New Year’s Eve was a day like any other, with one exception: we were in Palermo. We needed to get shopping in, so we walked to the Mercato Vucciria and bought chicken, vegetables, olives, salami, cheese, and wild strawberries. The market isn’t what it once was—affected, apparently, by the presence of a Carrefour Supermarket nearby—but we didn’t feel the lack. As our intention was utilitarian, I didn’t bring along my camera, so a link to Renato Guttuso’s “most famous palermitano painting” will have to do for now, along with this bit of back story: Continue reading
The Palazzo Abatellis, along with so much of Palermo’s Kalsa District (the old Arab quarter), was damaged extensively by Allied bombing in WWII. As Jeremy Dummett writes: Continue reading
December 28-29, 2016
The wait at JFK for our flight to Palermo (via Rome) was a trial, to say the least. The concession stand food was uniformly bleak. Everywhere you looked, TV screens set to CNN, though on mute, displayed irritating crawls. One TV, sound on, flooded the waiting area with insipid shopping prattle. The desk clerk of whom I asked whether there was a place free of the noise looked at me as if to say, “Are you crazy? Just imagine what it’s like for me, working here all day.” Continue reading
Melodies appear as inexplicably as a dirty blond in Philip Marlowe’s office.
—Mark Swed, reviewing City Noir
The first time I visited Los Angeles, a friend took me to a favorite taco place, a low-slung building trapped under a freeway labyrinth. Another time, I was part of a Writers Guild negotiations team. In my infirm recollection, nighttime had a feel at once seedy and glamorous: swank hotels cheek by jowl with crumbling stucco buildings, sidewalks empty of walkers, sulfurous street lamps piercing the dark. The city seemed an unnavigable maze, with a culture I couldn’t fathom. Continue reading