American Italics, or Revelation According to P.T. Barnum

Letter From Venice

As in some picaresque dream, the carousel that has been spinning out a tale of broken hearts and mistaken identities begins to slow down, the roulette wheel grows disenchanted with the last bourgeois revolution, and all of a sudden even the drum of the concrete mixer that is shadowing the Venetian’s limousine all the way to the airport grinds to a gravelly stop.  Lady and gentlemens, as my friend Gusov might say when in a pompous mood, I have been to Las Vegas, I have seen the beginning of the end, and I now know what the salt that has lost its savor tastes like.  But meanwhile, like the dove with the olive leaf in its beak, I am returning to the ark of the narrative, and now the stillness and the smell of the sea are once more all about me, and already the water taxi is going full throttle under a waning moon that looks like a piano nobile badly divided among the brothers after a century and a half of family quarrels.

The place where we chose to stay could have been Augustan Rome constructed in a majestic Greco-Roman style, that is to say, Caesars Palace, or Italy as Mazzini invented it and hence of no particular period, the Bellagio.  More than a thousand fountains, enhanced by music and lights.  State-of-the-art fog and audio systems.  The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art.  Synchronized swimmers, divers, contortionists, trapeze artists, and others perform incredible...

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