Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Airing Laundry, Both Dirty & Clean, or, Confessions of a Venetian Laundress to the Stars

I'm trying something new with this post--as well as reviving something old.

For some time now I've been interested in the possibility of adding an audio element to this blog. Doing so would eventually open up the possibility of audio interviews with different people in Venice, and of maybe creating pieces that used the distinctive ambient sounds of the city, or recording live musical performances.

More immediately, this required me to learn about the process of podcasting, and how to include audio files in this blog.

During the 2015 Venice Biennale I spent 7 nearly months reading, on an almost daily basis and with a variety of co-readers, all of Karl Marx's Das Kapital, little by little, in three 30-minute sessions in the large Arena space of the Central Pavilion for each day that the Biennale was open. This project was the brainchild of the 56th Venice Biennale's General Director, Okwui Enwezor, who described it as the centerpiece of the extensive series of performances staged in the Arena, and it was directed by the English filmmaker Isaac Julien, in collaboration with curator and critical theorist Mark Nash (

Doing this kind of thing for so long makes you think about the difference between the written and the spoken word--the different effects and experience of the one versus the other. On the one hand, it seemed somewhat natural to me, as I've always had to read and re-read my own writing out loud to myself as part of the process of editing it. But, of course, it's different when you're reading something out loud to others. And it was also quite different from the experiences I'd had reading my own fiction out loud in public, or speaking in public.

If part of the appeal of a travel blog of this sort is that it perhaps sometimes offers a certain immediate sense of a place to people who are, in fact, far away from it--and maybe missing it--I wondered if audio might give a different sense of immediacy. It seemed worth a try.

And in the act of trying, I've discovered this is yet another kind of reading out loud--in which I require a lot more practice. 

I've made four podcasts so far of the earliest essays in what now totals (after more than five and a half years of blogging) more than 650 posts--not all of these posts in the form of writing, fortunately. I'm hoping this is not only a way of finding my way into podcasting, but of selecting written posts (as opposed to the photographic) from the hundreds I've put up which, taken together, develop certain ongoing themes of the blog.

Of what I've described on the Soundcloud site that hosts these podcasts as an ongoing project of writing about living in, and raising a child in, what has long been called one of the world's most beautiful cities, as it confronts rising waters, a dwindling native population, a crushing deluge of tourism--and my young son becomes that ever-more-rare of creatures: a Venetian.

In any case, below you'll find one of my first four podcasts: about the very different ways that a native Venetian and at least certain Americans look at those picturesque clotheslines of drying laundry that tourist shutterbugs find so irresistible. And which asks the question: Just how much do we really want to know about the underwear of our neighbors--and some of Hollywood's most celebrated leading men?

Other, even earlier posts, are available on the Venezia Blog stream on Soundcloud.   


  1. How very exciting! FOR US! I will devour each one. Bring them on!

  2. I loved your video a)bout Sandro the dog (kept listening to improve my Italian) so I am sure I will also enjoy these. Thank you.

    1. Thanks, Freda, I hope you'll like them--though I'm afraid they probably won't help your Italian!