Gens nova

During this winter 2004,  with a jazz session and a nostalgic concert of Fabrizio de Andrè’s songs, the old english church  in Alassio breathed a sigh of relief. Provided with a perfect acoustic and an enviable library it could see, after years of decay,  a revival of the past splendour thanks to the clever transaction between its parson and the Hall of Alassio: a single agreement the commercial utilization of the keeper house keeping in the church a place for meeting, culture, arranging for safeguarding the library made of thousands of  books in english language.
My father and my grandfather, of anglican belief, have always tought me the importance of gathering in the art sharing under every form it can appear. Anglican church has always been a meeting and exchange point, every sunday after the divine service we passed to the ritual joint banquet, the children played in the Kindereim placed at the entry of the church while the grown-ups could borrow books, nourishment for mind, and so going on dreaming the far-off homeland…all together  taking part in cultural events…
The floor in parquet, the walls in travertine with wide balconies at half aisle full of english books are creating still nowadays a familiar ambience that well suits to meetings of every kind. Almost at the last due day I learnt about the next presentation of the book “I, BB and the other ‘68”…and my heart skip a beat…Gigi , my friend Gigi Rizzi and Olghina, the great Olghina di Robilant, will be within hug!

                    Olghina with Oliviero Toscani, the great photographer.

On november 29th 2004 I presented myself incognito. I feel a deep respect for Donna Olghina, she has written for years on the magazine “Specchio”, a very feared roman gossip magazine that enjoyed great favour in the period of the  “Dolce Vita” at the end of the Eighties….Her pen was really dreaded nearly as her ideas, being able to well read between the lines it appeared all her innovative hunt to the prejudices, to the falsities  regularly hit with her pen. Great friend of my  theatre agent Guidarono Guidi,  she had plunged into the Trevi fountain for a joke giving Fellini the cue to shoot the famous scene with Anita Eckberg and Marcello Mastroianni… friend of  artists from Schifano to Angeli, of roman late-night revellers,  in special way Franco Rapetti and   Gigi Rizzi, she satirized from the pages of her magazine hitting every abusive attitude, every pose of bad taste,  whoever it belonged: nobility, politics, cinema or others persisting in special way with the “parvenue”, the new rich that didn’t know what did “noblesse oblige” mean, overwhelmed as they were only  by  power game unmindful of any humanity; in the Seventies a rude person was nothing else than a disappointing weak person, today he is a politician or a successful man.

                                                    Gigi Rizzi’s last cover

Sitting close to Olghina, identical as I had left him twentyfive years ago there was he…Gigi!
“ …ma non vedete nel cielo quelle macchie di azzurro e di blu…e la pioggia che va…e ritorna il sereno! Quante volte mi hanno detto sorridendo tristemente le speranze dei ragazzi sono fumo, sono stanchi di lottare e non credono più a niente…proprio adesso che la meta è qui vicina…” “But don’t you see in the sky those spots of light blue and blue…. And the rains goes away… and returns the serene How many times people told me smiling sadly  the expectations of boys are smoke, they are tired to fight and don’t believe to anything  more… just now that the goal is so close”  it was Shapiro’s song to immortalize  those words in our hearts and we, boys of ‘69, let ourselves go after that impulse full of meaning arriving  to live the moment and only this, a Carpe Diem to the nth power made only by many extemporaneous moments, in succession.

                                             The three musketeers more one :D’Artagnan

Beautiful as the sun, pure as the snow Franco, Gigi e Beppe were the three musketeers  of my adolescent life, the others meant nothing in comparison with them,  hadn’t  for me even a tenth of their class, of their savoir faire.
It is strange as a person, even after twentyfive years since the last encounter, can appear identical, as if time had never touched it. I think it results from having lived him intimately, going beyond the physical aspect so to see him identical now in those wrinkles once inexistent. Soul always appears in those who have a free soul  and so great is the pleasure I feel in seeing it again, in recognizing it to defeat time again returning to live as if nothing had happened, in a timeless situation full of emotions lived that bind ourselves  forever indissoluble …

During the presentation of the book “I, BB and the other  ‘68” the public is requested to make to the author some questions…I pluck up courage and ask if he remembers the song by Louis Prima “ I’m just a gigolò”…danced by us hundred of times at the NumberOne in Rome…he remembers but doesn’t recognize me! Magically it occurs to me the text of a mexican ballad “…y tu que te creias el rej de todo el mundo” (…and you that thought to be the king of the whole world)  Gigi automatically replays “…y tu que nunca fuiste capaz de perdonar” ( …and you that weren’t able to forgive)…

                      Roman Polanski with Los Paraguayos

It is the text most beloved by us, preferred over any thing by Franco Rapetti…it tells the story of a heart that speaks to itself and is glad of losing in the roulette of life because that has allowed him to  recover its lost humanity …”…maldido corazon me alegro que ora sufras, que llores i te umilles antes tu grande amor” ( damned heart I’m glad of your pain, now you cry and humble yourself before your great love) …nothing is worth as being ourselves respecting life’s laws, we believed firmly in that in our roman wild nights, so I followed three musketeers’ steps absolutely peaceful …

                    Gigi Rizzi’s memory album : him  and BB with Franco

They never involved me in something that could hurt me, never initiate me into any poison in which find the energy to stay up late, I was sixteen and energy and freshness were with me but I was so frail too and they never tried to persuade me to have attitudes or manners different from those of my age. I am very grateful to them… for three years I’ve been their mascot enjoying their friendship without suffering damage.

Gigi now was before me…, the pirate of the group, the tombeur de femme…and what women!…I remember Verouska, the most sought-after top model of the moment,  sweet and beautiful, roaming about with gazelle’s grace in his house in Rome in via Plana behind piazza Euclide: a great love lived as intensely as…all the others by a boy that, in that period, had to keep on running…where nobody knows!

                                                 A photo of Verouska and Gigi made by Rubartelli

He recognizes me by my smile, I’m glad of it, even my animus doesn’t hide…it appears and there are sudden affectionate embraces and holds…We are both alive, surviving to life that we have faced head foremost and  from which both  parted in the period of illness, trying to clean out all those wicked deeds that had sticked on in a route deliberately devoid of defences…Ah …Gens nova….the wish of coming back is bigger than every thing, with the pannier full as it is of good advices, of recipes of real life.

     From left :Gigi’s wife Doloresi , Magda ,Gigi, Monica Zioni and me

At dinner, the very evening, we keep on crossing the host sitting between us, in an afflatus of memories that cannot be suppressed!
“…resapo di lesa” ( …sapore di sale:  flavour of salt)
“… resapo di rema” (…sapore di mare:  flavour of sea)
“…un stogu  un po’ romaa di seco tedurpe” ( un gusto un po’ amaro di cose perdute: a taste a little bitter of lost things)
this we say in that language invented by the trio Dragoni, Camerano e Pederzani in Milan and imported in Rome by Gigi…we all spoke changing the last syllable with the first in a community of ideas difficult to ricreate today, it allowed us to be sincere in a loud voice transmitting in jargon to the musketeers’ group secret news preview…to make it international we had reversed also the worlds written by the great Gino Paoli, genoese like us…even him took on by life in search of lost time… where had we hidden time… I don’t remember!  Where did our small wheels get to?

                                   …finding Pan
…Maybe Thinkerbell could show us to the way and this would have come back and pick us up, lost children with everlasting happy thoughts, incapable of resentments and of hating, always ready to offer, even to those who had offended or plundered us, a second, third, never last opportunity…searching that lost space were it’s possible to recognize our own and other’s faults only to start again at our best…Dna, boys, isn’t an opinion!

Out from the nightspots we ended every night at Franco’s in via Paisiello or at Gigi’s in via  Plana nearly as if we didn’t want to put an end to those meetings, to that happyness so extemporary that we wouldn’t leave it…until it lasted… it should be lived!
In Alassio  that winter night, putting me in a person of the public’s place, asked  Gigi what thought about the period of the Seventies and how much value had sharing that time with his own friends living only in extemporariness… His answer surprised me pleasantly “You see…it’s necessary to fix a rule to ourselves, a constructive life made of rhythms, work and schedules to follow, believe in oneself humbly keeping on …being oneself”.

                      Us…years later

How a really hard work must have been become like that, tell it now seems a mere trifle, while the route was full of obstacles, of sacrifices imposed even when  we could do without them, a kind of soul cleaning to remove the most akward memories, the bravado of that Carpe Diem at the edge of morality.
It’s five o’clock in the morning in Rome, telephone is ringing in my small room in via di Novella, the warm voice of Gigi brings me back to life: “What are you doing…Eli”,  the obvious answer doesn’t arrive to him…I come out from my residual sleep “what are you doing?”…he’s laughing  happy of recovering me; “we are organizing a casting for a imaginary movie…come…”
I catch a taxi to via Plana, I don’t go into raptures over the idea means  making fun of some candidate actresses, I don’t know what to expected and my curiosity prevails. I arrive,  a friend of Gigi opens the door, a strapping girl with black sleek hairs, I go in and  find the home upside down: the forniture moved so as to ricreate the setting of a movie production, a big table full of photos and behind it Gigi the director, Daniele Senatore and Giorgio Camerano the producers…the beanpole is the secretary. In the early morning the first models arrive, they file past for them…I observe. They enjoy in perform this part… they even succeed in having some of them stripped … behind the promise of a rôle they show their breast, their profile, they believe in it.
I feel irritation, I suggest to lay their cards on the table, to admit the trick and redeem themselves in that admission. Gigi agrees, the others are more reticent, we sit on the white sofa coming to a decision and some girls accepts that “mise en scene”, others rightly get angry and leave the house. Who remains takes part to that improvised party,  quickly the pairs are formed, I see Gigi disappearing with one of them…I take a taxi and go back to bed….asking me if he had called me to act as conscience, as anchor…I suppose it was so or did he wanted me too?
For good luck or bad luck, you see, my mother doesn’t ask anything and I can fall fast asleep taking with me the secret of that roman dawn…

The 29th of November 2004 takes me back two friends whom comparing memories with, filling the gaps…nobody notices that I wear slippers, under my black trousers I am wearing a nice spotted pair with black pompom! An operation of my chiropodist has caused an infection that prevents me from wearing shoes of any kind, my friend Graziella offers me the solution with those frilly little slippers… so soft that I neither feel it on my injured big toe…

                                                Also in Alassio people goes out in slippers

Nobody notices anything anomalous, fashion today allows everything, I feel like smiling to the thought that somebody maybe  has seen them and thinks they can be designer slippers…it’s a fact that  we made us by ourselves, everything derives from how much we believe in what we do, wear, think…
During those three years of adolescence spent together with Franco and the other “musketeers” I always did the best I could in dressing me…little and simple things in which I trusted, however, and that always cut a fine figure. Only once Franco, invited at a party at the Hotel de la Ville in Rome,  had borrowed for me because I wore it a dress by the Paco Rabanne’s atelièr, the Parisian fashion designer.

         The real fashion of Paco Rabanne

All in metal color gold, long up to the ground with a hood, it was made of many, infinite metal plates joined together by hooks that left the visibility of my little nips….I wore it strictly naked …it was a success. Only I had not little difficulty in leaving and returning that wonderful space suit, for amazon of the  2000!
It was beautiful wearing the idea of that great fashion designer but also my daily outfits, made only by long miniskirt sweaters, a  belt at waist and boots over the knees were beautiful…

Today, thanks to a mail exchange, I received from Olghina di Robilant an invitation for the coming out of her book  “Nobiltà “ expected for the end of the 2004  in the  Mursia  Library in   Milan…it’s a faint thread but maybe it is woven by the chance that, as the great arranger that is, wants only to be followed…it’s a way not  to lose ourselves again, to keep offering ourselves and our knowledge…a fruitful exchange!  We want to know, remember, learn… hurrah… After all “those who can’t recall their past are condemned to repeat it”! Who undergoes remembers and we’d better bear our common memories in mind and finally live this new and unexpected, unknown, wonderful, demanding… present time.

                                                       Olghina de Robilant’s last cover book

Copyright © Ely Galleani Blog. All rights reserved.

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