Archive for June, 2013


The end of art

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This was when it was art.

That was then.

Does everyone remember the gondola loaded with cut-up gondolas that was parked in our canal in the opening fervor of the Biennale?

The opening of the Biennale is, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned, more like starling-swarming or the wildebeest migration than anything else.  Dramatic for a short sharp moment, then it’s over and people forget about it.

By now the process is complete.  The swarms began to depart the evening of June 2, and although fluttering shreds of tourists remain, the sort who seem to have come actually to look at the art and not each other (shocking, I know), life on the whole is back to its incomprehensible normality.

As everyone knows, the gondola assemblage was art.  A week has passed, and this creation has been demoted to Private First Class, downgraded to Economy, put back a grade, however you want to put it.

Having fulfilled its purpose — whatever it was — the object has been removed from its watery pedestal, and taken far away. Not so far in geographic terms, but extremely far in terms of appreciation. You may have heard of “value added”?  This is an example of “value subtracted.”

It is now resting quietly in the devastated territory of our rowing club.  Evidently the squero here nearby that confected it didn’t want it back soon (or ever); anyway, I was told that in exchange for painting one of our boats, we agreed to let them stash it here.

Sic transit.  


This is now.

This is now.


Categories : Venetian Events
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Giulio Andreotti in 1991.

Giulio Andreotti in 1991.

I waited to tell you the bad news about Giulio Andreotti’s demise because I didn’t want my blog to turn into the obituary column.  He entered the better life on May 6, and although he was 94, which means it was far beyond inevitable, I’m sorry he’s gone.

His CV tells you that he was important, among other reasons, because he was: Prime Minister (7 times), Minister of Defense (8 times), Minister of Foreign Affairs (5 times), Minister of Finance, Minister of the Budget, Minister of Industry (two times each), and Minister of the Treasury and Minister of the Interior one time each.

No need to ask what he did in his spare time — he couldn’t have had any.  But if he’d ever written a book about his career, hardly anybody would have been left standing.

You need to know the above to have the rudiments of appreciation of what a master he was of the scintillating quip.  First, he was Roman, and that gave him a huge headstart in the witticism department.  While every region, town, hamlet must have its own type of humor, the Roman type is famously quick and piercingly irreverent.

Second, being a career politician meant that he had endless occasions for practicing his exceptional talent for quippery.  Essentially he was Minister of Himself.

So it’s in that spirit that I offer you this glimpse of one of the pillars of 20th-century Italian politics.  People who know more about it, him, or them, please don’t enlighten me.  I want you to see his best side here.  By which I don’t mean his turned back.

One of the many pages devoted to him on May 7, 2013.

One of the many pages devoted to him on May 7, 2013.

From top to bottom, more or less, are the following observations:

Power wears out the people who don’t have it.

The wickedness of good people is extremely dangerous.

I know that I’m just of average height, but I don’t see any giants around me.

In politics there are more Draculas than there are blood donors.

It’s not enough to be right, you’ve got to have somebody who recognizes it.

Apart from the Punic Wars, they attribute everything to me.

Crazy people can be divided into two groups: Those who believe they’re Napoleon, and those who believe they can reorganize the state railway.

Humility is an amazing virtue, but not when it you use it in declaring your income.

You should always tell the truth, but except in the courtroom don’t ever tell the whole truth.  It’s inconvenient and often causes pain.

I love Germany so much that I preferred two of them.

Being men of the middle class, the middle road is, for us, the most congenial.

I’m posthumous to myself. (This is the literal translation, but even Lino can’t make me understand what he meant.)






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Boating Biennale

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No, this reference isn’t to me or to my (or anybody else’s) oarage, or steerage, or careenage.  I am referring to a modest work of Biennale art that I happen to LOVE — just in case anyone thought that I was against everything that had the slightest connection with this event. This little creation makes me smile.

Yes, it's a little boat, 15 feet/5 meters long and made of plastic by Marco Tracanelli, a 577-year-old artist from San Vito al Tagliamento.

Yes, it’s a little boat, 15 feet/5 meters long and made of plastic by Marco Tracanelli, a 57-year-old artist from San Vito al Tagliamento.  It bobs around in the waves and is just as jaunty and blithesome as it can be.

Hardly the battleship "Potemkin," even if it does bear the famous name on its hull.

Hardly the battleship “Potemkin,” even if it does bear the famous name on its hull. I don’t know if this reference is intended to carry metric tons of deep significance, but I have to say that somebody who can think up something like this (and make it) can’t be up all night brooding on the unfairness of life, not to mention its deeper profundities. But what do I know.


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