Full-Bodied and Distinctively Fascist

I took these pictures at a restaurant in Milan (with Instagram, of course). I was enjoying dinner and the company of friends when I noticed these insane bottles of wine! Can you see ‘em? They have images of Mussolini and fascist propaganda!  Pazzesco! I’ve never seen anything like that ever before!

The buzz of several glasses of fascist wine prompted me to bring a bottle home, more out of curiosity than anything else. The girl at the restaurant who sold me the bottle asked me if I wanted a bag to carry it home. I told her that I was all set, and she responded, firmly but gently, “Take a bag. It’s better that way. You may piss some people off if they see you with that thing on the street.”

Yikes! What have I gotten myself into? I’m going to have to take the label off and flush it down the toilet before I place the empty bottle in the recycle bin!

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Little Mouse

I am a huge Mickey Mouse fan! Have been ever since I was a boy!

I love Mickey so much that when I was little I dressed up as the famous Disney mouse for numerous consecutive Halloweens. My Mom gave up on trying to persuade me to change costumes by saying “Why don’t you try being a cute lil’ Dracula” or “Don’t you want to be a Ninja Turtle this year? Cowabunga!” and just accepted the fact that she was going to have to dust off and slightly alter the old Mickey costume once more, for the 4th year in a row.

Me as Mickey Mouse for Halloween in the 80′s! How cute am I?!!?

One year Mom was able to convince me to be a cowboy … but I still had to have some Mickey Mouse involved!

You may even say that I was possessed by Mickey Mouse. In fact, my parents have video evidence of me being silly (what else is new?) and talking in a high-pitched voice saying “Hi! I’m Mickey Mouse!”. When my parents kindly ask “Garrett, use your normal voice.”, I creepily respond by shrieking “Garrett isn’t here right now, but you can talk to me, Mickey, if you want!” The video is an old 1980′s VHS home movie, and I have absolutely no idea how I’d go about transferring and uploading it to YouTube so I can’t show it to you, but I think just writing about it is embarrassing enough for me!

Now, you might be asking yourself “What’s this got to do with Italy?”. I’m getting there, don’t worry!

Mickey Mouse is known around the world either by the original American name that Walt Disney gave him or by a country’s local version (ie. Mickey Maus, Miki Miška, Ratón Mickey, Mikki Mús…).

Italy is an exception to this rule. In Italia, Mickey Mouse is known as Topolino (which translates to Little Mouse) and there’s an interesting historical reason behind this name change.

The cover of the first issue of the famous Topolino magazine in Italy … still read by children (and adults) even today!

During the period of fascism in Italy, Benito Mussolini outlawed the publication of foreign comic strips, especially American ones. The only one American comic that was “allowed” was Mickey Mouse, apparently because Mussolini’s children loved the character so much. The way to get away with publishing it anyways was to get rid of Mickey’s filthy American name and give him a new Italian one that was more in line with the ideals of strong Italian nationalism and pride. Fascism in Italy may have died off but the name stuck, and to this day Italians refer to the Disney star as Topolino.

Call him whatever you want, all I know is that Mickey Mouse continues to have a special place in my heart!

I think it’s quite clear which Disney character is my favorite. What’s yours? Leave a comment below! :-)