Elaine Stritch postscript


Once again, I forgot that the e-mail version of my blog doesn’t give the YouTube clip itself.

Here’s “I’m Still Here.”  You tell me if it makes you think of Venice somehow.  Even just a little.


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  1. As one who has come to love Venice from afar and has made the effort to visit (and stay in an apartment) 2-3x times a year, I’ve been hearing this more and more. The tourists cooking pasta in Piazza San Marco, the ridiculous behaviour of all those camera wielding throngs.

    I can commiserate with a city I hope to become more closely attached to, however I do wish to suggest that in the U.S. there are several models that Venetians could invoke that merely require the effort to do so.
    The first is simply public shaming, if there are people behaving as fools in the campo, then they need to be encouraged by the local population to smarten up.
    “Not our job?” Veramente?
    The police can’t or won’t do anything about that, so it’s up to the local population to take it upon themselves to become the neighborhood purveyors of decency.
    The second is make these community groups, linked in action via social media as well as to the police, I’m not sure what the Italian translation is to “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” and I by no means would suggest that good ‘ol American ideas can fix what ails Venezia in short order.
    However, as I hear more Venetians complain about the tourists boorish behaviour, and I witness more and more of it myself, my English is fine, my Italian is suspect, I do know that direct, and friendly, and peaceful and insistent response to their actions, even from another tourist, creates an immediate change in activity. Clients of mine talk of the sharp response when they handled vegetables in the market, it leaves a stinging impression.

    I say Immediate..

    As for someone shagging on Ponte Scalzi, I can barely suggest what would be the appropriate response other than grabbing a bucket from someone and introducing some of the lagoon into their passion might deter them from completing their transaction.

    just a suggestion

    • Erla Zwingle says:

      I’m very glad to know that you have discovered a technique which “creates an immediate change in activity.” I can conceive of criticism working when used toward another foreigner, but it would never work when directed to a Venetian. Because they don’t actually care what you think. They don’t care what other Venetians think. Lino has often intervened, and I can tell you that it avails naught. If you criticize a tourist, they just look at you and walk away. If you criticize a Venetian (“you” meaning Lino, another Venetian), you get into a yelling match, usually concluding with some variation of “Up yours!” and “Yo’ mama!” and they walk away. Also,among the Venetians in our neighborhood, there is a not unreasonable fear of reprisal, of the “they know where you live” variety. We hardly ever criticize anybody anymore, not that we did it so much anyway. Yet once we found dog poop on our doorstep; another time someone left their bag of garbage on our doorstep; another time, not long ago, somebody stole our little rose in a pot from our windowsill. This probably wouldn’t happen to you because you’re not here for long enough for people to think they need to react to you. So most people have subsided into “live and let live,” which is a fine philosophy, actually, except where uncouth public behavior is concerned. It translates as “I won’t bother you, and you won’t bother me.” In any case, it’s not only tourists who do objectionable things — even Venetians admit that there are plenty of Venetians whose behavior is at the bottom of the social scale. Yet — to conclude — public shaming doesn’t work if the person doesn’t feel shame. You can’t actually make a person feel ashamed, they merely become belligerent. And walk away. What has been resolved? Let me know.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I agree! Planning a trip for next year and decided to look up the phrase “may I have a bucket of water” for that couple on the bridge.

  2. Mary Ann DeVlieg says:

    Oh dear, what a depressing post. What a depressing world at the mo’. I’m in the States for a month, NYC (zero tolerance again = a pretty clean NYC) and Detroit, and missing my dear lagunian island, but I do agree with something my dear 91 yr old mother has always said, ‘God helps those who help themselves’. So how about a campaign for and by tourists to take snaps of badly behaved tourists for an annual selection of “Worst Tourist’ awards? So, like, you’d have to ask them for their contact details after you’ve taken the pic, so you could post it correctly to a website. Knowing all along that there is no award and no site and that the people would not give you their details, it might just make them think. Then again, now that I think, I’m sure it would land you with a right fist to the left cheek, thus a broken jaw and a smashed iPhone.

    I do have to admit, however, as a former tourist, that there is a definite lack of adequately sized trash bins, and benches upon which to rest weary bodies. Dunno if that would help or not but it meant that even a well-meaning bod was obliged to sit on the ground in desperation (and 90° heat).

    As for Venetians, why is it that the first word I learned when I moved to Venice was ‘abusivo’ quickly followed by ‘denunciare’?

  3. Kathy Maher says:

    Marvelous post! I suspect you’ve been keeping it bottled up for a long time. I followed the link for Elaine Stritch’s You Tube performance, and this message popped up: “This video is not available in your country.” Wonder why? But I easily found a clip of Stritch performing “I’m Still Here” at the White House in 2010. Paired with Stephen Sondheim’s wonderful lyrics (“I’m Still Here,” “Ladies Who Lunch”), she performed miracles, even–perhaps especially–when she could no longer remember the words. Did it make me think of Venice, even just a little? This line hit me: “Seen all my dreams disappear, but I’m here.”

    Getting a bit off-topic, I’m sending a link to a New Yorker piece about Elaine Stritch that you may find interesting. I hope it’s available in your country!