Thursday, May 29, 2008

Further Excursions Into Alien Boots

A couple months ago, I traveled to Bologna for the Bilbolbul festival. As I'm horribly behind (about a couple months) on doing anything related to posting, I'll throw in a few notes here and there but otherwise let the pictures speak for themselves (for a far better recounting of treasures and exhibits of the festival proper, feel free to read Paul Gravett's recollections (and thanks to Paul for interviewing Kevin Huizenga, Anders Nilsen, and me at the festival... Mr. Gravett was, as usual, a gentleman and a scholar)).

Anders, Kevin (and Kevin's wife), and I spent the first few days setting up our exhibit in Palazzo d'Accursio in Piazza Maggiore (a few shots of Piazza Maggiore at night are at the end of this post).

My favorite element in this high-ceilinged room was a fresco titled "Madonna of the Earthquake." If I'm remembering the title incorrectly, I don't want to know.

On the last day of setting up the exhibit, I was driven across town along with Hong Kong cartoonist Chihoi Lee (who I'd met briefly in Switzerland last year) for a radio interview. We were both asked to pick a song to play during our segments. I, being painfully predictable, chose Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart," Chihoi chose Leonard Cohen's "So long, Marianne." I've been hooked on the song ever since.

Toward the center of town there are two towers, one leaning (though not so much as its cousin in Pisa) and truncated (from what, I haven't taken the time to research) and one to whose top you could climb, on a series of shallow wooden steps. When I reached the top, winded, red-faced, saturated with sweat, a lithe octogenarian Italian was there, joking and laughing with full lungs. I couldn't understand what he was saying exactly, but it had to be something along the lines of "kid, you're out of shape."

I don't know why I'm such a sucker for these scenes: people taking pictures of each other with people dressed in costumes. There's something simultaneously bizarre/innocent/scary/reassuring/creepy about the whole thing. I should probably spend more time thinking about this. But they were handing out free chocolate, so my analysis could only go so far. My sweet tooth is a moron.

And, as promised, Piazza Maggiore at night:

(While Bologna might not be the tourist draw of other locales in Italy, this square is pretty impossible to not love at night. The age of this place, absent in the city center of any American town (and present only in an increasingly destroyed portion of our land and native population), is almost palpable, though I imagine that this is only because I was foreign, having grown up in an "old house" that dates back a mere one hundred fifty years. The people of Bologna, clearly immune, just smoked, exchanged, and walked over their ancient city, built upon past ancient cities, those past efforts visible through see-through floors, here in a library, there in a restaurant.)