Monthly Archives: March 2009

Winters Love [archive]

things are really changing. my semester’s coming to a close as signaled by tons of due dates, Adam’s on his way to Japan as i type these words, and Spring has overthrown Winter for good.

love love love love.

i learned many interesting things about ancient Athina this morning, especially about the organization of their democracy. at the base of the structure, the men of age formed the citizenship. any citizen could take part in the assembly, but it had to number at least 6000 for it to vote on any legislation. the council, numbering 500 (fifty from each of the ten tribes) proposed all legislation that the assembly then voted yes or no on. these 500 were replaced each year by randomly selecting citizens, but each citizen could only serve twice and only in two non-consecutive years. each of the ten months of the year, one of the tribes’ fifty representatives would serve as the executive council, receiving any ambassadors and handling any high-priority issues. on top of this, every single day one citizen from those 50 was randomly selected to be, as my professor put it, “queen for the day.” look at this for a pretty picture of how meticulously organized this system was.

one of the most bizarre political procedures Diamant lectured us on was called ostrakismos. a little bit like California’s recalling of governor Gray Davis, this was a method by which the very citizens of Athina could expel one citizen from the polis for ten years. each year, the assembly, if numbering 6000+, could decide whether to hold an ostracism. if they voted yes, these citizens would write the name of the person they wanted ostracized on pottery shards. after the shards had been counted up, the ‘winner’ had ten days to leave the city knowing that if he returned he faced death. it’s original purpose was to prevent tyranny (something Athenians feared immensely), but it eventually just turned into a corrupt game where politicians would try to get rid of their rivals. things never change, everything always changes.

in more recent news, i found my debit card! apparently i’m an idiot and left it at the atm right down the street. i thanked the bank teller beamingly. i don’t really have much more to say except that this is the shortest post i’ve made in a month. Continue reading

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thalassa [archive]

i have tripped so hard in march.

out the door down the down down the spiraling marble stairs stopped for a flash at the flush glass door over the dog down the steps around the bush run run run down the everyday street with no name left and in up the steps up the up tripped and painless up up up the square spiral steps keys and everything and money and nothing else and back down again out the building across the street at the stop on the bus waiting waiting waiting in the bus off the bus scamper through crowds so huge across the street round the corner at the stop at the stop at the stop hands sweaty at the steps heart thumping at the stop eyes watching for the stop feet pacing on the stop mouth smoking at the stop body moving squirming grooving growing cooing falling heaving moaning sighing seeing stooping setting sun swirling at the

girl, explosion.

she hatched from an egg and her name means the sea, she chases pigeons for fun and eats chickens to stay alive, she stares at things, saying wow, and then thinks while biting the inside of her invisibly and horribly scarred cheeks, her hair used to be short but it’s getting long and she sounds like a professor because she’s never been wrong, she’s sailed, she’s flown, she’s ridden on trains, she collects rocks and glitter and other sparkly things, but none of that matters except that she hatched from an egg and her name means the sea, thalassa, la mer.

Meryl arrived tuesday night, almost exactly a week ago, and we spent the night realizing that we were together. taxi, taverna, beer, and friends, we took her to the famed dirty alley, but she wasn’t very impressed with the level of dirt. she is from new jersey, after all.

wednesday, Greek Independence Day, was a day of revolutionary flopping. sleeping in, we missed the parade at syntagma square and whatever other festivities, but we didn’t mind. we ate some delicious feta eggs with orange juice and flopped around a ton before going outside for a little walk. we wandered through the national gardens, laughing at the silly caged creatures at the mini-zoo, circling around ponds, and exploring the unknown regions of the park. as we left the gardens, it started to rain, but that didn’t stop us from walking most of the way up likavitos hill, even in the pouring rain. Meryl had to wipe her glasses clean a few times to take in the view and our clothes felt like soaked sponges, but it didn’t really matter. once we returned to our dry cave, we didn’t leave for the night. we (or at least i) ate massive amounts of pasta for dinner and porpoised out the rest of the time.

we spent thursday exploring antiquity, from the national archaeological museum to the agora to the acropolis.

for all the talk about the gods that i make here, there, and everywhere, i have yet to actually give any physical offering to any of the gods themselves, even to beautiful Athena. well, at least someone finally did:

from the agora all the way to the acropolis, Meryl collected flowers of every sort, shape, size, and color into a pretty little bouquet, which she offered to Athena on the steps of the parthenon. as she placed the votive offering on the steps, one of the guards whistled angrily at her, as if giving an offering to Athena in front of her most majestic temple broke some sort of law. i seriously felt a little worried for the fate of the man chastising people for giving offerings to Athena. after thousands of years of being spit on, the goddess has plenty of extra rage to unleash.

i had planned for us to eat and nap and be fat and merry until nightfall, but when i found i lost my debit card, the evening descended into a slush of stress. it’s okay, though. just annoying. i took my sugar mama out to bios, where we chilled with some whiskey and a few of my friends very, very briefly, but we had to leave very shortly because we had an early ferry to catch in the morning.

ah, the sea:

with the sea stretched out before you like a blue glass desert, one cannot help but descend into the fiery depths of their boundlessly rich thoughts:

for seven hours or so, we slept, stared at each other, thought about everything, ate pasta, drank hot chocolate, smelled the sea, stared at the sea, felt the sea spray in our faces, and talked talk takk…. i could go on a transglobal voyage with that girl. this time, we got off at city-icing on a volcano-cake island, Thira!

we let Maddy, Xanthe, and her awesome Californian friend Donni take our ferry back to Athina, though sad they didn’t decide to stay longer (they got bored of the island). our hostel/motel/hotel/house/home was located in Fira, the capital city of the tiny island. the guy in charge, George proved extremely friendly, driving us from the ferry to our hotel, helping us to our rooms, pointing out all the sights of the island, helping us rent a car, and at the end of our trip, dropping us off at the airport. for friday night, we saw no sights but the walls of our room and a little bit of Fira, including an amazingly delicious, intensely romantic quiet dinner with awful music selected from the 80s and 90s playing in the background. what a crazy friday night.

in the morning, we rented that white piece of crap, 25 euro for 24 hours. that’s 96 cents an hour! what a steal! and the little piece of crap handled like a dream. the island’s got one main “big” road (one lane each way, a lane you can actually fit on) making the whole place feel like a race track. i had a lot of fun driving, especially since it was my first time in a couple of months. a much needed refresher, as we roamed from beautiful rocky site to beautiful rocky site. i forgot what a little rock collector i had with me:

she probably spent about an hour total the whole day crawling on the ground searching for the perfect rock. i think she had about twenty after all was over and done with. i took about five. it’s even more funny because she’s been collecting rocks since she was just a little girl. such a creature of repetition. but as Elise pointed out, i’m really no different. here’s a picture i took of Meryl in the Bay two years ago:

and here’s my same photographic genius of the same photogenic girl just two days ago:

we are fractals. or something. or maybe it’s too big for me to even start to comprehend.

early afternoon we went to the black sand beach wow wow wow then we drove to the red beach where we laid out for awhile and even put our feet in the water wow wow wow then we drove to a lighthouse on the tip of the island wow wow wow then we drove to the highest point of the island wow wowzer wow finally we drove to Oia to watch the sunset wow wow wow ! wow ! wow ! honestly i don’t want to know what it’s like to live in such a beautiful place, because i assume you must get jaded after awhile. all we did was drive around, stop, look, and say wow! that’s all i wanted to do. oh, and eat. i wanted to eat. after our dinner the night before, we decided to eat simply, but then this happened:

delicious items, from top-frame to bottom: Meryl, water, white wine, squid pasta, Greek salad, fried cheese, goat soup. yum yum yum yum yum yum yum. definitely my favorite picture i’ve taken in awhile. Meryl got some awesome pictures on her camera too which i cannot wait to see.

anyway, i feel like i’m necessarily glazing over a lot of saturday because so much of it was just the sea, her pretty eyes, and wily mind. fill in the blanks.

sunday morning we woke up confused by the time change, repeated the Fira omelette experience, and got driven to the tiniest airport i’ve ever seen. it was probably about fifty steps from curb to gate. i was pissed we had to walk ALL the way to gate 6 when gate 1 clearly wasn’t being used. ridiculous. in flight, Meryl at her window seat wowed out at the wonderful views (which i was just about growing tired of myself) while we had a jolly time eating the tiny complimentary chocolate croissants and orange juice. on the bus ride from the airport back to Athina, we listened to one earphone each of Merriweather Post Pavilion [Live], the playlist of mpp live versions that Adam so lovingly compiled for me. things were definitely winding down.

what kind of girl washes her rocks? i don’t know but one of them left for Praha today. see you soon shooting star! don’t burn so bright you melt all your rocks! Continue reading

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Olympia / Delphi [archive]

i have never tripped so hard in march.

~~~~~ Day One ~~~~~

early thursday morning, after picking up a chocolate croissant (for sam) and a cheese pie and orange juice (for myself), the long bus trip began. we reached our first destination, the dimitsana open air water power museum, after a couple hours of traveling. yes, it has its own wiki. no, it doesn’t deserve it. the welcoming placard:

Welcome to the open-air Water Power Museum ! Forget the city for a while, turn your back on the TV and the rat race. Surrender to the serenity of nature, to the joy of discovery! Turn back a page in the history book! Above all, take your time!
The museum consists of three separate exhibitions and displays a wide range of the ways in which water provided power and was used in production. The tour will take quite a while.

sheesh. it sure didn’t take me quite a while to see that there was nothing at this museum. still, it really got me away from the rat race, even though they had tvs with demos in every goddamn withered shed. in my favorite little shed, a tv sensually spoke to the dusty air about how to tan. seriously, it was the sexiest Greek voice i’ve ever heard, describing how to rub an animal’s hide just right. James and gregor demonstrating:

leaving the tannery and the gunpowder workshop, James and i went on a quest downhill, following the flowing water, to find more sweet exhibits. instead, we found a sweet car:

following classic cya field trip lunch (chips, sandwich, pizza, chocolate, apple), we were offered the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take the 5-minute walk through the village of dimitsana. once safely on the other side, we decided that a spliff was in order. Elaina and i, but mostly Elaina, took care of that quick. i don’t remember if this was pre or post spliff:

sleepy stoned bus ride quickly passed and we found ourselves in sleepy Olympia, a town with double the population of Dimitsana (600) and half the excitement. seriously you could probably carry a conversation with somebody on the other side of the town. with half the day already done (meaning the site and museum already closed), we had the night to ourselves.

Elaina and i lazed around quite a bit, pretending to nap, before enough interruptions from nervous nick and awkward sam compelled us to give up on sleep and to instead give whiskey a shot. and a few shots we gave it. half a fifth and some indie rock later, we rolled in spongy bliss, not really caring about going anywhere or doing anything, except for the cries of our stomachs. so we went down to the lobby, walked the fifteen feet across the street, and walked into the taverna to sit with our friends who had been waiting. i love Greek food.

after dinner, the gang walked through downtown Olympia in about a minute, we walked back to the hotel with big delicious plant plans. Elaina wrapped up the plant in ten seconds flat and the whole room was flying in not much longer. so excellent. everyone left for their own hotels pretty quickly and Elaina and i went up to her room, where Olivia smoked a cigarette with us. laughing and high….

more holy than a monk, you
holy water monster, incense sex stain,
kill my brain
for what it’s worth, break down
my ideology with your brilliant emotion,
my smiley ideology, a cream puff underneath
the hammer of your frown, don’t cry
teeth tongue truck driving, dirt dumping dirt
thing risen on the 0th day from a swamp
to tell the world nothing/everything
to touch what our hands have touched
to fuck the pyramids i’ve struck, as if
my blue amulet
cursed your dress to glitteriness, as if
glitter waned.

stars wane.

~~~~~ Day Two ~~~~~

breakfast fucking SUCKED. the water tasted like cardboard, the juice tasted like piss, i heard the coffee blew, you can’t fuck up cereal but the milk seemed a year old, and by the time i got to my egg, i was just expecting shit. i basically just stuffed a roll with meat and cheese on it down my throat so that i wouldn’t pass out on ruins.

Olympia is epic.

okay, not really. it’s not visually stunning or immediately magically arresting like Delphi, but still. so much history here, so much tradition started here. i mean, the olympics! you have to be a little thinky to enjoy it, though. nothing there really caught the eye. for example, here’s the stadium, originally constructed in the 6th century bc:

after seeing the excessively epic Olympic stadiums of Athina and Roma, i felt pretty underwhelmed by this dusty oval. the same Greeks who built the sublime theatre at Epidaurus thought this was fit for a stadium? but the more i thought about it, the more i liked it. i decided that two of my favorite characteristics are “epic” and “simple,” which i swear aren’t contradictory. clearly one can see the simplicity in this track. you start at one end with whoever you’re competing, and race them to the end. that’s it. how is it epic? because somehow, just because two men were racing from point a to point b, “armies were forbidden from entering Olympia, wars were suspended, and legal disputes and the use of the death penalty were forbidden” (wiki).

oh my god, you want epic? read about pankration. easily my favorite sport event ever. basically it’s one-on-one, completely naked (nakedness was pretty standard for ancient olympic events) fighting, that ends when one side gives up. everything but eye gouging and biting is allowed. unless you’re in Sparta. Spartan pankration has no exceptions. apparently (and not unexpectedly) lots of people died in this event. if i had my own olympics, it would have two events: the foot race and the pankration.

the collapsed ruins of the temple of Zeus won me over pretty easily. even a monolith in utter ruin retains its monolithic nature. just look at the universe. as i learned while Elaina took the picture above, the dimensions of each column matched my height perfectly. interesting. possible conspiracy theories abound. on the opposite side of me, next to the temple, the ruined columns lined up perfectly with where they originally stood.

epic. i gave myself a hard time trying to climb over them and jumping from stone to stone while Elaina walked on the temple, waiting patiently for me to have my fun. winding to the temple to hera, we saw the same little puppy sleeping who had all day been visiting all the site’s visitors. i guess he got tired of switching between English and Italian. Elaina and i tried to figure out which god he was (hera? Zeus?), but she claims he responded to Dionysos. trickster god.

we slowly worked our way out of the site and with the hour or two break we had, looked for lunch. luckily, her and i out of everybody in our group stuck out around the ruins long enough to lose the crowd, so we only had ourselves to deal with while looking for a place to eat. we passed just two blocks outside of the periphery of the site and quickly found a completely empty taverna, where we ordered fanta lemonades and gyros. while we sat with our fantas and bread, in the middle of quiet Olympia, i sort of realized that i felt very high. neither of us had smoked that day, but she felt the same thing. we just laughed and smiled a lot and everything was good. our food came and we devoured it. then we just sat content and high. fucking everything. we walked back to the class meeting spot in front of the Olympia museum a little early, so Elaina took a seat on a bench and i laid down with my head next to her and took a picture of the beautiful everything laid before me that visually embodied how i felt that afternoon:

the museum stores many, many treasures. it’s as if Meryl was the only person bringing offerings to the sanctuary:

those winged guys would rest on opposite sides of these cauldrons…

….with those wild creatures all along the sides. how creepy. i didn’t pay attention, i guess, because i don’t remember their purpose. i’ll make a wild guess: offerings to the gods. this museum pretty much consisted of offerings that the travelers of the Mediterranean brought to the Olympic games. so if you were a warrior, you might bring a helmet:

what’s the site of the Olympic games without an image of Nike?

even in her nearly completely deconstructed state, she hovers off her pedestal, invisibly winged and free, eternal Victory. the walls painted blue might have helped the illusion. from Nike’s room we walked into a massive room with reconstructions of the two pediments of the temple of Zeus on opposite sides of the room. the east pediment (on the front of the temple), depicted the myth of the chariot race between Pelops and Oenomaus, with Zeus in the center, clearly demonstrating a favorite attribute of the Greeks: Order.

the opposite side of the room, with a reconstruction of the west pediment, depicted a myth involving a wild bunch of centaurs crashing a wedding party, with divine Apollo at the center trying to set things strange. here’s a detail:

before getting kicked out of the museum, we set our eyes on the gorgeously sculpted Hermes and the infant Dionysos:

look at that ass. it’s perfect. you see Hermes’ arm going up? supposedly he once dangled a vine of grapes in front of little Dionysos. precious, right? i love Greek religion (and that’s what part two of this trip was all about….. but that will come in a second).

Professor set us free after the museum, so we scrambled for the hotel and i napped. for almost four hours. i woke up with an urge. my iphone started playing Homework as loud as it could stand and i danced to it all alone in my room. so therapeutic. nothing can follow sleep and dancing. except food! Elaina and i met up, we met up with others, and we all made for the best taverna in the world (the one right across the street). delicious, delicious Greek food, i’ll never get sick of you. rounds of wine, i will never get sick of you. we paid and made our way two blocks down the street where you turned left and found yourself at the two only clubs in Olympia: kalypso and face. we chose face.

literally only five or so other people were already there. and they were cya. ridiculous and hilarious. knowing the dj didn’t have many people to account for, i immediately went over and yelled “daft punk!” and he nodded happily. about twenty minutes later, he played One More Time and everybody got up to dance. it ruled. i gave him a thank you!! gesture, but still couldn’t resist walking over, and saying “thank you!! if you have more, play it!!” about ten minutes later, he played Music Sounds Better With You. daft punk in Olympia. what bliss. another five minutes later, ’round midnight, club kalypso closed, so a massive party of high school Italians, mostly girls, invaded our private club, pretty much killing the night, though perhaps increasing its hilarity.

we capped the night pretty much exactly like the night before, a little more dangerously, a little more warmly.

~~~~~ Day Three ~~~~~

i tried to be a little more creative with my breakfast, but it still completely blew. right after we went to the other museum in Olympia, to see a few things real quick before driving towards Delphi.

i know it’s just a copy, but still: look at that fucking motion. beautiful.

back on the bus, Elaina, James, Molly, and i played pusoy, a card game based on poker hands but pretty different from any actual variations of poker. James pretty much owned for the 1+ hour we played, while Elaina and i pretty much blew. i still enjoyed it completely. Elaina, not so much. we eventually stopped in some city for lunch. went to a not-so-taverna on the shoreline, ordered a special omelette, and got a special burger. fucking pissed. couldn’t wait to keep going to get away from shitty-omelettes-equal-burgers-city. i slept too much. i mostly missed the utterly gorgeous views passing by, but the few times i did open my eyes i saw the highway 1 in all its foggy windy mountainous seafoam glory blanketing out before me. i was thrilled. and so we came to Delphi.

our hotel room smelled like shit. or man. gave it his all but missed the last touchdown and pissed about it man. goddamn. sitting in there long enough with the balcony doors swung open, cold means nothing when your room smells like shit, sam and i watched good old American tv (cnn on one channel and Godzilla on the other). it made me delirious. thankfully, after just a little over an hour, we went on a little walk through town, towards this:

that was literally a five minute walk from our hotel. in the words of Richard Caceres, “jesus christ.” i prefer “Athena Parthenos” and “Zeus Almighty” but you might like “om” and “shanti shanti shanti” or “Allah mine,” but whatever stupid sounds you string out of your little mouth, they are only divine whispers in the face of the sublime abyss that is this most beautiful site they call Delphi.

if you read up on it, you’ll get lost in the myths of how this place came to be dedicated to Apollo, god of light, truth, music, poetry, art, and, of course, prophecy. but none of that really is too important. i would travel half the globe, even if i were ignorant of the myths, just to see the chasm here. who could possibly still be blind to truth, to the future, to everything, in the presence of the infinite nothing spinning wildly across the mountains here?

we listened patiently to a couple lectures on the sublimity surrounding us. later, Elaina and i dug patiently into the sublimity of Johnnie Walker and Frank Zappa. even though we brilliantly decided to save money by stuffing our faces with delicious gyros instead of the quaint taverna experience, our persistent green friend tricked me into spending the money i saved on dessert. in the lobby of the hotel, i ordered an amazing chocolate gelato before sharing a chocolate cake with sam. i love decadence.

Elaina and i both wanted to get the hell away from everybody, as usual, so i proposed and she accepted a whimsical wander through the tourist town. i call it that, but it sure beat the hell out of Olympia. it actually seemed like something more than a giant postcard shop. when we wandered to the edge that gave us the epic view before, we saw nothing but darkness stretched out before us. i could hardly stand. my eyes slowly adjusted, meaning deep black mountains took shape against the blackish blue of the night sky. in the distance, little towns blinked like space stations on the edge of nothingness. we literally stood on the abyss. i could never imagine this place 2500 years ago.

~~~~~ Day Four ~~~~~

i just realized that exactly half the pictures i uploaded to facebook are from Olympia and the other half are Delphi. that’s cool. anyway, after a slightly improved breakfast, we made another morning museum trip.

offerings, offerings, offerings. the offerings here dwarfed the offerings at Olympia, because the people who came here we’re serious. giant silver bulls, gold jewelry, statues, images, anything to appease the gods, especially Apollo, and the chance of a fair prophecy from the pythia.

“i got your oracle right here….” said as you draw an invisible joint to your mouth, squinted eyes. that was my joke with myself for the day. after the museum, granted a twenty minute break, Elaina, James, and i took the perfect opportunity to induce the prophetic visions naturally. we walked a little down the highway, where we could see the epic view and smoke all by ourselves. i’m ready for Delphi!

walking up, up, a treasury (literally a building for holding all the treasures brought by pilgrims):

the temple to Apollo:

probably the most epic theatre in the whole fucking world:

views from the theatre:

hopefully all that gives you some idea of what the site looked like. you’d start at the bottom and zig-zag all the way up. up, sharp turn, up, treasury, sharp turn, up, up, up, temple, sharp turn, up, theatre, up, up, up. now what the hell was this place? read that wiki on Delphi and on the Pythia for something in-depth, but this is what i remember. nowhere in the world did you have a human being so connected to a deity. the Pythia, a girl selected from the nearby village, was literally the mouthpiece of Apollo. she would only prophesy once a month, nine months out of the year. the other three months Apollo went on vacation to northern Europe, during which Dionysos would watch over things. but when Apollo was home, he would make those nine days of prophecy spread throughout the year a big deal. early in the morning, the Pythia would wake and take a bath in the sacred castalian spring based at the bottom of the site (our professor joked that if he had to get in the water there, in the morning, with the weather that cliff gets, that he would be put in a prophetic state as well). she would then make the long march up the cliff to the temple of Apollo, chewing on laurels (supposedly would give you bad diarrhea for a week) all the way. once in the temple, she would sit in her tripod (like in the picture i posted above) and spend the day dealing out oracular statements. i received just one and it was very simple: a great religion will fall. thank you, Pythia.

we left the archaeological site, driving to a cliffside town just ten minutes away. it had been snowing very, very lightly when we landed, but by the time i took this picture (after a delicious lunch with Elaina), everything was photo-perfect. nothing was left but the long bus ride back and the last one at that. <3 cya.

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Roma [archive]

weird. the title of my first post of the semester was entitled ATHINA and now this.

~~~~~ Day One ~~~~~

we arrived in Roma in the evening, extremely briefly considered the option of not renting a car and taking the metro instead, and loaded into our 5-day avis rental. we found the hotel after not too much trouble, parked, moved in, and went for a little walk to the fontana di trevi:

this is the fountain you’re supposed to throw some coins into to guarantee that someday you’ll return to Roma. i saved the ritual for my last day. we found a restaurant nearby, where i ate an eggy spaghetti carbonara, washing it down with a fancy bottle of merlot that billy picked out. afterwards we got some coffee and made our way back to the hotel, situated in the citadella di vaticano and a two minute walk from san pietro.

many themes for my weekend were set in this night alone. first: the food, delicious. second: the coffee, delicious. third: the art, Greek. i couldn’t look at anything without seeing a Greek temple. maybe i’m putting too much into it, but it amazes me that this city consumed the style so wholeheartedly and TWICE at that. oh, Athina.

i also quickly learned that my parents didn’t come to Roma to see ruins and sites and such, but mostly to shop and eat, because they’ve seen all the other stuff enough times. so i tried to take some control in navigating us where i wanted to go.

~~~~~ Day Two ~~~~~

this was taken in the lobby of our hotel, after a delicious 9am breakfast that would be repeated every day: cafe e latte, bread with butter and jam, and a sweet pastry. pretty awesome breakfast in my opinion.

first event of the day: cappella sistina.

my parents are so cool and see the chapel alll the time, so they wandered around while billy and i took in the arts that the vatican museum had to offer. tons of Egyptian art:

strange theatrical masks that would come back later to haunt some more:

after the Egyptian art, this is the hall that we faced:

they literally crammed sculptures, varying in size and detail and completeness, shoulder to shoulder, every inch down the sides of this hall. i couldn’t stop taking pictures of any that interested me (a ton). plus, i got on this thing where i would take a picture of every image of Athena… she’s beautiful, how could i not?

here are those faces again:

after slowly but not too slowly eating that hall alive, we stepped into the inner courtyard:

after seeing all that white, a giant modern art piece in a bronzish metal will captivate you. this thing sat in the very center of the courtyard, spinning around nice and easy. is it an atom? the world? the universe? maybe it’s the catholic church. check out the dome of san pietro in the background:

to the left from the dome your eye catches a massive fucking sculpture of a head! oh my lord i couldn’t not think of evangelion:

continuing on the path, we find ourselves in another grand hall of marble, filled of course, with a million Athena’s:

here i, a peasant, look up the glorious brazen body of Herakles:

i finally couldn’t take it and asked billy to take a picture of me and my divinity together. she shines:

as we walked slowly into a room full of tapestries, you saw this on the floor:

i swear you couldn’t even walk in this building without staring at your feet, the walls, the doorways, the ceilings, everything. my favorite part of any tapestry we saw there (remember, this is like 1/20 of the whole tapestry, depicting some epic scene no doubt:

this was in the more modern art section, immediately preceding the actual sistine chapel. who can resist having a giggle at the bishop fatter than any lounging cow?

the truly absurd thing about this museum is the experience of walking past millennia of art, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Renaissance, copies, copies, copies, black, white, gold, gilded, glorious, halls, courtyards, massive rooms, stairs, everything, art, everywhere, art, that when you actually arrive in the sistine chapel, this is how you feel: oh.

trust me, though, that’s just the initial feeling. i let the vacant “oh” escape me and just stared. stared at the ceiling and the walls and it just kind of enwraps you. so much is going on, so much christianity, so much bible, so much bullshit and murder and birth and creation and destruction and lies, burning, hurtling, fleeing, flying, dying, and oh, the humanity! after all, the painter was only a man, just like the guy (or girl) who put this up:

i saw that on the wall in the shopping district right near the piazza di spagna. i’m not quite sure exactly what’s being said, but i know exactly what’s being said. oh, it’s complicated but not really. GUCCI GUCCI GUCCI GUCCI GUCCI PRADA PRADA PRADA PRADA PRADA BVLGARI BVLGARI BVLGARI BVLGARI BVLGARI BVLGARI BVLGARI BVLGARI. i wonder if i’ll ever enjoy shopping that much. my dad, on a mad hunt for a wallet, my mom passively checking out purses, billy generally looking for cool shit, all i wanted was for Animal Collective to come, but Shanleigh hadn’t called me yet. after exponentially worrying over the next couple hours, she finally gave me a call and easily explained her non-callingness away by telling she had a crazy night. so good to hear. within the hour we met at the obelisk in st. peter’s basilica:

pre-concert festivities involved a hapless wander towards the original gate to Roma (and its beautiful piazza on the opposite side), panini, cappuccino, and a whiskey and coke. finishing our whiskeys, we crossed the street to catch the bus to the show. Shanleigh had perfect directions and we still got lost. we got off at the third stop, like she had written down, but soon realized we were not where we were supposed to be. we stared at a map for about ten minutes when a couple walked past us. a second later the guy comes back to us and says, “you’re lost.” apparently he had been on the bus that we took and had realized that the bus driver didn’t know where the hell to go (apparently this happens a lot in Roma), so we had a little walk to get back on the track. we walked with him a little bit and he pointed us in the right direction. awesome Italian.

Animal Collective was Abductive. the venue looked kind of whack. there was nothing really wrong with the space, it was dark, the lights were cool, it was small, the stage and the setup was really simple, fillmore-like. but it formed only a small part of this massive complex of theaters, which on the whole reminded me of something straight out of the inland empire, dare i say, victoria gardens? that aside, Shanleigh and i drank beers and bobbed to pantha du prince, who we decided had some sweet beats, but that may have only come down to one beat that he played the whole time. decent opener.

Animal Collective came on like three minutes later. no bullshit.

Avey Tare

Geologist

Panda Bear

i wasn’t close enough to get any good photos but my ears were rocked to high heaven. here’s the set list:

Banshee Beat
Also Frightened
??? panda bear singing high-pitch, “blah once blah” ???
Summertime Clothes
??? fucked beat starts “I know” ???
My Girls
Guys Eyes
Lion in a Coma
Fireworks
Brother Sport
encore:
Leaf House

when i realized that they were opening with bb, my fucking veins started producing ecstasy naturally. it took me so long to recognize it in its slowed-down state, but as soon i got it i never lost it.

normal: i duck out go down to find the swimmingggppooooooolllllllllllllllllllllll

live: iiiiiiii duuuuuuccckkk outtttttttt go ooo o o down to findddd theee swimmmiiiiiiiinnngggggggggggp pppoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo oooooooooooooooooooooooollllllllllllllllllllllll llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll

i get shivers.

Adam: excuse this exploding. i was thinking about you the whole time and how unworthy i felt, seeing these guys carve love in our ears with plastic boxes, knowing full well that you would appreciate it so much more than i. they played so much MPP, which was cool for me–i’ve been listening to that album a ton. i wish i could have identified the other two songs in the set, especially since it’s pretty unlikely that any bootlegs of this show will come out. we can hope.

man, this band has really taken me though. before i left for the trip, i made a playlist called ROMA compiling everything by the band and everything by its individual members. the total playlist came out to 150 songs and almost 15 hours of music. it’s the only thing my ipod played all weekend long. i started the trip putting the whole thing on shuffle and just continued it from where i left off the previous time. my ears had a weekend long Animal Collective fiesta. i know this kind of thing is pointless, but here’s a current favoring of my for some of the main albums:

  1. Person Pitch (perfect)
  2. Feels (beautiful)
  3. Merriweather Post Pavilion (very easy to get into)
  4. Sung Tongs (stripped down, tribal)
  5. Panda Bear (highly minimal, interesting first release)
  6. Hollinndagain (absolutely intensely ridiculous, i must must must must listen more)
  7. Campfire Songs (needs more listens)
  8. Strawberry Jam (some solid songs, but nothing like F/MPP/ST)
  9. Here Comes the Indian (i think my copy’s fucked, but it sounds good)
  10. Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished (i need to listen)
  11. Danse Manatee (always thought these ones were the most boring)
  12. Split #16 (interesting, experimental)
  13. Young Prayer (interesting, i really need to give this one a listen if i’m really as in love with Panda Bear as i say i am)

definitely Brother Sport turned out to be the crowd favorite. i hope you’ve heard a live version of this song because, as Adam so kindly showed me, the album version is a poor filtration of the beast that is the live performance. they just rock so hard and everyone feels the beat in the ends of their toes, everybody moved. you just can’t not dance. with Leaf House, as an encore, the rest of my night laid in utter bliss.

merry5ckids post collective, Shanleigh and i walked back to her apartment with buzzes and fuzz and chicken cuts swinging across our neurons. i love concerts. unfortunately, getting back to her apartment late, the front guard wouldn’t let us hang out. we begged and he asked, “whaddya guys going to do up there?” Shanleigh: “have a bowl of cereal!” and we burst out laughing (but it was true! can’t a couple of good kids enjoy some rock music and cheerios anymore?). well eventually he decided to let me up for fifteen minutes. Shanleigh concocting a bowl of cheerios:

after our sweet fifteen minutes together, i gave her a goodbye hug worth about half a year. wandering around foreign cities at 3am is the greatest thing ever and i advise everybody to do it. seriously. i found my way eventually, grabbed a delicious one euro cappuccino on the way, and passed out quickly at the hotel.

~~~~~ Day Three ~~~~~

following the standardly fantastic hotel breakfast, this is where my day began:

i’m sure this has been expressed a million times, but christian or not, one cannot help but feel something walking through this outstanding building. the magnificence of the architecture, the monolithic towering sculptures, the gilded everything astonishes one’s sense. the sublimity literally blows through the air.

at the same time, it is the central building for the catholic church, and so feelings of bitterness of course rose up. i suppressed them for the most part, for my parents’ sake, but i couldn’t stop feeling such hatred for the skyscraping wealth surrounding me, wealth completely owned by an institution that supposedly bases all its teachings on those of Jesus Christ. i see some sort of complex irony there, but i don’t really care to unfurl it. how about i just show you this?

that’s right. somehow Athena infiltrated the church. look at her, armed to the tee. i think she’s just bearing the hypocrisy for as long as she can stand, before stepping down from her pedestal to purify the place.

back outside, it was business as usual, making our way to the castel sant’angelo.

Budapest certainly had an impressively large river running through it, crossed by big pretty bridges, but the comparatively small river going through Roma has its own excellent charm. and if it doesn’t, the bridges make up for it, anyway. walking through the city….

across the street, some ruins brought me back to Athina:

a little more walking and we stopped at a corner to have some pizza and beer. eating outside, this lay in front of us literally right across the street:

i don’t know what it’s called or where it is or anything except that my parents say that mussolini gave a big speech there. zooming in a little closer.. oh honey.

SUCH a delicious mushroom pizza and a warmly pleasing but not especially great beer. after lunch we walked all along the ruins of the ancient agora towards this famous symphony:

from wiki: “It has been estimated that about 500,000 people and over a million wild animals died in the Colosseum games.” awesome. i love dead people and dead animals and games. i made my family walk around the whole thing, because i wanted to be able to take it in in all its mammoth glory. following the beast, we went to too many churches. i was getting churched out. san pietro in vincoli was an interesting one.

from wiki: “Also known as the Basilica Eudoxiana, it was first built in 432-440 to house the relic of the chains that bound Saint Peter when he was imprisoned in Jerusalem. According to legend, when the Empress Eudoxia (wife of Emperor Valentinian III) gifted the chains to Pope Leo I, while he compared them to the chains of St. Peter’s final imprisonment in the Mamertine Prison in Rome, the two chains miraculously fused together. The chains are kept in a reliquary under the main altar in the basilica.” que ridiculo. but, there they are, chains in a pretty eerie box. you believe it or you don’t, i guess. far more immediately interesting was this sculpture on the left side of the church’s interior:

AH! Death! creepy, but awesome. somebody must’ve been absolutely sick of sculpting perfectly proportional human bodies. or maybe they realized that marble white suits bones way more than skin. who knows. look at how pious this guy is:

such an epic day. your legs and eyes go first after you visit ten churches each the size of six sperm whales. so this is what you look like waiting for the metro:

back at the hotel, i lay down, threw on my AC playlist and had a nice 1.5 hour animal nap. i think this may have been when i acquired a new favorite Animal Collective song: Forest Gospel – Hollinndagain. that is the main reason i want to explore that album more. following half a minute of loud chaos, soft chaos with a simple pattern follows: only my best friends use the coke. pot. crack. rea-dy…….nsahtdiiiaaduitnahoidanthoiao. i don’t know i just love it. look it up.

when i finally awoke, my awesome parents bought me a solo ticket into a performance of La traviata in this church:

i don’t think i’d ever listened to anything from the opera, but i knew that it was a popular favorite of verdi’s. i’m so happy i went, even if i did go by myself. who can resist 2.5 hours of beautiful and tragic opera in Roma? i couldn’t. it also gave a nice edge in my ears juxtaposed next to the excessive Animal Collective feast. the leading male and female were absolutely entrancing, but i think the girl caught my ears more. i thought about this a lot while i sat in my seat. maybe i just preferred the girl because a girl’s voice appeals to me more. anyway, i don’t know a damn thing about opera but i like it.

~~~~~ Day Four ~~~~~

i had crazy fucking dreams. trying to describe them days later seems almost futile, but here are my notes from my iphone:

ceremony to destroy ancient ruins let the riots begin chasing girl with triangle rock, take Meryl (gf/mom) to Karen’s for wine, article about couples choking hotel managers just look dismay, patrick sends me gay porn

Jesus! he wants nothing to do with that crown! don’t you people see?! ah, whatever. i ate my traditional hotel breakfast, visited a glammed up church with a glammed up messiah (the only kind worth worshipping), and then (after a brief stop at the olympic stadium, for billy) my family began our day trip to southern Italy.

BUT HOW COULD YOU NOT STOP AT A SHOPPING OUTLET FIRST????? oh dear. adidas ferrari gucci apple starbucks daftpunk nike victory athena hell vangelis sell sell sell. AMAZINGLY, i was the only one of the four to actually buy something. i got some sweet white adidas sneakers for real cheap. thanks dad! but here is really why i’m going south: a volcano!

my parents tried to content me with seeing the ruins of Pompeii from outside the archaeological site’s gates, but i’m a stupid spoiled brat and was not having any of that. so they paid the entrance for billy and i.

billy epically walking into the main attraction (for me):

i can’t believe i was here.

is it weird that i’m as excited (if not more) about something that happened here 40 years ago than i am as the “main” event, 2000 years ago? i don’t think so. i mean, it’s fucking Pink Floyd for chrissake! e c h o e s. those couples sitting all peacefully made me wish i had a girl to roll around in the grass with. oh well. but this place seriously blew my mind. look at these murals, still intact, in what was probably some rich asshole’s house:

rich dude’s boulevard:

rich dude, others:

it really had an interesting effect on me, to walk around a place so peaceful, imagining the terror that had to occur to allow us to see it in its current state. oh Vesuvius. you devil:

after the ruins, billy and i met up with our parents to drive down to battipaglia, a place famous for its amazing cheese.

we had a ball stuffing ourselves with wet balls of mozzarella. so unbelievably delicious. as outstandingly pleasing as it was, a few balls of cheese only really work as a dunch/linner, so back in Roma we went out for some delicious pasta and wine, somewhere near a giant artsy plaza with a fountain involving calamaricide:

with our bellies slushing, we made our way to the Pantheon, just a short walk away.

i was going crazy wondering about the history behind it. i didn’t know a thing and neither did anyone else. it was just beautiful and ancient.

~~~~~ Day One ~~~~~

thankfully, after mostly saying goodbye to the hotel balcony and breakfast for good….

..we went back to the Pantheon for a day visit!

for an ancient Roman temple, it seemed pretty clean. and it should have been pretty obvious based on the place’s name, temple to all the gods, what this place was. but most bizarrely, the only reason it’s still in such condition still is because the church adopted it around the 7th century. i mean, fuck the church, but thank god for it, every once in awhile. still, it’s weird with the signs saying “this is a holy place” and the holy water and people praying and people trying to pray and people pretending to try to pray, it’s just weird. who are they praying to? can i pray to Nature or Cthulhu? what’s the big deal here, anyway? the ceiling!

can’t you just imagine something divine filtrating through that hole? well maybe it was, because tons of people were taking pictures, walking around and whispering, and acting generally taken aback. beside themselves. etc etc. what a hole. my Roma trip was coming to a close.

of course, i had to return to the trevi. hopefully the less money you throw, the more likely you are to return. i threw in a 10 euro cent with stunning Venus glimmering off of one side of the coin. i drank my last delicious cappuccino, stood around for a little more shopping, walked back to the hotel with my family, who very nicely and needlessly drove me to the airport, and a few more hits of Animal Collective later, i was back in HELLAS. Continue reading

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when my soul starts growling [archive]

everything’s so crazy. i’ve just been rethinking more intensely than i have for awhile that i’m actually in Athens. i guess i stopped thinking about it as i settled in more, but the arrival of my family (minus danny) on sunday really just brought it all back.

following two days of awesome class trips (but also early class trips), i thought i’d take advantage of saturday night and get tanked. Elaina, Hannah, Sam and i taxied up to the Maddy-Xanthe-Caitlin place where we all had a little whiskey, a little vodka, a little tequila, before heading out to monastiraki. i don’t remember what the original plans were, but the revised plans involved this place called spirit. thank god i had drunk myself into at least a hint of aggression and said Fuck. No. We are going to the dirty alley.

oh, the dirty alley. monastiraki bustles with night life, but there’s this one dirty little sketch alley that intrigued me from week one in this ancient city, but i’d only gone there once, when andreas’ friend took me. so we went. and it rocked. a small bar, rock & roll, cool people, and enough girls to make me think i found a lesbian bar (it wasn’t). a few minutes after arriving, i get a call from my dad saying he just landed at the airport. ! i had no idea, i thought they were coming sunday afternoon. i tell him where i’m at and to give me a call when he gets to his hotel, a five minute walk from the bar we’re at.

a couple drinks later i get the call and billy and my dad come down to meet us. i’m still pretty trashed and it blows my mind to see people i associate with a different half of the world. anyway, they came back to the bar we had all been at, it’s blasting music still, and my dad buys me and my six friends a round of drinks. he has a cigar with a beer and looks sooooooooooo cool. i go between talking (yelling) with them and dancing with the girls. crazy weird funny great night.

on sunday i woke up early (10am) to meet the family by 11. i tried to be a good tour guide, but i haven’t even done half this stuff myself. and this is actually the reason. i know i’m going to have many opportunities to visit the Acropolis, so why bother doing it until the super-tourists come? we saw the beauty that is 2500 years of decay, walked through the ancient Agora and then the new one, where they have a ruckus of selling instead of ruins. we got some delicious lunch, lazied around in their hotel, walked through the National Gardens to my apartment, where we lazied around some more before visiting a local cafe and enjoying life. everyone napped and we met later (i brought Elaina) for dinner in psiri.

today i fucking aced my mythology midterm. maybe i really should stop being so cocky about it. i might end up being severely disappointed. in lit, we’re back to poetry. we’re reading Giorgos Seferis, one of the most important modern Greek poets, greatly influenced by Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot, among others. i hope you’re ready for some excerpts. from The King of Asini:

And the poet lingers, looking at the stones, and asks himself
does there really exist
among these ruined lines, edges, points, hollows and curves
does there really exist
here where one meets the path of rain, wind and ruin
does there exist the movement of the face, shape of the tenderness
of those who’ve waned so strangely in our lives,
those who remained the shadow of waves and thoughts with the sea’s boundlessness
or perhaps no, nothing is left but the weight
the nostalgia for the weight of a living existence
there where we now remain unsubstantial, bending
like the branches of a terrible willow tree heaped in unremitting despair
while the yellow current slowly carries down rushes uprooted in the mud
image of a form that the sentence to everlasting bitterness has turned to stone:
the poet a void.

i’ve been really fascinated reading this stuff, because of the references made to ancient Greek mythology. you find the references throughout all the famous literature of the world, but it’s different here. it’s like the poets are grasping with how they should identify with their, if not blood ancestors, then at least their geographical ancestors. decay of great civilizations, everything to nothing, who am i? from Helen:

Nightingale nightingale nightingale,
what is a god? What is not a god? And what is there in
between them?

man? man, from Last Stop:

‘The same thing over and over again,’ you’ll tell me, friend.
But the thinking of a refugee, the thinking of a prisoner, the thinking
of a person when he too has become a commodity —
try to change it; you can’t.
Maybe he would have liked to stay king of the cannibals
wasting strength that nobody buys,
to promenade in fields of agapanthi
to hear the drums with bamboo overhead,
as courtiers dance with prodigious masks.
But the country they’re chopping up and burning like a pine tree — you see it
either in the dark train, without water, the windows broken, night after night
or in the burning ship that according to the statistics is bound to sink —
this is rooted in the mind and doesn’t change
this has planted images like those trees
that cast their branches in virgin forests
so that they rivet themselves in the earth and sprout again;
they cast their branches that sprout again, striding mile after mile;
our mind’s a virgin forest of murdered friends.
And if I talk to you in fables and parables
it’s because it’s more gentle for you that way; and horror
really can’t be talked about because it’s alive,
because it’s mute and goes on growing:
memory-wounding pain
drips by day drips in sleep.

i think this has actually been my favorite poet so far. maybe it’s because he often uses words like “abyss” and “everywhere.” i like that. on wednesday i have to present on his other poems in relation to the Wasteland, by Eliot. wish me luck.

want to know something funny? i’m already working on a mix for the summer. i love you, Adam, for starting this last summer. i am already so pumped: i’ve got 5 songs, 16:40, 2007/1970/1971/2009/1981, electronic/rock/reggae. i hope you’re all as excited as i am.

by the way, they are teaching robots to love. how does it feel to be human? Continue reading

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Marathon [archive]

oh my god these trips need to stop. just kidding. i can’t get enough of them. today, before going to actual Marathon, we stopped for a few well spent hours at beautiful Ramnous, the site of an Athenian garrison and sanctuary. the first was taken from in front of the temple and then i turned 180 to take the second, of the temple’s ruins:

the Athenians dedicated the sanctuary to Nemesis after the battle of Marathon. apparently the Persians came to this northern part of Attica, assuming they would quickly take Athens, with a block of marble intended to make a memorial for their impending victory. well once they defeated the cocky suckers, the Athenians had the block sculpted into the image of Nemesis (whose name comes from a word meaning “to give what is due”) and placed her in the temple, condemning the Persians for their hubris and warning the rest of us.

walking down from the sanctuary, we walked to a large warehouse dedicated to the long, tedious project of trying to reconstruct the temple from its many ruins.

they even had this fancy framework set up to arrange the structure as it was then:

here’s a little platform being reconstructed with a few blocks left from the original image of Nemesis:

i kinda missed the story on the next couple shots, but they impress regardless.

from the temple reconstruction warehouse, the group made its way even further down the hill to the site of the fortress/acropolis complex.

more piles of rocks, more beautiful views, etc, etc. the site has this circular little tower that i used to take the next picture. if we keep stacking our shit high enough, will we block up the sky? i hope not.

walking back up the tall hill to get back to the bus, we passed a couple walls for fortification. Diamant emphasized how well this one was reconstructed; check out that CORNER:

from Ramnous, we made our short way back to Marathon, where we first visited the Archeological Museum of Marathon. i don’t really know why i linked you to that wiki since the only substance it contains is “Archeological Museum of Marathon is a museum in Marathon, Attica, Greece.” i could have told you that. maybe i’m dreaming of expanding the article or something, maybe someday. i wonder if i can upload pictures to the article even though we weren’t allowed to be photographing (all hail camera phones). i just had to had to take the next picture though. we were in this room filled with sculptures of Egyptian gods that the Greeks sort of adopted. the Egyptians, for some inexplicable reason, instantly fill me with wonder and terror:

i also got a head on a stick photographed. i don’t know, some rich Roman woman?

my moral standing is lying down

we left and finally made it to the juicy part of the trip. we drove to this strangely small, giant, short, bump of a grassy hill, supposedly the grave of the Athenian soldiers who died, and had a seat in the grass.

as huge black ants crawled under my legs carrying little bits of grass, a very enthusiastic professor (not Diamant) described to us the battle of Marathon. and let me tell you. it was epic. if battles, war, any of that type of thing fascinates you, please read up on this battle. it’s definitely one worth knowing about. basically the proud Persians sailed to Attica in hundreds of triremes and docked at Marathon (a nice day’s march to Athens), unloading their 35,000-600,000 troops (depending on who you ask). the Athenians numbered about 10,000 definitely, so no matter who you do ask, they were certainly outnumbered. after a few days of strategic moving, the Athenians decided on a strategy that would thin out their numbers across a wider section, but would successfully hold their phalanx formation, a pivotal port of their military strategy:

they marched almost the whole mile that separated them from the Persians, but when they reached the range of the enemy’s arrow fire (about 300 yards away), they started charging like hell. the Greeks, equipped with bronze armor, massive bronze shields, and six-foot spears, crashed into the monolith of Persians, wearing nothing but pretty silk and holding little shields and spears. the fuckers got hacked to pieces. after seeing enough carnage, the Persians suffered from a little thing called panic, bolting for the safety of their ships. the Athenians were having none of it and pursued them, killing as many as possible. supposedly in this pandemonium is where Athens sustained most of its casualties, which came to a grand total of about 200. the Persians, unfamiliar with their surroundings ran helter skelter, some for the nearby swamps, choosing drowning over Athenian spear. most apparently made it to their ships, which quickly set their sad course for home. finally, as legend has it, the messenger Pheidippides runs the 25 miles or so back to Athens, makes it, declares, “we were victorious!!!” and immediately collapses in death. thus, marathon, “a long-distance foot race with an official distance of 42.195 kilometers (26 miles 385 yards),” the distance from Marathon to Athens. how cool is that?

with nothing but spears whizzing around my head, i explored the massive natural tomb with Elaina. from above:

on it:

from below:

leaving the site (and with spears stuck all over my skull), we drove to the shore to eat at a local taverna. right outside our bus, we found some creepy voodoo:

weird. here are people very feathered post-tavernion:

right now billy and my parents are flying the friendly skies to come here. how weird is that? hopefully it doesn’t fuck up my blogging skillz. Continue reading

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tragedy [archive]

today cya took us all on a day trip! first, we went to Brauron, an early sacred sanctuary to Artemis: i don’t know how old this really is, but it says ARTEMIDI BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH OTHER STUFF BLAH … Continue reading

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public domain [archive]

i think my art/archaeology class might be my favorite here. the things we discuss, the topics my professor emphasizes in his lectures always stick with me throughout the day. i always want to share them with you.

today we discussed the emergence of the Public Domain in classical Greece. once again, my close friends see me drooling at the sight of such a phrase, which brings to mind the goliath struggle of Lessig and his progressive license, Creative Commons, battling against the bloodthirstily raging armies of fat rich white people currently focusing on the takedown of one of the greatest websites on the internet. good luck to you, fuckers.

rewinding 2500 years, we find a feast of a culture developing in which all the citizens dine. after discussing how the Greeks invented the first true alphabet (and i tripped out on how i could possibly have never noticed that we say ALPHA-VITA, the first two letters of the Greek alphabet), our professor emphasized that this was a society in which everyone was literate. an archaeologist recently uncovered thousands of etchings in the rock in the mountainside; one read, “my name is ***** and i am a shepherd,” dating from about 750 BC. ridiculous.

even religion was public. religions today, as the religion then, have sacred spaces. christian churches are beautiful and epic and mass is held by a professionally trained priest. Greek sanctuaries had temples, but their sole purpose was to house the image of the god, to please the god. nothing at all took place in the temple. instead, you would go to the altar, in the open air, and make your offering there. as a citizen, you could do this whenever you wanted, without bothering with any religious bureaucracy like the kind that pollutes christianity and other major religions today.

the final example of the public domain was to be seen in the military. when the city-state was attacked, the good citizen would pick up his weapon and armor (paid for with his money), bringing food (paid for with his money), and join his fellow citizens to defend his home. though democracy was not inherent in the polis (and didn’t develop until 461), equality for all citizens was inherent. we have an ancient manuscript that reads something like, “Athens is the Athenians.” that quickly reminded me of how people say, “the government is the people,” when talking about the United States. but is that even true? was it ever true? are the people the government, or is our government just the RIAA/MPAA/AAP/Disney/Viacom/Sony/Big Tobacco/Big Oil gang? if i had a six foot spear, i tell you… watch out.

by the way, anything on this blog can be copied, packaged, sold, eaten, drunk, unless you’re going to make money off of it. in that case i’d like some of that money. or at least a box of chocolates or something. maybe. talk to me. of course nothing here is really sellable. maybe i should give advice. advice is usually sellable and i’ve already given a ton away for free today. here, have some advice:

  1. always do what you want
  2. be open about everything
  3. never commit to anyone/anything
  4. never follow advice

if that’s not sellable, i don’t know what is. Continue reading

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that which we call a temple by any other name would look as sweet [archive]

COLUMNS

PATTERNS

PROPORTIONS

IMPRESSIVE

SYMMETRY

yesterday my art/archaeology class visited the Temple of Hephaestus in the Agora of Athens, as our class moves out from the bronze and dark ages slowly into the classical period. we talked about GEOMETRY and PATTERN and ORDER. the classical Greeks were supposedly big proponents of a little something called rational thought and order. i’m not sure how i feel about it. on one hand, circling around the perfectly aligned columns separated by perfectly planned dimensions on an ideal hill for an ideal purpose, i could not help but feel the profundity of the ancient structure. along with the ordinarily divine sense of Athena all around me, i suddenly felt Hephaestus, too, piercing me with his Olympian eyes. on the other hand, the temple sprung from chaos, from the neural explosions of a completely predictable and unpredictable animal called human. perhaps it was perfect at the final moment of its construction, but ever since that twinkle in the sands, nature god everything you me have been picking at it with our winds and divine plans and pick axes and spray paint and minds. ash to ash, dust to dust, abyss to abyss. disorder to order to disorder to order. chaos springs from hiding like a predator that’s already caught its prey.

i pretty much have come to terms with the fact that i make no sense. i almost wish to make less and less sense because it seems to me that the more sense you make, the more wrong your opinions become. if you find that people often agree with you, i suggest you rethink your values, opinions, everything before venturing outside again. this is why i kind of enjoyed the lecture i attended yesterday. this critic completely devoted to Kazantzakis spoke on the modern Greek author’s most famous works in the context of Darwinism and Evolution and the Abyss and Nothing and Everything and Stagnation and Darkness and Movement and other such profoundly black painful deathly things. no one had any idea what he was talking about, and he the least. but at least we all understood him. that’s all that counts.

before tonight, i didn’t know a damn thing about tron except that it can be found in the following words: electronic, electronica, electron, etc (short for et cetron). well now i “know” something more. if this just turns out to be a blatantly disgusting yelp for attention from a lousy blog written by good-for-nothing shitbags, then i hope they all go to hell. if not, God is Great! Allah is Awesome! Zeus is Zesty! i’ll wait for confirmation from official sources before hailing Athena. she hates bullshit as much as i do. Continue reading

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Budapest: decadent treat [archive]

~~~~~ Day One ~~~~~

what a great movie to treat myself to before going on a trip. after the movie ended around 3am, i walked to the syntagma square bus stop, listening to math rock, and dreaming of decadence. “decadence” (excessive self-indulgence) and “treat” (special pleasure or delight) pretty much ended up defining the weekend.

i dozed the whole bus ride, loved the lack of security line (i didn’t have to take off my shoes AND they didn’t hassle me about my scissors/lighter), dozed at the gate, and passed out like a rock on the short plane ride. arrived at budapest ferihegy international airport much too early. i had about six hours to kill until Meryl and company came in. i quickly figured out that i needed to take the 300E bus to get to the metro, and the metro would take me into the heart of the city. i had no idea where i was going, where my hostel was, anything (i did know where Meryl was coming in), so i kind of just exited at the metro stop in the middle of the map and hoped for the best.

outside i found myself in cold, drizzly, grey, wet, epic, shuddering, shouldering, quiet, busy Budapest. like i said, i had no idea where i got off or what surrounded me, so i just started walking. in what direction? whichever! that one looks good, look at this street, is that a church?, whoa cool architecture, sweet random art:

getting cold, i started keeping an eye out for a cafe and finally discovered a weirdly located but excellent one with wifi. entering i found out i was alone with three employees and practiced my Hungarian by shyly pointing at the things i wanted. “uh…. cappucino? …and….. crossaint? yeah, and, uh….. cigarettes? which? uh…” *shrug* definitely a mistake. Elise’s boy Philip later told me that i got the lightest of the light. know what you want in this world or you’ll be given shit.

thankfully, i didn’t realize the cafe had wifi until after reading a good chapter from Kazantsakis while sipping on my coffee and nibbling at my pastry. after finishing the chapter, i set my book down to wonder about the wifi situation, looked up, and saw right in front of me the wifi logo on the window. so i killed some time on my iphone and tried to map some sort of slow journey towards Meryl’s bus station (this mapping failed). the drizzle fizzled a little so i continued my wanderings… and i found a humongous church!

wandering, not knowing, wandering, knowing i’d need some sort of direction eventually, i stopped in a bookstore for a map. it proved a helpful companion for the weekend. after the bookstore i backtracked a bit to a mini-mart i saw with what looked like fresh bread. i bought myself a fat loaf and proceeded to munch as i continued my walk. (weirdly enough, this area with the bookstore and cafe ended up being a couple blocks away from the place Meryl booked for us, even though i didn’t know this then.)

equipped with map, i developed the concept of choice, deciding to visit a giant cemetery marked with a green splotch on the map. about a half hour and a few creepy tunnels later (the creepy tunnels like the one above were sometimes the only way to get across giant streets/intersections, sometimes they were actually massive centers under the intersection with various kiosks and entrances to the metro system), the sun broke out of the clouds and i found the cemetery!

did i mention how cold it was that morning? the entire cemetery was prettily strewn here and there with a couple inches of snow. it totally added to the epic graves/monuments. the first one that wowed me:

this cemetery actually had long, wide streets where cars could drive comfortably around blocks with sometimes massive structures housing tons of gravestones. i thought this monument looked particularly sci-fi:

epic grave:

suddenly i realized that my Greek phone (which i figured would accurately adjust time after discovering service abroad) displayed an hour later time than did my iphone (that i had set to Budapest time awhile ago). assuming that the other phone was correct, i kind of panicked thinking i’d be late to meet Meryl, so i started tramping towards the opposite end of the cemetery from where i came in, assuming that the idea of multiple entrances wasn’t entirely farfetched. well, i found an exit, but the gate was locked. i spent a few moments contemplating jumping the wall, until a giant truck (like a dump truck) started bellowing down the lane. i waved at the man driving and he stopped. i (knowing the answer already) asked him if he could unlock the gate. of course not. i then made a few basic gestures, conveying that i wanted him to drive me to the front. he accepted. i walked around the front of the truck, climbed the three steps up and sat for the short ride. he clearly knew only a few drops of English because our only conversation was: “student?” “yes!” and then when i got out at the front, “thank you! thank you! :) :)” i was very happy. Hungarian people are nice.

i booked it to the bus station to meet Meryl and only when i pretty much got there already (seeing a clock on the way) did i realize that my iphone had the correct time all along. so i was a little early. who can be bored when music is available?

a few girls started gathering, apparently for a bus ride to Krakow, while i sat against a wall, smoking, and listening to Danger Mouse do his thing. i hadn’t listened to it in a long while, and after recently getting a higher bitrate version than the one i had, i thought it a good time to listen. a half hour before i expect to see the girl, i bend down to my backpack to tear myself a giant piece of bread from the loaf i bought earlier, while “I GOT 99 PROBLEMS BUT A BITCH AIN’T ONE IF YOU’RE HAVING GIRL PROBLEMS I FEEL BAD FOR YOU SON I GOT 99 PROBLEMS BUT A BITCH AIN’T ONE HIT ME” blasts into my ears. i grab the bread and someone appears in front of me, and i momentarily assume it’s some weird Hungarian girl, until i look up and see this enigmatic creature standing before me:

jesus christ buddha the virgin mary the saints the souls the spires their architects their sons their long hair bleeding tequila shot in the arm full of glory heaven mercy sacrificed sheep crying to the bath with a satchel of bread and wine and nothing but the light of a million singing choruses to calm. kind of gives you an impression of how it feels to look into the eyes of the sea. an enigma, Conrad says.

we found our way down to the metro, squeezing hands, and rode back downtown to find our hostel. Meryl’s loca. she booked through this place called boomerang hostel, but she didn’t get one of the rooms there. she got an actual apartment about a five minute walk away. the apartment seriously beats my apartment here in Athens. it had a huge bedroom with two big beds, a coffeetable, a stand with a tv (we didn’t realize that we had a tv until a day or two later, and even then we of course didn’t turn it on once). we also had a kitchen, dining room, and bathroom, all very nice. the front door opened to a cute little courtyard that led to the front of the building.

after satisfying ourselves with a trilogy of decadence, we made our way to the other hostel where all our friends had the weekend booked. i saw Lauren! and Elise! and Dan! so nice to see old friends. we had a little drink, a little smoke together, and made out for dinner. the place ended up being a little more than i wanted to pay but the food stunned. my main dish was a beef stew with a side of pasta with ewe cheese melted on top. fantastic. i split the following dessert with Meryl: egg white islands floating in a vanilla sea. it sounds ridiculous, it looked ridiculous, and it tasted a little ridiculous, but absolutely delicious. such a treat.

we checked out the gorgeous parliament building after dinner. click that link if you want legitimately amazing photos view of this grandiose building. the detail could never be captured on my silly iphone, especially at night:

i love the Danube. again, click the link for serious photos (and for knowledge!!!), but here’s my lousy one:

from the article: “Known to history as one of the long-standing frontiers of the Roman Empire, the river flows through or forms a part of the borders of ten countries: Germany (7.5%), Austria (10.3%), Slovakia (5.8%), Hungary (11.7%), Croatia (4.5%), Serbia (10.3%), Romania (28.9%), Bulgaria (5.2%), Moldova (1.7%), and Ukraine (3.8%).” fascinating.

the sightseeing ended briefly and we eventually made our way to our first Hungarian bar. this one was called simpla:

though it actually seemed really cool (two floors, open air, decent music, full of people–not necessarily tourists, graffiti on the walls, just plain cool vibes), i didn’t last very long. my night of pretty much no sleep caught up with me and Meryl and i made the long walk home, where the two of us promptly passed out.

~~~~~ Day Two ~~~~~

having brought eggs and orange juice and bread and cheese (aka the essentials), Meryl and i cooked ourselves a quaint little delicious breakfast to start off our day. this pretty much repeated every day, and we couldn’t have been more pleased. after shivering for a few minutes by ourselves, the rest of the gang met us at the Pest end of szechenyi chain bridge to start our tour of Buda:

i didn’t even know it was called this until Alicia asked me how i liked it on my wall: fisherman’s bastion. it’s truly, truly gorgeous and surrounds a little square with a massive statue and matthias church.

it was really such a strange pocket of tourism. at the base of the statue, two men were charging people about $5-10 for the glorious opportunity to hold a hawk or eagle with their professional supervision. the bird would sit on your bird-glove (i’m sure it has a technical name) and it would look majestic for all your photographing needs. then for it’s final trick it would spread its awesome wings behind your head, while it looked disdainfully away from you. people ate it up. i almost ate up a beautiful tourist trap set up by four guys right at the top of the bastion’s wall. you walk up the stairs and see a man sitting at a little table challenging the three other men to the cup and ball game. he would mix up the cups and one of the men kept betting money on one of the cups. sometimes he would win, sometimes he would lose. this truly astonished Philip and i, because every single time we could plainly see which one had the ball. we stared for a few more minutes, walked to the other side of the wall and kept staring, until it dawned on us that the guys were all in it together, trying to fool tourists. anytime somebody would come up, the same friend of the table guy would bet some money, lose it, win it, lose it. it was crazy.

i think we saw some tool actually lose some money (thank god that tool wasn’t me, even though it almost was).

look who followed me to Budapest:

isn’t she beautiful? thank god she wasn’t defiled like this poor fellow:

jealous of Athena? maybe.

that was when we were hanging out in front of the museum. i forgot what it was called. it’s epically beautiful, though, and i think it used to be / is a palace. this was to the entrance to said museum:

this is one of us (Philip) representing all of us, tired after a long day of walking:

we ate some delicious delicious spaghetti at a restaurant called simpla (yes, the same name as the bar, i don’t get it) before making a long walk down a beautiful boulevard towards heroes’ square on the way to our very first hungarian bath. the gang in the park:

i really really wish i had gotten some pictures of inside, outside, all over sides of the szechenyi medicinal bath. that page has a pretty nice gallery, though. we went about an hour before sunset and slowly watched the sky turn dark. the building, all yellow, the water, a light blue with steam constantly rising into the grey-blue turning purple-black sky, wonderful warm water, what a bath. probably my favorite part about Budapest, that bath. so many foreigners everywhere. about a few minutes after getting in, a guy waded over to me and asked me where i was from. i was hesitant to respond, mostly because i assume anyone asking is just fucking with me because most Europeans seem to be able to mark me as American from a marathon away. “United States,” i told him. he said that he and his friends, pointing them out to me, were from Italy and that he just wanted to tell me that i looked exactly exactly exactly like one of their friends from home, everything about me. apparently i can pass as Italian. pretty sweet. other than that, the night passed smoothly warmly wonderfully minerally. Dan tried to get in on a bath chess game and failed. too bad. i was definitely sad to leave.

walking back to our home territory, we relatively quickly decided on a pizzeria for dinner. my pizza was supposed to be Hungarian in its cheese or meat selection, or something, but it tasted like a pretty normal (and magnificent) pizza to me. Meryl, Elise, and i also split some great chocolate-covered profiterole.

after some annoyance finding some drink for the night, we stopped by the gang’s hostel to have some beer, wine, smoke, before heading out to a place Philip’s friend(s) had recommended to him called monoelectro. it had a tiny door on a tiny street, you had to walk down a little flight of stairs, where you found a tiny bar, a little room where you could see computer dreams below which a dj blasted sexy electronica on the floor below. my kind of place. immediately and absolutely worth the ~$5 cover. i treated Dan to a tequila shot for his birthday and then we proceeded to investigate the absinthe situation. i’m still not totally sure whether it was real absinthe or not. i guess there’s really no reason to think not, but it didn’t have a profound effect on me or anything. it just kind of proved to be a ridiculous spectacle, lighting a spoonful of sugar made me want heroin, not some lousy pretend trippy drink. at least i can say i’ve done it now. needless to say, i was exhausted after another long day, so Meryl and i made a relatively early trip back home for some fun and sleep.

~~~~~ Day Three ~~~~~

Meryl and i woke up on time but not early enough to meet Dan on time after our delicious egg breakfast. a half hour late, i felt really bad, but Dan seemed okay. i still felt really bad. we had made plans to go the art museum right there in heroes’ square, but of course when he mentioned how cool the flea market was, we had to check it out. we walked through the park (the same one where the bath was) and eventually found the market. crowded, small, packed, awesome, full of knick-knacks, classic flea market. i love it. i think flea markets are my favorite kinds of place to spend money. besides grocery stores, obviously. i didn’t get anything, but whatever. some fools were trying to rip me off.

before heading over to the museum, the triforce smoked a spliff. this was a third of the result:

what a silly little crazy starry-eyed fantastic sugar cotton lover. a day before, she seriously made our pissed-off waitress burst out laughing when she started giggling and clapping with a big smile when her hot chocolate with a mountain of whipped cream came. i love love love love (in 4/4 time) this little star. Dan and i similarly stuffed our faces on the way to the museum. lauren had been kinda of hating on it at the market, but i was not let down. i don’t know how a building that big called the “Museum of Fine Arts” could ever disappoint. none has yet to, anyway. usually i take a million pictures at museums, but at this one i was less intense. here are two awesome awesome awesome sculptures, anyway:

besides these sculptures, the place housed paintings from about half the countries in Europe in the range of about 1400-1800. pretty ridiculous coverage, my eyes delighted.

we made our way back to Dan’s hostel, where kaela, lauren, and mark we’re having a triad of heart attacks because elise and philip weren’t back yet. the love birds eventually came, the crew ran off hastily, and i was stuck with cotton candy girl all by myself. it was still very early in the day, but we were still feeling really exhausted, so we opted out of exploring Budapest. with a quick stop at our favorite local grocery store (the one i bought bread at on day one), we were back in our apartment for the afternoon/evening/night. what a decadent treat. what a treat of decadence. by the end of the night, we had stuffed our faces with pasta, dipped a loaf of bread into nutella and then into our mouths, munched on fantastic treats of pastries, drunk two bottles of wine, and eaten each other alive. at one point we just lay in bed listening to Person Pitch play from my iphone while reading the lyrics on it. i love that i can do shit that stupid with her and consider it one of the best nights of my life.

come and give me the space i need

come and give me the space i need

come and give me the space i need

come and give me the space i need

come and give me the space i need

come and give me the space i need

come and give me the space i need

come and give me the space i need

~~~~~ Day Four ~~~~~

we actually had method to our madness. we originally planned to hit up the other famous Hungarian bath the night before but, remembering that it was sunday, we soon found out our plans were thwarted by silly schedules. because i had to leave by around 11 on monday, we decided to sleep early the night before (around 10), wake up at 5am the next day, and head over to the bath in the morning. we actually did it!

while crossing the szechenyi (the bath was on the Buda side this time), we smoked a giant spliff of everything Meryl had left. i recommend this kind of bridge crossing for everybody. you start walking across in one state, and you reach the other side in another. a good half hour walk after the bridge crossing brought us to the gellert baths. this place beat the shit out of the other bath in terms of elegance, but it kind of sucked because the thermal baths separated by sex. for the first 45min or so, Meryl and i swam in the normal temperature effervescent swimming pool, while old men stared us down. actually, right when we walked into the room with the pool, a fat old man yelled and pointed at me until a staff member came to me and started speaking to me in Spanish (i guess he didn’t know English and figured Spanish stood a better chance than Hungarian) telling me that i had to wear a shower cap. after the swimming pool, Meryl and i tripped out together in the hot tub nearby. she felt like she was floating in lcl and i felt like i floated in her mind and hers in mine and ours in the water’s and the complete break down of any at-field. she is crazy she is crazy she is crazy. i eventually convinced her sadface to split from me for a good fifteen minutes so we could each check out the thermal baths. i found myself in a gigantic room with two pools, one warmer than the other, and old naked Hungarian men waddling around. who else goes to a bath at 6 in the morning? i definitely stood out. especially because i didn’t actually get naked. yeah yeah i’m a prude.

that pretty much ended my Budapest excursion. Meryl and i walked back, took some silly pictures, showered, packed, checked out of the hostel, bitched at a stupid metro machine, said goodbye much too quickly, and put a thousand miles between us once again. for my own pleasure, here are those silly pictures:

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