Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year! Auguri di Buon Anno!


(Venice, Italy) Cat wishes you all a safe, joyous and productive 2010!

Ciao from Venice,
Cat
http://venetiancat.blogspot.com

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Madonna of the Sun


THE MADONNA OF THE SUN

(from 8 dicembre 2006)


Today, December 8th, is the birthday of my protagonist, Harley Columba. It is also the day that John Lennon was assassinated. When I was creating Harley, I wanted her to have a deep connection to John Lennon, so she was born in the same hospital where John Lennon died.

December 8th is also a holiday here in Italy, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This is the day Mary, the mother of Jesus, was conceived.



One wonders how that came about... since most Christian holidays turn out to have more ancient meanings.

It turns out that December 8th is also Bodhi Day, the day the Buddha became enlightened.



It is the Festival of Neith, the Egyptian goddess who gave birth to Ra, the Sun god; it is celebrated by the Feast of Lamps. Neith, in turn, transforms into Isis, the "woman clothed with the sun," wife and sister of Osiris and mother of Horus.


It is the day that Amaterasu, the Japanese Goddess of the Sun, was born.




On December 8, 1941, the United States declared war on Japan. The Japanese royal family is descended from the Sun Goddess.



On December 8, 2009, Cat Bauer woke up inside her apartment on the Grand Canal. 

Ciao from Venice,
Cat

Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Saturday, November 21, 2009

La Biennale, the Entity

Kazuyo Sejima
(Venice, Italy) The Art Sector of La Biennale concludes tomorrow, which gives me the opportunity to write about La Biennale, the Entity. 

That photo is of Kazuyo Sejima, the first female Director of the Architecture Sector, who will curate the 12th International Architecture Exhibition on August 29 to November 21, 2010. Born in Ibaraki, Japan in 1956, Kazuyo Sejima is a leading exponent of contemporary architecture.

A quick recap: La Biennale is divided into six different sectors: Art, Architecture, Cinema, Dance, Music and Theatre. The only thing that is missing, in my view, is Literature, and then we would have a perfect seven:) I remember the first year of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. No one was sure if the public would attend a book festival, but they came in masses, standing in line for hours to catch certain events. 

The Art and Architecture Sectors of La Biennale alternate every year. This year we had Art -- from which, in all honesty, we do need an entire year to recover -- so, in 2010, we will have Architecture. I never used to attend Architecture, but after last year, I thought the architects had surpassed the artists in their offerings -- in fact, I felt the architects were becoming the artists -- so I am looking forward to 2010. 

Back in March, the theme of the Dance Sector this year was Degree Zero; that is where we started: at zero with Director Ismael Ivo. It has been like lifting off a spaceship, but I think we are finally off into outer space. One of my favorite sayings is: If the foundation is rotten, the structure will collapse. If the foundation is solid, the structure can reach to the heavens. Ismael Ivo is a real human being, and the core he is creating has a jewel at its center. Degree Zeros' focus is on the creation of a national center dedicated to contemporary dance training. So, all you dancers, get ready to move to Venice!

During the film festival, on September 9th, I had the great opportunity to attend the inaugural conference at La Biennale's newly restored headquarters, Ca' Giustinian, a magnificient palazzo on the Grand Canal. The Council of Europe re-christened the ancient rooms of the palace with their conference on domestic violence against women. This is from Wikipedia:

The Council of Europe (French: Conseil de l'Europe) is the oldest international organisation working towards European integration, having been founded in 1949. It has a particular emphasis on legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation. It has 47 member states with some 800 million citizens.

The most famous conventional bodies of the Council of Europe are the European Court of Human Rights, which enforces the European Convention on Human Rights, and the European Pharmacopoeia Commission, which sets the quality standards for pharmaceutical products in Europe. The Council of Europe's work has resulted in standards, charters and conventions to facilitate cooperation between European countries and further integration.

To read the complete article, please click here: Council of Europe

After the conference, we had cocktails and hors d'œuvre on the terrace, which has an stupendous view of the Grand Canal and the lagoon, the triangle of the Dogana far below. I even had a chance to speak with Google Folks, who were there because they were sponsoring a Domestic Violence Awareness Contest in October. Unfortunately, due to my own domestic distractions, I did not announce it in time, but you can still see the results here: I Beat You I told the Google Folks that I would not exist if it were not for Google, and that I gave them my deepest appreciation. Yay, Google! Ca' Giustinian is open to the public; you can even have lunch on the ground floor terrace between the Bauer Palazzo and the Monaco.

At the final press conference of the film festival, the President, Paolo Baratta said that the Mostra del Cinema was part of a huge stimulation plan for the island of Lido itself, and that the film festival needed to prove it was a very vibrant organization in order to exist. It is difficult for me to imagine that someone could seriously ask the question: What use are international festivals? but, after everything I've experienced lately, I am well aware that this point of view exists.

Paolo Baratta said to look at the Venice Film Festival in terms of a publishing company, and that is a concept I can understand very well. Every publishing house is different -- and that is an important word: house. A publisher feels like a house; at some places you feel warm and at home, and at others you can't wait to leave. Also, in the world of publishing, things take Time. If I finish writing a book tomorrow, you will not read it until some time in the future -- not like a blog:)

Paolo Baratta said that the Venice film festival hopes to bring films up to the surface which would otherwise sink. Publishers are remembered for this. Great publishers never look at the fashion of the time, but look at the long view. A good publishing house brings up new talent. We must build our selections so they are recognizable as a selection of the Venice Film Festival.

When he said those words, I got goosebumps. That kind of thinking is why I respect Paolo Baratta so much, and the quality of films that the Director, Marco Mueller (who is very clever) uncovers always excite me.

The Music Sector, directed by Luca Francesconi, concluded on October 3rd, with an amazing night down at the Arsenale inside Teatro alle Tese. There were stages scattered all over the inside, high on ladders and down on the ground, with wild lighting and video projection. It went on for hours, and you could wander in and out, drinking excellent red wine from the Loredan Gasparini winery -- they even gave us food! The highlight, for me, was when 94-year-old David Honeyboy Edwards played the blues. I had to run backstage like a groupie and kiss him! I could not resist! From Wikipedia:

David "Honeyboy" Edwards (born June 28, 1915, Shaw, Mississippi, United States[1]) is a Grammy Award-winning Delta blues guitarist and singer from the American South. As of October 2009, Honeyboy Edwards, at age 94, and his close friend, Pinetop Perkins (age 96) are the oldest and arguably, the last Delta blues players still touring the United States remaining from the last century. 

To read the entire article, click here: HONEYBOY

Finally, on November 4, 5 and 6, the admirable Maurizio Scapparo, Director of the Theatre Sector, closed the theme of Mediterraneo - 40 with Polvere di Baghdad, a production inspired by 1001 Nights, and starring another one of the good guys, Massimo Ranieri.

La Biennale feels like a warm house filled with the most fascinating people on the planet. It is a place to create and experiment, where it is okay to do things differently than the norm, yet still have commercial appeal. There are some hits and some misses, some great successes and some fantastic failures. But there is freedom, and there is creativity, and there is fun and happiness and joy!

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer

Sunday, November 8, 2009

LANDMARK RULING! Italy Convicts 23 Americans for C.I.A. Renditions

Photo; Luca Bruno/Associated Press European Pressphoto Agency


This is from the New York Times article by RACHEL DONADIO, published November 4, 2009:

MILAN — In a landmark ruling, an Italian judge on Wednesday convicted a base chief for the Central Intelligence Agency and 22 other Americans, almost all C.I.A. operatives, of kidnapping a Muslim cleric from the streets of Milan in 2003.
The case was a huge symbolic victory for Italian prosecutors, who drew the first convictions involving the American practice of rendition, in which terrorism suspects are captured in one country and taken for questioning in another, often one more open to coercive interrogation techniques....
...Ian C. Kelly, a State Department spokesman, said the United States was “disappointed” by the verdicts in Milan....

To read the entire article, please click here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/05/world/europe/05italy.html

Although I am grateful that the major press has finally started paying attention to what is going on over here, I see that even the New York Times has edited themselves. They changed the quote of Armando Spataro, the deputy public prosecutor in Milan. I am POSITIVE they changed the quote, because I quoted it myself when I commented on Michael Moore's website (found at the bottom of the page):


http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/latest-news/italian-court-convicts-23-americans-cia-rendition-case
Here is what was originally written:

Armando Spataro, the deputy public prosecutor in Milan, said in his closing argument Wednesday that it was "unthinkable" that the U.S. policy of extraordinary rendition should trump Italian law, which forbids kidnapping.

"Here, Italian law rules, not American law or any other law," he said.


Here is how it reads today:

Armando Spataro, the counterterrorism prosecutor who brought the case, said he was considering asking the Italian government for an international arrest warrant for the fugitive Americans.

Mr. Spataro said he was pleased with what he called “very courageous” verdicts. He said it was a victory that “we brought the trial to an end, and the facts were shown to be what they were.”

In any event, ARMANDO SPATARO IS MY NEW HERO!!!

And... more amazing news. It seems that the United States Consulate in Milan is crawling with CIA agents posing as -- you guessed it -- diplomats! Paging Mr. William Gill, Mr. William Gill, Mr. William Gill, come in Mr. William Gill...

On June 8, 2009, I called the cell phone of A. Daniel Weygandt, the US Consul in Milan and got a voice recording. I hung up, and called the local Venice Consul, Megan Jones. A voice recording said she was on vacation and to call the US Consul in Milan, so I called the main number, 02-29-0351. That was when I first discovered that Dan Weygandt was no longer the consul, but that Carol Z. Perez was. I left my name and number with a woman named Angela, who said the Consul would call me back. About 1:55pm, my cell phone rang. A woman's voice asked who I was, implying that she had seen my number and was returning the call. I said, "I'm sorry?" and she hung up without another word.

About a half hour later, William R. Gill called me from the US Consul office in Milano. He later sent me an email confirming the call. The strange thing is the way he signed his name:

Sincerely,
William R. Gill
American Consul
U. S. Consulate General Milan
Internet: http://milan.usconsulate.gov
 

To read the entire letter, click over to the Cat Bauer - Eviction Documents:

William R. Gill - June 8th Letter to Catherine Bauuer

Michael Moore has got more of the CIA the story from ABC news over on his site:

Convicted CIA Spy Says "We Broke the Law"

By Matthew Cole, Avni Patel, and Brian Ross

..."And we are paying for the mistakes right now, whoever authorized and approved this," said former CIA officer Sabrina deSousa in an interview to be broadcast tonight on ABC's World News with Charles Gibson.

DeSousa says the U.S. "abandoned and betrayed" her and the others who were put on trial for the kidnapping. She was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison....

...Italian prosecutors said deSousa was a CIA officer who helped organized the kidnapping using her diplomat cover at the U.S. Consulate in Milan. Several former U.S. intelligence officials confirm to ABC News deSousa's role in the operation...

http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/latest-news/convicted-cia-spy-says-we-broke-law
Are you reading this blog, MEGAN JONES, the local US Consul here in Venice? Remember when you told the police here in Venice that if I didn't leave the police station while I was attempting to make a perfectly valid denuncia that they were to force me into the hospital? Sue me for slander and libel if that is not true. You KNOW they are going to abandon you, too.


Ciao from Venice,
Cat

Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog
http://venetiancat.blogspot.com

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cat Bauer: An American in Venice "Gone Taliban"



(UPDATE: IT IS NOW NOVEMBER 15, 2016, AND DONALD TRUMP HAS JUST BEEN ELECTED THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. I again repeat that I stand by everything I wrote in this post seven years ago, before Trump ever existed. The dark forces, which include Sara Jane Boyers and my former landlords, Paola Bortoluzzi, Gianni Benetta and Roberto Benetta, existed even before Obama was elected president, and exist until this day.)

(Venice, Italy) Yesterday, to celebrate John Lennon's birthday and my second novel, Harley's Ninth -- which takes place on a single day, October 9th -- I tried to get into my apartment so I could put my new Venetian flag back on my balcony. My flag you see there in the photo (which was shot without my knowledge or permission for the Hotel Rialto's publicity brochure) has been stolen. I made three attempts to enter:

1. By changing the lock. This did not work because The Opposition has replaced the lock with a Devil Lock, an evil contraption which, probably, has double bolts, plus a steel bar that runs floor-to-ceiling, plus must be opened on the inside with a key.

2. In Venice, when you are locked out without a key, the official way to get back inside is by calling the Fire Department. I already tried this back in June. The Fire Department came, but because the illegal eviction has been signed by a judge, they had to obey the court order, not me.

Since then, I have built a strong case about the illegality of the eviction with shocking results, all leading back to one place: the American military presence in Vicenza. It has been like ripping up crab grass -- the tentacles are everywhere.

WHAT CAT BAUER THINKS BARACK OBAMA SHOULD DO WITH RESPECT TO AFGHANISTAN:


Press the Pause Button, take a deep breath and
use reason.


The situation is too serious and broad-reaching to make hasty decisions.
If my rights as an American citizen and a long-time Venetian resident have been stripped away, the world is in immediate, profound danger. YOU ARE INTERRUPTING MY BLOG. It is like the old days when the television would interrupt regular programming to broadcast an emergency situation.

2. (cont'd) On September 29th, I went in person to the Fire Department in Dorsoduro. I rang the bell and walked into the office. In front of three firemen, I began my story:

Cat: I am Catherine Bauer, and I live at San Polo --
Fireman Behind the Desk: We know who you are. Look.

He indicated a large handwritten sign dated September 11th, hanging in plain view on the wall, that basically said:

IF CATHERINE BAUER CALLS DO NOT RESPOND.

Cat: (gasping) It cannot get more illegal! Out of everyone in Venice, if I, Cat Bauer, call, you are not to respond? What if there is a fire?

Fireman: The Carabinieri at San Zaccaria told us not to respond. You have to talk to them.

Cat: I have tried to talk to them. In fact, on September 11th I tried to denounce my landlady, Paola Bortoluzzi, for physically assaulting me on September 2nd in front of three Carabinieri, but after waiting for an hour and a half, they said they could not do it. So, I went to the Carabinieri in Padua and denounced her there. I think I should go back to Padua.

(NOTE: in Italy there is something called arresto in flagranza, which states that an arrest is mandatory when a law enforcement officer witnesses the commission of a crime.)

(NOTE: if you have read my eviction documents catbauereviction.blogspot.com/ you will see the Carabinieri tried to force me into the hospital back on August 7, 2008 and I reported immediately)

So, off I trotted to Padua, and the Carabinieri there did, indeed, write up the denunciation. All of Venice is sick of this story, including the Fire Department, and including most of the Carabinieri at San Zaccaria. Also, Meran (a town up in the Alps, where this story sometimes moves) is sick of it. In fact, I think all of Northeast Italy is getting tired of this story, in which I play but a tiny part, the size of an ant. They are only following orders.

 Judging by the way the Americans are treating me, I can only conclude they are at the head of this monster -- or at least they have the power to change its direction. Nice way to treat your own citizen, huh? Many times I've thought that my life is in danger, and I am not the only one. Well, they will either kill me or they won't. I'm a great believer in Quantum Theory, so I am not that worried about dying, especially if it is the spark that is needed to light the raging fire.

With that background, yesterday the Venetians (you have to understand that 90% of Venice knows this story) said to call and tell the Fire Department that I was cooking and left the gas on and thought I smelled smoke. Now, in Venetian terms, this is not considered lying because everyone in the entire city knows it is not true. So, I called 115 and told the Fire Department: "This is Catherine Bauer, San Polo 622. I am so stupid that I was cooking and I ran outside without my key, and I think I left the gas on, and I think I smell a fire inside my apartment."

They said they were coming. Yay!

I waited on Riva del Vin. I waited and waited. And they did come, quietly, one light blinking, but they could not stop. Then they came again, sirens screaming, wailing, causing all sorts of waves and gondolas bouncing and water splashing all over the tourists. THANKS, GUYS!

3. Did this stop Cat Bauer? No way, Jose. Next, I decided I needed a really tall ladder because when they changed the locks they cracked open a window on the Grand Canal side of my apartment. The only way you can enter is in front The Entire City of Venice -- there is no sneaking in that window. Since I am convinced there is no legal reason for me to be out of my apartment, I had no fear about walking up a very tall ladder.

By this time, the atmosphere at Rialto was sort of like Carnival, and this is something the Americans, French and British will never understand. Everyone was grabbing ladders out of magazzinos, getting in the spirit. But none were tall enough. Finally I found some construction guys with a really tall ladder. In broad daylight, they carried the ladder right down Riva del Vin and up to my window. Yay! But then, at the last minute, while I ran to get the pole for my Venetian flag, they were warned not to do it and they left. I was so close!

Then some police passed by and I stopped them. I said, can you please explain to me why I cannot go inside my apartment when I have done everything legally and Paola Bortoluzzi and Gianni Benetta, the landlords, have done nothing legally? We were joined by three more polizia and I passed around my documents. They said, "It is a matter for the judge." I said, "Well, I am out on the street now for four months. How long do you think it will take to see the judge? To me, it is an emergency situation."

To finally arrive at the topic of this blog, "Gone Taliban" is my way of explaining to Europeans the meaning of "Going Postal," which means nothing over here because postal workers don't get guns and start blowing everyone's heads off. Seriously, it takes all my willpower everyday to restrain myself from doing something illegal simply to go to jail, get a lawyer and tell my story officially.

Example of a conversation I had recently at a sophisticated event:

Cat: I think they even deliberately infected my foot at the hospital.
Very Intelligent Woman: Oh, yes. I heard they were doing that now.
Cat: (sipping prosecco) Yeah, and then a woman named Martina shoved a piece of glass into the festering wound during a pedicure.

In the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Hugh Gusterson writes "Why the War in Afghanistan Cannot be Won" (September 21, 2009):

"...This all may sound good in the airtight world of White House briefings but, in the real world, the very phenomena the counterinsurgency gurus see leading to success--more troops and more development--will make the U.S. effort fail. Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan contains within itself the seeds of its own ineluctable failure.
This is so for three reasons--(1) Newton's Third Law, (2) the development dilemma, and (3) the prohibitionist paradox."
Hauntingly, Gusterson explains exactly what is happening in Venice, even though he is writing about Afghanistan.

...more U.S. soldiers, dressed like armadillos in sunglasses, will intrude into Afghan daily life with their alien clothes, speech, and body language.

To read his entire article, click below, which I strongly suggest you do, and strongly suggest that you follow his links:

The Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists

UPDATE: AUGUST 23, 2016 - I have not read this post in a very long time, but it keeps popping up in my analytics. I am now checking the links, which -- to no surprise -- some of which no longer function. As of this day, August 23, 2016, I stand by everything I wrote back on October 9, 2009, nearly seven years ago.

One link will lead you to Nicholas D. Kristoff at the New York Times (August 23, 2016 - this link is ok -- you should read it to remember what Obama was up against):

"President Obama has already dispatched an additional 21,000 American troops to Afghanistan and soon will decide whether to send thousands more. That would be a fateful decision for his presidency, and a group of former intelligence officials and other experts is now reluctantly going public to warn that more troops would be a historic mistake."

Click to read the entire article: New York Times 


Gusteron also quotes Jean MacKenzie:

"More importantly, every time the United States increases its development budget in Afghanistan, it also increases the Taliban's budget. This is because a major source of Taliban funding consists of taxes it levies on Western development projects. The more schools, bridges, and clinics Washington builds, the more money the Taliban will have to blow them up and to attack U.S. soldiers. This dynamic is illuminated in a fascinating article (UPDATE AUGUST 23, 2016 - PAGE NOT FOUND) by Jean MacKenzie, writing for GlobalPost. (And why aren't the mainstream media writing about this?) MacKenzie tells her readers about "the manager of an Afghan firm with lucrative construction contracts with the U.S. government" who has to negotiate not only with development bureaucrats but also with the Taliban contracts officer. He "builds in a minimum of 20 percent for the Taliban in his cost estimates. The manager, who will not speak openly, has told friends privately that he makes in the neighborhood of $1 million per month. Out of this, $200,000 is siphoned off for the insurgents." She mentioned another Afghan contractor who told her, "I was building a bridge. . . . The local Taliban commander called and said, 'Don't build a bridge there, we'll have to blow it up.' I asked him to let me finish the bridge, collect the money--then they could blow it up whenever they wanted. We agreed, and I completed my project."

In case that link doesn't work, here it is again:

Funding the Afghan Taliban 
(UPDATE: AUGUST 23, 2016 -- ALSO THAT PAGE IS NOT FOUND)

I decided to win the battle and not the war, so I placed my new Venetian flag on the magazzino and wrote "PROPERTY OF CAT BAUER" all over it. The police told me I could make a protest, and that is my protest. If anyone steals my flag, I am going to call the police.

My cellphone was stolen late last night, so in case anyone is trying to call me, that is why I am not answering. And, remember, too, that my American passport has been stolen and the United States Consul in Milano has hung up the phone on me.

All prayers welcome,
Cat

Catherine Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - Venice Blog
http://venetiancat.blogspot.com

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Please Stand By... (Rethink Afghanistan - The Cost of War)




(Venice, Italy) Here's something to watch while you're waiting. As I said on Facebook, the war in Afghanistan was not a blip on my radar until I was illegally evicted from my apartment and dropped right down the rabbit hole.

More soon...

Ciao from Venice, Italy,
Catherine "Cat" Bauer

Venetian Cat - Venice Blog
http://venetiancat.blogspot.com

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tom Ford - A Single Man of Substance

(Venice, Italy) "Fashion design is a wonderful thing, but it is fleeting," said Tom Ford, who is credited with reviving the fashion houses of Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, during the press conference for A Single Man, his riveting directorial debut.

I always admire people who have the guts and depth of character to metamorphize after a receiving a personal shock -- in fact, I write about jumping from one stream to another in my novels -- and it appears that after a suicide in his family, Tom Ford has done exactly that and made the leap from style to substance.

From the press kit:

"Ford put an autobiographical imprint on A SINGLE MAN. The suicide that George constructs in the film is a replica of a suicide in Ford's family. More importantly, Ford went though his own difficult juncture, like George, a few years ago. "There is much of me in my version of George. A kind of spiritual crisis at mid life comes to many people. I achieved much in the material world at a very early age: financial security, fame, professional success, more material possessions than I knew what to do with. I had a full personal life, a wonderful life partner of 23 years, two great dogs, and lots of friends but somehow lost my way a bit. As a fashion designer, one spends one's life living in the future designing collections several years ahead of when they will actually be in stores. Our culture encourages a belief that all of our problems can be solved with material things. I had completely neglected the spiritual side of my life."

At the press conference, Ford spoke about the brief adrenaline rush when a model first appears on the runway -- flash, flash, flash -- and then after six months the clothes end up in the back of the closet. He said that most people come to the point in their life where they realize that maybe everything they had been working toward isn't ultimately making them happy.

Colin Firth spoke about how fortunate he was to have this role -- in fact, he later won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor (I predict he will be nominated for an Academy Award, he is so brilliant). Plus, he speaks fluent Italian! And any movie with Julianne Moore (who was my neighbor for a time on West 11th Street in New York City) will always get my attention because I respect her work so much.

Like Lebanon (see http://venetiancat.blogspot.com/2009/09/and-winner-of-66th-venice-international.html), I attended the press conference for A Single Man before I actually saw the film. In fact, I was so impressed by Tom Ford, Colin Firth and Julianne Moore that I got up early (remember I have no home and am living all over the place, lugging what little clothes I have in a backpack, together with my legal documents slung over one arm and all the press materials over the other arm -- right now I am writing this blog in the library as my computer is still locked in my apartment) and went to the last screening at 8:15 in the morning on the last day of the film festival at the farthest away theater, the PalaBiennale. So, I made a great effort to see the movie, and I was rewarded by experiencing a poignant, moving love story -- an amazing directorial debut.

Even though the characters are gay, Tom Ford insisted A Single Man was not a gay film, and I agree. It is a film about a great love, an adaptation of the novel by Christopher Isherwood. The film takes place all in one day (I can relate to that, too, as Harley's Ninth is set all in one day -- it's a difficult structure to work with), and is set in Los Angeles in 1962 during the height of the Cuban missile crisis.

From the production notes:

It is 1962, and nuclear warfare looms imminently. Fear pervades the world. Societal values are represented in over-simplistic black and white terms, but the complexities of human relationships remain just as convoluted as they are today.

Those of us who grew up during that time period will remember how obsessed everyone was with building bomb shelters and stock piling canned goods. I remember air raid drills instead of fire drills when the entire school trooped downstairs into the hallway, crouched against the wall and tucked our little heads between our legs -- as if that was going to save us from a nuclear bomb!

Harvey Weinstein has already snatched up the rights to A Single Man for 2.5 million dollars, and I think he got it cheap:) Another prediction: people who thought they would never accept that two men could love each other as deeply as a heterosexual couple (and I am one of them) might just change their minds.

Here is an excerpt from the press conference:



Ciao from Venice,
Cat

Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog
http://venetiancat.blogspot.com

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

And the Winner of the 66th Venice International Film Festival is: LEBANON

(Venice, Italy) "On June 6, 1982, at 6:15 AM, I killed a man..."

Thus begins Samuel Maoz's
Director's Statement for the Israeli film, Lebanon, winner of the Leone d'Oro, or Golden Lion, the top prize of the Venice International Film Festival, il Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica di Venezia -- the oldest film festival in the world.

I went to the press conference on September 8th before I saw the movie -- usually it's the other way around -- and was impressed by Maoz's directness and raw honesty when answering questions. After Roderick Conway Morris told me he thought Lebanon could win the Golden Lion (click here to read Rod's review in the New York Times: review:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/11/arts/11iht-venfest11.html), I made an effort to attend the next screening, which happened to be at the Sala Grande. That meant that I watched the film together with the filmmakers -- the director, actors, production people, etc. -- and was present at the end of the movie when the entire audience stood up and applauded Samuel Maoz and his companions. We applauded and applauded and applauded; I was weeping a bit; it was really one of the few times I participated in a standing ovation with all my heart, not just out of politeness. We recognized courage and we applauded it. Maoz had performed an act of alchemy, transforming the trauma he had experienced into a work of art.

More from the Director's Statement, in Maoz's own words, which describes the writing process so eloquently:

Director's Statement

"Twenty-five years after that miserable morning that opened the Lebanon War, I wrote the script for the film Lebanon. I had had some previous experience with the content, but whenever I began writing, the smell of charred human flesh returned to my nostrils and I could not continue. I knew that the smell would evoke indistinct scenes that I had buried deep within my mind. After years of passive trauma and violent anger attacks, I learned to identify the ominous moment and escape it in time. Better to live in denial than not to live at all.

The year 2006 was particularly difficult. Five years had passed since my last project and I felt that I was burned out. Here and there, I produced a short commercial or promo film, but other than that, nothing. Once again, I suffered financial pressure, passivity and a maddening lack of responsibility. Once someone asked me: "What about post battle trauma? Do you experience nightmares when you remember the war?" I wish it were as simple as that, I thought to myself.

When a person feels he has nothing to lose, he takes chances. That's how I felt in early 2007 when I started to write the script for Lebanon. I had hit rock bottom and decided to go all the way. This time, I would not run away from the smell that came first, as usual, but would let it take me to the blurry scenes. I would put them in focus, dive right in and cope with it all!

Suddenly, I felt an uplift, a weird sense of euphoria. I'm not lost yet! I've still got fighting spirit. I went to bed early, got up in the morning and started to write. I was careful. I didn't tackle the topic directly but rather wrote around it. An introduction, feelers ... I waited for the smell but it did not arrive. I found myself exerting gradual efforts to restore it to my memory, but it was not there any more. The scenes were gone as well. All that remained was a dim progression of difficult, horrendous and particularly distant events.

After about a week, I realized that I had become emotionally detached. The boy of my memory was no longer myself. I felt pain for him, but it was a dull pain, the pain of a scriptwriter attached to a character he writes about. It did not matter to me whether I had been cured or was simply breaking a world record for denial. I was flooded with adrenalin and felt like a quivering missile on the launching pad a moment before liftoff. I had spit out the first draft within three weeks."

Lebanon
is Samuel Maoz's first feature film. The technique he uses as a director is unique, submerging us in the claustrophobia of an army tank, its periscope our only view of the outside world. He is such a beautiful writer, let's listen to him describe his process, again, in his own words:

Shooting Lebanon

"I wrote Lebanon straight from my gut. No intellectual cognition charted my path. My memory of the events themselves had become dim and blurred. Scripting conventions such as introductions, character backgrounds and dramatic structure did not concern me. What remained fresh and bleeding was the emotional memory. I wrote what I felt.

I wanted to talk about emotional wounds, to tell the story of a slaughtered soul, a story that was not to be found in the body of the plot but derived from deep within it. How the hell could I put that on film? I realized I would have to shatter some basic principles and bend several rigid cinematic fixtures, creating a total experience instead of building a plot.

The decision to make an experiential movie gave rise to the cinematic concept. My basic principle called for the presentation of a personal, subjective point of view. The audience would not watch the plot unfolding before it but experience it together with the actors. Viewers would not be given any additional information, but would remain stuck with the cast inside the tank, having the same limited view of the war and hearing it only as the actors heard it. We would try to make sure that they could smell it and taste it as well, using the visuals and sound track not only to tell a story but to impart an experience. I realized that I would have to create a total experience to achieve complete emotional comprehension."

So... we spent the entire movie inside the tank with the boys, a wrenching experience. We watched the film in Hebrew with Italian and English subtitles. Here is the trailer, which is only in Hebrew:



Ciao from Venice,
Cat

Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog
http://venetiancat.blogspot.com

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Can Sly Stallone Save Our World?

(Venice, Italy) I just came from Sylvester Stallone's press conference where a journalist from Buenos Aires asked him:

"You are a hero. Are you able to save our world?"

And I thought -- there's the answer! Where is Rambo? Where are all the real-life heroes???? All we have these days are video games and celluloid heroes. Sure, Sly and Arnold and Bruce will be together on screen for The Expendables next year, but we need real help right here right now!

Sly took a beat and then laughed after he heard the question. He said, "No, it's going to take more than someone like me to save the world." He said that a hero is someone who conquers his fear and tries to do the deed, even if he dies. That you give your life for something greater than yourself.

Sly is here because he is receiving the Jaeger-Lecoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award, which he said is a privilege and has given him a new vitality. He's also showing a trailer of The Expendables and screening the Director's Cut of Rambo.

Someone said that Mickey Rourke (who is also in The Expendables) said last year when he was here in Venice that he "owed" Stallone, and Sly said, "Everybody owes somebody something. He doesn't owe me anything. In Hollywood, the definition of a friend is someone who stabs you in the chest, not in the back." He said he and Bruce and Arnold have known each other for twenty-five years and that they have a long history together.

A question was asked about how he felt about sequels, and he said that if it weren't for Rambo and Rocky he would not be here today. Rocky and Rambo are part of the collective image. A male journalist said he used to pretend he was Rambo when he was a boy. Sly said that he used to pretend he was Robin Hood. He said that young males need a masculine image and need to do heroic deeds.

I agree. Men are different than women, and, by nature, men need to do heroic deeds. So, here is a question for the guys: WHY AREN'T MEN, AS A GROUP, RISKING THEIR LIVES TO STOP THE FORCES OF EVIL FROM TAKING OVER OUR PLANET? Why does this sweet journalist from Buenes Aires ask in all earnestness if Sylvester Stallone can save our world? Right now, the only male I see who is risking his life to get a message across is Michael Moore, and, to me, he gets away with it because he is overweight. What has happened to all the men? I see women becoming more aggressive to make up for this imbalance, and I think it is not the right way to go.

Anyway, Sly believes that the days of the big budget blockbusters are numbered, and that young independent filmmakers like Scorsese, de Palma, Lucas, Coppola, etc. will make a comeback. He said that if a movie costs 200-300 million dollars to make and it doesn't work, the studio is gone.

Like me, Sly believes that it is the Divine Comedy, NOT the Divine Tragedy, only he quoted Shakespeare, not Dante, but I didn't write down the quote. Then he said, "If I didn't have a sense of humor, I would have jumped off a building long ago."

So, Dear Men, we beg you to please find your sense of humor once again, gather up your Jedi swords and save our Dear World from the forces of Darkness and Evil before it's too late!!!


Ciao from the 66th International Venice Film Festival,
Cat

Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog
http://venetiancat.blogspot.com

Capitalism at Lincoln Center and Sony's Grand Equinox

(Venice, Italy) As I get my thoughts together for the next blog, here's some good news from Variety:

Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story" will screen at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall on Sept. 21. Distrib Overture will roll out the pic nationwide Oct. 2.
Following the screening, Moore will hold an aud Q&A moderated by Daily Beast editor-in-chief
Tina Brown.

Michael Moore goes from the Venice Film Festival to Lincoln Center! How cool is that!

Also, since I am very fond of celebrating solstices and equinoxes, I am very pleased to learn there are contemporary companies who support such ancient, ongoing rituals. Yay, Sony! Here's some info sent over by the UK PR agency, immediate future, about what Sony is doing for the autumn equinox on September 22nd:

I thought your readers might be interested to hear about Sony’s latest campaign, which will be taking place on the date of the equinox: September 22nd

The campaign is called ‘Twilight Football’ and will see seven games of football played, and captured on camera, in seven stunning locations across the globe as the hour of twilight settles over each country. Each location has been chosen for its unique character and includes remote places such as Argentina’s Iguazu Falls and the Australian Pinnacle Desert, and the timeless locations of Venice and Antequera in Spain. We’re expecting some truly stunning photography from the events.

Photography enthusiasts from across the globe have won places to photograph the locations and footballing action. In addition, world renowned photographer, Delly Carr, who has written a guide to twilight photography, will also be photographing the football.

The campaign is designed to demonstrate the low light shooting capability of Sony’s new EXMOR CMOS Sensor, found in its new range of Alpha, CyberShot and HandyCam cameras.

Here is a link to some recent coverage of the campaign which also includes an example of the stunning photography we expect to see from each game. I have also included some pre-existing twilight photography. http://www.ephotozine.com/article/Sony-Twilight-competition-winners-announced-12061

So, all you soccer/Sony/equinox/photography fans, check that out.

Finally, I just caught the last sentence of Peter Greenaway's press conference, which was:

"Most people are visually illiterate. We need to put that right."

Ciao from the 66th International Venice Film Festival,

Cat

Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Attention all Jedis! Call to Action! George Clooney in THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS

(Venice, Italy) I've always suspected that George Clooney was a Jedi. Now I am sure that he is. If you are a Jedi, too, you will understand.

Based on a true story by Jon Ronson, who was here at the press conference, The Men Who Stare at Goats is about the American military's top-secret program to harnass pyschic powers to create a New Earth Army. Originally formed with the best of intentions to prevent wars, like many things on this planet, something beautiful was perverted by the darkness.
From the synopsis:

In this quirky dark comedy inspired by a real life story you will hardly believe is actually true, astonishing revelations about a top-secret wing of the U.S. military come to light when a reporter encounters an enigmatic Special Forces operator on a mind-boggling mission. ...A legion of "Warrior Monks" with unparalleled psychic powers can read the enemy's thoughts, pass through solid walls, and even kill a goat simply by staring at it.

In real life, journalist Jon Ronson tumbled down the rabbit hole into this bizarre military world, which feels a lot like the rabbit hole I find myself in. If you think I am relating too much on a personal level to the films we are screening, you have to understand the genius of the people in charge -- Marco Mueller, the Artistic Director of the Venice Film Festival (and another Jedi:), in particular. We are screening these particular films because the Venice Film Festival THINKS THEY STAND OUT, WANTS YOU TO KNOW ABOUT THEM AND THINKS YOU SHOULD MAKE AN EFFORT TO SEE THEM. Going to the festival is like an intensive catch-up on current world events from a Jedi point-of-view.

Venice has always been a kind of Jedi Headquarters, with all sorts of magical people practicing their arts throughout the centuries. (That image is the Palazzo Ducale, the most fanciful palace in the world.) On Sunday, George Lucas (Emperor of the Jedis:) himself was here to present the Golden Lion to John Lasseter and the directors from Disney-Pixar (nothing but Jedis over there). In addition, I had the good fortune to participate in the Pixar's Master Class on Monday morning where they revealed their secrets. At Pixar, the artists have the most power, and the producers have the least. There are no politics. They say they live in fairyland, which, as you know if you are a regular reader of this blog, is exactly where I want to live, and was living before the military and other dark forces decided to try to take over our sweet town and force me out on the street with an illegal eviction.

I have always been very vocal about expressing my belief that Venice has the real possibility of becoming the Magic Kingdom, and now that I have seen The Men Who Stare at Goats, I understand better the dark force that keeps trying to prevent this.

What is a Jedi? This from Wikipedia:


The Jedi are an ancient monastic peacekeeping organization in the fictional Star Wars universe. They are connected with the Force.[1] They specifically use the "light side" of the force and reject the "dark side" of the Force, as well as the Dark Side's adherents, the Sith.

While various sources and ideas have been brought forth as the initial inspiration for the idea of a fictional "Jedi" order, the most apparent are the current and past chivalric orders that exist in Europe.

To read the entire article, please click here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jedi

Andrew Stanton, who directed Finding Nemo, shared a Walt Disney (one of the greatest Jedis ever born:) quote during Pixar's Master Class:

"Fun and wonder are the important elements, in addition to quality in production and performance, which are most responsible for the success of Disney productions. Fun in the sense of cheerful reaction - the appeal to love of laughter. Wonder in that we appeal to the constant wonder in men's minds, which is stimulated by imagination."

I had planned on making this blog much longer, but they have managed to find a way to block me, even here at the Film Festival; thanks to the help of a techie, we just hacked our way back in. One quick note: I just came from a conference here entitled Cinema and Human Rights. One of the speakers, Mohsen Namjoo, the "Iranian Bob Dylan," made a comment that struck home. He said, "Even if you are not concerned about politics, it is politics that becomes concerned with you." I feel the same way. The real irony is that I am a citizen of the United States of America, the country that is supposed to be setting the example for democracy and freedom of speech. How can we condemn other countries if I can't write about the movies?

To read more about Namjoo, please click here (or cut & paste):

http://www.twentyfourbit.com/post/141841224/leaked-song-causes-conviction-of-iranian-bob-dylan

JEFF BRIDGES HAS NEVER BEEN BETTER!!!!!!!!!!!

Ciao from the 66th International Venice Film Festival,
Cat

Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog
http://venetiancat.blogspot.com

Sunday, September 6, 2009

PEASANTS UNITE! Michael Moore's Newest Film CAPITALISM - A LOVE STORY

(Venice, Italy) Apparently Michael Moore has arrived at the same conclusion that I have: right in front of our eyes, the United States of America has become the victim of a coup d'etat.

From Wikipedia:

Typically, a coup d’état uses the extant government’s power to assume political control of the country. In Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook, military historian Edward Luttwak says: “A coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder”

After you see CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY, you will realize the dramatic personal experiences I have been describing to you are really happening to me. (Right now I am covered with bruises inflicted by my landlady and some strange woman who attacked me outside my apartment after the police said I could sleep on my doorstep to make a protest.) You will see families being forcibly evicted from homes they have owned for generations. You will see a for-profit, private juvenile center with crooked judges and teens being convicted simply for behaving like teens. You will see airline pilots who now earn so little money that they donate blood just to get by.

More shockingly, you will learn that major corporations like Bank of America, Winn Dixie, Nestles and Wal-Mart, etc. are taking out life insurance policies on ordinary employees for profit -- not CEOs, but average workers -- called "dead peasant" policies without the employees' knowledge or approval. (That is an image of Peasant Family in an Interior by Louis Le Nain.) The companies are gambling that, statistically, a certain amount of their employees will die, and the profit they will make on a few deaths is greater than the cost of buying a bunch of life insurance policies. In other words, the companies want their employees to die. I gasped out loud.

"Dead Peasant" policies. Such arrogance!

This small group, which consists of 1% of the population, actually considers itself the "new aristocracy" simply because they have accumulated masses of material objects and money. The methods they use are barbaric and sadistic, not aristocratic: cruelty, lies, intimidation, blocks, manipulation, violence, force, etc. They lust for creativity and talent, but are lacking. Their value system is warped. Century after century this artificial aristocracy cannot seem to learn a simple lesson, which is:

True nobility comes from the heart.

This is from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to John Adams dated October 28, 1813 about what to do with the "artificial aristocracy" (I am adding the emphasis):

"For I agree with
you that there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of
this are virtue and talents. Formerly bodily powers gave place among
the aristoi. But since the invention of gunpowder has armed the weak as well as the strong with missile death, bodily strength, like
beauty, good humor, politeness and other accomplishments, has become
but an auxiliary ground of distinction.

There is also an artificial
aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or
talents; for with these it would belong to the first class.

The
natural aristocracy I consider as the most precious gift of nature
for the instruction, the trusts, and government of society. And
indeed it would have been inconsistent in creation to have formed man
for the social state, and not to have provided virtue and wisdom
enough to manage the concerns of the society.

May we not even say
that that form of government is the best which provides the most
effectually for a pure selection of these natural aristoi into the
offices of government?

The artificial aristocracy is a mischievous
ingredient in government, and provision should be made to prevent
it's ascendancy
."

Jefferson then outlines what he thinks is the best solution to the problem, which differs from Adams, and then he says:

"These laws, drawn by myself, laid the axe to
the root of Pseudo-aristocracy. And had another which I prepared
been adopted by the legislature, our work would have been compleat.

It was a Bill for the more general diffusion of learning. This
proposed to divide every county into wards of 5. or 6. miles square,
like your townships; to establish in each ward a free school for
reading, writing and common arithmetic; to provide for the annual
selection of the best subjects from these schools who might receive
at the public expence a higher degree of education at a district
school; and from these district schools to select a certain number of
the most promising subjects to be compleated at an University, where
all the useful sciences should be taught.

Worth and genius would
thus have been sought out from every condition of life, and
compleatly prepared by education for defeating the competition of
wealth and birth for public trusts
."

To read the letter in its entirety, please click here:

http://www.tncrimlaw.com/civil_bible/natural_aristocracy.htm

I'm not fond of the title, Capitalism: A Love Story because I don't think capitalism is to blame. And I am much more center and less of a socialist than Michael Moore. All those political labels exist to push your emotional buttons. For example, Venice is a town run by Communists, but they are the most funky Communists you will ever meet. It is surrounded by Fascists, but they, too, are distinct. When they asked me about the title, I told German television that I am a humanist -- I believe human beings are entitled to certain rights just by the fact that they are on the planet, and are more productive, healthier and happier when you treat them with dignity instead of abuse. I believe in compassion, creativity, hope and imagination. I believe in independent thinking. If your product is really better than mine, then let the people buy your product, but don't go around bad-mouthing mine. I believe in winning by playing fair, and this game ain't fair.


We don't want to believe the things Michael Moore speaks about are really happening. I most certainly do not want to believe it is really happening, but reality is that all my earthly possessions -- my clothes, my computer, my desk, my paintings, my jewelery, my rugs, my shoes, my documents, my silverware, my linens, my 300 library editions of Harley, Like a Person and Harley's Ninth, my American passport, etc., etc., etc. are locked inside my apartment and I do not have the key -- actually, now, they are claiming everything is thrown inside the storage area on the ground floor. The eviction is not legal. It is based on lies and deceipt. When the landlord was here I got him to admit that I paid the rent. I called him a liar to his face outside in the calle so everyone could hear, and told him to denounce me for slander so I could go to court and prove he was liar.

On top of that, the United States of America has an antagonistic attitude toward me for no reason whatsoever -- except, perhaps, that I keep pointing these things out -- and that, my friends, is outrageous, and that is reality. It is a very dark energy. It feels evil and it is not going to stop unless we all get off our butts and do something about it. There really was/is a financial crisis.

At a press conference over at the Excelsior Hotel helmed by Peter Bart, the editor of Variety -- which, by the way, is providing our daily news for the first time -- a journalist asked Michael Moore if he felt isolated, and if it was taking a toll. He said, yes, he did feel isolated, and that yes, it was taking its toll. I feel the same way.

Go see the movie. Here's a review from Xan Brooks of the Guardian in the UK:

"America, enthuses a leaked Citibank report, is now a modern-day "plutonomy" where the top 1% of the population control 95% of the wealth. Does Barack Obama's election spell an end to all this? The director has his doubts, pointing out that Goldman Sachs – depicted here as the principal agent of wickedness – was the largest private contributor to the Obama campaign."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/sep/06/capitalism-love-story-review

Here is the trailer:


CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY: Movie Trailer - Watch the best video clips here


Ciao from the 66th International Venice Film Festival,

Cat

Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog
http://venetiancat.blogspot.com/

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Live! From the 66th International Venice Film Festival! MY SON MY SON WHAT HAVE YE DONE

(Venice, Italy) It is a bit difficult to work when 99.9% of one's earthly possessions -- including one's computer -- have been locked inside one's apartment since June 10th by unknown entities who keep changing the locks, but let's give it a go, starting with the world premiere of Werner Herzog's film MY SON MY SON WHAT HAVE YE DONE, inspired by a true story. That was the Surprise Movie yesterday -- we had no idea what we were seeing until the film started, and as soon as "David Lynch Presents a Werner Herzog Film" rolled up on the screen, the industry audience burst into applause. This is the second film by Werner Herzog at the festival, the other being Bad Lieutenant, Port of Call New Orleans (which I really wanted to see but missed with all these apartment shenanigans) so Herzog is competing against himself.

At the press conference Herzog said that when Marco Mueller, the Artistic Director of the Venice Film Festival, insisted he had to have My Son My Son at the film festival as well as Bad Lieutenant, Herzog said, "If you are going to go so wild, then go ahead and take them both." Herzog said that film festivals get to be so bureaucratic after time, and then here, in Venice, you realize "all of a sudden there is this wild life out there."

So, if you are wondering why I, personally, stay and suffer through all this absolute insanity it is because despite the many and repeated efforts to impose a rigid structure upon Venice, it is not possible. They can use force, manipulation, intimidation, violence and obstruction, but Venice will never fit into a mold -- nor will she reveal her core to the undeserving. With like-minded people like Marco Mueller and Werner Herzog wandering around Venice on a regular basis, as well as the enlightened phantoms of the past, to me, it really feels like home.

From the production notes:

Inspired by true events, My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done is a story of ancient myth and modern madness. An aspiring actor performing in a Greek tragedy, Brad Macallam commits in reality the crime he is to enact in the play: he kills his mother.

I won't get into details about the film except to say that I thought it was wacky, wonderful and weird. I don't know Werner Herzog's work, so it reminded me a lot of David Lynch, whom I adore. According to Herzog, Lynch did not have much to do with the film except that he read the script and loved it, saying it was "really tight," and that if he were executive producer "you can probably sell the film more easily to France."

To read what is up on Wikipedia, please click here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Son,_My_Son,_What_Have_Ye_Done

FROM THE PRESS CONFERENCE

When asked if he were afraid of being typecast for playing characters with mental disorders, Michael Shannon, who stars in the film, said he was talking about the notion of sanity at dinner last night. He said you cannot prove what is sane or insane, but that we need to make a construction that allows us to share the world together. He likes to play characters that exist outside of normalcy because "normalcy is a prison." (I can relate to that:) Werner Herzog paid Shannon a huge compliment and said he has a phenomenal gift.

Herzog made a surprise announcement that he was starting his own film school starting today called, "Rogue Film School," and that he loved the name so much he was in the process of patenting it; I love it, too, being a great fan of rogues myself:)

When a journalist said that Herzog was the only one who had been able to work with Klaus Kinski, Herzog said that he did not consider Kinski a madman. Then Herzog said: "I am the only one in Venice right now who is clinically sane."

After the press conference I went up to Herzog and said, "I have lived in Venice for eleven years, and I have a medical document that states that I am clinically sane. That makes two of us:)"

More about that in the future.

Ciao from the 66th International Venice Film Festival,
Cat

Venetian Cat - Venice Blog
http://venetiancat.blogspot.com

Friday, August 28, 2009

Open Letter to A. Daniel Weygandt, Paolo Costa and Ignazio La Russa

(Venice, Italy)

To: A. Daniel Weygandt, Former US Consul General to Italy

To: Paolo Costa, Former Mayor of Venice, Special Commissioner to Italian Defense Minister, Italian Member of European Parliament, President, Port of Venice

To: Ignazio La Russa, Italian Minister of Defense

AND TO ALL YOUR WIVES

cc: David H. Thorne, US Ambassador to Italy
cc: William Gill, Office of the US Consul, Milan
cc: Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State
cc: Barack Obama, President of the United States

Dear Dan, Dear Paolo, Dear Ignazio:

Many of my readers are curious and puzzled as to why this situation has happened to me in particular. I, too, was absolutely in the dark as to what was going on until yesterday, when I read the letter that Paolo Costa wrote to former Defense Minster Arturo Parisi on September 17, 2007 (see below). Suddenly, everything tumbled into place and started to make sense.

All I have to say, boys, is: SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!

I can tell you what has felt like: as if I am stumbling around a real-life video game, trying to survive, without knowing who my enemies are or why I am under attack. It is as if I have stumbled into someone else's nightmare. All sorts of stories of who I am have been created: if you are a Jew, I am a Nazi. If you are a Nazi, I am a Jew. If you are Catholic, I am the devil. If you are the devil, I am a saint. Or, I am a Russian spy. Or, I am working secretly for the Austrian Empire. Or, I am secretly working with the Chinese. My favorite is that I am a Templar, because I really do feel like one:) And so on. It is a game I am not familiar with, nor do I want to learn how to play. Dan, you, especially, are completely aware of how naive I am when it comes to politics. Sorry to disappoint everybody, but in reality I am just a writer. Everything else is either utter fantasy, or deliberate character defamation. In a way, it is sort of like an honor that so much effort has gone into the attempt to silence my voice. I guess it is based upon what Paolo Costa states needs to happen: eliminate the elements of local opposition at its roots.

The methods that have been used against me -- violence, starvation, forcing me out of my apartment, interfering with my means of earning a living, defamation of my character, veiled threats, etc., etc. -- are bully tactics and the lowest form of warfare.

The most appalling incident was when a dagger-shaped piece of glass was forced into my foot during a pedicure. It is so far beyond anything in my experience that, to this day, I can hardly believe it happened. However, there are many people who actually saw the glass embedded in my foot. There are hundreds of people here in Venice and Meran who have seen and touched the piece of glass itself, which has since been confiscated by the police. I shaded the glass with a pencil, as I was afraid that it would disappear, as many of my documents have had a tendency to do -- which is why I made this stencil:

Updated on May 19, 2015 since previous photos were no longer visible (last updated 3-29-2015)
Updated on March 29, 2015 after discovering previous photo was no longer visible... AGAIN
I have no politics. I am not religious, although I am certain you know that I deeply believe in God. I always say that this is the Divine Comedy, not the Divine Tragedy, but it is a tragedy when deliberate cruelty is involved. In a rush to accomplish certain goals, all sorts of rules and regulations are being trampled upon: human rights, the environment, architecture, building codes -- you name it. A whispering campaign and gossip has been used against me in every aspect of my life, playing on people's individual fears and weaknesses. People who help me are threatened. City agencies and religious organizations have been instructed not assist me. It is absolutely shocking and appalling that an American woman is being treated in this fashion in the year 2009 by what are supposed to be democratic republics.

In case people are not reading the comments, here is an Anonymous comment posted yesterday:

Anonymous said...
Knowing Mr. William Gill personally as a man of incredible integrity, kindness and empathy, I am suspicious of Ms. Bauer's rants about this situation. Honestly, without hearing Mr. Gill's side of this story, we cannot know what is going on here. To be direct, she sounds defensive to the point that I wonder what she did to engender such a response from a person as caring and thoughtful as Mr. Gill. Sounds like the Consulate has had enough and is setting a limit on her. Most of you out there have never met or had contact with the person she is absolutely trashing in her blog but let me be the sole voice standing up for him. I am not related to him, but have had professional contact as an American through an embassy where he was incredibly helpful and kind. What have you done Ms. Bauer? Can we have details??? Why were you held by the police?


Now, everyone can read for themselves that I have asked Mr. Gill myself for his side of the story as I have never in my life met the man and have no idea whatsoever as to why he had an antagonistic attitude toward me -- which is why I said I must have been confused with another Catherine Bauer -- not impossible, as the name is common enough. As to what I have done -- you can all read for yourselves what I have done. I have written this blog, Venetian Cat - Venice Blog, and I have written two novels, HARLEY, LIKE A PERSON and HARLEY'S NINTH. I am completely transparent. I have never been arrested. Up until last year, when all these shenanigans started, I had perfect credit without even a finance charge or a late fee. I commit all my "sins" in public, and that includes swimming in the nude:) I think, more importantly, the question is: where is my apartment located and what do THEY want to do to the Rialto area?

Here's a little story: either last summer or the summer before (I have it written down exactly but my notes are locked inside my house and I do not have the key:), about 9:30 at night, I heard some construction going on across the Grand Canal. I looked out over my balcony and saw scaffolding going up on the side of the Rialto Hotel where the terrace is located. I was exhausted, but I thought: they cannot put up illegal construction right in front of my eyes. I went downstairs, walked over the Rialto Bridge and found five policemen standing in front of the Rialto Hotel. I said, "So, now we are allowed to do construction at night?" They said, "Construction? Construction where?" I said, "You are standing here." I took a few steps to the right. "Construction there." Two of the policemen came over with me. They said, "Do you have identification?" I said, "I came out without out it." I pointed across the canal. "I live right there. My name is Cat Bauer. I know the mayor, the vice-mayor, the presidents of the universities, the heads of the Casinò, the Patriarch, the doctors, the lawyers, the Indian chiefs. Tell them it's me complaining. I am going home." I went home and got the binoculars that Ludovico de Luigi gave me to spy on our mayor (and we will not get into those details -- I never used them for that purpose, Mr. Cacciari:) After twenty minutes, two men came down off the scaffolding. After two hours, the scaffolding was gone. I will confess to getting on my knees and giving thanks to God:)

There are absolutely sacred rules when it comes to the structures and buildings of Venice. That is why they are still standing after 500-1,000 years. Venice was constructed by enlightened beings, and their ghosts still walk the calli at night, weeping for what is happening to their city. I can hear them weep. This what they say: The rules of construction cannot be broken, or the whole city will come down. And I am sorry, Paolo Costa, if that takes a lot of time, but you of all people know it is the way it works in Venice. Better to get things right before, than spending much more later to fix errors.

As I think those involved are aware of by now, legally there is no reason why I cannot enter my apartment, which I intend to do. It is no longer a case of "does this mysterious document exist?" We have moved from gray to black and white, and I now have solid black and white evidence that the eviction is illegal, if not downright criminal.

Of one thing I am certain: if I have been abused this way by the "Powers-That-Be," we certainly do not want them as the "Ruling Class," and we certainly do not want their negative influence in Venice herself. As you know if you read this blog, every nation has tried to conquer Venice throughout millennium. This is yet one more battle, fought with real estate instead of bombs.

You cannot build a solid structure if the foundation is rotten, or the whole thing will collapse. I absolutely agree that the Rialto area needs improvement, but if you start by trampling all over people and using force, lies, cheating and other forms of bullying, it is doomed to fail. Venice was built by noble people using the highest principles. It is as if the Barbarians have almost figured out how to invade the island! I don't know much about the military, but I do know something about film crews. To me, the military is behaving like a badly organized film crew, who comes in, shoots the scene, trashes the place, and trots merrily off again, leaving destruction in its wake. Oh, wait. Sometimes they give you new flowers and plants.

Since, to this day, I have yet to find a lawyer who will handle this matter -- even though I have approval for di ammisione al gratuito patrocinio a spese dello Stato for two actions: 1) to contest the eviction and 2) to claim the 63.675,00 euro overpayment -- I have scanned and am in the process of uploading many of the documents I have in reference to the illegal eviction, which can be found at a new blog called: Venetian Cat - Eviction Documents at:

http://catbauereviction.blogspot.com/

My method is to be as transparent and honest as possible. I am sure I have made mistakes, but if I have, it is because of ignorance, and is not intentional. They are sometimes in Italian and sometimes in English, and anyone who is interested can draw their own conclusions as to what is going on.

I am, however, looking forward to the film festival next week, and focusing the Venetian Cat - Venice Blog once again on what I love to write about: art, film, culture, architecture, etc. I sincerely hope that since we now have our new Ambassador in place -- I won't even repeat the bizarre conversation I had with the Embassy before the David Thorne had been sworn in... oh, why not -- at this point, it even becomes funny:

Cat: This is Catherine Bauer in Venice. May I please speak to David Thorne?
Male voice: I do not know this man. You must speak to the Consul in Milan.
Cat: I have tried to talk to the Consul in Milan. The Consul in Milan does not want to speak to me. David Thorne. He is the Ambassador-Designate.
Voice: I do not know this man. Hang up and call back the switchboard and ask for him.

This I do.

Cat: This is Catherine Bauer in Venice. May I please speak to David Thorne?
Female voice: There is no one here by that name.
Cat: He is the Ambassador-Designate.
Voice: Do you want to speak to the secretary of the Ambassador?
Cat: Yes! Please.

Female Voice: May I help you?
Cat: To whom am I speaking?
Voice: My name is Gail.
Cat: Gail, my name is Catherine Bauer, and I am calling you from Venice. I am having a problem with my apartment eviction (I say this in Italian.) You do speak Italian, don't you?
Gail: No, I don't.
Cat: But you are the secretary to the US Ambassador to Italy...
Gail: I'm just temporary.
Cat: May I speak to the Ambassador?
Gail: There is no Ambassador.
Cat: Let me get this straight: You are the temporary secretary who does not speak Italian to the US Ambassador to Italy who does not exist.
Gail: That's correct.

I left my phone number. That was a few weeks ago, so now that David H. Thorne is officially in place, hopefully we can arrive at an amicable resolution -- especially since when I went to check my mail today, someone had torn my name off my mail slot! My name was there on Wednesday -- in fact, my phone bill had arrived; the phone is still connected and still in my name.

I am ready for a serious conversation.

All the best,
Cat Bauer

Here is the Paolo Costa letter. The most important thing to remember is that I HAD ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA THEY WERE EXPANDING THE MILITARY BASE UNTIL A FEW WEEKS AGO and I JUST READ THIS LETTER YESTERDAY. Although I found it on a Peace & Justice site, I am not a hippie -- in fact, on a lot of issues, I am rather conservative:). After what has happened to me, I would imagine that the major press has been blocked from reporting, and the alternative press is the only place it gets some airplay. In any event, I had arrived at the same conclusion just by what my what was happening to me personally, so it is a bit of a relief to know there was some logic behind what has got to be the most bizarre experience of my life.

Letter by Special Commissioner Costa to then Defense Minister Arturo Parisi on the need to eradicate the local opposition to the base as well as how to circumvent the Minister of the Environment's intention of subjecting the project to an environmental impact study. [emphasis added]

Vicenza, September 17, 2007
Distinguished Sir
Honorable Professor Arturo PARISI
Minister of Defense

Dear Minister, dear Arturo,

The time has come for a final decision regarding the expansion project of the U.S. military base at the Dal Molin Airport in Vicenza.

This is a decision that can now be made by taking advantage of the groundwork done in the past months by the Commissioner (which has been summarized by the Director of GENIODIFE, General Resce) and that must now be made in order to establish a positive momentum for the completion of the project and eliminate the elements of local opposition at its roots.


As concerns external non-local opposition elements (apodictic pacifism and anti-Americanism) it will be necessary to intervene with a well thought-out information campaign that, of course, must not regard only the Commissioner.

The three day protest – increasingly characterized by anti-globalization elements – that took place in Vicenza from Thursday, September 13 to Saturday, September 15, at the conclusion of an activist campout that lasted from September 6 to 16, could be the last demonstration of opposition enjoying local support; but only if we act in a timely manner to eliminate the reasonable concerns – because they are valid – of this opposition. I am referring to the concern over traffic created by access to the new base, which could increase the problems of an already difficult traffic situation due to the historic formation of the city of Vicenza, and that of the use of the last important large green area of the city for the base expansion. These are reasonable concerns that should be separated once and for all from those tied to anti-Americanism, anti-Militarism a/o apolitical pacifism, that is, from the concerns that have nothing to do with the characteristics of the new U.S. military base in Vicenza.

After months of relative calm, due to the summer vacation period and the possibility of an alternative solution of lesser impact disclosed by the Commissioner in its communications and in its authorizations for the advancement of the project, today there are renewed risks due to the activities of the Presidio Permanente supported by the anti-globalization movements of the North East, if not those of all of Italy and beyond. It is foreseeable that tensions will increase as soon as the initial work of clearing the area, work already under contract, begins.

This is, therefore, the moment to intervene decisively and transform the possible alternative solution, which has already been made public, into a definite solution, and to start using this alternative solution in communications.

We need to be able to state – with certainty – that the new U.S. military base is nothing more that the reuse, with some expansion, of the area west of the runway, already in use by the Italian Air Force and therefore the area east of the runway, the large open field that would have been destroyed according to the first proposal, and which ignited the local opposition, would remain intact. This assertion, together with another that has already been put forth, that access to the new base will be organized, both temporarily and in the long term, so that it will not interfere with the local traffic and above all traffic crossing the historic center of Vicenza, would remove all reasonable concerns of the opposition movement.

If I may I would add, as must be added, that Vicenza will be compensated for its “sacrifice” with the completion of the new road north of the city and with other possible initiatives in the areas of higher education and health care, the complete package should pave the way for the project.

But it is imperative that we make use of all means and do so immediately.

In order to do this, it is necessary to complete the work that I have conducted, also during the month of August, with U.S. representatives (in Vicenza with the U.S. commander of Camp Ederle, in Rome with the U.S. Embassy, and in Venice during a meeting with Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Chair [note: she is a member but not chair] of the House Armed Services Committee) to convince them that the alternative “west” solution, though technically more complicated, is instead the only solution that, if defined immediately, can make it through the authorization process and possible legal proceedings while still meeting deadlines foreseen by the United States for the transfer of the paratrooper contingent from Germany to Italy. I demonstrated to the U.S. officials how it is still possible to respect the deadlines with the “west” solution, while I warned them that this solution is certainly more costly (and therefore they must obtain the additional funds needed from now to 2011).


The Prime Minister is aware of this proposed solution and he has given me the go ahead.

It follows that several documents from the respective Ministries will be necessary, first and foremost the Defense Ministry.

The first, and this is crucial, is the definition and respect of a date not after June 30, 2008 for the liberation on the part of the Italian Air Force of the Dal Molin area. I realize there are some difficulties, also of a financial nature, tied to the helicopter maintenance program, however these must be overcome — perhaps taking advantage of the budget session that will take place at the end of the month — because the definition of a date is a fundamental condition to reassure the U.S. regarding the respect of deadlines for the completion of the project. The decision should be made by the end of the month in order to add it as an amendment to the call for bids to be published by September 30, 2007 so that bidding companies will be in a position to consider this date in the offers they must present by October 16, 2007.
It is evident that this decision must be communicated in a timely manner to General Enrico Pino of the COMIPA (Joint Committee on Military Servitude) of the Veneto Region, which will examine the project – both solutions east and west of the runway – on September 26, 2007.

The second regards the decision of whether or not the expansion project of the U.S. military base in Vicenza is subject to a VIA (Evaluation of Environmental Impact).

It is clear that this point represents an obvious risk to the possibilities of proceeding while respecting deadlines; and it is possible that it could even put the final decision in jeopardy , since currently is it entirely predictable (and has already been practically announced) that the Minister of the Environment intends to subject the project to a VIA. This can only give rise to likely obstacles – the case of the MOSE project has set an indicative precedent – capable of being resolved only through the extreme solution of a resolution by the Council of Ministers, which could result in lacerations that in a moment such as this I believe are better avoided.


According to legal opinions I have gathered, which the State Attorney Marco Corsini, who is assisting me in the activities of the Commissioner, is ready to discuss with those from your office, the project of the U.S. base at Dal Molin is not subject to a VIA since it is an administrative procedure relative to “facilities destined for national defense” (which are associated with infrastructures financed with NATO funds and other allied forces) introduced by petition prior to July 31, 2007, the date in which Law 152/2006 went into effect, and therefore subject to regulations in act previously (see article 52, comma 2), and for such type of intervention the VIA is excluded.

I therefore feel that while we await the necessary analysis, we should avoid expressing willingness toward the position of the Minister of the Environment , expressions that perhaps in the view of political opportunity could help attenuate some current pressures, but that later would be difficult to retract.
It seems to me evident, in any event, that asserting that the project is not subject to the VIA would be more promising if referred to the project of substantial re-use of the existing Italian military structures (west solution) rather than the use of the large open field (east solution).

The third act, to be put together starting with the Defense Ministry and to be concluded under the direction of the Prime Minister's Office, regards the elaboration and the signing of a “framework agreement” with all interested parties in order to make official the deadlines, actions and responsibilities, to which appropriate publicity will be given.

Best regards,
Paolo Costa
To read the entire article, click here:
http://www.peaceandjustice.it/vicenza-cds.php

To read more about the expansion of the base at Vicenza and the strong-armed tactics being used:

http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=18783&username=guest@tni.org&password=9999&publish=Y
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