Lorenzo & his humble friends

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool

Tag: jasper

Books I have read, 2018

I remember reading Annie Ernaux’s Memoria di ragazza on the train during a long, romantic night ride between Stockholm and Kiruna. Outside it was snowing. I felt like I was part of a Swedish noir movie. Next to me, Giallu, and Nicco were muttering indistinct phrases while Jasper was listening to Bubble Butt. We had decided to split two beds and two seats. It all went smoothly until Giallu was locked out of his cabin. The thought of that still makes me smile. The book, which I had bought together with Anna in a little library of Rovereto that we had previously discovered thanks to Martina, is honestly not great. I like its reflexivity and the way in which you can reconsider your own past. It is a bit too depressing for my taste, though.

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Between January and February I read one book that had been given to me as a present by Martina during 2016: Jimmy Nelson’s Before they pass away. I remember seeing it in Iris and Erik’s apartment in Rotterdam when I was there six months earlier. Big book. Around the same time I also devoured Tim Marshall’s Prisoners of Geography. I am going to read more books on geopolitics in the next few years.

Between February and March I listened to Emmanuel Carrére’s Limonov through Radio Rai’s podcast Ad Alta Voce. Boy, what a good experience this was. Credit goes to Martina, who had recommended me the podcast – and the book: I remember I first saw it in her house, when she gave it to Fabio. I spent two weeks listening to it. Most vivid in my memory is the four hour non-stop session on my way to Zinal with Jean-Thomas and Elie. I also remember I stopped going to the office by bike around that time so that I could walk down slowly and listen to Limonov. This book left a trace.

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Definitely less impactful was Jack London’s Martin Eden. I wanted to read a big, classic book again after my entertaining experience with Il Conte di Montecristo. This has not matched my expectations, though. My second weekend in Zinal, this time with Annique and Eva, I read William Boyd’s Sweet Caress. I had previously bought the book in Zurich. Another book by William Body, Any human heart, is definitely one of the best reads I have ever had. Not this one, though. I should have seen it coming: the name of the author is written in way bigger characters than the title of the book on the cover page.

Back in Neuchatel I started a new audiobook, courtesy of Radio Rai: Umberto Eco’s Il nome della rosa. I had read this great piece of art as a kid but I had forgotten everything. When Pedro hosted me for the second time in Madrid in 2017, I remember buying a Spanish copy of the book for him that I found in a second-hand market in El Retiro. It was a beautiful sunny day. This is an extraordinary book that everybody should read twice in their life.

Il nome della rosa

I like to think of my spring in Paris together with Robert Doisneau’s Paris. When the first sun started to kick in in Neuchatel, I followed Francesca’s advice and I read Primo Levi’s, Il sistema periodico. My image of this book is that of the little cabins in Neuchatel’s harbor.

On my way to Cuba I decided to bring two books only: Eduardo Galeano’s Bocas del tiempo (strongly suggested by Jean-Thomas, who had loved the book when he read it in Argentina) and Alessandro Raveggi’s Panamericana (I had read about it somewhere and got curious). When I ran out of books, because we spent too much time reading due to the rain, Thomoose passed me his copy of Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. Oh what a pleasure to read it under the sun in El Varadero like a capitalist tourist.

In June I read Daniele del Giudice’s Staccando l’ombra da terra. This was a present by Giulia. Yes, yes, yes – a very good book.

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In July I celebrated the Tour de France by reading two books by Bidon: Il Centogiro and Se qualcuno viene mi fa piacere. Leonardo Piccione’s career as a writer is quickly taking off and I will forever pride myself with the discovery of his talent before he became known to the big public.

In August I read Emmanuel Carrére’s Il Regno. I remember going through it on the Lake of Molveno, together with my dad who had read it a few months earlier. Two other books I read in July: Paolo Soglia’s Hanno deciso gli episodi, and Augusto Pieroni’s Leggere la fotografia. Not quintessential.

In Croatia I read Emmanuel Carrére, D’Autres vies que la mienne. This is the second book in French I completed after Albert Camus’ L’Etranger, which I read last year. I was proud. This book is way too long though and I would only recommend the first one hundred pages of it. I also read a comic book by Vladimir Grigorieff and Abdel de Bruxelles, Le conflit insraeélo-palestinien, which I had bought in Brussels with Anna.

In early October I read Robert Capa’s Slightly Out of Focus. It was good to read it on the boat with Giallu, Nicco, and Jonas. I told Thomoose to read it. It is entertaining. You read Capa and you can never tell whether he is for real. He just goes like – hei, let’s have a good time. In late October, on my way to Kenya, I read Desmond Morris’ La scimmia nuda. This was a present by Eliana. Nailed it. It was a good coincidence to read it in the country that really is the cradle of humanity.

Between November and December I read Giuseppe Sciortino’s Rebus immigrazione. He was my professor at the bachelor’s in sociology. This is a small and lean book that I read during one train ride from Trento to Neuchatel.  Finally, in December I read Mary Ellen Mark’s On the Portrait and the Moment. This was my graduation present by Iris and Erik. They know how to make their pick. The most charming part of photography, for me, is portraits – of humans, rhinos and elephants. Landscapes are boring.

And this is the end. Reading back the post I realise that my book choices are closely tied to the people I know and the place I visit. I do not do this on purpose. But it feels right.


Read my ‘books I have read‘ posts from 2017201620152014., 2013.

Looking for the Jasper

Eighth edition of our NYE ( UtrechtInnsbruckFirenzeDen Haag, Berlin, Turin, Stockholm) with the false Canadians in the 18th arr. of Paris. Notable participants: Iris, Stephanie, Noa, Arianna, Lorenzo, Jasper. Special invitees to be included in our tenth edition: Jack, Justine, Sylvan, Gianmarco.

Some take aways. Jasper made a last minute appearance on December 28 and then badly injured his leg surfing down the Sacre Coeur a couple of hours into 2019. Crutches are cheap, though. We tried to eat more vegan food than usual but it was not easy: we will keep trying. Museums are good. Some of us snore really loud. We still enjoy spending time together: cooking, playing board games like nerds, eating, walking, and chatting our worries away.

Lagom

Ho trascorso sette giornate corte e tutto sommato non troppo fredde tra Stoccolma e Kiruna. In Svezia ho ritrovato il cuore del gruppo canadese con cui ho celebrato sei degli ultimi sette capodanni dal 2011 a oggi, sempre in una località differente: Utrecht, Innsbruck, Firenze, l’Aja, Berlino (non c’ero), Torino e Stoccolma, per l’appunto.

Gennaio in Svezia: le giornate durano poco più di sei ore. In questa stagione dell’anno la capitale è vivibile, ma poco appariscente. L’unica eccezione è la metropolitana, colorata e allegra. Due aggettivi piuttosto inusuali per una realtà sotterranea.

La sera del primo gennaio ho preso il treno per Kiruna assieme a Jasper, Giallu e Nicolas. Dopo quindici ore siamo arrivati in Lapponia. Neve e buio: siamo nel periodo dell’anno in cui, da quelle parti, il sole non sorge mai. C’è, tuttavia, una bella luce crepuscolare tra le nove della mattina e le tre del pomeriggio. La provincia di Kiruna è grande quanto la metà dei Paesi Bassi ed è stata costruita all’inizio del Novecento attorno a un insediamento minerario scavato nel cuore di una montagna. Sfortunatamente per i loro discendenti, i primi abitanti di Kiruna hanno costruito le case proprio sopra la vena mineraria. E così adesso il centro cittadino rischia di collassare nel sottosuolo. Il governo ha da poco cominciato imponenti lavori per trasportare la città e la sua bellissima chiesa in legno costruita in tradizionale stile sami venti chilometri più a valle entro il 2025.

La vista di Kiruna al mattino è memorabile. Una montagna tozza e larga, costellata di luci sfocate nel buio e nella neve. Abbiamo alloggiato in una piccola casetta nella foresta, parte di un insediamento gestito da un uomo finlandese e sua moglie spagnola. Abbigliamento largo e caldo affittato da Patrick – big is warm. Il primo giorno ci siamo regalati una gita con la motoslitta per oltre quindici chilometri fino all’albergo ghiacciato di Jukkasjärvi. Posticino suggestivo: in ogni stanza dell’albergo è alloggiata un’opera d’arte in ghiaccio realizzata da artisti con una formazione molto diversa tra loro: interior designer, scultori, fumettisti, pittori… Ogni stagione, in tarda primavera, l’albergo si scioglie e viene poi ricostruito l’inverno successivo in maniera differente. Apparentemente, la sua struttura è purissima: l’acqua del fiume da cui viene preso scorre alla velocità giusta per permettere al ghiaccio di essere privo di gas.

La sera abbiamo passato alcune ore nella sauna e poi davanti al fuoco. Il giorno successivo abbiamo fatto sci da fondo, poi siamo ripartiti. Altre quindici ore di treno. A Stoccolma abbiamo ritrovato Niels e abbiamo visitato Fotografska: un grande spazio fotografico con esibizioni francamente mediocri.

Vi aspettavate un colpo di scena finale? Peccato.

Traditions matter

The most gracious book I read recently is a fictional diary: at the end of each year the writer makes a list of friends – new, old, and lost ones. I have started thinking in those terms. Last year I kept my closest friends here; also made some new acquaintances from whom I can probably learn a great deal should I manage to keep up with them (P. B.; L. B.; F. M.); I tightened my bonds with four friends who have an enormous importance for me (T. L. A.; N.d R.; N. S.; M. L.); and I weakened my bonds with a few other friends with whom I should have been more present (M. M.; M. V.; J. H.).

More specifically on this last point, last year for the first time I have not spent the end of December with my Canadien‘s crew after a streak of four memorable reunions – 2011 Utrecht2012 Innsbruck2013 Florence2014 the Hague, 2015 Berlin. This is no good.

For next year I must continue to make new acquaintances, but I also want to restore ties with some old friends. Oh fate, let it start from the Canadien family, because this is one of the most important things I have been part of since I have become a person of alleged maturity.

2016: resolutions

Take up cooking again. Talk to strangers, make new friends. Keep reading books; and maybe read some poems too. Distill and trade. Spend time with Camilla and Isabella. Volunteer, much. Start and finish a Gran Fondo. Teach one more university seminar. Write three chapters for my Ph.D. dissertation. Become part of something – NGOs? cycling clubs? freemasonry? Hike with Manuel, Mindo, and Giallu. Learn something new – something practical, possibly. Try to read and practice the spiritual exercises of Ignatius. Drink whiskey with Martin and Niels. Travel outside Europe. Meet the Canadians: Iris, Joe, Jasper. Write Thomas. Avoid weddings – except Nele’s. Be present. Make a plan for life. Visit Aosta.

Can happiness be haggis, neeps, and tatties?

My ride took a bit longer than expected. What was initially supposed to be a short stroll with the bike away from my laptop turned into a two-month journey across four countries and very different feelings. I have, in fact, been thinking a lot about myself, for reasons both professional and personal—but then who hasn’t? It is just that there are people who tend to think about themselves it more than anybody else: generally, it is either those who have a lot of spare time, or those who tend to be egocentric. I am a bit of both.

Matter of fact, I am about to speak about myself and stuff I have done – once again.

First I have ridden my bike. Quite remarkably, I rode with my dad the whole way between Trento and Tuscany. Although we did not make it to Florence because of sheer lack of time, it was a good ride. We had lot of water, huge meals, and approximately 400 km down the way. My dad is still stronger than I am when it comes to long-distance ride, which is not surprising as he does not waste too much energy thinking about himself.

Bike Ride
I have also written. My articles have been published on Unimondo: some of them in Italian (Università, il dilemma dei finanziamenti privati; Mondiali in Brasile, l’importante è partecipare;Regno Unito: una lunga serie di sfortunati eventi; Mondiali in Brasile: dove è la festa?), some others in English (How Eurosceptic is the new European Parliament?; A new deal between the EU and Turkey on immigration rules). But I have gone international too: Iris, Jasper and all the other Orange fella will be proud as my articles have been translated in Dutch (Voor het eerst vuurwerk in Europees Parlement; EU en Turkije sluiten nieuwe overeenkomst over immigratieafspraken).

I have been to the Balkans. First I went to Serbia for a volunteering program. After last year’s experience in Slovakia this year I landed in a town only 33km away from Belgrande. Lying between the rivers Sava and Kolubara, Obrenovac has been badly hit by the floods of the last Spring. I spent two weeks working with a group of international volunteers in the houses that had been damaged by the water and the mud. I then traveled south to Sarajevo, for an immersive three-day in one of Europe’s most inspiring places on the occasion of its international Film Festival. Much more should be said about this experience, but I won’t – not here, anyway.

I have hiked, keeping up with the good tradition started with Manuel and Mindo. This year, after the 2012 and 2013 editions, we managed to put together the whole crew, adding Dani and Giallu, and sleeping in a comfortable refugee, Dolomiti del Brenta. In spite of what Jonas thought before we left, we never got lost, as the pictures of us looking desperately hopeless in the fog can confirm.

Finally, I have read some books. While I am still trying to nail down War and Peace, I have been disappointed by Canada entertained by New Europe, and intrigued by the Consolations of the Forest. The latter is probably one of the richest, deepest, and most honest books I have ever read. Those of you who are into nature, philosophy, and vodka should probably go for it.

And that’s about it. I am in Edinburgh now and will be here for a month experiencing the joy of the local cuisine, the excitement of the upcoming referendum, and the company of some old and new friends. I am planning to make a better use of the blog than the recent past. But if the days keep being as beautiful as today it won’t be easy to keep up.

Questa foto non l’ho fatta con il mio telefonino. Non l’ho fatta oggi. Non l’ho fatta io. Ma rende l’idea.

Keep the tradition alive

Three months later I finally received a few complementary pictures from our NYE reunion – the first one with Stefania, and the sixth of this kind now? What was meant to be the annual gathering of a bunch of people who met in Victoria, BC, in 2011 is now a mixed group that includes many of the new friends we met along the way. Not all of us are great ice skaters. (Hint: Iris isn’t). But, as you can see from the imagages, Jasper is.

Butchers in Denmark

I thought the last two posts were too serious. Here is something on a slightly funnier tone. It is about movies. Believe it or not I followed your indications – I will soon post a comment on that – and I was rather impressed by the Danish movies Pernille and Jasper recommended me. The other day I was discussing it with Anders. Today he sent me the following kind message.

Hi Lorenzo.

You asked me about good Danish movies the other day.

Here is a good one “The Green Butchers” about some Butchers in Denmark that end up killing people and selling the meat to people.

Yeah its a dark comedy.

Here you can watch the full movie with English subtitles. Being on YouTube I suppose it is legal, but of course I might be proven wrong. Until that moment comes, enjoy.

It is always the time for skinny dipping

On January 1st, over 1,000 New Year swimmers braved freezing conditions in the River Forth in front of the Forth Rail Bridge during the annual Loony Dook Swim in South Queensferry, Scotland.

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands a lone diver was running into the North Sea for Nieuwjaarsduik.

And us? This time around we were not there. And for some reasons, Jasper, Joe and I look way more relaxed in 2013. Just getting older, I guess.

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The first two photos are part of the 2013: Marking new year gallery of the Boston Globe.

Diario di un viaggio in Olanda: day three

1 gennaio 2012

10.15: sono su un treno che va all’Aja. Jasper mi ha convinto: lascio un decina di cadaveri a dormire nel basement mentre mi dirigo verso il Mare del Nord. Con me Jasper, Nicolas, Joe, Suzanne.

11.30: sono all’Aja. Cielo plumbeo, masse di ubriachi che si dirigono verso il mare. L’arrivo e’ sorprendente: le case si aprono improvvisamente sull’acqua, verso il grande freddo e i ghiacci perenni. Vorrei tornare a dormire.

11.45: siamo scesi nell’arena. Migliaia di persone (10.000?), musica, stand. Tutti indossano il cappellino rosso regalato dall’organizzazione. Dovrei spogliarmi ma fa troppo freddo.

11.55: mi sono tolto due volte la giacca, ma ho sempre dovuto rimetterla. Saranno una manciata di gradi sopra lo zero. Saltiamo e balliamo tentando di scaldarci. Nicolas e’ gia’ nudo, anche Jasper (che pero’ indossa un didl tedesco al posto del costume).

11.58: penso di essere pronto. Le mie mutande di Babbo Natale mi infondono il coraggio necessario.

11.59: corriamo in acqua, so che mi aspetta una sensazione atroce: non penso più a nulla. Probabilmente i kamikaze giapponesi  provavano qualcosa di simile sessant’anni fa.

12.15: sono ancora vivo. Buttarsi in acqua e’ stata una sensazione mortale; in compenso, l’uscita e’ praticamente al caldo. Siamo entrati per due volte. Attorno a me persone con la faccia sconvolta, ma felice. Ci rivestiamo faticosamente a andiamo a prendere una zuppa calda ai banchetti dell’organizzazione.

12.50: le gambe tremano ancora, ma sono sul treno verso Utrecht.

15.00: doccia calda.

16.15: usciamo a farci un giro. Andiamo in al Cafe Olivier, ricavato all’interno di una chiesa sconsacrata.

18.30: di nuovo a casa, questa sera cena italiana. Ci mettiamo al lavoro con Marco, Teddy, Patrick e Fabio. Menu: antipasti di piadina, salame e formaggio; amatriciana; degustazioni di affettati; piadina alla nutella con shot ti Bailey’s.

20.00: la cena procede bene, c’e’ chi mangia in cucina e chi, invece (i piu’) sono accampati in giardino attorno al fuoco.

22.00: iniziamo con un massive round di shot.

23.45: ormai tutti ballano in cucina. Luci stroboscopiche, piano bar, vetri appannati: c’e’ un po’ di tutto.

02:00: vado a dormire.