Sidewalk Scrutinies

12 Mar

Walking, head inclined down, I studied the patterns in the sidewalk. There are three kinds here. Large, roughly hewn flagstones about two feet square that are laid out along the direction of travel. Smaller stones, also square but laid at a 45 degree angle to the flagstones. These appear more modern, smooth and joined quite carefully. Strange things happen to the pattern when these stones join other areas at an angle–the squares grow triangular appendages. Small cobblestones hammered into dirt. Artisans replace these after construction jobs that tear up the sidewalk. You watch them, placing these small stones one at a time, sometimes haphazardly, sometimes creating larger spiral patterns. Who decided there should be three types of sidewalks? Was this the same person/committee who decided what the three types should be, or was that someone else? In Bologna, many of the sidewalks are paved with huge marble slabs, the kind of decorative stone that, where I come from, is reserved for the inner walls of the State Capitol building. I asked a man about this at a party. He said, “Italy doesn’t have many raw materials, but we have a lot of stone. So we use it!” He had approached me, intrigued by the button on my sweater. “Is that vomit?”

“No, it’s…” and I launched into my boring story about the button that I don’t get to tell often because no one asks me about it.

“Oh, I thought it was supposed to be vomit. It reminded me of this artist who puts on these events where people drink this liquid that makes you hallucinate strongly… I can’t think of the name of it.”

Yagé, or Ayahuasca?”

“Yes, that’s it. And then it makes you vomit. And he has someone who goes around collecting the vomit and he makes an artwork out of it.”

The next afternoon, we hung out for a few hours in Margareth’s friend’s flat. I went out on the balcony at one point for some fresh air and fell in love with the view. The buildings you could see, the angles you could see them at — I had to take some pictures. For posterity. To revel in. To pretend I have an eye for photography. I borrowed Aaron’s camera, the only one we had with us on the tour, and snapped some pictures. Man, I thought, I really have a sensitive eye for these sorts of aesthetic moments.

Bologna rooftop, as immortalized by Ian Douglas-Moore

A few days later, back in Berlin, or maybe in the crash pad after the gig outside Udine, we were all looking at the pictures together, each of us seeing some for the first time. “Oh, there are the ones I took from Margareth’s friend’s balcony.”

Jason looked at me disdainfully. “No, I took those from Margareth’s friend’s balcony.”

We went through a few more that I was sure I had taken and he was sure he had taken. The pictures changed setting to inside the flat as Jason and I continued arguing. The next set of pictures were also from the balcony. Turned out these were the ones I had taken. And they were exactly the same as the ones he had taken. We were both so breath-taken by the same view and had exactly the same response, even framing the pictures in exactly the same way. So much for my uniquely sensitive point of view.

Bologna rooftop, as captured by Jason Fox

Those were the heady days when change was in the air, palpable, possible, probable. I still remember it like it was four months ago, before I became disillusioned with the ideas of revolutionary potential, or having a girlfriend again someday. Yes, I had recently become radicalized, according to Aaron, because I was reading David Graeber and felt sympathetic towards Occupy Wall Street.

Yes, there too.

We had a lot of time to kill, waiting for trains, riding on trains, waiting for buses, riding on buses, waiting for gigs, riding on… um. Aaron and I filled this time with pointless arguments over the efficacy of the movement and whether it was a good thing anyway to begin with. Jason filled the time with doodles, beginning and quickly ending his cartoonist career as he ran into problems with perspective while trying to draw a table.

Cited drawing not available; representative sample from same volume.

Apparently breathing the air of the land where perspective was invented is not enough. One must practice as well. Fortunately, the food and wine were very good and mostly free. Ciao, Italia. I’ll never forget the times we had together. Boppity Boopy!

 

Advertisements

2 Responses to “Sidewalk Scrutinies”

  1. Aaron Snyder March 12, 2012 at 3:30 am #

    Naturalmente la veranda, e le vedute limitate del portico, ma se la pratica è più di una meditazione non deve di per sé portare a innovazione e la realizzazione.

    • David Evans March 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

      Penso che Aaron ha giusto…Ben detto signor snyder

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: