1/17/18

THE END OF 2017: A DIARY BY RICK CASTRO- PART7


12.27.2017
I DON’T HAVE EUROPEAN TRAVEL MASTERED.
EVEN THOUGH I GET UP AT THE CRACK OF DAWN AND CATCH THE FIRST TRAIN,
 IT SEEMS LIKE I’M ALWAYS LATE!
WHAT A PICKLE… SOONER OR LATER I WILL GET THIS RIGHT.
I’M SURE I OVERREACT… EVER SINCE MY ATTACK- I STRESS OUT EASILY.
(I WAS ATTACKED BACK IN 2016- AND HAVE PTSD SINCE. IF YOU'RE REALLY CURIOUS YOU CAN READ ALL THE GORY DETAILS HERE)

OK- I FINALLY GOT MY BEARINGS.. I’M ON THE CORRECT TRAIN. IT’S A LOCAL TRAIN, AS OPPOSED TO THE GLAMOROUS BULLET TRAIN I TOOK TO VENEZIA 
A FEW DAYS AGO. WHAT A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE TRAVELING WITH COMMUTERS. THE TRAIN IS ABSOLUTELY PACKED .
THERE IS NO LIVING CONDUCTOR TO ASK QUESTIONS.
I DO FIGURE THRU MUILT-LANGUAGE ANNOUNCEMENTS I AM ON THE RIGHT TRAIN GOING THE RIGHT WAY. I HAVE A GOOD AMOUNT OF TIME TO MAKE MY FLIGHT.

I REALLY DO LOVE TRAIN TRAVEL… ONCE I GET USED TO EUROTRAVEL,
 I KNOW I WILL ALWAYS BE GOING EVERYWHERE.
THE LOCAL TRAIN IS LIKE A BUS. PACKED, NO ROOM, MULTI-RACIAL.
 I MAKE IT TO DOWNTOWN MILANO IN NO TIME AT ALL. NOW I AM CONFUSED. 
THE BOARD IS SHOWING SO MANY CONNECTIONS AT SO MANY TIMES, 
I’M NOT COMPREHENDING. I SEE A LIVING CONDUCTOR AND RUN OVER TO HIM, “PREGO! WHERE DO I CATCH THE TRAIN- AEROPORTO DI MALPENSA?” 
“TRACK ONE,” HE REPLIES GRUFFLY.
 “OH REALLY? I PLEAD, THE BOARD SAYS A DIFFERENT TERMINAL?"
 “YOU WANT TO GO TO THE AIRPORT, YES? TRACK #ONE.” HE REPEATS. 
I DEFINITLY TAKE HIS WORD FOR IT, SO I WALK A GREAT DISTANCE TO TRACK #ONE. IT IS THE LAST OR FIRST TRACK IN THE CAVERNOUS STATION. 
I AM THE ONLY ONE THERE. I’M A LITTLE NERVOUS. 
FINALLY THIS CUTE ASIAN BOY STANDS NEXT TO ME. 


PREGO, PER FAVORE DOES THIS TRAIN GO TO AEROPORTO DI MALPENSA?”
 HE LOOKS AT MY TICKET. “YES IT DOES.” HE KINDLY RESPONDS. 
WHERE ARE YOU FROM?” HE ASKS.. 
LOS ANGELES,” I REPLY. HE IS IMPRESSED.
 “WHERE ARE YOU FROM? I ASK IN RETURN.
 “I’M FILIPINO, HE REPLIES, I WORK AT A RESTAURANT NEAR AEROPORTO DI MALPENSA” 
"OK,” I SAY. 
THE TRAIN ARRIVES  LIKE IN A EUROPEAN MOVIE. TONS OF PEOPLE EXIT THE TRAIN, BUT THE FILIPINO BOY STAYS BY MY SIDE AND POLITELY SAYS,
“THIS IS YOUR TRAIN, PLEASE BOARD.”


I’M AT MALPENSA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.
SINCE ANNA HAD TO REBOOK MY RETURN FLIGHT I AM NOW ON EMIRATES AIRLINES. 
I LOVE THE STEWARDESS’S “COSTUMES.”  I TELL THEM SO. 
THEY SEEM PLEASED AND SMILE.


I HAVE HOURS BEFORE MY FLIGHT, SO EXCHANGE MY CURRENCY.
THE DOLLAR IS WORTH NOTHING THESE DAYS, THANKS TO TRUMPWORLD.
I HAVE A CUPPA TEA AND JUST CHILL OUT.
EVERYBODY GOES THRU DOUBLE SECURITY… WE FINALLY BOARD THE PLANE.
THE FLIGHT IS LONG, BUT COMFORTABLE. I AM SHARING THE SEATS NEXT TO ME WITH THIS RICH, (I CAN TELL) ITALIAN FAMILY. I HAVE THE ASLE SEAT AS I’D REQUESTED. THE MATRIARCH IS NOT PLEASED ABOUT THIS AND CHECKS HER BOARDING PASSES OVER AND OVER.
TRY TO CHALLENGE MY TICKET MADAME.. JUST TRY. I DARE YOU.
SHE CAN SEE MY UNCARING LOOK MEANS BUSINESS, SO SHE DECIDES TO JUST GO WITH THE FLOW.

AFTER AN ETERNITY WE ARE LANDING IN JFK.
I AM NOT SO EXCITED ABOUT AIRTRAVEL IN THE 21ST CENTURY. 
SINCE 911, ITS BECOME REAL DRUDGERY TO FLY. THE TSA TREATS EVERYBODY
LIKE TERRORISTS WHICH MAKES EVERYTHING TAKE THREE TIMES AS LONG.
CUSTOMER SERVICE HAS GONE OUT THE WINDOW.


MY IMMEDIATE IMPRESSION UPON ENTERING AN AMERICAN AIRPORT AFTER BEING IN ITALY FOR OVER TWO WEEKS -
AMERICANS ARE ANGRY. THERE ARE NUMEROUS ALTERCATIONS, RUDENESS, AND JUST PLAIN MEAN BEHAVIOR. IT DOESN’T TAKE A PSYCHOLOGIST TO SEE THE STARK DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN LIFE.
MY CONNECTING FLIGHT IS JETBLUE. APPARENTLY THEY ARE AN ARM OF EMIRATES, OR THE OTHER WAY AROUND. I KNOW FROM PAST EXPERIENCE JETBLUE IS LIKE THE GREYHOUND BUS WITH WINGS… BAD.
I KNEW I’D ENCOUNTER PROBLEMS, BUT THIS IS THE ONLY AIRLINE ANNA OFFERED ME.

I AM NOW IN AMERICAN CUSTOMS.. RIDICULOUSLY LONG LINES, WITH LITTLE HELP OR EXPLANATIONS FROM EMPLOYEES. THEY ALL LOOK AND ACT LIKE THEY’RE BORED WITH THEIR JOBS. I’M DIRECTED, (MEANING A LADY POINTS) TO A FLATSCREEN WHERE THEY WANT YOU TO SCAN YOUR PASSPORT
AND ANSWER TRUE OR FALSE QUESTIONS- 
ARE YOU A TERRORIST? 
DO YOU HAVE A BOMB?

I GUESS I’M DOING IT WRONG BECAUSE THE AGENT COMES TO ME AND SAYS, “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG,” SHE RELUCTANTLY DOES IT FOR ME. JUST LIKE AUTOMATED CHECK OUT AT THE SUPERMARKET. THEY GET ANNOYED WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW ALL THE FOOD CODES AND NEED HELP. MY STOCK REPLY IS,
 “YOU WORK HERE. I DO NOT. IF YOU WANNA PAY ME $15 PER HOUR I WILL LEARN.”

I’M FORCED TO TAKE A SELFIE PHOTO. I LOOK HIDEOUS!
 OLD AS THE HILLS- TRIPLE CHINS.. YUCK!


 FINALLY I’M TALKING TO A CUSTOMS AGENT WHO LOOKS LIKE A YOUNG, FASCIST IN HIS UNIFORM. HE’S SUPPOSED TO BE INTIMIDATING, BUT I FIND HIM TO BE A DOLL.
“HALLO, I SAY ALL EFFERVESCENT, PLEASE DON’T HOLD THIS INSTANT PHOTO AGAINST ME. 
“YOU DON’T LOOK BAD, HE RESPONDS.
“WHERE DID YOU TRAVEL? HE ASKS.
MILANO, BRESCIA, VENEZIA, AND THEN BACK TO BRESCIA.. OH AND SALO!"
I SAY WITH PRIDE.
“HOW LONG WERE YOU IN ITALY?” HE ASKS.

“THREE WEEKS," I RESPOND INCORRECTLY.. I’M VERY TIRED.
“WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR TRAVEL?” HE ASKS.
“I WAS PART OF A GALLERY EXHIBITION IN MILANO. ACTUALLY IT WAS THE MUSEUM, “ I RESPOND.
“WELCOME HOME” HE SAYS.

WOW! I WILL HAVE TO REMEMBER THIS RESPONSE.. WORKS LIKE A CHARM.. 
MAYBE NEXT TIME I WON’T HAVE TO TAKE OFF MY SHOES?

NOBODY AT JETBLUE COUNTER CAN GIVE ME INFO..
THEY ARE ALL YOUNG AND DUMB AS BRICKS.. AND I AM NOT BEING UNKIND.
EVEN THOUGH I HAVE A BOARDING PASS, THEY TELL ME I NEED A NEW ONE. 
I ASK WHY AND THEY CAN’T ANSWER. I FINALLY PLOW MY WAY THRU WITH AUTHORITY, AND I’M NOW AT JETBLUE TERMINAL WHERE THE YOUNG, PRETTY BUT CLUELESS,  CLERK TELLS ME SHE NEEDS TO REASSIGN MY SEAT. I ASK FOR AN AISLE SEAT. I THANK HER AND RUN TO STARBUCKS TO GET A CUPPA TEA. 
I HAVE A COUPON! FROM MY LANDLORD NO LESS.
 A NEWLY ARRIVED  ITALIAN FAMILY IS TRYING TO ORDER EXPRESSOS FROM STARBUCKS. THE STARBUCKS EMPLOYEE LOOKS AT THEM LIKE THEY HAVE THREE EYES. I FEEL SORRY FOR THEM. THEY SHOULD’VE JUST STAYED IN ITALY AND VACATIONED IN TORINO.

MY FLIGHT HAS BEEN DELAYED THREE HOURS. WE ARE ALSO INFORMED THRU LOUD CRACKLY SPEAKERS THAT JETBLUE HAD TO CHANGE PLANES, BECAUSE THE FIRST PLANE WAS BROKEN SO THIS ONE WILL BE BETTER, BUT UNFORTUNATELY HAS NO WIFI OR TV.. ON A 5 HOUR FLIGHT…. WHAT ARE THESE MILLENNIALS GOING TO DO WITH THEMSELVES? THEY MAY HAVE TO INTERACT. THE LOUD SPEAKER SUGGESTS PEOPLE DOWNLOAD A BOOK TO READ. 
SINCE I’M OLD I HAVE AN ACTUAL BOOK.

NARROW ROOMS BY JAMES PURDY. WE’RE READING IN MY BOOK CLUB @ TOM OF FINLAND HOUSE. BTW- I DIDN’T LIKE THE BOOK. POINTLESSLY VIOLENT WITH ANNOYINGLY, OUTDATED INTERNALIZED HOMOPHOBIA.
SO, I’M ON THE LONG FLIGHT TO LOS ANGELES, READING ME BOOK. UNEVENTFUL.



12.28.2017- VERY EARLY MORNING
I ARRIVE TO LAX AT 3AM. IVE BEEN TRAVELING FOR 20 HOURS STRAIGHT!
I FEEL LIKE OVER COOKED SPAGHETTI.

HUMM.. HOW WILL I GET HOME? 
THE SUBWAY STOPPED RUNNING AT 2AM. I’M NOT SURE WHERE TO CATCH A BUS.
 I DON’T SEE A SUPER-SHUTTLE, AND I’M TOO OLD TO FIGURE OUT LYFT APP. 

THIS LONGISH HAIR, GANGY KINDA GUY SAYS TO ME, 
“ DO YOU NEED A RIDE SIR?”
HOW MUCH? I ASK ALL DREARY.
$40 PLUS TAXES, HE REPLIES.

I’M SO TIRED SO I SAY “OK.”
“HERE, LET ME TAKE YOUR LUGGAGE,” HE SAYS EAGERLY.
WE WALK OUT OF THE BAGGAGE CLAIM CROSS THE STREET TO THE PARKING LOT.
“WHERE ARE WE GOING?, I ASK
“TO MY VEHICLE. WE’RE REQUIRED TO PARK THERE.” HE SAYS.
“ CAN I SEE YOUR BUSINESS CARD?” I ASK. HE SHOWS ME. 
I’M BEING OVERLY CAUTIOUS.THE LAST THING I NEED IS TO BE MUGGED AFTER MY DREAM TRIP.
HIS NAME IS ROGER LUGO. HIS SUV IS NICE. HAS ALL THE LUXURIES- 
BOTTLED WATER, MUSIC IF YOU WANT IT. GPS.
 HE’S THRILLED TO HAVE A CUSTOMER.
I HOPE YOU WILL BE PLEASED WITH MY SERVICE,” HE SAYS.


WE GET ON THE 10 FWY SOUTH AND HAVE IT ALL TO OURSELVES. 
WOW- THIS IS KINDA AMAZING. TO BE IN LOS ANGELES AND HAVE AN ENTIRE FREEWAY EMPTY! THIS JUST DOESN’T HAPPEN. SO WE ARE BOOKING DOWN THE HIGHWAY. SUDDENLY THERE IS A TRAFFIC JAM. “I’M GOING TO GET OFF TO AVOID THIS, HE SAYS. IN MY EXHAUSTED PARANOID MIND, I THINK THIS IS A PLOT TO BEAT ME UP AND ROB ME. I WANT TO EXPLAIN DEAR READERS, THESE ARE THE THOUGHTS THAT GOES THRU ONE’S MIND WHO’S SUFFERING FROM PTSD. 
(POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER) 
 I WAS NEVER THIS NEUROTIC BEFORE MY ATTACK. 
MY PTSD ALSO FLARES UP WHEN I TRAVEL.

SO NOW WERE ZOOMING DOWN HAWTHORNE BOULEVARD OR SOME SKETCHY STREET IN A NOT SO GREAT PART OF TOWN. ROGER AND I ARE CHATTING. 
WE’RE BOTH IN A REALLY GOOD MOOD. UP AHEAD I SEE A BLACK MAN WEARING ALL BLACK WALKING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DIMLY LIT STREET. HE IS ACTUALLY WALKING THE SAME DIRECTION WE'RE DRIVING. LIKE HE THINKS HE’S A CAR. 
IN A CALM VOICE I SAY, “WATCH OUT FOR THAT GUY IN THE ROAD". …
 ROGER SWERVES AND SLAMS ON THE BRAKES, MISSING THE PEDESTRIAN, WHO THINKS HE’S A CAR, BY INCHES. I REALIZE HE DIDN’T SEE HIM AT ALL. 
“OHMYGOD! ROGER SHOUTS, YOU SAVED THAT GUYS LIFE!"
 ROGER GETS ALL RELIGIOUS ON ME. 

“THAT IS A SIGN, THIS IS A SIGN. I DIDN’T SEE HIM. IF YOU WERE NOT IN THIS CAR TO WARN ME, I WOULD’VE KILLED SOMEONE TONIGHT! YOU SAVE MY LIFE AND YOU SAVED HIS LIFE. YOU ARE A HERO! IT’S AN OMEN." 
ROGER BECOMES MY BEST FRIEND. I AM DEFINITELY BACK IN LA.
IN THE DARKNESS OF EARLY MORNING, ROGER GETS TO MY LITTLE APARTMENT IN EAST HOLLYWOOD AND HELPS ME WITH MY LUGGAGE.
“DUDE, I TELL HIM, I AM SPENT.” 
WE SAY OUR GOOD-BYES AND WISH EACH OTHER HAPPY NEW YEAR.

I HAVE DECIDED FOR 2018 I WILL BE A HERO.

THE END OF 2017: A DIARY BY RICK CASTRO- COPYRIGHT- RICK CASTRO- 1/2018

















1/16/18

THE END OF 2017: A DIARY BY RICK CASTRO- PART6


12.24.2017- EVENING

WOW- DID I EVER FUCK UP! 
FOR SOME REASON I THOUGHT 7:00 MENT PM NOT AM ON MY RETURN TICKET.. 
WELL GUESS WHO SHOWED UP AT MARCO POLO AIRPORT AT 7PM? DUNCEY ME.. WHAT A DILEMMA.. I’M WAY TOO OLD TO NAVIGATE THIS KIND OF STRESS.. 
THE BRITISH AIRWAYS CLERK GIVES ME A LOOK LIKE- YOU  FOOL.
THE AIRPORT IS ACTUALLY CLOSING AND WILL NOT OPEN AGAIN UNTIL DECEMBER 26TH. ITS XMAS EVE IN VENEZIA,  I’M AT A SMALL AIRPORT IN A PREDOMINANTLY CATHOLIC COUNTRY. I HATE XMAS.
 SO I HOP BACK ON THE WATERBUS AND BOOK A TRAIN TICKET BACK TO BRESCIA TO BE WITH LUPIN, HIS BOYFRIEND NICOLA, HIS GIRLFRIEND IDA, BOYFRIEND FROM AUSTIN TEXAS, DOUGLAS, AND HIS FAMILIA.
THIS KID GETS AROUND FOR SOMEONE IN A SMALL TOWN IN ITALY.

AFTER AN ALL DAY ORDEAL WITH TRAVEL NIGHTMARES I’M ON THE TRAIN.. 
I NEED TO CHILL OUT.
FINALLY GET INTO THE BRESCIA TRAIN STATION, I AM DISORIENTED.
CHIARA IMMEDIATELY WENT ONLINE AND BOOKED ME A  ROOM AT HOTEL TRENTO- 40EUROS PER NITE! I FINALLY ARRIVE AND I LOVE IT.
HOTEL TRENTO IS LIKE A COMMUNIST VERSION OF TWIN PEAKS. 
THE CONCIERGE IS ALSO THE MANAGER, AND I’M SURE THE OWNER.
HE SHOWS ME TO MY ROOM- BLEAK, BUT COMFY. 
I'M ACTUALLY GIVEN A KEY WITH A BRASS KNOB KEY RING! 
NO KEYCARD. VERY OLD SCHOOL.
ITS GREAT!

IT’S XMAS EVE AND I HATE XMAS. SO WHAT SHOULD I DO?
I WATCH A PIRATED SCREENING OF CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
 A PERFECT WAY TO SPEND XMAS EVE. ALONE IN BRESCIA WATCHING THIS FILM, BAWLING MY EYES OUT.   I WILL MAKE NOTE SINCE I'VE BEEN IN ITALY, I HAVE CRIED AT LEAST 4 TIMES. ALWAYS OUT OF HAPPINESS. 
IN LOS ANGELES I CRY EVERY FEW WEEKS OUT OF FRUSTRATION & SADNESS.

AS A SIDE NOTE- I WOULD LIKE TO TELL MY DEAR READERS BRESCIA IS 20 MINUTES NORTH OF CREMA- WHERE THEY FILMED CALL ME BY YOUR NAME.


12.25.2017
XMAS DAY- I SLEEP IN LATE TO RECOVER FROM MY TRAVEL ORDEAL YESTERDAY.
I DECIDE TO WALK BACK UP TO THE VIA DEL CASTELLO. THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE WALKING ABOUT THIS TIME. PERHAPS BECAUSE ITS XMAS. 
A HETRO COUPLE PASSES ME. I THINK THE GUY CHECKS ME OUT? HE DEFINITELY LOOKS A FEW TIMES, EVEN TURNING IS HEAD AND LOOKING BACK A FEW MORE.
I’M NOT SURE… HE MAY JUST LIKE, OR NOT LIKE WHAT I’M WEARING.. 
ITS HARD TO TELL. ‘


I FIND A NICE PLACE TO SIT AND CONTEMPLATE THE WORLD.
I'M CONVINCED 2018 WILL BE A GOOD YEAR FOR ME. 2016 & 2017 WERE HIDEOUS. I REFUSE TO HAVE A 3RD HIDEOUS YEAR. ALTHOUGH MY PARENTS HEALTH IS FADING FAST, I’M WORKING ON ACCEPTING THE INEVITABLE AND MAKING THE REST OF MY LIFE- AS STRESS-FREE AS POSSIBLE. 
THIS IS THE UPMOST IMPORTANCE TO ME.
I WILL HAVE A HAPPY SENIOR LIFE.

WHEN I GET BACK TO HOTEL TRENTO, I FEEL LIKE I’VE ACCOMPLISHED ALLOT.
I TAKE A LITTLE NAP, AND BEFORE I KNOW IT, LUPIN IS AT MY DOOR. 
“MISTER CASTRO, I HOPE YOU DON’T MIND, WE ARE GOING TO A FRIEND’S HOUSE FOR DRINKS.?”
 "PERFECT," I SAY.
WE GO TO THE CAR OF NICOLA, WITH DOUGLAS, LUPIN’S BF FROM AUSTIN, TEXAS. DOUGLAS TRIES TO FOOL ME BY SPEAKING ONLY ITALIAN.
NICOLA IS WEARING HIS SIGNATURE DIAVOLO CAP FROM JEAN-PAUL GAULTIER.


WE GO TO LUPIN’S FRIEND CHRISTINA’S HOME. SHE IS THERE WITH HER BOYFRIEND AND ANOTHER FRIEND…..
RED WINE IS POURED SO I AM HAPPY AS A LARK.
DOUGLAS LIGHTS UP A JOINT. I WATCH, BUT AM CONTENT WITH MY ROSSO.
NOBODY IN BRESCIA DRINKS WINE!

AFTER HANGING FOR AWHILE WE ALL MEET UP AT THIS CUTE LITTLE RESTAURANT/BAR. EVERYBODY'S OUTSIDE SMOKING. IT IS FREEZING.
 I AM PROUD OF MYSELF BECAUSE I BROUGHT THE RIGHT CLOTHING FOR THE ITALIAN WINTER; LEATHER & LAYERS- RICK OWENS OF COURSE.
WE FINALLY SIT DOWN FOR DINNER AT A LONG WOODEN TABLE.
I ORDER CHICKEN CURRY WITH RICE AND A GLASS OF LOCAL RED WINE. 
I’M CURIOUS TO SEE HOW ITALIANS DO CURRY.

I DECIDE TO AMUSE MY ITALIAN FRIENDS WITH A STORY ABOUT MADONNA. 
DID I MENTION THAT LUPIN DOLCI IS OBSESSED WITH MADONNA? THIS IS SOMETHING I'VE WORRIED ABOUT BEFORE WE MET. I KNEW HE IDOLIZED HER.
I DO NOT. MY OPINION OF MADONNA IS LIKE MY OPINION OF THE BEATLES AND MCDONALDS. JUST BECAUSE SOMETHING IS POPULAR DOES NOT MAKE IT GOOD. 



DO YOU WANT TO HEAR THE STORY? THIS IS HOW IT GOES….
BACK IN 1984ISH, I WENT TO DINNER AT MICELI’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT ON LAS PALMAS AVE, HOLLYWOOD.
BTW- THE FOOD AT MICELI’S IS A SAD COMPARISON TO ACTUAL ITALIAN FOOD.
AT OUR DINNER PARTY BESIDES MYSELF, IS MY BUSINESS PARTNER MICHI, MY HAIR & MAKE UP ARTIST FRIEND, MICHELE BULHER, AND MY CLOTHING DESIGNER FRIEND ABLE VILLAREAL. WHAT THEY ALL HAVE IN COMMON, 
(BESIDES ME) IS THEY ALL RECENTLY WORKED FOR MADONNA.
MICHI JUST  WORKED FOR HER AS PART OF HER WORLD TOUR, AND A CONCERT BOOKLET. MICHI WAS COMMENTING HOW SPOILED SHE WAS. EVEN THOUGH SHE LIKED MICHI, SHE WAS BRATTY TO EVERYBODY ON THE SET.
ABLE THEN CHIMED IN HOW MADONNA WANTED HIM TO DESIGN A SPECIFIC OUTFIT FOR HER. HE FOUND HER WAY TOO DEMANDING, AND CHEAP. EVENTUALLY NOT TAKING THE ASSIGNMENT.
MICHELE BULHER DID HER MAKE -UP FOR MATERIAL GIRL VIDEO,
 SHE WAS APPALLED HOW MEAN SHE WAS TO EVERYBODY. 
SHE ACTUALLY HAD A HAIR PERSON FIRED, BECAUSE SHE HAD ACNE.
BTW- MADONNA ALSO HAD ACNE IN THE 80S.
EACH PERSON AT THE DINNER TABLE TOOK TURNS SLAGGING MADONNA. 
WHEN IT WAS MY TURN, I SIMPLY SAID, “I’VE NEVER MET HER.”

ABLE WAS SITTING OPPOSITE ME, IN MICELI’S HIGH BACK WOODEN BOTHS (IMPORTED FROM PIG & WHISTLE ACROSS THE COURTYARD). SUDDENLY ABLE’S EYES WENT WIDE, HIS EXPRESSION CHANGED, AND HE LOOKED A BIT PALE. 
ABLE LEANED OVER AND WHISPERED TO US, “ DIRECTLY BEHIND OUR BOOTH GLARING AT US IS MADONNA."  SHE HEARD EVERYTHING WE WERE SAYING!




BACK AT OUR PRESENT DAY TABLE IN BRESCIA-  NEXT TO US IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ITALIAN MAN. HE LOOKS LIKE A BOTTICHELLI PAINTING. HIS HAIR IS LONG AND FULL. DARK AS COAL... DEEP- FLAT BLACK. HIS SKIN IS  LIKE ALABASTER. IT GLOWS. HIS EYES,  SO DEEP, ONE COULD FALL INTO THEM. 
I JUST STARE. HE LOOKS KIND.

AFTER DINNER, NICOLA & LUPIN TAKE ME TO A CLUB WHERE THEY LIKE TO DJ. EVERYBODY IS OUTSIDE SMOKING IN THE COLD. WHEN WE GO INTO A SMALL SPACE, NO FRILLS. THE BAR IS A BASIC WHITE SURFACE THAT ALSO DOUBLES AS  DJ BOOTH. NEXT TO THE BAR IS A BARREN WHITE WALL PROJECTING MATTHEW BARNEY’S CREMASTER3. EVERY NOW AND AGAIN, THE WALL WILL SLIDE OPEN EXPOSING THE TOILET. THIS IS ALSO THE ENTRY WAY.
NICOLA MUST'VE TOLD THE MILLENNIAL DJ’ I WAS FAMOUS, BECAUSE HE TAKES OUT HIS CAMERA AND STARTS SNAPPING PICS. WITHOUT TALKING TO ME, ASKING TO POSE OR ANYTHING. I KNOW THEY WILL COME OUT BAD. 
THIS IS A VERY MILLENNIAL THING TO DO. RATHER THAN START A CONVERSATION AND GET GOOD PHOTOS, HE OPPS FOR ANTI-SOCIAL- I’LL JUST SNAP A FEW. MILLENNIALS HAVE NO PEOPLE SKILLS. DON’T GET ME STARTED ON MILLENNIALS!
THE ONLY DECENT ONE I’M AWARE OF IS TIMOTHEE CHALAMET.
 I’M NOT SO SURE IF I MET HIM I WOULD FEEL THIS WAY, BUT ON CAMERA HE COMES OFF SMART, SWEET & SINCERE.
SINCE I’M OLD I ASK NICOLA IF I CAN LEAVE. MY LATE NIGHT DAYS ARE DEFINITELY OVER. OR AS, RICK OWENS VISUAL DIRECTOR LUKE MAYES PUTS IT, 
“IF YOU CAN’T DIG IT, YOU AIN’T GOT NO SHOVEL.”  
LUKE MAY ALSO BE A MILLENNIAL.

MY ITALIAN DREAMBOYS DROP ME OFF AT MY SWEET COMMUNISTA HOTEL TRENTO .  I FALL INTO THE MOST PLEASANT SLEEP.

12.26.2017- LATE MORNING
IN THE AFTERNOON CHIARA, (THE COMMUNISTA) AND HER FAMILY PICK ME UP FOR LUNCH. CHIARA HUSBAND SCOTT IS FROM LONDON. THAT’S WHERE HE MET CHIARA, WHEN SHE DECIDED TO MOVE BACK TO BRESCIA SHE ASKED HIM TO COME, AND HE DID… IS THAT TRUE LOVE OR WHAT!
THEY HAVE TWO KIDS- A 15 YEAR OLD GIRL WHO I’M TOLD IS SHY. ALTHOUGH SHE DOES EXPRESS SHE WANTS TO GO TO CALIFORNIA AND PURCHASE A LAMBORGHINI, AND AN 8 YEAR OLD BOY WHO CONTINUOUSLY PLAYS VIOLENT GAMES ON HIS IPHONE. IT HAS A STICKER THAT SAYS, “FUCK OFF.” 
SURPRISED I ASK HIM WHAT THIS SAYS… HE LOOKS AT HIS DAD FOR CLEARANCE.. “THEY’RE ONLY ALLOW TO SWEAR AT HOME, BUT SINCE YOU’VE ASKED, HE CAN REPLY,” SAYS SCOTT.


IN THE CUTEST OLIVER, PLEASE SIR, MAY I HAVE MORE- VOICE HE REPLIES, 
“FUCK OFF.”
WE GO TO A GERMAN HOFBRAU IN A MALL JUST OUT OF BRESCIA, SO NOW I CAN SAY I’VE HAD GERMAN FOOD, ITALIAN STYLE.

THE COMMUNISTA FAMILY DROPS ME BACK OFF AT HOTEL TRENTO, WHERE THE CONCIERGE OPENS THE DOOR FOR ME. IT’S RAINING A BIT AND HE DOESN’T WANT ME TO GET WET. WAS HE WAITING FOR ME? I DIDN’T EVEN BUZZ ENTRY.

I HANG OUT WITH THE OWNER/CONCIERGE. HE MAKES ME A CUPPA TEA. HE’S SO GREAT- OLD SCHOOL, NO FRILLS, HARD AS NAILS, WITH A HEART OF GOLD. 
I PAY MY BILL NOW, (SOOO CHEAP!) BECAUSE I WILL LEAVE AT THE CRACK OF DAWN THE FOLLOWING MORNING. HE SHOWS ME WHERE TO LEAVE THE KEY.
WHEN I COME BACK TO BRESCIA I WILL STAY AT THE HOTEL TRENTO.
MAYBE HE’LL GIVE ME A THREE MONTH- SPECIAL DEAL?
I TAKE A LITTLE CATNAP….



 PIER PAOLO PASOLINI'S- SALO: 120 DAYS OF SODOM  CHANGED MY LIFE. 
AT THE AGE OF 18~ I WENT TO THE FIRST SCREENING~ VISTA THEATER, SILVER LAKE~1976. THE FILM BEGINS PROJECTING TO AN ALREADY SPARSE CROWD. 
LOS ANGELES IN THE 70S, FEW WERE INTERESTED IN ARTHOUSE, SUBTITLED, EXPLICIT FILMS. WHEN THE MOVIE ENDED I WAS THE ONLY ONE LEFT IN THE THEATER.  I'VE ALWAYS SAID~  "SALO SEPARATES THE MEN FROM THE BOYS." 

 SALO:120 DAYS OF SODOM AFFECTED ME DEEPLY. 
 I SAW THE MOVIE, BEFORE I READ THE  CLASSIC BOOK BY THE MARQUIS DE SADE~ DONATIEN ALPHONSE FRANCOIS, (1785).   
PASOLINI'S INVERSION OF AN ALREADY INVERTED TALE FASCINATES ME TO THIS DAY.  
AS AN OBSESSIVE PERSON I CONSUMED ANY INFO I COULD FIND ABOUT SALO. 
THIS OF COURSE WAS PRE-INTERNET. MOST NON ITALIANS DON'T REALIZE SALO THE LOCATION DOES EXIST.  THE PRODUCTION WAS FILMED MOSTLY IN THE OUTSKIRTS OF ROMA, BUT THE OPENING EXTERIOR IS A WIDE SHOT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SALO IN NORTHERN ITALY.   

ON MY LAST EVENING IN ITALY, ONE OF MY LIFE DREAMS HAS COME TRUE. 
MY ITALIAN DREAM BOYS-  LUPIN, NICOLA AND DOUGLAS- LUPIN’S BF FROM AUSTIN SURPRISE ME BY DRIVING ME TO SALO! I WAS SO EXCITED I COULDN'T CONTAIN MYSELF...  I WAS SCREAMING THE ENTIRE DRIVE THERE. 
SUDDENLY THERE WE WERE..... IT WAS PITCH BLACK, IT WAS RAINING,  I DIDN'T HAVE MY CAMERA,  I DIDN'T HAVE THE COSTUME I PLANNED TO WEAR, 
BUT I WAS IN SALO. I WAS HOME.



AFTER OUR SHOOT AND A LEISURELY STROLL IN DOWNTOWN SALO MAIN STREET IN 28 DEGREE WEATHER, NICOLA CALLED A FRIEND WHO OWNS A LOCAL BAR CALLED VENTIQUATTRO- (21).
THE BAR WAS CLOSED FOR THE HOLIDAY, BUT HE INVITES US OVER TO A PRIVATE PARTY. AFTER GETTING LOST A FEW TIMES, WE PARK THE CAR IN THE OUTSKIRTS OF "LA REPUBBLICA  DI SALO." I OPEN THE CAR DOOR AND AM GREETED BY MATTIA MERGO. HE IS ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!  LEAN, SEXY.. SWEETEST FACE I’VE EVER SEEN, DEEP BROWN EYES, BUTTON NOSE..
 I CAN’T STOP STARING AT HIM. AND HE’S SO NICE & GENEROUS. 

WE WALK IN THE RAIN BEHIND MATTIA AS HE LEADS US TO HIS HOME.
UP THE NARROW STAIRCASE IN A QUAINT TOWNHOUSE JUST OUTSIDE DOWNTOWN SALO. MATTIA THROWS OPEN THE DOORS TO A FULL ON ITALIAN PARTY THAT LOOKS LIKE ITS BEEN GOING ON FOR DAYS.
A GROUP OF ITALIAN MEN ARE SINGING DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF SINATRA'S 
MY WAY. SOME OTHER MEN ARE COOKING. ANOTHER GROUP OF ITALIAN WOMEN ARE DANCING.
 A CHIC MOTHER DANCES WITH HER BEAUTIFUL GOLDEN-HAIRED DAUGHTER.
THERE ARE MANY EMPTY AND HALF-EMPTY BOTTLES OF WINE LITTERING THE HUGE DINING TABLE. I FEEL LIKE I’M IN A MODERN DAY FELLINI FILM. 
EVERYBODY IS HAPPY, BEAUTIFUL AND ENJOYING AMORE PER LA VITA.
THEN THE FOOD & DRINK START COMING- “YOU MUST TRY THIS LOCAL WINE,” SOMEONE PUTS DOWN A BOTTLE IN FRONT OF US. 
IT IS INCREDIBLE! 
“HERE IS 4 YEAR AGED PARMIGIANO WITH LOCAL OLIVE OIL,” 
SOMEONE ELSE PUTS DOWN A PLATE.
WOW!
“THIS IS SALTED SALMON FROM LAGO DI GARDIA,” 
ANOTHER PERSON PUTS DOWN A PLATE. 
OHWOW!
“WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRY TORTELLINI SOUP?” ASKS ANOTHER PERSON.
AMAZING!
 NICOLA HAD TOLD ME HE WAS SERVED TORTELLINI SOUP FOR XMAS EVE AND IT WAS BLAND. “TRY THIS ONE IL MIO PICCOLO DIAVOLO, I SAY.
 I GUARANTEE IT IS ANYTHING BUT BLAND.”
“HERE IS SOME SPAGHETTI, “ A JOVIAL MAN SETS IN FRONT OF ME.
THICK HOME MADE NOODLES WITH PECORINO ROMANO, RED PEPPERS AND BLACK PEPPERCORN. 
SO SIMPLE, BUT SOOOOOO GOOD!
MORE WINE…..


AND NOW A CHEERFUL MAN WEARING A SEA MONSTER DEL GARDA T-SHIRT, PUTS DOWN A, STILL SIZZLING PLATE, “THIS IS LOCAL DUCK, COOKED IN LOCALLY CHURNED BUTTER, ORANGES FROM OUR TREE, AND LOCAL CHAMPAGNE,
 WITH A SIDE OF POLENTA.
OHMYFUCKINGOD!! I’VE GONE TO CULINARY HEAVEN!  
SUDDENLY A GUY WHO LOOKS LIKE SOMEONE ANTONIONI WOULD'VE CAST AS A MUSICIAN BRINGS OUT A MANDOLIN AND BEGINS TO SING…. 
WHILE WE EAT! THEN THIS ELEGANT WOMAN SINGS OPERA. 
I WANT TO CRY… HER VOICE IS  SO BEAUTIFUL.
 I LOOK TO DOUGLAS, THE ONLY OTHER AMERICAN HERE, AND HE IS CRYING.
 I UNDERSTAND. WE SIMPLY DON’T HAVE THIS WARMTH IN AMERICA.
 NOT IN PRESENT TIMES ANYWAY. I’M SOMEWHAT REMINDED OF FAMILY PARTIES WHEN I WAS A CHILD. I REMEMBER THIS KIND OF WARMTH THEN. 
THAT WAS A LONG TIME AGO.
THE JOLLY CHEF IN THE SEA MONSTER DEL GARDA T-SHIRT SITS NEXT TO ME. 
I TELL HIM, “THAT WAS THE BEST MEAL I’VE EVER HAD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.” 
HE ACTUALLY LOWERS HIS HEAD IN PRIDE.
MATTIA BRING OVER A BOTTLE, “THIS IS HOMEMADE AGED CHAMPAGNE WE’VE ONLY CREATED 6 BOTTLES, WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRY SOME?” 
“WELL…. YES!”, I SAY, 
MATTIA POURS,  I SIP. IT HITS ME IMMEDIATELY.
 “DO YOU NOTICE HOW IT STINGS THE LIPS IN THE MOST ENJOYABLE WAY? 
IT WAKES THEM UP.” 
“YES I DO,” I REPY IN AWE.
 LUPIN IS HITTING ON THIS GORGEOUS YOUNG BOY IN THE KITCHEN.
 BEFORE HE DOES SO, HE TOLD MATTIA THAT I THINK HE’S BEAUTIFUL. 
MATTIA DOESN’T REACT THE WAY AN AMERICAN STRAIGHT MAN WOULD REACT, EITHER IN FEAR, ANGER OR BOTH. 
MATTIA SAYS TO ME,
“THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I AM SO HAPPY TO HAVE YOU HERE.” 
HE HUNGS ME. THEN INTRODUCES ME TO HIS GIRLFRIEND WHO HANDS ME THEIR CARD. 
I LOVE ITALIANS.

*AS A SIDE NOTE I WOULD LIKE TO TELL MY DEAR READERS-
 BRESCIA IS 30 MINUTES SOUTH OF SALO, AND 20 MINUTES NORTH OF CREMA- 
WHERE THEY FILMED CALL ME BY YOUR NAME.


ON THE WAY BACK TO BRESCIA WE ARE ALL SINGING IN THE CAR, LAUGHING AND AMARE OGNI MOMENTO.
WE DROP OFF DOUGLAS AT HIS HOTEL AND I SAY TO HIM, “DO EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO DO FOR THE NEW YEAR. DRINK, SMOKE, EAT GOOD FOOD, KISS LUPIN.”

NOW LUPIN & NICOLA TAKE ME BACK TO HOTEL TRENTO. 
THE CONCIERGE/OWNER OPENS THE DOOR. HOW DID HE KNOW WE WERE HERE?
HE MAKES US TEA AND WE TAKE IT TO MY ROOM. 
SINCE IT'S COMMUNISTA, THERE IS ONLY ONE CHAIR, SO I TELL MY ITALIAN DREAMBOYS- “YOU WILL HAVE TO FIGHT OVER IT.” 
THEY SMOKE.. LIKE CHIMNEYS. WE DRINK OUR TEA AND LAUGH.

THEN THE TIME COMES TO SAY GOOD-BYE. NICOLA HUGS ME.
 I PICK HIM UP AND SQUEEZE HIM. HE’S LIGHT AS A FEATHER. 
I DON’T WANT TO LET GO.. THIS TRIP HAS BEEN A GIFT TO ME- 
I’VE HAD THIS SUBLTE, YET POWERFUL EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME. 

THESE TWO GUYS, WHO WERE STRANGERS A WEEK AGO ARE NOW
 LA MIA FAMIGLIA
I START TO WEEP.. AGAIN!
I REALLY JUST FALL APART. I FINALLY LET GO OF NICOLA, AS I HAVE NOW MADE HIM CRY. LUPIN LOOKS ME IN THE EYE. HE IS ALSO CRYING. 
MISTER CASTRO, HE SAYS TO ME IN HIS WONDERFUL HEAVY ITALIAN ACCENT. 
YOU ARE A TRUE GENTLEMAN.”
I TRY,” I RESPOND THRU SOBS. WE KISS.

“I GET VERY SENTIMENTAL,“ I EXPLAIN. 
2017 HAS BEEN A HARD YEAR FOR ME, AS IT HAS FOR MANY PEOPLE. 
LUPIN & NICOLA HAVE HARD LIFES AS WELL. THERE IS NO NEED TO EXPLAIN. 
WE UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER.

 I CLOSE THE DOOR AS THEY WALK DOWN THE HALLWAY OF THE BLEAK, BEAUTIFUL HOTEL TRENTO, I CRY FOR ANOTHER HOUR OR SO… 
DOES THIS MEAN I CRIED MYSELF TO SLEEP?