Day 77: How Berlusconi Ruined My Day


Dear all,

once again I have been slacking in my blogging efforts. Here my current set of excuses: my dissertation is a shite-load of work, just finished an article on Octavia Butler I wrote on the side, trying to speed-read my way through a bunch of novels I might want to include in my dissertation and I hate flavored coffee (well, this last one really does not have anything to do with me not blogging, but I felt like it needed to be said).  Regarding some of the novels I have read in the last week: if you feel like you should beef up your knowledge of the artform that is New England nautical knotwork whilst reading what must doubtlessly be one of the most brutally depressing stories of the last two decades you might want to read Annie Proulx’ The Shipping News (winner of the 1994 Pulitzer). For an account of the depressing existence of people in rural Maine see Richard Russo’s work and for a re-telling of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women from the depressing perspective of the family’s absent father, a struggling abolitionist in the Civil War, read Geraldine Brooks’ March. Mixed together with Chicago’s contemporary dreariness this is a good recipe for sucking the will to live right out of you in one short weekend.

What else has been happening in my life? Let’s see. I received a coupon for 30% off everything at Blick’s, which only reminded me that I have a whole set of new canvases, brushes and colors but have as of yet lacked the time to actually get back to painting. Have some ideas I really want to put on some of these canvases, but I just cannot find a two to three-hour window during which I would be able to paint without stressing out about my dissertation. Maybe I should just take 30-minute writing breaks and paint something that is an expression of the anger and frustration induced by my dissertation. Maybe this could be some kind of non-representative art in which I trade in brushes and spatulas for old copies of chapters I dip in paint diluted with blood, sweat and tears and then whack them against the canvas, but then again the short window in which action paiting made political and artistic sense was quite small (as many artists sadly do not seem to realize, judging from the contemporary wing at the Art Institute).

Other than that I kinda felt the urge to blog about Guy Debord and the contemporary status of his Society of the Spectacle but whenever I post theory entries my blog traffic comes to an abrupt halt, so maybe I will sneak this in somewhere in the future (between posts on Wolfowitz and Fear Factor–I also have an interesting theory about the connection between cognitive capitalism and eating pig rectum on that show I kinda want to try out on the public–maybe I should explore that in the future). But that is all neither here nor there. What is truly weighing on me heavily today is, as the title of this post indicates, the degree to which Berlusconi has ruined my day, NAY!, my childhood, as well as Christmas. Let me backtrack a little in order to explore this in depth.

One of the rituals I have with my brother when I return home for Christmas (apart from drinking until 7 in the morning on any given night, which is our regional way to celebrate Christmas–in fact there was a legendary event that took place in the early morning of December 25, 1999, which revolved around me being late for Christmas brunch with my family because I apparently frantically ran out of the bar at about 8 in the morning, attempted to take a shortcut home across a graveyard, fell into an empty grave and was too intoxicated to get out, so I decided to sleep things off in there–Kai may have a better perspective on this, as he remembers the events leading up to this more clearly–but I digress)–so as I said, we have this ritual that includes lying on the floor in front of the TV, trying to digest all the alcohol and food, while watching the 645th rerun of pretty much every Bud Spencer and Terence Hill movie ever made. Now, to be sure, these movies are not at all Christmas-y, but hey, it is not our fault they always put them on TV! Seeing fat people smack each other silly in various scenarios ranging from Westerns, through Sicilian police inspectors raiding Japanese sumo dojos, to protecting the world against an alien invasion by means of fistfighting and a little child with a universal remote is just what Christmas is all about for us. Having learned that people in the US do not seem to be familiar with these films, even with the large number of Italian Westerns that are a part of these men’s “oevre”, I planned on blogging about this. Doing some research, however, I found that Bud Spencer in fact recently ran for office on the Forza Italia ticket, following a special request by Silvio Berlusconi. And there goes not just my day, but all the fond memories of exaggeratedly enjoyable Christmas brutality, now forever tainted by right-wing politics. One thing that could salvage this may be the fact that Bud Spencer and Terence Hill also starred in a remake of the famous Don Camillo i Peppone series (about a communist priest always in conflict with the capitalist mayor of the town), in which Bud Spencer plays the capitalist Peppone (are people in the US at least familiar with this series of films?). I always wondered why this Italian series of films portrays the fight between a communist and a capitalist. I would have expected an anarchist in there. But then again that weird Italian radicalism is steeped so deeply in catholic liberation theology that a catholic liberation theology operaismo anarchist might have been too complicated for the films.

Just for good measure:



Well, in any case, this is all I have to say for today. Oh, apart from mentioning the comedic value of last night’s debate I luckily tivo’ed. If you like your comedy unintentional there were some good laughs in the debate for you! The general gist of the debate and candidate profiles are well summarized by skunk’s ( last posts–you might want to check them out.



  1. Yeah, Bud Spencer and Berlusconi, nasty, nasty. Terence Hill has his own website, btw, but most of the pics on it are old:

    Still the nicest blue eyes in Western. I once gave a BSTH movie on DVD to one of our Chinese guess students, I hope he appreciates it (he probably thinks that this was a rather lousy present, and it’s true that I bought the DVD off the bargain counter (is there a good English word for Grabbeltisch?)

    A while ago I read something interesting about Debord’s Society of Spectacle, an analysis of the emergence of the idea of situationism in popular media, at the time JETZT magazin while they still had the print version. Ah, just had a look at their online edition, and it makes me want to puke.

    Have a look at the items in their header navigation:








    > Zufallstext

    The analysis had a closer look at the column “Warum es sich heute zu Leben lohnt” (Why life is worth living today) the content of which was user generated, featuring one lines such as:

    Finding an alarm clock in your winter coat

    Hearing your shoes squeak when you walk home in the rain

    Receiving a text message from Susi

    etc. etc.

    The article attempted to make the point that this kind of writing was a degenerated version of the situationist idea, but I cannot remember any of their arguments.

    But the similarities are striking indeed:

  2. I do believe the article was on, but no idea what they’re up to these days

  3. That sounds interesting–I’ll check it out.
    RE: “Grabbeltisch”–yeah, bargain table seems close enough, even though it fails to capture the full-contact-action component the German pendent signifies.

  4. Ah, another ace in my arsenal of reasons to join Netflix. I’ll out myself here: I’m only now learning of Bud Spencer and Terence Hill.

    I wonder if painting bleak neo-futurist Chicago city-scapes might prove cathartic?

    RESPECT, as Ali G would say, to your story about sleeping off Christmas Eve in a grave. Last time I was that drunk would be, well, trying to learn life-lessons from Matrix 3. 😉

  5. Aah, yes. I remember that night fondly. The noise of the traffic and the blinding city lights surrounding Michigan Ave. softened by the gently falling snow. People bundled up in warm clothes, smiles on their faces, enjoying the romatic beginning of the holiday season. A scene of beauty, complimented by the sound of your body getting hit by a cab and the sight of you rolling over its hood in stuntman fashion, telling the cabbie to stop being a wuss and to keep driving.
    There was magic in the air.

  6. Hee hee! “It’s Christmas time, in the city.”

  7. Terence Hill and Bud Spencer are the Frick and Frack of Spaghetti Westerns. They are still acting to this very day in movies!

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