cover up, buttercup(Rome) I just finished a perfectly-prepared sardine antipasti, caprese salad, and a plate of grilled calamari. The wine was a Pinot Grigio from the area. Nice. It’s hot as hell here, but a breeze is blowing off Palatine Hill, where Romulus and Remus suckled the she-wolf. When I close my eyes I can almost hear the ancient Romans in the Coliseum cheering as a Christian is eaten by lions. But the only thing being devoured around here these days is the country of Italy itself, in an economic free fall, its middle class chewed up like prosciutto on a dry panini and its hope for the future spoiling like tiramisu in the sun. I’ve been talking to people all over, gondoliers, bartenders, street barkers, nuns. I don’t speak Italian but I find if I talk loud and use a fake Italian accent they understand me perfectly. I keep telling these poor uneducated bastards what we in America have learned from the Tea Party. A country, I explain, is just like a family sitting around the dinner table figuring out its household budget. If the family is spending more than it’s taking in then it’s time for some good, old-fashioned belt-tightening. I tell them, stop being such whiners and get behind the ECB-IMF-Merkel-Tea Party solution of austerity, structural adjustment, and “internal devaluation.” My words are often received with a rousing cheer of, “bafangool!” which means “thank you for the wisdom!”

Italy’s debt is 120 percent of G.D.P., its government spends 16 percent of its budget just on interest payments which continue to rise due to investor fears, their 800 billon euros of debt is more than that of Greece, Ireland and Portugal combined, and they’ve been mired in recession for the past seven months.

The prime minister, technocrat Mario Monte, has begun a bold plan of raising taxes, raising the retirement age, killing thousands of government jobs, and proposing a 30% wage cut in both the public and private sector to make Italy “more competitive.” Gone are the Silvio Berlusconi days of chasing teenage ass, bribing witnesses, and throwing bunga bunga parties. The mood in Italy has changed. Austerity means that Italian women no longer go topless at the beach and their sunglasses cover 25% more of their faces. The other day, however, Berlusconi announced that he’ll run for prime minister again! The most serious challenger emerging is a washed-up comedian named Beppa Grillo. It’d be too weird even for Fellini.

While the nation is sinking in financial ruin, opportunities appear everywhere to the entrepreneurial American eye. At the basilica of St. Peter there are so many tourists that they almost ran out of the scratchy blankets they use to cover up women who come dressed as whores. Those blankets could be an income generator. In the train station they charge one euro to use the bathroom. Why not raise it to five euros and charge it wherever an Italian needs to relieve him or herself? Peeing on a monument could be double.

The leaders of the EU are on the right track: decades of cuts, austerity and falling living standards in order to keep the Euro propped up for Germany. We’ve got a similar thing going in the United States. Meanwhile, all the world can do is wait until bankers and speculators inflate another ginormous bubble (tulips, yo-yos, magic carpets, who knows what it will be this time?) something, anything so that we can get drunk on money again and be happy.

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  • Gondoliers?

    In Rome?

    • Estproph

      They're on wheels.

    • WhatTheHeck

      well, they are submerged in debt. The whole country is “under water.”

      • They drifted over from Florence.

      • OneYieldRegular

        They only come out when a city is sinking.

    • PuckStopsHere

      Don't worry about it. He's on a roll.

  • Austerity means that Italian women no longer go topless at the beach


    BAILOUT! PLEASE?!?!?!?!?!?!

    • nounverb911

      You should try the beaches just north of Copenhagen.

      • Before or after the thaw?

        • Geminisunmars


    • I thought it would be more droop.

    • SorosBot

      Topless beaches aren't all they're cracked up to be; I learned that when I visited Nice at 16, and all the women were topless – including 70-year-olds, 30-pounders and others you really don't want to see topless. And the men were all wearing speedos along with that.

      • At 16, however, you have sensory overload. It's only when you get older and can be more…selective…in your focus, that you appreciate them.

      • FakaktaSouth

        The one I saw in Northern California when I was 17 changed my attitude as well. Mostly I couldn't tell if the dudes were wearing speedos or not. Seriously, seriously. And I learned about how hairy people are (again with this, I know). And gravity. And why sunscreen is important. And that the general population is not a Swim Suit edition from Belize so fuck it, do whatever you want.

    • James Michael Curley

      You can take the ferry to Sandy Hook and go down to Gunnison Beach.

      • I can ride my bike over to Riis Park, but they're still fucking fat Americans.

        • James Michael Curley

          That’s a nice ride if, as I suspect by your UserID, you are in Manhattan. Have not been there in decades and sure wasn’t a nude beach in the early 80’s.

  • nounverb911

    Maybe they can turn the Vatican in the world's largest McDonalds.

    • Arco d'Oro. Miliardi servito.

      Just don't ask about the special sauce. Especially if you're under 18 and male.

    • Allmighty_Manos

      Or Olive Garden.

      • Graham Cracker

        I sure that the Italians would appreciate finally having some good Italian food!

    • MissTaken

      That McDonald Playland will be all sorts of fun for the little boys.

      • SorosBot

        And now for the leader of Vatican McDonaldland, Pope McGrope!

    • rickmaci

      Dominus McMuffin.

    • rickmaci

      I don't even want to try and imagine what would be involved in a Vatican Happy Meal.

    • WhatTheHeck

      St. Angus beef in a bun libel.

    • kittensdontlie

      How about The Vatican as the guaranteed launch off point to Heaven, with no questions asked. The faithful climb up a long staircase, passing 'Purgatory Point', onward to the top of 'Salvation Place', a trap door opens sending them glissading to certain death into the Tiber. "Next please….that will be 500 in american dollars…

    • GhostBuggy

      Or a casino. It's already Europe's "Sin City," so the change wouldn't be that hard.

    • Papas Fritas.

  • Nothingisamiss

    I'm sure it's the fault of illegal immigration. At least that's what Rusho Limbaughino said on radio Italia last night.

  • SexySmurf

    I don’t speak Italian but I find if I talk loud and use a fake Italian accent they understand me perfectly.

    That only works if you also have a giant handlebar mustache.

    • Or are a plumber who beats up gorillas.

    • JustPixelz

      Remember to enda eacha wordo witha a vowelo.

  • Estproph

    "Meanwhile, all the world can do is wait until bankers and speculators inflate another ginormous bubble (tulips, yo-yos, magic carpets, who knows what it will be this time?) something, anything so that we can get drunk on money again and be happy."

    Sadly, this is exactly what most leaders likely want to do.

    • An_Outhouse

      I suggest a gelato bubble. They should promote it as a natural boner medication and/or an aphrodisiac. Italy's problems solved.

  • Allmighty_Manos

    Hint, hint. There is a ton of gold and jewels just sitting for the taking right in the middle of Rome. And the only guards they've got are goofy looking conquistador look alikes with big axes.

    • Dan Brown taught me they also have lasers, antimatter, and ancient conspiracies protecting the holy lucre.

    • Lazy Media

      Sez you. When they're not in their parade costumes, they carry SIG SG 550s.

  • sbj1964

    They can always fix the problem with Pesto.

  • mrpuma2u

    Huh? Austerity should mean MORE toplessness. No need to buy a new bikini if you are going topless, as no one will be looking at your old suit bottom.

  • James Michael Curley

    "Italy is now a great country to invest in… today we have fewer communists and those who are still there deny having been one. Another reason to invest in Italy is that we have beautiful secretaries… superb girls." Burlesconi in 2006.

    • Topless prosperity; bottomless recession.

    • sewollef

      Silvio Burlesque-oni was a prick when in power and an even bigger prick now. He should go back to being a cruise ship entertainer [true], instead of systematically destroying Italy with his Forza Italia neo-fascist party.

      In 2009, he merged Forza Italia with Gianfranco Fini's neo-fascist Alleanza Nazionale to create yet another neo-fascist party called, laughably, Popolo della Libertà, or 'People of Freedom'.

      There is no middle ground in Italy, people either love him [the fascist and monarchist right] or hate him [the dysfunctional left].

      Remember, this is a country that has only had elections since 1948, but has managed to have 60 of them in that time. Before that it was, ahem, another fascist… and before Musso, it was assorted kings.

      The first Burlesconi government — one of the most corrupt in Italy's short history — was so rife with the mob that a full half of all ministers from Sicily were members of the mafiosi. Italy's a shambles, made infinitely worse by morons voting for demagogues like Burlesconi and the mob into power.

  • sudsmckenzie

    "sardine antipasti" , is that Italian for food stamps?

  • The problem with austerity is that they who should be doing with less (the 1%, banksters etc) aren't the ones getting fucked up the ass.

  • NorthStarSpanx

    If they'd only use their sunglasses to cover their breasteses, then they'd save on having to purchase that garment. Frugality can make on very creative.

  • BaldarTFlagass


    va fanculo

    Ugly Americans indeed.

    • Ay, clearly, you haven't heard Noo Yawk Talians say it…

      • They mostly say it in corrupted Sicilian, not corrupted Roman.

    • octoberhill

      "bafangool" is Sicilian and Neapolitan slang, since spread nationwide. It's nationwide!

  • It is ironic that we fought two world wars to keep Germany from taking over Europe and now we are letting them tell everyone what to do.

    • scionkirk

      Yes, and communist China is the last savior of capitalism.

  • BigSkullF*ckingDog

    They should take control of that nation full of child molesters in the middle of Rome. I hear they have tons of money, real estate and priceless works of art.

    • eggsacklywright

      Terence Stamp in The Limey:

      "…it's true that in the past I have been known to redistribute wealf."

  • Let these beachbathing women charge a fee for busting their busts outa jail for their paying audience. "Say hello to 'Sacco' and 'Vanzetti' — everyone's clamoring for them to be freeeeed…!"

    • Geminisunmars

      Say hello to my leetle friends.

  • Jus_Wonderin

    I mean, what exactly do you expect from a country that continues to allow that Pisa Tower to lean? Really, there is absolutely no ambition or attention to detail!! Git 'r done!

  • FakaktaSouth

    Great, so now if I go to Italy I will have to deal with "shouldn't be that naked" fatass Americans there too? How many Disneys ARE there?

    • prommie

      Cap de Agde, you should look into that.

    • kittensdontlie

      It will be a regular yankee speedo-fest. We jetsetting upwardly mobile liberal elites have our own crosses to bear, don't we…

  • BaldarTFlagass

    Meh, most of the topless bathers I ever saw in Italy were flabby overweight pasty-whites from Northern Europe. No loss here.

    • Billmatic

      Pale is beautiful. Pale power!

  • SorosBot

    At least the Romans aren't solving their fiscal crisis the way they used to, by invading some new barbarian kingdom to conquer, take all their gold and enslave all their people.

    • Nothingisamiss

      Bain Capital did that, though.

      • SorosBot

        At least the Romans would use some of their riches to help the people though, through programs like the grain dole (yes, welfare spending on handouts!) and public works like the roads and aqueducts. Romney just pockets the money himself, and hides it overseas to avoid paying even the low taxes we do have on capital gains.

    • larrykat

      You know, just a little creative thinking here – if Italy would invade Greece I think we could kill two birds with one stone!

      • BaldarTFlagass

        They tried that back in 1940 and got their asses handed to them, then the Wehrmacht had to bail them out.

        • HogeyeGrex

          The more things change…

    • WhatTheHeck

      You just described American corporations’ modus operandi.
      Why do you hate America?

      • SorosBot

        And somehow Romney's work with Bain is reminding me of one Roman politician:

        "While marching to Arausio (modern-day Orange) Caepio plundered the temples of the town of Tolosa, ancient Tolouse, finding over 50,000 fifteen-pound bars of gold and 10,000 fifteen-pound bars of silver. Strabo reports[1] a story told in his time of this semi-legendary treasure, the aurum Tolosanum, supposed to have been the "cursed gold" looted during the sack of Delphi during the Gallic invasion of the Balkans in 279 BC. The riches of Tolosa were shipped back to Rome, but only the silver made it; the gold was stolen by a band of marauders, who were believed to have been hired by Caepio himself. The Gold of Tolosa was never found, and was said to have been passed all the way down to the last heir of the Servilii Caepiones, Marcus Junius Brutus."

        • WhatTheHeck

          When the gold went missing, Caepio claimed he had not been a general for at least 2 years prior and demanded an apology from all those who accused him.

          • Actually, he was a general at the time, but he retired retroactively.

  • MissTaken

    The austerity is so bad that Ratz had to resort to knock-off Prada shoes. And by that I mean he knocked off Prada and took all her shoes.

  • Goonemeritus

    How is this any different from the Italy of the 70’s and 80’s where the only sound currency was kidnap victims and every political party lived in fear of actually winning a national election. That said I love Italy and am proud as hell to be the first generation in my family not to be born there.

    • BaldarTFlagass

      Plus, 2006 World Cup over France.

  • SayItWithWookies

    Of course Silvio should run again — I mean when have rich, entitled, corrupt autocrats not been good for Italy?

    • FakaktaSouth

      Or America? Ask any old Bush.

      • Nothingisamiss

        My bush, however, is neither rich nor entitled.

  • BlueStateLibel

    The way this is going, I'm guessing the next "bubble" is going to be food. Won't that be fun!

    • Nothingisamiss

      Soylent green with garlic!

      • Will that be toasted or in a spread like hummus?

        Cuz I pita the fool…

    • MissTaken

      According to the above the bare boobies bubble has already burst so food makes sense.

    • HogeyeGrex

      Salted rat dicks: $5 each.

  • Callyson

    Yeah, austerity will save Italy, just like it solved everything in Ireland.

    What's that, Paul Krugman?

    Irish austerity policy is a complete failure says NY Times Krugman

    • Billmatic

      In their defense they were drunk because they're trying to forget what happened in the confessional when they were children.

      • Billmatic

        Or the Euro Cup, take your pick.

    • SorosBot

      Well no one could have predicted austerity would fail, I mean it worked so well for Herbert Hoover back in the day!

  • JustPixelz

    Thanks for the update. Here's a suggestion, though. You may want to "tighten up" your prose by dropping any sentences, words, syllables, letters, punctuation that is not related to "topless".

  • Ah Roma, the eternal city….
    Sorry, just having a moment. It really is just so spectacularly awesome.
    We were there (for the first time) in April and found despite whatever economic crisis might have been looming, people just seemed more relaxed, happier, and saner than Americans.
    If I had it to do all over again, I would have immigrated out of this berg long ago.

    • kittensdontlie

      Romney is a genius…his self-deportation idea broadens to include white liberals. The idea becomes more popular as the wingnuts make this country less appealing to live in. Brilliant.

  • Jus_Wonderin

    Hey all, Barb sends her love. And says "I will return soon". I think she is trying to get stuff done like a productive individual.

    Is she trying to say that we are wasting our time???? I bet not.

    • Does this involve oven mitts?

      Cuz I know when I'm forced off line by the real world, I get a little…sad.

  • freakishlywrong

    Ahhh..yes..and making the sign of the horns with your hands means "Don't tread on me"..

  • Dashboard Buddha

    I don't care about Charlie Rangle
    I'd rather read this piece by Dangle

    Burma Shave

  • larrykat

    Gone are the heady days of making soap out of the lipo-suctioned fat of the prime minister…

  • Oblios_Cap

    And the "Race to the Bottom" continues to pick up steam. USA! USA!

  • I don’t speak Italian but I find if I talk loud and use a fake Italian accent they understand me perfectly.

    I have found that speaking in English, slowly and distinctly. while adding an "O" or "I" to the end of random words works in Italy, Spain and most of Latin America. It also shows the proper respect for their culture.

    • Oblios_Cap

      you gotta throw in a few "A"s as well. that's how they know you mean business.

      • And in Romania, toss in a "u" every so often.

  • SoBeach

    …Italian women no longer go topless at the beach …

    That's tragic. I can't think of any better reason for a massive bail-out.

  • Jus_Wonderin

    OT: But, isn't the upside of global warming that Italian women will be wearing less clothes?

    • sudsmckenzie

      I've noticed, here in the Midwest, that "short-shorts' (TM) held by short shorts ,,, um shorts) have been renamed 'did you shave today' shorts. I blame Ralph Lauren.

    • prommie

      less clothing, fewer clothes.

      • Or just drop the "e": less cloths

  • prommie

    Va' fa napoli, Dangle.

    • sudsmckenzie

      …. as in sheriff, or joey? , …. I have way too much time on my hands

  • BaldarTFlagass

    Does this mean that I will be able to pick up a good deal on a Lambo or a Ferrari?

  • A country, I explain, is just like a family sitting around the dinner table figuring out its household budget. If the family is spending more than it’s taking in then it’s time for some good, old-fashioned belt-tightening

    It's worth noting that the people who think this in America also apparently think that taking a massive voluntary pay cut is a really great way to earn more money, because incentives.

    They also like to pretend that it's Completely Unheard-of for a household to hold more debt than they make in a single year's income, despite things like "college", and "mortgages".

    You know, I'd be perfectly happy if people would just stop using this analogy.

  • UnholyMoses

    A country, I explain, is just like a family sitting around the dinner table figuring out its household budget. If the family is spending more than it’s taking in then it’s time for some good, old-fashioned belt-tightening one earner to quit his or her job, the other working family member to voluntarily take a huge pay cut, and to cut spending on things like food, transportation to and from work, and health care, all while still spending the exact same amount (if not much more!) for their absurdly expensive home alarm system and, of course, hookers.

    Fixed to more accurately reflect what austerity actually does.

  • Guppy

    You know, American politics would be much more interesting if Murdoch and/or the Koch brothers followed Berlusconi's example and started tapping Mexican jailbait call-girl ass.

  • NellCote71

    " I don’t speak Italian but I find if I talk loud and use a fake Italian accent they understand me perfectly."

    Is this why we can't have pretty (Italian) things?

  • ttommyunger

    I would eat Whoopee Goldberg before I would eat Octopus, my friends.

    • eh, it all smells like fish

      • ttommyunger

        Yeah, but how long has it been dead without benefit of refrigeration?Sent from my iPhone

  • fawkedifiknow

    Just keep the Pope off the moon, and everything will be fine.

  • One_who_wanders

    I am pretty sure that Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she wolf rather than suckled the she wolf. That would be a completely different origin story.

  • MacRaith

    Yeah, that EU. It's like a "mutually beneficial arrangement" on a continental scale.

  • bringmeanaxe

    They could charge 100 Euros for people to pee on Silvio Berlusconi.

  • DahBoner

    Who can afford to travel to Europe during High Season?

    Mr. Expense Account…

  • mavenmaven

    I thought Beppe Grillo's "V-Day" was pretty cool (v for vafancullo…) We need one of those here…

  • hey lloyd! you're not missin anything here.

    just thought you should know…

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