Friday, June 29, 2007

Goodbye Ellada

[VACATION] Been gone from Salt Lake for 29 days now. We leave Athens tomorrow, June 30, at mid-day, return to Salt Lake around 10 o’clock the same night after about 17 hours of travel and a 9 hour time change. That should be enough to keep us rattled for awhile. So, this will be my last blog from Greece. But, I’ll likely add some things about this trip once I get home.

I don’t know much about blogging except that I probably violated every unwritten blogging rule on this trip. I didn’t blog often. I didn’t blog short. I didn’t link to lots of other blogs. I just wrote. I didn’t blog short nor often because on this trip I went days without decent Internet, or even any Internet at all. So things piled up. Short ideas became long pieces. My bad. But in the end, much of what needed to be recorded was recorded. So that’s OK.

I’ll try to keep this one short, though as right now I’m on a ferry to Athens, somehwhere in the Aegean Sea with a large island to my right. I don’t have the energy right now to ask which one. We left the island of Tinos today at 3 and it’s four-and-a-half hours by this type of ferry to Athens. We’re on the Blue Star Ithaki, the third time we’ve landed on this particular ship on this trip. We were on Tinos for four days and prior to that, it was three days on Syros.

Each island of the Cyclades has its own personality. On prior years I’ve stayed on Santorini, Sifnos, Paros and Naxos. I’ve visted Mykonos and Delos. So this trip we tried something totally different and chose two islands that few Americans visit. Syros is only half the size of Tinos but has 35,000 full time residents, while Tinos has only 8,000. Syros has a large Greek Catholic population, as does Tinos to a lesser degree (of 750 some odd churches on Tinos, over 200 are Catholic). Syros also boasts a fine mid-size town in Ermopoulis, once the shipping hub for all of Greece. It remains the administrative head of all the Cycladic islands.

Somewhere along the way, Syros developed its own robust economy so it barely goes out of its way to attract tourists. Thus, a visitor there is met by a Greece that time forgot—a polite one, a structured one, a well-planned one, and one thoroughly Greek. The vast majority of the tourists to Syros are Greek, mostly well-to-do apparently, and nearly all in search of the perfect batch of Loukoumi sweets for which the island is noted. On Syros, you can start to glimpse a piece of Greek society far removed from the flea markets and coffee shops. We saw plenty of SUVs, some of the largest private boats we’ve encountered in Greece and enough jewels to bury a pharaoh with. The shops of Ermopoulis are full of high fashion wear. Syros just defies the rest of Greece, starting with the good roads, and the drivers upon them not trying to kill you.

Tinos was much the same, but as it is an island of Pilgrimage (the devout from all-over flock here to a Virgin Mary miracle site, the Church of the Panagia, to which women crawl for nearly a mile uphill to attend), we met a smattering of people from other parts of the world. Nothing like what you’ll find on Santorini, Mykonos or other better-known islands, but not so nearly full of Greeks like Syros either. Tinos is a pretty island. Very nice beaches and some of the finest traditional villages in the Cyclades are found here, each with a bevy of dovecotes surrounding it—Tinos was heavily influenced by the Venetians, hence the taste for pigeon.

Great local fare, too, including a local Tinos cheese, a local cured meat called Louza, and salads laden with capers and sun-dried tomatoes. Tinos is also home to many loukamathe stands—and most Greeks I know flock to loukamathes, a kind of donut usually smothered in honey. We stayed at the Tinos Beach hotel, a fine place to stay if you ever visit the island, with many Western flourishes including a hotel gift shop, something not often seen in a Greek hotel.

I said I would keep this short, but naturally didn’t. Here’s what I should have said and kept it at that:

Greek women should quit doing two things. They should quit wearing bikinis and they should quit smoking. I like bikinis and I have a first hand understanding of smoking, so this is unusual. But in Greece, women of all ages and all sizes wear bikinis. Sometimes, it just doesn’t become them. As for smoking, I could care less if they smoke, but they smoke incessantly. It ain’t sexy in a French art student sort of way, when not only are those women falling out of her bikinis, they’re also no Virginia Slim.

I’m not an anti-smoking crusader. If one wants to smoke, especially in mostly outdoor Greece, who’s to care? But, it looks really bad sometimes. The guys also. They’re not exactly Marlboro Men, being choked at the waist by ill-fitting Speedos, and all. It’s that they don’t know when to stop. Like in a line. Or in a crowded eatery. Or on a bus. Or in a cab. Or on the ferry. I think the second hand smoke debate is bogus except for workers locked into those environments, and that for the rest of us, it’s more a nuisance to be around smokers. Most of Greece seems to smoke, though. Again, so what, because after all, being free means being free to smoke, right?

But here’s my biggest gripe about it. Those smokers in their saggy bikinis and their elasto Speedos, tend to toss their ciggie butts all over the place—usually next to the rest of their beach garbage like water bottles, soda cups and sandwich wrappers. Tinos has some nice beaches, as noted above, but all over them, and on Syros, too, are cigarette butts and other litter. Both those island attract Greeks—not the rude French, the loud Germans or the Ugly Americans. They are Greeks, despoiling the same Greece that millions of visitors from around the world so admire and revere. So, if they’re going to smoke like a chimney, ok, and if they look damn foolish doing so, OK, too—but at least toss the filters, eh? I remember American beaches having the same litter problem. U.S. beaches cleaned up. I hope Greek beaches do, too.

And I really don’t care if many Greek women look silly in bikinis. I don’t really care if they smoke. I just wish they wouldn’t get so pissed when I laugh at them. It’s ok. They laugh at me—the fat American who could easily spend his money at home, but travels all the way to Greece to spend it there instead. That’s pretty funny. But, at least, on that rare occasion, I use an ashtray. (John Saltas)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

5 Spot: R. Scott Phillips

[CW Extra] R. Scott Phillips is director of the Utah Shakespearean Festival, which just kicked off in Cedar City featuring the Bard’s own plays Twelfth Night, Coriolanus and King Lear, as well as George Bernard Shaw’s Candida, Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker and the world premiere of Lend Me a Tenor: the Musical, based on the play by Ken Ludwig, book and lyrics by Peter Sham and music by Brad Carroll. We caught up with Phillips during preview week and wrote about it in City Weekly’s June 28 5 Spot. Here’s the rest of the what he had to say.

Describe your role as festival director?
I’m the chief cook and bottle washer. We don’t really have an artistic director/managing director, so I do everything from helping with the artistic side to trying to keep the business side going. I also plant the flowers. Whatever it takes. When Fred Adams semi-retired and moved into fund-raising for the center, our board decided they wanted to do an organizational audit. Now they’ve made a recommendation about what we ought to do. They’re going to be announcing a job search here shortly. I’ve been doing this particular job and working with the festival for almost 30 years, so I know where all the skeletons are.

What’s best and worst about your job?
The best: Seeing the creative process and seeing what these directors and scenic artists and designers bring every year. Because you know, you do Hamlet and then you do Hamlet. It’s always exciting to see a different perspective and what they can bring to it to make it work for a contemporary audience. That most challenging part is trying to raise $6 million just to balance the budget. People ask, “When are you going to start the new center, the new theater?” We have raised some money for it. But we have to raise $6.1 million just to break even. And that’s not easy in a little town like Cedar City. We have an endowment, but it is a small endowment, only about $1 million right now. So we have got a lot of work to do in that area.

Are you yourself a frustrated artist?
I started out as an actor, and then I was going to be a director. I was going to go to New York and do it all. I fell into this because I had certain organizational skills. You get to a point where you’re out there trying to strike a deal with the local realtor on this piece of property in an exchange for a charitable remainder trust and you think, “What day in theater history did we talk about this?” It just evolved like so many different jobs.

Do you think it is a dream deferred for you?
I’ve never regretted the decision I’ve made in spending my time here because I believe so much in doing the classics. They’re huge stories with huge consequences. The fear is you can fall flat on your face but, man, when it works, the payoffs are just enormous. I watch it when I see audience members and even kids react in a certain way. So I’ve never regretted the choice.

Why a world premiere of Lend Me a Tenor: The Musical? Isn’t it safer (er, more profitable) to run with the tried and true?
First of all, we thought about shows like Joseph [& the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat] and Les Mis. I can’t say anything too bad about them because we have done Joseph in 1998, and we made a bundle of money. People ask, “Why are you doing musicals? You’re a Shakespeare festival.” Part of the greatest contribution the American theater has made to the theater world is the musical comedy. It is the one thing that is truly American. The last few years, the London stage has taken that over with Andrew Lloyd Webber and all that, but it really began here and is our legacy. It makes sense that we should be doing it even though we are doing Shakespeare. It is our stamp as an American theater company. It just happens to be a brilliant idea, and if it goes anywhere else as a world premiere, if we do well, for the next period of time, we get a piece of the royalties. There could be a payoff for it. Musically, I think it is absolutely spectacular. Ken Ludwig—it’s based on his play Lend Me a Tenor—is very excited about it. He’s heard the music and lyrics and wants to get some of his producer friends involved in it.

How would you characterize the annual miracle that involves opening six plays in six days?
It’s hellacious. As far as I know, no other theater company in America does this, because it’s hell. But we recognized years ago, in order to capture that destination traveler, we needed to make sure we had the whole enchilada. You’re not going to travel 250 or 300 miles to see one play and then go back two weeks later to see the other play. So we said we have to do it all at once. But that means we’ve been in tech for about the past two and a half weeks. Our scenic teams worked all night last night and they’ve been on that schedule for a week and a half. The theater has been in operation 24 hours a day. The actors leave at midnight, the painters come in until 8, then the electricians take over till noon, then the actors come back into it. So it’s been crazy. There’s lots of fast food.

Do you have a personal favorite production this year?
I like to say, well, which one of your children is your favorite? But you know, I have to say that I am inclined toward Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker. It’s such a personal favorite of mine because I think Wilder captures a piece of Americana. He does it with farce and with humor in this particular play but there’s great warmth underneath it all. It speaks to a time when things were a little easier, a little more na├»ve. And that’s not a bad thing necessarily.

What’s the best antidote in Cedar City to ward off depression following a King Lear performance?
Probably at the morning seminar the next morning. I always say a good cup of cappuccino and the opportunity to go back to your motel and talk about it. The nightlife in Cedar City is not the most stimulating as you can well imagine.

Where is Brian Vaughn this season?
Mr. Vaughn is in Milwaukee, Wis. Believe it or not, the poor man wants to have a life. He and his wife got married just about a year ago and he was in a production that went about three weeks into our rehearsal schedule. He didn’t want to miss that particular production, so it didn’t work. I am already in negotiations trying to get him back here for next season. He will be here July 9-11 seeing shows and I’m hoping at that time to say, “Brian, if we offer you this role and this role, will you come?”

Who do you imagine will take Vaughn’s place as festival heartthrob?
You mean, besides me? There's a young boy [Tony Carter], I mean he’s really young, who plays Barnaby Tucker [in The Matchmaker] is a cute sparky kid. I think there are lots of young girls that are going to have their heads turned. Most of the mothers are gonna say, “Oh my God, I’ve got children older than that.” He’s a cute kid and a darn good actor.

Aren’t there some changes with the Green Show?
We lost about half a million dollars last year. Thank God, we had money in the reserves so we were able to cover it, but we had to make pretty serious budget cuts this year. So we don’t have live musicians in our Green Show for the first time in 46 years. The music is recorded. It’s fine, they’ve blended it beautifully, and there are speakers but it is noticeable. I feel very badly about that because the last thing an arts company wants to do is not hire artists. I’m really hopeful that next year, we can bring that back. Time will tell.

What’s up with an Orange County PBS station as a media sponsor?
It’s all about networking in this industry. The fellow that was the general manager of the PBS station in Las Vegas was transferred to Orange County, and he loved the festival. He wanted to find out what they could do. We struck out a deal and they’re going to start bringing busloads up here from Orange County. There’s 36 million people down there; let’s just keep doing it!

Why Shakespeare? Why should people take time away from weeding their gardens to hear words written by an English dude dead for centuries?
Oh, man. Because the stories and the themes and the message that Shakespeare talks about, jealousy, love, honor, compassion, those haven’t changed, not in 465 years. Kids are still screwed up now as they were back then. They’re all still looking for that piece of “Where do I fit in in this cosmic thing called the world?” It still can be relevant, even though we have the “thus” and “thous.” Forget all that crap and just try and follow the major message of the play. That’s why it’s still important. (Jerre Wroble)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pissin' in the Wind

[CITY] The last few days over on discussion has been rather lively about our crybaby Salt Lake City mayor for life, Rocky Anderson. By way of review, is my personal blog, and not to be confused for the whole other wild and free voice I get to express here at CW Blog.

I heard Rocky a good bit on radio and TV last week, with reporters going all ga-ga over the prospect he might run for a third term. That's only if the November election comes down to the two candidates he finds most distasteful--Jenny Wilson (who happens to be my stepdaugher) and Dave Buhler. Wilson is currently leading in early polls, followed by Buhler. Neither of them is Rocky's hand-picked candidate. That would be Republican businessman Keith Christensen, who has raised more than a half-million dollars but can't seem to find a political base.

Rocky was going on, as always, about the good work he's done for the city. He says he spends plenty of time here doing the heavy lifting as mayor. I'm guessing, though, if he needs a couple of campaign issues to run on should he decide to jump in the race I'll suggest this one:

You know all those Main Street planter boxes Rocky lobbied the City Council for a few years ago? He finally got them in place. They're beautiful all right--sprouting colorful annual flowers and sprucing up an otherwise grim stretch of urban decay.

Only problem is, they smell like piss. Someone is using them as a public urinal. Who? Homeless guys? Drunks stumbling out of Murphy's late at night? Who knows? I've never actually seen anyone taking a leak on them, but I know what my nose knows. It's especially enticing to walk past a planter box at 3 in the afternoon on a 100+ degree day, if you get my drift.

Our mayor is prancing around New York right now, protesting Bush and Cheney and giving interviews to leftie talk shows. If he could just give an order to drop a few urinal cakes in the planter boxes, all might be well on our little patch of Main Street paradise. (Holly Mullen)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bastion of Good, Liberal Fun

[PARTY] There's something downright outstanding that Bruce Bastian, co-founder of WordPerfect and the richest gay man in Utah (hell, maybe in Wyoming and Idaho, too), continues to throw the state's best fundraiser every summer in his back yard, smack in the heart of Utah County.

A couple of years ago, at the first Human Rights Campaign dinner at Bastian's sprawling manse, anti-gay forces picketed out front and demanded all homos go home. That also was the same year Zions Bank had signed up as a major sponsor of the event, then caved to community pressure and pulled out just weeks before the dinner took place. No problem--California-based Wells Fargo was happy to jump in and remains a well-heeled underwriter of the national advocacy group for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.

This year, I went to the Third Annual Human Right Campaign dinner on Saturday night at Bastian's Orem estate (don't you love the sound of those two words together), along with perhaps 2,000 other Utah liberals. I'd heard from friends what a regular par-tay this thing is, but until I got there I had no clue.

Bastian, who has given millions to carefully selected chosen charities since selling off his share of his pioneering software company, lives in the ultimate gay party house. Picture the marble floors and sweeping grand staircase of The Beverly Hillbillies. Then add several valuable etchings and abstract paintings of gorgeous male nudes. Add massive entertainment systems on every floor of the house, a dance floor with a mirrored ceiling ball in the basement and you get an idea. The bar was nicely stocked. The evening's entertainment came via Chaka Khan. By the time that ample '80s diva hit the stage, the crowd was well-lubricated and the gigantic party tent on Bastian's sprawling lawn turned into one mad scene.

Bastian is having the time of his life. A closeted gay Mormon, a husband and a father for the better part of his five-plus decades, the man is at last living on his own terms. With his home in Orem and another in Washington D.C., where he serves as board chairman of the Human Rights Campaign, he has more money than anyone's God--heterosexual or otherwise. Bastian is said to be second only to the old-money Eccles clan in Utah for funding arts, gay rights initiatives (he was a major donor in fighting the homophobic Amendment 3 campaign in 2004 that put a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.)

When we met Bastian for the first time Saturday in the entry way of his home, we fell all over ourselves complimenting him on the place. What else do you do? He smiled a little slyly and said: "Oh thank you. You ought to see my ex-wife's place!"

The HRC dinner also is becoming the place for good Utah liberals to be seen. Here are a few of them:

* Ralph Becker, Jenny Wilson, Keith Christensen: candidates for Salt Lake City Mayor.
* Rocky Anderson: lame duck mayor and crybaby.
* Peter Corroon: Salt Lake County mayor, in the process of launching his 2008 reelection effort.
* Jackie Biskupski, Democratic state rep.
* Babs DeLay, sassy lesbian, community activist and urban real estate powerhouse.
* Also: More artists, actors and local writers than I could count.

I'm telling you it was worth the price of admission, though I don't even know what that was because a relative paid for my seat at her table. All I had to do was dress up in, as the invitation requested, "summer elegance." (Holly Mullen)

Chania Reaction

[VACATION] There’s not a terrible lot to add to this blog from Crete that wasn’t in the Private Eye column I wrote last week. Fact is, Crete remains my favorite place in Greece and adding anything to more to my previous exclamations is piling on. Also, Crete seems to be getting crowded, so the fewer people who take to liking it, but better for me lest I have to find another place to spend my hard earned Euros.

It’s easy to like Chania although Old Chania (the Venetian area) is thoroughly tourist driven. Even so, Chania holds quite a few gems that are fully Cretan and the fun is trying to find one while standing fully amidst the other. One obvious tourist area is the stretch of land between Chania and the western city of Kissamos—all of the north shore of Crete is a tourist development, actually.. It could pass for Southern Callifornia except that in SoCal they planned better highways along the coast. On Crete’s narrow roads you’ll find every kitchy tourist shop imaginable interspersed with beach hotels and nightclubs. As any sprawling city anywhere, this could be anywhere too, save for the offering of Cretan cheese pies (Kaltsounia) on the local menus.

But, beyond Kissamos and nearly anywhere into the hills, through the rugged mountains of the Lefka Ori range (home to the proud people of Sfakia), the texture of Crete is entirely different. These are proud and hospitable people who still make daily treks to the market, who tend their gardens, who feed their chickens, who wait for the fish or vegetable mongers to drive by, who still go to church on Sundays, and who will take you into their homes as if you were their own child. It becomes quite hard to say no, but really, just because they have an extra bed or couch, do you for certain want to move your family of six in for a few days?

On the disappointing front, I learned something I actually suspected. Like when I was young and believed in the Santa Claus I knew didn’t exist. That is, almost all those things for sale in all those Chania shops in all those Chania alleys, are not made in Crete at all. Nor even Greece. Much of what is for sale there—especially the trinkets—are made in places like China. I understand the key chains. I understand some of the baubles. But I don’t understand the worry beads. Yikes! Greek worry beads are certifiably a Greek cultural item. Yet, the vast majority of them sold in Crete—and most certainly Athens and elsewhere—are not even made in Greece. That’s like Wisconson Cheese coming from Alabama.

Geez—just like France protects the name Cognac, Greeks have gone to great lengths to protect one of their own particular identifiable brands—Feta. Yet, another one, the Kolomboi (worry beads) are left without protection and instead are shipped in from elsewhere. What next, Octopus and Squid? I think it’s already happened since many menus now asterisk both noting that they are frozen, not fresh. Well, connect the dots ... Oh, and they say the potatoes are from Egypt.

It’s not a big deal—everyone imports and exports. But here, so many people come for the authenticity and even though it’s a unique experience, it is slightly less authentic. For example, you can go to many places in Greece and your waiter will not be Greek. Same for your hotel staff. So far I’ve been served by Russians, Poles, Bulgarians, Romanians, Albanians, Serbians, New Zealanders and Aussies, to name a few. Nothing wrong with that until you know more about the menu than they do. So, where are the Cretans? At the beach.

Not that I blame them, Crete has beautiful beaches including two of the finest I’ve ever seen, Elafonisi and Falasarna. When not at the beach, those Cretans claim to be in school, enroute to becoming doctors, pharmacists and engineers. Great, Crete could use more engineers and better medical care. But there’s a pharmacy on every corner already, and the new one down the street is being built by foreign workers, mostly Albanians. Greece has a relationship with Albania, like we do with Mexico. The difference is, though, many Greeks complain of no jobs available and poor wages, yet pass on the ones that are available. When I ask about this, I am told that, “well, the bosses are Greek.” Oh, now I get it.

What I really think it is, is that Greece—and Crete—are havens for one generation to pass to the next all the things they were deprived of. Greek youth have it made in the shade where life is a beach and hard times are not enough sugar in your morning frappe—which is consumed sometime around noon when they wake up. One side of me envies the laissez-faire style of the modern Greek. Another side understands why many tourists wonder aloud if this race (including my own genes) is comprised of the same one that built the Acropolis, planned great cities, spawned a history of critical thought, and gave history men like Hippocrates, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Byzas, Alexander, Pericles, Leonidas, Euclid and so many more. And women like Aphrodite and Hera.

Then again, today they say it is 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Who could blame anyone—especially a Greek—for grabbing a hall pass and heading for the beach? Does it really matter if Athens and the North Shore of Crete look as if they were planned by a committee of third graders? Perhaps not, as it sure doesn’t seem to slow the tourist tide. However, I can tell it’s changed in just the four years since my first visit. I can’t imagine the Acropolis architects getting it so wrong. But, I love it anyway. (John Saltas)

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Cure! Is Coming! To Town!

[MUSIC] I caught legendary goth rockers The Cure at Coachella a few years back and, while Robert Smith looked a bit like Mimi from the Drew Carey Show, they were every bit as thrilling and chilling as ever. It doesn't look like tickets have gone on sale yet, but preliminary info indicates they'll be appearing at the E Center Oct. 4. Hot, hot, hot! (Jamie Gadette)

Athens to Love or Leave

[VACATION] Athens can be daunting. The first time here I can’t say I came away enamoured. Athens is loud, gritty, confusing and flat-out hot, thanks to unrestricted building of countless ugly buildings that ate up virtually all of the green space that once dominated this area. The heat just boils in all the narrow, concrete alleys and streets as a result. Future visits changed my mind, though, as I became increasingly familiar with the Plaka, especially the Plaka at night. Strolling the Plaka—the old historic area directly below the Acropolis—is one the best ways to spend an evening anywhere. Stop for a meal here, a snack there, some shopping, slurp an ice cream and end the night with an ouzo and you’ve managed through a fantastic evening.

By day, though, Athens seems like a nightmare and it can be difficult to reconcile the two faces of Athens. As much as it is easy to hate the Athens day, it is during the day only that you can visit the major archeological sites like the Acropolis, the Roman Ruins, the Ancient Agora and all the fantastic museums. Equally, by day some areas of Athens like Monestriaki and Omonia Square are notorious for spawning hucksters, hustlers, pickpockets and thieves. Everyone in Athens warns everyone else heading to such areas—or even when riding mass transits—to be careful with your purses and wallets.

It doesn’t do much good though. The cops of Athens couldn’t stop the thievery if they tried, and by all appearances, they don’t try. In fact, finding an Athens cop in those areas is as hard as finding haystack in a needle. It’s a price for living there, I guess. Perhaps the Athenians think having an area where it’s barely wise to wander, while at the same time necessary to do so because of all the markets and shops there, adds a little spice to their city. They really are a live and let live bunch, you know, and if something goes awry, they’re quick to tell you they warned you fair and square.

So, I can’t say we weren’t warned when one of our party was separated from her wallet which was inside of her purse. The Euros inside equaled the monthly wage of the average Athenian, so a major score. Not even counting the credit cards. What a hassle! Nobody knows anything, of course, and the best we could hope for was a benign shrug from the people we asked information from. That assumes of course they took the time to listen, then shrug. Hey, they’re gypsys and Albanians, we would hear. What did we expect? Well, not much, I suppose. But, it’s amazing Athenians do so little about it, nonetheless.

As a result, I spent the day thinking of all the nasty things I could say about Athens and its people. I waited several days to write about it though, this the far less incriminating tone as is truly warranted. It wasn’t enough to ruin a trip, but its fair to say that Athens has slipped a notch or so in my belt.

Problem is, Athens doesn’t care.

Next time back, and I will be back for I do love Athens at night, I will merely stay for a shorter period—and I will advise all others to do likewise. (John Saltas)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Young Folks & Autumn Sweaters

[MUSIC] Every year, the Gallivan Center's Twilight Concert Series gives locals a reason to brave the summer heat each Thursday at 7 p.m. for an evening of free music, cheap beer and occasionally mind-blowing people-watching. And while I've always appreciated the opportunity to get outside, socialize and revel in the warm night air, I've never been all that impressed with the majority of Twilight's featured acts. Until now. 2007's lineup includes not only the usual suspects (Michael Franti, Robert Earl Keen) but also a hip buzz band with insanely tight whistling chops (Peter, Bjorn & John) and several indie favorites (Yo La Tengo, Fiery Furnaces, French Kicks). Did I mention these shows are free?! Word to the wise: Seating is first come, first served and begins as early as 1:30 p.m. The Twilight Market begins at 5 p.m. I hear they have some yummy veggie bowls and spicy Thai food available along with our good friend pizza.

Here's the complete schedule. Mark your calendars ... now! (Jamie Gadette)

July 5 Robert Earl Keen w/ Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles
July 12 Galactic w/ JJ Grey & MOFRO
July 19 Yo La Tengo w/ The Fiery Furnaces
July 26 moe. w/ Dr. Dog
August 2 Peter Bjorn and John w/ Apostle of Hustle
August 9 David Grisman Quintet w/ Sam Bush
August 16 Michael Franti w/ Charlie Hunter Trio
August 23 Calexico w/ French Kicks

Finally, a little Peter, Bjorn & John:

5 Spot: Rotary International Foundation's Carolyn Jones

[CW EXTRA] In case you haven’t been downtown this week, Salt Lake City’s been invaded by 15,000-plus Rotarians. Carolyn Jones, a longtime friend of mine from Alaska, happens to be a Rotarian who holds the distinction of being the first and currently only woman to serve on the Rotary International Foundation, the arm which raises money, invests it and develop the grant programs to enable Rotarians to do humanitarian works around the world. Jones was featured in the June 21 5 Spot column in City Weekly. This is the unabridged version of that conversation:

How long have you been a Rotarian?
I was inducted in September of 1987. The U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in May of 1987. It basically said a Rotary club in California could not refuse to accept an individual as a Rotarian simply based on gender. The day after that decision, I got a phone call from a Rotarian inviting me to lunch. That happened to a lot of women in Alaska.

How does it feel to crash the glass ceiling?
Women have been in Rotary for 20 years, and all this time, there hasn’t been any woman in a leadership role. I understood personally it was a ladder you had to climb like anybody else, and it was going to take time. But for a lot of people, what they saw was that there were no [women] at the top. They particularly had this shoved in their faces at an international convention. It was a tradition to introduce all the past presidents, the current president and the board, the trustees, and they’re all men. Two years ago, I got this appointment. Now when they introduce the trustees, I get the most applause. I tell [my fellow trustees], “It’s not Carolyn they’re applauding. It’s that I represent a female face finally walking across the stage.” What is, is. It’s a little piece of history. On the other hand, I don’t enjoy being thought of as the first female trustee because I just want to be a trustee. I want to believe I earned it. I want other people to believe I’m there because I belong there.

Will there be any “firsts” at the Salt Lake City convention?
Tomorrow (June 20), the voting delegates are scheduled to elect the next round of district governors and directors. One of them is a woman. That is a first. It’s interesting because back when we had the lawsuit in 1985-86, Rotary International was defending their rule to be an all-male organization. Some places were defending it more strongly than others. And two countries that were most serious about having all men were Japan and France. Well, this year, when we went to the international assembly, I met the first female district governor-elect from Japan. And would you care to guess where the first woman director is going to come from? Paris, France. Another little piece of history is happening. The glass ceiling is cracking all over the place.

Why should someone join Rotary International?
Our membership has been declining in the United States while it has been increasing in Asia and Europe. We are struggling with trying to show young people that Rotary is relevant to their lives. I believe that young people care as much about their communities and the world as the rest of us do. It’s just how do they go about putting a piece of themselves into the mix. In Colorado, there is an “e-club.” The Rotarians meet over the Internet. It’s just like regular Rotary and has community service projects you can participate in. It’s in the experimental stages. I’m called a traditionalist; people like me like clubs and meetings. We even play cards, bridge. Young people multi-task and use electronic equipment. In Northern Virginia, we have “new generation” clubs. They get a chance to invent themselves in a way that they can make happen.

What’s the best thing that’s happened to you in Rotary?
The children of Russia. I even wrote a story about it that was published in Chicken Soup for the Volunteer Soul. I once went to a hospital in Russia where children were dying of cancer because the hospital didn’t have enough money to purchase chemotherapy. The new Rotary club there said, “This is our project. We want to raise money to save the lives of these children. Will you come see them and meet with the doctors?” So I took myself there and thought, “Now, I’ve been polite, and I’ll ask a few people to help.” But, basically, the kids and the story had its hooks in me. Within six weeks, my district had launched the Children of Russia program. It was our goal that every new club in Russia would be eligible for a $20,000 grant to do something in their community to help the children of Russian. The year I was district governor, we raised $620,000 and financed 30 projects in 22 communities to help kids. Since then, it’s taken on a life of its own. It’s also become my life. People would invite me to come and tell the story. I’ve become a public speaker as a result of it. When I tell the story, grown men cry and ask how they can help. I have been to Russian 29 times. It has become the definition of me in Rotary, and it is the large reason why I got the recognition and the credentials to be nominated to be a trustee. (Jerre Wroble)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Please Help Marty Kasteler!!

[NEWS] For those of you who haven't heard by now, a piercer at KOI was intentionally run down by some crazy nut in a white van on Sunday morning. Apparently responses to various news accounts have indicated that Marty and his wife Nikki should not have been riding their bikes at 2 in the morning and somehow deserved to be injured. Ridiculous. No one deserves to be the victim of random violence--no matter how "alternative" they might be. Marty is in pretty bad shape. Most compassionate people have worked overtime to come up with ways to offset medical expenses, from potential concerts to yoga classes. See what you can do to spread the word and perhaps help organize fund-raising events. For more info visit (Jamie Gadette).

The Spoojies

[AWARDS] City Weekly cleaned up at the 2007 Society of Professional Journalists' Utah Headliners Awards, this year held in a West Jordan Chili's. Follow the link for the entire list of winners. Congrats to everyone, but mostly us (Excellence in Humility was not a category).

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mark Your Calendars!

[FILM] Tower Theatre will be screening Wet Hot American Summer as part of its ongoing Midnight Movie series July 6-7. Employees will be grilling up hot dogs of the meat and non-meat varieties, so bring an empty stomach, tube socks, short shorts and a sense of humor. Here's a taste for those who are unfamiliar with the concept of wet, hot hilarity. (Jamie Gadette)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Olympia Gold Medal

[VACATION] Talk about a taxi ride! We got off the boat from Cephalonia at the small port of Kylini. It is not a pretty place, and comparably, it’s like entering the Salt Lake Valley for the first time from the north and your first impression would be of scarred cliffs and oil refineries. Well, there are no cliffs or refineries, but Kylini manages to find it’s own ugliness. It’s not the fault of the folks who live here that the waters before them are deep enough to allow for larger boats to port, but it’s hot, dry and colorless nonetheless. We wanted to leave as soon as we got there.

Anyway, we wanted to skedaddle. We knew our options to get to Olympia were few and they got fewer when the first cab arrived. He told us the fare to Olympia was 50 Euros. How about a bus, we asked? Sure, he said, but the fare to the bus station is 45 Euros. OK, we’ll take the cab. Olympia is around 35 white-knuckled miles away via back roads and the National Highway—which at any time of day or night is a fair replica of Daytona Motor Speedway. Our cabbie got us there safely, but on the way we were among the first to the scene of a very bad accident.

They happen even in Greece. Hard to figure, since in Greece the roads are very narrow, no one pays real attention to traffic signs (In Greece, red means “speed up, it will turn green soon), there are no set rules for passing (we’ve been passed on the left and right, sometimes at the same time on two lane highways), where every road is just one winding S curve or worse, where stopping for any reason in the emergency lane will only cause an emergency, and where cars approaching you headlong into your own lane are as common as dead bugs on the windshield. I can’t imagine how that accident took place. I can imagine, however, why Greece is first or second among EU countries in highway fatalities per capita. Along every road is a religious tribute to people who have died in any particular spot. They look like baby churches.

But we arrived safely. Our hotel, the Best Western Europa, is among the best we’ve ever stayed at in Greece. If more hotels were of this quality, I think Greece would attract more visitors, but as it is, even though one can find charm in many Greek hotels, their amenities are often insufferable. No air conditioning. No hot water. Very poor breakfast offerings. General lack of uncleanliness or malaise. That’s not everywhere, but it occurs.

And when it does, visitors report it on sites like and next thing you know, a bad reputation evolves.

That should not happen here. Not only is Europa a great hotel, it commands a fantastic view of the area, and just 5 minutes walk away are the ruins of Ancient Olympia. However, that is all downhill. The walk back is a strenuous 25 minutes or so. Anyway, you won’t have to suffer long as the showers are top notch. The pool is very nice and the dinner that awaits afterward (all outdoor fire/charcoal oven prepared foods) will take your mind off of the hike.

The ruins themselves sprawl for many acres. Centuries ago, starting in 776 b.c. annual competitions were held here in many fields, not just athletic. It was at once a large bacchanalian party and also serious ritual. Athletes had to swear to honor. In front of the stadium many statues rose—not of the victorious, but of the cheaters and others of disrepute, frozen for all time for all to see time in their dishonor. I suppose if we did that today, statues of Pete Rose and Barry Bonds would greet visitors to the local ball park.

We have less than a day here in about an hour our bus for Athens leaves. This is a place I’d like to return. Olympia is a fine town, remote and peaceful, it has the hills and trees and it has the Europa Hotel. Compared to some places we’ve stayed in Greece, this is the Ritz. I’d even come back just for the food—we had a stew of onions and prunes last night. Sound weird? Yup, but it was as delicious as we’ve ever eaten in Greece, that alone giving reason to return. My hat’s off to the family that runs this place. (John Saltas)

Friday, June 15, 2007


[ART] Just got the new CD by comedian Patton Oswalt (Sub Pop, July 10) and not only is it hilarious in the most wonderfully inappropriate ways, the double-disc release comes decked out in a psychedelic color explosion. Come to find out, the eye-popping art is the work of Zeloot. Just Zeloot. That's how you know he/she is a rock star. Give your eyes a feast at (Jamie Gadette)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Corelli’s Island

I’m writing from a ferry that has just left the port of Poros on the Ionian Sea island of Cephaloniab, heading to the Greek mainland. We’ve been on Cephalonia for the past five days in a hotel room 50 yards from the sea but without a phone and no internet—a perfect place to escape. We stayed in the town of Karavomilos which is just outside the harbor town of Sami. You may have seen this place before.

The movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was filmed all around here. Just over the hill is the beautiful beach of Antisamos which plays prominently in that movie. If you’ve seen it, the movie is primarily remembered for the pathetically terrible accents spoken by Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz. Cage butchered the Italian accent, and Cruz the Greek. Cruz can be forgiven but Cage is an Italian for crying out loud. At least John Hurt, who played Cruz’s father, got it right, mostly by not trying to overdo it.

The Corelli story is of the period during World War II when Italy somewhat successfully invaded Greece, but failed miserably in the occupation department—sound familiar? The Greek resistance on Cephalonia and other islands ultimately caused a stalemate that embarrassed Mussolini. Mussolini because he couldn’t even conquer Greece, and Hitler for choosing such an insufferable ally. Hitler sent in his best troops to fix the situation, which they did by butchering not only Greeks, but Italians too. Somewhere in that mosh pit of changing loyalties, Captain Corelli (Cage) fell in love with the daughter (Cruz) of a local doctor (Hurt). She was already engaged to a resistance fighter which only made matters worse. Actually, it’s a pretty good story, but you might never know it from the movie. People say read the book instead, which I intend to do.

But not now.

Cephalonia is a beautiful island. Green. Great beaches. Wonderful little villages. Incredibly hospitable people who treated us with kindness at every turn. Especially at our hotel, the Athina Beach, where Athina and her irrepressible son Makis make certain every guest is treated like family. Makis remembered everyone’s name and had a warm hello or a kiss for each guest every time he encountered them. As evidence to the effectiveness of his charm, we met at least four other guests who were on return visits to his little hotel, some for the tenth time. We committed to a second, but I can’t predict when.

Despite wanting to return to Cephalonia, there is still so much of Greece to see. This is my fifth visit in four years, three of which have been for at least a month, and I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface of Greece. For example, the island of Ithaki was just as stones throw away from us, right across the bay from Sami. Daily ferries left for there, but I never found the time. I wanted to go as Ithiki is the reputed home of Odysseus, who as Homer reported centuries ago, took ten years to get home after the Trojan battles, giving us the word “odyssey”. Lately, though, some scholars are saying his home was actually Cephalonia, or that perhaps Ithaki and Cephalonia were once connected. So maybe we were already there.

If you ever go to Cephalonia, besides the fine beaches, you must try the local wine called Robola. It’s unique to the island and is a very special wine, a perfect match for Greek food. I think Cephalonia is the only place you can get it, as it’s apparently not exported, despite it winning a second place in an international competition of some sort. The other food of note on Cephalonia is their famous meat pie. It’s famous because they say so, but we ordered it three times and twice there was nothing special about it, basically being dry and tasteless. I guess people put it on the menu and wait for dumb tourists to buy it. However, one order we had, at the Melissani Lake Taverna, the pie was succulent and delicious. Too bad they don’t pass their recipe along to others—theirs is worth bragging about.

Must go now. If you’re keeping track of tourist opinions of America and Americans it didn’t improve on Cephalonia. Although President Bush was just up the coast in Albania—getting rave reviews, I hear—folks down this way are more stoic. We met mostly Brits on Cephalonia, with a smattering of Belgians and lots of Germans, who were mostly mountain biking all over the island. Note to Holly Mullen: if it’s biking you want, this is a great place for it. Anyway, our good president didn’t score any points with those people I met, especially the Brits who were dismayed equally by their own Tony Blair. (John Saltas)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Dating Shows: The New Polygamy

We all know polygamy is cool again. Don't buy it? Just wait for the ratings from Big Love's new season to role in. Then we'll talk. But it's not just HBO cashing in on taboo religious/cultural practices. Check out an episode of The Bachelor or the new, laugh-out-loud Age of Love for further proof that our society is pretty much primed to do away with that whole women's rights nonsense and embrace practices that are, for the most part, considered taboo (at least by Volvo-driving Dems). Besides the obvious exploitation factor (stupid and slutty sell!), contestants on both reality TV shows willingly engage in relationships with men who openly keep several cheap women on the side. We're made for each other! each contestant claims after one moonlight stroll with the season's playboy du jour. He smiles and agrees, then promptly kicks out a sorry chump, leaving her with nothing but delusional memories and a grocery-store rose. While the show wraps with the "gentleman" choosing one woman and one woman alone, it always seems like he could elect to take home two, three, maybe even all of the featured contestants and the audience would still blog excitedly later about how "They're ALL meant for each other." One happy, harem-scarem family. That's cool, but could we at least get some shows on the air gloryifying polyamory? You know, just to even things out. Maybe get Carmen Electra or Oprah as the leads. Think on it. (Jamie Gadette)

Friday, June 8, 2007


So what if the iProvo doesn't meet the community's standards of how tax-money should be spent? I don't think that money-issues are the iProvo's biggest mistake, but rather in the name itself.

Has Apple really rendered us futile in the face of coming up with new and creative names to call stuff? I'll admit that I've given in to the iPod (despite my reservations about it breeding musical-ADD) and have grown to love it, but its popularity has paved away any hope of innovative thought in terms of naming technological (or otherwise) ventures.

Does it give anyone else rage when they walk through Sugar House and see iPaw? I can give that credit for being a slightly-clever (albeit annoying) play on "iPod," but what creative redemption does "iProvo" hold? If Apple were smart (and they are, so watch out), they would patent iGrammer. Future words would have to be lower-case "i" conjugated with upper-case word, and if words already started with an "i," just upper-case the second letter for an iNcredible result! And forget about pronoun "I"; that's iI to you, iBuster!

And how annoying would it be to add another "i" to Mississippi? Seriously. (Ryan Bradford)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

First Nas, Now This

5 Spot: The Rev. France Davis

The Rev. France Davis, longtime pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, will speak about black history at the Savor Juneteenth celebration June 9-10 at Gallivan Plaza ( The statewide Juneteenth Celebration will be held June 11-17 at the Ogden City Amphitheater, located at 325 25th Street. Davis was interviewed for City Weekly’s June 7 Five Spot column. Here’s the complete conversation:

After almost a decade, Juneteenth again will be celebrated in Salt Lake City. Why is it coming back?
It is a significant day of celebrating freedom and the rights of a significant part of our community and population.

Will it negatively effect the Juneteenth celebration in Ogden June 15-17?
We think it will work in conjunction with that and that it will be kind of a kickoff for the larger more ongoing celebration in Ogden.

President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. But when did the institution of slavery really end?
The 19th of June, 1865, a year and a half after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, ended physical slavery. Economic slavery started to be done away with in 1954 when the Brown vs. Board of Education decision was handed down. We are still struggling for political, educational and economic equity. There are some vestiges of slavery still occurring. It’s not yet completely done.

How could a country founded on the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness countenance slavery?
As a country, we were talking not about people of African descent when we wrote documents and said things like “We the People.” We were not talking about all people, just certain people. People of African descent were among those who were not included. In order to ensure economic development in our country, we used the free labor of slavery.

Why should the entire community show up for Savor Juneteenth?
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sums it up: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” If all of us are not free, then none of us are. Thus the whole community ought to be celebrating the freedom of this segment of society.

Is Salt Lake City a good city for African Americans?
It’s becoming more and more of a better place. There have been legal and religious changes and, of course, the political ones that help this community to be more open and accepting of African Americans. There are good opportunities here for jobs and education, in particular, and I think it’s a good place to be.

Do you feel you sometimes have to defend Utah when you travel outside the state?
It’s a threefold thing for me personally: First is religious, second is skin color and third is the issue of whether the community is open or not. Yeah, all of that I have to constantly respond to when I travel outside of the area. And I still think there are good opportunities here in Utah. But I’ve learned to live anywhere.

What are some surprising bits of black history related to Utah?
The most surprising one is that there were African Americans here at least 20 years before the Mormon pioneers came. James Beckwourth was here as a trapper and frontiersman during the 1820s. As far as the LDS Church is concerned, during the 1850s, at least one African American held the priesthood. Third, the Buffalo Soldiers, who were African-American troops, were stationed here during the late 1800s.

Don Harwell of the Genesis group will be providing onsite DNA samples. What is the purpose of the testing?
I suppose what that has to do with is trying to trace one’s roots since Mr. Sorenson here has developed a technique using DNA to help track where in Africa African-Americans come from. It’s difficult to trace, genealogically speaking, lots of African American people because of the whole slavery numbering issue as opposed to names. So perhaps DNA testing can fill some of those gaps.

After the many gospel music performances at Juneteenth, where can people go to hear gospel music?
They would be welcome [at Calvary Baptist Church]. We have gospel choirs singing every Sunday at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. We have plenty of room and would invite anybody who wants to hear gospel music on a regular basis to join us. They would fit in and be at home.

What is your favorite gospel song?
“Precious Lord, Take My Hand” … lead me on, let me stand. It is a song about how to get out of and through the difficulties of life and not be in despair about where you are and where you are going.

(Jerre Wroble)

Comin At Ya Live

Exciting news on the local hip-hop front: Comcast OnDemand and KJZZ will be airing live concert footage and interviews of independent artists. Join Uprok Records this Friday, June 8 for the show's launch party at Lumpy's Downtown (145 W. Pierpont Avenue) with Jurassic 5's DJ Nu-Mark who will dig deep in his crates for a whole mess of funk flavor. Festivities kick off at 9 p.m. Don't forget to tune in. (Jamie Gadette)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Liking Lecce

What a pleasant surprise Lecce has turned out to be. I’d only met one person who had ever even been here before, Matt Caputo, son of Tony, heir to a Salt Lake City Italian sandwich empire. Matt’s brother Pete lived here for several months during a college sojourn. He found the place quite by accident, liked it and stayed. When I told the Caputos I was going to Greece, but traveling to Rome first and needing a ferry connection to do so, they recommended Lecce. I’d never heard of it. Who has? After all, when we think of Italy we mostly think only of Rome, Venice, Milan, Naples, Florence, Milan, Pisa and the place where George Clooney lives.

Of those, Naples is the farthest south, so a full one half of Italy principally lies undiscovered by American tourists. That’s a shame as far as I can tell. I know lots of Salt Lake Italians with ties to southern Italy via Sicily or the Calabria region which comprises a great part of the toe of Italy’s boot. But I’ve never met anyone with any ties to the heel of the boot, principally the Italian region of Puglia, which comprises the Salento Peninsula. Just to the north of Lecce is the port city of Brindisi where we’ll catch our ferry to the Greek island of Cephalonia.

Everyone in our party of 14 agrees that Lecce is a welcome respite from Rome. Of course, Rome with all of it’s history is a must see. However, Lecce provides it’s own charm and the people are superbly nice. Rome has far too many tourists for my liking. This is the off season, yet the wait to enter the must-see attractions like the Vatican is over two hours and the coliseum over one. You can’t take a photo at Trevi Fountain without including hundreds of people in the photo as well.

Though we have met only a few people in Lecce who speak English, everyone we’ve met has been accommodating and friendly. The kids got free crepes and a crepe making lesson from in one eatery. I got poured about a quart of scotch when I left a decent tip on the first round. Our hotel, the Della Palme is most accommodating. I hope Lecce stays this way, but if places like Park City—once also a charming place—are any indication, once the tourists arrive, things may change.

On the train ride down, I was amazed at the countryside scenery of central and southern Italy. It’s not dramatic, but it’s damn nice. Once we hit Bari we were near the coast for the remaining way to Lecce. Toss in a couple of hills, some golf courses, freeways and strip malls, and you’d have southern California. So that made me wonder.

Our government keeps saying the terrorists want to destroy our country and our freedoms. Well I understand those guys are plenty bad and all, but if they despise our freedoms so much and if they want our country, why don’t they just take the short boat ride over to Italy and terrorize it? It looks like the states. Plus I’ve said this before about Greece and it’s holding true in Italy as well—if you want real freedom, you’ll find freedom here more readily than you will back in the States.

Please don’t write—again—that if I like it here so much I should move here. That’s pointless and dumb. Instead, do this, what the Europeans do: take a month off and come over and see for yourself. You’ll eat better. You walk more. You’ll talk to strangers who will offer you flowers or cups of coffee. You’ll know you can’t sue anyone if you choke on an olive pit. And you’ll remember that your neighborhood was like that once, too, before it was picked apart by every self interest known to man. Americans are the ultimate NIMBY’s yet they hardly consider that Not In My Back Yard really means they have forgotten how to pay attention to their front yards. (John Saltas)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

No Way Jose

Besides spending vacation time writing a column from abroad, I’ve been asked by the greybeards who run City Weekly to also contribute to this blog site—also from abroad. Like I have nothing else to do. Problem is that when I can’t easily access the Internet—like the case the past few days—it’s hard to write about anything relevant and topical to a local SLC reader. Actually a reader reads the paper. If you’re reading this now, you’re a “user.” Computer parlance.

Anyway, here it is from Italy: Graffiti sucks no matter where you find it. All over the states we see graffiti, but we tend to label it as a westside, or southside, or gang-bang problem. In Italy, I see no such demarcations as graffiti is everywhere—at least in Rome. If there’s and unpainted wall in Rome, I’ve yet to find it. Maybe it’s not considered a problem here as I can detect no uproar except from our own party of Americans, who as with everthing else about Italy and Greece, likely misunderstand it.

It’s funny. This graffiti could be lifted and placed in any city in America and it would scare the bejesus out of everyone living in the surrounding 10 city blocks. It looks just like our homegrown Crip, Bloods or Wannabe graffiti. Carbon copy, or vice versa. Same script. Same colors. Just no kid with some baggy pants copping an attitude nearby. Maybe they consider it art. Dunno.

But those Americans. We visited the famous coliseum. For centuries it has pretty much withstood everything but earthquakes. It’s an impressive site and must have been drop dead gorgeous in its heyday, all gilded in bronze and laden with marble. And, painted up, too. Paint goes away in time, even graffiti. What doesn’t however is the marring of the walls in the coliseum resulting from people scratching their name or whatever into the soft rock foundation. On some columns, as high as you can reach someone has scratched an ‘‘I love Betty Lou’’ into the stone. I figure some of that is American made since it’s etched in English.

Like on one column—some nitwit from Texas (are all nitwits from Texas, or just this fellow and the leader of the free world?)—scratched the Texas A&M logo into the rock. For all to see. Real nice, you stupid Aggie! And below that is a large W which looks waaaay too much like the W for the University of Wisconsin. Good old American one-upmanship. I wonder how an archeologist will square that one a thousand years from now. Maybe it wasn’t a kid from Texas nor one from Wisconsin. Maybe the locals are so good at copying graffiti, they even copy school logos.

The one I liked best wasn’t really graffiti, but was a sign or something. I saw several like it. They read, ‘‘No Way. No War. No George Bush.’’ I don’t think that one was placed by the Aggie knucklehead. (John Saltas)

More: Saltas' Big Greek Vacation Photos