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You silly Italians with your love of English-language songs even though you have no idea what they mean! You crack me up. I love you. You make me warm inside, even as I chuckle sardonically each time I hear a DJ attempt to translate a song title – half the time, you dorks are wrong. I also laugh when you claim that everything in Italy is better and that nothing America makes is any good – which is why your favorite movies come from Hollywood, your sneakers are Nike, and Nirvana is your favorite band. But I digress.
I’m fascinated by the pervasiveness of English-language music around the world. How did we get the monopoly on far-reaching tunes? Why aren’t English speakers more open to embracing music from other cultures? It’s not as though other countries don’t produce amazing music – yet, at music stores back home, “World Music” is usually banished to a single lonely shelf.
I can’t enjoy a song if I don’t understand the words is a common argument. Certainly, there’s something to be said for being able to “get” all facets of a song: every once in a while, my Italian friends will ask me to translate a song for them and in the 60s and 70s, many chart-topping American songs were covered by Italian singers to make them more accessible to Italian audiences. But – and feel free to argue with me if I’m wrong – in the end, it’s the beat that makes the music, so usually, it goes like this:
My friends: I’m honey, honey, honey, honey.
Me: What the hell are you singing?
My friends: I’m honey?
Me: It’s “I’m horny”, not “I’m honey.”
My friends: Oh. I’m horny, horny, horny, horny.
Me: Do you even know what that means?
My friends: No.
Me: Do you want to know?
My friends: I guess. Sure. Whatever.
You can protest all you want, but I don’t believe for a second that if you heard a fantastic song in another language that you wouldn’t love it. To test my theory, I present you with Ten Italian Songs You Would Love if You Knew They Existed. The older songs are songs my parents raised me on and the more recent ones are songs I’ve come into contact with since I’ve been living in this crazy boot.
The reason you will love these songs is because I love them and you and I – we always agree.
I’m in Vienna and hungover but it’s Friday and I promised you (or mainly myself) to pop out an Old Man Antonio fix on this holiest of days so:
OLD MAN ANTONIO: Liv, I’m going now.
OLD MAN ANTONIO: I’m tired. I’m going straight to bed.
ME: No partying tonight?
OLD MAN ANTONIO: Hah! Where? This town is dead.
MAFALDA: I’m going to the Penelope Club.
OLD MAN ANTONIO: To do what?!
MAFALDA: Drink, dance.
OLD MAN ANTONIO: But you’re old like me. Why the fuck do you want to do that?
MAFALDA: It’s fun. I may be old but I’m not dead. I can still go out and enjoy myself. The Penelope Club is nice.
OLD MAN ANTONIO: You mean The Prostate Club.
October 22, 2011 in spazarific
CAST OF CHARACTERS
LIV: Writer. American. Early 30s. Breathtakingly gorgeous.
OLD MAN ANTONIO: Pensioner. Early 60s. Italian. Haunts the bar where Liv goes to write. Scatters outrageous, unsolicited advice like so much birdseed.
MARCO: Policeman. Italian. Mid-40s. MARCO was once one of LIV’s interview subjects for an article she was planning to write.
FRANCESCO: MARCO’s friend. Italian. Also mid-40s.
DOMENICO: The owner of Bar Girasole. Italian. Mid-40s.
MASSIMO: Barista. Italian. Early 20s. Jacked, handsome, painfully shy.
GENOEFFA and CINZIA: Local girls. Italian. Early 20s. In heat.
Bar Girasole, where LIV goes to write and OLD MAN ANTONIO apparently spends every hour of his retirement. Modern day. Culonia, Italy. LIV is sitting at her usual table, working on Chapter 28 of her novel and drinking a strawberry-flavored hot chocolate. OLD MAN ANTONIO enters the bar.
October 11, 2011 in spazarific
The usual hours and the usual parking spot and the usual teenage boys behind the bar who take bets on what flavor of fruit juice I’ll be drinking today; if I’ll accept the aperitivo or no; if I’ll get any writing done while Old Man Antonio lectures me on exactly what my problem is (I have many). The caffè has become a physiologist’s bell for me and I am a salivating dog; without it, without my usual routine of street-facing table, fruit juice in a tall glass on ice with a straw, the white noise of espresso machine and old man nonsense, I do not write. Every day from 5 to 8. The undisputed bright spot of my day.
But sometimes, I roll up to the caffè – walk through the doors, take off my hat and sunglasses – and I see this:
A crew of unauthorized bitches at my table.
September 30, 2011 in spazarific
At night, there are the nightspots and free concerts. My group of friends tends to meet up around midnight – when my friends in the tourism and hotel industry get off from work; when the nightspots start getting packed – and those of us who don’t live at home* and might not have eaten dinner or those of us who do live at home** but are still hungry might hit a pub for something to snack on.*myself, Katarina – the resident foreigners in the bunch **the Italians
An Italian pub is not a pub, but it is called a pub nonetheless. Inspired by pubs of England and Ireland, an Italian pub will often have a name in English – butchered by the locals – and a full menu of beer, American cocktails, Italian apertifs, German and Italian dishes, as well as hamburgers that are not hamburgers, but are instead shriveled hockey pucks. Apart from a hamburger, you might order a plate of tortellini alla boscaiola, a plate of french fries, an insalata caprese, a sausage plate, tiramisu, a pizza, or a panino. We know which pubs in town make decent cocktails (not La Santa Maria), which pubs can’t make desserts for crap (*cough* The Strong), and which pubs have terrific craft beer (*sigh* The Strong). My friend Piercarlo once ordered millefoglie for dessert at La Santa Maria and made the tragic mistake of telling me that eating millefoglie makes him nervous; so many layers, so much opportunity to make a mess. I’ve tortured him about this ever since.
There will be a TV in the corner playing the music television. Barely legal waitresses with giant boobs bouncing around. A few families who’ve decided to bring their toddlers out at one in the morning. And then – regular as the sunrise, persistent as the heat – come the rose vendors.
July 5, 2011 in spazarific
I’ve been nominated, I’ve been nominated! Nominated to take part in the 7 Blogs project, that is. This means that Barbara Weibel and tripbase - respectively, my gentle nominator and the mastermind behind the project – like me; that they really like me! My part in this project is simple. I may share with you “My 7 Links.”
The goal of this project is to help travel bloggers unearth what they consider to be their best posts; useful, poignant posts that may have been written long ago, perhaps before they had a readership; posts that perhaps deserve to be released back into the wilds of the internet. I’m beyond pleased to have been nominated, and really relish this chance to highlight some of my past posts. I’ve been pigeon eating for over five years now, and until about a year ago, only 5 people read what I wrote. I used to write about Japan. Then I wrote about Ireland. Sometimes I wrote about New York City, too. Now I write about Italy, but if you’re reading this post now, chances are you knew that already. You might not have known that I was once an English teacher in Japan who fielded molestation at the hands of children, struggling to learn Japanese and stuffing my face with as many negitoro onigiri as I could find. You might not have known that I was once a Creative Writing master’s student at Trinity College Dublin, feeling a chill down my spine each time I realized that Irish-English syntax was seeping into my speech. And you might not have known that in a former life, I was an editor at an advertising firm in New York City and absolutely hated my job. Well, now you might get to know. Without further ado, my seven links: