April 30, 2020

Meridiunalata XVIII: ‘O Mese ‘E Maggio (The Month of May) by Cav. Charles Sant'Elia

Reprinted from Cav. Charles Sant'Elia's Meridiunalata/Southernade, an evocative bilingual (Neapolitan / English) collection of poetry written between 1989 and 2010. *

‘O Mese ‘E Maggio


C’addore ‘o’ mese ‘e maggio
Dint’’a casa ‘e notte,
Ca s’arapésseno tutt’’e feneste
Pe m’’o purtà,
Ca tu l’astipasse
Int’’e capille
St’addore ‘o’ mese ‘e maggio.

The Month of May

What a scent in the month of May
In the house at night,
I wish they would open all the windows

To bring it to me,
That you would store it up
In your hair,
This scent in the month of May.

* Self-published in 2010, Meridiunalata/Southernade is a treasury of poems gleaned from Cav. Sant'Elia's previous collections (Nchiuso dint''o presente, 'A cuntrora, and 'O pino e l'éllera), which were circulated among friends in New York City and Naples. Special thanks to Cav. Sant'Elia for allowing us to reprint his poetry and translations.

April 29, 2020

Novena & Consecration to San Michele Arcangelo

The Archangel Michael smiting Lucifer, 16th century painting by Giovanni Angelo d'Amato da Maiori, Duomo di Ravello, Campania. Photos by New York Scugnizzo
April 29th — May 7th (Feast of the Apparition, May 8th)

Consecration to St. Michael

St. Michael the Archangel, invincible prince of the angelic hosts and glorious protector of the Universal Church, I greet thee and praise thee for that splendor with which God has adorned thee, especially to remain faithful when Lucifer and his followers rebelled, and to battle victoriously for the honor of God and the divinity of the Son of Man.

St. Michael, I consecrate to thee my soul and body. I choose thee as my patron and protector and entrust the salvation of my soul to thy care. Be the Guardian of my obligation as a child of God and of the Catholic Church as again I renounce Satan, his works and pomps. Assist me by thy powerful intercession in the fulfillment of these sacred promises, so that imitating thy courage and loyalty to God, and trusting in thy kind help and protection, I may be victorious over the enemies of my soul and be united with God in Heaven forever. Amen.


San Michele Arcangelo by Renato Rossi,
1931, 
Vietri sul Mare, Salerno
Novena Prayer

St. Michael the Archangel, loyal champion of God and His people, I turn to thee with confidence and seek thy powerful intercession. For the love of God, Who made thee so glorious in grace and power, and for the love of the Mother of Jesus, the Queen of the Angels, be pleased to hear my prayer. Thou dost know the value of my soul in the eyes of God. May no stain of evil ever disfigure its beauty. Help me to conquer the evil spirit who tempts me. I desire to imitate thy loyalty to God and Holy Mother Church and thy great love for God and men. And since thou art God's messenger for the care of His people, I entrust to thee this special request: (Here mention your request).

St. Michael, since thou art, by the will of the Creator, the powerful intercessor of Christians, I have great confidence in thy prayers. I earnestly trust that if it is God's holy will, my petition will be granted.

Pray for me, St. Michael, and also for those I love. Protect us in all dangers of body and soul. Help us in our daily needs. Through thy powerful intercession, may we live a holy life, die a happy death and reach Heaven where we may praise and love God with thee forever. Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.

April 27, 2020

New Book — Sicily: Island of Beauty and Conflict

Forthcoming title that may be of interest to our readers. All are available at Amazon.com

Sicily: Island of Beauty and Conflict by Jeremy Dummett

Publisher: Tauris Parke
Publication date: September 1, 2020
Hardcover: $27.00
Language: English
Pages: 320

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April 26, 2020

Photo of the Week: The Guglia di San Domenico in Napoli

The Spire of San Domenico di Guzman, San Domenico Maggiore Square, Napoli. Begun in 1656 by Cosimo Fanzango, to commemorate the city's deliverance from the plague, the ornate obelisk was eventually completed by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro in 1737. Photo by of Andrew Giordano

April 24, 2020

New Book — Roger II of Sicily: Family, Faith, and Empire in the Medieval Mediterranean World

New title that may be of interest to our readers. Available at Amazon.com

Roger II of Sicily: Family, Faith, and Empire in the Medieval Mediterranean World by Dawn Marie Hayes

Publisher: Brepols Publishers
Publication date: February 27, 2020
Hardcover: $88.20
Language: English
Pages: 221

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April 22, 2020

Around the Web: Preparing for the Feast of Saint George

Evviva San Giorgio!
Reprinted from Constantinian Chronicle

Dear Confratelli and Consorelle, 

We are a few days away from celebrating the solemnity of our principal patron, Saint George, Martyr. He is one of the most ancient, revered and beloved saints of the Church, in both West and East. The patron of a number of countries as well as soldiers, he is also one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

From the very beginning of our Order as the Golden Militia, Saint George has been its main protector. He shall always be our constant companion, heroic model and heavenly friend as we imitate both his virtues and efforts in the glorification of the Holy Cross, the defense of the Catholic Faith and charity toward neighbor.

According to our Statutes, we are expected to assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on this holy day. This year of course, we are unable to do so in person because of the Coronavirus. However, each of us should do our best to worship Almighty God and honor Saint George, in union with our fellow knights and dames of the American Delegation, and the universal Order.

Knight of Ecclesiastical Grace, Very Rev. Canon Matthew L. Talarico (a chaplain of our Order and the Provincial Superior of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest) will celebrate a special Mass with homily for the feast of Saint George, on Thursday April 23 at 12 Noon EST.

Please make every effort to join your confratelli and consorelle ‘virtually attending’ this Mass in honor of our Patron.

Click here for the link

During these preparatory days, we shall celebrate a triduum in honor of Saint George. Meditations and prayer texts will be sent out. Please remember in your prayers our Grand Master, Grand Prefect, the entire Royal House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, our Grand Prior and the rest of the Order’s officials, our American Delegation and all Delegations.

Let us also pray for the success of the Constantinian Order Charity’s efforts, and especially our own, as we generously seek to do our part in the battle against Covid-19 by providing vital supplies, equipment and resources to hospitals and healthcare workers.

May the glorious Saint George intercede for a swift end to the virus and the suffering it has caused, and may he continue to protect us all!

IHSV,
Cav. John Viola
Delegate

April 20, 2020

Review: Ultras on Netflix

Spoiler Alert!
This film stems from the free imagination of its authors. Any reference to real people or events is purely coincidental. The names of the groups, flags, murals and banners are fictional. No Neapolitan ultras were involved in the making of this film. ~ Opening disclaimer
Thanks to the ongoing Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic lockdown, I find myself with plenty of extra time for prayer, reading and overdue household choirs. The isolation has also allowed me the opportunity for more banal pursuits, like watching television (e.g. Babylon Berlin) and movies on Netflix and other platforms. Out of touch with most pop-culture these days, it wasn’t until the autoplay previewed a trailer for Francesco Lettieri’s Ultras (March 2020) that I learned the drama even existed. A long-time Napoli supporter, I was more than a little curious to see how the ultras (fanatical fans) and the city would be portrayed.

Set in the final few weeks of a fictional campaign, where SSC Napoli are favorites to win the Scudetto (championship), the movie opens in the Bay of Naples at twilight with Sandro, the story’s main protagonists, meeting up with a group of Neapolitan ultras called the Apache for a wedding outside an old dilapidated church. To the tune of Un giorno all’improvviso the ultras serenade the emerging newlyweds.

Un giorno all’improvviso
Mi innamorai di te
Il cuore mi batteva
Non chiedermi perché
Mia moglie, sai, mi ha chiesto
Che sono io per te
Tu sei tutta la vita
Ma gli azzurri più di te
Ale, ale, ale

One day out of the blue,
I fell in love with you,
My heart was beating fast,
Don’t ask me why,
My wife, you know, she asked me,
What am I to you?
You are my life,
But I love the Azzurri more,
Ale, ale, ale

Rolling the opening credits over a montage of news footage showing actual Neapolitan hooliganism, fake scenes of the actors battling rival Romanisti and the death of Sasà, were added to set up the movie’s backstory.

As one of the founding members of the Apache, Sandro is well respected and lionized by many tifosi (fans). Affectionately known as the “Mohican,” he is now in his fifties and slowly drifting away from that lifestyle. He tries to mentor Sasà’s younger brother Angelo, but despite his best efforts the lad and his friends are determined to join the ultras. Due to their violent past, Sandro and the other banned supporters are prohibited from entering the stadiums and must report to the local police precinct on match days.

Dubbed in English, I still turned on the subtitles and found that they didn’t always match up with the audio. For example, when Angelo’s friends met him by Sasà’s memorial mural, they blamed Ciro for making them late. “It takes him three hours to get his Elvis hair right,” said one of the young toughs jokingly; however the subtitles read, “It takes him three hours to get that Little Tony quiff.” Then setting off on their scooters for the home match between Napoli and Brescia, one of the lads said he looks like a “douche.” Curiously, the PC translators edited out the next couple of lines. The subtitles continued silently, “It’s about style” said Ciro to the Sri Lankan brothers Roby and Reggio, “You’re a pair of Gypsies!” “Style?” retorted Roby (or Reggio?), “You’re more of a Gypsy than we are.”

Prone to brazen acts of violence, Pechegno, Gabbiano and the other younger members of the group are itching to make names for themselves. Disobeying direct orders they travel to Florence and wreak havoc at the stadium, setting off smoke bombs and unfurling an unsanctioned banner reading “Let’s burn the capital.” On their triumphant return to Naples, they are greeted by the supporters who didn’t make the trip. In a show of strength, Barabba, McIntosh, O’Mericano and the other veterans show up at the rally and break up their celebration. Berating the disgruntled ringleaders, Sandro gives an impassioned speech about unity and mentality. Falling into line, they sing in unison Andai in Mozambico, one of the more morbid Napoli chants.

Andai in Mozambico
E mi sbucciai un dito
Fatta infezione
Necessaria amputazione
Dito
Gamba
Vuoi ballare tu la samba?
Augh, Augh, Augh!

I went to Mozambique
And I peeled a finger
It got infected
I had to get it amputated
Finger
Leg
You wanna dance the samba?
Augh, Augh, Augh!

Growing ever more disenchanted, Sandro keeps getting sucked back in to group’s inner turmoil, which interferes with his nascent relationship with Terry, a single mom he met while working at the Terme Stufe di Nerone, a thermal bath spa in the Phlegraean Fields. In spite of Sandro’s good intensions, Angelo’s mother Stefania blames him for her son’s death and wants him to stay away from Angelo. Her own deficiencies aside (e.g. promiscuity, lapse supervision, etc.), she may have a point.

Even though Sandro looks out for the lad, he also regales the boy with violent tales of bravado. While showing him the secret location of the Apache’s beloved banner, he fondly recalls the time they went to a party in Bergamo and trounced a bunch of Atalanta ultras, including the thug who stabbed him at an earlier confrontation. “I head butted him in the face,” he gloated, though the subtitles were more colorful: “I gave him a Glasgow kiss and he hit the ground.”

I get the contradictions in personality, people aren’t black or white. However, the most perplexing part of the story is why the ultras’ most prized possession, an old banner emblazoned with the group’s motto “Spirito Selvaggio” (Wild Spirit), is kept hidden in the rubble of an abandoned church? I guess it makes its accidental destruction by Angelo and his drunken buddies later in the story possible, but it seems a little too far-fetched to me.

In the meantime, the generational rift between Pechegno and Gabbiano with the old guard grows. Looking to grab power and glory for themselves, the young upstarts declare the end of the Apache and form a new Firm, Иo Иame Иaples (ИИИ). With the lyrics of Coerenza e mentalità tattooed on his head, Gabbiá leads the renegades in song:

Lo Stato ha fatto una legge
Che dice allo sbirro cosi
Appena incontri un tifoso
Arrestalo e portalo qui
Appena arrivato in Questura
Lo sbirro tremare dovrà
La legge non ci fa paura
Lo Stato non ci fermerà
Infatti no ci fermeremo
La vita dell’ultras si sa
Conosce soltanto due leggi
Coerenza e mentalità

The State passed a law
And this is what it tells to the cop
As soon as you meet a fan
Arrest him and bring him here
As soon as he arrives at the station
The cop will have to tremble
The law doesn’t frighten us
The State won’t stop us
In fact, we won’t stop
The life of an ultra, everyone knows
Only knows two laws
Consistency and mentality

Fed up with their insolence, and mistakenly believing it was Pechegno who destroyed their banner, Sandro, Barabba and company storm ИИИ’s hangout. Baying for blood, they attempt to violently squash the mutiny and give the turncoats a good drubbing. Apparently, this was all for naught because the battered and bloody group still go to Rome for the Championship showdown between Napoli and Roma.

Without giving too much more away, a distraught Angelo hell-bent on avenging his brother’s death and wracked with guilt for his part in ruining the Apache banner, sets off on a self-destructive path with Sandro (skipping his sign-in at the police station) in pursuit.

Not surprisingly, we never learn if Napoli wins the Scudetto. The movie is virtually free of any calcio (Italian football). A seeming contradiction of the infamous ultra way of life, many ultras supposedly have no real interest in the beautiful game at all. For them, it is all about local pride, identity, and “mentality.” Failing to develop the characters and pushing a tired, simplistic narrative of senseless violence and brutality, Ultras ultimately offers little in its exploration of the ultra subculture, which took form in the curve (terraces) in opposition to an effete and corrupt bourgeois society (globalism and modernity).

The agents of modernity (politicians, media, etc.) often portray those who resist their so-called civilizing mission as backward barbarians, and true to form, this film does very much the same. Giving little insight into the much vaunted “mentality” of the ultras, all we see is petty and sanguinary infighting between an aging leadership content with sitting on its laurels and the next wave of combatants looking for some notoriety of their own. Disappointingly, no attempt is made to understand their complex ideals and motivations or their varied political affiliations (Left or Right).

On top of this, the film also paints a very unflattering picture of the city of Naples, further fueling the negative image bedeviling the southern metropolis. One of the most beautiful places on Earth, with a rich and vibrant culture, all we get to see is an impoverished, crumbling backwater covered with graffiti and filled with low-lives consumed with sex, drugs, and violence. The women are skanks; the ultras look like Hell’s Angels without the Harleys or wayward youths in tasteless tracksuits; and everyone does drugs (cocaine and marijuana). Sure the city has its share of problems (what city doesn’t?), but I was hoping for something more balanced and interesting.

In case you couldn’t already tell, my favorite part of the movie was the songs. For me, what little authenticity the film offers can be found in them, both the chants and the Canzone Napoletana. Ending where it started, outside the small church in the storied bay, the ultras sing a heartfelt rendition of È passato tanto tempo:

È passato tanto tempo
Non ci lasceremo mai
Siamo figli del Vesuvio
Forse un giorno esploderà
Una vita insieme a te
Di domenica alle tre
Non riesco a stare solo senza te
Quando un giorno morirò
Da lassù ti guarderò
Quanti cori al funerale io avrò

It’s been such a long time
We’ll never leave you alone
We’re sons of Vesuvius
Maybe one day it’s gonna explode
A life with you, on Sunday at three
I can’t be without you
When one day I’ll be dead
I’ll look down from the sky
I want so many chants
At my funeral

~ Giovanni di Napoli, April 19, Quasimodo Sunday

Also see:
One Day Suddenly
Remembering Ciro
Napoli’s Francesco II vs. Atalanta’s Lombroso

April 18, 2020

Meridiunalata XVII: Francesco Granatiero

Francesco Granatiero was born in Mattinata (Foggia, Puglia) in 1949 and works as a laboratory research doctor. After publishing some plaquettes of poetry in Italian, he published numerous collections of poetry in his native Garganico dialect of Mattinata, including All’acchjitte (1976), U iréne (1983), La préte de Bbacucche (1986), Énece (1994), Iréve (1995), L’endice la grava (1997), Scúerzele (2002), Bbommine. Fiori d’asfodelo (2006). Granatiero is included in important studies and anthologies of regional poetry. (Dell’Arco, Chiesa-Tesio, Brevini, Spagnoletti-Vivaldi, Serrao, Bonaffini). From 1986 to 1992 he managed the editorial board of the “Incontri” series directed by Giovanni Tesio for Boetti & C. Editori, in which volumes of the major dialect poets of the second half of the 20th century appeared.

The following poems are from Granatiero’s collection entitled Scúerzele or “Spoils/Remains” (Rome, Edizioni Cofine, 2002, with preface by Donato Valli and afterward by Achille Serrao) and are translated here by Cav. Charles Sant’Elia.

Vricce

Préte de mére, vriccia
lònghe e ttónne, l’allisce
aggiòcca ce allustrisce,
c’all’úecchie mije ce appicce

e nzacce s’è cchiú ttónne
o jèje cchiú a ppónda lisce
ma cèrte – assènza jónne –
cchiú pprónde ce vé fficce

pe ll’úrte de nu càlece
nd’u quagghie de la mòreje
nd’u mmedudde la càlece
che ngènne nd’la memòreje.

Pebble

Sea stone, pebble
oval, I smooth it
so that it shines,
so that it lights up to my eyes

and I don’t know if it is more round
o more dull pointed
but certainly – without a slingshot-
more ready to strike

with the impact of a kick
in the clot of the sludge
in the marrow of the lime
that burns in my memory.

Annatavanne
        È l’anima straniera, sulla terra.
                       Georg Trakl


Óue jèje chése, u reggitte
de l’àneme? Da attàneme,
óue sò nnéte, mó spíerte
e ddemíerte, frustíere
retòrne, chi l’appure
chichédúne me sépe.

Óue mó stéche ne nzacce
se véche spatrejune
o stéche a stritte. Cèrte,
nesciune a mmè me cacce,
ma sènde ca l’assíette
sprefónne sótte i píete.

L’àneme nd’u tramóte
sté annatavanne, sóte.
Auméne pe nna sèrte
pembeduricchie i ssíerpe
assuche l’umme ngúerpe,
la péne che me sèrre.

Elsewhere
        The soul is a stranger, on the earth.
                        Georg Trakl


Where is my home, the refuge
of the soul? By my father,
where I was born, now stray
and isolated, a foreigner
I return, who knows,
if somebody will recognize me.

Where I am now I don’t know
if I go without a destination
or I find myself pressed. Certainly
nobody chases me,
but I feel the foundation
sinking beneath my feet.

The soul in the earthquake
Is elsewhere, immobile.
At least with a wreath
Of black bryony berries
I wipe away the groaning inside me,
the pain that grips me.

April 17, 2020

New Book — Mundunur: A Mountain Village Under the Spell of South Italy

New title that may be of interest to our readers. Available at Amazon.com

Mundunur: A Mountain Village Under the Spell of South Italy by Michele Antonio DiMarco

Publisher: Via Media Publishing
Publication date: January 1, 2020
Hardcover: $48.95
Language: English
Pages: 336

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April 15, 2020

Meridiunalata XVI: Giovannangelo Nicola Maltese

Giovannangelo Nicola Maltese (7 January 1852 – 21 August 1913) was a poet and sculptor from Forio, on the island of Ischia. Born to a farming family, he began his life as a farmer and began carving figurines in wood until his talents caught his countrymen’s notice and he was sent on scholarship to the Istituto di Belle Arti in Naples in 1870. After graduating he worked as a sculptor in Rome, and becoming well received, he obtained a commission to work on decorations in the castle of Chenonceaux in the Loire valley. He then moved to Paris where he came into contact with Impressionism and worked for a time on his charcoal sketches. He returned to his native island and executed several sculptures for Wagner’s wife. He tragically lost his only living relatives in the devastating 1883 earthquake, but nonetheless settled in Forio and married Fanny Jane Fairer, an English woman, in 1901. A declared adherent to verismo in both art and poetry, he began writing in his native dialect at age 40, taking island life as his inspiration. He was known for his wit and sarcasm, and was often in conflict with the prominent personalities and political figures he satirized and whose corruption he attacked. Maltese received the Torrione, a defensive tower built in 1480 by the town of Forio, in perpetual lease from mayor Orazio Patalano, which served as his home and studio, and which holds his works till the present day, as arranged at the behest of his widow.

The following are verses Maltese wrote for his wife.

From his work “Ncrocchie” (“Clusters” [of people])

I


Quanne sto nnènt’a ste capìgghie d’ore
- e ngè lu ventarié che ghie sceléie -,
cu lu nése pe ghièri’, ève cuppéie
nun sòcce mènghe dì che bèll’andòre!

E quanne ghiuócchie tuóie nda lu miéie
- còmm’a n’ape nfezzata nda nu fióre -
lu curunié se zuca de stu còre,
ncalametéte, allór, ‘un pepetéie.

Pu, si stu muss’a’ penimene de ròse,
alliér’ o mmenenét’o ndefferènte,
se vota mère me pe dì qua còse,

Tanne me sènghe mmócche le fragniénte
e – si nun fusse tènte pavuróse –
te mullarrì le vés’a ciént’a ciénte.

I

When I am before your golden hair
-and there is a little gust of wind that tussles it-,
with my nose in the air I go gathering
I don’t know even how to say what fragrance!

And when your eyes are fixed in mine
-like a bee set in a flower-
sips the chalice of my heart
magnetized, why, then I can’t utter a peep.

Then, if these rose petal lips,
merry, embittered or indifferent,
turn toward me to say something,

Then I feel in my mouth an excitement
And- if I were not so fearful-
I would launch kisses to you by the hundreds. 


Translated by Cav. Charles Sant'Elia

Bibliographic information:
MALTESE, Giovannangelo, “Ncrocchie”, Tocco & Salvietti, Napoli, 1904
GARUFI Amedeo, "Medaglione isolano dello scultore Giovanni Maltese", in Centro di Ricerche su l'isola d'Ischia, Ricerche, contributi e memorie, edited by the Ente Valorizzazione Isola d'Ischia, Napoli, 1971

April 14, 2020

Photo of the Week: Cristo Redentore di Maratea

Christ the Redeemer of Maratea on top of Monte San Biagio, Potenza, Basilicata. Standing 72 feet high, the Redeemer is one of the largest statues in Europe. Designed by Bruno Innocenti (1906-1996), it was completed in 1965.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Giordano

April 12, 2020

Buona Pasqua! Happy Easter!

Detail of the Resurrection by Arturo DiModica
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
On behalf of everyone here at Il Regno, I want to wish all of our readers a very Happy Easter! Buona Pasqua! In celebration I'm posting The Tomb, a traditional Sicilian prayer reprinted from Prayers and Devotional Songs of Sicily, edited and translated into English by Peppino Ruggeri, Legas, 2009, p. 94-95. The accompanying photo of the Resurrection by Sicilian-American sculptor Arturo DiModica was taken at the Italian American Museum in 2010.
The Tomb
Holy tomb, which often has been visited
With blood you have been made clean
For two days you were washed
So us sinners you could redeem.

O Sipurcu
O Sipurcu visitatu
chi di sangu fustu lavatu
fustu lavatu pi quarantottu uri
pi nuiautri peccatori.


Addendum I: 
Typical southern Italian Easter sweets include marzipan Paschal Lamb, or Lamb of God; and pupa cu l'ova, a delicious sweet bread with dyed hardboiled eggs baked in it.
"Paschal Lamb"
Pupa cu l'ova
Addendum II: Typical southern Italian Easter desserts include La Pastiera Napoletana, aka Pizza Gran; Pizza Chiena, aka Pizza Rustica; and Cuzzupe di Pasqua, a delicious Calabrese bread with hard-boiled eggs baked in it.
La pastiera Napoletana
Pizza Chiena
Cazzupe di Pasqua

April 7, 2020

Review: Babylon Berlin on Netflix

Spoiler Alert!

On the recommendation of a friend, I started watching Babylon Berlin, a popular Neo-noir German detective drama currently playing on Netflix. Set in Weimar Germany between the World Wars (1918-1939), the show tells the story of Inspector Gereon Rath (Volker Bruch), a WWI veteran suffering from PTSD, and his ambitious associate Charlotte Ritter (Liv Lisa Fries), a part-time prostitute who dreams of becoming Berlin’s first female homicide detective. Transferred from his home town of Cologne to the Capital, Gereon soon uncovers a shadowy world of espionage and vice while dealing with his own personal demons (i.e. his ongoing affair with Helga, the wife of his late brother who he left to die on the battle field).

Based on the historical fiction novels by Volker Kutscher, Babylon Berlin portrays a decadent and corrupt society plagued with many cultural and political crises following Germany’s defeat in the Great War and the disastrous Treaty of Versailles (1919). Several interesting historical details were incorporated into the fictional storyline, such as the Blutmai riots of May 1-3 between the communists and the police, infighting between rival Stalinists and Trotskyists factions, the secret cooperation between the German Schwarze Reichswehr and the Soviet Red Army, and the financial collapse that led to the Great Depression.

Throughout the series Gereon and Charlotte face off against gangsters, communists, National Socialists, corrupt policemen, occultists (Fraterna Saturni), capitalists, monarchists, Conservative Revolutionaries, and even a mysterious tattooed priest called "Saint Joseph." Some historical figures, such as German President Paul von Hindenburg (1847-1934) and Chancellor Gustav Ernst Stresemann (1878-1929) make brief appearances, while others, like the Conservative Revolutionary warrior-writer Ernst Jünger (1895-1998), the German Jewish Marxist philosopher Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), and the inescapable Adolph Hitler (1889-1945), are only mentioned in passing.

I’d be lying if I said I was surprised, but the show is disproportionately sympathetic to the communist menace and the Fourth Estate. While every other group, including the main protagonists Gereon and Charlotte, are depicted as deeply flawed or corrupt, with few exceptions the members of these two privileged groups (e.g. Samuel Katelbach, Dr. Völcker, Hans Litten and Malu Seegers) are portrayed as heroic and principled champions of the downtrodden. Even the bad Reds, such as Fritz Hockert and Otto Wollenberg, turn out to be Brownshirts in disguise, or in the case with the pimp Ali Köhler (based on Albrecht Höhler), they are just useful idiots used to carry out the nefarious machinations of others, like assassinating the young SA stormtrooper Horst Kessler, who is loosely based on the Nazi martyr Horst Wessel.

Not for the squeamish, Babylon Berlin graphically broaches many unsavory issues, such as back-alley abortions, extreme poverty, pornography, prostitution, drugs, violence and other perversions. The fact that it was dubbed in English wasn’t an issue, though at times I felt some of the voices didn’t quite fit the characters. The scenery, old cars, and period costumes, especially the military uniforms and the flappers’ clothing, were impressive. I really enjoyed the soundtrack, particularly the German swing jazz performed by the crossdressing White Russian Countess Svetlana Sorokina and others at the Moka Efti cabaret (and brothel) in Season One. Despite the show's ubiquitous unpleasantries, I’m deeply invested and look forward to Season Four, which is slated to be released in 2021.

Ponderable Quote from "The Ruling Class" by Gaetano Mosca: Causes of Socialism

Gaetano Mosca
April 1, 1858—Nov. 8, 1941
Sicilian jurist and philosopher
It is natural for young people to feel a need of enthusiasms, of having before them a type, a model, that represents an ideal of virtue and perfection which each one seeks, as far as he can, to imitate. The model that has been set before the eyes of young people in France, and in other countries, has not been, as it could not have been, the knight who dies for his lady, his faith and his king. Much less has it been the public servant, the magistrate, the soldier, the uncompromising custodian of law and order. It has been the militant revolutionist pure and simple. It has been the champion of liberty and equality, the man who has fought tyrants and rebelled against constituted powers, who in defeat has endured their persecution intrepidly and in victory has overthrown and often supplanted them.

In view of the fact that sympathy for rebels has been so assiduously cultivated, and that our school children have been taught that everything that rebels have done has been noble and generous, it is natural that currents of sentiments and ideas in each new generation should incline toward doctrines that justify rebellion and teach its necessity. No Bastilles are left to storm. No Swiss Guards of a Charles X are left to be chased from the Louvre. Italian, Greek, Polish unities are all but achieved. The Neapolitan government that was defined as the negation of God is a memory so remote that people are even beginning to judge it impartially. In a world so free of monsters, the spirit of rebellion can only turn upon institutions that have survived old revolution, or upon the men who stand at the head of them and have often been old revolutionaries themselves.
Reprinted from The Ruling Class by Gaetano Mosca, p.311-312, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1939

Also see: Ponderable Quote From "The Ruling Class" by Gaetano Mosca

April 5, 2020

Happy Birthday Princess Camilla di Borbone!

HRH was born in Rome, Italy on April 5, 1971
Photo courtesy of Real Casa di Borbone
Happy Birthday Princess Camilla di Borbone — Two Sicilies, Duchess of Castro and Dame Grand Cross of Justice of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George! May God almighty bless you with a life full of joy and happiness. May you always find favor in His eyes. Peace be upon you. Auguri!

April 4, 2020

Celebrating the Feast of San Francesco di Paola with Pizza and Paulaner Bier

Using my time in self-isolation wisely, I’ve been fasting, praying, and catching up on my reading. Half a hermit before the pandemic, with the exception of missing Church and the occasional gathering with friends and family, my daily routine has in actuality changed very little. In the interim, I’ve been “attending” Live Stream Tridentine Masses, making Acts of Spiritual Communion, and keeping my myriad devotions as best as possible under the circumstances.

It goes without saying, Sacramental Communion and Holy Confession is what I miss most during this crises, but communal devotions like feasts and processions are a close second. Normally on April 2nd, a handful of us would get together and celebrate the Feast of San Francesco di Paola with a modest, but jovial, pizza party with some Paulaner hefeweizen (wheat beer with yeast) from Bavaria.

For those who don’t already know, in addition to tasting great and perfectly complimenting pizza, we drink Paulaner bier because it has an intimate connection to the great Calabrian saint. Originally brewed (1634) to support the charitable works of the Minims, a mendicant order of monks founded by St. Francis in the fifteenth-century, the name Paulaner itself is a corruption of Paola, the town in Provincia di Cosenza where St. Francis was born.

For obvious reasons we skipped the get-together this year, but we all promised to have a drink during dinner for a little levity in these trying times and make a toast in honor of St. Francis. Seeing how it’s still Lent and I’ve been practicing the traditional Lenten fast (only one meal a day at sundown with absolutely no meat, dairy or eggs throughout Lent, not just Fridays), I had a small cheeseless focaccia with caramelized onions and olive tapenade. Not one to drink alone (excluding wine), I made a rare exception for the occasion and enjoyed a cold pint of this most excellent brew.

May our glorious patron watch over you during these difficult times. God bless you all and evviva San Francesco!

New Book — Naples: A Travellers Companion

A new title that may be of interest to our readers. Available at Amazon.com

Naples: A Travellers Companion by Desmond Seward

Publisher: Robinson
Publication date: February 4, 2020
Paperback: $18.73
Language: English
Pages: 320

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April 3, 2020

Feast of Santa Fara (Burgundofara)

Evviva Santa Fara!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
April 3rd (and December 7th) is the Feast Day of Santa Fara (also Burgundofara or Fare), virgin and abbess. Patroness of Cinisi, a town and commune in the Province of Palermo, Sicily, she is invoked by those suffering from eye ailments. In commemoration, I'm posting an invocation by Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira (1908-1995), Brazillian intellectual and Catholic activist.*
"We ask [Santa Fara] to imbue our souls not only with nostalgia for that past era of faith, but above all with a hope for this future. An ardent hope should inspire us to do everything that we can to accelerate this future so that the Reign of Mary will come as soon as possible. Making penance for our faults, maintaining our desire for a complete victory for Our Lady, and completely rejecting the present day abominations in the Church and society are the backdrop for this prayer. By our suffering, work, fight, and dedication, by the risks we are willing to face, we should help in the restoration of Christendom and the implantation of her glorious Reign.  
"Let us ask St. Fara to confirm us in these sentiments on her feast day."
The accompanying photo of Santa Fara was taken at Saint Athanasius Church in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
* Quoted from "St. Fara, April 3" by Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira at traditioninaction.org

April 1, 2020

Addressing Procrustes

The hero Theseus giving Procrustes a taste of his own medicine
While out getting provisions the other day, I bumped into a regular detractor of mine who accused me of being (among other things) a Francophile, as if that were some kind of offense. He seems to think my admiration of French culture is somehow antithetical to our Duosiciliano identity. He would be right, of course, if my sympathies lied with the French Revolution, the Jacobins, Philosophes, Communards or some other iniquitous symptom of the Enlightenment. Instead our Procrustean (1) friend cited my affinity for the Ancien Régime, French Saints, and a handful of Catholic thinkers, as proof of my alleged faux pas. He forgot to mention my interests in Gallic cuisine, wine, art, and women, but I digress.

Considering my similar appreciation for German culture, he could have just as easily called me a Teutonophile; or for that matter a Hispanophile, Anglophile, Hellenophile, ad infinitum. “Stick to southern Italy,” he demanded, “I’m not interested in that French s#%t.” Since our content has been broad ranging from the beginning, I’m not sure what specifically brought on this latest infantilized outburst, especially at a time when people should be socially distancing themselves. Needless to say our critic didn’t appreciate my remedy for his problem: Stop visiting our site. If you’re not interested in what we have to say or you don’t like what we’re doing you can just stop coming; no one is forcing you to read our material or participate in our events. Good luck trying to find something you agree with completely.

Funny enough, even I don’t agree with everything that appears on our site. Barring a few egregious submissions, erstwhile guest-bloggers were given a platform to freely express their views without being harassed, at least by us. Despite the differences, we never asked any past contributor to stop writing; they each disengaged on their own accord. Even though we have been open to different opinions in the past, quite frankly, we are no longer willing to squander any more time or resources (proof reading, fact checking, editing, etc.) on contributors who aren’t on board with our mission. They already have innumerable outlets to share their viewpoints; they don’t need ours as well. Besides, they never afford us the same courtesy, so we finally put that ineffectual approach to rest.

Constructive criticism and feedback are always welcome, and to be sure we get plenty of it; however, we don’t take orders from our readers, especially disrespectful ones. We have no problem with good-natured ribbing or passionately discussing and debating talking points in cafés and beer halls, but incivility and nutters will not be tolerated. More discriminating now, the more easily offended are just going to have to cope with our editorial choices. If we lose a few readers because of it, so be it. We are not running a popularity contest.

I am very proud of my Duosiciliano heritage, and heaven knows there is plenty to be proud of; however, this doesn’t mean I don’t value aspects of other cultures as well. Sorry to disappoint, but I’m more interested in traditional guiding principles (faith, family, culture) than petty tribal loyalties (collectivism). We have no qualms with cultural exchange as long as it complements and strengthens our own ancient and revered way of life. For example, I feel a certain esprit de corps with Vilfredo Pareto, Joseph de Maistre, and, if I may be so bold, Giuseppe Sarto, aka Pope St. Pius X, among others. Am I suppose to dismiss them simply because they’re not Southern Italian? What utter rubbish. By the same token, just because Antonio Gramsci, Tommaso Campanella, and Giordano Bruno are southern Italians doesn’t mean I subscribe to their utopian worldview or pseudo-scientific falsehoods.

Sadly, too many are hung up on old hatreds and rivalries, some to an incredibly appalling degree. I recall once being chided for venerating Sant’Antonio da Padova because, of all things, he was “Northern Italian!” His widespread popularity in Southern Italy and the universality of the saints aside, the fact that St. Anthony was actually Portuguese fell on deaf ears. Far from an isolated incident, plenty of others have given me grief for similar trifles too numerous to mention here. I said it before and I’ll say it again, I harbor no ill will or animosity to our Northern neighbors, or to any others for that matter.

Clearly, I’m not saying we should forget the past and ignore historic transgressions; for example, villainous figures like Enrico Cialdini, Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, and Cesare Lombroso, are irredeemable, but we certainly need to resolve our differences and quickly, especially when you consider that we all have bigger fish to fry today. The Occidental world is in complete moral decline. Nihilism reigns, the liberal West’s materialist uniformity (globalism) and virulent secularism are in the ascendant. Assailed from within and without, the remnants of Christendom can ill afford to remain in the current state of disarray.

With all due respect to our critical friends, we will continue to celebrate the West’s shared patrimony, especially its High Culture, albeit with an emphasis on the Two Sicilies. In the meantime, stop trying to fit us into your narrow box. If I want to write about my childhood heroes Jacques-Yves Cousteau, St. Jeanne d’Arc, and the “Red Baron,” Manfred von Richthofen, I will. The same goes for anything else that catches my fancy. The heroic ideals evinced in the Song of Roland, the Poem of the Cid, and the Matter of Britain, not to mention the epics of Homer and Virgil, capture the imagination and speak to the soul as much as Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered, Basile’s Pentamerone, Vico’s New Science, and Aquinas’ Summa Thelogiae. This also holds true for Beethoven’s symphonies, Botticelli’s paintings, Chaucer’s poetry, Vanvitelli’s architecture, and all the other greats of the Western Canon. If you can’t discern this, that’s on you.

~ Giovanni di Napoli, March 31, Feast of St. Balbina of Rome

Notes:
(1) Procrustes was an unhinged Attic highwayman who coerced unsuspecting travelers to lie on an iron bed and made them fit it by painfully stretching or amputating their limbs. Fittingly, he was killed in like manner by the Greek hero Theseus.