Lorenzo & his humble friends

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

Tag: niels

Macabre dancing

I discovered the Joy Division thanks to Marco, Leila and Niels in Torino, at Blah-Blah. I knew them before, as we all do, but I did not really understand what they stood for.

Two years later I found So This is Permanence during my visit to Shakespeare and Co. It is a volume of Ian Curtis’s notes and crossings outs on the original lyrics. It stands as a testimony of the influence of the likes to Rimbaud and Kafka on Curtis’ worldview.

A few months later, Jean Thomas insisted we watched a movie on Ian Curtis life: Control 2007. He sold me the movie not because it was about the Joy Division, but because it had a wonderful photography. That’s right. The movie, in black and white, is directed by Anton Corbijn, who had worked as official photographer for the band.

And then, some time ago, I stumbled into a short article by Fabio Zuffanti of La Stampa. I discovered a few other things that I did not know before. For example, the name Joy Vision comes from the sexual slavery wing of a Nazi concentration camp mentioned in the 1955 novel House of Dolls. The article also highlights the connections between Joy Division, David Bowie, and Albert Camus. And it finds the right adjectives: haunting, oppressive, claustrophobic (the sound); far, reverberating (Ian Curtis’ voice).

Firenze a giugno

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.

The most precious secret

(in Niels’ life)

THE COOL-COUS

1) Fry unions and mushrooms in a pot with olive oil. Don’t overdo it, just give them a tiny bit of color.
2) Add chickpeas and pepper (red) and let steam for a few minutes.
3) Add crushed tomatoes. Let cook for a few minutes.
4) Add a cube of vegetable stock and cream (quite a bit).
5) Maybe add some chili powder and pepper if you want.
6) Pour boiling water over cous cous and add some olive oil to it.
7) Serve it to someone and see that person immediately fall in love with you.

Measurements I leave up to you. I’m not gonna reveal everything in one go.

Niels et Martijn.JPG

Appunti di quaderno su Torino

I rumori. Brulichio soffuso. Passeggiare. Pavimenti, portici, lungo il fiume, piazze.

 

Ordine e magnificenza; eppure c’è delicatezza. Montesquieu (1728): ‘Torino è piccola e ben costruita‘. Armoniosa e proporzionata, giochi di luci e colori, scenografie – soprattutto Piazza San Carlo, nota. Le lunghe strade che sembrano condurre in linea retta verso le come nevose. Nietzsche (1888, sei mesi a Torino):  ‘raffinata delicatezza‘. Tutto fluisce.

Le persone. Goldoni: ‘molto cortesi e molto civili; e vedendo arrivar tra loro un Milanese, un Veneziano, o un Genovese, hanno il costume di dire: questi è un italiano‘. Gian Giacomo Casanova: ‘fra le città d’Italia Torino è quella nella quale il bel sesso ha tutti i fascini che l’amore gli può desiderare‘.

Le piazze grandi. San Carlo. Vittorio Veneto. Castello. Statuto. Le piazze meno grandi. Palazzo di città.  Consolata. Emanuele Filiberto. Ancora Nietzche: ‘qui tutto è costruito con liberalità ed ampiezza, specialmente le piazze, così come nel cuore della città si ha un senso superbo di libertà‘.

La cittadella e Porta Palazzo. Secondo Edmondo de Amicis, uno Zola torinese potrebbe mettere lì la scena di un romanzo intitolato Il ventre di Torino: ‘fra le lunghe fila di baracche di botteghini, in mezzo a monti di frutta, legumi e formaggi, tra il vociare dei commercianti e il via vai delle carrette s’agita confusamente una folla fitta di contadini, di turisti, di massaie. E’ una folla continuamente cangiante’.

Camminare su e giù per il parco del Valentino e per il Monte dei Cappuccini. I tramonti. L’alba. Solo le mezze stagioni qui: primavera e autunno.

Il museo del Risorgimento. Il museo del Cinema. Il museo Egizio. Il museo Pietro Micca. Venaria Reale. Il museo di Arte Orientale. La Pinacoteca Agnelli. Il museo di Antropologia Criminale, splendida illustrazione del genio pericoloso di Cesare Lombroso. Il museo dell’Anatomia. Il museo dell’Automobile. La Galleria Fotografica.

Caffè, cantanti ambulanti, orchestre, teatri, cinema, intellettuali. Primo Levi, Massimo d’Azeglio, Pietro Gobetti, Cesare Pavese, Guido Gozzano, Norberto Bobbio. E poi Antonio Gramsci, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzche, Emilio Salgari, Italo Calvino. Proprio Calvino scrisse nella sua autobiografia che ‘Torino è la città ideale per lo scrivere… Invita al rigore, alla linearità, allo stile. Invita alla logica, e attraverso la logica apre alla follia‘.

Le librerie: Luxembourg, il bar Dotto e quell’altra tutta sgangherata non lontana da casa, di cui però ignoro il nome. Le case editrici. Storiche botteghe e caffè letterari. Il Circolo del Lettori. In ogni casa, larghe biblioteche.

Le piole: il Camaleonte, Cianci. Silos, il Pastis. Sarchiapone per mangiare una pizza rossa all’inizio di San Salvario. Il kebab da Horace per pensare a Niels. I brunch della domenica mattina al Circolo dei Lettori, eleganti, oppure a Teapot, senza Tosan.

Il mercato di San Salvario. L’ospedale Mauriziano e la stazione Massaua.

Le serate al Blah-Blah. Via Po. I circoli Arci in Aurora e San Salvario. Le cantine dove si gioca a biliardo, e io ci gioco veramente molto male.

Pal bikery, Affini. I panifici: il pane di una volta. Le gelaterie: La Romana. Le case del quartiere, i Bagni Municipali. Mnur. Le gioiellerie. La galleria subalpina.

Il cineforum Baretti i sabati nel tardo pomeriggio. La Pescheria Gallina a Porta Palazzo.

Barolo, Nebbiolo e Dolcetto.

Mi mancano completamente le periferie e la campagna. Tornerò?

 

 

Piove, ed è subito autunno

Torino, one week into

A guy playing the piano upon my arrival at the station. Coffee on the terrace. A warm October light. Wicked Man’s Rest. Sunny parks. Wide roads and surprisingly few churches. Maps. Marco. Moncalieri and its magnificent square. Il Collegio and Carlo Alberto. Il Caffé Città. Long walks in the Valentino park. Marco, Leila, and Etta. Fencing, spada, Carlos. Late nights reading. Jón Kalman Stefánsson. Niels. Caponata. Il Balon. Ardberg. Agriturismo del Canavese. Museo del Risorgimento. Rain.

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Reinventing oneself

Some lessons I learnt after living for two months without a home and spending all my time on trains, planes, and friends’ houses (thanks!). A note for the random visitor: these are just scattered notes I write for myself, not a coherent post.

Communication

People seem to waste too much of their time communicating with digital devices. This is an old refrain, I know, but it is scary how people use their phones nowadays – and for what? I have been on trains where all the persons of a family of four never spoke to each other for the whole ride, because they were all incessantly looking at their devices. Whatsapp, Facebook messenger, emails, sms, Twitter, emails, Telegram: even me, I am inundated by applications to chat. I often think of a line of a certain Passenger’s song, we pretend to be friends on the internet when in real life we have nothing to say. As a reaction I have grown increasingly more inept at communicating with my phone. Forget long messages. Rather, I have elected four simple ways of communicating with you: (1) this blog; (2) a short sarcastic message, picture, or video to laugh about; (2) a handwritten letter, for those of you who really matter; (4) a flight/train ticket to come and see each other in person.

Smartphone apps, more generally

There was a moment of my trip when I was craving for a map of Berlin. Until that point I had been getting around anywhere just fine using googlemaps. Sure, the app was working well; but I realised it was my fourth time in Berlin and I still had no idea of how the city was structured and I could not even remember the name of the neighbourhood where I was staying. The way I use googlemaps is just to get to A to B and, as a consequence, I never memorise the information. I made a resolution for myself to start using old paper maps again – like these. It is not for a case that when I was still in Trento I had the ambitious project of creating one. (I failed, but not for lack of trying).

Being a guest

I received precious hospitality by Giallu, Martina, Pietro, Giulia, Jonas. I learnt to wake up in the sun, listen to classical music, treat wooden objects with respect, prepare a smoothie, separate clothes in the laundry machine. But – hei – I am just not made for being a long-term guest. I feel like I am invading someone else’s space. So this experience confirms that I am a bourgeois deep down in my bones. The word bourgeois, as you know, denotes a person that takes for granted the sanctity of property. This brings me to point 4 of my diary.

Stuff

Niels, who is going to live with me in Torino in a couple of days, says that he wants to have his belongs packed in one simple bag. A-ha: nonsense. Living in Florence for three years I have accumulated an incredible amount of stuff: books, clothes, games, bikes, paintings, a scooter, laptops, tables, all sorts of technology. This stuff -material stuff, really- reflects my personality; in some ways, it is even an extension of it. This is why I feel so strange knowing that it is now scattered around six different houses (err – and I take the opportunity to thank again my friends for their patience).

Home

Material stuff reflects my personality, sure. There is another reason, though, why it is so important to me: it also captures a particularly happy period of my life. So now when I take up Bruti I remember the late evenings playing it with Dani; when I take that one glass of whiskey I remember the night when I was with Thomas and he knew he got into law school; when I look at the little school bus I remember of my improvised journey all the way to Denmark with Iris; and so on: you got the gist. Now – of course you realise I have been bloody sentimental about leaving my home in Florence, but I think that is for a reason. At the moment I doubt I will ever find a place so welcoming, so radiant, so relaxed as that. But then, who knows? When I got there in 2013 I had just experienced Brussels with Mindo, a truly marvellous flatmate and friend. So I was convinced I could not find anything better than that. In fact, half an hour after my arrival in the house Ada and I were fighting -literally fighting- over the consequences of Spanish colonisation in South America, leaving short of words both Jonas, who had rented the cheapest room but was forcefully assigned the most expensive one upon his arrival ‘because you are the last one who arrived and since we have already put our luggages in the other room it be a bit of a hassle to move them now, no?‘; and Dani, who had been accepted in the house at the last minute just because the girl who had been favoured over him turned out to be pregnant. It ended up going swimmingly: they are my closest friends now. So let us be surprised again.

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.

Patience and time

One important discovery I made this year is that moments come back, sometimes in a more mature and tangible way than how you remembered them. Your read about my bromance with Thomas already; now in Montreal I had the luck to share the apartment with Marco and Leila, who made my life a little bit funnier between 2009 and 2012. We have been in touch ever since, on and off, and we also met each other quite a few times; but of course it was never as good as spending one whole week together in the same house. Much time has passed since we first met and of course now we have changed, our lives have changed. And yet, living together just for a little while was so good, and so important to me.

I might not be very good at it, but one thing I know now is that the capacity to cultivate friendships over time is one of the best qualities a man should have.

Foto di un pirlotto che corre

There are times when I start off very motivated with an ambitious resolution. And then I forget about it. Then there are other times when I start taking my resolutions a little bit too seriously. I experienced the former situation when I forgot to run a race, which was one of my resolutions for the year 2014. Instead, I am afraid I am going through the latter situation now.

So in the last few months I got a little bit fanatic about running races. I started in December with the Firenze – Fiesole – Firenze (17k), then in April I ran the Firenze Half Marathon (21k) and the Maratonina del Partigiano in Sesto Fiorentino (13k); finally, I signed up and completed the DeeJayTen (10k, as the name intuitively suggests) which was held in May – yesterday, in fact.

The thing with these races is that there is a local NGO whose photographers attend every single event and take plenty of pictures of all the participants, even the least professional ones like me. With a contribution of 20 euro everybody can sign up and download them. Which I did, so that now I can keep track of the evolving savage expressions in my eyes in the pursuit of my resolutions.

Disclaimer: the second last is a picture of me taking a sip of Gingerello just after crossing the finish line of my last race. Woah, what a refreshing experience that was. If you want to know more about Gingerello, stay tuned and keep reading this blog.