May
31

Gathering up the crumbs

By

IMG_7721 May misc 700

I’m referring to the crumbs of May, a month which becomes more intense every year with boating events, friends flying in and out, and work of various sorts, much of which needs to be done more or less simultaneously.

The word “May” normally conjures up a pretty, flowering little month set to the melodies of those warbling madrigals.  My soundtrack is more like the Ride of the Valkyries.  And all this is voluntary.

So yes, there has been a lapse in blogification, which I will now attempt to rectify, if only slowly.  Energy is still low, and more to the point, I may be reaching my personal Plimsoll line on the overload of bizarreness that this amazing city continues to heave onto my psyche.

The photographs are provided as counterpoint to the crazy, to show some of the best bits of May despite what might be going on in the larger world beyond our corner.  We came across a a woman and her daughter Sunday morning preparing part of the decoration for the procession concluding the month dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

The photographs are provided as counterpoint to the crazy, to show some of the best bits of May despite what might be going on in the larger world beyond our corner. We came across a a woman and her daughter Sunday morning preparing part of the decoration for the procession concluding the month dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

I haven’t had much time to read entire stories, but the headlines kept me abreast of a few extraordinary developments.

One was the announcement by (somebody) that the decision had been made by (somebody) to remove all the garbage cans from the Piazza San Marco.  Not only does that notion, in itself, make no sense whatever, it gave my memory a little vibration recalling how much municipal effort has gone into trying to keep the Piazza decent, and providing more garbage cans was certainly a positive step in that direction.

The fact that these bins are virtually always crammed with trash leads me to surmise that they are useful.  The amount of trash that swirls around the area at the end of a hard tourist day also implies that there might, indeed, usefully be even more.

Some phrase indicated that the Plan was to remove the bins because they’re unsightly.  The unsightliness of their contents roaming free wasn’t a factor because evidently the tourists were going to be expected to take their trash with them, you know, like Himalayan mountain climbers always do.

But never fear.  For those bits that were somehow to escape the backpacks and pockets of the tourists, two garbagemen would be stationed in the Piazza to titivate its venerable stones from time to time, as or if needed.  Two sweepers instead of 60 bins.  I think that’s the number; it might even be more.

Then the newspaper fell silent, and I see that the bins are still in place.  Whether good sense or sheer sloth deserves credit for this, the tourists can continue to leave cans, bottles, little plastic ice-cream cups, and forests’-worth of random paper all over the place, when the bins are full.  But at least the bins are there.

We finally got a chance to go out rowing the other morning.  As always, the lagoon was looking fine.

We finally got a chance to go out rowing the other morning. As always, the lagoon was looking fine.

Moving on.  A right cross-uppercut were dealt to my staggering brain with a controversy concerning a “work” of “art” for the Biennale perpetrated by a Swiss “artist” named Christoph Buechel representing the noble country of Iceland.

Mr. Buechel’s specialty is political provocation, ideally creating things that offend people.  So he asked to borrow the church of Santa Maria della Misericordia, in Cannaregio, which had been closed since 1969, though not deconsecrated.

What he (or Iceland) requested was the use of the church for an “exhibition space.”

He proceeded to turn it into a mosque.  Rugs on the floor, shoes outside, a mihrab, a mimbar, Muslims praying on Friday, everything.  All this was done with the participation of the Islamic Center of Marghera, the Icelandic Art Center, the Ministry of Education (of what country I don’t know), the Ministry of Instruction and Icelandic Culture and also Ibrahim Sverrir Agnarsson, the president of the Islamic community of Iceland.  Though not, as it turned out, with the participation of the diocese of Venice because it was the only entity evidently not aware that the “exhibition” was going to be of quite another sort.

Mr. Alessandro Tamborini, a professor of Religious Science, met provocation with provocation.  He walked into the church/mosque/work of art on opening day with his shoes on.  Then he called the police, because he said he was being ordered to remove his shoes, which demonstrated that the place was not a work of art, but a place of worship.

If it’s a work of art, then it’s not a mosque, was his reasoning, and he can’t be required to obey a religious restriction if it’s not, in fact, a religious place.  He then formally asked the police to inquire about the exact nature of this installation, and whether the necessary permissions had been granted.

They hadn’t.  So ten heated days were spent in which issues of religion (freedom of), art (freedom of), city ordinances of every sort (no freedom allowed there) got all mashed up together.  Many people were offended on religious grounds, but the art crowd sneered at this reaction because it showed lack of comprehension of art, even though, may I note, if offending people was the primary purpose of the project, being offended demonstrated that people comprehended it all too well.

Then the government of Iceland got into the scrum, with heated objections to perceived prejudice.  And everything got all tangled up in the long-running complaints of the Muslim community at being compelled to pray in a mosque in Marghera, and not in the center of Venice, to which they feel they have a right.  Drawing attention to this knotty problem, it turns out, was the motive of Mr. Buechel’s project.

But bureaucracy to the rescue!  The fact that the paperwork wasn’t in order settled this very disagreeable situation in an extremely simple way.  No permits?  No mosque.  The place is closed.

I’m ready for May to be over now.

Every May a wonderful yacht named "Marala" takes up residence along the Riva dei Sette Martiri. We hardly ever see anyone on or around it, but it's clear that there is at least one person who takes very seriously the condition of the hull. I've never seen this assortment of fenders, but it's clear that somebody is taking no chances. The rubber fender on the rusty chain is always there, and the blue fender (one of many, as you see) seems as if it's up to the job. But someone found a way to attach, with two shock cords, three smaller fenders, just in case. Or is it a work of art from the Biennale???

Every May a wonderful yacht named “Marala” takes up residence along the Riva dei Sette Martiri. We hardly ever see anyone on or around it, but it’s clear that there is at least one person who takes very seriously the condition of the hull. I’ve never seen this assortment of fenders, but it’s clear that somebody is taking no chances. The rubber fender on the rusty chain is always there, and the blue fender (one of many, as you see) seems as if it’s up to the job. But someone found a way to attach, with two shock cords, three smaller fenders, just in case. Or is it a work of art from the Biennale???

A new addition to what seems to be my collection of eccentric architectural fillips, of the protective variety.  If anyone can suggest any reason for these two small stone overhangs, I welcome any

The next addition to what seems to be my collection of eccentric architectural fillips, of the protective variety. I welcome any theory that could suggest a reason for these two small stone overhangs.

For once this isn't acqua alta --just the remains of a huge thunderstorm.

For once this isn’t acqua alta –just the remains of a huge thunderstorm.

Discovered today on a doorway near us.  It says:

Discovered today on a doorway near us. It says: ” O D (for Daniela and Osvaldo, in their wedding portrait), Dear grandparents, today it’s 50 years that you’ve been married and we have seen you always happy.  You have faced problems and worries with success because you loved each other.  We hope that you live this way for many more years!”

 

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Categories : Venetian Problems

Comments

  1. Gi says:

    Thank you for these amazing crumbs. I missed your posts.
    Three hurrahs for Mr. Tamborini: way to go!

  2. Kat says:

    I have an idea about the wings on the chimney: I think they are to deflect rain water from pouring down the sides of the slanted portions of the chimney and washing out the mortar. There you go.

    • Erla Zwingle says:

      Interesting idea. I’m still wondering, though — if this is such a good trick, why don’t all the houses have this?

  3. Yvonne says:

    And I think the wings were devised by a fiendish builder, to deflect any rainwater onto anyone entering the door, or poking their head out the window.

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