Saturday, February 15

John Elkann - Grandson of Gianni Agnelli - Got "There" all on his own

This cartoon - by the inimitable GianFalco (illustrator of my book, Burnt by the Tuscan Sun) - perfectly encapsulates how John Elkann, like most entitled people around who cannot fathom how the 99% actually live, really put his foot in it.  Like Berlusconi before him, who so infamously stated that young women graduates, looking for a future, need to "find a rich husband - like one of my sons" in order to make it, career advice is unwanted from this lightweight and "nipote" of Gianni Agnelli [it's where we get the term nepotism from], the man who's father put him in the automotive business.
Prior to joining the very top echelon of the FIAT Corporation, a company which professes to be a capitalist institution, this 'champagnone' (as my colleagues & I liked to call them) came to the Company with an impressive resume' -- that of being able to uncork champagne bottles on the pistes of Davos, Switzerland.  His mother probably made his travel arrangements & changed his money back then and probably still chooses his business attire today.
He stated that, in a country where 48% of the youth are unemployed, septuagenarians occupy most company / public / university / and political posts, and where graduates are leaving by the throngs, that jobs are plentiful and youth today just need to try harder and not be so comfy at home.  While, indeed, there is a certain malaise with these 'bamboccioni', the idea that Italy is a free-wheeling, free market when it comes to labor, getting hired and all the rest, is risible, at best. Most jobs are found through personal contacts, not recruiters.  But still, hearing this advice from a guy who 'worked his way to the top' by playing with his toy Alfa Romeos better than the rest is insulting.
So, hats off to Gianfalco for perfectly capturing the zeitgeist and poking fun at our little nipote:
Yeah, right. Elkann really 'came to it' all on his own
Yeah-good thing he didn't say some one gave him a helping hand...
that way he would've climaxed even easier

click on links above
for more Gianfalco cartoons, check out the tab "cartoon of the week" or visit his (Italian) website or Open Salon page in English.

Sunday, February 9

Blood Red Oranges: As good as it gets

Picture and all the nutritional info
you would ever want from 
One of my long held stances on Life in Italy is that much of the country is marketing-challenged.  You can imagine my dismay when I first heard about blood red oranges.  But in reality, the name fits.  By my calculations, the only reason vampires don't exist is that they went vegan and started going for this sweet nectar instead.
But, trolling the internet, you find plenty of nay-sayers. most likely turned off by the name.  Or the looks.  Somewhere on twitter I turned up a whole community of no blood-red orange people. I was shocked.
But this caused me to recall my very first interaction with this strangest of fruits [after all, I came from the Orange-Juice-from-a-can USA DNA strain].  Heck, it was a miracle for me to know that oranges grew on trees.

So there I was in Parma, at 19 years old, sweating it out in one of the hottest summers ever experienced by homo sapiens.  I was holding down the challenges of a summer internship in a place where everyone heads for the cooler hills for the summer, leaving the sad sacks behind to shut the windows so the heat wouldn't come into the building. My workload was so challenging that I actually experienced carpal tunnel from the mass of papers they had me staple - as my only job requirement - for three straight sweltering months.
After one particularly staple-stress-filled day at the office, I headed out to a nearby bar (well, that's not entirely the only bar open in a 60 km radius from my office) and, eyeing a small hill of gorgeous oranges, I asked for some fresh-squeezed juice.  I was so desperate, I was willing to spend an entire week's pay stub to satisfy my need to be both cooled & vitamined up before rickets kicked in altogether.  
The bar tender placed a purplish glass filled with some concoction in front of me.  It looked as if they had taken three rotten oranges, clearly covered over from the heat with a purplish mould, and put it in my glass.  I refused to drink it.  
The bartender started to laugh.  Thinking it was some gag he was playing on me - I looked around for Candid Camera.  I finally said, politely, that I couldn't drink this.  And...what was it anyway?  By way of an answer he produced equally purple oranges - split in two - which only confirmed my suspicions. The fruit was rotten, after all.
By this time, the only other person in the entire town told me to try it.  Not recalling those monitions of 'never accepting strange food from strangers', I tried a tentative sip.
And to this day, I have never, ever, in my life tasted something so wondrous, so stupendous, so over-the-top sweet & sour & sensational.  To top it off, they even served it with a bag of sugar and a tall spoon to stir it all around with.  Since that fateful day, I have never been able to drink what most countries call "orange juice" again.  
But in trying to beat that unbearable Parma heat, I never did get my o.j. with a cube of ice inside.  It didn't matter.  And still doesn't.