Proctor, Vermont: Flooded Quarries and Forbidden Castles

April 16, 2021. Proctor, Vermont.
Soundtrack: Wind Rose – Diggy Diggy Hole

Vermont is peopled, not with people, but with quarries. You can’t spit without hitting one, and the rare few that are not still in operation because they, what, ran out of rocks? – have gone on to be repurposed into subterranean ice skating rinks and swimming holes, the use of which are deeply, deeply illegal.

Fortunately, the police are (arguably) people, and you can’t be arrested if there’s no one around to arrest you. Which, there isn’t. The entire state is an arboreal wasteland.

“Beefton!” I said. “Do not leap into the quarry!”

“I tire of this life!” Beefton called back over his rippling, comically oversized deltoid. “The time has come for the next great adventure!

We were shouting because there was some kind of bird going absolutely bananas up along the wall in what had to be the most obnoxious, least effective mating display I’d ever seen. And I spent a good deal of time at the West Chester Landmark.

If anyone knows what this loser bird is, leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail. It haunts me to this day.

My attorney approached the ledge again, heaved in a breath, steadied his nerves.

“Farewell, Bastard. Witch. I’ll never forget all you’ve taught me.”

It was at that point he recognized that the quarry was full of water, and he resolved to live another day. Beefton is highly avoidant of swimming, and if a light drizzle wets his fur he goes frothing mad and barrels through the house as fast as his densely packed, efficient little body will go, smashing into every available surface.

There are times I’m thankful he’s more pitbull than labrador, and most of those times are when we’re near a body of water in 40 degree weather. Do you think purebred a chocolate lab would hesitate, for even an instant? There might be ducks in there.

We loaded back into the wagon and resumed our traversal of the woodland wasteland, hoping to find somewhere to eat. In our travels, the universe provided me with a gift to ensure that my conduct was right and in accordance with my destiny.

Astoundingly, the giant gorilla dumbbell shoulder pressing a car was not on Atlas Obscura, but Wilson’s Castle was. Wilson’s Castle was also closed off to the public under penalty of law.

Not very defensible,I decided. Minimal ramparts, no murder holes to speak of. There’s tactical value in the elevation, but you just couldn’t muster a sufficient force of archers on that balcony to deter an invading force. Especially with the ground-level windows!

Disgusted at the misleading designation of this large, butt-ugly house, as well as at the Orwellian hellworld we occupy that forbade me from getting closer to pass still more cutting judgment on its strategic worthlessness, we wheeled the wagon around, returned my legal representation to the humper haunted airbnb, and drifted into Rutland proper, whereupon I learned what risotto is.

It’s this.

Outside the restaurant, I found an excellent mural of a peregrine falcon. Since a fungal encounter with a falcon in the dead of winter in my picaresque early twenties, I take raptors as universal signposts from Athena assuring me that I’m on the right track.

“Okay,” I told her. “I’ll learn a risotto recipe.”

Love,

B.

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

You Won’t Believe These Top 3 Ways to Cope with the Wrath of a Vengeful Goddess

November 13, 2017. Athens, Greece.

I had this master plan to do a day trip to Delphi, see where the Oracle was. She’s a major player in the Grecian narrative. Socrates, Oedipus, the ruling council and occasional tyrant of Athens all held her in high esteem. She was even in 300, although I imagine she was less naked and surrounded by fewer lepers.

 

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“sOcRaTeS iS rEaL sMaRt”

Unfortunately, everything that could have prevented this from happening, did. I’m sure I’ve mentioned Athena is my patron deity; I reckon she heard my plans to skip Athens, however temporarily, and sought terrible revenge.

1. Flee

I packed all my stuff and staggered into the streets of Athens. It’s 9:20 now. The bus leaves at 10:30. It’s a 45 minute walk to the bus station. It’s possible. It could be done. Hauling all my earthly possessions on my back, I double-time it out of tourist/academic Athens and into sketchy metropolitan Athens. I nearly got hit by only 3 cars, which is low.

When I got to the bus station, my headphones imploded for no reason, but I didn’t have time to fix that. I had to find this bus. The bu sport is enormous and filthy, everything’s written in Greek, it’s got a real cyberpunk defunct space station feel to it. I track down the information desk with 10 minutes to spare and the woman says, “It is at other bus station. Here is address.”

She hands me an address in primarily Greek, although it says 260 Liossion on it. I start toward the direction she pointed, fighting with Google Maps, which is insistent that address doesn’t exist.

Half a mile later it is revealed that the phantom bus station is at 216 Liosion, which was a mile away from where the Greek bus service website initially sent me.

And then the sky opened.

2. Cower

Since I obviously missed the 10:30 bus, I had to catch the next one, at 3. Only 4 hours to kill! Maybe I could write! Unfortunately, all I’d seen in the past hour were weird, specialized blanket stores, auto repair shops, and one supermarket.

Since all my worldly possessions are on my back and the tiny, sad umbrella is jammed about halfway down. I needed cover and I needed it fast.

An entire nursing home worth of old men were gathered on the porch of what looked like a coffee shop. I dodged into there, ordered a coffee (the old men are all drinking hard liquor) and reevaluated my situation.

The thunderstorm lasts most of the afternoon, from what I can tell. I can still catch the 3 PM to Delphi, but it would cost about $15 either way. There are no hostels in Delphi right now, only seedy hotels. Nearly all of them are sold out. I could reserve a $45 room for the night, if I acted right then and there.

I did the math. $75 total for about 8 waking hours in the city during a thunderstorm, since I’d have to get back to Athens the next day. I’m not spending another $45 on a room. $100 is like, a full week of Bastard Travel, depending on the locale.

3. Weep

All right. Delphi’s a no-go. I’ll spend another day in Athens. Not a big deal, I love Athens, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the traditional Greek food that is so good I almost cry. Last night, I discovered that they make pies out of spinach and cheese. Pies! Out of spinach dip! This is why they authored civilization.

The Olds point at me forebodingly, shaking their grey, drunk heads and saying things in Greek. The woman behind the counter translates, or possibly just offers her own advice.

“You shouldn’t go out yet,” she said, gesturing at Athena’s soggy wrath. “It is too heavy.”

“Yeah,” I said, “It’s kind of looking that way.”

“Maybe it will stop soon?” she said with a shrug. “You stay, sit.”

I stayed. I sat.

It’s dying down now, so I might start the 2-mile charge back to the hostel. Guess I’m booking another night. At least they have a rooftop bar, though I’m pretty sure they’re watering the beer. Fortunately, last night, I found a hidden alley liquor shop, and an old man sold me a sketchy 6 Euro bottle of homemade moonshine ouzo, and I barely survived two shots of it.

Tonight, maybe we’ll go for broke. Wish me luck.

Love,

The Bastard

Athens: Ruined Temples and Nights

November 10, 2017. Athens, Greece.

I headed out to the google-recommended Syntagma square to see what it was. Turns out, it’s a little quasipark in front of a municipal building, which is not the Platonian ideal of “sightseeing”, but there was a decently sized hunger strike going on.

23432909_1129653010504337_681428417_oA local told me that the strikers are Syrian refugees who have become disconnected from their families traveling across Europe, since there are so few countries willing to accept refugees. They want the Greek government to… find them, somehow. Talk to the other European nations, track down, and reunite the refugee families.

Obviously, the Greek government said “That doesn’t even approach being our responsibility dude and also, how?” so they’ve been hunger striking for a week and a half in central Athens.

After telling me this, ironically, she recommended me some excellent local restaurants.

I hustled off to the remaining ruins in central Athens, Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus:

Nice ruins, if you’re into that sort of thing. I also went to the Acropolis museum, which did not permit pictures. I took one anyway but my phone deleted it. Welp.

(imagine a picture of a sculpture from the Acropolis’ relief of the Gigantomachy, where Athena squadded up with a bunch of Nikes and made an afternoon of whooping rebellious giant ass. the picture was of a giant trying to climb back to his feet, li’l giant ding-a-ling fully visible. caption: “dont look so giant to me”)

Angling on down to the recommended restaurant (which was written entirely in deep Greek and I didn’t have a shot in hell of comprehending, let alone pronouncing), I stumbled onto this gem:

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With the lamp and everything! I don’t know about you, but when I think fine dining, my mind goes right to the dude who liked to whack off in the marketplace.

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no the other one

I’ve been eating well in Greece, better than in Italy, far better in Madrid, but nothing could’ve prepared me for this.

23546965_1130777737058531_2144672600_o I didn’t even know there WERE that many meats, let alone that you could put them all on sticks. It was incredible. That pile of tomatoes is alleged to be a “Greek salad”, which I suppose I can be on board with. Lettuce is a waste of time. What I could not comprehend was how the tzatziki was spicy.

Despite my racial handicap, I like spicy food a lot, but tzatziki is just cucumbers and yogurt. What did you do? How did you do it? Tell me.

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sorry fam but these meat sticks are fuckin incredible

I toured, I excursed, I fed, and it was almost happy hour at the hostel. I called it a day and headed back to prepare for the night.

On the roof I struck up a conversation with an Aussie lady who was a little older than me and much more sophisticated than the lads I’d met the previous night. She was in town for a pool tournament that I’m pretty sure she won. She had heard of shoeys, but found them disgusting. Right there with ya, mate. Hoodies are jumpas and emo was never big in Australia.

The cast and crew from the previous night puttered out onto the roof, along with the four Australian kids.

“If it isn’t the ghost squad!” I shamed them.

“Right, sorry mate,” they said unconvincingly, “We were ganna go for a walkabout but we just passed roight out.”

C’est la vie. Nine of us around the table passed happy hour comparing cultures and travel stories, then made plans to reconvene on the roof terrace at 10.

“All roight lads,” one of the australian kids said, “Let’s go to the store, get some pay-sta for dinna. We’ll meet you back up here at 10.”

“I’ll hold my breath,” I promised, perhaps a lil peevishly.

The Australian girl did not care for them. The word drongo may have been used. Also, bogan. They’re deeply contextual terms, but they didn’t seem affectionate.

She was fun, but we lost her before our vaguely defined plans to “find a club”. It was four of us now: me, the Austrian artist, a dude from Wisconsin, and a Canadian bro hellbent on crushing beers wherever they may hide.

The bouncer at the club was the first man I’d met in Europe who frightened me. He was discernibly Russian, had killed people recently, and there was no way his name wasn’t Ivan. He was an older guy with a neck like a bull, a shaved head, and bulging, rolling, crazy eyes.

“All right, I have 2 free tickets to get in,” said Wisconsin. “It’s 10 euros admission, so if we all pool up, it’s only 5 each.”

“Drinks are gonna be crazy expensive in there,” Austria said. “They always are in these dance clubs.”

“Yeah, but look at these girls!” Canada said. I did. They looked like almost all the girls I’d seen in Athens, which is to say, slight, dressed in black, purple lipstick, smoking cigarettes. I realized I was the only person wearing grey.

Wisconsin approached Ivan, told him about his free tickets. Ivan considered tearing his head from his shoulders and hurling it to Crete, then said, “Needink girls.”

“What?”

“Men pay unless come with girls,” he said, with finality.

My hustle sense started going crazy.

“All right,” said Canada, “Let’s go across the street, crush some beers, then find some girls to help us get in.”

I surveyed the crowd in line again. It would be possible, for like… two of us. Four rogue foreign dudes trying to skive their way into a trendy club for free, not even speaking the language? I didn’t love our odds.

While beers were crushed, I ordered a currywurst at a skeevy hot dog vendor. They gave me a hot dog sliced into disks with curry ketchup and limp french fries. Any port in a storm. I ate them with fond remembrance of the giant meat-stick platter I had put down six or seven hours before.

The boys asked the girls in the traditional American way: direct, civil, transactional. We looked like beggars. I cranked up the charming smile to 75% wattage and made a cluster of Grecian goth girls giggle, recounting how the terrifying man at the door gave us a provisional No Boys Allowed.

“We are waiting for someones, but they may not come,” they said. “If they do not come we will go with you.”

Well, there were two of them. Mathematically, that could’ve panned out, but it was obvious Ivan had no interest in acknowledging Wisconsin’s free tickets, or anything else beyond arterial spray.

“There are other clubs,” I said. “A block down the street. Let’s try that.”

We approached one that, to the undiscerning eye, looked like a ritzy Japanese restaurant. In the line, there were robots.

I suggested maybe one of the girls could get Daft Punk into the club. Meanwhile, Canada was hard at work ingratiating himself to one of the bartenders who was on his smoke break. He made us an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime offer: If we buy a 150 Euro bottle of liquor, we can get in for free.

“You figure, you’d be going in, and then buying like, what, five beers anyway…” Canada rationalized. It was getting too distasteful for me.

“Gentlemen, listen,” I said. “I think we should just go to a bar.”

“But the girls!”

“There are girls literally everywhere,” I said with an expansive hand gesture. “They’re more than half the population. There are beautiful women in bars, in parks, in the grocery store. This feels like a scam.”

The robot danced and flashed behind me, as if emphasizing my point.

The bartender returned like a particularly skilled fisherman that sensed his catch was about to slip the hook.

“Just tell them my name,” he said. “They will let you through, say I sent you.”

We thanked him and approached the bouncer, said the magic word.

“Who?” the bouncer said. I laughed, but nobody else thought it was funny.

“The bartender. He was just out here on break, he told us you’d let us in.”

The bouncer considered, then waved us through to the roped off front desk, whereupon a beautiful Asian girl leaned over the counter and said, “10 Euros each, please.”

“I’m out, fellas,” I said. “Hate to poop the party, but I was really only looking for one drink anyway. I’ll see y’all back at the hostel.”

I crossed the street to talk to a girl we had spoken to previously in front of the cigarette kiosk, who had originally suggested “Just go find girls! There are girls in every line and there are many clubs.”

“Hey, real quick,” I asked. “You’re working out here every night, right? You know these clubs?”

“Yes.”

“Are we trying to find girls for the opportunity to pay 10 Euros? Like, you find a girl, then you pay 10 Euros anyway?”

“No,” she said, looking puzzled. “You go in free with girls. 10 Euros for boys. But I don’t know this club well, it is new.”

“That’s what I figured. Good night.”

I headed back to the hostel and slept like a rock until the middle aged Asian man in the corner bunk had to scream into his cell phone at 6 AM in the bathroom.

The whole gendered dance club scene strikes me as desperate. If you’re the kind of dude who’s about to pay $30-$50 for the opportunity to look at, not talk to, and maybe hook up with women, cut out the middleman and go to central Madrid.

Welp, that’s enough for one morning. Time to go exploring. Find some souvlaki to wash the bad taste out of my mouth.

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