Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lino Tagliapietra, Master of the Glass

(Venice, Italy) Lino Tagliapietra thinks in glass; his thoughts are beautiful and complex, and we have the great privilege of seeing those thoughts solidified in a material sent down from the heavens by the gods themselves. There was not even room to stand at the opening of glass Maestro Lino Tagliapietra's retrospective on Saturday morning, February 19, 2011 at the prestigious Istituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere ed Arti entitled Lino Tagliapietra. Da Murano allo Studio Glass. Opere 1954 - 2011. After witnessing myself the glass he has blown with breath from Paradise, it was easy to understand why so many people were drawn. It seems impossible for a human being to be able to create objects so intricate and full of wonder, but Tagliapietra is proof it can be done. Now in his late 70s, he is only becoming better with age. 

Born on the glass-blowing island of Murano, little Lino did not want to go to school, he wanted to learn about the glass. So, when he was ten-years-old, over the protests of his parents, he quit going to regular school, and entered into a different, magical classroom. From the Maestro's website:

One of the world's most eminent living glass artists, Lino Tagliapietra was born in1934 on the island of the centuries-old center for Venetian glassmaking, Murano.  At the age of eleven, he was apprenticed to the glass studio of the internationally known Muranese master, Archimede Seguso, and achieved the rank of maestro by age twenty-one.  He later worked as master glassblower and designer at other glass studios, including Galliano Ferro, Venini, La Murrina, and Effetre International.

I gasped at the first piece on display, which was a cabinet filled with 98 small objects like a vase, pitcher, cup, etc. that seemed to be made from glittering gold. I thought, could this be avventurina? I looked at the description, and sure enough, it was! Years ago I had written about Murano and its fascinating glass for the International Herald Tribune - Italy Daily, and knew how difficult avventurina was to create. The name itself "avventurina" comes from the Venetian word "ventura" because you went on an adventure every time you set out to create the glass. The Maestro's avventurina work was just born this year, and since the year is not even two months old yet, it would appear Lino Taliapietra has been keeping himself busy. 

Taliapietra lives on Murano, but creates his large pieces in the United States in his workshop in Seattle, where he works with an American team. His generosity in sharing his glass-blowing secrets with the outside world is renown, and he is credited with reviving the art. 

One of my favorite pieces was called "Angel Tear," which is the image you see at the very top of the page. Here is what Lino Tagliapietra says about creating those pieces:


Colored glass cane, twisted filigree, approaching from another angle - these are only technical terms that give me a way to describe working with glass.  These terms don't capture the feeling that comes with creating a piece such as Angel Tear.  The "lacrime d'angelo" were tears of joy.  They were such a pleasure to blow, bringing me intimate satisfaction breath after breath.  One might say that all works of art should have this spirit and the same energy.  This is true.  But this time, I became very attached to these Angel Tears.  The name seemed to grow with me.

The exhibition starts in 1954 when the Maestro was only twenty-years-old; there is a perfect red goblet perched alone on a white wall. As the years progress, so does his work, the spirit of the times reflected in the glass. If that is true, it is very good news for planet Earth because Lino Taliapietra's latest works seem to have originated in Heaven itself.  

Don't miss this exhibition. 

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

From Murano to Studio Glass.
Works 1954 – 2011
19 February – 22 May 2011 Venice,
Istituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere ed Arti.
Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti
Campo Santo Stefano 2842 -
30124 Venice
l. +39 041 5237819

Tuesday to Sunday  10 am – 7 pm (ticket office closes at 6 pm)
Closed Monday

Individual tickets: 7.00 euros
Reductions: 5.00 euros for students, groups of more than 15, residents of and those born in the
Comune di Venezia, holders of special concessions, over 70s.
Free children up to the age of 14, one leader for each group, disabled people, their carers, two
teachers per class, university lecturers.
Reservation fee 1.50 euro

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tony Cragg in 4D in Venice & Meran

(Venice & Meran, Italy) The sculptor, Tony Cragg, does not work with trees. He feels them too strongly, and cannot bear to cut into them. I asked him, "But what about dead trees, killed by lightning?" No, not even dead trees. Their essence is still too strong. 

Tony Cragg, who has been christened "one of the most important sculptors of our times," does, however, work with bronze, glass, steel, stone, fiberglass, plastic, etc. There is something "spiritual" about his work, as if he can capture the "spirit" inside the material. 

Before I met him, I did not think that plastic had a spirit. I am still not sure it does. I don't really like plastic that much; I don't like the way it feels, and I don't like to eat or drink from containers made from plastic, nor do I like plastic forks and spoons. I can't kill living trees either, but I am, however, capable of carving up a dead tree killed by lightning, and thoroughly enjoy burning wood inside a cozy fireplace.
Cragg seems to be able to discover the spirit of the molecules themselves, no matter what the material is. He taught me something. I have always had a problem with material objects; actually with the material world in general. I said, jokingly, that maybe I should switch careers and become a sculptor so I could get a better feel for material. Cragg said that I am already working with material objects. He said I need a pen and a paper, or a computer, or something to write down my thoughts, otherwise they are just inside my head. And, of course, he is right.  The keyboard that I am typing on right now, to me, feels like a piano that makes music out of words. 

slot canyon in Arizona
Cragg's work reminds me of the slot canyons in Arizona and hoodoos and fairy castles in Bryce Canyon, Utah where Nature herself created a wonderland of Gothic steeples and people made out of stone. Tony Cragg is like a male Mother Nature in human form, replacing tools of wind, water and ice with a hammer and an imposing will. 

The Chessmen, Bryce Canyon

I was at the opening of Tony Cragg in 4D in Venice on August 28, 2010 at Ca' Pesaro, and at the opening of Tony Cragg in 4D in Meran on Saturday, February 12, 2011. 

Venice and Meran happen to be my two favorite towns in Italy; when I am not in Venice, you can find me in Meran, which is part of Bolzano, an autonomous province. Meran (in German) or Merano (in Italian) -- both languages are spoken, though the town feels more German than Italian -- is a magical spa town in South Tyrol where the Austrian Empress Elizabeth used to go for her health, with roaring Alpine water and majestic mountains. The beautiful Empress Sisi "a non-conformist who abhorred conventional court protocol" was much beloved; she has become an icon; she has a little park with a statue; there are promenades named after the walks she took across the roaring river, past castles and through the trees. 

Villa San Valentino
As usual, serendipity brought me to Meran for Tony Cragg's exhibit. A couple of years ago, I had fallen in love with a contemporary house under construction; I used to sneak inside and wander around, imaging how it would turn out. 

A couple of weeks ago, I went up to Merano to feel the earth beneath my feet and go to the spa. I hadn't been up to Merano since the morning of July 17, 2009, and in my absence, the house had been completed. I stood, staring at it, amazed, just gawking. An enchanting woman was near the house; she was the owner; and she invited me, a total stranger, inside. It turned out we knew angels in common (like the spirits of trees, angels, too, can feel each other wherever they go:), and I was kindly invited to the Tony Cragg opening in Meran by the director of KunstMeran/Merano Arte, Herta Wolf Torggler. 

Ca' Pesaro
When I arrived, I was surprised to see another angel, Michela Rizzo, up from Venice, then remembered:
Curated by Silvio Fuso and Jon Wood, the exhibition is a co-production by Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia and KunstMeran/Merano Arte, where it will be on display from 5 February to 28 May 2011, curated by Valerio Dehò, in collaboration with Galleria Michela Rizzo and Caterina Tognon Arte Contemporanea, Venice

Kunst Meran Merano Arte
The difference in the spaces was dramatic, so it was like seeing two different shows. Ca' Pesaro is an enormous ancient palace, and the Kunst Meran Merano Arte is a modern exhibition space. Each show offered its unique perspective. Sculptures that seemed large at the Kunst Meran seemed smaller at Ca' Pesaro; the crowd of people at the Kunst Meran had to pause and be directed inside several of the rooms; the crowd at Ca' Pesaro simply flowed. I didn't prefer one over the other, they were just different. Click HERE to go to Kunst Meran Merano Arte.

At dinner, I found myself sitting directly across from Tony Cragg himself in the restaurant at the Hotel Terme Meran. I summed up my story about how I arrived in Venice: "Came for three months to write. Didn't want to go back to LA. Got divorced. Came quickly back to Venice. Ex-husband quickly married a Chinese woman." As I usually do, I asked Tony Cragg what his astrological sign was. He is one of those people who "doesn't believe in that." He said he had no idea. I said, "Well, when is your birthday?" He said, "April 9th." I said, "You are an Aires and you have the same birthday as my second husband, the one who married the Chinese." 

photo by Hugo Glendinning
From the New York Times, an article by Roderick Conway Morris, Inventing a New Visual Language

“During the last hundred years sculpture has been utterly transformed,” added Mr. Cragg, a British artist known for his adventurous use of both natural and man-made materials. “It has developed from being almost entirely figurative into a fundamental study of the material world. Sculpture has discovered so many new materials, so many new themes.”

To read the entire article, click HERE

The Hotel Therme Meran restaurant had prepared a special Tony Cragg menu featuring excellent local wines from the Kellerei Kaltern winery and food like "Mignons vom Schweinslendchen im Speckmantel Auf Kartoffelschnee mit Rosmarin und Wirsingrauten." Tony Cragg signed my menu:

"For Cat. Great Evening! Don't forget 9 April."

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Venetian Books: Secret Venice - Pappe Magiche - Unbuilt Venice - Venice is a Fish

(Venice, Italy) Back when I used to write for the International Herald Tribune's Italian supplement, Italy Daily, part of my job was to discover "secrets" of Venice. So, when Tom Jonglez told me that he was publishing Secret Venice, I thought, oh, not another "secret" guidebook.

Now that I actually have the book in my hands, however, I must declare that Thomas Jonglez and Paola Zoffoli have found plenty of new secrets, many that I did not know at all. For example, I was flipping through the Secret Venice guide and "The Blessing of the Throats" caught my eye. A friend and I had been speaking a few days before about how we remembered getting our throats blessed when we were children, and how magical that was. Then in Secret Venice, I read: 'Once a year in the depths of winter -- on 3 February, the feast day of St. Blaise -- an amazing ceremony of benediction takes place here. After the day's two masses, holy bread is blessed and distributed; the priest also performs a special benediction, holding two candles crossways over each person's throat and reciting the words: "Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from the ailments of the throat and from every other evil, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost."'

I grew excited. By serendipity, February 3 was the next day! And I certainly could use protection for my throat, not to mention Every Other Evil. I decided to go down to the Church of San Biago the next morning and see if the guidebook was accurate. I am happy to report, not only did I get my throat blessed, I also got some holy bread that I ate later for lunch.

From Jonglez Publishing:

Discover the secrets of St. Mark’s Basilica with not a tourist in sight, finally crack the mystery of the pillars around the Doge’s Palace, take a trip on the only underground canal in Venice in search of the alchemical sculpture of the winged horse, have lunch at a restaurant tucked away in a lagoon fisherman’s house, track down Teriaca, that miracle potion brewed in Venice from time immemorial, decode the paintings of the Scuola di San Rocco applying the principles of the Jewish Kabbalah and see how Kabbalistic music influenced the construction of San Francesco della Vigna, visit an unknown underground cemetery, stroll through unsuspected gardens beyond the gates of palazzos and monasteries, admire the extraordinary forgotten library of the Venice Seminary, sleep in a sublime bedroom concealed within a palazzo, go shopping in Giudecca women’s prison market, play petanque in the heart of the city, retreat to a wonderful lakeside monastery, away from the crowds…
Five years of research have gone into the compilation of this exceptional guide, an opportunity for all who love Venice, as well as Venetians themselves, to leave the beaten track far behind and rediscover the most extraordinary city in the world.
Click HERE to go Jonglez Publishing.

On Saturday, February 5 Carmela Cipriani had a launch for her latest book over at the Primo Piano Venice Art Gallery. Pappe Magiche, or "Magical Meals" is a Venetian cookbook for kids, complete with whimsical stories written by Carmela. Carmela, of course, is the daughter of Arrigo Cipriani, the owner of the renowned Harry's Bar. The presentation of Pappe Magiche was linked to the opening of Guglielmo Meltzeid's latest show at Primo Piano, I bei sogni dei bambini (The Beautiful Dreams of Children). The gallery was packed with kids clutching balloon animals, listening to Carmela read outloud, and then, as kids do, running around like maniacs in front of the gallery. The book is in Italian, but it is simple to read, and the recipes are clever enough for grownups!

Click HERE to go Carmela's publisher, Sperling & Kuper.

Back in January, there was a dinner discussion about an article in la Repubblica about a relatively new book about Palladio called Unbuilt Venice by Antonio Foscari, who is a professor of architecture at the Università Iuav di Venezia here in town, a member of the Board of Directors at the Louvre, as well as owning one of the most famous Palladian villas in the world. I said I was fascinated by all things Palladio, and they got me a copy of the article. The article stated, "Still celebrated and copied all over the world -- exhibitions were held to celebrate his 500 year anniversary in Vicenza, London, Madrid, and New York -- last month Palladio was called 'the father of American architecture" by the United States Congress.'

In the article, Professor Foscari said, "There isn't a house in Texas with a porch, a gable or a facade that doesn't connect to Palladio." He also stated, "Building homes on the indefensible  Venetian mainland, where there were castles, is a revolutionary act: its impact, in the middle of the sixteenth century, completely transformed the territory. Palladio was a man deeply rooted in history. He was the executor of an innovative policy of the Republic of Venice. Today it is not understood clearly enough how it was time for a modern country house with its open lodges. The Palladian house became the center of agricultural production." 

Then, at another dinner, a man at the table started speaking again about the same article. Again I said how fascinated I was about Palladio, and that I had the article. The man speaking said, "I wrote the book." I said, "Which book?" He replied, "Unbuilt Venice. I wrote it." I said, "You are Antonio Foscari?" And he said, yes. I was stunned. I said, "It is such an honor to sit at the same table with you!" I have to confess that I then jumped up and down and behaved like a total groupie before I calmed down and finished my meal. 

I have yet to get my hands on a copy of the book, but here is the blurb from the Harvard Book Store website:

After the successful conclusion of the centenary celebrations of Andrea Palladio's birth, there are still many unanswered questions about his work. Antonio Foscari retraces Andrea Palladio's life and offers new perspectives on the architects built and unbuilt work. The author reveals an image of Venice that differs from the one we all know: a city that projects herself into the modern age by abandoning the accepted principles of late medieval culture that had so profoundly influenced its formation.

Click HERE to go to the Harvard Book Store.

Venice is a Fish, subtitled A Sensual Guide by Tiziano Scarpa is not a new book, but it's one I recently stumbled upon. Scarpa is Venetian, and captures the essence of the city as only a Venetian can:

"Venice is crammed full of ghosts. Writers and directors have smelt them everywhere."

""Venice is encrusted with imagination. Its stones creak beneath an impressive pile of apparitions. There isn't another place in the world that could bear all that visionary tonnage on its shoulders." 

"Put on very dark sunglasses: protect yourself. Venice can be lethal. In the historic centre the aesthetic radioactivity is extremely high. Every angle radiates beauty, apparently shabby: profoundly devious, inexorable."

"...the true flavour of Venice isn't sweetness. If you want to test its character, you must go into a bàcaro, a kind of inn. They are fewer and fewer in number these days. You'll find the highest concentration of them in the calli near the Rialto market. I'm not going to tell you what they're called because I've decided that in this book I'm not going to name a single hotel, restaurant, bar or shop. Partly out of impartiality, partly because we Venetians jealously guard our secrets; we don't like to give away those few places that the tourists haven't yet discovered. So take it as a challenge, a treasure hunt."

"But I promised you practical advice. Is it true that in Venice people make love outdoors, on every street corner?" And then: "In the historic centre, try to find a hiding place from which you can make a dignified and hastily dissembling exit at any moment as if nothing happened. Unless yours is an exhibitionistic, brazen love that thrives on risk: but in that case you don't need my advice, and you won't feel intimidated wherever you go."

The English translation by Shaun Whiteside is a little awkward at times, but that is a problem many translators have, capturing the rhythm and the utterly different way of phrasing an idea unique to Venetians. (Also Whiteside is from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, where they have their own idiosyncrasies when it comes to the English language, which might make it sound odd to American ears -- but there is nothing like an Irishman to capture the poetry.) Scarpa describes how Venetians play soccer, and, to me, it's also how they write, and do many other things:

"Do what we call 'acting Venetian': after the war the phrase alluded to our football team, 'doing the Venetian', 'doing a Venice'. Our footballers had an exasperating, selfish style of play, always with the ball at their feet, loads of dribbling and hardly any passing, a limited vision of the game. Of course they did: they'd grown up in that varicose whirlpool of alleyways, little streets, sharp turns, bottlenecks. So obviously, even when they took to the field in shorts and jerseys, they went on seeing calli and campielli -- streets and squares -- everywhere, and struggled to disentangle themselves from a private labyrinthine hallucination between the midfield and the penalty area."

I read the reviews up on Amazon on both the US and UK sites, and was surprised (but not really) by how many people did not really "get" it. All I can say is that if you don't really get it, you don't really get Venice. I am pleased, however, that Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review.

Click HERE to go to Amazon USA.
Click HERE to go to Amazon UK.

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Friday, February 4, 2011

Giorno della Memoria 2011 - Remembrance Day

Queen Esther
by Andrea Del Castagno
(Venice, Italy) Esther by G.F. Handel was the offering for Sunday morning's official celebration of the Giorno della Memoria, presented before a full house at the Malibran Theatre on January 30th. However, this Esther was set during World War II, and did not end happily-ever-after with Esther saving the Jews from being massacred. In this version of Esther, directed by Dan Rapoport, Esther is a young woman captured by the Nazis and forced into prostitution, and ends up servicing Achashverosh, the chief of the German secret police.

Captain Haman, second in command, is a brutal SS officer, determined to kill Esther's uncle, Mordechai, because he refuses to bow to Haman, saying he bows only to God. Haman decides to eliminate Mordechai and all Jews by ordering their destruction. Esther works up her courage and reveals Haman's plot, asking Aschashverosh to save her people. Aschashverosh, who is in love with Esther, says it will be Haman who falls. But in this version, set in 1939, Haman is not destroyed by Aschashverosh. In this version, the brutal SS officer Captain Haman strangles Esther to death.

With images from World War II projected on the screen behind the musicians and the singers, it made the experience a deeply moving one. To see the faces of innocent children... to see official documents... to see Jews forced to wear the Star of David on their clothes... to see the deliberate humiliation and defamation of character, the isolation, the propaganda...

I have become consumed by the Holocaust, riveted with a kind of horrible fascination that such atrocities actually happened such a short time ago. Part of this fascination has to do with my own quest to understand the horrific experiences that I have recently survived on a personal level. Most people live their lives in blissful ignorance, and never have to look Evil in the face. I certainly kept myself innocent -- in fact, I had deliberately stopped watching television or reading the newspaper for about ten years because I found the violent images of war unbearable to watch. Oh, I understood on an intellectual level that crimes against humanity had been committed, and were still being committed every day. But it seemed far away, in other country, another world, another time; certainly the United States of America would never be involved in crimes against humanity...

Then Evil literally broke down my door and demanded my attention. One thing I have learned about Evil is that it hates the light. Evil creatures like to crawl around under the surface like cockroaches, planting  dark thoughts into the minds of innocents, twisting the truth, lying, cheating, using violence, intimidation, manipulation, threats. It goes on "anonymous" character assassination missions and whisper campaigns. It forces you to be constantly on the defense, fighting unnamed phantoms against unknown allegations. If Evil does use names, the credentials are often ambiguous. But if you shine the light on Evil, it starts scurrying around, trying to cover-up its despicable behavior. And then you have a chance to catch it.

From Wikipedia:

A whispering campaign or whisper campaign is a method of persuasion in which damaging rumors or innuendo are spread about the target, while the source of the rumors seeks to avoid being detected while spreading them (for example, a political campaign might distribute anonymous flyers attacking the other candidate). It is generally considered unethical in open societies, particularly in matters of public policy. The speed and anonymity of communication made possible by modern technologies like the Internet has increased public awareness of whisper campaigns and their ability to succeed. This phenomenon has also led to the failure of whisper campaigns, as those seeking to prevent them are able to publicize their existence much more readily than in the past.

Here in Europe, there is a differentiation between the word "Holocaust" and the Hebrew word "Shoah." From Wikipedia:

The term holocaust comes from the Greek word holókauston, an animal sacrifice offered to a god in which the whole (holos) animal is completely burnt (kaustos).[10] Its Latin form (holocaustum) was first used with specific reference to a massacre of Jews by the chroniclers Roger of Howden[11] and Richard of Devizes in England in the 1190s. For hundreds of years, the word "holocaust" was used in English to denote massive sacrifices and great slaughters or massacres. During World War II, the word was used to describe Nazi atrocities regardless of whether the victims were Jews or non-Jews. Since the 1960s, the term has come to be used by scholars and popular writers to refer exclusively to the genocide of Jews.[4]
The term entered common parlance after 1978, the year that the popular mini-series Holocaust was broadcast on the American NBC television network. The series proved that the subject matter could have popular appeal, as well as providing a convenient and enduring term.[12]
The biblical word Shoah (שואה) (also spelled Sho'ah and Shoa), meaning "calamity", became the standard Hebrew term for the Holocaust as early as the 1940s, especially in Europe and Israel.[13] Shoah is preferred by many Jews for a number of reasons, including the theologically offensive nature of the word "holocaust", which they take to refer to the Greek pagan custom.[14]
Hitler and Mussolini in Venice
I prefer to use the word "Shoah" when speaking about the deliberate targeting of Jews for extermination, and the word "Holocaust" for all the atrocities the Nazis committed during World War II. Because they did not only target Jews. They also targeted:  "RomaniSoviet prisoners of warPolish and Soviet civilians, homosexualspeople with disabilitiesJehovah's Witnesses and other political and religious opponents, which occurred whether they were of German or non-German ethnic origin.[6]

Why did Hitler do such a thing? According to Wikipedia:

Prior to the beginning of World War II, during a speech given on January 30, 1939 (the six year anniversary of his accession to power), Hitler foretold the coming Holocaust of European Jewry when he said:

"Today I will once more be a prophet: If the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevization of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!"[3][4][5]
It is pure insanity. You cannot exterminate an entire race because you don't want the Jewish bankers to start another war. That is not the solution, even though it was called "The Final Solution." Hitler was angry because he blamed the Jewish bankers for the deaths of too many Germans:
"In his diary entry of December 13, 1941, the day after Hitler’s private speech, Joseph Goebbels wrote:
"Regarding the Jewish Question, the Führer is determined to clear the table. He warned the Jews that if they were to cause another world war, it would lead to their own destruction. Those were not empty words. Now the world war has come. The destruction of the Jews must be its necessary consequence. We cannot be sentimental about it. It is not for us to feel sympathy for the Jews. We should have sympathy rather with our own German people. If the German people have to sacrifice 160,000 victims in yet another campaign in the east, then those responsible for this bloody conflict will have to pay for it with their lives."[6] 

What sense does that make? You do not stick a Star of David on a small child, corral them onto a train, force them to do hard labor or use them for human experimentation and then kill them to get the international bankers to stop manipulating wars. What about the homosexuals? What about the Jehovah Witnesses, etc? Speaking as a blue-eyed white-skinned Christian female of German descent who has been tortured by creatures of this ilk -- that ain't the reason

To me, it doesn't matter if six million Jews died or one Jew died. 
Torture is against the rules. 
From the United Nations

and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment

Part I

Article 1

  1. For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
  2. This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.
To read the entire UN Convention, click HERE.

Let's look at that list of undesirables again. Jews and homosexuals. (The gays had to wear pink triangles. If you were Jewish and a homosexual, you got a pink and yellow star.) I have been involved for most of my life in the arts. Before moving to Venice, I lived most of my life in New York City and Los Angeles. Which means that I have spent most of my life surrounded by Jews and homosexuals, so I am speaking from personal experience when I say that they are the kindest, most generous and most compassionate people I have ever known. I even had a Jewish "mother," Lois Eckstein, who treated me like the daughter she never had. I loved her deeply, and was heartbroken when she died. I used to work with the elderly and the handicapped. The maternal side of my family is of Polish descent. I never knew many Soviets, and I don't know any Jehovah's Witnesses at all, and can't even imagine why they are on the list.

In other words, "they" think that a lot of the people I know are expendable. How boring would the world be without us! What fun are all the bad guys going to have after they exterminate all the good guys? What are they going to do with themselves to pass the time? To me, the only reason anyone would work for the CIA is because their own lives are too boring. Instead of being simply a court reporter, you get to be a "spy" court reporter. Instead of simply being a physical therapist, you get to be a "spy" physical therapist.

In any event, after reading several sides of the argument, I am convinced that the Jews were deliberately targeted by the Nazis for extermination. Many cultures have been targeted for extermination throughout the history of mankind, but the Jews won't let it go. They say, "Look at this. This really happened. Here are the photos. Here is the art. Here is the music. Here are the stories. Here are the people. Here are photos of the sadists that tortured innocent human beings, and nobody did anything to stop it. We are going to make museums about this. We are going to write operas and make movies and we are not going to let this disappear. We are going to name names." 

In this respect, I am very "Jewish." I will never let what happened to me go, either, especially when it involves the US "State Department" torturing one of their own citizens. No. I am not going to let that go, William R. Gill, Megan H. Jones, Sara Jane Boyers, and Steven R. Boyers. (The irony is that Sara Jane Boyers and Steven R. Boyers are both Jewish with two adopted children.)

One thing I have always believed is that the truth sounds different. It rings.

Hans Michael Rascher, one of the people involved my personal story is little known, but his half-brother, Sigmund, is notorious, and his handiwork fits perfectly with the theme of this post about the Holocaust. From Wikipedia:

A cold water immersion experiment at
Dachau concentration camp
presided over by
Professor Ernst Holzlohner (left) and
Dr.Sigmund Rascher (right).
The subject is wearing an experimental Luftwaffe garment

Sigmund Rascher, M.D. (born February 12, 1909 in Munich, executed April 26,1945 in the Dachau concentration camp) was a German SS doctor.

His deadly experiments on humans, planned and executed in the Nazi concentration camp of Dachau, were judged inhumane and criminal during the Nuremberg Trials.
To read the Wikipedia article, click HERE.

Michael Rascher often spoke about his half-brother, Sigmund; in fact, he had a photo of him on his bureau in Merano. Michael Rascher was in contact with John-Henry Bowden, the former Chaplain of the Anglican Church in Venice, another active participant my personal story. Both men have since vanished, John-Henry Bowden apparently back to the UK, Michael Rascher apparently into the tomb. I got a bizarre phone call on March 29, 2010 at 2:08PM from a woman informing me that Michael Rascher had died in Munich. I do not know if this is true. 
This is one of my favorite stories about Sigmund Rascher because, after knowing Michael Rascher, the physical description is eerily similar, even though they had different mothers. From Scrapbook Pages:
"In his book entitled "The Venlo Incident," Captain Sigismund Payne Best wrote the following regarding a conversation he had with Dr. Rascher while both were prisoners at Buchenwald:

Next morning when I went to wash, there was a little man with a ginger moustache in the lavatory who introduced himself as Dr. Rascher saying that he was half English and that his mother was related to the Chamberlain family. When I told him my name he was much interested saying that he knew about my case and that he had also met Stevens (R. H. Stevens was another British intelligence agent who had been arrested along with Payne Best.) when he was medical officer in Dachau. ... He was a queer fellow; possibly the queerest character which has ever come my way.

Almost at our first meeting he told me that he had belonged to Himmler's personal staff, and that it was he who had planned and supervised the construction of the gas chambers and was responsible for the use of prisoners as guinea pigs in medical research. Obviously he saw nothing wrong in this and considered it merely a matter of expediency. As regards the gas chambers he said that Himmler, a very kind-hearted man, was most anxious that prisoners should be exterminated in a manner which caused them least anxiety and suffering, and the greatest trouble had been taken to design a gas chamber so camouflaged that its purpose would not be apparent, and to regulate the flow of the lethal gas so that the patients might fall asleep without recognizing that they would never wake. Unfortunately, Rascher said, they had never quite succeeded in solving the problem caused by the varying resistance of different people to the effects of poison gases, and always there had been a few who lived longer than others and recognized where they were and what was happening. Rascher said that the main difficulty was that the numbers to be killed were so great that it was impossible to prevent the gas chambers being overfilled, which greatly impeded any attempts to ensure a regular and simultaneous death-rate.

It sounds like something out of a John Le Carré novel, right? I don't know if Captain Sigismund Payne Best is a credible source, but the way he describes Sigmund Rascher physically is the way I would describe Michael Rascher. 

Sigmund Rascher and his wife were arrested at one point in time before they were assassinated, but not for human experimentation, which they often did together. They were arrested for illegally adopting children:
"Dr. Sigmund Rascher had conducted medical experiments for the Luftwaffe at Dachau, starting in May 1942, with the consent and approval of Himmler. Then in May 1944, Dr. Rascher and his wife were arrested because they had illegally adopted a child and registered it as their own, according to an affidavit signed by Dr. Friedrich Karl Rascher, the uncle of Dr. Sigmund Rascher, which was entered into the proceedings of the Nuremberg IMT." 
Click HERE to read more.

[While re-reading this on September 11, 2014, I discovered that the links I posted three years ago have been dismantled. To read more about Dr. Sigmund Rascher, now click HERE. To this day, I stand by everything I wrote in this post.]

Even more horrific is the medical experiments on twins performed by Josef Mengele. From Wikipedia:
He seemed particularly keen on working with Romani children. He would bring them sweets and toys, and personally take them to the gas chamber. They would call him "Onkel Mengele".[45]Vera Alexander was a Jewish inmate at Auschwitz who looked after 50 sets of Romani twins:
I remember one set of twins in particular: Guido and Ina, aged about four. One day, Mengele took them away. When they returned, they were in a terrible state: they had been sewn together, back to back, like Siamese twins. Their wounds were infected and oozing pus. They screamed day and night. Then their parents – I remember the mother's name was Stella – managed to get some morphine and they killed the children in order to end their suffering.[45]
If you consider those horrors, it makes a little thing like having a piece of plexi-glass measuring 12mm by 40mm (more than an inch and a half long) in the shape of a dagger shoved into a deliberately-infected wound on one's right foot during a pedicure seem almost trivial. But that really happened to me on July 1, 2009, and I have got the scar tissue to prove it, along with witnesses, police reports, and hospital records. It nearly went through my foot. I have since found out that the Nazis often deliberately infected wounds. That a United States citizen, in the year 2009, should be subjected to such an atrocity, is appalling. I recently had an ultra-sound because I was still feeling pain. Apparently there is still a small fragment of glass that remains lodged above the scar tissue. That to this day the condition remains untreated is scandalous.
U.S. Consul General Deborah E. Graze, Venice Consular Agent Megan Jones,
and Northern Italy Consular Officer in Charge Donald Moore. 
I was also perplexed about why no one in my family in the States called me, or helped me, or even believed a word I said. Instead, they participated in the defamation of character campaign, going so far as to contact friends of mine they didn't even know through Facebook, telling that I had a "mental problem," and warning them not to give me money. This was at time when I was starving, and sleeping literally on the street. 

I was determined to uncover why they were behaving so far out of character, doing things they would normally never do. I recently came across the Milgram Experiment, first conducted in 1961 during the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem, which explains a lot. Apparently when an authority figure -- for example, someone from the US State Department, like William R. Gill and Megan H. Jones, or Los Angeles attorneys like Sara Jane Boyers and Steven R. Boyers -- instructs an ordinary citizen -- like a member of my family -- the authority figure can easily convince an average citizen to do something that conflicts with their conscience -- even inflict extreme pain on total strangers. (To this day, I do not know what fabricated story my family has been told because they have been instructed not to tell me, nor send me documents. I have confirmed, however, that the names I have listed -- William R. Gill, Megan H. Jones, Sara Jane Boyers and Steven R. Boyers -- are actively involved.)

The legal and philosophic aspects of obedience are of enormous importance, but they say very little about how most people behave in concrete situations. I set up a simple experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist. Stark authority was pitted against the subjects' [participants'] strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects' [participants'] ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not. The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation.
Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.[3]
To read about the Milgram Experiment, click HERE.

Sara Jane Boyers in 2005
Old photo of
Sara Jane Boyers
That I first encountered Sara Jane Boyers in 1996 at the Society of Children Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) conference in Los Angeles is alarming. That same year, Erzsi Deak established the SCBWI branch in Paris, France, and I won the very first Sue Alexander "Most Promising New Work Award" for Harley, Like a Person, which was then called Zee. The prize was a trip to New York City and meetings with three editors. Instead of staying in hotel, I stayed in apartment owned by Sara Jane Boyers, and the SCBWI paid her. Looking back, I see that Sara Jane Boyers has interfered with nearly every aspect of my life, both on a professional and personal level since that time. Now that Sara Jane Boyers, Steven R. Boyers, William R. Gill and Megan H. Jones have gone so far as to interfere with my family, deliberately lying, distorting the truth and giving them false information about me, they have gone too far. 

Steven R. Boyers, Attorney at Law
The atrocities of the Holocaust happened just a short time ago, during the World War II. The atrocities of the Holocaust are still happening today. If the USA has included outspoken blue-eyed females of German descent who do not blindly obey authority -- a writer who encourages young people to be creative and use their imagination, and make their way out of the suburbs -- if someone like me has been added to their list of undesirables, the world should be very afraid.  

Megan H. Jones
& the US Flag
UPDATE: May 26, 2011. I just got off the phone with Megan Jones of the US State Department. I listened to how I "won't accept reality" and how she prevented the Italian police from arresting me the day that John-Henry Bowden assaulted me at the Anglican Church on July 19, 2009! It is an outrageous lie. The Italian police had no intention of arresting me since I had not committed any crime whatsoever; instead they were frustrated by the United States repeatedly blocking Italy's efforts to protect me. Apparently the USA is still sticking by their fantasy that I am "mentally disturbed," that they have done everything in their power to help me, and all their generous efforts have gone unappreciated by me. Newsflash: There were no weapons of mass destruction.

To Megan H. Jones, US State Department: Can you please explain to the world why Catherine Ann Bauer's United States passport No. 039706546, which expires on May 15, 2016, has been locked inside her apartment at San Polo 622, Venezia since June 11, 2010 and the US State Department is doing absolutely nothing to have it returned?

In reality, the United States of America is guilty of punitive psychiatry, something the Soviet Union was notorious for using to discredit, isolate and physically and mentally break those who were considered "troublemakers." Just as there never were any weapons of mass destruction, Catherine Ann "Cat" Bauer is not paranoid, schizophrenic, bi-polar, suicidal or any other fantasy the US might try to impose upon me. I am perfectly sane, and am not taking any medication whatsoever except aspirin. It has been nearly a year since I was injected with drugs and forced into the hospital against my will on June 11, 2010. Of course they must lie. They have committed an outrageous injustice against me, one of the their own citizens. At least Bradley Manning and Julian Assange know what they are accused of. At least Ernest Hemingway and Ezra Pound knew why the USA was after them. Since Sara Jane Boyers has been in my life since 1996, I can only conclude that the USA has been monitoring outspoken individuals for a long time. This, I will admit to. I am most definitely an outspoken individual, and injecting me with drugs and forcing me into the hospital against my will is not going to "break" me. Anyone who has ever known me can attest that I speak with a strong voice when I see injustice, and anyone who has been at the receiving end of this voice might join the United States government in ganging up against me -- including members of my own family. 

That the USA is trampling all over the US Constitution, the UN Convention Against Torture and Italian law in their attempt to defame and discredit me, a legal Italian resident who has committed no crime, is an outrage.

From the Washington Post:

Journalists attacked by mobs, detained in Cairo

"This is a dark day for Egypt and a dark day for journalism," said Joel Simon, the group's executive director. "Egypt is seeking to create an information vacuum that puts it in the company of the world's worst oppressors."

The New York Times reported that two of the most prominent U.S. television journalists covering the protests, evening news anchors Katie Couric of CBS and Brian Williams of NBC, have left Egypt. Couric returned to New York and Williams was to anchor his show from Jordan, the Times reported on its media blog.

UPDATE: As of February 22, 2011, the February 3, 2011 Washington Post story seems to have disappeared. Here is a similar story from CNS NEWS.COM.

From Foreign Policy Magazine:

It's sword versus pen on the bloody streets of Cairo.


There's really only one reason to attack journalists -- if you don't want them to report their observations to the outside world. Although the protesters occupying Tahrir Square on Thursday had a relatively peaceful day, the sudden wave of attacks against journalists has fueled concerns that there's a tsunami coming -- something the government and its supporters don't want the world to see.
But Mubarak and his supporters should also be concerned. The forces they're unleashing will not be so easy to contain again. The paranoia and xenophobia I witnessed on Thursday were unlike anything I've seen from the Egyptian people in 13 years of covering this country. For a country that depends heavily on a steady flow of foreign tourists, turning the Egyptian people against the outside world could have catastrophic long-term consequences.

I love that title, "The Day of Hunting Journalists" because that is exactly what it feels like -- that you are being hunted. Venice, too, depends on a steady flow of foreign tourists. And I most definitely enjoy writing more about the art and culture of Venice than about the US State Department, and the deranged people who work with them like Sara Jane and Steven R. Boyers. 

Ciao from Venice,