Photo: Flag for Peace (Pace in Italian) Displayed at the protests
View Rome Photography
Nine months out of the country. Nine months of not having to deal directly with American politics. Nine months of questions from foreigners about the war, our president, the next campaign, Hillary, and the ever popular topic of how wonderful Bill Clinton was. I have been rather astonished traveling to different, remote countries and how they still seem to love Bill Clinton there, and they are continually baffled by George Bush.
Since I’ve been out of the country, I have to admit – I’ve taken more of an interest in American politics and certainly world politics. I now buy Newsweek and get rather excited about reading it…as if it were In Style or Lucky magazine (my old favorites!). I also like to read the local papers and see what they decide to print about America…which stories they choose to share with their population and I consider the picture that it paints about America in general. It’s all a fun pastime for me…fun and games….until June 9th…the day that Boosh came to Rome. I must admit – I was pretty pissed at first. I had been pretty proud of myself for escaping American politics in general and enjoying it on my terms as opposed to being bombarded every day by it in the States.
When Italians talk to me about George Bush, they always refer to him as “Boosh”. No George, no President, no W, just Boosh. When they say it…it comes out like Boosh..and sounds like any other Italian word. In fact – there have been many times that I have asked – Boosh?…what does that word mean? They look at me and say Boosh again…louder as if I didn’t hear them…I’m still puzzled…thinking that maybe it’s some kind of pasta or something…then they finally say George Boosh….ahhhh….the lightbulb comes on and I finally understand that they are actually speaking English to me – and I’m just so dim that I didn’t understand it! Or maybe subconsciously I had tried to forget him!
The first I heard of Boosh’s trip to Rome was from my friend Micah. Micah is a wonderful friend of mine from San Francisco. We met through running and have remained friends ever since. He was a very close friend in San Francisco, and like most of my male friends…he’s gay. We would always joke about being each other’s ‘fall back plan’ for marriage. If I wasn’t married by 40, we would simply marry and throw a fabulous wedding party…well, that was the plan at least. However I’m now 37 and I think he’s getting worried! Sure –it was a great idea when I was 33, but now at 37…I don’t think he’s as excited about it.
Regardless, he helped me get settled into NYC when I moved there, helped me pick out an apartment, introduced me to his friends in NY and cast me off – to survive on my own 4 years ago. (you’d think that he would be trying desperately to find me some good men to date, but he must be waiting until I am about 39…nothing like waiting until the last minute!) We had planned to meet up for a vacation in Rome and Siena. On pure luck he happened to choose the week to join me in Italy that Rome was celebrating Gay Pride. However, last month Micah e-mailed me to let me know that Gay Pride in Rome had been moved back due to George Bush’s planned visit for that same weekend. Apparently the officials of Rome were worried that there would be too many demonstrations in Rome if Boosh and the Gays were in Rome at the same time…sad but true. They didn’t have enough police force to go around. So, they moved Gay Pride celebrations back one week and Boosh took precedence.
On June 9th, Micah and I awoke to the sound of helicopters hovering everywhere. Boosh had arrived in Rome to meet with the Pope, and the Prime Minister of Italy as a quick stop on his was from the G8 Summit. I’m really not sure why else he was here…maybe he was hungry for some good pasta. The whole country was buzzing about it – not necessarily in a good way. As New Yorkers know, when Boosh travels, the whole perimeter shuts down creating gridlock…and the Romans were not happy about that. The Polizia were dispatched in the thousands, ready for skirmishes. Micah and I walked around Rome admiring the good looking policemen, trying to steer clear of the Vatican. We came across a poster about a Anti-Boosh demonstration in the Piazza del Popolo at 3PM. I was intrigued…very intrigued. I like the idea of seeing an anti-Boosh demonstration in another country – I wanted to see what it was all about. In addition, Micah had never seen the Piazza del Popolo, so we could also do sight-seeing at the same time…perfecto!
When we arrived at the Piazza there were Peace (Pace in Italian) flags everywhere, and television reporters. The reporters were perched high on scaffolding to be above the crowd with a bird’s eye view. We walked around and looked at the different booths, and took it all in. There were posters, t-shirts, bands, and banners. It was attended by anti-war protesters, and the Refoundation Communist Party, the Italian Communist Party and the Green Party. There were also a number of Palestine posters – so they were in the mix too. It was all rather peaceful and harmless –but interesting to see.
As we continued to walk around the city that day there were still a sea of police officers keeping peace, ready for a riot. I did read in the paper the next day that there was a small riot and tear gas used at one point during the demonstration. It always amazes me how much the rest of the world cares about what America is doing, and most importantly what Boosh is doing…and it scares me a bit too. They know much more about American politics than I do, heck – I don’t even know who the Prime Minister of Italy is…that’s terrible…I’ve been here 2 months. I have to admit though, in every place in Italy that I visited I never met one Italian that was a fan of Boosh. This didn’t come as any huge surprise to me as the rest of the world has been like that too I suppose.
I survived the Boosh visit, but I was upset…upset that he brought this piece of American politics here to Rome, and to my traveling…but I suppose it was inevitable that Boosh and I would end up in the same place sooner or later in the world. The only good part was that it brought a bunch of great looking Polizia out on the streets! Micah and I enjoyed our sight seeing all day!