Above: a pensive moment at dusk outside La Pineta, a fantastic seafood restaurant where I dined with Cinzia Merli and Luca d’Attoma last week, in Marina di Bibbona, on the Tuscan coast (photo by Ben Shapiro).
Strappo is sure to remind me that Fellini’s labyrinth of semiosis often led him to revise his explanations of signifier and signified in his films. But I believe the great Romagnolo director was telling the truth when he said that the expression la dolce vita referred not to the glamour of the Via Veneto but rather the sweetness that we find in life, even in our darkest moments of existential crisis.
[SPOILER: if you've not seen La dolce vita, I am about to reveal the final sequence!]
As Ben and I were waiting to meet our dining companions, Cinzia and Luca, the other night at La Pineta in Marina di Bibbona on the Tuscan riviera, I took a stroll alone and gazed out at the sea in one of those “what’s it all about, Alfie?” moments.
Just over a year ago, my life fell into turmoil when my mid-life crisis hit me like a freight train and I wished that I had gone straight but was side-swiped by a simple twist of fate. Today, I find myself in the Munich airport, on my way back to the States, exhausted but invigorated, excited about music and work, thankful to have so many wonderful folks in my life — some of them my oldest friends, some of them my newest.
Marcello turns his back on Paola, the young girl he met one day in a seaside trattoria. But before he returns to the party, he looks back and sees her irresistible smile — sweetness in his otherwise bankrupt existence. Maybe it’s the sweetness in a young girl’s smile, a plate of wholesome pici with ragù, a bunch of Greens dancing to Nous Non Plus in a forgotten border town along the Polish-East German border, or maybe it’s the waters of March. I believe there is a sweetness in life, to be revealed when you least expect it.
You don’t need to speak Italian to enjoy the clip below. Marcello has been partying all night with a lascivious crowd and the revelers find their way to the beach shortly after dawn…
In other news…
Yes, you can now add R.D. to my post-nomial Ph.D.: I was recently ordained as a Rock Doctor in the Universal Life Church and I’ll be officiating at the wedding of Jayne and Jon next Saturday.
What’s it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give
or are we meant to be kind?
And if only fools are kind, Alfie,
then I guess it’s wise to be cruel.
And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie,
what will you lend on an old golden rule?
As sure as I believe there’s a heaven above, Alfie,
I know there’s something much more,
something even non-believers can believe in.
I believe in love, Alfie.
Without true love we just exist, Alfie.
Until you find the love you’ve missed you’re nothing, Alfie.
When you walk let your heart lead the way
and you’ll find love any day, Alfie, Alfie.
— Hal David and Burt Bacharach