For this new issue of Letter from… column, we asked toonpool.com artist Stefano Maria Baratti about his life and begged for some photographs of his working place and the city he lives in – New York, third largest city in USA that has 722 miles of subway track and a history which includes the first presentation of 3D films before a paying audience back on June 10, 1915.
Even if Stefano joined toonpool recently, on October 21, 2010, he has an wonderful and impressing gallery of almost 500 cartoons by now, in Italian, English, German, Romanian…
It’s interesting to find out more about how Stefano lives in two places, speaks two languages and once dated two girls at the same time.
1. Which movie/TV character you see yourself as and why?
I can probably see myself as Monsieur Hulot, as played and directed by Jacques Tati. This character always fascinated me for his ability to retain a level of sanity in a modern world that seems to become robotic, impersonal and insensitive. The central metaphor of Tati’s films is the contradictions and conflicts of globalization. He was a true pioneer. And there is nothing more devastating than globalization…
2. Next plans or ideas?
I do not have plans, and sometimes I lack ideas… that is partly why I turn to cartoons for assistance in trying to explain, or make any sense of, the reality around me. Only a few things make sense to me. I view the world though the eyes of Franz Kafka, Eugene Ionesco and Peter Pan…
3. Your food today?
I am about to prepare “Fettuccine alla Norcina” (Fettuccine Norcia-style) with truffles from that area (Umbria, Italy). You are invited.
4. Do you like your place or would you like to live somewhere else?
I basically live in two diametrically opposite worlds, the United States (New York) and Italy (Perugia). I have two passports, and think and speak in two languages. This is actually something I do not wish to anybody. It’s a torture. You are neither here nor there. You are always a tourist, and it is difficult to pinpoint where you belong.
5. What was the huge mistake in your life you (unfortunately) never made?
There have been several huge mistakes I’ve made, that’s why there are cartoonists! I am, essentially, a huge mistake myself. I guess I should have not studied film. I spent too much time writing and rewriting screenplays, and tons of money to produce a couple of short features. Not much success. But I do not miss the Hollywood environment. It is a gigantic delusion. And nobody is really happy.
6. Who are your neighbors?
Nobody ever asked me this question. Frankly, I have no idea who they are, although they have been across the street for at least 12 years. They really look like nice people. But this is the way we live in the United States. Nobody speaks to anybody. And if you eventually smell something funny, it only means that your neighbors are probably dead.
7. Tell me the shortest joke you know
A: “Excuse me, do you have the time?”
B: “No.” (B walks away)
8. Tell me the biggest prank you did on a friend.
I once (in my irresponsible youth) briefly dated two girls at the same time and gave them an appointment in front of a specific location. They did not know one another but stood there waiting for me while I was laughing with a friend of mine inside a car. In retrospect it was a horrible prank. But they never found out, and we are still good friends.
9. How to ruin your vacation?
To ask the two girls of question 8 to come along with you on a Caribbean island.
10. In 1977 NASA has sent orbiters Voyager 1 and 2 into space which will never stop to fly through the universe by gravity. They contain the Voyager Golden Records with many testimonials of the whole mankind, greetings in 55 languages introduced by US president Jimmy Carter (“This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings….”). The Golden Records with a lifespan of 500 million years at least are including drawings of a naked man and woman, detailed genitalia, many scientific graphics, sounds of planet earth and music by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart – and Chuck Berry:
Maybe aliens out there will be shocked in some million years! But in case such a NASA mission will be replayed: which of your artworks should join it?
11. Please give us an answer to a question we didn’t ask!
Both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are an exercise in futility.