Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

Must Seethe TV

Posted in General on July 30th, 2011 by Eugene Finerman – 2 Comments

‘Jersey Shore’ — Buongiorno FLORENCE!               

The cast of “Jersey Shore” will be fist-pumping their brains out in Florence, Italy for Season 40 because the capital of Tuscany is the youngest, coolest city in the Boot.

Yes, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Botticelli would have made great tattoo artists.  The incongruity is not merely cultural, the dismaying contrast between the Italian Renaissance and the Jersey Dark Ages.  It is also ethnic.  Whether you consider the Jersey cast as Sicilians or simians, they are not northern Italians.  With apologies to Athens and Constantinople, Snooki, Pauly D and the gutteral rest are Greecy.

Would you take Tony Soprano’s word on the subject?  The New Jersey entrepreneur wondered why his fellow Sicilians celebrated Columbus Day.  After all, Columbus was Genoese and “Those guys always looked down on us.”  Actually, the snobbery was only for the last seven centuries or so; but the chasm between the two halves of the peninsula is as old as history.  It was literally alienation–two different nations.

The ancestors of Tony Soprano and Snooki would have thought of themselves as Greeks (if I may use the Latin misnomer for the Hellenes). Sicily and Southern Italy were part of the Hellenistic world. Naples originally was Neopolis, and Athens lost the Peloponnesian War because of its disastrous campaign in Sicily.

This Hellenic identification continued in the Middle Ages. The Byzantines held Sicily until the Arabs invaded in 827; and the Greeks and Sicilians put up such a tenacious resistance that the Moslem conquest of the island took more than a century. Indeed, afterwards, the Moslems were too exhausted to effectively threaten the Italian mainland.

Southern Italy remained Byzantine until the 11th century, when a less heralded but equally profitable Norman invasion conquered the region. Even then, the Byzantines maintained their covert ties to the Sicilians and Southern Italians. In the 13th century, Constantinople could no longer reconquer its lost lands but it could help determine who would rule them. A French dynasty in Southern Italy seemed more hostile than its Aragonese rival. Demonstrating a genius for conspiracy that our CIA would envy, in 1282 the Byzantines helped organize an uprising against the French that we know as “The Sicilian Vespers.” The French were driven out, and the Aragonese moved in.  As late as the 18th century, in isolated areas of Southern Italy the populace spoke a dialect of Greek. So Southern Italy and Sicily could be regarded as Western Greece. However, my Greek friends do seem to be good losers about Palermo and Naples. (Constantinople is another matter!)

So, historical accuracy would recommend that the cast of “Jersey Shore” go to Hellas.  Since Athens has enough problems, I’d invite the gang to Crete.  Wouldn’t it be appropriate, “When in Crete, do as the Cretins do.”

p.s.  Speaking of Florence, let’s not forget the historic significance of this day:


Illegal Aliens and Illegal Natives

Posted in General on August 6th, 2008 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

On the August 4 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, Michael Savage declared that “The Statue of Liberty is crying, she’s been raped and disheveled — raped and disheveled by illegal aliens.”

Of course, it is a relief to know that those illegal aliens are heterosexuals. Just imagine if it were otherwise, and what those illegal aliens might be doing to Mount Rushmore. Mount Rushmore is a location, not a proposition! Thank our straight God that Gutzon Borglum only sculpted the Presidents from their necks up; no need for that extra temptation.

NEWS: The Italian government is deploying soldiers on city streets to combat crime.

Unfortunately, being the Italian army, it already has been mugged and robbed.

Of course, as any tourist can tell you, being robbed in Italy is part of the itinerary. The genius of Italian art lives on in any restaurant bill. Observe how the waiter has drawn a three to look like an eight, or a two to pass for a nine; so a bill for 23 Euros might be mistaken for 28. The waiter certainly hopes so. In my case, I avoided the trap. I knew what the bill was supposed to be; there are advantages to being cheap and paranoid. Leaving the correct amount, I looked the waiter in the eye. He smiled and shrugged, as if to say “You caught me; so what! There is always another tourist.”

But I can’t say that I left Italy unscathed. (Only the Visigoths and Vandals can make that claim.) No, I made the mistake of expecting change from a Rome cabdriver. He decided that a 11000 lira fare deserved a 9000 lira tip. (That would be an $18 fare and a $15 gratuity). When I demanded the change, he returned a 1000 lira note. So I refused to leave the cab. He drove the car into an intersection, got out and proceeded to yell aloud. I surmise that he was not praising me. A crowd of Italians gathered around the cab, and those who spoke English wanted to know why I was causing trouble. I told them the details and how I did not want to be cheated.

But my audience was not sympathetic to the plight of the robbed tourist. In fact, I was told, “This is Italy. When you’re in America, you can cheat us.” So I evidently was in breach of social etiquette. To resist theft would be unforgivably rude.

Do remember that when you are in Italy.