Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Condors, Cosmeticians And Ticking Clocks

Turning back the clock ain't easy. At the very least, you need to diet and spend endless hours at a gym or yoga studio toning a body that sags with every passing second. Add to that a modern coloring job, a close shave and/or some heavy waxing and you might be lucky to drop your age by seven years. If you have the capital, you can then head to Tijuana or Los Angeles where some renowned cosmetician can puff up your lips like a blowfish, tighten your skin so that it moves less than escargot on a plate, or, if you favor the X chromosome and have exes for boobs, build you a nice rack that can be used either as flotation devices or magnets for younger gentlemen with chronic mommy issues. Since I have learned to accept my flab and whitening beard, I chose this year to stand up to aging by attending the 24th EDON Festival, a massive concert and breeding ground for pseudo-socialists staged annually by the "communist" party's youth organization.

I always thought AKEL, the Progressive Party of Working People, was a far cry from a traditional communist party. Logic states that in this day and age, with the crumbling of the last socialist experiments, communist parties specially in a united Europe would only be that in name. However, as I walked through the Famagusta Gate and into the moats, I was magically transported back to the height of the Cold War. Booths upon booths spread party propaganda. Posters of Marx and Lenin and radical slogans printed on gigantic banners hung everywhere. Representatives from other European communist youth groups manned their stations and spoke to the impressionable attendees. Che Guevara, hammer and sickle, and EDON t-shirts sold like pints at a pub. If it weren't for all the designer jeans and handbags, American sneakers, iPhones, keys to German luxury sedans, colorful mohawks and tattoos, and spoken Greek in attendance, I would have seriously thought I was somewhere in La Habana circa 1964 witnessing a pro-Soviet rally. It felt so prehistoric I loved it.

Led by the Disney-Obsessed Man-Child and his brother, we pushed our way to within five meters of the stage. Last time I was this close to a band, I was sixteen years old and spent most of the Aerosmith concert in Buenos Aires making out with my then girlfriend instead of paying attention to Steve Tyler's tonguing of "Love In An Elevator." The average age of the crowd that night in the Nicosia moat was seventeen. The older fans stayed away and sat towards the back of the field where plastic chairs were lined up for the occasion. What's most admirable is that the performers—Thanos Mikroutsikos and Christos Thiveos as openers and Vassilis Papakonstantinou as the headliner—have been part of Greece's music scene for more than thirty years, yet year after year they manage to maintain a rabid following among teenagers, particularly in the case of Papakonstantinou, Greece's greatest rock star. The young crowd erupted in excitement as soon as Vassilis—yes, we are now on a first-name basis—took to the stage and began rocking with his deep, powerful voice. A mosh pit of shirtless sweaty teens broke out next to us. Those who refused to partake in the violence nevertheless pumped their fists, banged their heads and pogoed to the beat of the drums. To my left, a couple of girls—they couldn't have been older than eleven—got on their tiptoes and stretched their necks like giraffes hoping to get a short glimpse of the stage while passionately belting out the same songs that were sung by their parents in the past. Between songs, the crowd chanted in unison, "Vassili, we live to listen to you," a saying that rhymes in Greek and extols the God-like status of the artist. Nowhere else have I seen such passion for an established legend; I don't think sixteen year old Americans attend Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen concerts, let alone memorize their songs' lyrics. Maybe this is explained by the Greek population's pride in their heritage. Just like many people hark back to the apogee of Ancient Greece, maybe teenagers see in Papakonstantinou the remnants of a better time. Who the hell knows.

Then again, maybe he just makes people laugh. I cannot help but crack up whenever he appears on stage dressed in washed-up rocker attire (an Ann Taylor white t-shirt and shiny black cargo pants on this occasion) and resembling Sam The Eagle's long-lost Greek cousin but with a humongous grin painted across his ugly mug. All attention obviously falls on his noseit extends flat like a plateau from the bottom of his forehead, then suddenly drops at least three centimeters away from his face and curls back in like a condor's beak. His stringy hair, which has probably never met a flattening iron or a comb-over, adds to his unattractiveness, while his thin lips and crooked teeth spread out in a smile that give his persona an uneasy, mischievous aura. Despite his physical shortcomings and old age, Vassilis knows how to captivate an audience; for more than two hours that night, he led us in passionate singalongs and spoke to our inner child. Maybe once Greece pulls out of its current financial predicament, it's time for the populace to chip in, send the man on the first flight bound for Sao Paulo and buy him a handsome nose job.


Anonymous said...

This post is hilarious! I love your blog

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi said...

Thanks, Anonymous. I try really hard. Happy drinking!

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