The good news is that today I bought a bicycle. The bad news is....there isn't any bad news. Yesterday I was out on Athena's bike, just drifting around when I happened upon a bicycle repair shop. This may be no big thing to you, but this is Greece and a bike repair shop isn't that easy to find. The guy, I forget his name, though he told it to me, had some used bikes for sale, looking grungy enough to fit my budget. I pointed at one and asked, and he said "No problem, my friend. I feex and tomorrrrrow you take. 60 evRO." My guy was as good as his word, and today I took delivery of my new old bicycle. He put it into the best shape possible and it is quite rideable. I took it out on the long jetty that protrudes into the harbor. This is heaven. Riding out into the sea with the mountains in the distance is about as close as one can come to riding out on the water itself. Whizzing along with the water on both sides is like shooting through a tube made of sky and sea, an ecstatic blue-white warp in the very fabric of Samsara, illuminated and vibrating like a bouzouki string.
Cycling has become a passion for me. Since I bought that first used bike in Athens two years ago, the place occupied by my bike has expanded, and cycling fills many functions in my current life. A bicycle is first a means of independent locomotion, free of many of the societal constraints which chafe. I am not subject to the dehumanizing haste which mass transport imposes upon us. I do not have to deal with Greek or German or Italian taxi drivers. Of course, though I drive anyway, I have no license and I am always just a little bit worried that some cop will stop me. I happily whiz by cops on the bike, ignoring one way signs and hopping curbs with casual abandon. Traffic is a transparent matrix through which I can weave, oblivious to the snail's pace of all those cars. Parking is instantaneous. One is not obliged to possess a license to drive or pay taxes or insurance to whatever foul little conspiracy constitutes the local state. Fuel is food. There is a smug satisfaction in knowing that one is not contributing to the cloud of poison gas which hovers over our cities and renders them less and less habitable.
Cycling is good for me. Since I provide the propulsive force, my body benefits in many ways. I burn off the calories which would otherwise pump flab into my love handles and my butt, keeping my girlish figure trim to assist me when pursuing young women.
Cycling provides me with a sovreign cure for states of obsessive melancholy and foul dark depression which often threaten to swallow me. Once my fat ass is planted in that saddle (getting up and running in the first place is half the battle) I just pedal, paying little heed to destination, seeking to inhabit the eternal now of the beginner's mind, letting my inner monologue babble on as it likes, but refusing to acknowledge that the inner rapper is running the show. Before long whatever bee was in my bonnet, whatever burr was under my saddle, whatever great crying hysteria threatens to overwhelm me is soon forgotten. The increased flow of oxygenated blood to my brain has been known to induce states of, dare I say it? Dare! Dare! contentment, HAPPINESS. There! I can say it. The "H word". Huh-ah-pee.
I decided not long ago that I could manage the load of dreck and codswollop that life hurls at me, provided I have three things. 1. A computer. 2. A woman and 3. A Bicycle. Praise Elvis. I'm saved.
am still here on the Isle of Lucy (Lesbos that
is). Today the weather was wondrous. These days of
faux spring come regularly to Greece in January
or February. They call them the “Meres
Halkionides” the origin of the English word
halcyon . This word, introduced to the language by Bill Shakespeare, is defined as
“Idyllically calm and peaceful; suggesting happy
tranquillity”. Forsooth. Ain’t it the truth?
(Alcyon refers to the kingfisher bird of greek classical legend who would nest on the waters after they were calmed by the gods for a period of two weeks each year during winter.)
he was forced to decide between staying in his
ride or dying.
Ever-sensible Mort leapt out of the doomed
vehicle and stood there in his charred camel’s
hair coat watching the Stutz plummet down the
cliff. Ol’ Dad was left sans coat, sans car,
is the moral of this story? There isn’t one. I
just wanted to tell a tale of my Father now that I
have become one myself. The other
day, holding little Ian I realized with a start
that I had become Mort. I was the spittin’
image of my dad from the cigarette to the glasses
to my stubborn tendency to be tall. Like him, I
have gone salt and pepper in the hair, like him I
have a head of hair that could double as a toilet
is like the waves and ripples in my faithful
Indian companion the wobbly blue sea. Things take
on a certain form for a time, then transmute into something else. The fact of
the sea remains, but its features are in continual
I am become Mort today, tomorrow I will be someone
else. Privileged as I am to behold the sea every
day, I am often struck with just what a wonderful
metaphor it is and for how many things. Would we
have decided that energy and the very fabric of
reality moves in waves were there no sea for us to
use as a model?
Rinpoche, author of The Tibetan Book of Living
and Dying, a book which sustained me during
the darkest days of grief over the loss of JJ
also compared identity to waves in the sea. If the
atoms and smaller particles contained in that wave
are attached to being there, they are in for a
pretty sorry awakening. In any case, a wave is
only a manifestation of a force moving through the
water. No one set of particles can ever be said to
be the wave in question. In the same manner
as that wave moves over its matrix, the sea, our
personalities move through existence, propelled
along by the force of will until we coalesce back
into the cosmic background noise.
are the thoughts that this noble Aegean , formerly
sailed by Argonauts and Atreides family members, inspires in
old Guido. And over there across the water is
Turkey, where once was Troy. Perhaps there is some
cosmic symmetry in the fact that ersatz Agamemnon now
hangs in sight of his old stompin’ grounds.
Non linear note on the Euro. As things seem to be shaping up, one of the major pains with this coinage is how tiny and fiddly it is. The one cent coin is the size of an aspirin and the others are little better. Everyone in Greece has bought one of the handy dandy Euro conversion calculators such that prices listed in drachmas end up being silly Euro amounts like 1.73. In view of this fact, there was a run on change purses the day after the new coinage hit the streets. A coin purse was not to be had for love nor money on this island. I went to the same shop 5 days running, only to be told that they were coming in on the boat from Athens "avrio". Domani, tomorrow.
In keeping with enlightened modern free market practices the streets are now full of gypsies peddling Chinese coin purses. I saw one erstwhile couple in front of the bank selling them from a cardboard box. Then the cops came and they hotfooted it outta there, stuffing the box into a gym bag and ducking into a doorway. Cops left, they re-appeared.
There is a clandestine nod nod wink wink trade in drachmas still going on. Shopkeepers keep drachmas under the counter and keep two tills going. I have yet to travel with this money. How strange to avoid the necessity of changing money. How many times was I stuck in a train station with a fortune of unuseable money in my pocket after hours without the wherewithal to buy a cup of coffee, make a phone call, take a taxi. How many times did I whip the driver of the van onwards coming back from a gig, trying to make it to the bureau de change at the Belgian frontier so that JJ and I could eat when we got home. Now these stories will just bore my son a few years down the line. "Son, in my day you had to show your passport when you went to france. Then you had to buy different money. The people spoke a DIFFERENT LANGUAGE. That's right, almost no one spoke English!"
"Dad, take your medicine. Here's your virching glasses. Good Night. Keep your hands off the nurses' butts. They've been complaining again."
What did I do today, you may ask? Probably not. I went to the bank here on Mytilini. This is worthy of note simply because I purchased a bag of euros, for a piddling 5.000 drachmas. I will now be able to remember the first time I laid eyes and hands on the new coin of the realm. Had a chance to heft it, shake it around, finger it, see how it will handle on the road.
I think that every economy has one coin which is the "shilling" or "florin" of its day. That is, one coin which guarantees for the average street beggar or other soul dwelling at the bottom of the heap a fighting chance at acquiring some piece of indispensable piece of matter. A loaf or bread, a jug of wine, thou.
See what I mean? Judging by its design, I wager that the 50 cent piece will become that sort of coin. It is durable, it has serrated edges, it has a secret compartment that is a gateway to a parallel universe. Few people know this, outside the circle of the Illuminati behind this whole thing. I dare not say more.
Out, oh master.
|December 18, 2001
Long time gone.
the view from the veranda,
How do I sum up the course of my existence since the last entry in this document?
Why should I try.? At the moment, my son is lying on the bed howling. This is not his usual thing.Now I have picked him up. Now the torture and angst and the great howling anguish of being alive in samsara has ceased for a moment. Now he naps in my lap as I write these words. I am on the island of Lesbos, near the capital city, Mytilini. This is where the boy and his mother now live. I suppose this is where I live as well.
Well, well, welly well, how did old guido end up right where he started from? You may well ask. It has been a hell of a time since last I wrote in here. I have been all over the world, I have up and left to pursue greener pastures and younger women, I have voyaged to the further reaches of my definition of self, and wondered just where the hell I was and how I had arrived there.
As one may gather from other information on this site, I have spent a lot of time in Italy this last year and a half. I have been floating around that country like a lone bean in a turbulent bowl of pasta fagioli. Then I have decided that this boy sitting here in my lap was worthy of my attention and care. Now he sleeps on my chest. Awwwww.....we say. He stinks. I smell infant fecal matter. Thus it goes, I presume. It is certainly tough to concentrate upon sending error messages into the ether when a being so simple and complex demands one's attention. Oh my oh my does the mind ever go into a giddy whirl to contemplate all of this mortality and birth and re-birth. Enough of this shit.
There are some journal entries later, dating from when I purchased my laptop. Before that all was ignorance and outer darkness.
Here I am, miss me?
Guido in Arezzo
In the dressing room in Arezzo, my "spiritual home". Touring with Gian Luca Lo Presti to promote our CD "Sun and Rain". Perhaps I have made an error in staying behind here instead of going to the hotel. The music is too loud, the lights too bright. This photo taken by gabrielli the bass player. Blurry, but evocative. Now it’s R.E.M. on the loud louder loudest house system. Me back here with laptop. Earlier I chatted with Isabelle in Belgium and Oleg in Russia while standing at the bar, using the phone line of the club guy who was getting nervous, not sure what the hell I was doing, exactly.
As I have this digital camera I will include photos from now on in these entries. What the hell else am I to do with all of these self -portraits? There you go. I downloaded Microsoft instant messenger or whatever the hell it calls itself. Only because more of the people I know have hotmail addresses. C’est la vie.
Doesn’t bother me to be alone in this overlit cold little cube of a camerino. I have this thing about not wanting to leave the dressing room. In the meantime, I will instruct the spell checker on this program not to be so stupid (camerino is a perfectly good Italian word, no reason to highlight it, waiting for it to turn into English) Maybe I will get a handle on this damn stupid software, maybe not. Who gives a fuck, right?
Now it’s 22:30 and we are supposed to play at 23:00. Oh well, show biz.
I should give this poor beast of a laptop a rest.
I promise myself, I haven’t been obsessed about Susi for at least an hour or so. I have decided that this affair will probably go the way of all flesh. Then she will probably surprise me by being the same when I get back to Berlin. We shall see. Now I will go and see if there are some people here.
Shit howdy dang, sergeant carter, no one at all, that’s right, not one customer showed up for this show. I got the idea that perhaps I was not backing a winner with the tour of “Sun and Rain”. Easy for me to say now.
back from Sardinia, sitting
in Fiumicino Roma, not my favorite airport in the
world, not by a long shot. I have often wondered
why absolutely no one refers to this airport by
its given name "Leonardo da Vinci
International Airport." Perhaps this joint
ain't classy enough to deserve Leonardo's
name. The usual drill,
waiting to be loaded into a bus to take us to the
plane, gwine Firenze.
Hurry up and wait. Hurry
up and wait. I suppose I should open the outlook
express and see what the hell my address is in San
Casciano. whoops. False alarm. Boarding time set
back some, pa.
Up in the air,Bullwinkle,
up in the air. Underway after a miniature delay.
Been settin’ hyar and mah mind is a-wrigglin’
like a ol’ worm in a skillet. There is an anger
now present, my face is often drawn up in a sneer,
or a resigned, yet disgusted grimace. We on one of
them prop jobs they run between Roma and anywhere
else in Italy. Little Legoland airport in Firenze.
You’d think what with all that cultura and all
them touristas and the brits livin’ in
Chiantishire they would have a more serviceable
port. No such luck. Now plane is rockin’ and
rollin’. Turbulence. JJ used to get so nervous
over turbulence. She really hated flying, it
really scared her.
Welcome, folks, to the Blaine review. I haven’t written about anything but me and my feelings, my feelings and probably won’t. There is a war of sorts on, you know. Thankfully, Europeans mostly couldn’t give a shit. It’s an American thing, remotely embarrasing to most Europeans. They have their own problems. They have been through a war, they have seen their towns blown to smithereens, often by the good old Americans themselves.
They have sifted through
rubble for loved ones, been lined up against walls
and shot, made heroic last stands in apartment
houses or in the hills. The plaques are all over,
memories of WW II in particular. I remember
finding a sort of war memorial mass grave high up
on a hill overlooking Athens while I was bicycling
around looking for a promontory from which to view
the city and shake my head wearily. There were
some decaying headstones, a plaque with something
about the men who died defending that hill from
Germans. I then remembered a house I happened upon
on one of my meanders through Brussels, likewise a
place where a desperate band of men, probably
young, had fought off the Germans for a moment or
two before being obliterated. How strange to
imagine those bourgeois streets of Brussels, those
smog choked hills of Athens, the stage upon which
man’s favorite activity was played out. We just
seem to love war. We are on and on about
warrior poets, self-sacrifice, the purity of the
warrior’s mind, the samurai mysticism, all that
bullshit. Now we are climbing from the skies.
Landing in other words. off laptop. off.
Now we’re in fiumicino
again waiting again plane is theoretically going
soon. 25 minutes they say. seems like every step
of the way at the fag end of a journey like this
is another nail in the cross, another thorn in the
crown. I mean, there’s me in fucking athens
waiting for the inteminable security line, tick
tock tick tock, fearing that the plane will leave
without me!! dio mio! Porca miseria! (I have
been singing “porca miseria” to the tune of
“waltzing matilda”. Porca miseria. Porca
miseria.....I made an error with the baggage, went
to the domestic baggage carousel, was obliged to
leave, go back to terminal b, unable to get in to
baggage area from ground floor, had to go up one
level and re-enter via metal detector, waited and
waited for the elevator, went up and down three
times, more and more pissed and stressed, sweaty,
sweat stains on my shirt, feeling like a sweaty
smelly slob, everything has this gnarly edge, back
into the baggage claim, terminal B, remember a
good kilometer from terminal fucking A. Get my bag
which is going around and around on the carousel
under the watchful gaze of a bored security guy,
lonely cheap chinese bag. Get it, schlep it back
to Terminal Fucking A, check it in to domestic
departures, then down, around and round through
the metal detector and such again, same drill, my
belt sets it off. I lost a pack of cigarettes in
the x-ray machine since my coat had also to be
x-rayed for sharpened toothbrushes. Packin a shiv,
boss. Shit, the world has become jail. Fuck Bush
and his fucking war. Truly. This is the shape of
21st century war and a spoiled geek like me
complains because he loses some time, a swiss army
knife, a pair of fingernails clippers, some
cigarettes. We’re all desperate to be Normal.
Maybe it’s a good thing to give up airplanes. We
can all take boats. Then they will sink ‘em like
in WWI with the Lusitania and so forth. Who alive
now could tell you the first thing about the
Lusitana, or the Maine?
Harbor, The Maine, 54 40 or fight, fighting
soldiers from the sky....those brave men of the
green berets, america and its fucking wars, a
history of war from the very outset. war war war.
I am well and truly pissed off with this whole drill. I wish it had a single neck so I could hack it through...in the words of caligula.Hack! airport. Hack! check in time taxis sitting in the holding areas waiting to enter the flying corral strapped to a bucket eating swill.
|November 8 2001
a shipboard romance
Well, shit howdy dang. what a turnup. Here I am onboard a ship bound for Athens out of Mitilini. I am in a cabin seemingly all on my tod with a laptop and plenty of time to kill.
me and the kid in an ancient theatre on Lesbos
One may smoke here, presumably not be
disturbed, something vaguely resembling the
writer’s dream situation I might have imagined
for myself 20 or 30 years ago. I have reached the
lofty age when there are events in my life that
long ago. woo hoo. Lamentably, possibly not, no
internet from here. there is a phone. perhaps we
shall see if that too is possible. If so, nothing
but download or send messages. nothing else. I
want to call susi in the worst way but now my
cellphone thinks it is in turkey.
Now, is it too soon to
try and analyze what just went down with Athena
and my son? Let
us list some things as they stand now in my non
compus mentis. Well, there is the kid. He is very
physically active and macho, rough and tumble,
solid square little body proportioned like a man
and not a midget.
He is beautiful, he slays everyone he
meets, charms all the ladies. He is
bright, presumably he likes me. I think I touched
base there. He is a handful, he is exhausting, he
is forever into this and that, toddling off in
search of some thing sharp or dangerous, he might
fall, he might burn himself, he might do this, he
might do that. He will also get down and throw a
tantrum a la reininger pere over things
like not being able to play with a knife. He
appears to be musically interested, perhaps
talented, surely able to imitate dada when he
plays one of Ian’s little instruments. He had a
little guitar with fishing line strings made of
plastic with an accurate fingerboard and a very
reasonable sound which I picked up and played. He
has a xylophone with colored keys that strike the
bars confined to the key of DO, which is plenty
for lots and lots of chords and melodies and which
daddy also did virtuouso turns upon. Impressive
when he thoughtfully banged one or two keys,
registering what I had just done. I played his
little drum with plastic head, also quite adequate
as an instrument with a mallet and a chopstick. I
also used the thumb to tighten and relax the head,
making wobbly arabic type beats. In fact I played
a lot of araby sounding stuff for him. It seemed
the thing to do. He wasn’t all that impressed
with the fiddle, eggchewally, perhaps it is too
much for him. Not plastic and brightly colored.
Endaxi. I entertained him, also not to omit his
little blue plastic tambourine upon which I felt
obliged to accompany myself on “hava
nagila”. It was gratifying to see him
imitating old dad on all of the above instruments,
down to using a chopstick on the drum as if
storing this quick burst of knowledge for future
reference. Likewise verbally, my never-ending
monologue seemed to have an effect on him and by
the time I left he was murmuring in some sort of
pre-verbal glossololia. Not yelling, speaking in
conversational tones as if likewise delivering a
monologue. I taught him to say “ahhhhh” after
drinking water and he repeated it. He says DaEEE
and Glayne! He says NEE, of course MAMA is in
there, mameee, maa ahhh, lots of things. He will
be a mama’s boy. He behaved differently around
her, more prone to flip when he wanted breast
access. She is still breast feeding him a year and
a half after fetushood. I suppose she knows best
since she is in touch with women in La Leche
League and so forth.
I was mostly delighted
with him. I took pretty much two whole
rolls of film of him, one b&w one color. some
good photos. photogenic little guy like da.
And so, on the way out
of Mitilini, I realized that Athena could see the
boats go by (if you spend the night beside her) on
the way out of the harbor, leaving like a
cardboard cutout against a painted backdrop in a
cheap hollywood epic. I called her on the
cellphone as I neared her general area, and
installed myself where I would be visible, i.e.
against the floodlit white background of the
smokestack. I stood there talking to her, she
turned the veranda light on and off, I saw her,
she saw me, “How’s that for a cinematic
good-bye” I said as my ship pulled out.
that same night ,onboard
This room is just what I
needed. The whole damn boat is very far away, I am
blissfully alone on the open sea. This typically
simian Greek porter or whatever the hell he was
came to bring in the dreaded bunkie in this room
which is supposed to be a double. I didn’t know
we would stop at some other island, but we did and
there was the poor guy waiting to come in. This
porter was the same geek who led me to this room
without offering to carry so much as one of my
cigarettes to lighten my load, considerable as
always. He came in here and started scolding me
like a child and I just said “Enough of you!”
I called reception and told them to call him off,
give me the other bunk in this room, I would pay.
This fool tries to take the phone away from me and
talk directly to them and I wave him off. Greece
always comes down to these confrontations, more
than one such in a year is more than I can
stomach, and these sort of things happen all the
After my necessary
“assertive” tantrum, my “don’t fuck with
me there, stavros” I have this room to my
lonesome. Steven is right. This is the way to go.
Ship. In a cabin, a floating hotel room, little
traffic with the other passengers necessary. Now I
should get some sleep. First I must retrieve
coti’s new address from my email files. then
athens from patra
athens from patra
Pulled into the big
olive, or The Big Ugly, take your
pick at 7:20 this morn. Took a shower in the cabin
which was untold luxury for the travellin’ man
and schlepped my baggage down the stairs and out
into Piraeus. Then the fun commenced. I got into a
cab driven by a reasonably attractive and
delightfully tough young woman who wore too much
perfume but was pleasant. My suitcase got piled
into the trunk together with those of the two
other passengers, bungeed in place for the hell
for leather drive across Athens Permastau.
Realized not too far into the trip that no way in
hell I was gonna make that 9:30 plane to Rome get
used to it, Johnny, go with the flow. Me on the
phone to Coti whom I had arranged to meet on the
way to the airport from the harbor. This was at
least possible. Made flirty chit chat with the
driverette who was certainly not innarested but
was diverting. My bad greek was in the way. I
managed to learn via broken small talk that
driving a taxi was not all that great for one such
as she. I imagine. Any woman young and pleasing to
see as she would surely be fighting the priapic
greek men off with a crowbar. She confirmed this.
I made out the word “agamoto, misu, whatever”
in referring to the men she encountered, gathering
that mostly she had to field offers
both crude and cruder to fuck from every male
passenger. Probably some of the females as well.
Coti helped clarify matters as to
destination and proper reaching thereof over the
cellphone. We made it to his place, I saw Mary on
her way to the theatre and me and Cotsky went out
to the hairport. With surprisingly little fuss, I
managed to change the flight on Olympic and book
another one on Alitalia to Cagliari. Damn. It
turns out that the prepaid ticky was delivered to
Athens in any case and so it was an
amazing co-incidence that I was here to ask for
it. I got away without paying any more money,
which I was prepared to do, but which would have
been an enoromous pain in the buttocks. I am set,
my tickets in hand, my destination theoretically
and metaphorically in sight.
Coti and I sat and
chewed the fat (I chewed, he listened) for some
while then he had to be off. It was good to see
him, I realize that he is my “best friend” the
male with whom I feel the most relaxed, the best
man in a tight corner, etc. He had to be off and
that brings us up to speed. I now sit again in
this fresh Acme Airport Kit airport, trying to
entertain myself for the necessary three or four
hours. Damn again. It’s four hours of cigs and
cokes and laptop for old Uncle Guido now.
I am naturally fried,
died, tied, feel like a tempura’d iguana. Dipped
in batter and deep-fried for that down home
I look around me and wonder if my attitude toward these happy go lucky bouzouki strummin’ ouzou sluggin’ Greek folks has changed any. I take inventory, I check out Stavros here, munching on pizza with his hirsute wife and my answer is NO, still think they’re a bunch of monkey men, young and old, male and female. I still like my komboloi that I bought at the last minute at Mitilini airport and I take pride in the fact that I use them “properly”, in a manner that says to any Greek man watching that I know my stuff with them worry beads. At least I seem to have been cured of the searing lust that the women evoked in me prior to my departure from this burg in February. Now I see a pretty sorry lot of gussied up overdressed over made up Elle readers where once I saw incandescently desirable sex objects. Live, experience, learn. Too many peroxide blondes for one thing. They’re all blonde these days. Silly me, I took it for a statistical anomaly that so many twentyish women seemed to be blonde. L’oreal, clairol, must do a roaring trade here these days. Them and Nescafe. If the world demand for instant coffee were suddenly to dry up, there would always be Greece. A nation wired up tight on kilos and kilos of powdered extract of a stimulant-bearing seed. One day, I was brewin’ up some espresso, measuring spoons of powder into a metal device designed to drive superheated water vapor through a compacted bolus of said powder in order to maximize the stimulant content of the resulting tincture. I realized that there was no qualitative difference between a habitual drinker of coffee and a bong-using pot smoker or a glass pipe totin’ crackhead. Just a matter of cultural norms. How odd to own and operate a miniature device designed for the consumption of one particular chemical with an effect on the human metabolism and not consider it drug taking. Observation, nada mas.