Andrea Harner
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March 25, 2009

An 18-year-old has secretly painted a 60ft drawing of a phallus on the roof of his parents' £1million mansion in Berkshire. It was there for a year before his parents found out. They say he'll have to scrub it off when he gets back from travelling.

I KIND OF LOVE THIS KID.

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* Thanks to Mary Patterson for knowing I would appreciate this!

March 12, 2009

Europeans Debate Castration of Sex Offenders By Dan Bilefsky, NY Times

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Pavel remembers the violent night sweats two days before the murder. He went to see a family doctor, who said they would go away. But after viewing a Bruce Lee martial arts film, he said, he felt uncontrollable sexual desires. He invited a 12-year-old neighbor home. Then he stabbed the boy repeatedly.

His psychiatrist says Pavel derived his sexual pleasure from the violence.

More than 20 years have passed. Pavel, then 18, spent seven years in prison and five years in a psychiatric institution. During his last year in prison, he asked to be surgically castrated. Having his testicles removed, he said, was like draining the gasoline from a car hard-wired to crash. A large, dough-faced man, he is sterile and has forsaken marriage, romantic relationships and sex, he said. His life revolves around a Catholic charity, where he is a gardener.

“I can finally live knowing that I am no harm to anybody,” he said during an interview at a McDonald’s here, as children played loudly nearby. “I am living a productive life. I want to tell people that there is help.”

He refused to give his last name for fear of being hounded.

Whether castration can help rehabilitate violent sex offenders has come under new scrutiny after the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee last month called surgical castration “invasive, irreversible and mutilating” and demanded that the Czech Republic stop offering the procedure to violent sex offenders. Other critics said that castration threatened to lead society down a dangerous road toward eugenics.

Continue reading...

January 24, 2009

Hilarious article w/ best part bolded - oh the Brits!: No Snickering: That Road Sign Means Something Else By Sarah Lyall, NY Times

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CRAPSTONE, England — When ordering things by telephone, Stewart Pearce tends to take a proactive approach to the inevitable question “What is your address?”

He lays it out straight, so there is no room for unpleasant confusion. “I say, ‘It’s spelled “crap,” as in crap,’ ” said Mr. Pearce, 61, who has lived in Crapstone, a one-shop country village in Devon, for decades.

Disappointingly, Mr. Pearce has so far been unable to parlay such delicate encounters into material gain, as a neighbor once did.

“Crapstone,” the neighbor said forthrightly, Mr. Pearce related, whereupon the person on the other end of the telephone repeated it to his co-workers and burst out laughing. “They said, ‘Oh, we thought it didn’t really exist,’ ” Mr. Pearce said, “and then they gave him a free something.”

In the scale of embarrassing place names, Crapstone ranks pretty high. But Britain is full of them. Some are mostly amusing, like Ugley, Essex; East Breast, in western Scotland; North Piddle, in Worcestershire; and Spanker Lane, in Derbyshire.

Others evoke images that may conflict with residents’ efforts to appear dignified when, for example, applying for jobs.

These include Crotch Crescent, Oxford; Titty Ho, Northamptonshire; Wetwang, East Yorkshire; Slutshole Lane, Norfolk; and Thong, Kent. And, in a country that delights in lavatory humor, particularly if the word “bottom” is involved, there is Pratts Bottom, in Kent, doubly cursed because “prat” is slang for buffoon.

As for Penistone, a thriving South Yorkshire town, just stop that sophomoric snickering.

“It’s pronounced ‘PENNIS-tun,’ ” Fiona Moran, manager of the Old Vicarage Hotel in Penistone, said over the telephone, rather sharply. When forced to spell her address for outsiders, she uses misdirection, separating the tricky section into two blameless parts: “p-e-n” — pause — “i-s-t-o-n-e.”

Several months ago, Lewes District Council in East Sussex tried to address the problem of inadvertent place-name titillation by saying that “street names which could give offense” would no longer be allowed on new roads.

“Avoid aesthetically unsuitable names,” like Gaswork Road, the council decreed. Also, avoid “names capable of deliberate misinterpretation,” like Hoare Road, Typple Avenue, Quare Street and Corfe Close.

(What is wrong with Corfe Close, you might ask? The guidelines mention the hypothetical residents of No. 4, with their unfortunate hypothetical address, “4 Corfe Close.” To find the naughty meaning, you have to repeat the first two words rapidly many times, preferably in the presence of your fifth-grade classmates.)

The council explained that it was only following national guidelines and that it did not intend to change any existing lewd names.

Still, news of the revised policy raised an outcry.

“Sniggering at double entendres is a loved and time-honored tradition in this country,” Carol Midgley wrote in The Times of London. Ed Hurst, a co-author, with Rob Bailey, of “Rude Britain” and “Rude UK,” which list arguably offensive place names — some so arguably offensive that, unfortunately, they cannot be printed here — said that many such communities were established hundreds of years ago and that their names were not rude at the time.

“Place names and street names are full of history and culture, and it’s only because language has evolved over the centuries that they’ve wound up sounding rude,” Mr. Hurst said in an interview.

Mr. Bailey, who grew up on Tumbledown Dick Road in Oxfordshire, and Mr. Hurst got the idea for the books when they read about a couple who bought a house on Butt Hole Road, in South Yorkshire.

The name most likely has to do with the spot’s historic function as a source of water, a water butt being a container for collecting water. But it proved to be prohibitively hilarious.

“If they ordered a pizza, the pizza company wouldn’t deliver it, because they thought it was a made-up name,” Mr. Hurst said. “People would stand in front of the sign, pull down their trousers and take pictures of each other’s naked buttocks.”

The couple moved away.

The people in Crapstone have not had similar problems, although their sign is periodically stolen by word-loving merrymakers. And their village became a stock joke a few years ago, when a television ad featuring a prone-to-swearing soccer player named Vinnie Jones showed Mr. Jones’s car breaking down just under the Crapstone sign.

In the commercial, Mr. Jones tries to alert the towing company to his location while covering the sign and trying not to say “crap” in front of his young daughter.

The consensus in the village is that there is a perfectly innocent reason for the name “Crapstone,” though it is unclear what that is. Theories put forth by various residents the other day included “place of the rocks,” “a kind of twisting of the original word,” “something to do with the soil” and “something to do with Sir Francis Drake,” who lived nearby.

Jacqui Anderson, a doctor in Crapstone who used to live in a village called Horrabridge, which has its own issues, said that she no longer thought about the “crap” in “Crapstone.”

Still, when strangers ask where she’s from, she admitted, “I just say I live near Plymouth.”

January 8, 2009

6 and 7 year old German kids try eloping to Africa

Their sunglasses and outfits rule.

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Young romantic Mika, six, and his seven-year-old girlfriend Anna Bell were so enamoured with each other they planned an escape to tie the knot in warmer climes.

Dragging along Mika's sister Anna-Lena, aged five, the kids packed three suitcases "filled with food, swimming costumes, a lilo and even sunglasses," said police spokesman Holger Jureczko.

The idea for the romantic trip began when Mika told the two girls about his recent holiday in Italy. They decided to head for Africa while their families slept on New Year's Day.

"From this, the children began to make plans for the future," said Mr Jureczko.

In the early hours of 2009, the children left their house in the suburbs of Hanover, and took a tram for the central station.

As they waited for the train to the airport wearing their holiday gear, they caught the attention of a guard who contacted police.

Two officers managed to convince the young lovers that they would struggle to get to Africa without money or a plane ticket.

"What drew our attention was not so much that they were small children but that they had a lot of swim gear with them.

"And when we asked them where they were going they said straight away 'to Africa!', said Mr Jureczko.

"The policeman questioning them found that incredible! Who would think of going to Africa at that age?"

When asked why they were going, groom-to-be Mika explained his seemingly simple plan.

"We wanted to take the train to the airport, and then catch a plane, then we would unpack, and get married once we arrived. Then we wanted to go for a little holiday," he said.

Fiancee Anna-Bell said: "We wanted to get married there and enjoy ourselves."

Mika's mother, Annabell Sievert, said she could not believe they had tried to elope overseas.

She said:"I was shocked. I thought I must be watching a film. We tried to find them, but couldn't. There are a lot of places they could have wandered to."

To make up for their disappointment at not reaching Africa, the children were given a special tour of the police headquarters at Hanover station and shown around the detention cell.

* Thanks to a reader for this link!

October 24, 2008

Cannibal cult mother who skinned son and made him eat his own flesh gets 9 years in jail.

ONLY 9 YEARS?????!!!!! WOULDN'T LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE BE A TAD MORE APPROPRIATE???!!!

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April 29, 2008

Austria Stunned by Case of Imprisoned Woman by Mark Landler, NY Times

Some things, such as this story, are too horrific to truly comprehend.

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AMSTETTEN, Austria — With his Mercedes-Benz and his fine clothes, Josef Fritzl looked every inch a property owner, neighbors in this tidy Austrian town said Monday. Even when running errands, they said, he wore a natty jacket, crisp shirt and tie.

Mr. Fritzl’s apartment house, its back garden obscured by a tall hedge, was his kingdom, one neighbor said, and interlopers were not welcome. On Monday, investigators in white jumpsuits combed the house and garden for clues. The authorities said Sunday that Mr. Fritzl, 73, had kept one of his daughters imprisoned for 24 years in a basement dungeon, where she bore him seven children.

The daughter, Elisabeth, now 42, is in psychiatric care, along with two of her children. Her eldest daughter, Kerstin, 19, who was also kept in the basement and whose illness pulled apart Mr. Fritzl’s secret after he had her taken to a local hospital, was in a medically induced coma and was in critical condition, the authorities said.

The authorities said Mr. Fritzl confessed Monday to imprisonment, sexual abuse and incest. The case has left this town of 22,000 people, 80 miles west of Vienna, in stunned disbelief. Neighbors milled around the three-story apartment building on Monday, watching the investigation unfold and asking how such an atrocity could have occurred in their midst. Continued...

April 13, 2008

Last night out in Oxford! England '07

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March 14, 2008

The 39 Steps at the Criterion, London 2007

We met up with Beth and Willa for some Hitchcock in London!

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Less working, more cleaning, mister! London 2007

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* Somewhere in London my camera was a peeping tom.

March 12, 2008

Ice skating is radical/Somewhere in London I stole a little girl's penguin, England 2007

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February 13, 2008

Eddie does Europe!

Frankfurters know how to build their houses! Cute overload!

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Cathedral in Cologne...pungent!

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Friend's shack:

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Go ahead. Be American:

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Parisian prostitute. JK! JK!

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When in Paris, do as the Parisians do...

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Kafka roamed here:

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January 14, 2008

England 2007: Oxford Day Two

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January 7, 2008

England 2007: Oxford Day One Night - Jonah's ancestors

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England 2007, Oxford Day One Night

Among the several special events Oxford had planned for us (as part of the Silicon Valley Comes to Oxford event) was a tour of the world-famous Bodleian Library which was indeed awe-inspiring!

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January 4, 2008

England 2007: Oxford - Malmaison Hotel Oxford kindly put us up in was awesome and previously a...can you guess???

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England 2007: Oxford Day One - It's true what they say about the lines

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England 2007: Oxford Day One Day

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November 13, 2007

Running of the bulls: It's all fun and games until you...

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November 6, 2007

Oxford's Edward Harner!

I'm so proud and excited to see him in two weeks!!

Matriculation with mates!

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View from his room:

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October 5, 2007

Pompidou: Skinny Car, Paris '07

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July 30, 2007

Calling station chef...I'm hungry! Paris '07

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* Hotel de Ville station.

July 20, 2007

Bateaux rides are romantical! Paris '07

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Prodigal son uninterested in bateau ride, Paris '07

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Gay Pride 2007! from bateau, Paris '07

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July 19, 2007

Eiffel Tower ads starring Andrea & Jonah, Paris '07

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Bofinger, Paris '07

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* Read about the Bofinger and its interesting past and present via Frommers and The Observer!

Pigeons die in Paris too, Paris '07

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* Along the Seine near the Tour Eiffel.

Garcon in Window, Paris '07

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July 18, 2007

Jonah's Jardin de Tuileries birds, Paris '07

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Modern building sandwich, Paris '07

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World's Smallest Eiffel Towers, Paris '07

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Sometimes you have to take up a stranger's offer to take your photo, Paris '07

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Cry Me a River, Paris '07

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July 17, 2007

Beauty is everywhere in Paris, Paris '07

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Paris is too slow for crosswalker, Paris '07

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Gay Marais, Paris '07

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Iran Air, Paris '07

I'm not scared, I'm not scared, I'm not scared.

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* On the Champs Elysees.

Paris Zzzzzzzs, Paris, '07

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Parisian cat, Paris '07

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* At the Palais Royal.

Graffiti van, Paris '07

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July 16, 2007

Cool Japanese dolls, Paris '07

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* Window shopping in the Marais.

Paris apartment views, Paris '07

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* On the Rue des Archives in the Marais

New Parisian shoes - Bjork inspired, Paris '07

Someone got cute new shoes!

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Discordant new building, Paris, '07

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July 12, 2007

How to eat oysters! 1, 2, 3!

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* For more of the Huitrerie Regis dinner click here!

Huitrerie Regis, Paris '07

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* At the highly recommended Huitrerie Regis restaurant!

July 10, 2007

First day Cafe Creme & view, Paris '07

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* In the Marais.

First day walk from Marais to Seine, Paris '07

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Prettier than US mail box, Paris '07

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* In the Marais.

French fruit is fantastique! Paris '07

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July 9, 2007

Bone marrow & steak! Paris '07

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* Eaten to Jonah's delight on our first night.

L'Ambassade d'Auvergne Restaurant, Paris '07

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* L'Ambassade d'Auvergne via TimeOut Paris.

Parisian kitty lives behind beautiful blue doors, Paris '07

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* In the Marais.

Homeless man and dog on the Seine, Paris '07

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Parisian biker on bridge, Paris '07

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July 6, 2007

A Jardin de Tuileries sculpture loses dignity, Paris '07

Please please please don't merde on me.

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July 5, 2007

Eiffel Tower Eyefuls! Paris '07

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Roses in the Seine, Paris '07

Fallen or thrown?

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Fashion Caution! Paris '07

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* Fellow passenger on the Vedette de Paris.

June 25, 2007

In Paris this week

Delighting in our stay here. Off to get cafe creme, pain au chocolat and the Herald Tribune for the NYT crossword - will post soon!

xoxo
A

June 8, 2007

Funny Face

Funny Face is one of my top 5 favorite movies of all time and admit to having watched it too many times to count. Audrey Hepburn is at her best and plays a book-ish, funny looking girl who gets noticed by premier fashion magazine photographer played by Fred Astaire and whisked off to Paris for fashion week - in a word, divine. Everything about this movie from gorgeous Paris in the 50's to the funny philosophical struggle in the story line to the vibrant colors ("Think Pink!") and clothing designed by Givenchy...it's a treasure.

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May 29, 2007

British family, duck style!

Taken right outside friend and prof Duncan's doorstep in Oxford this morning!!

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May 8, 2007

Paris lodging SOS

Anyone know of a nice, inexpensive place to stay in Paris? We have found ourselves priced out of places because of the exchange rate (plus I'd rather buy clothes than expensive lodging) and late to secure reservations for our June 19-26 trip ("Je suis tres desolee mais our hotel is completely booked and has been for months - how idiotic of you!"). We prefer the Marais neighborhood in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements but am now open to other neighborhoods nearby (it's amazing how flexible one becomes in the face of no other option). An apartment exchange is also an option.

Good leads will be rewarded with a great Paris present! Merci! Merci beaucoup! Mercy buckets!

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January 31, 2007

The Homogenization of the Champs Elysees - The Parisians won't stand for it!

Megastores March Up Avenue, and Paris Takes to Barricades by Elaine Sciolino.

Yay Frenchies, do what you do best! I hope you're successful so when I visit Paris next, I don't discover that I could have shopped at the same, big, boring stores a few blocks from my apt!

There was a time when the Champs-�lys�es stood for grand living, high style and serendipity. With the Arc de Triomphe on one end and the Tuileries Gardens on the other, you could discover an underground jazz band at midnight and down oysters and Champagne at dawn.

But the road where de Gaulle celebrated France"s liberation from the Nazis, the one known as "the most beautiful avenue on earth," has, like Times Square and Oxford Street in London, turned into a commercialized money trap.

Most of the music clubs are gone. Movie theaters are closing. Sometimes, all that seems to be left on the 1.2-mile stretch are the global chain stores that can afford the rent.

And so, in a truly French moment, the Paris city government has begun to push back, proclaiming a crisis of confidence and promising a plan aimed at stopping the "banalization" of the Champs-�lys�es. The question is whether it is too late.

August 25, 2006

An Insider Explains Italy, Land of Cheery Dysfunction by William Grimes

A hilarious review of a book about Italy and Italians. Enjoy!!

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Books of the Times
An Insider Explains Italy, Land of Cheery Dysfunction

By WILLIAM GRIMES
Published: August 23, 2006

In Italy, red lights come in many varieties. A rare few actually mean stop. Others, to the Italian driver, suggest different interpretations. At a pedestrian crossing at 7 a.m., with no pedestrians around, it is a �negotiable red,� more like a weak orange. At a traffic intersection, red could mean what the Florentines call rosso pieno, or full red, but it might, with no cars coming, be more of a suggestion than a command. It all depends.

The red-light mentality, as the journalist Beppe Severgnini sees it, explains volumes about Italy and the Italians. �We think it�s an insult to our intelligence to comply with a regulation,� he writes in �La Bella Figura,� his witty, insightful tour of the Italian mind. �Obedience is boring. We want to think about it. We want to decide whether a particular law applies to our specific case. In that place, at that time.�

This principle applies to traffic regulations, taxes, solemn laws and personal behavior. Everything is personal and open to discussion. As a result, Italy totters along in a state of amiable chaos, its situation desperate but not serious, which is more or less the way Italians like it, those in charge and those, in principle, being led. �Controllers and controlled have an unspoken agreement,� Mr. Severgnini writes. �You don�t change, we don�t change, and Italy doesn�t change, but we all complain that we can�t go on like this.�

Mr. Severgnini, a columnist for the Milan newspaper Corriere della Sera, turned a fond eye on the United States in his last book, �Ciao, America!,� but this time around, on his home turf, he bites harder and deeper. The paradoxes of Italian life engage him. They bring out the reflective wit that, he argues, is native to most Italians and may be their most potent weapon in the struggle with bureaucracy and social dysfunction. Intertwined with native wit is a strong sense of self-esteem enjoyed by even the humblest Italian, as well as a fatal weakness for beauty and surface appeal, �la bella figura.�

Italians, in other words, would just as soon look good as be good. The country suffers from an ethics deficit, most clearly visible in the attitude toward taxes. Lying outrageously about one�s income is considered normal. In the United States the public regards tax evasion as morally reprehensible. If he were to cheat on his taxes in Italy, Mr. Severgnini writes, �two neighbors would come round to ask me how I did it, and two more would loathe me in silence.� No one would report him.

Mr. Severgnini presents his guide as a tour that is partly geographical and partly conceptual. Over the course of 10 days, he travels from Milan to Tuscany to the far south: Sicily and Sardinia. But the places are merely excuses for little treatises on beaches, restaurants, cellphones, airports, condominiums, piazzas, gardens and offices, all sprinkled with clever observations and telling statistics.

The differences between Italian and British flight attendants, illustrated in a hilarious vignette, help explain the Italian sense of personal drama and the national talent for creatively responding to small crises. Italian flight attendants are poor at serving you coffee but good at cleaning it up and sympathizing when you spill it. Some of this is merely glib. Mr. Severgnini, himself no stranger to the lure of la bella figura, would just as soon turn a beautiful phrase as make a point, and he might do well to heed one of his own points about the restlessly fertile Italian brain: �you can�t amaze everyone every three minutes.�

At the same time, Mr. Severgnini, as he skips lightly from one topic to the next, manages to sneak in some revealing statistics. One in three Italians finds a job through a relative. One in five has moved in the last 10 years, half the European average. Telecommuting is virtually nonexistent, engaged in by only 0.2 percent of the work force � in part, Mr. Severgnini theorizes, because it deprives Italians of the social drama of the workplace.

The Italy that Mr. Severgnini describes seethes with frustration. Government works poorly. The legal system barely functions. Too many Italians are crowded into too little space. Fear of failure stymies innovation. Mr. Severgnini is dismayed at the national genius for enjoyment and the Italian inability to plan for the future. �Our sun is setting in installments,� he writes. �It�s festive and flamboyant, but it�s still a sunset.�

Yet in many areas Italians have jumped at modernity and thrown over tradition almost casually. Cellphones are a national mania. They allow Italians to be Italian in new, entertaining ways. The shopping mall (but not Internet shopping) is popular because Italians pretend that it�s a piazza. New nonsmoking laws, widely predicted to be an absolute failure, have been accepted without a fuss. They created new gathering places and new forms of conviviality. One young man cited by Mr. Severgnini started smoking as a way to meet girls. Restaurants go in for all sorts of newfangled gadgets in their bathrooms, and Mr. Severgnini has a field day with the automated sinks, concealed light switches and baroque flush technology that challenge the Italian diner today.

There is one rule, by the way, that cannot be violated. It is wrong, and possibly illegal, to order a cappuccino after 10 a.m. This is worse than eating pizza in the middle of the day. It is nonnegotiable. Discussion over. Rosso pieno.

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* Via Ann.

February 16, 2006

Prince passes on Paris.

And of course, I would expect nothing less.

060215_prince_vmed_5p.widec.jpg

Thanks for the link, bro!

August 17, 2005

Giulietta Masina & Fellini in Roma

Bar Notegen is a great little bohemian (whatever that means) cafe nestled between fancier establishments on Via Babuino in Rome (just a stone's throw away from the Spanish Steps). Back in the day such fantastic people as Giulietta Masina (my fave actress) and husband Federico Fellini hung out there. For now, there simply hangs a cool photo of the couple. It's one of my favorite images. So glamorous, so sweet.

HoneymoonGiulietta.jpg

* Roma, Italy 07.05

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