Tag Archives: feels

selections from In the Sierra: Mountain Writings by Kenneth Rexroth

The question is not
Does being have meaning,
But does meaning have being. Continue reading

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selections from Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

‘I think,’ said Anna, toying with the glove she had taken off, ‘I think . . . if there are as many minds as there are men, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.’ Continue reading

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love to love you 2013

feeling melancholy, feeling unsure about 2014. Continue reading

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my top ten albums of 2013

in the twelfth month, like the rest of the stinking Internet and its rabid music fans, i like to compile my top ten favorite albums from the past year. i do things only slightly differently from the rest. for one, i don’t rank them. i used to rank the albums, but it’s truly an exercise in bullshittery because–let’s be frank–a list of the “top ten” albums is silly enough already… no point in making it any sillier. secondly, like the rest of my blog, i keep it pretty personal. so don’t mind the two albums from 2012 and the two from the late 1970s that accidentally found their way in. whoops!

without further ado…


Allah-Las — Allah-Las (2012)

it’s worth noting that this is the only rock & roll album to make my list this year. certainly that says more about me, and how much disco took over my life this year, than it does about the current rock scene. or so i hope.

thankfully, there’s at least this album floating around my mind. hailing from southern California, this would be modern-day garage rock revivalist at its finest… if it weren’t for Thee Oh Sees. but where dOCs are violent, Allah-Las are chill… where dOCs jam and jam for ten minutes at a time, Allah-Las are content with a little four-minute ditty… where dOCs push garage rock into its punk rock tendencies, Allah-Las wade into the psychedelic center between beach and the desert. “Sacred Sands.”

from the straightforward drums to the steady bass to the twangy guitar to the inviting voice, this music easily tricks listeners into thinking it came out in 1967, not 2012. even the number of tracks–12, or six to a side–feels like a throwback to 60s LPs. it’s only 40-minutes, and it’s just plain good.



C’est Chic — Chic (1978)

i’m just going to be straight up: Nile Rodgers appears on this list three times.

it’s quite overdue. if ronblog were a shitty music awards program, i would be making a big speech about how we all worship Nile before handing him a “lifetime achievement award,” secretly masking the fact that we basically snubbed him for 40 straight years from the actual awards. in short, 2013 is the year i discovered how much Nile matters to music.

Carly Simon. Chromeo. Daft Punk. David Bowie. Diana Ross. Duran Duran. Larry Levan. Madonna. Notorious B.I.G. Sister Sledge. The Sugarhill Gang. Will Smith. the list goes on… and yet it doesn’t matter. the influence this man had on disco, funk, soul, and all music forever and ever cannot be computed.

while i had listened to many the above artists and even a ton of songs performed and produced by Nile, it wasn’t until Daft Punk’s collaborator series that i actually sat down and listened to Chic albums. i listened to a handful of the essential ones, but none are quite as perfect through and through as this one. unlike much of the disco hits of the late 70s and early 80s, “Le Freak” is actually far from the highlight of the album. from the opening cheer to the b-side’s house-y opener to the closing track’s irresistible grooves and laughter, it never lets up. even the slow songs are superb.

what more can i say? music like this never goes out of fashion. c’est chic!



good kid, m.A.A.d city — Kendrick Lamar (2012)

i am a sinner who’s probably gonna sin again
Lord, forgive me… Lord, forgive me things i don’t understand
sometimes i need to be alone
bitch don’t kill my vibe, bitch don’t kill my vibe
i can feel your energy from two planets away
i got my drink, i got my music, i would share it but today i’m yelling
bitch don’t kill my vibe, bitch don’t kill my vibe, bitch don’t kill my vibe, bitch don’t kill my vibe

the year wasn’t yet halfway over, and i was already treating these lines like a prayer. whether freezing in a lake in Yellowstone National Park or freezing while biking through San Francisco streets or pissed off or annoyed or frustrated at somebody or no one, all i have to do is close my eyes, breathe, and recite these lines. what mantra could be better than “bitch don’t kill my vibe”?

and yet, at the same time, the very use of the word “bitch” makes some of the feminists in my life (and even a bit of the feminist in me, if such a thing can be said to exist) flinch at the word. not just the word, but the aggressive, over-the-top, gangsta machismo. “i pray my dick get big as the Eiffel Tower, so i can fuck the whole world for 24 hours!”

it’s silly… stupid even. but is it excusable? is it okay for a black kid from Compton to throw around “bitch” at the expense of women just so he can tell his own troubling story of an unprivileged life, of unavoidable heart-wrenching loss? does he even know he’s doing it? is this a step forward for everyone, or a step backward? is he talking about real pain? is this real pain? is this okay?

these are not my questions to answer. all i can say is “bitch don’t kill my vibe” while i rock my head to these sweet beats. and listen.



Random Access Memories — Daft Punk (2013)

big. fucking. surprise.

no, but really, if you had asked me a year ago whether i’d put the upcoming Daft Punk album on my 2013 list, i’d have responded, “i don’t know… i really hope so.” it’s like i was traumatized from an experience in high school, when Nine Inch Nails made its epic comeback with the dullness of “The Hand That Feeds” and the okay-whatever of With Teeth. poor teenage ronny.

what would i do this time, besides try desperately to not have expectations? i would hope.

i still remember the moment when i heard the name of the album for the first time. when i saw the album cover for the first time. when i heard the first 15-second clip of “Get Lucky.” when i heard the second 15-second clip of “Get Lucky.” when they released the minute-long teaser at Coachella, complete with sparkly Pharrell, Nile, and robots. i remember playing that minute over and over again. i remember watching the collaborators’ videos. i remember waking up in the morning to see if a new one had been posted. i remember telling all my friends that the video series was too much, it was becoming a shitty marketing gimmick. i remember i kept waiting every day for more and more. i remember the full release of “Get Lucky” and playing it in the living room. i remember playing it multiple times at my house party that weekend, no shame. i remember the video they released the morning of the album’s release, i remember hearing the beginning of “Give Life Back to Music” with its epic dad rock intro, and i remember–at that very moment–feeling, at its most potent, the insane concoction of fear, hope, humility, and ecstasy that had been brewing in my brain for months, years.

then… i remember reserving a conference room at work, stepping inside, and pressing play.

i didn’t know what to think. it felt so cheesy. the intro to “Give Life Back to Music.” the emo voice on “The Game of Love.” the two whole minutes of talking on “Giorgio by Moroder” and its F-Zero finale of a guitar solo. more emo piano and singing. emo indie rock. and then “Get Lucky.” and then the rest of the album.

everyone was talking about the album online. most people loved “Giorgio,” which i didn’t quite understand. maybe, to their ears, it made up for the album’s lack of hard-hitting house music. the lack of Discovery. i didn’t really have a strong opinion. i felt confused and intrigued, and that delighted me.

i listened again. and again. and again and again and again and again. and it kept getting better. an accelerating Nilephile, i quickly cherished the funky-as-a-feather guitar work on the first track and the two singles. the perfect musicianship on “Game of Love” floored me time and again, and still does today. “Get Lucky” doesn’t get old for me. “Beyond” feels like the 70s and, like the songs we love from that time, so far beyond. the ending track… an experiment in noise and rocketry. and… “Touch.” the track that Xanthe thinks i only claim to actually like because she hates it so much. but i understand. it’s out there. it’s almost ten minutes long. it’s orchestrated, it sounds more like Sufjan Stevens than Daft Punk. but it’s so joyous and heartfelt and wonderful that once, while listening to it on a pier at the Embarcadero, i almost cried along to its sublimity.

they’d captured me. they brought in virtuosic studio musicians, recorded an orchestra onto tape, toiled over hundreds of tracks, and released not just an homage, but an autobiography. a love letter. a perfect, beautiful album.



Random Access Memories Memories — Daftside (2013)

only one month after the release of RAM–i swear to god–Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington released this ridiculous rework of Daft Punk’s entire album. and i loved it.

every single component that made RAM what it was, they inverted. Nile Rodgers, the guy who played drums on Thriller, orchestras, and analog tape decks? we’ll just do this in Ableton. millions of dollars of hype and months of marketing? we’ll just upload this to SoundCloud. seven years making your album? we’ll do this in one month.

it’s half a joke, which is obvious when you hear the 2-second version of “Lose Yourself to Dance,” but, taken as a whole, it’s really not bad! Darkside knows what sounds good, so their screwing around with a great Daft Punk album in Ableton for a month actually isn’t a waste of time.

it sounds good, and they get a thousand points for creativity.



Shaking the Habitual — The Knife (2013)

The Knife challenges you to look at this art, as they challenge you to listening to this album. The Knife challenges you to listen to this album, as they challenge you to understand what it’s about.

life is hard. waking up for work is struggle enough for some of us, but making it to 5pm can be even harder. when we get home, we want to drink beer, smoke a bowl, put on the game, and/or hear the smooth, pleasant “Heartbeats” of our favorite artists’ best songs. we don’t want to think about how many people don’t have jobs or money. we don’t want to think about the countries where, with our salaries, we would be considered the 1%. we don’t even want to think about how 50% of the world–our mothers, sisters, and daughters–automatically face a disadvantage in what we call the civilized world. we don’t want to wonder whether these things could possibly be connected, or how.

but we probably should.

you are given time to think about these things on the 10 eerie minutes of “Fracking Fluid Injection,” nothing but shrieks through a delay pedal and clings and clangs for percussion. you are given time to think about these things on the 20 spaced-out minutes of “Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized,” which sounds like the soundtrack to a haunted planetarium show from 1972.

no, we are forced to think about these things on all nine-and-some-minutes of “Full of Fire,” which you think starts abrasively, but only grows increasingly frantic and insane as the minutes going on… until the last 10 seconds, when Karin ruins your favorite Salt-N-Pepa chorus with the line, “let’s talk about gender, baby, let’s talk about you” in a toilet flushing frenzy of distortion and noise.

you can feel the passion.



Slow Focus — Fuck Buttons (2013)

to be honest, i can’t say too much about this album because i’ve only listened to it a couple times. so why does it make the list?

one, because it’s that damn good. Fuck Buttons is always damn good. to my ears, they’ve maintained consistently solid jams from Street Horrrsing to Tarot Sport to this. i wouldn’t say they’ve changed what they do very much, but that’s fine. they’ve got a good thing going.

two, because i saw them play it live. i was right near the stage in a small venue, i had ear plugs in, and i still felt myself going deaf. it’s just two guys, a shitton of electronics, and a floor tom, and yet their energy infected the crowd. electronic drone post-rock should be electrifying… just like this.



Tomorrow’s Harvest — Boards of Canada (2013)

like the Fuck Buttons record, i’m not really an expert with this one. but i’ve listened to it just enough times to know it’s damn good.

even moreso, Boards of Canada have selected a tone for themselves and they know how to house themselves within that tone in a way that doesn’t become boring and repetitious. instead, they make the tone work for them in new and strange ways that keeps listeners like me and Mark F coming back for more.

besides, its theme shares sentiments with The Knife’s album: if we don’t look at this problem seriously, the problem being all of us, then we’re most certainly fucked.



We Are Family — Sister Sledge (1979)

damn, look at those pretty sisters.

their luscious, harmonious voices match their smooth brown skin and the flowers blooming in their dark hair. they sing about how “He’s the Greatest Dance” and how they’re “Lost in Music.” they even plead at the end of the album that you “kiss me, say it one more time.” two decades before Daft Punk asked anyone to do anything “One More Time.”

from beginning to end, it’s all Edwards and Rodgers ripping up the bass and electric, laying down divine disco guitar for the four lovely ladies above to help you lose track of time.

dance music that Larry Levan, James Murphy, and your mom can very much get behind. we are family.



Yeezus — Kanye West (2013)

Kanye says a lot of stupid shit. i mean a LOT of stupid shit. the shit on Kendrick’s album becomes standard fare salad at your local buffet when you compare it to the raw steak dripping fat and blood that are the words that never cease to spew from the mouth of Mr. West.

it’s worth repeating: anyone who listens to the Kanye’s music for the lyrics first is walking a risky road. even on The College Dropout, this guy was no poet.

but those beats.

i listen to the first 33 seconds of the first track–you know, the whole 33 seconds before Kanye says a single word–and i’m already convinced that this album is better than 99% of the music released in the past decade. i restart the track, just to make sure, and turn the volume up to 11… oh god yes. that’s the good shit. it’s that crack music.

how much does Kanye not give a fuck? enough to drop an angelic sample singing, “oh… he’ll give us what we need…. it may not be what we want,” in the midst of the hellish analog synth terrordome that is just song number one.

next song? panting human breath all throughout. next song? ghoulish screams chained to ice cold death. next song? Kanye thinks we’re trying to make new slaves, and he makes a damn good point. i’m not feeling very comfortable at this point. i feel somewhere between Kendrick and the Knife, and it’s a bit maddening.

it doesn’t get lighter. if anything it gets darker and madder and more ruthless… until “Bound 2.” gentle singing women, sampled brilliant by Yeezus to carry us away on a cloud of… confusion and love.

if any musician created passionate, unrelenting, avant-garde art in 2013, that musician is Kanye West. Continue reading

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Natalie Supervolcano

steaming vibrant as the Grand Prismatic Spring,
the lucky linens ’round my woman’s skinny waist.
unseen as a grizzly in the darkness grazes,
my coffee goddess struts in twilight blinking,
brown and brown her skin’s sweet hue
as blue the sky for miles and miles…
and when she widens bright her piercing eyes,
beauty beyond beauty, i’m left unthinking.

like gas and fire polka dot dancing in the night,
the crescent light gleaming from her certain smile.
like sleepless geysers roaring under the earth,
my sun-encircled angel lies dreamless winking,
boyish saliva exalting her temples to her toes
like rivers white and regal carving canyons deep…
but when she hyperventilates her tears,
beauty beyond beauty, i’m left unthinking.

blurring the lines between my sanity and my

the thick fruit
my woman bears. Continue reading

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i just poured myself a glass of seven-year-old Flor de Caña and coke, i’m listening to Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Work Volume II in V0, and the San Francisco Giants just clinched the 2010 World Series. i feel good.

figures we win the year i actually get into it. just kidding. maybe.

no but really, sports? what the fuck? i told aerienne the other day and she just stared at me through the Skype screen like she didn’t know who i was. Meryl hardly acknowledges it, like it’s a joke. Allison thinks it’s hilarious but loves it. my family just goes along with it, they’re probably just a little bit relieved and a big bit delighted. as for myself, i don’t even feel like myself when i give a fuck about a game, but i’m not bullshitting my friends or my family or myself. i really give a fuck. i really felt let down those (what, two? three times?) we lost some playoff games. i really felt a mini-orgasm every time Lincecum or Cain sank their gorgeous little pitches into Posey’s glove. i really felt a rush of adrenaline when Renteria hit that 3-run homer to seal the deal in Game 5. this shit is legitimately fun.

the truth is, it started before MLB playoffs. it started over the summer with the World Cup. let me try to remember… i was on break from work, i believe, the United States was actually winning some games, and i actually managed to wake myself at 7 in the morning to watch the fuckers kick the little ball around the field. i convinced myself then that soccer was easily my favorite sport. it’s big all-around: massive field, giant goals, kickable ball, two epic halves in time, no bullshit, red card and you’re out, every goal is a galaxy of chance, everything matters, beautiful, beautiful sport.

but now i feel it with baseball too. it’s like chess or war. i’m a fool so there’s still a lot i don’t know, but here’s how it is in the playoffs. you win three series in a row and you win the championship. each series is a best of seven games. every game has nine innings, a top and bottom, each a chance for each team to score. pitchers lead the charge, the game is in their hands. don’t let the opposing teams even get a sliver of wood on the balls you’re throwing and you don’t have to worry about a thing. and that’s what the Giants did. Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner–these guys fucking owned because they made the Braves, Phillies, and Rangers, all in a row, swing at nothing, swing at the dirt, swing at the stars swirling in front of their dumbfounded faces. ah, but your starting pitcher gets tired, so you have a whole bullpen of closing pitchers waiting, just waiting for a chance to throw one, two, three outs, whatever they can, just enough to keep the score right where you want it, with you in the lead and the other team in the dumps. when the other team scores, it feels like a knife in your chest not just because they scored, but because they feel so good about it they can just keep going on scoring. when your team scores, it is sex. it is a big fuck you to the world, can’t nobody hold me down, oh no, just keep the bases moving.

i wish we had played the fucking yankees.

Nicaraguan rum is the best. San Francisco Bay is the best. Aphex Twin is the best. Kaiser is the best, Frisco is the best. black Levi’s are the best. girls are the best, but i’m glad to be a boy. headphones are the best, giant motherfucking speakers with a swimming pool for a subwoofer are the best. sex is the best. computers are the best. the Internet is the best. space is the best. long, hot showers are the best. psychedelic mushrooms are the best. long hair is the best. life is the best. Continue reading

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I Feel Love – Donna Summer (1977) [archive]

ooh… it’s so good it’s so good it’s so good it’s so good it’s so good ooh… i’m in love i’m in love i’m in love i’m in love i’m in love i feel loooo ooooooooo ooooooooo ooooooove i feel … Continue reading

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define ‘art’ in one text message [archive]

Art= something that furthers an appreciation of the aesthetic interest of anything and everything

everything in the universe.

Everything. Or, by proxy, nothing.

An outward expression of an inward sentiment

fart without the f, or life transferred to a medium. Sometimes both

sex. everything. fuck u!

Human expression designed for the five human senses

Me naked

Living and feeling

Anything created for the purpose or with the result of enjoyment via the senses.

Easy. Art is open speech

Time is art not money

six people answer “” Continue reading

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Argolid, i love you [archive]

i just got back from a fantastic trip, the first of a few cya field trips i’ll be going on while i’m in Greece. from the beginning of the trip, we all had this running joke about the weekend. somebody had looked up our hotel on the internet before leaving and apparently the only English review read, “worst two days of my life.” we expected the worst, and it ended up being probably the best weekend in Greece so far. prepare for a 10-page post.

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

everybody met at travel buses in front of cya at 8am. i already knew Elaina, Maddy, and James were on my bus, but i was wondering what the seating arrangement was going to be like. i get on the bus to find James sitting by himself in the front, slowly passing out. in the back, Maddy and Elaina wave me towards them. turns out Maddy got to the bus bright and early, saving the only table on the whole bus (one that conveniently seats four). i went to the front to invite James back to our luxurious arrangement and for the rest of the trip we were the one and only totally awesome quartet on our bus.

after bitching for a second about how nobody thought to bring cards (and our table’s uselessness, as a result), i started blasting Person Pitch for myself. anyone who is a good friend of mine and anybody who’s had the unfortunate pleasure of talking about music with me lately can back up my current obsession with this album. all throughout high school i used to claim that Led Zeppelin’s kickass rock & roll cut “The Ocean” was always in my head. it’s lost its former status and the barbarian to dethrone it is Panda Bear’s “Comfy in Nautica.” no matter where i am or what mood i’m in, i simply start whistling that precious tune and my mind clears, transforming into a beautiful abyss of everything. sometimes i dream (stupidly) that when i see Animal Collective in Roma they decide to just let Panda Bear handle it all. i’m obsessed with this album and you should listen to it right now, right here.

alright, i’m driving through Greece. i can listen to Panda Bear any old weekend. but right now i’m doing both. the first place we stop, a little over an hour after our trip’s start, is the corinth canal (there are usually better photos on Wikipedia, but i’ll still post mine because it’s fun). i walked to the middle with a bunch of people, took some pictures, tried to see if i could see my spit fall all the way down (i couldn’t), and then we were back on our way.

luckily for us, the canal spot was a big tourist trap, so i bought myself the most expensive deck of cards ever at almost 5 euro (Elaina did too!). so worth it. James taught us all a new game (one that i forget the name of) at which Elaina and i dominated. nobody really played much the rest of the trip except for her and i with the occasional speed. great game. now, we had many choices of card designs and the girl went with the family-friendly mythology set. i, being the immature guy, had to get the SEX IN ANCIENT GREECE deck. here’s my favorite royal straight:

eventually we made it to our first real destination: Mycenae. the number one thing our professor, Diamant, continuously expressed about this ancient civilization was their insanity. as my “MYCENAEANS” post below shows, these guys obsessed over two things: war and gold. what we got to see on this trip was their tendency to boast about their power. a lot of the architecture (walls especially) at these sites were built in what’s called a “cyclopean” style, because people in later times–after the Mycenaeans had already passed–actually believed the stacking of massive stones to be the work of massive one-eyed creatures, not men. here’s a picture of our gallant professor standing in front of a Mycenaean bridge, exemplifying their tendency towards cyclopean architecture:

after wandering into one of the numerous chamber tombs (basically a hole dug in the hillside), we were shown the tholos (or beehive tomb). this is what the entrance to the first looked like:

these are massive tombs made up of massive stones. outside in and inside out:

the inside of the tomb is just a large empty, dusty circular space. graverobbers have already took all the junk filling the space, beating us by probably 3000 years. the walls spin round and round and round converging at the stone dome top:

nobody knows for certain who exactly was buried in the tombs, what ceremony if any was involved, or any other real details about the tombs. but still, their existence alone fascinates. eventually we made it to the actual palace centre / military stronghold. you walk along the massive stone wall and find yourself at the famous lions’ gate:

i didn’t really get any good pictures of the site itself, but i don’t think anyone really can. like much of the trip, we were basically visiting piles of rocks. the view was immense, though. on the edge of the site opposite the lions’ gate, the class descended into a a cistern carved directly into the mountainside. after one turn we were in complete darkness, holding out lighters, cell phones, and flashlights, walking down the ancient tiny steps. crazy.

from Mycenae we made our way to our 3-day home, Nafplio. here’s a picture of the town that i took from Palamidi castle:

James and i came up with an incredibly creative phrase to describe our hotel and the town altogether: fucking quaint. James and i luckily avoided a triple room by signing up for a double early on. tiny room, tiny tv, tiny beds, and a balcony! so awesome. after a glass of wine and smoke on the balcony, we passed out for a nice evening nap. i woke up with Elaina calling me, and i wandered across the hall to Maddy’s room where they were watching some silly rock & roll type documentary. the four of us eventually emerged from the hotel to join a short walking tour of the city, led by Diamant. for such humble appearances the place has a pretty turbulent history: it’d been fought over by the Greeks, Turks, and Venetians forever. eventually the quartet joined our fifteen million friends and went searching for a taverna, eventually stopping at the one where a guy in front yelled at us, “free wine, free dessert!!” after the taverna, we hit up some bar, the fifteen of us or so, and had a grand old drunken time. i definitely had some heated arguments/breakdowns about Johnny Cash’s ‘Hurt,’ astrology, and i don’t remember what else.

earlier, on the walking tour, Diamant had suggested to our group that we take the time to walk the peninsula. i was hell-bent on doing it and doing it drunk and doing it this night. we left our first bar for a raging club that Maddy and i stood in for about 30 seconds, and we found ourselves outside with nothing to do. “let’s do the peninsula!!!!” Elaina, Maddy, and i bought two bottles of wine from a corner store, walked into a bar to ask a wonderful amazing awesome bartender to open them for us, and slowly and drunkenly, with Chris, Sarah, Logan, and Zack in tow, made our way to the shore. here’s a picture–i had taken this on Diamant’s walking tour–of the coastline that we walked up. except imagine it at 3am:

wasted, James calls me asking me where i was (he got sucked into the raging club that Maddy and i and the rest ditched). i told him where we were and he amazingly found his way. hooray lack of open container laws! we were the happiest drunk sea lions in the whole damn town, i think, slowly slowly swervingly walking all along the gorgeous shore. it was near impossible to go quickly because the sea sparkled so beautifully under the moon. i don’t miss the ocean, when i have the sea:

by the time we reached the end of the coast, where our hotel was, Sarah had been pushing the idea of swimming. i bit and chewed and got almost everyone else to join in. everyone stripped down in the biting cold and jumped into the completely freezing water, where we all lasted for about seven seconds. we dressed and soakingly made it back to the hotel. the quartet reconvened in the boys’ room, where we sat in a circle, listening to Dylan emanate from my iPhone, smoking cigarettes, and (for no practical reason, at all) working through the rest of James’ wine. with the balcony doors open to show us lights winking across the bit of sea and with Bobby singing “it’s all over now, baby blue,” the four of us collapsed like four little babies.

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

the wake-up call came nice and early, at around 7:15, i think. i don’t know. i reached over, picked up the receiver, and said, “hello?” laughing at myself one second later and hanging up. the girls zombied their way out, we all somehow got ready to go, and after the greatest continental breakfast ever, headed for our next archaeological sites. but before the big ones, we stopped at another Mycenaean bridge:

i just love how these things dot the countryside, unblocked off and open to anyone to see for over 3000 years. this one stands about twenty feet from the road. our first real destination, though, was a pile of rocks called Epidaurus:

the background and history provided on this place provided the basis for my favorite lecture of Diamant’s for the whole weekend. as you can read on that wiki page, Epidaurus was a sanctuary “reputed to be the birthplace of Apollo’s son Asklepios, the healer.” with a god as father and human as mother, Asklepios had healing powers, yet he was mortal. however, as the story goes, he managed to come back to life after his death. transcending his mortal life of healing he transformed into the very deity of medicine. this site was his sanctuary and people would venture from everywhere to spend the night in the sacred place, with the hopes that a god would send visions of what they need to be cured.

the most visually (and aurally) pleasing part of the site was the theater. the French tourist girl standing in the center of the orchestra sang a fantastic bolero with a couple guys handling background parts:

the theater was put up in the 4th century BC with 34 rows (think fibonacci sequence, think golden ratio, think spirals). the design is flawless visually and aurally. the former i need not explain, just look at the pictures. as for the acoustics, they were absolutely unbelievable. you could have a decent conversation with anyone in the entire theater with anybody else anywhere else in the theater without really raising your voice. if you were ten rows apart, you’d only have to use a normal speaking voice. i couldn’t get enough of it. everything just sounded good. “Greek” theaters in the United States are a joke.

we drove to a beach a while away and had a delicious picnic. olive paste = greatest thing ever. we pretty much ate to the left of where this picture was taken, with a great view of the sea.

we then made our way along that coastline and then skirted along the hillside, towards Franchthi Cave. from the article: “The cave was occupied from the Palaeolithic circa 20,000 BCE (and possibly earlier) through the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods, being abandoned about 3000 BCE (Middle Neolithic). It is one of the very few settlements in the world that shows continuous human occupation for more than 20,000 years.” standing in this massive cave, staring at the walls, imagining the ceilings collapsing in on themselves over geological time, listening to the sea in the distance, tripping tripping tripping on tens of thousands of years of humans living, crying, and dying, right there in that cave, i almost couldn’t stand it. know that no photo can do this place justice:

we drove back to Nafplio, had another evening nap, and nearly repeated the taverna, bar, and sea of the night before. the only change in itinerary came before we went to the sea, after leaving the bar. instead of stocking up on wines we stocked up on beers and walked towards the sea, but stopped at this Venetian fortress wall. it had a curious hole in the corner and we ventured inside. i think i saw a bat fly out at first, but we kept going. the group split into two, taking opposite paths of a fork in the tunnel. my group wandered in complete darkness (this time with only cell phones and lighters to light our path), ducking through this dark, musty, dirty, tunnel, kicking aside trash and rocks and god knows what else. Maddy pretty much had a panic attack that Xanthe expertly helped her through, and in no time, to our surprise, we found ourselves above the fortress wall, in the overgrown bushes overlooking a little square and a small part of the town. we continued our little party up there for a bit before taking the peninsula walk back to our hotels and passing out.

~~~~~ Day Three (Today!) ~~~~~

today we had the pleasure of sleeping in (a whole half hour more of sleep!), leaving for our first destination around 9. we didn’t drive nearly as much today. we first went to Lerna, famous for being home to the Hydra that Heracles killed. honestly, after some of the other sites we’d seen, this one impressed me the least. but it did have some serious competition. even the second destination of the day, Tiryns, proved far more interesting. the fortifications for this place, another Mycenaean archaeological site, towered over the countryside. the western wall especially intimidated, stretching over 20 feet thick–all humongous rocks. according to a previous military-inclined student of Diamant’s, even modern artillery might need three good shots to break through a wall of that immensity.

when i stopped staring at piles of rocks, i stared at the utterly gorgeous countryside. five photos for adam:

the final history lesson (HAHAHA a fortress built in the year 1700 hardly counts as history HAHAHA) brought our class to the peak of this hill in Nafplio, the site of a Venetian fortress named Palamidi. you can sort of see a part of it and the winding 1000-stairs going down the side of the hill.

James, Elaina, and i wandered around it for a bit and then descended the uncountable stairs back to the town, after catching this view of the peninsula and town:

we ate our last meal in Nafplio, delicious gyros, and spent a good half hour sitting on a bench. people-watching, dog-watching, eyes closed, eyes open, breathing, feeling, being. these have definitely been some of the happiest days of my life. we met our group at the bus and made the drive back to Athina. i desperately need a shower. Continue reading

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dipoleia [archive]

i hope you’re ready for a history lesson.

in mythology class yesterday, our professor wrote two words on the board: Dipoleia (“double-sided axe”) and Bouphonia (“ox-slaying”). she then began to describe a ritual that took place every year in Athens, possibly around the time of the last full moon. young virgin girls from respectable Athenian families would make cheese or honey cakes to give to Zeus as gifts. these cakes would be set on his altar at the acropolis. then one or several oxen would be let loose on the acropolis, free to wander as they choose. inevitably one unwise ox would wander near the cakes and (oh so immorally) munch on Zeus’ cakes! of course, axeman would be waiting for this and one would immediately slice the head of the ox, whose intestines and blood would spew across the altar. now, killing is strictly forbidden around the altar, so the guilty axeman would run for his life. he would of course be caught and brought to trial. his defense: i killed not the ox, the axe killed the ox. so the axe is put on trial, found guilty, and condemned to death. the people of Athens would carry the axe to the coast and cast the axe into the sea. this may have been intended to atone for a year of sacrifices.

i miss the fun religions. i love nothing more than knowing that someone actually FEELS. in temples today, you can never be quite sure distinguishing the ones thinking about who’s going to win the super bowl vs. the ones releasing their existence to the ultimate everything. in classical Athens, you just look at the guy cutting off an ox’s head with a double-sided axe. then again, maybe he just liked killing things. either way, it’s PASSION and it’s Interesting, which is what i miss from a lot of modern societies.

i planned on that being the end of my history lesson, but this morning i learned a lot about the incredibly fascinating civilization of the Minoans. besides being one of the earliest and most influential civilizations in the Aegean, this may have been the only completely matriarchal society to ever have existed.

i’ll just list the things that interest me about them. none of their “cities” (pretty much giant palaces) had fortifications of any kind. no walls, no defense. they weren’t at all about symmetry. their architecture followed the contours of the natural geography. in fact, nature dictated everything. they had no official temples or monuments. they would worship at peak sanctuaries (everywhere from low hills to high mountains) or in sacred caves. most strange of all, none of their art exhibits war scenes. it’s all octopi (this is like the Minoan seal of authenticity), other sea creatures, and asymmetrical designs, perhaps suggesting that they were not interested in preserving the past. we can be certain, for example, that the Egyptians with their pompous pyramids were at least a little concerned about the future. i like a civilization that seems to be more aware of its place in Nature, as opposed to being above it.

in other news, Nine Inch Nails is performing at bonnaroo 2009, instantly making it nine times cooler than coachella. Continue reading

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