Intl. Notebook | Politique Diabolique Apr 22 2009
WINGS OF DESIRE
Italian premier depicted by artist as leering angel.


In Italy, artist Filippo Panseca recently unveiled a controversial painting in which Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi takes the form of a nude angel canoodling with a bare-breasted government minister and former starlet named Mara Carfagna. Though Panseca has created similar pieces over the years, including one showing Berlusconi’s wife Veronica Lario topless and with neat v-shaped pubes (below), the reaction to this new portrait surprised him. “I did it as a joke,” Panseca told the Associated Press yesterday. “I’ve been doing all sorts of works for fifty years. I didn’t expect to raise such clamor with this.”

Perhaps not, but in Italy, where politics and sex are so intertwined Italians once voted porno actress Ilona Staller into the parliament, it isn’t so surprising people took notice, particularly when one considers that two years ago Berlusconi commented to Carfagna, “If I weren’t married I would marry you immediately.” The aside infuriated Berlusconi’s wife, and she demanded a public apology. Intentionally or not, Panseca definitelycaptured a conspiratorial moment in his new portrait. Berlusconi might as well be whispering to Carfagna that he has a nice little stimulus package under his drape. In any case, now that he’s eternally enshrined on canvas with the object of his lust, it’s safe to assume his wife is seriously peeved again. If she buys the painting and burns it, we won’t be surprised. As for Filippo Panseca, perhaps it’s finally time to expand his repertoire beyond Italian political figures. We suggest a winged Sarah Palin flying above a crowd of heavily armed Alaskan bird hunters.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 16
1942—Blimp Crew Disappears without a Trace
The two-person crew of the U.S. naval blimp L-8 disappears on a routine patrol over the Pacific Ocean. The blimp drifts without her crew and crashes in Daly City, California. The mystery of the crew's disappearance is never solved.
1977—Elvis Presley Dies
Music icon Elvis Presley is found unresponsive by his fiancée on the floor of his Graceland bedroom suite. Attempts to revive him fail and he's pronounced dead soon afterward. The cause of death is often cited as drug overdose, but toxicology tests have never found evidence this was the case. More likely, years of drug abuse contributed to generally frail health and an overtaxed heart that suddenly failed.
August 15
1969—Woodstock Festival Begins
The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, which was billed as an Aquarian Exposition, takes place on a 600 acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York. It would run for three sometimes rainy days and feature thirty-two acts performing at all hours of the day and night. Today the festival is regarded as one of the greatest events in popular music history.
1977—Radio Signal Arrives from Deep Space
An unidentified radio signal, nicknamed the WOW Signal for the notation a scientist made on a computer readout, is briefly detected by the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) project's Big Ear radio telescope. Despite a month of searching the same section of space, the signal is never found again.
August 14
1912—U.S. Invades Nicaragua
United States Marines invade Nicaragua to support the U.S.-backed government installed there after José Santos Zelaya had resigned three years earlier. American troops remain for eleven years.
1936—Last Public Execution in U.S.
Rainey Bethea, who had been convicted of rape and murder, is hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky in what is the last public execution performed in the United States.
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