My time in the eternal city is winding up right now.
I'm moving away after pretty much five years here which is longer than I've ever stayed put for before.
I think I'm ready for a bit of upheaval. This is a city that thrives and chokes on upheaval and I've spent enough time here to embrace a bit more change.
Running thoughts: this is one of the world's most beautiful cities, and although most Romans live the gritty, modern reality of this dirty, dusty city, its classical monuments aren't just for the tourists to enjoy. You could live here a lifetime and its greatest hits will routinely take your breath away (if the smog doesn't first). In a way Romans act like they don't exist; that they are a proverbial theme park that is worth visiting only when you have out of towners here; and even then begrudgingly. Speak to any roman though, and after they have finished complaining about traffic, woeful transport and the terrible state of the politics and finance in this city, they will usually recall the most recent time they fell back in love with their city; usually not after a visit to the roman era sites but rather to the city's wealthier burbs of centre where the architecture and light are phenomenal and enough to lift the darkest of moods.
But it's the gritty underside of this city that makes it so appealing to me. It's perfectly good as a showcase city of monuments and sites that speak to our shared cultural heritage, but it's the aborted transformative nature of a city that is constantly struggling- to modernise, to maintain its standing as a world capital and to balance the disconnect between the perception and reality of the place- that makes it more interesting.
Its people are equally double edged: every single type of social class you can imagine can be found here and often in the most exaggerated of forms- the richest of the rich, those that cling to old worlds and power and those who are doing their best to shake it up. Officially there are about three million of them. Unofficially the number is said to be closer to five or six. Million.
I'll be walking away with my picture of the place as being as edgy as this country gets, a city with swagger and enough photogenic charisma to charm the pants off. Not without its million daily problems, but in another 2000 years it will still be standing- still in traffic and Romans will continue to cling to their notion that the city is still Caput Mundi.
Remember when hip hop and rap were still a novelty in the mainstream? And when women in those circles could be counted on one hand? I mean, Salt N Pepa were two of the fingers on the one hand, you know what I mean?
SNP broke through at the end of the eighties but they were some of the original #90schicks. You couldn't escape them at one stage: Push It remains one of the best jams ever and for better or worse is amongst my most played songs on my iPod twenty+ years later.
their effect was quite different to that of the new round of acts- they were in uncharted territory so that worked for them and when they came to precedence they did so alongside Mony Love and Queen Latifah. They were sassy bad ass NYers but they quickly worked messages into their hits: remember when you couldn't avoid Lets talk about sex and then let's talk about AIDS and a million other variants on the same theme?
But seriously they were brill and had a knack of incorporating melodies into their hits- made the crossover easier and the hits seemed to come in continuation- fun, sassy hits with a sense of humour and deeply funky at the same time. No outright twerking for these little condiments. #90s twerking was for models and extras- not the main attraction. not wrapping it up in a feminism package. They just did their thang and were the kind of girls you got the feeling that blokes didn't get a free ride with. Equals.
And that's what separates SNP and the other #90schicks from the current crowd. That and those killer songs.
Very necessary: Shoop, Whattaman, You Showed Me
Should be dipped in gold and enshrined: Push It
Remember the #90schicks who looked like they were going to change the world?
I'm part of the majority of the world that didn't grow up in the States, so to me Alaska was just about one of the most exotic, far flung places in the world. There was a time that I associated it with grizzly bears, grizzly men and lots of ice. Then along came #Jewel who gave the world a non bearded Alaskan to ponder.
She was so cool and thoughtful. Sleeping in her car and getting discovered in a coffee house, twanging that guitar and sitting on that fence dividing pop and country. A poet, a song writer, a saviour. Think of all the goodwill she offered for Alaska. She was one of the #90schicks that looked like she was going to take over the world. On a horse.
But I don't live in the States: just one of the other places in the world that her music seemed to be plastered all over the radio (ie everywhere). So after she pushed the boundaries with 0304 she started to drop off the radar and the last I heard was that she was on a ranch, making country music, writing books and dancing with the Stars. Riding horses too. Much the same as she did during the nineties but just without the threat of world domination. After the pioneering work- she should have won an Alaskan tourism award- we were left with another Alaskan who could see Russia from her porch but who couldn't make heads or tails of anything else in the world.
So, now Alaska is a place of bears, beards and beers again and I don't hear much about Jewel anymore, but damn she was fun, unoffensive and cute and the first #90schick that I would like to #fightthefight for.
Most alluring: foolish game
Most interesting: using her Intuition
Check out this cheeky and spot on piece from the guardian.
One Summer well and truly over with and another one already on the horizon.
Changes are afoot, chapters ending and new ones ready to begin. Places to say goodbye to and others that need embracing.
Crazy times fuelled with panic, dispersion, rhetoric and disease. Impetuous is to lay low, but there are things to do. While I get to them have a look at this ace wallpaper I stumbled upon behind Via Veneto the other day. 😻
Dave Di Vito
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Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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