As Albi di Milano was bidding us farewell at a going-away gathering last summer, he showed us the back of his hand, shook it to and fro, and said “cula de balena!!! ... it means ‘asshole of a whale!!!’ or ‘good luck!’” It singed my brain and I never forgot it. Last week, I met Emiliano di Roma at an Irish pub near Odéon to watch AS Roma play Real Madrid in the first leg of their round-of-eights Champions League matchup. As the game was starting, I said “cula de balena!!!!,” and Emiliano said, “how you know that cula de balena?” He spouted some Italian gibberish and said that the appropriate response in Italy would be, “I hope he doesn’t fart!!!” Turns out, it’s a theater expression like “break a leg.” Emliano then says “boca lupo” or “into the head of the wolf” to which the correct answer is “cuerpi” or “dead.” Then he says, “Italians ... We got a big-a imagination!”

The satellite feed went out two minutes into the match. Emiliano stood up, held his heart with both hands like Fred Sanford, and said, “Oh, momma mia!!!! ... Jesus ... CHRIST!!!!” The feed came back just in time to see Real Madrid score a road-a goal and go up 1-0, which left Emiliano crying in his $10 beer. “Dissa no good. No good. No-a good-a for-a-da Roma ... ” A string of Italian profanity followed. It all worked out in the end when Roma took the lead on a sweet inside-out pass from Francesco Totti (pictured) in the second half. Most of the people in the pub were there to watch Inter Milan vs. Liverpool, so we were high-fiving and screaming at what seemed like inappropriate moments. The same thing happened to me in a sports bar in Cancún in 1995 when the Sooners scored a touchdown in OT to beat Texas, as the World Series was playing on the other TVs.

Last week, as I was checking some clients into the apartment on Rue Sourdiere, I got to talking to the lady. I mentioned The Austin Chronicle and she said “no shit.” Turns out, she was an editor at the Daily Texan in the early 80s. I give her the upside down horns. She laughed. Then I was like, “So, do you know Louis Black and Nick Barbaro?” As if paralyzed by the past, she got this far away look in her eye and sort of muttered to no one in particular, “Louis Black... boy that’s a blast from the past.” Then her husband inexplicably asked me if there was some “ganja” in the refrigerator. I said “Boomer Sooner,” and left.

Our internet connection inexplicably went out about a week ago. Turns out, Madame Longuenesse failed to open the ONE PIECE OF MAIL she received between September 18th and December 31st when she was back in January. You know, the one that said her connection was going to be cut off. We were planning on leaving this apartment sometime in March anyway, so guess what? This one goes to 11. As of March 9th, our new address is:
4, Impasse du Bon Secours
Paris, FRANCE 75011

Due to the ongoing internet blackout, we have taken to a nearby British brewpub/sportsbar called The Frog and the British Library, which has a fast, password-free connection. The first time we went, as we were paying for our $10 pints, a band started playing. The singer was one of the strangest creatures I have ever encountered. His voice was the spitting image of Aretha Franklin and he looked like a French version of Juan Epstein. After “Son of a Preacher Man” and “Take a Load off Sally” we took a load on and left.

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