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Articles by: Joey Skee

  • Art & Culture

    My Italian American Museum

    For several years now I have been buying objects on eBay.com associated with Italian-American history and culture. My purchases are somewhat eclectic and my collection is by all definitions a mixed bag. I select objects relating to my research interests (a recording by Phil Brito, a religious banner, an embroidered commemorative) and my personal aesthetics (a match book cover, a 1955 cookbook). Getting a bargain and beating the bidding competition adds to the objects’ appeal. 
     

    I’ve also obtained a slew of photographs simply because I liked them: a mustachioed man outfitted in festa regalia; an Italian boy in a fascist uniform; a middle-aged woman with a Mona Lisa smile. I find these images beautiful in their own right. I imagine them on a book cover or as an illustration for a future article.

    But for every stunning photograph, I’ve also had to purchase numerous mundane snapshots and formal portraits of limited aesthetic worth as part of a cache of images up for bid. I’ve given them away or quietly discarded them. 

    Few of these photographs come with any contextual information and when they do it is minimal at best, e.g., “Italian Americans from Chicago and Phoenix” or “family of S. Corsale, a barber in NYC and Phillipsburg, NJ, 1910s-40s.”  The people depicted are the anonymous faces from history’s jetsam. Ultimately, these photographs pose challenging questions concerning collecting and ultimately the role of museums. 
     

     

    Objects speak to us, they tell us stories, but those narratives are not always apparent. It is we who derive the tale that an object tells. We give it voice, making it speak in an act of interpretative ventriloquism. And doing so is hard work. 

    It is one thing for an individual to accumulate objects but quite another when a museum does so. Such institutions have a responsibility not merely to collect artifacts but to enter into a conversation with them on behalf of museum-goers and the historical record. That work involves curators, scholars, and other professionals knowledgeable in the area of interest and, more importantly, museum work itself.  
     

    After the Calandra Institute’s 1999-2000 exhibition, “The Italians of New York,” curated by historian Philip Cannistraro at the New-York Historical Society, I was charged with soliciting people to donate the approximately 360 objects they had originally lent. The Calandra Institute did not have the staff skilled in collections management and archival processing so I successfully wrote a grant to have archivist Nancy Johnson consult with the Institute to develop a strategic plan for the archives. Her final report concluded that “formally accessioning and documenting the Calandra collection is a priority.” This recommendation involved interviewing the objects’ former owners so as to create the narrative the individual artifacts could tell future generations. The Institute’s director at the time, Joseph Scelsa, dismissed the consultant’s conclusions and ultimately ignored them. 
     

    In agreement with the City University of New York, the hundreds of objects collected by the Calandra Institute became the property of New York City’s Italian American Museum, an entity incubated at the Institute where it mounted its first exhibitions. (I curated three of those exhibits as part of my responsibilities at the Calandra, see the list below.)
     

    I have yet to visit the museum—or the five other Italian-American museums in the country (see the list below)—but a recent newspaper article states that the institution has “a frankly hodge-podge cast to the exhibits.” That is a discouraging assessment. It sounds like a step backwards to the cabinets of curiosities from the pre-museum era.

    One can not help but wonder if the objects have been encouraged to speak. If so, are their voices strong, clear, and annunciatedor a faint, garbled mummer? Is there anyone there who is receptive to truly listening and properly equipped to engage in dynamic conversation with objects?
     

  • Life & People

    Building Community, the Brooklyn Way



    Back in April, I attended a jumpin’ party at “Brooklyn Made Tattoo” in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The proprietor KAVES aka Michael McLeer (“mezza Irishese” as we used to say before we all learned “good Italian”) threw the shindig to launch a new line of “Made in Brooklyn” Pony sneakers.




    I’ve been following KAVES’ career as part of my research on hip hop’s Italian-American component. He was a subway writer back in the day who, with his brother Adam aka ADM, went on to form the rap-rock group, the Lordz of Brooklyn, which morphed in to the rock-rap group, The Lordz. The band’s various incarnations have been inspired by the ideal of Italian Brooklyn, referencing 1950s greasers, corner boys, and Bay Ridge’s own cinematic personification, Tony Manero, with a heavy dose of hip hop. The group’s iconography is certifiable old school, with a mélange of sleeveless T-shirts, fedoras, stickball bats, and tailfin Cadillacs. 




    In 2008, KAVES opened his clothing shop “Made in Brooklyn” at 9303 3rd Avenue, and the following year he opened the tattoo parlor around the corner at
    312 93rd Street. “Brooklyn Made Tattoo” evokes the cultural landscape of “the old neighborhood” infused with hip hop’s sentimental temporality of “back in the day.”

    ("The Brooklyn Way" reality show on Fuse TV)


    The tattoo parlor was a former Greek-American social club that KAVES redesigned to maintain that third place (neither home nor work) feel of the local hangout. It is outfitted with vintage barber chairs (hair cuts will be available this month), a jukebox spinning 45 rpm records, and wall decorations that include a Jimmy Roselli LP and classic tattoo flash. The place conjures the beguiling realm of front stoops, block parties, candy stores, and other working-class urban landmarks on the mythic topography of the Italian imaginary. 



    The evocation of the past has become a discernible cultural strategy for Italian Americans as the best of expressive culture is adapated by filtering out the negative. (See “Sunday dinners” at
    Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi’s “Torrisi Italian Specialties” shop and restaurant in that Manhattan location once known as Little Italy.) KAVES’ vision of old-school Brooklyn is not that of the racist turf battles that plagued New York up until the 1980s, but one that imagines a recalibrated whiteness tied to those positive attributes of the local and the global inclusiveness of hip hopIt’s the place where The Honeymooners meets Grandmaster Flash, where Goodfellas bumps up against Biggie Smalls. This was apparent in the great mix of people attending the early spring party.



    The nostaglia that fuels
    KAVES looks to the future while referencing the past.  His entrepreneurial enterprise is one dedicated to the neighborhood where he lives and his kids go to school. “I’m not leaving just to have more space in the suburbs or because, like some say, now there are Asians and Muslims living here. I’m staying to build my neighborhood.” This 21st century community-building will be in evidence again on June 6th when “Brooklyn Made Tattoo” becomes a stop on the “Vroom Vroom Vespa Acoustic Tour,” when musicians Greg Attonito and Shanti Wintergate come to Brooklyn. Bay Ridge, baby!

  • Art & Culture

    The Italian-American Political & Moral Bocce Club of Paradise’s Inaugural Annual May Day Dinner Dance, Gala, and Reception


    The Italian-American Political & Moral Bocce Club of Paradise*

    cordially invites you to its


    Inaugural Annual May Day Dinner Dance, Gala, and Reception**


    Friday, April 30, 2010, 6:00pm

     
    Floyd NY

    131 Atlantic Avenue

    Brooklyn, New York 11201

    (between Henry and Clinton Streets)
    (bocce court on the premises)
     
    The Italian-American Political & Moral Bocce Club of Paradise celebrates its inaugural annual May Day Dinner Dance, Gala, and Reception in honor of the anarcho-syndicalist bocce leagues that fought for workers’ rights and created a transnational, radical political culture of bocce through direct action and organized resistance. By celebrating our ancestors in this way we restore the dignity of Italian-American radical bocce to its rightful place in history.
     
    The IAP&MBCofP will also announce the recipient of the Achille Brioschi Student Scholarship Award for research in the fields of science, social science, or humanities advancing the study of the philosophical views and/or medical practices of a smoothly running digestive system as crucial to one’s health and happiness in Italy (except the towns of Lavinio-Lido di Enea, Monteleone di Spoleto, Città di Castello, and the Isola di Dino) or among members of the Italian diaspora. The Brioschi Student will spend twelve and a half weeks at the Università di Benessere di Carunchio, “il D’Avola,” nestled in the Apennine mountains of Abruzzo.
     
    The IAP&MBCofP has the unfortunate distinction to host the decavalierizione ceremony of Supreme Court Justice Joseph P. Novelli. His Honorable Counsel General Torquato Cenzino Tasco di Cutò of the principality of Seborga will take back the prestigious Causa Honoris Knighthood, which Justice Novelli purchased in 1987 without the “long form” birth certificate legalized with the apostille stamp, as is required.
     
    The IAP&MBCofP will give its coveted Ann Corio Award for Outstanding Contributions in Their Field” to the first ten people who show up. 
     
    The IAP&MBCofP implores celebrities and CEOs with names ending in vowels to attend the event, so the Honoree Selection Committee can nominate them for the 2011 IAP&MBCofP Honorees Award
     
    The Italian-American Political & Moral Bocce Club of Paradise is dedicated to the political and moral benefits of Italian-American bocce. Established in September 2009, the IAP&MBCofP has 132 Facebook members.  Its mission is to celebrate the diversity of the nation's estimated 26 million people of Italian descent, their family members and friends, and the larger Italian diaspora world wide, and their family members and friends (but not Italians vacationing in Brazil, Thailand, or the Dominican Republic).
     
    Making a special appearance: Entertainment by Damiano e Le Criterions!
     
    Remember the Italian-American Political & Moral Bocce Club of Paradise’s motto:
    Se ‘ng n’amma sci, sciam’nninn, se non ‘ng n’amma sci, non ‘ng’n sciam scenn.
     
     
    Organizing Committee:
     
    President: Cav. Rust. Enrico Conti, J.C.D., Mech.E.
    Vice-President: Veronica M. Sciuè, D.S.S.c., D.M.V.
    Secretary: KaNèesha Leilani al-Jamil-O’Neil née Yamaguchi, Esq.
    Treasurer: Chickie Santo Janni di Gianola
    President, Men’s Auxiliary: Filomena Dobbins
    Mondo Bambini Bocce League: Dr. Mary Plaza, D.M.V.
    Honorary Academic Consultant: Professor Vanessa Longo-Murphy (Montclair State University)
     
     

    *Not affiliated with the Italian-American Political & Moral Bocce Club of Paradise of Philadelphia.

     
    **Please indicate your choice of primo (occhi di lupo alla vodka or creste di gallo rigate al cacio e pepe), secondo (beefsteak allo sherry or baccalà al piacere), contorno (asparagi in camicia or insalata di cetrioli e finocchio) and dolce (banana split alla nutella or zuppa inglese all’ungherese). No vegetarian options available.

  • Events: Reports

    The Italian-American Political & Moral Bocce Club of Paradise’s Inaugural Annual May Day Dinner Dance, Gala, and Reception



    The Italian-American Political & Moral Bocce Club of Paradise*
    cordially invites you to its 
    Inaugural Annual May Day Dinner Dance, Gala, and Reception**
     Friday, April 30, 2010, 6:00pm
     Floyd NY

    131 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11201
     
    The Italian-American Political & Moral Bocce Club of Paradise celebrates its inaugural annual May Day Dinner Dance, Gala, and Reception in honor of the anarcho-syndicalist bocce leagues that fought for workers’ rights and created a transnational, radical political culture of bocce through direct action and organized resistance. By celebrating our ancestors in this way we restore the dignity of Italian-American radical bocce to its rightful place in history.
     
    The IAP&MBCofP will also announce the recipient of the Achille Brioschi Student Scholarship Award for research in the fields of science, social science, or humanities advancing the study of the philosophical views and/or medical practices of a smoothly running digestive system as crucial to one’s health and happiness in Italy (except the towns of Lavinio-Lido di Enea, Monteleone di Spoleto, Città di Castello, and the Isola di Dino) or among members of the Italian diaspora. The Brioschi Student will spend twelve and a half weeks at the Università di Benessere di Carunchio, “il D’Avola,” nestled in the Apennine mountains of Abruzzo.
     
    The IAP&MBCofP has the unfortunate distinction to host the decavalierizione ceremony of Supreme Court Justice Joseph P. Novelli. His Honorable Counsel General Torquato Cenzino Tasco di Cutò of the principality of Seborga will take back the prestigious Causa Honoris Knighthood, which Justice Novelli purchased in 1987 without the “long form” birth certificate legalized with the apostille stamp, as is required.
     
    The IAP&MBCofP will give its coveted “Ann Corio Award for Outstanding Contributions in Their Field” to the first ten people who show up. 
     
    The IAP&MBCofP implores celebrities and CEOs with names ending in vowels to attend the event, so the Honoree Selection Committee can nominate them for the 2011 IAP&MBCofP Honorees Award. 
     
    The Italian-American Political & Moral Bocce Club of Paradise is dedicated to the political and moral benefits of Italian-American bocce. Established in September 2009, the IAP&MBCofP has 132 Facebook members.  Its mission is to celebrate the diversity of the nation's estimated 26 million people of Italian descent, their family members and friends, and the larger Italian diaspora world wide, and their family members and friends (but not Italians vacationing in Brazil, Thailand, or the Dominican Republic).
     
    Making a special appearance: Entertainment by Damiano e Le Criterions!
     
    Remember the Italian-American Political & Moral Bocce Club of Paradise’s motto:
    Se ‘ng n’amma sci, sciam’nninn, se non ‘ng n’amma sci, non ‘ng’n sciam scenn.
     

     


    Organizing Committee
     
    President: Cav. Rust. Enrico Conti, J.C.D., Mech.E.
    Vice-President: Veronica M. Sciuè, D.S.S.c., D.M.V.
    Secretary: KaNèesha Leilani al-Jamil-O’Neil née Yamaguchi, Esq.
    Treasurer: Chickie Santo Janni di Gianola
    President, Men’s Auxiliary: Filomena Dobbins
    Mondo Bambini Bocce League: Dr. Mary Plaza, D.M.V.
    Honorary Academic Consultant: Professor Vanessa Longo-Murphy (Montclair State University)
     
     

    *Not affiliated with the Italian-American Political & Moral Bocce Club of Paradise of Philadelphia.

     
    **Please indicate your choice of primo (occhi di lupo alla vodka or creste di gallo rigate al cacio e pepe), secondo (beefsteak allo sherry or baccalà al piacere), contorno (asparagi in camicia or insalata di cetrioli e finocchio) and dolce (banana split alla nutella or zuppa inglese all’ungherese). No vegetarian options available.

  • Art & Culture

    Visiting 15th Century Italy with my 15-Year-Old Son



    Recently, my daughter Akela and son Lucca got into a conversation about Florence’s Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, discussing the architectonics of the church’s cupola. Akela noted that Renaissance architects did not have the ancient Roman formula for cement and as a result Filippo Brunelleschi ingeniously devised a two wall solution for the structure, a detail she had learned in her introductory art history class. Lucca concurred, elaborating on the cupola’s interior of stone arches, frescos, and its crowning lantern. He was familiar with il Duomo because he had scaled to the very top, an achievement he accomplished as a player of the video game Assassin’s Creed II.

    Lucca had already been talking about the places he “visited” playing this third-person, action game, like la Piazza della Signoria, la Basilica di Santa Croce, and il Ponte Vecchio. He had also “traveled” to Venice, San Gimignano, and Forlì. When the New York Times’ review noted the game’s “luscious detail and natural, ennobling proportions and styling of the environments,” I asked my son to be my tour guide to fifteen century Italy.
     
    Revenge is the game’s narrative premise with the lead character, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, locating and assassinating the conspirators who falsely accused and executed his father. Rodrigo Borgia, who would become Pope Alexander VI, is the villainous adversary. 


    With the controller securely in Lucca’s hands, our cloaked avatar strode assertively through the cobble stone streets of Florence, circa 1497. To my surprise this involved repeated shoving of others so as to pickpocket their florins. Along the way, we encountered inviting prostitutes, pugnacious condottieri, saltimbanci selling nostrums, and pestering giullari
     
    I asked Lucca to linger so I could sift through the cacophony of this virtual Renaissance. Slowing down our pace to that of a leisurely passeggiata, I heard the same looped patter of a lovers’ quarrel and the public announcement concerning the plague in the mouths of different background characters at various points during our stroll. Characters spoke in English with an Italian accent and in Italian with a decidedly contemporary Milanese accent. My son had already learned such choice phrases as cazzo, pezzo di merda, figli di puttana, and vai a farti fottere
     
    A player also moves through this virtual landscape by scaling building façades and leaping from one rooftop to another. From those heights, the panoptic view of the city is stunning. As Auditore/we stood at the pinnacle of Giotto’s Campanile, I was reminded of a photo I had taken as a tourist 25 years earlier from the very same vantage point. 
     
    At one point, we walked about the main character’s villa taking in the impressive art collection including notables like Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady With Ermine, Andrea del Verrocchio’s Baptism of Christ, among other masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance. 
     
    Throughout our journey the slashing, stabbing, and hacking continued with spurts of crimson blood flowing graphically on the screen.

     
    I’m too much of a boomer to find video games of real interest. As a parent, I’m troubled by the ways video games normalize killing, albeit virtual, and make war a form of entertainment that has the potential to desensitize youth to violence. Deeply worrisome is the militarization of American popular entertainment—what has come to be known as “militainment”—which was exploited to sell the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq and is used as a Pentagon recruitment tool targeting young people. 

    In our home, Lucca’s gaming is a series of negotiated settlements concerning frequency, duration, and types of games
     

    One parental consolation of Lucca playing Assassin’s Creed II has been his sudden knowledge of and interest in Italian history and culture. He is now conversant in the Pazzi conspiracy, Savonarola and the Bonfire of the Vanities, the Borgia regime, and, of course, Renaissance architecture. When I suggested that we visit contemporary Florence, Venice, and San Gimignano, Lucca responded not with a teenager’s insouciance but with enthusiastic affirmation. That’s a lesson in gaming I appreciate.



  • Art & Culture

    Visiting 15th Century Italy with my 15-Year-Old Son



    Recently, my daughter Akela and son Lucca got into a conversation about Florence’s Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, discussing the architectonics of the church’s cupola. Akela noted that Renaissance architects did not have the ancient Roman formula for cement and as a result Filippo Brunelleschi ingeniously devised a two wall solution for the structure, a detail she had learned in her introductory art history class. Lucca concurred, elaborating on the cupola’s interior of stone arches, frescos, and its crowning lantern. He was familiar with il Duomo because he had scaled to the very top, an achievement he accomplished as a player of the video game Assassin’s Creed II.

    Lucca had already been talking about the places he “visited” playing this third-person, action game, like la Piazza della Signoria, la Basilica di Santa Croce, and il Ponte Vecchio. He had also “traveled” to Venice, San Gimignano, and Forlì. When the New York Times’ review noted the game’s “luscious detail and natural, ennobling proportions and styling of the environments,” I asked my son to be my tour guide to fifteen century Italy.
     
    Revenge is the game’s narrative premise with the lead character, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, locating and assassinating the conspirators who falsely accused and executed his father. Rodrigo Borgia, who would become Pope Alexander VI, is the villainous adversary. 


    With the controller securely in Lucca’s hands, our cloaked avatar strode assertively through the cobble stone streets of Florence, circa 1497. To my surprise this involved repeated shoving of others so as to pickpocket their florins. Along the way, we encountered inviting prostitutes, pugnacious condottieri, saltimbanci selling nostrums, and pestering giullari
     
    I asked Lucca to linger so I could sift through the cacophony of this virtual Renaissance. Slowing down our pace to that of a leisurely passeggiata, I heard the same looped patter of a lovers’ quarrel and the public announcement concerning the plague in the mouths of different background characters at various points during our stroll. Characters spoke in English with an Italian accent and in Italian with a decidedly contemporary Milanese accent. My son had already learned such choice phrases as cazzo, pezzo di merda, figli di puttana, and vai a farti fottere
     
    A player also moves through this virtual landscape by scaling building façades and leaping from one rooftop to another. From those heights, the panoptic view of the city is stunning. As Auditore/we stood at the pinnacle of Giotto’s Campanile, I was reminded of a photo I had taken as a tourist 25 years earlier from the very same vantage point. 
     
    At one point, we walked about the main character’s villa taking in the impressive art collection including notables like Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady With Ermine, Andrea del Verrocchio’s Baptism of Christ, among other masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance. 
     
    Throughout our journey the slashing, stabbing, and hacking continued with spurts of crimson blood flowing graphically on the screen.

     
    I’m too much of a boomer to find video games of real interest. As a parent, I’m troubled by the ways video games normalize killing, albeit virtual, and make war a form of entertainment that has the potential to desensitize youth to violence. Deeply worrisome is the militarization of American popular entertainment—what has come to be known as “militainment”—which was exploited to sell the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq and is used as a Pentagon recruitment tool targeting young people. 

    In our home, Lucca’s gaming is a series of negotiated settlements concerning frequency, duration, and types of games
     

    One parental consolation of Lucca playing Assassin’s Creed II has been his sudden knowledge of and interest in Italian history and culture. He is now conversant in the Pazzi conspiracy, Savonarola and the Bonfire of the Vanities, the Borgia regime, and, of course, Renaissance architecture. When I suggested that we visit contemporary Florence, Venice, and San Gimignano, Lucca responded not with a teenager’s insouciance but with enthusiastic affirmation. That’s a lesson in gaming I appreciate.



  • Visiting 15th Century Italy with my 15-Year-Old Son



    Recently, my daughter Akela and son Lucca got into a conversation about Florence’s Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, discussing the architectonics of the church’s cupola. Akela noted that Renaissance architects did not have the ancient Roman formula for cement and as a result Filippo Brunelleschi ingeniously devised a two wall solution for the structure, a detail she had learned in her introductory art history class. Lucca concurred, elaborating on the cupola’s interior of stone arches, frescos, and its crowning lantern. He was familiar with il Duomo because he had scaled to the very top, an achievement he accomplished as a player of the video game Assassin’s Creed II.

    Lucca had already been talking about the places he “visited” playing this third-person, action game, like la Piazza della Signoria, la Basilica di Santa Croce, and il Ponte Vecchio. He had also “traveled” to Venice, San Gimignano, and Forlì. When the New York Times’ review noted the game’s “luscious detail and natural, ennobling proportions and styling of the environments,” I asked my son to be my tour guide to fifteen century Italy.
     
    Revenge is the game’s narrative premise with the lead character, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, locating and assassinating the conspirators who falsely accused and executed his father. Rodrigo Borgia, who would become Pope Alexander VI, is the villainous adversary. 


    With the controller securely in Lucca’s hands, our cloaked avatar strode assertively through the cobble stone streets of Florence, circa 1497. To my surprise this involved repeated shoving of others so as to pickpocket their florins. Along the way, we encountered inviting prostitutes, pugnacious condottieri, saltimbanci selling nostrums, and pestering giullari
     
    I asked Lucca to linger so I could sift through the cacophony of this virtual Renaissance. Slowing down our pace to that of a leisurely passeggiata, I heard the same looped patter of a lovers’ quarrel and the public announcement concerning the plague in the mouths of different background characters at various points during our stroll. Characters spoke in English with an Italian accent and in Italian with a decidedly contemporary Milanese accent. My son had already learned such choice phrases as cazzo, pezzo di merda, figli di puttana, and vai a farti fottere
     
    A player also moves through this virtual landscape by scaling building façades and leaping from one rooftop to another. From those heights, the panoptic view of the city is stunning. As Auditore/we stood at the pinnacle of Giotto’s Campanile, I was reminded of a photo I had taken as a tourist 25 years earlier from the very same vantage point. 
     
    At one point, we walked about the main character’s villa taking in the impressive art collection including notables like Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady With Ermine, Andrea del Verrocchio’s Baptism of Christ, among other masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance. 
     
    Throughout our journey the slashing, stabbing, and hacking continued with spurts of crimson blood flowing graphically on the screen.

     
    I’m too much of a boomer to find video games of real interest. As a parent, I’m troubled by the ways video games normalize killing, albeit virtual, and make war a form of entertainment that has the potential to desensitize youth to violence. Deeply worrisome is the militarization of American popular entertainment—what has come to be known as “militainment”—which was exploited to sell the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq and is used as a Pentagon recruitment tool targeting young people. 

    In our home, Lucca’s gaming is a series of negotiated settlements concerning frequency, duration, and types of games
     

    One parental consolation of Lucca playing Assassin’s Creed II has been his sudden knowledge of and interest in Italian history and culture. He is now conversant in the Pazzi conspiracy, Savonarola and the Bonfire of the Vanities, the Borgia regime, and, of course, Renaissance architecture. When I suggested that we visit contemporary Florence, Venice, and San Gimignano, Lucca responded not with a teenager’s insouciance but with enthusiastic affirmation. That’s a lesson in gaming I appreciate.



  • Facts & Stories

    Return of the Italian-American Voldemort



    Hi ho! Rita Skeeter here. 
     
    The latest scuttlebutt from the world of wizardry is the return of the Italian-American Voldemort. È ritornato Colui-che-non-deve-essere-nominato! (Picked up my Italian during a long weekend in Pavia, but that’s another story! Wink! Wink!) It turns out that the Melanocorypha Lark Institute for Italian Diasporic Studies at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is under attack.  There’s no reason to be a doubting Thomas about his return or marvel at the riddle of his identity.  (And no, it's not Berluska!)
     
    L’Innominabile still evokes fear despite the fact he has been gone for several years. Some of those who suffered under his maleficent reign now become visibly shaken by the mere mention of his attempted return, breaking down in tears and turning on each other as old wounds are opened. A few people have been victims of confundo, impedimenta, and imperio spells, among others. Aiding Colui-che-non-deve-essere-nominatois a small group of minions known as i Mangiamorte, among them Guido A. Mischina and Egidio Centonaia.


    The Ministry of Magic has issued a high alert regarding the current actions of l’Innominabile. Minster Kingsley Shacklebolt, a Senior Auror in his own right, stated, “We are deeply concerned with this auto-disinterment. It is a significant threat to the Italian-American community. I call on all good streghe, maghi, fate, gnomi, folletti, and even i monacelli to be vigilant at this time.”

    The Institute’s current director, Prof. T. Sean Tummarinari noted the sudden increase in negative incidents concerning the Institute and the return of Colui-che-non-deve-essere-nominato:  


    "When one has not much to do, one can sometimes be overwhelmed by mischief. “L’ozio è il padre dei vizi,” no? We all need to be occupied in one way or another with something that fulfills us, otherwise we risk falling into a malaise of fictive nostalgia that traps us in a non-existent, mythical past that then transforms itself into a false present, which can only result in the pitfall of delusions of mediocrity. The Melanocorypha Institute continues to thrive as it moves forward."
     
    Good to hear! 
     
    Remember ragazzi, there are close to a million and a half reasons not to settle for the return of l’Innominabile! ;)
     
    BACIONI A TUTTI!!!
     
    Rita


  • Life & People

    Ricordando Vincenzo Ancona

    Today is the tenth anniversary of Vincenzo Ancona’s death and I miss him tremendously. He was a man I met in 1979 as the “subject” of my nascent research on Italian-American folklore and folklife, but who became more than just an “ethnographic informant.” 

    We collaborated in the documentation and presentation of his Sicilian-language poetry and his wire tableaux in a published article, a book, and several exhibitions. The links below lead to various representations of his work. (His self-professed masterpiece, “St. George and the Dragon” is now in the permanent collection of the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York.) He helped my fledgling career more than I impacted his life.

     
    That he shared parts of his life and his artistry with me is a gift I will always treasure. I visited him frequently in the basement kitchen of his Gravesend, Brooklyn home. I knew his late wife, Virginia, his children, his grandchildren, and even his great-grand children. My wife and I stayed with him in Castellammare del Golfo (Trapani province) during our 1985 trip and he showed us Scopello where he set off for the tonnara, or tuna fishing. I still have the olive branch basket he wove during our stay in Sicily.  

    On the tenth anniversary of his death, Arba Sicula is republishing Vincenzo’s bilingual collection, Malidittu la lingua/Damned Language (1990), that Anna L. Chairetakis (now Anna Lomax Wood) and I edited. The book will contain a CD of Vincenzo reciting his poetry. In addition, my article “Locating Memory: Longing, Place, and Autobiography in Vincenzo Ancona’s Sicilian Poetry” will appear this year in the book Italian Folk: Vernacular Culture in Italian-American Lives (Fordham University Press). Vincenzo Ancona lives on through the many gifts he left us.

     

     

  • Art & Culture

    Found Gangster Poem



    I am very disappointed
    I am praying you
    You have to decide if
     
    a true reflection
     
    or rather be a marginalized
     
    our Community
     
    I hope you are smart enough to understand where your best interests
     
    fringe element
    the real
     
    deprived you
    precious
    more valuable
     
    I will be eagerly waiting
    more importantly many others will
    buried somewhere

     

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