Monday, November 26, 2012

Disney Buys Lucas: Episode 17, The Solaris Of History

   My grandfather on the Italian side, Benedetto, "summoned" me when I was 6 to come see him on the North Side of Boston. My mother, who hated Italians - hated everyone who was not Irish actually - knew enough not to antagonize the Italian side of the family, at least not to their faces. They didnt care what you said behind their backs if it did not affect business. Business was all that mattered. Anything else was stuff that didn't matter. Badmouthing, gossip and lying didnt matter unless it affected business. Then it mattered.
   Benedetto was in the "importing" business. The "shore story" as L Ron Hubbard would call his version of things for his shipboard zombies to tell the people and authorities their reason for coming ashore, and an expression I have adopted (I have adopted many Scientology terms because they are more exact as far as I am concerned) - the shore story is that he imported silken bolts to be used as lining for suits. This he actually did. My father would always say when and if Adolph Menjou's name was mentioned "He's wearing our silks." I think I heard this two hundred million times. So he did actually import silk.
   I believe silk comes from China. Or the Golden Triangle. Or someplace Asian.
   Unlike the Irish side of my family, the Italians were all rich. Except for my father. He was a gambler on horses. That a human being would place a bet based on the predictability of a horse's's the definition of mind boggling. You only have to be around a horse for five minutes to know that they are on a wavelength that even other animals regard as stupid.
   And he could not keep a secret, that was another little problem. He was kept at a distance from the rest of the Italians.
   My father basically "didn't get it." He was not a loose cannon so much as he was a loose beanbag chair; not too dangerous and if you have to you can stop the beanbag chair with your bare hands.
   Benedetto lived in an actual house. That housed only one family. Him and his wife. Who was my father's stepmother. His real mother died when my father was five. People often died around my father for some reason. My father was the youngest of 7. So he was the one who basically had a different mother, from all the others, basically speaking, one not his own. I think it had a bad effect on him, when his mother died I think he stayed back mentally and emotionally to the times when she was alive. He actually had "mother" tattooed on his arm in the Coast Guard.
   He was on board the American Coast Guard ship the Paulding  when it sailed over and sunk the US submarine S-4, killing all on board.
   Did I mention people died around my father? If he had killed as many Germans as he killed Americans he would have a handful of Medals of Honor.
    All the sons and the one daughter lived in those things you see in English movies, long connected buildings that are red brick industrial age apartments with stairs and strangers going up and down them, or the New England version of duplexes that are big houses with more than one family living in them. But                       Benedetto lived in his own house with a yard and a decorative metal fence that was higher than the sidewalk because the house was built on stacked dirt, a make-believe hill. Benedetto was a bit of an imperious fellow. Unlike my other grandfather Thomas Byrne. Tom was a reader and the quiet, ever-ready type, watchful of others but slow to make their aquaintances, kept his own council and led the family in the rosary in the evenings. If Benedetto read at all it was the at-the-time version of Global Conquest Magazine. If he prayed it was to himself, and while he too was watchful of others it was to be able to keep tabs on them if the time ever came they owed him money. He kept his own council and he would keep yours too if you couldn't and then take a cut for his services.
   I was sent up the front walkway alone. My father did not like Benedetto. Very likely it was the other way around too
   I had heard that I was the first "irishman" to approach the door without being shot at. Which was even more remarkable since I was worse than an irishman I was a halfbreed Irish wop.
   I was greeted by his maid. She was hot. But was pretending not to be. I don't know who the fuck she thought she was foolin' it was pretty obvious she wasn't hired because she kicked all the other maids' asses in Boston when it came to cleaning toilets.
   Benedetto was standing in the center of a richly, and mahogany-color-filled, room, on a wooden floor that shone like the butt of a new Winchester soaked in olive oil.
   The "maid" let me in and left, closing the two doors that accessed the room. Benedetto was in a real nice suit.
He wasn't smiling.
   "I ordered your bitch Southey-raised Mick mother not to have any more children after your brother was born. You are the pile of shit result of her defiance."
   That was the day I learned what "temper" was and that I had one.
   I had been throwing things since birth. I'm still at it.There was a small solid silver puti on a table that I spotted quickly looking around the room through the red, glowing haze that mysteriously coated my field of vision which i later learned was "hate." I walked quickly over and grabbed it and hurled it at his face. He had a look of surprise that was immediately hidden by his hands trying to stanch blood from his lip and some dislodged teeth. Later I would be lost in thought and amazement by my act but at the moment i wandered around looking for more puti, hoping the first one might be part of a set. I estimated I would need about 10 or 15 to kill the fucker or at least get him to the ground where I could impale him with something like I might do with a sharp stick to a writhing rabid dog. Not that I knew what a rabid dog was at that age but I knew what stabbing was, all the Irish men in the family were chefs.
   He was shocked but not afraid and he charged forward and grabbed me and said "Enough."
Then he let me go. Then he stared, daubing his lip with a handkerchief from his pants. "We are even," he said. "I will not speak so of your mother again."
   I was strangely immediately calm.
   There was a chair next to his clean desk and he said "Sit down," motioning at it. He went around the desk and sat in a large red leather chair that I could smell.
   We looked at each other.
   "I was ordered to bring you here."
   I didnt respond to this, I wasn't actually interested in chatting with him.
   "I have six sons and a daughter. I told them never to have children. One of them defied me and had a daughter. She will die childless. She could copulate with everyone in New England and she will not conceive. Your father I don't think knows what defiance is. He bred himself your brother. I informed your charming and beautiful mother not to have more children. She likely would have complied even without my tender guidance, unless I miss my guess. I clearly underestimated her contumacious spirit. That means rebellious.
   "You are the product of defiance, pure and simple, and probably a lot of Irish whiskey consumed quickly. In a sense I am responsible for you being here at all. In other words I blundered. I am more your father than your father is, in a sense. He was just the middleman. A pawn in my blundering missteps."
   Thanks to my bitch Mick charming and delightful mother, as she had been referred to by the same man in two minutes... I was reading authentic books at age 4. She knew I clearly had the aptitude. And she liked having someone she could drill and order around who didn't seem to mind, at least when it came to reading. Most of the other things she ordered me around about I had a problem with. So, what I am saying is, I was not bewildered or confused by his words, it was all familiar vocabulary and understandable sentences, I was just annoyed, I wanted out of there, because he just was not fun to be around. He was basically an asshole fucking pain in the ass to be around.
   He continued relentlessly on:
   "I have been informed, for reasons I have not been told, to mentor you in the family business that most of the family doesn't even know exists. It bothers me to know that, based on your behavior so far, you will very likely be easy to teach. Because that means we will have many meetings, you won't be bounced out by the people arranging this. You will probably enjoy them more than I will, these sessions. Do not inform anyone including your own parents and brother and cousins and aunts and uncles and dogs and cats and any additional steaming, blood-soaked newborn vermin that get born into your wolfpack den of feral predatory cattle about what I talked about here. I will not be telling them about your having cracked or removed two of my teeth."
   This seemed astoundingly fair! And maybe would be even interesting!
   I said, with a keen enthusiasm that we had a deal.
   He said "Already you are talking deals. No wonder you were sent here."
   He then pulled a cord coming from the ceiling. The hot maid came in.
   "Show this out."
   "I'm not coming back here you dont stop talking to me like I was your nigger," i said exasperated, screw his schooling, though I would miss seeing the hot maid.
   He laughed.
   "Sure." He chuckled some more. "Whatever you say."
   The hot maid showed me out.
   My father was sitting in the 35 Chevy at the end of the property.
   "Did you see the maid?" was the first thing he asked with a kind of partially restrained fiery enthusiasm. I said I did. He didn't ask about Benedetto. But I bet he would have loved hearing about his two cracked teeth. But I never mentioned it. Never had to really, he never inquired about the meeting.
   I told my dad I saw her underwear, which was a total lie. He almost swallowed his tongue with shock as his brain conjured up a scenario that would cover and illustrate this remark. He drove us home in a kind of silence I would not experience again until I stood at the center of the Panamint Valley dry lake on a winter afternoon just west of Death Valley when I was 17 after having been left there by a black Cadillac limousine that when it drove away took all the sound of the earth with it until it became lost in the far blur of the high hills of sameness and silence and the world was a beautiful emptyness of warm, sunlit, lifeless quiet and quiet and an endlessness of more quiet.
   My dad was that quiet when I mentioned seeing the hot maid's underwear. That's how quiet he was.


From the Catholic Encyclopedia
A family of Milanese artists, closely connected with the cathedral and with the Certosa near Pavia.

(1) Guiniforte Solari

Born 1429; died 1481. He was the son of Giovanni (born c. 1400; died 1480), superintendent of the building of the cathedral and of the Certosa. Guiniforte was one of the architects of the Certosa (1465), was employed on the Ospedale Maggiore, and was also one of the architects of the fortified castle of the Sforza family and of several of the churches of Milan. His son PIETRO ANTONIO (d. 1493) worked also for a time on the cathedral; there is proof that in 1476 he was still there. Later he was called to Moscow where he was employed on the rebuilding of the Kremlin.

(2) Andrea Solari

Painter, b. at Milan about 1465; d. 1515. From 1490 he was a pupil of Giovanni Bellini at Venice and his early works recall this painter, as for example a Madonna with Saints, painted in 1495 for the Church of San Pietro at Murano and now in the Brera at Milan. After his return to Milan he copied the style of Leonardo da Vinci so closely that he was considered the latter's best pupil. He is very like Leonardo, especially in the treatment of the heads, plastic modelling, and colouring. A beautiful Descent from the Cross, painted in 1503, is still in existence. About this date he also painted many portraits and in this way came into connexion with Cardinal Charles d'Amboise, for whom he painted a number of pictures during the years 1507-9 at Gaillon in Normandy. These works are now in galleries in England. During the second half of his working period he changed his style to a brighter tone and his works are easily recognized by the clear, luminous colours and the manner in which they flow into and blend with one another. The School of Leonardo, however, is always perceptible. Among other paintings belonging to this time is a Madonna with a Child lying on a cushion to whom she offers the breast; the figures are surrounded by a beautiful landscape. This picture is in the Louvre and the same gallery has another of his works, a Salome receiving from the executioner the head of John the Baptist, with the delicate face turned away from the object. The Poldi-Pezzoli Gallery of Milan contains a large number of his works; among these are: "Repose on the Flight to Egypt" (1515), one of the best pictures of Leonardo's school; "St. Catherine"; "St. Anthony", "The Crowning with Thorns". His last and most important work is the "Assumption of the Blessed Virgin:, at the Certosa near Pavia, which, however, he was not able to complete.

(3) Andrea's brother Cristoforo Solari (called "Il Gobbo")

Sculptor and architect, b. at Milan before 1475; d. in 1527. In 1490 he went with Andrea to Venice where some sculptures executed by him are still in existence. In 1498 he returned to Milan and entered the service of Ludovico Sforza at whose order he executed his chief work, the tomb of Ludovico's wife. The figures of Beatrice d'Este and Ludovico upon the tomb belong in their massive severity, individuality of treatment, and technical excellencies to the best works of the early Renaissance in Lombardy. The monument was erected in the Church of Maria delle Grazie, but was unfortunately destroyed at a later era; in 1821 the two statues were taken to the Certosa near Pavia. Besides there, a number of statues in the cathedral of Milan are ascribed to him: four doctors of the church, Adam and Eve, Sebastian, Christ bound to the pillar. They are marked by a less vigorous naturalism, the influence of a stay at Rome, whither he went after the overthrow of the Sforza family. From 1503 he was again in Milan, where he took charge of the construction of the cathedral. He also designed the great cupola of Santa Maria della Passione at Milan.

(4) Antonio Solari

Born in 1382; died 1445. He is called IL ZINGARO (the gypsy), a nickname probably given him either because his father was apparently a Bohemian blacksmith who had emigrated to Venice, or from the wandering life he himself led until he settled permanently in Naples. He is said to have worked at his father's trade until his love for the beautiful daughter of an artist led him to turn to art. As at Naples he was very soon able to win the favour of Queen Joanna, it was not long before he became the most important painter of the capital. He founded a school which produced a number of masters of moderate ability. His most important work, which is also the best production of Neapolitan painting at that period, is a series of twenty frescoes in the court of a monastery near San Severino which show traces of the influence of the schools of Venice and Ferrara. They represent the life of St. Benedict and contain a large number of lifelike figures in dignified and graceful positions. His "Carrying of the Cross" in the Church of San Domenico Maggiore and a "Madonna" in the museum at Naples show nobility of conception combined with a vigorous realism.

(5) Santino Solari

Architect and sculpture, b. at Como, Upper Italy; d. 1646. He is best known for his share in the construction of the cathedral at Salzburg; he ornamented the palace and the gardens of the Bishop of Salzburg with statues.
ALOE, Le pitture dello Zingaro nel chiostro di S. Severino in Napoli, dinotanti i fatti dellai vita di S. Benedetto (Naples, 1836); MOSCHIMI, Memorie della vita di Antonio Solari, detto il Zingaro, pittori Veneziano (Venice, 1828); FRIZZONI, Il Sodoma Guadenzio Ferari, Andrea Solari illustrati in tre opere in Milano recentemente recuperate in Arch. stor. arte, IV (Rome, 1891); VENTURI, Eine umbekammte marmorgruppe von Cristoforo Solari in Mitth. Inst. osterr. gesch., V (Innsbruck, 1884), 295-302.


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