May 12, 2006

Budapest, Hungary
"Look at the American Computer Monkey! Dance, Monkey, Dance!"

Done with Greece. The only other notable exploit was visiting the Numismatic Museum.

Numismatic, you say? That's right, numismatic. Meaning "of or relating to coins."

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If it's ancient, and you could buy things with it, they've got it in a glass case.

Fascinating.

Aside from that I laid low. Stayed away from the big museum. Didn't want any more trouble.

Flew to Budapest today, met up with Matt, found the FedEx with our Eurail tickets waiting for us at the hostel. Everything went according to plan. I'm flabbergasted.

Here is the ruggedly handsome Matt in all his rugged handsomeness.

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Just wandered around and had dinner. The city seems lovely. And the hookers are unsettlingly attractive.

We start moving tomorrow. Maybe Vienna, maybe Venice. Dunno. We've got 15 days to reach London and no clear idea how we're going to do it, but we want to see as much as we can.

This Eurail thing is amazing. One price covers all your travel within a set timeframe, including buses and ferries. We're both accustomed to sleeping in transit, and we're going to try to arrange it so we never actually have to check into a hotel.

I'm crawling toward the finish line. The budget was blown on wreck dives and paraglides. Now I just spend on food and internet.

In other news, the Simpsons have encapsulated my life story into about a minute.

The episode's original airdate was a couple weeks after the craziness began last year, so I'm not suggesting it's actually a direct reference. It has also been pointed out that the world does not, in fact, revolve around me. No, quite the opposite.

Still, the similarities are chilling.

Looks like I kicked up a debate over the dancing-in-front-of-the-Parthenon thing. I realize it's best to keep out of such dust clouds -- rarely improves anything -- but I'm irresistibly compelled to clarify a couple points.

First off, no, I wouldn't dance in Flander's Fields or Auschwitz or Ground Zero or Dealey Plaza or anything like that. I do have some common sense and decency.

...well, maybe Dealey Plaza.

When it comes to religion, I try to be careful. I danced in front of a Mosque in Brunei. It was a beautiful place, it felt appropriate, and for all the travel-weary, emotionally exhausted Islam-bashing I've done on my site, it seemed like a much-needed olive branch. Plus there's really not much else to dance in front of in Brunei.

I danced with some Laotian Buddhist monks. I spent time with them beforehand; showing them the video, explaining the project, taking down their names, their email addresses, making sure they understood what I was doing and were comfortable with it. Again, the dance seemed appropriate. And at the risk of sounding incredibly pretentious, what little Buddhist philosophy I've been exposed to kind of jibes with the whole endeavor.

I wouldn't dance in front of the Vatican. While I consider the Catholic Church a bloated parody of spiritual corruption, I recognize that about a billion people disagree with me and I wouldn't want to offend them.

The Parthenon is not a religious site -- at least not to any substantial group of people alive today. The religion it's associated with is dead. It was wiped clear off the planet by a powerful wave called monotheism. If there's a trace of it left in modern religion, it's in the cloven hooves and horned brow of good old Lucifer Morningstar...and maybe the Christ-like resurrection of Dionysus. Anyway, the guard's claim that I was desecrating a "holy religious site" is, I strongly believe, a holy load of crap.

Plus you can't make much of a case for the sanctity of a place when there's a $12 entrance fee.

As for being disrespectful to Greek culture -- give me a freaking break.

A couple weeks ago I danced in front of the Pyramids at Giza. Not only were the guards aware of what I was doing, not only did they let me in after closing to do it, they even held the camera. Did they think I was being disrespectful to their culture?

And lemme point out, modern Greeks have about as much in common with the ancient Greeks, both ethnically and culturally, as the Arabs in Egypt have in common with their previous tenants.

What it comes down to is a matter of opinion over what is and isn't offensive. And every time we let some ignorant prick in a leather jacket impose his knee-jerk view on what's offensive, Jesus strangles a kitten.