Shannon’s Super Sexy Blog. Music. Travel. Randomness. And a Lot of Wine.

Archive for September, 2004

Day Tripper

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

This has been the most incredible trip. I do not want to go home! The weather, since the freak storm on Friday, has been fantastic – beautiful and sunny during the day, a bit chilly, but nice, in the evening.

Full moon here. Cheryl Alexander is here. Monday night, we went to eat at La Zucca, and there was a table of six with a copy of Chow! Venice on the table. I went and told them I wrote it. One woman gets up, exclaims “are you SHANNON?” It was Linda, from North Carolina, a poster on the Slowtalk message board! It was a very cool and exciting moment for all of us.

Yesterday I ran Cheryl all over the city doing research. We ate cichetti and drank wine all over the place. I am happy to report that in general, the bar and cichetti scene remains good. Last night we had dinner at my friend Andrea’s, where his girlfriend Marta cooked us fresh seafood and a fantastic pumpkin cannelloni. We drank wine and talked for a long time. Though we left late I made Cheryl go for one more. We got glasses of wine at a new bar in Rialto, called Mora (I think) and we took them down to the Grand Canal and sat on the window ledge of the courthouse, near the fish market, and drank our wine. It was magic.

While I was in Piazza San Marco yesterday, I helped a couple find their hotel. Then there was another couple, asking for help. So I think I am going to start a new business, I will stand in Piazza San Marco with a sign that says “help, one Euro.” Or, I can be a boat-meeter-take-them-to-the-hotel person. That would be more Euro, though.

And the night before, I was walking home from my dinner at Il Refolo, walking through Rialto, I passed a couple that were lost, tipsy, and arguing. They were from Ireland, and the woman was fairly pissed off. I asked them if I could help them, and they said they did not know where they were. They were staying at the Luna Baglioli near Piazza San Marco, and here they were on the other side, with no clue! Plus they were, well, kind of drunk. I knew they would never find their way home, so I told them I would take them there.

So I walked them over to San Marco. The woman kept saying, “I am going to divorce him!” The man walked behind us. I tried to calm her down a little, and eventually she did calm down. They kept asking me, “why are you doing this?” The woman told the guy, “you need to tip her.” I told them I did not want a tip, I only wanted to get them home.

Finally we get to the Piazza, and the guy stops and buys all the roses from one of the rose sellers – something like 30 roses. I told the woman, “look, he is buying you some flowers!” She says, “NO, he is buying YOU flowers.” And he was. So I thought that was pretty nice, so I accepted them. We got to the hotel.

“Here you are,” I say. They were so grateful. The man pressed a bill into my hand. “No… I don’t want this…” I said. But he said I had to take it and then they were inside the hotel.

It was 50 Euro.

I asked Cheryl if she thought it would be tacky to post this story here, but I was so shocked, I cannot keep it to myself. I really did not want any money, I really did just want to see them safely home. After all, I have been in this condition before.

But I think maybe I have found a new vocation.

My Lost Day

Saturday, September 25th, 2004

Time is moving way too quickly here. One forgets how you can easily lose an hour or two, just sitting in a campo and staring into space.

I am staying in an apartment on a main calle in Rialto and every morning I hear the click-click of heels, all the Venetians going to work. I love looking down at all of them. I think I recognize half of them. At night there are happy voices and laughter in the calle.

Today is a beautiful Saturday. Especially beautiful, because yesterday there was the most insane storm here. I had no idea it was going to storm. At around one in the afternoon, I was walking up through Dorsorduro to go to the train station to buy a ticket for Rome. All of a sudden, the wind kicked up, and I looked at the sky. It was green and black. I love the summer storms in Venice, but this was no summer storm. And I was wearing capris and sandals. No umbrella. Uh oh. Everyone, tourists and locals, started to run.

I was thinking I would go and have some lunch, but I was not really hungry. So I ducked into the wine bar Vinus Venezia. A minute later, the sky opened and massive water fell. The bartender and I just stared out the window. Vinus Venezia would be my home for the next two and a half hours. I sat in the window and listened to good jazz, played loud. The calle started to flood. Across the way, in the Osteria Al Pantalon, many happy people ate pasta and drank wine and I watched them eat. A guy with a striped shirt kept coming from the restaurant, to the wine bar. He would have a wine, then run back. He would have a sandwich, then run back.

This whole time I am thinking about Luke and Lisa, the British couple I showed around Thursday. They are getting married at 3 PM, in this storm! I had talked to Roberto at the Pizzeria Accademia, for Luke and Lisa to have the best patio table to drink Prosecco and look at the view, but surely they would not go there with this weather.

Finally I knew I had to make a run for home. It was freezing. At home I read for a while and then thought I might try for the train station again. It had stopped raining, but it was still freezing, and windy. I think at that moment I thought “I don’t think I am going to Rome.” I flipped a coin and it said, go to Rome. But I cannot leave Venice. I just cannot do it.

I had only eaten a tramezzini at noon, but I wasn’t really hungry until about 8. I went downstairs and ate a great meal at Osteria Vivaldi. I ate pasta with shrimp and lemon zest and cream, then fegato alla Veneziana. I could not finish all my liver but I finished enough that I felt sort of like a overstuffed piggy at that point. I walked over to Il Sole Sulla Vecia Cavana, because I knew Luke and Lisa were having their wedding dinner there, and I wanted to see how it all went. Plus I really needed to walk.

Luke and Lisa had just finished, so it was good timing. They looked great. They had actually WALKED from Rialto to Piazza San Marco for pictures, and then WALKED to the Pizzeria Accademia, even though there would be no sitting outside. They said everywhere the Venetians were coming out of the shops and congratulating them. Roberto and his crew were waiting (probably surprised they even showed up.) So it all worked out.

So who is at Il Sole Sulla Vecia Cavana, but the guy with the striped shirt from Al Pantalon! He owns it now. He tried to tell me he saw me in Vinus Venezia and I tried to tell him I knew. So now I am going to have to try Al Pantalon.

Anyhow, this is the story of my lost day. I am off to meet some Irish friends I made the other night… I am taking them on an afternoon bar crawl of Dorsoduro and San Polo. They are very good at helping with the research.

Don’t write about the flight

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004

It seems a million years since I last wrote. In Atlanta, they don’t have much in the way of internet. At least in the ‘burb where I was staying they didn’t. Hurricane Ivan! That was INSANE. I have never seen rain like that. I have never been so scared driving around.

Anyhow now I am in Venice. I got here yesterday. Now I AM writing about the flight. Before we left JFK, I saw a flight attendant looking at a map of Venice. So, I gave her a book. I had planned to give some copies of Chow! to the flight attendants anyway. Note to Ruth – if you think Delta attendants are snippy, give them books. I walked off the plane with a bottle of Champagne and three overnight kits from Business Class, PLUS got wine served in a real wine glass in Coach! All the attendants were very attentive, to me! I gave three more of them books and everyone thought I was some big shot signing books in my nasty-ass wrinkled jeans. From this day forward, I will always give copies of Chow! to flight attendants headed for Venice…

Of course I did not sleep, I just drank wine out of that wine glass all night long. So yesterday, I walked and walked, trying not to sleep. It is warm here, balmy. There are lots of tourists in San Marco, but they are mostly hanging over there. I ate lunch at Casin dei Nobili. I really wanted tramezzini, but while passing Casin dei Nobili I suddenly felt like I would pass out if I didn’t eat. So I ate monkfish with tomatoes and olives and anchovies and drank some white wine. I felt like I was on another planet. After that I walked to the Piazza San Marco – can’t not go there on the first day in Venice – then over to the bar Il Cavatappi to check things out. Much has changed over there. The bar seems very lived in now. Almost everything I wrote in the book has changed. It is still a great bar, but things are different….

Lots of new places everywhere. New bars in Campo Santa Margherita, new bars in Rialto. There is a new restaurant owned by the Danieli Ham people, in Rialto. Prices are higher everywhere but it seems like all the new places spent more money, too.

In the afternoon, I went to Bancogiro and sat outside on the Grand Canal and drank a glass of wine. It was very quiet there, only a few tourists, and a lonely, whistling gondolier. A typical Venetian afternoon, all the Venetians sleeping or eating or making love at home, none of them out in the sun at three o’clock. The gondolier made his way over to me, offered me a “free” ride. “I sing, I dance, I kiss…” he says to me. “if you want, I like you.” But I know there is no free ride, and I don’t want a kiss, either.

After the wine I could not stop sleep. I passed out for an hour and then woke up at six, to meet my friend Andrea downstairs at the Osteria Vivaldi, at 6:30.

And thus begins my very first night in Venice. We have a prosecco at Vivaldi, then move on to meet Marta, Andrea’s girlfriend. We go to a new bar, owned by the same people who own Vitae, a happening place in Campo San Luca across the Canal. This bar is also very hip and we have another Prosecco. Andrea goes outside to make a call, Marta and I have another Prosecco. This is only the second time I have hung out with Marta. She is a very animated girl, and much prettier than I remember. We head out to eat pizza at a new place, but on the way run into friends of Marta and Andrea, and I can’t remember their names… of course we had to sit down and have a Spritz with them. They all talked in Venetian so there was no way I could understand a word, but the girls were both so lovely I couldn’t stop watching them. Sometimes they spoke some English, just to keep me in the mix. I didn’t care… I was just happy to be sitting there.

Soon though I was desperate for a pizza so Andrea and Marta and I went to Al Nono Rosorto, instead of the new place, because it was getting late. I ordered a diavola and was practically peeing my pants for that first bite of Venetian pizza. We drank a bottle of wine and talked, then we drank some huge grappas. I thought for sure, after, I would be exhausted, and I was, but of course they talked me into one for the road. We went to Do Spade, now owned by the guy who use to own Vivaldi. There were a few Venetian drunks there. Gotta love Venice around 11 P.M. No cars, only weaving Venetians.

I really like Marta, and Andrea is one of my favorite people on the planet. It was a perfect night, and so typically Venetian, and finally, at midnight, I got home and passed out for eight hours straight. I am on Venetian time now, and nothing else matters.

Igby Goes Down, the Sequel

Saturday, September 11th, 2004

Last night I watched the film “Igby Goes Down.” It’s about this rich kid with an institutionalized father and a bitter, valiumed-out and chardonnayed mother. After a youth of boarding schools and hating his mom and his life Igby escapes and runs around New York City with all kinds of characters. It’s a comedy and it seemed a lot more real to me than, say, anything Edward Burns might film. In the end Igby is falling asleep on an airplane smiling, on his way to California.

This morning I dreamed the sequel. In my dream, Igby traveled all over Europe. He died his hair yellow. I watched him ride a scooter through Paris, his yellow hair blowing in the wind. Then years passed and Igby was like 45, still with yellow hair, but with tan wrinkles on his face. Now he was hanging out in Florida. I’m not sure he lived anywhere, I think he just lived in Florida going from place to place sleeping with women and then leaving because he was afraid of commitment. His brother who was the budding Republican alcoholic in the film lived in the Florida Panhandle so Igby went there to see him and instead slept with another woman. They were done and the woman said to Igby “would you like another custard?” Igby said, “that would be wonderful.” Then he pretended to go to the bathroom and left. Outside he ran into the Jewish girl from the film, the one that he loved first but who was then seduced by the asshole brother. She was talking to someone about how pissed off her liberal parents were that she had ended up with a career in marketing. Then I woke up.

After I watched “Igby Goes Down” I watched “Showgirls.” Sadly, I cannot remember dreaming any sequel to this one. Maybe I did and I just don’t remember. Maybe Nomi Malone goes to the White House and gets a job fighting terrorism. In my dream, if I had one, I don’t think she had to put ice on her nipples anymore.

Getting ready for Venice….

Friday, September 10th, 2004

The clock is ticking. I leave Wednesday for Atlanta and from there, head for Venice on the 20th. I am so not prepared. I haven’t even thought about it really, until, like, today. Weird, eh? I’m going back to Venice, and I’m not even thinking about what to pack. Except books – more on that, later.

Going back to Venice. It’s like going back to see an ex-boyfriend who you still like to sleep with sometimes, because it feels so nice and comfortable. I don’t get all hot and bothered about Venice like I used to. Now, it used to be home, it still is home, kind of. In a corner of my heart. But I am not peeing my pants with anxiety like I use to, I won’t be pressing my feet against the floor of the airplane trying to make it get there faster. Venice simply is, as I am, and we exist in harmony with an understanding of each other that goes deeper than lust.

This is a work trip, too, and if there is one thing that I am anxious about, it is the work. Venice is full of bookstores, and Chow! Venice is only in one of them. This after calls, faxes, emails, and visits from Ruth, my co-author. We are suppose to have an Italian distributor, but after a year they still don’t have books. Not our fault though… first, we sent a case and it sat in the post office four months and they did not pick them up, so they were (thankfully) returned. Then, our UK distributor refused to ship because of unpaid invoices going back to the time when I actually LIVED in Venice. Whateves, we were desperate enough to risk non-payment to get the books over there, so we shipped another case, this time to the distributor’s freight forwarder in New Jersey. Guess what? They still don’t have them! Why? The freight forwarder needs to get paid, that’s why.

So homies don’t pay their bills. So it’s been over a year, and Venice still doesn’t have books. Venice, who wants the book, who NEEDS the book.

So I am going over with a suitcase full of books. I am thinking I’ll put them everywhere – every book store (even if they don’t want, need or ask), every bar, every restaurant… I’ll leave copies lying around. I’ll go sit in the bar at the Danieli and read my own book from cover to cover. I’ll forget one in the bathroom at Harry’s and in the public restroom at San Bartolomeo. Anybody going to Venice and need a book?

And this brings us to another question. How do I not “out” myself? Like if I am reading, from cover to cover, my own book, and some tourists see me and ask me what up, and then maybe the owner of the place will send over a free grappa (which they often do) and the tourists see, will they think I am getting special perks and am not fit to live and will they go home and write on Fodors or somewhere that they saw one of the authors of Chow! Venice getting free stuff and my oh my isn’t that horrible?

Maybe it is not such a good idea to read my own book in public after all.

I am going to “out” myself to one place and it is a wine bar so it shouldn’t matter too much. I have to give a copy to Francesco and Andrea at La Cantina because there is no way things are going to change there, there is no way I am going to get better treatment there, and they already know my name. And I deserve at least that much from all this work.

With all the rest, they will be blissfully unaware, and da Ignazio, you had better watch out because I have heard your service is really sucking.

Simma Down

Thursday, September 9th, 2004

Everyone sure does seem all agro-ed out and stressed these days. It is because Summer is over, or is it because of the election? Is it because no one feels they can do anything about anything or because things seem to be totally out of control?

Maybe Mercury is in Retrograde, hadn’t even thought about that one.

Friday night I found a palm frond that looks like a witches broom and I started beating the trunk of a palm tree with it pretending it was my neighbor I was beating. I accidentally hit Mark in the thigh with the handle end, barely missing a very important area. So I sort of got my agro out early and was then able to just view all the other stress from a fairly calm standpoint. The feeling at the beach was a lot different than the beginning of the Summer. I watched some kids litter pretty badly and their mom just ignored them because she was having a fight with her boyfriend. I found myself getting agro but then a guy sitting in front of me picked up the litter when he left. Another woman started screaming at her husband because he was letting their daughter eat drumsticks for breakfast. I am not sure if she was talking about the ice cream drumsticks, or turkey drumsticks. But the woman wanted the daughter to eat cereal.

Then there were middle fingers on the freeway and arguments in the bars. I watched it all trying not to let it affect me.

Last night a kid got hit on his bike right down the street from my house. I was just getting home and was looking for parking and could see the kid’s bike all mangled and people all around, helping the kid who I was really scared might be dead or crippled or something. He wasn’t, but I’ve never seen that in my neighborhood before (though the way people ride their bikes around here combined with the driving habits of others, that is pretty shocking.)

Anyway I hope things get a little calmer soon. And absentee ballots are a good way to go, folks.

We’re gonna party like it’s 2009

Monday, September 6th, 2004

Even though Summer is not officially over for a couple more weeks, it seems like it is done, here at the beach. It is hot outside, and the Summer fog seems to be gone, replaced by Indian Summer, almost overnight. Last night the light was different and at sunset the clouds turned pink and stretched across the sky instead of rolling in low and gray off the ocean. Everything was colored rose and yellow and all the kids in the ‘hood sat outside drinking beer because now, everything changes. School starts, the days get shorter, and the tourists go away. It becomes our beach town again. Some youngsters who lived next door to me all Summer are gone. Just like that, that apartment is empty and no trace of them remains.

What happened to this Summer? It went by so fast this year. It seems just yesterday we had our street fair and 4th of July, but that was two months ago. And now the best part of the Summer, the races at Del Mar, are over too. I always love the first day I go to Del Mar to bet on the ponies, and I usually go every weekend for all six weeks, but this year I couldn?t, because life got in the way.

We went to the track yesterday. It is always bittersweet, that last day at the races, knowing you won’t be able to go again for almost a year. Last year I won an exacta on the last race, by choosing two random numbers. I didn’t have that kind of luck yesterday, probably because we bought a racing form and that always screws me up. Blind luck is better than too much information at the races, at least for me. Or choosing any jockey that wears pink is another good way to win. Oh well, there is always Santa Anita in the wintertime if I need a fix before Del Mar starts up again.

I guess today is the real, official last day of Summer. I am going out into the heat to sit by the ocean and watch the tourists one last time until next June rolls around.

2005 is coming fast. Get ready to party like it’s 2009.

What is really going on over in Russia?

Saturday, September 4th, 2004

I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to write about all those kids dying in that school in Russia. And I am telling you, it is hard. I’m scared that my ignorance will come through, or that someone will tell me to fuck off or something. Which would be OK, I guess. I don’t have a very thick skin and that is probably why I move through life blissfully unaware of what is going on in the world. I don’t read the paper and I don’t watch the news. The only way I find out about stuff is when I load up my homepage and Yahoo news comes up.

Like everyone I was totally saddened and horrified about the events that unfolded at that school. Like everyone I thought “why, oh why would they target children?” But for once I knew I needed to understand what was really going on over there, and why the Chechens would do something that would make everyone hate them really, really bad.

Well, I still don’t understand too much, but I do know a little more about the Chechens. How Russia declared war on them in 1994, and how Russia has been killing thousands of THEIR children and raping their women. How young Chechen men are taken away for no reason, never to return. How the Russians hate them and won’t give the Chechens who live in Russia jobs or respect. How the Russians pretty much went in Chechnya and leveled much of it and killed a lot of people who were normal people, not “terrorists.”

So, the Chechen fighters (I’m not sure I want to say terrorists, because isn’t this a war they are fighting against a big, nasty invader?) must have thought they might get some attention by taking over a school. And I, for one, know a little more about the situation and the plight of those people now.

I hate it that all those surviving kids and parents will have these events and images to haunt them for the rest of their lives. And I hate that desperation drove the Chechen fighters in to try to make their stand, and I hate that Russian soldiers stormed it and there was all kinds of gunfire with kids in the middle. And I hate it that it took something of this magnitude to get my lazy brain off my own trivial thoughts.

Blast away at me if you must, but I think there are two sides to this story.

The Plan-less Traveler.

Thursday, September 2nd, 2004

Well, here I am – still alive. This is the longest I’ve gone without posting something since I started writing this thing. The weird thing is, I have been getting more hits per day since I haven’t been writing. I am hoping this is because people are so desperate that I write something that they check back over and over to see if I have finally written. Yeah, right. Probably more like it would be, there are more guys with hairy backs and lawyers looking for naked ladies hitting Google these days. It is, after all, almost Fall. Time to get off the beach volleyball circuit and back where you belong, in front of the computer, homeboy.

Having not written in a while, getting back on schedge was a bit difficult. It’s kind of like when you stop exercising after you have been doing so well, like walking every day and then you stop and then it is really hard to start again. I am a creature of habit, and my habit the last couple of weeks has been motel rooms and pizza in a box and E! True Story. It’s weird because I am hella addicted to my computer but when I am away, it doesn’t seem to bother me too much that it is not there with me. If there is a “business center” where I am staying, then the pull of the computer will be great, like a crazy beacon in a dull and lifeless land. But if there is no business center then E! True Story or even better, VH1’s Hottest 100 Videos/Sluts/Whatever, will do just as well.

I am good at moving around. I can move from room to room and town to town and pack and unpack and unload and load my car with amazing efficiency and precison. I am not squeamish when it comes to funky carpets or transparent bath towels, as long as the sheets are clean. Sometimes I even like not knowing where I am. I was thinking about this long and hard this past couple of weeks and I have come up with a new plan.

My plan is to be plan-less, and to travel the world this way. This is just a teaser though, right now, for the reader, but also for me. I’m sketching out the non-plan now. Will keep you updated.