Selected Works

Nonfiction
A look at life in little-known mountain towns of the Sicilian hinterlands.
A true account of the last years of an ancient Sicilian giant bluefin tuna trap.






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Out of Palermo

Response from the records office of S. Margherita Belice

February 28, 2014

Tags: Santa Margherita Belice, records office, irretrievable

Old S. Margherita di Belice, victim of 1968 earthquake.
I need my Sicilian grandparents' birth records to start my quest for dual Italian-USA citizenship. I requested these documents of the Santa Margherita di Belice records office. My grandfather's birth record, I was told, if it still exists, is inaccessible in the archives, and my grandmother was apparently never born.
Here is the e-mail reply from an employee at the town records office, copied and pasted just as I received it:

Egregia sig.ra

dalle ricerche effettuate presso questo Ufficio di stato civile si comunica che:
- qualora esistesse (Terremoto e traslochi vari) il registro di nascita del 1879 si potrebbe trovare (more…)

Favour's coffin

February 28, 2014

Tags: coffin funeral Favour Nike palermo misilmeri

Favour's coffin, about to slip into its dark hole forever.
It was a beautiful day with cumulus clouds in a cerulean sky, the bees buzzed around the spring flowers, the cattle lowed and far off we could hear the tinkling of brass bells on sheep, but Favour could hear none of it. She was killed two years ago by a client who covered her (more…)

Funeral for Favour

February 28, 2014

Tags: funeral victim human trafficking Nigeria palermo slavery forced prostitution

Funeral for Favour today
Funeral and burial today for Favour Nike Adekune, a 20-year-old victim of human trafficking from Nigeria. She was tricked into moving to Italy then forced into prostitution. Two years ago, a client picked her up, drove to the outskirts of town, and she was never seen alive again. The next day, her fiance was (more…)

Dog Sunbathing at Ballaro`

February 24, 2014

Tags: dog sunshine warm palermo February

Dog in Sun, Ballaro` market, Palermo
Found this shepherd upside down taking the sun today. I bought ten artichokes for two euro, about $3.80 at today's exchange rate.

SMB Beauty spot

February 22, 2014

Tags: Lattifundi seen from SMB's "Calvary" hill.

A beautiful sight. The landscape around S. Margherita is breathtaking.

Working through the bureacracy

February 22, 2014

Tags: sicilian bureacracy santa margherita belice documents italian citizenship

The town offices of S. Margherita di Belice are now in the Gattopardo's palace.
I just spent four days in S. Margherita di Belice, my paternal grandparents' home town, with relatives. I was on a mission to get three documents from the town records office to aid me in my quest for Italian citizenship.

No, I was not able to get the documents, yet. The woman who was (more…)

Nothing is easy; everything is complicated.

February 19, 2014

Tags: bus runaround palermo

I need to take the AST bus to San Giueppe Jato today. The AST website, when it is working, gives the bus schedule but not the ticket price, nor the location of the ticket office, nor the location of the bus terminal, which could be in a side street somewhere. Naturally they do not answer (more…)

Don't park here

February 18, 2014

Tags: chair street park don't mine mine mine

Just don't.
A chair in the street means "Don't park here, this is MY spot." Never mind that the spot is in the middle of a striped pedestrian crossing, where it is illegal to park anyway.

Art Nouveau/ Liberty style in Palermo

February 18, 2014

Tags: Liberty Art Nouveau Palermo Maqueda

A. Crispo: Liberty fabric store in Via Maqueda near the Massimo Theater.
On my way to the protest I passed this beautiful example of Liberty style, which is what Sicilians call Art Nouveau design. It is a fabric store that has lasted all these years in Via Maqueda, near the Teatro Massimo.

Small Protest

February 18, 2014

Tags: Loveth Edward plaque protest palermo

Inscription: "The City of Palermo. Loveth Edward. Victim of human trafficking. Born 19 January 1990 at Efukpe, Nigeria. The Mayor, Leoluca Orlando.
I went to what was supposed to be a demonstration and protest today at five, but only five people showed up, and three of them were forty minutes late because they were at the lawyer's office.
Loveth Edward, born in Efukpe, Nigeria in 1990, was a victim of the human trafficking trade between Nigeria and (more…)

Typical morning

February 17, 2014

Tags: typical work morning palermo

Pitbull, either victorious or untried, Albergheria, Palermo
It is almost noon on a Monday morning. Here is my day so far: Last night, Sunday evening, I met up with a contact. I said I'd 'd like to talk to her. "Not tonight, tomorrow," she said. I said I could come "Tomorrow or the day after." She said she wouldn't be here Tuesday, so (more…)

Silver Heart (bis)

February 15, 2014

Tags: antonino amato silver heart palermo ex voto

It was Valentine's Day and I took my talisman silver heart back to its maker to show him I still had it and told him I wanted it to be on the cover of my next book, about the heart of Palermo. He took it and tinkered with it, hammered on it some, then had it shined up in the workshop and handed it back to me, more shiny and beautiful than it has ever been. It sits beside my on my desk or writing table wherever I am. Write with heart, it says to me.

Applause for Mimmo Cuticchio @ Teatro Biondo

February 15, 2014

Tags: cuticchio puppets garibaldi teatro biondo


I treated myself to a show at the Teatro Biondo last night. I was up in the nosebleed seats but Mimmo Cuticchio was giving a new play -- O a Palermo o All'Inferno -- which translates roughly to Palermo or Bust, the story of Giuseppe Garibaldi's path to Palermo on the road to Italian unification. He was on the stage alone for 90 minutes, except for the faithful marionettes, to whom he also gave voice ( aided by his son, a nephew and two women behind the scenes) Full House and standing ovation. It was all in Sicilian so I understood some fraction of it, but got the gist all right.
By the way, one of my great -grandfathers was a Red Shirt, one of Garibaldi's followers and fighters.

True Love

February 14, 2014

Tags: cats ballaro` palermo gatti

Real Friends, someone these cats can count on.

Beauty will save the world

February 14, 2014

Tags: Martorana church mosaics gold Bysantime arab norman

Byzantine artists made this gold and lapis mosaic for the Greek-rite church in the time of the Norman monarchs.
I paid my two eurosat the Martorana Church door, got my audio-visual guide and sat down in a pew to stare at the starry vault I love so much.
The opening logo of the audio-visual guide said, "Beauty will save the world." Maybe they are right. I hope so.

Funeral manque` for Bose Uwadia, 37, of Nigeria

February 14, 2014

Tags: funeral Bose santa chiara palermo ballaro`

Bose Uwadia, 37, victim of Nigeria-Italy human trafficking.
This morning I walked to the Santa Chiara mission in Ballaro` to attend a funeral ceremony for Bose Uwadia , a brave, unstoppable, 37-year-old Nigerian immigrant, mother of twins, victim of the Nigeria-Italy sex trade, beaten in the streets of Trapani, where she woke up in hospital but died of her injuries.
Her body was still in Trapani at the time the funeral Mass was scheduled, so the priest and congregation skipped the Mass and the mourners met Bose at the Rotoli Cemetery a half-hour out of town. I walked instead to the Martorana, an incredible 12th -century Norman-Arab church, which I had not seen since its 2012 restoration.

Silver heart

February 14, 2014

Tags: ex voto heart of palermo

The handmade heart from Palermo Master Silversmith Antonino Amato: at least 15 years old now.
An unfinished heart-shaped silver ex voto made by hand as a sample for me by the famous silversmith, Antonino Amato, of Piazza Meli, Palermo, about 20 years ago. Today I carried it around the city center with me. Usually it sits on my desk as a talisman to remind me to write with heart. Later I will take it to visit its maker.

Saint Valentine's Day 2014

February 14, 2014

Tags: heart of palermo

Heart on a deconstruction rubble cart, Piazza S. Chiara, Ballaro`
Hearts of Palermo

La Cuba

February 14, 2014

Tags: La Cuba Arab Norman architecture

La Cuba, 12th-Century palace of William the Good. One of his many pads.
The conquering Normans used Arab translators to save the Greek classics, Arab architects, Arab builders, Arab city administrators, and Arab harems and clothes and customs. They knew a good thing when they saw it.

Home sweet home

February 14, 2014

Tags: apartment share

Detail: Muqarnes, an Arab touch, interior of La Cuba
Found a great apartment share with three women, at various university levels, in a 1940s apartment behind the Teatro Biondo at the center of the old town, just a few meters from my old digs at Palazzo Vannucci where I still have friends from my 2012 visit.
My first order of business was to enjoy (more…)

in Palermo

February 9, 2014

Tags: palermo sicily

I am in Palermo looking for a single room in a shared apartment. You meet all types doing this.

Candelora in Via Etnea

February 7, 2014

Tags: candelora Via Etnea Catania feast of Saint Agatha agata

http://youtu.be/lv0oai5rzTw
Will also try to embed this one:

Giant candle

February 5, 2014

Tags: candles via etnea vfeast of saint agatha

This candle is big but not the biggest. Lots of accidents after the feast because wax coats the streets and no one can brake properly. People slip and fall.
Devotees may carry a candle that weighs as much as they do, made to order for each. i have filmed the candlemakers at work for my documentary.

Candelore in Via Etnea catania Sicily

February 5, 2014

Tags: candelora Via Etnea Catania feast of Saint Agatha agata

The candelore stopped right in front of us. The street is covered with sand and sawdust to absorb the wax from the giant candles the men carry on their shoulders.
Down in the street among the throngs. It must be 60 degrees fahrenheit outside. The streets are packed with a million- plus people. This is the second largest religious festival in the world after Corpus Cristi in Cusco, Peru.

Female Donkey Meat

February 4, 2014

Tags: donkey meat butcher via plebescito

Found this sign in a butcher shop in Via Plebescito: female donkey meat on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Fireworks by a true artist

February 4, 2014

Tags: fireworks saint agatha catania sicily

Incredible!
http://youtu.be/7xrjFbkXZrU

Links to videos instead of embedded videos

February 4, 2014

Tags: regrets

For some reason I cannot embed the videos. I will give you instead links to the videos.

Vendor of grilled horse meat

February 4, 2014

Tags: catania sicily feast saint agatha

http://youtu.be/3-AeiupMviQ
Just before I filmed this man selling grilled horse meat, he was yelling, "If you don't eat your meat, you won't make love tonight." He was certainly exuberant and offered free samples to passersby whp were standing behind Catania's railroad arches (more…)

catania: 3 Feb. 2014 Day One of the Feast of S. Agata

February 3, 2014

Tags: Festa S. Agata feast of Saint agatha catania sicily sicilia


A few scenes from the procession. These are unedited little films I make fast with my trusty little Flip video camera and a borrowed digital still camera. This year there was only one contingent of a medieval chivalric order. Before the (more…)

The story of Liotru by Giuseppe Lombardo

February 2, 2014

Tags: Liotru catania elephant stone


Liotru, a stone elephant of unknown origin, is the symbol of Catania. The elephant atop a pedestal reigns over Piazza Duomo in front of the cathedral. I wanted to get the locals to talk to me, so I asked about Liotru. All the men sitting on the steps under the elephant referred me to (more…)

In Catania for the Feast of St. Agatha

February 2, 2014

Tags: Catania Sant'agata saint agatha feast


I arrived in Catania yesterday for the feast of Saint Agatha. I have filmed this incredible feast over the past ten years and plan to make a documentary film about it. This morning I woke up early at my friend Palmina's house. She loaned me her keys so I could take a walk in (more…)

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