Saturday, August 25, 2007


Phew, this whole posting every day thing is exhausting! I hope you won't mind if I spend time preparing the next post, and leave you with some amusing randomness:

John the Baptist, Seville

Mini-golf, Rosas

Unicorns, Carcassone

Salvador Dali's Bidet, Cadaques

Salvador Dali's Bathroom Footstool, Cadaques

Happy Pills, Barcelona,

Friday, August 24, 2007

Corpus Christi in Andalusia

Mom, Bip and I ended up in Spain during one of the most important feast days of the year: Corpus Christi. Now you know I adore a procession. So when I saw these floats being festooned inside Seville’s massive Gothic cathedral I knew I was in for a treat.

Early Corpus Christi morning I got up early and rushed down to the parade route.

The procession winds through the labyrinthine streets of the old city. The city had stretched awnings over the narrow alleys…

…the balconies were draped with colorful shawls…

…and the cobblestones were strewn with aromatic herbs (nice touch!)

Sevillanos in their Sunday best strode the streets, carrying embroidered banners, silver-topped staffs, and giant candles. Tho Thpanith!

Immense, elaborately carved wooden sculptures lumbered through the streets…

…towards scattered bright altars.

Later in the day, we traveled to Grenada, where flamenco gear is de rigeur for Corpus Christi.

There was a procession here, too. Check this immense Last Supper float, which must have been at fifteen feet long.

As night fell, crowds promenaded the brightly lit streets.

Satire is also a part of Grenada’s Corpus Christi celebrations. In one downtown square, the crowd perused an incredibly long string of cartoons lampooning local traditions and politics.

My sister translated several of these for me. There were a lot of poems insulting Seville. Go figure.

On a tent-stage set up in the Plaza del Carmen, a choir of flamenco grannies sang about the beauties of Grenada. After the day’s concerts were over, the sound system came on and hyper little flamenco girls swarmed onstage to play dancer.

I have video of many of these kids dancing; I’m gonna edit together a bunch of my shaky footage and post a youtube Corpus Christi video soon.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

How Sweet It Is

In early summer we took Mom and Bip to Szentendre, a tiny twee tourist town just up the Danube Bend. Szentendre comes complete with churches, cafes, rip-off restaurants, and of course, tourist museums.

I had heard there was a Marzipan Museum and I was determined to keep mom away from it. I knew it was exactly the sort of thing she’d insist on seeing. When we inevitably stumbled upon it, she got that look in her eye and wouldn’t take no for an answer. I groaned and braced myself for 15 minutes of mind-numbing Marzipan history. Cue the marzipan cactus!

I wish my camera had been better at photographing the many glories of the museum. Still life tableaux of lobsters, pumpkins, fruits and flowers. Dioramas of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Scooby Doo, and the Muppet Show. Nativity crèches. Scenes from exotic fairytales with names like “The Magic Radish.” Life-size statues of heroic police dogs. Framed portraits of Beethoven, Mozart, and Princess Di. Terrifying Bunnies. All made out of marzipan!

Some of the marzipan sculptures were frankly puzzling. In “USA Music Truck, The Fifties!” rock musicians wearing sinister white masks play on the back of a cattle truck. The Ninja Turtles, who apparently have their own marzipan genre, crouch on the truck’s roof, poised to leap down and overwhelm the masked musicians.

But the museum is not just amusing—it’s patriotic. How about a little Saint-King?

It’s Saint Istvan himself, and his glorious Saint-Crown!

…If only they had a marzipan version of his Holy Right Hand. Oh, I’m sorry, did you want to see a marzipan model of Hungarian Parliament?

What about a real-life Hungarian Olympic Hero?

This speedskater is (we learned from the English placard) a direct descendant of Renaissance King Matyas Hunyadi:

…But apparently the douche skates for Austria (gahr!)

And of course, what marzipan museum would be complete without…the King of Pop?

The materials listed on his placard are “Marzipan, White Chocolate.” Look at how strangely realistic his face is. Is marzipan the best possible medium for a portrait of Michael Jackson?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


In Serbia, on our way to the Tesla museum, Rick and I stopped into the Tourist Information office for a better map. The girl behind the counter, wearing a paper-thin smile, turned pleading eyes towards us. She was trying to get rid of a giant, well-dressed man in his 70s, with scarlet cheeks and googly eyes. A Vietnamese peasant hat dangled from his cane. His name was Roger.

TI GIRL: (to him) I’ve already told you, I don’t know what to do…
ROGER: (hearing us speak English, in a heavy southern accent): Where y’all from?
ME: …America…
ROGER: I’m from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
ME: (relaxing a little) I lived in New Orleans for a while.
ROGER: I don’t live there now. I have land in Switzerland! (to Rick)Where you from?
RICK: New York.
ROGER: (without malice) Ha ha! They got a whole bunch of you on September 11. Wish it had been more! They ought to go back and finish the job!

Rick and I stare at him in shock, while he grins boyishly, sincerely expecting us to laugh.

After he left, the TI girl apologized profusely. Roger had been pestering her two or three times a day, and bringing her “his writing.” Apparently he wanted her to help him renounce his American citizenship. Roger had been traveling around Eastern Europe, looking for a country to grant him refugee status. Most lately, he had been beaten up in Bulgaria. The TI girl gladly unloaded his pile of tattered photocopies on us.

It is Very Dangerous In America Because Most People Have Guns

It is very dangerous for a tourist to come to America because most people in America have guns.

When tourists are riding on the bus in America, someone will get on the bus with a gun and take everyone’s money and other valuables.

When tourists in America go into the WC, someone with a gun will take their money and other valuables into the WC.

It is very dangerous in America for a tourist to stop their car by a petrol station or a shop because someone from America will shoot them with a gun and kill the tourist in the car.

Children in America will come up to a tourist on the street in a city in America with a gun. The American children will shoot and kill the tourist with a gun and take the tourist’s money and other valuables off the dead tourist.

People in America with a gun will walk up to a tourist in an automobile and shoot and kill the tourist and take the automobile and the other valuables form the dead tourist. When tourists are inside of a hotel or motel room in America, American people with guns will come to the door of the hotel or motel room. When the tourist opens the room door, the American person or persons with the guns will come into the hotel or motel room and shoot and kill the tourist in their hotel or motel room and take the money and other valuables from the dead tourist.

In America, it is very dangerous for a tourist to stop their automobile at a highway park because someone from America with a gun will come up to the tourist’s automobile and shoot and kill the tourist and take the money and the automobile and other valuables from the dead tourist. It is not safe for tourists to travel in America on their holiday.


I sit down and write a letter to someone in a safe and civilized and free country.

Because I do not drink alchohol. I never did drink alchohol. I do not smoke cigarettes. I never smoked cigarettes.

I do not use drugs. I never did use drugs.

I do not take part in American sports.

I never did take part in sports.

The only thing I watch on television is the news.

I do not have a car. I never did have a car. I never did drive.

I never did date a girl or anyone else. I always stayed to myself.

I do not have a family, just myself.

I do not speak to people from America any more than I have to.
Because most people in America are predjudiced.
And they insult me.

I do not speak to men or boys in America. Because the only thing they talk about is the stupid American football or something else that is stupid.

I cannot see very good. And I cannot spell very good. I hope you can read my letter. I like to write my letters with no help.

In America, everyone does not have the opportunity to go to school.

I know I have some friends in safe and civilized and free countries.

Most of my friends are married couples.
I love all my friends in every safe and civilized and free country.
And I know that they love me.

I hope I will not be a citizen of America much longer.


There were about 12 sheets in all. They reveal that American doctors inject cancer into their patients, describe the new automobiles belonging to a Baptist preacher in Talahassee, praise Kim Jong Il—you get the picture. On one hopeful sheet, Roger had written:

I hope that I can renounce my American citizenship by 2004 (crossed out and handwritten: 2005) or sooner.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

I’ve got to apologize for spending all summer AWOL from this blog. As of today, I’m turning over a new leaf: I’m going to post every day this upcoming week. There’s plenty to talk about. Since I last posted:

-- I went to Vienna to see my good pal Becky Yamamoto stahhhrrrring in Young Jean Lee’s absolutely brilliant play Song of the Dragons Flying to Heaven, followed by a night on the town: Korean food, Karaoke, and Currywurst. Sweet!

-- Rick and I visited Belgrade: Kalmedgan Fortress, the Tesla Museum, houseboat clubs, burek pastries (mmmm), a rock show (Pere Ubu) for poor rock-starved Rick…

-- In a moment of panic, signed a new lease until December 2007. Decided after the fact it was a good idea. Plans for the future: applying for MFA dramatic writing programs for next school year. Program suggestions? Anyone? Don’t say Brooklyn College because I already know about that.

-- Rick’s parents visited!

-- My mom and sister visited!

-- Spain with Mom and Bip.

-- France with Mom and Bip.

-- My mom (poor mom!) broke her leg here in France...

... while Bip and I were looking at this in Spain:

...chaos ensued. But she's getting better, don't worry...

-- My godfather Goheen and his friend Ljaquida visited. Awful heat made it necessary to repair to the waterslides on Margaret Island.

-- Horrendous Heatwave. Rick finally came swimming!

-- In about a month and a half, Rick and I penned books on NASCAR’s Most Victorious Cars, NASCAR’s Greatest Moments, Digital Sampling and Remixing, American Idol Taylor Hicks, Fingerprinting and Trace Analysis...I feel like I must be forgetting something. Oh yeah, opera articles. Poor Rick didn’t take a single day off for three months! Hot and overworked, I got majorly depressed. The one time I made contact with the outside world, I got in a horrible fight (completely my fault) with one of my most treasured friends. It is still keeping me up at night.

-- But somehow I did get some of my own writing done—detailed skeleton for an 8-episode podcast play series and plans for a site-specific NYC-Budapest theater collaboration with pals.

-- Played at a bluegrass festival in southern Hungary. My band is listed on the t-shirt, y’all!

-- A certain scientist who goes by the initials JGS came to visit. We brought a contingent of Americans—all from our old college, weirdly, although none of us were close back then—to Serbia.

-- In Serbia, we went to the Golden Brass Festival in Guca.

-- Back to Budapest just in time for St. Istvan’s Day. (Remember last year?) Against all odds, Hungary’s first Saint-King, still pissed about his handless corpse, deluged the city with yet another mighty storm! Even more incredibly, we realized we’ve officially been living here a year now. We have great Hungarian and expat friends, more work than we know what to do with (though still not enough money), and we can count to 100 in Hungarian. You can’t say fairer than that.