Monday, October 12, 2009

Lost Art

I was waiting at the airport last night and wandered over to a display case featuring the Sister Cities program in Tampa. Six countries were represented: Spain, France, Italy, Mexico, Colombia, and Israel. Each country had sent a small gift. Italy, for instance, sent a colorful miniature wooden horse pulling a wagon. It looked like a gypsy wagon, like those teeny Italian cars at Mazzarro's on 22nd Avenue North which Vitale Bros. has painted. There were five at my last count -- cars, not brothers -- and they're a ball to look at: such detail! such color!

Israel's gift was a small slab of silver with a rendering of the city of Ashdod etched into it. Because of its placement on the shelf and the mirrored surface thereof, it was easy to see MADE IN ITALY at the base. That seemed ... sad? funny? Well, odd at best. Oh. I suppose it could have seemed cooperative, couldn't it?

Nearby, in that short hallway leading to the smokers' exit, was a replica of the cathedral at Oviedo, a gift from Spain too big for the display case -- too big for the hallway, too. It was six or seven feet tall, its spire cramped against the ceiling. The whole thing was crowded in that spot. The plaque describing it was mounted on a stubby post, which I had to bend over to read, yet which came up to the third floor of the cathedral.

Well, maybe Ovideo had a dozen of these impressive buildings cast in bronze and keeps them in a (big) back closet until they sister up with another city. I just googled it because I really couldn't remember if it was a cathedral or a castle, and I was taking notes with my Swiss Army Pen (a photo of which is displayed here, not for the first time, but I'm sick of not having photos on my blog), on the back of a business card that was already full of notes. It turns out that one of the relics at the cathedral (not castle) is the sudarium, the cloth used to cover and clean the face of Jesus after the crucifixion, not to be confused with the Shroud of Turin.

Good heavens!

I wonder how many people even look at that Sister Cities display. Thousands of people walk, rush, struggle through that airport every day, but checking out the miniature paintings from France in the display case probably isn't on their itinerary.

Harmony Pharmacy had a kiosk at the airport. For $35 you could get a flu shot. I can't imagine a less medical setting than an airport, unless it's a Walgreens drug store, where you can also get a flu shot. Yes: You can get one. I'm not going to.

In other news, it's Columbus Day, and for a change, Monday falls on the twelfth. Remember when Columbus Day was a nice day? Years ago, I bought A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. I just didn't have the heart to read it, though. Look at this, an online excerpt taken from the book at

Then, on October 12, a sailor called Rodrigo saw the early morning moon shining on white sands, and cried out. It was an island in the Bahamas, the Caribbean sea. The first man to sight land was supposed to get a yearly pension of 10,000 maravedis for life, but Rodrigo never got it. Columbus claimed he had seen a light the evening before. He got the reward.

And that little injustice didn't even involve blood.

It pleases me, in a gloomy sort of way, to think that things were good -- or at least better -- in The Olden Days, whether I mean cave days or Mom's time, and that things are just getting worse. I watched Impromptu again Saturday night, the movie about Frederic Chopin and George Sand. There was a little dope-smokin' goin' on, and a fellow viewer exclaimed, "They had that back then?"

Maybe each generation thinks it invented all the vices. Maybe it takes a perverse pleasure in Being Bad, like rival high schools bragging about how awful the food is in the cafeteria. Or maybe things -- that is, people -- have stayed pretty much the same.

After the movie, my friend said she wished she'd lived in times like the movie, with the balls and the gowns and the tea in the garden. Yes. Except that she'd have been the servant sewing those gowns, working sixteen hours a day, six days a week. And she sure wouldn't have gotten Columbus Day off!


olga kruse said...

I'm headed to the airport soon; to see Jimi off to my sister's in Wisconsin for five days. long enough? Well, any enough is enough greatly accepted. Loosing car keys isn't a big deal, not having a title to one's car doesn't seem to mmean much either- having the vehicle registration thrown out is replacable by five dollars with a smile! The keys to Jimi's Mercedez cost about 240. a piece. I told the man she'd be buying three. She grimaced at me. She would be paying the price. I now have one of those keys hidden- no, put away safely in a safe. A plastic box with a lock. Jimi had a great idea, she thought - to hide one of her two keys in the ice cream in the freeze; after all she always remembers to eat ice cream. Then, perhaps in the drawer with her silverware. I reminded her that about the time she'd put her purse in the cupboard where the dinner dishes are; which was why we cancelled her checks and debit card because it seemed her purse had gotten lost on her last errand. No, the next night, when setting our trays to eat, there I found her lovely purse. I dissuaded her from putting the key in either food based spots. I showed her our key rack, which she was pleasantly surprised to see existed. When did she stop knowing it existed? I guess that's when both keys to her car got ...lost.

So, after we'd gotten the keys, she wanted to look at the cars for sale. I unfortunately amused her and we travelled through the Mercedez world of small two doors for about a half hour lead by an elderly gentleman, and he was. We saw the half million dollar car in the showroom which she didn't sit in and agreed was just too much for her. She sat in the convertible for fifty thousand on the porch. And we looked at the others in the lot. As we drove away she said thank you and was very grateful she'd gotten that over with. Now what could she really afford?

Honda, I told her. We'll venture out with Carol and she'll help Jimi.

I wanted to tell the Natterer how much I enjoyed her Blog just now - that's really why I wrote but then, since the Natterer is my friend Barbara and I want to share with her, I just did.

Thank you for always making me think and laugh out loud.

Lorenzo di Calabria said...

I might be able to help the friend who wants to live in a time with balls and gowns and tea in the garden, as long as she doesn't mind going a few hundred years earlier than Chopin.

Have her take a look at
We are an international group dedicated to re-creating the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

I go to balls regularly, though I don't wear a gown. She'd be welcome to.

I'm happy to talk with her about it any time, or to put her in contact with her local group.