Laboring under the phenomenal force of the combined heat and humidity which have been oppressing us (Italy as a whole, but I take all this personally), I have slowed my blogging efforts, as has probably already become evident. We have had two successive heat waves — ours come from Algeria, if that tells you anything — and the names are indicative: “Charon” and “Styx.” You know those animals that only move once every few months when they have to eat something? That would be us.
Having now pled the “Smothering Heat Wave” defense, I will proceed.
On a normal day, I would now be catching you up on a lot of stuff that’s been going on in and around the old most-beautiful-city-in-the-world. None of which resembles much of what you could call beautiful. Anybody who hasn’t managed to get to the beach or the mountains appears to be taking it out on the rest of the world.
Anyway, since my energy has to be dedicated to maintaining my life-sustaining physical functions — nothing left over for such frivolity as scorn and umbrage — I will give only a smattering of headlines from today’s Gazzettino. I will then try to cool us all off with some views that show that there are still plenty of glimpses around here that make me smile.
Cecile Kyenge, a Congolese-born doctor and only months-long Minister for Integration, and Italy’s first African-Italian minister, has been working out on a sort of political and human Parkour course composed of a seemingly endless series of racist insults from assorted members of the extreme right-wing Northern League.
The process goes like this: The politician says something repulsive (such as comparing her to an orangutan), other politicians indignantly reprimand him, he offers a sort of non-apology along the lines of “I regret if I said anything that might have been construed as offensive” (or “misunderstood,” or “taken out of context,” or “a private communication that was somehow made public,” etc.). At least five Leaguers at various levels have contributed to the stringing of this uncharm-bracelet of abuse regarding her color or her religion. Some have been expelled from the party, but more just keep coming up. It’s like some Whack-a-Mole from Hades.
“Drug dealer dies in the barracks; “Violent asphyxia.” (Riva Ligure) A Tunisian suspect was being held since June 6 in a barracks, awaiting his turn in the legal process. That’s no longer necessary, due to a “powerful pressure exerted on his thorax,” as the coroner put it. The three Carabinieri who arrested him and had him in custody have now been arrested.
“She tried to kill him, he applauds her.” (Castiglione delle Stiviere) That’s not quite what it sounds like, but it is somewhat thought-provoking. Claudio del Monaco (son of the famous tenor Mario del Monaco) is married to Daniela Werner, a German former nursery-school teacher and aspiring soprano. In December 2011 things went wrong and she tried to stab him to death. She went to the psychiatric penitentiary and by applying herself to her singing, was able to perform a concert in public last July 2. “I love my wife more than before and I want to forget the past,” said her husband. Now she goes back to serve another three years. Maybe it’s neurotic, but in a strange way I find this admirable. I suppose it’s because the “for better for worse” isn’t usually taken to this extreme, or illuminated by this bright a light.
“Few mosquitoes; layoffs at the insecticide company.” (Trento) Last spring was unusually cold and wet, and it went on far too long. You’d think the resulting lack of mosquitoes would be a good thing, and for most of us, it is. But not for the employees of the Zobele company, 70 of whom are going to be at home from September to November because sales are so slow. It is, indeed, always something.
“Train Hell, few, late, and boiling.” Riders on the national network in the Veneto — not just tourists, but loads of commuters — are once again taking the hit of the management’s inability to provide even minimal rail service. To the many trains which have been canceled, and the super-many which are late, has been added the increasing percentage of trains in which passengers travel in torrid conditions because the air conditioning doesn’t work. This story comes out every summer. I mean, every summer. Do the managers not have calendars? Or is nine months not long enough to make a plan and carry it out? Women do it all the time. Sorry, that just slipped out.
“Money for permits; Three policemen in handcuffs.” Just over the lagoon in Jesolo, they discovered three of the Polizia di Stato’s finest taking cash for various special services, such as expediting applications for “permessi di soggiorno,” permits to stay in Italy for a specified length of time. What makes it worse — as if it had to be worse — is that a number of the immigrants they passed weren’t eligible for permits. The charges: Conspiracy, corruption, counterfeiting documents, and illegal access to computer systems. What inspires the urge to smack one’s forehead isn’t that they took money, but that they took 1000 euros. That is, about 300 euros per policeman. I know. If you’re going to risk blowing your career to smithereens, wouldn’t you make it just a little bit more?
I could go on, but my brain is too tired. There will be more of these antics tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and on and on till we all disappear over the horizon. Where they will continue, wherever we are.