It started with American flag, MC Hammer-like pants, and it ended with a command to have sex, and take drugs.
For people who know The Doors, and everything the mythical band ‘stood for/represented’, the above doesn’t seem very much like them. But alas, with the death of the legendary, fantasy-inducing frontman, Jim Morrison, and the no-showingness of drummer, John Densmore, things had to change, obviously.
I am a huge fan of the band: I own all of their albums and the Oliver Stone film, read their various biographies, and even dragged my tush to Paris to see Morrison’s grave. I love The Doors. I love their music. They even lessen my distaste for California and the west coast!
So don’t get me wrong, hearing the songs of The Doors being played live, with two of the original members, was freaking amazing. Being able to sing along to ‘When the Music’s Over,’ after Robby Krieger told us that it was Jim’s favorite song to play live, was especially awesome. I was able to imagine myself listening to the band back in the 60s, at Whiskey a Go Go, swaying in a psychedelic, drug-induced trance. Overall, the concert was a great experience. They even got a Jim Morrison look-a-like to replace the legendary Lizard King. So at the End of the Night, I was a very happy Doors fan.
But then again Robby Krieger did take the stage in those American flag plants, the music was more loud than The Doors subtle music should be, they didn’t play The End, and then Ray Manzarek urged the crowd to go home, get high, and have sex, on multiple occasions throughout the concert. So in my humble, know-it-all opinion, The Doors, as they are now, are way more corny than what I imagined them to be in the height of their super-freaking-awesomeness. But then again, decades have passed, they are older, and they were only playing at half-Door capability. Oh well, Take It As It Comes!
The Doors. Wow.
They played for like, an hour.
So I was sitting outside the venue of the Justice concert, drinking some beers, hanging out with two friends, when I heard some music being pumped out of the locale. But I says, I says, ‘that can’t be Justice! The doors opened at 10, it’s only 10:30, and no way Justice- world famous DJs- would go on without an opening act first.’ Everyone agreed. We finished our beers and banter, and then headed to the venue.
The corridors of this place were so empty, it seemed as if we had stepped into some ghost town of a concert hall. Music flyers blowing like tumbleweeds, skeletons of cigarettes smoked all over the ground, signs for ‘BEER’ hanging askew… We look to each other, eyes darting from one to the other, all thinking the same thing: ‘Is it possible? Have Justice started playing?!’
And then it came crashing down upon us like, like, like… an electronic waveform from a Casio CZ-230S synthesizer… WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS!!! Terror spread across our faces. It was true! Justice had started to play, 30 minutes back when we heard that first clamor of music by the beer stand outside! The three of us ran inside, shoved our way to the middle of the crowd, and utterly lost ourselves in the remaining THIRTY MINUTES OF THE CONCERT.
Oh but how could we have been so silly? Why didn’t we rush to the stage as we heard the first notes of electronic music? Why?! Why?! WHY?!!!
Well, I know why. It was only 10:30 PM, the tickets costs a little over €40, and what self-respecting DJ plays only for one hour, sending their fans home before midnight? I mean really. What kind of super famous DJs take the stage before 2 am anyways? And then spin for only an hour?! It’s not like they have to sing or play instruments: nothing more exhausting than standing up, bobbing their heads up and down, and spinning/scratching/whatever-ing they do to those turntables and computers. Bah.
Yes, they were done by 11:30 PM.
Am I bitter that I foolishly showed up late to the Justice concert and only saw 30 minutes of their show? Yes.
Would anyone have thought that those two Frenchies would be so lame (I’m sorry but it’s true) as to start on time, with no opening act, and be in bed by 12 midnight? No.
But did those 30 minutes of Justice rock hardcore? Yea pretty much. Goddamnit.
Bring something to read: Firstly, so you won’t be bored. Secondly, and most importantly, so you don’t notice everyone who is staring at you. Why are they staring? Either because they neglected to bring something to read, or because they [Italians] just like to stare.
Don’t be the creep: Didn’t bring something to read? You’re fault! Don’t do the lean-over-to-read-your-neighbors-newspaper. It’s creepy.
Take the seat: There’s a seat, and you want it, so take it. Don’t pretend you prefer to stand. No one prefers to stand.
No seat? Hold on: Don’t be a hero. There are way too many people flying all over the metro cars, stepping on people, pushing people… Hold on to those metal bars, strategically positioned to help you NOT make a flopping fool of yourself.
Want a seat? Observe all: You want to stand in front of the seated woman clutching her bag, collecting her things. You want to stand in front of the seated nun while approaching the Vatican’s metro stop. You want to stand in front of the seated guy with a suitcase while approaching Termini station. (And other terrible stereotypes that I shan’t get in to, but you get it…) As soon as they get up, SWARM.
Watch out for old people: They are vigilant. They have no shame and will do anything to get on the metro first, and to get to any seat.
Give it up for old people: Or just be a good person and let the old people sit in your stead. Same for pregnant women. But women in heels? No way, let them suffer the consequences of their own impractical choices. (Super high platformed heels to go to work at 8:30 am? No sympathy from me. No way.)
Don’t push the ‘open’ button: Seriously. The doors will open automatically on their own, and furiously pushing the button will not get you off the train any faster.
Don’t be a barbarian: Let people off the metro before shoving your way on. And if the people behind you are pushing for you to get in? Box ‘em out! They gotta learn that people need to get off the metro before they can get on.
Respect personal space: Depending on personal preference, the space you need for yourself to feel safe and not-molested may differ. If you’re anything like me, you don’t want to be touched by anyone, nor anyone’s bag or umbrella. Keep it tight, don’t be creepy. This includes staying in the clearly demarcated metro seat. I don’t cross the seat-lines, and neither should you!
Ignore the teenagers: At certain times of the day, the metro is overflowing with teenagers. Turn your music on super loud, bury your nose in your book, do anything to avoid looking at them. And if they start making out aggressively, on the one seat they are sharing together right near you, get up and stand. In this case, standing is indeed preferred over sitting.
Boycott the B: I don’t care what people say, I take the metro about 50 times a day, and the B-line is super terrible. Avoid it at all costs. Average wait time? A billion minutes.
I gotta give it to Romans, they sure can stand outside for a really long time. Like most normal places in the world, in Italy you are allowed to drink alcohol outside of a locale. AKA damn you America. Since people can take their beverages out of a bar/restaurant/club, they generally do. This results in large crowds standing outside of bars and clubs, on any given night in Rome. Not to mention huge crowds in piazzas all over the city, all the time.
If it’s cold out (obviously not freezing), Romans will be outside, smoking and drinking and talking. Even if it’s kinda drizzling, they will be out there. Roman endurance for standing, (rather than sitting comfortably), and standing when it’s cold out, is very impressive. I usually get tired after standing around for an hour, but not them!
Not only do Romans stand outside for long periods of time, in various weather conditions, but they will also say goodbye to their friends, outside, for a long time. It’s very hard to say goodbye, and leave, when you are out with Romans: you can’t just yell out ‘OK bye, see you all later,’ like we impersonally do in America. Peaceing out in Rome is an intimate, person-by-person affair, and depending on how many people you are with, this can take anywhere from 5-45 minutes, to ‘OK I’m just not going to go and I’ll hang out for a few more hours.’ Seriously though, beware the wrath of the Roman who doesn’t get a serious goodbye from you! Even if you are tired of standing around, and tired of standing around in [maybe] cold weather, you gotta say goodbye properly!
Alls I can say is: my dogs bark, and I guess Italian’s dogs don’t, and I don’t like standing outside in cold weather. Kudos to them.
In the morning on the metro, on their lunch break, for an aperitivo, from the parking spot, out to dinner, dancing…. heels heels heels. Italian women have this uncanny ability to live in their heels. And no they are not the Aerosoles.
I am mostly in awe of this Italian female ability, because the streets of historic Rome are ‘paved’ with sampietrini, the special cobblestone-like paving, which make even regular sneaker-ed walking a bit difficult. But not for the seasoned Italian heel-bearer…
How do they survive in heels all the time? I have no idea, so kudos to them!
So it’s been a while since I’ve posted on my blog. My excuse is as follows: I have recently started contributing to the awesome blog, Young in Rome, and I didn’t want my bitchy rumblings to be associated with the all-together not-bitchy and helpful Young in Rome.
But I digress. Back to the actual complaining.
This one is for all of us who have spent more than one month living in Rome: How long did it take you to get sick of pasta? For me? I’d say it was a good four months before I started thinking, ‘I cannot handle pasta anymore.’
This is actually not a stereotype, Italians eat pasta once a day! Either it’s for lunch, or it’s for dinner, but Italians never seem to get sick of eating pasta. But not just pasta, the same foods all the time! Italian food is my favorite cuisine, as I have said in the past, but at some point, I just can’t eat any more of it. Thankfully I have a fully equipped kitchen and can prepare food for myself at home, non-Italian food. But if you want to go out and eat non-Italian food, well that becomes a bit harder.
You can get all the Chinese and Japanese food you want in Rome. Given, it’s not very good. And I can never seem to get over the fact that lo mein is called ‘spaghetti’ and that dumplings are called ‘ravioli.’ I have my one favorite Chinese restaurant, and my one favorite Japanese restaurant, which I can go as far as to say, they are decent. It is also hard to get over all the Chinese-Japanese hybrid restaurants, two cuisines that should not be served at the same place, ever.
Apart from Chinese and Japanese restaurants, one has to actually search for other cuisines. There are a few Indian restaurants, a couple Thai places, two Ethiopian places, two Korean eateries, and that’s about it. Oh, but I can’t forget the ‘American’ joints that ‘serve’ ‘Mexican food’ and ‘American Brunch.’ And while we are on the topic, there aren’t even many Italian restaurants in Rome that serve non-Roman Italian cuisine!
Now how is it that one of Europe’s main capital cities has so little to offer in the way of international cuisines? Is it the lack of colonialism (cough Libya, cough Ethiopia)? Or maybe it’s the fact that Italians are into their own traditions that they just are not interested in trying other foods? Or maybe more countries need to send people to live in Rome and open restaurants? Maybe it’s a mix of all of these reasons, and others that I have not thought of, but the point is, I want a bagel and I want one right now!!
In addition to the monstrous Chinese/Japanese hybrids, one can also see many of these gems around Rome, offering the all too similar, pizza, kebab, and sushi combos!
So I went to Brussels this past weekend, and I had a great time.
Everything is so clean and orderly. There is barely any litter, just tourists like me. Walking around Brussels’ quaint streets proved very easy, since the city is so small. One can’t really get lost, since you can always peek the point of the main squares’ church spire thingy. The buildings are very cutely designed, none reaching past 5 floors from what I can tell. As my friend Julie told me before I went, the city is kinda like a cartoon version of Paris, and I totally agree.
The people in Brussels were very polite and helpful: any questions we had were always answered with a smile. People don’t stand in your way, or bump into you and expect an apology. Even the teenagers we met on the train on the way to a techno festival shared their beer and potato chips with us.
The food is also spectacular. They have a bunch of traditional dishes, but I focused on the moules, or mussels, in English people talk. Man, I could eat moules all day everyday. If I could eat my way out of a tub filled with moules au fromage, I would only be too happy. Not to mention, beer there is as good as everyone said it would be. That brown Leffe is heaven. Oh, and the waffles that you can get just about anywhere, were so good. Like really good.
Everyone speaks English too, which is always appreciated. In Brussels, people speak mostly French, but then Flemish is also the national language, so everything is written in both languages. This was probably my favorite part of being in Brussels: being able to make fun of both French, and German-looking Flemish, all at once, in one city! And we all know how much I love to make fun of French and German…
I did notice that the city always seemed empty. Obviously, right in the center there are tons of tourists, but walking around, there really aren’t that many people out and about. Especially at night, Brussels is practically empty. Where is everyone? Don’t people go out?
All in all, I really enjoyed my time in Brussels. I wish I had more complaining to do about my trip, I really do.
Well.. it is fucking freezing there. There are too many children. And everything is really expensive. There’s something.
(Not to be confused with the German flag, that has horizontal stripes. But you knew that, didn’t you?!)
Italian food is like, really good. Italian cuisine has always been my favorite, and moving to Italy highlighted why.
The amazing thing is that Italy is divided into 20 regions, and each region has its own specific dishes. Depending on how north or south a region is, or if it’s coastal/mountainy, dishes change drastically. And in addition to that, there are seasonal dishes for each region. There are so many different pasta ‘sauces,’ the options seem endless. There are all sorts of styles of pizza, with all sorts of toppings. There are hundreds of ways to cure meats and about a gazillion different types of cheeses. Not to mention the variety of wine, which can be very intimidating. There are many pre and post dinner liquors as well, and a ton of yummy desserts. And of course, hundreds of gelato flavors.
It’s very hard to find ‘bad’ Italian food here. At worst, dishes are just ‘OK.’ Much like the coffee in this country, chances are you will always get something good. I have been to very few places where the food was sub-par. Obviously I have my favorite places, but for the most part, you will always eat well, if not amazingly.
In my opinion, it’s hard to eat badly in Italy, because all of the dishes are simple and basic. Italian food has no frills: no foams, crazy sauces, not too many ingredients, no reductions, no crazy techniques, or anything else you see on Top Chef. Italian food is definitely one of the most unpretentious cuisines out there. And what makes Italian food so amazing, is that one can reproduce it in his or her own home kitchen.
I love many cuisines, but Italian is definitely the easiest to recreate, and recreate in a way that it tastes like you got it from a pro. Most of the Italians I met, are all fantastic cooks, and can cook any dish that you can get at a restaurant. Not only can they cook it, but it always tastes like it should. A mediocre Italian food-cooker like me can even get it pretty close. (Even if I refuse to cook Italian for Italians because it’s too scary).
What I also love is that every proper Italian dinner has a little bit of everything in it. There’s always some appetizer of salamis, vegetables, or cheese. Then there’s a pasta dish. Then either meat or fish, and then some vegetable side dish. And of course, every meal ends with a dessert of some sort. This may seem like a lot of food, but somehow Italians make it work! There are very few fat people in this country, so I don’t know how, but this specific Mediterranean diet works, and us Americans (us fatsos) should definitely take some lessons from it.
Oh, sorry for all you vegetarians or Kosher/Halal eaters, because one of the best parts of Italian cuisine is the PORK! Even without bacon in its repertoire, shit be super tasty!