Travel

Some corner of a foreign field…

Thursday, October 13th, 2016 | Art, Food, Friends, Stavros, Travel | 1 Comment

I spent the last few weeks in Greece, traveling around with Stavros and his new squeeze. Big Chrissy joined us for the first week, passing a few days in Athens, visiting the Archaeological Museum, Acropolis and Acropolis Museum–musts for new visitors, and for me so nice to revisit Papposilenus, Poseidon, Hadrian and all my other guys.

We attended a staging of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex at the open air Odeon of Herodes Atticus, built in 161 AD on the southern slope of the Acropolis. It was a joint production of the Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre of Russia and the National Theatre of Greece, directed by Rimas Tuminas. Greek actors performed the ancient Chorus in Greek, and Russian actors the lead parts in Russian. At the center of the stage was a single rusted steel tube, a little over a person’s height in diameter, that characters hopped onto and off of, rolling upstage and back as Oedipus hollers at Tiresias and Creon and slowly figures out that he can’t escape his fate. Jocasta was played by an actress who almost comically looked like Oedipus’ grandmother, slowly hobbling across the stage in a dynamite performance.

We visited the Panathenaic stadium, built around 330 BC for the Panathenaic games. It was rebuilt entirely of marble by Herodes Atticus in 144 AD, and much later, and after a complete restoration, in 1896 hosted the first modern international Olympics games. At one end of the field are two delightful herms, one of which is double-sided and double-genitaled, representing Apollo and Hermes. Herms were made to ward off bad energy, as markers, for good luck, etc… but I find their stripped down quality, just head and penis, incredibly entertaining–really, just forget about the rest of this guy.

We saw a really great show of sculpture by Ai WeiWei at the Museum of Cycladic Art. Installed in the neoclassical wing of the museum were meticulously hand-crafted pieces that conceptually addressed the current refugee crisis in Greece, various humanitarian crises in China, and a clever statue made in the style of an early cycladic figure dropping a vase, referring to Ai’s destruction of neolithic pottery in his earlier work. Interspersed throughout the rest of the museum were sculptures that visually blended in with the museum’s collection, handmade shards of pottery, ground neolithic pots, etc, made to look old but referencing contemporary concerns.

From Athens we drove through the Peloponnesos to Neapolis and hopped on the ferry for Kythira. Kythira is where Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was born. There are several versions of her origins, but my favorite has her emerging from the sea foam after Cronus chopped off his dad Uranus’ genitals and tossed them into the sea. The first thing you see on approaching the island is a shipwreck. Driving out of the port and across the barren island, it quickly becomes apparent why Aphrodite was only born here, not much to inspire procreative activity, at least on this part of Kythira. Indeed, the island’s population has dwindled from 14,500 in 1864 to about 4,000 today. In the 16th century the pirate Barbarossa invaded the island, leveled the capital, and sold the survivors into slavery. Stavros complained the whole way, “This is terrible, this tastes horrible, that’s fake.”

The scenic village of Mylopotomos once had 22 mills operating along a small stream with a charming waterfall. We hiked through the ruins of the mills, most almost completely consumed by the surrounding forest, to the seasonally dried-up waterfall and pesto pond below. We had lunch in the main square, under huge old sycamores, and then made our way to the ruins of a Venetian castle on the edge of town, and the cave of Agia Sofia with its 13th century byzantine frescoes. The current capital was founded by the Venetians in the 13th century and is crowned with a picturesque castle.

We had a fabulous dinner at Taverna Filio in Kalamos, the last customers on their last open night of the season. We ordered stuffed fried zucchini flowers, fava (puréed split peas), horta (stewed greens), lamb and potatoes, and baked eggplant, each dish so flavorful. We also had tiganopsomo, a deep fried flat bread served almost like a pizza, with toppings of cheese and tomatoes. They grow and grind their own wheat for their breads, which are proudly brought to the table fresh from the oven. The house wines are crisp and refreshing. The service is friendly and enthusiastic. All dishes are made with locally grown and sourced produce and meats.

The next day we hopped on the ferry back to Neapolis and drove to Monemvasia, a perfectly preserved byzantine gem of a city built into the side of a solid sheer rock of an island. This was my third time to visit, and my first time to stay within the castle walls. Our hotel was an outrageously fabulous restored centuries-old house, with a terrace overlooking the sea and rooftops and domes of the town. No cars are allowed within the castle walls, so you hear only the occasional donkey clomp-clomping by. It really feels like stepping back in time.

After dropping Chrissy off at the airport, Stavros and I headed to Evia, about an hour and a half drive northeast of Athens, a large island that hugs about half of the mainland’s east coast, separated from it by a narrow channel. Our first stop was Halkida (Chalcis), for a quick walk along the channel waterfront. Because of the length of the island, its proximity to the mainland, and the different flows coming into the channel from north and south, an effect called “crazy water” can be observed. Every six hours strong tidal currents reverse direction, creating strong flows of water in opposite directions. Aristotle spent his last year in Halkida and was among the first to speculate correctly about the cause of the tidal shift.

After a really nice lunch on the waterfront near Kymi, we hopped onto the ferry for Skyros island. Skyros is another of those islands not on the map for a lot of foreign travelers. Stavros and I reserved a house through AirBnB, in the village of Molos, in the shadow of the main town and close to the beach. Our hostess was the most knowledgable Skyrophile who has ever lived, having written books on the cuisine, ceramics and history of the island, the books casually scattered among our room’s furnishings. On Sunday morning, driving into town with Stavros, hours after she and her husband had taken off for church in town, we saw her sauntering back to the house, in her tight dress and high heels and perfect conch of a hairdo. To get to where she was from town, she had to have walked down through the winding streets of town–essentially down a mountain–and then several miles to where we saw her. In high heels. Not a hair out of place. I was in awe. She’s like someone Melina Mercouri would have portrayed.

The main town is perched on the slopes of a steep mountain overlooking the sea. Near the charming folk art museum, there’s a nude statue dedicated to eternal poetry and Rupert Brooke, the english poet known for his beauty and romantic war poems, serenely perched on a theatrical stage set of sea and sky. Rupert was connected to Skyros only through his death. While in the British Royal Navy, he developed sepsis from an infected mosquito bite and died in a French hospital ship moored in a bay off the island. He was buried in an olive grove in the otherwise rocky and barren southern part of the island.

Hiking up through town to the castle we were accosted by several sweet middle-aged women, Athenians closing up their houses for the season, one of whom invited us into her home. Eager to show us a traditional Skyrian home, she proudly pointed out her many ceramics and freshly polished copper wares, and served us mastiha, a liqueur flavored with resin of the mastic tree.

The island is shaped like a figure 8, with the northern part densely green and lush. There’s a neolithic settlement on the northern tip and several other ruins scattered here and there along the drive, reflecting the various architectural styles of Roman, Venetian, Macedonian and Byzantine civilizations.

The southern part of the island is very rocky and bare. Near the most southern point, along the main road, are rock formations–either naturally occurring or by human hand, not sure, but they’re very striking in the landscape–forming a (seemingly) natural abstract sculpture garden, with the occasional passing goat or wild pony.

There’s a pony that’s native to Skyros, brought to the island by Athenian settlers sometime between the 8th and 5th centuries BC, one of the rarest horse breeds in the world. The ponies may have been used by Alexander in his conquests, and might be the horses depicted on the Parthenon frieze. The ponies are semi-wild in the southern part of the island, but many have been caught and tamed for use by farmers, ranging across the island until they are needed for the grain harvest.

Driving back to Athens, we took the longer mountainous route through the heart of Evia, a beautifully scenic drive twisting through dense forests, steep gorges, and sweet little hilltop villages. I’m back in San Francisco now, where Autumn is in full swing, a little discombobulated by how swiftly my time in Greece passed, missing those placid Greek waters, souvlaki pitas, and my dear friends…

Et in Arcadia Ego

Saturday, October 10th, 2015 | Art, Stavros, Travel | No Comments

I’ve been back in San Francisco a little over a week now, walking the dogs, meeting a few new dating prospects, getting caught up with my work, listening to Lana del Rey’s depressing new album and Rodriguez’s sublime Cold Fact from 1970, but my thoughts return to my final days last week in Greece, traveling through Elis and Arcadia. I believed myself very near heaven during those languid days in [Dimitsana]…

Our trip began in Olympia, where the original Olympic games were held every 4 years from the 8th century BC to the 4th AD. In the Temple of Zeus was a 43 foot tall statue of the seated god, made of ivory plates and gold panels over a wooden framework, the work of the sculptor Phidias, who also designed the 40 foot statue of Athena in the Parthenon. His statue of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, vanished completely in the 5th century, now in some Bond villain’s subterranean retreat somewhere.

Olympia itself completely disappeared for about 1,000 years. After a series of earthquakes, Theodosius II enforced a ban on pagan festivals and destroyed the temple. Then came plague, more earthquakes, floods and tsunamis, so that by the 7th century the entire site was abandoned and eventually completely buried.

The artifacts on display in the Olympia Archaeological Museum form one of the world’s greatest collections of art from antiquity. The friezes from the two pediments of the Temple of Zeus, created during the first half of the 5th century BC, are displayed in the central gallery, facing each other across the vast room, and surrounded by metopes depicting the labors of Hercules, as well as lion-headed water spouts from the temple.

The eastern pediment depicts the chariot race between Pelops and Oinomaos. Pelops, after whom the Peloponnese is named, and the mythical founder of the Olympic games, wanted to marry the daughter of King Oinomaos, but to win her hand he had to beat his future father-in-law in a chariot race. Oinomaos had killed the previous 18 suitors after defeating them, fearful of a prophecy that he would be killed by his son-in-law. Pelops went to the sea and appealed to his former lover, Poseidon, reminding him of “Aphrodite’s sweet gifts” that they once shared, so Poseidon gave him a chariot drawn by winged horses. After winning the race–and of course, as prophesied, Oinomaos was thrown from his chariot and dragged to death by his horses–Pelops staged chariot races to thank the gods and as funeral races in honor of his slain father-in-law. From these games the Olympics were born.

The frieze from the western pediment lively illustrates the abduction of the Lapith women by Centaurs at the wedding at Pirithous and Hippodamia, hooves and arms and legs and breasts entwined in a tour de force of sculptural narrative. The centaurs were invited to the wedding, but not used to wine, tried to rape the bride and carry off all the women and boys. The battle between the Lapiths and Centaurs is referred to many times in Greek art, metaphorically referring to the conflicts between Greeks and barbarians, or wild nature in conflict with civilized behavior.

Viewed from the large central room is the Nike of Paeonius, from 420 BC, dramatically installed in a room of blue walls, the blue of heaven, the Nike descending triumphantly from Mount Olympus.

Nearby is a delightful terra-cotta sculpture of Zeus carrying off the young Ganymede, from about 480 BC. Zeus strides confidently forward, a satisfied smile on his face, little Ganymede tucked under his arms holding a hen, a common gift at the time associated with pederasty. Actually, Ganymede’s arm sort of disappears behind the hen down into the front of Zeus’ tunic, perhaps the source of Zeus’ bemusement.

And then you turn the corner and there’s Hermes in all his polished contrapposto exquisiteness, the infant Dionysos perched on one of his arms, reaching playfully for a missing cluster of grapes dangling from Hermes’ missing other hand. My lips trembled and a single tear rolled down my cheek. The museum attributes the work to Praxiteles, created around the mid 4th century BC. The attribution is based on a remark by Pausanias two centuries later, but it was found exactly where he described seeing it, and the museum accepts it as the only original extant work by the master sculptor.

That night, after driving through scenic little village after scenic little village, we stayed in Dimitsana, a scenic little village of stone built on the side of a mountain overlooking the plain of Megalopolis. The next day we visited the Monastery of Agios Ioannis Podromos, dangling precipitously from cliffs, then on to the paltry ruins of ancient Gortys, the Byzantine bridge at Karytaina, and finally the Temple of Epicurean Zeus.

The temple was built about 450-400 BC, set atop Mt. Kotylion at 1,130 meters and has been under a big white tent for the past few decades while being restored. It was designed by Iktinos, the architect of the Parthenon, and contains examples of all three of the classical orders used in ancient Greek architecture: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. The single Corinthian column at the far end of the naos is believed to be the first use of the Corinthian order. The massive limestone columns of the temple feel both heavy and light, porous, as if they’re about to crumble at any minute. The exterior was minimally decorated, but the interior had a continuous frieze depicting Greeks in battle with Amazons, and Lapiths trying to save their women from those Centaurs again. The frieze metopes were removed by the British in 1815 and are now in the British Museum, displayed near the other Greek cultural treasures plundered by the British in the tumultuous years of Ottoman rule.

And so my summer closes, suddenly single again, but ready for love, adventure and my impending fifties, due to arrive next month.

Last Tango in Tinos

Friday, October 2nd, 2015 | Art, Gay, Stavros, The Dating Game, Travel | 2 Comments

Stavros, Dean & Mike, and I spent a few days on Tinos last week, one of the larger islands in the Cyclades. Tinos isn’t on the radar for many non-Greeks, and perhaps because of this, the island feels somehow less corrupted by tourism. The Venetians controlled it until 1715, long after the rest of Greece had fallen to the Turks, and a legacy of the long Venetian presence is a mixed Catholic/Greek Orthodox population and elaborately designed dovecotes that dot the entire island. There’s a thriving marble folk art industry. Every door and window on the island has a carved marble transom, each house incorporating some marble decoration or detail.

Most people make the pilgrimage to Tinos to visit the church of the Panagia Evangelistria, or Our Lady of Tinos. It was built on the spot where a miraculous icon with healing powers, thought to have been made by Luke the evangelist, was found in 1823. A few years earlier, Our Lady appeared to an elderly gentleman, telling him to wake up and dig up the icon. He told a local priest of his vision, but they both agreed that it may have been the devil in disguise, so best to proceed with caution. Mary kept appealing to this guy, disrupting his sleep to no avail. She finally moved on to a local nun who was a little more receptive to her directives, and bingo, she led some guys with shovels right to it. The icon was found the day after the creation of the modern Greek state, so Our Lady of Tinos was declared the patron saint of the emerging Greek nation, and the construction of the church was its first large architectural project.

On the feast day of the Dormition of the Virgin (August 15), penitents crawl from the port up the hill to the church on their hands and knees as a sign of devotion, many seeking to be healed in some way. There are carpeted crawl-ways leading up the hill, and, at the top, a ghoulish statue of a crawling believer with outstretched arm and no face. It really freaked me out, the statue, reminding me of the Ghost of Christmas Future, the one who finally spooked Ebenezer Scrooge into buying that Christmas goose and new legs for Tiny Tim. The icon is displayed in the church under a mound of glittering jewels. I stood in line to photograph it, everyone in front of me kissing it and praying feverishly, but when I finally got there, I just sort of stared at it, not really able to comprehend what I was looking at, a mound of shiny baubles under glass. Beyond the reproduction icons and plastic holy-water bottles of the main town, ah, the magic begins. Great food, villages unspoiled by time, dramatic landscapes, fantastic beaches, charming little museums, and people living off of and sharing the bounty of the rugged landscape.

We stayed in an apartment overlooking the bronze-age acropolis of Vryokastro. Starvos and I ascended to the top of the acropolis early one morning, to see the sunrise, and got in the way of a humpy hunter chasing a cute little bunny, who seemed annoyed to see us in what was clearly his domain, shotgun shells strewn here and there along the path, his hounds barking and howling, just like a Bugs Bunny cartoon. I like to think that we saved a bunny that day.

In Kambos is a museum devoted to the work of Costas Tsoclis, an artist who creates paintings and sculptures saturated in antiquity and nostalgia, and that often extend beyond their frames. Outside he’s created a fabulous and whimsical large-scale semi-abstract depiction of St. George slaying the dragon. Inside are several room-sized painting installations. The museum is so well designed, that even the bathroom window frames a poetic installation, a single cross leaning against a corner of the empty back courtyard, blue skies and a single cloud above. The only restaurant in town was run by a man named Stefanos, an older gentleman with a wide and toothless smile, who served up cuisine of ingredients entirely home grown, including these fantastic fried wild herb “horta” balls. We ate at his son’s restaurant in the main town a few nights later, and it was just as delicious.

Driving north across the center of the island, we turned a corner and suddenly it seemed like we were on the moon. For as far as we could see, the entire landscape was filled with giant boulders, as if someone dumped a bag of giant rocks everywhere. In the center of this tremendous cyclopean rock-scape was a quaint village, Volax, with all of its houses built into, onto or around these massive stones. An artist covered the doors of vacant houses with handwritten transcriptions of various Greek poems, giving literal dimension to the weirdly poetic experience of the village.

I climbed Mt. Exobourgo one day, site of a crumbling Venetian fortress, the administrative center of the island from the 13th to 18th centuries, while Stavros slept in the car. Standing for 500 years or so, the fortress and town inside were dismantled by the Turks in 3 days.

Pyrgos, on the north central side of the island, is one of the island’s largest villages, with several museums devoted to marble art and production. The houses and streets seem to be interconnected physically and visually, as if carved from a single block of marble. There are so many villages to tell you about, each with its own unique character, charm, and history, but enough already.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Stavros and I had decided the week before departing for Tinos to be just friends. Once on Tinos, we further decided to start seeing other people by seeing the same guy, and at the same time. His name means “sugar” in Greek, and he is as sweet as they come, a sort of furry Greek Mighty Mouse: short, muscular, carpeted in fine hairs, laughing and smiling. He’s married, to a woman, and has children, but he eagerly jumped into our four arms. He was tender, passionate, and talked to us for hours, so free with the details of his life on the island. I remember looking at Stavros across our Mighty Mouse sandwich and seeing someone different, someone I hadn’t seen before, my boyfriend being passionately engaged by someone else. I felt for a moment as if I were an intruder, but then Stavros looked into my eyes, kissed me, and suddenly I felt like we were celebrating not the end of something, but a new beginning. Remember Audrey Hepburn at the end of Roman Holiday, returning to her duties as a princess? On the plane now back to my life in San Francisco without Stavros, invoking Audrey when asked about my favorite island, I say “Tinos,” Tinos without hesitation, glassy-eyed and with memories that I’ll cherish forever.

A Day in Marathonas

Thursday, September 24th, 2015 | Art, Gay, Travel | No Comments

The boys, Stavros, and I took a little day trip to Marathonas last week, just a little northeast of Athens. It was here in 490 BC that the Persians were crushed by a considerably smaller contingent of clever Athenians. In a pivotal moment in European history, the victory proved that the young democracy could appoint the kind of political and military leadership necessary to repel such an ambitious empire while at the same time avoiding a return to tyranny, leading to the eventual rise of Classical Greek civilization and its continuing influence today.

Near the site of the battle, in Nea Makri, are the remains of a sanctuary and bath complex dedicated to the worship of Isis and other Egyptian/Hellenic gods. It was built around 160 AD by Herodes Atticus, the Roman consul of Athens and buddy of the Roman emperor and total heartthrob Hadrian. As far as I know, it’s the only such complex found in Greece. Herodes was inspired by a similar complex that Hadrian built at his villa in Tivoli, in turn modeled after an Egyptian sanctuary in Canopus on the Nile Delta.

On the site are replicas of the statues found there. The originals are located in the Archaeological Museum of Marathonas, a wonderful little museum nearby, which also includes finds from the area going back to 4,000 BC. The statues combine characteristics of Egyptian and Greek goddesses, and, as if designed for a Cecil B. DeMille epic, are very theatrical and seem oddly not of their time. One statue holds in her hands three small roses, symbols of both the Egyptian Isis and the Greek Aphrodite. Another Egyptian-looking goddess holds a sheaf of wheat, symbol of Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, closely tied to the change of seasons.

A few days earlier, at the Museo Archaeologico in Athens, I had seen a statue of Antinous, Hadrian’s lover, as an Egyptian god. Antinous was associated with Osiris after he mysteriously drowned in the Nile and was deified by Hadrian. The wall label indicated that the statue was found in Marathonas, so I’m assuming it was part of the temple complex there. But Antinous was pretty much everywhere during that time. The sad obsessed Hadrian not only declared him a god after his death and commissioned thousands of humpy statues of his likeness, he also built a city on the site of his death, Antinopolis. He also identified a star in the sky as Antinous, a rosy lotus that grew along the Nile as the Antinous flower, and proposed a new constellation of Antinous being carried to heaven by an eagle (the constellation Aquila. Remember Ganymede was swept up to Olympus by Zeus, in the form of an eagle, to be the gods’ cupbearer).

Ganymede was the loveliest born of the race of mortals, and therefore
the gods caught him away to themselves, to be Zeus’ wine-pourer,
for the sake of his beauty, so he might be among the immortals.

I have such a crush on Hadrian. First of all he’s exactly my type with his big face and wavy hair and beard. Secondly he turns his boyfriends into gods. He wrote an autobiography, unfortunately lost, that I am hoping turns up someday.

But anyway, back to the little Archaeological Museum of Marathonas… in addition to the Egyptian-Hellenic god statues, there are many interesting grave stele and funeral monuments, including a herm unusual for having a penis and not a head. I’ve often wondered if one day archaeologists will find a hidden room somewhere filled with all the gentle-talia that have been hacked off of old statuary. I can imagine some modern-day Shemp opening the door and all the marbles spilling out around him in a river of white willies.

Greece and the Newly Single Girl

Thursday, September 24th, 2015 | Stavros, The Dating Game, Travel | No Comments

I recognize him immediately, that guy who is just not the marrying type. He’s in his mid-40s, extremely handsome, never married, but he talks dreamily of marriage, spending lives together, dish patterns… I am drawn to him like bees to pollen, sure that once he samples the depths that are possible with sustained intimacy, he’ll blossom into that other guy, the one I’m certain I’ll be with forever. Then one day there’s the guy I recognized at first—the one in the wheelchair that I shoved down the stairs to make way for my fantasy—that guy who isn’t quite ready to settle down or explore perpetual commitment. Just not the marrying type at all.

I’m in Greece, visiting Stavros and traveling around with him and my buddies from San Francisco, Dean & Mike. A few days after our arrival, Stavros announced that he and I would be better off as just friends, apparently misreading my busyness and distraction over the past few months as a lack of interest. I wasn’t sure at first if it were a pre-emptive breakup based on misinformation or a genuine desire to reposition himself in the relationship, but our subsequent conversations have clarified the urgency for both of us to embrace a different kind of companionship. In a way there’s some relief on both sides. We like each other so much and have so much fun together, but he’s focused on a career that’s going to make being together a challenge. And there are those 6,000 or so miles between us. Or maybe we both knew from the beginning that we wanted different things? It’s painful and uncomfortable, but, but… actually, but nothing, it’s just painful and uncomfortable. I don’t like the idea at all of being 50 and single, so my suitors better start lining up, the twilight of my 40s is quickly slipping into the darkness of 50ness. But, soft! what hairy forearm through yonder window breaks?

Greece, on the other hand, has been a delight, and despite breaking up, Stavros and I have had a great time together as usual. Except for that brief moment when we tried to drown each other in Ormos Giannaki. We’ve been toodling around with Dean & Mike, showing them Athens and beyond, bonding with antiquity as well as the vibrance of city and village life. We visited Mycenae and the remarkable Tholos tombs there, then spent a few days with Yorgos & Filios at their getaway in Methana, then the theater at Epidavrus, the beach and ruins and Tomulus of the Athenians in Marathonas, the Temple of Poseidon at Sounio… I’ve written about these places before so won’t bore you with details, but stick around for some more entries about the rest of the trip.

So let the Dating Game begin. I’m currently accepting applications from eligible bachelors. If single and furry and slightly over-the-hill and planning to be in the San Francisco Bay Area, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope with your name and shoe size to Sanfranchrisko, San Francisco, California.

Deep in July it’s Nice to Remember the Fire of May that Made us Mellow

Saturday, July 11th, 2015 | Food, Stavros, Travel | 1 Comment

It’s July in San Francisco. Cold, foggy, drizzly. Now that my show is up and the dogs are sleeping, I’ll attempt to fill you in on some of my adventures of the past few months.

In May I spent a few weeks in Greece, exploring the northwest mainland and Corfu with little Stavros.

We visited Nikopolis, which Octavian founded following his defeat of Marc Anthony and Cleopatra. Napoleon’s troops plundered and looted the site in 1789, the treasures eventually ending up with the Ali Pasha when he defeated them. So as with most of these ancient sites, there’s not much left, save for some interesting floor mosaics, two theaters, a quaint little museum with the plunderers’ rejects, crumbling ruins and an aqueduct, all beautifully set in gently rolling hills. The stadium, buried under weeds and bright green grass, nibbled on by sheep, must have inspired several Romantic odes. A shepherd told us with a snicker that his sheep were part of the stadium restoration.

We spent the night in Parga, a hilly resort town on the Ionic. Standing up after resting on a bench by the sea, I felt my camera slip from my lap. It seemed like forever after my eyes locked with my neighbor’s that the “plunk!” that we both anticipated finally came. There was quite a scene as a local fisherman and his kid tried to get it out of the water for me. A large crowd gathered and cheered after they finally fished it out. People around town were pointing at me all night. I was able to save the images in the camera, but since the camera was on when it fell into the water, the electronics shorted out. I used my iPhone for the remainder of the trip, and realized how dependent I’d become on my camera to document and record my experience. When I first traveled to Europe in the mid 80’s I refused to take pictures. This is when I was studying photography at the Art Institute but considered myself a conceptual artist. Ideas and experience were paramount, the object inconsequential. I didn’t want anything mitigating my first Grand Tour. I wanted to experience the real things that I had read about and studied in art school, with my own eyes, that I’d seen in textbooks and in movies… I didn’t want my memories contained within photographs, they’d always be alive in my head. And of course now I don’t remember anything. Thus I’ve become one of those obnoxious tourists who takes pictures of every pre-historic thimble and my memories are fairly restricted to what has been photographed.

From Parga we traveled to Mesopotamos and visited the Nekromanteion, site of the ancient oracle of death and the door to Hades, where people came to connect with their dead ancestors. Three rivers join nearby and flow to the underworld. This is where Odysseus made his trip down under. On entering the temple grounds, visitors participated in an elaborate ceremony and were fed snacks laced with narcotics. After passing through a series of underground passageways, they’d pose their questions to the oracle, and the priest appeared to rise from the ground and fly around, the awed but quite stoned pilgrims unaware of the cranes and ropes hoisting them aloft. A busload of German women appeared at one point and pushed past me and Stavros in the underground chamber and held their hands solemnly to a crack in the wall, presumably seeking communion with lost loved ones. Then they hustled up the stairs and back on the bus.

On the way to Corfu, I read Lawrence Durrell’s Prospero’s Cell, written before WWII. Not much has changed, it’s still all “Venetian blue and gold—and utterly spoilt by the sun.” Durrell says that while other countries offer discoveries in “manners or lore or landscape,” Greece offers something harder—”the discovery of oneself.” I don’t know that I discovered any new me, but I did enjoy the manners, lore and landscape.

We stayed on the west coast, in the Lido Sofia apartments, perched on the cliffs overlooking Agio Ghordios and the sea. Our hostess Sofia was charming and hospitable, and made us feel like we were old buddies staying in her home. A panoramic view of the sea, a beautiful pool, free wifi, lovely rooms and home-cooking… all for €25/night. A week in Greece is cheaper than a weeknight dinner in San Francisco.

Seriously, every other guy in Corfu is named Spiros, after the island’s patron saint.

One night, in the beautiful little mountain village of Kastellanoi, we listened to a soulful singer play guitar and croon about love, on the main square with just a few other locals, drinking homemade wine, watching our souvla sizzle away on the grill across the street.

Old town Corfu is surrounded by three imposing fortifications, dating from the period of Venetian rule. The architecture of the old town also dates to the Venetian period. Passed down to successive French, British, and eventual Greek governments, the predominately Venetian buildings of the old town incorporate elements from each of the town’s occupiers.

The Spianada, or esplanade, in old Corfu town is a large verdant park running between the town and the old fortress, with a bandstand, fountains, statues and a cricket field. At one end of the Spianada is the Royal Palace of Corfu, now the Museum of Asian Art, a grand neoclassical building with a beautiful pockmarked Doric colonnade. Running alongside the Spianada is the Liston, a long building with gracefully vaulted galleries, archways and hanging lanterns. The Liston was constructed during French rule, designed by a French Engineer as a mini Rue de Rivoli, now lined with elegant cafes and restaurants. When first constructed only noblemen were allowed to enter and walk along the street and under the arches. A special list ensured the area was kept elite. The name “Liston” is believed to be derived from a Venetian word that referred to both this list and a wide and straight road.

La Grotta Beach Bar in Palaiokastritsa is the world’s most picturesque swimming hole. One descends a steep stairway to a terraced cafe carved out of the steep cliffs surrounding a cove of icy blue water. A sole honeymooning couple alternately dipped into the water and embraced on the rocks, making out as the water crashed around them, upright versions of Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr, the rest of us their captive audience, sipping our freddo cappucinos to the thumping chill-out lounge music.

On the slopes of Mount Pantokrator we visited the abandoned village of Old Perithia, first established in the 14th century as Byzantines moved inland to hide from pirate and mosquito attacks. As pirates and mosquitos became less of a problem, people slowly trickled back to the coastal towns, and now only about five people live there. The per capita taverna ratio is 1:1, with five tavernas operating amidst the crumbling, Venetian-style houses. The per capita ratio of churches is even higher, with 1.6 churches for every resident.

We popped in for a visit to Empress Sisi’s little retreat in Corfu, the Achilleion. Elisabeth was the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph I, the Empress of Austria, as well as Queen of Hungary and Queen consort of Croatia and Bohemia. She built the retreat in Corfu to honor Achilles and her love of Greek culture, a monument to platonic romanticism, aestheticism, and escapism. It was constructed in sadness, built after her son Rudolf’s murder/suicide, which set into motion events leading to WWI.

Of the many memorable meals on Corfu, one of the most memorable was at Archontariki, in Sinarades. Angelos, the owner, sat outside smoking and chatting to everybody who passed by, and invited us in. After ordering, and as Angelos and his son Vagellis chatted with us, we saw Spiridoula, the mom and cook, run down the street to buy items for our meal. The food at this family run restaurant gem was packed with flavor and sensation. The menu contained many of the same local specialties as in other restaurants in Corfu, but Spiridoula’s food was different: much more flavor, expertise, most ingredients grown by her and her family. Her “Grandma’s Meatballs” were exactly what I imagined my grandma’s meatballs would have tasted like, if I had had a Greek grandmother.

After throughly exploring the beaches, towns, castles, sites, sounds, and tastes of Corfu, we boarded the ferry for Igoumenitsa and drove inland on the road that connects the west coast of mainland Greece to Thessaloniki. Thessaloniki is only 160 miles away, but it takes about 5 hours for a regular person to drive there. (A Greek, 2.) The new road is a public works masterpiece, snaking through and around the breathtaking Pindos mountains and a bazillion tunnels.

And what a beautiful place to have the car break down. We stalled in a tunnel, and as soon as we pulled over a phone rang. The person on the other end asked if we needed assistance. How’s that for efficiency? We got off the main road so we could drive slower and stopped off in Dodoni. Dodoni was the site of an ancient oracle devoted to Dione, Aphrodite’s mom. Priests and priestesses interpreted the sounds of the rustling leaves prior to dispensing their oracular guidance. The theater dates to about 300 BC, but was destroyed by Aetolians, rebuilt by Philip of Macedon, destroyed again by the Romans and then rebuilt by Augustus. Archaeologists have uncovered artifacts going back to Mycenaean times (1600-1100 BC). The theater is surrounded by mountains, fields and trees, just preposterously scenic. The site was undergoing another restoration, so I couldn’t climb to the top, but above is a panoramic photo by Onno Zweers, from the Wikipedia entry about Dodona.

We stopped for the night in a little alpine village in the Pindos mountains, Metsovo. In Ottoman times, the residents were granted special tax privileges in exchange for guarding the mountain passages and servicing passengers. Indeed there were three mechanics in this quaint little town and about a million places to stay for under €40/night. Stone and wood houses are tucked into the hillside, arranged like eagles’ nests rising upwards in a natural amphitheater from the central square. The village is the center of the Greek Vlach community. The Vlachs were originally nomadic shepherds, who claim descent from Latin-speaking Wallachians of what is now Romania. At the time of our arrival kids were running up and down the stairs of the bell tower in the central square, ringing the tower bells 400 times–representing the 400 years under “slavery,” a local priest dramatically told us, or the years under Ottoman rule. Georgios Averoff was born here, considered one of the great benefactors of modern Greece, who contributed to many social, educational and infrastructure projects, including the stadium of the first modern Olympics, and a museum and school of cheesemaking in Metsovo! The butter served at breakfast was truly the most amazing dairy product I’ve ever experienced. Sweet, complex, aromas of grass and herbs… I felt briefly in communion with the cow’s olfactory and taste sensations, imagining myself chewing the cud with the other girls on those bucolic hills. We missed seeing the 14th century monastery there, but we ate a lot of butter.

Back in Athens I had only a few days to visit with my buddies: G, who works high in the Greek government and has read more english literature than anyone I know and pens highly literate pornographic tales on the side; M, a gentle half Greek/half Brit giant in search of a meaningful relationship with an ever-elusive succession of increasingly distant and increasingly older daddy bears; T, engaged with intellectual life and microbiology; and P, my froggy nurse buddy and student of English desperately seeking his Prince Charming. I didn’t get to see T, but I had a salad of baby valerian greens one night. They call it valerian, but I later discovered that it’s what we call mâche. A different species of valerian grows out of cracks in the sidewalks in San Francisco, so ubiquitous that it’s not even noticed, a tough drought-tolerant summer blooming perennial with heads of pink flowers that attracts both rats and cats and smells like cat pee. And there it was on the menu! Or so I thought, this common weed that is thought of as food by only certain moth and butterfly larvae. Remember when arugula was an exotic green? I daydreamed briefly of the valerian revolution I would ignite upon my return to drought-stricken northern California… Ah, but only mâche, already available at Trader Joe’s, and not the stuff growing out of the cracks in front of my house… G took us to Piggy-popoulo in Pagrati for souvlaki. Pagrati is a little off the beaten tourist track, with many restaurants catering to locals. In Metaxourgio, I went to a kalamaki place called Elvis, “Sweet Home Alabama” blasting in the background, and later that night met up with P for drinks at one of my favorite spots, the Dyari Cafe. The host is always charming and welcoming. This time he treated us to a liqueur that he made from the insides of the apricot pit. “Pit” is “kookoutsi!” in Greek. I love that word, and what a kooky idea for a drink! We ended up in Kerameio, a bar in a former pottery workshop in Keramikos. The bar was packed with noisy hipsters, but P and I sat alone in the central courtyard, sipping raki and talking deep into the night. The courtyard was open to the sky, a single tree sharing the sky above us with the moon, the crowded hipsters pressed against the glass walls framing the courtyard, music blaring on their side of the glass; on ours only the sound of rustling leaves, the sweet smell of jasmine, and the intimate banter of dear friends.

Breezing into the Windy City

Monday, December 29th, 2014 | Art, Food, Travel | No Comments

I love going to Chicago. It’s like “the big city” in a way that New York and LA–and certainly little San Francisco–somehow aren’t. Maybe it’s the grandeur of the architecture, or just that everything seems so… what? Big? Even small plates at restaurants seem huge. I was there recently, and even I came home bigger, after stuffed pizza, fat steaks, half pound burgers and Whitey’s chocolate malts. Whitey’s is in Moline, on the Iowa border, where Big Chris’ family lives. We stopped in Moline for a few days to visit with them and see the “Self-Taught Genius” show at the Figge in Davenport, across the Mississippi. And Whitey’s malts every night. And there are all these fantastic slow-foody restaurants, with local products, vertically constructed architectural dishes, craft brews and spirits. I remember going to Italy in 1993 with Bob and discovering field greens, which seemed so exotic at the time, and then coming home trying to find things like arugula and frisée, which at the time weren’t yet widely available. I’m so happy that people are rediscovering their local farmers and producers. It makes visiting those places more special, when something uniquely of the place can be experienced.

At the Art Institute of Chicago we saw a show of James Ensor’s work, centered around the restoration of his Temptation of Saint Anthony. What a wonderfully tortured artist. Having never successfully resisted greed or lust myself, I found his anguish at the brutality of modern life quite intense, and so lushly theatrical.

There was also on view a more recent body of work examining the drama of modern misery, from 1980, Sarah Charlesworth’s Stills. Each of the 14 photographs is 78 inches tall, and features a blown up reproduction of an image from a newspaper of a person falling from a tall building. They’re beautifully unsettling, shocking documents that reduce existence to the split second before it’s all over.

Of the many wonderful dining experiences this time around, my favorite was a seemingly dumpy Polish place on West Division, called Podhalanka. We were given a menu, but quickly discouraged from making any decisions and simply asked how hungry we were. “Average hungry” for the two of us resulted in white borscht with sausage soup, cabbage soup, grilled sausages, stuffed cabbage, potato pancakes, pierogi and Cherry juice. One of the most memorable, satisfying and authentic Polish meals I’ve had in Chicago. The staff quite clearly hoped to give us an experience of Polish cuisine, and share their lovingly made traditional creations, rather than just feed us. I felt like my aunt Agnieszka was cooking–just for us!

My cousins took us out to a pubby restaurant called Publican that describes its food as an homage to bear, pork and oysters–a rowdy place, well-suited to my fun-loving cousins. It’s the kind of place where you could jump on the tables and sing the Whiffenpoof Song. My cousins, who are around my age, have a knack for finding mates who look exactly like what my husband should look like. When the time comes, I’m putting those girls to work on finding the next one for me.

Two More Days

Saturday, November 15th, 2014 | Film, Friends, Stavros, Travel | 2 Comments

I’ll be 48 for only two more days. Ron was 48 when we briefly went out nearly 30 years ago. Well, we didn’t really “go out,” we actually just boinked a few times, but man did I have a crush on that guy. His big gray mustache and eyebrows, his deep bellowing laugh, the craggy lines on his big face. I completely fetishized the late 40s for much of my baby gay days. I’m that age now, but somehow can’t make the leap to thinking of myself as his peer, or having my grays and wrinkles and ear hair fetishized.

My sister died less than 2 years ago. I still wake up crying, I still can’t wrap myself around the notion of Susie being so profoundly gone. I read about Syrians and Palestinians losing several generations of family members in one brutal moment, and wonder how in the heck they do it. And I have a home and hot water.

Life used to be this thing that was forever in the future, so many things to do, so much time to get it all done, later, always the possibility of later. Now it seems that later is now, and the only inevitability is more ear hair, more gray, a body that gets progressively less cooperative… On the bright side, I’m totally on the road to becoming the man I love, or at least looking like him. As soon as my back hair grows in I won’t need anybody. I used to think of old people as a sort of other species, that they were cranky because they were of a different sort of genetic material. Now I find myself complaining about Republicans and dirty sidewalks and noisy kids and the changing demographics of my neighborhood. I listen to the Carpenters with no irony.

And then Davide came to visit, fresh from his breakup, and dated up a storm while he was here, no not a storm, some sort of southeast Asian typhoon-like squall, and with all these guys with beards down to their bellies and bellies sitting on their laps.

And then Stavros and Giorgos came to visit. I seemed to be sick the entire time they were here, but with me hacking and wheezing we went to Lake Tahoe with Big Chris and the dogs, took the ferry to see Ai WeiWei’s show on Alcatraz (a few visually dazzling sculptural statements, but generally Public Art for people who like confirmation that what they think they’re experiencing they are indeed experiencing: lots of stuff to read, politically correct, softcore, nothing particularly memorable or challenging), we visited Julia Morgan’s Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, met with my movie group, had a reception for my show at Mercury 20 and the same three guys who eat everything at all of our openings came and ate all of our deviled eggs and pickled veggies, attended a pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner in honor of Big Chris’ little sister’s birthday, celebrated my grand-nephew’s first birthday, attended an authentic suburban party in honor of my friend Thomas’ 50th birthday, with taco truck!, spent a day driving up and around the Sonoma Coast, saw a million movies together including Cloudburst, known as the best geriatric lesbian road movie every made, but it’s really the only geriatric lesbian road movie ever made and it put seven of us to sleep, plus two dogs… and then they were off, back to Athens, the visit over way too fast. Now I miss my little Stavros again, the dogs my only furry companions, pushing me into an increasingly tinier corner of the bed as they flash their fuzzy tummies at me to rub.

I hope you all saw Dean Smith’s show at Paule Anglim’s. It was great, paintings from before his current obsessive compulsive squiggly line and check phase. I was mesmerized by the simultaneous flatness and depth, some like windows onto some unreachable but lush and possibly fleshy scene. Those surfaces are something else, so much happening, with lines, strokes and waves going this way and that… and Dean’s hand nowhere but obviously everywhere. So satisfying to see paintings that have so much physicality and visual allure, that change so radically with proximity.

And now my sister Carol is visiting. We’re up at my other sister June’s for the day, in Santa Rosa, the first of my birthday celebrations. Last night Carol and I watched a wonderful Italian film, Dino Risi’s Il Sorpasso about a studious shy recluse, Roberto, swept away by a gregarious stranger, Bruno. Virtually the only person in town while the rest of Rome is off to the country celebrating Ferragosto, Roberto lets Bruno use his phone, and then reluctantly agrees to take a short break from his studies to share a quick drink with the dynamic Bruno, who is eager to show his gratitude for the use of Roberto’s phone. Once in the car, numerous delightful diversions ensue, with Roberto gradually relaxing and letting himself enjoy the various unexpected and wild whims of Bruno. After 2 days on the road together, Roberto, excitedly egging on Bruno to pass cars, laughing wildly, declares the past 2 days to be the best of his life. The car swerves off the road, Bruno is thrown safely to the shoulder, but Roberto, our shy recluse, trapped in the car, is crushed to smithereens as the car tumbles down the cliff.

It can all end any minute now, so stop resisting and enjoy the ride.

What I Did This Summer by SanFranChrisKo

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014 | Art, Film, Food, Friends, Travel | 1 Comment

I’m up at my buddy David’s, enjoying a quiet weekend at his place in Point Reyes, overlooking the placid Tomales Bay, like sitting in a Monet painting, finally able to do some catching up.

For the past few months I’ve been preparing a show of my work, my first solo exhibition in 7 years. I’m showing now with an artists collective in Oakland, the Mercury Twenty Gallery. The thought of being with another commercial gallery—well, actually their collective sort of decision to not work with me, lol—pushed me into seeking an alternative venue to show my work in, one not constrained by profit or homogeneity, but defined by community and the support of ideas and creativity. The members of the collective are responsible for all aspects of running the gallery and presenting exhibitions. I have a backlog of projects, rejected over the past few years by the likes of Mark, Pat, Paule, Brian, and Bernie, that I’ll now have the opportunity of moving from my basement into the light of the white cube, that you all can finally see!, beginning with my recent projects Bouquet and A Dozen Little Roses that opens this Thursday.

So David. He and I dated briefly 20 or so years ago. He’s kind of exactly the guy that I should have settled down with, but I was distracted by the chubby men. Years go by without seeing each other, but whatever attracted us to each other in the first place keeps bringing us back together. He’s working on his memoirs in the garden, while I wait for the blur of my summer activities to coalesce into some internet appropriate narrative.

Big Chris’ big family visited. We took them to see the sea lions at Pier 39, via the touristy Hyde Street Pier and Pier 39, but they were all off mating somewhere. San Franciscans never visit this part of the city. And really, they shouldn’t. Seeing the remains of what was once a working port was sort of thrilling but also instilled a sad sense of loss in my otherwise chirpy proto-tourist demeanor. I love the crazy gospel people, though, the ones with the “He died for you” signs and portable amplification systems, next to the break dancers and old Chinese erhu players. Their sincerity and intensity and vaudevillian showmanship make for great family entertainment, like the 8-year old reverend Jimmy Joe Jeeter on Mary Hartman Mary Hartman. And I love hearing those Bible words, like “smite” and “asunder.”

My mom flew to Chicago to spend some time with her sister, so I flew to Birmingham to dadsit. The downtown is really hopping, with a new arts district and lots of really great restaurants. Rather than replacing southern cuisine with healthy west coast or skimpy nouvelle stuff, they’re integrating other styles and flavors while emphasizing local ingredients and updating classic southern dishes. And you always get a square meal.

Same thing is happening in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Chrissy and I flew out for Labor Day weekend to pick up d’Auggie’s little brother, Zoobie, the latest addition to our ever expanding alternative family. Zoobie is great, the brother of the Best Dog Ever, soon to be the Other Best Dog Ever. He’s soft and cuddly and does all the same bad things that his brother did when he was a small puppy, down to chewing on the same plant in my garden and peeing on the same spot in my kitchen. So Sioux Falls has this little foodie renaissance happening downtown. We ate at Parker’s Bistro. My favorite dish was a soup, a warm silky sweet potato soup with a puree of chilly avocado and cream swirled into it, stimulating the taste buds with contrasting flavor and temperature sensations. We had an amazing meal, at about 1/4 the price we would have paid in San Francisco. And a parking place right out in front! I’m thinking of becoming a part-time mid-westerner.

Chrissy and I flew to New York for a few days. Just to remind people: we are not boyfriends. Despite his looking like the kind of guy that I would marry, despite having dated him on and off for the past 15 years, and despite us doing everything together, we are not boyfriends. My boyfriend lives in Greece and is named Stavros and you can read about him in my past entries, and when he arrives next month for his periodic conjugal visit. So anyway, New York. The occasion of our visit was to see Cate Blanchett and Isabelle Huppert in Genet’s The Maids, two of our greatest actresses in a deliriously demented play. And Jeff Koons’ show was great! Shut up! People who don’t like his work probably don’t like puppies either.

What else did I do this summer? I sadly missed all chances to have anything other than my extremities exposed to the sun, and thus developed a pronounced farmer tan. High school buddies Jason and Weestro came to visit, and Archie and Vicki, and Lilly from New York. Lilly was being celebrated for her films at the Jewish something or other Center in Berkeley, and I went one night to see her amazing film about good-intentioned heroic Palestinian and Israeli women peacemakers who end up at each others’ throats by the end of the film. I introduced my buddy to her afterwards and he said something along the lines of “Well, I can’t imagine giving Manhattan back to the indians” which amazingly and almost surreally missed the entire point of not only Lilly’s film but the entire Palestinian peoples’ ongoing struggle to free their land from its occupiers. Lilly’s talk after the film was interesting more for the sparring that took place in the audience. This was a mostly over-70 crowd, mind you, and most seemed well acquainted with each other and with each other’s long developed and unchanging perspectives, and ready to pounce. When one calm and articulate rival of hers seemed to be getting too much positive attention, Lilly leaned into her mike and chastised her with “Hey, this evening is about ME, not about you.” I started a new photo project with spider webs, Bob’s and my book project got shelved by our publisher, Aimée made raspberry-topped chocolate cupcakes for Luna’s birthday that were the best treats of summer—actually the best sweet treats, the best savory were the forbidden victuals at Traif in Brooklyn. I saw hardly any art. I’m like a lapsed Catholic kind of artist. Well, actually, I should say that I saw hardly any art that I can remember. Except for Christopher Williams’ The Production Line of Happiness at MoMA, which so completely and with energetic theoretical rigor encompassed the entire art making visual technical consumerist experience. I saw a million movies, but really liked Blue Ruin, The Test, Pietà, Night Moves, Martin Gable’s only (directed) film The Lost Moment, Stranger by the Lake, 7 Boxes, Enemy, Romance and Cigarettes and Under the Skin.

Okay, back to the city…

An Afternoon on the River

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 | Family, Travel | No Comments

Friends of my niece Megan threw her a going away camping party in Guerneville a few weeks ago. Megan’s moving to Indonesia to marry her boyfriend of many years, Garna. My sister June and I drove up to spend the day with them at their campsite, envisioning toasted marshmallows and bonding around a campfire. When we got to the abandoned campsite, Megan sent me a text saying that they were at the beach in town and to join them there. I did bring sunscreen, but despite driving up to spend the day on the river, the image of that campfire bonding experience somehow didn’t include engaging with the river in any way, and I brought neither swim trunks, towel, hat, flip flops… nothing beachy. June neither. At the beach, Megan was alone, moodily contemplating her big move. Her friends had paddled upstream in their inflatable devices to do mushrooms. I felt so middle-aged, nervously envisioning what the psychedelic experience of drowning might be like, their smiling corpses soon floating back downstream to us.

My immediate concern was how to get comfortable on that hot rocky beach. Megan generously offered us a few inches of her towel to share, but I found a piece of plastic in my car that we used to separate our sweating bodies from the toasty beach, and my shoes and socks as pillows. Our conversation shifted between Megan’s plans, delivered from her comfy towel, Megan elegantly attired in her one-piece suit and wide-brimmed hat, and whether June and I should swim in our undies. Finally we just said we couldn’t take it anymore, sweatily kissed dear Megan goodbye, and headed to Safeway for electrolytes.

In the parking lot a nasty domestic encounter quickly escalated into a public spectacle. One stringy haired lady was duking it out nastily with another stringy-haired lady over some sad sack of a guy. Stringy hairs were pulled, halter tops ripped, sunglasses went flying, and at one point one of the stringy haired ladies–I surmised that she was the jilted lover–pointed at the poor sad sack’s package and screamed at the other stringy haired lady “That particular part of his anatomy is mine. Mine! Mine!!! You can’t have it, you multiple expletives deleted!” I really wanted to stay and see how this all resolved itself. I didn’t think that the injured former lover’s tactics seemed potentially very productive. Instead of bruised ribs and restraining orders, did she imagine some other possible outcome? “You know, my stringy haired darling, you’re right, this particular anatomical area is indeed yours—as is my heart. It not only brings a smile to my face to see you beating my lover and screaming at the top of your lungs in front of all these Safeway shoppers, it kind of turns me on… let’s go back to your place and make mad passionate love.”

Around that time, an article in the Chronicle appeared, detailing reasons to make Guerneville a vacation destination. Guerneville is indeed still kicking. And so are its ladies.

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