What’s happenin’….?

Kalo Mina!  I haven’t posted anything in well over a month.  Why?  Just being lazy, I suppose, because there is so much to talk about!  I should probably just get some stuff out of the way.

I am appalled by the behaviour of the current US President and his smarmy,  creepy entourage.  His European trip is finished (probably his only trip here) and he acted poorly–immature, arrogant–the worst kind of visitor.  I am not the only one to be shocked and amazed at his ignorant, insulting and banal actions.  We have all read the news.  We have all seen the clips.  I am not going to link to anything.  I am appalled and disturbed to know that there are people in the US who believe this kind of behaviour is acceptable.  Educated, well-read, professionals who feel that this is how an American President should act.  I even know some of these folks.  How ashamed I am to be connected to the US at times like these.  Phew!  Enough of that…

I have been invited to show some of my work in a small group exhibit in September.  It will be in Hudson, New York and the woman who is organizing the event asked me to send a few pieces.  I have 7 new prints from the darkroom and will send an additional 6 from previous shows that I already have matted and framed.  A Baker’s Dozen of b/w darkroom work, some of Greece and some of the area where the show will be held.  I will price them well and my instructions to her are to not send any of them back!

I have decided I need an agent to sell me and my work.  I cannot do it well.  Other people see things in my work that I do not and are better at that kind of ‘retail’ mentality.  So I will ask around.  It needn’t be a full time job or even the first and last agent I have.  Just someone to get the process off the ground.

I competed in the 7th Round of Paros bicycle race last Sunday and I did very well.  The morning was perfect for the race, with light breezes from the north, sun and clouds.   In short, not too hot.  I was able to ride the 61km course in 2:31:45, which is a 6 minute improvement over my best time on the same route.  I placed 59th out of 99 bikes and 12th out of 18 in my age-group.  I am happy with these numbers.  Now I begin working towards the 40km mountain bike race on Paros towards the end of September which will be  gruelling.  Plus, the sea is wonderful so there is swimming every day.  In fact, I hope to do both–bike and swim–as soon as I post this missive.

I have begun yoga.  Odd…yoga has been around my life for so many years, people urging me to try it and all that.  I think my mind and heart were not ready.  There was too much I had to let go of before I could open up and do it.  Death, tumultuous change, perceived uprooting…On the surface it is allowing me to stretch muscles that I have been using in a way that actually stretches them.  I have discovered that those calisthenics and stretches I learned in high school were mostly wrong and don’t really stretch anything at all.  Deeper inside..I don’t know.  I have only taken three classes (once a week) so I’ll let you know what rises to the surface.  I know that I have moved on from where I was.

Uphill and off the saddle in Kostas

–JDCM

 

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Olivetti repair, part 2…

From Padova to Firenze I came…my lovingly repaired Olivetti in my baggage.  Now I am in Florence visiting with my sister and my niece and some friends–which has been super.  We have seen some beautiful sights but most of all we have eaten well and have had a great visit with each other.  We depart this city in a couple of days–they to America; me onto Venice.   I feel like I am in a variation of a Cole Porter musical…

To sum up the typewriter repair…after disassembly, Alessio removed all the rubber pieces and then bathed the ornate and beautiful chassis in a gentle flow of aeronautic petrol mixed with a very fine lubricant.  This removed all the dust, ink, paper and grime that had built up over the years.  The high octane solution evaporated in the outside air, leaving behind the machine oil.  Then he cleaned up the paper roller by attaching it to a lathe and sanding it gently with fine-grit sand paper.  He cleaned and wiped down the external casing.  After reassembly and insuring mechanical perfection, he adjusted the letter ‘a’ (it wasn’t striking well), attached a new ribbon, typed a test piece of paper, and gave the machine a final swipe with the cleaning cloth.  Presto! Fini!  There was more to it obviously.   The whole repair process took about four hours.  Grazie Alessio!

I will leave for Venice on Sunday, my bag filled with cheese….but that’s another story.

–JDCM

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Buona Pasqua da Padova…!

Padova is a lovely place to visit.  It is not a touristic town—all the tourists are in Venice, just north of here.  The current groups are mostly Italian, here for the Easter weekend.  There are lovely basilica (Basilica Pontificia di Sant’Antonio di Padova, etc…), some outstanding frescos (Cappella degli Scrovegni housing the most important…).  The restaurants are good to excellent.  My lodging is fine–the Hotel Donatello–a clean and neat family-run place right on the piazza opposite ‘Il Santo’….It has that thing that all 3-star Italian hotels seem to have–a sense of slightly frayed and rundown charm.  I’ll write a more comprehensive review of food, lodging and sights later.

The real reason I came here was to have my mother’s Olivetti Lettera 22 repaired and refurbished by Alessio Vescovo.   When the Olivetti was stripped down it was revealed to be more complex and more interesting than a modern computer.  He disassembled, cleaned and the reassembled it,  making the necessary needed repairs along the way.  He did all of this with a great sense of confidence and care. Today’s post only has photos of the disassembly.  Later will come photos of the cleaning and reassembly.  We found out some things.  It was built sometime between 1952 and 1954 and had been repainted a slightly darker shade if green before my mother bought it used in the mid-60s.  Interesting, no?

So Happy Easter, Kalo Pascha, etc…It’s all about renewal.

–JDCM

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Lebanon, part 2…

I don’t know why being in Athens makes me want to blog more about Lebanon.  Maybe it is this early morning, 7am light coming through the window of my hotel room…Not that that has anything to do with Beirut or Lebanon….So let’s talk about the food in Lebanon.  Like the stereotypes of falafel and kebabs, these places exist there and, trust me, the worst there is better than the best anywhere else, but there is so much more!  Salads much like the way salads are thought of here on Greece, as side dishes.  Eggplant, tomatoes, onions, etc…tabbouleh…Also plates of grilled meats (no pork) on sticks and the wonderful, fantastic kibbeh nayyeh (nigh-yah).  I may be weird, but there is nothing quite so good as prepared raw meat, either lamb or beef.  Mixed with salt, pepper, spices, olive oil….amazing!  I have only one photo and it doesn’t show details, but I have included a link that has good pictures and a solid recipe should anyone wish to try it.

I feel that this dish is a symbol of what can be right with the world.  You need meat that is fresh, handled by as few people as possible, from a source you know and butcher who knows what you want, i.e. no processed, packaged brand name big store shrink wrapped meats.  Buy local, stay healthy–in mind, body and planet!

Let’s talk about the government for a bit.  This is what I know:  Lebanon is a ‘failed state’ and, as such, has no government.  Yes…they have a president, a parliament, etc…they even have diplomatic relations with many countries like the USA, France, Greece…so on that level they are legitimate.  But the government doesn’t run the country.  The country is run by a group of families–let’s say 20-most of whom have been in power of some sort since the Middle-Ages.  Now, these families are very wealthy and most own the very legitimate and wealthy banks.  They are also the patrons of the very good and well-known hospitals and universities in Beirut.  They are the patrons of everything.  Think of it as the Five Families that run New York in ‘The Godfather’ and you’ll get the picture.  They run it all and, for the most part, the people like it that way.

Regarding militias…all but one militia have officially disarmed.  That is good.  These patrons, these wealthy families, are not all associated with militias, but the militias are all associated with wealthy patrons.  Make sense?  So whether you are Christian, Druze, Sunni or Shia–you have a friend somewhere making sure that your children go to good private schools, your parking spaces on your street are kept up, your fuel oil is delivered in the winter, you have medical care for your family, churches and mosques are kept up and polished, etc…

Let’s talk about the Power Ship!  Electricity is scare on Lebanon, hence the air pollution problem one sees everywhere.  Private home generators are needed to compensate for daily brown-outs which as a tourist, you’ll never notice.  In 2013, a Turkish company floated this amazing thing over to Lebanon and leased it to them for a few years.  There is a better article about it and the company here.  It is a pretty interesting idea–and one that is supposed to be temporary.  The problem is that the Families that run the country cannot agree in where to put the new stand-alone, on-shore, full-time power station.  No one wants to miss out on the money and no one wants to donate the free land for building, etc…so the Power Ship sits, expensively sending its energy to the country–and everyone loses.

 

 

 

 

 

My friend Thanassis took the photo of supper and the Power Ship photo came from the web somewhere.  That wide angle lens on the iPhone really distorts the image a lot…

–JDCM

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Lebanon, part 1…

I have my laptop back!  While Apple in Athens had it up on blocks, I took the opportunity to get off-island and travel.  I went to Lebanon to visit some friends in Beirut, see the country, eat the food…fascinating, sad, vibrant, beautiful, ancient.  It was an easy, inexpensive, 2-hour flight on MEA.  Up and down.  Beirut reminded me somewhat of Athens, but only more so.  I’ll have better details later, but I just wanted to set the thread spinning…Here are some pictures.  Many more to come!

Looking north from the top of the crusaders castle in Saida.   Much of the coast of Lebanon looks like this.

 

The Mohammad Al Amin Mosque, just west of the old Green Line, Beirut.  It is a 21st century addition to the cityscape.

An interior of the Druze castle in Beit el dine.  This is an amazing castle, in perfect condition and all but empty of visitors.  I pretty much had the place to myself.  I’ll post more from here.

Beit el dine interior…

The Cedars of Lebanon, Jabal Barouk, Chouf.  The cones of the Cedars look more like roses…It was silent but for birdsong when I was there.

The Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Bekaa Valley.  The whole Roman site is slowly being rebuilt and cleaned up.  This is actually a small temple.  The Temple of Jupiter is 3 times larger.

A view of Byblos…a layer cake of civilizations…Phoenician, two or three Greek, then a couple of Roman, Byzantine, Middle Ages, Ottoman, French Mandate, Arab…

Another view of the mosque…that other building is the old cinema. During the civil war in the 1980s, Palestinian guerrillas would hang out there and watch action flicks in between skirmishes–or so I have read.  There are movements trying to keep it as is, in memorium, but it is falling apart.

–JDCM

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Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to Christina Book and Joe Splendido, wherever you are, and to me too!  I have forgotten how old they are…friends from the distant past…maybe the same as me, or damn close.

52 years and doing alright, all things considered.

I woke up this morning at 6AM after a fitful 5 hours of sleep–dreams of lost luggage, being stuck in crumbling concrete airports, missed flights, mercenary taxi cabs…

As of tomorrow I will be off-line for almost two weeks.  I am sending my laptop into Athens to Apple to be repaired and cleaned.  I am taking this time to avoid my mobile phone as well.  I’ll get some reading done, take a lot of pictures and sleep differently, I imagine.

I inherited my mother’s old Olivetti Lettera 22 (c.1966) which she used for over 30 years, one of many typewriters she owned.  It needs some TLC, and I found a repairman in Venice who will do it, but it will be expensive.  It will be expensive to send it there and have it sent back but I feel it is worth it.  It might be cheaper to go to Venice and deliver it, stay for a few days, then bring it back.  Well…not really, but it might be worth the trip!  Venice in the spring?  I would like to use it…type some letters to those I love…write something interesting.  The happy organic sound of a manual typewriter clacking away on the front terrace…

Olivetti Lettera 22, c.1966

This post was going to be about politics, but I deleted what I wrote.  Not worth the effort.

–JDCM

 

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A Cold Day…

“I really am a pessimist. I’ve always felt that fascism is a more natural governmental condition than democracy. Democracy is a grace. It’s something essentially splendid because it’s not at all routine or automatic. Fascism goes back to our infancy and childhood, where we were always told how to live. We were told, Yes, you may do this; no, you may not do that. So the secret of fascism is that it has this appeal to people whose later lives are not satisfactory.”  Norman Mailer 

“It is not truth that matters, but victory.”  Adolph Hiltler 

“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerated the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.”  Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”  Benito Mussolini 

“Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion.
Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.   They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.   They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead.”  Henry A. Wallace 

“The United States is extremely lucky that no honest, charismatic figure has arisen. Every charismatic figure is such an obvious crook that he destroys himself, like McCarthy or Nixon or the evangelist preachers. If somebody comes along who is charismatic and honest this country is in real trouble because of the frustration, disillusionment, the justified anger and the absence of any coherent response.”  Noam Chomsky

“The Senator was vulgar, almost illiterate, a public liar easily detected, and in his “ideas” almost idiotic, while his celebrated piety was that of a traveling salesman for church furniture, and his yet more celebrated humor the sly cynicism of a country store.  Certainly there was nothing exhilarating in the actual words of his speeches, nor anything convincing in his philosophy. His political platforms were only wings of a windmill.”  Sinclair Lewis

“I do not fight fascists because I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists.”   Chris Hedges

—  My thanks to Goodreads and Brainyquotes for the ability to cut and paste…

—JDCM

 

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Chronio Polla!

Well…It is my name day!  I am so happy to have finally been able to celebrate it here.  In Greece, one’s birthday isn’t nearly important as one’s ‘Saint’s Day.’  Today (January 7) is the day that we celebrate St. John/Agios Ioannis — this John being St. John the Baptist (in the Greek Orthodox Church, not the Roman Catholic), not John the Apostle, or any of the many, many Johns that have been canonized by both churches over the millennia.   So Chronia Polla! to all you Johns, Seans, Johannes, Joannas, Ioannas, Yannis, Ivans, etc…out there!  Many years!

Paros has dipped back into the cold today and the rains have been glorious and dramatic.  It’ll be close to Zero C for the next 24 hours or so, and the weather man has posted a possibility of sleet.

I went biking the other day with a friend.  We both have new mountain bikes and I had only been able to ride mine two or three times due to the weather.  The day we rode the wind was low, the sun was out and the temperature was in the high teens centigrade.  Really nice.

I have converted my old mountain bike into my shopping/getting about bike, with panniers and 1.75 inch road tires.  Who needs a car?

Just a couple of guys with their new bikes!

— JDCM

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Man, oh man, oh man…

Ha!  Well, I had grand ideas about updating the blog after the Presidential Election in America…and then I did not. Then again when I went to Santorini for a quick visit…and I didn’t.  Time has gone by, the Winter Solstice was yesterday and in acknowledging this planetary shift I am locked in to updating this thing today.  This afternoon, I think.  I’ll write, edit, load the new header image and post from the very same cafe where I currently sit, snug and warm and out of the cold and rain.  And, yes…I have a head cold.  Shit.  ‘Tis the season.  It is a wet and windy 6C (42F) outside and with the 43km north wind it feels more like 3C (38F).  Suffice to say that those of us who live in houses without central heating all wear clothes, all the time.  I sleep in fleece and base layers.   And a hat.

So there are the bullet points.

–Santorini was good.  I went solely to visit the archeological site of Akrotiri, which was closed the last time I visited 10 years ago.  I took the ferry on Friday afternoon, saw the site and both museums the next morning and then took the boat back.  I was off-island for just over 24 hours.  I was glad to be back on Paros.  Aside from the caldera and the archeological sites, Santorini is pretty dull.  Too built up, too barren and, at this time of year, mostly closed.  Some that is no one’s fault.  3400 years ago the place blew up and has never really recovered.  I guess that is part of its charm.  It is, after all, still an active volcano.  This link is really good…Hey man…that’s my neighbourhood!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minoan_eruption

–I have been re-watching ‘The Sopranos’ since I never actually finished the series a few years years ago.  It is very good.  I have fallen in love with this clan of sociopathic narcissistic trash.  Really amazing.  Like watching a train wreck.  And then, somewhere in the middle of Season 2, or maybe 3, it dawned on me…The White House has been handed over to The Sopranos!   Think about it.  Complete with a goon squad!

–“For the love of money is the root of many evils…” (1 Timothy 6:10)  If this guy (I daren’t say his name) didn’t have any money, he’d just be another vulgar, racist, sexist, loud-mouthed, annoying asshole xenophobe sitting at the end of the bar.  Really.  No joke.  He is proof that money cannot buy you class or taste.  In fact,  he symbolizes all that is wrong and bad in our world–avarice, hubris, graft, ignorance–a deep soul-sickness lying beneath his veneer-like need for attention.  He is the winner of that contest, hands down.  I think he’d even win the popular vote.  This makes him very dangerous.  Anyone who studies history knows this.

–I’ll blog again before the new year.  There is more to report from this lovely rock in the middle of the Aegean Sea.  Have a Merry Christmas everyone, or whatever you wish to celebrate!

–JDCM

 

 

 

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