As i was sitting between the Colonne di San Lorenzo, absorbed in understanding the complex interplay of mass and shadow of the basilica's porch, i slowly realized that the place i had chosen to sit was actually the main dealing spot on the Corso di Porta Ticinese: i was being surrounded by a throng of spacciatori going about their business; they were hanging around a young russian escort girl, herself escorted by three older men carrying her expensive shopping bags, trying to convince her to go home, to which she resisted, arguing it was her birthday and she wanted to stay longer with her "friends" and didn't want to go back to her "prison" (i understood she was probably the girl of a powerful man, on leave with her bodyguards). five meters away, a fight started: one spacciatore was accusing another of having stolen money from him. things got heated up and he suddenly yelled "ti amazzo" and pulled out a knife... the boss of the gang, a very calm man with a determined look in his eyes, came down to settle the quarrel and scold the knife-toting youngster. which was so outraged and resentful that he started kicking and smashing every bottle he found lying on the floor, showering glass all around me.
at one point, as i was focusing on the architectural features of the columns, i heard one of the spacciatori yelling aggressively at me "ey boy! ey boy! mi stai guardando a me?" and i realized he thought i was drawing him... luckily (?) the boss of the gang was sitting next to me and started looking at the sketchbook and ended up saying -with a profoundly philosophical and nostalgic tone- "man, that's what i wanted to do with my life, this art and expression..." and then he told all the spacciatori to gather around and look at the drawings. and i realized it was 2 a.m. and everyone else had left and here i was, alone in the middle of a gang of dealers, talking about art & drawing.
Milano 08.2015 (sketch by zim)
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