Liz Smith: Italy Rebuffs Snooki And Her Pals

The Jersey Shore's Snooki

And more from our Gossip Girl: Remembering the great Arthur Laurents … the Pope’s blessed gondola

“NO CULTURE can live if it attempts to be exclusive,” said Gandhi.

* * *

WELL, the fabled culture of Florence wants to live. It wants to live so much that it has decided to become very exclusive indeed.

Authorities in the ancient city have pulled permits for the cast of MTV’s “Jersey Shore.” MTV wanted to film at the Uffizi art gallery, the Boboli Gardens and the Palazzo Vecchio. The cast of “Jersey Shore” has become infamous for its drinking, carousing and general stupidity on this wildly popular reality show. (Herein, the foolishness is edited to maximum lurid effect.)

The cast was packed and ready to go when the permits were pulled. MTV is mulling its options and trying to persuade the Florentines that the cast consists of really nice kids, who won’t knock over any artwork, or graffiti any frescoes, or throw up in the exquisitely manicured Boboli Garden.

Oh, come on. Like the “JS” cast would even appreciate the paintings and sculpture at the Uffizi. As Joan Crawford snapped at a hapless, culture-challenged co-star in the movie “Torch Song,”—“Your idea of art is the fruit in the slot machine!”

Let the cast go to Florence and wander the lush countryside while they call each other names. Or perhaps Rome would be less snooty? Hey, the Romans allowed Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni to cavort in the famous Trevi Fountain.

Why not Snooki and The Situation?

* * *

IT’S AWFULLY hard to imagine the great genius of theater – Arthur Laurents – dead.

At 93, he was still skiing, surfing, playing tennis and knocking people out with his physical and verbal exercises.

He was a formidable enemy, quarreling with almost every single person he ever met over this and that. He embodied the competitive side of theater, but he often forgave if he did not forget. And – in the last ten years – he was the biggest hit in musical theater on Broadway, with smash revivals of “Gypsy” and “West Side Story” to his credit. But pneumonia took Arthur away, as incredible as that seems to me. Knowing him so well for so long, through ups and downs, I thought Arthur could have delivered a knock-out, even to Death itself. But maybe he didn’t want to.

I met Arthur late in the Fifties when I lived in a house next to his in Quogue on the outskirts of Westhampton in Long Island. At that time, believe it or not, Arthur enjoyed something of a reputation as a rebellious “switch hitter,” having just ended his “ladies man” phase. I was always told of his romance with Nora Kaye, the great ballerina … and then his love affair with singer Anita Ellis (she was the voice of Rita Hayworth in the movie “Gilda”) … and there was a dalliance with the one and only Lena Horne.

Shortly after these bisexual stories, Arthur met the handsome Tom Hatcher and lived with him until Tom’s death only a few years ago. Arthur missed Tom so vividly that perhaps that was the reason he was ready to go? I am left with no one now even to receive a sympathy note. Maybe I should write Scott Rudin and Patti LuPone. They deserve a nod from Arthur’s considerable legacy.

* * *

SPEAKING OF Italy — as we were in the first item — somehow it seemed just a bit unusual that the Pope was in a gondola the other day going down the Grand Canal. Benedict XVI had addressed 300,000 Venetians at an outdoor mass and the 84-year-old Pontiff lectured them about not giving in to “fear of the others, of foreigners, of people who come from far away.” (He could visit the United States and make the same argument here!)

He blessed right and left down the Grand Canal, but all I could think of was that the average gondola rider is furious as heck over the sky-high fees and looking around for the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, and the notorious Marino Marini sculpture of man-on-a-horse, with a human penis attached. Or failing that, the average gondola rider is waiting to get off and find a great restaurant.

The Pope, however, lectured the Venetians that they should not oppose the Bible’s message: “We have to testify about Christian hope to modern man, who is often beset with vast and worrying problems!”


25 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Baby Snooks says:

     I am left with no one now even to receive a sympathy note.

    A sad reality for many is no matter how many friends and admirers we have we still end up totally alone. So we hope the friends and admirers will remember us well. A rememberance far nicer than a sympathy note.  

  2. avatar Lila says:

    I’m with the Florentines. I would not want the cast of Jersey Shore in my area, either.

  3. avatar isa says:

    “Hey, the Romans allowed Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni to cavort in the famous Trevi Fountain”

    Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni had class.  Not surprised that Florence wants to preserve the positive image of Italians.  Brava Firenze!  And for once, money did not win over class and dignity.

  4. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    I suspect the Pope has never watched “Jersey Shores” although perhaps he watches the “talk shows” in Italy which, well, must be seen to be believed and so he believes foreigners may have a calming effect on the Italians.  The talk shows should all simply be titled “Let’s Push the Button” and the favorite to push the button with is Gina Lollobrigida. Who, well, says exactly what she thinks. And, well, shocks the hell out of everyone. But the others do as well.  Anita Ekberg let loose once on a weight loss product she had become the spokesperson for until she gained, rather than lost, weight.   She not only sent the rest of the product back to them she sent the check back as well.  I think the only one who has resisted the urge to let loose is Sophia Loren. But then I think she is the only one who has resisted the urge to go on the talk shows to begin with. But, well, you never know. May happen yet. And of course the button will be Gina Lollobrigida.  

    • avatar isa says:

      Snooks, the many talk show in Italy, or as we call them “varieta`” shows are not much better than the “Jersey Shores”.  As my mother would say, “tutto il mondo e` paese”, meaning it’s pretty much the same stuff world wide, but….I think for the most part Italians still make a distinction between “Varieta'” and art.  And in all honesty, Florence, its beauty, its masterpieces still reminds us of our better selves,  and many of us still want to hold on to that, for good reasons.  Also Jersey Shores is really such as distortion of the Italian heritage, that is almost offensive.  Gina Lollobrigida did not have the finesse that Sophia Loren had and could speak her mind and even be crude without being trashy.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        I don’t think “Jersey Shores” is representative of  Italian-Americans let alone Italians and trashy is not a word that comes to mind with regard to Italians. Even with regard to the “varieta” shows. At her most shocking, Gina Lollobrigida has never been trashy. Just fiery.

        I have a friend who moved to Italy to teach for a year and 25 years later is still there. She comes back once a year and invariably, and interestingly, always makes a comment about how trashy American television is.  We have turned trash into an art form it seems. IN our galleries, our museums, and most of all on our television sets.

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Ah, Miss Loren and Miss Lollobrigida!  I adore them them both.  Loren had a better American career, but La Lollo was still quite a treat.  They were both pretty classy, to my mind.  Okay—I’m not a really classy guy!

        I adored Loren in “Arabesque” and Gina in “Buona Sera Mrs. Campbell.”  (Gina was good in “Trapeze” but I  tend to be distracted by Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis in their tights.)

        • avatar Richard Bassett says:

          And who can forget the incident in Moscow, Russia when Gina Lollobrigida and Elizabeth Taylor both showed up for some ballet event wearing the same dress in the summer of 1961?

          • avatar Mr. Wow says:

            Miss Taylor was amused.  La Lollo was not. 

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            Gina Lollobrigida probably let loose on a talk show when she got back to Rome. And just in case you missed it she had a “Joan Collins” moment once talking about priests and homosexuals and if I recall correctly Rock Hudson. As I said, fiery. Sophia Loren can be too. So far, well, not publicly.

          • avatar Mr. Wow says:

            Oh, Baby…I’m so glad you recall Joan’s “AIDS is punishment” moment.  So few do. 

            Fabulous coming from a wiped out  tranny. 

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            I will never forget it. Or particularly forgive it. And have never understood her “gay following” after her having said it.

          • avatar Richard Bassett says:

            Her ‘gay following’ is grossly overestimated. Her days on “Dynasty” ended a quarter of a century ago and she continues to resemble a sad aging clown.

  5. avatar Richard Bassett says:

    Crass. Jersey Shores is a crass show and anyone with a lick of sense knows that it is not a true representation of the Italians…but to be banished is another matter altogether. If they (Florentines) were confident and a bit more open minded about their reputation instead of trying to preserve (or prove) their authenticity, then this would not be an issue. Nothing can take away their colorful history, or their beautiful art…so let the kids of a crazy American reality show in. I’ve never watched it. I don’t have any objection to it but I know it would bore me. (I don’t know how Gina Lollobrigida or Sophia Loren got pulled into this but I’ve been known to take an aspect of a post and run with it, myself)



  6. avatar Harriet Shoebridge says:

    Eight inches of ‘serious’ cleavage and a potty mouth or two … not to forget that head of hair glued to the vertical with gel … is not welcome in Florence.  And why not???  Maybe because the Italians in Florence are repelled by the association by ancestry to a group of ‘Italian’ American media whores.  Whatta think?

    • avatar Richard Bassett says:

      At least you are not judging. Where DO they belong and why? Why does Florence stand out?

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Harriet…

      Florence was the home of Catherine de Medici, who commanded the slaughter of thousands of Hugenots in the infamous St. Bartholomews Massacre. 

      Cleavage, hair gel and potty mouths seem pretty tame in comparison.

    • avatar Harriet Shoebridge says:

      Dear Richard and Mr.Wow … so, where do Snooki belong?  The Jersey Shore, of course.  So, am I judging?  For what it’s worth, I took the same approach to the Royal Wedding.  Third generation Canadian colonial that I am, I could not feel the whatever that came with Will and Kate because … Kate was not landed gentry … not one of Them.  A stunner wedding, literally, one for the (history) books.  Romantic, certainly, including both the commoner marrying the Royal thing and ‘romantic’ (…romantic).  And, one can happily assume that there are no ‘white Fiats’ in The Countess’ future (the British public having choked down one white Fiat and thank you very much).  However and moving right along, Snooki are what they are and, whatever that is, they are not ‘Italians’ (gasp!!! … breath in, breath out …) but Italian Americans, people a few generations removed from the real deal who, bless their purist hearts, are not inclined to embrace cleavage, hair gel, and potty mouths as components of the Italian persona.  Now, not getting distracted by the ugly slaughter that was the St.Batholomews Massacre nor the equally ugly psychology that was Ms deMedici …  Catherine de Medici was One of Them.  And this post is done … having sufficiently appalled (perhaps) a few Italian American sensibilities.  Take care … truly … 

      • avatar Richard Bassett says:

        Dear Ms Shoebridge, So ALL who reside at the Jersey Shore are indicative of the Italian-Americans from the show? At the risk of insulting those who you do not even know, I’m sure that is not true. Your rant regarding the royal wedding comes without provocation and is an exaggerated example of the judgment of class. No one is even questioning Italians vs. Italian Americans (though that could be said in terms of every American born nationality). Lack of authenticity doesn’t separate us as it did hundreds of years ago. This is the 21st Century. Those in Florence, Italy party at “Full Up” “The Space Electric Night Club”, “The Gallery Hotel Bar” and 150 other night spots. You can find after hour haunts along the shores of the Adriatic Sea every night of the week. I know that there is plenty of cleavage, hair gel and potty mouths among the 24/7 crowd. (even in royalty!) If you are attempting to protect a spotless generation, then you’ve failed. You will find a variety of people and personalities throughout the entire world. Not one more ‘in grace’ than another.

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Dear Harriet…you’d have to do a lot more to offend my fine Italian sensibilities.  Although I am half Irish.  (my singing bartender father)

        This– like Miss Smith’s column–is all in fun. 

        We’re talking Snooki, here!

        Sill, let the kids go to Florence.  They might even learn something.

  7. avatar Harriet Shoebridge says:

    Richard, I’ve managed to offend you on many levels and, for that I do apologize.  By way of explaining just one of many misunderstandings, the referencing of Snooki to The Jersey Shore was my way of saying that these people ‘belong’ on television.  Anyhow, and taking a leaf from Mr.Wow, this column is all in fun.  So, let the kids go to Florence … but the Hair Guy will need to track down some heat resistant/no melt hair gel and, you-know-who, not a little sunscreen (… or else those puppies are going to go beet red and fast).  And that’s it … ’cause, afterall, this is springtime in Canada, my igloo is beginning to melt and, consequently, the internet needs tweeking (smiling) … take care, both of you …

  8. avatar DonnaH says:

    I’ve heard of Snooki, & knew she’s on a ‘reality’ show, but other than that, I was clueless. With the exception of ‘Deadliest Catch’, the reality shows I watch are news & home-improvement programs.
    I see I haven’t missed anything.

  9. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Mmmm, my paternal grandparents immigrated to the United States from Bolvano (grampa) and Calabria (grandma). I am only the second generation born on US soil on my Father’s side, which actually gives me citizenship and ancestral rights in Italy (go figure) by Italian law. I am third generation on the other side…my maternal great-grandparents came here from Poland.

    I have never watched “Jersey Shore”, but with the cast members being ubiquitous in what passes for the news these days, it is almost impossible not to know who these low-grade moron are. Guidos and guidettes…something apparently peculiar to the Jersey Shore area, where they choose to display themselves like a less evolved species of primate. They rarely originate there…I think most of the cast is from…other places (Staten Island comes to mind…). At least a few of the cast members have no Italian heritage at all…not that it matters.

    I was born in Chicago, and spent half of my life there, and stereotypes of Italians abound…for good reason. We even had very large ladies in black dresses, with hairy moles and button shoes (I kid you not) who showed up at every funeral to wail, eat the food at the wake…and comment on “how natural so-and-so looked” in his pastel-silk lined coffin. I find the Italian heritage societies’ outrage at the “Jersey Shore” cast’s outrageous behavior ludicrous and sad. Just ignore the idiots…to them, and MTV, or whatever channel is showing them, any attention is good.

    Tourists in Italy are notoriously poorly behaved, throwing trash and debris everywhere, and the Italians have been far too tolerant (lazy?) of this behavior, turning historical and archaeological sites into dumpsters that stink of urine and garbage. If Florence is attempting to clean up its act, and this involves revoking the “Jersey Shore” cast’s passes, I don’t think it’s snooty. Maybe someone in Florence finally realized that cultural sense, and preservation of the past starts at home. Rome sounds perfect for the guido/guidette crew…I know several people who’ve visited who said its ancient monuments smell just like toilets, and the catacombs are largely shut down due to the foul behavior of tourists and citizens alike. The Situation, Snookie, and the rest should fit right in.

  10. avatar The Wild Sow says:

    Snooki is no more “Italian” than the Man in the Moon. She was born in Santiago, CHILE — and adopted by the Polizzi family when she was 6 months old.

    Hey, at least that means she can’t be President!