Posts filed under ‘Politics’

Paris – May Day, May Day!

Thursday, May 1

Ah, how nice it is to wake up to the sound of sirens instead of screaming kids. No joke. Despite our late omelette dinner, I was ravenous. We made it just in time for breakfast. Nothing special but the croissants and pain au chocolat were good. I also enjoyed people watching. There was one curious couple, consisting of a homely-looking man in his 40s and a tall Asian woman dressed as if she were on her way to a photo shoot. Sky high, chocolate-coloured platform heels, flouncy back-baring mini-dress, sunglasses. We were in the Breakfast Room at the Holiday Inn Express, for goodness sake! Believe me, Karl Lagerfeld was not about to walk through that door. Anyway, she definitely looked odd, and more so after I got a better look at her. Very masculine features and a voice to match. Hmmm…

After breakfast, Mimmo and I rushed to get to the Musée d’Orsay at a decent hour, hopefully avoiding the hoards of tourists. We decided the RER would be the fastest way to go. We’re both pretty confident at using the Paris Métro and RER systems and easily found our way to the right platform. Or so we thought. When the nice customer service assistant at the Gare d’Austerlitz came up to us and asked if we yokels needed help finding the right train we immediately said “Non!”. Then in a split second of self-doubt I told her we were going to the museum. Thank god I did because the assistant kindly informed us that we were on the wrong platform. Yup, yokels indeed!

We finally made it to the Musée d’Orsay and were thrilled to find that there weren’t too many people around. In fact, there was hardly anyone. My spidey senses started to tingle. Then I realized that the doors and ticket kiosks were closed. Arrrggh!! The museum was fermé for the May 1st holiday! I knew that it was a national holiday but I was sure that in culture-friendly France, they’d keep museums open for tourists. Boy was I wrong! We walked to the nearby Louvre just to check and that was closed too. It was almost heartbreaking to see the people wandering aimlessly around the courtyard, not knowing where to go or what to do. Some tourists sat on nearby benches, hoping that the powers that be would change their minds. They wouldn’t.

So, the hubster and I decided to go for a romantic stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries.

It was so romantic that we ran into Jean-Marie Le Pen and his crew. Well, not really but there was a Front National rally on a street just off the park. Le Pen was blathering about something but I was too bored to listen so we watched a mime perform instead. Well, not really but I’m sure that would have been waaay more interesting.

Now I don’t know if it was a coincidence but right after watching that rally the clouds turned an awful shade of grey. With a storm fast approaching and both museums and shops closed, what were a couple of stranded tourists to do? Well, we headed to the wonderful world of the Bateaux Mouches, the excursion boats that travel along the Seine. Yes, it’s a bit cheesy considering we weren’t first-timers to Paris but the romantic in me always appreciates the sights AND it was a covered boat. Let the storm clouds come!

Mimmo wasn’t as impressed as I was with the tour and fell asleep half-way through. I was sitting beside a yappy dog who tried to eat my hat. After we got off the boat I took some quick snaps of the Alma Tunnel, you know, the one where Princess Diana had her accident. I couldn’t help myself. I was a big Royal Family buff when I was a kid. Anyway, I felt strangely emotional standing there.

The hubster was exhausted after all that excitement and wanted to go back to the hotel for a nap. Nap?!? I was worried. When that man naps you need a choir of Yoko Onos screaming in his ear to get him up again. We had reservations for Chez Michel that evening. Would we ever be able to make it on time?????

Tune in to the next post to find out…….

12 May 2008 at 8:28 pm 7 comments

Chock full of political nuts

Ciao Bloggisti!

This week I feel kinda poopy. Had a bit of the stomach flu over the weekend and didn’t even want to turn the computer on. The only exciting thing that happened was that we chose our kitchen furniture for the new house. : ) Last year we moved into our place which underwent major Money Pit renovations. It’s liveable now but we’re still using the old kitchen. So we’re finally finishing things up and maybe, just maybe by the end of the summer I will have my dream kitchen. Btw, does anyone know anything about professional-style ranges? We don’t know where to begin looking. Anyhoo, while we were in the town of the kitchen store, we had a snack at a really cute, design-y wine bar. Good service, nice piadina with prosciutto crudo and rucola. Odd to find a place like that in the middle of Brianza. But I was already feeling kinda pooped and didn’t even think to take pictures of the place for y’all. And speaking of poopiness, I’m going to talk about Italian politics. How’s that for a segue?

As most of you must know by now, this weekend is the Italian General Election. It’s been a pretty ho-hum campaign for Italian standards but I managed to find some interesting and outrageous articles, soundbites and posters. Here is my election roundup:

“Mr. Ferrara’s campaign seems a cry for life in a country steeped in death and decline. Still, the campaign can be surreal. When a health inspection found that an illegal, late-term abortion had been performed on a fetus with Klinefelter’s Syndrome, whose symptoms include small testicles and large breasts, Mr. Ferrara said that was no grounds to abort. He said he, too, might have the syndrome — and anyone who doubted him could take a look.” If you’re curious here’s what Ferrara looks like (dressed, of course!)

  • The outrageously offensive poster from conservative, secessionist and anti-immigration party Lega Nord:

Translation: They were victims of immigration and now they’re living on reserves. Think about it.” WTF!!!

  • A funny albeit grotesque article from the Toronto Star on the Babe Quotient in Italian politics. A choice excerpt on the lack of good-looking female politicians on the left:

Among the worthy women of the left – one of the best-looking is transgender Refounded Communist deputy Vladimir Luxuria.” Sad but true.

And of course, since it’s Friday, I can’t forget about music. Today we have a special Election edition of Disco 2000. Oh what a selection I have for you today!! You’ll be humming the tunes for years to come.

The first is about the centre-left party Partito Democratico and its leader Walter Veltroni. The unofficial anthem is a takeoff on the Village People’s YMCA and is called “I’m PD” (even if they sing “I AM PD”). After seeing the video, I’m sure you can understand why the Village People protested against the improper use of their fine song.

Très hokey and cheesy but not as vomit-inducingly bad as this piece of… of…. musical poo. Silvio Berlusconi‘s official campaign song, “Meno Male Che Silvio C’è” (Thank Goodness for Silvio) was specifically made to incite feelings of pride and hope in Italy’s future with our pal Silvio. A future of ice cream and call centres. Yes, thank goodness for Silvio!!

My ears!! My eyes!! After seeing those videos I don’t know if I’ll be well enough to vote this weekend. Wish me luck!

Buon weekend and happy voting !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

11 April 2008 at 5:45 pm 4 comments

Election Cavolate!*

Ciao Bloggisti!

Something rare and extraordinary is happening here in the Bel Paese. No, it’s not a meteorite crashing into the Uffizi or civil servants actually acting civil for a change. Nooooooo! It’s election time!!! Ok, so it’s not so rare or extraordinary in this neck of the woods. In fact, this time round it’s downright yawn-inducing. Apart from the nasty catfight between Mussolini’s granddaughter and an aspiring queen of the black-shirts, Italian politicians have yet to display the over-the top drama they’re famous for (remember the mortadella-filled fall of the last government?). Things are so tame that there doesn’t seem to be much difference in the messages of the leaders of the two main parties, Walter Veltroni – head of the Partito Democratico, and Silvio Berlusconi – at the helm of the Popolo della Libertà.

But one clear message that Silvio is sending out is that he is afraid of a face-to-face debate. Yes, this champion of “liberty” and democracy has decreed that he will not participate in debates during the election campaign. Maybe his handlers are afraid that he would lose his cool and make rude comments about what starlets are good for or that he is the next best thing to the son of the Lord (he’s actually said it folks!). In any case, this country, which is one of the eight most powerful nations in the world, will not see their leaders in a debate during this crucial time.

Instead, on Monday they opted for a bizarre one-sided debate, which saw the candidates field questions from journalists, separately, all by their lonesome. Veltroni wasn’t even allowed to be in the studio at the same time as Berlusconi! Can you imagine that happening between Hillary and Obama? Or between Mugabe and the person he tried to steal the election from? Ok, bad example.

Here’s a clip showing the end of Berlusconi’s “debate” and Veltroni’s entrance. There are a few things to look out for here: Berlusconi’s frightening hairline (is it sprayed on?), the way he touches the female journalist’s neck on his way out (blech!) and the technician removing Berlusconi’s padded cushion from the chair before Veltroni comes in (poor wittle Silvio). Priceless!

If you can read Italian, here’s an excellent article from La Repubblica describing what went on behind the scenes.

Despite all this, I’m still pretty chuffed about voting in an Italian election for the first time. And every vote counts. So if you happen to be an Italian citizen living abroad don’t forget to let your voice be heard. If you’re unfamiliar with the process, check out my expat pal at Bleeding Espresso for some useful tips.

Happy voting!!!

*For an explanation on what “cavolate” means check out my previous post.

3 April 2008 at 12:59 am 4 comments

Milanese Expo!!!!!!

This just in, bloggisti: Milan will host the 2015 Expo!!!!! And no, it’s isn’t an April Fool’s joke.

I was about to write a rant-filled post on how p.o. I am about Alitalia cutting two-thirds of its flights from Milan’s Malpensa airport but now I’m thrilled! We beat out Izmir, Turkey by 86 votes to 65 and had the support of none other than Al Gore, who praised Milan for their plans to become “one of the most environmentally friendly cities in Europe and in the world” (well, not yet but maybe one day…). Not only is this great news for the city but for Italy as well. I mean, we’ve been through a lot over the last few months: Alitalia, the garbage crisis, the government falling, an election campaign, the mozzarella mess, our homeboy Fabio involved in a manfight with George Clooney. So it’s great to finally hear something positive for a change.

Of course, as we’re in an election period, our favourite man in heels Silvio B couldn’t be the “bigger man”. True to form, he had to ruin the moment and announce that Milan’s victory was in no way due to the work of the previous centre-left government. Sure, Silvietto, whatever you say. Then, Prime Minister Prodi tells Berlusconi that he should be ashamed of himself. Then Silvio’s spokesman hollers back to Prodi, “No, shame on you!” I loooooove Italian politics. It’s all so civilized.

But enough of that manfight, back to Milan. They will be an estimated 29 million visitors during the six-month Expo. Will you be one of them? Don’t worry, I have a sofa bed. There’s room for everyone! If you can find a flight, that is….

For more info check out the official site. Kinda sucks but what do you expect.

See you in 2015!!!


31 March 2008 at 11:40 pm 2 comments

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