Sunday, February 26, 2012

In Memory of my Brother, Christian Harry Bauer IV

(Venice, Italy) My brother, Chris, died on Tuesday, February 21, 2012. I loved him very, very much. He had a compassionate soul and the heart of an angel, but was born into a combustible story that stretched back to foreign lands. To carry the weight of the name of Christian Harry Bauer IV, a man must have a solid foundation. That foundation cracked upon the death of our grandmother, Dorothy Bauer, a strong, warm-hearted matriarch, (with a sister named Mae), when Chris was only four-years-old.

Grandma's grave --Where's Grandpa?
I am the oldest of five. The next three children were also girls. When my brother was born, my mother said, "Finally, he has his boy. Born on his birthday." She was not referring to my father, Christian Harry Bauer III. She was speaking about my grandfather, Christian Bauer, Jr., who was born on August 23, the same day as Chris. My grandfather was a foreman at Kearfott, a defense equipment manufacturer. My mother was his secretary. My parents met when my father came home on leave from the Air Force base in Greenville, South Carolina back in the days when there was the draft. Even though there was a difference in social class and religion, my parents married shortly thereafter, and I was born ten months later on July 27, 1955 down South on the Air Force base. For the first four and a half years of my life we lived in the same house as my paternal grandparents in Kearney, New Jersey, so I had my grandmother, Dorothy, close by to nurture me.

Family Cottages on Lake Bodin, Yulan N.Y.
Now only a memory
Ten years later, when Chris came on the scene -- after three more failed attempts at producing a male heir -- there was much jubilation: the boy who was to carry on the family name had arrived! By that time, the family had scattered -- we were now living in Pompton Lakes, NJ and my grandparents in Montreat, NC. Only my great-grandfather, the original Christian Bauer, had remained constant in his house made of bricks in Yulan, a village in Upstate New York, where we would all gather in the summer on our property on Lake Bodin. According to family lore, Great-grandpa was the illegitimate son of an important gentleman who did not recognize him. So Great-grandpa came to America from Germany and started the line again.

Four generations of Christian Bauers. Chris in Dottie's arms. I am bottom row, 1st on left
When Chris was born, we were written up in the local paper, all four generations of Christian Bauers gathered in our living room. Moving Great-grandpa down from Yulan for the photo was a feat in itself, but the enterprising Dorothy Bauer had a knack with him. Great-grandpa loved my grandmother, too.

Upper: Chris, left; Eric, right
Lower: Cat, Chris, Sharon
Though my grandparents had moved down South, they made regular sojourns up North, and we still had our summers up in Yulan, as well as great adventures in the new territory down in the South. It takes strong, noble female energy, full of love, to hold a big family together and balance all the different personalities with understanding and compassion; to nip petty battles in the bud before they escalate into outright wars. My grandmother, Dorothy Mae Bauer, was a woman with all these qualities. When she died suddenly in 1970, the heart was torn from the center of the Bauer family. I fictionalized my grandmother in my first novel, HARLEY, LIKE A PERSON. I missed her so much that I reincarnated her in HARLEY'S NINTH.

Even though I am ten years older than my brother, Chris, we spent most of his life as warm friends with a deep soul connection. There was about a six year gap in time when we not in the same location -- I moved to California, and when my parents moved there, too, I moved to New York City -- but when I went back to California in 1982, we again became close. I lived in LA; he lived about an hour south in Orange County with my parents.

Chris was seventeen; I was twenty-seven, and more than anything he wanted to be a drummer. He had taught himself how to play, and he was good. Once I brought him to a Stevie Wonder concert. We had Access-All-Areas passes, given to me by a dear friend, Charlie, who worked with Stevie. Chris and I took advantage of our passes and accessed all the areas, including backstage. Chris was thrilled. He was especially jazzed when Dennis Davis, Stevie's drummer at the time, gave Chris his drumsticks after the show.

There was only one problem. Chris had drums, but didn't have the money for the cymbals. His seventeenth birthday was coming up and all he wanted was those cymbals. Well, my parents didn't get him the cymbals; my mother got him a color TV. To say that Chris was disappointed would be an understatement. How could he be a drummer without cymbals?

I spoke to Charlie about it, and Charlie spoke to Stevie. Stevie said, "No musician should stop playing because they cannot afford their instrument." And then Stevie Wonder gave my brother one of his sets of cymbals with the name "Stevie Wonder" written right on them. I will never forget when Charlie popped the trunk on the back of his car -- I think we were in the parking lot of Gio's, a restaurant in Hollywood where we used to hang out -- and I saw those cymbals, together with the stands, from Stevie Wonder to my brother. Chris was complete! Or so it seemed.


Ironically, my mother's name is also Dorothy; I will refer to her by her nickname, Dottie, to differentiate her from my grandmother, Dorothy. Dottie never liked me much. In April 1984, my maternal grandmother died and any pretense that held our family together dissolved. At that point, Dottie revealed that she thought she had been making a big mistake when she was putting on her wedding gown because she was in love with another man. That man had contacted her upon the death of her mother, and Dottie began her affair with him again after nearly thirty years.

Suddenly, the reason behind the family dynamics began to make sense. To this day, I believe if my parents had gotten divorced at that time, both my father and my brother would be alive today. Instead, my parents renewed their vows at my sister's wedding in New Jersey. That same weekend, Chris, who had remained behind in California, had his neck mauled by a German shepherd while lying handcuffed on the ground. Police error. Mistaken identity. Chris had been unconscious, and required many stitches...

Three years later, by the spring of 1987, my father was on his death bed. He was 56, the same age I am now. A supreme effort was made, and his life was spared... that time.

My brother Chris Bauer IV as a ghost
Chris as a Ghost 
Chris ended up living with Dottie most of his life, even to the end, although many people tried help him sever that unnatural umbilical cord. He was 46-years-old; Dottie is 78-years-old. The last time I saw my brother was in 2004. After that, I pretty much cut communications with my mother, but unfortunately, Chris lived in the same house.

The last time I spoke to Chris was when he picked up the phone during a furious conversation I was having with Dottie in 2007. After she repeatedly hung up on me, I told her answering machine, "If I had a knife I would stab you," which I later amended to, "If I had a stake, I would put it through your heart" -- a ridiculous threat, since I happened to be an ocean away when I said it, and I have never used a knife as a weapon in my life. In fact, I have never used any weapon against anyone in my life except the one that is mightier than the sword: the pen. Dottie sent me an email saying she had made copies of my message and sent it to all my sisters, and was taking it to the authorities. The email ended with the threat: "You made your bed, now you must lie in it." That was the last time I spoke to my brother. Dottie changed her phone number.

Now, at the young age of 46, my brother, Chris, is dead. I cannot stop crying. I am quite sure he would still be alive if I had known he was dying. But no one in my family even told me he was ill. Not my mother, Dottie. Not my sister, Linda. Not my sister, Sharon. Not my sister, Kim. If anyone needed more proof that my family has come under a dark influence, the fact that my brother was dying and not one of them told me is evidence enough. To use my own brother's death to get revenge reveals my mother's true character. That the US State Department has used these family dynamics in an attempt to destroy my character and silence my voice is pure evil.

On Tuesday, February 21, 2012, my father's brother wrote saying that last week he had gotten an email from my sister, Kim, telling me that Chris was close to death, and that all my sisters had gathered together in Tennessee where my brother lived with my mother. My uncle thought, perhaps, that no one had told me -- even though they all have my phone number, and all have my email, and most definitely have the office phone and the cell phone number of Megan Jones of the US State Department, who most definitely has my phone number, too.

I made several frantic phone calls to two of my sisters and to their husbands, but no one answered the phone; I do not have the phone number of Kim. The number my uncle had for Dottie had been disconnected.

I went out to buy bread for dinner and started crying in the shop.

Several hours later, my uncle told me my mother had called and told him Chris had died that afternoon. I like to think that my attempts to call him had reached him through the ethers, and that he was waiting for me to know he was dying before he said good-bye.

It is a sacrilege to interfere in the relationship between a sister and a brother who is on death's bed. 

I found comfort through Facebook, communicating with friends and former classmates and people who knew Chris in better times. A friend here suggested I have a Venetian memorial service, which was celebrated Friday morning at the nun's Monastery of Clarisse by Father Lorenzo, who, if you have read my books, I fictionalized in my second novel, HARLEY'S NINTH. From HARLEY'S NINTH:

"Are we allowed to use prayers as wishes?"

Father Lorenzo looks confused. "Sorry?"

"Instead of begging for forgiveness for our sins, or remembering dead people, are we allowed to light a candle and wish for something we want in the future, as long as it's something good?"

Father Lorenzo smiles. "Absolutely. Those are the best kind of prayers, the ones that are wishes for, how do you say ...propulsion."

Well, I want to propel myself forever out of Lenape. I only wish I could tuck Lily and Bean under my arms and take them with me. Whenever I think of them alone in the house without me to protect them, it strikes a discordant chord deep inside. "Can I light two more candles?" I ask. "For my sister and my brother?"

"Ma certo. Of course."

I wrote that back in 2006. I knew then that Chris was in danger.

Venice - The Morning of Chris's Memorial
The Venetians themselves were full of compassion, with plenty of long hugs and comforting eyes. One told me, "Losing your brother is like losing a piece of your heart." Chris's Venetian "brother-in-law," Andrea, was shattered; he, too, had longed to sweep Chris out of the darkness that encompassed him and transplant him magically in Venice. I lit a candle inside the Church of Redentore in front of an understanding Mary. I made my own celebration out on San Michele, the Venetian cemetery island. I was determined not to succumb to the deep sense of betrayal that enraged me, but to take that energy and turn it into something positive and creative.

Church of Redentore
Yesterday, I danced.

Open Doors is this year's title of the Dance sector of La Biennale chaired by Paolo Baratta and directed by Ismael Ivo. Visiting instructors from all over the world work with the Arsenale della Danza company of 24 international students. Yesterday was Bollywood and Sacred Indian Dance presented by Terence Lewis. The theater was standing-room only, in addition to a hopeful crowd waiting outside in case someone departed early. Luckily, after a wait, I got inside. I had run into Ismael Ivo earlier in the week, before I knew Chris was dead, and Ismael had told me that I must come.

Terence Lewis & Arsenale della Danza
Photo: La Biennale
Ivo asked Lewis to explain a bit about Bollywood dance. Lewis said that his country is suffering so much from limited resources and corruption that the dance must be bright and bold and colorful and joyous to neutralize the negative energy. After the main presentation, Lewis taught the entire audience some simple moves. The whole place was up on its feet doing some Bollywood dance. Then the dancers grabbed people out of the audience and ushered them to the stage. I was one of them. The next thing I knew I had a red dot on my forehead representing my Third Eye. I was swept onto the stage and Ismael welcomed me and kissed me. Then we all danced! And danced! And danced! The group on the stage and the entire audience danced facing each other again and again and again.

Ismael Ivo
Photo: La Biennale
When it was over, I thanked Terence Lewis. I told him my brother had just died. He gave me a great hug. He took my hands and said, "He is in a better place." I went back into the theater to gather my things, the audience still whooping and hollering. Lewis raised his hand and made an announcement. He then repeated what I said. "Someone just told me that their brother had died. I said he was in a better place. Rest in Peace." So, there you, go Chris! We had a great dance, the entire theater, dancing in honor of you.

The last message I tried to get through to my brother was last year. I sent him "We Are the World" for his birthday on August 23, 2011 through this blog. I never knew if he heard the song, especially the part with Stevie Wonder singing with Bruce Springsteen.
There's a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It's true we make a better day
Just you and me.

I think he heard it. But it was not enough to save his life.

Here's another song for you, Chris. Stevie singing "Higher Ground." You had a rough life this time, bro. Rest in Peace. Come back soon. I love you very, very much.

People keep on learnin'
Soldiers keep on warrin'
World keep on turnin'
Cause it won't be too long

Powers keep on lyin'
While your people keep on dyin'
World keep on turnin'
Cause it won't be too long

I'm so darn glad he let me try it again
Cause my last time on earth I lived a whole world of sin
I'm so glad that I know more than I knew then
Gonna keep on tryin'
Till I reach the highest ground

Teachers keep on teachin'
Preachers keep on preachin'
World keep on turnin'
Cause it won't be too long
Oh no

Lovers keep on lovin'
Believers keep on believin'
Sleepers just stop sleepin'
Cause it won't be too long
Oh no

I'm so glad that he let me try it again
Cause my last time on earth I lived a whole world of sin
I'm so glad that I know more than I knew then
Gonna keep on tryin'
Till I reach my highest ground...Whew!
Till I reach my highest ground
No one's gonna bring me down
Oh no
Till I reach my highest ground
Don't you let nobody bring you down (they'll sho 'nuff try)
God is gonna show you higher ground
He's the only friend you have around


Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Friday, February 17, 2012

It's Carnival! Nardini Cocktails at PalazzinaG

Cat Bauer sipping a Nardini Mandorla Sour at PalazzinaG
Photo: Marina Breeze
(Venice, Italy) I finally have a cocktail! It's called a Mandorla Sour, and it's made with Nardini Mandorla grappa. It tastes like almonds and cherries, two of my favorite flavors. It is divine. 

Meredith O'Shaughnessy
of Meredith Bespoke
Normally, I don't drink hard alcohol because it goes straight to my head, although I can consume plenty of red wine without a problem:) So when Meredith O'Shaughnessy of Meredith Bespoke, the luxury events organizer, offered me a cocktail at the PalazzinaG carnival party last Friday night, I initially refused and asked for red wine. The next night, I was more daring, and decided to try the Nardini Mandorla Sour cocktail, mostly because it was made with grappa, and grappa comes from grapes -- plus it had other ingredients; I am such a wimp that I have a hard time even drinking grappa straight. I took a sip, and proclaimed, "It's fantastic! I love it! I am going to sincerely write about it because I sincerely love it!" In fact, I ended up having two.

Grappa is an everyday drink here in Italy, but many people in other parts of the world have never experienced it. From Wikipedia:

Grappa is made by distilling the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems (i.e., the pomace) left over from winemaking after pressing the grapes. It was originally made to prevent waste by using these leftovers. A similar drink, known as acquavite d'uva, is made by distilling whole must.
Grappa is now a protected name in the European Union. To be called grappa, the following criteria must be met:
  • (1) Produced in Italy, or in the Italian part of Switzerland, or in San Marino
  • (2) Produced from pomace
  • (3) Fermentation and distillation must occur on the pomace—no added water
So, you can see that the production of grappa and acquavite is strictly controlled here in Italy. Add the name Nardini to that, and you get one of the finest beverages you can drink. (Nardini is a distiller who does not use stems in their pomace.)

Bortolo Nardini founded Acquavite Nardini back in 1779 in Bassano del Grappa, where grappa itself was invented. He bought an inn at the entrance of the famous Ponte Vecchio, the covered wooden bridge on the River Brenta, which was designed by the renowned architect Andrea Palladio in 1569. From the Nardini website:

Nardini is also a member of Les Hénokiens, an international group of family-owned companies that are at least 200 years old. Here is an excerpt from a December 16, 2004 article in The Economist entitled The World's Oldest Companies - The Business of Survival - What is the Secret of Corporate Longevity:

Antonio Nardini
Photo: Marina Breeze
ACCORDING to the book of Genesis, Enoch (or Henok), son of Cain and father of Methuselah, walked the Earth for 365 years and then ascended to heaven without dying. Inspired by this feat, a club was formed in France in 1981 that took his name. Les Hénokiens is a fraternity of companies that are at least 200 years old, have stayed in the control of one family throughout, are financially healthy, “modern” and are still run by a family member.
Each year representatives of the 33 member companies, from seven countries, gather for three days of fun and discussion. This year's host was Ditta Bortolo Nardini, an Italian grappa distillery founded in 1779
To me, it was fitting that I should discover a cocktail made by Nardini, Italy's oldest distillery, during Carnevale, one of Venice's most ancient celebrations, at PalazzinaG, a hotel that transports the magic of past centuries into a contemporary setting. Here are some more photos:

Nardini Mandorla Sours are Poured
Photo: Marina Breeze

Angeline & Brad - NOT!
Photo: Cat Bauer

Dancers in Masquerade
Photo: Marina Breeze

Group at PalazzinaG Bar
Photo: Marina Breeze

Sharla Ault - Nardini rep
Photo: Marina Breeze

Cat Bauer wears mask by La Bottega dei Mascareri
Photo: Marina Breeze
Jewellery by Ganesha - Gems of Venice
Go to Acquavite Nardini: and I Love Grappa blog
Go to PalazzinaG:

Ciao from Venice,

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Too Much Fun! 3rd Venice International Carnival for Kids

La Biennale di Venezia 3rd International Kid's Carnival
(Venice, Italy) Tales and Thoughts, the third Venice International Carnival for Kids, blasted off on Saturday, February 11, 2012. Inside La Biennale's Central Pavilion down at Giardini, the opening ceremony was filled with youth and the young at heart, cheering, hooting and whooping it up. People were hanging from the bleachers, listening to La Biennale President Paolo Baratta's remarks. From the program:

The theme of Tales and Thoughts engages the imagination and encourages thinking. It's a Carnival! Yet with an ambition: to stimulate the imagination and the joy of creation while having fun. This is another step towards the construction of a great meeting place for projects and energies that in various parts of the world -- inside and outside the school system -- are dedicated to the very particular goal of enriching the education of the coming generations with their direct creative commitment.

This project is part of the Educational activities of La Biennale, activities that are meant to develop in young people a direct knowledge and experience of art, and more generally, of the world of artistic creation.

The Central Pavilion overflowed with enthusiasm, that joyful energy that brings people to life, as Baratta introduced the participating schools, nations and organizations. After the ceremony, the Arsenale della Danza Playground Bollywood performed the colorful "Bombay Express" conceived by Ishmael Ivo, the artistic director of the Dance Biennale. The audience was riveted as the young dancers put on a high-energy show. A man standing next to me asked, "Who are those dancers? Are they Italians?" I said, "They are international. They are students from all over the world who are part of the Arsenale della Danza."

The Arsenale della Danza is now in its fourth edition, and this year's dancers are off to a dynamic start. I've often written about the company. Click the link below to read more from last year:

Othella Dallas & Ismael Ivo Hit Grand Slams out of the Park

After the performance, the audience wandered through the Central Pavilion and got down to the business of creating, stopping along the way to enjoy a lasagne lunch, complete with beverages, all for free. If you missed the previous Venetian Cat - Venice Blog giving more details, you can read that here. As you can see, I have gotten my hands on a camera. Here are some photos from the event:

WARM up-cycled Fashion
from the Stitchery Collective, Australia
Future Stars

ElettrizzARTE! - USA - Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Beasts & Superbeasts - Romania - Soap Art Kollectiv
Future Graffiti Artist
I didn't have the chance to visit the HURRAY FOR MUSIC! program created by the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello of Venice, but I did hear the Conservatory play last evening at the Giorgio Cini Foundation -- it appears that the Benedetto Marcello Conservatory of Venice has been working very hard to bring music to our ears. 

In honor of the 129th anniversary of the death of Richard Wagner -- he died February 13, 1883 -- and in honor of the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the Richard Wagner Association of Venice, Maurizio Dini Ciacci conducted Siegfried-Idyll in mi maggiore WWV 103 (which Wagner dedicated to his wife, Cosima Liszt Wagner, in honor of her birthday) and Sinfonie in do maggiore WWV 29 to a packed house. The concert was in memory of Bruno Visentini, an anti-fascist Italian politician who reformed the tax system, as well as being President of the Giorgio Cini Foundation, who also died on February 13, 1995. That's a lot of memorials packed into one show!

Here's a romantic little anecdote from Wikipedia about the piece Wagner wrote for Cosima: 

On 25 December of that year (the day she usually celebrated her birthday, although it actually fell the day before), Cosima woke to the sound of music. She recorded the events in her diary:
"When I woke up I heard a sound, it grew ever louder, I could no longer imagine myself in a dream, music was sounding, and what music! After it had died away Richard came in to me with the five children and put into my hands the score of his "Symphonic Birthday Greeting." I was in tears, but so, too was the whole household; Richard had set up an orchestra on the stairs and thus consecrated our Tribschen forever! The Tribschen Idyll - thus the work is called!"[23]
This was the memorable first performance of the chamber piece which was later renamed the Siegfried Idyll.

Click to go to the entire program of La Biennale di Venezia 3rd International Kids' Carnival, which has activities every day until Carnevale ends on Marti Gras, February 21, 2012.

Cat wearing new Vascellari Sunglasses
Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Monday, February 6, 2012

Posh PalazzinaG Launches Carnival

(Venice, Italy)  Since its inauguration, the list of celebrities who have turned up and danced on the tables at PalazzinaG reads like a who's who of Vanity Fair cover stars. Madonna has taken to the decks, George Clooney has popped in, and couples Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie -- along with Johnny Deep and Vanessa Paradis -- have stayed in. Queen of New York nightlife, Amy Sacco, has hosted a series of legendary parties, James Franco threw a dinner and Al Pacino didn't want to leave...

That is from the press release sent over by the glam gals at Meredith Bespoke, the luxury events agency in London. PalazzinaG is not only one of my favorite hotels in Venice, but on the planet itself, so I am happy to let you know what they are up to during Carnevale. The renowned Philippe Starck designed PalazzinaG, mixing the contemporary with the ancient, the sensual with the cozy. Located on the Grand Canal right next to Palazzo Grassi, it will be The Place to Be during the opening Carnival weekend, so book now, especially if you want to sleep in -- there are only 16 rooms and six suite apartments. And the mirrors... the mirrors... the mirrors... the mirrors will take you right through the Looking Glass.

There will be a VIP masquerade opening party on Friday night at 11:00PM with cocktails mixed by Nardini Grappa, nominated as Harrod's February 2012 "Spirit of the Month." Entrance is 35 euros, including one cocktail; tables are 600 euros and includes two bottles of Krug or spirits. 

On Saturday night at 8:00PM, it's the Veuve Clicquot Gala, the champagne of nobility, with a five-course decadent dinner and luxurious libations at 250 euros per person. The VIP Masquerade Afterparty featuring international DJ Anthony Scott-Lee kicks off at 11:30PM. Entrance is 35 euros; tables start at 600 euros.

For all events the dress is code is impulsive elegance and deconstructed glamor. Now, doesn't that sound delicious? Reservations are essential. The full invitation is below.

Hotel PalazzinaG, San Marco 3247, 30124 Venezia - ITALY
Telephone: +39 0415284644

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Saturday, February 4, 2012

La Biennale's 3rd Venice International Carnival for Kids

(Venice, Italy) Children of Other Lands was the first book I ever wrote at age six. It was inspired by a deck of playing cards I had been given, embellished with images of children from all over the world in their native dress. It was a non-fiction book, complete with illustrations, well-researched, very thick -- about ten pages -- and cost five cents. Even at age six, to me, writing was a business, although I have no idea how I arrived at that concept since there were no writers in my middle-class/working-class childhood world. I organized a neighborhood book sale. An older girl named Cookie who lived down the block scribbled a couple of pages, stuck two lollipops on the cover, and charged six cents. Everybody wanted her book and nobody wanted mine. It was my first lesson in marketing.

I have always been fascinated by foreign lands -- perhaps because of that deck of playing cards -- which is one of the reasons I live in Venice. Another is La Biennale, an organization that is a hub of international creative activity. One of the newer activities of the Venice Biennale is the Carnevale Internazionale dei Ragazzi, or The Venice International Carnival for Kids, and if you are planning to come to Venice for Carnevale this year with your munchkins, you have got to go. This is what I wrote about it last year in a post entitled:

OTTOCENTO - From Senso to Sissi - The City of Women - Venice Carnival 2011

Photo La Biennale
For the second year, La Biennale presents Carnevale dei ragazzi, or the Kid's Carnival down at Giardini. Unfortunately, I went with a dog, not a kid, who was not allowed inside, so I didn't spend as much time as I would have liked. I loved it! The kids were creating things the old-fashioned way -- with their own hands -- just like real children, and they seemed perfectly content not to have a computer in front of them. Different rooms inside the Italian pavilion with names like "The enchanted forest" "The prarie of sounds" "The painted desert" "The city of visions" "The fluorescent depths" were bursting with creative activities and plenty of kids intent on the act of creation.  

The principle: "having fun by creating." Remember that? Remember how you could spend hours simply with some crayons, or some mud? As well as visitors to Venice, schools from all over the Veneto arrived. Paolo Baretta, the President of La Biennale, wrote: "I would like to thank the teachers of all the schools at every grade and level, from Venice and the Veneto region, our intelligent ambassadors and precious partners. I would like to thank the parents who will accompany their children, and those will allow themselves to be accompanied by their children." This year's edition was the first time there was international participation, with Austria, Great Britain, Holland and Poland contributing to the fun.

The theme of this year's Carnevale is La Vita è Teatro. Tutti in Maschera, which sort of translates to Life is Theater. Everybody Wears a Mask, and the official program says the preview starts today, February 4, 2012, although there are just a handful of things gearing up. The fountain is spewing wine in Piazza San Marco, and there are some costumed revellers posing for photos. Everyone is primed for next weekend and for the official opening, which will be Saturday, February 11, 2012 at 11:00AM in Piazza San Marco. Fat Tuesday, the last day of Carnival is February 21, 2012. Click for the official program at Venezia Marketing & Eventi.

Photo La Biennale
The theme of this year's Venice International Carnival for Kids is Favole e Pensieri, or Tales and Thoughts, and will run from February 11 to February 21, 2012, every day from 10:00AM to 6:00PM with workshops and activities galore. In addition, on February 11 and 18, Playground Bollywood! will feature Indian dance workshops and performances conceived by La Biennale Dance Director Ishmael Ivo with the 25 young dancers from the Arsenale della Danza. The Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello in Venice will present musical activities in their workshops Hurray for Music! UNICEF Italia will address childrens' rights with games and activities in their workshops Hurray for Children!

In addition, the Kid's Carnival is growing ever more international with the participation of the "Magnificent 7"countries:

Photo: Stitchery Collective
1. Australia. WARM  - Thanks to Skype, Kathleen Cattoni from the Stitchery Collective in Brisbane, Australia spoke at the press conference yesterday, even though she was on the opposite side of the world. The Stitchery Collective "connects the unlikely bedfellows of fashion and social welfare," and will be at the Kid's Carnival from February 11 to the 15th. "The stitchery will be running ‘WARM’ t-shirt upcycling workshops, where with our pint-sized helpers we will transform the pre-loved T-shirts of Brisbane into much-loved custom-made beanies, scarves and ponchos for our chilly European friends."  Click to go to The Stitchery Collective blogInitiative organized by The Collective Stitchery, with the support of Arts Queensland and the Australia Council for the Arts.
Central Pavilion from 11 to 15 February

2.  Great Britain - STORYTELLING - A family workshop to show parents how to help their children learn a foreign language (English, no doubt:) through storytelling. Conducted by an English native-language teacher, assisted by a member of the Biennale staff. February 11 and 12. Initiative made possible by the support of the British Council Italia.
Central Pavilion 11 and 12 February.

3.  Germany - THE TALES OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM - MASK AND COSTUME WORKSHOP - Two hundred years ago, in 1812, the Brothers Grimm published their first collection of fairy tales, which I read to the point of obsession when I was a kid. Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin -- they all come from the Brothers Grimm. Two set designers from Munich are going to head the workshop, which will open the door to "fairies, witches and fairytale characters" so the kids can create their own Carnival costumes. The German contribution is a project by the Embassy of Germany in Rome and the German Centre for Venetian Studies, with the support of the Goethe Institut.
Central Pavilion from 12 to 14 February.

Photo at Soap Art
4.  Romania - BEASTS AND SUPER BEASTS - Soap Art Kollectiv (Raluca Arnautu and Suzana Dan) create stuffed animals inspired by fairy tales of their own creation. Animal Stories! will bring the imaginary Romanian beasts to life. The exhibition and workshops are organized by the Romanian Institute of Culture and Humanistic Research in Venice, with the support of the Romanian Cultural Institute in Bucarest, and in collaboration with the Anaid Art Gallery, Global Mindscape and with Australians Studying Abroad (Melbourne).
Central Pavilion every day.

5.  United States - ElettrizzARTE! - Artists who work with light - neon, lasers, LEDS, optical fibers and xenon projections -- are the focus of this workshop where the kids will get to play with light and lighting devices. The programme by the United States of America was made possible by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
Central Pavilion 11, 12, 18, 19,21 February.

6. Netherlands - DANCING IN RIETVELT'S PAVILION - Tweetakt is Holland's international theater and art festival for people who are not grownups. You'll get to create your own show, mix your own music and make your own animated flipbook. The programme at the Dutch Pavilion has been made possible by the contribution of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Italy, the City of Utrecht, the Province of Utrecht, the Treaty of Utrecht Foundation, and in collaboration with the Rietveldpaviljoen Foundation.
Netherlands pavilion every day

7. Belgium - ABC TOY WORKSHOP - ABC House (Art Basics for Children) is a new creativity center in Brussels. They will lead the way in making toys out of everyday and recycled materials. An initiative organized by ABC – ART BASICS for CHILDREN, a non-profit organization based in Brussels which operates in the field of arts and education to create stimulating environments and projects that encourage children and adults of all ages to experiment with their imagination and explore their creative potential.
Belgium Pavilion every day

Everything is free. Can you imagine? All that fun and creativity for free. Who knows what wonderful memories the kids will have from such an event, and what kind of future projects it might inspire. There will even be a spaghetti lunch at 1:00PM after the inauguration at 11:30 on Saturday, February 11, 2012. Head down to Giardini where all the action will take place. Click for more information at La Biennale website

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog