Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Hate Where You Live

I was going through some old luggage when I found some things I had jotted down about Positano, Italy. Wherever you are when you read this, I can assure you it pales in comparison to the sheer beauty and asthetic appeal of Positano. Let me make this clear: Your home town is a stinking dried up turd in comparison. You live here: This is what Positano looks like: I would suggest going there immediately.

Positano is a cliched Hollywood set version of a "Italian Fishing Village". It has all the inherent quaintness of the aforementioned village, but has been transformed into a Grade A Tourist Town. You'd like to see a grizzled old sea salt tending his nets by the water's edge on the beach, but if you did you'd expect him to be there strictly for the photo optional, but appreciated. Although there is the expectation of being fleeced by the locals, the genuine Italian hospitality helps overcome that fear (and helps you live with the hellishly high prices). As I write this, it's 10pm and I'm sitting on a deck overlooking the calm as glass Mediterranean illuminated by a full moon that must be larger than the one in Ohio. Down the cascading cliffs in the sprawling village below a voice wafts up "That's Amore"...which then medleys into Elvis's "It's Now Or Never". The illusion of the village unchanged by time is shattered by the appearance of The King. Truly, Elvis is everywhere.

A ridiculously scenic drive across twisting cliff side roads brings you to this little oasis cut into the rock. We took the train from Rome to Napoli, and just missed a connection to Sorrento. The grimy Napoli train station feels like a place a stopwatch is set with a specific time until you are going to be robbed. Imagine a Greyhound station in Buffalo in July before the various human vermin have received their government checks on the 15th. Eyes dart around the station looking for an easy score. A quick decision was made to take an insanely expensive cab ride to Positano, but the upside was a drive through the breathtaking views of ancient towns cut into the sides of the cliffs. (Editor's Note: After 11 months, I just finished paying off the last installment loan payment for this cab ride.)

As I write this, the sons of the last generation of the local hardworking fisherman sing "Volare" to the grinning tourists enjoying their digestivos. It's sad to think these men have been reduced to performing like monkeys for flabby grey skinned Brits. "Oh look Louise! Just like on the telly!" Before I feel too bad, I click the math off and realize their little soft shoe probably makes more than a day yanking sardines out of the sea. The hours must be better too.

There is only a twisting one way road that snakes down the cliff side from the top of the steep grade to the beach below. Along the way, various shops sell identical linen tops and skirts for women, and disinterested shopkeepers lazily glance at you while you stroll by. Restaurants serve local specialties with off kilter English translations on the printed menu. Example? After a long day of humping it down the coast, nothing beats a plate of rocket, scrimps, and frutes of the sea. You would expect the seafood to be fresh, but with all the able bodied men apparently doing the vaudeville thing, I wonder who actually brings in the catch? Maybe if I wake up early enough, I'll see if anyone from town hops in one of those Hollywood set boats moored in the bay, and heads out for some "frutes of the sea". It would be a drag to discover the seafood was all caught by Japanese fishing boats a couple weeks ago in the Pacific, flash frozen and then trucked in from Napoli...

We're at the Conca d'Oro, a family owned hotel. It's all ceramic tile and bright colors with plenty of extra care taken for comfort of the guests. The woman that was at the front desk at check in was part of the family, and had obvious pride of ownership. She practically glowed when she told me, "This is the best place in the world to live!". It's clearly not a bad place to be raised. Crystal clear waters lapping at homes cut into the rocky coastline of the sun soaked Mediterranean...One day lazily drifting into the next...Terrific food and wine...Then again, Mansfield OH is supposed to be nice too.

I digress...After you take the serpentine down to the bottom of the hill, a small beach of little smooth black pebbles awaits. The water is blue and clear, and overweight tourists lounge on small blankets. A private beach is available on either side of the main beach where a small fee will reward you with a couple of chairs and an umbrella. Sandwich boards tout discount boat trips to Capri where you can view "the beautiful people". This is the island where guys that look like Jude Law that come from old money take their snotty jet set girlfriends.

We decide to take a boat over to Capri. Since I forgot to bring shorts with me (and I am certainly not climbing the hillside like a goddamn billygoat), I'll shuffle around Capri in my low rent bathing suit and mismatched t shirt oblivious to the critical eyes of the fashionista. Once again, despite a pre pack check list, I have failed to properly pack. Maybe I'll buy one of those linen shorts numbers on the beach walk and "go native". However, the fear of the shorts shrinking to my body after a swim and featuring my frightened little cold turtle to the beachside crowd might not be the best decision. No one said relaxing was easy.

Random Notes: A CD I just picked up that's surprisingly good is The Buzzcocks latest "Flat Pack Philosophy". If you have the essential "Singles Going Steady", and have played the crap out of it over the years like I have, you should check it out. They sound as good as ever, and the songs are really strong (especially the Pete Shelly songs). You have to keep the expectation level in check though. It's not like they're horny spurned 20 year olds anymore, but they're still bitching about their usual topics....I picked up a nice win on the Dodgers today as they went off as dogs to the Marlins with Dontrelle Willis on the mound. Willis was a very shaky 5-1, and the public forgot that Brett Tomko can pitch/LA is a legitimate contender. I've got the Tribe as a dog tonight too as Byrd is on the hill against the offensively challenged Angels. I'll be lighting my cigar with V chips by tomorrow morning! (You don't bet offshore with dollars. That would be illegal. You bet with "V Chips". Coincidentally, one V chip can be purchased for one dollar.)...It took me a few listens, but I dig that Black Lips "Valientes Del Mundo Nuevo" record. Sloppy as hell garage-abilly with the right amount of "we don't give a fuck".


At May 16, 2007 at 5:28:00 PM EDT , Blogger Willie Gorillie said...

I once survived a night in the Buffalo Greyhound bus station. True story. I can't imagine anything in Italy being much worse.


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