Friday, July 18, 2008

Yet Another Blast from the Past

About six years ago, Sara and I were living in Bergamo, Italy, working hard on our dissertation research. On Sundays, either as a brief respite from our work or as part of our ethnographic experience (take your pick), we would engage in the Italian ritual of la passeggiata (the walk). I have written elsewhere how this is more than just exercise or walking off nonna's big Sunday meal, rather an important part of the construction of community (if you are interested in the academic take, email me and I can send you the text).

During these walks, you encounter every aspect of Italian life: families showering attention on the only child sitting in his designer stroller clad in the latest fashion, elederly being left on the sidewalk outside the gelateria as though they were the family dog, marginalized immigrants trying to push books, trinkets, or counterfit wears on passers by. In the squares of the city, you could find activists advocating for their cause or roaming musicians playing and selling their homemade CDs. In Bergamo, common sights were the wandering Incas playing Andean music on pan flutes and guitars and the tough biker playing new age music on his electric guitar amplified on the amp towed by his chopper.

Another entertaining sight was the capuchin friar who sang and crooned on a portable amplifier. He was a memorable fellow, rotund in his humble brown hooded habit, a long white breard flowing from his ginning face. His songs were not overtly relgious nor memorable. He didn't seem to be selling CDs, either. It just seemed like he liked to sing and share it with the world.

The yesterday, while half-heartedly watching Keith Olberman's Countdown while reading the paper I saw this:

It was him! No doubt about it. It seems like he has gotten a little edgier since we last saw him. It also appears that he has gotten more popular as well. You can see the Italian news coverage of one of the concerts (worth watching even if you don't understand Italian):

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