La scena a Boston e ne’dintorni.

It’s Columbus Day here in the United States, which nominally honors Christopher Columbus for his “discovery” of America, to which I append scare quotes not only because there were, in fact, people already living here, but because that summing-up of Columbus’s career, I think, has obscured the actual, wildly crazy history of his voyages, which is worth perusing. Besides, when I was a kid, Columbus Day was really just a pretext for any American with Italian heritage to be obnoxiously proud about it. (As, indeed, I am.)

So here’s some Italian-American culture, in the form of the great (and, reportedly, sometimes obnoxious) American baritone Leonard Warren singing “Eri tu” from Un ballo in maschera, the censor-mandated locale-transplant of which marks the closest Verdi ever came to visiting America.


  1. I’m not sure there’s anything really so wrong with saying that Columbus “discovered” America. To me, you’re perfectly entitled to say that you’ve discovered something if it’s new to you, even if a zillion other people already know about it – so I’d have no compunction about saying that I’ve recently discovered Northrop Frye’s <>Anatomy of Criticism<>, even though thousands of other people have already read it. One can go too far in trying to set the historical record straight.You’ll get no argument from me, though, that the real story of Columbus is far more interesting than the second-grade version.

  2. To be fair, you don’t get your own holiday for discovering Frye. Just as I don’t get one for discovering, as I did this week, that Coca-Cola and coffee ice cream makes a fine ice cream soda. (We should, though. Frye really gets the synapses firing, doesn’t he? And this Coke-coffee thing is one indulgent buzz.)

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