Archive for September, 2015

Sep
25

Daniela Ghezzo dresses your feet

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It’s remotely conceivable that I might attempt what Daniela is doing (actually, it’s not), but I can promise I wouldn’t be smiling.

Several readers were kind enough to inquire as to what could possibly be so big and impressive (or time-consuming, or distracting, or whatever) to keep me off my blog for so long.

Now it can be revealed that I was writing a rather big article about Daniela Ghezzo, a Venetian custom shoemaker, for an excellent new online magazine called “Craftsmanship.”  And if I have not yet bombarded you with the news via the social networks, let me bombard you here.

http://craftsmanship.net/the-soul-of-the-italian-shoe/

The point of mentioning it isn’t so much to display my amazing creative abilities, but to bring forward a person with even more amazing creative abilities, not to mention skill, not to mention manual dexterity and fabulous imagination.  Why do I know how hard it is to do what she does?  Because she makes it look so easy.  Zwingle’s Third Law: The harder something is to do, the more the ignorant onlooker thinks “Hey!  I could do that!”  Fred Astaire always looked as if he didn’t even have sweat glands.

I hope if any of you finds yourself in her street that you will pause to imbibe the beauty, but that you will manage not to let your pause interfere too much with whatever she’s doing.  Being open to the public is a great thing for her business, of course, but can be a drawback to her work, and if it turns out you’re the tenth person to stop to ask her what she’s doing– which of course, you won’t know — it means she will probably have donated more than an hour of her day to friendly questions, and when you’re working it’s not so easy to start and stop and start again.  Some shoemakers work only by appointment for that reason, and some beleaguered artisans in Venice now charge money for stopping long enough to talk to people. Just saying.

Of course, if you intend to ask her to make a pair of shoes for you, your encounter obviously will not qualify as time wasted.

She'd probably make a superb guitarist -- she knows exactly what each finger has to do, and she makes them do it.

She’d probably make a fine guitarist — she knows exactly what each finger has to do, and she makes them do it.

Which is not to say everything always goes smoothly.

Which is not to say everything always goes smoothly.

Zwingle's TK Law, illustration #1: The simpler it looks, the harder it was to accomplish.

Zwingle’s Third Law, illustration #1: The simpler it looks, the harder it was to accomplish.  Each millimeter has been calculated with implacable precision.

But there are also shoes that make me smile, like these sandals.

But there are also shoes that make me smile, like these sandals.

Especially the heels. It takes a certain turn of mind to enjoy putting the best bit where nobody can see it.

Especially the heels. It takes a certain turn of mind to enjoy putting the best bit where nobody can see it.

An artist making shoes will eventually do a little painting on them.

An artist making shoes will eventually do a little painting on them.

It's the border that makes this shoe, though the thought of folding and stitching it makes me grind my teeth. Her logo is the symbol that was used by the Venetian shoemakers' guild, or scuola.

It’s the border that makes this shoe, though the thought of folding and stitching it makes me grind my teeth. Her logo is the symbol that was used by the Venetian shoemakers’ “scuola,” or guild.

Sure, I'll just fold this piece of leather into the narrowest conceivable border.

Sure, I’ll just fold this piece of leather into the narrowest conceivable border.

This relief sculpture over the main door of the Scoletta dei Calegheri in Campo San Toma' shows the miracle of San Marco healing the injry suffered by Aniano while repairing his sandals. Saint Aniano became the patron saint of the guild.

This relief sculpture over the main door of the Scoletta dei Calegheri in Campo San Toma’ shows the miracle of San Marco healing the injury suffered by Aniano while repairing his (Marco’s) sandals. Aniano became the patron saint of the guild.  Meaning no disrespect, their encounter does sort of look like Androcles and the lion.

On the other side of the city, near Campo Santo Stefano, is what remains of the scuola of the calegheri tedeschi, or German shoemakers. No mingling, no fraternizing.

On the other side of the city, near Campo Santo Stefano, is what remains of the scuola of the calegheri tedeschi, or German shoemakers. No mingling, no fraternizing.  Here the scene is the classic depiction of the Annunciation, the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Annunciation being the guild’s patron saint.

The corner of the building has more shoes, just to make sure we know it belongs to the Germans. The hammer and sickle graffito at no extra charge.

The corner of the building has yet more shoes, just to make sure we understand its significance. The hammer and sickle graffito at no extra charge.

Tracing the shoe's pattern onto a sheet of ostrich-skin is careful work, what with the bumps and all.

Tracing the shoe’s pattern onto a sheet of ostrich-skin is careful work, what with the bumps and all.

This pin-up has been in the shop since the last Ice Age, and she has no intention of removing it.

This pin-up has been in the shop since the last Ice Age, and she has no intention of removing it.

Every step requires some sort of exertion -- here she is pulling the last out of a nearly finished man's oxford. Talk about a perfect fit: The only way to pull the last out is to hook a long metal rod into a special hole in the plastic form, brace with foot, pull with might and, if necessary, also main.

Every step requires some sort of exertion — here she is pulling the last out of a nearly finished man’s oxford. Talk about a perfect fit: The only way to pull the last out is to hook a long metal rod into a special hole in the plastic form, brace with foot, pull with might and, if necessary, also main.

Speaking of exertion, consider this 70-yeer-old boot from Switzerland. I'd never given much thought to what hobnails really were, but this object looks like it could double as the murder weapon.

Speaking of exertion, consider this 70-yeer-old boot from Switzerland. I’d never given much thought to what hobnails really were, but this object looks like it could double as the murder weapon.

These nails are all over the sole, too. This shoe's in better shape than I am, but then, I'm not studded with hobnails.

These nails are all over the sole, too. This shoe’s in better shape than I am, but then, I’m not studded with hobnails.

When you think of Venetian art, you usually think of paintings and, occasionally, sculpture. Please add this to your artistic considerations: the outer edge of the heel protrudes infinitesimally further than the inner side of the heel. This refinement is to resist the wear which inevitably occurs on the outer edge of the heel -- you know, the part that finally forces you to take the shoe to the shop and have the thing repaired.

When you think of Venetian art, you usually think of paintings and, occasionally, sculpture. Please add this to your artistic considerations: the outer edge of the heel protrudes infinitesimally further from the vamp than does the inner side of the heel. This refinement is to resist the wear which inevitably occurs on the outer edge of the heel — you know, the part that finally forces you to take the shoe to the shop and have the thing repaired.

You're not looking at a mere shoe, but at years of someone's life -- the same sort of years that Vladimir Horowitz spent learning to play an arpeggio that floats itself off the keyboard. This shoe is another of those "nothing to it" feats that lure civilians into dark jungles of unsuspected struggle.

You’re not looking at a mere shoe, but at years of someone’s life — the same sort of years that Vladimir Horowitz spent learning to play an arpeggio that floats itself off the keyboard. This shoe is another of those deceptively “nothing to it” feats that lure civilians into dark jungles of unsuspected labor and toil.

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Sep
22

Be still, my heart

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Wait, it gets better below. But the scene was beautiful even when we weren't moving.

Wait, it gets better (video clips below). But the scene was beautiful even when we weren’t moving.

Sunday evening at 7:25 PM the Piazza San Marco suddenly came alight in the most extraordinary way.  It pulsated, briefly and gloriously, with hundreds (900, if all the people who signed up actually came) of flashlights which, taken together, formed the shape of a heart.

Yes, “Venezia Rivelata” has struck again.

We all remember what fun it was to make a “bocolo” on the feast of San Marco, 2014, and this time the organizers/artists/fantasizers had designed something bigger, more complicated, and also much more spectacular.

The event was the 12th and last in a series created by Alberto Toso Fei and performance artist Elena Tagliapietra.  Not every program was so vivid; some were lectures and — to be frank — weren’t all equally publicized, as far as I could tell.  Not that I’d have attended them all.  I just want to point out that there was in fact a major scheme to all this, the scheme being to focus each time on a particular aspect of Venetian history.  And why do this?  To bring Venetians to a sense of reclaiming their city, in an emotional if not actual way.  (It’s all explained on the press release below.)

Here is the design with the numbered sections. Very useful, like a list of the assigned places at a wedding reception.

The theme on Sunday night was “Venice and Justice,” which is a topic well worth bringing forward, and not because the two terms seem to have become, if we read the newspapers, virtual antonyms.  Wait, that isn’t fair.  There is justice — in Italy at large, no need to concentrate on Venice alone —  but it moves at the pace of a dying diplodocus struggling in a tar pit, and the results are often what might be called debatable.  Slow, in any case.

But in the great trajectory of history, Venice often showed herself to be a dazzling innovator — technical, commercial, conceptual, legal — passing laws most of which probably wouldn’t have seemed like a good idea to anyone but the Venetians.  To take an example at random, Venice was the first nation in the world to abolish the slave trade (960 AD).  Venice invented the copyright, to protect intellectual property (their merchant instincts didn’t stop at the merely tangible).  Venice passed laws to protect the rights of women, and of children.  Not made up.

Speaking of laws, how about this idea: “The law is equal for everyone,” which is inscribed in big letters on the wall behind every judge’s bench in the land.  It can’t be confirmed where this dictum came from, but the Venetians followed it in spirit if not in phrase.  For many centuries they were arguably the only people in Europe (and the world?) who didn’t subscribe to the idea that the bigger and richer you were, the more the law was supposed to work for you.  If you bothered with the law at all.

The fact that Venice regarded the law as sovereign was never so bitterly and clearly shown than in the agonizing story of Jacopo Foscari, the only surviving son of doge Francesco Foscari (doge from 1423 to 1457).  Jacopo was found to be accepting money from a foreign power; he was tried and exiled.  More skulduggery, more trials, more exile — three times, each sentence confirmed by his father.  I submit that the average criminal whose father was the head of state (or, if you like, the average head of state with an incorrigible child) would have used whatever power was necessary to get the laddie off the hook.  Here, no.  The laddie died in exile.

The weather was superb; I think the sign-in people might even have been sweating, while keeping an eye on the boxes of umbrellas. Things like those can easily grow legs.

The weather was superb; I think the sign-in people might even have been sweating, while keeping an eye on the boxes of umbrellas. Things like those can easily grow legs.  Each participant was given one, because at a certain moment we were all to be ordered to open the umbrella and shine our flashlight upward under it.  And we all had to be dressed in as much white as we could muster, including a hat, if possible.  I wore Lino’s “dixie cup” sailor’s cap.

Toso Fei reports that the following inscription (translated by me) was carved, in Latin, over the entry door of the avogaria of the Doge’s Palace; the avogaria was an ancient magistracy composed of three men who upheld the principle of legality, that is, the correct application of the laws.  That such a body even existed was extraordinary — perhaps, in the 12th century, even revolutionary.

PRIMA DI OGNI COSA INDAGATE SEMPRE SCRUPOLOSAMENTE, PER STABILIRE LA VERITÀ CON GIUSTIZIA E CHIAREZZA.  NON CONDANNATE NESSUNO, SE NON DOPO UN GIUDIZIO SINCERO E GIUSTO.  NON GIUDICATE NESSUNO IN BASE A SOSPETTI, MA RICERCATE LE PROVE E, ALLA FINE, PRONUNCIATE UNA SENTENZA PIETOSA.  NON FATE AGLI ALTRI QUEL CHE NON VORRESTE FOSSE FATTO A VOI.

BEFORE ANY OTHER THING, ALWAYS INVESTIGATE SCRUPULOUSLY TO ESTABLISH THE TRUTH WITH JUSTICE AND CLARITY.  DO NOT CONDEMN ANYONE IF NOT ACCORDING TO A SINCERE AND JUST JUDGMENT.  DO NOT JUDGE ANYONE ON THE BASIS OF SUSPICIONS, BUT SEEK THE EVIDENCE AND, AT THE END, PRONOUNCE A COMPASSIONATE SENTENCE.  DO NOT DO TO OTHERS WHAT YOU WOULD NOT HAVE DONE TO YOU.

I think they stole that last idea from somewhere.

So: Beating heart.  What better to represent everything good — not only laws fairly and scrupulously applied — but life, period?  That was our assignment.

The result was beyond dazzling.

Hats off to everybody involved, right down to the policemen who kept the spectators at bay.  And thanks for the umbrella, too.

Facepainters were decorating whoever was willing.

Facepainters were decorating whoever was willing.  All dressed in white, we  looked like a regiment of ice-cream vendors.

Being painted seemed to be something the women were more drawn to, though there might have been a man somewhere who got himself hearted.

Being painted seemed to be something the women were more drawn to, though there might have been a man somewhere who got himself hearted.

Your correspondent.

Your correspondent.

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Untold miles of masking tape had been applied to the Piazza to lay out the positions of the participants, at a width of roughly two people. I was in Number 7.

Untold miles of masking tape had been applied to the Piazza to lay out the positions of the participants, at a width of roughly two people. I was in section 7.

Dry run on holding up our flashlights, all facing toward the campanile of San Marco.

Dry run on holding up our flashlights, all facing toward the campanile of San Marco.

And a few dry runs on opening the umbrellas, and shine our flashlights under them.

And a few dry runs on opening the umbrellas, and shining our flashlights under them.  We on the outside were told to hold the umbrella in the left hand and the flashlight in the right — I still don’t understand the point of that.  The people on the squiggly center lines clearly had other instructions.  Or none.

Dancers were milling around in small bands, all dresses in white except for the two stars who just stood around for a while crunching their feet.

Dancers were milling around in small bands, all dressed in white except for two stars who just stood around for a while crunching their feet.

Another wandering star. I understand that her leotard, etc. may require concealment till show time, but she did look like someone going from one treatment to another at the spa.

Another wandering star. I understand that her leotard, etc. may require concealment till show time, but she did look like someone going from one treatment to another at the spa.

For about 45 minutes before the heart lit up, we were favored by a series of dance performances by five different groups. I didn't shoot most of them because they didn't inspire me (yes, I need inspiration), but I began to realize that it was a very intelligent way to program the event for the participants. We had been asked to show up an hour and a half before H-hour, and that time can really drag no matter how willing you are to shine your flashlight around. This dancer did a lovely routine with a huge fan.

For about 45 minutes before the heart lit up, we were favored by a series of dance performances by five different groups. I didn’t shoot most of them because they didn’t inspire me (yes, I need inspiration), but I began to realize that it was a very intelligent way to program the event for the participants. We had been asked to show up an hour and a half before H-hour, and that time can really drag no matter how willing you are to shine your flashlight around. This dancer did a lovely routine with a huge fan.

Her fan and bodytard (or whatever it's called) were color-coordinated: dark on one side, light on the other, like a turbot or a brill or a sole.

Her fan and bodytard (or whatever it’s called) were color-coordinated: dark on one side, light on the other, like a brill or a sole.

These are brill ("rombo" in the fish market).  As you see, one side light and one dark.  The dark side is up as they swim, the notion being that  the a predator from above will have difficulty seeing it because the dark fish will blend with the darkness below it, looking down.  Similarly, a predator from below would have trouble distinguishing the fish because the light side would be seen against the light filtering down from the surface.  I don't know anything about the purposes of the girl's camouflage, though.

These are brill (“rombo” in the fish market). As you see, one side light and one dark. The dark side is up as they swim, the notion being that the a predator looking down from above will have difficulty seeing it because the dark fish will blend with the darkness below it.  Similarly, a predator from below looking up would have trouble distinguishing the fish because the light side would be seen against the light filtering down from the surface. I don’t know anything about the purposes of the girl’s camouflage, though.

Same for sole.  When you've got a good idea, stick with it.

Same for sole. When you’ve got a good idea, stick with it.

This lovely girl then performed what I think of as Salome's Dance of the One Veil.

The spa-girl then performed what I think of as Salome’s Dance of the One Veil.

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Then followed a routine which seemed less a dance and more a gymnastic exhibition (I realize the line between the two may be vague). The red panel seemed to be the star, though the man was pretty impressive.

Then followed a routine which seemed less a dance and more a gymnastic exhibition (I realize the line between the two may be vague). The red panel seemed to be the star, though the man was pretty impressive.  I kept waiting for him to do the Thomas Flair, but no.

He had to be supporting the panel and a girl instead.

He had to be supporting the panel and a girl instead.  There was another routine after this, but let’s move on because sunset it now at its perfect point and we have to cue the flashlights!

Show time! The lights in the Piazza have just been turned on, and our first command to turn on the flashlights has been given. Have to stop shooting now, got to get busy.

Show time! The lights in the Piazza have just been turned on, and our first command to turn on the flashlights has been given. Have to stop shooting now, got to get busy. But what followed was a series of commands: shine the flashlight straight at the campanile and hold still, then wiggle the flashlight for a while, then shine it under your open umbrella, then run around inside the heart with your shining umbrella as fast as you can.  At street level, extremely strange.  But the result?  Wahoo!

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And so it was twilight in the Piazza. Time to take my umbrella and go home.

 

Categories : Venetian Events
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Sep
17

First day of school

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The table is set up at this corner because the children turn right here to get to the elementary school

The table is set up at this corner because the children turn right here to get to the elementary school.

Yesterday, Sept. 16, was the first day of school.  Nobody was happy, of course, even though the Veneto, along with Puglia, was the region that started school the latest (Alto Adige began on Sept. 7, but they have German DNA).

I’ve never investigated the reasons why the whole country doesn’t start school on the same day, and starting on a Wednesday seems odd, or at least asymmetrical, to me.  Then again, some of the post offices in Venice open at 8:15, and some open at 8:25.  Anyone for 8:00?  Certainly not.  To each his own symmetry, I guess.

This little sprite was in another neighborhood, heading off for her excellent adventure complete with backpack, mother, and grandmother.

This little sprite was in another neighborhood, heading off for her excellent adventure complete with backpack, mother, and grandmother.

This year, as in the past few, the neighborhood old people’s group (literal translation of “gruppo anziani“) organized a wonderful send-off to the littlest scholars to launch them into their first real day of school ever (they will already have had nursery school, but this time it’s serious). We didn’t stay to watch because we had to be somewhere else, but I have no doubt that, as before, each child was given a bag of presents — school supplies could qualify, as long as they’ve got that new-car smell — and given a heartfelt exhortation, and a warm round of applause.

But what was new this year was the sign they put up on the backdrop, the wall of the church of San Francesco di Paola.  We discovered it toward evening, and this morning it was gone.  I’d like to think that the wall will retain the warmth of the poster for quite a while yet.

"Viva' is short for "Evviva," which is a cry of joy and acclaim. I always think of it as "Long live" the whatever-comes-next. It is sometimes abbreviated to a big "W" (two V's, naturally).

“Viva’ is short for “Evviva,” which is a cry of joy and acclaim. I always think of it as “Long live” the whatever-comes-next. It is sometimes abbreviated to a big “W” (two V’s, naturally).

"Long live school, Long live culture, Long live all the children in the world."

“Long live school, Long live culture, Long live all the children in the world.”

 

 

 

Categories : Venetian-ness
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Sep
05

Back to work

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We had some boffo days at the end of August and beginning of September.

We had some boffo days at the end of August and beginning of September.

Hello.  Maybe you remember me, I’m the blogger about Venice who doesn’t make anything up.  I am fully aware that I have set a new record in silence, and I’m sorry about it, but I had lots of good reasons, including having to finish a colossal project (which will be revealed at the appropriate moment, which isn’t now).  I have been living in a parallel universe complete with galaxies that have long numbers instead of names, and have not had enough brain, or whatever energy is actually made of (electrons?  crush-ons? four-hours-of-sleep-a-night-ons?) to do anything else.

But there is possibly a deeper reason for the silence.  I have temporarily run out of interest in Venice.  At least I hope it’s temporary.

Why is this?  Because I have become the glass into which the famous one drop too many has dripped.  Several drops.  Too freaking many drops.

Here is what I mean:

The tram.  Another massive public project, full of problems and costing too much.

Ten years have been devoted to the building of a tram that goes places in Mestre and now, finally, is concluding at Piazzale Roma. Naturally this has been done to the sound of teeth: Those of the highly inconvenienced public (gnashing and grinding) and those of the builders, politicians, and Superintendent(s) of Architecture and Landscape (gleaming with satisfied smiles).

This is merely the latest version of a story that just keeps getting retold, like bodice-ripper novels in which only the names and locations change: Estimates of time and cost blown to flinders, a vehicle which, new as it is, breaks down at odd moments for all sorts of reasons that are explained in the “Don’t Do This” chapter of the textbook on how to build a tram.  Derailments, losses of power, miscalculations of angles of descent which mean the tram would ram itself nose-down into the ground at certain points unless the geometry gets fixed.

Now the bill, so to speak, is coming due.  The budgeted cost: 163.7 million euros.  Real cost to date: 208 million.  Unforeseen delays, extra features added on later, the usual litany of an expensive public project. Wait, I think that’s redundant.  There will be investigations, of course.  The tram people can explain everything.

So much for the tram itself, which frankly, I happen to like.  When it’s working.

This is the “shelter.”  It’s not that it’s ugly that fascinates me, it’s that somebody thought this fulfilled the needs of people in a windy rainstorm, which are not uncommon here.  And what about shade in the pounding heat of summer?  I’m just not seeing it.  Bonus points: It’s only sort of original — one almost exactly like it was built in Alicante, Spain in 2006, and has even won awards, perhaps not voted by anybody who actually uses it. (Photo not by me, but uncredited where I found it.)

But the tram’s new “shelter” in Piazzale Roma (105 feet / 32 meters long) is an entire other subject, the latest in a series of phenomenally ugly constructions which have been approved and executed in the spirit of “Because we’re the city and we can do what we want.”  The purpose of this construction is to protect what appears to be about 50 people from the rain while waiting for the tram, as long as there is totally no wind. The more I look at it, the more I can’t understand how it could be considered functional, whether beautiful or not.

But by the way, it isn’t beautiful.  But no matter.  As so often has happened, the project documents clearly came out of the office of the Superintendent of Architecture and Landscape (who you might have thought was required to protect and defend the fabric of the most beautiful city, etc.) covered with big bright stamps that say “We like this!”  “This is good!”  “Let’s do this ASAP!”  “Can we do more of these?”  This has happened so many times since I’ve been here.  Say what you will about the Calatrava Bridge — for all its problems, and preposterous cost overruns, at least it’s functional.  You can adjudicate beauty on your own time.

As you can see, this shelter (I don’t know what else to call it at the moment, though it doesn’t look very  sheltering) answers to the nickname given by the first Venetians who saw it: the “big black coffin.”  It’s made of three sections of steel which weigh a total of 18 tons.  I cannot understand why something that big that weighs that much has to exist anywhere in Venice; even Tennessee Ernie Ford knew enough to stop at Sixteen Tons.

Traffic in the Grand Canal:  Remember the fatal accident by the Rialto Bridge two years ago?  We’ve jettisoned one mayor, used up a commissario, and now have another mayor.  Nothing has changed.  Everything is just the way it was.  Remember all those new regulations that came out a few months ago that threw a few amateur rowers into a swivet?  Regulations are so wonderful, especially when you have no way to enforce them, like not having one policeman for every boat.  Don’t watch this space for news of the next fatal accident, because I’ve stopped caring about the traffic.  Let everybody do what they want, which is exactly what they are doing.  Rock on.

The awning only hinted at the awesomeness of the store that was:

The awning’s modest list only hinted at the awesomeness of the store that was: Housewares, Detergents, Perfumes, Gardening, Camping, Hardware, Trinkets.  The name itself meant “Big Store.” But monuments crumble all the time, so what’s one more?

The Bottegon is gone.  This strikes way too close to home.  Stores close with alarming frequency here, usually as a result of spikes in the rent that are impossible to pay by selling books or pork chops or kiwi fruit or even sporting goods and gear (Andreatta, in the Strada Nova, had been in business since 1883.  As of March, it is no more).  I’ve seen all kinds of stores close since I’ve been here — hair salons, butcher shops, toy stores — and what follows is usually a bar/cafe, restaurant, or shop selling “Murano glass” made in China, Carnival masks (often made in China), touristic gewgaws and souvenirs (made over there too).  Nothing against China, but it’s not Venice.

I don’t know precisely how long the Bottegon was in business; I knew that it occupied a large space that was once a movie theater — you could see the big empty window above the cash registers where the projection room used to be.

You have to understand, this wasn’t a mere store.  It was a Noah’s Ark of almost everything required for human life, at least a pair of each so they could repopulate the earth with hair conditioner and thumbtacks and toilet paper and moth repellent and floor wax and all kinds of electrical wire.  Except for food and clothing, you couldn’t think of anything that you couldn’t find there.  Paint, hair color, mops, ladders, toothpaste, lightbulbs, potpourri, makeup, doorstops, toothpicks, shelving, salad spinners, detergent.  It was impossible to go in there and not come out with what you needed.  It was crammed so full, up to the top shelves of a very high ceiling, that you sometimes had to ask for help even to locate your item.  Then the choice would baffle you.

Then things began slowly to change.  They moved the cash registers to the front of the store, the area that you used to have to traverse like a jungle explorer, occasionally climbing over things.  They glammed up the shelves, widened the aisles, cut back on a lot of products, and began to add items you’d never have thought of buying there.  Olive oil, potato chips, wine.  It was weird — there are two supermarkets right across the street.  It was like watching Zelda Fitzgerald studying ballet at age 27, imagining she was going to be a star: depressing, and smelling of doom.

People used to stand in line at the registers, eventually there was almost nobody in the store.  In a brutal about-face, they never had what I needed anymore.  Eventually it stopped being a store and became some old friend with a lingering illness that you just couldn’t visit anymore.

So I’m glad it’s out of its misery.  From what my neighborhood source told me, you could have written the cause of death in one word: “Debts.”

A moment of silence.

Happily for me, soulless consumer that I am, I don’t have to worry, because via Garibaldi has two pharmacies, and two supermarkets, and even two bakers.  And there is indeed a sort of Bottegon down by the vegetable boat which has already been taking up the slack.  I have no idea what it’s called, but it’s small and crammed and has almost everything the old store had.  So I’m okay.  But I still don’t understand why they had to let the other one die.

Maybe it’s going to rise from the ashes as a restaurant.  We certainly need more of those.

Complaints about everything: These never stop, and most of them are completely justified.  But I’m tired of reading them and hearing them and even uttering them myself.

So I’ll be looking for something new to share, but it might take a little while.  I’m going to have to find one of those three-day cleanses, but for my brain.

Even three floors up, the pink bows announcing the birth of a girl stand out, and make me smile.

Even three floors up, the pink bows announcing the birth of a girl stand out, and make me smile.

"Welcome Anna." I do!

“Welcome Anna.” I do!

A few streets over, another little girl joins the team.

A few streets over, another little girl joins the team.

Valentina! Wow!

Valentina! Wow!  You can play power forward!

At the end of August we still had heat, but it was leaving gallons of dew on the streets overnight. This was not rain.

At the end of August we still had heat, but it was leaving gallons of dew on the streets overnight. This was not rain.

The difference between the sunny and shady sides of the street is rarely quite so vivid.

The difference between the sunny and shady sides of the street is rarely quite so vivid.

And this was "good morning" two days ago, a greeting we heard via a large ship's horn even before we looked outside. Early autumn fog is so normal that they call it the "brume settembrine," the September mist.

And this was “good morning” two days ago, a greeting we heard via a large ship’s horn even before we looked outside. Early autumn fog is so normal that they call it the “brume settembrine,” the September mists.

And back to clouds again. Or is this a smoke signal, which says "Please come save us before we all lose our minds"?

And back to clouds again. Or is this a smoke signal, which says “Please come save us before our powers of reason abandon us”?

 

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Categories : Venetian-ness
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