Book Review: Elric of Melnibone

Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I’m a big Conan the Barbarian fan, which is unfortunate, since I never cared for the books. I’ve always loved the prehistoric aspects of the setting, the easy ferocity of the sword and sorcery genre, and the prospect that all of these ancient and unknowable Lovecraftian evils weren’t an instant sanity-breaker. Once, when men were better, we could oppose them with nothing but steel and sinew, and we could win. It’s a good message. It’s the kind of thing that pushes you to grind out the last few reps in the gym.

What kept me from successfully finishing a Conan anthology is that he’s a Mary Sue. I’m a longtime Doom franchise devotee, for many of the same reasons I like sword and sorcery, so I’ve got a pretty high threshold tolerance for masculine power fantasies, but at a certain point they get embarrassing, and Conan always did a beautiful, muscular yet supple swan dive over that particular precipice within a couple paragraphs.

John L. Howard at his typewriter like: “And then Conan, who is powerful and sexual and smells good, rippled to his feet like a hot panther who girls like and said, ‘I WILL PUNCH YOU! WITH MY FISTS!’ And the crowd roared and cheered in unrestrained delight, for Conan was so honest and handsome with the deepest squat and biggest dingaling in all the land.”

Whereas Elric of Melnibone is a slouching albino goth who maintains a high dose meth addiction to counteract his anemia and perpetual caloric deficit. He’s the emperor of his floundering, ancient, neutral evil nation, but none of his subjects understand him because he reads too many books (which makes him a contemptible nerd) and as a result developed a moral compass.

Essentially, the plot of Elric of Melnibone is if Marcus Aurelius had an autoimmune disease and became a warlock about it.

It was spectacular. The writing was phenomenal, and not even hokey! I didn’t think that could be done, considering the subject matter. It’s easy to see Moorcock’s influence on modern fantasy greats like GRRM, although it might be more fair to call GRRM a past fantasy great, as big boy is never gonna write another book.

Elric has Mary Sue elements, sure, he’s one of the finest swordsmen who ever lived and he’s also the literal emperor, but he’s also deeply flawed. He’s a brooding, melancholy drug addict. A real Sigma male. Nobody understands him and it’s not a phase, mom.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough to anyone who loves high fantasy in general and sword and sorcery in particular. It checked all the boxes. Moorcock is a tremendous writer with an appropriate surname.



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Into the Abyss

August 10, 2018. Manchester, New Hampshire.

After seven hours on the road, pausing only to explore an Old Ones cult site, storm a terrible castle, and eat distressingly dry corned beef at a Greek diner that still advertised one of their menu items as “Michael Jackson’s favorite grinder”, we were in dire need of respite.

Establishing a forward operating base was our first priority. For my part, I can sleep anywhere. My bonfire days in the Frozen North frequently necessitated pitching a $10 K-Mart tent over gravel, then drinking bottom-shelf whiskey until you didn’t realize you were sleeping in a puddle of rainwater and broken glass. That’s not a knack you lose. The Girl was always more discerning, and became even more so after our experience in Phoenix with the inept criminal front halfway house hotel. We agreed that she can veto any of the lodgings I book. Sometimes, late at night, I’ll hold a flashlight under my chin and tell her spoOoOoky stories about hostels in Ireland.

She insisted on the airport Super 8. I was hoping to stay in a quaint deep woods motel called “Unsmiling Jed’s Sleepaway”, attached to sister business “Unsmiling Jed’s Discount Plastic Surgery Silo and Chili Kitchen”. If I can’t protect it, I don’t deserve to have it. That goes double for life.

A friendly foreign woman checked us in at the Super 8, then proceeded into utter bafflement when I asked for a first aid kit. I chewed myself up pretty good climbing Bancroft’s Castle, and I’d spent the last half hour bleeding into an oily dog blanket to avoid ruining my upholstery. That’s how plagues start.

There were no band-aids, or antiseptics, or possibly medicine as a concept. There was a three gallon tub of hand sanitizer. I thanked her, but graciously declined.

We went up to the third floor. The hallways were lined with people sitting on the carpet outside their rooms, shouting and smoking cigarettes. The room itself was clean and the air conditioning worked. All my boxes were checked. The bathroom reeked of weed, which some would interpret as a bonus. I scrubbed my wounds raw in the sink, tucked away the precious cargo of wine and peaches, and set out to investigate downtown Manchester.

Streetlight technology has not yet made its way to Manchester, so we spent twenty minutes missing exits in ocean-floor darkness. What little town we could make out looked worryingly like Wilkes-Barre, which is not where one would choose to vacation, were one sane.

Downtown erupted like graphic pop-in on a video game running at its lowest resolution. One second you’re in leatherface country, with nothing breaking the abyssal darkness but the occasional half-broken Jiffy Lube sign. The next, you’re on vibrant neon market strip, replete with hipsters and the homeless.

We knew we had hit downtown proper when we passed by the “craft grilled cheese bistro”.

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only programmers will understand!!!! like and reblog if u get it

Since I am an adult man, grilled cheese cannot be dinner. Both “gastropubs” we tried, despite their bitchin’ Greek mythology names, offered generic terrible burgers and a draft list that consisted of Coors Light.

“I’m so hungry,” the Girl told me. “I’m gonna die.”

“We all will,” I assured her. “Soon.”

Yelp claimed there was a brewery five blocks away. We walked off the only lit street into absolute, encompassing blackness. It would’ve been spooky if I didn’t always kind of hope some Putty Patrol mook would lunge at me from the dark while I’m far away from home, having told no one where I’m going and left no paper trail.

There were no incidents. No one was murdered in self-defense. No one knows what we did last summer. The Stark Brewing Company was in the basement of a grim looking office complex, and it was vacant save for two other lost souls.

We sat at the bar and ordered a flight and an imperial stout. I wanted to find an actual restaurant, but the Girl ordered “Penne with vodka sauce”, which was not the right color, flavor, or texture to be anything but penne bolognese. The Girl didn’t seem to mind. I ate a pulled pork sandwich.

The beers were warm, but I didn’t care. It didn’t matter what the beers were, so long as they were beers. And not Coors Light. The brewery themed all of their beers off of dogs, for some reason, which I believe to be the ideal business model. According to the bartenders, the brewery had been open for 25 years, but hadn’t yet received their big boom.

I was outraged. The beers were excellent, and would probably be even better if they weren’t room temperature, and the taps were not only named for specific dogs, but also had pictures.

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The bathroom was covered in sharpie beer lore.

The bartender and waitresses swore a lot more than you would normally expect in this context. The Girl maintains they were swearing at us. I disagreed.

“They were swearing <i>with</i> us,” I mansplained.

“We weren’t swearing,” she countered.

“But if we HAD been.”

As I’ve grown larger and more sinuous, I’ve tried to cut back on how often I cuss at strangers. Cultural relativism is the understanding that not everyone grew up among the coalcrackers, and good-natured oaths like “how the hell are you” or use of the fuck-word as a conversational placeholder, while subjectively soothing, can set off fight-or-flight in the small, soft, and bourgeoisie.

I try to maintain direct proportionality between my barbarism and my well-heeledness. Neither the wait staff nor the other two customers shared my bond, and the middle-aged guy on my right proceeded to tell me how his hometown of Denver, Colorado is the greatest fuckin’ city in America, next to maybe Southern California. Which is not a city.

We talked about our homes and travels for a while, then I got my pulled pork sandwich and they left. The sandwich was slightly warmer than the beer. Beats the alternative.

An armada of children came into the bar.

“Oh, shit,” the bartender said. They were visibly teenagers, and on the wrong side of it. They had that gangly awkwardness you get around fourteen or fifteen, and if they were trying to play it off, they were woefully bad at it. There were also nearly twenty of them. It looked like a field trip.

People in their twenties don’t travel in packs of more than six. It’s hard to transport a throng, unless you have a party bus, and why do you have a party bus when you’re twenty-eight? You’re twenty-eight and party buses have always been sad. Get a job. Also, it’s hard to get that many adults to agree on something.

It can be done. You can say, “Hey, adults, you want to do some drugs?” And in a sufficiently sized crowd, you’ll manage to pull twenty or so who will follow you to your house or whatever. This is called an “afterparty”. It doesn’t go to bars at 9pm.

Have you felt out the social zeitgeist recently? Look at a random handful of current memes and it’ll be pretty clear that most adults consider socialization to be a required burden, like paying emotional taxes. “Going out” is the price of living in a civilized society. You’re not going to scare up twenty people, then put them in a party bus, then take them to an abandoned bar half a mile outside of where the actual nightlife is.

“Hey, we’re just about to close,” the bartender said.

A reedy blonde in a top consisting mostly of straps screeched, “But your WEBSITE said you were open til ONE!”

Screeched.

The bar fell silent. Well, more silent. The Girl and I traded looks, her horror for my delight.

“Uhhhhhh,” the bartender said, but with excellent elocution, as though that were the word she had deliberately chosen. “Okay.”

They sat the itinerant mall food court in a big corner table, whereupon they requested shots.

The waitress who had sworn at/with us the least came back to the bar and said, “You guys said you were from Pennsylvania, right?”

We nodded.

“Can I see one of your licenses quick?”

She compared mine against the obviously fake ID one of the tweens had given her. After a moment she said, “Yeah, you can see, the font is different. And the picture looks like it’s photoshopped.”

“Yeah, no one’s license picture ever looks this good,” the Girl said, studying the fake ID.

“Except mine,” I added. They ignored me. I didn’t take it personally.

The waitresses disappeared into the back. Five minutes later, the only dude working at the place was gendered into being the bad cop. He sulked over to the teens.

“You guys gotta leave,” he said. “C’mon. We know your ID’s fake. We’re not trying to get fined. You gotta go.”

For maximum accuracy, imagine this said in Toby’s voice from The Office. Shamefaced, the flash mob of children dispersed.

We paid for our room temperature beers and left the poor, foul-mouthed brewery to close at 9:30 on a Friday. The Girl and I accidentally stalked the battalion of teens through the street, but only because we were all moving back toward the only lights in the city, like moths. They turned a corner and vanished, presumably to find an arcade or laser tag or some sort of large swing set.

The Girl and I followed the sounds of some obnoxious bros announcing, “It’s like a fahkin sketchy ally, dewd”.

It was, in fact, the least sketchy alley I’d ever been in. Cat Alley was the best lit venue in all of New Hampshire. It was clean and well-maintained, and it was covered less in graffiti and more in an outdoor art gallery dedicated to cats.

There were more, but they didn’t all warrant a picture.

Portland Pie Co loomed from the endless darkness like a beacon in the night, hearkening back to those days lost in Maine during the Great Lobster Drought of 2017. We split a bourbon barrel ale which did me in. It was bedtime.

On the way back, toward the end of the main drag, a man made of pure light rode by blasting EZ-Listenin from his Tron bicycle, also made of pure light.

I can’t prove he wasn’t Jesus.

Heartened, we returned to the hotel, where no one was smoking or yelling in the hallway anymore. Excellent. I lost consciousness immediately.

Next stop, Portsmouth.

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: Large Food, Graffiti, and the Handle Feud

November 9, 2017. Athens, Greece.

Here’s where I’m sitting right now, as I type this.

It’s a coffee shop next to my hostel that, as far as I can tell, is based on Neil Gaiman’s house after a recession. They’re pretending that 5 euros for a coffee is reasonable. I assume you’re paying for the… ambiance. Though the slightly out of tune violin-and-organ spooky halloween CD they have playing is a nice touch, what really emphasizes the element of danger is the old man on top of  latter outside the entrance, grinding away at the upper metal balcony and throwing a shower of sparks you have to time your way through like a Koopa Keep in Super Mario World.

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this airport doesn’t know how to party

The bus ride over was uneventful, but I stood up for an hour and it gave me time to come to terms with the fact that I really don’t understand Greek at all.

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i think this is how many points we get if the bus hits them

I got off into a monsoon, of course, but I have an umbrella now and it’s not like Zeus is gonna do me any dirtier than Jehova did in the Vatican. The first thing I saw was another protest.

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I didn’t know what it was about, and it was too early and soggy for me to ask. Is it me? Do they gravitate to where I go, like parents with screaming toddlers, or is all of Europe just presently in unrest? I forged ahead.

I crossed the street and found a large sign that advertised “George’s Breakfast”. George knows how to live; an omelette with bacon, toast, tomatoes and cucumbers, coffee with refills, and “free juice”. Juice is a big deal in Greece. I walked in and asked the lady at the counter how I can get the breakfast on the sign.

“Go upstairs and order!” she said. “Is nice!”

I went upstairs and tried to order. The waitress told me that sign was for another store, but they have omelettes here.

Grand.

I bitterly ordered an omelette and was pleasantly surprised to find it enormous.

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I ate this enormous egg pancake and the little scooch of balsamic salad and headed off to the hostel, where I passed out briefly before returning to wander the modern day Agora: a constant flea market that’s right outside.

I’d say I was walking through for about 5 minutes when I was ambushed by a lithe Greek girl in a pencil skirt with very red lips, thrusting a long-stemmed rose at me.

“Here!” she said. “A gift for you!”

“Thank you, but I’m okay,” I said, trying to push it away.

“Is free!”

“I really don’t have any place to put a rose right now, but I really do appreciate it,”

“Is a gift for you! There is festival right now, this is part of it!” she said. “Here, take!”

I was holding the rose now, uncertainly.

“Thank you, but-”

“Is a rose for you because you are very sexy,” she explained. “Very sexy boy, have rose. Here, have two.” And she thrust another rose at me.

“While I agree, I really can’t,” I said, trying to dodge away. “Thank you though.”

“Can I have something for roses?” she asked. “Just one Euro. So hungry.”

“Ah, there it is,” I said. I handed the rose back to her, having to physically close her hand around it. “Thank you. But I don’t want it. Best of luck.”

“Not even one Euro?” she said, outraged, and I was impressed by the range of emotion that played across her face. She was certainly the most convincing actress I’d encountered since the dude in Italy who asked for change and then stared at the side of my head in crestfallen disbelief for thirty seconds when I said I didn’t have any.

Bastardo!” she hissed as she sashayed away. I called, “Hey, how did you know?” after the unsubtle swaying of her hips, sort of like an angry pendulum, but I wasn’t the mark she was after and we were done conversing.

Roseless and exposed, I drifted like the dude from Firewater into a peynirli place. Pedi peynirli is Turkish (whoops) for “bread with cheese), but sweet Athena, it was so much more than that. I ordered the Bolognese because meat has been hard to come by for most of my stay in Europe, and they packed this huge pizza boat full of mincemeat, goat cheese, vegables and an over real-easy egg. Like, potentially raw easy. I was not ascared though, I’m of barbarian stock, I’ve permitted the masquerade of raw eggs in a glass as “breakfast” before.

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I finished and paid for the 6 euro monstrosity with a 20, and the shifty-eyed waitress gave me back 4, which allowed me to finally understand why her eyes had been so shifty. I rolled up to her at the counter and gently explained her “mistake”, too softly for her coworkers to hear, yet. She returned the 10 euros to the stupid, lone American tourist without making a scene.

Back to the hostel, a long-deserved shower and a quick nap. When I woke up I decided to go up to the roof bar for the daily Happy Hour, which I was, of course, an hour late for. A pint of local Greek lager was still only 4 Euros, and two of those were enough to get even my unreasonable Constitution modifier feeling pretty good.

I made friends with a Chilean medica, a student/soldier from South Korea, and a graffiti artist from Austria. We poisoned our bodies extensively and proceeded into the streets to find a dance club the little 25-year-old doctor had read about — or rather, read the tags about. We knew it played “alternative rock” and “electronica”, but everything else was in Greek.

The artist told us that a lot of the graffiti in Athens was really good, although Berlin was sort of the epicenter for the arts in Europe as of now. He pointed out a lot of pieces that I would’ve missed otherwise.

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His own were excellent, but I forgot to grab his details. We made plans to meet up again tonight, though, so I’ll try to get some samples of his work for you tomorrow.

In our bastard travels, we discovered the salvation of the Greek economy: Handle Row. Five consecutive stores down one particular alley, all showcasing the most beautiful doorknobs, sinks, and cupboard handles you had ever seen. Competition was alive and well in Handle Row, and at a glance, the economic Darwinism was evident. Truly a triumph of capitalism.

“There are the most incredible handles I have ever seen,” the artist said.

“We’re witnessing history right now,” I confirmed, nodding. “This is the new Renaissance.”

“I think I’m going to buy one tomorrow,” he said. “For a souvenir.”

“You’ll want to have proof. You’ll want to show your grandkids the artisan Greek handle one day, and tell them, ‘I was there’.”

“It’ll be worth thousands of Euros, one day.”

We slunk back to the hostel at 1 AM and went our separate ways.

All right, that’s enough chronicle for now. I’ve got to go see all these temples.

Love,

The Bastard