Paolo and Francesca…

a novel about beautiful people in Italy.

let’s talk about sex.

“You never talk about what you want. You never talk about what turns you on, your fantasies.”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
“But maybe I want to hear you say it.”
“And you think this is the right time?”
“There shouldn’t be a wrong time. I’m not saying you have to act it out. I just want to hear you talk about it.”
She wanted to know what he would say. And, after today, if violence was a part of it. She imagined it must be. A person couldn’t just dole out that kind of beating if he didn’t somehow like the feeling of flesh under his fists.
“For a long time, everything sexual was in a way idealized for me. I imagine you know that. I didn’t have any experience.” He paused to swallow and she studied his face, its striking clarity. He was unashamed. She couldn’t imagine telling him the same story about what had happened to her, in New Jersey, in a bathroom with an American boy named Todd.
“I’d read too many books, maybe. I thought sex was always going to be on a four-posted bed with a woman in a white nightdress who protested then succumbed. I didn’t want to believe it was as simple and carnal as it is.”
“Simple and carnal,” she repeated.
“Wouldn’t you agree? That’s what it is when you’re in a shared dorm room and you’re rushing to finish before your roommate comes back and everything you obsessed about for such a long time is, in the end, so instinctual. There’s never really any question where you put what. A degree of finesse, perhaps, but it’s not at all as confusing as you imagined.”
“That’s not a fantasy,” she said quietly. “It’s just history.”

courting investors.

Il Deserto Rosso, dir. Michelangelo Antonioni

“Do you have samples of your work?”

She pulled another folder out.  “These are just a couple things I’ve done recently.  My CV lists all of the stuff from before—the magazine covers and global ad campaigns and that kind of thing.  But I’ve been working with a new perspective now, so these shots are examples of what to expect going forward.”

He studied each in turn.  “This is Giulietta,” he said when he’d come to the one where she stood by the frozen canal, Leo at the edge of the frame.

“She was gracious enough to model for me.”

“It’s beautiful.  She’s so—I don’t know, you’ve captured something in her.”

“There’s an old Antonioni film—Il Deserto Rosso—with Monica Vitti, and it’s about the environment, and there’s a still from that that I had in mind, let me see if I can find it—“

“Don’t bother.  I know what you’re talking about.  She’s with her child, walking on the road.”

“Yes, that’s the one.  Something like that.  But instead of the focus being on the environment, I wanted it to be on her internal conflict.  Which is a lot to expect from a picture, particularly when it’s primarily for commercial purposes, but I think it’s important for you to know the thought process I had.”

“You speak very well about your work.”

“Thank you.”  She paused and sipped her wine.  “It’s important to me.”

“But this one—“ he held up her Christmas Day self-portrait, the nude in the mirror.

She blushed.  “I wasn’t going to include that.  I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.  But I think it’s important—that was when I decided to do this whole thing, and that one is representative of my new perspective.”  She squinted at the picture.  “You can’t really see anything, anyway.  And it’s nothing you haven’t seen before.”

“I think you’re exploiting my weaknesses to get me to invest.”

“I would do nothing of the sort.  Give it back to me, you don’t have to see it any more if you don’t want to.”

“That’s not what I said.”  He took off his glasses and cleaned them with a handkerchief.  “But take it anyway, that way it won’t distract me from our serious business conversation.”

thoughts on Woody Allen.

an excerpt from an email conversation I was having with a friend.  these thoughts have little relevance to my writing, but this blog is really my only platform to share them.

I have never had any opinion about Mia Farrow, except that I really liked her hair in Rosemary’s Baby.  I think, based on her recent behavior, she’s probably a crazy person.  but she also had a lot of crazy things happen to her (I will never get over Soon-Yi, so I don’t understand how she could).  but I don’t think she manipulated Dylan.  
 
I honestly, honestly believe the statistic that of all reported sexual abuse / molestation crimes, only 8-10% aren’t valid.  so by that mathematical calculation alone, Woody Allen is guilty.  but further: it is no surprise that this man had a penchant for young girls.  after all, my favorite of his movies, Manhattan, opens with him in bed with a high schooler.  for me, it’s well within the realm of possibility, and I am always going to be more apt to believe a female accuser than the man she’s accusing.
 
further still: even if it is a false accusation, I have no problem with this one highly visible false accusation taking the place of thousands of unspoken true accusations.  and maybe this makes me a horrible person with no true sense of justice, but I don’t care.  white men have gotten away with abusing women for far too long, and it is no skin off my back for one of them to go down, even unjustly.
 
I read the Daily Beast article.  but at this point, I don’t think there’s anything that will change my mind, especially not one man rationalizing or defending the actions of another.
 
I’ll miss watching Manhattan, and Annie Hall, and Hannah and Her Sisters, and Midnight in Paris, and Blue Jasmine.  I really will.  I loved those movies, and I loved the performances he coaxed out of those actors.  but at this time in my life, I feel more strongly that we are responsible for stopping the cycle of men abusing women.  there’s lots of movies out there I haven’t seen yet, directed by people who haven’t allegedly used their position of power to abuse someone considerably weaker.  so I’ll watch those instead.
 
Francesca was, in all drafts of Rule of Thirds, Dodge and Burn, and Parallax, a huge Woody Allen fan, and there are scenes where she’s watching his movies (particularly in the second book, she watches Manhattan).  I’m rewriting all those scenes.
 
enough of my soapbox–I’ve probably made you sorry you asked.  I absolutely respect your opinion, and I think the big disadvantage of this situation is that it’s one person’s word against another’s, about something that happened a long time ago.  I don’t see any resolution, but I hope that whatever happens will improve the way our society addresses child sexual abuse in the future.

 

Inspiration #34 : he’s coming.

Just signed with Juventus. Dreams do come true.

image

inspiration #34 : Villa Necchi.

grounds of the Villa Necchi

featured in the gorgeous, exceptional, visually sumptuous film I Am Love, Milan’s Villa Necchi is open to the public.  here’s a shot of the grounds, the beautiful pool where (spoiler alert) Edo dies.

 

tour of the Standard Hotel.

it pays to have connections.  today I had the pleasure of touring two of the most fabulous suites in the city of New York, the Hudson Studio and the Liberty Suite at the Standard Hotel.  when Francesca and Selim visit New York, they stay at the Standard in the Liberty Suite.

Liberty Suite Bed

gentle readers, the bed is round.

Liberty Suite bar

Francesca would approve of the photography books; Selim would approve of the Patron.

Liberty Suite dining

succulents, fruit, and a view.

Liberty Suite bath

the bathtub looks downtown toward One World Trade and the Statue of Liberty.

interviewing Paolo.

doing some character work, which includes the fun task of interviewing Paolo Romaldo.  imagine my glee when I discovered this gem of a video on youtube:

ha ha, Dani Osvaldo talking about his tattoos and his favorite music.  apparently he is planning to have all the characters from Pink Floyd’s The Wall tattooed on his left arm.

so here is an excerpt from my interview with Paolo, a work in progress.  PR = Paolo Romaldo, I = Interviewer.

I: You’re quite involved with youth football charities, both here in Torino and in your home city of Napoli.  Can you tell us why that’s so important to you?

PR: I started playing football when I was quite young—three years old, I think.  I had a modest upbringing, and only because of the funding of the youth leagues was I able to get the start that I needed.  I’ve never forgotten that.  Particularly now, with the economy the way it is in Italy, giving children the opportunity to learn to play at a young age in a safe environment is one way I can give back.

I: That’s a lovely sentiment.

PR: Well, we’re trying to make it more than just sentimental.  Ideally, it will change the lives of these children and also improve the caliber of football in Italy by growing talent at a young age.

I: Do you want to have children yourself?

PR: Of course I want children!  I’ve always imagined a big family, three or four kids at least, coming home for dinner every night and seeing them lined up down the dinner table.  I love kids.  But I can wait a little longer, I want the situation to be right, obviously.  I wouldn’t want to have four kids with four different women.

I: [coughs] It seems you and Francesca are on the right track, though.

PR: Of course, yes, I hope so.

I: What’s one thing our readers will be surprised to learn about you?

PR: Surprised to learn about me?  That I love the opera.  I have season tickets to La Scala.

I: I’d seen photos of you and Francesca at opening night, but I had assumed that was her doing and not yours.

PR: No, no, it was the other way around.  I’ve loved the opera since I was a kid.

I: That is very surprising.  If you weren’t a football player, what would you be?

PR: I don’t know.  I’d never considered anything else.  This is what I was meant to be.  If it all changes tomorrow, I don’t know, a racecar driver.

Christmas is coming.

and so, most likely, is Francesca.

the “Tree of Pleasure” in Milan.

next week you’ll get a taste of what Christmas looks like in Parallax, but in the meantime, enjoy these holiday flashbacks and last year’s Christmas morning.

life imitates art : Juventus match today

(photo via La Vecchia Signora)

in Rule of Thirds, Francesca goes to Istanbul a second time to watch boyfriend Paolo Romaldo’s Champions League soccer match against Turkish side Fenerbahce.  today, Juventus (Paolo’s team) visit Istanbul to play Galatasaray for a spot in the group stage of Champions League play.  FORZA JUVE!

KEEP and SELL.

Manolo

Francesca Garancini sat on the hardwood floor of her apartment surrounded by colorful designer shoeboxes.  Their names rang out like beautiful music—Giuseppe Zanotti, Manolo Blahnik, Roger Vivier, Jimmy Choo—but their love songs were no longer meant for her.  She opened each box and wistfully removed the shoes from their dust covers, stroking the python skin or the smooth kid leather, trying them on her feet and looking at them from several angles, even in her full length mirror.  And then she boxed them up again and sent them to one of two piles demarcated with sharpie-written notes: KEEP  and SELL.

The “sell” pile was disturbingly small, both in comparison to the “keep” pile and the stack of boxes she had yet to assess.  So far she’d managed to eliminate a pair of MiuMiu red and black checkerboard watersnake heels and a pair of Alexander McQueen black velvet smoking slippers with gold skulls embroidered over the toes.  She was ready to get rid of those; the shoes she’d worn to Moscow with Selim.  The shoes she’d worn to her abortion.

She paused after saving, for now, her favorite pair of neon yellow Jimmy Choos (would it ever be possible to find that color again?  It was so bright it was practically a neutral!) and lit a cigarette from the half-empty pack of Marlboros on the floor next to her.  As she inhaled she kept from pursing her lips too tightly; she could barely afford wrinkles now.  No money for Botox, plus she had to keep her skin looking youthful if she was going to find another rich man.  Twenty-nine was the upper limit, even for someone in her circles.

Her former circles.  Since summer she’d been slowly jettisoned from the social life she once knew.  Opening night at La Scala last night and she had to read about it in the newspaper: her Uncle Marco, a grand patron, squiring her sister-in-law Giulietta to box seats; her ex-boyfriend Paolo Romaldo with a leggy blonde (another leggy blonde) on his arm where just a short year ago Francesca had been.  Giulietta’s gown was overwrought with ruffles; the blonde looked like a hooker in a Topshop mini-dress; Francesca closed the Corriere della Sera in disgust.

She finished her cigarette, stubbing it out in a white china saucer overflowing with the detritus of the only vice she could afford to maintain.  Selim had said she was a beautiful smoker.  He’d probably told his wife the same thing.