March 31, 2015

Rocco Petrone: A Modern-Day Cathedral Builder

Rocco Petrone
By John A. Stavola
"The Invisible Pyramid" by Loren Eisely contains a chapter entitled "The Spore Bearers". In it the fungus, Pilobolus, is likened to a rocket. The spore which will project the descendants of Pilobolus into the future prepare themselves with a light sensitive capsule to aim ever toward the brightest light. When the right chemical pressures are built up the cells beneath the capsule explode, hurling it several feet away. This enables Pilobolus, which grows on the dung of cattle, to transport itself to fresh grass where they will be consumed again by the cattle.
The influential German "philosopher-poet'" Oswald Spengler's attempt to discern an organic pattern to cultural history and the zeitgeist or spirit of an age is also invoked by Eiseley.
"Perhaps what he (Spengler) terms the Faustian culture-our own-began as early as the eleventh century with the growing addiction to great unfillible cathedrals with huge naves and misty recesses where space seemed to hover without limits. In the words of one architect, the Gothic arch is 'a bow always tending to expand.' Hidden within its tensions is the upward surge of the space rocket." ( The Invisible Pyramid, pg. 84) Continue reading

March 30, 2015

The Frankie Laine Story

Frankie Laine
Photo courtesy of Last.fm
By Niccolò Graffio
“All things that great men do are well done.” – H.G. Bohn; Handbook of Proverbs, 1855
I am a child of the 1970’s.  I was too young to truly enjoy the music of the ‘60’s (and all the drugs that went with it).  Instead, I was ‘lucky’ enough to go through adolescence during that most wonderful epoch of music known as the Disco Era.
Unlike many of my peers in high school, however, I carried with myself something they didn’t – an appreciation for musical genres of previous generations.  Being from a fairly tight-knit family, growing up I was regularly exposed to the music of my parents and grandmother.  As a result, I often found myself listening to songs my fellow teens mocked, if they bothered to listen to them at all!
From my paternal grandmother, a deeply religious woman, I gained an appreciation for Gregorian chants and the moving prayer songs of Southern Italy. She would sing them often while sitting on the sofa, sewing.  From my father I learned to like opera and Southern-Italian folk songs.  Being older Italian immigrants set in their ways, neither really liked listening to anything else. Continue reading

Feast of Saint Irene the Healer

Saint Sebastian Cured by Saint Irene by Luca Giordano (c.1665)
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
March 30th is the Feast Day of Saint Irene of Rome. She was the widow of Saint Castulus, who was martyred during the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian. She famously nursed Saint Sebastian back to health after he was left for dead, his body riddled with arrows. To commemorate the occasion I’m posting a Prayer to Saint Irene. The accompanying photo of Saint Sebastian Cured by Saint Irene by Luca Giordano was taken at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Prayer to Saint Irene
O Glorious Saint Irene you served God in humility and confidence on earth, now you enjoy His beatific vision in Heaven. Help me to strengthen my faith and protect me in conflict. Obtain for me the grace to live a holy life, so that one day I may join you in the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen

Freedom Won and Lost: The Sicilian Vespers

The Sicilian Vespers by Francesco Hayez
By Niccoló Graffio
“Freedom cannot be granted. It must be taken.”– Max Stirner:The Ego and His Own, 1845.
Americans in general today certainly take for granted the freedoms they still possess. This is not an unfair or inaccurate statement to make. How many Americans, for example, take the time out of their busy schedules watching television, surfing the Net, playing video games, “hanging out” in bars/clubs or just gaining weight to engage in such innocuous activities as educating themselves on the latest bills before their legislators? How many of them go further and contact their legislators to offer them their opinions on these bills? How many even bother to just vote on Election Day? You get the point, I’m sure. Every day things go on among our elected officials that will ultimately affect our daily lives, positively or negatively, and most seem content to remain blissfully detached from these proceedings.
One thing I’ve noticed Americans do like to do, politically speaking, is complain. Americans complain a lot! They complain at the workplace; they complain at the barber shop/hair salon; they complain at barbeques. They’ll complain anywhere they can find an ear to bend. Everyone likes to complain about politics, it seems; few are willing to do anything about it. Continue reading

March 29, 2015

Feast of the Pupazze

Photos courtesy of Made in South Italy Today
Every year on Palm Sunday (Domenica delle Palme) in Bova Superiore, a scenic commune in the Province of Reggio Calabria, the locals celebrate the Messiah’s triumphal entrance into Jerusalem with a unique ritual known as the Feast of the Pupazze.

On Palm Sunday, as the name suggests, it is traditional for devotees to weave palm leaves into religious symbols. However, in southern Italy palm was hard to come by, so during the feast celebrants used olive branches instead. In Bova, this art form was taken to new heights. Townspeople skillfully weave ornate female figures out of the branches and adorn them with flowers and local produce. The verdure effigies are carried through the town in a colorful procession to the shrine of St. Leo, Bova’s beloved patron, where they are blessed.

After Mass, the figures are stripped of their bounty and distributed among the revelers. The blessed branches are brought home and fastened to doorways or mantels for good luck and to ward off evil. The dried fronds of the previous year are burned and the ashes buried to help reinvigorate the crops and fields.

While the origins of the rite are lost in antiquity, some believe the Pupazze are allegorical figures symbolizing Lent, which is sometimes depicted as a woman. One example is Kyra Sarakosti (Lady Lent) in Greece. Cookies are made in her image to help children learn about their religion. There is also a similarity to Lady Maslenitsa of Slavic tradition who’s straw effigy is immolated before the Russian Orthodox Great Lent and who’s ashes are used in a similar fashion.

Others say the custom dates back to pre-Christian times and the images actually represent the Greek goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone (Kore), thus celebrating the transition from winter to spring. According to myth, the god Hades spied the maiden Persephone picking flowers on the slopes of Mt. Etna in Sicily. The earth shook and a great chasm formed beneath her. Up sprang Hades in a chariot, whisking the surprised goddess away to his underworld realm to be his wife and queen.

In her grief, Demeter (the goddess of fertility and agriculture) threatened to make the earth barren unless her daughter was returned to her. After a period of famine and woe Zeus intervened and mediated a compromise begrudgingly accepted by Hades and Demeter. Persephone would spend part of the year with her husband in the underworld, and during those months Demeter would withdraw her gifts from the earth, causing the seasons of autumn and then winter. When she was returned to her mother, the goddess would once again restore her gifts and spring would begin and pass into summer. Oddly enough, Persephone and Hades were supposed to have been very happy together while she was with him in the underworld, but as every married couple should know, a mother-in-law is not something to be taken lightly.

Terracotta hydria (water jar) depicting
the abduction of Persephone by Hades.
Greek, Apulian, red figure, ca. 340-330 B.C.
Found at Canosa, Puglia before 1878
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
Whatever the origin of the Pupazze, the feast is very special. It is practiced only in Bova, which incidentally is one of the few remaining pockets of Griko speakers in Calabria. It is quaint and fun, but more importantly it symbolizes ideas that are ancient and widespread. Any agrarian population understands the importance of spring and the seasonal agricultural cycles. The harvest is your life, surviving winter depends upon it and the seeds planted in the spring is where that harvest begins. In the seasons of the Church, it is also when the Son of God died, descended to Hades and was resurrected.

Even in this modern world we are not so different from our ancestors; the bread we eat and wine we drink remain products of the seasons and the harvest. Symbolism and ritual have been helping people express concepts since before written history. If we see ourselves as seekers of knowledge, then instead of turning away from these practices we should be trying to understand them, and understand ourselves through them.

Photo of the Week: Il Duomo di Vietri sul Mare

A look at the ceramic dome of the Duomo di San Giovanni Battista in Vietri sul Mare. Photo by New York Scugnizzo

March 28, 2015

Calabrian Tea Party With Author Karen Haid

April 4th @ 1:00pm
April 5th @ 3:00pm

Books or Books
3460 E Sunset Road, Suite R
Las Vegas, Nevada 89120

Come learn about Calabria, Italy and sip a cup of Earl Grey tea with local author Karen Haid during an informal gathering/book signing featuring her new book Calabria: The Other Italy. (BYOM - Bring Your Own Mug)

For more information visit Calabrian Tea Party on Facebook

www.calabriatheotheritaly.com

Maestro Gioacchino Longobardi Returns to Hudson River Music Hall

Mº Gioacchino Longobardi
Recital
Sunday, March 29th @ 3:00 pm

Hudson River Music Hall
10 Maple Street
Hudson Falls, NY 12839

Admission $12 Seniors $8

For more info visit the Neapolitan Music Society on Facebook

www.neapolitanmusicsociety.org
www.gioacchinolongobardi.com

March 27, 2015

2015 North End Feasts and Processions

St. Agrippina's Feast (Photo courtesy of northendboston.com)
June 7, 2015 – Santa Maria di Anzano
2:00 pm Procession only – Starts at St. Leonard Church, Hanover & Prince 


• June 14, 2015 – Saint Anthony of Padua
2:00 pm Procession only – Starts at St. Leonard Church, Hanover & Prince Streets (5:00pm Blessing of the Children at Saint Leonard Church)

June 28, 2015 - Saint Padre Pio
2:00 Procession only – Starts at St. Leonard Church, Hanover & Prince Streets

July 12, 2015 - Madonna delle Grazie
2:00 pm Procession only – Starts at St. Leonard Church, Hanover & Prince Streets

July 19, 2015 - St. Rocco
1:00 pm – Procession only – Starts at St. Leonard Church, Hanover & Prince Streets

July 31, August 1 & 2, 2015 – St. Agrippina di Mineo Feast
Feast opens at 12:00 pm each day
Battery & Hanover Streets (12:00pm Sunday Procession)
SaintAgrippinaBoston.com

August 7, 8 & 9, 2015 – Madonna Della Cava Feast
Battery & Hanover Streets (1:00pm Sunday Procession)
MadonnaDellaCava.com

August 13, 14, 15 & 16, 2015 –
Fisherman’s Feast of the Madonna Del Soccorso di Sciacca
Fleet, Lewis & North Streets (1:00pm Sunday Procession)
FishermansFeast.com


August 28 – 30, 2015 – Saint Anthony’s Feast
Thacher, Endicott & N. Margin Streets (12 pm Sunday Procession)
StAnthonysFeast.com

August 31, 2015 (Labor Day) – St. Lucy’s Feast
Thacher & Endicott Streets (5:00 pm Monday Procession)
StAnthonysFeast.com/StLucy.html

September 13, 2015 – Santa Rosalia di Palermo
1:00 pm – Procession only – North Square
Facebook page

October 2, 3 & 4, 2015 – St. Joseph’s Feast
Battery & Hanover Streets (1:00pm Sunday Procession)
Facebook page

Source: http://www.northendboston.com/visiting/feasts/

* All schedules and activities are subject to change, so please check with organizers for any updates.

For more Feasts visit our 2015 Festa Directory

March 26, 2015

A Look at the 2015 Festa di San Giuseppe in Ridgewood, Queens

Viva San Giuseppe!
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Hundreds gathered at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church in Ridgewood, Queens on Sunday (March 22nd) to celebrate the annual Festa di San Giuseppe. Mass was held in Italian by Father Thomas, followed by a procession through the neighborhood with marching bands and the saint’s statue.
Sponsored by the Associazone Cattolica Italiana di Miraculous Medal, there was a terrific turnout with plenty of support from several other Italian American societies. As always, it was great to see our friends from the Congrega San Gerardo Maiella di Brooklyn, Società Concordia Partanna, Maria SS. Delle Grazie di Montevago, St. Rocco Society of Potenza and New York City's Sicilian Food, Wine & Travel Group.
After the procession, the marchers returned to the Notre Dame Catholic Academy gymnasium behind the church for the benediction. We warmed-up inside with some caffè and lite fare, and were treated to a few more songs by the Giglio Band. Guests mingled and spoke Sicilian, but sadly no one recited poetry this year. After the raffle, blessed loaves of bread were distributed to the attendees and flowers from the statue were given to the ladies.
Special thanks to President Tony Mulé and members of the Associazone Cattolica Italiana for their warmth and hospitality. My friends and I had a great time and we look forward to celebrating with them again next year. Viva San Giuseppe!
Making our way to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church
After Mass, our beloved patron is carried out to the expectant crowd
The color guard leads the way
The procession makes its way through the neighborhood
Members of the Congrega San Gerardo Maiella di Brooklyn show their support
Numerous devotees brave the cold
Halfway through, we stopped by the Società Concordia Partanna clubhouse to honor San Francesco di Paola
Members of the Associazone Cattolica Italiana di Miraculous Medal take turns pulling the vara, or cart
The Giglio Band kept the festivities rolling
Afterward, we returned to a packed gymnasium for the party
A foolproof (and fun) way to keep the raffle drawings fair 
Boxes of blessed bread were distributed to attendees
(Above and below) Men give flowers to the ladies
For more photos visit us on Pinterest
Also see:
A Look at the 2014 Festa di San Giuseppe in Ridgewood, NY

March 25, 2015

Feast of the Annunciation

The Annunciation by Renato Rossi, hand painted ceramic tiles on the facade of the Confraternity of Annunziata and Rosario (next door to the Chiesa San Giovanni) in Vietri sul Mare. Photos by New york Scugnizzo
March 25th marks the Feast of the Annunciation, when the archangel Gabriel visited the Virgin Mary and announced she would conceive a Child by the Holy Spirit. In celebration I'm posting The Angelus, a devotional prayer honoring the Blessed Mother's role in the Incarnation, which should be repeated three times daily (morning, midday and evening).

The Annunciation by Luca Giordano 
Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Angelus

Prayer at dawn:
Verse The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary:
Response And she conceived by the Holy Spirit

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Prayer at noon:
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord:
R. Be it done unto me according to Thy Word.
Hail Mary…

Prayer at twilight:
V. And the Word was made flesh:
R. And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary…

Conclusion after each prayer time:
V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen

A Nightmare on Greene Street

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
Scene at the morgue
By Niccoló Graffio
Sitting there in the motorman’s class, I listened intently to the instructor as he attempted to impress upon us the importance of safety in the workplace. Picking up a soft cover book about the size of a notebook, he waved it in front of the class, trying to garner the attention of the know-it-alls who invariably find such lectures boring.
“This is a copy of New York City Transit’s code of safety rules.” he loudly announced. “We have a saying about this book: ‘This is a book written in blood!’ When I first came on this job, this book had only four pages. As you can see, this book is now a lot thicker. Every time someone was killed on this job, another page was added to this book.” Suddenly he had everyone’s attention. His grim meaning was abundantly clear to all: the job of transit worker is not an easy one. In fact, it’s a very dangerous one! Continue reading
Also see:
A Night of Remembrance: Honoring the Dead of the Triangle Fire
A Centennial of Tears and Reflection

March 24, 2015

To My Hero of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

A Tribute to Joseph Barbera
Goggles Paesano at the Indianrockolis 500 (Courtesy of YouTube)
By Niccolò Graffio
“All the works of man have their origin in creative fantasy. What right have we then to depreciate imagination?” – Carl Jung
From the earliest days our ancestors walked this earth they sought out activities during their leisure time to amuse themselves or else divert their attention from the rigors of life. These activities are today collectively called “entertainment”. Whether passive forms of entertainment, such as spectator sports or reading, or active forms, such as participatory sports and social dance, the underlying purpose was basically the same.
As human societies progressed, entertainment forms naturally became more sophisticated to match changing tastes. Theatre, opera and eventually cinema and television evolved from earlier, cruder forms of entertainment. As one might expect, different forms of entertainment were created to suit different tastes. Children, for example, might find a puppet show entertaining, but would probably have a more difficult time sitting through and enjoying a theatre production. Continue reading

March 23, 2015

Photo of the Week: Mt. Vesuvius in the Distance

A view of Monte Vesuvio looming in the distance, taken from within the Parco Regionale dei Monti Lattari, Corbara (SA). Photo by New York Scugnizzo

March 22, 2015

March 20, 2015

Remembering Civitella del Tronto: The Last Bastion of Bourbon Resistance

The Fortress of Civitella del Tronto, Abruzzi
Photo courtesy of fortezzacivitella.it
By Giovanni di Napoli
"Rather than stay here, I would love to die in the Abruzzi in the midst of those good fighters." — Queen Maria Sofia, during her exile in the Papal States
March 20th marks the anniversary of the surrender of Civitella del Tronto, the last bastion of Bourbon resistance during the conquest of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. We honor the stalwart defenders by remembering them and those who fell before them.
When Giuseppe Garibaldi and his motley band of freebooters invaded Sicily on May 11, 1860 he set in motion a series of events that proved to be calamitous to the people of Southern Italy. Upon landing at Marsala he declared himself dictator in the name of King Vittorio Emanuele II and L'Italia (Italy). Unsure what L'Italia meant, many Sicilians assumed it was the name of the King's wife, la TaliaContinue reading

Happy Spring!

Photo by New York Scugnizzo
The March or vernal equinox marks the beginning of spring, a time of rebirth and fertility. In celebration of the new season I would like to share a poem by the great Sicilian poet Salvatore Quasimodo from The Night Fountain: Selected Early Poems translated by Marco Sonzogni and Gerald Sawe, Arc Publications, 2008, p. 26-27. 
Wild Flowers

Blood clots hanging over torn green velvet:
the wounds of the fields!
Breathing in the sweet air, spring has broken
the veins of its swollen breasts.
Wind gusts with eager lips: a kiss!
Blood-red wild flowers float on threadlike
and foamless waves.

Primule

Grumi pensili di sangue sul lacero velluto verdognolo.
Oh le ferite dei prati!
La primavera respirando voluttuosamente l'aria soave, ha rotte
le vene del suo seno turgido.
Un fiotto di vento con le labbra avide; un bacio! E le
primule sanguigne galleggiano su l'onde filamentose e
senza spuma.

March 19, 2015

Feast of San Giuseppe

Viva San Giuseppe!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
March 19th is Saint Joseph's Day. As a carpenter and spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster-father of the Infant Jesus, he is the patron saint of workers and protector of the family. He is also invoked in the fight against Communism. 
In Sicily the day is popularly celebrated with La Tavulata di San Giuseppe or Saint Joseph's Table. Dating back to Medieval times, the ritual meal is held in honor of the Saint's intercession during an especially bad famine. According to legend, a severe drought struck the island inflicting widespread suffering and starvation. Saint Joseph answered the peoples' prayers and relieved them from the dreadful plight. Continue reading

March 18, 2015

Announcing Boston's 110th Annual Feast in Honor of Santa Maria Di Anzano

www.anzanoboston.com

Southern Italian Folk Music and Dance in Philadelphia

Photo courtesy of Michela Musolino 
Saturday, March 21st (3pm—6pm)

Moving Arts of Mt. Airy
6819 Greene Street
Philadelphia, PA 19119

Entrance $15

Through the notes, the rhythms and the steps of Southern Italian folk music and dances you can hear the echoes of an ancient past, made of ground, paganism and superstition.

During Pre-Christian Age people used to dance by the sound of harpsichords during rituals celebrating Dyonisus and other gods related to the cult of rebirth and the cyclic course of nature.

Nowadays people dance ‘tammurriate’ in honor of Lady Mary, but the sound of ‘tammorra’, the modern frame drum, reminds all the Southern Italian people the existence of that past.

But this is only a part of the story. In Puglia, another Southern Italian region, another famous dance drives people in a kind of ‘trance’: that is ‘pizzica’, whose roots are in the coreotherapy of ‘tarantism’, that is an hysterical state that is supposed to be induced by the bite of a spider…

If you are curious and want to know more about this world, come to Moving Arts of Mount Airy!

The musicians and dancers Michela Musolino, Fabio Turchetti and Michael Delia will introduce you to the rhythms of this tradition…and maybe you will be able to hear the echoes of that distant and magic past…

For more info visit Southern Italy Folk Music and Dance in Philadelphia on Facebook

Contacts:
Pam 215 842-1040
Andrea 267-231-6987

March 17, 2015

Ponderable Quote from “Terroni” by Pino Aprile

“The South has been deprived of its institutions; it has been deprived of its industries, its riches and of its ability to react. It has also been deprived of its people (with an emigration that was induced or forced unlike any other group in Europe). Lastly, through a cultural lobotomy, the South was deprived of its self-awareness; its memory. 
“We no longer know who we were. It happened similarly to the Jews in the Holocaust (the comparison is not exaggerated: hundreds of thousands, or perhaps even a million, Southerners were killed by the Savoy troops; thirteen to twenty million people, according to records, were forced to abandon their land over the course of a century). Many who were able to survive the concentration camps began to wonder whether the evil that was inflicted upon them was perhaps deserved. When the damage becomes intolerable one seeks a cause to blame it on, even if the cause is inexistent or absurd, in order not to lose one’s mind. The historian Ettore Ciccotti spoke of ‘a sort of Italian anti-Semitism’ referring to the treatment of Southern Italians. The Lega, an expression of local comical nationalism, were it not so tragic, is the most sincere example of this." 
[...] 
“It is in this manner that the resistance against the invaders, rapes as well as the loss of wealth, life, identity, and of one’s own country becomes ‘shame.’ It is only now, after a century and a half, the Southern families are beginning to recuperate their pride in their ancestors, who had previously been labeled as brigands by their aggressors (Naturally this phenomenon has also caused the moral redemption of those who effectively were brigands as well. There were other criminals: those mafia members that were enlisted by Garibaldi and the Piedmontese, but they were considered ‘good Italians.’ To be deemed a criminal it does not matter what you do, but for whom).”
* Quoted from Terroni: All That Has Been Done to Ensure That the Italians of the South Became “Southerners” by Pino Aprile, Bordighera Press, 2011, p. 8–9

Around the Web (March 2015)

Items of interest from around the web.
Courtesy of YouTube
Io Non Festeggio at Sanfedisti: Altar & Throne
In opposition to the Anniversary of Italian Unification (commemorated every March 17th), and to remind everyone of southern Italy's rich and independent past, our friends at the Sanfedisti: Altar & Throne blog posted a YouTube video of Eddy Napoli's anthem MalaUnità, a scathing indictment of the Risorgimento and Italian "unity."
Courtesy of Briganti
During a recent interview at the Convento di San Domenico Maggiore in Naples, popular Sicilian actress Maria Grazia Cucinotta (star of “Il Postino”) declared her affection for the Neapolitan people and stated emphatically, “I am part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.” Visit Vesuvio Live to read the article in Italian.

March 16, 2015

Photo of the Week: The Cathedral of Montecassino

A look inside the Cathedral of Montecassino Abbey
Photo by New York Scugnizzo