Downtown Diary 

This week: "Rocky on the grand tour, part one"

This week: “Rocky on the grand tour, part one”
[this is satire] I deplaned and kissed the tarmac ... Rome! My spiritual home! I was quickly whisked away by my editor Bartolomeo Pistola from Edizione Testa d’Uovo and a few minor functionaries from his office. The paparazzi were everywhere — my arrival and the publication of my book Night Thoughts: Reflections, Aphorisms, Epigrams, Etc. were major events in Italy, which is, as is well known, far more intellectually advanced than the U.S. We lunched at a small restaurant. I was served a double espresso that was so luscious that it brought tears to my eyes. Afterwards, I went to Bartolomeo’s office and signed a few presentation copies of my book as well as the 50 copies of the limited edition. That evening, attired in cap and gown, I gave a lecture at the Universita’ La Sapienza di Roma entitled “Mikhail Bakhtin, Diavolo Bellusci, and the Development of Feline Anarchism.” I was stunned to see in the audience the ghost of my idol Tommaso Landolfi, who afterwards approached me and congratulated me on my book and the lecture. I was so thrilled! He shook my paw with a rather light touch, then disappeared into the crowd. After dinner Bartolomeo took me to a brothel, where I and a few of the ladies engaged in what is known in Rome as “three coins in the fountain.” Mamma mia! The next morning I awakened a bit hung over. The phone rang — J. calling from Indianapolis. Ach! I couldn’t bear his whining, so I hung up on him. I threw back a ristretto (quite delectable) and headed to the studios of Italian television Channel 3 for an interview. The session went well — I held forth on life under the junta, the state of American letters, trends in American philosophy and so on. I emitted a few wine-drenched belches, but I think they were able to edit them out. We then travelled to Bologna where I gave a lecture at the university entitled “Diseased Narcissism in the Writings of J. Williams.” Eco was in the audience and scratched his chin, screwed up his eyes, made notes and then afterwards grilled me. I withstood his questioning quite well. That night at a bar I asked a few locals about the connection between the city Bologna and the lunchmeat bologna, but got no definitive answer. We did, however, figure out that there is no Italian town named “Pepperoni.” Next Week: Rocky on The Grand Tour, Part Two

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