Wino With his Pants on Fire (Athens by Night)

greek hobo

Thursday 20 January 2000

Last night we (the cast of Agamemnon) all went out to eat again. That’s 3 times so far in a year. We are starting to have some kind of social life. There are places near the central meat market that are open all night and serve meat and more meat. I ain’t complaining. La specialite du maison is a soup called “Patsas” like Mexican menudo, tripe, cow stomach. It is popular with drunk people and they go there at 5 am after a hard night’s drinking. I have had it before, so I passed. The greeks, as do the Mexicans, believe that tripe is good for the stomach. (it is stomach. How homeopathic of them).

I saw a friend of mine, a photographer named Cleopatra on the street earlier and we rode the bus together. The taxis are on strike, God bless their pointy little simian heads. I didn’t know this when I set out for the theatre, thus it took me two hours to get there. No car in this town makes you an insect. Whee. It is so nice to see someone you know and like on the street in a city this big and strange. It made everything so much nicer. My usual bitchy “I hate all you fucking greeks” inner monologue was shut up and I felt good. I therefore played and acted well tonight in spite of the fact that it took 2 hours and 4 transfers from bus to bus to trolley (electric bus like san francisco) to the Metro (the one line.

The rest of the metro is supposed to open later this month. One other line at least. Wow! That only took 15 years. All financed by EU grants to try and bring poorer members up to standard. The greeks and the portugese (the poor relations of the EU) live for those EU grants from Germany,France, England, everywhere else with more money. Most of the money finds its way into politicians’ pockets, believe me.

The area around the meat market is actually great. It is old and very very prole. I hope they don’t globalize everything and make it look like America. Once down there I saw a wino with his pants on fire. He was sitting over a fire in a cardboard box to keep warm. He just caught fire. He didn’t care. He continued shouting abuse at invisible enemies in between swigs from his handy wino size bottle of whatever it is they drink. I think retsina is still popular with the winos here. I could be mistaken. It is for sale at all the periptera, the ubiquitous kiosks that line the sidewalks here and make life possible outside the arcane and stupid opening hours of the shops here. An enormous fat prostitute bought a bottle of water from said kiosk and put him out.

What a sight on a cold winter's night. Right out of Fellini.

Epiphany at the Turn of the Millenium

15:40 11-Jan-00
Once again, dear friends we come up against the inadequacy of words. Perhaps it is laziness. I had a poetry teacher who denied the phrase “words cannot describe”. He thought that words could describe anything with the proper effort. He was a dickhead. He wore a medallion that looked like a turquoise saucer. He had a goatee. Whoo.

The event that defies verbalization took place on January 1st, 2000. I walked outside onto the balcony of my friend’s apartment which has a splendid view of this grungehole of a town. Lo and behold, I was struck by an epiphany, a satori. I saw the whole place made new and strange by the fact that absolutely everything I saw was now contained within the magic zone called ‘THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY’. This is the time I had come to anticipate as an article of faith as a better, glossier, speedier altogether MODERN time, fed by Disney and years of Science Fiction. All of those ‘cars of the future’, all of those movies with people wearing pointy shouldered silver jumpsuits. And here it was. I was dumbstruck, folks. I felt what the Bible means when Christ says ‘Behold, I make all things new…’

So here we all are. Welcome to the twenty first century. We should print T-shirts that say ‘I Survived the Twentieth Century’. Think of how many didn’t. I am not speaking of those whom death took in their sleep. I am speaking of all the new and nasty ways to die this last century brought us. Of course, there was also Picasso, Dali, Stravinsky, Bartok, David Bowie, Elvis Presley and so on and so on and so on…. That is a given. Good bye twentieth century. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out. Come again when you can’t stay so long.

We Survive an Encounter With An Athens Taxi Driver

08:11 31-Dec-99

Today a taxi driver was ready to punch me. I was riding home from rehearsal with one of the Klytemnestras,(there have been 5 so far in Agamemnon) a friend of mine from Nick’s films named Michelle Valley, trying to get a taxi back here from the Metro. Needless to say, no one would go. We found a guy who seemed willing, got in, and Michelle and Cheetah argued for a while about the relative merits of taking us home (she actually lives out here too!). We gave up, got out into the rain, and she shut the door a little harder than she perhaps should have. I called him a dickhead. I doubt he understood. Still, something got that simian dander up and he got out and started pushing her around. Ever the gentleman, I inserted my body between them at which point he decided calmly, ever so rationally that what was in order was a session of “Grab Blaine and shove him around.” He enthusiastically began to engage in this activity. In dealing with wild animal attacks, I have long since decided the best thing is to show no fear, but make no sudden moves. This basically saved me from a punch in the face. At one point, I swear to god, he puffed out his chest and began to attempt a round of chest banging. Holy Jaysus. I just told him in English to “Get the fuck away from me. Give it up.” Of course, he pondered this notion carefully and rejected it on its relative ethical and philosophical merits as the weaker of two hypotheses. There was that of Cheetah the reptile brain creature which said “ME KEEL YOU!” and that of the thoughtful heir to Plato who is no doubt struggling to get out and propel him along his destined career as a great thinker. He was no doubt prevented from becoming another fine exponent of the great civilization which flourishes yet in this cultural wonderland by circumstances beyond his control and forced at gunpoint to take people places in return for monetary remuneration. Alas.

Now I am listening to TV themes from the 60’s. At the moment, I am hearing the theme from “Dark Shadows”, just heard the Odd Couple, and a tune I have always hummed to myself for reasons known only to my psyche, the theme to The Lawrence Welk Show. This is gospel. I start humming this tune without realizing it as I sweep the floor, do laundry, brush my teeth. I found a website with TV theme MIDI files. I ain’t gonna tell you where it is, it’s for me. Rehearsal soon, play starts on Thursday Jan. 6. Come on down.

Christmas in Athens, 1999

08:11 PM 20-Dec-99

 

christmas in athens

Christmas is comin’ to Athens. You know, the Greeks do Christmas up brown. They have all the lights blinking away, they are milling in their hordes downtown, traffic is a real pig because shops are open continuously (unlike the rest of the year). On the warm side, like Xmas in L.A., just a bit colder. There is a giant tree made of lights downtown in Syntagma square. What else? Oh yes, on the day, children come to one’s door in shifts singing one song, unknown to those of us raised in the Charles Dickens and Coca Cola Santa Claus culture in America or England, or those who have taken our myth on. They do a peremptory rendition of the tune in question and then expect to be given money. Then, at the end of the day, they pool their takings and buy a prostitute or some crack. Beats hell out of ‘trick or treat’. I have started to use the british quotation marks or ‘inverted commas’ because I have discovered that FTP reads quotes as instructions to do something or other and it gums up the works on the site. If anyone actually reads this, tell me a better way to do a journal than working up the entries on a text editor and then uploading them to the site via FTP server. I ain’t got it sussed. More on Xmas in Greece next time I feel like it.

I Am a DJ

Denver 1999
11:17 AM 17-Dec-99
I just got in from a’ DJin’ at a local watering hole. I like this DJ thing. Play cd’s and get paid for it. Not quite as good as the radio, but it is fun expressing oneself by means of other people’s music. The usual eclectic mix, all up and down and around the musical globe. I played some ‘Bollywood’ soundtrack music which I am liking muchly lately. Of course, there is the usual lounge electro stuff which I also like muchly and lots of britpop Bowie type stuff which really get me goin’. Barry White. Pizzicato 5. Barry Adamson. Plenty o’ Blaine and a bit of Tuxmoon. I personally hate how dj’s have taken over the musician lexicon. they have no fucking right calling their bit on the podium a ‘set’ or the job of the night a ‘gig’ or really to say they have ‘played’. I think the public there appreciated the sort of stuff I played. I gots lots o’ weirdness and they don’t usually get that in their sort of bar.
 I AM A DJ, I AM WHAT I PLAY CAN'T TURN AROUND NO, CAN'T TURN AROUND' 

Whoa, glad Bowie got over whatever was troubling him when he thought this was worth writing down and singing. I must sleep.

 'OOH, I HAVE A GIRL OUT THERE. I GUESS SHE'S DANCING... what do I know?'

catchy tune. caint get it outta my haid. Just about all of the musos I know, or lots of them anyway have had to at least come to terms with DJism. Peter, me, Sammy Birnbach from Minimal Compact, Lots of guys, Boy George, fer chrissake. Nice work if you kin git it, actually. Also, this morn. I got an e-mail from ‘elvis’ the propietor of the Heathen World page. He knows about Tuxmo, he will link to my site. This is a first. I am pleased. More to come, oh gentle, tender, succulent reader mine. If you truly exist. 

The Blog Begins

Me as Agamemnon, 1999

05-Dec-99

 

First entry in the journal. Naturally, the wit and wisdom planned for this page have been  devoured by the energy necessary to be designing a website. Just so you  know. Lately, I have been rehearsing Aeschylus’ ‘Agamemnon’,  directed by local avant garde whiz kid, Mikhail Marmarinos. I play the doomed king his own bad self. I am playing Ag. in English, unlike the rest of the cast who play a new translation of the ancient greek. In addition to acting, we have incorporated a live performance of several Tuxedomoon tunes from ‘The Ghost Sonata’ into Ag’s scene. He arrives back from Troy, having kicked their butts good with the old horse gag, and the first thing he does for the assembled folk of Argos is get out his old 5-string electric fiddle and play ‘Ghost Sonata’, ‘Egypt’, ‘Jinx’ and ‘Music Number 2’. So, we are rehearsing all the time. It is amazing how much time and energy the theatre takes up. I hardly had the energy to sew and hang the leopard print curtains in my bedroom, but I did it all the same. I also acquired a blinking jesus. Yes, I passed a street salesman after coming out of the Metro station (we have one metro line here in athens). He was selling religious pictures, outlined in blinking red LED’s. This is without doubt the tackiest thing I have ever seen and I have a lot of tack around. This will have to do for the first entry. Wade through these pages in good health
Dec. 9, 1999
Still fooling around with the website. Took the day to mop the floor, do laundry. Put up a clothes hook. whoopee.