I can’t decide if I want to write down all the good or all the bad things that are currently going on. A simple solution would be to write all of them as if I don’t indulge into categorization and info hierarchies but I’m not sure if that will work out cause I am an evaluation junkie. And a junkie of other things and once a junkie always a junkie cause junkieness evolves and thrives without permission. But I’ll try?
Also, I’m going to ignore the fact that a week ahead is going to be two years since Zak died and two years since my life took a mysterious turn. Here is a list with things I have to show from this weirdly fertile period of time, in terms of artistic production:
A short experimental about past trauma that is selected to be included in the 2020 – 2021 edition of Berlin Porn Film Festival and has been already screened in a couple of occasions locally. The short is seemingly well received by people and I have no idea how this happened, mostly because I had no idea what I was doing while I was making it. Regardless, it is personal and raw and rough and suggestive of difficult things without being significantly explicit, so I am betting on this horseshit combo for the nice reception. And also, maybe I am somewhat good at telling a story? Or in cinema? Or in experimenting? Who knows.
A co-production credit and a “made by” credit to a short doc, less experimental, but still fiercely unconventional for the genre, about feelings and grief and the pain of losing a kin. It is premiering in two weeks at Athens International Film Festival. I’ve talked about the process here. I am not sure how I feel at the moment about that movie because some things happened between me and the director and although I am not keeping grunges and despite of having talked about our differences, I am feeling somewhat alienated both from the film and from the people I worked with. But I am trying consciously to get myself together and get me out of all those random and scattered places my mind takes me so I can focus on the things that matter and enjoy being with the people I like and acknowledge as my tribe, my kinfolk, in my most favourite place in the world, the cinema room. I believe I’ll manage. There is a method I’m creating to keep focus and be grounded and this should be my plan. And the advice I got is: if the plan fails, abort and go eat something nice and binge some good TV or go get your friends and be normal with them. Doable.
I have a number of published and unpublished pieces I am eager to find time to rate and organize in order to make them into an essay collection. I decided this is going to be my very first book project. Can’t wait. Very excited.
I have a beautifully crafted screenplay. It only lacks a last idea to be incorporated and integrated sufficiently and it is camera ready. I’m planning to have it finished by the end of October, no push backs.
I am about to receive a very much needed artist fund that will let me pay back some debts and to save some coins to put into the film. If everything goes as imagined, I can even begin shooting in June.
Now the things I consider “difficulties” or “obstacles” or even “barriers” in some cases. My mental health is not getting better in general but I am getting better at having a damaged mental health; I don’t know what to make of this information. Eventually I managed to be able to do stuff just to clear my head, but I am afraid that, beginning the full working season, I won’t have much time to do them in the way I like. In any case my anxiety is coming back and my environment does not help. I am not referring to my people, they have reached my expectations and are taking the responsibilities I need them to take, especially the ones I hold really close. That being said my home is emotionally calm and helpful and we like each other more than we did during the last year.
The problem is the city. It has become significantly more brutal and obnoxious than before. The noise and the screaming and the aggression are unbearable, and the pollution of all kinds make me desperate. The smell of rotten garbage, burned oils and food odors far from fresh make me sick in my stomach. I see the dirty pigeons, those damned sky rats, and the skinny angry cats playing with previously alive things at the sides of the streets and I’m seeing everybody walking by this freak-show unbothered. Broken glass and ashes everywhere; and blood. And people without homes in every corner of every block, picking on their wounds, left there to die by everyone who continues to walk by, still unbothered. The loud sounds of all textures and the strong repetitive lights that never turn off make me all agitated and dizzy. The drills and the hammers of the ongoing gentrification continue multiplying and everyday my immune system seems less and less strong and my defenses less and less stable, no matter how much I exercise. All of it breaks my head and my heart and my appetite for life altogether. It’s like a legion of both fleshy and mechanical ghosts are humming and puffing and roaring and crying and stomping around me, during night and day. Unbearable. Sometimes I really make myself believe they are lousy demons or Buffy style vampires, stupidly emerging directly from a Hellmouth right below me, just to imagine I am penetrating a few of them with a long pointy wooden stick so I can get some old-school resolution arc and an imaginary peace of mind.
The poorer a place gets the louder and filthier and angrier it becomes.
And I have another problem. Before, I was able to connect with people by being in places and feeling their feelings. Now I think I have subconsciously turned off that switch and although this was a useful thing to do in terms of protection and survival, it made me disconnect from the human condition somehow. That, makes me nervous and sometimes sad. Certainly it makes me uncomfortable too because I have all these automatic communicative behaviours that now seem all fake and hypocritical and I suffer in situations that used to make me happy. Like talking to people and being with them and advising them and caring for them. Thankfully my close circle needs me to be present for their lives enough, so I don’t let myself be devastated about the other lost links. But I definitely feel weirdly incomplete. Like, how “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” made me feel intellectually intrigued and partly nostalgic of a life I am not part of, but underneath it all it remains irrelevant and rumbling and a self-referring nonsensical waste of energy I won’t ever come back to. And I love coming back to things. And to people.
Lately I am thinking a lot about sex. But not in the same manner as before and not that sex. I gave up porn because I got disgusted and afraid. And then I quit dating. It was an organic process. I just couldn’t anymore. And it worked. I keep on the “dating my self” ritualistic mantra and I am feeling better and better defending this choice, but I am also getting a bit tired of the investigation I’m getting under for it, by everyone. And then I am getting doubts because the more I defend this choice the more I find myself into conversations about not having sex and then I start hearing the word “sex” even more around and then I notice more actual sex around and then I start making jokes about sex and specifically about the sex I am not having at the moment and I know I use to make sex jokes all the time even before the current situation but now they are illuminated by a new ominous light and in the end of this spiral I have no idea if I am ready to have sex again and under what conditions or if it’s just a stupid communication/reception pattern that messes with my head. To be honest, even within my “dating my self” habit, there are one or two persons I would gladly make an exception for and would maybe pursuit such connection; if such a connection was feasible and not complicated or if I wasn’t too terrified to ask. The jest is: I think of sex and instantly everything get scary or overwhelming but I want to be with someone physically soon; or eventually. But not with just anyone. So I am waiting to clear this more in my head and heart and stomach and see what this chaos is all about.
I watched Lion Love (… and Lies) by Agnès Varda today and I enjoyed it very very much. I am starting to genuinely believe that Varda is the funniest and the smartest and the most complicated person in modern cinema, in her generation and maybe in a few more generations. And I need to watch or rewatch more of her films and learn how she does all of it.
Today a taxi hit my car while I was trying to unpark and then I realized it’s the second time in a few months I’m having such an accident so I either have to be really careful and make a conscious attempt of not leaving anything getting under my skin once I’m in the car, or I need to stop driving for a while.
Here’s is a photo of me, minutes after the incident. I climbed on Acropolis to see Parthenon with Euklida, almost by accident and for free. 😮
We just went in for an art exhibition, showing at the bottom of the rock and then we kept going up without anyone asking us for tickets and stuff. It was nice, not so hard to climb despite of what I was imagining. But the truth is that we were really out of our comfort zone, socially wise. The good thing is that the whole time of going up, we shared the narrow dusty path with some queers, a greek hipster gay boy who was taking his guide duty very seriously, narrating stories including names and dates and places too far away from now to make sense; and then the beautiful trans girl, tall with long curls in the color of barley and blue eyes full of loving care for her grumpy techno-goth girlfriend with the skin all rushed from that vicious sun and the climbing. Yeah, paint me a hopeless romantic but I felt connected with those touristy people and at that moment I believed deep in my heart that everything in the world is going to be okay if I stay close to them; at least for a while. Then I told Euklida I discussed in therapy how I feel about genders (well not in general, mostly how I feel about mine) and that I spontaneously outed myself as enby on Instagram. She was a bit shocked for not having mentioned something like that to her before (although I feel I have but it might have been something very vague and general, sounds like something I do) but she was very happy overall.
So this is me telling such things to people around me. I need to get use to them reacting in very surprising ways and not try to predict or control the reaction by calculating the when and the how. I mean it is what it is and I am already thirty one years old, it doesn’t get stranger than that for those who know me for a while. If anything, many of them have already noticed how I’ve changed, how I grew during the last two years and possibly are just waiting for a confirming node from my end. So I feel it’s better to say whatever I have to say than let them guess wrong about what’s going on in my life?
Back to the queers, I am sure they didn’t mind the two somewhat weird but very respectful strangers like us following them around, and I know because back when we were all waiting at the queue, we had this “I see you” type of moment that establishes the queer kinship between people who don’t know each other. Hence I felt a bit disappointed when we, me and Euklida, started going down the rock and I didn’t had the chance to send towards them a mental yet very heartful and sincere goodbye.
Later, while still in Koukaki, we found this shiny Impreza WRX STI (or pretending to be as F informed me afterwards) with those golden rims begging you to lick them. I resisted the licking urge because Corona but I took some nice photos for the car spotting archive which I apparently now have even without noticing. 🤷🏽♀️
Once again I find myself exhausted and drained and chronic fatigue has made me believing I have ‘Rona every two hours. Last Monday I walked into therapy, washed my hands carefully, sat on the couch and started laughing like a maniac in order not to cry since minute one. Then I asked K. if “we could shut the window and pull the blindfolds only for a couple of minutes”, she ejected from her chair and in seconds offered me the most needed space I had just realised I wanted with all the power of my existence. Suddenly I felt I can let go for the next fifty eight minutes without listening or talking or even making sense, I needed to just be for a while with someone but without necessarily interacting with them and once this was achieved – so easily no less, almost by just desiring, no questions asked, no requirements, no judgement – I exhaled, I pressed the sides of my forehead with my index fingers, I closed my aching eyes and cried. I tried to hold it back, to shallow the bitterness of exhaustion, to cover my edge, I tried to control my breath but apparently I couldn’t. The cry itself wasn’t hysterical, you can even describe it as calm, but I couldn’t really stop myself from giving in it. Then K. asked me if I came there to rest and I looked at her in the utmost surprise; yes, that’s exactly why I went. I figured it out the moment it was said but it’s like I know it for days. And that’s the stupid reason why I was looking forward to step into this office all week. At that moment I was bordeline hoping to live in this office forever and never go out again.
Anyway, twenty minutes in I was already feeling better so I thanked her and start talking. No matter what I was saying, the tiresome voice of mine was still cracking every now and then, but my spirit was already climbing between levels, so I rode this new wave of safety and brought it to become a blanket of calmness. I was still exhausted, a human corpse who walks and mimics talking, but I could find some of myself in there and it was enough to start feeling better.
Left therapy and I was still unaware how decisive I have already been for what was about to happen next. Without even noticing, I went straight home and shut myself into my room for the next four days. With the fan rolling from my face to my butt and back again, windows closed regardless of the heat to avoid the outside sounds which are constantly triggering everything that is upside down in me, I got out only to eat, to piss and to check if the world was still a living hell that froze at its peaking worst behavior. I was distant with those who happened to see me the three -altogether – times I left the apartment to buy food counting my spare change cause I am still very much broke and I couldn’t care less about it. And it’s like, the more I was distant the better I was accomplishing to secure my space to myself.
Third day I woke up and cleaned the whole apartment. It was a fuckfaced garbage town, a rusty depressive mess, a fine piece of my worst nightmares but I got on my knees and licked clean every inch of it within thirty minutes, almost without resenting myself at all. I spent the rest of the day in my freshly chlorine and lavender scented bedroom, watching eighties horror flicks and talking on the phone. I even lifted some light weights because I couldn’t sleep again.
On the fourth day I wasn’t alone in the house, so I woke up and left without saying a word. On a super rare and desperate action of relief, I got into my car and went to Alepotrypa, an open air basketball court I wanted to visit before but never had the time or the energy, to shoot a ball in a net. Approaching there a few minutes after noon on a 34° C day, I was holding my breath, hoping to be all alone up there. I get sensitive with crowds now, maybe always have been but resisting. Being the usual self-conscious idiot, I parked outside and pretended I was talking on the phone as I was walking in, to check if there were people. Alepotrypa, officially known as Elikonos Str Hill, is a short hill between Kypseli and Galatsi. Its highest spot is approximately 190 meters altitude and it’s overall surface is about 140 acres (that’s greek feet or something, I don’t do good with numbers). On the top, between the two highest points there is a large piece of land where a basketball court, a soccer court, a 5×5 soccer court and a kids’ playground are built, one next to another. There are some trees, mostly young and skinny, and blossomed bushes with thick pink flowers – should be oleanders. I am thinking they planted so many of them hoping their flowers will cover that toxic smell of cheap sun-flamed stinky rubber grass every poor area football court uses instead of organic grass or even an outdoor sports ground material of slightly better quality. I was unable to escape from the misery of the middle class euro-fantasy effect on which such places are built, but I was able to notice there were something breathtaking in that place: the rocks. Surrounding the basketball court, there are two rock blind spots, full of aromatic herbs, short olive-green bushes and history. Whose history? It depends. Is it the history of our whitewashed crypto-colonial fake ancient past, full of democracy and philosophical success and weird sexuality that have leaved us all with an excessive illusion of achievement, yet unrooted and disconnected from the land before us? Or is it the history of the young, generation 2.0 immigrant and refugee athenians, who are black and brown and of any color, and who occupy the sports fields with audacity, giving echoing life to those old rocks, preventing them from falling on our heads and crush us violently under their fabricated mythical glory? Look, I didn’t seem to have conceived consciously all the thoughts I’m thinking now and the only reason I care at this point is because – being the ultra emotional prick I am and trying to make some sense around me to help me keep existing – I am pretty sure they had an effect before they become actual thoughts so that’s probably what happened: Seeing those rocks carved a space exactly in the shape of the future thoughts I am now having and left it empty hence it flooded with feelings and that’s how I walked back to my car, wait a whole fifteen minutes for the group of boys playing before me to crack a few jokes and say their goodbyes before pulling off in their fancy cars. Then I parked mine under a slim shade of a young tree, got my ball out of the trunk and started climbing up. I played under the hot blinding sun for forty minutes. For every successful shoot I was smiling at the rocks like a weirdo. I could still hear the boys laughing and joking or so I thought and I was laughing with them sometimes. I heard some kids singing some creepy melodic song, sound coming from a white and blue building across the shallow canyon. I didn’t mind. I wasn’t spooked. My mind knew I have some logical excuse to present if necessary afterwards, we’re cool on that level. My focus was the ball and the rocks. I even got to score a three-pointer from a nasty angle before giving up beaten, thirsty and sweaty like an island donkey. I took only a couple of breaths before running to my car and hurrying back to my dark cave.
On the fifth day I woke up and I was ready to ask for some money from my parents because I really had to eat something better than cheap rice, Nutella and stomach pills. I did. I was irritated with myself for doing so once again but when dad transferred fifty euros to me and said to not worry, even though we both know we should worry very much, I stopped worry. I got on my two feet, legs trembling, dizzy from last night’s sleep. My muscles weren’t sore which was a very good sign so I took it as feedback, put on some shorts, thought of changing a t-shirt but voted against it, slipped in my fake Adidas flip flops and went out. I drove a bit around, then pulled over and made some phone calls, carefully letting a bit of myself out there again, scheduling next week’s meetings. I called someone I was mad at and went to see them at work. We talked and we even untied some recent very tight knots hovering upon us for motnhs now. We managed to remove a large lump of rotten thoughts and dark feelings and angry spirals. It was useful. I wasn’t planning on it. It just happened.
Since then the days go by and I am trying to hold that balance, the one of being here for everything but exactly the right amount; right amount being my limits and not my intention.
I am still tired though. And I still feel retired. I am not that social and I won’t be easy to talk to for a while, that I know. But this is a needed space that I have to take, to recuperate from whatever happened this year and the previous. And I need to learn to take breaks. I desperately need to teach myself to take breaks before reaching a no-return point of exhaustion. It is probably going to be the hardest thing I have ever learned but fuck my life I am the best student I know so how hard it can’t be after all?
Long time no time or appetite to write and I have a wild bunch of new things I want to share with the approximately eight people reading this black hole of web diary. Imma write in a confusing way and not in chronological order because of my weirdly warm feelings and a sense of humbleness I gained recently that allows me to be less controlling.
We finished the shoots for our doc, last weekend. What’s this doc, you ask and you have every right to do so because I haven’t talked much about this since the work begun. So, I am going to take some space and talk about it now.
Last fall, Gevi Dimitrakopoulou received a small fund from Visual AIDS for their “Day Without Art 2020“, their annual series of commissioned film work. I met Gevi two years ago during the assemblies and gatherings and all the political and personal events we held for the brutal murder of Zackie Oh, in broad daylight, by two shop owners on September 2018. Zak was in distress for some reason, run over to a small alley near Omonia Sq. and apparently got trapped in a jewelry shop trying to ask for help or something. Like, the shop was empty and the door is supposed to lock automatically when it closes, for safety against robberies and all, because jewelry shops around Omonia are also shitholes where poor people go and sell whatever they own or steal from around in a typically low price. So the “honest” owners of those places are not only practically live from other people’s despair and societal shame but also have links with right wing mobs offering protection to their own; including a “Greeks only” discount. No need to mention that the most frequent client-types (if we can call like that someone in need) at those jewelry shops are migrants, refugees, homeless, ex-cons, street queers and junkies from around blocks. Back to the story, Zak panicked and needed to get out, the door wasn’t responding and everybody started to look really angry outside, so he grabbed a fire extinguisher and tried to break the shop window to break free. The shop owner who was out in the street at that moment, believed with all his rotten heart that Zackie was a junkie who got in to steal and with the help of another man owning a real estate office in the area, they both started to hit and kick her while she was half-body into the shop. Now, this alley is narrow and not long but it is really crowded and there are also many people working in the shops on the street: retail, restaurants, a shady bar, a posh franchise bakery house, one or two hostels, even the Navy has some offices in a buildimg just right there. What I am trying to say is that Zackie Oh was fucking got kicked to death by two men who could have been her fathers and, like in original greek tragedies, there was a fucking audience to watch amphitheatrically, taking videos and doing nothing to stop the act. I am sure a couple of them idiots applauded too in the end. Cops came eventually but the harm was done, so they put on handcuffs on an almost unconscious Zackie, tried to rough her up into consciousness, then paramedics came too but they somehow decided the person laying in front of them, beaten and tied, didn’t need any first aids stuff so they didn’t even take her vitals and next thing we know Zack is dead, the jewelry man cleans the broken glasses out of his shop window like nothing happened and the real estate guy who apparently has ties with Golden Dawn and other extreme nationalist groups, is bragging on Twitter about saving his neighborhood from a dangerous criminal that tried to rob an honest fellow citizen of this great city in this great country where the sun is always warm and anyone can kill anyone over anything obviously.
All these and more you can find online, versions and rhetorics differ, it’s a shitshow we haven’t processed yet but we are slowly trying to, given the fucking trial has finally a date, in late October, two years and a month since we lost her. Both jewelry man and real estate man are in trial, as well as the nine cops that were in the scene. None of us believes in the mythical monster called Justice and most definitely not one person I know believes in greek courts but, yeah, it’s a big fucking deal and it’s on everyone’s calendar now so I have to talk about it, even if I struggle.
So Gevi gets this small funding, which is about two thousand dollars, something like a thousand and seven hundred euros. This number in film-language means “zero” but in poor-language means “more than we already have”. So Gevi gets this number in her bank account and wants to do something about Zackie but she has no idea what. She asks for advice and we brainstorm with ideas of an experimental documentary showcasing two intersecting levels: the murder and our feelings. I know it’s barely a brand new documentary approach, but you know what they say about approaches being like opinions. Also we had no idea what we meant with “experimental” but it sounded nice and we went with it. At that point we may have been lacking the full vision but we were overcompensating with eagerness and hardcore faith.
First we needed to make some research and organise our material. We decided to start talking to people and do some interviews. We made list of thirty potential interviewees, most of them were people that knew Zak personally or professionally or from Zackie’s shows, and all of them we have seen around during all this time, in the gatherings following his death. We started taking the interviews and we were very okay (borderline happy, the fools) with what we had. Until we understood that what we had was getting bigger and bigger and then it became actually really big. More than us and what we intended to do up until that moment. Suddenly, through the talking and the crying and the laughing we started spotting kin narratives not only about the events but also about the ways of processing the shared trauma, and then it hit us. What we were doing was not only an homage to Zackie for a cheap-ass organisation (no offence to the history of Visual AIDS but we all know how things work with commissioned art and it’s true that 2k $ may seem like a treasure in Greece but it’s barely enough money, sorry). So the thing we were doing has been escalated. Now, apart from painting a portrait, we were witnessing a shy attempt to take back the grieving period everyone stole from us, as a community. We were in front of a previously scattered and fearful group of people (us included), that has transformed into a untangled mess of strong shibari knots, armed with an unbreakable armor of honesty, care and radical forgiveness for its own. We have become an amazing hive-mind, bound by trauma. A Frankenstein’s monster of broken hearts and broken bodies, unhealthy minds and ridiculous lifestyles, all melt together into a bright shinny robo-queer Optimus Prime about 50 feet tall and ready to devour every single canonical idiot attempting to hurt us. I must remind you, this was not a choice. Some of us still barely know each other. If anything, it was a brutally forced defense mechanism but this does not make the feeling less miraculous. We were finally talking about her and about how we feel, something we didn’t have time to do between the shock of the violent loss and the political way we threw our bodies in the streets revenging and claiming. It seems it is only now the hive-mind is taking a second to realise it is connected and hence powerful.
Long story short, such themes and many others started to emerge while we were combing the material and we noticed them clearly so when the epidemic stopped us in the middle of our interviews list, we took it as a chance to gather our minds around the content we already had, organising it into chapters, looking both towards a short and a feature version of the film. Given that we had almost two months to shimmer in our self-doubts and the Visual AIDS deadline, we decided we are going for the short version right now and we are applying for a larger fund to the Greek Film Center for the feature, showing them what we have.
For the short, the main idea we went with is to make a patchwork using the sound of the interviews, to narrate our story and then, for the visual level of the film, we decided to bring up some archive footage of Zak, gathered by friends and family, and additionally to create some fictionalized scenes, which I can now safely put under the blanket of hyperrealism, aesthetically. Gevi wrote and directed those scenes and I helped her with all I had, even if I couldn’t understand exactly what she needed to say sometimes. When I saw I understood though, so I am glad I did it regardless.
That brings us to the last weekend. Starting from Friday afternoon and going into a full-day Saturday and an exhausting Sunday, we shot twelve scenes in three locations with a cast of fifteen and a crew of ten. And many friends lending a hand or a car or some make up material or some good vibes and advice. Three days of unbelievably hard conditions and obstacles we somehow overcome. Three days of mothering a whole set. Three days of fathering a whole production. Three days, each of them gaining us new siblings, binding us in the way water binds hot iron. After those three days my body was crashed and so was my mind and soul. I took the liberty of staying in bed for almost forty eight hours, crying, eating, stretching my pained muscles, cracking my bones and watching random shit, crying again. I was honestly feeling like a disaster but I guess that’s part of what I like in making films. Because, as all wise persons say and especially one specific wise person: “post-high low means you did good”.
And I did. We all did. A thousand euros and a few hundreds over the budget, which is a huge future pain in the ass, but still. As another specific wise person says mimicking the ultimate matriarch of the new media era Kris Jenner: “we did amazing, sweetie!”
Then, a week passes and here comes the yesterday. We had our first Queer Liberation March in Athens. I didn’t know how I felt about all the people co-organising it but I kept going to the meetings and helped around with stuff. Didn’t have my usual leadership available, mostly because of the doc which drained me, but it was a nice change for me; stepping back, giving space both to myself and others and still be a part of it all. So it’s Saturday morning, on the 27th of June, and people are starting to gather at the central square in Exarchia. Exarchia is an anarchist and liberal claimed neighborhood and is somewhat resisting to gentrification. Also it has been the underground cultural capital of this city for years now. Since the birth of the counter-culture in Exarchia, the queers of the older generations played a significant role, blending street queer politics in the ideological and cultural monoliths of greek anarchism and leftism. But they were never recognized as an important part of the historical communities gathered around the area. At least not on their terms. Trans pioneers like Paola Revenioti would have been absolutely erased from the “revolutionary archives” of the gatekeepers in the scene, if it wasn’t for the milennial queers who, since the 2008 riots, are constantly trying to reconnect with their heritage. So, it was important that the call for this demo was held there. And also somewhat intimidating and a tiny bit dangerous because of the on-going war between drug mobs and manarchists but this is a complicated story, definitely for another time.
Regardless, we gathered there, an horde of four or five hundreds of freaky people, dressed and undressed, bodies of all kinds and colors, with banners drawn in hand, shinny headpieces, spray cans and stencils, diy flags, brooms painted purple because we have read early Federicci and wanna show it, all types of rainbows, Black Lives Matter signs and Black Trans Lives Matter signs and tones of glitter. No, wait! I mean it. Literally tones of glitter of all colors and sizes and look! What happened at Zak’s funeral is ironically happening again and I should have had the mind ready to notice such a symbolical campness, but I couldn’t at the time. As we march all this glitter is lifted by the wild summer breeze and becomes a glittery tornado, glossing and glamming up this brutal city’s filthy pavements and staining their greek flags and their greek pride and with each pinch of the colored powder we are taking over. Tila and Chraja, parents of the House of Kareola, the only ballroom house in Greece, are now leading a colorful transfeminine parade with their children and siblings, imagery pulled directly from our darkest memories of being kids in school, forced to wear skirts or long pants and white, flawlessly ironed, shirts to march on a fake, truly fabricated, independence day (only the “best” of us though, with the word’s definition to change based on the national hype of the time – height, grades, athletic achievements, beauty); imagine us, the freaks, unnerved, effeminate and so much very gay baby-monsters, Echidnas in a cage-like environment, hostile and desperate towards all and nothing, with everyone looking directly into our shameful souls, expression and genitalia.
That nightmare we still have sometimes, when the moon is bad. Our weaknesses, impossible to hide no matter how hard we try, open like wounds, ready to be witnessed and poked relentlessly. Most of us had to march like that at some point, fearing to say no, holding our breaths, pulling in our bellies in the view of that blue and white piece of cloth we now hate because everyone loved it more than us; under hideous martial music; marching for someone else’s imaginary war and artificial pride, showered with the indifferent gaze of the “great men of our nation” – men who were either nepotistic narcissists playing low scale politics or macho neighborly men-leaders who were turning faith (in democracy or god) into a shameless self-promoting business.
Of course exceptions exist, I am not an idiot, but I don’t care about them now so you won’t too.
Continuing from where I left it, Chraja and Tila and the others in Kareoles crowd vogued and vogued and vogued on the hot asphalt of Athens under an excruciating sun, the same who shined upon our ancestors as normies insist to highlight, but whatever. So they now dance and dance and dance while we chant and chant and chant. About Zackie and about refugees and about camps and about abolishing prisons and police altogether and about free bodies and freedom in general. And it was as cathartic as it sounds. And then we were about to go into the biggest and most touristy market block downtown, in Ermou str., where all the big chains of clothing, accessories and shoes have a window. An army of freaks raging in the middle of the day, rush hour o’clock, at a space where respectable greeks who still have money to spent and tourists who spent in a sit more than I can earn in a year harminically co-exist, getting their summer attires for the upcoming “escape to the blue and white paradise which is the greek islands”. God I hate that narrative, it feels like a fake and even more dystopian 2004 all over again, when everything this piece of dirt of a country promoted was blue seas, super naïve art vibes and BETTER.FASTER.STRONGER™.
Yes, we were having great fun mocking, vogueing and cheering through the shared child trauma we bare. And yes, you can correctly imagine the festive atmosphere, I know you can. Now though, try to imagine everyone’s face in our group when fucking riot cops showed up on their ridiculous but deadly scooters, fully armored and armed, with their bodies all buffed with Jesus Christ, eternal love for their mothers and weird protein shakes full of steroids. I mean, it was fucking terrifying and I thought a billion scenarios of how this can unfold; spoiler alert, I saw us dying in each and everyone of them. While we were gathering at the beginning of Ermou, and the cops were circling us from all the available sides, we heard the order from their radios: “one tiny piece of property damage and they’re all going down”. “They” was us in that sentence and a “tiny property damage” could have been actually anything; from painting a slogan on a wall to littering that disgusting fountain with glitter. My mind was spinning rapidly and I was on the left side of the group who guarded the march, so I made sure I sent an instant yet vicious glare, right into the heart of their unit chief, a very short, seemingly naive but strong like a bull man who was obviously keeping the others in order, as the pack of rabid dogs they are. I don’t stare much these days cause everyone has become an angry psycho recently, so I was shitting my pants while I was doing it. But I had to show him I know, that I have heard. And he knew I did because that’s what they do, spreading fear all around and then have fun with it. When one of his brobocop dudes came up nagging about us chanting against them, the bull-like chief said: “we don’t care what anyone says, we are here for the march. If anything happens in the march, we go”. And then he looked at me.
I fucking froze and silently counting the moments until the first hit of a boot in my face but then I realised I was already running (yeap apparently I can run, who knew) to the top of the march. Getting in my senses I looked behind and saw that one of us has already replaced me and my angry stares to the cops. I blessed them soul for doing so and for having my back and all of our backs and rushed to find others to spread the words of anxiety: “no stencils or tagging here, if they see us everyone is doomed and we’re instantly going to die”. We tried to warn everyone but it was impossible. The cops now were leaving the sides and gathered all in a line in front of us, protecting the treasured calmness of sacred necro-capitalism. I was absolutely paranoid and scared out of this pity world, up to another universe of fear and terror. My body was melting from the heat and I couldn’t think anything else than “fuck these fucks are going to hurt me and everyone else so much, they have coke-head eyes, fuck I don’t know if I can have another beating right now, I’ve been already through enough this year, I surely cannot handle more of that!”
And as I was paralysed with fear, something very weird and very magical took place.
Fucking Chraja Kareola, η πατέρας of the fucking Kareola House had enough of this obvious and soul-crushing terrorism that made us shit glasses from our asses, and she took two steps forward with her giant legs, like a trans alien grasshopper goddess. Heels, long blond wig and and painted nails, crop top saying 1312 in fake diamond dots and ass-cheeks out, probably in open communication with every god ever existed, bathed in silver paint and glitter and filth from the streets she was dropping on before, and SHE STARTED FUCKING VOGUEING IN FRONT OF THE DISGUSTED LITTLE ZEROS OF THE RIOT UNIT! And then everyone’s mood shifted! And we made a half-circle around her because we are so ridiculously greek – yes all of us, even those who aren’t – we have to make everything an amphitheater like we’re in fucking Epidaurus for fuck’s sake. And while on it, we chant and chant and clapped and clapped and snapped our fingers rhythmically like an ancient chorus of misfit faggots and like a dionysean group of deranged harmony singers, hysterical and out of tune, while Father Chraja dropped, and splitted and hair-flipped and hands hands hands hands and legs legs legs legs and glitter glitter glitter flew again and the breeze lifted both the shiny pieces of plastic and our spirits and we were laughing and dancing through her, carving a sense of dignity with every KA-KA-KA-KAREOLA, with every “yes”, clap, clap, ugh, ugh, ναι, yes, split and hair-flip, a loud flashy fleshy blob connected under one collective mind, disgusting and terrifying and unafraid and powerful.
The cops disappeared suddenly.
No, this is not a metaphor. They actually left. They got an order on the radio to let us finish the march, we had only a hundred meters to go anyway, so they left.
I know it’s a happy coincidence and I know that if they truly thought we were dangerous, like let’s say if we were presenting as a group of black block dudes and dudettes, they would have stayed and punch the shit out of us and we would have been probably in jail now facing another whole saga of hardships. But that’s the magical beauty of being part of this freakshow. When we get like this, no one seem to be able to handle us, no matter the reason. I mean, this is the epitome of a queer continuum in the fucking history; a generational être raccord of being not-understood whatsoever!
With that in mind, I think I can now apply the first wise person’s quote, slightly paraphrased to fit into the feelings I am feeling for the people I create with and for those I march with, and for all those who are connected to the hive-mind and I have to meet yet: post-fear warmth means we did good with each other and this is fucking powerful and devastatingly fulfilling.
THE FUCKING END (probably of the world)
PS: I know I made strong images for your beautiful minds and shit and I totally could leave you with that because it will suffice, but I am also archiving this for myself and I need to remember the day visually and not only emotionally, so I got us all a present and I will leave below some of the amazing photos my dear friend Alex Katsis took, followed by a video of Chraja in Ermou, posted by Anastasia Vaitsopoulou on FB.
I made it to thirty one and that’s not only a big fat fucking surprise, but also a big fat fucking relief. If you asked my thirteen y. o. self we were only about to reach our thirties under the sounds of great explosions, soulful chants and tons of drama; and then disappear into a thick cloud of macedonian fog and golden glitter, leaving a small but important heritage behind.
Now I am one year older than I expected and I must say that crossing a threshold is a fine thing to do, especially if you had ever no idea how the other side is going to be. Sometimes I am happy I keep on doing that shit and I guess this must be – oddly – enough.
Yesterday I had an enormous fight with Christina. We don’t fight that way usually, it reminded me our fights when we were kids when hitting does not mean much but also means the world. We didn’t hit each other this time but we both hit doors and walls and we stopped ourselves from hitting ourselves only because we were in front of each other.
We talked immediately afterwards and this made an absolute difference, so now, after yesterday’s ultimate breakdown, I am able to think on this event without the bitterness and the paranoia guilt brings. I believe that the only reason we were both able to overcome our guilt and shame is that we grew up together, under the same roof, in the same bedroom even, and we both know what’s happenning when we become that version of ourselves. We both know where it comes from and how it escalates, what are the triggers and how we use them to hurt each other. No great imagination is needed to presume that such behaviours can be found in our dad’s patterns and thus in every dynamic we grew up into.
Yesterday was one of the worst days I had in the recent years. But as Christa said: “Can we just acknowledge the fact that we saw what happened and talked about it instead of boiling into our bitter stubbornness and anger for a week?” – so that’s what I am doing. That and giving a promise to myself to start touching and hugging and feeling my sister’s warm skin more; for our bodies to remember who we really are when our minds forget.
It’s a common feeling for me to feel alone. Yet, somehow every time it comes back it’s different. Not that it becomes harder or greater but it changes. Now, I’m feeling it again and I am so tired of this feeling that my urge to stop engaging with this agony makes a physical appearance, mostly as a knot in my throat and as a terrible migraine that won’t go away.
I think of it and I am sure that feeling this lonely has always been following me being vulnerable. And I don’t actually mean feeling soft and pink and fluffy, loveable, shy and awkward. With vulnerable I mean exposed. The genious, the sadness, the dark, the tension, the mad joy; all the edges, exposed and terrifying.
I live in an apartment with two other people, one of them I know since she’s born. The other for thirteen years now. I made this happen because I knew I couldn’t continue living on my own without hurting too much. But now I am kind of trapped into my choice. I am thinking that the reason I needed a base to return to was to not feel rootless and that started to change when these roots started to keep me here more and more. I’ve opened myself to the possibility of staying somewhere and now I feel more and more the need to leave and burn everything down with an impulsive and idiotic move. And I am not sure if I want it that bad to become that independent again because that means also being on my own. I don’t want to be on my own but I don’t have the space I yearn here.
Yesterday we were watching The Last Dance, the Netflix doc/reality series about Mike Jordan. At a point, things in Chicago Bulls were difficult between the management and the team, Scottie Pipen was injured and didn’t want to return on the terrain after summer pause. The Bulls bought Dennis Rodman to defend the base, regardless of his bad fame and allegedly bad manners. So they brought in Dennis who found a family to keep him focused and restrained, Mike found another warrior to help him do the Bulls magic and Pipen got replaced for a while. Then Pips decided to come back, almost middle season and everything turned around. Now Jordan had his number two right where he wanted him and Dennis couldn’t find his place anymore, so he started slacking and showing off his edges. I mean, what else could he do? He had just found a place that made him feeling good about who he was and with the first opportunity this was taken away from him. He felt insecure and pergaps useless. Not very nice feelings, especially when you already have some darkness inside you that waits for the right moment to occupy your whole existence. By then he knew he needed some time away from all the triggers he was facing everyday, and that meant he needed to desert the court and the team for a while. He asked for vacation and that must have been the most difficult thing for him to do. Asking for some space. But not for indefinitely. Only until he was ready to come back. Because he wanted to come back, he just couldn’t be there at that specific time. Long story short Coach Jackson gave him 48 hours as a speed vacation. Michael Jordan was against this because he thought Dennis wouldn’t come back after this. The story says that Coach ubderstood the urges inside Rodman, the needs, the itches and the mood swings, because Phil Jackson was a spiritual person who had been deeply influenced by eastern and native philosophies. He said to Dennis to leave because he knew that if he didn’t, something very bad would have happened.
Dennis left for Vegas and was gone for 88 hours before Mike knocked on his hotel room door saying they need to return to practice. And Dennis went willingly with him. First day with his foot on the court and it was like he never left. Strong, insightful and with appetite for victory, he was a new Dennis although he wasn’t new at all; he was just Dennis after taking a break from it all and party some with Carmen Electra in Las Vegas.
So yes, I think I am very close to my Vegas time. I know I’ve been saying I can’t go and leave things behind because I am afraid I won’t be welcome to them anymore, but I have to stop fear this kind of rejection and do what I have to do to continue working on the project that is called “me”. I seem to have lost my place again and I don’t feel at home, but I know I have built a home and I just have to get away for a while, just to miss it enough so I can love it again. I need to leave every now and then; that’s all. I must understand I am not betraying anyone by getting some time for me. I think I am about to do some leaving soon and I hope to come back, bold, wild and beautiful; like Dennis Rodman did.
Stupid quarantine still goes on. They said some places will be allowed to open on the 4th of May, but the restrictions will be on and off indefinitely. I don’t have a particular problem with that but I am starting to feel that everybody else has and, to be honest, I would like to start working on my shit and have some money flowing again. Also, I want to drink vodka cocktails at Luxus and go dancing at BeQueer, very high on MDMA. I missed going to cinema and I think the next evolved thing I’ll manage to do is to take myself on a movie date, alone. I always wanted to be able to do it and I can’t because: a) I am not that cool, b) I enjoy so much watching things with others. See, I feed on enthusiasm and interactions. I’m like a connection vampire.
I installed Tinder again, fuck how it sucks! But I am super bored and when the weather starts feel summery I birth this urge to mate so I have to start flirting, even if it is virtually. Correction: especially when it is virtually! So I have Tinder again and it’s more crowded than before and that’s kind of okay. I am talking with someone in their early twenties – jesus fucking christ – and finding it amusing, which is a nice turn of events. They come through as feminine and very aesthetic but also fun and smart. Also, very fucking beautiful, for fucks sake some people! I’m not overanalysing on how I should present and talk and act, previous experiments showed a lot and I am now okay to be who I am without challenging it for anyone’s taste. I feel somewhat accomplished on that level, and why shouldn’t I? That being said, please know that I have definitely not mastered any confidence or inner power, I am just conscious of how tired and vain I get when I try to be everything for anyone. I am not everything, I am me and I’m certainly more than enough, so here it is. You get what you see, aesthetics or not.
Enough of that though.
I played a game, it was amazing. It’s called Detroit: Become Human, developed by Quantic Dream and published for PS4 by Sony in 2018. It’s an adventure game with a third-person perspective, a bunch of playable characters and choice-based narrative. The gameplay was truly exciting and the analogy of story/action sequences was impressively balanced. The cast includes semi-big names like Jesse Williams and Valorie Curry, which guarantees a bravely motivated and nicely curated voice acting, directed to speak not only to my gaming thirst but to my soul. The art is magnificent, all environments are significantly detailed, carefully colored, created to give off the most extraordinary authentic futuristic “detroitian” vibe. Movement, modeling and AI are absolutely synchronized, no glitches or accidental weirdness at all, everything works just fine as it should, respecting the big budget and the wild technology behind it all.
But the most amazing element is the level of immersion you can get if you are even a little interested in robo/human ethical dilemmas, because of the plot, the twists and the lack of the annoyingly familiar yet very safe “game over” screen after a character’s death. Leaving such convention outside is a great risk for the limited attention span of my generation of gamers, though it seems that more and more developers and writing crews are choosing to experiment with compact narrative mechanics and I must admit I am here for it; no matter how much as I enjoy an old fashion “get killed – start from checkpoint – do it all over again until you succeed” adventure.
Detroit: Become Human synopsis is pretty simple and serves also as a tagline.
Take control of three androids in their quest to discover who they really are.
We’re starting off playing as Marcus, a cultivated and appreciated android, caretaker of a rich old artist who dies unexpectedly. Then we have a police investigator high level android, Connor, sent to the cops by the official androids mother company CyberLife to help them with a series of crimes, allegedly made by deviant androids who gone rogue. Last but not least, we play as Kara, a gentle housekeeper android, bought by a lowlife name Todd, to help with the chores and with raising his daughter Alice after her mom left.
Despite the high melodramatic pitch and a few tiny plot-holes that only obnoxious Asimov freaks cannot overlook, the story unfolds gracefully, the suspense is more than sufficient and the player gets really sad or happy when events occur, music ambiance helping and all.
I will stop myself here coz I am truly bad with spoilers and I will give a few screencaps (gathered online, being too lazy to capture my own), as an offering to a great time spent miraculously.