Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini Crypt

Went upstairs to the rooftop terrace this morning for a lovely buffet breakfast consisting of breads, pastries, charcuterie, cheeses, eggs and all good thing while wondering what to do today.  Both of us have been to Rome before and see a lot of the highlights and while we are scheduled to check out places like the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Pantheon and the like, later in the week – we had no set plans today based on the ‘wait-and-see-how-we-pull-up-after-shitty-long-flight’ factor.

So we decided we’d go for a wander about 10 mins from here (being the Fontana di Trevi… did I mention the Trevi Fountain is right outside our window, and is the stunning backdrop to our breakfast on the rooftop patio?) to the Santa Maria della Concepzio de Cappuccini.  Which is a gorgeous church (below), complete with museum, and crypt full of the bones of 3700 Capuchin order friars semi-interred in an artistic interior design display.

capuchin church santa maria della

Apparently, when friars arrived at this church in the 1630s, they brought 300 odd cartloads of deceased friars’ remains with them.  There was a strange-ish friar Fr. Michael of Bergame who was responsible for the arrangement of the bones in the crypts.  They also had soil bought in from Jerusalem thanks to the generosity of Pope Urban VIII in order to bury any monks that would subsequently die… So when another monk died, they were buried in the crypt without a coffin, and allowed to decompose in the soil from Jerusalem, and when they ran out of room, they would exhume him and add his bones to the decorative motifs surrounding the interesting soils of the crypts.  Bodies spent roughly 30 years in the soil before being exhumed and added to the artwork.

The Church (and the guides here) insist that the display  is not meant to be a sort of danse macabre, but rather a contemplative reminder of how short our lives on Earth are and a sharp refresher on the nature of human mortality, in case any of us forget.

Photography is forbidden in the crypts, so I have plucked some images off their website and various… I have a feeling there is going to be a lot of ‘stock’ photos plucked off wikipedia for posts on this trip, if they keep up this ‘no photos allowed’ shite.

capuchin crypt in Rome

The central motif of this ‘piece’ is the crossed arms that is the symbol of the Franciscan order – the skeletal arm of Jesus, crossed with the clothed arm of St Francis, surrounded by columns made of skulls, in between a wall lined in skulls and femurs, under an archway made of shoulder blades and tailbones.

capuchin ossuary crypt rome capuchin crypt 2 capuchin monk crypt rome

All of these displays are made with the bones of exhumed friars/monks.  The last friar who was buried in the crypts was exhumed in 1870, so good to know it’s not a ‘work in progress’ still.  O.o  The bones are artistically display to depict many religious symbols and reminders of Earthly life.  There are tailbones used to create hour glass shapes, skull used to create walls with the entire skeletons of some friars used to show the walk of man through life.  There is bones used to make lanterns, bones lining the walls, the roof the archways.  It is really fascinating in a absolutely creepy kind of way – I don’t care what the Church says the intent is.

Many famous persons have come to visit here over the centuries – Mark Twain, the Marquis de Sade, and Nigel Hawthorne to name a few,

“The reflection that he must someday be taken apart like an engine or a clock…and worked up into arches and pyramids and hideous frescoes, did not distress this monk in the least. I thought he even looked as if he were thinking, with complacent vanity, that his own skull would look well on top of the heap and his own ribs add a charm to the frescoes which possibly they lacked at present.” ~ Mark Twain

Might look for something a little more cheerful to check out after lunch!

Long flight is long.

I feel like I shouldn’t really gripe about long haul flights – they usually mean we are off to somewhere exotic and interesting, but oh my god, do they knock me around.

Given I have recently been fighting off pneumonia and bronchitis and sinusitis and shit like that, and was so close to cancelling this trip and leaving Aunty Mary to go without me, I have pulled up this morning much better than expected (good reason for not writing about it last night – my view on the matter was decidedly less circumspect with pain levels through the roof and just absolutely exhausted).

We left Brisbane at 0500, so had to be at the airport at 0300.  I, of course, was still doped up to the eyeballs on Valium as we left the house having had somewhere in the region of 3-4 hours sleep to get up at my alarm at 0200.  :/  Not an ideal start to the day, but what do you do.  Race across town to the airport, vaguely thinking about the fact that my travel insurance doesn’t kick in until you are 50kms from home, so there would be no death benefits payable if we crashed and burned on take off because the airport is only 15kms from home, (#ThingsThatGoThroughMyHeadWhenStoned)…  Do the hurry up and wait thing at the airport.  Line up get boarding passes, go wait in the lounge in a a drug addle haze for two hours before boarding and yay, we get away on time.

Get on the plane and our TA has booked us a window and an aisle seat and a spare in between… usually I book my own flights, but these open jaw flights can’t be easily booked online yourself, so the chickie had allocated us seats with one in between.  Give a slightly concerned/piss-off/please-no look to everyone coming down the aisle to claim their seat after we settled and luck went out way – no one in between.  So we had a spare seat and a bit of space to stretch out from Brisbane to Dubai.  T

hat flight went mostly well, except for the cock up with the food… I’m not one to list down a strong dislike as an allergy, so I never request special meals and it’s never been a problem, you can usually chose something that suits your preferences, but I haven’t flown Emirates since going to Turkey with Dr Nick in 2007 (whoa… I vaguely remember that flight, there was a LOT of alcohol and a very enabling flight attendant named Brad who kept bringing us G&Ts), anyway, capsicum is my kryptonite (that and coriander, but that’s genetic so nothing to be done about that one).   Breakfast, consisted of something that was supposed to be scrambled eggs, but was just some sort of salty reconstituted mush, with a little chicken sausage and some soggy potato gems masquerading as ‘hash browns’, was served at 0600.  Still groggy, I wasn’t really hungry, so I had a bit of ‘egg’, and ate the fruit and a bad cup of tea and called that, breakfast done.  Then around four hours after that, they came around with some little pies – half of them meat, half of them vegetable mornay… took a bit out of the little pie they gave me and it was almost wholly capsicum and went ‘nup’.  Asked the flight attendant if I could have one of the other ones, and he said ‘Sure, I’ll be right back.’  I waited about 35mins and all the trash was being whisked away and the guy happened to walk past and see me and said, ‘Sorry, but there were none left.’  Ok whatevs.

Until after many more hours of painfully sitting still – fucking captain must be seriously risk adverse, there was some turbulence but nothing over the top and he had the seatbelt sign on for about 12hrs of the 14hr flight discouraging people from moving around the cabin – and they came to serve ‘dinner’.  It was about 1600 our time at this point, so we’d had nothing but a party pie thing since 0600, except juices, water and lemonade, and I didn’t even have one of those.  ‘Dinner’ was chicken and mushrooms with ‘grilled Mediterranean vegetables’ (you got it – capsicum), and some weird capsicum brushetta and banana cake… or alternative meal was a lamb biriyani.  Rather than risk the capsicum, I asked for the lamb. Different hostie this time said, ‘I am out of lamb atm, but I’ll bring you one right back.’  Oh, here we go.  Seriously, 20 mins passes, and I am sitting there thinking, surely they haven’t forgotten me again.  By the time they start cleaning up after everyone, I’m hitting the attendant call button and it was being turned off and ignored because they were all busy!  Four times, I tried to get someone’s attention.  Eventually someone walked past and made eye contact, and I was like ‘Could I please have a meal?’.  She looked appalled, and asked what happened, I said the chick was coming back with a lamb dish, she said ‘We are out of lamb.’  FFS.  I saw someone going past from the central galley with a huge tray of them, so I asked her to go look.  She came back with a meal – of lamb – and then asked if I need anything else… and of course being in a pained and now unusually hangry state, I said ‘No thank you, but could you please send me the cabin manager after I’ve had my dinner.’

Well you can imagine how that conversation went – she was very apologetic, by this time I was over it so I was saying ‘I understand these things happen, but you can’t tell someone you’ll be right back and then forget about them for half an hour – and it really shouldn’t be happening to the same person twice in one flight!’ Blah blah blah, she was appreciative of the feedback and the rest of the staff were very solicitous after that – she ill advisedly gave me a customer feedback card with an email address on it ‘in case I wanted to write to their head office about the matter’, but screw that – I get paid to write consumer complaints these days, so stuffed I can be bothered writing one in my time, and definitely not over airline over food!

Anyway, we get to Dubai, do the transit thing, go through security, throw away a perfectly good unopened bottle of water, and wait about three hours for our connection to Rome.  Get on the plane, same seats allocated, and damn but there is someone in the middle seat.  We schooch over and they get the aisle and the next six hours are torturous.  So much back pain.  And how annoying to be climbing over sleeping Chinese woman who won’t get up to let us out.  :/

Get to Rome, and think, finally!  We are here.  There’s supposed to be a driver waiting to take us to the hotel but first, what have we got for you borys?!  LOST LUGGAGE!  Shit.  Stand around the carousel see three bags like mine go past, keep standing around, watching all the people pushing and shoving (those pamphlets the Chinese govt are issuing to tell their burgeoning middle class on, how to be good tourists, are NOT working), as they collect their luggage until eventually no bags left, and the carousel stops.  Bugger.  Go hunting, find a bunch of other people from Brisbane with missing bags, hope like hell they aren’t stuck in Dubai or worse… and eventually discover that they came off the flight but were left on the tarmac.  Wait some more.  Nearly an hour from exit plane to collect bag, and I’m thinking, our driver will have fucked off… but no, thankfully he was still there when we got out, and he drove us – in that particularly Italian style that I like to think of as ‘bored Mario Andretti going out for milk’ – to the hotel.  We made it around 10pm… and looked out the hotel window and saw:

trevi night

Which almost, almost, made the nightmare transit worth it.  Woke up this morning and it looked even more beautiful… and on a bit of sleep and not being stuck in a seat, the transit is forgotten.  Mind you, I have just determined that that is my absolute last long haul flight in cattle class… I’ve never seen the value in not stretching my travel dollars as far as humanly possible, but I am just too broken for this shit.

trevi fountain am

Why AR-15s? Buckley Jeppson’s post.

Buckley Jeppson gun store challenge

Today I went to my local gun store (US Guns, 9063 SW Barbur Blvd.) to ask about AR-15 guns. I didn’t go in to berate, but to try to understand why a store would sell such weapons. The two young guys in the store were understandably jittery but tried to answer my questions.

ME: I’m trying to learn more about the AR-15 and why an ordinary citizen would want one. I already know that the AR does not stand for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle” but for ArmaLite, the company that developed it.

CLERK at US Guns: Most people use them to shoot cans and stuff.

ME: You’d have to be a very bad shot to need that kind of gun to shoot cans. I did just fine with my BB gun and my dad’s 30-06 deer hunting rifle. I didn’t need 45 rounds per minute.

CLERK #2: They are good for shooting coyotes and ground hogs because those little suckers really move fast.

ME: It seems that the AR rifles are nearly all you have here, except for the hand guns.

CLERK: Yes, they are our most popular.

ME: But surely everyone isn’t buying them to hunt coyotes, ground hogs, and tin cans.

CLERK #2: They are good for wild pigs in Texas. They’re a real problem in some parts there.

ME: But we don’t have wild pigs in Portland. Why do people in Portland buy these types of guns?

CLERK: Well, some are for protecting their families and property.

ME: Protecting them from whom?

CLERK: I don’t know, that’s just what they say.

ME: Have you ever had someone you love killed by a gun, and I don’t mean while hunting rabbits?


ME: I have. You are young, and the older you get the more likely you are to lose a loved one. Whether you think they are killed by a gun or a person you will discover they are dead. What would happen if you stopped selling AR rifles?

BOTH CLERKS: We’d be out of business.

ME: So it’s about the money.

CLERK: Yeah.

ME: I ask you to reconsider and to stop selling these guns. Thank you.

And I left. But wait, there’s more:

Part II
As I headed to my car I was approached by a guy who was in the store and followed me out.

GUY: They are lying. They sell the guns to people to protect themselves when “they” come?

ME: Who is “they,” zombies?

GUY: Yeah, that and all the others who might try to steal your food after an earthquake or take your guns or imprison your family members.

ME: Is that something that really concerns you?

GUY: Yeah, with the way the country has been going the last 7 years. . .
ME: You mean since we got a black president?

GUY: Well, not just that but look at all the Muslims and immigrants streaming across the border to get us. I have six ARs, and plenty of ammunition.

ME: But you can only shoot one gun at a time.

GUY: But I bet I feel lots safer than you do.

ME: No, I’m not afraid of hoards of zombies, Blacks, Mexicans, or Muslims coming after me and my family. I’m more afraid of going out dancing, or to church, or the movies, or school.

GUY: Nah, those are pretty safe places.

I drove away proud that I hadn’t screamed at anyone, but just asked questions, hoping I would learn something. I did, and it made me cry a bit as I drove home.

I thought of my friend John, a husband and father, who was depressed about school and couldn’t buy beer in Utah because it was Sunday, so he bought a gun and shot himself.

I thought of my daughter, who wanted to clean the carpets but was turned away because she was wasn’t old enough to rent a Rug Doctor. But she was old enough to have bought a gun if she wanted.

There is something very wrong here and the only way it will get fixed is if we all get off our butts and do something about it. Everyone start by finding your neighborhood gun store and go in and ask questions. Challenge them a bit to think about it and to come clean with the real reasons for these guns. It has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. It has to do with the money they make from paranoid people, made even more paranoid by the NRA. We all have a gun story. Tell them your story and ask them to stop selling AR guns. They probably won’t, but you will have made them think about it.

Buckley Jeppson  June 15 at 10:18am · Portland, OR, United States  on Facebook