will toss in the sponge and grant the islandrnits independence. This would constituternthe sweet, long-overdue revenge of therngenuine patriots against the pinzutti (literally,rnthe “pointed ones”), the sarcastic appellationrnapplied by the “natives” to the intrusivernFrench because of the pointedrncaps (similar to those of the Redcoats duringrnthe American War of hidependence)rnworn by King Louis XV’s soldierv’ when,rnafter centuries of manifest indifference tornthe fate of this lovely island, they finally invadedrnCorsica in 1768—one year beforernthe birth of Napoleone Buonapartern(whose ancestors, according to the manrnwho later became his father-in-law, EmperorrnFrancis I of Austria, came from Treviso,rnjust south of the Dolomites, in northeasternrnItaly).rnAnd after that, what? Well, having createdrnan “authentic” new language and renamedrnAjaccio “Aiaceiu,” these superpatriotsrnwill probably feel the need tornestablish their “national” identity byrnrewriting the turbulent history of their island.rnIt will not be an easv task, at anyrnrate as regards the events of the past 200rnyears. For these “historians” will have torninvent some ingenious reason to explainrnwhy, following the example of ftie greatrnNapoleon, so marry “renegades” preferredrnto leave their homeland to tr’ theirrnluck in metropolitan France. For, in thisrnrespect at least, the Corsicans resemblernthe Irish. For ever)’ Corsican willing tornremain on the island, there are at leastrnfive or six who chose and still go onrnchoosing to make their political, financial,rnand (in some cases) gangster fortunesrn”beyond the brine.” One of themrnis Jean Tiberi, the distinctly controversialrnex-mayor of Paris.rnBom in France, Qlurtis Cate is thernauthor of biographies of Antoine dernSaint-Exupery, George Sand, andrnAndre Malraux.rnLetter From Palermornby Andrei NavrozovrnPublic Relationsrn”All the cars you see around here,” yetrnanother taxidriver bringing me from thernGrand Hotel Villa Igiea to the congestedrncenter of town began in a confidentialrnundertone, “it vasn’t aKays like that, yournknow. Before, it was all carriages.”rnThen, after a pause that he reckoned wasrnlong enough for the aerage tourist to appreciaternfully the historic significance ofrnthe news he had just imparted: “Wouldrnyou like me to take ou to the airportrnwhen jou’re leaving?” Well, I had newsrnfor him: I wasn’t leaving.rnComing from Venice to Palermo asrnsomctiiing other than a tourist is a bizarrernexperience, a little like what I imagine arnSocial Register Brahmin might feel onrnhaving to move from the Park Avenuernapartment he finally inherited from hisrngreat uncle to the most sociallv desirablernbuilding in Des Moines. “Oooh,” saysrnpractically everyone in Des Moines,rn”have vou seen where Mr. Brahmin is living?rnThat amazing rrew place behind thernshopping mall? And you can see the parkrnfrom e’ery window? He must’ve paid arnmillion dollars for that.” I don’t want tornoffend anyone, because of course I’vernnever been to Des Moines and don’trnknow if it has parks and shopping nralls,rnbut the point I’m making is actually notrnimcomplimentary. I can even believernthat Des Moines is a wonderful pkice tornlive. It’s just that it probably wouldn’t bernas wonderful as the Upper East Side, inrnthat New Yorker’s considered opinion.rnAnd if lie’s got a wife, forget it.rnAll this is bolstered by the defensivenessrnof the average native, wiio wants tornshow the visitor from abroad all thernthings that, to his counterintuitive mind,rnmake Palenno a social and cultural peerrnof Venice, Rome, or London. History?rnBefore there were houses, we used to livernin huts. Frescoed ceilings? There is arnbuilding around the corner from wherernmy cousin lives — it’s got those. Real prett}-,rnOttocento. Too bad the)- had to makernit into a gas station after the war. Culture?rnWe’ve got the imiversitv somewhererno’er riiere. Or the hhrary, an)’way.rnNo, tiiat’s the count}’ court. Social life?rnThere’s now even a shop open on thernCorso that sells Chanellel You know, thernFrench designer. And so on, when whatrnthe fellow should be pointing out insteadrnis that the octopus here is fatter, the girisrnare prettier, the coffee in every bar is betterrnthan the best outside of Naples, thernpastries are the couture equivalent ofrnwhat one finds elsewhere in Italy, and thernTeatro Massimo is, without exaggeration,rna world-class opera theater.rnThe other nearly insuperable problemrnthe Palermitani are up against is that inrnmost tourist imaginations —those postcardrnplaces where Venice is sinking,rnParisian cooking is all butter, Englishrnboys are molested nightly, and SantarnClaus lives in the Kremlin —Palermornmeans the mafia. But, as I have more orrnless hinted on previous occasions, the restrnof the world is sinking much fester thanrnVenice in every conceivable sense; andrnjust about everv nation, ever)’ citv, everyrnsocial cla,ss, and e’erv profession in thisrnnot-yet-completely totalitarian universernof ours boasts a mafia of one sort or another.rnSome of these, like the lawyers inrnthe United States, are so obviously powerfulrnthat they have no need of violence;rnothers, like the intemationak of contemporaryrnart with its associated galleries,rnmuscrmis, and media, are so well entrenchedrnthat their preeminence is neverrnc[uestioned; while still others, like the Sicilianrnmafia or the Proprietaires-Editeursrnof the Michehn Guide, are contented tornperform their traditional roles in socieb,’,rnsuch as teaching people good mannersrnand where to eat well.rn”Even in Palenno we have the mafia,”rnbeamed the maitre d’hotel at the famousrnChadeston in the resort suburb of Mondello,rnimperiously waving away m’rnhealthy and otiicrwise perfectiy attractivernpacket of cash the other night as soon asrnAlfredo G— had winked that he was pavingrnfor dinner. One can say that this kindrnof joke would slip easiK from the lips ofrnany c]iuck-thinking flunky an)-where, butrnI would argue that it has a more transcendentrnmeaning here. Social order beforerneverthing. La cosa nostra is good manners.rnLast week, a littie girl was kidnappedrnin the province of Trapani. But apparentlyrnthe brigands had picked on thernwrong baby—a baby, as it were, with thernright connections —because 24 hours later,rnshe was restored to her family, herrnclothes all new and a tiny gold chainrnaround her neck as an added sign of contrition.rnNonetheless, tiiat same eveningrnthe child’s grandfather went on the localrntelevision news to apologize to all of Sicily,rnsa’ing that, if he had offended anyone,rnthe slight had been inadvertent, and that,rnin the future, he would take care to treatrneverybody better. I don’t think I havernever seen a more elegant exercise in conflictrnresolution under anv political system.rn”And therefore?” you may interject.rnWell, I generally tend to put m- monc)rnwhere my mouth is, and just at the momentrnmy mouth is full of cassata, thern42/CHRONICLESrnrnrn