Sunday, November 30, 2008

More Graffiti

I've received a few comments in passing about my post on graffiti the other day and it seems that there is a lot more interest in the subject than I thought. So for those with an interest, check out another Classicist's postive view of Athenian street art, over at 'Objects-Building-Situations;' there you'll also find an article about the 'defacement' of archaeological sites in Greece.

Friday, November 28, 2008

American Holidays: Football and Thanksgiving at Loring

Traditions are an important thing at a place like the American School. And one of the major traditions of the year seems to be Thanksgiving dinner. There’s something about being away from home that makes one really, really appreciate those sentimental holidays even more so than usual. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so touched by the Fourth of July until I spent it in Greece the summer after Sept. 11th: never was ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ sung with such fervor. This year, there was a great deal of excitement leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. In fact, I found myself doing little tap dances inside whenever I thought about the approaching turkey.

Most of all, though, was the little electrical currents tingling about in anticipation of, you guessed it, football. The dudes kept talking longingly of the NFL (three games!) and how we could swing some Pay-per-view to watch it live overseas. But it wasn’t just the watching of the football that we were looking forward to, but the playing of it. Weeks in advance the Thanksgiving Day game was planned, with intrepid Associate Members exploring the wilds of Greek sporting goods stores in search of the elusive, cherished, and mythical American football. (One was discovered, at the cost of 34 euros. Ouch.)

Luckily, Sherry Fox’s sons had one that we could borrow, so the horde moved out just after noon on Thursday towards the one open space in Kolonaki. Alas, it was already occupied by a soccer game – this resulted in us playing (a little nervously) in an empty lot next to the US Embassy. Here are some highlights:

Hut hut hike. That’s me in the red sweat band.

The girls were team captains. That was a nice change – I seem to recall always getting picked last in elementary school.

Fortunately, there were two girls playing, so I wasn’t totally clobbered by the guys. Of course, witness here the stiff arm I’m receiving from Christina Gieske. Actually, please notice how this is the most awesome action shot ever taken (click to enlarge). Nathan Harper (in the green) is at full tilt, while Sean Jensen sprints toward the action. Note especially Denver Graninger’s enthusiastic pose behind us, with the dedicated exertion of the other players.

And speaking of enthusiastic action, here’s a Hail Mary.
Sean Jenson QBs. He actually played college ball at one time in the past, evident in his spectacular form.

It was a totally awesome two hours. It also resulted in some very sore and cranky people wandering around Loring Hall today, people who thought they were still fit and young but now realize that they’re not 18 anymore.

The main event for Thanksgiving here is, of course, the food. The entire School is invited to attend dinner, and this year 98 people decided to show up in their holiday best. We had ten tables, but rumor has it there were 17 turkeys. The event was organized by Shari and Jack Davis, who did a really fantastic job and ensured that I sat at the table with not only John Cherry but Sir John Boardman as well.

My table, with John Cherry and John Boardman at the end; alas, just a little too far down the table for me to be able to talk to either of them over stuffing.
The day was seriously full of food, since dinner (at 3:30) sort of bled into a party in the Saloni with three different series of baked goods made by my football nemesis Christina. Unfortunately there was no NFL to be had, but just to make everyone feel better, a college game from last week went up on the big screen. Then there was a dance party.

So Thanksgiving revolved around overindulging and an overdose of social interaction, which is just as it should be. As Tom Garvey notes, the night devolved into three groups of people: one singing folk songs on the porch, one dancing to ‘Rump Shaker’ in the Saloni, and the last group standing in the kitchen, STILL eating.

And thus ended my first Thanksgiving at the School. Good thing there's a pig roast scheduled for today, to ensure that the fun continues.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Street Art and Graffiti in Athens

In 1971, a young Greek man who lived in New York City was featured in that city’s most famous newspaper. His name was Demetrios, called Demetraki by his friends, and he lived on 183rd St. The reason he merited an entire article in the New York Times was his tag ‘Taki 183,’ which he’d begun scrawling on New York walls and subway cars in the late ‘60s. The article about him was historic, not only because it documented a very early moment in the graffiti art movement blossoming in New York City, but also because the article itself, once it was printed, resulted in an explosion of copy cat taggers and jettisoned graffiti into urban street culture. What else do you expect from a kid who once tagged a Secret Service car?

Thessaloniki street, September 2008. (Click on images to see larger version.)

I came to Athens for the first time in 2000, and I have no recollection whatsoever of coming across any ‘urban culture.’ I was a tourist then, confined to areas created for tourists, the kind of areas where locals tend not to go. Now I live in one of the richest parts of Athens, Kolonaki, called a “wealthy, chic and upmarket district.” 'Real people' don’t come here either. It’s not a place where you see much in the way of alternative street life. It seems, however, that the graffiti art that started with the young delinquent Demetraki has finally come home to roost in Greece.

Greece, land of sheep and goats. Thessaloniki, September 2008.

As we’ve travelled around the country, I’ve kept my eye out for interesting wall art to see if I could observe any cool regional or stylistic trends. Mostly, though, we’ re driving by in the bus so quickly that I can’t really say anything about what I see at all. But now and then I’ve kept my camera handy; here’s some of what I’ve seen.

Athens, November 2008.

First, I’ve been surprised at how much graffiti in Greece is in English. There’s a tension here, I think, between the general anti-American feelings exemplified in the November 17th protests that end at the US Embassy, and the adoption of elements of American culture like breakdancing, hip-hop and American street-art styles. Of course, American urban culture came to Europe some time ago; it’s likely that it’s being funneled to Athens through other European centers, since Continental graffiti artists are known to travel to different cities in order to leave their marks. In other words, graffiti and street culture is so Euro now that there may be few American associations left with it. Granted, I don’t think you can get more American-gangsta than this:

Thessaloniki, September 2008.

A major part of the recent graffiti upsurge in Athens is tagging. Graffiti art and tagging go hand in hand, of course, but most people look down on tagging. I'm generally not a fan of most of it – it’s often uncreative and is the human teenager’s equivalent of a cat marking its territory. Supposedly it’s a step on the Cursus Honorum of becoming a graffiti artist, but I can do without it, since it is usually ugly. At least if you’re going to tag something, make sure it looks cool. For example:

Awesome dude, Thessaloniki 2008.

Ballerina, Athens, November 2008.

So a lot of graffiti is ridiculously bad, what some would term vandalism. But its opposite is what some would call high graffiti art, which reflects artistic sensibilities and creative thought. Here in Athens (as in many other cities) there’s a movement towards collage – rather than applying only spray paint to the flat surface, other materials (e.g. paper) are used. I guess graffiti art is finally catching up with Pablo Picasso, thought to have originated the form when he attached bit of oil cloth to a canvas in 1912. After all, Katherine Hoffman once said, “Collage may be seen as a quintessential twentieth-century art form with multiple layers and signposts pointing to the possibility or suggestion of countless new realities.” Whatever may be going on, I find graffiti collage interesting because it plays with those elements of urban visual culture that usually act as background noise to the eyes – trash, scrawled-over walls and the ubiquitous plastered, peeling poster.
'Bonfires for Nobody,' pasted paper, Athens, November 2008.

Yesterday I saw an interesting example that was actually a tarp hung from the fence in front of the National Archaeological Museum. It’s located on a major street in Athens, and will therefore be seen by an enormous number of people. Kleos is, after all, what graffiti is all about; by displaying the tarp on a major thoroughfare in a spot lacking any visual competition, the kleos of the painter is prolonged, as well as the kleos of the dead graffiti artist this piece commemorates.
'Barnes, rest in peace, graffiti is never going to be the same without you...' Athens, National Museum, 2008.

Incidentally, I haven’t quite figured out why the medium is a plastic tarp. Does it still count as graffiti art if it’s on a moveable surface, probably painted at home, safe from the danger of getting caught?

Another thing I wonder about graffiti art is its evolutionary relationship to the other figurative arts. More specifically, American graffiti art supposedly began as text, words, letters. In the late ‘60s and ‘70s when it started in earnest, it constituted names and numbers; elaborate and colorful versions of those names and numbers followed as the calligraphic designs morphed into ever more exotic and stylized letters. Norman Mailer once said about the new art of writing, “What a quintessential marriage of cool and style to write your name in giant separate living letters, large as animals, lythe as snakes, mysterious as Arabic and Chinese curls of alphabet.”

Now, however, graffiti is often entirely figurative, almost completely abandoning its textual origins. (The eternal battle between art historians and philologists continues!)
'Argh!,' Athens, November 2008.

Since it seems to reflect trends occurring in almost all the figurative arts, often adopting fantastical, cartoon or comic book elements, does this mean graffiti has lost its unique characteristics that separated it from the other arts? Or is the illegal, subversive element that last defining trait?
Reclining lady, Athens, November 2008.

Again, a majority of people would claim that graffiti is not an art at all, but vandalism.
'We are artists not vandals,' Nafplio, November 2008.

It’s true that half of the people tagging the streets and defacing property may have no higher aspirations. But that doesn't mean it isn’t essential to study it, especially since graffiti is visual evidence of small anonymous revolutions of an infinite variety (whether they be by spoiled brat teenagers or talented artists). Mostly, while graffiti brashly draws the eye to what is important (the painting/tag), it is also a commentary on what is NOT important. Thus when we visited the rubble of the Temple of Zeus Stratos, the foundation blocks of the ancient temple were marked by modern graffiti. Whoever painted the text made it very clear that the ancient remains were not worth a scrap more than a modern ruin, perhaps a valid comment in a country where more money is spent on digging up trash from 2000 years ago then on providing certain social services for its current citizens. Whether you can agree or not is besides the point – whoever defaced the temple believed that it was worthy of being defaced, that the cultural pedestal upon which we have placed it was invalid.

One of my favorite examples of the tagger’s dialogue with the ‘culturally worthwhile’ is this one from Thessaloniki. The soccer fans who tagged this statue made it very clear what they thought of this type of art. Whether the nude marble female makes one think of Classical Greek masterpieces or kitchy garden sculpture, the AEK fans gave us their own commentary:

Dry fountain, Thessaloniki, September 2008.

Anyways. For some great documentation of Athens’ graffiti, check this out. Otherwise, here are some shots of things I liked.
A great deal of Athenian graffiti takes the form of political slogans and symbols. Here's a rather beautiful revolutionary. Athens, November 2008.

One of my favorites. A cat in the window, a nude study of a bird-faced thing, a dude in the window with an orange background. Note the crucified robot in the top right corner, also of applied paper and documented at other locations.

Boy, girl and fantastical creatures. Creepy and awesome. Athens, November 2008.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The School's Secret Stash of Science Fiction and Fantasy

When people travel a lot, they tend to leave a trail of discarded books behind them. Once the books have been read, it’s rather pointless to let them weigh down your luggage; even better, most hostels and small hotels tend to have small collections through which you can rifle, leaving your book and taking a new one. The American School, like ex-pat places the world over, also has a collection. But I’d wager that ours is quite a bit bigger than most places, given the School's long history.

One of the more significant assortments to be found in Loring Hall was acquired from the Blegen/Hill estate. I’ve mentioned the Blegen’s and the Hill’s on repeated occasions, but it’s also good to know that not only did they leave an imprint on the political and social history of the School, but they also left behind quite a bit of material culture that has been absorbed into the School's physical landscape. Part of that material culture includes an enormous collection of mystery novels, dating from the 1930s to 1940s.

The Blegen’s and the Hill’s were best friends: Carl and his wife Elizabeth, Bert and his wife Ida. They shared a house in Athens at 9 Plutarch St. and when Blegen died in 1971, he left the house and everything in it to the School. The papers within it now form a large part of the School’s Archives, and bits of their furniture and other material culture spread out from there. The mystery books made it over to Loring Hall, where they are now in the TV Room.

It’s quite a collection. I asked Bob Bridges about it last night at Ouzo, and he told me that the books were mostly collected by Elizabeth and Ida, who actually had formed a little Crime club of sorts! The titles are in themselves amazing:

But it was not until two days ago that I actually discovered the School’s really secret stash of genre books. I was across the street in the Blegen Library and stopped in the lounge on the lowest floor. A small book shelf stood in the corner, and it was to here, I discovered, that the SF books of the School had been making their way. (NB: SF = Speculative Fiction = Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror/Comics/Etc.)

I’d been wondering about them, actually. With all the books that are collected here, why were there so few science-fiction and fantasy novels? People make jokes about nerdy sci-fi fans lurking at society’s margins, but in fact these marginal people are actually quite numerous (and in today’s comic book culture, nearly the majority of those under 30). So where were the books? Again, Bob Bridge’s held the key. Apparently, there were a fair number of not only speculative fiction titles floating around, but also harlequin romances. Bob was aware that there are certain types of books that certain people do NOT like to see; it was safer, then, to move those books elsewhere, to a place where they would not offend certain sensibilities. He was right to do so: it seems the harlequin romances were thrown out a few years back. But the speculative fiction books are still there, and are in fact quite impressive, very old school, with lots of Daw Books titles. Bob says he’s been grouping them together for as long as he’s been back at the School, since about 1982. Have a look:

The Secret Stash Discovery has been a highlight for me. Perhaps I’ll see how many 1930s mysteries and 1980s SF I can get through before Christmas. And let's hope the Secret Stash, no longer secret since I've revealed it on the Internet, survives and prospers. I'll make sure to add to it as much as I can.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nafplio and Corinth, Oral History and Excavation Photos

Now that I’m back in Athens, it seems that I must give a brief report on Trip 4, and do it soon, since our seminars (i.e. ‘course work’) start tomorrow, bright and early. The last trip, which ended on Friday, took us to the Argolid and the Corinthia. Since we were staying mostly in two regions, we stayed in only two hotels; the impact this stability had on our happiness and enthusiasm was, I think, palpable.

Nafplio was, as per usual, fantastic. I’d spent six weeks there a few summers back working at the Argive Heraion, and when I was there, appreciating the view of the bay from my balcony, I had no inkling of how fortunate I really was. Now I’ve been around Greece just a bit, and Nafplio has risen in my esteem to a glowing shiny height equivalent to the Palamidi at night.

The Palamidi fortress, from Nafplio's main square.

It is also the birthplace of Beast Cat, who emigrated back to America with me 3 ½ years ago.

Beast Cat's jealously guarded territory: the terrace of Rooms Bekas.

I remember our five days in Nafplio as peaceful, content ones, although I also logically recall being cranky and annoyed on multiple occasions. But all those moments seem to leech away in the happy haze of long dinners outside, charming streets and nightly gelato. I believe there might have been some Bronze Age stuff, too, probably?

The welcoming committee at the Corinth Dig House.

The second part of our trip was based in Corinth; our guide on Trip 4 was Guy Sanders, the director of the Corinth excavations, tall, rangy, constantly smoking. His trip was marked by long morning hikes, inexplicable British slang, and a general feeling of laid-back-ed-ness.

Guy Sanders, an enthusiastic fan of geology. We definitely heard a great deal about marl, and jurassic limestone, and even on one occasion about what happens when a married super-continent decides to get a divorce. Here, it's volcanic rock from Melos.

When he showed us around Corinth, I had the distinct feeling that he was showing us around his backyard. Of course, he literally did show us his backyard, where he had built an experimental kiln; his two dogs even welcomed us and watched us go (mournfully) each day at the dig house. Corinth had a home-y and historical feel, perhaps because of Guy’s long experience with the area and his reminiscences, as well as the tight connection between ancient Corinth and the American School.

The homemade kiln, firing clay at 700 degrees since, well, since I don't remember.

In fact, the School began excavating at Corinth in 1896 and has been doing so ever since, minus breaks during the World Wars. The work there is intimately tied to the Regular Year Program, since in the Spring Quarter, Regular Members excavate there for a number of weeks and have been doing so for decades. The staff working in Corinth was fantastic to us: every day we ate lunch until bursting at the Corinth dig house, we took long tours in the excavation storerooms, and were treated to lectures in the living room.

In the dig house, Nancy Bookidis lectures on the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore.

As I said, history is strong at the Corinth excavations, more so, I think, than in Athens at the School. I didn’t have to ask quite so many questions to get quite so many good stories. Nancy Bookidis, Assistant Director Emerita, had some great ones about her time as a Regular Member, told with Ron Stroud over double helpings of pastichio in the dig house. Apparently, our whining about the necessity of lunch breaks is the whining of the spoiled; in Nancy’s year, as in all the years before, every lunch was a picnic lunch, and the acquisition of food was handed out to a handful of Members (the women). Nancy described getting up at 5am to search for a central market that would supply enough food for 30 people, and then, at lunch, having to deal with the guys complaining that she wasn’t slicing bread fast enough. She also described not being able to wear pants in deference to Greek custom, and hiking through the absolutely deadly Greek underbrush wearing a skirt and socks pulled up as high as they could go, yet unable to protect against the thorns.

Ron Stroud and the wall of photos, just after pointing out a picture of his wife from the 1960s.

One of my favorite parts about Corinth was the wall of photos, packed with pictures going back to the turn of the 20th century. The Peirene Fountain in the city of Corinth, for example, was prominent in the photographs, excavated back under Bert Hodge Hill in the early 1900s.

Framed photo of Bert Hodge Hill's excavations at the Peirene Fountain.

There is also a picture of one of the School’s archaeological superstars, Carl Blegen, just after having climbed out of the subterranean tunnels of the Fountain, utterly covered in mud, beaming.
Swift and Blegen, mud besplattered. Make sure to note what a looker Carl Blegen was.

For years the young man next to him was unidentified until rumor got round and the man sent a letter to clear up the mystery: Emerson Swift.
Swift's letter from 1971, describing their experience, taped to the back of the picture frame.

Since then, others have searched the tunnels as well, better equipped, I think, then Swift and Blegen, who described tunnels so full of water and mud that they had to hold their mouths right up to the very tunnel roof in order to get oxygen.

It’s a bit cleaner in our day, but at least we can add another photo to the Peirene palimpsest accumulating at Corinth; I’ll make sure to tell the story of my first visit to all the little snot-nosed Regular Members when I’m 80, in Loring, over pastichio.

Us at the Peirene Fountain, following in the footsteps of 113 years worth of ASCSA members.

Riot Munchies

We live in Kolonaki. Apparently not a good place to be today.

Dan and I stock up on violent demonstration snacks: pepsi, hot choclate, cookies, chips, nuts, and beer.

U.S. Embassy Athens, Greece
November 17, 2008

The United States Embassy is issuing the following update to our recent Warden Message regarding the potential for large demonstrations throughout Greece on Monday, November 17.
The Embassy has instructed Embassy employees and family members in the Athens neighborhoods of Kolonaki and Ampelokipi to remain in their residences between 4 pm November 17, 2008 and 6 am November 18, 2008. We suggest that Americans in these areas follow similar precautions.

We wish to remind American citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. Americans are therefore urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations. American citizens seeking Embassy or Consulate General services on November 17th should be aware that we expect to close at 2 pm and may close earlier should circumstances warrant.
The U.S. Embassy, Greece

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Biggest Nerd News in Years

HBO has finally agreed to shoot the pilot for George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire Series. For those of you who don't know, GRRM's series is considered by many to be one of the best fantasy series' every written; the author has been called the 'American Tolkien' and his last book in the series debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. His impact within the genre of speculative fiction has been enormous, whether it be for something simple like creating ice dragons, or for his massively influential work on Wild Cards or ASoIaF.

Over a year ago, HBO optioned the rights for the series and considered the idea of dedicating one season to each novel; the first season would cover the first book, A Game of Thrones. But optioning the rights was very different from actually making the show. For the last year, writers have been laboring over the script and attempting to convince HBO that the series would be a worthwhile venture. Unfortunately, HBO has a whole slew of other pilots under consideration; rumour has it that one of them is a King Arthur/Knights type of show, which would be the main competition for ASoIaF, set in a comparable medieval world.

Will HBO actually go through with it? Who knows. The producer of the show, David Benioff, has commented, "High fantasy has never been done on TV before and if anybody can do it, it’s HBO. They’ve taken tired genres and reinvented them — mobsters in The Sopranos and Westerns with Deadwood.” Of course, subscribers to HBO might remember with some bitterness the debacle that was the end of Carnivale, a stunning series that HBO threw out after two seasons, resulting in one of the most gut-wrenching of cliff-hangers in recent TV history. I myself have never forgiven HBO.

But they were able to pull off Rome, and even included some curse tablets in it.

Lead curse tablets from the Nemea Museum.

So we can hope. For the moment, websites everywhere are crashing as rabid ASoIaF fans flock to the Interwebs, looking for news and huzzahing virtually from all corners of the earth. Mostly they are happy because finally, 'Winter is Coming.'

Hell yeah.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Shotgun Files

For the most part, our Trip to the Argolid and Corinthia has been relatively safe. Perhaps this is because we were not visiting archaeological sites in olive groves on either a Sunday morning or on a holiday. It was on the last trip that we learned that such times are when Greek hunters come out in droves. As I posted previously, at both Kalapodi and the Theban Kabeirion we found ourselves in the midst of several bird hunters, who were stalking the surrounding hills under the olive trees. Luckily, Regular Member Karl Goetze made several recordings of our visits to these sites; I have finally gotten tech-savvy enough to figure out how to get these files onto my blog (thank you, third-party hosting sites).

In the this recording, you will hear Denver Graninger at work. Who is this Denver person, you ask? Denver is the Rhys Carpenter Fellow at the School this year. This means he comes on some of the trips with us and presents a number of the sites. The Rhys Carpenter Fellow is also affectionately known as the Mellonaki – the Little Mellon Professor. It is his job to assist the Mellon Professor, our Program leader, as necessary.

On this Tuesday morning (Oxi Day, thus a national holiday), Denver led us to the Kabeirion at Thebes. A sanctuary where local Mysteries took place, it is located outside of the city, nestled in some low hills on the edge of extensive agricultural fields.

To listen, download the file here:

Denver presents the Kabeirion.

By this time I think we’d gotten used to the gunfire; note also that Denver never flinched once. [Insert joke about the bad-assery of archaeologists here.]

Friday, November 7, 2008

Picture Taking Habits, Travel, and The Mom Picture

Now that I am on the Regular Program, picture taking has become part of my daily habits and basic mannerisms. In fact, I very rarely take pictures in my normal life. As in, never. But here I do, as we all do, at practically every moment of the day.

Picture taking on the Berbati Valley Walk, today.

On the one hand, the pictures that we take at sites will be teaching tools for the rest of our lives. On the other, the constant travelling fosters a constant feeling of vacation-living, and therefore picture taking is required.

There are so many photos being taken, actually, that sometimes the habit takes over and I find myself taking pictures for no reason; the physical motion has become so ingrained that I have no control over it any more. For example, today the group walked through the Berbati Valley; as we ambled up a dirt road we came across a very recently dead snake. It was so recent, in fact, that we thought it might still be alive. Fortunately, Karl was brave enough to poke it with a stick, revealing that yes, indeed, it was not of the living world any longer. The cameras came out immediately, on all sides. So what would possess me to take a picture of Karl standing in the middle of the road with a dead snake on a stick?

For real?

I have no idea why I took the picture. Other people snapped it as well. Is it because it was exciting to see a real live (dead) snake? Enh, that sounds redonk. Could it be that we have to preserve every mundane moment of the trip? Somewhat plausible? I guess every one of us has our own reasons for taking the dead snake picture, but I remember thinking how strange it was even as I became an automaton, lifting the camera to my eye, unable to see anything on the view finder because my sunglasses were too dark, but clicking the button anyways.

Besides the rather weird photos of every single thing that happens, Trip Photos can be grouped into several types:

1) Stuff Photos without People – these are the pictures of blocks, statues, objects, etc., that go into our permanent collection and have an academic purpose. They are boring.
Stuff Picture: on the first trip, I really cared about thresholds. Not so much any more.

2) People Photos – these are either posed or are natural, and eventually they will make it up on Facebook because they are more exciting.

People Picture: Fun! Julia, Scott and Dan at the Tholos of Atreus, Mycenae.

3) The Mom Photo
A good Mom Photo for the Mother of Ben Sullivan (at the quarries on Thasos).

This last type is one of my faves. It is the picture taken with the intention that it will inhabit a frame in someone’s Mother’s house. The Mom Picture has several elements. The first is pretty scenery; for this reason the Mom Picture is most often taken on top of mountains or acropoleis. The second is posing. This means that no Mom Pictures can be taken in museums, since posing is illegal. Plus, Moms don’t really want pictures of their children with boring statues; they prefer dramatic landscapes or famous monuments in the background.
Mark gets his Mom Picture taken by someone else but I snap one, too, for good measure. Tholos of Atreus, Mycenae.

The third thing about Mom Pictures is that they are group projects. They cannot be taken without the assistance of another human being, since camera-timers and tripods are not practical on top of Mycenaean citadels. This means that a person needs to ask someone else to take Mom Pictures, but must also take Mom Pictures for other people in return. Thus reciprocal relationships evolve over the trips, and the product of these picture-taking-cycles is a series of pictures spreading out in all directions across the earth to make Mom’s, somewhere, happy.

Me in today’s Mom picture, at the citadel of Midea.