Friday, July 10, 2009

Who's reporting Hu

The Year of the Paper Tiger
Translated by Wendell Ricketts (thank you)

“Good morning. May I help you?”

“Good morning. Yes, I’m here to report a crime.”

“Fine, just give me a minute to get my terminal turned on. It’s a theft, I imagine?”

“No, not really.”


“Actually, I’m here to report ... what’s it called ... you’ll have to forgive me, I don’t have a lot of experience in these matters, you know? An imm ... an....”

“Immorality? An immoral act?”

“No, no, an immigration.”



“Right, right, I see.”

“What I mean is, there’s this person and he’s an illegal immigrant.”

“Of course.”

“And I’m here to turn him in. Because now it’s a crime, right?”

“Do you know this person’s name?”

“I certainly do.”

“Do you know where he lives or his place of work?”

“I have all the information.”

“And you have a reasonable basis for stating that he is an illegal immigrant?”

“I have proof.”

“Fine. You tell me the whole story, and I’ll make out the report....”

“And then you’ll go arrest him!”

“If we deem it necessary.”

“What do you mean ‘necessary’? You have to do it, end of story! In Italy, you have that ... what’s it called ... the compulsory minister.”

“The compulsory administration of criminal penalties. You know a lot about this.”

“Thank you. I studied law, back in my country.”

“I wanted to study law, but you know ... I come from a big family.”

“Tell me about it.”

“Well, let’s get down to business. Your name, sir?”

“Hu Wen. H, U, space, Wen. Just like it sounds.”

“Excellent. And the last name?”


“Hu Wen Hu?”

“No, just Hu space Wen.”

“Ah, OK. Sorry, but all these foreign names nowadays are enough to drive you crazy.”

“You have all my sympathy.”

“All right, then. So: Hu Wen. Born on?”

“Thirteenth of September, 1974.”

“The Year of the Tiger!”

“My compliments, sir. Does that mean that you....”

“Yes, I was a 1974 baby, too, I admit it. Now then, Hu Wen, born on the thirteenth of September, 1974, and a resident of....?”

“Umm ... put this: resident of Canton, China.”

“You’re not a legal resident of Italy, then?”

“No. But I can still make a police report, yes? I mean … if I were a tourist and somebody stole my wallet.…”

“Quite right. Very well, then. Hu Wen, born on the 13th day of September, 1974 and a resident of Canton, China, on the 3rd day of July of the current year did appear at the Parmeggiano Alto Division of the Italian state police, in the Province of Mussolonica, and, having so appeared, did subsequently report to the competent authorities, in the person of Gabriele Panunzio, a duly designated functionary of said division, the presence on sovereign Italian soil of an illegal immigrant, hereinafter denominated as...


“I’m asking you. Hereinafter denominated as...?”


“This illegal immigrant ... I’m saying, what’s his name?”

“Oh, him. His name is Hu Wen.”

“Last name?”


“Wen Hu Hu?”

“No, Hu space Wen.”

“Ahh. You know, I’ve heard that name before. You just wait and see. I’ll bet this isn’t his first run-in with the law.”

“Well, actually....”

“Hold on. Your name is also Hu Wen.”

“I cannot deny it.”

“One of those coincidences. I understand.”

“No, perhaps you do not. I am him. I am here to report myself. I am an illegal immigrant. Arrest me.”

“All right, all right ... let’s not get ahead of ourselves, now.”

“There is that whatsit, the compulsory administration of criminal penalties.”

“Excuse me, but why are you trying so hard to get arrested?”

“Put yourself in my shoes. I work in the outdoor markets, and I travel the entire province. I get up every single morning at five o’clock. Whether it’s raining or whether it’s snowing. Five years like that. I’m not used to that kind of work. In China, I was a law student. I’m tired.”

“You might have thought about turning yourself in before.”

“Before you would have sent me back to my country as an illegal immigrant. But now you cannot do that anymore.”

“What do you mean we can’t?”

“You cannot because illegal immigration is now a crime, which means you have to try me in court.”

“Who knows if there’d ever be a trial....”

“But I want to take advantage of my automatic appeal.”

“Don’t make me laugh! I mean, if all the illegal immigrants in Italy waited for their automatic appeal to be heard....”

“Yes? Please go on.”

“It would bring the courts to a standstill!”

“This is not my problem. I am a criminal suspect, and as such I have the right to a fair trial. Ah, and since I also work, I have compounded my crime, because I am stealing a job from an Italian citizen. I think you better put me away in prison or some place like that. I know your prisons. Compared to the basement where I’ve been sleeping, it’s not so bad.”

“They’re overflowing.”

“True. You probably have no choice but to release me and find me a job while I wait to go to court. Now, it happens that I have studied the Italian justice system for quite some time. I would say I could count on a good five or six years of food and lodging plus a job, guaranteed.”

“But then they’ll send you back to China.”

“Who can say? In the meantime, the government will change and they will announce an amnesty. To tell the truth, I wouldn’t be surprised if the amnesty came along sooner rather than later, the way things are going. It’s a shame, really, because then I’ll have to go back to the outdoor markets. I really hate those markets.”

“You should have become a lawyer.”

“True. Shall we proceed, if you don’t mind?”

“All right, then. Hu Wen ... did report to the competent authorities, in the person of Gabriele Panunzio, a duly designated functionary of said division, the presence on sovereign Italian soil of an illegal immigrant, hereinafter denominated as...

“Hu Wen. Just do a cut-and-paste.”

… born on the 13th day of September, and so forth and so on, and domiciled at?

“Number 3, Via Garibaldi. It’s the doorbell with the ideograms next to the buzzer. If you want, I’ll give you my cell phone number.”

“You’re making things too easy.”

“This is what we have come to! Now that you know where to find me, you have no choice but to arrest me.”

“But you might not even be a real illegal immigrant.”

“Of course I am a real illegal immigrant.”

“Aha. Easy to say. But can you prove it?”

“I certainly can. I don’t have a single document to show you.”

“That’s no proof. At the most, it’s an absence of proof.”

“Are you kidding me?”

“Who’s to say, for example, that you didn’t just tear up your work visa? I mean, look at it from our point of view. Do you really expect us to arrest the first person who comes along just because he says he doesn’t have any documents on him?”

“That’s what you used to do.”

“It used to be a lot easier. Dash off a deportation order, charter a plane if absolutely necessary, and off you’d go back to wherever you came from. But if we have to arrest all of you and put you on trial.... I mean, you tell me..”

“So you’re not going to come and arrest me?”

“No, I don’t believe so.”

“Italy never changes. ‘Pass a law, find the flaw.’”

“Take it easy, okay? Or else...”

“Or else?”

“I’ll arrest you for defamation.”

“Excellent! What is defamation?”

“It’s when you offend someone.”

“I see, very good. Italy is a hundred thousand square miles of dried-up swamp weed waving in the lurid wind of stupidity.”


“It is an offense against your country. Arrest me.”

“You were just exercising poetic license. At most, it was the free expression of a personal opinion. I’m not going to arrest you for that.”

“Italy is shit. Arrest me.”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you? No, I’m not going to arrest you.”

“You have to arrest me! There’s the compulsory minister! It’s defamation!”

“No, it’s not. It’s just satire, and I’m not arresting you.”

“The President of the Republic is a Nazi invert.”

“It’s satire, political satire.”

“Oh, come on!”

“Come on nothing. Look, I’m laughing, too. Ha ha ha!”

“Italian woman all whores.”

“Hee, hee, what a kidder.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Pleasure Of Conquest

The man who never paid

(Italian version)

When Berlusconi says he never paid a woman, I believe him. I think he's telling his truth.
Of course, he presents them with lots of cadeaux: bracelets, necklaces, cds with Neapolitan songs composed by himself. And then maybe a job in a tv show (or in the European Parlament, better still). But that doesn't mean he's paying, doesn't mean he expects anything in return. It's just... how did the ancient kings call it... Munificence, that's it. That doesn't mean he ever paid a woman.

The girls with an Eastern European accent, in Santa Claus costumes. The bunch of semi-naked ladies sailing to Villa Certosa, his Sardinian residence... the escort girls who admit they've spent one night with him... One of them may become a showgirl, another one a Minister, but none of these women has ever been paid by Berlusconi, how could you think such a thing? They all went to see him because they really like him. They love spending an evening with him, carefully laughing at his jokes, watching clips of his speeches and his villas on the big screen, listening to his old-fashioned songs. An evening like that may happen once in your lifetime, and you'll never be the same again. Your life-story will forever be divided in “Before” and “After You Went To Berlusconi's Party”. Who on earth would ask for money for something like that? You just go down on your knees and thank God.

“I've never paid a woman. I’ve never understood what would be the satisfaction if there isn’t the pleasure of conquest”. He told us so. He was not joking. He's not a whore magnet, he can't picture himself like that. He's still the fabulous stallion the girls can't help falling in love with.
It may not be a sex affair – the 72-year-old guy doesn't search for sex, but for that particular thrill: the Pleasure of Conquering. So what could be worse than a Prime Minister who divorces because of a sex addiction? A Prime Minister who's divorcing from reality, because he can't face it anymore. We could be ruled by a sex-addicted monarch (it has happened already), but not by a dumb one. That would be too dangerous, even for Italian standards.

Berlusconi has changed our history, our mind: our way of life, our dreams, everything has been reformatted and recreated by him in the 80s, when he was our tv tycoon. And then he changed our politics in the 90s, turned it upside down, as we shifted from the “Catholic vs. communist” struggle to the “Berlusconian vs. Anti-berlusconian” puddle. He fooled everyone, and nobody has fooled him yet: not until now. In fact, there's only one man in Italy who could defeat him, and that's himself. Should Berlusconi fall, that will be Berlusconi's last, and greatest victory.

That would mean that he really has come to believe the lies he has told us so many times: in the ghosts of Eternal Success, Pleasure and Luxury he gave us in the 80s. Those were the days, when he taught his salesmen to view the Italian Consumer as an “11-year old dumb boy”. And yes, that's how his tv shows treated us. And there was no alternative: no surprise that we have become, little by little, that not-so-clever-11-year old boy. What surprises me, is that he followed us, sometimes even preceded us, and now he's just as dumb as we are. Hey kid, what d'ya want? You want boobs? Ok, push the button. All the boobs you can watch and squeeze: easy, fun and free. Daddy's gonna pay tomorrow.

We should have suspected that some years ago, when he confessed he loved watching late night tv sales. Sometimes he actually picked up the phone and bought something (something he was selling: doesn't it sound disturbing, selling and buying stuff from himself, kind of... self-eroticism?) In the last days of his 2006 campaign, he told his audience that he was sure of his victory, because the night before he had personally held a bizarre poll: he made a few calls to a sexy hotline, and ask every girl: “Will you vote for me?” And every girl, guess what? Told him “Sure”. Now, it's not just the fact that he did such a stupid thing, but the fact that he told us – he told us to vote for him because sex-line girls can't be wrong – we should have understood right then: we were losing him.

And now he's lost. The perfect victim of Berlusconism: a hedonistic syndrome which pushes one to seek pleasure without ever getting satisfied. He can not sublimate his libido through the exercise of power: he has told us more than once that he doesn't enjoy his job as Prime Minister – soooo boring. So he's filling up his toy room with girls: easy, free and fun. But he just can't get enough.

His lawyer, Mr Ghedini, at the end of a bad day, could not deny Berlusconi had sex with an escort or two. He could not deny that someone paid them. All he could say was that Berlusconi couldn't be prosecuted for having sex with an escort, because he wasn't the person who actually paid her. He was just (in Ghedini's words) “the final user”. I swear, it doesn't sound less strange in Italian – what the hell is a “final user”? It's just legal slang, yet there's something biblical in the phrasing: as if those women had been created for a purpose, and they kept searching for it their whole lives long, until they finally found it: and their purpose was Being Finally Used By Berlusconi.

But what about him. How sad it must be to wake up one day and discover that those ladies don't love you, and they never did. They were just being paid to be used... but who was finally using who? You brought jewels, they brought microphones. How could they be so material? Whoever taught them to behave like that? Is there a conspiracy out there? Of course there is. And its name is Berlusconism.

Will you survive if you stop believing in yourself? Can you get through the summer without one of your favorite orgiastic pastimes? We've all seen you rise again from the dust a dozen times, but this time seems different. You're a little older, and you have to deal with that. That means facing the strongest enemy you ever had: yourself. Good luck.