On May 1st I spent the morning with friends from Rome, and then in the afternoon, we met up with some friends of Sante’s from Bologna. They were partaking in a grassroots-organized celebration/protest/parade, EuroMayDay in Milan. You haven’t heard of it, in fact, I haven’t been able to find a single picture in any of the news outlets today.
How can almost 100,000 people be overlooked?
And this isn’t a lot of people partying in the desert, like in other parts of the world this weekend, it was in the center of Milan. Blocking for several hours the main street passing in front of the Duomo, through the center and finally finishing at the Castello Sforzesco walls (still very central) caused no pictures and no articles to be written up or appear in any media form.
Most Milan attention was given to the fact the former Education Minister, Letizia Moratti, who is now running for mayor of Milan, was booed during the May 1 morning festivities (Italian). Many people hate her more than Berlusconi and consider her Moratti education reform as a big step backwards for Italy.
The EuroMayDay corteo, march/parade/demonstration started at 3.30 and went on for hours. We finally left at 7.30 because we were hoping to get the last metro back to the station. It had already passed, so we walked the half-hour back. At least there was public transportation in Milan. In Pavia, public transportation was suspended for the entire day, much to the chagrin of tourists and other Italians who came for a nice day trip.
The EuroMayDay was organized to protest the “precarious” job situation for most new graduates and younger workers, being that the “indefinite time” contracts are not given as they once were, and even the “finite time” contracts are overlooked in favor of the “project” contracts which cost the companies less.
You may recognize the “precariousness” strikes as the leading cause of the Paris protests a few weeks ago, involving millions. Though it’s technically classified as a protest, the spirit among the Milan participants was very lighthearted and amiable. And what I mean by amiable, is lots of marijuana, techno, reggae, cheap beer and live music and general love and acceptance.
Not that I’m complaining. Since I forgot my camera, I was hoping for one or two photos somewhere so I could show you the tape-covered nipples, fishnet shirt and mini-skirt-wearing male singer on one of the floats, the floats that were actually moving beer distributors, or the sheer amounts of food carts there ready to take advantage of the drunk-munchies that hit every participant. Capitalism reared its “ugly” head but no one was complaining. In fact, I thought it ironic that many participants had their equo-solidade (fair market) hemp purses with their €100 Pumas and Nike shoes. I’m not excluding myself, of course. All for a good cause, and good fun.
More spectacularly was in Rome, over one million people gathered for the annual “Primo Maggio” concert in San Giovanni, which starts in the afternoon and goes all night. This concert is actually paid for by several labor unions, which is why they can attract such big names every year. I was lucky to be living in the San Giovanni area in 2004 so I attended the concert by walking only 10 minutes there.
Here’s a picture of the choas from that year.
The Primo Maggio concert is a great idea but not as ideal in execution. No place to sit, you spend hours shuffling around to keep feeling in your feet, avoiding the careening glasses of beer and accompanying consumers, and straining to see someone that looks famous. Plus, if you don’t live close (or not in Rome), transportation is a nightmare.
The times I attended free concerts in Circus Maximus, it was much better. The rounded hills allowed for sitting or you could stand on the flat floor of the arena. Also, it is huge and it seemed there was always room for more people.
Next, I’m looking forward to the Heineken Jammin’Festival in June. Maybe I will finally be able to see Depeche Mode live.