posted Sat, 25 Sep 2004
If the Italians set the world’s fashions, we are in big trouble. After only four hours in Rome, we have seen seven – count them, seven – mullet haircuts. They were worn as ironic fashion statements. They were serious. This is very bad news for the US.
In other news, we happened upon a protest march as we were walking to the Spanish steps. It took us a while to figure out what was being protested against. I saw Cuban flags, the Palestinian scarf, the sickle and the hammer banner, Che Guevara banners, and signs saying “Communista” and something about “Irachi.” It took me a while to realize that they were not protesting AGAINST communism, Fidel and Che but FOR them.
I couldn’t understand all of the shouting, but the marchers chanted the Italian equivalent of “The people united will never be divided.”
I was rolling my eyes the whole time at what was happening. Then a speaker yelled through a bullhorn something about the United States and terrorism and to the American embassy. I got the sense that he was not complimenting our bold stand against terrorism. Indeed, I sensed some hostility and anger. That was when they started playing a really awful song. Jenny said, “That’s Rage Against the Machine! They hate us but are playing our music to protest us.”
I gritted my teeth and got angrier and angrier. “Do they even realize the irony of what they are doing?” I asked her. “If they were actually in a communist country, they could never protest like this. They would be shot.”
Jenny said, “This might be a good time for us to leave.” I agreed with her. Getting into a fistfight with Italian communists would not have been a good way to end my vacation. I did, however, flip them off. To quote someone – Colin Powell? – all we have asked is for ground to bury our dead when we have fought other peoples’ wars.
I had brought a CD of Sun Studios Greatest Hits for my Italian hosts, but when Biagio hadn’t said anything in response to my comments about Elvis, I thought that maybe he wouldn’t know about Sun Studios. I had been fooled into thinking the whole world knew about it – everyone except me – when I realized that people came from all over the world to visit there. When I took my tour, I was the only American in the group.
But I gave it to him anyhow, thinking it was good music no matter what – Elvis, Johnny Cash. I shouldn’t have worried. He saw it and said, “BB King! Beale Street! I listen to BB King when you are baby!” He was very pleased. “Ray Charles, BB King. My favorites. Led Zeppelin!” OK, he can’t have perfect taste.
When we passed the Auchan – the hypermarket – on the way in to Naples this morning, Biagio said that he didn’t like to shop there. “Bah! You go in for one thing, come out with ten. I no like. I want go to my friend store, say hello.” He has reason.
The end of the line
11 months ago