14 January 2019 Gilberto Marciano

Year 2019, Chapter I: The journey

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(introductory soundtrack) Professor Smith had been staring for at least ten minutes at the windshield wipers which with that typical hypnotic movement opened a gap of visibility in the midst of that late-winter rain; «For me it is so relaxing» he repeated whenever his colleagues pointed to their impatience with it instead.

For him, on the contrary, it was inspirational, it gave a crossroads of thoughts, often resolutive of problems that on a beautiful sunny day would not have found a glimpse of unravelment.

The ticking of the drops that beat on the roof of his ’68 Ford Mustang, perceived after a few seconds of inner silence namely when that zeroing had taken over, that mental detachment from the world external to that intimacy, it had sunk him into a lethargic state where, having got into the car at three o’clock in the afternoon, and started the powerful V8 engine as usual, he could have moved from the campus parking lot even many minutes later, such he was overwhelmed by his thinking.

His hearing wanted to focus on every drop above the high-grade steel, Ford quality of the glorious years, while the visual could distinguish the yellow glow coming from one of the building’s windows, a yellow watercolor from the rain that seemed to trickle slowly on the windshield; it was Lucy, her collaborator, a tireless researcher whom he, a bit skeptical initially, had enlisted in his team. That flash had quelled his thoughts for a moment; he had always been pleased with the meaningfulness of his choices, at least those really well chosen, and with his own good taste, without hiding it publicly.

He had loved many women, and he had never cut bridges with anyone, probably so as not to hurt them; on the other hand he had always made himself well liked by everyone, and perhaps for this very reason he had never married. He was very attached to money, to which, moreover, when he was young he had not given too much importance, perhaps because he had been extensively fortified by his father, a wealthy Texan businessman whose refinery supplied the state with more than 5 million liters of gasoline and diesel at day. Despite the generous “tips” of a father who was practically never at home, soon after John, having reached the age of thirty, he closed relations with him because of too many differences of opinion about his future, which actually after his psychology studies facts could not be in the oil sector; but this was unacceptable to his father.
Stopped Smith Senior’s substantial subsidies, Smith Junior did not realize how quickly money could end, especially if you despise money as a concept and as an object; the years between 33 and 43 were really hard, during which he had to move many times and adapt to the hardest jobs, even from a moral point of view. Unfortunately, when there is no money, you also get into debt and have the feeling of fumbling with water in your throat, and the poorer you are, the more you are alone. (musical interlude)

(resume reading) At a certain point you think that you will never be able to put aside some money, it seems that this concept can never take off, it is as if a helicopter could not get up in flight because of a human error (the error is almost always human, it is unlikely that nature is wrong, or a machine is wrong, because the mistake, the error, is dictated by the conscience of being able to make a mistake) a steel rope of the platform of the aircraft carrier has remained hooked; and this rope brings you back to the ground abruptly, every time you try to get up. It takes great willpower to get up high. If you really don’t want it, or you don’t respect the reason and the means you need to reach the goal, you will never make it.
Then, only then, in the years of maturity, he understood how to move, to return to the surface, so much so that with the passage of time he could also afford to take off some whim.
The automatic shift lever was always on Parking, his thumb was slow to press the toggle button to switch to Drive, he thought back in particular to that phone call, received half an hour earlier in his office. He had taken it directly, perhaps lost in thought, as he flipped through the Times; he was reading a curious crime news occurred in the suburbs of Boston, his current city after having lived for a few years in Williamsport, a town in northeastern Pennsylvania.
The «Good morning Professor John Smith» assumed that the interlocutor knew well the past in Italy of the professor. He replied then in a rusty Italian, he always took up a challenge. The Italian, the real one, was from Milan, also a researcher of the cognitive processes of the person, with a chair at Bocconi. «John, how are you? Is Ludovico Macchi», and, later in the conversation, «after mid-July reserve a few days of vacation in Italy, I host you, I absolutely have to show you a new research laboratory on the perception and experience of the brand and product by of the person. Here in Milan.»
The concepts expressed by his long-time Milanese friend, originally from Varese, still resonated in his head, had awakened him, by now fossilized in his own consolidated studies and in his own publications, an academic subject much appreciated by critics and for which he had also received some awards, as well as a professorship at Boston University; but you know, great minds never rest, or at least, they would like to always have new opportunities, new stimuli.

***

He gave a fleeting look at his Vacheron Constantin; time was simply an allegory, nothing more, or a game, a joke perhaps of the mind, an illusion that he wanted to distance from himself probably to deny its conscience the fact of growing old. The wristwatch was more a distinctive object, the elegance of a gesture; take a look at your wristwatch by gently sliding it off the cuff of the shirt by extending the arm gracefully and folding it with precision to 30 centimeters from the face, stopping the cuff with the index finger of the other hand to highlight the entire dial well, finally turning the wrist slightly in a clockwise and counter-clockwise direction to give rise to the play of reflections and colors and to better appreciate the object, a classy gesture like knotting a tie in Windsor, or hinting to make the gesture of lifting the borsalino at the arrival of a lady. At that moment there was no one on the street who could see him inside the car, especially at dusk on that cold March day and behind those watered down windows; also, he was disconnected from commitments at precise hours, yet nervously threw his eye on the hands, and suddenly he thought, «I have to move. Yes, I have to move, and it’s better to do it now. So this time has come, that I save myself, that I save this day, so similar to the previous ones, eroded by the starvation of this claustrophobic and castrating routine, archived the successes, of a life that now risks being only behind the shoulders. This call from Ludovico is perhaps the last call to change, towards salvation, mine but not only probably. It is the last train, and it must be taken.»
Thus, hastily, he hastened to consider the importance of what he had recently learned on the telephone. John Smith knew, was aware, from his previous visit to Italy, of the mental vivacity of Italian researchers, capable of scientific discoveries that often resonated, and were praised, internationally.

He had been absent from Italy for thirty years, he had loved her, deeply, at the time when he had been a university student on vacation-study at Bocconi. (musical interlude)

(resume reading) It was January 1990, the Belpaese prospered economically and commercially in Europe, and the Italians were doing well. The state functioned, thanks also to monetary sovereignty, which contributed to a solid economy (even up to individual provincial and municipal administrations), fairly well-oiled government mechanisms, healthy industries, fairly effective public services, good infrastructure, efficient transport, in conclusion a decent life for everyone, or almost everyone. John remembered those Milanese weekends; they got up early, he and his “comrade”, Ludovico, Saturday morning, and down the street at the tram stop, with his wallet swollen in his hand. Direction via Borgogna, south-east of San Babila.

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The customs of “Milano bene” fascinated him, certain morning rituals for example, like going to the barber for an impeccable shave, leaving those typical sparrowhawk mustache, which made you more adult, and more fascinating; the final touch was a splash of strictly Italian or French aftershave lotion.

And what about Italian breakfasts, right after the shaving salon? At the Locatelli bar in via Visconti di Modrone, cappuccino with croissant and then orange juice, afterwards at the cashier like a great gentleman being able to pull out of the wallet a 100,000 lira Caravaggio series ticket, a prestigious banknote issued by the Banca d’Italia, printed (on lightly colored special paper, filigree) in letter-set and chalcography by hand engraved matrix by well-known artists of the burin itself was already a visiting card of Italian art.

Shaven, perfumed and satiated you were ready (and pumped) for a stroll in Piazza del Duomo in the hope that some pretty college girl might take a look. Life smiled at them and at the people they saw along the street, in the shops, in the bars, and it seemed that above that light winter fog the sun shone as never before with optimism and good chance.
We were fine, we were serene, despite some sporadic crime, even concerning local and non-local mafias; in any case, 1968 was far away, the 70s and the kidnapping of Vallanzasca as well, and for at least a year the Red Brigades no longer claimed homicides, no longer heard of it, and did not want to talk about it any more, rightly. There was order, finally, there was justice, the bureaucracy worked, the state worked, the services to the citizen were good, fairly punctual.
In office at Palazzo Chigi there was the Andreotti VI Government, Christian Democracy government, with Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti; Minister Claudio Martelli, Vice President; Minister of the Interior, Antonio Gava; Minister for Foreign Affairs, Gianni De Michelis; Minister for Work and Social Security, Carlo Donat-Cattin. The President of the Republic was Francesco Cossiga.

In the summer of that year, moreover, Italy would host the FIFA World Cup, a very important event for which it was also expected, at least 2 percentage points of GDP growth. (video)

(resume reading) The specter of a first European (currency) economic crisis in September 1992 due to the exit of the Lira and the GBP from the EMS; the changeover to the euro currency in January 2002; a second profound crisis, financial and industrial, this time worldwide, called the “Great Recession” (the largest since the “Great Depression” of 1929, the collapse of Wall Street) dating back to the beginning of August 2007, and triggered by “Subprime crisis” and in parallel / consequently (as connected) with the near bankruptcy of AIG occurred in late 2006 in the USA; the austerity of the following decade; the current years of Populism. These ghosts were still far away. Never would people have imagined a series of disasters with a domino effect that would have collapsed like lava over Italy in the years to come.

***

But these data, which provides punctual who narrates you, were not so orderly, precise and complete in the albeit broad culture of Professor Smith. Certain things are only known to those who live in them, but see them with real clarity only those who live outside them and face them in person.
There is also a lot of misinformation: a Belgian, sitting in an armchair in his Brussels home sipping a glass of tap water could have an idea of ​​a certain type of Italy provided by the Belgian media, more positive or more negative of what is reality, like an Italian vice versa, standing in the open to sip a Select spritz with friends outside a Treviso tavern, giving a quick eye to the news headlines that run on the TV inside the local, could have a distorted idea of ​​what is the true reality of Belgium, whose capital is one of the three headquarters of the European Parliament.
Perhaps it is good to travel, and perhaps it is good to receive frank and insightful judgments from foreigners who visit a country, on positive things but above all on negative things, so as to finally acknowledge a problem and be able to put in place an attempt to change and improvement.
Probably Ludovico Macchi, although aware of the decadence on several fronts of his own country, had been absorbed by that spiral of indifference and obstinate refusal that something was wrong, for which an unhealthy custom had begun to get used to the negative novelties that appeared almost daily, transforming them in a normal cohabitation with a foreign but now familiar entity, like a sloppy tramp that we welcomed into our home, and that we have now accepted against our will to keep him at home because he doesn’t want to go away any more.
It is the pride of the Italian citizen who sends Italy forward, a country that despite everything, always rises again.
The Italian, does not tend too much to cry on his mistakes, or on the scams he has suffered; rather think to roll up his sleeves and humbly try to work to improve, to return to being at the level of others, even if once was perhaps superior to others.
Undoubtedly, until the new ill-fated currency, the euro, entered into force, Italy stood at high levels in many areas of interest, and in many sectors. Ludovico was well convinced of this, but as an incurable optimist he could only see the good things that were born today in Italy, and forget the black holes, the chasms caused by bulldozer blows that someone who does not love her has dealt.
Macchi concentrated only, and rightly, on the things that could redeem Italy, above all research, the same research that allows Japan to have exportable products (national property) and to afford a public debt and a debt ratio/GDP very high.

What is certain is that Japan is an independent sovereign state, which exercises its own monetary sovereignty, and which has its own national brands. Italy is no longer all this now, in large part.
And Smith, certainly more than Macchi, would have taken note, returning to Italy. He would have seen what is no longer there, after thirty years, or perhaps, what is still left but dissolves under the indifference of a population that is now European, no longer purely Italian, especially if we talk about the new generations (this concept is to be considered completely detached from the theme of racial integration and immigration).
A twenty-year-old cannot import if the columns of our culture are demolished, and the architraves collapse all around him, it is the pragmatism that all destroys, that unites an Italian boy, a German boy, a Belgian boy, a French boy.
They are Europeans, they think globally, they don’t think according to the traditions of their own country, of which they no longer recognize the beauties, because there is no more culture. And if there is no culture there is no awareness, of what we have at home, of the precious things we have at home, so that when the thieves will arrive (and they will arrive, guaranteed, indeed they have already arrived, and continue, and will continue to arrive) and they will take everything away, these young Europeans will make them sit down, welcome them with an indifference, an ingenuity and carelessness that objectively is embarrassing, depressing.
It is the habit of loss, it is the habit of lowering, it is the habit of disintegration, it is the habit of deprivation, it is the habit of being remote controlled, it is the habit of impoverishment (in all senses) programmed, is the habit of cancellation and asphalting, it is the habit of the essential in its most diabolical and traitorous sense. They are young people who will become adults, who will become peoples without a soul, of this Europe maneuvered by those who want to destroy and occupy seizing capital, same way a war conflict.

***

But Ludovico was a comrade who didn’t fear dark days, he was a combative, he would have given his life for his mother country. He was a generous heart, a big heart, able to remember a friend even after thirty years of mutual silence, almost as if there was an empathy between two long-time friends especially when there is a moment of suffering, and especially if this problem is no longer just a short time, but lasts for months, years. (musical interlude)

(resume reading) And as soon as he became aware of a new flagship of Italian scientific research, which also related to his didactic subject, he had awakened but not only, he wanted to share, having already verified on the spot the validity of the proposed concepts, this foundation, this institution, and the experience in this laboratory so innovative, with an overseas personality that could bring back the sensations in its lands.
Macchi’s energy had galvanized Smith, who wanted to be informed as soon as possible about what the current colleague had already experienced, he wanted to try something probably sensational, applied to marketing, a discovery that would question everything up to then it could have been considered as a dogma; a discovery that revolutionized the stereotypical mechanisms of marketing, thanks to a decidedly innovative technological and research method.
Smith had already wanted to be on board the Boeing 747 to Italy, but his zeal had led him to reflect on whether he should be already held back a friend who was a marketing consultant for an American multinational brand of sneaker, sports clothing and accessories. In fact, the idea was not odd, to see all the protagonists in action, because if a laboratory like the one Ludovico had described to him, would investigate the person, – that is, the end customer probably no longer personas, but “Personam” -, in interacting with the brand, with the product, and/or with an interface that would visually/audiovisually represent them regardless of what the touchpoint was, in the backstage who was the spectator of this “Personam Interaction Behavior Camera”? This definition, John had quickly formulated in his own thought, he who used to analyze all of each topic, to examine every detail, and then to summarize it in a package by means of an acronym in his mind, almost as if it were becoming an entry in the index of an encyclopedia that resided in his intellect. The spectator, live, was an entrepreneur, or a managing director, accompanied by a marketing consultant, he had to be so by force, what sense could he instead have received only afterwards simply a summary document on performance and considerations emerged from the tests, therefore to games made without having been present on site during them?
Smith was an old-fashioned person, he liked precision, and logical order in things; the sensibility he used in his choices had to reside in everyone, he didn’t conceive the ingenuity of method, he detested stupidity in people.

***

It was almost the sunset, and the rain was ceasing, so much so that a last timid ray of sunlight had appeared from the passing of the clouds, John could see it among the branches of an Ailanthus Altissima that soared a few meters from his Mustang.

Yes, it was a good idea, he looked in the phone book at the number, Fred Livingstone, he had written it in pencil a few years before, but it was still intelligible. He took the cell phone from his bag, and as he turned it on he tried to remember when it was the last time he had used it … Maybe the month before. In fact, Professor Smith was not assiduous in interweaving relationships, preserving and nurturing friendly relationships (and family, as mentioned) over the years, he was not a very sociable person probably because he was inclined to feel superior to others, or perhaps because up until two afternoon he tolerated his own students, after which he only felt the need to estrange himself from everything, from everyone, taking refuge if at all in the pleasures (not necessarily only physical – sex was a need he had already abundantly satisfied in his life) that could offer him his lovers.

A very attractive aspect of Boston was, apart from the beauty of the city, the fact that, like probably most of the metropolis, you could also isolate yourself if you were walking in a neighborhood crowded with people. You didn’t know anyone, and nobody recognized you: what’s better? In a certain sense one could not blame him. John also wasn’t the kind of person who could be addicted to the frantic use of the cell phone.

He dialed the number. Three seconds later, a telephone rang on the west coast, in Portland, Oregon, three parallel lines north of Boston.
Perhaps too much time had passed since the last time they had heard each other, or perhaps he had changed his number, the fact is that nobody answered; Smith’s big thumb was already nervously arching into a hook towards the side of the phone that was resting on his ear, as if to push it away and press the red closing button, but suddenly:
“John! I don’t believe it, how nice to hear you again!”
(John Smith turned off the engine) “Hi Freddy, how are you my old friend? Sorry it’s a life I don’t call.”
“How are you!? No, but jokes!? Don’t even think about it, I could have just put up the phone and call you, it’s that here the company unfortunately I have to tell you John … He spent better days, now it’s a couple of years that we hear a backlash of the economic crisis/financial … It seems that this story never ends. It would take a miracle, the market trends now consistently have a minus ahead, and we are not exempt, indeed, it now seems that this minus has taken root, on all the data, sales, site traffic, return of investment in marketing, in short, a disaster! The question is that then, it does not only concern the United States this trend, but another 47 out of 55 countries that we hold in the rest of the world. You have to believe me if I tell you that I have tried them all, me that in short, after thirty years of career in the advertising sector, I can call myself a marketing guru, and you know, I also did spend a lot on advertising campaigns, especially on TV, last time last month during the Super Bowl on NBC, two 30-second spots each cost almost 10 million dollars.” (video)

(resume reading) Fred had started off at a brisk pace by throwing more or less private business issues and problems onto John, but he played the game, indeed, he almost hoped the conversation would run right on these terms.
“How much do you invest on the web?”
“Shortly, the crumbs practically, maybe I’m guilty in this. I collaborate with a Boston agency, coincidentally, and I have been there more than a few times John, so if you want to give me some rude for not coming to see you, you’re doubly right! ”
“Don’t worry come on! …”
“For 2018 we have invested 200 million dollars in digital, for the entire global market, in practice about 3.3% compared to 6 billion for TV campaigns.”
“Freddy, I won’t understand a lot about marketing, but the two things seem a little disproportionate to each other. I believe that if you have a certain type of return from the web, and that perhaps it is approaching, proportionally, it is clear, to what you have from the TV, or maybe even surpasses it … I would invest more in digital marketing, but as I repeat: not I certainly claim to teach you the craft, God forbid. Then of course, I imagine it is right to diversify your marketing investment portfolio, overseeing a bit all the channels, including newspapers, trade magazines, radio, billboards, etc. Anyway, maybe I have a solution that you might be interested in: next week can you free yourself from work commitments, and take a flight with me to Milan? ”
“Milan?! Do you really want me to cross the Atlantic? It’s already long to get from you to Boston! But what is it? ”

***

The story on the news from Milan struck Fred Livingstone, and not just because he was looking for redemption against the multinational’s leadership; objectively he had grasped new, very profound meanings, indeed it was worthwhile realizing for yourself what was in the pipeline.
Fred had made the commuter purely within the United States, toured them far and wide during his career, having worked for several small/medium-sized companies in the sports footwear sector. Then, in 2005 the landing finally in a multinational company, seemed to him initially a prize, but we know that all that glitters is not gold. He still worked there, but probably in all these last fifteen years he had not realized the mental closure that probably derived from his previous working environments. Perhaps it was not enough to move within the boundaries of the United States to settle the issues concerning the various advertising campaigns overseas. Problems are solved better vis-à-vis, opportunities are created by seeing oneself in person, business ends with feet under the table, even for those who, as consultants, think they are detached from having to move, and having to act first person, if not within certain range of action. An advertising campaign could have been successful in the USA, whose population Livingstone had learned to know quite comprehensively, and perhaps could have succeeded in certain Latin American and European countries (and including a certain part of the British colonies worldwide) with history and culture quite similar to that of the United States, and perhaps in common with it, so profound is the multi-ethnicity of this country, and immigration from some countries such as Italy and Germany is so historic, as well as of course Great Britain and Ireland, Canada, Mexico. The trend of the same campaign can take on a completely different turn in certain Asian areas, indeed in many Asian areas, but also in certain European and African areas, although also in areas such as China, the Middle East, India, the Philippines, Africa (of the British colonies), huge amounts of population have migrated to the States, especially since the second half of the twentieth century. Those who have emigrated from their own country, in all likelihood integrate, or at least this should be the goal, with the culture of the destination country, and all in all I believe that today it is still quite possible in the American soil if one has the good intention of legality, and despite the economic crisis that is irrefutable, data in hand. (musical interlude)

(resume reading) But a Chinese who has remained in China, has a culture, customs and traditions, still different from the West, despite globalization, and this is true for an Indian left in India, for a Filipino in the Philippines, for a Congolese in the Democratic Rep. of the Congo (ex Zaire), this regardless of which age group, social class, educational qualification, work and income. They speak different languages, literally and broad sense, these people cannot be understood as long as they are not known in person by visiting them on the spot, at home. Another aspect that is certainly not negligible is how to convey the message destined to these people. The media change, especially in the percentage of use classification, and here probably the social and age differences affect.
Ultimately, something, or perhaps more than something, was missing from Fred Livingstone’s approach to very wide-ranging marketing strategies, especially since a multinational, especially that multinational, had no ad personam contact, but simply assumed of the personas to whom to feed predigested products, but where is the experience? What experience is there on the part of the person who buys an already finished product, in a closed circuit, with a closed box? It can be very good, but it can also be very bad. His friend John Smith could have been of great help to open his mind, and to be his Cicero to new places, new worlds, and new philosophies.
“John, you have convinced me my friend, I will need two journeys, I think, because if it were up to me I would already take the CEO, Leslie Richardson, a person of the worst kind, really unpleasant who has always pitied me more than anything else, debasing my abilities and potential, but apart from this: if I propose him to take a trip of 9,000 km in a closed box without being myself in the first person already sincerely convinced that the destination to be visited is really worth the price, first he laughs behind me and then he hunt myself out of the office yelling at me as usual these textual words ‘And do a slimming cure that trickle smelly fat from the pores even on the twentieth of January!’ Maybe the intonation changes a little every time to perfect the effect, but the words are these exact.”
“… Well, of course I understand, it’s not nice.”
“No, believe me John, it’s hard to deal with him almost daily. I want to do things right this time, then we make a first voyage of scouting you and me, maybe these gentlemen let me take documentary shots, then I show Richardson movies and maybe a summary document (preferably composite, multimedia) prepared by the laboratory staff with evidence on the tests. After that, if it interests him, and I think so, we do a second expedition bringing him along with us. What do you think about it?”
“It looks good to me, I don’t think there are any problems. There you will meet my old friend and university comrade Ludovico Macchi, I think you will make friends, he can be an excellent resource for you and your company as a lieutenant in Italy, but this will be you to say. Returning to the specificities of the areas covered by the laboratory, I had only a brief, though interesting, explanation from Ludovico. He didn’t want to unbutton himself too much, perhaps because he wants it to be a surprise then to see things in person. From the way he speaks it seems a real revolution in the world of digital marketing, in the science of communication, and in planning design. The prelude seemed to me to leverage on a main theme, namely the centrality of the person. ”
“Well, of course the person is increasingly important and less a user, he has a very specific identity, he needs to be cradled with more beautiful products, he must be involved, even keeping prices down, making him believe that they have gold in their hands in the face of a rather limited expense. In our advertising campaigns we highlight nice close-ups of ordinary people, of various ethnic groups, as Toscani does for Benetton.”
“Yes, of course this is a good topic and starting point, but from Ludovico’s words seemed to me that these concepts are no longer sufficient, they are now stereotypes that have had their day. He spoke more of a reversal in the face, that is, it is no longer the brand that tells the consumer what the product he supposedly needs is and how it is made, but he is the person, who is subjected to listening and to certain tests with very technologically advanced instrumentation, that explicit to the brand what it is and how is made the product he really needs.” (musical interlude)

(resume reading) “I’m impressed!…”
“Beautiful concepts that obviously very few had taken into consideration, indeed perhaps no one had done so with such seriousness and so in depth. Actually, when we think about it, today as in the past we buy products almost unopened, but then we are not fully satisfied with their appearance and functionality. We are probably not even at peace with why certain items exist on the market, and not others. Designers and engineers design real technology miracles, but in my opinion a true approach with those who will then have to buy these products, primarily to their production and placing on the market, there is not, there never has been. Even certain giants like Ap?le, G??gle, or even in the automobile sector, it is not clear to me to what extent they put in the first place the auscultation of an experience that the person has done in a way that did not fully satisfy him and the experience that he would like to do in relation to a certain theme. The experience he would like to do should become the service, and/or the item to be produced. Consequently to what I have said, are we really sure that a car with an assisted guide is really what a person needs? We are really sure that the results that G??gle presents in the face of the research carried out by the person are aimed at landing him on contents designed for a good user experience, and are not simply a list of links to pages that meet the search criteria in terms of correspondence to the searched keyword and then G??gle washes its hands on what the user experience is once landed on insufficiently evaluated and certified content? It is likely that G??gle is working on the problem of a real listening of the experience, but not only regarding the search aspect, but also on other areas of its package that is the digital analytics (G??gle Analytics), the adv (G??gle Ads), the social positioning (You??be), just to name a few.”
“I understand, yes probably a key to this new frontier is listening to the single person, which is not a number, which is not an average, which is no more or less important. Is he a person, how much is a person worth? Can you give it a monetary value? No. The secret perhaps lies precisely in the fact that if my product does not satisfy the single target person in all aspects, it is time to hear from him what is wrong and why, and understand thanks to his (to his!) suggestion how to modify it. Only then, my item can go into series production and be placed on the market. John, I can only thank you for opening my mind, I couldn’t see, you understand? ”
“You’re welcome, it is a pleasure Freddy, but I think the best is yet to come, let’s hurry to get on a flight to Italy!”
“Yes today is Friday and the agenda for next week is fortunately still not so full, I would have an appointment in San Diego Monday morning and one in Miami Wednesday afternoon, but I would say that I advance it to Tuesday morning so then in afternoon from there I come up to you to Boston and then we leave together.”
“It’s perfect, so I book the flight for Tuesday night, if you have not hold baggage, I advance the check-in online with my American Express Gold, let’s adjust then don’t worry, is it good for business class?”
“I note with pleasure that you don’t miss the money my old friend, I’m happy for you, it’s nice to hear from someone that money is not a problem these days. Okay, I can only accept, thank you, let me know what time the gate closes, and what is the terminal, see you there.”
“Well, Tuesday Fred.”
“See you Tuesday.”

***

John ran his fingers over the lush hair that, despite the passing years, remained of a beautiful dark brown, very few were white hairs. A pleasant gesture to highlight his beauty and his beautiful Mascagni hairstyle, which matched well with the mustache he had not left since he had discovered its charm by seeing it exhibited by Italian Latin lovers. (musical interlude)

(resume reading) A good haircut, and a characterizing element like a neat mustache, are harbingers of personality, and style, as well as a certain culture. Certain eras, certain stylistic elements, have marked a time, remain timeless, classics par excellence, it is like wearing, and re-wearing, and still, for generations, someone’s gloves, and reinterpreting a part, a role, and the train can start again, indeed, in this case the plane could get back up to high altitude. (video)

(resume reading) A half turn of the key and the roar of thunder of the purebred horses resounded all over the campus, the professor was pleased with how the day progressed, he gave some gas blows which was immediately noticed by the boys, and by the girls, who came from the campus to public transport to return to their homes to study. John reflected on this last point and all in all he didn’t mind being 53 and not having to go through boring tests to be evaluated. Now he was on the other side of the ford, he was the one to evaluate, to arbitrate his life, and to choose. This is yes, this is not. This is fine, this is not good. I like this, I don’t like it. And if I said it myself, and if I thought it, that I’m not a fool anyone, it’s law.
He switched to drive and headed home, it was a few miles, and not bad given the consumption of a 300 v8 horsepower. He couldn’t wait to walk through the front door, he lived in a terraced house in the Beacon Hill neighborhood, a perfect residential area to completely unplug and relax in the middle of the quiet.

He heard the click of the door opening, slowly closed it behind him, looking if he had parked well, now he wanted to pamper himself, he wanted to reward himself for how he had pigeonholed the events well, and heard after so long friends to whom he was so fond of. And pampering himself for him could mean at least four different things that he alternated according to the occasion, but at that moment it wanted to say only one thing: he took the block of ice from the freezer that had been left from the night before and put it in the ice bucket, he pulled out of the drawer a little stonecutter and he made a dozen fragments which he ordered well inside a glass with a square base and with slightly rounded corners.
The golden nectar with amber reflections of Old No. 7 Brand descended gently between the facets of the ice, freeing, hovering, a play of shapes, colors, reflections, and spreading a liquid musicality so much that it seemed to John that it had become for a moment a Jack Daniel’s successor master distiller (the real name was Jasper Newton Daniel).

It seemed that the splendor of that glass of Tennessee Whiskey that he held and looked at in his hand, raising it towards the artificial light that came in through the window, could effuse life even before sipping a little. Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Brand is not just any whiskey, and it’s not a scotch, and it’s not even a bourbon, and John knew this well, his reward was also the awareness of this detail, not small. The craftsmanship, the filtering for some days in 3 meters thick of sugar maple coals, the drop after drop harvest in handmade barrels. Aging, an alchemy that only Jack Daniel’s master distiller successor can administer with the wisdom and care of a master, establishing at his unquestionable judgment when Old No. 7 Brand is ready to be bottled, it may take 8 years, 10 years, 13 years, or more and only he establishes it tasting it over time. Moreover, when an object is so beautiful aesthetically, its content is also excellent.
The professor slowly released the epiglottis to keep the taste in the mouth and throat for as long as possible, so as to bring back to the palate that fire of passion that only connoisseurs can experience.
He stayed there, sitting in an armchair, all evening, in communion with his drink, probing in his mind the emotions, the sensations that this journey would bring, some radically new, others savored again after a long time, a little like when we put back an old vinyl from the protective tissue-paper case, and put it on the turntable plate: nice to activate it and look in a hypnotic way at the central label of the disc that turns, and turns. We wish it would never end; like life. (musical interlude)

(resume reading) Pass the velvet brush on the disc to clean it, and lowered the arm, to hear the rustling of the stylus that slides gently along the groove of incision, are things that are priceless, today where technology reigns, which is fake, and without taste, in the eyes of those who are a collector and an esthete of tradition and the things of the past. It is a question of culture. Technology can be present in a man’s life, but in the right measure, it must only be a tool, a means to achieve certain results in the scientific field, but nothing more. This technological and virtual world aimed at young people, which advanced ominously, terrified our hero. He was reminded of certain anecdotes that had astonished him by questioning his students: there were those who had never seen a fawn in real life, who had never bought a real novel, of bound paper, in a bookstore; who had never held a rose in his hand, who had never written a letter with the typewriter, who had never held a 100 dollar bill in his hand, who had never seen a wheel phone, who never had ate fresh fish; who had never worn a shirt, who had never worn a mechanical watch, who had never kissed a girl, who had never been in the mountains, who had never rang a house bell. Thinking back on these things so sad, so far from the condition of being human, John sank into a deep sleep probably to evade the sad reality of a slow but inexorable barbarization of the population.
Perhaps so far he had been wrong with his students, he had lacked that component of a teacher who was a bit tutor and a bit father, that these poor young people yearn for, especially when the parents, the real ones, are of a cultural dryness even before affective. Perhaps a good professor is the one who takes the boys for a walk in the park, and teaches them what that tree is called, and what are the names of those birds that have just landed on those branches. Perhaps a good professor is the one who speaks privately with each of his own students, tries to enter a little confidence to understand if everything is all right, and if something is missing, if there is a gap to be filled. Perhaps a good professor is the one who teaches the pleasure of culture as a personal growth and not as a torture to face an exam. Here these young people will dilute hatred, break down relational walls, they will thirst to really experience things in the light of day, reassured because someone shows real free affection for them, and finds time to listen to them. Listening, here is the keyword suggested by Macchi, a pivot of innovation that could be on a global scale. Who knows how to listen today, putting their own interests aside and giving space to the needs of other people? How much have we become instead victims of our own selfishness, sterile, unproductive especially in a reality of today where there is a gangrene of the economy, of the markets, of the social security? This fear of opening up, this bad faith towards everything and everyone exacerbate the evil, so dangerous things can emerge on the horizon, such as civil war, brigandage, anarchy, or, to prevent these evils, dictatorship, which can be even worse. (musical interlude)

(resume reading) He woke up the next morning with the images of the dictatorships, which had brought death, destruction, misery, and it was not a good awakening, but you know, waking up in the morning is, often, a trauma, for the most varied reasons. In the morning, just wake up, the strangest ghosts appear, the most absurd anxieties, which have the colors left in falling asleep the previous evening, but reinvigorated by the concreteness of light and morning air. The weight of the day to be faced, then, certainly does not help. We must work hard and methodically on ourselves, to overcome certain insecurities, certain ghosts.
But soon the two phone calls of the previous day resurfaced in his mind, and they were like a panacea to appease this malaise, this legacy from history, especially for those who know the history, can no longer take things, life, too lightly, otherwise they are usurping a right and the reason for its existence. Every day we tread with our feet the ground where others have died, of atrocious sufferings, and not only of diseases, but also killed in battle, or in defending themselves from brigands, or more simply of starvation for famines. Perhaps then it is not right to simply give a damn about history, because after all, we are the history, and every day, everyone, from the aristocrat to the poorest of the poors, we are part of a social structure that is broken and that is as a matter of fact, as it is damaged, the history book we are writing every day. But what history can a returned illiterate daddy’s boy write every day, a scion that leads a dissolute life by night and by day is a managing director, or worse, he tries the political path? But what history can the leading figures of the world of finance, who lead the world economy and the governments of capitalism and globalization, write every day if these people only think of their own interests to the detriment of the honest citizen who pays taxes? But what history can ordinary people write today that are no longer informed about how we got here and how to stay in the world, on how to behave, about what our rights are, the latter in a certain sense should be considered duties, as working is a right but also a duty, and not just for oneself, and staying healthy is a right but also a duty, and not just for oneself, and being able to do home economics and being able to save a few coins without depriving oneself of basic necessities and making a dignified life is a right but also a duty, and not just for oneself. Each action is followed by a reaction. If the citizen is not an educated, precise and orderly person, he will not assert his rights as he will try to escape from his duties; it follows – because of an economy spoiled above all by the rich, but also from the bottom that materially does not have the means of subsistence – that there is a world of work that externalises employment in a sense that is not necessarily geographical (but the income yes, it goes abroad and is not put into the internal market), thus being able to underpaid, and by firing continuously or in any case stipulating dishonorable contracts with the workers, so the citizen is on average a poor person (meaning by this term the end of the bourgeoisie), despite borrowing from institutions and accessing credit, he shows another face probably out of shame. But data at hand, today almost 50% of the population of the United States of America to reach the end of the month must touch their savings, and one third of the population is classified as at objective risk of poverty as if it has to face an unexpected expense $ 400 doesn’t know how to do it. It follows that if the population spends, through access to credit institutions, only on certain assets that may represent a certain social standard, false, and no longer purchases in other commodity sectors, the market in a more general sense freezes, it goes into gangrene, it becomes sterile. It follows that, if the market stops, because the consumer-side population is poor, the seller side population is also poor, and if they are poor, they do not pay their debts to credit institutions (from wich the bursting of financial bubbles), and do not pay taxes, so that even the state becomes poor. It follows that in a poor state, the rich, usually 1% of the population, who hold about 90% of the asset fund, do not invest capital on companies, and there can be no growth whatsoever, it remains on the 0,. It follows a state, not only understood as an institution but also as a level of condition, which sees bankruptcy not far away. It follows that everything, including clearly the critical state infrastructures, the infrastructure of the economy, and the engineering infrastructure, is in a state of decay.
The chain of a people’s existence is broken, and in a holistic sense this is so evident from the bottom of the population, and thus from the top of the population, a population that has never been as integrated as it is today, but disunited at the same time, is an oxymoron with which each of us thinks to can live with peacefully, but it is definitely a double-edged sword, a danger that nobody sees, probably because he is inured to an imaginary equilibrium, however precarious, like who smokes a few cigarettes a day believes they don’t hurt him but, on the contrary, they do him good, and who goes three times a week to eat in fast food restaurants does not think it hurts him, but rather, he thinks it does him good, although consciously aware that he is “feeding” on junk food.

***

The weekend passed quickly and painlessly, Tuesday was something that grew bigger on the calendar, hour by hour, trepidation increased.
Then the afternoon of the fateful day arrived, John sheltered the Mustang in the garage, and called a taxi to go to Logan airport located east of Boston, practically in front of the ocean if it were not for the presence, two and a half kilometers to the east, of Deer Island. The view from the terminal, at dusk that afternoon on March 26th, was remarkable. The air traffic was impressive, landing, and taking off, of 70-meter-long giants that darted a few tens of meters away from each other, weaving a sort of plot as if the tower air traffic controller could be defined a tailor so much was his mastery in allocating every plane in the right space at the right time, I really talk about moments and meters and it is needed supreme precision, the slightest mistake could be fatal.
Another thing, Logan’s virtue, was the juxtaposition of the roar of the airliner’s reactors and, once they took off, being able to perceive little by little the direction of gulls, orcs, cormorants and strollies, John paused with pleasure at pay attention to these feelings, waiting for Fred’s arrival and waiting for the flight, scheduled for 6:15 pm.
Livingstone seemed lost, then, just before the gate closed, appeared behind a group of Japanese tourists, all of whom had Nikon and Canon vintage cameras around their necks, probably still in film. This detail pleased the professor.

***

Commander Arthur Walker Connelly and first officer Casey Spencer entered the cockpit of Lufthansa’s Boeing 747. The time to finish the decaffeinated coffee that regularly made him find ready the hostess, after which Commander Connelly saw that it was 6:14 pm so he indicated that the take-off procedure could begin. The first officer nodded: so they put auricular and microphone.

 

“Check fuel quantity.”
“Check fuel quantity: 145,000 liters needed, we have 167,000 liters on board.”
“145,000 liters needed, 167,000 liters on board.”
“Control tower, here Eagle 4907, we request authorization to take-off runway 24.”
“Here control tower: Eagle 4907, runway 24 ready for take-off, you have authorization.”
“Eagle 4907 ready for take-off. Margin alignment.”
“Tiller release. Closh forward grip.”
“Handcuffs 40% power.”
“40% power engines reached.”
“Unblock handcuffs.”
“Anemometer speed.”
“Anemometer speed 100 knots reached.”
“Release brakes.”
“V1. Rotation. V2.”
“Positive rate.”
“Positive climb gear up.”
“Positive climb gear up executed.”
“Re-enter landing gear.”
“Landing gear reentry, executed.”
“Activate vertical nav mode for fly director climb profile.”
“Vertical nav mode entered.”
“Altimeter value.”
“Altimeter value 4,000 feet.”
“Close flaps to zero.”
“Close flaps to zero, executed.”
“Autopilot, cmd insertion, side A.”
“Autopilot, cmd insertion, side A, executed.”
“After takeoff checklist.”
“Landing gear off hydraulic pressure zeroing.”
“Landing gear off hydraulic pressure zeroing, executed.”
“Flaps pull back, check.”
“Flaps pull back, ok.”
“Turn off automatic brakes.”
“Turn off automatic brakes, executed.”
“Altimeter value.”
“Altimeter value 10,000 feet.”
“Anometer speed.”
“Anometer speed increased from 250 knots to 300 knots.”
“Turn off landing lights.”
“Landing lights, off.”
“Turn off runway turnoff lights.”
“Runway turnoff lights, off.”
“Turn off logo lights.”
“Logo lights, off.”
“Setting altitude to 21,000 feet.”
“Std altimeter drive.”
“Activate wing anti ice.”
“Wing anti ice, activated.”
“Activate engine anti ice.”
“Engine anti ice, activated.”
“OK well.”
“We are at high altitude.”
“This morning my wife kindly reminded me that tomorrow is our anniversary … This transatlantic will save me for a few days, for once luck is mine.”
“Life is easier up here.”
“Yes, it’s true Casey.”

It was the same thought that made John Smith at that moment unfastening his seat belt, while a child sitting in front of him turned to look at him with sly eyes and that smile that is always contagious.

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