A Dissection Of The American Bladder

A blog that reaches deep into the bowels of America.

15 February 2007

Firenze: Volume II, Part II

Day Two Blog: A sense of no direction.

I'm thinking a few quick updates before I delve into anything too philosophically heavy:

Florence weather right now is amazing; whilst the East Coast has been raped and pillaged by snow, I have been gropping some insane February weather--it was 63 yesterday.

I am having more and more respek for sketch Italian guys. They sit at bars and wait for girls to pass so they can stare at them when they pass, they stalk any girl who flashes the slightest glance or most innocent gesture, and, most classy, if a girl wheres a skirt out--forget about it--a hand will be up that skirt faster than the self-destruction of Britney Spears.

Respek, not respect.

Italian fashion, I must say, is light years ahead of anything I've ever seen. Note to self: buy off colored dark jeans, take huge pins and pin the bottom so it is extremely, uncomfortably tight on my ankles. Next, huge multicolored scarf. Next, buy big puffy jacket with animal fur. Next, huge glasses. Finally, remember to wait a few years and then wear it in the States so I'll be on the first to wear the trend.

Fiorentina has officially closed their gates until they step up their security. Curva Fiesole sails farther and father away. Upon asking Etorre (my host brother) what he thought, he responded in a mix of Englian/Italish, "I don't really cara, I am still goin to da stadium to cheer outside, da poliz cannot do a ding." A true warrior, he automatically gains main-points for this. Though the fact that he wakes me up at seven in the morning with his loud, ranting, Italian curse words directed at his alarm clock. I hate waking up too, so I'll let it slide. Ettore, you da man.

If you read nothing else, read this:

When you think of European, what do you think of? Well, take that times it by infinity, and you have MegaReview's (Florentine's free magazine) owner, my intership boss: Lorenzo. Let me give you the quick facts about Lorenzo.

I walked into his dark office (they never turn on lights in office buildings: too expensive). He's a 6'3 husky looking fellow with tar-stained vocal chords that make him sound like James Earl Jones with a rope around his neck and, the best part, a lisp. When I met him, he rubbed his freshly shaved bald head (Dibello-ish for all you Yinzers) and didn't look at me for ten minutes. Instead, he said 'Mi scusi" and AIMed on his apple powerbook with a gentlemen caller, or so I assumed.

No matter, this gave me time to take in where I would be interning for the next three months. Lorenzo wore all black this day. I'm talking tight black turtle neck. Tight black, stretchy jeans. Black buckle shoes. Black sunglasses on his bald head, even though it was overcast. I was in his office for ten minutes, he smoked three consecutive cigarettes. Too top it off? He had man boobs. Then it hit me: Lorenzo was the inspiration for the SNL skit Sprockets. I was waiting for him to say, "I simply adore Lego. They are like a thousand toys in one."

So what did we talk about? I can't really say it was much about anything. I couldn't understand his accent, so I nodded my head and told him I wanted to write reviews of anything and travel around Toscana. He nodded in approval and said, "mm, I see, vell ve see va ve can doo." It was creepy. I had a nightmare about the following night.

I was then whisked away by the sole graphic designer in the company. He complained about Fiorentina shutting down the stadium because of the riots and told me his friends were going to the stadium to cheer. Man-points.

It turns out though, I can't work for Lorenzo because 1. He scares me. 2. He wants me to work Fridays 3. It's nearly a 40 minute walk to work.

Instead, I got a Monday night DJ job at Faces...and the owner of that place is a whole other blog.



05 February 2007

Firenze: Volume II

I realize I haven't blogged anything yet. So right now I'm beginning a two-day process in which the past two weeks events will be summed up in a slideshow mess of short stories, random thoughts, and, of course, ridiculous pictures. They are in no relevant order, but hopefully will be able to give you a sense of what's been going on and my first impressions (apart from the first post on drive-by ejaculators):

For you calcio (soccer for you dumb Americani) enthusiasts, I went to a Fiorentina-Livorno match and sat opposite the crazed lunatics with the senior citizen-discount/slightly-retarded section. I'm not sure I heard one clap, scream, cheer from our ungracefully-aged/mentally-deficient section. I was about to burst. It has now become my semester's sole goal to sit in the Curva Fiesole. This is the section that has flags constantly moving, drums contantly beating, and cheers constantly...well, er, cheering. This is the section that flips birds to the 200 brave and demented souls from Livorno who came to scream and cheer for their club. This is the section that would take a motorcycle crash to the face for Luca Toni (i.e. The Florence version of Big Ben). And not to mention the ubiquitous gas bombs following Fiorentine goals and M-80 explosions after opposing goals.

And this was only a friendly match.

When Fiorentina suits up against hated Roma in March, I hope to find myself flipping birds, beating drums, and praying for my life in Curva Fiesole.

I can’t make this stuff up. As of right now, roughly 15 teenage boys and girls are drinking champagne and listening to Elvis Presley at an extremely high volume and doing a terrible job at it. The door bell buzzes every ten minutes with a new member to the party. I was one of those members. I came in and was greeted with blank stares and concerned faces. I said, “Ciao,” to unresponsive faces - save the “americano” comment I heard in the background. A minority and a foreigner at a high school party. I love feeling at home!

Elvis says Love me tender, Love me true. I am getting no love right now. I think what I need to do is somehow transform myself into the "questionably retarded foreign exchange student" into "the fuckin' sweet foreign exchange student." I think it has something to do with learning Italian and yelling at strangers, but I could be wrong.

The Number One Question asked to me: How's the food? All right, how do you think it is? It's incredible. The pasta is fresh, you can't find better (or cheaper) wine, and a caldo panino (hot sandwhich) is a slice of heaven. Nothing is fried, oil is extra virgin and only used sparingly on salad, and water is always served at room temperature. Don't get me started on gelato (ice cream, focused on cream and not ice) or pizza -- because I probably gained a freshman fifteen thinking about it. All in all, being in a homestay with traditional home cooking is the best thing someone could do abroad in Italy. I'll never complain as long as I come home to these meals.
Just a little taste of what I've had: 1 octopus, 1/2 cow stomach, 50 oranges, 14 artichoke, 20 pounds of pasta, 6 pounds of salame or prosciutto, and some other things that I either can't pronounce or can't explain.

We stumbled across a few solid bars and discotheques already, but a special little bar across the historic Ponte Vecchio called Faces has earned my money and my puke. The most obvious is the 10 euro cover charge for a 10-midnight all you can drink special. And it is special. Apart from this deal there are more subtle nicieties that make this bar a little slice of America in Italia. For starters, the bathroom does not have a light (save the two candles on the sink) and has not been cleaned since 2002. The bar and floor is lit a little better, but anything you can make out in the room is usually cancelled out by the speakers pumping out 50 decibals of bass. Further, the owner wears shmediums (a tight shirt), loves Jeager shots, and bumps bumpin beats. Finally, they have a shrine to "DJ Monday Mike" Chapman to which they pray five times a day and wait for the Second Coming of their personal Messiah.

It's not classy, but it's special place where you can escape the awkwardness of being a foreigner, the homesickness, and soberness for a few hours.
Good news report: I may have landed an internship with the Megareview magazine in Firenze. If things work out, I'll be reviewing bars, cafes, theatres, restaurants, events, and the peripheries for the magazine (hopefully on their budget, too).

What's Happening in Italy

-President Bush is still the most despised person outside of the South, particularly in Italia where he is trying to pull a fast one and throw a military base in Northern Italia. Smooth. As if Italy didn't have enough reasons. I swear Bush is doing this just to spite my efforts to hold a coversation with an Italian woman.

-Crazed Catania calcio fans turned their animosity from the opposing team and their fans to the 1500 police officers surrounding the stadium. Polizia were literally chasing crowds away by playing chicken with their police cars and the crowds. Usually the crowds blinked first and scattered. Sadly, in the melee an officer was killed. His death prompted the Italian president to indefintely suspend all leagues in Italia. From Series A to youth leagues, calchio will not be played in Italia for at least one week. I'm still set on Fiesole, but I think if a riot breaks out, I'll pass on playing chicken with the polizia.

(And my personal favorite)
The ex-Prime Minister of Italia, Berlusconi, is more of a playboy than Clinton and politically dumber than Bush, which is why the Italians loved him in the late-90s and early Os. Here are a few of his highlights:

-In March 2006, Berlusconi defended accusations he made that the "Chinese communists used to eat children", by responding with claims that "...read the Black Book of Communism and you will discover that in the China of Mao, they did not eat children, but had them boiled to fertilise the fields". Berlusconi claimed that he had to "dust off my English-language playboy arts" with the Finnish president, Tarja Halonen, to convince her to locate the EFSA in Parma.
Before that, speaking to a group of Wall Street traders, he listed a series of reasons to invest in Italy. The first of them was that "we have the most beautiful secretaries in the world."

-Berlusconi replied, "Mister Schulz, I know a movie-producer in Italy who is making a movie about Nazi concentration camps. I will suggest you to play the Role of a Kopa (concentration-camp inmate appointed as supervisor). You are perfect!"

-Berlusconi was quoted as saying : "If I wasn't already married I would marry you right away" and "With you I'd go anywhere" to Mara Carfagna, a representative of Forza Italia. These flirtatious comments prompted his wife to demand an apology in a front-page letter to an Italian newspaper.
In a statement released via his political party he begged for forgiveness.

19 January 2007

Firenze: Volume 1

Probably the best thing I've read in the past year or so is the Syracuse University in Florence's (SUF) Student-to-Student Personal Safety Handout. But I'll let you be the judge.

Cautionary Tale 1: Girls

It was the first couple of weekends here in Florence, and I was walking home at around 12 or 1 at night. I didn't want to walk all the way by myself, so a friend offered to walk me half-way. Half way was right near the school, and so we were standing on the sidewalk, talking, when a woman on a bicycle came up to us and said something really quickly in Italian. I responded by saying that I didn't understand. Just then a man on a moped approached us, reached out, and grabbed my friend. We both back away, realizing that he was completely exposed, whereupon he immediately ejaculated. My friend and I grabbed each other's hands and started running to a main street. The man on the moped followed us, but when we reach the main street he drove off...I was shaking.

The reaction to this pamphlet was enormous and with good reason. Though I think generally, the reason was misplaced. Girls were abhorred and terrified by it. They complained this story was never in the packet of information sent to them by SUF prior to being in Florence. They worried about walking around the city, even with a group, because they may be ejaculated upon. But to only look at the disgusting and illegal, is to entirely miss the point of the story. What I think they miss is the incredible ability of a man, on a moped, in public, to have such control. This is Buddhist Monk control. He's the Michael Jordan of exposers, in my book. I can barely pee in public, let alone time my ejaculation up so that it coincides with me exposing myself to foreign girls on the street. Yes, it is disgusting and absurd, but bravo to the sketchy, semi-insane man who can pull this off.

Though it's not only girls who need to be on the look out in Firenze, guys also must be aware of awkwardly sexual predators. Another excerpt from the same pamphlet:

Cautionary Tale 2: Guys

One night a group us, guys and girls, went out to a discotheque. We were all dancing on the dance floor in a big group. There were a group of other men dancing on the dance floor beside us. One of the guys walked over to my guy friend and put out his hand, as if he wanted a high five. My guy friend put out his hand to slap him five and the guy reach down and grabbed my friend's crotch! We decided to ignore them, not knowing whether this was an attempt to put the moves on my guy friend, or if it was an attempt to fight.

I'm not sure what the big deal is here. This happens about 40-50 times a day at Central Catholic High School (Bow your heads please). It's called balltap at Central, a shvartzinoodle in others. I'm not sure whether the man was trying to "put the moves" on her guy friend or it was an attempt to fight, but I'd say he was just saying "Vat's up!" or "Think fast!" Going to an elite all-male high school, if one ignores something - one usually gets it worse. So what I would have done is wait for him to get comfortable, perhaps order a drink and relax with his friends. Then I'd sneak in from behind, yell "Caio," and reciprocate the fake with the left hand, shvartzinoodle with the right hand gesture. I'm sure he'd pull out a package of Mentos and we would look at the camera and sheepishly smile shrugging out shoulders in acceptance.

This is all for now, but I have a lot to important subjects to cover over the next three and half months: the relationship between dog poop on the side walk and color of the sidewalk. I'm convinced there is a correlation. Until then, stay cool and out of the way of ejaculating exposers.


06 November 2006

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up? We are first asked the question in kindergarten and the interrogation never stops (side note:
As a five year old, I was convinced playing baseball was my path in life. I since then have realized my mediocre right arm and lack of a substantial mustache have dashed my dream). When approached with the question at an early age, we are taught we can be whatever we want and are encourged to explore and to dream! Astronaut? Awesome! 3rd Grade Teacher? Totally Great!! Police Officer!? Perfectly coooool! Venture capitalist? Absolutely!, if that's what you want!

As we become older (wiser is dabatable), we are taught the 'reality' of life. You need to become rich! You need to hold a job that is respectable! Put what you want on hold, live for something else! Otherwise, no one will love you and you will never be happy, save a few pangs of pleasure. If you don't reach a certain status (of occupation, wealth, prestige) by a certain age, then you never will.

And so the question is asked again, though in a very different lens. What Should You Be When You Grow Up? We are inundated with this form of the Question our entire, brief lives until most of us ultimately drown in it. It eventually becomes a force of its own, a statement rather than a question, a career death sentence. We let others dictate our desire. We sacrifice ourselves so that we may live by societal standards of success. We plan our college courses so that potential employers will see we have taken the prescribed amount of Calculus, Economics, Theatre, Business, History. If we are fortunate, we will squeeze in a class that actually interests us.

I cannot speak for an entire generation, only my own experience, but I think there is a lot of overlap between the two. I recently wrote an essay about the issue that I would like to share:

What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up?

The question is ubiquitous and intimidating. And for many it is wholly left unanswered, for some even left genuinely unexamined.

Harvard psychologist Erik Erikson distinguishes the stage of most college students as one of identity and intimacy. One in which the individual attempts to reconcile the outside forces of parental and societal values with their own identity and, if done successfully find their own identity. Once this has been effectively managed, that individual can seek out another identity, with which to enlarge and combine to form, what philosopher Robert Nozick calls, a joint identity, a we. What both Erikson and Nozick propose for my generation’s stage in life is the complete understanding and embracing of Love.

Yet, young adults in the twenty-first century face many challenges in their development. Society’s distinct emphasis on one’s career has superceded all other forms of growth (spiritual, communal, etc.) Particularly in America, though present throughout the world, ambition is seen as the new “love.” Devotion, or perhaps obsession, to one’s company (in other words, career) fills the void left in many recent college graduates. Signing bonuses are flashed before graduates to inspire and reinforce this notion. Though not the case for some, many blindly adopt this.

I believe this notion of a career for its own sake is false. A career in itself should be more than an employment opportunity, more than about filling a void, and more than about business. I like to think of a career not as a noun, something stagnant and rigid, but as a verb. The original meaning of career, as a verb means to “gallop, run, or move at full speed.” It is not passive in nature. It is something that is done with unwavering intent. It possesses the power to push one to their limits, cultivates the individual, and provides a channel for one to change the world in which we will be living for the next half century.

Where does all of this place me in my careering journey? Ultimately, I intend, I aspire, I dream to change this world. Through a life of service and labor without relation to the ego, I believe I will. Through a life of unpretentious giving and risking, I believe I will. With that said, I am seriously considering graduate school and also considering the Peace Corps. I know that the choice I have is difficult and not to be left unexamined. I also know that I will choose the right path, because with whatever path I choose I can reach my goal. Whether teaching history, acting professionally, starting a business I can change the world.

Though I do not have a clear picture or prescribed path to reach my goal matters not. There are billions of paths I can take to reach my goal, and if I have to career all of them, I will.

30 October 2006

Statement of Purpose

And to thee, and thy Company, I bid a hearty welcome.
(Ah, any word anyone has said or will say, Shakespeare has done it - and has done it 6.02 X 10^23 times better.)

And so you might be thinking:

Why write a blog? I really don't care what you think or what you have to say - I only have to waste 15 minutes before I have to run to class/Commons/the gym/my drug dealer/North Korea/the bathroom, and I saw this in your profile, so I figured I might as well check it out; I mean hell, it has to be better than a repeat episode of Yo Momma (editor's note: It probably won't).

In any case, let me outline for you my purpose of writing a blog:

Firstly and honestly, it's a selfish act. Joan Didion said she writes "to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear." I agree - really, it is about what I want. It will be independent of what I think you want - writing for self-growth is one of the pillars of this blog.

Secondly, I want it to be thought provoking, stimulating, and that mad phat superfly stupid dope dumbass retarded bomb shit props
so you can't wait for the next blog to come. The latter part of this purpose conflicts with Purpose #1, but hopefully I'll be able to reconcile the two.

Thirdly, I want to use it to make social and political commentary on America's culture in the debut de siecle. I intend this to be extremely informal, very un-PC, definitely awkward and uncomfortable. It is my attempt to flesh out some issues that my generation and we as nation conciously and subconciously face in our day.

Fourthly, it won't be over the top. But it will. Doesn't make sense, huh? I think Raddimus from the movie "Waiting..." can help with his explanation of the penis-showing game: "You can't just pull down your pants and say, 'HEY! LookAtMyDick! You have to be subtle.'" I'll keep it subtle, but not really.

I'm sure most of these will be thrown out after this blog, but I'll try and keep them in mind when I'm writing. I really just want to have fun with this thing.

And to end with Shakespeare:
I wish you well and so I take my leave,
I Pray you know me when we meet again.

Link of the Day: GIRL TALK
From PitchforkMedia.com:
Pittsburgh native Greg Gillis (Girl Talk) absolutely detonates the notions of mash-up on his third album, the violently joyous Night Ripper. Rather than squeeze two songs that sorta make sense together into a small box, Gillis crams six or eight or 14 or 20 songs into frenetic rows, slicing fragments off 1980s pop, Dirty South rap, booty bass, and grunge, among countless other genres. Then he pieces together the voracious music fan's dream: a hulking hyper-mix designed to make you dance, wear out predictable ideas, and defy hopeless record-reviewing."

Evidently, Girl Talk concerts are absurd and are more of a fraternity/rave/dance party than a concert. Expect to see me at his Pittsburgh tour date Nov. 24th and possibly as his Dec. 2 date at UNC.

A quote:
"What's up losers? Have you ever seen a guy playing a laptop before? I think you guys got ripped off," he announced after he changed into a three-piece suit for the show.