Page 1

Issue  - December/January 2012 

UK £ 7.50 - $ 12.50 - UE € 8.5 - Hong Kong $ 95 - China RMB 79


UK £ 7.50 - $ 12.50 - UE € 8.5 - Hong Kong $ 95 - China RMB 79


Issue - February/March 2012 


The only international magazine with an Italian soul

Sketching Brazilian Art The Indispensable Palladio Tunisia in Spring One Year On Under the Shaman’s Spell Robotic Surgery

Overture q q q q THE CARNIVAL OF VENICE Lorem ipsum dolorem

DANTEmag n.3


DANTEmag n.3


DANTEmag n.3



An Incredible Journey

Explore Lawrence of Arabias’ Deserts of Wadi Rum – Discover Madaba, the City of Mosaics Relax in amazing Movenpick Hotels – Enjoy the coral filled seas of The Red Sea Fly with Royal Jordanian – Experience the lowest point on Earth at the Dead Sea Touch the Culture at The ancient Roman city of Jarash.

Travel with...

020020 8574 4000 +47 8574 4000 www.mosaicholidays.co.uk Jordanian_Tourist_Promo210611.indd 1

DANTEmag n.3


21/06/2011 15:56:59

index LETTER FROM THE EDITORS Dante and Beatrice p. 8

HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF Food for thought! p. 10



An Irascible Revealed at Last p. 16 Sketching Brazilian Art p. 26


Luddites Rejoice! The Library Lives p. 35


Djay Pee: The Originality of Fusion p. 38


The “Royalty” of Film p. 42


The Indispensable Palladio p. 46 Tradition, Passion, Innovation: John Galvin’s Unique Bespoke Art p. 52


The Carnival of Venice p. 58


Iranian Chess Games of Terror and War p. 70 Power and Counter Power p. 78 First into Mosul: A War Reporter’s Journey to Iraq’s Kurdish Front p. 84


The Maverick of the Italian Grappa p. 94 Tunisia in Spring – One Year On p. 100 Games People Play (A Lot...) p. 104

MENS SANA IN CORPORE SANO TRAVEL Under the Shaman’s Spell p. 108 Rio Voluptuoso, Rio Carinhoso p. 116 health Combat Winter Doldrums Arrive in Spring like Persephone p. 122 Technology Robotic Surgery p. 130 FOOD Semel in Anno Licet Insanire p. 134

COLUMNS Nonno Panda tales Lily the Albino Hummingbird and the Crying Ficus p. 140 Leviathan p. 144

DANTEmag n.3


DANTEmag n.3


contributors Editor in Chief Massimo Gava

Arts Editor Devon Dikeou

Deputy Editor Chris Kline

Web and New Technology Editor Steven Spieczny

Editor at Large US Caroline Udall

Special Projects Editor Ezster Galfalvi

Editor at Large. Bee Van Zuylen

International Correspondent Mike Jerovia

Executive Literary Editor Patrick J.Summers

Associated Research Editor Louis Romero

Feature Editor Keanu Kerr

Art Director. Nicola Sasso

Photography Director Wiston Cole

Business Editor Martin Shah

Picture Editor Luella Stock

New York Business Editor John McEwin

Commissioning Editor Jean Philippe Vernes

Online Design Editor Lavinia Todd

Music Editor Dean Rispler

Online Research Editor Mary Shulze

Copy Editor Philip Rham

Director Sales and Marketing Emilio Barba

Contributing Writers . Devon Dikeou, Fernando AQ Mota, Steve Conger, Rowlinson Carter, Matthew Cartwright, Aldo Ghirardello, Lee Sowerbutts, Nir Boms, Shayan Arya, Antonio Fojadelli, Alya Khaled, Neil Geraghty, Alex Forman Elisa T. Keena, Lynn Kowalski, Marco Pernini, Phoenix Troll, Nigel Parsons, Dante and Beatriz, Lorenzo De Medici, NonnoPanda.

Contributing Photographers. Duke Beardsley studio 2011, Rupert Dodds, Johann Bell, Neil Geraghty, Phoenix Troll, Anastasija Hozyainova, Regina Manfè Shutterstock.com: S. Kuelcue, Lipowski Milan, Eric Fahrner DANTEmag is published by DANTEmag Publishing Company 12 Charing Cross Mansions 26, Charing Cross Rd. London WC2H 0DG - UK. info@dantemag.com.

Subscribe online at: www.dantemag.com/subscription

SUBSCRIBE TODAY! www.dantemag.com/subscription DANTEmag n.3



Time has been transformed, and we have changed; it has advanced and set us in motion; it has unveiled its face, inspiring us with bewilderment and exhilaration. Kahlil Gibran

Letter from the Editors on the Birth of Dante. And so we face 2012…how absolutely astonishing! It seems a date from science fiction and yet it is our millennium. We do live in precisely this juncture in history. And what a page turning in history it is! Of course we could, or at least should, briefly acknowledge that we live in a rather precarious time. Human history has always been tumultuous, almost always dangerous and violent, often stamped by prejudice, hysteria, superstition, greed, uncertainty and fear. So let us remember Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s wisdom when he assumed the presidency of the United States for the first time with the Great Depression in full swing: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” The birth of a new year is always cause to celebrate, for it brings new hope and offers us all yet another chance to make good on our ambitions, to pursue our dreams, to better ourselves, to contribute, to reshape the patterns of our lives as best we can, to break out of the mould. Let us not then simply cringe in fear. Let us embrace the wealth of possibilities before us and if our reach exceeds our grasp, then let us keep striving. It is only thus that we may espy the new horizons we had not considered in the year gone by. To paraphrase Ghandi, let us be the change that we seek. Inevitably the New Year also causes us to reflect on the trajectories of our lives in the year past. What did we achieve? What did we lose? What did we gain? What were our triumphs and defeats? What was the proudest moment and the lowest ebb? To be sure, we cannot ignore these realities as we look in the mirror. But hindsight only works as hindsight, after the fact. Nor can we merely project ourselves into the future. We must, above all, live in the present, the tangible now. DANTEmag n.3


We recognise that the most mundane and common concern for most of us - those not enduring shot and shell or living in police states - is simple economic survival in what is undeniably not a time of plenty. But if our material concerns and worries have their place in our ever-consumer-obsessed society, should not the arrival of the New Year pose a perfect moment to look more deeply within ourselves? How often do we pause to consider the state of our souls when we are too busy being worker bees, too busy spinning in the hamster wheel to earn our daily bread to consider matters of the spirit? And what is it that feeds the soul, that nourishes the spirit? We were not made simply to toil. Human beings, for all we will keep acknowledging our baser qualities and sins, are sublime creatures and in what is all too short a mortal coil our immortality is perhaps best found in all that humanity creates which uplifts our inner lives and prompts the human condition to rise out of the mud. It is why we celebrate art, music, literature, film, indeed any facet of human creativity in the pages of Dante, all that moves our hearts and stirs the intellect. Our world is not merely a catalogue of horrors. We would not wish to live in such a world, nor do we believe that we do. So as we greet the New Year we urge you to revel in the richness of human culture, a culture that knows no boundaries if one acknowledges that humanity’s genius is indeed a global patrimony. And at the risk of being accused of sentimentality, let us revel in our goodness, too, for it is the greatest defence we have against evil. Let us summon compassion in the face of indifference, kindness instead of cruelty, generosity that silences avarice, community to vanquish egotism. And as we brace ourselves against the blows that will also come, let us never forget the beauty that surrounds us, even on the darkest day. The extraordinary nobility and beauty of the ordinary - ordinary things like the loyalty and constant solace of a trusted friend, the embrace of a lover, the miracle of a newborn child, the majesty of the natural world, the sheer simple wonder of seeing another day and another year of life here on earth, regardless of the burdens we carry. Go forth, do not retreat into the shell. Live, love, drink your wine, sing, dance, ponder, for the soul demands it - and thus rejoice at your own humanity. We wish you a fruitful and joyous New Year and once more offer our gratitude to you, our readership for sharing the journey of this Quixotic endeavour, in the hope of creating an artefact guided by the wisdom taught to us by Alighieri’s pen: “Beauty awakens the soul to act.” Dante and Beatrice (Alias the editors)

DANTEmag n.3


History Repeats Itself by Massimo Gava

Food for thought!

DANTEmag n.3



The significance of the Italian Renaissance lies in the fact, among others, that it overthrew those medieval values the Catholic church had imposed on society, with its anguish of the immortal soul, and replaced it with the emphasis on individual thought whose ultimate source was reason. With Lorenzo de Medici the Renaissance period reached its apogee. He was known as “Il Magnifico” for his great skills in leadership. He had a penchant for poetry, ranging from the sacred to the profane; he both loved the arts and sports, studied philosophy but valued country ways, all this, combined with the toughness of a politician and the technical skills of a banker. Lorenzo represented the expression of a new pact between the aristocracy and the people, opening up the Florentine nobility to the needs of its people and was justifiably called “magnificent” Will we see another Magnifico in the forthcoming elections this year ? One can always live in hope, but while we wait for the next Lorenzo to arrive, let’s console our souls with his poetry. Extract form the Carnascialeschi (or carnival) sonnets.

A Song For Bacchus The time of youth indeed is sweet, But all too soon it slips away. If you’d be happy – don’t delay! Tomorrow’s ills you’ve yet to meet. Welcome Bacchus, Ariadne! An ardent couple, loving, fair. They spend, as one, their days with glee, For time flies fast and does not spare. Thus these nymphs, and others, fare. Happy they the livelong day! If you’d be happy – don’t delay! Tomorrow’s ills you’ve yet to meet. These nymphs are tickled by the thought To be deceived by a lover’s wile. If Love’s sweet remedy were naught, They sure would be uncouth and vile. Commingled now, they dance and smile And sport and play the livelong day! If you’d be happy – don’t delay! Tomorrow’s ills you’ve yet to meet.

Upon a donkey, corpulent, Silenus wends his weighty way. Heavy, drunk and senescent, Years and blubber on him lay. He can’t stand straight, he is quite bent – Yet still he smiles the livelong day! If you’d be happy – don’t delay! Tomorrow’s ills you’ve yet to meet. All ye lovers, boys, girls too – Long live Bacchus, and Love, I say. Play, dance, and sing, each one of you, Let sweetness o’er your hearts hold sway. Fatigue and weakness throw away, For what must be, you cannot beat. If you’d be happy – don’t delay! Tomorrow’s ills you’ve yet to meet.

Lorenzo De Medici ( Il Magnifico) 1449-1492

Translated by Alan D. Corré June 3, 2005

DANTEmag n.3


comedy THE DIVINE Around the World

Half along our life’s path. Lost in a dark wood. Unable to find the right way….


tions from fake food.


The agreement between the Catholic church and the Italian government on the issue of paying council tax on commercial buildings on Italian soil. The head of the Bishops’ conference has agreed to hold talks about what he describes as a grey area within the agreement. In Italy, church properties are exempt from paying tax to local authorities. But that seems to include also some commercial buildings owned by the church. Recently the Italian Radical party has filed a case with the EU Commison of Justice in Luxembourg asserting that the agreement made in 2006 with the Italian government violates unfair competition laws. The result is expected by the middle of this year. Therefore the Church which is, in law, a separate entity from the Vatican State - has urgently been looking into this matter. I wonder if they will be able to backdate the revenue to 2006. It would be just charitable after all... DANTEmag n.3



BOLIVIA—McDonalds, with its 33,000 food stores worldwide, is being forced to shut down its operations in this Latin American country because of poor profit margins. It seems that the Bolivian people prefer their local food to the Big Mac. How uplifting it is to hear that a poor country is not bending over backward to change their habits. Anybody with the slightest taste for real food would prefer homemade empanadas to the ever-frozen, ready-fried food, topped with sweet sauces to give it some kind of flavour. Ultimately it’s flavouring only the massive McDonald’s marketing budget. This can only be welcome news to anybody who prefers a more down-to-earth approach to what they put in their mouth - and not only for personal health reasons. I guess good taste is in fashion in Bolivia. Let’s hope that after the Occupy movement on Wall Street, the Empanadas movement will free world popula-

Jiggs the chimp has died of kidney failure at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbour Florida, at the apparent grand old age of 80!! In case you didn’t know, Jiggs was – at least, according to Debbie Cobb of Suncoast - the comedy chimp, Cheetah, who played opposite Johnnie Weissmuller, the Olympic swimming champion turned Tarzan, in the Tarzan films made from 1932 to 1934. Cobb said Jiggs arrived at the sanctuary in 1960 after having lived on the Weissmuller estate. Some have contested this claim. Chimps generally don’t live longer than about 50 years in captivity and there is no documentation to back up the sanctuary’s claim. Another famous chimp Booie, “the smoking chimpanzee”, has passed away at the age of 44. The cause of death was cardiac failure, said Martine Colette, the spokesperson for the Wildlife Waystation animal sanctuary in Los Angeles, California. Booie became well-known all over the world,

thanks to some pictures and TV appearances that showed him smoking a cigarette. Martine said she managed to help him give up smoking but not sweets. The primate was, in fact, able to say with sign language, “Booie sees a sweet in your pocket.” His death is unfortunate for the sanctuary’s finances as Booie brought in lots of donations. This is no monkey business. Smoking cuts the life expectancy of chimps, too.

O Beatrice, let us hope the two of them will be having fun in the highest sphere of heaven...

Purgatorio Virgil what can be said of The Marie Antoinettes of the West... CANTO I

General Motors is blocking the sale of Swedish car maker Saab to Chinese investors for fear its intellectual property might fall into the hands of Chinese companies. The Chinese have offered more than $130 million for Saab. Saab ‘s production has stood idle for months while they struggled to pay suppliers and its 3,700 workers, who are now facing the prospect of being laid off. Considering that China owns the largest share of the US national debt, how does this fit into the equation? GM said that the proposal would result in the transfer of control and ownership in a manner that would be detrimental to GM and its shareholders and could not support any of the proposed alternatives. Oh, well, let’s put 3,700 families out on the street. It’s easier. I wonder what the real motives were for the acquisition of Saab, in the first place? Was it just to develop the brand, or to gain control of a share of the automobile market by running the Saab brand into the ground? What’s $130 million and 3,700 destitute families? After all, we are not here to support socialist intervention. We are a profitable company and we can always get money from US tax payers if we really need it. And as for the families - you know what...

Let them eat cake! CANTO II

Help us, we need butter! When the rest of the world is full of political and economic crises, prosperous Norway is asking for help from the rest of Europe because it has run out of butter. Yes, you read that right! Thanks to a new fashionable diet called Lavkarbo, rich in fat and low in carbs, sales of butter rocketed up 30%. But the heavy rains of

last summer reduced the quantity of grass available to cows in Norway and so created a drop in milk production of 25 million litres. Citizens are angry with the government for imposing a higher tax on imported dairy and other products to protect their local industry - to the extent that it is no longer economically viable for neighbouring countries like Sweden and Denmark to export their products to Norway. But in the end they came to the rescue anyway. The Danish show Go’ Morgen Danmark offered 1000 pats of butter to help with the crisis and a Russian citizen was stopped trying to smuggle in 90 kg of butter. The authorities then decided to lower the import tax - only for a limited period, however - so that Norwegians could get their butter in time for their Christmas cakes. That still didn’t seem to be enough. Could this also be a vendetta meted out by the ‘Merkosy’ group? After all they need money to rescue the euro and butter can be the perfect way to get in...


Largely unnoticed by the international media, as many as 9,000 US troops are deploying to Israel to participate in a massive missile defence exercise. There are several hundred US troops manning a radar site permanently based in Israel, and of course in the First Gulf War a contingent of US soldiers manning anti-missile batteries were deployed there as a response to Saddam Hussein’s Scud missile attacks. This time, though, the scale of the US deployment is far more significant; moreover, it is clear the joint US-Israeli exercise is aimed at thwarting a potential Iranian missile threat. In recent months, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has repeatedly practised war games. Iranian naval forces have also been active in the Persian Gulf, underscoring Teheran’s threat to blockade the Straits of Hormuz, choking off petroleum supplies, should Iran come under Israeli or Western attack. The rhetoric between Israel and Iran remains tense and the

most recent findings by the International Atomic Energy Agency have not helped to dispel fears that Teheran is indeed seeking to obtain weapons grade enriched

uranium. Iran counters that its atomic programme is purely for civilian energy needs. What about its oil reserves then?


of HSBC, said he fully accepted that the NHFA failed to give The stupidity of a former Itasuitable financial advice to some lian minister of culture knows of their customers, and that he no bounds. When asked by an was profoundly sorry. In the meItalian reporter why a country antime, after that forced apology, that contains more than 60% HSBC announced it was cutting (according to UNESCO) of the world’s greatest works of art, gets 330 British jobs. Not bad for an apology. Let’s rip off the commufewer museum visitors than the British museum or the Louvre, he nity even further, ensuring it bears answered it was because Italy had the cost of the bill, that way we can carry on doing whatever we too much art - implying that it is too difficult to care for the artisitic feel like. Otherwise, what are we heritage of Italy. It is as if a Saudi paying those lobbyists for? minister declared they had too CANTO III much oil, so all they can do is let it flow freely over the land. Maybe Churchill. Canada - Prison for polar bears. During the summer for a Saudi, oil is no big deal, but months, scores of hungry bears for the rest of the world it’s big head to this tiny town in search business. The same equation can be applied to other peoples’ need of food, sometimes even breaking into homes. After being to gaze on beautiful things. They terrorised for years, the citizens are happy to pay and come all have decided to fight back. They the way to Italy to see them. But when you have troglodyte idiots in have built a “polar bear jail”, containing 28 small cells. Some of the power, who needs intellectuals.... animals are locked up for up to a month, but if they have been parCANTO II HSBC has been fined £30 million ticularly nasty, they get more - one “burglar” has been imprisoned after the city regulator found it for almost three months. While had ripped off elderly people in care homes. The financial services they’re serving time, the bears are authority fined the banking group fed nothing but water, in a bid to £10.5 million and expects it to pay discourage them from returning to town. The bears head inland £29.3 million in compensation. The regulator said the agency ad- when the ice in the Hudson Bay melts, cutting them off from their vised 2,485 elderly clients to buy usual food supply. Only last year, long term investment products more than 1000 bears passed to fund their care from 2005 up through the town searching for to last year. The average age of a meal. The last time someone the clients was 83. They were advised to buy investments which was killed was 1983. “But,” said are normally recommended to be one citizen, “you never walk out held for a minimum of five years. the door without looking both ways.” That’s what you should do Some of them had a life expecanyway – whether you can bear to tancy of less than five years. The or not ...!!! Nursing Home Fees Association (NHFA), a subsidiary of HSBC, was the UK’s biggest supplier To what other of independent financial advice terraces of doom in long term care sector with a market share of 60%. The averaand pain, dear ge investment of each customer over the five year period came Virgil, will you to £115,000, meaning they had accompany me... collected a total of £285 million. Brian Robertson, chief executive next time... DANTEmag n.3


DANTEmag n.3


78-08.com DANTEmag n.3


An Irascible Revealed at Last By Devon Dikeou

DANTEmag n.3


After three decades and many review the long odyssey of the suitors, the art of famed works of this major figure in Abstract Expressionist Clyfford contemporary art. Still has finally found a home. The Clyfford Still Museum, designed and built according to the artist’s precise and exacting specifications, delineated before his death in 1980, opened in Denver in November 2011. We


Clyfford Still is perhaps the most misunderstood of the “Irascibles”, a name given to a group of fifteen artists, more commonly known as the Abstract Expressionists, when they posed for a photograph in Life Magazine in 1950. Reasons for this label are more or less part of the Still myth: his difficult personality, his eventual retreat from the art world, his disdain for collectors, dealers, and curators and, some might say, even for the work itself. Now, 31 years after his death, an argument can be made that because of this myth, his work takes on a new meaning

The northwest corner of the new Clyfford Still Museum, designed by Allied Works Architecture. DANTEmag n.3


ART with the opening of the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, Colorado. Still’s steadfast convictions, adherence to self-imposed principles, and immense quality control make the opening of this temple of art, dedicated to his work and its conservation and study, a uniquely innovative idea, an assertive re-examination, and a testament to the generosity of this, his most astounding gift. And what a gift it was! Clyfford Still’s one page Last Will and Testament bequeathed (aside from the 300 works on paper and 100 paintings he left to his wife) “all the remaining works of art executed by [Still] in [his] collection to an American city that will agree to build or assign and maintain permanent quarters exclusively for these works of art and assure their physical survival with the explicit requirement that none of these works will be sold, given, or exchanged but are to be retained in the place described above exclusively assigned to them in perpetuity for exhibition and study.”1 So grand was this gift, so encompassing, that for years no city or institution could make reasonable bids to qualify as a recipient. Many tried: Baltimore, New York, the Massachussets Museum of Contemporary Art, even North Dakota, (Still’s birth state) among them. Eventually, Denver prevailed. Denver’s bid began when Curt Freed, a Denver physician and a nephew of Patricia Still (Still’s wife and the executrix of his will) called the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs about his uncle’s “stillextant collection.”2 That call yielded a flurry of further communications within the Denver art world, including Lewis Sharp and Diane Vanderlip of the Denver Art Museum. But the initial plan for a Denver Still museum was ultimately rejected by Patricia Still because of the close association with D.A.M. Eventually in 2003, the recently elected Mayor, John Hickenlooper, and Freed, along with other city officials, approached Patricia with a new proposal; the idea was again afloat. As the mayor (now governor) tells it, he was in the Washington, DC area for a mayorial conference, when he changed his itinerary, detouring around the capital to New Windsor, Maryland to see Mrs Still. Upon greeting her, Hickenlooper exclaimed, “Mrs Still, I have missed an appointment with the President of the United States in order to meet with you.” Mrs Still was won over and Denver won. Fairly soon afterwards, an agreement was reached between the City and the Still estate, followed by a Denver City Council vote to agree to raise the money for the museum. In 2005 a non-profit entity was created to “carry out the city’s obligations.” From there, an architectural search committee and boards were formed. The Clyfford Still board raised approximately $32 million through private donations, and Brad Cloepfil and Allied Works Architecture were chosen as architects to construct a roughly 28,000 square foot building. It has no auditorium or restaurant per the amended will. Mrs Still, owner of the second biggest trove of Clifford Still art work and the artist’s archive of “the files, the diaries, notes, correspondences, the logs, and other biographical papers and records”3, decided to bequeath to the city of Denver the remainder of her estate as well. All in all, the Denver institution owns 94% of DANTEmag n.3



Installation view of the Clyfford Still Museum’s inaugural exhibition. The experience of the collection is enlivened by natural light that enters the galleries through a series of skylights over a cast-in-place, perforated concrete ceiling.

all of Still’s creative output, including 825 paintings, 1,575 works on paper, three sculptures, and a plethora of archival materials including sketchbooks, letters, and photographs. But all has not gone as smoothly as imagined. Mrs Still died in 2005, shortly after the deal was made. While the museum did raise $32 million, total project costs came in around $29 million, leaving too little to adequately fund an endowment to support operating costs. To cover the shortfall, four Still paintings bequeathed from Patricia Still’s estate were selected to be sold. This would seem to be in breach of Still’s will. However, a Maryland court ,where the Stills’ wills were filed, gave approval to proceed with the sales. The city then contacted both Sotheby’s and Christie’s about brokering either a private or public sale. Denver was facing a September 19th deadline for raising the money, which coincidentally fell around the 2011 autumn auctions. Eventually, the city decided to go with Sotheby’s and the more public route of an auction. The four works sold for $114 million. DANTEmag n.3


ART But what of the visionary who left this sizeable and important public gift, one that is estimated to be worth more than $1 billion? Clyfford Still was born in North Dakota in 1904. Growing up in landscapes around Spokane, Washington, and in southern Alberta, Canada, he absorbed an aesthetic from his natural surroundings. Much of his interest in the plastic arts, however, came from his own explorations of masterpieces in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He attended the Art Students League in 1925 in New York for about 45 minutes, but deemed it regressive for his practice. “The excercises and results I observed I had already explored for myself some years before and had rejected them as a waste of time.”7 He was invited to and attended Yaddo, the famed artistic retreat during two summers. He spent his early career, teaching at Washington State College (now Washington State University). In 1941, he relocated to the Bay Area and became an influential professor at the California School of Fine Arts, now known as the San Francisco Art Institute, where he taught off and on from 1946 to 1950.

DANTEmag n.3


In the early 1940’s he met and befriended Mark Rothko and was in the midst of making the first of the major works that would eventually make him famous. He went to New York for extended periods during the last half of the 1940s, where Rothko introduced him to the visionary ‘gallerist’ Peggy Guggenheim and her gallery, The Art of This Century. She immediately invited him to participate in her “Autumn Salon.” But even as early as 1945 we see Still doubting the artistic mechanism that is the New York Art world. “I await the opening of the show with a strange mixture of anticipation and hope and cynicism. I have taken the precaution to prepare myself for flight back to western Canada. The atmosphere here is too seriously commercial to escape its vitiating pressure and its attendant subordination of the freedom of the creative spirit.”8 By 1946, Still had his first oneman show at The Art of this Century, and then returned to San Francisco and teaching. In 1947, he was at Betty Parsons Gallery


having a one-man show. This return to New York produced a loose collaboration with Rothko in which they created an artist’s group where older artists would get together and guide younger artists. This group would later be called “The Subjects of the Artist,” and would involve many of his fellow Ab Ex compatriots, including Barnet Newman and Robert Motherwell. The group also included artists of other schools such as the Surrealist Matta. Ultimately, however, the group was, in Still’s mind, directionless. Its mission was confused, and perhaps it was not selective enough; eventually he bowed out. Back in California, in 1947, he established a graduate painting class at CSFA, based on his ideas for the “The Subjects of the Artist.” An off-shoot of this class was a student-run-and-owned gallery, organized at Still’s suggestion, called Metart. We see in this early Still, a willingness to talk about and engage with, not only students, but with a broader audience, about the kind of painting he was making and the visual language he was building. By 1950 and ’51, Still was back in New York, with one-man shows at Betty Parsons. Slowly though, while at the height of expressing his aesthetic publically, we find Still at least thinking about his work in decidedly non-public terms. “It is obvious that there is little of sentiment or intimacy in my attitudes. Probably I would prefer to have my work quite asocial.”9 He hated the word “sales,” and when a work was sold he referred to it as “released.” He viewed his work in terms of the 19th-century ideas of the “Sublime” as much as part the New York School. He also viewed his oeuvre very much in terms of a whole rather than individual works, and was aesthetically concerned with the dialogue between the works as an entire body. He rarely participated in group exhibitions, and only when more than one work would be shown. He felt that words were suspect and critics worse. He mused, “The forces I generate can be used to many ends. My concern is that they be not so turned against me that I cease to be able to extend their intensity and clarity, or that I be made victim of the tensions DANTEmag n.3


and complexes that lash or impale so many others.�10 He even more potently stated, “Praise and criticism both are dangerous winds and leave disturbing odours in the nostrils. The value, if there is any, must be measured by the man who gives them, and not by the pleasure or pain they receive.�11

DANTEmag n.3


By 1951, Still finally had had enough. He withdrew from the art world and sent his letter of resignation from the gallery to his dealer, Betty Parsons. Nonetheless, at this point we find an artist quite comfortable with the direction of his practice, astutely aware of his place, contrary, and suspicious of the forces that might hinder the fullest understanding or exhibition of his work. He is conscious of the intrusions, disturbances, and distractions that divert from the work’s proper vision and exhibition. It was the work that must continue, not the sideshows. So to Maryland he retreated - staying there, not exhibiting with any real assertiveness until 1959. Not that the invitations weren’t forthcoming. Still received at least four Venice Biennale invitations and several European and American museum invitations. But only one organisation seemed remotely able to get to the inner sanctum of the Still psyche much less studio: the Albright Knox in Buffalo, New York under the direction and leadership of Gordon Smith and Seymour Knox. In the end, the Albright bought two paintings and agreed to an exhibition of 72 paintings in 1959. It was a special relationship and as it was so special, it also established a Still continuum. By 1964, Still made an extraordinary move: he donated

31 paintings to the Albright. There were many caveats and stipulations in the agreement. In the end it proved to be a wonderfully rewarding and important gesture, as the works would always be shown under the conditions that Still laid down, and in the way he would most like them exposed to the public. The paintings would not be loaned and they would not be put in storage. Throughout the 1960’s, there were a smattering of Still one-man shows. Then finally, in 1975 another something special happened. After all the time Still had spent in San Francisco, teaching and as part of the art community, his influence was paramount. Nonetheless, California Abstraction, in the San Francisco area, was strongly posited on and deeply entrenched in the idea of abstraction, simultaneous with the New York School. It didn’t hurt that their most famous practitioner was Still, the bi-coastal messiah. Keep in mind, Still showed in a one-man exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Art as early as 1943. So when, in 1975, Still imparted a similar, Buffalo-style gift of 28 paintings to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, it was not without an important precedent. Again, Still made the gift with conditions. Display in a permanent exhibition space. No loans, no storage. In 1979 Still had a one-man DANTEmag n.3


Clyfford Still 1944-N No. 1 (PH-235), 1944 Oil on canvas, 105 x 92 1/2 in. Clyfford Still Museum Collection DANTEmag n.3


Clyfford Still 1949 No. 1 (PH-385), 1949 Oil on canvas, 105 % x 81 in. Clyfford Still Museum Collection Photo: Peter Harholdt

retrospective exhibition of 79 paintings at the Met - a career culmination at the institution where his self-education had begun, so many years before. By 1980 Still was dead of cancer. Patricia Still, following her husband’s example, extended a similar gift to the Met in 1986. The Met’s gift included ten canvases. With the two Stills already in their collection, their total is twelve. Fast forward to 2011: The Clyfford Still Museum (C.S.M.) opens in Denver. It is yet another gift in a trail of presentations, designed throughout an artist’s lifetime, to give any willing and supplicant viewer a glimpse, a peek, a nugget, and then finally a tidal wave of what his artistic practice meant. And what a wave! C.S.M. is organized in a two storey building. It welcomes the visitor through a pleasant grid of trees into a concrete structure that, like the ground floor of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, reveals the bones of the building. Villa Savoye’s bones were the mechanics and garage: the C.S.M.’s include its offices, archive, conservation laboratory, Still new media timeline, memorabilia and, equally interesting, a view of a number of works in storage. The exterior is a concrete mosaic of vertical fossil castings, achieved from casting wood planks in concrete and creating curtain-like facades of these multiple castings. These facades

are broken up by real wooden blinders that signal the entrance, signage, and balconies. Upon entry into the C.S.M., the visitor feels the grandness of the experience by how little of Still they actually get immediately - his work is only accessed by ascending the stairs to the second floor. There the journey begins, and the Fabergé egg is opened. Nine galleries are organized in a somewhat loose Greek cross fashion. The inaugural exhibition is co-curated by the director of the C.S.M., Dean Sobel, and David Anfam, the foremost scholar of Still’s work. The curators have arranged the approximately 110 works in each gallery to represent different facets of Still’s production, chronologically, but also geographically, and by medium. In the large painting galleries, light becomes an architectural as well as a painterly element that compliments the drama of Still’s power as a painter. The effect is beyond striking. It is the culmination of an artist’s vision being interpreted by a director, a curator, a board, an architect, an executrix, even offspring (Still’s two daughters) and made whole, made true, by a city, Denver. My recommendation is : Make that pilgrimage! Go to Denver, because it is beyond compare! And if you can’t make it, go to any of the Still gift cities and get the Still fix!

Clyfford Still PH-1023, 1976 Oil on canvas, 114 x 172 in. Clyfford Still Museum Collection

DANTEmag n.3



Sketching Brazilian Art by Fernando AQ Mota.

DANTEmag n.3



Brazil’s vibrant and sophisticated contemporary arts scene rests on the foundation of a century’s search for the essence of the Brazilian identity.


Ernesto Neto Outdoor - fully functional pool DANTEmag n.3


Ernesto Neto “Circleprototemple”. Structure with interactive drums inside

Brazilian art has grabbed the attention of many international private and public collections in recent years. Along with economic growth and the country’s emerging role in the international political sphere, contemporary Brazilian art is currently a key element in the projection of a new identity towards the Western centres of power. If the Brazilian economy and politics are shifting to a more integrated relationship with Europe and the United States, then its culture is by no means falling behind. When it comes to art, the placement of Brazilian artists in important collections throughout the world, mega-exhibitions, and the increasing value of their works in auction houses in London and New York, are all clear examples of this new age. In order to understand the dynamics of the contemporary art scene in Brazil, it is essential to look back to at least two main periods in the twentieth century: the Modernists in the 1920’s, and the Neoconcretes in the 1950’s and 60’s. Both movements were extremely detailed and complex, with extensive published material, so I am investigating here their broad outlines - mostly how they relate to contemporary art and what these three movements have in common, from the perspective of a local, so as to give the global reader an overall view of Brazilian art over the last hundred years. Throughout the countries of Latin America, the turn of the twentieth century saw a need to create national identities and the desire to break away from the old traditions. A range of experimentations in literatuDANTEmag n.3


re and fine arts sprang up all over the region, such as the Muralismo movement in Mexico. In Brazil, the 1922 centenary of the country’s independence, there was the Semana de Arte Moderna (Modern Art Week) in Sao Paolo. This was the culmination of a series of events that was trying to raise national culture to a new level, and the city - with its intense influx of immigrants and its then-surging industrialization - was the perfect stage for it. Influenced by the European Modernist movements, Brazilian artists, writers, and musicians defied the rules of academism in their various art forms. In the poetry of Mario de Andrade and Oswald de Andrade, in the compositions of Villa-Lobos, in the sculptures of Victor Brecheret, new ideas for a more original society took form. The painter Anita Malfatti – author of the first controversial exhibition of Brazilian modernist art in 1917 – was the pioneer of modern painting in Brazil, along with Di Cavalcanti, Lasar Segall and Vicente do Rego Monteiro among others, exploring the techniques created by the European avant-garde and mixing them with visual elements derived from their national scenery. Tarsila do Amaral, in her famous work Abaporu (1928), captured the spirit of the time. It shows a human figure with abnormal disproportions: the right leg and right arm occupy almost half of the canvas. The lines and stance of the naked body, a swollen human form seated, its elbow resting on a knee and its hand holding its head, are clear signs of the impact of surrealism and cubism on the Brazilian art scene. The rest of the picture is made up of a cactus that is the same size as the figure, with a sun in a blue sky, reminding us of the landscapes to be found in parts of the Brazilian countryside. It is as if one of Rodin’s sculptures had been painted by Dali and had got lost under the tropical sun. Abaporu means “the man that eats” in the indigenous Tupi-Guaraní language. The painting was a gift to her then husband, Oswald de Andrade, who was then inspired to write the Manifesto Antropofágico (Anthropophagite Manifesto). In it, Andrade claims that Brazilian culture must consume and digest European culture in order to find its own pure Brazilian essence. The attempt to construct an original Brazilian aesthetic in the early twentieth century continued developing into new forms, as the century


Tarsila do Amaral Abaporu (1928)

DANTEmag n.3



Ernesto Neto “Horizon of Events III� Wooden stairs lead to holes to peep through and communicate with others doing the same

DANTEmag n.3



unfolded. In 1959 in Rio de Janeiro, the poet Ferreira Gullar and the artists Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape, Amilcar de Castro and Franz Weissmann, among others published the Manifesto Neoconcreto (Neoconcrete Manifesto) as a specific reaction to the Concrete movement, which had been extant in previous years in Sao Paulo. While the Concretists defended an abstract art based on the geometric principles of the Bauhaus and the Russian avant-garde, some of the original members of the group disagreed about the orthodox path the movement was taking and joined up with other artists to establish a new doctrine. The Neoconcretists argued that they needed to break free from these rationalist dogmas. They argued that art should be more than mere perfect visual composition. It had to become more connected with the human being. Both movements were inextricably linked to the resurgence of Brazilian culture at the time, not only in arts but also in literature, cinema, design and music. This is the period of the Cinema Novo (New Cinema) with Glauber Rocha, the brooding sounds of Bossa Nova and the inauguration of the country’s new capital, Brasilia. Modernity seemed to have arrived at last. A new cultural heritage was about to be born. The context was propitious for new experimentation. Concrete artists

like Waldemar Cordeiro and Luis Sacilotto explored the numerous possibilities of the basic elements of visual forms; however, to be truly experimental, it was necessary to go beyond recycling European models. Neoconcretists reinvented the concept of art in Brazil. They literally played with the media. Lygia Clark’s Bichos (Animals) were interactive sculptures that relied on being touched by the public to become real artworks. Lygia Pape’s Livros (Books) brought the role of the space plays in our perception of objects into the artistic discourse. Finally, Hélio Oiticica joined the Neoconcrete movement and invited the spectator to “wear” the art in his works Parangolés, and to invade his art space by literally stepping into his installations Penetráveis (Penetrables). In the 1960’s, Oiticica’s pieces even influenced the cultural movement Tropicália, which revived the questions the Anthropophagite Manifesto had raised within music and poetry. This movement was actually named after one of the Penetráveis. The Neoconcretists succeeded in engaging the public with their artworks. They managed to show Brazilians that art was not something exclusively for the elite, but that it was actually part of everyday life. Art became more intimate, colourful, less cerebral and more intuitive – it became, once again, more Brazilian. DANTEmag n.3



The Modernists introduced important elements to the visual vocabulary in the country, and later on the Neoconcretists – who some refer to as the inventors of post-modernism in Brazil – took national artistic creativity to even greater heights. These movements are the main platforms for Brazilian contemporary art. The decades following them showed a wide variety of styles and ideas in the use of media and language. Artists like Tunga, Cildo Meireles and Adriana Varejão updated the image of Brazilian art in national and international spheres by introducing aesthetics and conceptual aspects into their works. It came from blending historical artistic references in both Brazilian and Western iconographies and techniques, together with innovative ideas of how to analyze the complex structure of the contemporary world and its arts. Beatriz Milhazes, Vik Muniz and Rivane Neuenschwander are among a long list of names that nowadays help to project Brazilian art as a thriving workshop, as cutting-edge, which maintains the same quality output as any other national art. The ability to reinvent its formats and to reorganize its ideas in accordance with the new movement in Brazilian society is the particulary efficient skill contemporary artistic practices in this country show they possess; Ernesto Neto’s large installations combine the instinctive Brazilian interest in textures, colours and smells – the human senses, basically – with studies of the relationship between the environment and its effects on the public’s involvement, found in Oiticica’s methods. In Neto’s endless labyrinths, made of nylon (The Edges of the World), one can feel like a contemporary Abaporu inside a new version of the Penetráveis. Here, art embraces the instincts in a very Brazilian way. If the question of discovering the Brazilian identity is still unanswered, then, at the very least, the past artistic movements have lit the way. As a consequence, the country is striding more confidently into a new era, not only because of its recent success in the economic and political fields, but also due to its strong originality and weightier presence in contemporary culture. Although the comparison to global phenomena in the history of art always seem to bounce back, Brazilian contemporary art has discovered that the roots of ones heritage run deep, and the growth potential of this tropical tree is seemingly limitless. In the twenty-first century, labelling Brazil as an “emerging” art scene, or as an exotic backwater, is way out of date. The nation is gaining more than just space or respect. As its contemporary art unveils its attractive looks and witty sense of humour, Brazil is in a privileged position of offering people something that is more and more scarce nowadays: opportunities. DANTEmag n.3



DANTEmag n.3



British Library Building. Kings Cross, London

DANTEmag n.3



Luddites Rejoice! The Library Lives! Not only are libraries (with actual books!) alive in this virtual, digital age, they are actually thriving - making more and more texts more and more accessible through the very technology once thought to be sounding the death knell of the Book.

By Rowlinson Carter DANTEmag n.3



Sala Borsa The biggest library in Bologna with more than 1 million visitors every year.

A passive Luddite, I was probably the last hack in Europe to learn how to use a word processor or the forbidding Internet. I could touch type, which I picked up as an American Field Service exchange student in Wisconsin as a way of meeting girls – I was the only male on the course – and I was a member of the private London Library in St. James’s Square. With that last, who needs the Internet? The library was founded in 1842, with Thomas Carlyle, George Eliot and Charles Dickens among its original members, in delayed response to Edward Gibbon’s outrage that any writer who wished to tackle a large historical subject was “reduced to the necessity of purchasing for his private use a numerous and valuable collection of the books which must form the basis of his work”. One of the library’s main principles was that books should never be thrown away, and certainly not because they were merely “old, idiosyncratic or unfashionable”. So the collection preserves to this day a vast number of works, now over one million strong and growing at the rate of 8,000 new titles per year. It still includes “old children’s stories, cookery, imaginary history and foreign impressions of England”. Apart from exact duplications, the only books it has ever discarded were swept away as ashes, after a bomb hit a corner of the premises during World DANTEmag n.3


War II. While size does matter, the cornerstone of the enterprise was, and always will be, a library which, “containing books in every department of literature and philosophy, shall allow these books to be taken out and read, where they can be read best, in the study and by the fireside, and which shall offer its advantages to the public on terms rendering it generally accessible.” (Sixth from the top in the original alphabetical catalogue was Abul-ghasi’s History of the Turks, Moguls, and Tartars, 2 vols. 1730.) The library was indispensable to me when domestic responsibilities and money issues ruled out any more visits to the scattered parts of the world about which I was pontificating at the time. My subsistence depended on piles of books every few weeks on indefinite loan or until other members needed any of them. Eventually, so to speak, I returned to earth and came across Google, in particular a feature called “Advanced Search”. In no time at all, it was necessary to make space on shelves near the central heating - no fireside, alas, - for downloaded, homeprinted, legal and free copies of, inter alia (and in reverse chronological order): • Several volumes of Holinshed, who of course was Shakespeare’s source for most of his histories, the plot of Macbeth, and parts of King Lear and Cymbeline • The life works of Alfred the Great (849-99) • Parts of Ptolemy’s second century AD Geographia, written in Alexandria, but lost until copies turned up in Italy amid the exodus from the fall of Constantinople in 1453 • Hanno the Navigator’s fifth century BC account of an encounter in West Africa with three hairy and very aggressive females, whom he had to kill before skinning or stuffing them with straw (depending on Greek translation of the original Punic that you read) in order to silence sceptics at home in Carthage (The girls, it transpired much later, were gorillas.)


This literary windfall came about through a combination of both profound and banal factors. Leading the former was the decision of national and university libraries that they had to do something about the problem of books too rare and valuable to be allowed into the hands of the public or undergraduates. Part of this problem is that, since the introduction of acidic pulp to make paper in the mid-nineteenth century, books do not last as long as they once did. The U.S. Library of Congress says 80,000 of its books become so brittle each year that their pages can no longer be turned. The text has to be transferred to another medium. At one time, texts were transferred to microfiche. Now, they are digitised. The numbers generally are staggering. The British Library, for example, has 150 million items in most known languages. New items arrive at the rate of three million per year; the print collections devour eight miles of extra shelving over the same period. “Were you to view five items per day,” says Dame Lynne Brindley, the library’s chief executive, “it would take you 80,000 years to see the whole collection. “Most libraries are engaged in digitisation programmes of differing sizes to make their historic collections more accessible. Increasingly, if library content is not found on the Web, it effectively does not exist for many potential users. “We must provide services which meet the needs of this new generation, and ones which add value well beyond the search engine. The alternative is to risk becoming obsolete, or simply ‘museums of the book.’” The most tenacious reader’s complaint about reading on a screen is missing the feel of a book in one’s hands. Well, the next best thing is printing and ring-binding a book at home. This can be remarkably cheap. For speed alone, a (monochrome) laser printer is essential. My infallible Canon LBP3010 can be bought new on E-Bay for £36, plus delivery, and it prints 15 sheets per minute. Ridiculously, a pukka Canon toner cartridge, good for 1500 sheets, costs £46.00, but legal and reliable bootleg versions are available from the same source for around £15. Tesco’s more than adequate white copier paper costs about £2 per 500 sheets. Add that up and, excluding the initial cost of the printer, a book of 250 pages can be produced for £3.50. Newspaper research used to mean taking the Northern Line to the British Library reading room in Colindale, followed by an eternity of waiting and prayers that the anticipated pages had not been defaced or torn out by some demented vandal. Now, as a registered E-library user (it’s free to register) at almost, if not all, county libraries, I can sit at home and log on to The Times digitised archive (1785-1985) with a microscopic search engine. Also available on the same site are all versions of the Encyclopedia Britannica, several standard Oxford references including the incomparable Dictionary of National Biography, which only

larger libraries and oligarchs could afford, and much else. With so much in flux in today’s libraries, it seemed only right to find out how the London Library was getting along. I telephoned to ask if Czechoslovakia was still under “T” in the alphabetical shelves, presumably as “Tchechoslovakia”, which I distinctly remembered. I was told very firmly that it is not, but it is still linked with Bohemia. As for the rest, readers can see for themselves: www.londonlibrary.co.uk

DANTEmag n.3



Djay Pee: The Originality of Fusion A universe of mysticism, magic and the creative genius, DJay Pee has been hailed as a cultural alchemist. His unique fusion of western and south east Asian sounds has won him both acclaim and recognition including the coveted AVIMA award for best electronic act. Massimo Gava goes backstage to meet the man, the legend and the force behind the latest musical wave. DANTEmag n.3




DJay Pee, aka Jean Pierre Lanteri, is the award winning French musical artist everyone in the know is talking about. The man who walked out on a lucrative job as an oil trader to follow his passion for music, has rewarded his legions of fans with a string of awardwinning hits including Kids, I Feel Love and the magical Geisha. He splits his time between Paris and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where he has a recording studio.

Why did you move from France to Malaysia?

I’ve always loved travelling. I think travelling is an eyeopening experience because you discover new places, new cultures, new people and, in my case, a new way of life. Being in two places I get the best of both worlds with the East meeting the West. DANTEmag n.3



groove, eastern rhythm and orchestration. Most people who listen to my music find it soothing. The lounge fusion genre has already been popular for many years. Cafe del Mar and Buddha Bar have set the trend for that, but I want to bring it to a new level by incorporating a strong and energetic south east Asian feeling. That’s why I try to use different instruments from the region.

What specific sounds are we talking about ?

What made you give up your career as an oil trader to become a musician?

I’ve always wanted to be a musician but there was a time when I didn’t think I could make a career out of it. That’s why I ended up joining the corporate world for a few years. Let’s face it: what’s more corporate than a job in the oil and gas industry? I made plenty of money and it gave me a comfortable life in Paris, but in the end it wasn’t enough. Something was missing. I took a sabbatical and after that the rest, as they say, is history. My mind is constantly buzzing with loads of melodies, sounds and rhythms that have to get out. It’s really difficult to explain but this love of music reflects a much deeper need to fulfill myself.

How would you describe your music and what makes it so unique?

It’s a fusion of so many different elements: house, western DANTEmag n.3


I’m particularly fond of Japanese, Chinese and Cambodian flutes. But the instrument I really like is the erhu. It’s a two-string Chinese violin that’s played on the left thigh. The sound is fairly similar to a conventional violin but I think it conveys more emotional expression. I really like it when artists perform music in their original settings. On the track The King of Angkor, the flutes were recorded amongst the ancient ruins of Angkor temple. Likewise the erhu was played by the Malaysian musician Chan Kim Loong on the track Lost. He’s an absolute genius and a man who I’ve got a huge amount of time for, a really inspirational figure.

It’s been said you have an ‘Asian Heart.’ What does that mean? I suppose it’s because I really feel in harmony with Asia. I’ve been living in the region for some time now and one of the things I notice is how people are less aggressive. They smile more and they’ve got so much respect for each other. It’s so different to the western culture. I still have my place in Paris where I go for meetings, but in all honesty I feel happier in Malaysia. I guess if I didn’t have an Asian heart I wouldn’t be there.

What music do you listen to when you’re not composing?

I enjoy listening to the music of the country that I’m visiting. I also try to learn something about the culture and


understand the emotion. In terms of my favourite musicians, I would say they’re Jean Michel Jarre, Andrew Lum, Ruychi Sakamoto and classical musicians. I love Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G.

calling it the new ‘in’ thing. Who knows? But I would say that the success of the Buddha Bar compilations, which often feature East Asian tracks, has kicked off a trend. Also successful Bollywood movies are helping to break the hegemony of the western sound.

When we think about composers, we assume they like to work in silence and yet you seem to be at your best in a room full of people?

Lots of critics talk about a period of decadence in western music where nothing original was produced. Do you think this reflects the vision of a crumbling western world?

I always get inspired when I’m in a club watching people react to the music I’m playing. But that’s just part of it. Sometimes when I listen to a piece of music there could be something in it that sets me off… it could be a guitar gimmick, a rhythmic groove or the voice on the track. I try to remember these things so that I can work them into my next composition.

I don’t think about it in terms of decadence. I prefer to see it as a form of evolution. The evolution of music has been quite rapid in the last few years. Loads of genres and subgenres have surfaced. Personally I think that, when two or more genres fuse together, it creates something that’s really refreshing.

Do you think this fusion of East and West will influence music in the future?

What does winning an award mean to you?

I think so. In fact, it’s happening already. There’s more fusion between Indian and Western music, African and Balinese, or in my case between Asia and the West. I think the word ‘fusion’ will become part of the new musical style that’s currently being invented. In France and other parts of Europe for example, there’s already plenty of influence with Latin and African music. But in my opinion Asian music is still underrepresented.

What other plans do you have?

Why do you think the Asian sound isn’t so well received in the western world?

I think it’s just a matter of time because the music industry is constantly evolving. As more people in the West are exposed to Asian music, the more they’ll get to like it. It’ll take time but on the other hand it might explode on the scene tomorrow, and before you know it, everyone will be

Receiving an award is always exciting. It’s a kind of acknowledgement that my music does have an appeal and that I’m on the right track. It’s the spur to raise my game and be more creative.

To compose, of course! I have a fundamental need to do this. I really want people to listen to and enjoy what’s in my head. I want to give them something fresh, an original form of music that feeds their emotions. I want to give them something that smoothes out the creases in their lives.

It sounds like a mission!

An artist always feels he’s on a mission. He has to communicate a message, regardless of whether he uses music, painting or any other means to get his vision across. DANTEmag n.3


DANTEmag n.3


The “Royalty” of Film America’s had to do without the pomp and spectacle of royalty for a couple of centuries now. So a little more than 80 years ago, it invented its own version of same: The Academy Awards, affectionately known as the Oscars. This year’s ceremonies promise some familiar faces as well as the possibility of some surprises.

By Matthew Cartwright


The British Royal Wedding was the most widely broadcast celebration of 2011. People across the world watched in awe as William and Kate walked down the aisle. Viewers in the USA particularly seemingly succumbed en masse to a severe case of Anglophilia. America does not have a royal family of their own, of course, so they make do with their own version of DANTEmag n.3



Michelle Williams “My Week with Marilyn”

royalty - celebrities. And every year there is a glamorous ceremovious year. The most prestigious are for best actor, best actress, ny wherein the big names in the film industry are presented to the best director, and best picture. Others include best supporting world. That ceremony is the Oscars. actor and actress, cinematography, costume design, best film, animated feature, art direction, documentary, film editing, sound Since 1929 the Oscars Awards Ceremony has been setting the editing, music, screenplay, make-up and foreign language film. standard for entertainment award ceremonies and is one of the most anticipated events in its field. The statuette of a golden man Voting for nominations began in November but everything will be kept secret until early 2012. During the third week of January (nicknamed Oscar) is probably the most sought-after award by any professional in the film industry. To an actor or director, it is the ballots are tallied and the final nominations are announced. the equivalent of an athlete winning a gold medal in the Olympic The Oscar producers try to keep everything as unbiased as Games. possible, but movie producers may try influencing voters in any way they can, since winning Oscars means more profit for their The event has grown tremendously in size over the years. The studios. first one, held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in 1929, had an audience of about 270 people. Today the ceremony is held in the Nominees can be predicted with a little more certainty in the visual effects category. The top fifteen films in the running have Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, which holds up to 3400 people, been announced and these will be narrowed down to ten early not to mention the millions watching from home. in January. The judges will view ten-minute screenings of those The 84th Oscars got off to a rocky start losing its producer, Brett films on January 19 and will then choose five to be nominated. Ratner, and host, Eddie Murphy. Ratner was let go due to an anti- Some of the potential nominees for this award are Hugo; Rise of gay slur and Murphy bowed out out of loyalty to Ratner who had the Planet of The Apes; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 directed his latest film, Tower Heist. and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Thus eight-time host, comedy actor Billy Crystal, along with producer Brian Grazer were called in to save the day. Crystal’s last live action film of any significance was Analyze That - a rather unsuccessful sequel to 1999’s Analyze This - and that was almost ten years ago. The Oscar producers seem to look more for entertainers as hosts than figures from the acting world, which could be wise, and Crystal evidently has a record of being reliable. The Oscars hand out a minimum of 25 awards. Awards in some categories may or may not be awarded in a given year, depending on the achievement level of films that come out during the preDANTEmag n.3


Guessing who the nominations will go to for the Oscars can be a lot easier than some other award ceremonies. “Bigger is better” seems to be the motto. This isn’t always the case, but very few indie films make it big there, though the Oscars always throw in a few surprises. There are usually big names, big sets, big scores and behemoth budgets behind the winners. Most people watch the Oscars rather than smaller award events and big movies are what most people pay to see. Rarely will a film fan watch an Oscar ceremony and when a nomination is called out say, “I’ve never heard of it” - unless, perhaps, it is for best foreign film.


Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady” Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo “The Artist”

The predicted nominations for this year’s best actor are no real shock. The pretty boys of Hollywood - George Clooney and Brad Pitt are the most likely contenders who will battle it out for the award.

directed by David Fincher. She has acted in a handful of teenoriented films and had a role in The Social Network - another Fincher-directed film - which took three Oscars at last year’s ceremony.

Clooney is in the running for his role as Matt King, a land baron living in Hawaii who has to take care of his two daughters after his wife has an accident, in the film The Descendants whereas Brad Pitt portrays Billy Beane, a baseball manager who uses computer software to draft a team in Moneyball. There may also be mention made of Gary Oldman’s lead performance as George Smiley in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

The Swedish version of Dragon Tattoo was not nominated for any Oscars although it did win Best Film Not in the English Language at the BAFTA Awards this year. Films that could be nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film come from a large selection of countries including Poland, Mexico, Finland, Germany and China. The Iranian film A Separation could be the strongest contender for Best Foreign Language Film. It has already won many best film awards in ceremonies across the world and will surely make an appearance at the next Oscars. The film stars Peyman Moaadi and Leila Hatami as husband and wife. Their marriage is put on trial when they have to make a choice between leaving the country to provide their child with a better upbringing or to remain in the country to look after the man’s father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s.

Relative newcomers, who stand a chance to achieve Oscar glory, are Demian Bichir for “A better life” and Dean Dujardin in The Artist. This film is different from most other films vying for the Oscar because it is shot in black and white and contains little dialogue. It tells the story of a silent movie star, George Valentin who worries about whether the arrival of talking pictures will ruin his career. The best actress predictions are just as familiar as the male category with actresses such as Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady, Glenn Close in The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs, and Michelle Williams in My Week With Marilyn, being likely choices for nominations. They have all been nominated or have won Oscars in the past. But there are some relatively fresh faces who are potential contenders, such as Viola Davis and Rooney Mara. Viola Davis stars in the surprise hit, The Help. She takes on the role of Aibileen Clark, a maid serving a white family who participates in interviews for a newspaper column conducted by her boss’s daughter. Rooney Mara stars as Lisbeth Salander, in the English language version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo alongside Daniel Craig,

The Academy Award for Best Picture is the final award of Oscar night and is considered the most important, as it represents all the efforts of the entire production team of a movie including the writing, directing, acting, composing, sound, lighting, etc. This year’s possible contenders include the aforementioned The Descendants, The Artist, Hugo, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and War Horse.

DANTEmag n.3



Andrea Palladio Engraving by Robert Woodman, published in The Gallery Of Portraits With Memoirs Encyclopedia, United Kingdom, 1837.

DANTEmag n.3



The Indispensable Palladio

By Aldo Ghirardello

He began life as a miller’s son, started out as a stone mason but, through patronage, rose to become an architect and the majority of his work was produced only in a small area around Venice. Yet the influence of Andrea Palladio continues to resonate down the years and throughout the world. Our modern societies’ appearance, in their highest expression, can be traced back to his influence, and he continues to be a source of everrenewing cultural inspiration.


‘Andrea di Pietro della Gondola (1508-1580), better known as Andrea Palladio, probably would have only been remembered in Padua and its environs as a skilled mason, capable only of designing portals and funeral monuments, had it not been for the pivotal figure in his training, the humanist

Gian Giorgio Trissino. Trissino not only gave Della Gondola the sophisticated name of Palladio, with its strong classical associations, but also introduced him to the cultural atmosphere of Rome in the sixteenth century. This crucial exposure paved the way for Palladio to develop into one of the most - if not the most - influential figure in the whole of Western architecture. He succeeded in bringing to full maturity the original language of Roman architecture. Trissino was a diplomat for the Papal States and came from a noble family of Vicenza. A poet and dramatist, Trissino was himself interested in architecture, and discovered the young mason at work in his suburban villa at Circoli near Vicenza. He became Della Gondola’s mentor, taking him under his wing and giving him a new name. “Palladio” refers both to Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, and to a character in a work written by Trissino himself and literally means “wise one.” Palladio’s family was of humble origins. His father was a miller. Before he met Trissino in around 1535-38, Palladio began his apprenticeship as a stonemason in Padua, then moved to Vicenza where he was an assistant in the Pedemuro studio, a leading DANTEmag n.3



San Giorgio Maggiore Giudecca view, Venice.

workshop of stonecutters and masons His association with Trissino changed his fortunes considerably. His patron was instrumental in getting him trained as an architect, and he continued to support him right until Tressino’s death in 1550. In Rome, Palladio was exposed to the architecture of Bramante, Raphael, and Michelangelo; he studied the classical monuments, copying them by drawing plans and elevations, many of which became part of his seminal treatise “The Four Books of Architecture” published in Venice in 1570. His work adhered to classical Roman principles of architecture which he rediscovered, applied, and explained in his books. After Trissino’s death, Palladio became associated with another important figure in Italian architecture of the time, the patriarch DANTEmag n.3


of Aquileia, Daniele Barbaro, commentator and translator from the Latin of Vitruvius’ “De Architectura”. Vitruvius was a Roman architect who had dedicated his treatise to his patron, the emperor Caesar Augustus, and the work is one of the most important sources of our knowledge of Roman building design today. Thanks to Barbaro, Palladio began to work in the field of religious architecture in Venice, and his fame grew to such an extent that in 1570 he was given the prestigious position of Proto, or chief architect of the Serene Republic of Venice, taking over from the great Jacopo Sansovino. Palladio died in 1580 in rather precarious economic conditions, with several projects unfinished, such as the Rotunda and the Olympic Theatre. However, they were later completed by Vin-

ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN San Giorgio Maggiore San Marco Square view, Venice.

debate, Palladio puts forward a theory of perfect harmony and balance between these two entities, incorporating a profound sense of nature, history, and civilization. This may account for the extraordinary success his ideas and work had during the Enlightenment, as his thinking insists on reaffirming how human civilization is in harmony with nature. Many of the now iconic buildings in the newly-born nation of the United States of Although the Palladian language was not the only cultural expres- America - the White House and the Capitol in Washington and sion of the power, wealth, and prestige of the Venetian aristocra- Jefferson’s estate at Monticello in Virginia – were Palladian in cy in the sixteenth century, it was, however, this style that became inspiration. The Redwood Library (1747) and the Marble House the model for English and American architecture in the sixteenth in Newport, Rhode Island, the University of Virginia in Charlotand the seventeenth century. tesville, and the Woodlawn Plantation in Assumption, Louisiana are other examples. The relationship between civilization and nature was a major intellectual preoccupation of the sixteenth century. In this cultural All this is a successful instance of the brand “Made in Italy”, as cenzo Scamozzi, one of the leading proponents of Palladio’s unmistakable aesthetic language. He was forty years his junior and had a love-hate relationship with his great master, veering between envy and admiration. Despite these difficulties, however, Scamozzi helped to perpetuate - albeit in less spectacular ways - Palladio’s architectural style.

DANTEmag n.3


ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN we would say today. It is doubtful that the Paduan architect could have ever imagined how far-reaching his influence would extend, crossing five centuries, right up to the present day. On December 6, 2010, by unanimous vote of the US Congress and the House of Representatives and the signing of Concurrent Resolution 259, Palladio was recognized as the “Father” of American architecture by declaring his “Four Books of Architecture” as the most important architectural publication of all time, a model for the architecture of the Western world, and a primary source for American architects from colonial times to the modern era. So what are the most representative works of this pivotal figure? He is undoubtedly remembered for those complex structures such as the Basilica of Vicenza and for many city buildings that characterize the historic centres of the main cities in the Vene-

tian hinterland. The world-famous Venetian churches of The Redentore and St. Giorgio have become true icons on the Venice skyline. The superb Teatro Olimpico (Olympic Theatre) of Vicenza, finished after his death, is also another obvious example. But Palladio’s fame and reputation rest principally on his unique talent for designing villas. These beautiful dwellings, such as Villa Capra, (called La Rotonda), on the outskirts of Venice; the Villa Barbaro at Maser, near Treviso and La Malcontenta in Mira, near Venice, clearly express the ideals and interests of their wealthy owners. On the one hand they serve as places of recreation and rest from the stressful life of the city, and on the other, they function as centres of production for these large estates. There are areas to accommodate the work of the farmhands and storage combined together with delightful places of leisure and enter-

Left The Villa Rotonda outside Vicenza

Villa Bader, Rovigo

DANTEmag n.3


tainment, out of the glare of the summer sun. Palladio’s structures are never ostentatious displays of wealth. but they represent a space of human proportions, functional and balanced, where the joy of life shines through the colours of the frescoes inside - do not forget to visit those by Veronese in the Villa Barbaro at Maser! – while his incorporating of Roman and Greek decorative elements gives them a classical elegance and clarity. What no doubt caught the attention of the cultural leaders of the young United States was precisely this concept of a dwelling place as an area of both rational and natural experience, a place unencumbered by any religious trappings and free of the tyranny of the city palazzo. They saw in it the most effective expression of freedom as a supreme value, and a model of secularism. And, indeed, it has proved itself to be well-suited to the needs of changing times.

Below, Teatro Olimpico, backstage perspective, Vicenza

ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN Although, developed in the sixteenth century, it still finds resonance today, even in such modern masters as Le Corbusier, who was, in fact, an admirer of Palladio and his ideas. And more recently, Palladio still influences the thinking behind the post-modernist style, with its freedom and its much-vaunted timelessness. Palladio’s sixteenth century magnificent structures are embedded in the Venetian countryside. Functional and grandiose at the same time, their underlying design is as clear and bright as the light that floods the interiors. They are models of rationality and civilization, Modern directions, influences, remixes and reworkings in architecture - all bear witness to Palladio as being, even today, the cornerstone and ever-fertile inspiration for building design in the West.

Right, Basilica Palladiana, Piazza dei Signori, Vicenza

U.S. Capitol Building, Washington D.C.

DANTEmag n.3



Cambium Credenza

Tradition, Passion, Innovation:

John Galvin’s Unique Bespoke Art by Lee Sowerbutts DANTEmag n.3



Combine the early influence of parents, a passion for fine furniture and antiques, and a childhood obsession with Lego, and if you are very lucky you shape an individual who can express dimension and form in the most beautiful and assured way. In short, you have designer John Galvin. .


John Galvin’s designs are innovative creations that combine contemporary design with quality, traditional craftsmanship. This marriage is of the utmost importance and is clearly evident in his production of evocative pieces that will stand the test of time.

His furniture is fast becoming the stuff that design legends are made of. With references to the past and an eye for unique and intricate detail, John has already established himself as a name to look out for in bespoke creations made from wood. A recent winner at the Trada Wood Awards for Outstanding Craftsmanship with his Manolo Lounger, John has set himself, and indeed his contemporaries, the almost insurmountable challenge of equalling the standard he himself set with his crossover creation of furniture and functional art. The award is just one of a growing list that increases the kudos for John’s magnificent pieces. Private individuals and magazine editors alike all seem to want more of the Irishborn carpenter who skillfully creates mind-blowing pieces. You really can feel the passion John has for his craft when he talks you through his pieces. Like the man himself, they are poetic, finely tuned, humorous and sensitive. You know within minutes of meeting him that he is driven by a hunger to push his craft to the very limits and a desire to bring joy to those lucky enough to own one of his creations. This passion translates into a belief that supporting and encouraging new designers ensures the future of crafts like

DANTEmag n.3



furniture making. He offers the following advice to likeminded aspiring young artists who are just starting out. “ Be 100% committed to your craft, work hard and absorb praise and critique with the same enthusiasm,” he says. “Believe in your products, but always accept that perfection should always elude you, so that you strive to hone your skills. Leave open the doors of possibility and challenge... and remember your hands are your most important tools.” John’s love for aesthetics serves as an endless source of new ideas such as the Manolo chair which, as the name suggests, gained inspiration from another international uberdesigner Manolo Blahnik. The form of a beautiful stiletto was the starting point for the piece inspired by a sketch of a Blahnik shoe. John’s take on design classics by the likes of furniture makers Hans J. Wenger and Finn Juhl merged with the stiletto concept to beget this rare work. The Manolo Lounger is without doubt one of the most challenging pieces John has ever attempted to produce. He has incorporated over five different jointing techniques in the construction of the chair. There is not a single 90-degree angle in the entire piece. The seat is bevelled in two direc-

Holly Table Lamps

DANTEmag n.3



tions and tapers from 12mm at the front to 28 mm in the centre. John hand-carved the top edge of the chair to follow the curve of the splayed back legs. The front legs are mirror images with hand-carved twisted details which are also slightly splayed. The brass pin detail, which passes through the arms into the back of the seat, gives the chair increased rigidity. The Manolo chair was launched in May 2011 at the Saatchi gallery “Collect” exhibition. This, coupled with his Wallpaper magazine commission to take part in their “Handmade” exhibition at the Brioni house in Milano as part of the Salone del Mobile, ensured John’s place at the Designers Block exhibit, which is an important part of London’s annual design week. The word is getting out that the traditional skills of furniture making are alive and well in the twenty-first century with designers like John Galvin at the helm. As he continues to take part in national exhibitions including, most recently, a solo exhibition at the Cube Centre for the Urban Built Environment in Manchester, we are certain that the future of fine furniture is in good hands.

DANTEmag n.3



Jacaranda Cygnet Lamp

John values the feedback he gets and the questions people ask at these events and sees it as an important guide to his development. When clients commission him to create a piece of work, the results are not based purely on a prescriptive design brief but on a more organic, personal interaction where the union between maker, object and owner form an integral part of the story of each creation - something that John believes is the true ethos behind bespoke products. As well as producing his own designs, John also works closely with architects and interior design companies, and was part of the design team that collaborated on the award winning Shingle house for the philosopher Alain De Boton. The house design by Nord Architects went on to win a Royal Institute of British Architects award. John works from a workshop in Glasgow and is proud to be a part of Scotland’s vast pool of new talent that continues to emerge onto the international design stage.

DANTEmag n.3


Manolo Lounger


Hall mirror/umbrella stand

Holly Table Lamps

Cambium Credenza

Brown Oak Coffee table

Sitting room setting

He enjoys the buzz and vibrancy of Glasgow and is a keen supporter of organisations such as Scottish Furniture Makers (scottishfurnituremakers.org.uk) and Craft Scotland (craftscotland.org) More information about John Galvin may be found at johngalvindesign.co.uk

DANTEmag n.3


Ladies and gentlemen !Welcome to the show! It’s carnival time and you are in Venice, the best theatre on earth where anybody can play the part they’ve always dreamt of.

Massimo Gava

Photos Regina Manfè


Lose yourself in the magic of the moment, get transported to the time of Marco Polo and Giacomo Casanova. Listen to the music of Vivaldi, the Rondo Veneziano, and dance the night away in the magic of San Marco square. Anything goes, during the ten days of carnival. Age does not matter, only one condition applies, you’ve got to have a good time.

DANTEmag n.3


The Carnival of VENICE DANTEmag n.3



DANTEmag n.3



The word carnival comes from Latin “ Carnem levare” which means “ remove meat from your diet”, but another interpretation comes from “carne vale “ which means “farewell to the pleasure of the flesh”, a sort of letting yourself go before Lent starts. While it is an integral part of the Christian calendar, particularly in Catholic countries, some carnival traditions date back to pagan times. The ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, held in honour of Saturn, the father of Rome’s leading god Jupiter or Jove and the wild and mystical festival of Bacchanalia, in honour of the Roman god Bacchus (the god of wine), may possibly have been

absorbed into the Italian carnival. However, carnival parades and masked balls in Italy can trace their origins back to medieval times - the Venice carnival was first recorded in 1268. The event starts around two weeks before Ash Wednesday, ending on Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras. Its subversive nature is reflected in Italy’s many laws over the past several centuries attempting to restrict celebrations. Venice in the eighteenth century, was the pleasure centre for the whole of Europe and the carnival of Venice was, for a long time, the most famous carnival in the known world. DANTEmag n.3


DANTEmag n.3


From Italy, carnival traditions initially spread to the catholic nations Spain, Portugal, France and only later to the Rhineland in Germany. The catholic colonisation did the rest, taking this tradition to the new continent, America. After the city was sold by Napoleon to the Austrians in 1798, carnival celebrations in Venice were halted for many years, but the tradition survived on the neighbouring islands of Murano e Burano and were revived in the late twentieth century, making it the most beautiful and sophisticated carnival in the world. There is no carnival without a mask, and although there is an amazing variety of shops that sell masks in every shape and form, traditionally there are only five types of Venetian masks.


The most popular mask, covers the whole face, has a square jaw line often pointed and tilted upwards preventing the wearer from talking, eating and drinking easily, unless the mask is removed, This way the wearer’s anonymity is preserved.

DANTEmag n.3



Originally from France but adopted by Venice, this mask brings out the beauty of feminine features with a perfect oval shape and normally is completed with a veil.


The volto means face whereas larva, comes from the latin “ghost”, is mainly white and the simplest Venetian mask of all and is normally worn with a three-cornered hat.


This is a half mask often highly decorated with gold, silver, crystals and feathers attached. It is held up to the face with a baton or tied on with ribbon as are most of the Venetian masks. The mask had been designed for Columbina, the young character from the commedia dell’ arte, so the actress could show off part of her beautiful face. DANTEmag n.3


DANTEmag n.3



DANTEmag n.3



MEDICO DELLA PESTE (The plague doctor)

One of the most recognisable and bizarre Venetian masks because of its long nose. The design is associated with the macabre history of the French physician Charles de Lorne who adopted the mask while treating his plague victims. The popularity of this mask during carnival can be seen as a “memento mori”, another way, like many other activities during carnival, to exorcise the reality of death. Here we are again ladies and gentlemen ! Are you ready yet? Have you chosen your mask and your costume ? Now let’s leave behind the hordes of tourist in San Marco square and stroll down the calles like a true Venetian, walk over the Rialto bridge to do some shopping, visit the amazing fish market and stop for a “cichetto” ( a little snack) all’ Ostaria Antico Dolo in Ruga Vecchia San Giovanni, better known as Ruga rialto, where signor Ruffini will be happy to entertain you with his amazing home cooking and excellent choice of Prosecco and other wines from all over the region.

DANTEmag n.3



DANTEmag n.3



Whether you decide to rejoin the crowd in the open salotto of San Marco square, or mix with the glitterati at the Café Florian, or prepare for the soiree with the “ballo in maschera” ( the masked ball) at La Fenice or any other palazzos, remember, “Carne vale”! Dressed up or not, with our without a mask, forget all your troubles , your pains and sorrows, let yourself go, and be what you want to be, your appearance is all you need to star in the best reality show on earth. What ? You missed it this year? How could you let it pass you by? Oh well ! The beauty of Venice is so amazing, that, in whatever season you choose to go, the city’s spectacle will never disappoint you.

DANTEmag n.3



Iranian Chess Games of Terror and War

By Nir Boms and Shayan Arya

Ferdowsi Persian poet

DANTEmag n.3


The 11th century Persian poet Ferdowsi describes a visiting Raja who delivered a gift to the Persian king: an unknown game with pieces carved out of ebony and ivory: “Oh great king,” he announced “fetch your wise men and let them solve the mysteries of this game. If they succeed, my master the king of Hind will pay tribute as to an overlord. But if they fail it will be proof that the Persians are of lower intellect, and we shall demand tribute from Iran.” The courtiers were


shown the board, and after a day and a night in deep thought one of them, Bozogmehr, solved the mystery and was richly rewarded by his delighted sovereign. From that day, 1500 years ago, Iran has been playing chess with much wisdom from that day, and always with new and surprising moves.

A Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

A series of mysterious “accidents” have shaken Iran in the past months. In December, eight people, including foreign nationals (possibly North Korean nuclear arms experts), were killed in Yadzd in a steel plant explosion. The Ghadir steelworks factory was opened by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad some six months ago. According to reports in recent months, however, the Iranians are struggling to produce steel of the grade required for the construction of centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium. DANTEmag n.3



Street vase seller, Isafan

This last explosion follows two blasts that occurred in Iran recently at sites linked to Tehran’s nuclear programme. Two weeks earlier an explosion hit in the northeast of Isfahan near where nuclear facilities are located. At the end of November, another explosion hit an Iranian missile-testing site near Tehran killing, among others, General Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, who was said to have been working on Iran’s missile programme. These recent “accidents” may mark another tactical move in the “game” aimed at stopping the Iranian nuclear programme. But Iran has some moves of its own. The Iranian Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee announced a military plan to close the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most strategically important shipping lanes, which carries about 30% of the world’s seaborne oil shipments. And while the world continues to follow these mega-moves, other strategies are being mobilised elsewhere. When word of the Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir hit the news, many reacted with scepticism. For some western observers, the idea that an Islamic regime cooperated with Mexican drug traffickers, and the seemingly clumsy nature of the whole operation, cast doubt on the validity of the Obama administration’s claims. Amid the intense debate on Iranian intent and given past US intelligence failures and Iranian denials, this conclusion may appear unassailable. But is it? Iran is located on one of the most important opium transit corridors, between producers in Afghanistan and consumers in Europe and beyond. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that nearly 60% of Afghanistan’s opium is trafficked across Iran’s border, and a large portion is seized by the Iranian government. Before the Islamic revolution, Iran’s intelligence agency SAVAK kept a close eye on the drug trafficking and had extensive knowledge of its networks and operations. SAVAK was afraid that the money from drug trafficking would find its way to anti-Shah terrorist groups and thereby facilitate terrorist activities against the late Shah’s regime. After the fall of the Shah, SAVAK’s files and knowledge fell into the

DANTEmag n.3


POLITCS hands of Islamic radicals with a different objective in mind: financing a worldwide Islamic revolution. Soon after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, with the Ayatollah Khomeini’s blessing, the “Office of Freedom Movements” was created. Under the direction of Ayatollah Montazeri’s son Muhammad and Montazeri’s son in-law’s brother Mehdi Hashemi, the office’s primary objective was to strengthen allied groups abroad. From the beginning, this office - whose members worked closely with Iran’s Intelligence Ministry - became involved in illegal smuggling in order to finance their operations. In a famous episode in 1980, Muhammad Montazeri was detained in Teheran’s Airport and his chartered plane was seized by the then-moderate government of Mehdi Bazargan. The authorities never revealed the plane’s contents, other than to state that it was full of smuggled goods which were headed for Libya. Opposition to the operation came from both inside and outside Iran. Muhammad ended life in a MKO bombing operation, planned in the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party. Mehdi Hashemi was later executed by the Islamic regime, presumably for the murder of Ayatollah Seyyed Abolhassan Shamsabadi, a pro-Shah and antiKhomeini ayatollah in the City of Isfahan. It is a well-known fact that although he was guilty of the murder of Ayatollah Shamsabadi (a murder that was committed with an indirect fatwa from Khomeini), the charge was just a pretext for the real reason for his execution: blowing the whistle on National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane’s trip to Iran, which led to the exposure of Iran-Contra debacle. However, other members of The Office of Freedom Movements survived and moved to the Intelligence Ministry, playing a key role in developing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ foreign operations units. These gradually metamorphosed into the Al Quds unit. Al-Quds’ main mission was to facilitate Islamic movements abroad, particularly the Palestinian and Shiite groups in Lebanon.

Khasab peninsula Hormuz strait - Oman

DANTEmag n.3



daily life: Coffee-break catch-up

America, particularly in the triborder region. According to the US government, Hezbollah operates a drug trading route which stretches into South America and Western Africa, where a significant percentage of the population have Lebanese roots. These operations are headquartered in places like Brazil, where there are over 6 million people with Lebanese roots, and the Ivory Coast, where there are 80,000. The RAND Corporation estimates that Hezbollah gets $20 million of its funding a year from the Tri-Border Area or about one fifth of the estimated annual amount that Iran gives Hezbollah. The argument that contacts with drug traffickers are totally out of character with the Islamic regime simply

Smuggling and drug trafficking remained the preferred means of financing operations for the Al Quds unit, and for good reasons: it ensured a constant flow of money from a seemingly endless supply of drugs from Afghanistan. It provided a measure of independence from the Iranian government and its inevitable bureaucracy. And most importantly, it provided a convenient means of deniability for the regime, which could always point an accusing finger at rogue elements or drug traffickers. Al-Quds’ close involvement with drug trafficking was rumoured from the beginning, but the first Iranian journalist who talked about it publicly was Ahmad Zeidabadi, a journalist for Ettela’at. Zeibadi wrote an article implicating the deputy director of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, Saeed Imami, in the use of money from drug trafficking to finance operations abroad. Imami was later arrested and supposedly committed suicide while in custody. Al-Quds forces were also active in the creation of the Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shi’a militia who had recently gained more political power in Lebanon. Last October, German police arrested two Lebanese citizens living in Germany after they transferred large sums of money to a family in Lebanon with connections to Hezbollah’s leadership, including the Shiite group’s Secretary General, Hassan Nasrallah. This episode began in May 2008, when police found 8.7 million euros in the bags of four Lebanese men who were about to depart from Frankfurt airport. A police search in the men’s apartment in Speyer, Germany, yielded an additional half a million euros. Hezbollah has been running a very sophisticated drug operation in South DANTEmag n.3


doesn’t hold water. The other argument - that this operation appears to be too clumsy and uncharacteristic of the Islamic regime’s operations - also fails under further scrutiny. Although it is true that the Islamic regime in Iran has successfully carried out over a hundred targeted assassinations of its opponents abroad, the operational track record of its operatives is far from efficient. From the Khobar Towers Bombing in Saudi Arabia and AMIA bombing in Argentina, to the assassinations of dissidents such as Dr. Shahpour Bakhtiar, the late Shah’s last prime minister, and 1992 killing of Iranian Kurdish leaders in the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin, ample evidence was left behind, pointing directly to Iran. According to the former FBI director, Louis Freeh, the evidence against Iran was so incontrovertible that the Islamic regime’s Presi-


daily life: Pause for thought.ir.com

DANTEmag n.3



dent Hashemi Rafsanjani admitted to King Abdullah, then the Saudi Crown Prince, that the Khobar attacks had been planned and carried out with the knowledge of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The investigation into the 1994 AMIA bombing of a community centre in Argentina led directly to Imad Fayez Mughniyah, the high-ranking member of Lebanese Hezbollah, and five high-ranking officials of the Islamic regime, one of whom was Ahmad Vahidi, the current Defence Minister who at the time of the bombing headed the Al-Quds unit. In another case, German investigations following the September 17, 1992 assassination of three Iranian Kurdish leaders of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) in the Mykonos Restaurant in Berlin, implicated Iran’s highest officials and members of the Iranian intelligence ministry in the massacre. In the trial that followed the Mykonos Restaurant massacre, it was revealed that the supreme leader of the Islamic regime, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, former president, Hashemi Rafsanjani, Former Minister of intelligence Ali Fallahian and former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati had approved the massacre. Ali Fallahian had put a high ranking member of the Islamic regime’s intelligence ministry, Abdol-Rahman Banihashemi, in charge of the operation. Banihashemi with the help of Kazem Darabi - a Berlinbased IRI Ministry of Intelligence undercover agent who was working as a grocer - recruited four Lebanese nationals, Youssef Mohamad El-Sayed Amin, Abbas Hossein Rhayel, Mohammad Atris and Ataollah Ayad for the killing. All four were members of Hezbollah. The actual killing, according to the German court documents, was done by Abdol- Rahman Banihashemi and Abbas Hossein Rhayel. German authorities were even able to link the pistol and silencers used in the massacre to the Islamic regime in Iran. DANTEmag n.3


Bronze vase engraver


Similarly, in the famous assassination of Dr. Shahpour Bakhtiar, the last Prime Minister of the late Shah of Iran, on 7 August 1991 in Paris, French authorities were able to prove that Iranian officials and intelligence ministry were directly involved with the Assassination of Dr. Bakhtiar and his assistant, Soroush Katibeh. One of the three assassins, Ali Vakili Rad, who was apprehended in Switzerland and extradited to France was sentenced to life in prison in December 1994. Ali Vakili Rad was released on May 19, 2010 and was given a hero’s welcome in Tehran Airport, after serving 18 years in jail. In all these cases and more, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s terror operators left ample evidence to implicate their masters in their crimes. Evidence left behind in the Saudi ambassador assassination plot should not surprise anyone. Iran’s reach and calamitous influence is far broader than the relatively narrow prism of the IAEA’s recent report on Iran’s race for the bomb. Since actions speak louder than words, even a cursory review of events can serve as a reminder of why the world needs to do more to limit the current Iranian regime’s capabilities. The alliance of Iran, affiliated terrorist groups, drug traffickers and religious fanatics is already established and operational, even without nuclear capabilities. Chess masters love to demonstrate their skills in games where they

play against multiple players simultaneously. In these games, they move from one game to the next, making their moves and defeating their opponents one after another. From Lebanon and Syria, to Iraq and Afghanistan, with its nuclear programme and terror tools, the Islamic regime in Iran seems to be engaging in the same multiplayer chess games against regional and global opponents such as U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia, as well as the international community. But, unlike the multiplayer chess games of the old masters, where those who were playing against them could win or lose individually, those who are playing against the radical Islamic regime in Iran will either win or lose together. The Islamic regime seems to be fully aware of this and is using every tool at their disposal. It remains to be seen if the Islamic regime’s opponents will get their acts together or continue their individual games.

Nir Boms is a co-founder of CyberDissidensts.org. Shayan Arya is an Iranian activist and a member of the Constitutionalist Party of Iran (Liberal Democrat). DANTEmag n.3


Power and Counter Power By Antonio Fojadelli

For a long time now the Italian stage has been dominated by the figure of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his violent confrontation with the judiciary, in particular with some public prosecutors. Antonio Fojadelli, a recently retired judge, explains the judiciary situation that afflicts Italy’s legal system.

DANTEmag n.3



It is well known that there has never been any love lost between the political classes and the judiciary, and the phenomenon of recurring controversy between political leaders and certain initiatives of the judiciary has been well documented in many Western countries. The progressive expansion of the influence and power of judges in democracies is the subject of many sociological and political studies. The current Italian situation, however, presents some peculiarities that deserve consideration. To that end, it is necessary to review briefly the path the Italian judiciary has taken and how it has evolved. In the political and constitutional reorganization of the Kingdom of Italy, unified only in 1861, the judiciary played only a marginal role and consequently found itself considerably subordinate to the political power: the appointment of judges and their careers were largely under the influence of the government. In particular, the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, the driving force behind any criminal investigation, depended hierarchically on the Ministry of Justice and it was therefore natural that Italian judges tended to conform to the line the government in power was taking, even though officially the justice department was administered “in the name of the King.� During the Fascist period, the regime attempted to make the judiciary even more subordinated to government power. Howe-

DANTEmag n.3



ver, in opposition to this stood the judiciary’s proud tradition of independence, born of a shared culture between the educated bourgeoisie and minor gentry, mostly of southern origin, from whose ranks the majority of Italian judges were recruited. This spirit of independence was not well tolerated by the Fascist regime and it established special courts with responsibility for specific crimes and for all political offences, which, it hoped, would preempt any risk of the government and the political class being held up to judicial review. The modern period dates from the end of the Second World War and the 1946 “plebiscite”, when it was precisely the Supreme Court that proclaimed the transition from monarchy to republic. On January 1, 1948, the new constitution came into effect, the result of a compromise between the various factions in the country: Catholic, liberal and socialist/communist. All agreed on the need for the judiciary to be given full independence from the other two powers of state, namely the executive and the legislative, in accordance with Montesquieu’s Enlightenment model that was still the currency in the Western world then. While this reaction against the authoritarianism of the past regime meant the various factions could agree, their differing notions of state and society made them suspect each other when it came to any potential influence any one side might exert on the judiciary by attempting to skew its workings, to the detriment of their opponents. The peculiarity of the Italian system is the independence of the Chief Public Prosecutor from any political power, but this is offset by the obligation to prosecute without – at least officially – having any discretion in the matter. The founding fathers were under the illusion that they were thereby avoiding any risk of discretionally “targeted” criminal investigations. Things did not exactly turn out as they had planned. The new figure of the judge as no longer a mere ‘”mouthpiece of the law” but as “interpreter of the law” represented groundbreaking possibilities which were understood and cultivated by the parties on the Italian left. They proceeded to don the cloak of defenders of a culture that was defined as progressive, albeit merely inspired by their very own leftist ideology.

DANTEmag n.3



Many judges, particularly the youngest, qualified in the post 1968 climate, saw their role in terms of interpreting constitutional aspirations (as in, for example, Article 4 of the Constitution which states that “the Republic recognizes the right of all citizens to work and will promote the conditions to effectively achieve this aim”), a role normally left to policy decisions of government. And so the so-called “ jurisprudence of objectives” established itself, which corresponded to nothing more than an attempt to achieve, through legal judgements, those objectives that politicians would not, or could not, realise. Faced with the chronic weakness of governments – which their very own constitutional arrangements had created – the judiciary acquired a growing power and consensus which, paradoxically, came about not by disregarding political mechanisms, but by following them to the letter. One only has to think of the trend, still seen in the Italian system today, of tackling problems of great social importance by passing laws and then entrusting the judiciary with the application of their more sensitive sections. The most obvious examples are the special laws passed against Red Brigade terrorism, or the more recent laws on immigration. Therefore, we have witnessed the “jurisdictionalisation”, as it were, of issues whose solutions should have been essentially left to the realm of politics. Thus the Italian judiciary has fully appropriated to itself those powers politicians had admittedly ceded to it and now they found themselves weakened as a result. This staus quo was interrupted by a crucial phase: the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet empire. Consequently, the balance between the two sides – pro West versus pro communist – that had been tacitly maintained, became much less stable. In addition, the more or less condoned “covers” for party funding that had been elaborated through a system of so-called kickbacks, or just plain corruption, also became much less watertight.. It was the season Italians called “tangentopoli”. The entire political centre-right was nearly wiped out by innumerable criminal investigations initiated by the Milan Public Prosecutor, which then spread to many other parts of Italy. This was the moment when the judiciary was at the height of its popularity, even if only seen from a legal viewpoint. The DANTEmag n.3


POLITCS left-wing parties, finding themselves in a position of advantage because of these one-way enquiries, fully supported this “moralizing” work of the judiciary, and a good number of judges thought it right to identify themselves with that ideology. The enormous power of the public prosecutors, strengthened by the independence the Constitution had granted them, turned, in effect, into a political force since their legal interventions came to be

seen and judged as political decisions. This distortion of the balance between institutions was further intensified by the alliance forged between the media and certain prosecutors who were often self-promoting and keen to provide sensational headlines. These forces are still operating today and all that remains for a political class – weak and devoid of ideas – to do is to denounce the ‘”anomaly” of this power, declaring it to be, in fact, political, even though it has no electoral legitimacy. Naturally, it is chiefly the centre-right government, which was in power until recently, that has levelled this accusation. And indeed, it is very hard to ignore the evidence and deny that there has been a singular ferocity in pursuing legal action DANTEmag n.3


against former prime minister Berlusconi. The choice of the means and timing of these initiatives have confirmed the objective of legally undermining his public image. Consequently his government has wasted time and energy in a vain attempt to put a stop to this, in order to defend the Prime Minister against this excessive activism on the part of certain public prosecutors.

and accountability. The question is how to achieve this, since the interested parties at greatest risk of having their independence compromised, are the judges and, in the specific case of Italy, even the Chief Public Prosecutor.

Against this troubled backdrop of crisis, proposals are being formulated to reform the justice department; their aim is to reduce the power of the justice minister, for example, by withdrawing his right to call on the Judicial Police. Officially, the Italian left is opposed, but behind the scenes it is secretly in favour. This represents an attempt to restore that system of “checks and balances” which underpin most Western democracies. The singularity of the Italian situation, however, derives from the extraordinary expansion of the power of the judiciary and the traditional intolerance shown by the political class towards any form of judicial review. Consequently, the real problem is there is an undeniable need for a judiciary, whose members are competitively appointed and unelected, to be subject to effective forms of control

on an instinctive and unwavering observance of constitutional rules and balances. But this can only be realised through a notion of self-restraint. That restraint, however, is premised on the existence of a strong sense of tradition and notion of the state. Unfortunately these are qualities that have been lacking – and are still lacking today – in both the political classes and the judiciary.

In a democracy, the safeguarding against any temptation the basic state powers might have to go beyond their writ to the detriment of others, is principally reliant

The latter has been seriously harmed as these preconceived ideas have permeated even the judges’ self-governing body, the CSM (Upper Council of Judges*), which has the President of the Republic at its head. This body is actually strongly influenced by various internal ideological currents. The prevailing trend is close to that associated with a certain section of

POLITCS the Italian left who sees issues through the lens of dogma and shuns any practical solutions, however sensible and useful, almost as if they are deemed to be intellectually inferior. This attitude, certainly not a very liberal one, has led to an exasperating particularism , and this has, in turn, led to the erosion of the power of those judges at the head of law courts to control the actions

and initiatives of their younger colleagues, many of whom are too susceptible to the attractions of fame and power. The greatest harm has been done to the public prosecutor’s office, as its united and circumspect approach has been compromised by the actions taken by individual judges within its courts. This explains the existence of extravagant and politically-motivated inquiries – or, at any rate, they seem to be so. This could be prevented by giving the head of the public prosecutor’s office full responsibility for inquiries, but also granting him the corresponding authority to intervene and to lead proceedings. However, the prevailing line taken by the Upper Council of Judges is to deny and

undermine the legitimacy of the position held by the heads of the public prosecutors office, whenever the latter have intervened as a moderating influence against their own assistant prosecutors. Consequently, if the Italian judiciary wishes to regain full credibility, it must engage in a serious rethink of its role, to make it more more modern and more of the people. It should stop aspiring to a political role that is beyond its writ.

Conversely, politicians should consider the futility and dangers of introducing reforms to the justice system whose aim is to excessively limit judicial scrutiny. If elected politicians in Italy really want to avoid the constant incursions the judiciary makes into politics, then they need to create a form of strict self-regulation to ensure its internal integrity. It must establish mechanisms for independent inquiries that are serious, and regulation aimed at identifying and preventing poor practice and illegal behaviour, as is the case in other European countries. If this doesn’t happen, the world of politics will always be subject to inquiries by the judiciary, which it will continue to react to, in an ever- spiralling game of

undermining each other’s legitimacy. The end result will be the discrediting of our entire country. Traslation by Philip Rham. *The Upper Council of Judges is a regulatory body, a third of which is made up of Members of Parliament and the other two-thirds of judges who are elected to that position by all serving judges. It has at its head the President of the Republic and was set up to guarantee the independence of the judiciary from the other legislative and executive powers. DANTEmag n.3



First into Mosul: A War Reporter’s Journey to Iraq’s Kurdish Front


By 2003, war with Iraq had been looming for some time. I didn’t think the war was a particularly good idea but, as a freelance war reporter, I wanted in on it. I knew that offering myself as a correspondent who could get into Northern Iraq clandestinely was my best chance. As the last journalist to interview the late Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov inside insurgent-held Chechnya, underground journeys were my niche. My agent lobbied hard and I secured a plum contract with the leading American television network to quietly cross with my team into Iraqi Kurdistan by whatever means possible. Once in, I had been instructed to lie low until hostilities broke out. When the shooting began, my task would become straightforward: to follow the course of the campaign in the north alongside the Kurdish Peshmerga, hardy guerrillas, whose name meant “those willing to face death.” Once western troops materialised in the north, I was meant to link up with them too, though I’d never officially been embedded. In the current terminology I’d serve as a “unilateral”, free to roam the battlefield at my own risk, as I saw fit. I wouldn’t go as a barefoot indie, though, on a wing and a prayer. The network gave me all I had requested, not least, an operating budget of $500,000 in cash (which I carried in a shoulder bag from New

DANTEmag n.3


The last American troops, with the exception of a small embassy contingent, left Iraq in the dead of a mid-December night - not even telling their Iraqi counterparts that they were leaving. Thus the war ended with something of a whimper. Chris Kline - there from the very beginning recalls the resounding and resonating bang with which it started.


York) and freedom to handpick my crew. I chose what I considered a reporting elite, uniquely suited to the task. There was Sofie, a resourceful Danish/South African field producer, brave as she was beautiful. She had been one of the only journalists to film inside Iraqi Kurdistan between the two Gulf Wars. Her contacts with Kurdish leaders were invaluable. Sofie never took no for an answer and was like a bloodhound sniffing out key information. Christian was a battle-tested former British soldier, of Rhodesian origin, late of HM’s 1st Battalion, the Parachute Regiment. He proved as indispensable as Sofie. Tough but soft-spoken and always jovial, he was my military adviser, team medic, chief bodyguard, quartermaster and captain of the ex-Peshmergas we hired as our security detail,who he also trained. He could handle a vehicle like a race-car driver. I dubbed him news support producer, and he and Sofie worked in perfect symbiosis. Sofie was the left side of my brain; Christian was my strong arm and anchor in moments of mortal danger and critical decision-making. Rupert, an ace South African cameraman, who had worked on my Chechen documentary, rounded off the team and wore another hat as our chief technician, keeping the satellite kit running and ensuring all broadcasting gear functioned well, regardless of the circumstances. In his leisure time, Rupert was a globally ranked paragliding maniac and I figured his temperament suited him for where we were going. Our entry into Iraq had taken long months of negotiations to set up. The most difficult challenge had been to secure permission from the Syrian government to cross into Iraqi Kurdistan from

their territory. Iran had refused us. Turkey wasn’t even worth trying. So it was the Syrian route or nothing. We had been overjoyed when our special entry permits came through, thanks to Sofie’s insistent negotiations. The ruse was that I was an American academic, an Ivy League anthropology professor from New England, come to study a sect of Kurdish Sufi mystics (the crew posing as my researchers) at the invitation of a Kurdish university. I expect the Syrian government knew exactly who I was but the border guard colonel at the final frontier post didn’t betray this knowledge. The laconic colonel spoke fluent English in an accent reminiscent of Boris Karloff. After a cursory view of our personal luggage, we were invited into the colonel’s office and offered cups of tea as the colonel chain-smoked Marlboros at his desk, his flunky eyeing us warily from his post behind his master. Above the desk an old-fashioned ceiling fan hummed but did little to dispel the stifling heat and stale tobacco-tinged air. The colonel asked no further questions, merely sipped his tea and smoked, while eying Sofie and repeating, “You have a very beautiful secretary.” When the protocols had been observed and face saved, the colonel simply let us go. A short drive later, we repeated a similar ritual with a lesser Syrian official, who didn’t speak at all but poured us cup after cup of the inevitable tea. Another hour and he, too, let us go. We then loaded into a small boat, powered by an outboard motor and putputted across the Euphrates river into “Kurdish Free Territory.” A relay of cars from our Kurdish hosts was waiting to take us to our destination. We drove for hours into the night on winding DANTEmag n.3



mountain roads, stopping once, briefly, so I could triumphantly call the news desk in New York on my sat phone to declare “we’re in.” Washington had counted on Ankara’s support in allowing heavy US divisions to enter Northern Iraq from Turkish soil. The Turks, adamant that Northern Iraq was their legitimate field of influence - their ‘near-abroad’ -considered anyone else operating in Kurdistan as intruders, even American allies. Prolonged American involvement would also mean losing a measure of control they were keen to retain. Ankara allowed one subtle concession without much fanfare, pretending to look the other way, as some 900 American Special Forces soldiers, Green Berets, were permitted to slip across the border. Their task would be to help lead, train and coordinate the tens of thousands of Peshmerga militia and the uniformed, better-disciplined soldiers of their regular forces. This was the classic mission of special operations commandos as “force multipliers.” The Green Berets would also serve as the eyes and ears on the ground for Allied air squadrons, the substitute for the heavy firepower the Kurds lacked, and which the absence of conventional US forces denied them. We would link up with the Green Berets as soon as possible. Bombing by Allied war planes marked the opening of hostilities and my task was to describe the impact of the air campaign. Aerial bombardment is a strange spectacle. It is invariably exciting as a display of modern fire power and it makes for good television. But one often forgets there are people underneath the bombs being smashed to pieces, being burnt to cinders, being atomised, and crushed by debris. Before I left for Iraq, my jingoistic boss had warned me about my reporting. “Don’t go native,” he said. “Remember which side you’re on.” Note to self: the enemy is never meant to be as human as your own country’s soldiers. Well, on one particular night it was not possible. Our Kurdish sources had warned us that US naval aircraft would hit the Iraqi entrenchments and system of pill boxes and gun emplacements, all of 2000 yards away in a village called Kalak, just on the demarcation line between Kurdish territory and Iraq DANTEmag n.3


proper. We felt sorry for the Iraqi soldiers opposite because we knew many had tried to surrender, only to be turned back by the Kurds. A colleague allowed us to set up on the rooftop of the small house he had rented, which gave us an ideal vantage point. I called New York and told them to make sure we were live on air when the carrier plane would come to launch its strike. It all went like clockwork, as the single fighter-bomber dropped its lethal ordnance on the Iraqi positions, enveloping them in a massive fireball. I provided a blow-by-blow narration with the suitably cinematic effect of the detonations behind me on camera. Great television, as far as my desk was concerned, less wonderful for the Iraqis on the other end.

I lost some of my neutrality during one of my live shots and said “enemy or not, God help whoever is underneath that.” The anchor in New York didn’t quite know how to respond. When silence finally fell, I heard one of the most horrible sounds I have ever heard. The acoustics were such that the gully separating us from the Iraqis made them quite audible. What I heard were the screams of the wounded. I called my uncle in the US on the sat phone and told him, “What a strange job I have, listening to other men dying.” By now, it was time to link up with the Green Berets, a twelveman “A” team we met on a hilltop position in a place called Ain Sifni. We found them almost speechless at the Peshmerga whom they’d been advising. There hadn’t been much tactical innovation in the battle that day. The guerrillas, numbering several thousand, had simply launched a frontal attack yelling age-old Kurdish war cries - more 1914 than 2003. Before the commandos could restrain them, they had rushed forward and the Iraqis had simply run away. We introduced ourselves, and, from that moment on, we were attached to the twelve-man team that constituted the most forward deployed unit in the whole of the Allied army invading Iraq. Wherever their Land Rovers went, we followed. We lived rough

POLITCS from that point on, camping out wherever the commandos made their forward base as they advanced. It was the ideal way to follow the campaign in the north. Soon the Peshmerga were advancing towards Mosul, rather than heading south to link up with the Anglo-American forces driving on Baghdad. But it was a massive game of bluff. Facing the Peshmerga and the handful of Green Berets was the Iraqi 5th Army, some 50,000 strong, with all the heavy weaponry of a mechanized army - something the almost barefoot Kurds, with little more than small arms and rocket launchers, could not remotely match. So long as the Iraqis kept retreating the advance went ahead. One spectacularly beautiful morning I beheld a sight that struck me as belonging to a different age, not to a modern, industrial war. There, on a verdant plain framed by snow covered peaks, was a ten thousand-strong Kurdish Army, uniformed regulars among them. But most were Peshmerga. No two uniforms or pieces of uniform were the same. Tribal daggers worn in sashes, ammo belts draped across chests like Mexican revolutionaries, a sea of turbans and baggy trousers that had always defined a Kurdish warrior’s dress. They were assembled as if on parade in columns of one hundred or more. Some in each column wore pennants on their backs, battle flags to distinguish the units. And they were singing battle songs they had no doubt sung since antiquity. One couldn’t help but be moved by it. It was the only moment of beauty I witnessed in the whole campaign. It was the pageantry of war in an almost Napoleonic sense. Hopeless romanticism. I felt strangely guilty for admiring the scene. After that, they piled into trucks and headed for the villages barring the way to Mosul. We followed our band of Green Berets to witness the taking of one of the towns en route, but as the Peshmerga cautiously deployed their foot patrols, they were greeted by white flags. So it went throughout the day. No resistance was offered in village after village, The 5th Army simply wouldn’t fight. We drove for a few miles and found a troop of Peshmerga taking shelter by a culvert on the side of the road. We could hear the roar of artillery in the distance and they told us not to drive on. The Iraqis, at last, were offering resistance, shelling the way ahead with heavy 120mm mortars. Our job was to see the fighting, so we foolishly dismissed their warning as they gesticulated wildly for us to stop. We merrily drove away in our white Toyota, with TV in black tape on the bonnet and an Allied recognition symbol on the roof, followed by another jeep with four of our Peshmergas behind. There was nobody on the road and we passed the village where we were meant to rendezvous with our American mates. There was no sign of their vehicles. We drove ahead, unaware that they too had retreated and were worriedly watching us from a hilltop through high-powered binoculars. We were driving straight into DANTEmag n.3


POLITCS the Fifth Iraqi Army, alone. We came to a lone bombed-out house, clearly shattered by aerial attack. We stopped and I told Rupert to get out and film it so we could illustrate the impact of the air campaign. Christian stayed at the wheel. Sofie and I joined Rupert, four of our Peshmerga behind him. Suddenly there was a loud crack. I watched a mortar round detonate, as if in slow motion, just over the house. I was mesmerised by the yellow, red, and blue flames, then the black and grey smoke. In retrospect, I realised it was high explosive and the soft ground surrounding the house had absorbed the concussion, which by itself would have killed us without leaving a mark. We dashed for the cars and I told Christian to “drive like a bat out of hell” which Sofie, at the time, found uproariously funny. Christian executed a perfect, screeching nine point turn, and we drove at speed back to safety. By the next day the Iraqi military seemed to have vanished again and together with the Peshmerga Army we drove to the very outskirts of Iraq’s Mosul. Lest the Peshmerga flooding in prompt Turkish ire and invasion - and a monumental headache for the Allied war effort in the north, the Green Berets were ordered to stay on the fringes of the city and deliberately restrain the Kurds.

had kept in check. But no more. Myriad rival militias proliferated almost overnight and started settling scores, accumulated over thirty plus years of Saddam. The city was awash with weapons left behind by the defunct Iraqi 5th Army. There were so many unsecured armouries; it was a veritable cornucopia of lethal toys. You could buy a Kalashnikov assault rifle for less than fifty dollars, or you could just as easily steal one. And then there were all those high explosive shells lying around - how they would come to haunt us later, reborn as IEDs! The future Iraqi insurgency never needed to import weapons. Iraq was already a giant arsenal. Just as Rupert and I did a camera check and got the sat bird working, we could hear a cacophony of automatic weapon gunfire erupting. Before long I spied fires and plumes of smoke everywhere I looked. I kept my body armour on and filed many live reports for New York and London. I had the distinct impression the shooting was coming nearer. More than once I flinched at bursts that seemed to echo closer and closer. After a while I was no longer standing up to camera. Rupert lowered the tripod and we both knelt, shielded by a wall.

But our news desk wanted us in the city. Christian was in his element and volunteered to do a recce drive into the city with a handful of our best Peshmerga. He returned intact about an hour later and said the path was clear. We told our desk we’d go in. As we mounted up one of the Green Berets turned to me. “ I have seen reconnaissance in force, I have seen reconnaissance by fire. I ain’t never seen reconnaissance by journalist.”

At around dusk it sounded like the shooting was just down the street so we decided to call it a day and head to the airport to rejoin Sofie and Christian. The Peshmerga were terrified of making the drive across the city. Our Kurdish contact begged me not to attempt it. But I felt like a rat in a barrel. I hadn’t heard from Christian, so I rang him on the sat phone. I told him our Peshmerga were quivering and he had to help me rally them and fetch us to lead the convoy. He told me there were all of forty GI’s at the airport. They were surrounded. Then, holding out the phone to pick up nearby sound, he said, “Listen to this, mate.” I could clearly hear the crackle of incessant small arms fire.

As we drove in, we saw what would have promised a bitter fight for the city, had it happened. Everywhere, there were perfectly prepared trenches, sand-bagged machine gun nests, artillery emplacements, tanks in hull-down position, anti-aircraft guns with their barrels depressed for ground use, ammunition belts, small arms and large calibre rounds, all neatly stacked and ready for use, but not a single Iraqi soldier in sight. The Iraqi 5th Army had become a phantom force, leaving all its ghostly defences behind and it would seem, having discarded its uniforms. Its tens of thousands of soldiers had simply melted away.

He got back on the sat and said he’d leave Sofie to take her chances with the soldiers and drive back alone to rally us. He arrived about forty-five minutes later and we headed back to the airport. Christian and I led the way in our Toyota. Our frightened Peshmerga were in the vehicle behind. Christian was at the wheel, another Peshmerga with an AK was in the front passenger seat. I was directly behind Christian, and Rupert sat behind the bodyguard. We made our way across the city in silence. Rupert was ashen-faced, and who could blame him? I was praying wordlessly, calling on all the Sufi saints to watch over us.

We drove to a safe house arranged for us by our Kurdish tribal contact. Rupert and I set up on the rooftop. We’d be broadcasting via satellite throughout the day as the first news team into the city. Christian and Sofie headed for the airfield to pursue a rumour that a handful of US troops had gone in to secure it and that more might be coming by helicopter from the 10th Mountain Division and Marines.

I had also discreetly armed myself. There was a spare 9mm pistol in the medical kit that I meant to reach for, if things ever got too bad. Well, they had. This was not a question of stupid heroics by a journalist. I knew the Geneva Conventions weren’t going to be observed by the armed groups that now held the city in its grip, so I apologise to no one for picking up a weapon. We weren’t in Switzerland. In moments like this, Christian unequivocally had the authority and I’d follow his lead. I wasn’t going to start anything.

But the initial quiet had been deceptive. Mosul was a volatile admixture of Sunni, Shia, Arab, Kurdish, Turkman, Christian, Muslim, even Zoroastrian. It was a microcosm of all of Iraq’s dormant sectarian tensions, which Saddam’s bloodstained fist DANTEmag n.3


As we drove, the orgy of violence and looting that had marked the day was evident. Debris was everywhere; occasionally we passed a corpse in the street. Here and there, gutted shops and


houses burned. There were no lights, save for flaming tyres that marked improvised militia checkpoints, and, of course, which militia would it be when you drove up? Nobody was in uniform. The darkness, illuminated only by scattered fires, had a spectral quality. It was like driving through the landscape of a conscious nightmare and a perfect reflection of my own cringing fear. Ask me to encapsulate one of my darkest days ever and I’ll tell you: Mosul, by night, the first day the city fell. The saints were with us, because we drove through a half a dozen checkpoints and were simply waved through. If all passed without incident then it was a straight eight km stretch to the airfield where we could be reunited with Sofie and take our chances with the GIs. But there was one more checkpoint. The petrol soaked tyre gave out sooty smoke and there was a crude barrier of wood and oil barrels barring access. We pulled up slowly and rolled down our windows to speak and show we meant no harm.

Outside the window of the bodyguard in the front seat there were six or seven men holding Kalashnikovs - thus far not training them on us. On the driver’s side there was just one man, a little bit in the distance, who came at us at a sprint, screaming. He cocked his AK-47 on the run. He looked insane, sweaty, his hair dishevelled. He was wild-eyed and his pupils were dilated. Was he high on drugs, his own fear, his bloodlust? All three? Had he killed today or seen a friend or family member die? He was full of rage towards someone. None of them could see that Christian and I were both armed. In the eerie half-light, I could make out every detail on the madman’s face. He wouldn’t stop yelling. He seemed incapable of talking. Was it even Arabic? He was the one in charge. God, why him? When he got to Christian’s window, the others pointed their weapons at us, too. Our car wasn’t armoured. Our bodyguard kept his own AK visibly in his lap but stayed silent and made no menacing moves.

DANTEmag n.3


POLITCS Crazy Man pointed his barrel at Christian’s chest, then mine, then Christian’s head, then mine, then back to Christian. The gun barrel was inches away. He then tried to force the barrel inside the vehicle through Christian’s open window. Christian grabbed it with his free arm - not suddenly, not slowly, just a deft deliberate gesture - and began to move it away from his body. Then he started speaking, softly, like you would to a frightened child or a spooked horse, in a gentle, kindly, reassuring voice, almost a whisper, holding the gun barrel at bay throughout. “Easy buddy … easy, easy … we don’t want to hurt you ... easy.” I was watching Christian with the utmost concentration and trying to keep the other militiamen in my peripheral vision. I wondered when the Mexican standoff would just go to hell and we’d all die in a sudden fusillade. I prayed some more that nobody would fire, but I promised myself I’d take one of our executioners to the ever-after, if I could. What a ludicrous thought! The lunatic had stopped screaming but he kept trying to force the barrel in. Even one-handed Christian was stronger. I was sweating profusely. Fear of imminent death smells bad. Then, in a fluid instant, Christian pushed the AK away, simultaneously slammed his foot on the accelerator, crashed through the barrier, and took us away at speed. None of the militiamen fired. I don’t know why, perhaps because it happened so quickly, they were startled into inaction. Perhaps, being every bit as terrified as we were, they were just as happy and relieved nothing happened. It felt interminable, but the whole episode from start to finish lasted all of ninety seconds, if that. Christian’s composure and quick-thinking action saved all of us. I was happy to hand my pistol back to him. As we drove the last stretch to the airport, Christian had me hold an infrared beacon out the window, so US soldiers wearing nightvision goggles could recognise we were friendlies. We reached the airport and had a relieved reunion with Sophie and the rest of our Peshmerga. Our team was intact and safe, but not out of danger yet. Our Special Forces friends had at last been given orders to enter the city by themselves and had arrived only a few hours before. They described their own hair-raising drive into Mosul in their thin-skinned vehicles - none of us had armoured vehicles. One Green Beret made a circle with his thumb and forefinger and then made a sucking noise. It was a crude gesture representing a human sphincter puckering from fear. I knew exactly what he meant. The commandos then put us through an Alamo scenario. The gunfire all around the gutted airport kept crackling in the near distance, and they told us where we were meant to retreat to and keep fighting, if whoever was attacking the perimeter broke through to our current location at the terminal. If that could not be held either, there was a last-stand position. Christian and our twelve Peshmergas would be part of the defensive force.

DANTEmag n.3


We all desperately needed sleep after nearly 72 hours without it, but we slept fully clothed and ready to move if the alarm was raised. We were awakened near dawn by the roar of massive CH-53 helicopters, packed with US Marines. By daylight, mountain troopers from the 10th Division had been trucked in. The airfield, at least, could be defended, although there were only a few hundred soldiers to keep the peace in a violent city of over 3.5 million. Late that morning, the Special Forces team we knew best had been assigned as quick reaction force. We were then detailed to join another Green Beret troop in a patrol into the city centre. We ended up at Mosul’s Central Hospital. Minutes after we had parked near the emergency room entrance, firefights had broken out in the surrounding blocks. We were effectively trapped and the commandos too felt it was the better part of valour to stay until the shooting died down and a column of their own could escort us all back to the airfield. But they couldn’t reach us for hours. There were so few Allied soldiers in the city, they were quite simply overstretched, rushing from one violent brushfire to another. Meanwhile most of the armouries were left unguarded. The scene that unfolded before us was harrowing. Every ten or fifteen minutes, bullet-pocked ambulances would rush into the casualty-clearing area, sirens screaming. The paramedics’ faces were terror-stricken, drawn with the strain of their incessant ordeal. All the casualties were gunshot victims. Civilians were being killed by stray bullets, and it seemed that every other casualty being offloaded from the gurneys was dead on arrival. The uniforms of the ambulance men were spattered with blood. The hospital whites of the trauma surgeons and nurses who ran out to meet the ambulances were crimson-stained too. We tried to not get in the way, but we began filming. Another ambulance sped right up to the ER entrance and unloaded its shattered human cargo, the paramedics yelling. Then another pulled up behind it. The first casualty lay unattended. I noticed it was a dark-haired woman in her mid-thirties. She looked peaceful and beautiful but her expression was unmistakably that of death. A small portion of the top of her head was missing. Her husband was inconsolable and though they had never met before, he embraced one of the other journalists there and sobbed on his shoulder. The man had lost his wife simply because she had been standing in the doorway of their home. A random bullet had hit her. She was soon taken away to the morgue. There was a pause in the constant flow of casualties and at that moment, the trauma doctors and nurses, civilians and ambulance men surrounded us. I started questioning them, jotting down notes, but they weren’t interested in questions. They wanted to vent their anger. The chief surgeon spoke fluent English and focused his ire on me since I had been identified as an American. He was dignified, but he was enraged. He kept slapping the blood-soiled surgical apron covering his chest. “What have you done to our city? Is this the democracy you’ve brought us?” I didn’t know how to answer him. I still don’t.


The next day, the Arab tribal chieftains of Mosul came to the airport to meet with the Special Forces colonel serving as interim Allied commander for the city. The nobles had come wearing their best tribal finery, as befitted their rank and the solemnity of the occasion. These were men at the very apex of Iraqi society. They were expecting a certain politesse, a deference rightly due them in their ancient culture. But the colonel was out of his depth and managed only to unwittingly insult and alienate them. His tone was patronising. He harangued them like errant schoolboys, and lectured them on the virtues of Western democracy that they were now expected to adopt. He may as well have been speaking Chinese. They listened to him in quiet bewilderment. It was the very moment we lost Mosul. Within a few short months almost all of those Arab clan chiefs became leaders of the insurgency. Clearly the colonel had never read any T.E. Lawrence. Neither, just as clearly, had George W. Bush, making his ridiculous “Mission Accomplished” speech in a too-tight flight suit on an aircraft carrier in a display of cheap, theatrical, mock-warrior posturing, while the insurgency were busy sharpening their knives and letting Al Qaida stream into Iraq to teach them how to make IEDs. I wonder too how it is that Tony Blair, enabling handmaiden to Bush’s ill-advised war, which engendered the very thing it was meant to contain - terrorism - is now the EU’s Middle East Peace Envoy. That seems akin to Nero being appointed as head

of Rome’s fire brigade. The Anglo-American invasion of Iraq is destined to mark the pages of history as one of the greatest strategic blunders of all time. All told, despite western denials, the Iraqi death toll, thus far, may well figure between 600,000 to one million dead, perhaps more. Add to this butcher’s bill, a further nearly 5000 Coalition dead and we must pose the question: what was it for? On the basis of a grand lie - what one disaffected US intelligence officer labelled “faith-based intelligence,”! - when there were no linkages to 9/11, no weapons of mass destruction, a war was unleashed that accomplished nothing other than the destruction of a nation, further-diminished good will for the West in the region, and the awakening of Iraqi sectarian tensions, likely best left alone. First the British and now the Americans have slouched home, so what is Iraq now but a tinderbox of violence? Shia and Sunni hatred may well still deliver full-scale civil war, even greater slaughter, and the collapse of an extremely fragile and corrupt putative democracy, not remotely assured of continuity or survival. As unpleasant and worrying is the possibility of an Iraq in close alliance with Iran. Teheran is already noticeably eager to step into the power vacuum, as soon as the last American boots have left. We have only made the Middle East more dangerous for everyone.

DANTEmag n.3


“Walking through the doors of Grand Café & Rooms in Plettenberg Bay for the very first time reminds me of my worldly travels. The ‘Grand Dame’ immediately captures an emotion within”.


his is how Suzette Main, the proprietor of Grand Café, Rooms & Beach felt just over seven years ago when she first ventured into the Grand. Through the award winning ‘Grand Dame’s ‘ Indian wooden doors, guests enter a world of discreet escapism where a sense of decadence and worldly charm reflects upon its setting over one of Africa’s most beautiful marine bays. Suzette then took the vision of the brand to Camps Bay; the “Miami Mile” of Cape Town, establishing the ‘Shameless Showgirl,’ Grand Café & Room, overlooking a magnificent beach as a grand new destination for ocean side dining in Cape Town. Crimson red roses adorn the tables and copper topped bars, aged candlesticks set the tone; while polished glassware and white crockery decorated with the Grand angel wings, showcase trusted and classic signature dishes. Grand Room accommodates two guests in true Grand style with 24 hour butler service, concierge, private access, designated parking & probably one of the largest ‘mini bars’ in the world. It offers our signature style King size bed with fine Italian linen from the Hall Collection, an en suite bathroom with a double slipper copper bath and shower and a bespoke vinothèque. Grand Room is also perfect for hosting private dinners and parties.

DANTEmag n.3


Her Grand concept where boho-chic meets retro-romance fit for the worldly traveller, a new trendsetting Grand Café & Beach, the only one of its kind in Africa, was created in late 2009 in Granger Bay, Cape Town, close to the V&A Waterfront and silhouetted by the World Cup 2010 Stadium. At Grand Café & Beach, the ‘Beach Boy’ exterior of the old warehouse has been retained while a sun-deck and beach area have been extended to the water’s edge; offering a new lifestyle destination for any international and local traveller. During construction, all efforts were taken to ensure that a green approach was maintained, including sustainable timber used in the outside deck, use of textured eco‐friendly paint, enhancement of the original building’s look & feel and even using environmentally sound beach sand. “What defines the Grand philosophy for me is where grand-chic meets retro-romance fit for the worldly traveller & diner. Revelling in the triumph of authenticity, the Grand has grasped the notion that: no-one knows how much love can be held by humankind”. “It is an eclectic collection of boho–chic nuances that encourage a free spirited attitude to Café life – a romantic fusion of French and African flair with eccentricity and honesty.”

Africa A grand Rose by any other name - 'Boadicea' A new name in lifestyle shopping ! The name 'Boadicea' was inspired by the mighty Boadicea, a woman of great power and passion – an Empress warrior. The Grand Gallery Boadicea is a lifestyle concept within the Café and Beach brand conceived by two inspiring women, Suzette Main and Jane Lello. Friends and business partners, both passionate and energetic; Suzette and Jane have embarked on creating a Grand Gallery Boadicea, an extension of the Grand brand, which is an expression of their collective passions for beautiful objects and art sourced throughout their worldly travels.

The theme of the Gallery stems from the Café & Beach concept of a resort feel with a splash of indulgence, while the eye catching merchandise tantalises the diner. Stock purchased in South Africa and abroad rotates with demand, offering a selection of beautiful items available to the Grand Gallery Boadicea. GRAND CAFÉ & ROOMS: PLETTENBERG BAY concierge@GrandAfrica.co.za TEL: +27 (0) 44 533 3301 GRAND CAFÉ & ROOM: CAMPS BAY CAPE TOWN reservations@GrandAfrica.co.za TEL: +27 (0) 21 438 4253 GRAND CAFÉ & BEACH: GRANGER BAY CAPE TOWN beach@GrandAfrica.co.za TEL: +27 (0) 21 425 0551 SMS: +27 (0) 72 586 2052 GRAND GALLERY BOADICEA: GRANGER BAY CAPE TOWN info@GrandGallery.co.za TEL: +27 (0) 21 425 0164 WWW.GRANDAFRICA.CO.ZA

From an exclusively Grand branded Bath & Body collection to an assortment of French styled soaps and community handmade key rings, to silver candelabras, there is something for all.

DANTEmag n.3


DANTEmag n.3


Sandro Bottega with one of his creations

The Maverick of the Italian Grappa By Massimo Gava Maverick and tradition might seem to be contradictory terms. But in Sandro Bottega and his creations, they distil together beautifully.


It can sometimes be difficult to get along with a maverick. They are like unpredictable artists, surrounded by yes-men. You don’t always get the answers you want to your questions, because the accusation that you are arrogant or insolent is often a strategy they use to avoid a proper answer. With Sandro Bottega, it’s a very

DANTEmag n.3



different story. He is a naturally hyperactive man driven by love for his job and for the people he works with. He treats them like friends and is always ready to help whenever he can. I know it sounds almost unreal in a world where people at the top are more inclined to look only after only their wallets. But if you have doubts, consider this: Why would one go to Japan in the middle of the worst natural disaster ever so far, if not to help a friend? Not convinced yet? OK, how about creating an exclusive bottle of sparkling wine with the Wish for Japan logo as his contribution to the charity programme pioneered by the employees of the Shangri-la Hotel in Tokyo? You can find the bottle in a few selected duty-free shops around the world. All revenue is donated to the disaster relief fund that purchases food and other necessities for the victims of the last year’s tsunami, many of whom are still living in small shelters in the affected areas on the northeastern coast of Japan. I guess this is enough to convince even the most hardened sceptic, wouldn’t you say? Certainly the fact that Sandro was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth has helped him to be the boss that everybody would like to have. “Adversity can create opportunities and make you stronger,” says Sandro, looking at me with his sparkling brown eyes. And he surely knows the true meaning of the word. Sandro found himself, at the

age of 19 and just out of high school, at the head of a small family business. His father passed away suddenly and, together with his mother, he had to carry on the family business founded in 1947. He tells me that he had to go around Italy selling his products to supermarkets whilst his mother was at home looking after both his underage siblings and the distillery. When he was too far away to return home for the night, he slept in the car to save money. Banks were not keen on lending money to a small business whose director was a wilful young man, no matter how capable he was. So he concentrated on selling his product in order to keep his family and the business afloat. Now more than 20 years on, Sandro Bottega is the leader in the distillation sector with Alexander grappa and other products like Prosecco wine, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and so on, under his belt. In his headquarters in Bibano, about 40 km from Venice, in the foothills of one the most enchanting areas of Italy, he has a farmhouse where 100 people from different cultural backgrounds work and produce an annual turnover of 35 million euros. In the museum of fakes he has created next door to one of the meeting rooms, Sandro displays all the bottles that have been copied from his design. It is a testament to the fact that beside the quality of the product itself, the most amazing part of what Signor Bottega makes

Galifi Vineyard

DANTEmag n.3



is the fantastic, carefully designed packaging. His products are distributed in 110 countries dominating the dutyfree shops around the world. I remember picking up a bottle of Alexander grappa in Cape Town. Once, passing through Singapore on my way to Hong Kong then to LA, I bought a limited edition of a white-leather encased Amarone Prêt-à-Porter bottle, designed by American designer Denise Focil, only to find out that my host, whom I had wanted to surprise with an extraordinary Thanksgiving present, not only already had a bottle of the Bottega’s grappa on display in his drinks cabinet, but also a bottle of a diamond sparkling Pinot Noir in the ice box, ready to be served as an aperitif . “Design has always been at the centre of my innovation” says Sandro. “ Grappa is an excellent product but historically has always been associated with peasant drinking, in the same way as potheen was for the Irish: a homemade spirit used a as a cure for everything in those days.” With a new and sophisticated technological process made with a new alembic (guess what - he also designed that!), Sandro has managed not only to keep intact the fragrance of the different grapes but also to enhance their flavour. “You see,” he explains to me, gesticulating with his hands as if he is trying to gain a convert, “the grappa made from Brunello di Montal-

Bottega alembic designed by Sandro Bottega

DANTEmag n.3





cino grapes is different from the one that comes from the Amarone or the Prosecco, and not only in cost but in the aromas that flavour the grappa.” Speaking of fragrance, one product that captivated my attention out of the numerous bottles on display, was the grappa perfume. It seemed excessive to think that anybody would want to smell like an alcoholic, but it is a perfect example of how the mind of the grappa maverick from Venice works. “Yes,” he explains to me, “it is like a perfume in a bottle, but it is not for wearing. Unless,” he laughs, “ you feel like it, for whatever reason! But I think it’s more suitable for sprinkling on a cigar so as to please the smoker with that after-taste, or adding a touch of fragrance to your oysters or on a good, dark, fair-trade chocolate or any other dish that needs a bit of extra taste. With this bottle you can carefully control how much taste you add.” Mmm, my mouth is almost watering at the thought! Sandro’s innovations, though, do not stop there. The bottles which he puts his precious grappas in are made by local glass factories he has developed, together with some of Murano’s master glassmakers. The work they do is amazing. The bottles display different themes that suit the different grappa flavours. For the Venice carnival, for instance, he created a grappa bottle with colourful masks. Signor Bottega with his artist-glassmakers has managed to turn a bottle

DANTEmag n.3



of grappa into a luxury object or, even better, a deluxe gourmet cult object that looks amazing, displayed at the top of your cabinet. It is now very trendy in Italy, after a meal, to display on the centre of your table a series of grappas and to sample their different flavours, while carrying on your conversation. For the guest with a “softer palate,” as the maverick from Venice charmingly put it, Sandro has an answer. For them, he has created a special line of grappa-based products dedicated to the woman’s world. Here we have products like the Limoncella or a cream of Gianduia, and the Rose Petal liqueur - to name just a few. Being faithful to his motto of helping friends whenever he can, Sandro has teamed up with Breast Health International (BHI), a charity headed by Susan Schwartz, to donate the money from the sale of the Rose’ BHI to fund breast cancer research. Now

1) Amarone Pret-a-Porter High-Fashion Packaging for high class bottle 2) Poeti Rose Breast Health Project 3) Grappa Alexander with a Bauta mask inside a hand-crafted bottle. Denise Focil Sandro Bottega Susan Schwartz

wait! Don’t jump immediately to an unfair conclusion. Again fate has played another trick on Sandro’s life. His mother, unfortunately, passed away not so long ago and this cause is very close to his heart. His position on alcohol consumption is also very clear - Sandro is adamant in condemning binge drinking. “Our Italian culture cannot be further from that,” he said after politely hinting that I was being too underhand with my question, trying to link cancer to alcohol consumption, “I keep saying that the first glass of wine gives you energy, the second puts you in a good mood, the third lets you tell the truth and then – well, we don’t need to go any further, do we!. We’re promoting a cultural awareness here, which I do by doing what I do best. It’s like eating loads of tasty almonds. If you’re foolish enough to eat two kilos because you think it’s fun and then die from the poison they have after eating excessively, it doesn’t mean the rest of the world has to be deprived of the pleasure of eating them in moderation, does it?” Certainly nobody can argue with that. But before I go, the maverick from Venice has another suggestion that initially sounded like a warning to me. “Just remember!” he said, looking me straight in the eye. “Whatever you do and whatever selection of grappa you choose, remember, never swirl it around, like you do when you taste wine or cognac! It’s wrong! The alcohol vapours will deaden your nose and you won’t be able to appreciate the full taste of the grappa.” Then, smiling, he said, “It’s important you explain this to your Dante readers and any novice that wants to get to know this delightful after-dinner drink.” Here the passion for what he does comes out again. It is so rooted in Sandro that all his self-made, entrepreneurial skills are set aside and the dedication of the artist shines through. It is said that one cannot be friends with everybody and we all know that there are moments that a friendly boss can be not-

Bottega Prosecco with “Wish For Japan” charity logo

so-friendly. But it is certainly true that when you walk around the premises at the Bottega farm, a sense of joy pervades the workplace. And it is nothing to do, as you might think, with the fumes coming out of the distillery! It is about the sense of trust, tradition, and belonging that Sandro and the members of his family have managed to create around them that speaks volumes for his success around the world. http://www.shangri-la.jp/english/wishforjapan/ http://it.breasthealthinternational.com/Sostenitori/Distilleria-Bottega

DANTEmag n.3



Tunisia in Spring – One Year On

By Alya Khaled

The spark that lit the powder keg of the Arab Spring, Tunisia has receded somewhat into the background since its population’s dramatic uprising last year. That doesn’t mean things have slowed down there, however. An oppressed and hamstrung social sector has come back to life in Tunisia and is furiously organizing itself around a wide range of issues. One of which our author is working to bring into being: microfinance.


The Arab Spring that engulfed the Middle East and parts of North Africa in 2011 actually began in winter in Tunisia with the departure of the dictator Ben Ali on January 14 of that year. The causes that led to these revolutions are linked to two basic facts: the lack of freedom, and the high level of unemployment. Thousands of people, excluded from the system, without jobs and simply trying to survive, decided that enough

DANTEmag n.3


was enough and rebelled against the corrupt regime. Under Ben Ali, the economy was in the hands of his family, who managed it like the mafia. Corruption was rampant and the degree of inequality had risen to an unsustainable level. Ninety percent of the population was excluded from the system, but could not rebel, as they were living in a police state. Even the so-called social sector, which included all the nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the different civil associations, was not able to function freely. For the government, control of any money going to the poor was part of a political


DANTEmag n.3


BUSINESS strategy. As a result, creating an NGO or any form of association was well-nigh impossible since it required the approval of the Ministry of Interior. The whole system was in the hands of the dictatorship. All they did was to invent figures that showed the world everything was working perfectly, and that Tunisia was on a path of sustainable development!

providing them with very small loans starting at around US $100 to finance their small businesses. These loans are given without guarantees. The idea is for the client to build a sort of credit rating by repaying the loan and thus qualifying for a bigger one. They are generally given in order to develop a revenue-generating activity. It also allows the micro-entrepreneur to hire people and slowly increase the size of the business.

On the 14th of January last year, the regime finally fell after a month of widespread street protests. The wind of freedom blew through Tunisia. Civil society, which had been oppressed and unable to play its part, finally woke up. Since last year, up to 2,000 associations have been created to deal with a huge range of issues, from alleviating poverty to helping people learn to debate in a newly democratic country.

We hope that RYMA Microfinance will be able to help poor Tunisian people escape the vicious cycle of unemployment and poverty. In Tunisia, unemployment is around 20%, and the government will not be able, on its own, to create enough jobs to reverse the situation. Therefore private job creation is very important. Moreover microfinance is mainly implemented in poor and rural areas, which is where the largest number of the finanWith a few friends, we finally had the chance to create our micro- cially-excluded live. RYMA is still in the early stages of its activity and we are discussing with a few potential technical partners the finance NGO, called RYMA, which we had wanted to do for a possibility of their joining us in our venture. long time but had been prevented from doing so. A Bangladeshi economist named Mohammed Yunus, who has since won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in this sector, invented the concept of microfinance in the 1970’s. The principle is very simple: people are helped to overcome poverty by

DANTEmag n.3


The impact of microfinance in Bangladesh was so great that the principle has been exported to the major developing countries in the world. In the majority of Third World countries, poor people are usually financially excluded and have no access to the banking

system. They work in the unregulated sector with no job security and no regular income. For risk-averse banks, these people cannot be incorporated into their loan models as they offer few or no guarantees. But in microfinance, these very people are the target customers; for instance, a stall selling vegetables on the side of the road or a small shop in a private garage or a dressmaker working from home and then selling to shops. Microfinance actually does empower men and women. It helps them slowly expand their businesses and even create jobs for others. Microfinance institutions work on a model called the proximity model for giving loans. This means the offices will always be situated in poor urban or rural areas. The credit agents, who are the employees, usually come from these areas. They know the people who live there and the ones who could become customers. Since there are no guarantees for the loans provided, these agents, using their local networks, sort out the creditworthy people from the others. A major trend in microfinance is the fact that nearly 90% of the target population are women. It has been found that women are very good at managing a budget, since they generally have to do it for the household on a regular basis. They repay their debts

BUSINESS better than men, as they rarely drink or gamble. Women have a sense of duty and responsibility that is more embedded in family and community networks than men do. Other than providing financial support, microfinance also helps micro-entrepreneurs with support services and advice to start or improve their businesses. A wide range of services exists, such as literacy classes, financial literacy classes, marketing classes, etc., to help entrepreneurs acquire new skills. All these services are free to customers. It will be interesting to see what effect these small loans will have when compared to the minimum wage in Tunisia, which is around 286 TND a month (around $200 US) and this is also the starting amount for a microfinance loan. On this small sum, a micro-entrepreneur can run a small business (such as buying wool to knit dolls for sale in the market) and then using that money to buy more wool. In rural areas the money could be used to buy a mobile phone and then charge the community for using it. So we can see that with such a small initial amount, someone can create a revenue-generating activity rather than just being an employee in a company. And this is particularly rewarding in countries where jobs are hard to come by.

Medina in Sousse Typical traditional Tunisian street market Tunisian 100 milleme coins

DANTEmag n.3


Games People Play (A Lot...) By Steve Spieczny

Perhaps you are one of the millions who have had their lives taken over by an addiction to Farmville (or MafiaWars, or Cityville…). Or maybe you’re just one of the millions more whose Facebook feed has been annoyingly plugged with constant updates about your friend “Farmer Nancy’s” latest

DANTEmag n.3


corn harvest or purchase of green alien cows. No matter which camp you fall into, you’ve been pulled into the rapidly-growing orbit of Zynga. Those at the centre of that orbit are making big money, selling … pixels. It’s a game changer on more levels than one.


What game company can claim over 232 million active users, generating over 2 billion minutes of play per day, whilst creating over 38,000 new virtual goods per second, all being bought - with real money - at the clip of nearly $100 million per month in revenue? Electronic Arts? Wrong. Microsoft? Sony? Activision? Nope. TakeTwo, the makers of the killer Grand Theft Auto franchise? Absolutely not. It’s Zynga. And if you don’t play their games, you might never know. But if you do play, my condolences, friend - you most likely just blew another ten minutes and ten dollars inside Farmville. Zynga, named after the founder’s bulldog and launched in 2007, is an animal in more ways than just its canine heritage. Zynga’s

Founder, Mark Pincus, is no stranger to digital start-ups, having successfully grown and led two software companies to lucrative exits - one early IPO and one sold to Cisco. This time around, however, Pincus has a different beast on his leash. Zynga carries a unique quadruple whammy in its current profile as a leading millennial digital force: it’s making tangible (and large) sums of money from intangible things. Its growth, I daresay, its whole existence, has been wonderfully tied to the primary quantum force in the social web - Facebook. It is redefining what a “video game” is for this generation, and it has become the target of venture capital and stock market pundits as it prepared for a hotly anticipated initial public offering (now completed) in the United States. What’s been driving this company? How did they place the right bet? Did they simply get lucky? Will they last? “Connecting the world through games” is Zynga’s mission statement. This corporate credo is remarkable for its simplicity, but also for one word: connecting. In this word lies their rapid and DANTEmag n.3



relatively unassailable success. At Zynga, this is no surprise as the company was built to drive social gaming from the outset. For the moment, put yourself in the CEO seat of any online-only business. How do I get people to eat up what we have? How do I acquire customers? It’s the same, age-old challenge. For Pincus, still Zynga’s CEO, his path to acquisition was to ride the coattails of someone else’s efforts. And did he ever. Zynga launched its early games - Mafia Wars, Zynga Poker and the flagship, Farmville - almost solely within Facebook. Its customers were (and still predominantly remain) Facebook users who must be logged into Facebook to play. When Zynga staked out its ground, Facebook and the “apps” inside were wonderfully new, nascent to the point of being blindly accessed with not much thought as to how connected these games really were. This relationship wasn’t just a stroke of luck, as Zynga has been tightly bound, through its contractual partnership, to Facebook. This has required Zynga to give Facebook first right to any new game coming out of Zynga’s design and development studios. These games are first released through Facebook rather than other channels, including Zynga.com itself. Why spend money and time trying to distribute these titles yourself when you can piggyback on the growth curve of social networking’s beast? Still, you say, why should I care about another flash-in-the-pan video game craze? First, there are the games. They are different and are changing the nature of how we play and what we now expect from “video games” as a whole. Farmville, easily Zynga’s best known franchise, is an online virtual world, within which you, the gamer, tend your crops, feed your livestock, and manage your growing farm. Tied to every little interaction are your Facebook Friends joining in the fun. Players can send constant streams of status updates: when buying the newest piece of farm equipment, when a new crop has been harvested, or when a player simply needs help in achieving that next level. Of course, the “game” is free to play, but the hook is in the extras foisted upon you to accelerate your progress and win the virtual bragging race between you and your Facebook friends. Need that special fertilizer to put your corn DANTEmag n.3


fields on steroids? It’ll cost ya. Want that nuclear-powered scythe to clean up your harvest? It’ll cost ya even more. It’s called “freemium”, a revenue model that’s been batted around in many an online business before, but had never truly taken hold. It’s time has finally come and Zynga is exploiting it to the hilt. This tightly bound ecosystem of utilising the social web to get players playing and then exploiting the “freemium” model inside that dynamic is at the core of Zynga’s success. Zynga’s other early runaway success, Mafia Wars, was also designed for this model, as have been Cityville, Frontierville, Castleville, etc. Get the picture? Now, there is a debate. Are these really games? The old-guard video gamers contend that Zynga is just a marketing company with hints of gaming - that they use the data captured during this thin social gameplay to shape the experience rather than allowing traditional game designers to rule the roost. In fact, there is a growing and heated discussion over this new angle of digital marketing called “gamification.” By adding game-like layers and interactions that feel like gameplay, can brands gain new customer engagement? The immediate results point to a strong yes – “gamification” can truly drive the needle for marketing. This is evident in other wildly successful social-based campaigns that drive engagement through social network functionality by adding a sprinkle of gameplay. Ironically, both Zynga’s detractors and Zynga itself have a point, as each perspective rings true. Ken Rudin, Zynga’s Vice President of its data-analysis team, said in a recent interview, “We’re an analytics company masquerading as a games company.” Halo on the Xbox? This is not that. Of course, there is the money. Zynga’s revised S-1, a required disclosure prior to a US market IPO, stated over $235 million of turn-over for the three-month period ending March 2011. The reality is that their take is actually higher, with Zynga claiming its “bookings” to be nearing $300 million for the same period. This is a unique consequence of how they treat the sale of a

in over $300 million dollars of investment, are very bullish about Zynga, now that it is a public company. However, in the months leading up to the IPO, the bears point to some troubling trends in Zynga’s financials. This past September, Zynga disclosed that its profit tunnelled downward to $1.4 million from $14 million the previous year. So the pressure is on not only to regain profitability, but also to continue its top-line revenue growth. This challenge takes a long-term view and many argue that Zynga just won’t have the staying power. In a recent, high-profile article on Zynga, the New York Times interviewed a well-known Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Roger McNamee. His stated perspective was that “Zynga should be an example of entrepreneurship at its best. Instead it’s going to be a Harvard Business School case study on founder overreach - this will be a cautionary tale.” Full disclosure though, McNamee was once wedded to the current CEO of video-game grandfather EA through an earlier venture fund.

“virtual good” - the single, primary contributor to this revenue line. Zynga will record nearly $800 million this year having nearly doubled its first-quarter revenue from the same period in 2010. Fast forward to this month and Zynga has now exited the ranks of well-funded private start-ups into a NASDAQ-listed public company. All new views to revenue and profitability are now under the scrutiny of many, many eyes. Its current valuation, based on its second week of trading at around $9.50 per share, places it just shy of the other wellknown and long-publicly traded video game companies like the stalwart Electronic Arts (EA) and Activision at nearly $8 billion. Market analyses are now pouring in, with many saying that the 8-times revenue multiplier that this valuation is derived from is unsustainable - and simply way too high. Certainly, its venture capital backers and other investment partners, who have poured

Another ugly undercurrent also highlighted in this Times exposé were accusations that Zynga’s executives have been engaging in hard-ball tactics, forcing employees with sub-par performance achievements to sign back stock option grants, face demotion or worse. The most public example of this was the recent departure of Owen Van Natta as head of Business Operations at Zynga. No matter that he was also the former head of revenue at Facebook (with a suicidal romp at MySpace as CEO thereafter). With Mr. Van Natta as example, if you aren’t bringing immediate value to the company, there is the door. In that respect, Zynga carries a reputation as an overly aggressive and unfriendly company to its employees. Even with its tremendous payday now within grasp, Zynga’s poor working conditions, late hours and undue pressure on development deadlines have impacted morale. This last point is almost certainly on the minds of all Zynga employees - at least those with vested stock options. Who will cash in and check out now that the IPO is a reality? But that’s just the industry talking. So what? If the games are fun, then let’s play! Perhaps that’s the best outcome to digest Zynga’s role as the poster-child for this wave of internet craziness - we simply play differently now. For many, the Playstation is collecting dust on the TV shelf. Thanks to the multi-tasking reality of our digitalia-socialmedius-interruptus, you’ll find me inside the worlds of Zynga. I have money to spend, but only seven minutes to actually play. DANTEmag n.3


Under the Shaman’s Spell A journey around Central America reveals a hidden world of sorcery and ancient traditions. by Neil Geraghty

DANTEmag n.3



“We’d better hurry, the rainy season begins at two”, said Arturo my chirpy Guatemalan guide. We’d just arrived at the Mayan Biosphere Reserve in the steaming jungle lowlands of Guatemala’s northern Petén province and were having a quick breakfast before setting off on a 10km hike to explore the magnificent Mayan ruins of Tikal. The sky was an eggshell blue speckled with tiny powder puff clouds and slender scarlet winged Helicopter Butterflies were hovering in the early morning sunbeams. “It’s such a beautiful day, are you sure?” I replied, lingering over my coffee and doubting his precise meteorological expertise. “Oh yes”, he nodded with that sage look that middle aged weather forecasters have the world over, “it reached El Salvador DANTEmag n.3



Lake Atitlan Shaman, Guatemalan Highlands

yesterday and will be here this afternoon”. Sure enough at 2 o’clock sharp just as we scurried back to the cafe the first fat raindrops began falling and ten minutes later a thunderstorm of biblical proportions broke out sending groups of bedraggled tourists shrieking from the jungle for cover. I felt thankful to have the canny Arturo as my guide. Petén is an exciting place to be an archaeologist. Over 200 ancient Mayan sites, some dating back 3,000 years have so far been discovered and many of them remain unexcavated. How such a great civilisation came to flourish in this inhospitable terrain and why it suddenly collapsed in the 9th Century are two of history’s greatest enigmas. Recent movie blockbusters such as Apocalypto and 2012 have sparked a worldwide interest in the ancient Mayans and there’s no better place to experience the full grandeur of this mysterious civilization than at Tikal. Tikal’s allure lies as much in its pristine jungle setting as in the spectacular ruined temples and as we entered the Bioreserve, Arturo was hopping with excitement. This was his favourite place in Guatemala and he kept a detailed record on his digital camera of all the wildlife he encountered on each of his visits. “Look what I saw last week”, he said, excitedly as he scrolled back the photos. A giant tarantula popped up on the screen and I almost jumped out of my skin in terror. A few minutes later a park ranger called us over. He was holding open the fanged jaws of a juvenile boa constrictor and its body was writhing around his arm in annoDANTEmag n.3



Ruined Mayan city ofCopan Jaguar Temple Tikal

yance. “Isn’t he beautiful”, cooed Arturo stroking the diamond patterned skin. “Go ahead you can touch him”, said the beaming park ranger. “Thanks a lot” I muttered sarcastically and with gritted teeth reached out and briefly patted my second worst nightmare (the first being tarantulas). Phobias notwithstanding, Tikal is a wonderful place to spot wildlife and it’s worth bringing along a strong pair of binoculars to get a more detailed look at the toucans, macaws and howler monkeys that transform the dense forest canopy into a colourful menagerie. The steep sided temples at Tikal are not merely an archaeological theme park. Indigenous Mayans travel here from all over Guatemala to make offerings to their ancestors. In front of the towering Jaguar Temple we stumbled across a Highland family dressed in intricately striped huipils (traditional loose fitting tunics). They were standing around a stone circle watching a shaman chant prayers and throw alcohol onto a crackling fire. We’d encountered similar scenes in front of churches throughout the Guatemalan Highlands where the Mayan’s descendents still adhere to many of their ancient beliefs. Lake Atitlán lies in the heart of the Mayan speaking Highlands and its rich culture and breathtaking scenery justifiably make it Guatemala’s most popular tourist attraction. It’s one of the world’s most beautiful natural sights. Three perfect volcanic cones, all over 3,000 metres high sweep up from the reed fringed shore and in the afternoon, squally winds blowing in from the Pacific known as xocomil send mysterious patterns flickering across the surface and are believed to cleanse away sins. One of the most enjoyable ways to experience Atitlan is to hire DANTEmag n.3




1. Boys on Roatan with Portuguese Man of War 2. Garifuna Drummer 3. Bay Island Village 4. Antigua Buses 2.

a water taxi and cruise around the lake visiting the fascinating Tz’utujil and Kaqchikel speaking villages that dot the shoreline. The villagers are renowned for their colourful textiles which are woven on portable back strap looms, a technique which dates back to the ancient Mayans. Each village has its own distinct traditional dress and at the jetty in San Juan La Laguna we were greeted by some smiling Tz’utujil girls wearing green and purple zigzag patterned huipils. “The zigzags represent snakes, the Mayan symbol of the sky”, the encyclopaedic Arturo pointed out. A fisherman in a sombrero was handing the girls large silver bellied crabs from his rectangular wooden boat which they were dextrously tying onto long poles. These they then slung over their shoulders and carried up the hill to the market like crucifixes. At the top of the hill Arturo called over to a group of small boys who were playing football and asked them the directions DANTEmag n.3


MEAN SANA IN CORPORE SANO - Travel to the shrine of Maximón, the Highlands’ infamous “evil saint”. The boys dutifully interrupted their game (Guatemalan children are some of the best behaved in the world) and politely escorted us down a dusty alleyway into a dimly lit shack. Here surrounded by flickering candles sat a life-sized statue of a moustachioed European man wearing a ghostly white mask and straw boater with a limp cigar hanging out of his mouth. Following the Spanish Conquest, the Mayan tribes readily adopted Catholicism but to the exasperation of the missionaries merely mingled it with their traditional beliefs creating a hybrid religion which is one of the most fascinating elements of modern Mayan culture. Maximón is a combination of the Mayan God Mam, Saint Simeon and the bloodthirsty Conquistador Pedro de Alvarado. Locals come here, often straight from church, with offerings of alcohol and cigarettes in the hope that this sinister looking deity will grant them anything from good crops to a happy marriage. Next to Maximón’s shrine stood an exquisite knee high ancient Mayan figurine with an enigmatic smile. The custodian of the shrine nonchalantly told us that he’d discovered it on a mountainside, evidence of the tantalizing treasures that still lie undiscovered throughout Guatemala.


choppy waves. At San Antonio Palopo the villagers were celebrating their annual fiesta and the air was filled with the delicious smell of frying tortillas wafting out of street stalls. In front of Later in the afternoon we had an exhilarating ride over the a pretty whitewashed church a crowd had gathered to watch the lake to the northern Kaqchikel speaking shore. The capricious Dance of the Conquistadors. To the slow hypnotic tinkling of xocomil winds had picked up sending our boat careering over the marimbas, a line of drunken men were staggering around dres4.

DANTEmag n.3



Dance of the Conquistadors

DANTEmag n.3




of the finest collections of sculpture in the Mayan world and is mercifully free of Tikal’s creepy crawlies. It comes as a big surprise to discover that the Bay Islanders speak a lilting old fashioned English dialect. Known as Garifunas, these English speaking Afro Caribbeans are found all the way along the coast from Belize to Nicaragua and are descendents of rebellious African Slaves and Carib Indians who were deported from St Vincent by the British in the 18th century.

sed in dazzling scarlet and blue military uniforms. Around their faces they’d tied finely carved wooden masks depicting golden bearded Spanish soldiers while on their heads 16th century style war helmets covered in sequins were sparkling in the sunshine. The dance was introduced by the Spanish to commemorate their colonial victories but in typical Mayan fashion was incorporated into an intoxicated pre Columbian dance that is believed to release the spirits of the dead. Although it’s possible to swim in Atitlan, the water is freezing and with the Belize Barrier Reef tantalizingly close, a popular tourist route is to travel overland to the Honduran Bay Islands to unwind with a few days’ scuba diving and snorkelling in the pristine Caribbean waters. The route takes you through Copan Ruinas, a delightful highland town with an invigorating spring like climate. Here you can enjoy horse riding around the hillside coffee fincas and explore the nearby ruined city which has one

Roatan is the largest of the Bay islands and at the backpacker hangout of West End I hired a scooter for the day and headed out along dusty roads stopping at isolated beaches where the only company I had wee spinytail iguanas basking in the sunshine on fallen coconuts. The Garifunas are famous for their seafood and at the ramshackle village of Punta Gorda I stopped at a beachside café and ordered a spicy coconut fish soup swimming with plantains, king prawns and chilli peppers. On the sand a group of boys carrying sticks were prodding a deadly poisonous purple Portuguese Man of War that had been washed up on the beach while just offshore a fisherman in a wooden dug out canoe paddled by, idly trawling for Queen Conchs, a popular local delicacy. That evening a Garifuna dance troop came to perform in my beachside resort. A troop of drummers dressed in white struck up a frenzied rhythm and a group of ladies in Rastafarian coloured skirts began shuffling forward chanting hypnotic incantations. A medicine man dressed in a knee length grass robe began spinning around them wailing and shaking maracas in a scene that transported us straight back to their ancestral West Africa. During this trip I’d been astonished to encounter similar cultural traditions that have survived hundreds of years of slavery and colonial oppression and it’s this vibrant cultural diversity that makes Central America such a rewarding travel destination. . Fact Box For further information on Guatemala, Honduras and other destinations in Central America go to www.visitcentroamerica.com DANTEmag n.3



Rio Voluptuoso, Rio Carinhoso Rio is famous world-wide for a sensuality that is brash, joyous, uninhibited, sometimes violent, nearly cliched. But that voluptuousness can also be found in the interstices between moments, in a glance, or a passing touch. The city’s carinho – it’s tenderness – is an essential element of its sensuality. And that’s something that fresh eyes can see, if they look past the obvious. By Alex Forman DANTEmag n.3



I Rio de Janeiro at night

I’ve just moved to Rio de Janeiro. I’m being served a lazy afternoon lunch. Bossa Nova is playing on the breeze, the rhythms of the street, and the ocean below. Caju - the blushing, easily-bruised fruit of the cashew nut - is brought to the table on a platter of tropical fruits. I am a caju virgin. My host, in his bare feet, tells me to eat it like an apple, hand-to-mouth. The flesh is soft, resistant and – this is barely a metaphor – human.

DANTEmag n.3



Brazilian girl at carnival parade Capoeira on Ipanema beach, Rio

What is not sexy about Rio de Janeiro? Down nine flights of stairs between two parked cars, a monstrously large woman has pulled off her pants and is squatting to pee. She takes her time. Her voluptuous body fills the hard-boundaried space made by the cars. She tucks her head, and her full ass rises. Her hand moves forward and below between her thighs. She is adjusting her penis. It takes some effort. A black sedan pulls up. She still squats in the dark, thighs clenched. One hand holds her penis in place. The other slides her beige panties up her legs. She takes a long look at the automobile that slowly puts itself in gear. After one final adjustment, she emerges, leaving a puddle and its tributary behind. DANTEmag n.3


Cars drive past, the ocean roars and whispers, the high laughter of the prostitutes rises. Hers is alive. She calls out: to Yemanja, to passing cars, to potential customers, to other prostitutes, to me at my window - the perfectly-pitched catcall of a practised performer.

“É o amor apaixonado, desejo e atração sensual.” Of course, Rio’s renowned sensuality exists in its legal prostitution, the nude carnival dancers on the street, the propensity for B-list porn stars to become kids’ TV-show hosts, the pornographic magazines on every corner newspaper stand. But with my fresh eyes, I also find this sensuality articulated in the spaces between: the touches, the kisses (one on each cheek, three to marry), and


Improving perfection? Flip-flops a gogo

the provocative stares. It’s there, between half-naked men standing Speedo to Speedo while reading the daily paper, hanging for that purpose, next to the nudie pictures. There, in the smell of tapioca pancakes with sun-dried beef, onions and cheese sold on the street. There, in the vocal resonance of vendors calling:

“Mate Leão.” “Biscoitos Globo.” And it’s here, at the market, where the grocer explains, with a hand on my shoulder and another on the greens: “These you can’t cut. Tear them with your hands or they’ll burn your mouth. These you can cut but you must boil them or they’ll be bitter. And these you can cut and eat as they are. You’ll love them.” Or here, in the gestures of the man in a bloodied, white apron, piling plucked fowl exactingly. My mother says, “He cuts chicken like a jeweller.” Or, here, at the corner, where the used-book salesman has a makeshift cart. He loans my 85-year-old neighbour whatever she likes. She reads the books and returns them to him. She once gave him her mother’s green, leather-bound, 24-volume set of famous works of art. “He would lie down for me to walk on him,” she says.

Anything-goes samba comes suddenly around a corner. Cavaquinho (a four-string ukulele), someone dancing, drumming in a doorway. Beneath a tree, a one-legged man taps out a percussion tune on his metal crutch. He sits on the ground, giving rhythm to the storm he knows will erupt. Six wheelchairs sit under an assembly of trees, on Burle Marx’s famed mosaic sidewalk. Daughters, nurses and maids sit with the mentally ill and the aged. There is sensuality in their care and, even, somewhat perversely, in the power play between caretaker and caregiver. At the back of each apartment, in the privacy of the bedrooms, or in the maids’ quarters, and the public area between them all, there is a shaft. Here, the chords of a couple practicing flute and sax rise together with the cries of the wheelchair confined woman in no 701, and mix with the romantic tones of the 21:30 novela (soap opera). Walking home, I pass a male body that must be six feet four inches, 200 pounds or more, sculpted as if by an artist. Take-yourbreath-away gorgeous, I see out of the corner of my eye. His almond eyes reach out, grab mine, and hold them swaddled for a beat past the smile that forces itself through my lips. I think I may have found Eros.

DANTEmag n.3



Boats in Itacare Bay, Bahia

Minutes later, I stumble upon three more, most gorgeous men. This time, I stand still in the middle of the pavement, watching. They talk animatedly with exaggerated gestures. Their pants are worn just too tight. Button-down shirts teased to show washboard stomachs. A handsome bulge of muscle on each arm; sleeves rolled high. They have new haircuts: laborious patterns shaved into the scalp, their appearance carefully orchestrated. Their movements are choreographed. And I am captivated by the dance of ass, abs, and muscle lifting 65 gallons of garbage onto the garbage truck, their orange dungarees becoming sails as they drive off.

Everyone leans. Girls lean into their boyfriends on benches, legs entwined. Boys lean into their girlfriends on cars, hands on her hips, lips locked. Old men in toupees lean over their drinks toward the young women they’ve brought to the open-air cafés. Dogs in heat lean. Five floors up, a woman’s voice rises. She gesticulates. She paces. He leans out the window. Their argument washes over a family of five asleep on the sidewalk. The steam rises off all this publicly-exposed skin. There is sensuality in the simplest gesture, hypocrisy, violence of the city.

I decide to be ready in Rio, I’ll need to get a bikini wax. I lay down in a curtained area on a raised single bed dusted with talcum. A nurse-like beautician, tells me to take off my panties and to spread my legs. I’m offered a menu: Labia, Anus, Anus and Labia, Pubis, Thighs…. She applies hot sugar to my labia, my asshole, my thighs. She brushes talcum and pulls warm wax. I feel waves of pain and then her carinho (tender caresses), as if to show me she didn’t mean to hurt me.

A woman in the waves with her grown retarded son splashes water on his body and laughs. She’s the Piéta pouring cups of seawater over his shoulders and gently through his hair. He stops his ecstatic cooing to plant a big, tender kiss on her cheek. Three adolescent girls, guava breasts exposed beneath barely-veiling sarongs, giggle as they pass a couple, post-retirement, who face the ocean on a concrete Burle Marx bench. He’s shirtless now and so is she, but for a lavender bikini top. They hold hands, as if to say, “Let’s go, my love. The future begins now.”

Late afternoon lightning strikes. The city steams up. People walk in pairs, holding hands, or they stare unabashedly - but not unkindly.

“Who can see something this beautiful and not give it carinho,” the man says, approaching a dog. This is a world in which a word

DANTEmag n.3



Below Copacabana Beach, Rio. Bottom Brazilian mood music

like carinho exists in the quotidian, even between strangers on a street. Another man walks past with his buddy and, in mid-sentence, looking into my eyes, says, “This is the kind of woman I mean, beautiful and educated.” He winks and continues his gripe about his girlfriend.

island fingers extending into the water. These hillsides become black night, lavishly spread with twinkling stars, the bare bulbs free from urban sprawl. Hotel after hotel penetrates the sky and Christ, glowing, floating disembodied above it all. I can’t see Christ from here, of course. But I know he’s right behind me.

A woman in high heels, tight jeans and a pink tank-top is next, her hair cascading past her shoulders, dyed a brilliant red. She wears no makeup, save for some bright pink lipstick offsetting her wildly large, green eyes. The colour draws me in and at the same subconscious moment I notice her height. She is, let’s say, too tall, her cheekbones too wide, her jaw too large, and her Adam’s apple protruding. As I arrive home, the doorman says, “The sky will open up now.” And with that, it does, with a passion that I’d felt growing all day. The ocean pulls outward with a roar, a whisper as it draws back in. Avenida Atlantica – a pearl necklace of lights – clings to Copacabana beach. This city is an odalisque. She reclines along a series of beaches. Leblon, Ipanema, Copacabana, Leme, Urca, Botafogo, Flamengo. In the distance, buxom mountains hug the bay, their DANTEmag n.3



DANTEmag n.3



Combat Winter Doldrums – Arrive in Spring like Persephone


The rush, high mood, and explosive energy of the holidays are over. Winter doldrums are setting in. New Year’s resolutions are starting to fade, giving way to the tasks, turmoil, and reality of every day life. The days are getting longer, but it is barely perceptible, and the winter world seems unen-

The dark climb out of winter and into spring is written so deeply within our cells that we wrote it into our mythologies as well. But we’re not completely helpless before the cycling of the seasons. There’s a lot we can do to maintain a bright outlook until the joyous return of Persephone.. By Elisa T. Keena

ding. In the old days, February 2 (or 15, depending on the calendar) was a Celtic holiday known as Imbolic, a time when the dreariness of winter began to give way to the promise of spring. This was when the serpent of Bridget, the maiden goddess of hearth, fertility and light, would come out from its lair to see the sun and determine how many more days of frost there would be. In ancient Greek mythology, this was also the time when Persephone, the maiden goddess of spring, daughter of the goddess Demeter (or Proserpina and Ceres in Roman mythology), would begin her ascension from the depths of the underworld where she spent the winter with Hades (her abductor and husband), finally to reach the earth’s surface on March 20-21. Thus would begin the first day of spring, when all of nature rejoiced at her arrival and started to bloom. But what is it really, this time between winter and spring, this time when the darkness is giving way to the light, when we are perhaps at our lowest ebb, the darkest part of our year, emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically? This time especially affects sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. As the daylight hours decrease, our levels of the hormones, melatonin and cortisol, increase, while serotonin, the “feel good” hormone, decreases, leading to lethargy, fatigue, depression, anxiety, insomnia and depressed immunity. DANTEmag n.3



This is the time when we have symbolically travelled through all the levels of Dante’s hell and having reached bottom are beginning, like Persephone, to climb through the gloom into the light. It is usually the time when we do some self-reflection, soul-searching, cleansing and rejuvenating. This prepares us for the arrival of Persephone – the return of spring. We climb up through the levels of our being and emerge new, bright, fresh - hopeful for another chance, another beginning and cycling each year to renew with spring. This is a time to nurture yourself with nutritious foods, calming yet invigorating exercise, meditation, and perhaps some alternative body treatments. Aromatherapy or Thai massage, acupuncture, and energy work are all good options. Incorporating even titbits of these practices will help you to feel stronger, deal with the challenges of life, strengthen your immune system, and generally improve your well-being. It will help you resist the winter doldrums and climb easily into spring. DANTEmag n.3


The take away is: Our ancestors knew that at this time of year we need rituals to brighten the day. Here are a few tips for you to create your own in different areas of your life. They’ll help you to banish those winter blues, rejuvenate yourself, deal with stress and stay grounded through those winter doldrums! Nutrition: The change in light plays havoc with our systems - either through the symptoms of SAD, or from decreased activity due to the cold weather or shorter days. It is important to keep a positive outlook and resist becoming frustrated or short-tempered during this dark time of year. One way to help keep your mood elevated and feel energised is to stabilise your blood sugar. This will help you avoid the peaks and troughs that lead to mood swings, lethargy, and depression. Here are a few easy steps to follow to keep your blood sugar in check:


Table 1.

Eat every 3-4 hours


Choose lean protein foods - turkey, chicken, tuna or salmon contain tryptophan, which stimulates the production of serotonin and has a calming effect.


Eat high alkaline foods, such as vegetables, sea weed, various greens and sprouts. These are high in vitamins and minerals that are a tonic to the nerves.


High vitamin C foods like Brussels sprouts - low in sugar - can stimulate a good mood


Unsweetened live yoghurt containing pro-biotics enhances gut health and immunity


Eat whole-wheat grains in moderate amounts.


Increase B vitamin intake - a tonic to the nerves.


Take adequate amounts of vitamin D3.


Avoid excessive caffeine as it provides energy but then causes a crash.

Some helpful supplements:

Aromatherapy oils that lead to increased energy are lemon,

citrus and geranium. This is also a great time of year to incorporate a 3 -5 day vegetable cleanse. This will help increase energy, support the immune system, detoxify, aid in losing those few extra pounds left over from the holidays and increase energy.

• For breakfast have fruit with Kefir, or unsweetened yoghurt, or pulses such as lentils or chick-peas. • During the day, have two meals containing all vegetables or salad in unlimited quantities. Vegetables can be raw, boiled, baked, or sautéed. Cook or serve with olive or flaxseed oil. • Snack on fruits or nuts between meals. • Green drinks or vegetable soups can be added into the diet as you wish. Incorporating this vegetable regimen into your diet, weekly, biweekly or monthly will assist you in feeling more energetic, grounded and focused.


Saint John’s wort stimulates serotonin release and increases the time it is available for use in the body.


Sam E – increases brain neurotransmitters that are responsible for mood


Fish Oils – EPA/DHA improve neurotransmitter function.


Gingko Bilboa improves blood flow to the brain.


Peppermint, camomile or passion flower tea have calming properties


Valerian or Kava Kava tea both aid sleep.

Yoga and Yogic Breathing: Breathing is our most natural and unconscious action, but so many of us do not breathe to our full potential. We breathe shallowly, quickly, or hold our breaths. Any of these can cause a decrease in oxygen and an increase in carbon dioxide in the body, leading to such problems as poor circulation, lack of energy, depressed immunity, lethargy and depression. When we become aware of our breath - how deeply we breathe, the rate and length of our inhalations and exhalations, and the PAUSE between the inhalation and exhalation - we begin to relax our minds and bodies.

DANTEmag n.3



Focusing on the breath and our natural rhythm of respiration can increase the oxygen in our bodies, help with detoxification, improve immune function, change the hormonal milieu, decrease anxiety, blood pressure, headaches, lethargy and fatigue. You can use your breath to create energy or a state of relaxation and/or sleepiness, depending on your needs. Isauro Fernandez, the founder of QI Power Vinyasa Yoga** suggests specific yoga positions and breaths to push the winter doldrums away. These positions will help you “Ground, Release and Receive.” They can assist you in staying motivated, positive and in sync in every situation. One of his favourite mantras is “Feel Everything, Force Nothing.” He suggests using the Ujjayi breath. Often called the ocean or hissing breath, it is a yogic breathing technique that calms and balances the nervous system, increasing oxygenation and building heat. Isauro encourages his students to use this breath, noting that the treasure is found in the PAUSE, the space between the inhalation and exhalation. This is where calmness, peace and love reside. You can use this breath in seated meditation, during an active yoga position or practice, walking down the street, or before going to a party or an important meeting. The take away is: as you observe the pause in your breath, you learn to pause in life before reacting, before making assumptions, before saying or doing anything. Enjoying the peace and calmness of the pause, the connection, allows the natural cycle of the breath to stimulate a positive state of being.

Ujjayi Breath

Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your teeth, narrowing the back of the throat. Close the Mouth. DANTEmag n.3


Inhale deeply through filling the lower belly, then middle chest, then upper chest. Exhale through the nose with the mouth closed, at your own pace. Acknowledge the space between the inhale and the exhale - THE PAUSE. The breath will sound like the waves of the oceans lapping against the shore. This breath is beneficial for: • Detoxification • Immune system functioning • Energising endocrine and autocrine system • Blood circulation • Functioning of vital organs and digestive tract • Mental and physical balance • Lethargy and fatigue • Headache, backache • Anxiety • Blood pressure and blood sugar • Calming mind and integrating mental and physical balance Isauro also suggests using yoga positions to Ground, Release, and Receive. Ground your energy so you stay focused and clear of thought. Release what you no longer need. And Receive openly and with grace what is available to you. The following suggested positions are a just a few of the many that can be used to stimulate the flow of energy, or qi, through the body in order to invigorate and enliven you.

Warrior II

In Warrior II you are grounding your feet in the earth to absorb energy. Your feet are three to four feet apart with the front foot perpendicular to the back instep. The front knee is bent at a right angle and the back leg is straight. The hips and shoulders are open to the side, parallel to each other. The arms are extended, one reaching forward, the other back. The torso is directly in the centre of the body, symbolising the present. The arm extending behind you holds the lessons of the past. The arm reaching


forward is open to accept the gifts of the future. The body is centred, representing us in the present, grounded, strong with open hearts. Take three to five deep breaths here, relax and drop the shoulders away from the ears, sinking down into the hips, relaxing into the positions. Let the qi, or energy, flow through your body with each inhale and exhale. Release any stored-up toxins or tension with the exhale, and inhale love, grace, compassion and peace. You should feel relaxed and revived after holding this position. The movement of the breath and the qi gently stimulate the nervous and endocrine systems, while providing the body with a muscular challenge. Qi Stance 1-4: Moving From Warrior II turn the palms over with the inhale. Pause. Press the right knee forward and to the right as you move your right hand slowly towards the back. Fix your gaze at your left finger. Breathe, relax. Pause. QI Stance 2: From Qi Stance 1, exhale and shift the weight from the front to the back leg. Open the chest, lengthening the spine, and relax. Feel the energy flowing through your body with each breath calming, relaxing, releasing. Qi Stance 3 to 4 On an inhale, move your left arm over your head on a diagonal and bring your front arm forward as if you are pulling on a bow. You are the archer rising up from the earth. Releasing anything you no longer need, feel the energy in your breath and your body. From Qi Stance 3, exhale through the mouth and press left hand forward open-palm, while making a gentle fist with your right

hand and placing it by your waist. Strength and gentleness, peace and energy, dark and light. Feel the energy bringing you up from your inner depths, and release into the light. Meditation: UNHOOKING Breathing and yoga release tension and stress energetically in the body, increasing blood flow, creating a positive mood, and setting the intention for happiness. However, sometimes we need to detach emotions from the things in our lives that hold us in the darkness of our moods. Elizabeth Stratton, worldrenowned healer, pastoral counsellor and founder of the Touching Spirit Centre, suggests using a meditation called UNHOOKING . You can practice this on a daily basis when coming home from work or before bed or whenever you need to release. It’s a great meditation exercise to do for this time of year when we want to get rid of the winter - the old - and make room for the spring - the new. Unhooking meditation leads you through each of your energy centres, or chakras, the areas where the nerve ganglions enter the spine. Each centre or “spiralling centre of light” has a specific colour and attribute. The energy centres run from the base of the spine (first chakra) to the top of the head (seventh chakra). The colours are the colours of the rainbow. A quick review of an unhooking meditation follows: • Sit or lie in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and begin to breathe deeply and slowly. • Send your breath and your intention to the first energy centre. Ask or see if there are any “hooks” i.e. people or issues bothering you that may have to do with your security or how you fit into your life. • If there are, see the hook attached to a rope. Draw the hook towards you, then release it. See who or what is on the other side of the hook. DANTEmag n.3



Energy Centres




1- root

base of spine

how you feel in your world


2- Spleen

below the belly button

creativity, sexuality


3- Solar plexus

between the ribs

ego, will power/



centre of chest

unconditional love





DANTEmag n.3





between the eyes

psychic ability, manifesting your dreams


top of head

your connection with the universe


• Address the issue or person with love and compassion. Thank the person or issue for being part of your life, for learning from them/it. • Then let them/it go! Do this exercise for each energy centre and repeat as often as necessary. This facilitates letting go and creating space, lifting burdens that you weren’t aware you were carrying, allowing you to open, to become free and light. When you have finished cycling through your body, continue to breathe deeply, seeing a white light surrounding your body, filling you with love, protection and peace. Creating “rituals” such as these that take care of your body physically, mentally and emotionally during the winter doldrums may allow you to feel more energised, to be happy, to shed the old things that are burdening you. You’ll arrive in spring renewed, calm, peaceful, grateful and joyful!!! So when you walk down the street and flowers blossom at your feet, trees bloom, and nature sings, the world will think Persephone has arrived. But you know it is YOU that have arrived!


Mark Powell Bespoke Tailoring 2 Marshall Street, London www.markpowellbespoke.co.uk

DANTEmag n.3



Robotic Surgery It sounds like science fiction, but it’s here and it’s changing the future of surgery. By Lynn Kowalski

DANTEmag n.3




Milestones in medicine, such as vaccinations or antibiotics, can fundamentally transform many lives at once. Milestones in surgery can do so one life at a time. We are entering a new era in surgery where we can achieve just such a transformation. Robotic surgery, or minimally invasive surgery with the daVinci速 Surgical System, affords us the precision and dexterity to perform complex operations through keyhole incisions once only accomplished with large open wounds. As a result, hospitalisations are shorter, costs are lower, and complications are fewer. How does this technology differ from conventional minimally invasive techniques such as laparoscopy that have been around for decades? First of all, a binocular camera sends a 3-D, high definition live video feed to a viewing station through which the surgeon sees inside the patient. The surgeon maintains control of what he/she is seeing at all times, and can zoom in for a magnified view of small critical structures when necessary. In contrast, with conventional laparoscopy, an assistant manipulates a monocular camera by hand while the surgeon tries to communicate what he/she needs to see.

Da Vinci Si - dual console DANTEmag n.3



Second, the instruments are designed to move with six degrees of freedom - that is, like a human wrist. The surgeon manipulates the instruments through a computer interface while sitting at a console at the patient’s bedside. Conventional tools, also known as “straight stick” laparoscopy instruments, are manipulated by the surgeon’s hands from just outside the patient’s body. These instruments have only three degrees of freedom, resulting in much less mobility and precision. This is especially important during suturing, when turning the wrist directs the curve of the needle through tissue. Finally, with robotic surgery, the surgeon sits at the console, performing the procedure from an ergonomically superior position resulting in less fatigue, shorter operating times, and greater operating room efficiency. As an example, let’s look at the case of a 34-year old, massively obese, diabetic woman who spent three months recovering from her last surgery due to a wound infection with antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus aureus. Now she has enormous uterine fibroids causing hemorrhage and life-threatening anemia. Using this new surgical platform, we performed a hysterectomy through five 8mm incisions, and the patient left the hospital in less than 48 hours. Comparing robotic surgery and conventional surgical techniques with respect to cost and the patient’s quality of life, this is truly revolutionary. In the realm of cancer treatment, the revolution is on. In the United States, the vast majority of surgeries for prostate cancer are now performed robotically. Studies suggest equivalent cure rates with shorter return to work and improved rates of return to sexual activity. In the past, early cervical cancer was treated with an open radical hysterectomy. Patients typically spent five days in the hospital before spending an additional 6 weeks at home recovering. Those who needed additional treatment such as radiation and chemotherapy had to wait six to eight weeks to begin treatment. Now, patients go home within 24 hours and can return to work and exercise in three weeks. Curative therapies can begin in about three weeks. The more complex the surgery, the greater the advantage to robotics. Take the case of a 45-year old woman who underwent an emergency hysterectomy by a general gynaecologist for heavy bleeding. Several days after the surgery, the laboratory reported that the uterus and cervix contained a cervical cancer. Unfortunately, she had the wrong type of operation. If the cancer diagnosis had been known in advance, the simple hysterectomy would not have been DANTEmag n.3


Master control

performed. Patients with cervical cancer should undergo a radical hysterectomy, a more complex and extended operation intended to remove all the cancer. In order to correct the inadequacy of the original surgery, the patient now had to undergo a radical parametrectomy, upper vaginectomy, and lymphadenectomy. This is typically a challenging operation performed through a 20-30cm incision with a high complication rate, 1000cc of blood loss, and an extensive recovery. We performed her surgery robotically with 25cc blood loss and five 8mm incisions. The patient was able to go home the next day with a rapid and uneventful recovery. The daVinci® Surgical System, also known as the surgical robot, is available at hospitals around the world. The technology is expensive, but it is a shared resource utilised by many surgical specialties for a variety of conditions. Current indications in the field of urology include radical prostatectomy for men with prostate cancer, removal of all or part of a kidney for cancer or other conditions, repair of congenital abnormalities in children, and removal of the bladder with reconstruction for bladder cancer. In general surgery, physicians are using the robot to perform bariatric surgery for obesity, remove a diseased adrenal gland or portion of the pancreas, and excise portions of the intestine or colon. Cardiac surgeons utilise the system for heart valve replacement and coronary bypass surgery. In my field of gynaecology - the fastest growing sector of robotic surgery - we use the daVinci® Surgical System to perform hysterectomies for fibroids, endometriosis, uterine cancer, and cervical cancer. Suturing is the key component for two other gynaecologic procedures: myomectomy (removing fibroids without hysterectomy), and vaginal colpopexy (suspending prolapsing organs to the sacrum). The daVinci® Surgical System offers a clear advantage


The primary criticism of this technology is its price tag. In the United States, the system costs about $1.6 million. For programmes that are busy and create models of efficiency, daVinci® surgery has been shown to be more cost-effective than other modalities. Principally, this results from fewer days in the hospital, typically the greatest charge in any hospitalisation. These analyses do not even include the costs of home health care, antibiotics, and complications from more invasive surgical approaches. The savings to society in general from gained work productivity with shorter recovery time more than offsets the cost of this technology. Also, the system is a shared resource that can be utilised by many specialties for many different applications, thus improving the cost to benefit profile. In my own cases, I choose the ancillary equipment in the room with an eye towards cost containment. Other costly instruments, such as stapling devices or electrocautery tools, are no longer necessary. I can perform a typical hysterectomy with just three daVinci® instruments, each costing $200 per use. We utilise non-disposable tools for most of the other aspects of the procedure, saving on medical waste expenses as well. Surgeon’s hands

for these procedures due to the enormous improvement in suturing ease and precision. The technology of the daVinci® Surgical System is best described as computer-assisted surgery. The term surgical robot is actually a misnomer. This implies that the movements are somehow automated, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The system simply connects the movements of the surgeon to the instruments inside the patient’s body through a sophisticated computer. The system translates each movement of the surgeon’s hands, in real time, to the instruments through a series of tiny pulleys. The surgeon maintains complete control of both the camera and the instruments at all times. There is, of course, a learning curve for the surgeon and the surgical team to adapt to this new technology. After about twenty-five cases, the surgeon gains proficiency and eventually can improve his/her technique and efficiency compared to open surgery or conventional laparoscopy. The daVinci® Surgical System was introduced more than ten years ago, originally based on technology from the US Defense Department. Initially, the military was looking for ways to stabilise injured soldiers in the field while the trauma surgeon operates remotely from a secure location. Intuitive Surgical Inc. then developed the platform for the operating room in the late 1990’s. Intensive ongoing research and development has been in full swing ever since. The third generation machine is now available with improved optics, a smaller footprint, and greater range of motion.

The current system platform does have some limitations. These include limited application to surgery in multiple areas of the body. If a surgeon needs to operate in all four quadrants of the abdomen, for example, this technology is limiting. It is more effective when the procedure involves only two quadrants, because the arms have to face in one direction. Once the system is set up and docked, moving the whole machine around is cumbersome. In addition, the arms have some limitations as to range of motion. Right now, the instruments are wristed, but they have no elbows. In the future, instruments that can articulate at an elbow would improve range of motion. At this time, the computer is also unable to give the surgeon tactile feedback. Certainly, being able to feel the tissues would add an additional important dimension to the surgeon’s awareness of the surgical field. In the near future, we anticipate advances that will allow the camera and all the instruments to enter the body through one small incision. In addition, the system will allow imaging through other modalities to be superimposed on the 3-D console image. For example, a fluorescence study of a patient’s lymphatic system could be seen in real time, allowing the surgeon to see cancerous lymph nodes to be targeted for removal while sparing normal ones. It is not hard to imagine that in a few years, technologies we can only dream of today will be incorporated into this system, all resulting in better outcomes for patients with less morbidity. This technology clearly is the future of surgery, and the future looks bright.

DANTEmag n.3



Semel in Anno Licet Insanire*

*Once a year you’re allowed to go mad, as the old Latin proverb attributed to Seneca says.

Celebrity Chef Marco Pernini talks about the culinary delights to be found at a traditional carnival party.


With all that’s going on in the world, I’d venture to say more than once a year. In fact, you’re allowed to go mad as often as you want to. Just remember to always do so in moderation – going over the top never looks good.

DANTEmag n.3



DANTEmag n.3



1. 2.

3. The festive mood of Christmas and New Year is over and spring has yet to begin, so it’s easy to feel a bit down. Therefore it makes perfect sense to get into the fun spirit of the ancient carnival tradition, and indulge yourself in food that can cheer the heart. Recipes for carnival celebration food abound, and the traditional food has evolved over the years, adapting to changing local consumption and produce (something we should be doing more often to keep a fine balance between what Mother Earth produces and what we consume). For instance, in Brazil, one of the most famous carnivals in the world, they make spicy food to go with their even spicier outfits. This is most appropriate for the hottest month in the southern hemisphere. In New Orleans, meanwhile, they prepare for Mardi Gras a special gumbo with chicken or shrimp and added spice that shows the influence of Caribbean taste in that region. And while the festive mood of the carnival is, above all, associated with making various types of cakes for the children, it actually gives adults an excuse to get a bit silly too. I’m going to focus just on the Italian carnival tradition – after all it’s where it all started – and I want to indulge myself and tell you about the numerous cakes that are to be found all over Italy. Italy is a united country now, but it hasn’t been so for long – only last year we celebrated the 150th anniversary of unification. It had been a poor country, divided into many small states, not only fighting against each other in wars and in culture, but also in the art of cooking. Of course, poverty is the mother of all invenDANTEmag n.3


tions and Italians were the masters – adapting and readapting their creations constantly with the ingredients they had available. The result is an extraordinary selection of recipes that vary from region to region, varying almost as much as the works of art you may find scattered around every church, every palazzo and every piazza corner. Italian cuisine is good because it is simple but, as I always say to my dinner companions, the secret is how you choose your ingredients. Don’t forget that everything you put in your mouth becomes a part of you, so you should always be careful of what you choose to put in it. It has been quite a task researching the many traditional carnival cake recipes, but I have managed to find the most popular delicacies of Italy. Now I’m passing them on to you for your own indulgence and to help you get yourselves into that carnival spirit.

1. Cicerchiata

This is a speciality found in Abruzzi, Umbria, Le Marche, and Lazio. It is a cake made with flour and eggs, with some variations, adding either olive oil , sugar, lemon juice, or liqueur. Make 1 cm balls out of the mixture and then fry them in olive oil or cooking oil. Drain the excess oil once they’re done, then dip them in a heated solution of honey and stick them all together so that when cooled down they make one whole cake. The use of honey shows how ancient this recipe is.

2. Struffoli.




7. These are the southern version of the circerchiata above. The Neapolitan struffoli look like the circerchiata but the two recipes differ in many ways. The Neapolitan sweet is decorated with cannullilli e diavulilli, that is, candied fruits and other coloured sweets, which give them their festive feel. One variation of strufolli is to bake them in the oven, so they come out a bit lighter.

3. Castagnole

This cake is typical of the Friuli region. Making these can be great fun for the children as they help their mother with stirring the mixture, which, here, consists of eggs, flour, lard, and added baking powder and is flavoured with aniseed-based liqueur and lemon zest. The castangole is then either fried or baked till golden.

4. Tortello di Ravioli Dolci

These are little half-moons of thin pastry, made of flour and water and a bit of sugar, that are filled with jam or dried fruit inside, or sometimes with ricotta and even with pecorino to add a bit of spice. That’s what they do in the areas around Naples.

5. Graffe or krapfen

This is more an Austrian tradition that Italians adopted in the early nineteenth century when Napoleon sold Venice to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They are basically what we more commonly call doughnuts with either a jam or apple filling.

6. Zeppole

The term zeppole is also used to refer to a cream cake made from choux pastry, invented by the chef Pantarelli in 1540, seven years after he left Florence for France, along with Caterina de Medici and her court. Commonly light-weight, deep fried dough balls of about 5 cm in size, these doughnuts or fritters are usually sprinkled with caster sugar and may be filled with custard or pastry cream as they do in Rome. Zeppole are traditionally eaten on the 19th of March, St Joseph’s Day, where in Naples the zeppole makers set up their deep-friers outside their shops and nearly fight each other for the passing custom.

7. Fritole (fritter)

These are the most typical cakes to be found during the Venice carnival. They are first mentioned in a recipe book from the 1500’s written by Bartolomeo Scappi. In 1600, the fritters were only prepared by a very select number of pastry chefs and the art of the fritter was handed down from father to son. Only in 1700, at the time of the Venetian republic, did it become a more national cake. The base mixture is made with plain flour, eggs, sugar and milk and then pine nuts and sultanas are added, together with a drop of rum and some lemon zest. Once deep-fried, they are sprinkled with sugar. A Venetian variation has them filled with delicious zabaione cream.

Now we come to my favourite! DANTEmag n.3




• • • • • • • • • • DANTEmag n.3


250g plain flour 50g softened unsalted butter or margarine 2 eggs A pinch of salt 2 tbsp caster sugar 1 1/2 tbsp Mistrà Anise Liqueur 1tsp vanilla essence Lemon zest 1 L vegetable oil for frying Icing sugar to sprinkle on top


METHOD: Place the flour on a table and make a well. Mix the eggs, salt, sugar, vanilla and MistrĂ . Pour the mixture into the well. Using a fork, gently fold the flour into the egg mixture, Switch to your fingers once the flour is all wet and carry on mixing together. Knead well until the ingredients form a smooth paste.

Frappe di Carnevale Not only are these the simplest of all the carnival cakes to make but they are the most fun. As a result, they are the most widespread and popular. In fact this is the one cake that is found in every part of Italy though sometimes it goes by different names. For instance in Friuli they are called crostoli; in Emilia-Romagna, sfrappole; in the Veneto, galani; in Le Marche and Umbria, frappe; and in Campania, they are called chiacchere. The regional variations mainly consist of which liqueur is added, depending on what was available locally: Marsala in the south, white wine or grappa in the Veneto and Friuli, or Mistra’, an aniseed-based liqueur, as in my region, Umbria. And I leave you with my special recipe for it.

Roll the paste out with a rolling pin (although a pasta machine will do) and make it as thin as possible - the thinner, the better. Cut the frappe with a shape cutter 10-15 cm long. I like my frappe to be different shapes, so they mirror the many types of carnival masks. Fry in vegetable oil until crispy. When they have cooled, sprinkle with icing sugar. And now, taste the history of Italian carnival by having a go at making one or two, or all, of these recipes and you`ll have a party to remember!

Buon Carnevale to all DANTEMAG readers wherever you are in the world! DANTEmag n.3



NonnoPanda TALES


One day lost in the dark wood, unable to find the right way. . . .

I came across Lily the albino hummingbird in a state of shock. Following a delicious scent that day she’d found herself in a greenhouse. She plunged delightedly into a beautiful trumpet-shaped flower, which reminded her ecstatically of plants in a far-off land, and began to suck out its sweet essence. Her dreaming delight was interrupted by the sudden realisation that water was dripping onto her tail. She backed out rather fussily, impatient at this disturbance to her lunch, to investigate this strange phenomenon. It must be the automatic sprinklers, she thought at first. But seeing there weren’t any, she looked for the source of the moisture elsewhere. I had the feeling the story was a long one, so I asked Lily to stop flapping her wings in front of my nose. The buzzing noise was irritating me and making me sneeze. Not only could I not understand her properly, but she was getting exhausted and I was afraid she would collapse in front of me at any moment. Hummingbirds need to be nourished constantly to keep up the level of energy they need to stay in the air. So I told her to land on my paw and calm down, and take a few deep breaths. I also sat comfortably so I could listen carefully to her story.

Lily the Albino Hummingbird and the Crying Ficus

She explained that she’d realised with a start that the wetness was coming from the leaves of a large plant above her. “Good Nature,” she said in surprise, “it’s tears!” Fying up to the plant, she asked, “What on earth is the matter with you, dear Ficus? Why are you spraying me with water?” “Because I am terribly unhappy,” the plant replied, and plunged into the whole story of her life, from the time she had been lopped off from her old mother. “They took me straight from my mother to a strange place,” wept the plant, “where I was supposed to look for the sun and grow towards it . . . as we do normally,” she explained, in case the bird was unfamiliar with the ways of plants. “Eventually I began to enjoy all the water and plant food the humans gave me and I grew big and strong. “As I grew, I sent my roots downwards at the same time as my leaves grew up. One day I realised that one of my roots was suspended in thin air. I panicked and reached down further . . . more air! I was hanging unsupported! It was horrible. I tried desperately to grasp at something, but no! There was nothing beneath me. I was lost in space!” The plant took a few moments to recover from this emotional part of the story. Then she continued. “Desperate to find some security, I sent my leaves up and up, searching for some way I could balance myself. But all that happened was that they got burnt. “Eventually, the ground under me started to crack all over the place

DANTEmag n.3



and I realised I had been betrayed! What had been the source of my nourishment was a container of artificial soil on the one hundred and thirty-ninth floor of a building. My roots, searching for the ground, had cracked a whole section of concrete which was crumbling into the terrace below. Even the source of my colour was artificial! “I should have realised that I could never have got so near the real sun. It was merely some sort of small, human version of the real thing, made especially to deceive us poor ignorant plants. And that’s my story, bird. That’s how I found myself exiled in this concentration camp of a place, having to wait for my daily meal and the water-spray which force me to survive. Nobody ever comes to visit us, not even a gentle breeze to tickle our leaves . . . just people, anonymous people, who come here to take pictures, because we are all such rarities.” “Your story is very much the same as ours,” the hummingbird said. “Very similar.” “Yes,” the plant said, petulantly, impatient at the interruption. “I’m sure it is--” And then she peered closely at her visitor. “Tell me,” she said. “Aren’t you hummingbirds normally rather more colourful? I mean, why are you white? You don’t have some strange disease or something?” said the plant, cringing and shrinking back, just in case.

their corpses are got rid of.” The plant gave the bird a minute to digest this awful information before it continued. “And tell me also, white bird – you haven’t answered my question, by the way – are your heads and sexual organs cut off and used to decorate human boudoirs?” “Good nature, no!” Lily said in disgust. “That’s what happens to lots of flowers. Some of them are deliberately grown just to have a slow lingering death stood in a glass container with water. Humans watch them dying and say, ‘Gosh, isn’t that lovely!’ And how many of your close relatives have been eaten by hungry humans? The vegetables I know all swear that it is their regular fate.” “Well, as it happens – ,” the bird said, thinking of her friends, the mad cows. Lily mentioned at this point she was getting rather tired of this endless tale of recriminations. “And what about the grass? I ask you, what about grass? It only has to grow a few inches more than humans like and what do they do? I ask you, what do they do?”

“Uh, no,” Lily said. “No, actually --,” “I don’t know,” the bird said with a sinking feeling in her stomach. “My friend, the fir tree, tells me they suffer a terrible fate, you know. Every year many of them are cut down, murdered, and their corpses ritually dressed in sparkling objects, like earrings, for a bit. And then

“ Chop it off! That’s what they do!” The plant was getting hysterical.

DANTEmag n.3



At that point Lily announced she was about to go but the Ficus carried on talking, as if she hadn’t heard. “And think of the cork tree! They flay it alive, you know!” “Good-bye. I’m sorry you’re so unhappy,” Lily said, visibly affected by the story. “We plants have a desperately unhappy life, and nobody seems to care,” the Ficus said, taking a long, deep, sad breath. “No vegetable rights campaigners for us. We’re left alone to weep in silence. But maybe you can be our voice in the world,” said the plant, realising her only audience was about to abandon her. “Are you going?” “Yes!” said the bird. “Sorry.” “Nobody stays very long. I can’t think why. You didn’t answer my question, by the way. Why are you white?” “I’ll tell you another time,” she said, flapping up towards the hole in the roof, from where she’d come to tell me her story. “Oh well, dear Lily,” I said. “Nothing these days is like it used to be. And, yes, the Ficus has a point when she said the plants should have their own - what did she call it? - vegetable rights campaigners? I agree, so the plant world can be protected by a bunch of activists who’ll run around, spraying with paint any garden or terrace, or any window box with flowers, and telling everybody “ Plants have feelings, too, you know!” Humans these days don’t need to use real plants in their gardens or terraces. Fake plastic flowers and plants could do the trick. I’m sure the technology exists to devise a plastic plant that could produce a plastic flower once a season, and create the same effect as in real life. As for fragrance, I’m sure a variety can be tailor-made and programmed, using the right aromatherapy essences to suit your mood swings during the day. You see, technology DANTEmag n.3


is the answer to everything, my dear Lily. But I belong to the old Zen school. I believe everything in nature has a purpose. As my friend Kahlil Gibran says about life’s pleasures: And now you ask in your heart, “How shall we distinguish between What is good in feeling pleasure from what is not good?” Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn it is the Pleasure of the bee to gather honey from the flower, But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee. For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life, And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love. And to both, flower and bee, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is both a need and an ecstasy. “So, my dear Lily, people waste too much time in politics pretending it’s to benefit the many whereas in reality. . . well! We are animals. We move on instinct. We shouldn’t get contaminated by the humans’ way of thinking.” I do not know if it was me quoting from my friend or simply what I’d said that managed to calm Lily down, but she looked at me and smiled and then she flew off, but not before she’d tickled my ear - it was her usual way to kiss me goodbye . . . and so I was able to continue my daily walk.


DANTEmag n.3




By Chris Kline


Jackboots Treading Softly: The Steady Rise of the European Far Right

It all seems so eerily familiar: populist unrest, growing economic instability, and, most disturbingly, the same rhetoric of division, violence, and hatred. Meet the new Right, same as the old Right. We mustn’t get fooled again. Call them what you will - ultra-nationalists, neo-Fascists, neo-Nazis or simply right-wing extremists. Among them are populists, xenophobes and anti-immigration zealots, hyper-conservative Christians, homophobes, racists of every stripe, be they anti-Semites, anti-Roma or anti-Muslim, or all of the above. Alarmingly, the far right is gathering strength throughout the Europe. The phenomenon is mostly occurring legally, ironically enabled by the very democratic liberties and structures they so assiduously seek to eradicate. At the ballot box, elegantly dressed men and women who look little different from any other politicians, fare far better with voters when wearing well-tailored couture than attired in Nazi brown, Falangist blue or Squadristi black shirts. The skinheads are still around, of course, and they have their purpose as rabble-rousing brawlers. But the Roman salutes, the pagan regalia of the Second World War and the disgraced former Axis battle flags expose them so predictably as rabid cavemen that it’s terrible for public relations. Britain’s violent English Defence League is one example of the new breed of virulent street thug, but it doesn’t garner votes as it is a movement rather than a political party, although the like-minded British National Party does now hold two MEP seats in Strasbourg. Yet the BNP’s often haltingly inarticulate pseudo-intellectual Nick Griffin is not exactly the model of the more sophisticated, polished, far-right politician. He is outclassed in effectiveness across the English Channel, where his far more refined continental counterparts speak eloquently and softly about unreasonable policies and DANTEmag n.3


intolerant ideologies in a way that makes them sound reasonable, sensible, even democratic, when they are anything but. Far-right parties were briefly on the defensive after the recent slaughter in Norway by unrepentant sociopath Anders Breivik, who claimed to have committed mass murder in defense of European civilisation against the Islamic horde, and had clearly identified himself with the extreme rightist parties girding themselves up for more power. Even the EDL was quick to repudiate him. But where reactionary parties have solidified their positions and hoped to improve their fortunes, their prospects have not dimmed at all. Nowhere does the future look brighter for this regressive trend than in France. Ahead of this year’s legislative election, Marie Le Pen is a presidential candidate with some hope of winning the first round: according to recent polls her Front Nationale is set to win at least 22% of the vote. Jokingly referred to as “Le Pen Light” for being more accessible, less stern and more telegenic than her firebrand father Jean-Marie (still the elder statesman of the FN), Marie Le Pen is now the face of a more mainstream, upgraded Front. A sense of disillusionment with the status-quo political parties; a fear of Islamic extremism (which is better expressed as Islamophobia); hostility towards immigration; thinly disguised racism towards citizens of colour, especially those of African and Arab descent; a perception that traditional national values and identity are being corroded by multiculturalism and anger over the enduring economic crisis and the lacklustre performance of the EU - all these rally voters to the Front. But if most European far-right parties find much of their rank and file amongst unemployed males, often in rural population


bases and increasingly under the age of thirty, in France, the sheer numbers turning to the FN reveals the Front as a party that resonates with a broad cross-section of French society, not just the disempowered working class and the jobless. Over the span of the last twenty years, the endurance and presence of the Front on the national scene have legitimised it as a viable political choice for French voters. It is, like it or not, becoming a mainstream phenomenon, despite its Neo-Fascist ideology. This evolving reality is also mirrored elsewhere on the continent. The grievances held in common by pan-European voters are being ably harnessed by the extremist parties that cater to voters’ anger and hatred. This broad shift to the right is changing the face of European politics. The same toxic gospel of xenophobia, racial purity, nationalism, law and order and economic scapegoating preached by the Front Nationale, has taken strong root in home-grown varieties in Northern Europe. The Freedom Party of Austria commands some 27% of all voters. In the Netherlands, the Freedom Party led by Gert Wilders holds 24 out of the 150 seats in the lower house of Parliament and is an important block in the coalition government. In traditionally liberal Scandinavia, the True Finns party with over 17% of the voting block is now an opposition power to reckon with, while the Danish People’s Party, however, has thankfully just lost its grip on power, down to 22 of 179 legislative seats at the recent election, where a centre-left minority coalition is now in government.

Switzerland, where the Swiss People’s Party, the SVP, forms a strong third of the electorate and quite simply dominates national politics. Home to so many international forums, neutral and peace-loving, long a champion of human rights and humanitarian principles, nowehere in Europe is anti-immigrant racism or Islamophobia more legalistically entrenched and codified. If we turn further east and include Russia and Belarus as part of this disturbing reality, we must acknowledge a fait accompli. Alexander Lukashenko’s brutal dictatorship is the last old-fashioned, arguably both Fascist and Stalinist, authoritarian state left in Europe. And for all that post-Soviet Russia is described as a nascent democracy, in practice, we must acknowledge that it remains a police state, dominated by former members of the security services. There is little to no freedom of expression, human rights are routinely and egregiously violated, and Vladimir Putin looks set to return to the stage to amend the Russian constitution and instal himself as dictator. We would do well to remember that, in 1933, Germany’s National Socialists rose to power in a democratic election and then promptly abrogated the democratic safeguards that had allowed their victory, to establish the most barbarous dictatorship Europe and the world have ever known. If there is not a new Third Reich on Europe’s horizon, the flames of rekindled ultra-right extremism are nonetheless slowly burning away the foundations of the pluralistic, inclusive democracy European civilisation is meant to uphold. The true enemy within is the thinly-disguised Neo-Fascism amongst us, spin-doctored and made more palatable, donning a new, less outwardly authoritarian and militaristic guise. But peel away the respectable veneer of the modern, mainstream Fascist and you will recognise the ghosts of the past reincarnated in new clothing, the same in intent, if not yet in deed. We dare not ignore them. It’s not a comic opera beer hall putsch put down by policemen. It is a loaded pistol pointed at the very heart of everything that makes us free. Hitler, Mussolini, Vichy, Franco, Salazar, Pavelic, Quisling - once was quite enough.

Italy, of course, by its sheer eccentricity is always a case apart. While Umberto Bossi’s Northern League comfortably holds nearly 13% of the voting power, Italy’s ever chaotic politics and splintered Congress do not seem quite ready to fully revisit its Fascist past. It’s simply too divided and disorganised. And though Spain’s Centre Right government is decidedly staunchly conservative and the ruling People’s Party finds its origins in Francisco Franco’s legacy, it cannot be considered far-right. Germany’s brazenly Neo-Nazi, National Democratic party has made gains in impoverished rural areas like the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, but it is clear the vast majority of Germans repudiate anything that smells Chris Kline is the American grandson of the late President Sukarno, key architect of the like Nazism. The strangest case is that of

Non-Aligned Movement, liberator and founder of modern Indonesia, the world’s most populous, predominantly Muslim nation. Kline is open adherent of the mystical Sufi tradition within Sunni Islam.

DANTEmag n.3


H I G H L A N D PA RK 50 YE AR OL D SIN GL E MALT is the distillery’s oldest and most prestigious release. Only 275 bottles of this remarkable limited edition have been made. Each triumphant bottle, handcrafted from sterling silver and designed by renowned jeweller Maeve Gillies, delivers a suitably stunning setting for this historic whisky. The presentation box, hand crafted from sustainable Scottish oak by John Galvin of John Galvin Design continues the nautical theme. Just like the bottle, each has its individual characteristics and detailing.

DANTEmag n.3



Please enjoy our whisky responsibly

Combining luxury and sophistication while enjoying the astounding views of the Mediterranean Sea, Mövenpick Hotel & Resort Beirut is the ideal retreat for all those seeking excitement and serenity. The hotel offers upscale accommodations and recreational facilities and promotes a wide range of activities and leisure pursuits for business travellers and holiday-seekers alike.


Mövenpick Hotel & Resort Beirut Général de Gaulle Avenue Raoucheh 2038 6908, Beirut - Lebanon Phone +961 1 869 666, Fax +961 1 809 326 hotel.beirut@moevenpick.com


Mediterranean escape

extensive resort facilities.

DANTEmag n.3


DANTEmag n.3


Profile for Evolution Tree

DANTEMag - N.3  

FOR THE RENAISSANCE IN USThe only international magazine with an Italian soul

DANTEMag - N.3  

FOR THE RENAISSANCE IN USThe only international magazine with an Italian soul

Profile for readit