Warning: this post contains strong personal opinions. :-)
Jesus, life is tough without a proper internet connection...
Oh well, at least it's tough to post photos! That's why today you get mostly words...
Where were we? Oh yeah, LA and the concert...
The concert was pretty damn good. I don't particularly like the turn towards the hard/metalprog sound that the Porcupine Tree have taken in their last two/three cds, but every time I end up kind of liking them too, so it must not be so bad... Plus they unexpectedly did a few of my favorite old songs (like Smart kid and Even less) and Blackest eyes remains one of the best songs to listen live that I can think of...
Here you find a youtube version of this last one. Hopefully you can see it, because I can't...
Definitely a mention for the support band. Their name is Three and they did the tightest live performance of a support band that I have ever witnessed. Alone, worth the price of the ticket... believe it or not.
The day after (Sunday) there were some fun waves to surf at Manhattan beach. I borrowed a 8.4 Aipa with which I could pretty much catch everything I wanted (3-3/4 thick!) and I even managed to turn it sweetly, thanks to the fact the the tail half of the board is way narrower than the front one. Water is bloody cold for a spoiled surfer like me, but surfing with Gianfranco is always fun, because he always has good tips.
Actually the best part is the after surf analytical session...
OK, I got to spend a few words on him. He's one of those person that does not really belong to any category. He's a unique element. Yeah, whatever, we are all unique, but some people are more unique than others! That's just one of the ways he can look... I got plenty more photos out of a trip to Death Valley and Las Vegas he and his visiting brother did, but got to wait until I found a better connection to post them... come back!
His mind just works differently and I really love to discuss with him. He can bring up some subjects that are surprisingly unexpected and most of time at first don't seem to make to much sense... but, IF you are able to follow his winding path, you may be blessed with some revelations of some kind. Often, in my case, that doesn't happen right away. I remember many times I had forgotten about a thing he said, and then, after a while, like even a few months, something happens or somebody says something that makes me think about it, and all of a sudden I go:"oh, that's what he meant!".
Sunday afternoon, for example, I don't know out of what, he asked me:"why do you think ancient Polynesians carried flowers in their expeditions to discover new lands?"
To give them as a gift to eventual indigenouses sounded like a weak answer, so I said: "Gianfra', what the hell do I know and what the hell do YOU know?"
"It's because when they were approaching a new coastline/reef they could throw the petals in the water and see how the current worked..."
"Oh, come on... gimme a break"
"That's the same reason because they gave visitors leis (flower chains) as a welcome gift. So that they could drop them in the water before leaving to see which way the current was going to let them sail away..."
"Gianfra', did you read this or did you come to this conclusion by yourself?" (that's actually a very common question I ask him)
"I didn't read it, but I think it's convincing... and next time I go on a surf trip to a new spot, I'll make sure to have flowers or leaves with me, so that I can see how the current works..."
"You got to be kidding me..."
Sure enough, one day I'll be watching a surf spot and an offshore gust will blow some leaves in the water and I will see that he was right...
Anyway, this is just a simple example of what kind of analysis his brain is capable of. But he gives his very best when he tries to explain me surfing techniques and moves. I just wished I had a camera, you guys. Well, I actually did, but I couldn't take it out and film him without losing the spontaneity.
Unfortunately, on this particular subject, I lose him all the times. 'Cause he's not particularly good at that. I mean, sometimes he forgets to tell me if he's riding front or back side, where is the wave and little details like that... But still, it's just great to listen to what he has to say. He can talk about surfing for hours. He... I mean, we!
That's why I always stop in LA on my way to Italy. I really enjoy the time I spend with him.
Ok, 'nough of that. Monday morning at 7am I was on a plane for Newark. Seven hours later, on one for Rome. Not much to say about the flight... not particularly fun, as usual.
Oh yes, one thing. Both planes had that personal video system in which you can choose the movie you want to see. I don't remember how many movies there were available, but for sure more than ten and all hollywood productions. Guess how many movies I watched? Trust me, I tried each one of them... I just couldn't!
That's just an example of why I think that most of the western world citizens are dumb. 'Cause if they make movies like that, it means that most of the western world citizens watch them!!
Before a very smart guy (not the majority, but plenty of those too in the western world) came up with Netflix, the section of Blockbuster me and Sharon picked movies from was exclusively the foreign one. Not all of them were good, but, at least, they were always different! Now there's Netflix and we just love to pick the weirdest, least popular movies. I love Netflix. Too bad they didn't have quite the same selection on the plane...
Mmm... I wonder how many american readers I lost because of the above comment... Alright, let's lose a few italian ones too!
The arrival at the Rome airport is definitely one of the my shittiest moments of the year. I wait for my bag at the baggage claim and there's people smoking under the no smoking sign. I go to the restrooms and they are dirty. I come out of them and watch some Alitalia employees sitting still in their chairs, without even talking to each others, contemplating the fact that they are lucky to work in a booth that is actually a bit out of the way and "hopefully" no clients will require their service. I keep walking and I watch a huge number of people in uniform belonging to the three different police branches (why three, I'll never understand... anyway they're called polizia, carabinieri and guardia di finanza) doing exactly the same thing: nothing.
They have no respect and love for their job. The most common mentality in Italy is to take advantage of the company you work for. And the very best example is given by the politicians (who supposingly work the the citizens that elected them).
I enter a bar to order a coffee and the cashier doesn't say hi, doesn't smile, doesn't talk to me at all. She just gets the money, gives me the change and continues her cell phone conversation. When I leave the bar, five minutes later, she's still on the phone.
Then I catch a local train to the main train station (Termini). The train is dirty and there's no seats available.
At the Termini station, I deliberately choose to buy my ticket to Naples at the automatic machine. While I'm doing it, I notice a guy trying to pickpocket a tourist (fortunately without succeeding) and another one trying to get little cash in exchange of help on how to buy a ticket on the machine... well, at least the last one is trying to earn it!
The train to Naples is late.
When I get out of the station in Naples the traffic is horrible. It sounds like all 80% of the cars are honking their horns... it's complete chaos. I'm tired and jet legged and I fucking hate all that shit.
Fortunately the vision of my parents (and the fact that they don't look that much older than last year) makes me feel better.
I could go on forever on what I don't like about Italy, but that'll take too long. I'm going to mention instead what I like about it: food!
Here's the simple (for the italian standards) first lunch I had at my parents home.
- pasta with artichokes
- mozzarella, prosciutto (ham) and bread
- white wine.
Everything tasted like heaven and 100 times better than in Maui. I don't even know what vegetarian means when I'm in Italy...
The biggest difference, though, is in the wine.
Here's one of my theories. I noticed that all wines in the States contain sulfites. Somebody told me there's a law that prohibits to bottle wine without them. My guess is that's because in that way the wine doesn't go bad and kill people (at the end, it all comes down to liability...). So, in my not so humble opinion, ALL wines in the States suck. Even the Italian ones. Even the most expensive ones. Even the 100+ dollars bottles (which I wouldn't buy anyway... so that's actually good news)!
Now, this 2 euros bottle of Falanghina (good luck at pronouncing it) is made by a farmer a few miles outside Naples, has no label and can only be found at one particular wine shop (mine). It's the best wine I have ever had. I can drink a whole bottle, get happily high and wake up the day after without an hangover or nothing like that. Sorry, can't be found at Costco.
Holy cow, it's almost 11pm! Hopefully by midnight I'll be done posting this with my painfully slow dialup connection ...