Athens Riots February 11, 2012

DSC00728.JPG Sunday night, February 11, 2012 the center of Athens, and some other cities in Greece, erupted in violence and flames. Huge demonstrations held to protest implementation by the Greek parliament of further austerity measures in order to obtain funds to stave off a default on the State’s debts to the international banks degenerated into clashes between young men, police on one side, small numbers of “hoodies” armed with molotov cocktails and chunks of marble ripped from buildings on the other.

Yesterday (Monday) I went out, like many others, to survey Sunday night’s damage.When we went to bed Sunday night, a pall of reeking chemical smoke hung over the city, held in place by the humidity. When we woke, our balcony was sprinkled with ashes, including some pretty large chunks.

Riding the metro later that morning I saw the same expression on every face, stunned silence, shock and dismay. People are just tired of this shit. My path for the day led me past the area around the university where a lot of the burning took place. I saw the hulk of Starbuck’s and the adjoining art house cinema where I have seen quite a few arty films. I was impressed with how quickly Starbuck’s stripped the building of any corporate identification, I suppose to avoid having photos published around the world which showed Starbuck’s in ruins, perhaps to avoid encouraging further coffee house conflagrations. (This is the second Starbuck’s to go up in flames. During the 2009 spasms, the Omonia Starbuck’s met the same fiery doom.) The whole area smelled charcoal-broiled, seasoned with a chemical pong from teargas, not unlike the plastic reek of burning crack. (Don ‘t ask how I know this). Everywhere is the white powder bloom left behind by exploding tear gas grenades. The nose itches, the eyes burn. I was a sneezing fool.

I have little to say about the politics of this situation. I don’t know anything. I am too ignorant of Greek history to make an informed comment, though this doesn’t stop anyone from spewing drool all around the internet. I am especially dismayed to see how many Europeans,  Germans, Belgians, Dutch, show so little care for the plight of others and are so ready to talk at great length about those Greeks out of other orifices than their mouth.

I do see that whoever the assholes with the molotovs are, they succeed quite nicely in diverting the eye of the world away from the thousands of people out airing their grievances in a legitimate and civilized manner. I see that similar types undermine the efforts of the people’s uprisings all around the world. These are ancient tactics. Infiltrate your enemy’s ranks with berserkers and paid agents in order to discredit them by spurring them on to violence and excess. The mongoloid eye of the world’s media is ever diverted by scenes of flame and destruction. I like John Stewart’s simile where he compares ‘the media’ to a hyperactive puppy following a stick wherever you care to throw it.

Who are the morons doing the burning? There are undoubtedly those among them who believe that they struggle in a cause, but there is always a hidden agenda around here. There are those who want to burn down a losing business to collect insurance. There are also those “protection” types who want to punish people who won’t pay up. There are those who want to buy up land cheap who recruit from the milling hordes of aimless and pointless immigrants to perform all sorts of mischief, burning, looting, distributing drugs in certain areas to bring down the price of real estate. Among those thugs will be elements of the police. Many people around here assume that there are police plants among the hoody miscreants throwing rocks and molotovs.

This whole damn situation is one titanic drag, a bummer of massive proportions. I never thought I would end up living in a country undergoing such a catharsis. Hell, the word ‘catharsis’ is Greek anyway. It means “a cleansing”. It was coined to describe the psychological aftermath of viewing a really nasty Greek tragedy (or a really funny comedy). Those who romanticize at a distance about revolution and upheaval have probably never dealt with the pitiful daily insult of this situation, have not had to go about their daily business against such a frustrating backdrop.

Here are some photos of the damage.

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2012, the year begins

Here is a video recap of the year so far, including Rijeka, Venice and general cultural sampling from Athens.

2012 so far

William Burroughs' Birthday (Also Mohammed's)

Yes, folks, it’s Colonel Bull Lee’s birthday. Celebrate him. I remember when Tuxedomoon was ushered into his august presence, back in 1979 in New York City. Winston and Bruce had already made his acquaintance, having brought him a box of Godiva shotgun shell chocolates, which he loved. They arranged through James Grauerholz, his secretary, for us to meet him. James came over to 217 Bowery, home of Ira Abramowitz, our New York headquarters, equipped with a tape recorder. He set it up and began to interview us, I suppose to screen us for idiocy. We passed the audition, so an audience was arranged for the following day.

Oh, be still my beating heart, we were ushered into The Bunker, his New York apartment in a converted YMCA locker room and sat around a table with William Seward Burroughs, our beat hero, our language is a virus, Doctor Benway Naked Lunch junkie guru. He served us tea and offered us a joint. We chatted most amiably about the ancient Mayans. He told me he remembered a poem I had given him when he had come to speak in Boulder Colorado in 1975 at Naropa Institute. Oh lordy lordy lordy me! Burroughs had read and remembered one of my things! Oh frabjous day!

We saw Burroughs once again when we played together at Paradiso in 1981 for the “One World Poetry Festival”. We shared a dressing room. We were his support group. He went out and read his Doctor Benway bit and that was that. What a gas.

Happy Birthday, uncle Bill, too bad you ain’t around to see the shape of things today. In a way, I guess you saw it first.

Burroughs film

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William Burroughs’ Birthday (Also Mohammed’s)

Yes, folks, it’s Colonel Bull Lee’s birthday. Celebrate him. I remember when Tuxedomoon was ushered into his august presence, back in 1979 in New York City. Winston and Bruce had already made his acquaintance, having brought him a box of Godiva shotgun shell chocolates, which he loved. They arranged through James Grauerholz, his secretary, for us to meet him. James came over to 217 Bowery, home of Ira Abramowitz, our New York headquarters, equipped with a tape recorder. He set it up and began to interview us, I suppose to screen us for idiocy. We passed the audition, so an audience was arranged for the following day.

Oh, be still my beating heart, we were ushered into The Bunker, his New York apartment in a converted YMCA locker room and sat around a table with William Seward Burroughs, our beat hero, our language is a virus, Doctor Benway Naked Lunch junkie guru. He served us tea and offered us a joint. We chatted most amiably about the ancient Mayans. He told me he remembered a poem I had given him when he had come to speak in Boulder Colorado in 1975 at Naropa Institute. Oh lordy lordy lordy me! Burroughs had read and remembered one of my things! Oh frabjous day!

We saw Burroughs once again when we played together at Paradiso in 1981 for the “One World Poetry Festival”. We shared a dressing room. We were his support group. He went out and read his Doctor Benway bit and that was that. What a gas.

Happy Birthday, uncle Bill, too bad you ain’t around to see the shape of things today. In a way, I guess you saw it first.

Burroughs film

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Groundhog Day, Ayn Rand

It’s groundhog day again. I could hardly wait. It’s also Ayn Rand’s birthday. Yes, today Ayn Rand comes up out of Hell where her poisonous soul seethes in perpetual agony. If she sees her shadow, we have six more weeks of recession and selfishness. If not….well, Atlas Shrugged.

Groundhog day trailer

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Punxsutawney Phil sees six more weeks of winterPunxsutawney, Pennsylvania | Thu Feb 2, 2012 11:09am EST Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (Reuters) – Punxsutawney Phil, the weather-predicting groundhog, has seen his shadow, promising six more weeks of winter.

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Ayn Rand interview with Mike Wallace, 1959

 

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Hollerin’ Contest, 1978

Country communication before the internet or the telephone.

 Welcome to Spivey’s Corner – YouTube.

and this is more or less analogous

Franzl Lang Yodelling King

and this, the greek version

 

Mozart's Birthday

My bust of Mozart

I think about Mozart a lot. I guess that a lot of musicians do. It’s that burial in a pauper’s grave. About the only thing that the American musician’s union used to do for you in return for the dues (besides preventing you from playing with 99% of the musicians in the world) was to take out a burial insurance policy in your name. When I was an actual member of the muso’s union, back in 1975, I thought this was the most absurd and pointless thing. Now, of course, with the mouth of the grave looming ever larger in my horizon, I’m not so sure. I am also convinced that they did this to prevent the Mozart effect. You might have rotten teeth and bleeding gums, you might starve, but at least they wouldn’t dump you in a hole and cover you with lime like the final scene of “Amadeus”.

And speaking of “Amadeus”, I cringe to admit that the movie made me cry. I identified with Salieri and Mozart both. I would mist up over the how tragically the world had under-appreciated my genius and then I would take another pull on my whiskey bottle. Boo hoo hoo.

I don’t know what Mozart was. I think that he, like Da Vinci and Einstein, was some sort of ubermensch, far far removed from the rest of us paddling in our ordinary pools of sludge. If we can be compared to amoebas swimming around in our puddle, Mozart was at least a tadpole.

So, happy birthday, Wolfie! Wherever you are now, and whatever you are doing. Maybe you and Salieri are a married couple living in New Jersey. Maybe Paulie Mozart plays bass in a metal band at a mob roadhouse while Marie Salieri-Mozart tends bar. Maybe their son Lynch Mob thinks he has a shot at “Jersey Shore”. Probably not.

The wikipedia entry on Mozart

 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (German: [ˈvɔlfɡaŋ amaˈdeus ˈmoːtsaʁt], English see fn.),[1] baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart[2] (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music.

Mozart Rondo Alla Turca

Amadeus Burial Scene

 

Mozart’s Birthday

My bust of Mozart

I think about Mozart a lot. I guess that a lot of musicians do. It’s that burial in a pauper’s grave. About the only thing that the American musician’s union used to do for you in return for the dues (besides preventing you from playing with 99% of the musicians in the world) was to take out a burial insurance policy in your name. When I was an actual member of the muso’s union, back in 1975, I thought this was the most absurd and pointless thing. Now, of course, with the mouth of the grave looming ever larger in my horizon, I’m not so sure. I am also convinced that they did this to prevent the Mozart effect. You might have rotten teeth and bleeding gums, you might starve, but at least they wouldn’t dump you in a hole and cover you with lime like the final scene of “Amadeus”.

And speaking of “Amadeus”, I cringe to admit that the movie made me cry. I identified with Salieri and Mozart both. I would mist up over the how tragically the world had under-appreciated my genius and then I would take another pull on my whiskey bottle. Boo hoo hoo.

I don’t know what Mozart was. I think that he, like Da Vinci and Einstein, was some sort of ubermensch, far far removed from the rest of us paddling in our ordinary pools of sludge. If we can be compared to amoebas swimming around in our puddle, Mozart was at least a tadpole.

So, happy birthday, Wolfie! Wherever you are now, and whatever you are doing. Maybe you and Salieri are a married couple living in New Jersey. Maybe Paulie Mozart plays bass in a metal band at a mob roadhouse while Marie Salieri-Mozart tends bar. Maybe their son Lynch Mob thinks he has a shot at “Jersey Shore”. Probably not.

The wikipedia entry on Mozart

 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (German: [ˈvɔlfɡaŋ amaˈdeus ˈmoːtsaʁt], English see fn.),[1] baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart[2] (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music.

Mozart Rondo Alla Turca

Amadeus Burial Scene

 

Django Reinhardt's Birthday

Today in 1910, Django Reinhardt was born. He died in 1953, the year I was born. That was not the only run-in I had with him. For years in Brussels, every time I got an accounting from SABAM, the Belgian performing rights society I would get a tidy sum for my song “Nuages” on my record “Broken Fingers”. My Nuages is basically another song on that record “Petit Piece Chinoise” played backwards, so I thought myself very clever and lucky to be getting money for that song. After some time had passed, I received a letter from SABAM telling me that that money had been intended for Django Reinhardt for his song “Nuages” and that I had to give it back! And they withheld my royalties for quite some time until I paid it back. Morons. Anyway, he was marvelous and so was his violinist Stephane Grapelli who was a hero of mine. Now here are some videos of him from youtube, followed by my song “Les Nuages”.

Django Reinhardt “Nuages”

 

Blaine L. Reininger “Les Nuages”

Les Nuages Blaine L. Reininger

 

Django Reinhardt’s Birthday

Today in 1910, Django Reinhardt was born. He died in 1953, the year I was born. That was not the only run-in I had with him. For years in Brussels, every time I got an accounting from SABAM, the Belgian performing rights society I would get a tidy sum for my song “Nuages” on my record “Broken Fingers”. My Nuages is basically another song on that record “Petit Piece Chinoise” played backwards, so I thought myself very clever and lucky to be getting money for that song. After some time had passed, I received a letter from SABAM telling me that that money had been intended for Django Reinhardt for his song “Nuages” and that I had to give it back! And they withheld my royalties for quite some time until I paid it back. Morons. Anyway, he was marvelous and so was his violinist Stephane Grapelli who was a hero of mine. Now here are some videos of him from youtube, followed by my song “Les Nuages”.

Django Reinhardt “Nuages”

 

Blaine L. Reininger “Les Nuages”

Les Nuages Blaine L. Reininger

 

Megaupload a story of Dotcom boom and bust | Reuters

This guy is hard to feel much sympathy for, though I feel as though I must side with the hacker types in a confrontation of this sort. This is an example of what happens when a boy who never leaves his room in his mother’s house suddenly has millions to spend. What an asshole.

Newsmaker: Megaupload a story of

Newsmaker: Megaupload a story of Dotcom boom and bustBy Lincoln Feast and Sarah Marsh Sat Jan 21, 2012 11:16pm EST (Reuters) – Among the roll-call of hip-hop artists and other celebrities plugging Megaupload.com's digital storage services in an online promotional video, a cameo from the website's founder would have gone unnoticed by many.

Kim Dotcom, king of the Megaupload empire | News | National PostAllison Cross Jan 20, 2012 – 4:23 PM ET | Last Updated: Jan 20, 2012 8:56 PM ET The playboy lifestyle of one of the world's biggest Internet pirates has been exposed after a raid by police on his home in New Zealand.

 

Megaupload a story of Dotcom boom and bust | Reuters

This guy is hard to feel much sympathy for, though I feel as though I must side with the hacker types in a confrontation of this sort. This is an example of what happens when a boy who never leaves his room in his mother’s house suddenly has millions to spend. What an asshole.

Newsmaker: Megaupload a story of

Newsmaker: Megaupload a story of Dotcom boom and bustBy Lincoln Feast and Sarah Marsh Sat Jan 21, 2012 11:16pm EST (Reuters) – Among the roll-call of hip-hop artists and other celebrities plugging Megaupload.com's digital storage services in an online promotional video, a cameo from the website's founder would have gone unnoticed by many.

Kim Dotcom, king of the Megaupload empire | News | National PostAllison Cross Jan 20, 2012 – 4:23 PM ET | Last Updated: Jan 20, 2012 8:56 PM ET The playboy lifestyle of one of the world's biggest Internet pirates has been exposed after a raid by police on his home in New Zealand.