Archive for garbage

Apr
13

Just more looking

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I'm beginning to think that shadows and reflections are more interesting than the real things that cause them. I wonder if the French have invented a philosophy that would explain that.

I’m beginning to think that shadows and reflections are more interesting than the real things that cause them. I wonder if the French have invented a philosophy that would explain that.

There are large and heavy subjects to address, but I’m not going to do it.

I’m not going to talk about the two million euros of fines levied on illegal street vendors over the past year, because all those fines are unpaid and will remain unpaid forever.  (Although it costs the city 14 euros each to issue them.)  Spending money in order to lose it?  Isn’t that what lottery tickets are for?  Anyway, there will continue to be more illegal street vendors, and fines, and on and on in the endless cycle of birth and rebirth.

I’m also not going to talk about the political jockeying which has begun as the mayoral election begins to take form on the horizon.  Nor is it worth devoting any time to listing the daily perp walk of corrupt politicians and businessmen, a procession which seems to know no end.

Seeing that I do not intend to address these very worthy topics, at least not at the moment, I’ll just share some recent glimpses.

Someone on the next street over has a festive way of giving their garbage to the collector.  Either there is not one other piece of string to be found in the house (not even for ready money), or this person has a charming way of brightening up the most mundane tasks and objects.  I can almost hear the person saying "Here!  It's for you!"

Someone on the next street over has a festive way of giving their garbage to the collector. Either there is not one other piece of string to be found in their house (not even for ready money), or this person has a charming way of brightening up the most mundane tasks and objects. I can almost hear her saying “Here! It’s for you!”

And speaking of tying things, the owner of this boat (an honors graduate of Gordium State Technical College) has made the task of securing his deteriorating vessel with this unique knot.  Or knots.  He doesn't realize that in the case of knots, quality beats quantity.  You just need one knot -- the right one, tied the right way -- to keep your boat secure till peace and justice reign on earth.  But he evidently ascribes to the fatal mix of "You never know" and "You can't take too many chances."

While we’re on the subject of tying things, the owner of this boat (an honors graduate of Gordium State Institute of Technology) has secured his deteriorating vessel with this unique knot. Or knots. He doesn’t realize that in the case of knots, quality beats quantity. You just need one knot — the right one, tied the right way — to keep your boat safe till peace and justice reign on earth. But he evidently is the classic belt-and-suspenders person.

There's another nodal creation on the other side.  He'll be ready to withstand Typhoon TK, but if he needs to untie the boat he's going to discover the true meaning of remorse.

There’s another nodal creation on the other side. He’ll be ready to withstand Typhoon Brunnhilde, but if he needs to untie the boat in a hurry he’s going to discover the true meaning of remorse and recrimination.

Venice is composed almost entirely of buildings and walls which have undergone so many transformations they practically qualify as genealogical charts. I call these "Walls of Second Thoughts," and this is not the most extreme example I've found. It does have a sort of charm, though. I can almost hear the families and the workmen over the centuries, discussing and deciding. Sometimes I imagine I can hear someone muttering, "It was better the way it w

Venice is composed almost entirely of buildings and walls which have undergone so many transformations they practically qualify as genealogical charts. I call these “Walls of Second Thoughts,” and this is not the most extreme example I’ve found. It does have a sort of charm, though. I can almost hear the families and the workmen over the centuries, discussing and deciding, then hauling and hammering and just generally slaving and sweating. Sometimes I can just make out the voice of someone muttering, “It was better the way it was.”

Several thoughts -- second, third, fourth -- have passed over the facade of this palace.  The door I can dimly understand, but why they thought it best to suffocate a beautiful ogival-arch window makes me very discontented.

Several thoughts — second, third, fourth — have passed over the facade of this palace. The door I can dimly understand, but that they thought it best to suffocate a beautiful ogee-arch window perplexes me.

I can usually, with more or less effort, figure out what I'm looking at.  But this sturdy stone barrier has shut down my brain.  I understand the complex and perhaps effective barrier intended to keep acqua alta at bay, but the additional slab corresponds to nothing I've ever seen or experienced.  Theories are welcome, but if any reader KNOWS what this is for, I'm considering offering a reward.

Speaking of second thoughts, may I modestly say that I can usually, with more or less effort, figure out what I’m looking at. But this sturdy stone barrier has shut down my brain. I understand the complex and perhaps effective barrier across the door which is obviously intended to keep acqua alta at bay, but the additional slab corresponds to nothing I’ve ever seen or experienced. Theories are welcome, but if any reader KNOWS what this is for, I’m considering offering a reward.

And of course no day is complete without its ration of laundry. I wonder if the person who hung all this out had any idea what it looks like. They're probably more interested in how dry it's going to be before nightfall.

And of course no day is complete without its ration of laundry. I wonder if the person who hung all this out had any idea what it looks like. They’re probably more interested in how dry it’s going to be before nightfall.

Is this a shadow or a reflection of Tourists Past? No, sadly -- it's Tourists Present, tourists dormant, tourists without form, and void. The season has begun.

Is this a shadow or a reflection of Tourists Past? Sadly, no — it’s Tourists Present, tourists dormant, tourists without form, and void. The season has begun.

I'm going back out to the lagoon, where equally crazy things go on every day, but at least I can count on the egrets to know how to behave.

I’m going back out to the lagoon, where equally crazy things go on every day, but at least I can count on the egrets to know how to behave.

 

Categories : Venetian-ness
Comments (5)
Oct
10

The Bermuda Triangle of garbage

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The rain was a nice touch.  So was the careful positioning.  Only a clod would just put it down on the ground -- it takes an artist to see the potential of balancing it on the corner of a step.  Did I say artist?  Of course!  It must be something from the Biennale!

The rain was a nice touch. So was the careful positioning. Only a clod would just put it down on the ground — it takes an artist to see the potential of balancing it on the corner of a step. Did I say artist? Of course! It must be something from the Biennale!

I’ve freely indulged myself in remarking on garbage which is left where it happened to fall.  Or drift.  Or be blown.  Or put.

The computer terminal was just one item.  Bags and bags of rubble and assorted refuse of every sort are others.

The other morning, a TV joined the throng.

Same place as the terminal.

Same stupid time (I saw it Sunday morning — but maybe it came to rest on Saturday night.)  But what difference does it make? It’s out of somebody’s house now, and that’s all that matters.

Did you know there’s a number you can call, and the trash-collectors will come pick up any item measuring up to 3 cubic feet for free?

But I admit that calling a number is much more burdensome than hauling it outside under cover of darkness and leaving it there.  It’s certainly less entertaining.

There must be something about this corner that literally drags people and their garbage to it and compels them to leave it there, even against their will.  Flee from this baneful point!  Mark it on your maps and nautical charts:  45 degrees 25 minutes 57.306 seconds latitude, 12 degrees 21 minutes 23.457 seconds longitude!

Does my Mystic Force theory sound crazy?  So does somebody deciding to do this, and going home feeling fine.

I’m watching for what appliance could be next.  A hydraulic olive-oil press?  An incubator?  A cyclotron?

Heigh-ho, as they don’t say in Venetian.

Later that same day, I passed the same spot, and saw that another occult hand had corrected the unlovely or inappropriate or offensive angle at which the television had been placed.  Probably the same person who helpfully folds down the tag on the neckline of strangers' clothes.

Later that same day, I passed the same spot, and saw that another occult hand had corrected the unlovely or inappropriate or offensive angle at which the television had been placed. Probably the same person who helpfully folds down the tag on the neckline of strangers’ clothes.

Bonus:  The orphan battery, the Flying Dutchman of batteries, rejected, abandoned, and doomed to sit on the street for all eternity.  (That’s longer than just some eternity.)  Everybody must know it’s there by now, and everybody ignores it, even the garbage collectors, for obvious reasons.

The only recognition it receives is to be shifted from time to time, by the all-powerful occult hand, which belongs to nobody.  It goes farther down the side street, then it’s put out on the main street by the corner, where everybody can see it.  Then it goes back down the side street.

Before long, I’m going to make it my mascot.  Give it a little sweater and hat in my team colors.  And pompoms.  Then I’ll give it a name, but I haven’t decided what yet.  I’m not even sure if it’s a girl or a boy.

Looking down the street -- which is clearly inhabited, so it's not exactly hidden -- you can just make out its little black body, pushed into a niche on the left.

Looking down the street — which is clearly inhabited, so it’s not exactly hidden — you can just make out its little black body, pushed into a niche on the left.  I think the empty bottle felt sorry for it and stopped to talk for a while.  They might have been discussing who had a better future — the bottle, which eventually will end up in that massive plastic island floating in the ocean, or the battery, which will see generations be born and die without being able to participate, like Scrooge before his transformation.

It's not that the battery will live in total isolation.  There's always somebody who, seeing one object thrown away, considers that to have thereby become sanctioned as a general throw-your-trash-here location.  I'll be watching to see if the garbage collector removes all the detritus but leaves the battery behind.

It’s not that the battery will live in total isolation. There’s always somebody who, seeing one object thrown away, considers that space thereby to have been sanctioned as a general throw-your-trash-here location. I’ll be watching to see if the garbage collector removes all the detritus but leaves the battery behind.

 

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Dec
23

Christmas spirit

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This splendid relief carving surmounts the main entrance to the church of San Giuseppe (Saint Joseph) in Castello. There are two especially good things here: First, Saint Joseph is, as always, in the background -- even on a church dedicated to him. He must have been a remarkable person. Second, the three shepherds are as accurate as artist Giulio dal Moro (early 1500's) could make them. The first one, kneeling, not only has a small barrel attached to his belt (brandy?), but his upraised right hand is holding sheep-shears.

Venice at Christmas — it sounds as if the entire city ought to be refulgent with gleaming and sparkling, as if every fragment of its shattered splendor should come together and shine in an unearthly and glorious way.

Yes, it does seem that it ought to be that way.

Instead, scattered efforts at decoration all around the city make bright flickers, some bigger, some smaller, that don’t come together in any coherent way. Venice is littered with Nativity scenes, in paintings, in sculpture, not to mention other aspects of the Christmas story — the Annunciation, the Adoration of the Magi, the Flight into Egypt, and even the Massacre of the Innocents –yet the general attitude toward Christmas is not excessively devout.  It remains essentially a domestic holiday and I suppose that ought to translate, if depicted accurately today, into scenes of Mary in the kitchen wrestling with something heavy in the oven while Baby Jesus is busy trying to teach the cat how to swim, or of them looking desperately, not for a room at the inn, but for a place to park at the mall. Meaning no disrespect.

Punctually on December 1, the Christmas mailbox gets installed outside the tobacco/lottery/toy shop.

Little old people, as everywhere, are being wrangled into some extended-family configuration; and the children are, I think, essentially like children everywhere — eyes and spirits fixed, not on the Star, but on the imminent deluge of presents. And not brought by kings or wise men, but laid on by squadrons of adoring relatives, even in times like these.

Perhaps there are gala balls being held in palaces, but my sense is that anybody with a palace is probably already at Cortina.

Still, the framework remains the same, at least in our little hovel: Christmas Eve means risotto of go’ and roasted eel, the ripping open of the presents, midnight mass, the singing of “You Descend from Heaven,”  and slicing the panettone at midnight and popping the prosecco.

Christmas Day means the big mass at San Marco, some fabulous meaty lunch, then either sleeping on the sofa or visiting relatives, then more eating, and more sleeping.

The day after Christmas — the feast of Santo Stefano — is another holiday.  More gorging on food, this time with all of Lino’s family.

One quaint aspect of this holiday is that there are no newspapers for two days because the journalists and editors and printers don’t work  on Christmas Eve and Christmas. This is an antiquated practice that is even more exotic than bearing in the boar’s-head and drinking wassail.  Newspapers in the rest of the world come out as usual, but here, for some reason (and I do not believe it’s because the entire category wants to spend two whole days in church) the newspaper-producers just don’t work on Christmas.

To which I say: Who notices or cares?  The broadcast journalists are working as usual, and the news continues to flow to us in an unbroken stream via the television and the Internet.  But somehow print journalists feel themselves to be special, which, I presume, is fostered and sustained by the unions.  And then they complain that readership is falling.

But this is normal.

This homemade Nativity scene was created by the family on Sant' Erasmo where we go to buy our vegetables. Who says there were no apples and squash in the stable?

What is going to be abnormal this year for the holidays is: Minimal garbage collection.  Of any sort, whether recyclable (there’s a weekly schedule for the different types of material) or otherwise (clam shells, coffee grounds, orange peels, fishbones, half-eaten cupcakes, wine bottles, etc.).  And this will last for two days: Christmas Day, and Santo Stefano.

Two days with no garbage collection — this is a startling innovation in the festal folkways, especially in a city which purports to be world-class, or somewhere near it, and during a period which could be described as garbage-intensive.

The Gazzettino conveys the explanation given by the garbage company, which is nothing more than an arm of the city government with a different name: The garbage collectors are all going to be too busy keeping the streets clean to have time also to collect the bags which are daily left outside the doors of houses and shops.

The very best part is that, given this fact, the garbage company respectfully requests the good citizens to refrain from putting their bags of refuse outside for two days.  So the streets can be neat and tidy. And the interiors of the houses and stores can become kitchen middens.

This is only moderately annoying to us, but for families with children, it’s inconceivable.  I can tell you right now, sitting here with my eyes closed, that the streets are going to be FULL of bags of garbage.  Or maybe there will be a mass reversion to the Old Way, which involves a big splash.

To review: We are requested to not clutter the streets because the trash-teams are going to be busy keeping the streets clean.  But if we’re not putting out trash, why do the streets need to be cleaned? It’s like the definition of chutzpah: First you kill your parents, then you plead for clemency from the court because you’re an orphan.

I tell you, sometimes life in the most beautiful in the world makes my head hurt.

But let us return to the reason for the season, as they say.  Here is a small assortment of glimpses of Venice preparing for Christmas.  But of course, the most beautiful scenes of all are arranged and decorated and illuminated where you’ll never see them: In each person’s heart.  Compared to which glass angels and marzipan cake and all the strings of lights ever plugged in are as nothing.

Out on the eastern edge of Venice, the furthest bit of inhabited land, someone has chosen to put up a lighted little sleigh with one reindeer.

I'm still mystified by whatever is hanging on the fence below the sleigh, but it does seem merry and bright. Could it be an illuminated poinsettia?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The boathouse of the Generali insurance company's rowing club always has a Nativity scene of some sort. This year they made it float on the canal -- beautiful and evocative, though the waves from the endlessly passing motorboats during the day make it toss like a ship in a storm.

An enterprising bakery and pastry shop hollowed out a chocolate panettone and put in little figurines of Mary, Joseph and Jesus made of marzipan.

They also added a small light to represent the star. But if marzipan can be made to resemble real fruit and fish and so on, why did they make the Holy Family look as if it were carved out of soap? Lino says they already did plenty to make it look like this, and I should just zip it.

 

One of the innumerable variations on the Christmas cake. However they decorate it, the sentiment is always happily the same.

The Nativity scene in a hut in via Garibaldi has all the necessary components, down to the empty manger. In a startling flash of logic, the Baby Jesus isn't installed until Christmas Day.

 

The glow of Christmas on via Garibaldi, silently and majestically and completely upstaged by the moon. And to all a good night.

 

 

 

Comments (7)
Feb
03

Follow-up photo

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A few days ago I was expatiating on the nature of trash/biological refuse disposal here.  Or lack thereof.

One reader who shares my outlook on many things was moved to send me the following photo she made of one means of poop-disposal left by a Neanderthal somewhere in her ambit.  Not her back yard, I’m pretty sure.

We mustn’t begin to smile at these things.  But then again.

Yes, this does indeed look like some cheerful little mutant rabbit, ears and all. I wonder if it was intentional? I'd be sorry to learn that people who do this can also have a sense of humor. No wait -- that's crazy talk.

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Categories : Problems, Venetian-ness
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