Captain’s Quarters

About the Author

On February 12 1930, in Bruxelles, during a performance of Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Boheme, primadonna and lyric soprano Emilia Vidali (see picture below), while singing in the leading role of Mimi, began to experience labor pains. That’s why Italian author Aldo Vidali drew his first breath in Belgium and thus the newborn received his soul.

Aldo grew up in Rome, Italy, in a family of artists (his grandfather Giovanni Enrico Vidali was a well-known cinema director, writer, actor, and producer) until the end of WWII when the family moved to Brazil.

emilia

Hard times

The 30s and 40s in Italy were hard times. A ridiculous imperialist dictatorship ruled. This dark corporate conservatism was the natural ally of two ancient pillars of oppression: the Vatican and the monarchy. The arrogant lust for power of that extreme right wing ideology seeking to restore the bankrupt dream of the Roman Empire took a country of artists, poets, great cooks, and singers to war.

rome-sm Piazza Navona in Rome

 

The Italian people were conned by clownish fascist theatrics. The aware minority chose to speak about pasta and good wine and avoid as best they could the abusive right wing lunatics in black shirts and the priests in black gowns.

Government criminals, corporate powers, and a captive press bombarded people day and night with lies about “evil” saboteurs, communist, and “dastardly” Jews lurking everywhere, seeking destruction of the “glorious” neo-Roman Empire.

The Resistance

Aldo’s family joined the Resistance after 1939 when Mussolini declared war on England and France.  WWII was on.  On March 23, 1944, during the final months of the German occupation of Rome, Aldo, then 14 years old, was walking home carrying buckets of water for his family and five Jewish refugees hiding in the Vidali residence. He found himself cut off and trapped in the Nazi dragnet minutes after the Fosse Ardeatine partisan attack that killed 35 Germans.

Thanks to entreaties of his 15 year-old cousin, Stella, begging a German soldier from the other side of the dragnet line for Aldo’s life, he was released.

At that time, the German high command had requisitioned the third floor of the same building where Aldo lived for an SS officers club. The terrified Vidalis found themselves sheltering Jewish refugees from deportation a few floors above the club. For several frightening weeks, the family was at extreme risk of being discovered and summarily shot.

To appreciate the trauma of that episode, it is enough to know that the Fosse Ardeatine massacre was a mass execution ordered by Hitler and carried out in Rome by Nazi occupation troops on March 24, 1944 as a reprisal for the partisan attack on the SS troups the previous day in central Rome. Much has been written about that tragedy.

The Americas

Soon after the war, Aldo moved to Brazil, but the evil of fascist tyranny was never forgotten.

At 18 (1948), Aldo traveled into primitive Brazilian villages selling Coleman Lamps & Stoves to earn college tuition which, with his mother’s great help, made it possible for him to come to the United States to study.

After a year of Geology at Colorado School of Mines, the early 50’s found Aldo prospecting in the Mexican states of Sonora and Durango, where he acquired and then organized the development of mining properties. After a sale of these (Plomo Y Plata de Mexico and Exona) to ALCOA, Aldo became interested in Jacques Cousteau’s oceanic research. He purchased one of the first Cousteau aqua-lung models and explored the coastal underwater world of Southern California. Scuba diving in those days was rare, so Aldo was granted the opportunity of experiencing the abundance of marine life along the Southern California coast before its drastic reduction by commercial and sport fishing.

mex2-sm Gold nuggets from a Mexican river

 

Aldo was surprised and gratified years later while sailing the South Pacific on his self built ketch Arcana (Latin for “mysteries”) to meet Cousteau’s ship Calipso at sea. This magnificent sea-explorer was the fruit of Cousteau’s invention of that acqua-lung that enriched our understanding of the oceans and the magic of the underwater world.

After the Mexican mining period, Aldo returned to Europe to participate in the exciting Italian post war Film renaissance. He set up a production organization with Director Antonioni called MAGIC FILMS (Michelangelo Antonioni Gruppo Internazionale Cinematografico) and collaborated with Federico Fellini on The Strange Voyage of G. Mastorn,a a Dantesque voyage beyond life.  During that amazing experience, Fellini confidentially revealed his understanding of life beyond death and how dreams offer communication with people who passed into dimensions beyond earthly life.

Aldo’s subsequent documentary work originated a new genre. Straw Hat and the Crown, shown on the Italian R.A.I. Television Network, received recognition (even from the Vatican’s Opus Dei) for its subtle moral theme set off by contrasting a fairytale on a background of real life events.

Africa

In 1963, Aldo Vidali went to Africa as Second Unit Director of the dramatic feature documentary Good-bye Africa, a Rizzoli Production. He worked on that production in South Africa, Southwest Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Zanzibar, Congo, and Angola.

africa2-sm South Africa during “Africa Addio” production

 

In Africa, a cameraman’s fast talk was all that stood between the Italian crew and the gun barrels of the rebellious King Africa Rifles Regiment in Dar es Salaam. The Good-bye Africa documentary was filmed during the bloodstained transition from colonies to African nations.

In 1965, Aldo wrote and filmed Sunset at Dawn, an early environmental film essay on the worsening ecological crisis, followed by Trail to the Stars, a view of the NASA space program contrasted with America’s pioneering past.

The sailing voyage begins

In 1970, he began construction of a 57 ft. sailing ketch in Malibu, California. Simultaneously, he opened a New Age café supporting the flower children revolution in the Topanga hills. The café operated during the years of Aldo’s boat building.

boat5-sm Sailing the Pacific

 

In 1978, Aldo participated in the environmental-political campaign in Kauai, Hawaii, to save the island’s pristine shorelines at Nukoli’i from yet another tourist development. The campaign, including the election of environmentalist Joanne Yukimura to the County Council, was successful. Two years later, however, to the dismay of many, big Japanese real estate interests ignoring the public will a md developed Nukuli’I as another tasteless tourist devastation of a magnificent Hawaiian natural setting.

In 1980, after years of boat building, the Arcana was launched. Sea trials began around California’s Channel Islands. Outfitting and shakedown cruises went on to prepare for a major bluewater voyage in the Eastern Pacific.

boat8-sm1 The Arcana

 

During this period, insane environmental destruction was being promoted by lunatic Republican Interior Secretary James Watt, a neo-Christian doomsday fanatic, who exposed vast sections of Federal lands to commercial exploitation. Shocked and deeply concerned for wilderness preservation, Aldo rushed to Alaska with a stratagem to foil James Watt’s plan of opening oil exploration in the magnificent Denali wilderness, one of Alaska’s most spectacular regions. Vidali formed ALCOR (Alaska Capital Corporation) and leased thousands of acres of federal oil lands in that beautiful area. ALCOR proceeded to subdivide the leases into impractical 40-acre parcels to force major oil companies to buy out each and every one from far too many owners before Big Oil could move in and drill. One single holdout lease could stall exploration for years.

This maneuver caught the rapacious oil industry by surprise and by the time the industry pressed the government to impose a minimum parcel size of 2,500 acres, it was too late. Big Oil tried to change the law retroactively, but the vicious government control by neo-con Republican haters of America was still in the Bush future. Aldo blocked that illegal attempt by notifying all leaseholders to demand their rights against this undemocratic scheme of Big Oil and their Alaska right wing cronies. This tactic was successful and thus prevented abusive exploitation of the Denali for ten years.

In 1984, Aldo, his wife, Viktoria, and their two-year old son Orlando set sail for the Eastern Pacific. They explored the West Coast of Mexico, Baja California, Sea of Cortez, Marquesas Islands, Tuamotus Archipelago, Society Islands of Tahiti, Moorea, Raiatea, Bora-Bora, the Hawaiian chain, British Columbia, and the Northwest Coast of the Americas. Their voyage covered approximately 40,000 nautical miles.

boat11-sm The Family in Cook’s Bay, Moorea

 

This adventurous chapter of their lives includes the wild experience of Hurricane Ima, when the Arcana rushed to find refuge in Moorea’s Cook’s Bay in the Society Islands. Later, in a final adventure of their four-year voyage, Aldo, Viktoria, and Orlando survived an attack on the high seas by a North Korean fishing vessel by cat and mouse out-maneuver.

After witnessing first-hand industry over-fishing and coral reef destruction, trash floating a thousand miles from land, being shocked by smelling the pungent fragrance of clear-cutting from America’s magnificent Northwest forests 200 miles offshore, and observing mountain-sized piles of giant logs chained on the desks of container ships headed east from Port Angeles in Washington State, the Vidalis left Puget Sound immediately after the birth of their second son, Lorenzo. They felt repelled by the obstinate devastation of one of the world’s most majestic forested regions on the grandiose Olympic Peninsula.

So, in 1987, the Arcana sailed down the West Coast and landed in San Diego, California. The Vidali family, while happily raising their sons, worked to preserve the remaining natural resources of the Golden State. Al Gore’s comprehensive ecological program outlined in Earth in the Balance provided inspiration for their support of the environment. Viktoria and Aldo were instrumental in the successful passage of San Diego County’s Forest Conservation Initiative in 1993. They contributed creative writing and actively worked for Cleveland National Forest preservation.

Environmental and documentary work

1998-2000 found Viktoria and Aldo organizing community gardens on the Big Island of Hawaii to promote self-sustainability, while also supporting Al Gore’s efforts to protect Hawaii’s coral reefs.

Recently Aldo created and directed an educational political video, Deflating the Elephant by Framing the Discussion: an invaluable learning tool for progressives, with UC Berkeley Professor George Lakoff and actor Sean Penn.

He is currently in pre-production of a feature documentary titled: A Different World (Un Mundo Diferente) that shines light on Latin America’s awakening to social and economic justice and liberation from neo-colonialism. The film focuses on the struggle of many nations against the abuses by American economic and militarist imperial oppression. It debunks media lies and shows the rise of a true democracy propelled by the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela under the inspired social democratic leadership of Hugo Chavez.

vz6-sm Evo Morales addressing the Venezuelan National Assembly

 

Reviving motion picture transformative vision developed under Federico Fellini’s guidance, Aldo Vidali is now teaching Fellini’s cine-magic vision and preparing productions dedicated to neutralizing the suffocating hegemony of cultural oppression by promoting the restoration of democracy for the development of true participatory democracy over the ashes of collapsing capitalist lunacy. View the short: Fellini & Hegemony.

Aldo Vidali currently volunteers as Chairman of UNECO. Aldo speaks English, Italian, Spanish, French, and Portuguese, and is a public lecturer and writer.

Permission is hereby granted to use any material on Luminous Compass with the proviso that you kindly provide a back link.

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