The Rex Theatre, venue for our play (Experimental Stage in the Basement)

The Rex Theatre, venue for our play (Experimental Stage in the Basement)

The Rex Cinema was built between 1935 and 1937, opening in 1937. It is a large cinema, and was located next to the (now demolished) Art Deco style Titania Cinema. The interior was decorated by Greek painters Yiannis Tsarouchis and his assistant Yiannis Palaiologas, who specialised in modern Greek figurative painting. It now houses two stages and many resources of the Greek National Theatre.
I have felt privileged to be working every day in this beautiful building. The whole area is vitalized by it and pulled upwards out of the dreck of nearby Omonia.

rex1937
Rex in 1937

 

SO 36 Memories

Rock in Loft, Paris 1981

Memories of a Berlin Hole in the Ground

Here is my contribution to a recent book written about SO 36, the legendary 1980’s punk and new wave venue in Berlin. It tells the tale of Tuxedomoon’s first Berlin gig in 1980:

Am Ostermontag feiern wir das Erscheinen des SO36-Buches.
Von 16 bis 17 Uhr spiele ich Songs von Bands, die zwischen 1978 und 1983 im Esso gespielt haben. 16 Uhr ist zwar etwas früh – dennoch würde ich mich sehr freuen, euch zu sehen.

Hier ein kleiner Appetizer – ein Text, den mir Blaine L. Reininger(Tuxedomoon) geschickt hat und der natürlich auch im Buch ist …

……………………………..

“I remember the first show at SO 36 (1980). It was also our first time in Berlin, so we were all excited, feeling all Blaue Engel and David Bowie Krautrocky. We were not dismayed by the stripped down old supermarket we found when we got to the club, we were used to working in crudholes and dumps. The Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco, the Mudd Club in New York, Plan K in Brussels, these were all dusty, decadent factory spaces, glamorous only with chemical enhancement or in retrospect.

I was amazed by the dressing room at SO 36. It was just a hole in the earth. There were no lights, no floor, just a pile of dirt on the floor of a sort of cave. I could respect this. It made me laugh.

I can’t say that I remember much about that show, other than that the place was jam-packed, people crowded in getting sweaty. They seemed to love us to pieces. I was so happy to be making it in Berlin.

I remember the last song of our set, though. We were playing “No Tears”. The song usually went that we would play the riff over and over and over and wait for Steven (Brown) to shout “MY EYES ARE DRY!!!” one last time. That was the cue for the end. That night, Steven held off the end over and over, endlessly, playing coy, teasing the audience, we kept playing that riff, a torturous riff with the left hand spread wide, we were getting tired, we were starting to get pissed off “End the fucking thing, Steven!” Steven decided to leave the stage, making his way through the crowd to the bar. He hammed it up back there, ordering a drink, lighting a cigarette, chatting up a likely looking lad standing there as we sweated and groaned our way through the two thousandth repetition of that goddamned riff….finally! He comes running through the crowd, beer in hand, jumps on the stage, grabs the mike and screams “MY EYES ARE DRY!!!” and that was it, folks. His eyes were most certainly dry! We left the stage to rapturous applause.
Later that evening, Steven was to be found out in the street, under a parked car drunkenly inviting the driver to ‘RUN ME OVER!! PUT AN END TO THIS MISERY!!!’ Thankfully, there was no one in the vehicle at the time. We put Steven in the van and went to the hotel.”

Easter Is Not Named After Ishtar

I have seen these posts on Facebook, promoting the kind of etymology one comes up with after a couple of bong hits. “Whoa, dude, Easter must be the English pronunciation of Ishtar. That must be where it comes from.”

The Three Poisons

threepoisons
the three poisons

 

Today, March 22, 2016, a group of fanatics, deluded, angry, ignorant attacked Brussels. They caused bombs to explode at Zaventem airport and on a crowded Metro train. At least 30 people died and 220+ people were injured.

I am haunted by this, as I was by the Bataclan attacks in Paris. These attacks have taken place in places I know well, places I have been and am likely to visit again. I played the Bataclan, I know that departures hall at Zaventem well. I have stopped for coffee at that Starbucks. I have certainly checked in at one of those gates. The Maelbeek metro is close to SABAM. I know people who work around there.

I pray earnestly that the delusion that is afoot in our century, the fanatacism that masquerades as religion, that turns thoughtful people away from spirituality and belief can be lifted. This cult of anger and death is the same no matter what book its followers profess to defend. Faux Christians, Muslims, even Hindus and Buddhists are gripped by an addiction to the chemicals produced in the body by anger and hatred, high on sheer reptile bloodlust. Those who believe that they are battling Satan are his most loyal followers, making blood sacrifices at his altar. Alla y’all. You Trumpians and you Wahabi freaks and you Bible thumping lobotomies. You are all the same. You are the dupes and slaves of other dupes and slaves, drunk on killing and greedy for power.

“Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance. A mass movement offers them unlimited opportunities for both.” —  Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (1951)

“The Buddha taught that hate is one of the Three Poisons. The Three Poisons are lobha, dvesha and moha, Sanskrit words usually translated as “greed,” “hate” and “ignorance.” In Sanskrit and Pali, the Three Poisons are called the akusala-mula 

Akusala, a word usually translated as “evil,” actually means “unskillful,” and mula means “root.” The Three Poisons are, then, the root of evil, or the root from which all unskillful or harmful actions spring.

From the article by Barbara O’Brien”

The Roots of Terrorism, According to the Buddha and Social Science

By Barbara O’Brien Updated November 16, 2015. To be an eyewitness to a terrorist attack is like seeing the fabric of reality ripped apart. I was an eyewitness to the collapse of the World Trade Center towers in New York City on September 11, 2001, and I sensed then that the horror before me was not new, but an old thing that had been long submerged and ignored.

 

Half Mute Re-Issue Announced

On the occasion of the Half-Mute tour, we are reissuing the album on CD,  in a special remastered and repackaged edition.

The release includes a bonus album entitled GIVE ME NEW NOISE: Half-Mute Reflected. Thirteen artists have specially created covers of all the songs from Half-Mute and from the album’s associated singles.

 The contributors include Foetus/Jim Thirlwell, Aksak Maboul, Simon Fisher Turner, DopplAr (feat. 2 members from Amatorski), Cult With No Name, Coti K., Georgio Valentino and others, with special appearances by the three makers of Half-Mute, Steven Brown, Peter Principle and Blaine Reininger.

Give Me New Noise will also be issued as a stand-alone vinyl LP and digital album.

Further information is available at Crammed Discs.

4 on 3 off

image

Now that the play has started its run we have 4 days on 3 days off. Time for ordinary pursuits like the daily bike run to Syntagma. The smell of bitter orange blossoms is on the air, even in cloacal zones like Omonoia. I like to ride up to Syntagma and sit by the waterfall fountain, drink my coke zero and play with my phone. There it is.

Woland on Death and Dying

Me in my role as Woland, the devil in The Master and Margarita

A meditation upon impermanence:

This is the text I wrote which serves as my opening monologue in Maria’s production of “The Master and Margarita: A picnic With the Devil”. It is derived from an improvised interview I did at rehearsal, discussing the Buddhist exercise of Meditation Upon Impermanence

The Christian practice of Memento Mori has a similar aim, reminding us always that none of the things we love, hate, or fear are permanent, so we shouldn’t waste time worrying about keeping them. In the end, we lose it all.

Ultimately, this practice is not ‘morbid’. It is, in fact, liberating in that it helps to diminish the suffering inherent  in living.

Ο Μαιτρ και η Μαργαρίτα photo by © Karol Jarek (10)


You people always amaze me. You are all told that one day you must die, you watch millions of your fellows dying around you, yet you continue to tell yourselves that you alone will be spared. Each day 150,000 of you die, 6,000 every hour, 100 every minute, two each second, yet you continue to believe in your own immortality.

The truth you must face is that you cannot be spared by death. Everyone around you, everyone in this room, this building, this city, this country, all who now walk upon this earth will be gone within 100 years.

No insurance, no pension plan, no fame, no amount of wealth and power can stop your death. No exercise program, no diet, no plastic surgery, can make you younger, prevent decay, stop your death.

You can’t stop death by never thinking about it, not listening if somebody else is talking about it, or avoiding dying people.

You can’t believe that your legacy, your art, your reputation, will grant you some shadow immortality. Eventually it will all go, Picasso, Beethoven, Shakespeare, even Jesus and Buddha; the statues and buildings will crumble, science will falter, technology will fail and fade away. The human species will become fossilized bones in the crust of a dead planet that will itself return to dust, in a collapsed universe, awaiting a new big bang.

Only by acknowledging your death, by realizing that your every breath could be your last, can you overcome your fear and be free. Some of you will realize this. Most of you won’t.

Ay, que lastima! Krima.

(long pause)

But hey! Enough of my yakkin’! Let’s get this show started!!

Azazaello!…..The people are getting bored! Move your butt and show us something!

The Five Precepts of Buddhism

Facebook-20151117-062424Apropos of the previous post about Thich Nhat Hanh’s precepts, I felt obliged to include a listing of the standard 5 precepts of Buddhism, the framework of the Buddhist moral and ethical code.

The five precepts:

1. Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami: I observe the precept of abstaining from the destruction of life.

2. Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami: I observe the precept of abstaining from taking that which is not given.

3. Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami: I observe the precept of abstaining from sexual misconduct.

4. Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami: I observe the precept of abstaining from falsehood.

5. Suramerayamajjapamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami: I observe the precept of abstaining from intoxicants that cloud the mind and cause carelessness.

The refrain “I observe the precept of abstaining from …” which begins every precept clearly shows that these are not commandments. They are, indeed, moral codes of conduct that lay Buddhists willingly undertake out of clear understanding and conviction that they are good for both themselves and for society.