Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Environment, America and Italia, Part Two

*** Note: This is Part 2 of 2 of the entry, "The Environment, America and Italia". This post would certainly make much more sense if you read Part One first. To do that, click here. ***

Hello friends. In our last entry here on Blogiorno, we left you at the precipice of excitement as we talked about the history of the Ecology movement of the 1960s and 1970s, which would later become known as the Environmental Movement, and how Italy was the key to success of that movement in America.

We talked about the ramifications of a failing environmental movement, which, simply put, would be total and complete annihilation of mankind, animals, multi-cellular organisms such as jellyfish, and even unicellular organisms such as amoebae, paramecia and American "Mainstream Media" journalists. Yes, we were talking about wholesale destruction of the planet as we know it...but other than that it wouldn't be too bad.

Environmental apocalypse on our
beloved Planet Earth, illustrated.

Now I realize that many of you are rolling your eyes right now with all this Environmental Apocalypse talk...

"So what," you say, "the environment will be just fine, and besides, I think that...wait...WAIT, what time does 'Dancing With The Stars' come on tonight? That Mario Lopez will be in my dreams tonight!"

[Deep sigh.]

Great, again with you and the "Dancing With The Stars".

Okay, that any gal would find Mario Lopez alluring is bamboozling to me. Nothing personal against him, you understand, I'm just bamboozeled, is all. I mean, come on girls, he seems like an okay guy, but he just looks way too perfect, with his immaculately coiffed hair, his poreless skin, his impossibly white teeth,'s a bit unnerving, especially to mere mortals like me and Mickey Rourke (below). And if you didn't know better you'd say it's almost like he's not real at all, perhaps fashioned out of proprietary NASA polymer plastics...covering a computer-controlled, microbiotics-derived titanium-alloy endoskeleton.

[Long Pause.]

Yikes, this gets me to thinking/worrying about the future Global Apocalypse and just who may be waiting for us in said apocalypse. I am now wondering if it may just feature forthcoming distant relatives of Mr. Lopez, only with slightly less sunny personalities.

Terminator, Mario Lopez model.

Okay, now I'm actually getting scared here; it's one thing for Terminators to take over the world in the coming Environmental Apocalypse--I'm actually okay with that. But Mario Lopez model Terminators? Insufferable.

But, I digress; I apologize profusely. Let's return to the important subject at hand. So, just why did Ecology survive in America, and what did it all have to do with Italy? I have a vague recollection of wanting to answer those questions, so before I go on another tangent, here is the answer you've been pining for:

My friends, in the early 1970s the United States was introduced to the Face of the Environment, when a then-new spokesman completely changed the discussion. May I present to you Iron Eyes Cody, the famous "Crying Indian".

If you're about 30 or older, you may remember the Crying Indian television commercial from countless airings on Saturday mornings and after-school T.V. here in America. There he would be, silently walking our lands, looking to the horizon. There he would be, sandwiched between the Banana Split Show and Three Stooges reruns, paddling his canoe. And there he would be at the climax of the commercial crying, crying, always crying, a single big tear flowing down his weathered face. A truly memorable commercial.

But why was he crying, you may ask. I will tell you: He was crying because of all the pollution and trash covering America's purple mountains and amber waves of grain, for crap's sake. He was crying on behalf of his ancestors who couldn't cry because they had mercury and hepatitis strains A through E leeching into what remained of their ocular cavities, thus rendering them eternally tearless.

You see, back in the 1960s and 1970s, America was a garbage bin, and no cleaner than any third-world country on our globe. Exactly the same. No all. Yes, America was a veritable hell-hole of scum and villany, covered knee-deep with discarded steel cola cans, Otter-pop wrappers, Big Mac boxes and faded, one-armed plastic toy figurines, long-forgotten by their evil kid-masters.

At least, that is what my television told me.

To be honest, I don't seem to remember such a sorry state of our lands, though perhaps I was rendered insane from the constant influx of Pixy-Stix sugar dust...completely whacked out of my mind from it...that is certainly a possibility. Still, I'm starting to wonder now: For example, speaking of Big Macs, my T.V. also told me that the people at McDonalds are bad, very bad, right up there with despicable characters such as corrupt financier Bernard Madoff, the Atlanta Falcons' ex-quarterback Michael Vick, and singer Jackson Browne, the woman-beating-environmentalist-whom-we-don't-really-blame-for-slugging-actress-Daryl-Hannah-in-the-eye-socket-because-after-all-he-loves-our-planet-so-much-and-besides-she-probably-deserved-it-anyway-because-she's-beautiful, guy.

My convoluted point is, since I never saw all the pollution that they were talking about in the 1960s and 1970s, I suppose that I will have to take it on faith that it was nothing short of horrific. And I have to take it on faith that my television would never, ever, ever, ever lie to me. Or exaggerate. And the news media never lies or exaggerates either. Never. Ever. I feel dirty even suggesting that our televisions and the news media aren't anything less than 100% truthful and benevolent forces in our completely accidental solar system. I do. Really. But, since we here at Blogiorno promised to examine all aspects of every issue, we count it our somber duty to raise the point with you, our lovely readers. (I am so sorry for doubting you, my lovely Sony Wega T.V. I weep for you and with you.)

So yes, let's just say that the 60s and 70s were an environmental nightmare; to quote our own Marlon Brando, an Italian and campaigner of Native American causes: "The horror". Still, ever undaunted, our Crying Indian was there for us in between the Bugs Bunny Merrie-Melodie cartoons, admonishing us to stop the pollution of our lands and waters. And the tag-line of these commercials was always the same:

"People start pollution, people can stop it."


So who was the now-famous Native-American? Well as I said earlier, his name was Iron Eyes Cody, because of that steely gaze. Now, Iron Eyes Cody was his Native-American name; his "other" name was Espera de Corti.

"Wait a minute," you say, "that doesn't sound Indian to me."

Well, first of all, it is not "Indian", you infidel. Our politically-correct--and otherwise completely amoral--American media have deemed "Indian" to be completely offensive. Rather, it is "Native-American". Second, you are correct, it is not an Injun name...

My dear Blogiorno readers, Iron Eyes Cody, our Native American friend, was in fact a full-blooded Sicilian-Italian.

[Translation: "Huh?!" - Ed]

Yes, that's right, America's anti-pollution ad campaign, nay, America's very survival, would have never been possible were it not for the great nation of Italy!

You see, Iron Eyes Cody was born Espera de Corti in Louisiana in 1904. He was the son of Antonio de Corti and his wife Francesca Salpietra, who were immigrants from Sicily in 1902, looking for a better life in America. At age twelve, Espera began taking acting roles as an American Indian character, eventually moving to Hollywood, California in 1924. Needless to say, he was very successful, having appeared over 200 times on film. Later in his life, he would claim to be part Cherokee and part Cree. Cody and his wife Bertha adopted several children, all Native Americans, and he devoted his life to Native American causes (because let's face it folks, the American Indians got a raw deal from the white devil crackers). He even adopted the Native American garb, rarely leaving his house without a full regalia of suede leather clothes, moccasins, beads and even feather headdresses. Now that is commitment!

After a long, successful career and life, our beloved Espera de Corti passed away in 1999, at the age of 94, and was laid to rest in Hollywood, California. Needless to say (but apparently I'm saying it anyway), he left an indelible mark on American lands, American minds and even American pop-culture. For that, I am personally grateful.

So there you have it, my friends, the beautiful story of an Italian man who brought the Environment to the American consciousness (which we probably needed), and, just as importantly, lived a determined, purposeful and meaningful life as a husband, father and advocate for Native Americans. Grazie mille Espera, e grazie Italia!

If you would like to view Espera di Corti's now-famous commercial about pollution, the commercial which dawned a new age in America, we're including that here for you (below).

Thank you again for reading my friends. Ciao, ci vediamo!

Espera de Corti's "Keep America Beautiful" Commercial

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Environment, America and Italia, Part One

These days it seems as though you cannot turn on the television or open a magazine without being sternly-yet-oh-so-stylishly reminded by famous skinny starlets and tattooed Hollywood hunks about the impending global doom that we face.

[Long Awkward Pause]


"What? What impending doom? What are they warning us about?", you ask. Are they warning us about another Hollywood strike? No, though we should be so lucky. Of what then are these filthy-rich, liquor-riddled sages speaking?

Blogiorno will tell you: They are talking about the Environment. They are warning us about Global Warming and the coming Environmental Apocalypse (tm).

Apocalypse, illustrated. Note absence of homo sapiens and Starbucks.

Yes, that's right my friends, the Apocalypse is coming, and the Hollywood braintrust are reminding us that America is to blame for this intensifying hell on earth, despite earnest efforts to stop us by the benevolent leaders of eco-friendly countries such as China, India and Russia. Yes, it is coming, they say, and there is a better than even chance that people on planet earth may soon start to melt and/or spontaneously combust, much like Indiana Jones's arch-enemy Dr. Belloq and his Nazi pals did when they were stupid enough to open the Ark of the Covenant (photo, below).

Global warming, illustrated.

Very frightening, to be sure.

But in our discussion here about the environment, let us try to lighten the mood a bit, shall we? Let us try to be positive, for that is what we do best here at Blogiorno. We are positive. Let us try to focus on something other than the fact that some of us are doomed to be reincarnated as Kingsford "Mesquite" charcoal briquets (which, by the way, give that unbeatable smoky flavor to your meats).

So, in that spirit of positive positivity, here is a question that is chock full of levity: When did environmentalism first enter American consciousness via mass media? Hmmm, interesting question. How did it come about? From one person or many? Did it have a spokesman, and if so, who was it? Well my friends, you are in luck because Blogiorno can shed some light on this subject, and, more importantly, we can show you how our beloved Italy played an important role in it all. So please, let's press on!

Back in the late 1960s and 1970s, environmentalism as we know it had its genesis, but it had a different name. It was called "Ecology". You may recall that Marvin Gaye wrote a song by that name for his groundbreaking "What's Going On" album of 1968. (Highly recommended.) Anyway, Ecology was the early movement and the forerunner of environmentalism; it even had an official symbol, which was "created" by some genius who combined the letter "e", for "environment", with the letter "o", for "organism". You may recognize "his" symbol as the character theta from the Greek alphabet. You may also recognize the term "theta" from Tom Cruise's Church of Scientology, which we won't talk about here because "The Church" is watching...always, always watching. Always.

So, the theta was the original logo for Ecology. Later in 1970, some anti-patriot desecrated the American flag by changing its colors and replacing its stars with the theta (see photo, above). Oh, isn't that lovely. Jimmy Carter must be rolling over in his grave about that one.

Now, Blogiorno realizes that for some of you, the "theta" symbol and the Ecology flag are totally new--you've never seen them before. And really, we could not blame you for that at all, as those symbols are--let's be honest--completely forgettable. Because of such weak symbolism and the obvious weak conviction behind it, environmentalism could have died right then and there if left to the cannabis blazers who were in charge of marketing, branding and heading up the movement in the 60s and 70s.

"So what," you say, "I hate the environment anyway. I actually like littering. It makes me feel powerful."


Well, to borrow a LSD-induced phrase from the 60s: "If it feels good, do it." What could possibly go wrong? After all, look how well that philosophy turned out for the Flower Children. And anyway, far be it from Blogiorno to judge you; that's what Leo Di Caprio and Cameron Diaz are here for.

Besides, we're doomed anyway, so go ahead, knock yourself out.

However, my friends, there are other serious ramifications at play here in this discussion. You see, if Ecology died back in the 1970s then this would mean that today many waning celebrity careers would be in jeopardy here in America because said celebrity opportunists would lose valuable mass-media face time. Now that is serious, my friends.

Another frightening example: If Ecology failed, then our own Albert Gore Jr.--we love you Al!--would be denied a chance to resurrect his stalled career by skillfully hijacking the environment issue, by sounding his blood-curdling scream as a warning to us all, and in doing so, burning hundreds of thousands of gallons of fossil-based fuels in his private jet, and distributing his highly-lucrative movie, "An Inconvenient Truth", to us in dangerous plastic DVD cases which seagulls fight each other over to swallow whole (photo, below).

Seagulls vying for delicious DVD case.

Thankfully my friends, fate took us in a completely different direction. Ecology didn't fail, though not because its founders charted the right course. No, in the early 1970s Ecology thrived and even became forever seared into the collective American consciousness. And it was all due to one single factor. One Italian factor. Oh yes friends, you may not know it, but Italy singlehandedly brought the environment to the collective American consciousness. And by doing so, Italia saved our environment.

"Why did Ecology survive, what was the factor," you breathlessly ask, "and what does all this have to do with Italy?!"

Well, the answer to that is positively spellbinding, but you will have to tune back in to Blogiorno for the answers, my dear ignorant friends. Trust me, it will be worth it all. And you will not have to wait long; we are merely dividing this blog entry into two parts for easy reading, because here at Blogiorno, we care about you, our faithful readers. Davvero! [Translation: "Really!" - Ed]

Besides, if this article got any longer, it would rival the length of...Al Gore's internet...or, uh...Bigfoot's tapeworm? Whatever, who cares.

Ciao for now!