Thursday, June 09, 2011

Palermo: It’s now or never

“Se Non Ora, Quando?”

I was young, but there were younger. And now they like to think they run things in Palermo and Sicily. And sure, they should know better in places like Padova and Modena. Italians should be running a fairly smooth country by now. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Italy is stuck. A generation of endless childhood, contrived by a previous generation of folks who ran things expecting entitlements. Like retirement money and health care and sex with multiple partners, 20-30- 40 years younger. Italy is mired. How, when the country is in a mess like it is, can things still happen and people still take the month of August off?

I didn’t mean this to be a rant, but the past 40 years have just been wiped from the chalkboard. History has been erased. There is no experience worth relating, no advice worth taking. How could it be, when the leaders use the country as their personal concupiscent supermarket? Italy is enmeshed in web of their own making.

So much for the naïve view I first had. I actually thought all Italians were honest and friendly. As I live longer, not only do I find a different reality, there is a class structure that is very much still in place.

“We are the rulers. You are the servants. We rule, you serve. We have the power and the wealth. You get some bread and a liter of wine. Be happy with what we dole out to you. It’s more than your grandparents and their grandparents ever got.” Oh yeah, anyone who says the revolution of the Middle East cannot make it to the shores of Italy, well, they just don’t know how close Sicily is to Africa. It’s on a small boat right now. It’s coming. Closer.

“No, it will never start in Sicily,” the Italian to my left declares. “They are too conservative, they lean too far right.” “Like Salvatore Giuliano?” I quip back.

Was he on to something? Southern Italy has been very conservative for generations. But now the boats are streaming from Africa, like they did from Cuba and Cambodia and it will change Italy.

I walk down the Via Maqueda, slurping on a gelato, looking for a short sleeve shirt, trying to find the address the young lady gave me on the steps of the Opera house. It’s 1971, I’m looking to indulge my youthful needs.

40 years later the leader of Italy is still trying to satiate his youthful needs. And with it all of Italy is looking for those twinklings of pleasure, those moments now which one will never have to pay back in a month a year, a generation. But down the street the accordion is playing the piper’s tune. Someone will have to pay.

If it could only wait until after the summer is over and our vacation at the seaside is finished, no? Se Non Ora, Quando?

to be continued...

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