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My dear reader, have you ever had to defecate in an unnatural, for you, setting? Relieving oneself by artificial means in the jungles of Vietnam—on the borders of the Kingdom of Cambodia and Laos— was what one should have expected from soldiers serving with an infantry company, they having been often inserted post-haste there, for maybe days or weeks, by helicopters because roads did not exist. We all had been issued an entrenching tool which served to dig foxholes (angular, not circular), clear out underbrush and dig out a small hole into which we excreted and then tossed in the toilet paper used to wipe ourselves. Sometimes grunts even covered the hollow with the dirt they had just before excavated. In the event we were short on supplies because bad weather prohibited helicopters from entering an LZ (landing zone) near our position, we used leaves taken from the trees we went surreptitiously behind for some privacy in the expands of Asian Nature and away from our comrades. Sad, too, was the fact that sundry packs which included an array of things such as toothpaste, cigarettes and toilet paper, would often have been stolen in BC (base camp) by conniving supply personnel to sell after on the black market. It was not unusual to brush our teeth with salt because no CREST toothpaste had arrived. In BC facilities were somewhat more civilized. Throughout unit areas, there were small “outhouses” made of wood and fenced in with screening to keep mosquitoes and flies out. There was a planked piece of wood with two holes in it and through which were dropped one's feces. The fecal matter fell into cut-down oil barrels which later would be collected by sanitary staff who eventually poured some combustible into the huge cans, set fire to them, and ensured that no disease from them could contaminate the troops. It was said that the Air Force in Vietnam had running toilet water for their personnel, but I never had the opportunity to use those services. F.T.A. !!! In Venezuela, I happed upon another uncanny habit performed by all people in Caracas and which I, too, would practice for the almost
eight years that I lived in that city. On the first day, when I had taken up residency in La Florida, a hop, skip and a jump from La Cada supermarket—once the property of the Rockefeller family—my Spanish landlady, Carmen, came screaming to me after I had used the bathroom: I had made an intolerable error: I had unknowingly flushed the toilet with the discarded toilet paper in it and had not placed that used sanitary material in the basket, lined with an orange plastic bag with a green alligator printed on it—set next to the toilet. I could not understand why Carmen was shouting so, so I ran to the telephone, called Lucia, and asked her to calm down Carmen and tell me what I was guilty of. Lucia ironed out the confusion, and from then on, for eight years, I put used toilet paper in baskets settled, throughout Caracas, in restrooms in restaurants, in theatres, in homes, in schools, in bars and even in the privy of the offices of the Ministro de Información y Turismo, Diego Arria, a young Mitt Romney type who had been selected by the Central Stupidity Agency to be president of Venezuela one day and who walked with a cane because he had been run over by his wife's Mercedes-Benz (with her in it!) when Diego had been found to be cheating on her. Italy is still another “laxation chronicle.” In my apartment and its environs, where I have lived since 1985, strange things began to happen in the autumn of last year. For one, five street diggings have been made in the street on which I live in order to mend broken water pipes and cut off or soaked telephone and/or cable lines. In fact, one of these interventions was the second in the same place where it, supposedly, had been repaired the first time. During this same interval, the sewage system in my bathroom began to back up with the result that I now cannot egest in the commode for fear it will flood the bathroom floor. I use a potty. My dear reader, I must flashback here for a minute: When I moved into my apartment in Calenzano it subsequently took one year and a half to install the telephone cables from the street to my abode! The prime minister at that time, Bettino Craxi, had to finally intervene on my behalf. There is terrible waste and corruption in the building of homes in Italy. New ones are often constructed shoddily. Which reminds me that my friend in Siberia, Professor Alexey Aleksandrovich Fedorov, at Novosibirsk University, who has an apartment that was built in the Soviet era, complains, too, about the tawdry building practices of this time in Russia's history. He is proud to have a well-built Soviet lodging. All of Europe is talking about Italy's €2,000,000,000,000 debt, but no one has calculated in the additional cost that would amount in
fixing the country's centuries old water and irrigation systems which in many places have an 80% run-off rate. Silence. Just as uncommunicativeness is the order of the day for other Italian horrors such as an aging population, a disastrously flat-growing birthrate, the institutionalized nimbus of a sorrowful inability to effect the rewards of that free enterprise Italians so hunger for, and, perhaps the most immediately threatening, the secessionist rantings of violent right-wing Italian fanatics in the north of Italy. Italians are great at covering things over. Firstly, they ignore what they do not wish, or are afraid, to confront. But when they are pinned down, they invent the most outlandish, at times, childish self-justifications—such as the following: I was called by a veterinary friend of mine to please come and help interpret on her behalf between two German engineers and their wives who had come to spend a relaxing Tuscan vacation in her overpriced Bread & Breakfast. The Germans, who obviously spoke English, were furious with the state of their rooms which they found, correctly, not in parity with the price asked for by my Italian friend. But what irked them the most was the fact that the rooms were not cleaned exceptionally well. I arrived and immediately began to soothe ruffled feathers. One German engineer led me to a corner of his room and pointed to cobwebs on the floor in the nook. I translated his lament to my friend. She was furious because she had been accused. She whispered in my ear that I should tell the crafty schemer that the cobwebs were medieval cobwebs and as such, by law, cannot be disturbed. The engineer went aghast. He called for the bill and told my friend that he and his companions were leaving as soon as possible. Italy has no intention of paying off its horrendous debt. This is a well-known fact here in Italy. And even if it possessed that volition, the money needed to restructure and bring Italy's infrastructure up to par with other industrialized nations, would still cost billions and billions and billions more. Italy has been unproductive for at least thirty years, and there is no sign that it might ever surface from its medieval mindset. Italy is going to come up with an excuse for not paying its debt! What is it? Its culture! When Italy was considered the fifth most powerful economy in the world, Italians did not brag about their good times. They were riding high. Today, Italy is the seventh most powerful economy (if Italy is seventh in the rankings, imagine how poor the other countries are!) and with downgrades by rating agencies and other bad news on its economic front, Italians are now beginning to play the culture card. This means that Italians
will become offended by all the criticism directed at it. They will dissent against these unfavorable judgments, and huffed up, will claim that they are being made victims of for the benefit of the others in Europe. They will refuse to go along. They will reject their due debt payments. It is called Fascism and the Italians invented it! Bye, bye euro! Bye, bye European Union! Medieval cobwebs! (Joseph Goebbels, Nazi propagandist: “When people mention to me the word “culture,” I take my pistol out of my desk drawer and place it between us.”) Germans can be rather precise. It is scandalous to me, still, that they could also have been such vicious bloody murderers during the last century. N'est pas, Herr Rumsfeld, Herr Wolfowitz, Herr Schwarzkopf? With the economic problems that Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain present to the European Union, it is innocuous to say that the EU will never enjoy the highfalutin expectations made on its behalf. In fact, Europe has never been able to coalesce into an on-going, rewarding entity, has it? Why should we delude ourselves into thinking it might do so now? Will all Hell break out when the rest of Europe realizes that Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain—with their insane spending spree had with borrowed money—have set Capitalism back for who knows how many decades? Toodleoo. Authored by Anthony St. John 1 February MMXII Calenzano, Italy www.scribd.com/thewordwarrior
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