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The Stop Sign – Italian Style

After the holidays, I thought a little humor was in order.

When we moved to Italy 15 years ago, we went to great lengths to learn all of the Italian driving and traffic laws. Basically, they are the same as in the U.S. with a few, small variations. In short, no biggie.

However, when it came to daily practice we noticed that virtually no one stops for a stop sign here. Often they don’t even slow down or cover their brake. The only exception seems to be when there is heavy cross traffic, for instance in downtown Rome. In such instances, Italians mumble Madonna and begrudgingly yield, just a bit.

When I queried my Italian brethren about the lack of stopping, the answer was universally, “Bo!” (Italian for “Who knows, who cares?”) After a decade of inquires, I finally found one person who actually got a ticket for running a stop sign near our village. When I asked if he would stop for the stop sign in the future, he replied: “Non lo so.” (I don’t know.) Then he just grinned.

The stop sign in Italy is identical to the ones on the U.S. They even say “STOP” in English. At first I thought the culprit was language or that maybe Italians were all color blind and couldn’t see red. No, that wasn’t the case. I finally learned that all Italians have a great disdain for laws and authority of any kind: They don’t willingly pay their taxes, they basically ignore most every law and they sure as hell aren’t going to give a damn about something as minuscule as a stop sign. It is merely a half-mumbled recommendation at best!

For me personally, this has all become a great burden. When I come to a full stop here, I need to always check my rear view mirror to be sure I won’t be rear ended. I am usually treated to the middle finger, honking horns and “Che cazzo fai? (What the fuck are you doing?) Just the other day I had an 80-year-old lady repeatedly honk at me out of anger and yell “pazzo” (crazy) at me because I stopped for a stop sign before entering a blind curve.

Since Italians consider the stop sign a mere suggestion, I now support the idea of adding a few words below the letters that say “STOP” just to bring the point home. Here are some of my suggestions:

1. STOP – scratching your balls and bring your car to a full stop.

2. STOP – driving like an utter cretin.

3. STOP – accelerating (at least a bit).

4. STOP – putting everyone else’s life in danger.

5. STOP – talking on your cell phone and apply the brakes.

6. STOP – putting on your make-up and slow down.

7. STOP – kidding yourself. You’re going to get killed.

8. STOP – being a douche bag. You’ll need an air bag.

9. STOP – It’s really not against the law.

And finally….

10. STOP – driving like an Italian.

The stop sign – Italian style: It’s enough to make you STOP driving all together!

 

Dopo le feste, pensavo che un po’ di umorismo fosse in ordine.

Quando ci siamo trasferiti in Italia 15 anni fa, abbiamo fatto di tutto per imparare tutte le leggi sulla guida e il traffico in Italia. Fondamentalmente, sono gli stessi degli Stati Uniti con alcune piccole variazioni. In breve, niente da fare.

Tuttavia, quando si trattava di pratica quotidiana, abbiamo notato che praticamente nessuno si ferma per un segnale di stop qui. Spesso non rallentano o coprono i freni. L’unica eccezione sembra essere quando c’è traffico pesante, ad esempio nel centro di Roma. In questi casi, gli italiani borbottano “Madonna” e, a malincuore, cedono, solo un po’.

Quando ho interrogato i miei fratelli italiani sulla mancanza di fermarsi, la risposta è stata universalmente “Bo!” (In italiano per “Chissà, a chi importa?”) Dopo un decennio di indagini, ho finalmente trovato una persona che ha effettivamente ottenuto una multa per non fermarsi vicino al nostro villaggio. Quando ho chiesto se si sarebbe fermare per il segnale di stop in futuro, ha risposto: “Non lo so”. Poi sorrise.

Il segnale di stop in Italia è identico a quello degli Stati Uniti. Dicono anche “STOP” in inglese. All’inizio pensavo che il colpevole fosse il linguaggio o che forse gli italiani fossero tutti daltonici e non non potevano vedere il rosso. No, non era il caso. Alla fine ho imparato che tutti gli italiani hanno un grande disprezzo per le leggi e l’autorità di qualsiasi tipo: non pagano volentieri le tasse, praticamente ignorano la maggior parte delle leggi e di sicuro non gliene frega niente di qualcosa di così minuscolo come segnale di stop. È semplicemente una raccomandazione semidomitata al meglio!

Per me personalmente, tutto ciò è diventato un grande fardello. Quando arrivo al un punto fermo qui, ho bisogno di controllare sempre il mio specchietto retrovisore per essere sicuro di non essere colpito nella parte posteriore. Di solito sono trattato al dito medio, suonando il clacson e “Che cazzo fai?” Proprio l’altro giorno ho avuto una signora di 80 anni ripetutamente suonata per rabbia e urlave “pazzo” “a me perché mi sono fermato per un segnale di stop prima di entrare in una curva cieca.

Perché che gli italiani considerano il segnale di stop un semplice suggerimento, ora sostengo l’idea di aggiungere qualche parola sotto le lettere che dicono “STOP” solo per per far capire il punto. Ecco alcuni dei miei suggerimenti:

1. STOP – grattando le tue palle e ferma l’auto.

2. STOP – guidare come un cretino totale.

3. STOP – accelerazione (almeno un po’).

4. STOP – mettendo in pericolo la vita di tutti gli altri.

5. STOP – parlando sul tuo cellulare e applica i freni.

6. STOP – truccarsi e rallentare.

7. STOP – scherzando. Stai per essere ucciso.

8. STOP – essere un douche bag. Avrai bisogno di un airbag.

9. STOP – Veramente non è contro la legge.

E infine….

10. STOP – guidare come un italiano.

Il segnale di stop – stile italiano: Abbastanza per farti smettere di guidare completamente!

 

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The Fear Of Dying In Walmart

As the Christmas shopping season comes to an end, I offer this post from a year ago. Tomorrow I’ll be back with my regular schedule.

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Everyone has a phobia or two. Mine is dying in a Walmart. I always imagine cashing out in the presence of all those Walmartians – yikes, it makes my hair stand up!

Over the years, when I must, I enter a Walmart very cautiously for this reason. First I check at the entrance to be sure the greeter isn’t wearing a hooded robe and carrying a sickle. If it’s just another challenged person, I feel I’m good to go. But once I am fully immersed in the Walmart experience, my anxieties begin to come in waves.

First there is the questionable clientele. Actually, that’s an awfully nice way of describing the average Walmart shopper. Usually, the clientele is comprised of overly aggressive, self-absorbed psychopaths who range from demented seniors to the criminally stupid teenagers. What they all seem to have in common is scale smashing obesity and the desire to…

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Remembering Kenton

Going through some old posts tonight and just got off the phone with another old surfing friend from the 1960’s, The tale needs telling again.

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Every one of us has someone in their past who is remembered but no longer with us. I have many such people in my past but the one who always sticks out is Kenton Morse. I wrote another blog about Kenton on October 7, 2014 but there just didn’t seem to be enough words in that post. The original is here: https://rizziallen.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/a-long-look-back/ Here’s another attempt.

I knew Kenton as a student and friend over 50 years ago when we both attended Sylmar High School in Sylmar, California. In a world that now seems light years distant, Kenton’s memory always comes shining through. Initially we really were not best friends at all. He was a grade and a half behind me and initially had a different set of close friends. However we were thrown together in the Southern California world of 1960’s surfing and there his memory will always reside. Thankfully…

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Whiskey Benediction

This week finds me looking at yet another old poem, one that I wrote 46 years ago. Glancing back, I muse on why I wrote it. The reasoning is buried in time but I still pull this one out every so often and give it a read, I invite you to do the same.

Whiskey Benediction

©1972 Allen E. Rizzi

In the damp cold night, I followed Lilly

Into the frosty room where her low lamp burned,

And sat with swelling anticipation

Until the light burnt out.

And then, she removed nature’s cloak,

Lending forth coal hot passion,

Which burnt into my veins

And filled my head with all of love’s desires.

Climbing to passion’s zenith,

The night burnt stronger,

To find me standing

Idly on the highest peak.

The dawn saw dim light fading;

It felt the feeling fleeting;

I gazed at Lilly as though burnt coals,

Consumed in fire, only to grow cold.

 

As I entered, Virginia was poised

As perfect as spring’s first flower;

As pure as the sun’s first rays

That lit the blessed Mary’s breasts.

And this entirety she has given me:

Purity too blessed for this earth,

Seething sweetness too great for wine

And love of powdered sugar.

 

Between these two, I stole a lot.

 

Read my complete anthology of poetry: Prescriptions from the Rhyme Doctor

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Once Upon A Time In Northridge

Okay – Here’s another oldie, written almost three years ago. It’s a true story and one that I will never forget.

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When I graduated Sylmar High School in the fall of 1966, I immediately enrolled as a freshman at San Fernando Valley State College. This institution became known as the California State University at Northridge some years later. After I graduated with my Master’s Degree, I had my diplomas reprinted to reflect the new name and the signature of the then current governor of California, Ronald Reagan.

My university years were a mixture of intellectual pursuits and hard work, both on and off campus. My undergraduate years were particularly arduous. My studies consumed my entire life. I recall only one real date after my sophomore year. My German professor was a heavy, kindly older woman who used to grab my cheek and shake it while saying, “You work too hard. You should have some fun, maybe get married!” She was probably right but I persisted with the hard work and graduated…

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Cotton Candy Dreams

Another re-blogged post, this time from March 13, 2015. I am re-posting some of my favorites this week. Enjoy!

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Cotton Candy Dreams is one of the many songs I wrote commercially back in the late 1970s. Its lyrics are straightforward and metaphoric, a lovely blend of what I thought was sweet and sad back in 1977. I have always been more than a little partial to this song and it has always brought a sad little smile to my face. Time rolled by and in 2014 this song’s lyrics were included in my songwriting anthology, Three A.M. – The Complete 1970s Song Lyrics. (Amazon.com May 2014) Here are the lyrics with the back scene that I wrote for the song in 2010:

Cotton Candy Dreams
© 1977 Allen E. Rizzi

(V1) Cotton candy dreams…. in your eyes;
The tears go by to your surprise.
Young girl holdin’ on to love and dreams;
Never turns out the way it seems….

(V2) Sponge cake afternoons, they’re all gone;
Friends and…

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For Butch…. For All Of Us

Looking back nearly four years ago, I felt it important to re-post- For Butch, for all of us!

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Today, I went onto one of the surf sites I regularly follow, Surfcrazy.com. Bang! The first thing I read was that yet another of my old surfing crowd from 1960s Southern California had passed away. The notice was kind and brief: Charles “Butch” Towers had died on January 3. I hadn’t seen Butch or heard from him in decades. Butch owned Anacapa Surf N Sport and brought the name Towers Surfboards to the local Southern California scene. I have a very good memory and it drew me back with a super magnetic force to those gentle days in the 1960s when guys like Butch and me and hundreds of others plowed the waves of the Pacific with love and vigor. I knew Butch; I did not know him well. He was what we fondly called one of the crew. I read of his family and of his wife…

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The Big Fat Train To Georgia

Here’s another one of my favorite posts, reblogged from January 15, 2016.

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So by now, most of you know that I have been a songwriter and lyricist for a half a century. I was once hailed as the “rhyme doctor” and I self proclaim to have a damn good musical database inside my head. I can cough up melodies and lyrics from thousands of songs on demand and I can even recite the Ancient Mariner from memory.

Then tell me why that for years I thought the lyrics were “the big fat train to Georgia” instead of “the midnight train to Georgia?” Age? No, actually I made the mistake when I was in my twenties. Ignorance? Doubtful, for as I’ve said this stuff is in my blood.

I have had other run-ins with the gray matter. Maybe I have a brain tumor. No, probably not that either. So what the hell gives? I, above so many other people, ought to know all…

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Chiara

Rebloged from 6-19-2014 because Chiara was on my mind again tonight!

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When you arrive in the midst of my years, you reflect upon what was done and what was not done and of the quality of your life. I have lived a very rich, full life and I have done, in the main, every thing that I wanted to do. Most of my goals have been achieved without regret.

When I was 14 years old, my goal was to become a writer and teacher. I became both at an early age. I also wanted to see the world and so I travelled extensively and even lived in Europe for many years. I wanted the best of wives and after two tries I achieved that goal as well. As I approached my elder years, I constructed various “bucket lists” and scratched off each task one by one.

However, there remains in my heart one simple task that will elude me forever. All…

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Late Night Talk Shows

Years ago, I was a fan of late night talk shows, specifically The Tonight Show. I watched it through all of its incarnations from Steve Allen, to Jack Parr to Johnny Carson to Jay Leno. It was generally entertaining and gave me the opportunity to see some personalities with whom I was not familiar.  It was just plain fun and a nice way to end the evening. Then the clouds came and things changed….

After Jay Leno and David Letterman retired and left the scene, the void was filled with unfunny hosts who saw their mission as harsh political commentary and indoctrination rather than entertainment. Gone was the humor and joy that accompanied the late night experience. Everything was replaced by smugness, meanness and mass asininity. Monologues that used to feature current events and a look at topical news in a comedic format were replaced with non-relenting harsh criticisms of America and character assassinations of our president. It all became the unfunny stuff that belongs on the editorial page of a left wing newspaper.

The current line-up is simply pathetic. The poorly toupeed Jimmy Fallon just isn’t entertaining. His monologue is 100% anti-Trump nonsense complete with very poor impressions.  His guests are of dubious quality and the only redeeming factor of his show is its musical group, The Roots. They are fantastic! Stephen Colbert is just plain anti-American and anti-entertaining from the first word. His monologue is also just an anti-Trump tirade that would put to sleep even the most liberal of his viewers.  Unlike Fallon, he is aggressive and angry and it shows all too much. The others such as Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers just fill in the cracks in between all of the hostility and self-absorbed personalities that crowd late night television. Gone are the days when you could get a personal look at a major film star (a real one), see Jack Hanna’s animal guests, see entertaining skits or just plain have a little fun and relaxation before you went to bed. Now you are forced off to slumber mad at the world, without so much as a weak smile.

My advice? Turn-off the damn television and go to bed. When you awake in the morning with an extra hour of sleep, you’ll be glad you did!

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