With all this talk
…we cannot help but reflect
on our own roots so firmly tied to the immigrant experience.
It is the source of inspiration
for the naming of our small company, Domenica
Press (discussed elsewhere on this website),
and as the current issue of the magazine primo:
A Taste of Italy in America (http://www.flprimo.com/home.do)
reminds us, it wasn’t always all peaches and cannolis
for Italian immigrants either.
Borsella has recently written a book that probes the
issue of Italian persecution throughout American history.
He says a similar debate on immigration happened during
the early 1900’s but the focus was on Italian
immigrants back then, instead of Hispanics.”
through the same treatment that Hispanics are experiencing
today, Borsella says.”
Mr. Borsella goes on to add:
racism and criticism of Hispanics are more subtle now
than they were back then for Italians, who were publicly
derided and often brutalized. You had Ku Klux Klan rallies
directed against Italian immigrants…newspaper
editorials proclaiming Italians an inferior race…mass
expulsions…many Americans were outraged that Italian
Americans were ‘stealing’ their jobs and
working for cheap wages.”
We remember one such immigrant in particular,
whom we eulogized and followed up with a poem, some 15 years
Elegy for an
Old Immigrant Man
will speak for this man?
I will tell of untold heroics.
And anointed with the rush of his spirit—
a baptism of transference—
put him in armor
and send him back in time;
free fall through history and imagination:
triumphant Garibaldi marching through…
Customs at Ellis Island.
Who will speak for this man?
I will mourn with words well chosen,
in a voice bent but unbroken
placing his passing in a far greater context,
the Anglo-Saxon manner?)
forsaking the demonic shrieks of bereavement,
and abandonment of self
to open caskets and open graves,
flailing at Lucifer
grief by ukase…
Who will speak for this man?
filled with the indulgence
of a moment behind the pulpit
a latent contempt for the cloth,
I will raise my voice to the empty choir
the startling parallels
of the family folktale,
several times retold:
of the peasant from Calabria
who once put an apple
on the table before his children
and forbade them to eat it.
And unlike Eve,
the apple stood there
then disposed of
parabolic lesson in respect!
Who will speak for this man?
will. I must.
Marilyn at 80
1st of this year, Marilyn Monroe would have
been 80 years old; an image as unimaginable as the death of
any legend in the prime of their lives. Although granted,
it is not easy to picture a frail JFK at his 89th birthday
party this past May 29th, with Martin Luther King (age 77)
in attendance, either. Or how about James Dean at 76? Lennon
But of all these and the many
others, Marilyn is arguably, one of the most enduring and
beloved American icons of the 20th Century.
Forty-four years following her
death— one that has been the source of renewed speculation
these last couple of years— her legacy continues to
grow. It is beyond us to try to fully understand why that
is so; why a 12 year old female “altar server”
(“altar boys” are an anachronism) we saw last
Sunday after mass, was wearing a Marilyn T-shirt under her
In lieu of that, we offer a
piece we wrote last year on the 50th anniversary of The
Seven Year Itch, and never got to post on this site.
It is our favorite Marilyn movie (with Some Like It
Hot right behind…so to speak).
The Da Vinci Comb?
You started to sense in the pre-release “buzz”
that this was ultimately going to be much ado about
nothing, when discussion turned to the “do”
itself. As in the lament: “What’s up with Tom
We must admit a couple of things
at the outset:
That we anticipated a far greater fuss over this film.
(Though certainly no acts of terrorism)
2) That we felt the critics
would not like it, even had there been a “better
‘Hank’ of hair.”
Having now seen the film and
gotten a sense of movie goer and critic response, we put our
own two cents in:
Christians need not worry. Christ comes out of this
smelling like a rose.
KEY QUESTION: If you
really want to center a mystery around the issue of
disproving Christ’s divinity, shouldn’t
the focus be on finding HIS tomb? HIS remains? Finding
out what happened with HIM following HIS death? Not
that of HER…er, well, we had better not say
more, for the 12 people who still don’t know
the plot by now.
2) We were right that critics wouldn’t like it…but
for the wrong reasons.
Most of the criticism
is grounded in the fact that, in and of itself, it
is not a bad movie, but that it follows so closely,
what was a bad book. Or at least a bad piece of literature.
can you knock a film that sticks closely to a book
that sold 40 million copies?
The critics’ irritations
with this film, is best captured in A.O. Scott’s review
in The New York Times. He is clearly
predisposed to not liking this film—finding many nits
to pick— while yet grudgingly acknowledging some of
its accomplishments. A few his excerpts with our italicized
Da Vinci Code" …is one of the few screen
versions of a book that may take longer to watch than
to read. …
And yet he does
note that: “the director (Ron Howard) and
Goldsman have streamlined Mr. Brown's story and
refrained from trying to capture his, um, prose
thank the deity of your choice for Ian McKellen, who
shows up just in time to give "The Da Vinci Code"
a jolt of mischievous life. He plays a wealthy and eccentric
British scholar named Leigh Teabing.”
As this is a major
character, this “jolt” is no small contribution.
spite of some talk (a good deal less than in the book)
about the divine feminine, chalices and blades, and
the spiritual power of sexual connection, not even a
glimmer of eroticism flickers between the two stars.”
Maybe Mr. Scott,
because it wasn’t in the book? And that to
do so would have then been fodder for critics to
carp, that here was Hollywood once again adding
gratuitous sex to an otherwise PG. story, that truly
had no romantic angle between the Robert Langdon
and Sophie Nevue characters.
Da Vinci Code" is above all a murder mystery. And
as such, once it gets going, Mr. Howard's movie has
If it sounds as if we liked
this movie…we did. And as a bonus, we had no problem
with Tom Hanks’ hair. Especially since we are trying
desperately to hang on to our own and tend to favor of content
over style, on this issue.
The answer is:
Another terrific novel!
What hath Roth got?
Philip Roth has done it, still
Following up on his last book
in 2004, the critically acclaimed best seller, The
Plot Against America— a 1984-ish tale—he
has now switched gears with a beautifully written short novel
Everyman, which dares to look mortality
in the eye. And mortality blinks.
How’s this for an opening
THE GRAVE in the rundown cemetery were a few of his
former advertising colleagues from New York, who recalled
his energy and originality and told his daughter, Nancy,
what a pleasure it had been to work with him.
And it concludes with one of
the most poignant scenes involving the business of gravediggers,
since Act V, Scene I of Hamlet.
In between, it’s about
life. The distance covered. The triumphs and mistakes that
get made along the way.
As a note of interest, “Everyman
takes its title from an anonymous fifteenth-century allegorical
play, a classic of early English drama, whose theme is the
summoning of the living to death.”
Philip Roth continues to be
at the absolute top of his game as a novelist, even after
the almost 50 years since the publication of his first book,
Goodbye Columbus, in 1959.
A few weeks ago in the
Book Review section of the New York Times,
an esteemed panel of 125 prominent writers, critics and editors,
listed their picks for the best work of American fiction of
the last 25 years. No, Roth didn’t come out on top.
Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987)
was “the winner.” But of the 22 novels that got
multiple votes, Philip Roth had five books represented, including
one of the four “runners-up.” It is truly amazing
for a writer to be that prolific and simultaneously, that
As taken from The Superior
Person’s Second Book of Weird & Wondrous Words
by Peter Bowler; a gift from our daughter in 2003:
n. Someone who likes to nibble on a woman’s
“This one is reported
in the amazing dictionary of verbal exotica compiled by Mrs.
Josefa Heifetz Byrne (the daughter of Jascha Heifetz, incidentally).
“One for the Personals:
wishes to meet a woman with large ears.’”