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

Milan tram

I want to briefly return to Naples, because I feel I didn’t quite do the evening justice in part one of this story. Also, one reviewer of our show in Milan thought we had said something about our equipment being stolen in Naples, which we didn’t, because it wasn’t. I’d like to stress that although Naples is often shabby – with façades crumbling off the façades – the promoters and the venue owners were doing something ultra-modern. They had re-appropriated an old building in a simply stunning way, and the atmosphere was magical.

The left-leaning, stylish middle class in Milan didn’t seem to think they had much in common with the southerners of Naples, one assumption being that people came from Naples to Milan to steal rear-view mirrors and sell them for 4 euros. How can you trust a paesano that steals your rear-view mirror? How can you trust him with anything?

“Cut your hair”, the stylish, self-proclaimed Stalinist behind the bar said to Janne. I liked the bar, and the man and the woman behind the bar. They clearly knew what they were doing. But I don’t think they knew that we were staying in a studio on Via Gluck when they played “Il Ragazzo della Via Gluck” by Adriano Celentano on YouTube after the bar had closed. Adriano, a lone man with a sort of a deranged swagger, was walking in a field, voice-syncing the song. I knew the Swedish version of the song (“Lyckliga gatan”), so I had an idea what the original, Italian lyrics might be like. And I had drunk a Negroni cocktail. But when the bar people described them to me, and I realized we were living on the same street that Adriano Celentano was singing about, I reached a sentimental climax. He sang about the raising of high rises on his old street, and in a wider sense about the destructive and dehumanizing aspects of modernity and urbanization. And it wasn’t any old street, it was Via Gluck, temporarily our street. Was everything possible, again? Or was it the false promise of 1/3 gin, 1/3 campari and 1/3 vermouth, again?

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