Big Friday Morning in Athens

Easter is coming yet again. Maria was dyeing eggs red in the Greek manner. They put a parsley or dill or mint leaf together with the egg wrapped in a piece of nylon stocking or a sock before putting it in the dye. The traditional dying medium was onion skins, saved all year for the occasion. After, you polish the eggs with olive oil.
Now,Good Friday (Big Friday to the Greeks) the sounds of droning byzantine song and tolling funereal bells for ol’ daid Jaysus drift up to our apartment from the 15 or 20 churches in a six block radius of our apartment. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of churches in Athens alone. This is why there is a constant furious breeze in Athens, from the quick circular self-crossing motions that greeks are compelled to do every time they see a church.  Tonight they drag out a two-dimensional flatland rendition of daid JC and parade him in a picturesque manner around town, often accompanied by marching bands. It is a big night.

We will most likely go down to Piraeus, putting our bicycles on the metro.

That’s it for today. Xristos Anesti.

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Weekend in Larisa

Some video from this working weekend (April 15-18, 2011). Went up north to do a couple of gigs with Tilemachos, Trikala and Larisa. Mostly for the good. It rained and cancelled our plans to bike around Trikala on our day off. We were obliged to spend Saturday surfing the net with the hotel wifi. Later, coming home, I discovered that the bus had free wifi. Wow and wow. I called a bunch of friends using skype and chatted as the greek scenery unfolded around me. Very 21st century!

Much of the trip I was entertained mightily by my new smartphone, the mighty Nokia C7. I packed it with videos to watch on the bus, surfed the wifi, played Angry Birds for hours on end, including in the dressing room waiting for the show. Marvelous. Watched the documentary about Ray Kurzweil “Transcendent Man”. Was doubly appropriate to watch it from a hand-held device. As he said, “The computer in your pocket would have cost 350 million dollars in 1965.”  An example of the mindboggling acceleration of technological innovation we are witness to.

The shows went well, I was in good voice and playing form, the audience in Trikala won my love because they didn’t yak and jabber and even shout all the time as the Greeks usually do. This is a major flaw in the Greek public. They talk endlessly during shows, looking up only occasionally to see what the hapless bozoes onstage are up to. This makes it hard to play to them. The Larissians were as guilty of this as the Athenians. You want to give ’em a slap.

Now home. Good to sleep in my own bed.

blaine

Sunday in Athens, Wrathful Deities and The Dead

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See the photo album from the day.

Today has been a most interesting day. I started by going over to the Pathgate Dharma Center, a Tibetan Buddhist center right here in the neighborhood. I encountered one of the guys who lives there, Dawa Loday, while riding my bicycle one day. Unusual sight, someone in full tibetan robes walking these streets. I struck up a conversation and found out where he hung out. Here is the link http://www.palyulnyingma-gr.org/index.html The place turns out to be a dance studio type space with wood floors, full of rich tibetan imagery. Silk banners with hand-painted images of tibetan deities hang from the walls. Sitting there on a cushion meditating, contemplating a statue of padmasambhava was an unlikely way to spend Sunday morning in Athens, especially since the area is patrolled constantly by the walking dead, Athens zombie junky army.
Excellent. Dawa loaded me up with fruit from the altar, some bananas and a mango, which he thanked me for taking away.
Then Maria and I took the bicycles up to Athens First Cemetery in Metz. It is quite a climb up to Metz, the area behind the wonderful first Olympic stadium. The buildings there retain their pre-1960’s neo-classical look, before Athens was garrisoned with sun-blocking concrete apartment buildings.
The cemetery is amazing. It is full of really well-executed marble portraiture of the illustrious dead of Greece. Some of the tombs are supermarket size, displaying for all to see the wealth of the families involved.
I opened one tomb door and was enveloped in incense smoke. I was transported to Hades for just that moment.
We had a most satisfying day.