Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Vicintini per Coney Island

Coney Island's amusement park is getting revamped thanks to an agreement between Central Amusement International in New Jersey, New York City and the Zamperla Group, out of Vicenza!

The Italian company signed the international agreement in February and $15 million have been spent so far by Central Amusement and the City on what will debut as 22 new rides for the historic attraction, scheduled for the end of May.

The Vicentino company located in Altavilla, ranked number 5 in its category, has been racing to get everything ready for the discerning US public.

To read the full New York Times article, click here.

Coney Island has been a destination for Americans and foreigners alike as a place to see silent decay while standing in an ocean breeze. The rusty rides which recalled old glory days for the boardwalk and park had made way to a somewhat seedy area in Brooklyn. It was also well-known as a cat walk for June's Mermaid Parade, where arts and eccentrics show off their elaborate mermaid costumes. For more Gettyimages Mermaid photos, click here.

It will be strange to go back and visit and see the typical bustle of families and visitors, enjoying brand-new rides developed by Italians. I guess Coney Island will no longer be a sadly decadent destination. I believe that some may be unhappy about this renewal, especially those who enjoyed the solitude of reaching the end of the line on New York's F train and taking a walk on the abandoned boardwalk.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Update on the Move

So we thought we could move into our new house last weekend but the move still continues. There is some extra work that needs to be done in the new house since a hot water tube in the kitchen has blocked the dishwasher from being able to fit into its space in the custom kitchen set and the bathroom fixtures are in dire need of being replaced.

Our faithful handyman won't be able to schedule our house renovations until this Thursday so we thought it was useless to move into digs that have neither a functional kitchen nor a suitable bathroom. Plus, there has been just so much to do in both the new and old houses between boxing every single object, hauling it into the new house, installing lighting, putting together new furniture and cleaning. You all know from experience, right?!

Needless to say this past weekend consisted of a 12-hour shift on Saturday and 7 hours on Sunday of move-related activity. Last night after work: another 2 hours and time to meet the new neighbours while asking about building specs.

Saturday was the first full day the dog stayed with us in the new place. He spent the first two hours running around all the rooms, panting and asking for a pet from all the "workers": me, my husband and a helpful friend. Once he located his familiar pink blanket on the floor in the living room, out of harm's way, he took his cue and decided to relax. From then on, he just watched all the activity, instead of trying to actively participate in it. By the end of the day, he had also scoped out the coolest spot in the house which seems to be the master bedroom. He spent the late afternoon lounging between various bags full of clothes.

The last day of the month is Friday so we HAVE to be in the new house by then. Cleaning the old apartment is underway today, between work engagements. However I have developed a half-cold and find that I am no longer as energetic about the whole process. I am basically dragging myself to do these last steps of the move and clean-up. It's been a solid month of heavy and constant activity in addition to working full-time. I think we've had about 1 Sunday off since after Easter. Yet soon this all will be over and we can get down to enjoying the new place!

Ironically, my husband won't even be able to relax at all in the new house or even help organize all the bits of our stuff in the new environment because his band has a debut concert scheduled in Genoa on Saturday, May 1. Not only is this a mad dash to move in, for him, but also an intense engagement in perfecting a new live rock band performance to coincide with the release of their new album, coming out on Friday. The group is called Ciclope and the album is called, Una Notte Inferno. Click here for more information, an excerpt of one song and their video trailer. (I will soon prepare a post about their music.)

Hence the lack of posts in the last week....

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Latest Vending Machine

Although the best distributore might be the one pawning porno DVD's (click for my post), there's a new and enticing offer in giro (around): Gratta e vinci. Centro Giotto, the old-school shopping center in Padua has this machine perched outside the Auchan megamarket entrance. All those who remember late in the evening that they still haven't bought that possible winning ticket can rush here before 9:30 p.m. and get their fix, or rather, rub.

It may be interesting to note that this Gratta e vinci machine is directly across the street from the porno version. This section, Padua Est, seems to push fast-and-easy access to its citizens' vizi (bad habits).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

It's Spring, Damn it!

Paduans, like me, are dying for Spring. It just doesn't want to come on full throttle.

After two days of overcast or hazy days and fairly cool temps, the sky decided to clear out this Sunday afternoon. Then the Paduan proceeded to literally flood the piazze. The café tables were sprawled all across Piazza dei Signori and everyone filled them! It was time for a wonderful spritz in the vanishing sun of a Spring day. Here, we are starting to worry that we are going to go from a very cool season to the preludes of summer next week, when the climate should finally click over. For now, it still seems like Spring is in some kind of slump.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cherry Blossoms on Opposite Sides of the Pond

After about 25 years, I was lucky enough to be in Washington, D.C. at the peak of the cherry blossom season. It was fabulous for the hot spring sun that day, cobalt blue skies and bursting flowers.

It struck me as strange to be there for that famous time of year because although I grew up nearby, we basically never went to see them. Baltimore, my home town located 40 miles away, tends to view that season in the capital city as a hectic traffic mess, which honestly it is on a peak weekend, but that bars them from even trying to go see the spectacle.

This year I was able to get into downtown D.C. on a Thursday so traffic wasn't any unusual problem (although there is always too much traffic there) and visited for other reasons but found myself completely and pleasantly surprised by the flower event along the mall.

Two weeks later, there is a cherry tree which has peaked outside my house in Padua. This will be the last season I can enjoy this albero, one thing I will very soon leave behind from this rented abode.


(Official move to the new house scheduled 24 April.)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ten American Things I'll Miss

pants that fit me in the shops
old friends
excellent cocktails
cheap beer
young people who are independent by 23 years old
DC's cherry blossoms
vanilla cake with chocolate icing
the rumble of the NY subway
24-hour pharmacy service

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Free Press Officially Demoted for Italy

Italy should be ashamed. According to the world map and journalist team at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., Italy's freedom of press status has been recently demoted to only "Partly Free". The reasons for their curatorial and journalistic decision is explained in the second photo below. The map at the Newseum has the world divided into 3 major categories and colors: red for Not Free, yellow for Partly Free and green for Free.

Explanation for Italy:

The Newseum, created by the Freedom Forum to show the influence of the media on the world, demonstrates the importance of the free press and highlights technology's impact on media and the news.

The museum located just off Washington's mall, at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue, was opened about two year ago and has a temporary exhibition currently running about the history of the FBI, including its fight against the mafia last century in the USA.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Expensive Food and Oodles of Time

The airport experience. Hurry up and wait. This time I have a 5 hour layover. The loudspeaker blares announcements, searching for people about to lose their flight, the security check rings, the internal airport cars honk their horns to make way. Groups of people stagger down the halls with their heavy luggage. The news rumbles across the rafters and emanates from big TV screens scattered across the grounds.

I just finished having an expensive portobello mushroom pizza and overpriced Sam Adams beer at the sports bar at JFK Airport. At least I got to watch some baseball while eating.

I know. Why am I eating pizza in the US? Well, it looks more appetizing than most of the carissimi panini in the airport. I'm still doing the American experience because I even got ID-ed!

Now it's on to surfing the net to kill time and get back in touch with my cyber followers. It's been hard to find the time or best Internet connection to make blogging easy. I am back thanks to T-mobile wi-fi at JFK.

Airports are such an ordeal for ex-pats. They offer the opportunity to go anywhere in the world yet drain us physically, mentally and financially. Getting "home" is never easy. The endless hours of layovers and jet lag to boot at the end of the trip make them dreadful. People turn into numbers and get pre-occupied with bags and passports as they race to distant terminals in the pursuit of the connecting flight and get inspected repeatedly. We study monitors for flights to appear and instruct us about our destiny: gate number, boarding call, wait time. We wander around the shopping area, not wanting to spend any more money but too bored not to go in and look. Our cumbersome bags make us think again, whether it is worth entering into Hudson News or the Prada store. But it's just so boring here!

Soon I'll get onto a plane and hope that there isn't a crying child next to me tonight as I try to sleep. Maybe the movies will be new and interesting for me to watch. What's for dinner, the big event while in-flight? And why do airplane meals always make my stomach feel strange, even when I order a vegetarian menu?

Eventually I will land in Italy and be welcomed by my husband's embrace and the long trip's annoyances will be forgotten. 'Tis travel in 2010 of An American in Padua.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Mopeds USA

While spending a few days in New York, I also noticed mopeds parked around the area. There are not many, but they are there. This picture shows a cream Vespa locked to a sign in Brooklyn during a downpour. With the rain I encountered in the Big Apple, it was definitely not a nice day to take those wheels out for a spin. Americans are warming up the these "wasps".

Did you know why they call it a Vespa?

Because the sound its engine makes resembles the insect's buzz.

My thirteen days in the US are coming to a close. Tomorrow, I will be in airports and airplanes for too long, since I have a 5.5 hr layover at JFK, the ugliest airport in the country (at least at Delta's terminal). I will be back in Italy in time for Easter lunch.

It was a wonderful time after so long. I was able to see old friends, meet new people, connect with a lot of family. Hopefully the next time won't be so far off in the future. Over two and a half years was a bit too long to stay away.