Friday, September 7, 2007

It's the Eve of Vaffanculo Day

As I reported in July, tomorrow will be the quaintly-named Vaffanculo Day in Italy. Funny to see how the main newspapers are treating the unprecedented event with the R-rated name, avoiding the well-known Italian curse in their headlines and replacing it with the more peppy-sounding V-Day or the abbreviated Vaffa-Day.

First things first. This is a grass roots movement organized by comedian and blogger Beppe Grillo (his name means Joe Cricket). Ole Beppe has been a comedian a long time, and has always reminded me of George Carlin. The Cricket from Genoa has one of the most popular blogs in Europe (in Italian, with a partial English version), in which he rants and carries on about the numerous ills affecting the Bel Paese, from corruption to air pollution. He has inspired a following organized at local levels into meetups, and has electronically signed up 200,000 adherents for tomorrow's protests, taking place throughout Italy and even abroad, including the US. One of the main points will be to outlaw the presence of outlaws in the Italian Parliament, as there are a number of these gentlemen, convicted of serious crimes, ensconced there. Beppe himself will be in Bologna, the epicenter of the Italian Left (such as it is), and will have to compete for attention with the funeral of Pavarotti which will take place in nearby Modena.

I like Beppe, as a comedian and as a "political" figure. He has managed to do something rare for the European "Left," that is, take their mind (at least partly) off their obsession with the US and place it squarely where it belongs, on themselves, their very real and pressing problems, and the urgent need for solutions. We'll see where this leads.

For the special occasion tomorrow, another site has been set up to monitor the event as it takes place.