Parking lot picnics, and other things

Friday evening we had our monthly meeting with our buying collective, or gruppo acquisto solidale. Last month was kind of rough-lots of tension and frustration in the group and some folks refused to come, so I was anxious about this one. I have made a resolution to make sweets to take to every meeting I go to, with the idea that all bureaucracy is better with food, and had made brownies. Wine was added to the mix, in a very moderate amount, and I honestly think we had the most productive meeting ever, emotionally charged as it was. The Italians I know are all so reluctant to try and also to appreciate foreign food that I have developed a fear of cooking for folks here, but the brownies were consumed with gusto.

After such an activist evening, we decided to embrace a bit of consumerism on Saturday to balance things, and headed to Ikea. Of course, I couldn’t go all the way and so packed a lunch for us to eat in the parking lot.


My mother ALWAYS packed a picnic lunch for us to eat when we traveled by car. I have memories of lunches in all kinds of rest stations (are they still called that?), cemtaries and parks. While we don’t travel much by car, maybe a maximum of 45 minutes, ever, we do go by train and by bike, and we usually carry food with us. So we ate tabouli and melon and had a grand old time.


Saturday night we went to see (listen to?) this: Pontiac, story of a revolt. It was maybe the most amazing performance I’ve ever seen in my life, in that it appealed to me in every possible way. Wu Ming is some kind of writer’s collective here in Italy, and I know very little about them. One of the authors is giving readings to promote the new book Manituana, but boy, is it a different kind of reading! He explained at the beginning that in the past he has been frustrated with his readings. He said he is fundamentally a storyteller, and found it terrible to have to read only a part of a story, and then on top of that to have to choose either to ruin the book for someone who has not read it, or have an even further diminished selection of what to read. And he said he is not an actor, just a storyteller. So he decided to write a story that is contained within the book being published, but not fully developed, and in this way hopefully inspire people to read the published book while at the same time enriching their future experience and the past experience of those who have already read it. And he did it with music! A group with a variety of instruments supported his telling. He started with a creation myth, as he explained, to give some insight into the culture, and then moved into the story of Detroit, and then Pontiac. Fabulous.

Especially because I have been reading a book about Ancient Greece (thank you Evi!) and learned that it is believed that poetry like Homer, and really what came before him, was all recited or sung with music. And of course, I realized, this is probably true of all traditional performances, in all different kinds of cultures. And forget traditional- in our movies we have music to guide us emotionally. So to hear that creation myth with music just about knocked me flat out, I was so overwhelmed. I have read that particular one (with the flooding of the Earth, and the turtle) so many times in books, but never interpreted in such a way that made it so powerful. It was beautiful. The whole thing.


Sunday we went with my bike group Aribi into the Seriana and Vertova Valleys- I was dead tired the whole time from staying up late and the heat, but the ride was beautiful. I had done it when I was here as a student, but the bike path along the river was almosy finished and the ride went smoother. They have built some small pedestrian/bike bridges, like the one in the picture. The best one is all wood, but I didn’t get a photo.

We stopped for three hours to eat lunch and hike around a bit in the mountains. There were Italians laid out like lizards on the rocks in the sun along the little river, and we decided to make like them, found a good spot and conked out. I was so tired I slept for awhile. Meantime the older folks (Generally we are the youngest by about 20+ years) kicked around, hiked the ridge nearby and otherwise kept busy. On the way back, Ilario and I had to plead exhaustion and split off to go home, as they wanted further adventures (mainly a search for watermelon stands that were common not so long ago in July and August, but are now rare because of Health Department raids.). I thought relative age differences were supposed to have proportional differences in energy, with the idea that the younger you are, the more energy you have. So often I find this not to be true at all; Ilario says it is because they are all retired and so don’t have to work the next day, but I am on holiday…

Anna and Francesco are back from the mountains for a couple of days, and brought us:


fresh eggs and


water from the natural spring near their place.


4 Responses to “Parking lot picnics, and other things”

  1. Amsix Says:

    Dear NonItalian, thank you for your interesting description of WuMing2 reading show called ‘Pontiac’. It made grow in me the desire to see it too. A few months ago a couple of them were in Cagliari (where I was born and live) for a public meeting, but I missed the chance to ask them if they might come back with something else.
    Maybe you know it already, but I found your blog because they linked your comment to their website, allowing people to find out more about it.
    In case you or someone else may be interested, I have a page on MySpace as Amsix
    Thanks again

  2. Alix H. Travis Says:

    I found the piece about the play, “reading”, storytelling. Is the play really about the Native American Pontiac? Written by an Italian? How did he choose his subject? Was it set in USA or did he just use the name.

    In Paris I learned that word “Detroit” is French. Makes sense I guess, since the French explored that part of the continent.

    I just can’t quite understand how Pontiac’s story was used.

  3. Rachel Says:

    It was storytelling! And it really was about Pontiac. I tried to explain in the post that he chose the subject because it was a story referred to in his book, but I haven’t read the book so I can’t tell you exactly how.

  4. sandrar Says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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