Rage Strange Face.png

Spontaneously aggressively, hostile.
Let’s revisit this phrase.

Two thoughts.
One is the addition of a fourth word, equally important, “mindless”
‘Mindless’ defined in context as the blanking out of every detail of the world around us except for that person whom, whether in reality or in an misguided interpretation of reality, poses a threat to us; except for how to hurt or disable that enemy.
And no one does that better than Joe Pesci. Referring to “Goodfellas,” the scene in the restaurant when Pesci is holding court and Ray Liotta makes the comment that Pesci is a funny guy. The moment when everything else but Pesci’s closeness to insanity fades away, leaving the realization that death is one short word, one look, one gesture away from changing the nature of the party.

And the second. Not wanting to inculpate all 40,000 people living in the North End at that time as being infected by the spontaneously mindlessly aggressively hostile syndrome, I bracketed the syndrome as infecting only a few.

Yesterday I had a reunion with a dozen and a half guys and gals I grew up with, and they universally agreed that the syndrome infected more than half the population.

That being so, it’s no wonder that for so long the 1950s and 60s North End of Boston was ‘enemy territory’ for outsiders. Our defense of the integrity and safety of our Italian walled-village was ferocious, leading to an amazing society where single women could walk safely through our streets at any time of night; where three-year-old children could play together on the sidewalks without dedicated care-giver at hand. The point, every single one of us was watching.

That the good part of such a personality.

On Tuesday, I’m going to post another good part of that personality: how we dealt with the disabled.

Today is Sunday, August 5th  

This is my 117th consecutive daily posting.
Time is … 5.28am on a sunny turning cloudy day, and hot.
Today’s dinner is…total leftovers. Last day for ribs and chicken before I empty the refrigerator, tossing out enough good food to feed ten starving people in Africa.


Readers’ Comments:

“Great information. Thanks.” 

While this reader prefers anonymity, same reader references Dr. Johnson, “I would rather be attacked than unnoticed. For the worst thing you can do to an author is to be silent as to his works.”

The reader writes:
“And may I say, you have a unique, nearly idiosyncratic, relationship with pronouns.
Not to mention gerunds... 

And, as we’ve discussed in the past, there’s your antipathy for copulative verbs (about which I have noted your willingness recently to confess, if not attempt to evangelize, in public).”

Web-Meister Responds:  Probably better than urinating .

Today’s Quiz-Question:
The Visconti film “The Leopard,” was based on a book of the same name which was written by ??

Answer below, just before Daily Post.

Today’s Definition:

if you know the word without glancing down give yourself a Mounds bar.
If you think you’ve had moments like that, maybe you’re forgetting what it was really like.
Put the Mounds bar back.

Halcyon: a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peace.

Movie Details
“The Leopard,” 1963 starring Burt Lancaster.
Sicily in 1860.
The corpse of a Royalist soldier is found in the garden of the villa of Don Fabrizio Corbera, Prince of Salina (the gardener quips that these soldiers stink as much in death as they do in life).
As the Prince's large family enjoys the customary comforts and privileges of an ancient and noble name, including private services with their Jesuit priest, war has broken out between the King's army and the insurgent volunteer redshirts of Giuseppe Garibaldi.
Among the rebels is the Prince's remarkably handsome and dashing nephew, Tancredi, with whose romantic politics the Prince shares some whimsical sympathy (and a good deal of material support—Tancredi is a notorious spendthrift).

Moved by the political uprising, the Prince departs, with his priest as cover, for the nearby Palermo where he engages in an assignation with a prostitute; he complains that, despite siring seven children upon his devout Catholic wife, he has yet to see her navel.
Garibaldi's army conquers the city and Sicily from the Bourbons, but the mood is muted and the prospects murky.
The Prince muses upon the inevitability of change, with the middle class displacing the hereditary ruling class while on the surface everything remains the same.
His priest worries about the future of the church under the Garibaldini, but the Prince assures him that it is only his class who has anything to lose.

Refusing to bend to the tide of necessity, the Prince departs from Palermo for his summer palace at Donnafugata.
The glamour of his name is still such as to lift roadblocks and allow passage to his family across disputed terrain.
Arriving in the hilltop town, the Prince establishes his life just as it was always lived—hunting, social visits, etc.—despite the fact that a new national assembly has called a plebiscite which (thanks to the corrupt zealotry of the town's leading citizen, the incorrigibly bourgeois Don Calogero Sedara), the nationalists win 512-0.

Sedara's grip on power and property in the region is matched only by his fawning sycophancy toward the Prince, whose incontestable nobility of character and ancestry leave Sedara looking distinctly plebeian.

The Prince learns from his hunting companion Don Ciccio, who is also the town organist, that Sedara's wife is never seen publicly, as Sedara jealously guards her rare loveliness; furthermore she is an illiterate peasant he keeps merely as a breeding stock.
Their only progeny, the exquisitely beautiful Angelica, on the other hand, Sedara clearly sees as a ticket of admittance to the high-class soirées of the nobility.
Bringing her with him to the villa of the Salinas, he watches as both the Prince and Tancredi fall abjectly in love with her.
Realizing his chance, he effectively pimps his daughter to the aristocracy; and Tancredi, as the only unmarried eligible member of the clan, offers his hand.

This devastates the Prince's daughter, Concetta, who had formed a passionate attachment to her cousin, not unreasonably based on his florid demonstrations of affection; which he now forgoes in an instant.
The Prince sees the wisdom of the match, since he knows his nephew's vaulting ambition and need for ready cash, which Angelica's father, greedy for familial prestige, will happily make available.
So, with the mutual blessing of the Prince of Salina and Don Calogero, Tancredi and Angelica become engaged.

During the lull after this notable event, a visitor from the constituent assembly comes to the villa, hoping for a private interview with the Prince.
When his chance comes, he begs the great scholar and nobleman to join the senate and help direct the ship of state; particularly he hopes that the Prince's great compassion and wisdom will help alleviate the poverty and ignorance to be seen everywhere on the streets of Sicily.
But the Prince demurs and refuses this invitation, claiming that Sicily prefers its sleep to the agitations of modernity.
He sees a future when the leopards and the lions, along with the sheep and the jackals, will all live according to the same law, but he does not want to be a part of this democratic vision.
He notes that Tancredi has shifted allegiances from the insurgent Garibaldini to the King's army, and wistfully recognizes in his nephew the kind of opportunist and time-server who will flourish in the new Italy.

A great ball is held at the villa of a neighbouring Prince, and the Salinas attend, along with a large troop from the King's army, and Tancredi, who uses this occasion to introduce his fiancée to society. Afflicted by a combination of melancholia, dyspepsia, and age, the Prince wanders forlornly from chamber to chamber, increasingly disaffected by the entire edifice of the society he so gallantly represents; until, at his nadir, Angelica approaches and asks him to dance.
Stirred and momentarily released from his cares, the great Prince accepts and for three minutes he is once more the elegant and dashing figure of his past, as he holds in his arms the inordinate beauty of the Italy to come, which he will never inhabit.

Thumbnail Biography
Giuseppe Garibaldi (4 July 1807 – 2 June 1882) was an Italian general and nationalist.
A republican, he contributed to the Italian unification and the creation of the Kingdom of Italy.
One book describes him as one of the greatest generals of modern times and one of Italy's "fathers of the fatherland" along with Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, Victor Emmanuel II of Italy and Giuseppe Mazzini.

Garibaldi has been called the "Hero of the Two Worlds" because of his military enterprises in Brazil, Uruguay and Europe.
He commanded and fought in many military campaigns that led eventually to the Italian unification.
In 1848, the provisional government of Milan made Garibaldi a general, and in 1849, the Minister of War promoted him to General of the Roman Republic to lead the Expedition of the Thousand on behalf and with the consent of Victor Emmanuel II.
His last military campaign took place during the Franco-Prussian War, as commander of the Army of the Vosges.

Garibaldi was very popular in Italy and abroad, aided by exceptional international media coverage at the time.
Many great intellectuals of the time, such as Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, and George Sand, showered him with admiration.
The United Kingdom and the United States helped him a great deal, offering him financial and military support in difficult circumstances.
In the popular telling of his story, he is associated with the red shirts that his volunteers, the Garibaldini, wore in lieu of a uniform.

Answer to the Quiz-Question:

Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.
Can’t name his other novels – he only wrote the one.

Today’s Post

This is an excerpt from my published book illustrating incidents from my life in Boston’s North End in the 1950s and beyond, as a young boy, a teenager, and restaurateur.

All the excerpts are collected by date of post on the Web Site page entitled, “Dom’s, An Odyssey, Excerpts."
Additionally, they are also collected in the page entitled “Dom’s, An Odyssey,” in sequence as they appear in the book.
Note that this is one of several books for sale, details on the page, “Books for Sale.”

"Dom’s, an Odyssey"
Why did it take 6,000,000 Italians 100 years to assimilate into American Mainstream?

Strike Three

A group of us were having dinner at my restaurant, Dom’s, and the Professor was telling a story of Italian immigration, particularly, the image that middle-America had of them as a group.

“To many Nativists, the waves of Italian immigrants that lapped ashore in ever-increasing numbers in the 1880s and 1890s grew to alarming numbers in the following thirty years.  How Americans treated the immigrants was greatly influenced by their attitude before the first of them stepped ashore.  The historical reputation of the Mezzogiorno was strike one.  The damning of them by their well-accepted Northern Italian brethren was strike two.  Let me tell you briefly about strike three.

“It was common for the Italian man to come to America alone, leaving his family behind. He’d find a job, an apartment, save the money for passage and then send for his wife and others.  Thus, unaccompanied women were common on the passages. 

“Early in the immigration phenomenon, one of these women was physically abused by a crewman who, ignorant of the ways of the contadini, likely thought she was unprotected. Two days later, at dawn, the offending crewman was found on deck with a fatal blade wound in his back.


“When the ship docked a bevy of police blocked the disembarkation to investigate the killing.  Having just defined their concept of ‘pazienza’ to the crew, the Italians now defined another of their values for the police: ‘omerta,’ absolute silence.  History had taught the contadini that everything you tell the authorities will return to harm your family irregardless of guilt.  Despite 48 hours of non-stop questioning, the police discovered only that no one saw anything; no one knew anything. 

“The immigrants, ‘murderers’ among them, were finally permitted to disembark. The press was waiting and all over the country headlines cried out that America was being flooded with alien murderers. The new American image of Italians was solidified: Strike Three!

“Oh crap!” Ponzo muttered with a slight but noticeable smile on his face, “We struck out! We suck!”

“So what?” demanded Al.  “Who cares? Our grandfathers fought back, got jobs, stayed together and made good lives.”

“We all know the horrible things that were said about the immigrants; things done to them in the ensuing decades.  I’m not going to tell those stories.  It isn’t necessary: Americans had been saying and doing these same things, and far worse, to Africos for four hundred years. They had a lot of practice and were very good at it.”

“Amen to that!” exclaimed Big Daddy.  “You’re painting great pictures, Ettore. But remember that what the Italians went through on the boats was a first-class cruise on the QE2 compared to what my people endured.  We couldn’t retaliate. We were always chained up like wild dogs. Many died on every trip.  I take pleasure in hearing this story and wish I could have been the one to knife him.”

“Power to the People!” Tory toasted with raised glass while his head bobbed up and down in excitement. We all toasted each other.  I guess we were the ‘people’ we meant.

“To the hated, despised and trod upon!” added Big Daddy.  More toasting.

“And to knives!” threw in Al. Now some low cheering and a final clinking of glasses.  Then Tory concluded his story.

“A more puzzling anomaly was that the other recently arrived but more easily assimilated immigrant groups, like the Irish and the Jews, participated fully in the dissection of the Italians. Not speaking the language and having few to help them, the Italian immigrants had no idea of the strength, the size and the universality of the coalition building to grind them down or drive them out.

“Of course, they did look strange, these refugees from the ‘Mezzogiorno.’  The land of the ‘half-day’, the Italian version of the American Ozarks, had produced a strange, parochial culture and a population illiterate, abused and suspicious.  Adjustment was very difficult, even alien to them.  In America, these transplants, these non-English-speaking Italians, smelled strange; they acted strange; they dressed strange. 

“They made no effort to embrace American culture. No effort to be educated in American schools.  They sought only work: steady, paying work.  As long as they had a job, regardless of pay or status, and they could live among their paesani, even in the most distressed of slums, they deemed themselves outrageously lucky and successful.

“Efforts to stop the flow of Italian immigrants got nowhere at first.  America was booming and business interests, in dire need of unskilled, cheap, human pack-animals were not to be denied. ‘Nativists’ had to watch in frustration for forty years as the flow grew into a river and then a deluge.  Meanwhile, the distressed slums were slowly but steadily improved to somewhat livable, and even attractive neighborhoods.  “Little Italy” began to develop a somewhat positive patina.

 “By the time they got laws passed that stopped the flow of Italian immigrants it was 1924 and the Nativists were jubilant.  Spit ran down the face of the Statue of Liberty who stood protecting that the ‘golden door’ stayed open.  The spit belonged to the same people who, with their feet on the necks of their African slaves, spouted that ‘all men were created equal.’  

“The essential flaw in the Nativists’ program was their lack of faith in America.  They doubted its long-proven ability to absorb disparate groups of people and to adequately smooth out their foreign ways so that America could adapt, grow, and get stronger with each wave of immigration.

“But by 1924 it was already too late to stop the Italians.  To the absolute horror of the English-speaking ruling classes, in the thirty years from 1890 to 1920, Italy disgorged six million of its most impoverished citizens, flooding America with the largest immigration from any single country in the century.   We were here and they were fucked!”

Post Scripts
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