Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Greece and Back

Rob in the new Acropolis Museum in Athens, sporting the Parthenon behind him

In my defense, the date on the last blog is *wrong* since our tour ended in October, not August. So I'm only a wee bit late with a few updates.

Rob and I met my brother in Greece and stayed for three weeks to take care of business and spend time with the family. It was hard to go to Greece, but it was also good to be near family. We spent most of our time in my Dad's hometown of Karditsa, including the national Greek holiday, "Ohi Day" ('No' Day). As a good 1/2 Greek, I went to the parade:

Apparently this was during a loud moment:

I love Milan Kundera's take on parades, and was also very surprised to find a copy of The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Greek, which I bought for my philosophical aunt Katie.

Dad's sisters Katie, left, and Patra, right

Rob and I also spent time in the nearby village of Pirgos, where my father was born and raised. The village is quiet and wonderfully old, though people are starting to return and build villas.

In the evening you can hear the soft clanging of goat bells in the distant mountains. It's kinda the most beautiful sound ever. The schoolhouse below was attended by my Dad in the 40s, and still remains, as does the huge tree to the left:

Complete with school bell ala Little House:

We made a trip to Athens to visit cousins, and went to the new Acropolis Museum. The difference between the old version and the new is similar to that of the difference between the Greece I first saw in the early 80's and today's new, modern, EU version.

As happens quite frequently in Greece, during the excavations to create the museum, ancient ruins were discovered. This extended the project of creating the museum significantly, but also allowed for a unique presentation of the ruins below your feet. Throughout the museum the glass floor is a window to the ruins. Here is an outside view:

My favorite part of the museum is political. Back in the 1800's, many of the Parthenon's original marbles were removed by the Earl of Elgin under the authority of the Ottoman Empire. The thusly named Elgin marbles have been a point of much controversy henceforth (wow thusly and henceforth! nice!).

In short, the Greeks want them returned. In the museum, this is expressed by setting up blank spaces for the missing statues, noting they are not there because they are at the British Museum or the Louvre (or other museums for different pieces).

Though still apartment-blocky, Athens is a lot of fun and full of outdoor cafes. Here, while waiting for my cousin, we stopped at a Cafeniou in Athens to drink Nes Cafe Frappes. Below, my winning game of Rummy is documented (pictures of actual scores available upon request):

Look at all my points!

I'm still in love with Greece and am sad every time I leave behind my family, the mountains, the safety, and now, for always, my dad.

Our return home brought a visit by my uncle from Albuquerque, Steve. Not only is he family, but he is also an amazing guitar builder. He made me this one, complete with a dedication in the back to my dad inside where you can't see it unless you're me and you open it up:

I'm writing a song on this new guitar at present called "Does 'Things could be worse' mean I should be happy?" I think it'll be ready in time for our show on January 23rd.

During my uncle's visit we attended Troika and played as well:

Photo by the Secret Carborro Ninja

Every performance we attended was packed and we're so lucky to have this festival here in Durham.

We also were visited by my first cousin Maria from Toronto, and her nine-year old son. I was worried he wouldn't like the food but he ate everything. In fact, the first night he had already started on day #2's food supply.

Our first Thanksgiving Record Party was in 2007. We hosted the second this year, and DJ Joe spun records while we all ate and drank spiked cider.

Speaking of food, for a very long time Binge Cafe wanted to make a website called "Veg-o-matic" whereby the user plugs in a traditional recipe name and out pops a vegan version like a little baby. However, Binge Cafe doesn't know how to do that. So, I introduce to you her sister Hortamatic. I'll be posting conversions and conversion requests regularly.

I'm at work booking our February Florida tour -- we have about 3/4 of the dates lined up for the film and still setting up BB's shows as of this writing.

For now, happy holidays.

Here comes Syba claus.