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We, the people: the beautiful non-violent Italian revolution

Piazza San Giovanni

We’re on the eve of General Elections in Italy.

On Sunday 24 and Monday 25 February, the Italian people will vote on ending the clutches of an almost twenty-year-long period of conflict-of-interest-filled, corrupt, nepotist and fraudulent governing, or vote on going back for more of the same.

If it depends on the tireless efforts  of a new political force, there will be a complete turnaround and honesty and transparency will finally prevail in Italian politics.

For three years, Beppe Grillo’s MoVimento 5 Stelle (5 ***** Movement) has been gaining momentum.

Last night, a crowd of 800.000 people (and 150.000 more watching in streaming and who knows how many more watching the video stream on 120 streets and squares all over the country) gathered on Piazza San Giovanni in Rome to listen to the candidates and Beppe Grillo himself.

For Grillo (the 65-year-old comic/satirist), it was the 77th stop of his “Tsunami Tour,” criss-crossing the country in a donated camper and making two to three campaign appearances a day. The endeavor has paid off: MoVimento 5 ***** is a political force to reckon with and might well win the elections.

In an emotional ending that you can find on Beppe Grillo’s blog under “Parole Guerriere,” he took leave of the crowd.

Here is a translation.

“We searched for a way out. We were prisoners of the dark. We never thought we’d make it. We had been told that the windows and doors were bricked up. That there was no exit.
Then, who knows from where, we picked up a flow of words and thoughts. From outside. From inside. From the network, from the streets. Peaceful words, yet at the same time warrior-words.
We have used them as a guiding light in the dark, utilized them as keys that turned the lock that opened the door to elsewhere, to unknown territories, to ourselves. And now, here we find ourselves outside, not altogether used yet to the light. We squeeze our eyes and even though we know we took the only road possible, we are fearful, and rightfully so. What is happening in Italy right now has never happened before in the history of modern democracy. A democratic non-violent revolution, uprooting powers and upending pyramids. Citizens who become the State and enter parliament within the timespan of just three years.
Now we have come to understand that we ourselves were that closed door, that those warrior-words were living inside us for quite some time but we were unwilling to exit, believing ourselves alone in our struggle – while in effect, we were a multitude. And now we register surprise at getting to know the multitudes that share our thoughts, our hopes, our fears. We have finally gotten to know each other and have exchanged those warrior-words with each other.
Estranged words that had lost every meaning, we have turned into powerful arms that we used to change everything; to turn around an artificial reality where finance equalled economy, lies became truth and war was peace, where dictatorship was democracy.
Ancient warrior words, like community, honesty, sharing/participation, solidarity, sustainability, sounding fresh once more and reverberating through a far-reaching soundwave, negating old-style politics.
We have finally caught up with and understand reality.
We know that we can count on our own strengths, facing a Country in ruins and difficult times, where tensions, problems, and conflicts may lie ahead, but the road ahead is plotted. We who have found this road that leads us into the future know that the future may bring poverty, but also truth, concreteness, solidarity and contentment.
A new Italy awaits us.
Being part of it will be beautiful.”

[Cercavamo una porta per uscire. Eravamo prigionieri del buio. Pensavamo di non farcela. Ci avevano detto che le finestre e le porte erano murate. Che non esisteva un’uscita. Poi abbiamo sentito un flusso di parole e di pensieri che veniva da chissà dove. Da fuori. Da dentro. Dalla Rete, dalle piazze. Erano parole di pace, ma allo stesso tempo parole guerriere. Le abbiamo usate come torce nel buio, come chiavi da girare nella serratura per andare altrove, in posti sconosciuti, verso noi stessi. E ora siamo fuori, siamo usciti nella luce e non ci siamo ancora del tutto abituati. Stringiamo gli occhi e, anche se sappiamo che stiamo percorrendo l’unica via possibile, abbiamo qualche timore, ed è normale. Quello che sta succedendo ora in Italia non è mai successo prima nella storia delle democrazie moderne. Una rivoluzione democratica, non violenta, che sradica i poteri, che rovescia le piramidi. Il cittadino che si fa Stato ed entra in Parlamento in soli tre anni. Abbiamo capito che eravamo noi quella porta chiusa, che le parole guerriere erano da tempo dentro di noi, ma non volevano venire fuori, pensavamo di essere soli e invece eravamo moltitudine. E adesso siamo sorpresi che così tante persone a noi del tutto sconosciute avessero i nostri stessi pensieri, le nostre speranze, le nostre angosce. Ci siamo finalmente riconosciuti uno nell’altro e abbiamo condiviso parole guerriere. Parole che erano state abbandonate da tempo, di cui si era perso il significato, sono diventate delle armi potenti che abbiamo usato per cambiare tutto, per ribaltare una realtà artificiale dove la finanza era economia, la menzogna era verità, la guerra era pace, la dittatura era democrazia. Parole guerriere dal suono nuovo e allo stesso tempo antichissimo, come comunità, onestà, partecipazione, solidarietà, sostenibilità si sono propagate come un’onda di tuono e sono arrivate ovunque annientando la vecchia politica. Siamo diventati consapevoli della realtà. Sappiamo che possiamo contare solo sulle nostre forze, che il Paese è in macerie e che quello che ci aspetta sarà un periodo molto difficile, ci saranno tensioni, problemi, conflitti, ma la via è tracciata. L’abbiamo trovata questa via e ci porta verso il futuro, un futuro forse più povero, ma vero, concreto, solidale e felice. C’è una nuova Italia che ci aspetta. Sarà bellissimo farne parte.

Read more:

Beppe Grillo (CNN)

Beppe’s Inferno (The New Yorker)

Meeting Italy’s silenced satirist (BBC)


Mayor Bloomberg Speaks at La MaMa Fiftieth Anniversary Gala

Mayor Bloomberg spoke yesterday at La MaMa’s Fiftieth Anniversary Gala at the Ellen Stewart Theater on East 4th Street, the block that is now renamed “Ellen Stewart Way.”
Bloomberg talked about his first encounter in 2006 with Ellen’s driving visionary force, which made him hand over the building that was formerly called “the Annex” for one dollar (1$)!
He also announced that – at the instruction of Kate D. Levin, commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) – the city will support La MaMa with 2 million dollars for capital improvements on four facilities (the original La MaMa building, the Ellen Stewart Theater, La MaMa Galleria on 1st Street and the rehearsal studio building on 47 Great Jones Street). This not only to perpetuate La MaMa’s own activities in theater, the visual arts and education, but also to support La MaMa’s guiding light function in a “Naturally Occurring Cultural District.”
“Theater, including off-off-Broadway,” said the mayor, “is a major industry in our city. In fact, on-Broadway theaters have a quarter-billion-dollar impact on our economy every year.” And that is why he thinks investing in La MaMa is “a sound investment in the city’s future.”
The evening was full of wonderful theatrical surprises, like Estelle Parsons and John Kelly in a beautifully executed mother-and-son scene of Harvey Fierstein’s ‘Torch Song Trilogy,’ touching video messages from Harvey Keitel and Sam Shepard, who received the first-ever Ellen Stewart Award, a scene from Wallace Shawn’s zany ‘Hotel Play’ with a million characters young and old flocking to the stage including Shawn himself as the bell-boy, and a vibrant new piece by the inimitable Elizabeth Swados, a ‘La MaMa Cantata’ set to Ellen Stewart’s own words. MC’d by La MaMa old-timers Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw of Split Britches, the evening was a reconfirmation that La MaMa’s future is secured for at least another fifty years.

La MaMa 50 World Block Party Day

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of La MaMa Experimental Theater Club, East 4th street between Bowery and Second Avenue metamorphosed into a meeting place of world culture yesterday.
Ellen Stewart died on January 13 2011, but her spirit was felt forceful as ever yesterday.
Master of Ceremonies Carmelita Tropicana brought to the stage Bill de Blasio, holding the citywide office of New York City Public Advocate, City Council member for the Lower East Side Rosie Mendez and Manhattan Community Board 3 district manager Susan Stetzer, who all spoke lovingly and with admiration of Ellen’s accomplishments.
Kathleen Hughes, Assistant Commissioner of NYC Department of Cultural Affairs had the honor of bestowing a name change for Ellen’s beloved block.
“I think Ellen Stewart convinced all of us that she was immortal. She was a friend, a booster, she could be a buster, she was radiant, she was dedicated she was visionary, she was love,” Hughes began her speech.
“Whether ringing her bell on Mount Olympus or in heaven – or both, if you’re a believer in omnipresence – she’s with us still and this simple but tangible municipal honor, a street sign, a ‘way,’ is proof that if we follow the Ellen Stewart Way, care about those around us, spur them on, inspire them, give them beauty, cause them to think deeply about meaning, and art, and thoughtfulness, then Ellen is still with us. And we are here acknowledging her and that perhaps she was an immortal.
For not only did she have the past fifty years in giving us new ways to look at things, new artists that we have come to know, all of those who thought she and La MaMa are on a course for the next fifty years as well. She set that for us. And those artists have inspired other artists to go inspire others and yet others.
What else is that if not a kind of immortality.
Thank you Ellen for showing us the way, I hope you hear our bells on Mount Olympus, or in heaven, or wherever you are on this glorious day and I hope you are ringing yours with us as well.”
Kathleen Hughes proceeded to read a Proclamation from the Office of Mayor Bloomberg:
“Fittingly, this year’s fiftieth anniversary celebration includes the rededication of East 4th Street between Second Avenue and Bowery as Ellen Stewart Way.
Her extraordinary spirit will live on here in La MaMa’s three New York theaters and throughout the world.
Whereas, as we celebrate the founder who made La MaMa great, we also look forward to the theater’s future. Our cultural scene is one that welcomes experimentation and innovation, which is what la MaMa is and always will be.
And we’re confident that La MaMa will always be counted on as a place where artists can explore and challenge themselves.”

Apple tribute logo

Apple tribute logo a Web hit | Today in Tech – Yahoo! News.

The End of Videoheads?

Today, I received an alarming message from Jack Moore, founder and director of Videoheads – since 1966!

“It looks like the end of Videoheads and their collection.
After 45 years of work, play and accumulation, Videoheads is in great danger of disappearing.
Various deals to sell our material or license it for publishing have been delayed and delayed. a sales agent we were hoping to work with had not panned out and we are 4 months behind in our rent. This week the Landlords will demand that we empty the building and vacate. The equipment will be sold and the tape collection will be thrown in garbage bins. We need to find 6000 Euros immediately (within a couple of days) or watch Videoheads go down in flames. If you know of anyone or any organization who could help to save this situation and the collection, please contact me or them or both. The 60s collection, our UNESCO material, the theater dance and performance collection as well as the Art, artists and writers tapes are just used tapes with no value to a bailiff.
Please have a think and be in touch.”

Are we going to do something about it?
Please contact Jack at:

Jack trained as an opera director, with degrees in Music and Theater, but since 1966 he has been intensely active in the area of application of video technology to support artists and performers in their work as well as stilmulating creativity in the fields of videographic and computer art.
Videoheads has an open workshop and video gallery in Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Jack worked as a consulting expert for U.N.E.S.C.O. for 20 years, inspecting and developing media strategies and facilities in 61 countries.

Largely retired now, he lives in Amsterdam and keeps himself busy with restoring old video material to digital standards and indexing his 60,000 hours of programming.
He teaches and assists artists who use video in various ways, and gives ample video support for the performing arts.

The Marriage of Malasch and Moore

A new museum? A Lab? An art space, or factory – like Andy Warhol? A think tank? Or a community center?

There’s a new hotspot in town.

The new Serieuze Zaken is Amsterdam Arts Lab. This is the petri dish for creativity in Amsterdam West.
It started as a merger of meneer de wit and Serieuze Zaken and is now a marriage of sorts between gallerist extraordinaire Rob Malasch and moving image magician Jack Moore.
Moore’s vast archive straddles both sides of art and entertainment.
On opening Sunday last week, Jack treated the audience to Norman McLaren’s wistful and fistful Neighbours from 1952; a rare complete (the only in the world) recording of Grace Jones’ debut concert at the Roseland Ballroom in New York on Halloween 1978 and a stream of George Méliès’s wickedly funny shorts shot in 1896 (yes, you got that right, late-19th century film!).
Jack’s running encyclopedic commentary, providing context and piquant details make the marriage between Malasch and Moore a great success.
“Don’t forget to tell them it was a shotgun marriage,” Malasch said to me when I left his gorgeous new gallery space where the paint had barely dried.

I need a man

Norman McLaren

George Méliès

Laurie Lives

Was that fabulous last night?
Those of you who were there must agree.
Laurie Anderson.
Finely worked jewels of personal short stories sprouted from the back of Laurie Anderson’s mind, interspersed with shards of music played on her electronic violin, backed up by arrays of sound bits.
Laurie Anderson – in real life of small stature – on stage larger than life, moving between folding and draped objects that function as reflecting screens. Behind her, a huge back projection spitting out an avalanche of delicious images mixed live.
The stories go deeper than ever. About time, space, and loss. The bind one finds oneself in, realizing that the death of a beloved dog causes more pain than the death of the mother.
Sometimes the deep chords of her music made the walls of the theater vibrate and my body with it. A pleasant sensation. Her voice, and her Fenway Bergamot’s voice, which never ages, soothingly, sagaciously and whimsically drove home some truths to think about during sleepless hours.

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