Sunday, August 31, 2008

Camp Zero

This is the abandoned radar tower at Camp Hero in Montauk. If you google "Montauk Project" you will quickly find that Camp Hero is a locus for almost every conspiracy theory in circulation. If I recall, it is something about Alister Crowley and the Pope plotting to assassinate Kennedy using technology recovered from an alien space craft downed by ex-nazi scientists over area 51.

A few decades ago nobody wanted this property and you could have had it for a dime. If I had known, I would have bought it and turned it into a techno rave club. The dj would have been stationed on the deck just in front of the curved reception field. He would have spun vinyl as it slowly rotated. The doof doof from the giant speakers would have been absorbed by the acres of surrounding pine barrens. I would have called the club "Camp Gay-dar"

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Last Look

I ran up to the Parthanon for a last look. The gates were closed when I got there so all I had was this last peak from around the corner.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I am staying in the tower

I was only supposed to stay until tuesday but Nick and Mem invited me to stay until I left Greece. This was pefect for me. I am not the kind of traveler who likes to go everywhere and see nothing. I prefer to stay in one place and really get a feel for it. I like to have lazy days where I get up early and practice yoga, read the paper, play guitar then sleep in the afternoon.

I was by myself the first night at the house. Nick and Mem had some things they had to attend to back in Athens. There was a terrific wind storm. The ocean far below the house was covered with white caps. Every door and window in the house was rattling. It was like an army of lunatics were trying to break in. I described it to Nick when he got back:
"This place is loaded with ghosts." I told him.
"How can it have ghosts? It's a new house." He said.
"It's not the house that's haunted." I said. "It's the island."

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Mayors House

We had dinner on the little plaza in front of the how do you call it? The mayors house?
"Hmm." I replied. I thought a bit. "Town Hall?"
We were accosted there by a half dozen or so stray cats. I made the mistake of feeding one a little bit of my roast rooster. After that, I had friends for life.


This is the main city on the island of Kea. It's just what you think. All of the houses are climbing on top of each other. The entire island is terraced for farming. It once was lush and green and originally was called Hydrosa. There are hundreds of miles of stone walls to support the terraces. In order to support the agriculture here there must have been thousands of people living here. As near as I can tell though that was all over more than a thousand years ago. In the 5th century BC there were four cities here and they had joined the Athenian leauge. By the 1400's the population had declined to 200 people.

On the way back up.

On the way back Maria-Elena, Thalia and I had to get out of the car to make it lighter, so that Nick could get it up the steep inclines. The engine gave off a rancid smell. The body was covered in fine dust.


Nick and I hiked up over the ridge and down to the site of one of the ancient cities that was being excavated. They were not just uncovering the temple here but actually rebuilding it. A small group of columns had already been erected.

There was a small rock island about 300 meters off shore and a group of boys had swum out to it and were diving from a precipice. We could hear their shouts above the waves. It was a pity that Johannes was not here. I know we would have been heading out there, into the lion's mouth, to join them.

Nick and I paused to rest on a rock bench before heading back. We saw a woman swimming towards the shore. She paused before getting out of the water and looked at us.
"She must be naked." I thought. "And waiting to see if we were ok." I gave her a little wave and she emerged from the froth. It was a perfect moment. An inspiration for Aphrodite. Now I see how myths come to be.

The hidden beach

Maria Elena was disappointed that the beach we finally arrived at was not empty.
"It's so crowded!"
There were about ten people there, a few tents and three cars. A motor boat was moored about 20 feet off shore. Half of the people there were crowed in the shade beneath a solitary tree. I told her that she needed to visit Coney Island with me.

The road dips deep.

We had to use a four wheeler to make our way down the treacherous dirt roads.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Giant Beans

Who needs California.

Stuffed Tomatoes

The tomatoes grown at the Taverna are juicey with a sweet tang. They cut like a piece of steak. The rice though, comes from China.


If you could just try it. Eggplants picked by dawn's light. The creamy topping made from milk from a goat that is watching you behind a hand hewn frence. Fresh meat hand ground in the kitchen .

Everybody Digs In

Nobody is afraid to dig in. The plates are brought to the table and it's a free for all with everybody reaching over each other to get at the food.

Grapes without wrath

These grapes were hanging over our table. I reached up and tasted one. They were a little bit too tart for eating. Then I drank a small pitcher of white wine that was made from them. It was crisp with a lot of straw. This is the first time I have been in a restaurant and the grapes were not made out of plastic.

I want to go to New York

When I first met Thalia she told me.
"I am four years old."
Her first nanny was from South Africa so she speaks English fluently. She always talks in perfect little sentences with all of the articles intact. At one point, after I had known her for a bit she said to me.
"Rene. Can I tell you something?"
"Sure." I said.
"I would like to go to New York."
Her mother, father, her father's brother, his wife and her friend all told me the same thing at one point or another. But she was the first. So. Dibs.

Mem tells me that Thalia is often asking when she is going to get married and have her husband. I told her:
"You should wait until you have finished the first grade. Then you will have your education."


These pistachios were being left out to dry. I tried one and was taken aback at how rich and creamy the taste was.
"Oh yeah." I thought. "This is why somebody had the idea to make ice cream out of them."

It was like the first time I had fresh squeezed orange juice. I was a young teen and we were on vacation in Florida. I could never go back to frozen canned orange juice after that. I have had other similar experiences, like in Heidelburg when I had beer that came direct from the brewing process without ever being kegged or transported. Before that, I had never liked beer at all.

More watermelons then you can imagine

The taverna also has a roadside vegetable stand. The food was so good here that I told Nick that I wanted to live under one of the tables.

this is how french fries are made

Normally I am snobby about french fries. But when I saw them at this stage of the process I could not resist trying them. Indeed, they were quite excellent.

Onions and figs

The Taverna we went to grows all of its own food. The vegetables we had reminded me of when I was a kid and everybody had a little garden. Everything then had real taste.

The view from Mems house

When I got out of the car I said to Nick.
"My god. The silence here is almost deafening."
My ears felt numb, as if they were in a vacuum. By the next morning I had gotten used to it. By then I could hear the waves lapping on the shore in the bay below the house. This morning I heard somebody cough,  inside their villa, a half mile away.

Mems house on Kea

For the last three years Maria Elena has been busy building her dream house on the Island of Kea. I tired from every angle and there is no way to photograph it. It is not just that the house is visually appealling. Which it is. Nor that it has stunning views. Which it does. It has so many pleasant places to hang out in. There are balconies and roof terraces, the front porch, the tower, little plazas and transitional spaces. It has the feeling of a little village. I told Johannes that it feels like you are on a movie set. Didn't The Sexy Beast feature a villa like this?

Mems other recent project

This is Thalia, the daughter of Mem and Nick. She is my new best friend.

Johannes, Meme, Nick and I all knew each other back in New York in the early 90s. I was writing and directing my serial theater piece Ailanthus Grove. Mem and Johannes founded a weekly newspaper to chronicle the show. It was called The Ailanthus Grove Citizen.

The mill

This is the tower where I am staying. At the bottom of the tower is the kitchen and bathroom. Behind it is an rectangular shaped building which houses the bedroom. It also has a roof deck and a back terrace. Between the main house and the tower you can see a little tree that one day will make a shaded place.

hill beyond the pool

This is a view from one of the terraces of Maria Elena's house on the island of Kea.

I traveled by bus from Vouliagmeni to the island. I had to be at the roadside station with my bags at 6:50am. We were making good time but then the bus stopped at Sunio and the Temple of Posideon. We had to wait there from 8:15 until 8:30. The ferry left at 9am and it was at least another 15 minutes to Lavrion where the ferry docked. We got there with 10 minutes to spare. Of course the person in front of me in the line had to have a big discussion with the cashier. It seemed important, like having to do with China and the Dali Lama or a solution the the Arab-Israeli conflict. I bought my ticket and ran down the dock making the ramp just before the hauled it up.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


This is how life should be.

The Little Park in Vouliagmeni

This morning I got up at 6am. I had breakfast. I swam across the bay. I practiced guitar. I read the Herald Tribune. I found a nice place to do yoga in a little park. Even in the blazing afternoon there is some shade under the Cypress trees. I listend to my Greek tape. I am still working on the basics: Hello, Goodbye, Thank you, No thank you, How are you. That pretty much covers 65% of what we say in a day. I took a nap and when evening came went out to dinner. I am still getting severe sticker shock. With the dollar so low a simple meal at a moderately nice restaurant is costing me nearly 90 dollars. Part of the solution is really packing it in at the free hotel breakfast.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The red rock of Vouliagmeni

Moonrise over Vouliagmeni

Vouliagmeni is a resort town not far from Athens. There is a large quiet cove with a sandy beach. The Agean is clear and blue. They have succeded in building too many hotels and villas here. On the rocky side of the peninsula red rock lava flows touch the ocean. There are piles of trash every where just beyond view, hidden in gullys and behind trees. The shore line on the west is littered with thousands of plastic water bottles, cigarette butts and ship debris. I spent a night here in the Plaza Hotel. The roof deck looks out over the bay. I plan to spend the day reading and playing guitar up there. On Sunday I go to Kea.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Temple of Posideon

Temple of Posideon

View from the shore below the Temple of Athena

I managed a swim here. The Agean is a spectaclar color of blue. I'm sure there is a special name for it, like "topalmarine" or something. The rocks around here were loaded with sea urchins. Luckily my Keens are completely submersible so I was able to wade in with my shoes on. The cove is protected by rocks on all three sides so it was not too dangerous. With out the rocks and with the terrific wind, I am sure one could be swept out quite quickly.

The shore below the Temple of Athena

See. I made it down there.

Below the Temple of Athena

The temple of Athena is below the one for Poseidon. It is gone save for a few broken columns. I was able to climb down to the beach. Nobody else dared. Still there were tons of cigarette butts and empty plastic bottles down there. Clearly I was not the first. I has after all been inhabited for 5 thousand years.

A windy day at the beach

Other beachgoers have put rocks on their towels to hold them in place.

The Temple of Posideon

This is the first view as you come up the hill. It is on a rocky promontory the blue Agean crashing below. The wind is terrific here. You have to hold onto your hat. I am told it is always that way.


This is my favorite drink. Why don't we get it in the US? Is it because of the twin evil giants Coke and Pepsi? Lemonata is pleasantly tart whereas Sprite and Mountain Dew are sickly sweet. Pelligrino makes a nice Lemonata that you can find in upscale deli's but you have to be lucky. Thankfully Citerella also carries a real Italian lemon soda. It is critical to have access to one if you want to make a Radler. Radler is half lemon soda and half weiss beer. I first had it in Frankfurt. Radler is also the German word for Bicyclist.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I am staying in a neighborhood called Exharia. Lonely Planet calls it the Bohemian section of town. I don't know what these posters are saying but it looks like, despite the hemlock. anarchy lives on.

Temple of Zeus

This thing is just too irresistable.

Funky Town

That is the Acropolis in the background. Acropolis is Greek for "Acro" Funky and "Polis" Town. This view was the inspiration for the Lipps Inc. Funkytown. Minneapolis born Steven Greenburg said the lyric:

Well, I talk about it
Talk about it
Talk about it
Talk about it
Talk about, Talk about
Talk about movin

Is a reference to Socrates.

Temple of Zeus

Another angle. I took all of these with my cell phone. I never used to like taking pictures but I love that I can capture a nice blurry lo-res image with my phone and then post it directly on to my web site. It took me an hour to figure out how to do that. I had attempted and failed twice before. It is not easy until you know how to do it. Then it seems relatively straight forward. I wish I had it for Russia and Cambodia. All of those images were lost when my hard drive crashed.

Leaning Tower of Zeus

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Dedicated to Pandrosous one of the three daughters of king Cecrops I. The first king of Athens. This myth is complicated so lets just say that she is the one daughter who did not look in the box where Athena hid her ugly baby. This chile was so ugly that the other two daughters, upon gazing at it, threw themselves off of the Acropolis.

Ionic Capitals on The Pandrosian

I woke up this morning at 6:30am. I decided to take advantage of the empty city and head directly to the Acropolis. I stopped in a little cafe and had a fresh squeezed orange juice from one of those lovely Zumex machines. It is like one of those old Coney Island machines filled with trinkets except that it crushes oranges instead. Along the way I also explored the market on Atheni Blvd. It was filled with butchers looking like lab technicians in their white coats. This would be a nice city to have a little apartment with a kitchen. We do not have any markets like this left in America.

I got to the entrance of the Acropolis at 8am as it was opening. There was already a small cue. I booked a guide at 25 euro. We had a one hour tour. By 9:30 hordes of people were already pouring in. The sun was blistering. This was mitigated by the fact that it inspired the scores of attractive young women who flock to this place, to wear as little as possible. By 10:30 am I had drunk 3 limonatas and had as many turns at the water fountain. The public water here is surprisingly good.


The sun was rising behind it and I ended up only taking one picture of the Parthenon. I just couldnt stop staring at it.

Another view.

You saw it here first.

The Acropolis

I intend to make it famous. When I got to the hotel I asked the manager about going to see it. He told me not to bother it was closed.
"There is nothing to see."
Huh. I asked the waitress in the trattoria if that was true. It was my first day in Athens and I really wanted to see it. Even from a distance. She said.
"Well... it's nice if you want to go for a walk."
I took a map from the lobby of a better equipped hotel and found my way there. There were hundreds of people dining out in the scores of restaurants at the base. My heart was pounding as I rounded the corner and saw it for the first time, lit by a rising moon.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Shade Bathing

Photo: Birgit Nagele

Shade bathers gather to "fade" outside the Delacorte Theater in Manhattan, prior the an evening at the American tribal love-rock musical Hair. De-facto leader of the Shade Bathing movement René Calvo grins in the foreground.

"It's time to take back the night. Fade in the shade. Say NO to cancer causing tanning products."
When queried about the future Calvo declared:
"Next year we take Shade Bathing FKK!"

Saturday, August 09, 2008