Friday, June 26, 2009

Robert Crumb's Famous "Short History of America!"

From the Robert Crumb movie:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

La Parisienne

All the power runs like honey-flavoured milk from her breasts.

La Parisienne, priestess, tugs at her twirly curls and ambles aimlessly along the sun-baked beach contemplating the virtues of the great mother godess.

I wonder why...

La Parisienne hears the waves crashing gently and the squawks of the seabirds rooting in the tide for titbits, and feels distress.

Further along the beach, young boys and girls laugh and play, practicing bull-leaping on a makeshift driftwood ox.

La Parisienne closes her eyes and sees clearly for a moment the decapitated head of the great ox lying on a great silver tray, it's empty eyes crossed, it's tongue protruding.

Flies buzz around the gilded horns.

It lies in a pool of dark blood.

She shudders.

Ugliness and blood. Not honey-flavoured milk.

La Parisienne forces herself to think.

The bright blue water forms foaming rivulets in the sand.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Statues of Budapest 2

The boots of Stalin. He was sawn off in 1956, and never put up again.

The utterly unrealistic stylized worker strides forward. This statue is huge. I think he's carrying/waving a Flak Jacket.

"The hands of communism grab the world". I can't be the first to point out that it looks more like Mars.

All these monuments are in a seperate "statue park" where all communist-era monuments were gathered together and are displayed.

Statues of Budapest 1

Hussar statue in the Buda Castle Area.

Statue of General Artúr Görgey in the Buda Castle Area.

Hadik András, Count Andrassy; great statesman and important figure in the rise of the Hungarian nation. Andrassy give his name to the main boulevard through Pest. This statue is on the Buda side. All these four are.

Saint King Istvan; lawmaker and founding father of the Hungarian nation. This well-known statue is also in the Buda Castle area, in a square just behind the "Fisherman's Bastion" which is known for it's great view.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Chapter One; Freedom to have Freedom

"If it's you against the world, back the world!" - Franz Kafka.

Enter Tex. A young man in an old town. The old town looks fresh, the young man haggered. The old town is waking up, the young man is fighting to stay awake. It's a bright blue morning.

A rain.

A light drizzle?

No, more of a rain.
This town is cursed by God, thinks Tex.
A saint was once killed by the inhabitants of this town. A warrior saint, a burning, pillaging saint. They did him in, and cursed the town with eternal rain.

The building of a great gothic cathedral over the saint's remains hadn't canceled the curse, but at least it provided a minimum of shelter.

Tex stood in a great gothic archway, peering cautiously sideways at a great, ugly, baboon-faced sheela-na-gig gargoyle halfway up the cathedral wall and wished the rain would stop. A mad lumberjack sawed wood behind his eyes. His body hurt. He bit his teeth together, wondering if he had purple circles beneath his eyes. That would be good, eh?

He spat.

Tex didn't have purple circles beneath his eyes. He had a paradoxical face; both warm and hard; inviting and frightening. It was a dark, brooding, rugged face, with sensous full lips and bright blue friendly eyes. A caricaturist would say that Tex had two expressions: worried and indifferent. Tex would laugh and answer that he did, after all, have bit more range than that. But maybe not right now.

In the other corner of the great gothic archway four children stood, smoking cigarettes and repeating to each other again and again that the weather was bad. He contemplated them with contempt for a few seconds, than felt for the cigarette packet in the lining of his long, black coat. Empty. Maybe he could shake them down for a smoke. He lumbered across to where they stood. Two fattish boys. Two too-heavily made-up girls. All eyes turned to him in anticipation. Event of the week? Assaulted by this grim looking ghoul outside the cathedral.

"Hi.", said Tex, with his uninterested, cracked, hangover voice.
One of the fattish boys, who had Michael Caine hair, started making strange faces and waving his finger in the air.

Oh God. Recognition.

"Uh..where do you live? I mean, where are you from?", inquired Michael Caine.

From the vaults of the cathedral. I'm a subterranean ghoul surfacing occasionally when it rains, in my eternal search for nicotine.

"Up the hill.", two second pause,"anyone got a smoke?"

The request was ignored. The boy continued waving his finger and asking who Tex was. Tex could sense the motions of a slow mind slowly unfolding. He'd at once recognized Michael Caine as the older version of a very small child who used to inhabit the same street as him. Seeing the same kid standing under the cathedral at 9 am on a Saturday morning smoking with his girl made Tex feel ancient. They had nothing in common besides this; never said a neighborly word to each other for so and so years.

An elaborate recognition ritual now would be just embarassing.

He repeated his request, and a cigarette was flipped in his direction from one of the girls. She was a pretty little thing, sparkling with health and naivety. .


Sweet voice. Other girl. Tall. Slack-jawed. Hmmm..bit too slack-jawed. "Challenged", maybe? Getting away with it? Well, who knows etc.

"Thanks. I had one somewhere, but I..uh, left it somewhere else.."

He lit the cigarette, and sped off, prefering the rain to a long boring process of recognition and old day's talk with someone he hadn't seen since they were five, and even then with profound disinterest.

He rounded a corner. Someone had put up a hideous sculpture here, just to totally ruin the effect of the cathedral's magnificent facade.

The tourist café was shut.

It always was.

Just as well.

Tex didn't have enough money to use the public facility, and walked briskly up the long miserable hill that led from the cathedral, smoking his borrowed cigarette.

"Home" to some people is a thatched cottage where father smokes a pipe and mother wears an apron, her hair up in a bun, or it could be a detached house with fake white shutters and family who feed you.

To Tex, home was a cube of space "just up the hill" for which one pays money. In the corner of the cube was a bed. Dirty, dusty. Tex conked out on the bed without bothering about the niceties.

He awoke with a shock three hours later, barely able to breath in the pocket of stale air surrounding him. He jumped up and wrestled with the skylight, cursing.

Moans of pleasure came from somewhere.

The hangover hadn't passed. It wouldn't for half a week. It was still raining. It was half past twelve, and he knew he had to go somewhere.

Five people sat in different poses around a blue café table in the appropriatly named Blue Café on Main Street.

Only one was interesting to Tex.
She didn't look at him as he came in the glitzy doorway, but looked at him briefly as he sat down next to her.

They "Hi"'d each other.

There was silence.

Everyone was hungover and suffering; reading newspapers, drinking coffee, and smoking. Ten thousand killed here, five thousand raped here. Wish we all could do something but we can't, so forget it, victims of the world, you're on your own.

She spoke.

"You were drunk yesterday."

Was I?

She giggled, but it was involuntary. Women without giggle control. Time for an exposé on that!
A long silence followed. Coffee was slurped, pages turned. A few other hellos in his direction. Recognition of the fellow survivor.

She looked at him for a long time. Here it comes.

"It won't work?", she said at last.

"Why not?", Tex asked, playing stupid.

His pride and all conventions insist that he waste time putting on a feeble defence.

"I don't know.", she said, looking down.

She obviously felt uncomfortable discussing anything in the presence of half a dozen other people.
They were by now all very alert to the discussion between Tex and his soon-to-be ex- girlfriend. She was obviously very concerned with their opinion.

Tex wasn't.

"It won't work because I was drunk yesterday?", he offered, "so were you. So was everyone else we know."

She sighed and shut her eyes. Her eyes were the most attractive thing about her. Deep blue. Like the recurring motif at this café!

She spoke again, her voice not quaking at the verge of tears, but bored, distant, like an attendant at a car park explaining to an old woman how to insert a voucher.

"It's no use."

The girl got up quick and left, but only as far as the "Woman's Room".

Tex was unable to bring his thoughts together, to assemble a worthy defence, to win her back. He wasn't even sure if he really wanted to. But he wanted to follow her, to talk it out. He wanted to understand, and couldn't.

Newspapers were lowered. Faces looked at him with a mixture of sympathy and barely hidden glee. Friendly voices offered him red wine.

He smiled.

"Ye ol' hair of the dog!"

They poured him a glass worth, and he felt a bit better.

She returned, looking very cold, brushing her hair away from her face. Tex rose, and cut her off before she was within earshot of the others. He felt a certain despair rising for the first time, not sorrow, but a great wave of apathy, like a rocket ride through a pointless universe.

All he could say was; "Can we go somewhere else?"

They got as far as the steps of the café, and had a five- minute shout. Tex had tacked on to her opening line about drunkeness and reminded her of the time she'd spent the whole night asleep on a toilet seat, not exactly a class act...

She threw her hands in the air.

"Oh that's great, just great. Go in and tell it to the lads!", she shouted.

She was angry. She stalked off. He didn't follow. It was over. He'd never find out why. Never. He leaned against the wall for a few dejected seconds.

Now what? What's on the immediate program?

He snapped his fingers.

Of course!

Then he went back inside the Blue Café, sat down next to his good old friends, had another few glasses of the nice, complimentary red wine, and told them laughingly of the time his ex-girlfriend had conked out in a drunken stupor, and spent the whole night on the crapper! A nice big slice of unrestrained spite serving him as the perfect introduction for another day of drunken excess.

Maybe the trick is simply not letting it get to you. But the mind notices the ugly details in a way we wish it wouldn't. Like suddenly tasting something disgusting in a mixed soup. We wish we could simplify my focus instead of taking it all in this way. It's a hard slog; Tex was tired. And doing nothing.

The mystic Merton searched for God in the garden. That would be something, but who can sustain any interest in flowersY You musn't seperate yourself from your fellow man; but they wear such heavy armour. "Boilerplate" is a much used term. But we are really all soft and in our houses. Like snails.

A bubble of nicotine and alcohol popped and spread through his upper torso, and Tex coughed and felt a wave of numb pain at his temples.

Hey, Who Straightened The Tower of Pisa?

I took a picture of the Tower of Pisa! Hmm...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Moni Taxiarhou Mihail Panorimiti (Monastery of the Archangel Michael of Panorimitis), Symi

The famous large icon of the Archangel Michael, which appeared miraculously at the site of the monastery. St. Michael is the patron saint of the island of Symi, and of sailors. There are many offerings hanging from the walls, or placed at the foot of the icon. At a nearby table sits a monk, who hands out vials of oil and icon cards.

Approaching from the Sea. This monastery, which may date from the 5th century, has it's own ferry connection.

The tower. In it's present form, the monastery dates from the 18th century. According to inscriptions, the last additions were added in 1783.

Part of the tower photographed from inside the monastery grounds.

Mosaic and icons of the Archangel.

The cross.

Tower balcony.