Six degrees

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 June, 2016, 5:26am

Milan was enveloped in scandal last week when, on one of the biggest nights in the European cultural calendar, the La Scala opera house removed tenor Giuseppe Filianoti (above) at the last minute from the premiere of Verdi's Don Carlo. It's unlikely anyone would confuse the Italian landmark, inaugurated in 1778, with London's Scala nightclub.

In the summer of 1972, the Scala (then known as the King's Cross Cinema) played host to the one and only British concert by rock bank Iggy & The Stooges (who were in London recording the album Raw Power). That night provided all the photographs featured on the album sleeve, including the iconic cover shot of Iggy Pop.

James Newell Osterberg Jr, as Pop was born, is perhaps the only rock singer published in an established journal of classical scholarship. His article Caesar Lives appears in the second volume of Classics Ireland (1995). The article considers the applicability to the modern world of English historian and legislator Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788).

Gibbon's book was a big influence on Russian-born author Isaac Asimov, who, by his own admission, wrote his Foundation series of stories 'with a tiny bit of cribbin' / from the works of Edward Gibbon / and that Greek, Thucydides'. The Foundation series subsumed the earlier Robot series of books, the first of which was I Robot.

The Will Smith film I Robot, which is loosely based on the Asimov story, makes good use of product placement. Among the brands featured is the Victor Company of Japan (JVC), the consumer electronics giant that, from 1982 to 1999, sponsor-ed Arsenal Football Club. The players were wear-ing 'JVC' on their shirts when they won the 1994 Uefa Cup Winners Cup, beating Italy's Parma 1-0.

In 1341, Parma, a city in the region of Emilia-Romagna and home to one of the oldest universities in the world, fell under the control of a larger rival: Milan.