Saturday, September 10, 2005

Molloy Blinks and the World Vanishes

My God! I got to the computer to check my blog and found nothing for Sat. Sept 10. What happened? How did I miss the whole day? Where had the time gone? What did I do? Where did I go? Did I take any pictures, have any adventures, practice, eat, see a movie, hear a concert?

Then I remembered: I don't come to the blog to find out what happened, I myself write what happened. I create the day. This is a new form of responsibility I had only heard about in self-help books--take charge of your life! Live each day as though it's your last; today is the beginning of forever, at least the first day of the rest of your life; the future is in your mangy hands, don't cast it to the muckheap. I create the future in retrospect. Now we're getting somewhere. But that brings me back to the beginning, since somewhere has always sounded ambiguous.

But, to reorient myself: we're in Florence. We flew here on an airplane, quite a flight, in which nothing happened, so it was hard to create it, unless I made something up, which I've vowed must never happen in these documents.

But today, I will do things. We will walk (this has all already happened, so I'm cheating the future by recollecting the past and misstating it) up to the Piazza Michelangelo after slugging down two cappucini while sitting across from the Piazza Santa Croce. You know, I heard a band just now--you'll have to forgive my rudeness, but leaving is imperative. Drums are drumming . . .

And it's about three hours later, the drums have drummed--it was a miniscule parade down Via Giuseppi Verdi to advertise an outdoor concert in the Piazza Signorina by the Filharmonia Rossini. The parade wound through the streets to wind up there, but
had some fetching moments: especially when several six-year old drummers, dressed in Florentine costume, nearly drummed their way into a side street and had to be herded back into line by a rather mean-looking adult, warning them, no doubt, "You'll never drum in this town again."

Note in passing: in 1966, when the Arno had its terrible flood, during which curators were, over an endangered bridge, literally hurrying great works of art to safety in the Uffizzi Galleries across from the Pitti Palace, and on higher ground, the water rose in our apartment building some twenty feet to a marker on the second floor. The river normally runs about twenty feet below the streets on either side. This means it rose twenty, flooded the streets, then continued rising another thirty to forty feet, since our building is at least ten to fifteen feet above the level of the streets at the side of the river.

Another note, for future travelers: siting on the Duomo makes a great way to keep yourself oriented in the city.
a) if the Duomo is your destination
b) unless you lose sight of the Duomo
c) in an oddity of city planning, you always lose sight of the Duomo
the closer you get

But these are notes I had to get down before they eluded me forever and I got lost trying to site on the Duomo.

We followed in the wake of the parade to the concert. The youthful pied pipers achieved their goal.

Now, the Piazza Signorina is large. It is the entrance to the Pitti Palace. It is surrounded by outdoor cafes, great statues--one of the replicas of the David; some others. The Filharmonia Rossini played in front of the entrance to the Pitti Palace, and a rousing concert it was, free to all, enjoyed and cheered by all for its variety of fare, little of which was Italian.

Florence, fountain of the Renaissance, source of the arts, the humanities, the sciences, opera, instrumental music--Italy, home of the great Verdi, Vivaldi, Boccherini, Formaggierini: the Filharmonia began with a Sousa march, followed by a medley of themes from James Bond films.

I am pleased to announce that this was nothing like the piano concert of ultra-modern music described by Julio Cortazar, with deep and reverent feeling, as having taken place in Paris and witnessed by his protagonist, Hector, in a book you must all read: Hopscotch.

A lady announcer filled the interregna between each piece with brief concert notes, the most intriguing of which concerned a piece called (I think) "Oregon." This piece narrated a 19th century expedition across the continent Norteamericano, with sections reflecting savages (selvaggi), cowboys, locomotives, and, perhaps, Mexicans, though I was not always sure of the translation. This got great applause, from me as well as everyone else. The cowboys thundered across the plain, the selvaggi whooped, fired arrows, and danced for rain. The locomotives whistled their lonesome cries in the star-filled darkness. Great herds of buffalo diminished rapidly in number. And the Mexicans--or perhaps they were French-Canadians from Detroit, the music wasn't terribly explicit about this--either strummed their ranchero music, yipping and yiping before attacking the Alamo (if Mexican) or (if French) rhapsodized to the effect that this must be the best of all possible worlds, by which they must have meant the trapping, the trading, the canoeing and the occasional piecepipe parleys (aromatic with who knows what dried and smouldering greenery) with characters like Queequeg and Danielle Boone (the little-known bisexual hero)from Mark Twain's favorite James Fenimore Cooper novels. The piece ended with an apocalyptic thunderclap representing,I think, man's first small step for Middle Eastern oil with a misdirection ploy involving the moon.

Another short discourse concerned W. C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues," which, I believe, was described as a piece written during the second decade of the 20th century celebrating the liberation of the slaves. Now, this piece did not have quite the solidity of performance, though the musicians worked their way stolidly, labored at the swinging sections, and generally played the jazz like classically-trained Europeans. The trombones, especially, glissed their hearts out, adhering exactly to meter and tempo, while the trumpet player scorched out a few well-orchestrated licks. This also got great applause.

The finale was a piece composed especially for an ensemble in Brisbane, Australia. This was done very well.

Overall, a very congenial, amiable concert, put on by the City of Florence, with a special greeting in English at the end and a welcome to all English speakers that left many Italians as puzzled as we English speakers had been during the addresses in Italian.

Molloy must note that his appreciation of the music was not the less enhanced by the wafting aroma of a greenery for which Florence is not internationally known; he also apprehended a couple in the act of indulgence in that same greenery earlier in the day, near the Piazza Michelangelo, where he hiked, camera in hand, to survey the panoramas and perhaps record them for future blogs. You will no doubt have noticed that several pictures have been appended to the first in this series. More are to follow.

Molloy bids you good night.


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