Can the Venetian Carnival Become Any More Irrelevant for Venetians?

I've dissed Carnival before... and Venetians hate it. (Oh, and while we're at it, they despise masks too, and most of the ones you'll ever see were made in China, so there.)

And just in case you needed any proof that Carnival is completely irrelevant to the 60,000 or so Venetians (whose average age is somewhere in the 50s... Not a joke, a fact!)

Usually, a small fake dove (as you can see on the embedded video, when it works) flies down on cables from Saint Mark's belltower and release confetti from its insides to inaugurate the start of Carnivale. This year, it was apparently instead the rap star Coolio! (You can even see the picture at Venice Daily Photo.)

I'm (nearly) speechless!! And I don't even want to know how he released the confetti. Nothing against him personally, but it's not like all the resident octogenarian little old Venetian ladies I know are huge fans of hip hop!

Ladies and gentlemen, the Venice Carnival is now officially a sham...

VIDEO: Thousands of balls released on Rome's Spanish Steps

Longtime readers of MMC will remember that I'm completely enamored of the Sony Bravia commercial in which a quarter of a million super bouncy balls were released on the steep streets of San Francisco.

First, there was the beautiful original... (which you can't even fully appreciate unless it's in ultra high resolution!)

(How'd they do it? You can see here!)

Then there was the great British Tango fruit juice parody...

Now it's been done on Rome's famous Spanish Steps (strangely, as what is apparently an incredibly abstruse political demonstration to protest the ongoing appalling garbage crisis in Naples)
My comment (#27) about this prank should be appearing any minute here on Boing Boing.

UPDATED: The Cute Little Self-Interested Pets of Neatorama

I've just really discovered Neatorama (which somehow had never really managed to hold my attention before...)

There, they have an ongoing theme about the adorable self-interestedness of pets, both cats and dogs. Indeed, this may be why I'm now so taken with them, since this past year we acquired our own self-interested cat (pictured at left). Very sweet, excellent-dispositioned, but we foster no illusions: she loves us because we know how to open the pantry.

About once a day (after breakfast even!) she goes on a long meowing jag... at which point, I ask her, "What's wrong, Isabella? What are you trying to tell me?? Did Timmy fall down the well?!" (I don't think she appreciates the sarcasm.)

But Neatorama knows what I'm talking about! Firstly, in "The Lassie Experiment: Will Fido save you in an emergency or just let you die," even Lassie's legendary reputation of poor, unfortunate (or is that just plain klutzy?) Timmy's well-saving is called to task!

"'Timmy fell down a well' is perhaps the most quoted line from the Lassie TV show. So much so that Jon Provost the actor who played Timmy titled his autobiography Timmy’s in the Well. However, although Timmy endured many calamities during the show - including falling into a lake, getting caught in quicksand, and being struck by a hit-and-run driver - he never once fell down a well."

Such disillusionment! But what if he had?? According to Neatorama's "Go Fetch Paw!"

Surely, that's unfair, you may say! What about those valiant beasts who are frequently recognized for having saved their masters' lives, like Winnie the Cat?

"A 14-year-old domestic shorthair named Winnie [pictured at right] saved the Keesling family of New Castle, Ind., in March from carbon monoxide poisoning by jumping on a bed and meowing wildly as poisonous carbon monoxide fumes filled the family’s home from a faulty gasoline-powered water pump in the basement. Winnie woke up Cathy Keesling by nuzzling her ear and caterwauling."
God forbid this should ever happen in my household, but if so, a CO-leak might just be completely coincidental, as this fantastically funny Neatorama animation so accurately demonstrates...

Then again, maybe the wonderful, all-wise and all-knowing Nicole Hollander (who, if you don't already know, is the world's singlemost knowledgeable expert on cats, along with pretty much everything else!) has it so right here and here... that the curse of these poor, misunderstood felines is to have their heroic and altruistic actions constantly horribly misinterpreted by us humans of little faith!

Either way, I'm sure our cat will take pretty good care of us... (at least until she learns how to open that pantry!)

UPDATED: "Venice kisses in New Year Eve"

Ah, Venice! Sounds lovely... Certainly better than catching a flying prosecco bottle to the head, which is what you normally risk on New Year's Eve in Saint Mark's Square!!

"TENS of thousands of people took part in a giant New Year's kiss in front of Saint Mark's Basilica in the romantic Italian city of Venice.Under a sky lit with fireworks some 60,000 people kissed in the 'Love 2008' event, organiser Marco Balich said.The city staged the event so people 'begin the New Year with a gesture of love, peace, brotherhood, and passion', it said on its website."

(Article from Agence France-Presse, via
UPDATE (1/5/08):
Apparently, I wasn't far off with the prosecco bottle quip! Here's a great comment on this post that I thought I'd go ahead and cut and paste into the original...

Miss Expatria said, "I love your blog! I read Cat Bauer's myspace blog as well - she lives in Venice - and she wrote a really interesting take on what happened AFTER the kissing stopped."

Wow, what a story! I'm sorry that Cat had to face all that, but frankly it's why I stopped going to New Year's Eve in Piazza San Marco years ago... It's too damn dangerous! Please don't get me wrong... as Cat suggests, Venice is a notoriously safe and mild (almost to the point of being dull!) city 98% of the time. This however changes with the addition of vast quantities of alcohol...

Now, Venetians themselves are famous throughout Italy for their habitual drinking. Typically, any "Foster Brooks" style character on Italian television often has a nice, strong Venetian accent. But Venetians still do not approve of boisterous hooligan-type drunkards or dangerous behavior... They just start early in the morning with a caffe' corretto (espresso with a shot of grappa!), may nurse a slow buzz all day with a periodic spritz, and then down a bottle of wine with dinner (which is supposed to be okay healthwise, as long as it's not the cheap stuff!)
Which reminds me of an anecdote... According to the Xenophobe's Guide to Venetians (from the great Xenophobe Guides series), a Venetian water-bus captain once had his annual checkup in which the doctor asked how much wine he drank a day. The captain replied [in Venetian dialect], "'Na roba normal... un litro, un litro e mezo ma solo queo bon" (that is, "Oh, just what's normal... a liter or a liter and a half, but only the good stuff!")
Anyway, FYI... One only tends to encounter out-of-control, completely blotto drunkards in Venice on just three occasions:
  1. Any random night in Campo Santa Margherita (which has become the local partying mecca for students who want to tie one on...)
  2. Carnivale
  3. New Year's Eve

It doesn't mean however that these occasions should be entirely avoided necessarily... It can be worth seeing once, if just for the people watching. You might consider bringing a hardhat with you, though!

P.S. Before anybody worries about the safety of Venetian transportation, fear not! I know from my Venetian friends that public transport drivers are not allowed to work if they test positive for alcohol in random testing, so accidents are no more frequent on public transport than they are in the U.S.