Saturday, May 30, 2009

20 years old

Someone has recently emailed me the above video and I can' t help watching it again and again.. This video is an irresistible combination of dramatic song, great performer, and smart staging.

The song is well-known both in its original french form ("Hier encore , j'avais vingt ans") and in the english version ("Yesterday, when I was young") and deeply touches every listener that was once 20 years old.

The 85 years old singer, Charles Aznavour, dressed in black - sharp contrast to his white hair - mourns the foolish waste of his young years. Helping him with this are two tall beauties on high heels and in mini dresses who, I guess, are a symbol of youth with all its vanity and carelessness . The stage background looks vivid and cheerful as opposed to the sad words of the song . The moist eyes of the two boys in the audience, and the... moaning of Aznavour make it all very emotional. The bottom line of the song is "Je gache ma vie" meaning I wasted my life. (Aznavour, BTW did very well in his life).

Here are a few 'pearls" from the song (free translation) :

"I played with my life as one plays with Love", " The projects I planned were built on air",' "My eyes were looking for the sky, but my heart missed the earth", "Every conversation concerned itself with me, not beyond that","I wasted my time on follies that left me with nothing but a few wrinkles and fear of boredom", "My loves were dead even before they existed, my friends are gone and will not return", "I've created a void around me", ' I wasted my life and my young years".

"Where are they now my twenty years?"

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A smile on your face (e-mail sent by a friend)

Can't eat pork
Swine flu...

Can't eat chicken,

Bird Flu..

Can't eat beef
Mad cow..

Can't eat eggs

Can't eat fish
Heavy metal poisons in the water

Can't eat fruits and veggies,
Insecticides and herbicides.


I believe that leaves Chocolate and Ice -cream !!!

Remember....'STRESSED' spelled backwards is 'DESSERTS'

(Send this to four people and you will loose 2 pounds. Delete it and you will gain 10 pounds immediately!)

That's why I had to pass this on... didn't want to risk it...
And I wanted to put a smile on your face."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The leaning Tower , the ailing Economy

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), the famous physicist, astronomer, mathematician, philosopher - was born in Pisa, Italy.

(The term 'physicist' BTW makes me sometimes smile . There's a young physicist in our family and people always ask his mother the same old question. Why not doctor or lawyer, why did he 'waste' his talents on this stuff, physics? His mother fights back trying to justify her son's choice of profession by telling those people that her son the physicist is... A b o v e doctors and lawyers, he's a S c i e n t i s t and their question is a stupid, primitive question...,OH, WELL).

entrance to the Tower

Pisa. This town became worldwide known not through Galileo Galilei, not even through the young, blind lyrical tenor Andrea Bocelli who was born in the region and studied Law and Music in Pisa, but through its leaning Tower. The Tower is a major tourist attraction, and rightlly so.. Once you got to the top of it, you're rewarded with a splendid panoramic view of Pisa and its surroundings (weather depending of course).

the leaning Tower of Pisa

When I look now at the tower in the picture, I see... the american Economy ( no offence intended. After all, we are all in the same boat) . There's much talk about 'crisis', 'slow down', 'recession'. Well, I think none of these terms is correct. The correct term, I believe, should be Decline. It's a natural Decline occurring after long decades of living much ,much beyond means. Next phase (if nothing is done about Decline), could be, God Forbid, Collapse.

at the top of the Tower

In 2001, something was done to prevent the further leaning of the Tower of Pisa and, as far as I know, it ended up quite successfully. There's only one thing that can be done to prevent further decline of America's economy - and that's a process of re-education of the nation in the spirit of' 'live within your means'. But, unfortunately, this is something almost impossible for any government to carry out. So, our american friends shoud better adopt the attitude of those living under the active Vesuvium volcano. The people in those flourishing villages & towns under the volcano, know that it could errupt any moment and bring about Collapse of the whole region, and yet they believe, this moment will never come. It is this Belief that helps them carry on quite well with their lives.
Think positive.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

"La Dolce Vita" with David, Mona.. & Anita

Anita Ekberg in the 'Trevi Fountain' scene

I've recently come across some online jokes with the following title: 'King David after a stay in America' , 'MonaLisa after a year in USA'. The joke shows the 'before' and 'after' pictures, and that makes us smile for a second. King David (Michelangelo's superb marble statue) with his youthful manly body is transformed into an obese person. MonaLisa (Da Vinci's painting) in her 'after' picture, has the looks of a definitely non-classy woman with dyed blonde hair, a very deep decoltee putting her feminine assets on display. And her original angelic smile? after being in America for a year or so, the smile takes the shape of a twisted grin.
Well, those openly blamed for the 'dolce vita' (the good, sweet life) of Michelangelo's and Da Vinci's creations in America, are the Mc Donald, KFC, Burger chains, and other goodies' providers.

These jokes are not intended to make fun of the italian masterpieces but rather to laugh at certain aspects of the american way of life such as sedentarism and overeating.

In fact, people all over the world have great admiration , love and respect for Michelangelo's works of art as well as for many other works that have to do with ancient Rome. Year after year, Rome is packed with tourists who would not miss the painted ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum (that huge theatre were masses of citizens were entertained and distracted from the woes of life). the ruins of the Foro Romano (the center of ancient Rome's public life), the city-state of the Vatican with its art galleries, St. Peter's cathedral , the Castel of San Angelo (mausoleum, fortress, and now museum) , the well-preserved Pantheon where kings were burried, the Trevi Fountain, surrounded by crowds taking photos and throwing coins into the waters to ensure return to the city of Rome..and many , many other hisorical and artistic gems.

If you have a pair of good, sturdy legs, than it's a real "dolce vita", a life of of sheer pleasure and enjoyment to go visit the above landmarks with all their visible and hidden beauties.. That's how I felt at the time.

The Colosseum

Castel of San Angelo along the Tiber river

The Basilica of San Pietro

stairs leading to the entrance of the Basilica

Fontana di Trevi

"La Dolce Vita" ( The Sweet Life) is the name of a classic movie directed by the italian Federico Fellini. depicting a life of corruption and decadence. Its female star, the blonde Anita Ekberg ,made the Fontana di Trevi famous all over the world by plunging ,during one of the scenes, in its waters , wearing ...a strapless black dress. A young journalist played by Marcello Mastroiani joined her in the dip. By the way, it was in this famous movie that the notorious concept of "paparrazzi' made its way to public awareness.

Marcello Mastroiani & Anita Ekberg at the fountain

Not far from the Trevi fountain, one can buy the best ice cream in Rome. The aromatic ice-cream at the nearby 'gelateria' gives one a taste of real 'dolce vita'.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Daniel and Juliano

At the time of my brief visit in Naples, I noticed flattering posters of the musical conductor of the city's 'San Carlo' theater, Daniel Oren. D.O. was born in Jaffa, Israel, son to an arab father and a jewish mother. He was lucky. He had great talent for music (both vocal & instrumental) and a very ambitious mother who had decided to invest a lot in her dream of having her son become a top musician.

At a certain stage, Daniel Oren went abroad to perfect his musical studies, away from an hostile environment that called people like him "stinking arab" and "dirty Jew". He developed an international brilliant career as a musical conductor, with Italy being the country that opened all possible doors for him.

As for his identity, it appeared he didn't have any dilemma about that. He chose his mother's orthodox jewish one (he wears a skullcap, as all jewish male observants do).

Maestro Daniel Oren

At the other end, is the story of Juliano (name sounds italian , but he's not) . Juliano Mer Hamis, a gifted, charismatic actor was born in Nazareth, Israel ,also to an arab father and a jewish mother. He grew up in a heavy political atmosphere, his parents being prominent members of the arab-israeli communist party.

Music has beneficial influence: it conveys messages of peace and tolerance, it calms , soothes and unites the spirits. Politics, on the other hand, stirs up negative emotions, feeds conflicts and frustrations. arouses violence.

From the newspapers I learnt that Juliano, the actor, gave his employers a hard time. Once , he slapped the face of a young actress, on another occasion he peed in the office of his boss, the director of the theater where he performed. At a certain point, he started to give interviews in which he claimed openly he feels alien in the jewish society. His parallel /next step was to join his mother in her political and human rights activity for palestinians . He directed some films on these issues . fully identifying himself with his palestinian movie heroes.

Actor and political activist Juliano Mer Hamis

Daniel, and Juliano - two people with one similar complex background - that of parents belonging to a different religion and ethnicity, in a region of interminable wars and conflicts. Their talents and their dominant jewish mothers helped shape the thorny path into something that ,more or less, suited their personal character and vocation.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Capri, c'est fini

The Marina Grande (the big harbour)

"Capri c'est fini
Et dire que c'etait la ville
De mon premier amour
Capri c'est fini
Je ne crois pas
Que j'y returna un jour"

The above is the refrain of a famous lovely french song which refers to Capri , the city of the singer's first love , to where, he believes, he won't return anymore. This city is the main center of the Capri island which lies in the south of Italy, a short sail from Naples.

[ The song is a sweet, quiet song, but there are also some 'disco' versions of it heard at weddings, and dancing halls. I've recently been to a wedding, and when this music was on, a young girl approached her grandfather who was sitting next to me, and asked him to come dance with her, as she knew it was one of his favorites. I watched the two of them , they were dancing like there was no tommorrow. I looked at the grandmother, she seemed rather worried. I told her I was impressed with her husband's dancing performance, considering his age. His age, she said, and what about his pacemaker (device for regulating heartbeats)? ]

I like to visit islands like any other tourist does, but I don't think I could live on one for long. There are , however, people like artists or scientists that find great inspiration for their work on these islands, and make their home on the island of their choice for long periods of time.

Such was the swedish physician and writer Axel Munthe who built the splendid 'villa San Michele' on the Capri island. at the turn of the 20th century. It is a 'museum-home' with magnificient gardens and adorned with many works of art . Big tourist attraction.

Apart from the villa San Michelle, people take great pleasure in visiting the Marina Grande (big harbor), the Marina Piccola (small harbor), the Annacapri commune high on the hills with its mountain Solaro, many caves ( the Blue Grotte being the most famous of them), the 'Faraglioni' (three sea rocks that stand out of the sea) and more..

The Faraglioni

"Capri c'est fini"