Hengin’ Out on Mystery Hill

 

August 11, 2018. Mystery Hill, New Hampshire.

The continental breakfast was your choice of limp Eggos, individual yogurt containers suspended in ice water, or off-brand chemical cake honey buns. I took a little of everything, variety being the spice of life, and topped it off with three cups of what the truly brazen might describe as coffee. Don’t mistake this for complaining. Continental breakfast is an integral part of the travel experience. If I’d wanted to work around it, I’d have booked a real B&B.

There’s a concept that always puzzled me. You leave home for a change of scenery, then get to a bed-and-breakfast, which is just someone else’s home where you hang out and a stranger takes care of you. I can take care for me. At my own home. The scenery has only technically changed.

First stop, America’s Stonehenge.

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i’m sure you’ve heard this popular colloquialism before

America’s Stonehenge is an active archaeology site in the woods, doing its best to make archaeology an exciting, family-friendly event through the addition of indistinct New Age spirituality, snowshoeing, and an alpaca farm.

The site itself is of nebulous astronomical significance. Carbon dating indicates that the monoliths and cairns served as lines of demarcation for astronomical phenomena, and were probably used in rituals, possibly as far back as 4000 BC. Cosmic entropy has these configurations drifted out of alignment (sort of like how they tried to introduce Ophiuchus as a zodiac sign a few years back), so if these rocks were once for harnessing cosmic juju, they aren’t anymore. Still, pretty cool to see a living chunk of prehistory that may have dated back 6000 years. Some would argue that predates Creation.

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“this is a wigwam. it was probably constructed more recently than 4000 BC, and they usually have walls”

 

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ooo somebody up in that henge

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yall ever have cave anger

20180811_104005Girl: “what time is it?”
me: “time for you to get a sundial”

 

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Oracle Cave interior. i bet that’s what they called it in 4000 BC

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“an etching of an antelope running.” art has since evolved

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now we’re talkin

Nobody’s sure what belief structure dominated in New Hampshire millennia ago, but this table was constructed at the epicenter of this astronomically significant point with a discernible blood channel and a hidden “bed”, carved out way under the rock, so that sound would carry up from under the table while the source of the sound remained hidden.

Metal.

After that we went along the hiking trail and touched all the ominously named monoliths, like the “Eye Stone” and the “Solstice Stone” and for some reason the “Bert Stone”, assuming it would imbue us with stat bonuses like in Skyrim.

I have my suspicions that the last stone there, the thicc Venus of Haverhill, is a more recent addition.

We visited the alpacas on the way out.

It was starting to rain and we hadn’t eaten anything since the several honey buns which were, strictly speaking, not food. We bailed for the forgotten city of Portsmouth. It would be the most like a Lovecraft story I’ve ever lived in real life. The irony there is I didn’t feel particularly eldritch at Mystery Hill, and legend has it visiting the megalith site was big H.P.’s inspiration for The Dunwich Horror.

We didn’t get to stick around til dusk. A real bummer, since you know what they frequently and publicly say: there’s nothing like an America’s Stonehenge sunset.

Love,

The Bastard

Athens: Making My Escape

November 16, 2017. Athens, Greece.

I spent my last day in Athens wandering around, drinking Weißbier instead of the refreshing sparkling water that was Greek beer. I had discovered the potency of Greek wine the night previous, however, and let me just say, for 8 Euros a vase? Whoa nelly.

Outside the National Archaeological Museum, I stumbled into yet another enormous protest in a language I couldn’t understand. This time the anarcho-communists were well represented, as were some incorrigible teenagers in motorcycle helmets and facemasks who had jumped a spiked fence and were presently involved in occupying a university building.

Here’s something I’ve noticed in my years tightroping it across the fringe: If you give someone a mask, they will stare you down, 100% of the time. Doesn’t matter if it’s a gas mask, a bandanna, or Halloween. With faces concealed, balls triple in size like that scene in the Grinch.

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like this, but with the testicles and a Call of Duty LARPer

I asked my Greek correspondent on political uprisings and good restaurants what the deal was. Apparently, there’s a yearly national celebration that pertains in some way to Greek independence, though no one either could or would give me more information than that. In the late 60’s and early 70’s, there was a military coup d’état that the students protested. They were, perhaps unsurprisingly, gunned down. The junta broke in 1974 but particularly radical left-wing students have carried on a proud tradition of occupying universities, lighting things on fire, and breaking shit ever since.

(This is a gentle paraphrase of how it was described to me; I’m thinking my source might lean a bit right. That’s more common for university students in Greece than back home, for reasons you might be able to intuit.)

They were carrying around lead pipes and blasting Greek rap music out of what looked like a pretty nice guitar amp, and being the intrepid journalist I am, I decided to document the occasion.

This was not well-received.

“They were saying, ‘close your phone’,” she told me.

“Yeah, kinda figured it wasn’t a brunch invitation.”

Some local Suicide Girls were sitting on the gate in front of the occupied university quad / masquerade mosh pit, and I asked them what was going on. They looked at each other and giggled, went back and forth in Greek, then turned back to me.

“ἀναρχία,” they said, and that’s how it sounded when you heard it. It sounded enough like “anarchia” that I got the gist.

“Yeah, got that,” I said. “Me too. But like, what are they doing dancing and glaring in there?”

“Video?” one said, pointing at my phone.

“Video!” the other said excitedly.

“Probably not gonna happen again,” I said. “Already didn’t make many friends with that.”

“Video,” one said, persuasively, making a recording motion. I grinned.

“Okay, I get it. Thanks, ladies.”

I waved, they laughed again, and I got out of there before I had to fight a bunch of teenagers like that Norwegian statue, “Man Attacked by Genii”.

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you know the one

The museum was impressive, especially if you’re big into pottery. I am not, but they had a lot of statues and the crumbling remains of statues, both of which I am big into. I got lost in there for three hours, then had to scamper out to a cat-infested terrace where they fed me build-your-own gyros and carbonara.

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just how i like my women

The next morning, Athena blasted me with another thunderstorm, sensing that I was trying to get out of Athens. I’m probably one of her most vocal modern keepers of the faith, and she obviously wanted me to stay. I absolutely would have, if it were possible to make money there.

Athens is my favorite European city by far. Everything in it was beautiful. Everything in Barcelona was also beautiful, but that was a deliberate, maintained beauty. The Athenian beauty was sudden and bursting and chaotic, the difference between a conventionally cool attractiveness with expertly applied makeup and wild, unhurried naturalité, its only accentuation flashing eyes and playful snarling.

I loved Barcelona for its poise, but I’m in love with Athens for its honesty. No matter what Diogenes might have said.

Still, couldn’t stay forever. I think that hostel might have had bedbugs. Time to go. I weathered the storm, taught myself how 2 Metro, and caught a train to the airport.

On the plane, I sat behind a dude who smelled powerfully of an unwholesome cheese. Of course. Of course I did. I had every intention of writing on the 3 hour flight, but the classical conditioning I’ve instilled in myself runs too deeply and I fell asleep as soon as we got in the air, laptop open in lap, brim of doofy but essential Wanderhut pulled over my eyes.

Turbulence woke me up shortly before the landing, and I looked out the window to see a city of ghosts. Fingers of mist trailed over the barren hills like prowling animals. My plane dropped out of the sunlight and into the massive wraith cloud, and I haven’t seen pure, natural light since. When we broke through the bottom of the cloud cover, the coffee-colored hills dropped away into the Bosphorous, which is as beautiful and imposing as you may have heard. The fog on the other side opened, and the metropolis of Istanbul sprawled as far as my admittedly poor eyes could see, the peculiar architecture of the skyscrapers warping and waving like an acid trip. 

End purple prose. The airport had no Wi-Fi, which I had been warned of.

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I’d made all my plans in advance, except my plan for a visa, which I learned was a thing.

IMPORTANT: If you roll into Turkey from pretty much anywhere, they’re going to make you pay extra money to be there. It’s sort of like driving out of New Jersey, but in reverse. I took a steep 25 Euro hit (the cost of 10 pork gyros in Athens) from a guy who spoke virtually no English. Obviously, I went to the ATM and pulled out the money in lira, because this is Turkey, and that’s the radically inefficient money they use here. My pockets have been heavy and jingling with 5 and 10 cent pieces since I arrived, even though a single coffee is 7 or 8 Lira, which equates to roughly 1.60 Euros (not quite $2).

I tried to give the guy 150 Lira (25ish Euros) and he just repeated, “25 Euros.” So I had to go withdraw more money, only this time it’s a kind that I can’t spend in this country. Now I’m walking around with 75 Euros that I can’t do anything with, and of course most of it is in coins because Europe cannot get enough identical silver-and-gold coins for some reason, so my first night was trying to pay out for my toothpaste and soap from a Scrooge McDuck pile of varying but visually similar coins while the dude at the market, who speaks no English, looked on in disgusted bemusement.

Still, Istanbul is gorgeous. My hostel attendant is always on a great deal of cocaine, but it just makes him friendly. Beats the alternative.

For most of the time I’ve been writing this there was a wailed call to prayer being amplified through the streets. It’s the kind of thing I would voluntarily listen to on Pandora. Too bad I’m a heathen.

Before I forget: Jeff Homscheck correctly guessed my new location. He is the best of us, and he will be remembered as such long after this world becomes a smoking crater.

See you tomorrow, beautiful readers.

Love,

The Bastard

Athens: Sartre Was Right

November 9, 2017. Athens, Greece.

They hid the Acropolis.

I don’t know what they stand to gain from it. I think maybe the only way they could convince people to go through the Plaka. Apparently, it’s a beautiful, idyllic village, and one of the oldest towns in the world. It seemed to me like a whole lot of lame graffiti and narrow alleys full of outgoing grifters with friendship bracelets, all of whom happened to love my Barcelona shirt and sought to vocalize that.

The Plaka is a labyrinth that might wind up saving me the trip to Crete, and what few signs exist are in Greek. I asked a tiny goth girl on the corner if this was the way to the Acropolis. Her eyes got big for a second, but then she realized I was not trying to beg for money, give her friendship bracelets, or sell her drugs, and she became very helpful.

“All roads lead to Acropolis,” she said in some of the best English I’d heard out of a local, “But I think that one over there is easiest.”

“I’ll take easiest,” I said, and did. It’s possible she was a grifter plant, and by easiest she meant “most dense with people calling you MY FRIEND, giving you garbage bracelets, explaining how hungry they are, and inviting you to an African dance festival in the square”, but unfortunate dentristy aside, she was too cute for that to be her job. She could’ve been a waitress, at very least. Especially in America. Goth chain restaurant food service workers are the sultry, emotionally damaged specters that haunt every young man’s dreams.

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I wove through the Plaka uphill, up stairs, up more hills, more stairs, small cafe owners giving me shady looks as I cut through the stairs that they somehow set up tables and chairs on. When I finally got to the top, I discovered all of the humans.

I later found out there’s an Acropolis metro stop, which is probably how all these fat old Americans beat me to the top. No one’s more confused by my aversion to obvious tourists than I am, considering it’s usually pretty obvious I’m a tourist, especially in Europe. I’m a foot and a half taller and 50 – 100 lbs heavier than everyone except the Nords, and none of them even lift. I think part of their socialism is they all decide on one guy who lifts for Scandinavia, and that guy is The Mountain.

All these little purple-lipstick hobbit women keep looking at me like I escaped a genetic engineering lab, and the international perception of Americans can’t be helping. From what I’ve gleaned in drunken hostel conversations, most Europeans and Australians seem to think America is a post-apocalyptic spaghetti western where we’re all looting in all the major cities and open-carrying AR-15s in case President Immortan Joe sends his death squad drones to Build the Wall.

As I approached the Acropolis, a one-eyed man on a Segway wearing a laminated SEGWAY TOURS sign cruised up to me and said, “You goin’ to the Acropolis?”

“Yes indeed,” I said without eye contact. I don’t want a Segway. This is a goddamn pilgrimage. You think I came around the world to irreconcilably demonstrate to Athena that I’m a li’l bitch?

“Well, you better hurry,” he said in an unexpected show of non-hustling candor. “It’s closing in an hour.”

“I thought it was open til 8.”

“They changed the hours. They start kickin’ people out at 4:40.”

Well, it was 4, so it was go time. I thanked him and charged up the hill, dodging around enormous Asian tour groups and lines of geriatric Central Americans walking 5 abreast to make sure no one could get past them. Everyone was shouting, all the time, forever.

I swung off the path a few times because it was easier to just climb the rocks than navigate the teeming sea of human vermin, paid the 10 Euro to get in, and climbed up toward the Acropolis proper.

You know in spy movies when there’s a laser grid the protagonist has to cross, so they do gymnastics and cartwheels to avoid hitting any of them? Imagine that, but with cameras and selfie sticks. No matter where you went, you were photobombing somebody, and still, they were screaming. Everyone was screaming so much at the silent hilltop archaeology temple, and making faces for the cameras like they’re in a cheap photo booth, and forcing me to hate them.

The Old Temple of Athena was devoted to Athena Hygieia, which pertained to health and medicine. This was probably my favorite part.

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The olive tree planted on the west side of the Erectheion symbolized the original olive tree that built the world as we know it.

In the ancient days, Athens was already booming, but it wasn’t called Athens. King Cecrops almost single-handedly dragged Greece into civilization, introducing ceremonial burial, marriage, and literacy to his society. It’s arguable that this was a mixed bag, but eh. After seeing all the thriving, he decided that what the city really needed was more thriving and issued an open invite to the gods to have one become the city’s protector and patron. Immediately, Athena and Poseidon both laid their claim.

Athena suggested to King Cecrops that a contest be held, and he be the judge. Now, Cecrops must have been shitting bricks, because every time the gods hold a contest someone gets turned into a cow or raped by a goose or something, but you can’t tell Athena “that’s a terrible idea” because then you will definitely be getting flayed alive every day for the rest of eternity, so the king said, “Yeah, totally. Let’s do that.”

Poseidon had it all figured out. He knew what Athens needed. He stabbed the earth with his trident and brought a flood right up to the edge of the city. The people had water, now! Poseidon brought water, what a surprise! It was really practical and convenient, right up until they discovered it was seawater and drinking it would kill them.

We can assume that Athena shook her head in disgust before presenting Cecrops with the olive tree, or rather, seeds to it.

“Plant this and wait,” she said. “You’ll see.”

Seed they did, and see they did. Olive oil became a staple for everything in Greece, in ascending order of importance: fuel, wood, shelter, food, and lube. When the trees finally grew, Cecrops faced the music and declared Athena the winner, and they just kept building her temples after that. If you read up on the mythology, Poseidon got the shaft pretty often. Probably why he was always so salty (ha haaaaa).

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The Odeon of Herodes Atticus. They still do performances here, unlike the Theater of Dionysius, which was far too ruined and roped off for me to sneak in and honor Diogenes’ memory by poopin’.

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The plague of humanity was becoming too taxing. I was getting snippy. A dude’s just trying to honor his personal patron goddess. Did I yell in your church? Well, okay, a little outside of the Basilica in the Vatican, but that wasn’t on me. God started it.

I shimmied down a hiking path to get back to center city. On the way down, I saw a scrawny girl wearing boots with 6 inch heels, trying to navigate the slippery rocks and loose gravel that made up the entirety of the hill.

“Heels to the Acropolis, huh?” I asked her. Her boyfriend was not thrilled at my casually outgoing nature, and sneered a “Yuh” at me, as though he were the one wearing heels to the Acropolis.

“Bold choice.”

She giggled. He didn’t. I slunk back into Athens and went back to the hostel to spend happy hour writing. My Greek bartender friend tried to hit me up for that 4 Euro beer because happy hour didn’t start for another 3 minutes. I gave him a dark look and said I’d wait it out. When the clock rolled over, I got two smaller beers for also 4 Euros, but it was a net gain I could abide.

Outside on the terrace, I met four excitable Australian lads. We got drunk and compared cultures, and they taught me a lexicon of Aussie slang that I knew most of because of the internet. We were joined by a guy from Michigan whose accent was, to me, more pronounced than anyone else’s, and the Austrian tagger I mentioned yesterday. You can check out his work here.

“All right, mate, let’s hash this out,” they asked me. “How in the FUCK did Trump happen?”

“Bible belt, man,” I said. “The news you see coming out of America is all left-leaning media from metropolitan areas. New York, Boston, Philly, D.C., anywhere in California. The majority of America is middle America. Impoverished, living in the boonies, voting straight Conservative every time cuz “we gotta stop that therr abortion, mm-hmm”. The left is louder, but the right is definitely more prevalent. Not to mention, more likely to vote.”

“So, like, is it that bad? Is he really gonna build the wall?”

Me and the dude from Michigan both laughed.

“No, dude. There’s no wall happening.”

“He’s a joke,” the Michiganian said. “He just goes up there, and says things. But there are people behind him in the government that have to allow him to do these things, and they don’t.”

“Right, because they’re impossible and stupid,” I said.

“I think he just says things for attention. And that keeps getting him attention, so he keeps saying it.”

“So let’s get to the kangaroo thing,” I said. “Are they like deer?”

“They’re just like deer,” they said. “They’re everywhere, and all they do is jump in front of your car and fuck it up.”

“Yeah, that’s what deer are for.”

“Down in the bush, ya go shootin’ roos. Ya shoot a lot of things in Straya, actually. The ecosystem is wrecked from all the species the Europeans introduced, so if you shoot one of the poisonous toads and bring it to the municipal, they’ll give you 8 dollas.”

“Damn.”

We drank our drinks, then I said, “I saw an odd thing, the other night, allegedly pretty common in Australia. How prevalent are shoeys?”

Immediately, they all started screaming in joy like I just said the secret word on Peewee’s Playhouse.

We hit the streets, inhaled some 2 Euro gyros, and attempted to find a bar. Instead, we found a hookah bar that claimed it was 5 Euro a hookah, but was actually 5 Euro per person smoking a hookah. That, my friends, is how they getcha. They blasted reggaeton the entire time we were there, which kind of clashes with the intended ambiance of a hookah bar in my ever humble opinion, but nobody asked me.

After that, the impetuous Australians went to buy drugs from one of the shady grifters in the square. Apparently, friendship bracelets aren’t the only thing they’re selling. They picked up 6 gs of Grecian weed for 50 Euro, and then pledged to us that they’d meet us up on the roof terrace with it. It wasn’t going to make or break my night, but we gave them a half hour and they never showed. Ghosted. Too savage. But, you know what they say: Ozzie come, ozzie go.

Off to the rest of the sights. Talk soon.

Love,

The Bastard

 

Athens: Pronounced So-Crates, and a Time with Turts

November 9, 2017. Athens, Greece.

After I woke up at the crack of noon and drank a half pot of coffee in a failed Tim Burton movie, I shimmied out of the neo-Agora and down to the classic Agora, where everything interesting in ancient philosophy took place.

The agora is somewhat touristy, but not nearly as bad as, say, the Coliseum or the Acropolis (more on that later), because to appreciate that this particular pile of rocks has any historical or cultural relevance you have to read things. That’s not to say I’m better than my fellow Rock Selfiers because I have historical context. It’s cuz I shower.

I found the literal hill Socrates died on, and then I wandered up a bit closer to the Temple of Hephaestus and sat on a bench overlooking modern Athens, as well as the ruined archaeological site that is previous Athens, and I got to thinking about my boy Socrates.

Everybody knows he died sucking down hemlock, and the Greeks were immediately so sorry about it that they built him a statue shortly after they killed him, which was discovered in the Athenian state prison (and likely destroyed by a Roman sacking. Romans can’t get enough sacking). The thing about Socrates’ death, though, is it wasn’t really that big a deal. Yes, he was sentenced to be executed for corrupting the youth because he explained to them that previous philosophers thought the sun wasn’t a flaming chariot pulled by an incorporeal sky dude. And though it carried the death penalty, it wasn’t that serious a charge.

The option given him was “either get killed or leave Athens”. He could’ve moved like a mile outside of Athens, that would’ve been totally kosher. They just didn’t want him hassling people in the market anymore. And Socrates, stubborn bastard as he was, said, “Kill me then. You won’t.”

And the judges looked at each other and said, “Yeah man, we… we will. But we’d rather not. Just quit being a dick.”

And Socrates said, “I physically can’t stop being a dick. My whole deal is being a dick to people in the marketplace. It’s all I’ve done since I quit being a hoplite, it’s what I’ll be remembered for, and the fact that I could is the reason I love Athens so much. And if Athens thinks that’s reason to put me down, well, that sucks, but I love Athens so much that I yield to her judgment.”

And the yea, spake the judges: “Come on, man.”

But Socrates would not come on. So he’s sitting in the state prison, the ruins of which are shown here:

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And all of his friends are coming through saying, “Socrates, just leave, dude. This is ridiculous. You’re gonna die.”

Socrates told them, “Yeah, but I’m real old and my wife’s kind of a bitch. Besides, how bad is death, really? It’s probably just like sleep, and when I sleep I either don’t remember it at all, or I have dreams, which rule. Neither of those things seem awful.”

Other friends brought guards with them and said, “See this guy? I just paid him like $5 to let you go. Nobody even CARES, Socrates. Let’s just get out of here.”

“Sorry. Athens has spoken. They’re gonna kill me, so as a good Athenian citizen, I’m gonna have to die.”

Guard was like, “It’s really okay, dude. Ancient Greece is a lot like modern Greece in that the police don’t care about anything. Just leave.”

Socrates would not. He drank the poison and became Philosophy Jesus, and everyone felt so guilty that they built him a statue.

Sitting on that hill, looking down on what was once the center of Western civilization, I could sort of understand where the man was coming from. I also love Athens. I wouldn’t die for it, but I’m not Socrates. He was the proto-troll, and every dialogue he had demonstrated that his interlocutor, whichever poor sap that might be today, didn’t have a firm enough grasp on the concepts he was championing to make truly rational judgments. He died to demonstrate their ignorance of justice in particular, and to demonstrate that conviction is the most important, most virtuous thing. Practice what you preach, up until you’re drinking the poison and then beyond.

I started hunting for the exit, which proved to be daunting since the map was unreadable. I did, however, encounter a turtle who seemed to be terribly lost.

That’s when I realized turtles were everywhere. I saw what appeared to be a turtle brawl… at first.

Well, that was enough David Attenborough bullshit for me. I got out of the Agora and got hustled into eating a gigantic bowl of cukes, tomatoes, olives, onions, peppers, and cheese that they daringly called a “Greek salad” and a chicken souvlaki, which, as it turns out, is just not enough chicken thigh on a stick. After that, I tried to find my way up to the Acropolis.

To be continued.

Love,

The Bastard

 

Bog Bodies and Bad Beer

It was about time to start my cultural tour of the Emerald Isle’s most iconic city not featuring a stone you kiss, and the Irish archaeology museum seemed as a good place to start as any. Unfortunately, I missed it the first time through because the museum entrance was right next to a school which was presently being protested, in Gaelic, by dozens of children and parents. Everyone was waving signs I couldn’t read and everyone was deeply upset.

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I watched from the corner at this shouting legion of children and what I believe are called, in that part of the world, “mums”, cognizant only of the fact that they had been 21 years waiting for something. Most of them didn’t look 21 to me. My phone GPS insisted I was right on top of the archaeology museum, but that really only helped me stare blankly at said phone.

A man next to me was taking pictures with a gorgeous camera. I asked if he could tell me what the signs said, and he said “No, I am… I am French. I do not speak.” I told him me either, but then he asked the woman who’s head I accidentally photographed the back of and she told us they’ve been waiting on a new school that they paid for 21 years ago. The word “prefab” was used. I still didn’t have much understanding of what was going on, but I was relieved to find this wasn’t an abortion thing, since those are the only protests you ever see kids at back in the States. Which is… really grim, when you just put it out there. In any event, I looked into it after the fact and though this wasn’t the school, it certainly provides some context.

Another pass down the street and I evaded the children and slipped into the alley that led to the archaeology museum. I expressed surprise to the man at the desk that admission was free, and he said something that sounded vaguely barbed about how their government uses money. Yeah, preaching to the choir there, bud.

For those not acquainted with the concept, Ireland’s bogs preserve bodies really well, and in its sordid ancient history the locals were fond of mutilating human sacrifices and chucking them into the bog to appease… well, whatever needed appeasement, really. Fast forward a couple thousand years (2300, give or take) and baby, you got yourself a mummy goin’.

Most of the museum was devoted to old pots and piles of badly banged up golden bracelets. Considering that the bog bodies are the main attraction, they were really well hidden, but I imagine that was a reflection of the initial rediscovery of the bodies by what I can only imagine were fisherman or hikers.

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This was the Cashel Man, presumed to be from the Bronze Age (around 2000 BCE). He was around 25 when it happened. His arm was broken, as was his back, in two places. This should give an indication of how seriously the early Irish took their appeasements.

In the past I’ve made reference to poking around, exploring places said to be spiritual, like the Sedona vortexes. Vortices. Vortexi. This is all smug nihilist posturing, of course, just like the rest of my personality.

I could feel the bad juju coming off the Clonycavan man, though.

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He was an Iron Age king from around 2300 BCE. They think he was murdered; you can still see the gashes from the axe wounds through his face. Others were along the back of his head, and brain matter had been found in them, but it was the blow that split the bridge of his nose that killed him.

Once upon a time, I knew a punk rock girl who took acid and insisted on reading my aura. We sat down on a friend’s apartment floor and she touched my palms and closed her eyes and when she opened them again they were big and shiny, pupils dilated far beyond the point you’d think that amount of LSD would permit.

“It’s just mouths… screaming.”

At the time I said something like, “Yeah, try livin’ with it.” But now I think I have some frame of reference. Maybe it was the uncanny aspect of his split face, being able to read the expression on it, or maybe it was vengeful Irish ghosts, but something about that exhibit shook me. I had to talk myself into taking a picture, as my old witch friends back in the day assured me that’s the quickest way to drag malevolent spirits around with you.

I also found a tasteful medieval Irish cowboy hat.

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I beat feet out of the museum and thought it was about time to try the oft-vaunted Irish beer. I found a likely pub, settled in, and ordered a local craft porter, as I am of the unpopular opinion that Guinness is undrinkable garbage water.

Don’t mistake me for a beer snob. I will happily drink Lionshead and PBR, I keep my fridge stocked with Yuengling to go with dinner. I even like Murphy’s stout, and that barely makes the cutoff for being beer.

The Russian bartender started pouring it, then frowned.

“Doesn’t look like a porter,” he said, and he was right, it was several shades too light. In Ireland, I learned there’s a particular way of pouring I never saw stateside where they fill it near the top, let the foam fizzle down, then fill it the rest of the way. I tried to take it after what looked like he was done pouring and he was flabbergasted.

“It is not done,” he said. “Why would I give you half beer?”

I shrugged. “First beer I’ve ordered in Ireland. When in Rome, you know?”

He gave me a look that suggested we were not in Rome, which I couldn’t dispute.

The porter tasted like Guinness. Over the next day and a half, I would drink two more local, craft stouts. Both would also taste like Guinness.

Why?

On my rambling, misdirected walkabout back to the hostel to finally sleep, I saw this sign in front of a comic shop and I was given pause:

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Can you imagine seeing the absolute absurdity of seeing Captain Any-Other-Country while in America? Just walking down main street, seeing a sign for Admiral Canada? Lieutenant Scotland? Who else could get away with something like that but good ol’ USA #1?

I slept for roughly a day then spent a night out in Dublin. By the time I had gotten a beer in me, all the restaurants had closed except for a shawarma shop, so that’s what I had. It was… a cultural experience, certainly.

I reviewed my options that night and learned that if I didn’t book a plane out of Dublin the following day, ticket prices would increase 4x until the following Monday. All that remained on my Dublin itinerary was The Leprechaun Museum, and I doubted I could squeeze a full week out of that. I booked a ticket on the shadiest available airline to Barcelona.

Yesterday’s post might have seemed to end a little suddenly. That’s because I was sitting in the airport, waiting to board my flight, when a nearby plane burst into honest-to-God flames. Fortunately, they had a firetruck… suspiciously close at hand.

I’ll tell you about Barcelona later!

Love,

The Bastard