La Storia (Cats on Fire, Italy, December ’13), part one

Via Gluck

There’s something about the light, yes, the winter light in Rome is in a different spectrum. Structures reflect light in shades and hues radically different from the ones just seen at home, and the experience of a different colour universe is a promise, an earthly one. There are other lives to be lived, other feelings to be felt, before the requies aeterna. The colours of the inner landscape changes with the light outside.

We sit at a restaurant, we are home made, we are not much more than a hole in the wall, we are family. We are near the Colosseum, now being repaired by a shoe company looking for ad space and good PR. The public sector couldn’t afford it. Could we suggest a name change as well? That could fill holes in walls and budgets.

What is normal wear-and-tear in the eternal city?

To name a new city “New city” has seemed like a great idea to many. None of them lived to see their city get really old. Naples is old and worn. Some had said dangerous, too. “Did you get robbed?” was the question of the day. But we weren’t robbed. Playing in Naples was the opposite of getting robbed. Lanificio 25, a venue overseen by the ghosts of abandoned cotton production and catholic worship, was kindly given to  us this evening and we did our absolute best.

To organize, as far as I understand it, is what living creatures do to accomplish things they couldn’t accomplish each on their own. Organizing society-wide projects in modern societies seems to require a combination of 1) force and 2) trust, between people who share an abstract notion of common ancestry, or perhaps only a common set of ideas, but who otherwise have very little to do with each other. Now, Italy, as any modern state, has obviously had its fair share of both. After all, the railroad tracks had been laid out, from Naples to Trieste, and the train was a-rollin’. But otherwise, I don’t know. Would it be fair to say that the heart wasn’t really in it? The train ride from Naples to Trieste was eight hours long. We, starting to get a bit peckish after two hours or so, asked where the restaurant car was. There ain’t one, we were told. All right, so were’s the trolley, or the bucket with the small bags crisps? A shrug of the shoulders. Maybe the guy had overslept.

I don’t think it was the hunger, or even the thirst (there wasn’t even water!), as much the shrug, meaning “that’s just the way it doesn’t work” that made me furious. A few stops later, I saw a vending machine on the platform, but was told I couldn’t get out, since there wasn’t enough time. “Maybe there’s a machine in Arezzo”. When the train stopped in Arezzo, I ran along the platform, but no luck. And so it continued, up and down the platforms and in again, just in time, but with no food. Once I got a bottle of water, but when the sandwich was on its way out, the doors to the train started closing and I was forced to abort the mission. In Bologna, we made a concerted effort and got back in just in time, with some water and some whiter-shade-of-pale sandwiches. I survived the rest of the ride to Padua on rage alone.

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