A newly 31 year old American man visits Rome

Sunday March 26, 2017
Colossium Guard Lady:  Phone in the pocket…
Me:  Huh?
Guard Lady:  Phone in the pocket
Me: No (shuffling out my passport) It’s passport
Guard Lady:  OK GO

Today’s only other interaction-
Breakfast Attendant in hotel:  Room number?
Me: (Shuffling out room key card) 307
Attendant: Grazie

“Rome wasn’t built in one day”………. but it was built by slaves.  The level of decorative detail carved into buildings, the sizes of the stone blocks, the distances they were transported, the sheer number of stacked bricks (so heavy that the center of the city has slowly sunk into the earth) – all is economically impossible.  Today.  In a society where projects like these would be funded by taxes. We choose to prevent excess.  And we are supposedly better off for it. But will today’s glass and high strength steel skyscrapers be dug up and admired in 2000 years?  That’s 60 generations into the future.  I doubt it- there are 1000x fewer man-hours involved with the design and construction of a skyscraper, and we feel the lack of authenticity.

 

That Rome created such a lasting footprint is really a testament to a civilization that organized itself through some kind of a mixed caste/democracy system.  Shouldn’t we be more efficient today, where life-beginnings are more equal and more talent has the ability to rise to power?  Maybe not, which among other things would be a testament to Roman education.  I would like to learn more about how a young artist, architect, or project planner was identified and educated.
Some Ancient Roman activities (pitting thousands of exotic animals in professional fights-to-the-death against thousands of men in front of 60,000 air-conditioned and well-fed civilians in a stadium which took millions of man-hours to construct) are the grandest physical/hedonistic/logistical/entertainment achievements of humanity to date.  Killed animals were butchered on-site and the meat given free to exiting spectators.  Human blood was mopped up and sold as medicine.  Today, the Colossium continues tradition with a free water fountain (and a typical Italian choice, still or sparkling) outside the adjacent Metro stop.

Ancient Romans were vain people, as evidenced by their art.  Men’s mustaches are depected in statues too impractically long.  Abdominal and pectoral muscles are defined.  Hair is thick and curly, heads tilt to point noses slightly up.  Women grow angel-wings.  Painted children’s faces look extra soft, always finding sunlight.  Senators sat in luxury boxes.  Today little has changed, vanity is everywhere, although to be fair, this is more of an international crowd.  What an international crowd looks like in a major European city in 2017:

  • Young couples who smoke and sit on each other
  • Fat Brits with pale faces, minimal hair, and wives who catch their breath at the top of staircases
  • Children speaking American English
  • Many many groups of high school students from miscellaneous EU countries
  • Designer jeans, ADIDAS tennis shoes, shiny blue metallic + frameless sunglasses
  • Italian military men with dark eyebrows, tall boots, and trigger fingers engaged w/ their AK-47s
  • Thousands of selfies per minute
  • Asian tour groups
  • Black men selling African looking wooden trinkets
  • Pakistanees selling selfie-sticks
  • Native americans with dream catchers and one sniffing something off his fingers
  • Young men with tattoos break dancing in t-shirts that slide down to expose “chiseled abs” (words of a female passerby) when they’re updside down.  They’re not unlike the statues, really, with incredible physical energy.  This would be the place for it!
Music competes for airspace with occasional sirens or church bells.
Some jog some bike, a few on Segways, but most walk.
Seagulls trace canted ellipses overhead, long and short axes like the Collosium below.
Trees grow up without excitement then puff out into soft green clouds, catching what’s left of the setting sun.
Colors of the vista:
  • IMG_1787IMG_1788
What Rome is today: An arrangement of highly manicured rocks, sinking into the earth, occasionally dusted off or dug up for us to photograph.  Something like the 4th most visited place on Earth.  A warm and welcoming place with earth-tone colors, palm trees, pizza, cigarettes, leather shoes, miniature cars, and gelato.

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