An adult in the basement

My best friend turned 30 last week. He’s become a man.

He’s married and working to help and improve this society. He has big big heart, a cheeky smile similar to mine, a goofy walk. His voice is low and calm, he likes people and people like him.

I haven’t seen him since his ‘big yes’, where I wasn’t invited, except for a piece of cake later that day… I guess my best friend never saw me as his close friend, but just as an old friend. I guess, again, that these are the things that happen when you become an adult. Well, I admit that even in front of this rational, understandable thought my eyes see bitter.

But hey..

But hey, despite the sad tone I put in the words above, I am so so grateful to have tons of great and lovely memories with him: it was my pleasure and honour to spend the childhood with him.

We grew up, we walked along together for so many years and we made so many silly things I can’t even start counting them. That was truly special, and I don’t care if it’s over and we are distant now: somehow, somewhere there is a thread ready for us to be hold again all the time.

When we were fifteen we used to spend all Winter Sundays hiding in his basements. We could stay there for hours, (like not joking 10?), without feeling like going out and get some fresh hair. We had music, the guitars and so many things to say: jokes, rants, inappropriate dramas, bullshits mainly. We basically consumed this album while in the basement, cementing our personalities. We were goofy rockstars.

The song tattooed on my mind is “Swallowed” by Bush. Basement, and grunge, are forever.

Arrivederci amore, ciao

I don’t remember the first time I watched “La stanza del figlio”, an Italian movie by director Nanni Moretti.

It’s a touching story about loss, fatherhood, conciliation and, maybe, hope. It’s quite a different story than the others Nanni wrote, directed and produced; more narrative, less a neurotic-flux-of-thoughts. Slightly, dangerously at times, not autistic like the others. There is a tangible pace of sorrow in there and it hits you so much to make you uncomfortable.

Is there a way to understand a loss? Personally, I still don’t know. In the movie it seems there is a turning point to first compensate, then understand it when at the end Nanni / the Father gives a car ride to his dead son’s girlfriend and her new ‘friend’. In that occasion, the car should have stopped at the certain known and agreed point, just it doesn’t. To proceed together, to face the after, I saw it as a shy hope for the future of that family.

Four in a car, they start singing an old song: the song talks about a goodbye between two lovers, where the woman is strong and confident that it’s over and she will be fine after all. There is a genuine spontaneity in the singing together and enjoying the moment despite everything. I recall this behaviour an important aspect of being Italian. Somewhere, somehow, Italians have always hope.

Lyrics are pretty strong: a persistent use of metaphors from the nature like clouds and water, showing a constant change in feelings as in the outside; a bitter sense of detachment; a sad, but firm, awareness the past is past, the new has already come. My favourite passage is when she sings:

E quando andrò devi sorridermi se puoi, non sarà facile ma sai, si muore un po’ per poter vivere.”

(And when I leave you must smile at me if you can, it won’t be easy but, you know, you must die a little bit inside to be able to live)

Clever lyrics. I’ve made them mine, quoting them when convenient.

Once I quoted the movie with a nice guy I had met before, but never spoken in depth. I was fascinated by his exotic and religious name, moreover by his story. Complicity of a home party and alcohol, we started chatting and never stopped since then. We found a common ground in the love for old movies.

That night caught ourselves laughing out loud and sharing secrets, tips and stories: when we both confessed the love for ‘La stanza del figlio’ we started singing the song together, at 3 am in a silent dormitory. It was a little nice moment, somehow similar to the movie scene in the car for its spontaneity, that I’ll enshrine in my heart.


The song’s name is ‘Insieme a te non ci sto‘ più by Caterina Caselli and if you’ll ever read this post: much love to you, Jesus (the one w/o the cross, I mean).

Maybe kinda obsession

I might sound unpleasant, but I am pretty sure that before and during 90s it was the real time to be proud to be British. I can’t really explain, but it was time of great band, rock vs pop battles, MTV, Liverpool, London and Camden…before the massive use of phones and reality shows I reckon the Great B. was in a way a better place to live in.

Said this very much personal consideration, I was around twelve years young when I spent an entire afternoon watching the tape of a 10 minutes appearance, interview + ‘live’ performance. Non stop. Non crazy stop, not even for a loo break. Maybe kinda obsession? One step at the time.

At that time I was so uncool not to have a tape recorder, lolz my “alternative” (read: poor) family. During that week there was the most important television music festival, usual triumph of boredom with the only exception for international guests. Blur came, Blur conquered. And my friend recorded everything. The afternoon following the performance, we watched and watched it. Now, Blur have 4 musicians, easy; on stage there were just 2, in a clear state of boozy disorder. I could smell alcohol from the sofa, not kiddin’. They basically didn’t answer any of the silly question, but just kept dragging human-sized cartons of the other 2 members, who were officially ‘ill’. Interview was followed by the worst out-of-time lip-synch performance; where in the middle of it Damon didn’t even pretend to sing but started jumping and playing with Coxon’s carton. There was also a stranger playing instead of Alex. It was P.E.R.F.E.C.T…. a perfect defect. It was a bloody contemporary art performance.. I guess they arrived to the Italian Riviera and started drinking as they meant to die then turned it into art.

Damon Albarn was my first music love and I was in trance watching him tripping over invisible objects. I was totally smitten with him and not for any clever reason fascinated by his scene.

Damon Albarn, oh Damon Albarn. For the first time I was really in love with his hair, voice and, yes!, accent. Everybody who’s met me knows (and doesn’t understand completely) that I adore strong, bit posh, British accents.. it’s a seductive weapon for me. Indeed. And if you disagree, now you know the origin and who to blame, Sir Albarn.

Oh, I have to tell you the end of the story about that afternoon. My friend’s mum came back and found us mummified in the same position as she left us, and freaked out. She took the tape out in custody and obliged to leave. I really had to wee too.

The song, by the way, was “Charmless Man”, AKA nana nana na na naa nanaa.

Enjoy.

( a different live version, because of copyright the only one I can watch and upload!!)

Anniversary with Mr. Memories

 

 

My grandpa reading me a story about two dogs, their adventures and friendship.
My other grandpa offering me a sip of beer while watching Summer football games on tv.
Hours at the library with The Peanuts before tea time, my addiction to earl grey.
My brother, sleep-walk across a closed door, broken glass everywhere. Unharmed kid.
The time Loli and I pretended we were filthy rich and we threw all the Monopoly’s money from the top of the stairs on our mothers’ heads…they weren’t particularly impressed.
The time we burnt all my art paintings because school was over, boredom kicked and the prof was a bitch; this when outside it was August 15th and 40 degrees.
How our bodies could perfectly slot in one, calling it ‘the tetris move’.
The first time at the stadium, a night game in the cold.
The smell of moss, of wood, of Dolomites.
Eating red berries as if they were oxygen to breathe.
The night Ale and I were the only two awake in town…a broadcast on local tv. The drinking at the church cross while watching the valley. J&B and booby hills, sis.
The hours at the gym playing volleyball. Every mistake or laugh 10 laps to run, 30 crunches. Mistakes every minute or so. A bloody tonic body though.
Kissing in the Summer rain in a street, storm of feelings during this personal movie.
Tape recorders, walkmans, cd-players, mp3s. Life before Ipod.
Sundays spent to listen to music and create it. Bonding in a garage.

All the things I forgot. All the things I pretend to forget. All the things I don’t want to write about.

This was my neighbourhood for many years: Arcade Fire’s neighborhood #1 (Tunnel) gets very close to explain it.

The starlight in the morning

I have lots of boosting-up songs, ready-to-take-from-the-magic-hat-called-Ipod pearls, but this one is related to a big moment of my life.
I somewhere wrote about my teeny tiny passion for football; to be fair sports in general, but football is one of the fondest. This time I am going to talk about a song, football and me.
Whistle..let’s go.

I woke up, every muscle aching like hell. The side effect of sleeping on the backseat of a small car. I didn’t know what time it was but the first thing I did, bar the pain, was to smile.
You could see and count all the teeth, to be precise.
The car was parked in a parking lot next to a small playground, and you could see people starting going to work; I didn’t have a precise idea of what time it was, but the light was very bright that morning in July.
It was less than 24 hours from our decision. There are times you just have to let yourself in an adventure, moved by a firm perception, by a je-ne-sais-quoi that makes your idea crazy, hell yeah crazy, but convincing at the same time. The decision was to leave everything we were supposed to do that day, take the car and drive for a good 5 to 6 hours. Destination? Munich. Yes Germany.
So, football, Munich, Germany, July. I’ll add a year too: 2006.
Got it?
It was on early July 4th 2006 that we decided to drive to Germany and watch the semifinal Germany- Italy on German soil with German people. Thousands of them, to be precise…
We were absolutely convinced we were going to win. Absolutely, more convinced than the Pope about his faith. We also spent the afternoon in a Biergarten, me sweating over my dressing up in polyester like an Italian player, and drank and basically being mocked by anybody.
Well, we won. And we celebrate like hell, while around sad crying faces.
The next morning, ecstasy of glory. And so, with all the muscles aching and adrenaline still running, we had a change of clothes (ignoring hygienic civilised standards) and then breakfast, while screaming the song. Everything in the car on a parking lot in Munich center, very student budget.
Guys, we didn’t care, Italy was in the finals, but we had our final ourselves by betting in this adventure. The lyrics claimed:
“My life, you electrify my life”
The song was “Starlight” by Muse and this is the best memory I have of World Cup 2006, with my ‘hopes and expectations, black holes and revelations’.

 

A Fist of Yellow

It was a lovely warm day, Summer was coming soon.

He was driving us home through the countryside, where you could spot pretty houses and farms, green fields, little rivers. I think I could hear insects buzzing at the sun. The air was so vibrant, I, after discussing the silly people hanging their shoes on the electric wires in Brooklyn, yep I, in an act of silliness, took off my trainers and hand on the wing mirror, excited like a kid to see if they would have fallen away.
There was a song by Coldplay that started in that moment, and he told me the story of when he recorded that specific one on tape, from the radio.
Are you the tape generation, you too? Do you remember the joy when your favourite song was on the afternoon radio program and you rush to tape it, so to listen to it over and over? Do you remember that pure sense of offence towards music you felt when the dj talked over the already started song or the sense of impotence when he put the commercials before the very end?
As every people of the tape generation, he was telling me that he recorded the song because it was one of the first song he really liked and that the dj ruined it by talking shit.
Same old story.
Now, I wouldn’t define myself a Coldplay fan, at that time I had no album, just a “Greatest Hits-The Best of their three Albums” a friend of mine made me, where I asked for “The Scientist” – that I find perfectly sad- and he put “Green Eyes”, never heard before that, never ever gonna leave this song, I think it’s my favourite with “Amsterdam”.
Anyway, back to the story. When he asked me if i knew it, I just answered it was in my personalized cd. I was distracted by the trainers swinging out of the window, keeping his words and the music on the background of my thoughts.
When he asked me to put an open hand between us, next to the hand brake, I turned and looked at him in silence, eyes puzzling. I did it. In that precise moment, without taking his eyes off the street, he gave a punch on my left hand, a fair good one. In a sec I was fuming with rage and absolutely perplexed by the action.
He laughed, a bit embarrassed and ashamed. He told me: “From now on you will have a strong memory of this song only related to me”.

And I have, and I will. The song was Yellow, by Coldplay.
Enjoy.

 

Deep dark blue and red

I was 17, in bed; in the darkness I reached the cd player after promising someone really special to listen to a musician I didn’t know.

Back to that time, I think I would have painted myself with an incredible amount of deep dark blue, and in the middle, a bit covered, thousands of red bursting drops.

When the music started I realised it was a live recorded concert somewhere in far away America; there was a lot of improvisation, you could tell that because the singer was stopping to laugh as desired. Laughing while playing, that was new to me.
After few seconds of the first track I got one of the most genuine moments of naive happiness never achieved before: a huge gigantic smile in the darkness. I could see the red colour. Yes, I could see it. I could see that everything would have gone in the right direction, if I laughed more often. And if I trusted that really special cd owner.
That night was the night I discovered Frank Zappa, the musician, the composer, the genius of merry notes. The album was “Cheap Thrills” and the first song was “Catholic Girls”.


Snap.

Le petit madeleine – Music version

For those who love movies, the recurrent dream is to be the protagonist in an epic film. Eventually with happy endings and lots of great action involved.
A vital matter of this movie must be the music; have you ever watched something and enjoyed its climax, like a kiss, a celebration, a goodbye, without soundtrack? Nope.
A special scene would not appear the same without music, so life, my life, without music.
I’ve started inking memories with songs back to childhood when I used to consume my parents’ vinyls and my uncle’s tapes. I must admit I’ve always been a huge fan of tapes instead of vinyl, I guess due to my goofiness or my recent anti-hipstery, but there’s nothing better than the sound of the silence in a vinyl. It is really part of the binary code inside music. And I do miss silence with the new technology.
As you can feel, I speak about music and I let my melancholic side to write; I couldn’t help it, there’s no other way to enjoy music than make it mine, many times I connect it to episodes, feelings..history, my personal movie indeed.
Back to university I learnt the word “fruition”, the act of enjoying works of art. During the adventures of the following year, whenever inspiration will occur, I am going to talk about “petite madelaine de la musique”, old and new souvenirs/fruition moments coming from that treasure called “listen to music”. First story is coming pretty soon.
Too banal to end with a stay tuned? Yes, but bear with me. And stay tuned.