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Bootprints: A Review of Italy (Slightly NSFW)

My Friends,
   After enduring the inefficiency of the Italian Postal (dis)Service (zing!) for near a fortnight, I gots my passport, gots my flight to Istanbul booked, and gots some final impressions of my stay in Italy to share.

THE WEATHER:
   In the very second line of “In Another Country,” Ernest Hemingway writes, “It was cold in the fall in Milan and the dark came very early.”  Well, he wasn’t lying and I therefore should not have been surprised by the seemingly perpetual fog that has blanketed the GMA (Greater Milano Area) in which I have been residing for the last few days.  And the cold!  Thankfully I had some sweaters and scarves to borrow from my cousin.  That, coupled with the fact that I have been sleeping indoors, has meant that I have weathered the low temperatures just fine.  However, as we are heading into the wintertime I will make no movements further north of my current latitude of N 45° 35′ 39.537 until this weather decides to unfuck itself and get warmer.  Til that day, its south and east in this bitch, where “this bitch” = the world.

THE BUGS:
   Almost paradoxically, in spite of this cold weather, mosquitos have manifested their presence in summer-esque numbers, and spiders have manifested theirs in sizes and levels of aggression reminiscent of the movies.  I mean look at this shit:

“I SAID ‘LOOK AT IT’!!”

That’s a spider-bite I received whilst asleep at the beginning of my stay here.  In two weeks, the size has not diminished pereceptibly.  Even the scorpion sting I got in Australia disappeared quicker than this.  Sadly, this spider does not seem to have been radioactive as my body has not begun producing any new white sticky substances (I realize that making a semen/webbing joke negates any points I got for leading off with a Hemingway quotation, but I couldn’t resist).
   So as it is, I am stuck for the time being with this blemish on my bloated, distended belly.  Speaking of which…
MY BLOATED, DISTENDED BELLY: 
   Having lived on my own for years now, I had forgotten what it was like to live in the Italian-Canadian household I grew up in, and the heavy, albeit delicious, food that was always available.  As I mentioned in a previous entry  (One Night in the Big City: Part 1, 18 August 2011), this caused me to be something of a fat kid.  And although my condition has been in remission for the last few years, thanks to regular meals, a surfeit of cheese and bread, and a very liberal definition of which parts of the pig constitute food (hint: everything) I am going through a relapse.  Perhaps a practical example is called for:
   Did you know that in Italy they eat something called Lardo?  As the name implies, its pure fat, what a rational human being who was not trying to bulk up for winter hibernation might consider an off-cut.  But this fat is taken and seasoned, thinly sliced and enjoyed as a delicacy.  Even worse/better, my cousin informed me that it is best enjoyed on warm bread with cheese and honey; the warmth of  the bread melts both cheese and fat ever so slightly and the flavours become simply sublime.  Its sticky, slippery, aromatic and warm.
It’s like this, but in your mouth

   And even when you are not eating straight-up pork fat, that are as many ways here to fat (sic) as there are to die.  Olive oil for example, is used so liberally that it drips off my fork as I eat my pasta, and it flows down my mustache and beard coating my whiskers as if it were afro sheen; cookies are considered breakfast food; if it can be baked well it can be deep-fried better; nutella makes everything awesome, etc.  Essentially, in the quest to make food more delicious and decadent, pussy concerns like fibre-intake and cholesterol are not given a thought.  Italians were basically the first to do Epic Meal Time.
THE DANGEROUS CARNIVAL PRIZES:
   Taking some air last night my cousin and I stumbled upon a fair.  Though not much of a gamester I couldn’t resist dropping 5 euros at the shooting gallery.  I gripped the mock-up 9mm Beretta expertly, and my lip curled into a smile knowing that I carried 15 men’s lives BB’s in the magazine.  I adopted a firing position with both eyes open and verified the zero of the laser-sight by checking it against my point-of-aim using the iron sights.  With my zero verified I checked the trigger pull and saw it had a lot of slack.  This didn’t sit well with me as I like a sensitive pull.  However I reasoned that the carnies had to weigh the comfort & convenience of a trained killer like myself against the danger of giving guns with hair-triggers to the POGs and civvies frequenting the carnival.  They erred on the side of caution and I can’t fault them that.  Still, when I was given the word, I unleashed a fury rarely seen by men.  I shot those beer cans like they were Mexi-cans.
   And do you know how they rewarded my proficiency in killin’?  A slingshot.
Dennis the Menace Lives!!
They gave me the means to keep on killing.  There is something poetic about that.  It’s like, “Hey, you seem dangerous with projectile weapons so do let’s (sic) give you more!”  Then, as if to fuck with me, they had set up the fair on a lot filled with pebbles and had polizia municipale roaming around.  I swear its a miracle there was no “1-8-7 on a motherfuckin’ cop” last night.
This pic is one of the front-runners in contention for the cover of my upcoming rap album 

   So yeah, I guess my experience in Italy hasn’t been your typical one of ruins, canals and leaning towers.  But I lived as an Italian with Italians and that has been an experience which I found more valuable and enlightening than any all-inclusive, guided vacation package.  I love the grassroots experience and it has been just as rewarding now as it ever is.  I have learned that Italians are just people like us Canadians except with more corruption and less work-ethic (Sorry, still mad at Italian postal service).
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo
   

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Missing Mussolini

My Friends,
   Some of you may have noticed my prolific blogging as of late.  Such prolificity, if I may call it such, would not be possible without free and easy access to a computer, access which I simply would not have whilst hitch-hiking.  Well, somewhat shamefully I have to admit that for the last couple of days I have been derelict in my duty, insofar as my duty consists of sleeping outside, eating sparingly, walking miles every day and trying not to get robbed.

“When you say it like that, my life sounds pretty damn good!”

The problem is that I have been forced to wait here in Legnano, Italy at my cousin’s place while I wait for the Canadian Embassy in Rome to send me a new passport.  The mail service in Italy, much like the trains as I found out on my first day here, leaves much to be desired in regards to expediency and reliability, hence the reference to the late Mussolini.  The good news is that based on the tracking number I have from the embassy my passport arrived in Legnano … on fucking Wednesday!  I suppose that the Italian postal service is probably just on one of those extended coffee breaks which seem to be fashionable here.  If I’m lucky I will get it Monday, and if not, Wednesday this week because Tuesday is a holiday.
   Being stuck here hasn’t been a bad experience by any means though.  Three squares (minimum) and a warm bed every night is something I can messes with.  Yet I worry that I am losing my edge doing nothing but indulging in food, wine and comfort.  I feel like every minute I stay in Legnano I get weaker…
“…and every minute Charlie squats in the bush he gets stronger.”
I rationalize it and justify my excesses by saying “well soon enough I will be in austerity mode again and I will kick myself for not living it up when I could.  Nay! -when it was the only sensible course of action!”  But every day of chillin is gonna make it that much harder to face the music when I gotta tighten my belt and cozy up in a forest or building or something.  Or perhaps I have it reversed and this is much-needed recuperation time which will leave me feeling refreshed for another stint of the hobo-fabulous lifestyle.
H-O-B-O-L-O-U-S
Either way, I’ll find out soon enough.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

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Prelude to 2012

My Friends,
   The world is supposed to end this upcoming year.  I don’t know about you but I’m kind of excited.  I don’t think there’s anyone in the circles I roll with who couldn’t benefit from the kind of shake-up to their daily routine that only the end of the world can provide.  I am especially excited though because in my capacity as traveler I may find myself in the enviable position of being in certain countries as they are racked by the Mayan equivalent of the Book of Revelations.  Jealous?  Jelly?

Mad … YOU!

Yes, if I play my cards right I could be that foreign guy who happens to be in the right place at the right time to witness the world open up and swallow all those third worlders who are indiscriminately being forced to pay for the mistakes of the Mayans, who lacked the foresight to make a calendar that wasn’t finite.
   As lulzy as the plight of the third world is, I don’t think too much is going to happen but I hope it does.  Let me explain: I have no wish for third-world misery, the end of the world or death, but from my understanding, 2012 is allegedly going to be a period of great transition marked by greater awareness of the ills of the world and a desire by the masses to see them rectified.  I am doubtful that this will happen for two reasons: 1) I have little faith in the masses 2) I don’t believe in a guiding hand which governs human existence.  Still, I hope something happens, because in my estimation, shit is all fucked up.  
   Looking at some of the recent events which have occurred and are occurring still, it is easy and convenient to construe them as harbingers of upcoming events.  Things like the Occupy Wall Street movement are nothing if not a protest against the status quo and the way things have been.  You can construe this as some kind of sign of heightened awareness if you want, but then protests are as old as civilization itself.
   Beyond heightened awareness, I have also heard that certain “events” will herald 2012 as early as late 2011.  Well as vague as that is, it is still easy to hear news reports and forcibly fit them into the template of 2012 which exists in my mind.  For example, here in Italy there has been flooding in a city I was going to go to (Rome) and a city I had just left (San Remo).  Oh my God, the end of the world is chasing me!!  Also, last week in Italy the 24 year old motorcycle racing star, Marco Simoncelli died, which, if you really want to grasp at straws, could be construed as some kind of significant death of a Christ-figure leading up to the apocalypse (it’d be like Justin Bieber dying back in Canada).  
“How does I martyrdom?”
All of these things added up in my mind (plus the earthquake in Turkey which is my next destination), and because we are very me-centric people, I sub-consciously saw these events as signs.  Then I realized, “wait, if I was back in Canada I wouldnt give a vial of monkey-piss about an Italian motorcycle racer or flooding in some European backwater like Rome,” and I smartened the fuck up.
   So who knows?  I don’t expect anything will happen to overthrow the flawed system we live in, but because I have very little to lose and lots to gain, I’m down for whatever.  If apocalyptic shit does transpire in one of the places I end up, trust that I will act as your real-as-fuck correspondent, bringing you my own particular brand of justice fact-based entertainment.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo 

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