Alejandro H. Rodriguez-Giovo

Alejandro H. Rodriguez-Giovo

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Rodriguez-Giovo chatting with his good friend John Keats
Rodriguez-Giovo chatting with his good friend John Keats

Mr. Rodriguez-Giovo is blessed with prominent friends, whose lives he claims to have greatly enriched.

Nikita Khrushchev

khrushchev24One of Rodriguez-Giovo’s earliest friends was Nikita Khrushchev, whom he encountered in September 1960 at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York. Rodriguez-Giovo (whose father was a UN official at the time) spontaneously waved and grinned at Mr. Khrushchev as the latter was walking past in the foyer outside the General Assembly Hall. This amiable gesture contrasted sharply with the generally hostile attitude of onlookers in the US towards Mr. Khrushchev. The General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union therefore stooped (in view of Rodriguez-Giovo’s modest stature as a tiny tot), smiled and waved back with evident warmth. An intense bond instantly spanned the ideological divide (Rodriguez-Giovo’s political sympathies at that time gravitated towards King Babar) and cemented an amity that survived in some ineffable form till Mr. Khrushchev’s demise in 1971. He dedicated several pages in his memoirs, Khrushchev Remembers, to the impact his friendship with Rodriguez-Giovo had on his political vision. Unfortunately, owing to a historically unique collusion between the CIA and the KGB, all references to Rodriguez-Giovo were systematically excised from every version of the manuscript to which publishers had access, on grounds that remain unclear.

Pablo Neruda

neruda2In June and July 1970, Pablo Neruda and Rodriguez-Giovo developed first a neighbourly rapport and then a mutual regard that eventually blossomed into a full friendship during the month they spent together, between Genoa and Valparaiso, via the Panama Canal, aboard the Italian ocean liner “Verdi”. Most of the 300 or so other passengers were aristocratic Chileans who detested Mr. Neruda (he had just stepped down as the Communist Party’s presidential candidate in favour of Salvador Allende), and snubbed him at every available opportunity. Rodriguez-Giovo, in contrast, had absolutely no idea who Mr. Neruda was, and therefore tended to glance past him with a benign indifference for which the poet was deeply grateful. With all the wilfully egalitarian determination that an incipient teenager can muster, Rodriguez-Giovo moreover refused to be unduly impressed by Mr. Neruda’s literary reputation, however much his father emphasized it to him, and persisted in seeing him as merely another balding, elderly gentleman who boringly spent most of his time reading or dozing in a deck-chair. Under such auspicious circumstances, their friendship was bound to flourish. Mr. Neruda, who took all his meals at a table barely three metres away from Rodriguez-Giovo’s, covertly observed with keen interest the latter’s relaxed manners and gastronomic preferences, and discreetly substituted cheeseburgers and banana milkshakes for the tournedos alla Rossini and Brunello di Montalcino he had favoured until then. He never ceased to be astounded by Rodriguez-Giovo’s expertise in producing a loud, high-pitched vibration by running his moist finger around the rim of a wine-glass, and always interrupted his meal to watch each new performance with increasing fascination. Although Mr. Neruda was peripheral to Rodriguez-Giovo’s field of vision, which understandably was centred on a Claudia Cardinale look-alike who regularly sunbathed by the pool, the young man could not help noticing with compassion that Mr. Neruda’s sole companion on board was a woman – apparently his wife – barely a decade or so less ancient than him. To cheer him up a bit, Rodriguez-Giovo once slipped a postcard of the 1969 Boca Juniors football team into a volume by some old fart called Whitman that Mr. Neruda had left on his deck-chair. Although Mr. Neruda never referred openly to the gift, he subsequently dedicated three poems to Boca Juniors (sadly unpublished, as his wife destroyed the manuscripts in a fit of jealousy) and died of a broken heart in 1973, following the club’s failure to secure the Argentine championship that year.

Jorge Luis Borges & Graham Greene



On five distinct occasions Rodriguez-Giovo was seen to converse with Jorge Luis Borges for up to 15 minutes, and although it was evident that Mr. Borges did not recognize Rodriguez-Giovo visually, he always smiled politely (though sometimes in the wrong direction), remained courteous and never actually told Rodriguez-Giovo to go away. There can be little doubt that Mr. Borges was deeply touched by Rodriguez-Giovo’s presence at his funeral in Geneva in 1986. Graham Greene was equally appreciative of Rodriguez-Giovo’s attendance at his burial in Vevey in 1991 – or at any rate, he expressed no objection.

John Keats

keats2In 1990, while in Rome to witness the World Cup final between Argentina and Germany, Rodriguez-Giovo first visited and eventually became a close friend of John Keats, who had settled there definitively in 1821. Mr. Keats has remained a discreet but quietly appreciative and reliable interlocutor, and his post-1990 work undoubtedly reveals Rodriguez-Giovo’s poetic influence.

Plácido Domingo

domingo2During an unconnected incident in Rome on the night of July 8, 1990, Rodriguez-Giovo justifiably assaulted the tenor Plácido Domingo in front of the Palazzo Minerva, when Mr. Domingo provocatively suggested that Germany had perhaps played better than Argentina in that evening’s match. Mr. Domingo rapidly acknowledged his error, and the fleeting confrontation between the two men ended with a warm embrace. Although there has been no further contact between them, it can be said that since this episode their friendship has not waned.

Juan Manuel Fangio, Emerson Fittipaldi & Jackie Stewart

fangio1fittipaldi1stewart1                                                                                                                                                         In 1977, a three-way conversation took place in Buenos Aires between the legendary racing-driver Juan Manuel Fangio, the twice Formula One champion Emerson Fittipaldi and Rodriguez-Giovo. Mr. Fangio was deeply moved by the realization that he had won his fourth world title the very same year Rodriguez-Giovo was born, and tears of gratitude welled up in his eyes. Mr. Fittipaldi looked on in awe, as it dawned on him that he himself had won all his races only after Rodriguez-Giovo’s birth. It need hardly be pointed out that neither Mr. Fangio nor Mr. Fittipaldi were likely to forget this particular encounter: it was a sweltering night, and the air-conditioning had broken down in the packed auditorium. However, the perspiration that streamed down their faces was caused as much by their struggle to cope with their emotions as by the oppressive heat. Many years later, when the thrice world champion Sir Jackie Stewart bumped into Rodriguez-Giovo in Nyon, Switzerland, the amiable chit-chat with which he managed to conceal – despite a certain moistness in his eyes – his debt to the latter’s existence, was an accomplished display of British understatement and stiff upper-lip. Such is Rodriguez-Giovo’s reputation in the Formula One world that both Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher have moved to his neighbourhood in recent years, and they make a point of driving to and from Geneva along the same motorway as their unassuming benefactor.

Hugh Jackmanjackman2

Hugh Jackman makes no attempt to disguise his debt as an actor to Rodriguez-Giovo (possibly because he is unaware of it). When they first met, Mr. Jackman was little known beyond the Australian soap-opera scene and the London stage. It is therefore no coincidence that by the time their paths crossed again, Mr. Jackman was well on his way to achieving recognition in Hollywood. However, it was this second encounter with Rodriguez-Giovo (who had previously rubbed shoulders with the likes of Sir Alec Guinness, Sir Peter Ustinov, Sir Alan Bates, Charlton Heston and Greta Scacchi) that proved to be decisive in infusing him with the dramatic skills and self-confidence that have since propelled him to international stardom.

Woody AllenWoody Allen 2

On the morning of July 21st., 2009, Woody Allen was struggling for ideas as he prepared to shoot a scene involving Anthony Hopkins on Devonshire Terrace, in London’s tranquil Bayswater neighbourhood. Providentially, who other than Rodriguez-Giovo should absent-mindedly walk down the street, straight into the heart of the film crew? He briefly made eye contact with Mr. Allen, and at that moment the course of cinematographic history was forever altered. Words were superfluous. Instantaneously, the floodgates of inspiration burst open and, after briefly but tearfully nodding his gratitude to Rodriguez-Giovo, Mr. Allen was galvanized into action, brilliantly directing his actors and setting up what will doubtless prove to be one of the most memorable scenes ever recorded on celluloid (Mr. Allen scorns new-fangled digital technology). Rodriguez-Giovo, who is famously shy of the limelight, has specifically requested that Mr. Allen should not dedicate the new film to him.

Julia Migenes

migenes-3Rodriguez-Giovo’s tactful discretion regarding his countless lady friends is legendary. However, he reluctantly concedes that it would be futile to conceal his liaison with the soprano Julia Migenes, as eventually even she noticed it, and did not hesitate to display her passion in full public view by recognizing him at least twice. Such was her infatuation with Rodriguez-Giovo that she took up tango singing only to ingratiate herself with him, and even went as far as to dedicate an entire show and CD to the music of Buenos Aires.


Numerous other people can lay claim to Rodriguez-Giovo’s friendship, and in some cases they have the privilege of interacting with him even more frequently than those highlighted above; but for the most part they are shy and unassuming, and some have taken their modesty to the extreme of threatening with legal action whoever publicly links their names with his.

It estimated (by Rodriguez-Giovo himself) that between 2,750,000 and 2,800,000 people have actually seen Rodriguez-Giovo in person, irrespective of whether they had the opportunity of speaking to him or registered mentally the fact of having seen him. The number of those who have had access to Rodriguez-Giovo’s image and/or voice in printed or recorded form is beyond calculation, owing to a complete absence of data.

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This blog is great. Witty, incisive stuff!

Lenard Mangiapane

March 31, 2010

I just needed to say that I found your blog via Goolge and I am glad I did. Keep up the good work and I will make sure to bookmark you for when I have more free time away from the books. Thanks again!

May 27, 2010

Hello. Highly entertaining; if I wasn’t so busy with my school work I would read your full site. Thanks!

mapa panama

July 21, 2010

Maño, sos de los que matan callando… Te olvidaste del gran filosofo Mario Bunge (que te debe su Causalidad), de Hergé (El templo del sol, claro: quién si no le hubiera dicho que en castellano,se dice “no sé” en vez de “no entiendo”) y, claro, de mi. De la deuda para conmigo, mejor ni hablar ! Presumido, pituco !
Descubri el objeto del delito via Google Images, buscando cuadros de las dos Giovos o vistas del Monte Giovo (en el Trentino, para tu buen gobierno).
Me costo no reirme delante de los alumnos. Gracias por el buen rato que me regalaste a pesar tuyo.


October 15, 2010

Utterly preposterous!

Stephen Benaim

January 7, 2011

My brother recommended this website. He was totally right. This post truly made my day. Thanks!

Sena Tiboni

April 14, 2011

Dear Mr. Rodriguez (-Giovo)
I wish that I could have read this blog and had the capacity to understand it as well, 20 years ago, when you were my English teacher
Best regards

Roelant van der Lelij

June 10, 2017

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