lose interest in them. Visual arts aren't enough to keep me interested I think. I like them but they don't grab and yank me down to the floor you know, like music. 

The last few days I noticed I have started to feel the same way I felt when I first met Cleo eight years ago. This feeling I cannot describe. It was the feeling I had when I wrote songs like Paris or the Greatest Gift. Just this really soft happy inspired and romantic feeling. I feel in love. 

O.k. this is really fucked up. I just found out my school is three doors down from the house Michelangelo grew up in. Seriously. I couldn’t believe it. I went there but of course it is closed on Tuesdays. This is something you get used to here. Some things are closed on Tuesdays. Why? no ones knows. Some things are closed on Mondays or Wednesdays or some things like the movies here are closed for the whole month of July. You just have to get used to it. There is no logic in it. o.k. so tomorrow we get to go into the house of Michelangelo. Can you imagine? 

Current Spin: Luiz battista, emozione. Not my thing. But very popular here. but I don't like it so far. 

Monday, July 14, 2003

Studied articles and prepositions today. Forget about it. I will speak like Tarzan forever. They have over fifty different articles and prepositions, depending on the word it comes before. In English we have maybe ten; a, the, by, of, with, to, for, in. And seriously they have at least fifty or sixty. Six different words for the word ‘the’ alone.

So tired today. Walking and riding every where in the hot sun is very different than driving around in an air conditioned car everywhere.

The girls are so beautiful here. how do you choose just one. but more importantly how do you talk to them when you cant even talk? Pardon me, where I can buy a CD please. this is what I sound like I think. maybe I can start dating young girls like in elementary school or kindergarten, because this is what I speak like. All the girls stare at me, peer out of the corner of their eye. Which is very nice. normally I'm the one doing the peering out of the eye, but I'm too focused here on learning right now. but sometimes I think it makes things harder. Harder to meet them. Everyone thinks I'm famous here. even people who have never heard of me. why, I don't know. but it makes things harder. People get shy. I think I'm going through one of those ‘looking famous phases.’ Maybe I am famous and I just don't know of me yet. I am always the last to get into stuff my friends always say. I must look myself up. See who I am now. Maybe I am huge and don't know it. that would be good because I could use the money that I am sure comes with this fame.

Went to the piazza Michelangelo tonight with some friends from Costa Rica. Sits high on a mountain. Saw the sun setting over the whole city with all the towers and churches. Very beautiful. we ate dinner and admired my old beat up bicycle. Roxanne commented I bet you would never have that bicycle in Miami, it would be garbage; but here it is precious to you. We all laughed and agreed. My precious beat up bicycle with no brakes. Things are relative.

Everywhere and anywhere you go there is a little café or bar or restaurant on the corner. Just like new York. Very much like New York except that there are no chain stores of any kind anywhere. Only little mom and pop places. All the doors of everything are always open and there are no goofy corporate uniforms. Everyone just wears what they want. Maybe an apron. You can go into any café or bar and order food, pizza, salad, soda, coffee, or alcohol or beer or wine or pastries. Sit down and eat it or stand there at the bar. Any shop. They all have the same stuff. although they might specialize in one thing or another. its amazing. I keep forgetting to talk about food although I am taking notes in my palm. For lunch I always go to this same place. And I can just sit there if I want to and have a big dish of tomatoes and olive oil and onions and mozzarella. And then maybe a plate of rice, and vegetables, like a cold salad. Every bite takes me back to my childhood growing up with my grandma making us our meals everyday. It is very nice. the other night for dinner I had a huge plate of arucala, avocado, cheese and pine nuts in a pesto sauce. It was out of this world. Tonight I had thinly sliced steak and arugala in olive oil for dinner. Red wine and a chocolate Tartuffe. When la Princesa or Cleopatra would tell me you belong living in Italy, I didn't know this is what they meant. I thought they were just saying it. I didn't realize...

Current read: studying the history of Italy, from the very beginning to modern times. Fascinating.
Current Spin: fabrizio de andre, anime salve. 

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Today slept late. went to a café and had two cappuccinos and an omelet. I found eggs. I was so happy. And on a Sunday so it couldn’t have been better. The radio here in Italy is awesome!!!!! They play everything—it is “full spectrum radio” this never took off in the states, but it is great. You hear rock, pop, R&B, rap, and dance, all on one station. In one hour, you will hear songs from America, France, England, Australia, Brasil, Spain, and Italy. It's just great. Very different than the “one format” style we have in America.

Had an intense conversation with a couple of summer travelers, one from new York, and one from Mexico. We all sat around all afternoon at the café and drank beer and talked. She was explaining to him how much she and her friends all hated Bush and the American government. And how frustrating it was cause it seemed like even though no one liked him that he may be re-elected anyway just because everyone feels like there is nothing they can do. I was just listening at this point. Happy to hear some English being spoken and interested in the college generation’s views. I finally chimed in and told her that there really was stuff that she could do, and that a lot more people agreed with her and her friends than maybe she realized. That she needed to get out and pass out pamphlets and get her friends to vote and voice her opinion on the Internet and really take action all the time. It was cool as the three of us strangers sat together from different places and we had all been to different peace marches for Iraq this year---her in new York, me in DC, and he in Mexico. We lamented the fact that our peace marches did nothing. We lamented that bush stole the presidency when Gore won the popular vote, and all the tom foolery that went on in Florida with Jeb and that Harris lady. We lamented that it seemed like no matter what the people think or do now in America that it seems like we are hostages in a very secret and sinister takeover of our great country. The Mexican, named Paco, who was very beautiful and slammed four beers and didn't even seem to catch a buzz, attested that they were all very scared now because their whole economy is based on our economy and if we go down they go down. He said he hates how Mexico is starting to get slowly taken over by the US. He thinks he may stay in Europe for a few years, back packing and learning other languages. We talked for hours about many things. It did not end well. We all just kind of looked at each other like “wow, what can we really do....?” the girl, Eve, with a full bush under each arm and no bra—God bless her—said that maybe she would live in Europe until Bush and all of them leave the white house and the country turns more liberal. I reminded her that the Clinton years were just as sinister, maybe just not so obvious. We worried that even though bush may only last another 5 years, if he has a chance to select any supreme court justices that his legacy could have very bad long lasting implications to millions of us for generations to come. We expressed our horror that three of the current Supreme Court justices, all 3 conservatives, voted to keep that anti-sodomy law in Texas. We didn't know whether to laugh or cry over it. And I think that is a natural place to be as an American right now. Our country is very torn between the old guard and the new intelligencia so to speak. 

There is a large group in America that really do see the light. The new intelligencia. They are there. I mean the light of all humanity of what is right and just and true and moral is right front of all of us. it is blinding. So really just people that you  talk to on the street or whatever understand and know the basics. But then there is this other group, the majority I think still, maybe they are the older people that you don't really see on the street, or maybe they are the people that live in the middle of the country, that again you wouldn’t really see on the street or anywhere in the big cities, and these people seem like they are still ruled by fear rather than by what is right or justice or freedom or truth. [ps—the Sprite here in Italy is awesome.] You don't know whether to laugh or cry at how ignorant some of these people are. I mean really, lets put all the BS aside for the moment. These are the same people who in twenty or thirty years when future generations look back in their history books and read about things like equal rights, these are the ignorant people we will be reading about. These are the “back of the bus” people who once tried to stop the black people from entering our schools. Now they are trying to keep laws in place that ban how you can have sex or who you can have sex with. That is some scary thinking there. It is fascist really. And worse than that it tries to use the concept of God or religion to help build its argument. So that just further confuses everything for the younger kids who are being raised by these people. Well we laughed and cried into our beers and then we said good bye. America is a scary place to be right now. every single thinking person needs to stand up and battle these ignorant old dogs.