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November 21st, 2010

Paging Dr. Banzai...

Wednesday I went into Rome at the invitation of the head of the fine arts program at the American Academy. It was, I had thought, the first time I had ever been in that part of Rome, until I realized that it is located just across the street from the US Embassy to the Holy See, where I'd celebrated a 4th of July a few years ago.

They wanted to talk about a program they hope to put on next year in honor of the 400th anniversary of Galileo demonstrating the telescope to the assembled dignitaries of Rome, which he did from the very spot where the Academy is located now. And, small world department, turns out my host's wife (a former opera singer) knows my old colleague from my postdoc-at-Harvard days, the concert pianist Lydia Artymiw. (Ok, so I was trying to drop the name of someone I knew slightly, 30 years ago, to someone who it turns out is actually a real friend of hers. Not the first time I have been caught out that way.)

Joining our group was the head of classics, at the American Academy, a mild-mannered professor of ancient history... his expertise is on the old Roman republic... about ten years younger than me, devout Catholic, seemed rather shy. He showed me around the grounds, and pointed out a medieval structure (used to belong to Barbarinis) where he suggested might be a nice place to put on a party. "I do a little DJ work on the side," he said, with some diffidence.

Yeah. Looked him up. Corey Brennan. Aka Corey Loog Brennan, punk rocker and onetime guitarist and songwriter with the Lemonheads, a punk band from the 80's and 90's...

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