Bora Bora 2005.10.24

Bora Bora 2005.10.24
Bora Bora 2005.10.24 ©2005 Mark Phillips

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The places I knew as a student are gone.

Athens smells of cigarettes and diesel. Its dominant color is concrete brown, streaked with gray rain; except the Plaka, newly gentrified, now a vibrant rainbow for the Olympics.

The places I knew as a student are gone. Cheap flophouses without hot water; tawdry bars where my university friends spent their evenings. I have no nostalgia for them. I remember them as gray and lifeless, and they're associated for me with heartbreak.

I went looking for one thing: a brandy Alexander, made the real way with Metaxa and creme de cacao. Back in the day we'd found a lefty bar owned by an old red who remembered the kapitanios: these were his specialty. At the end of an evening's treasure hunt my friend found one in an upscale bar catering to the new class of local hipsters. It was 10 Euros — no longer Drachma — and it was delicious.

I loved the trip.

Mark Phillips, "The Plaka", (2017)
Mark Phillips, The Plaka (2017)

Source: www.markphillips.com

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

White Then, Brown Now

It was white then, but it's brown now.

White as white, bleached white, pristine. Dirty brown, colored by air pollution, visible signal of the looming end of the world.

It's so all over Greece, but most especially in Attica. The Parthenon, the Temple of Zeus, most dramatically Sounion. White become brown as civilization waddles on.

Mark Phillips, "Sounion", (2017)
Mark Phillips, Sounion (2017)

Source: www.markphillips.com

Sunday, November 26, 2017

What's Their Deal?

And so we settle down to an Athenian routine.

Exploration and photography in the morning; gift shopping and lunch in the afternoon; dinner and extended evening at Arcadia with our hilarious waiter buds, who fatten us with free desserts and drown us in complimentary alcohol. The guys are so much fun, and the food is bomb. Life could be worse.

It's interesting that the entire time we're there, which adds up to a good quantity of hours, no other Americans talk to us. We're effusive, gregarious, laughing and talking loudly with the staff, especially once they get us lubricated. There are Americans at many nearby tables: retired couples, young couples, families with children. But they keep to themselves, and although we smile and nod, not one chooses to engage with us.

They look unhappy. They bicker, or they stare silently at their food. The children look cowed, everyone seems confused.

What's their deal?

Maybe we're so obviously buzzed that they feel the need to protect their children from us. Maybe the news of my angry encounter with the evangelicals at the Areopagus has gotten 'round. Maybe they're just intimidated by a foreign country. Maybe they hate being there and can't wait to get home.

I dunno.

Note that neither of us actually cares. I only mention it 'cos it seems so odd.

Mark Phillips, "Athens", (2017)
Mark Phillips, Athens (2017)

Source: www.markphillips.com

Saturday, November 25, 2017

We're the Happy Americans, the Gregarious Ones

Aloof Americans at other tables. Grim. Unsmiling, non-conversational. They barely talk with each other, certainly not with the waiters.

We're the Happy Americans, the gregarious ones, bantering with our new friends, who hover and dote and ply us with round after round of free alcohol.

I ask, "What's the difference between the brands of ouzo? Is there one you recommend?" The answer is no, and to prove it, they bring shot after shot showing us conclusively they're all the same.

Then it's Raki, to teach us the spirits of the country. Raki from Crete, raki from Mykonos, raki from Attica. Then retsina, then black beer, then brandy. Always on the house, while we laugh and joke with the entire staff, and the Americans at other tables scowl, or mumble to each other, or argue among themselves.

Aren't they here to have fun?

Mark Phillips, "Athens", (2017)
Mark Phillips, Athens (2017)

Source: www.markphillips.com

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Blindness is mine! My spirit understands!

Lord of the Lion's House of strength
Light of song
Fire in my heart and music to my pean
On my altar burns the ancient censer
Robes of thy colour bind me for thy token.
All listening spirits answer and adore.
Blindness is mine! My spirit understands!
O divide the one light into a million shattered gems!
Lycian, listen!

Mark Phillips, "Delphi", (2017)
Mark Phillips, Delphi (2017)

Source: www.markphillips.com

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

I Would Ask the Oracle, if She Lived...

I would ask the Oracle, if she lived:

Should I, shouldn't I, what does it mean, what do I feel, what does she want, what do I want from her, what chance would we have if we both did say yes?

To Apollon. Blest Paean, come, propitious to my prayer, illustrious power, thy piercing sight extends beneath the gloomy, silent night. 'Tis thine all nature's music to inspire with harmonious lyre: now the last string thou tunest to sweet accord, divinely warbling, now the highest chord; the immortal golden lyre, now touched by thee, responsive yields a Dorian melody.

Dionysus god of wine, respect us!

Mark Phillips, "Delphi", (2017)
Mark Phillips, Delphi (2017)

Source: www.markphillips.com

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?

Eat, drink, flirt, sleep.

Nothing real, electronic phantoms, vitiated by distance and confusion.

Something real, in the lobby, at the bar, smiling, waiting.

Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?

Dionysus god of wine, protect us!

Mark Phillips, "Delphi", (2017)
Mark Phillips, Delphi (2017)

Source: www.markphillips.com