Sunday, 25 October 2009

Guns and Poses

There’s something sinister about this postcard of Ristorante “Gambero” in Anzio, Italy (from 1960’s).

It depicts three deserted restaurants and a young woman cradling machine gun. This shouldn't be going on, on a postcard; but if it really were a machine gun (she’s firing from the hip) it would of course explain why the restaurant tables have all been vacated. Research around the image however (every time I look into it, it still screams: “Gun”), revealed the Exterminating Angel to be “The Young Woman of Anzio”, holding in her left hand, “a tray of sacrificial implements” (machine gun - sacrificial implement?).

Yet these empty restaurants still disturb me – it’s as if all the whiter-than-white tablecloths have just witnessed a crime. Think of all the mafia murders (real and fictional) that have been acted-out in restaurants suffused in an ambiance evident here. Who could forget Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) vowing: “It’s not personal…It’s strictly business”, as he committed the retaliatory murder of both Sollozzo and corrupt police chief McCluskey during a “truce meeting” in an Italian restaurant, in Francis Ford Coppola’s, “The Godfather” (1972)?

The director or the “Godfather” had a namesake (doppelganger?). This ‘other’ Francis Coppola was active in the Mafia in Anzio in the 1950’s; and in all probability frequented (operated from) one of the restaurants pictured on this very postcard. Read this: “Each time Giordano met with Frank Coppola, the deported ex-Green One who was competing with Lucky Luciano in the drug trade there… To the surprise of both Frank Coppola and the mob, the heroin had been diluted prior to the sale and Coppola needed to make good. Giordano returned to Coppola’s farm in Anzio to pick up the shipment, bringing it back in a steamer trunk with a false bottom” (American

Is that a pool of blood outside Ristorante “Gambero”? But as I further scrutinize the image, it’s not the dark puddle of blood, but the starched linen tablecloths, dangling in the darkness, that stab into my retinas. I’d seen tablecloths dance before my eyes like this before.

A ballet class was rehearsing a ‘Feather-dance’ at a school fete. I was so obsessed with the mirror image of the dancer’s legs in the tablecloths that I didn’t notice the cut-off hand and a feather flying into the picture. An Athena type of Art-postcard publisher rejected 'Feather-dance', on the grounds that they “Didn’t publish postcards depicting children brandishing knives”.

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