Thursday, September 30, 2010

It happens sometimes...

It just happened again; a motor somewhere purrs down some street on a normal night, and there is a sound like a garbage dumpster being dropped. After that, the motor is silent. Sometimes there are rapid-fire voices immediately afterward, and the men at the tea shop downstairs stop playing their game. For an instant, the voices of people on adjascent balconies stop... just long enough to listen to the nothing that happens after the crash before resuming their conversation. The men at the tea shop start to play their game again, whatever that game is. Even from my apartment on the eighth floor, I can hear the plastic pieces moving around on the game board.

Tonight it was a motorbike that went suddenly silent, and the script played out predictably. Now, only minutes after the crash, I can hear the usual sounds around my apartment as if nothing happened. Maybe in Turkish people wondered aloud, "Was that a crash?" "I don't know. Maybe not..." before the hiccup in their converstion passed and the topic turned back to the usual. I don't know. I don't speak Turkish.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Guns, God, and American pundits.

The truest test of your beliefs is to get yourself out of context... way out of context, and see how ridiculous it looks when other people do it. For me, major voices of those actually in politics and the paid mouths of network pundits in the American political scene began to look quaint, like plastic figures in a snow globe... or like little cars and people viewed from the window of an airplane. As the old cast of characters fade into the horizon of stage right, new figures come onto the scene, a referendum as horrible as the Patriot Act is adopted, and a mob of religious fanatics assault art gallery patrons.

It was as God demanded in the bible: "The viewers of art and drinkers of punch from plastic cups shall be maced and beaten with sticks by a dim-witted mob."

The dumb junk that American pundits say, particularly the ones slow on foreign policy, sounds twice as dumb and removed from the world when it's broadcast over an ocean. It just lacks immediacy. Their work is for the semi-skilled; the non-expert who has a good voice and can put on a nice suit. The important tone of voice is present, but the issue begins to look silly when the picture gets bigger.

It's as though they're living in Plato's Cave, but instead of looking at shadows on the wall, let's imagine there is a tornado outside of a house:
The pundit says, "It's drafty in here. There are too many windows open."
The politician says, "My opponent voted to leave the window open. If elected, I promise to close it."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Found the Road to the Flag

I found the road to the flag at the top of the mountain... now it's not as alluring as before. I can go anytime I want. Just take the bus to Cankaya and walk past the hat shop straight north to the big flight of stairs. There you are. I'll probably go this weekend and it'll take just a few minutes.

Actually, it's a pretty exciting walk... lots to pass and some good hawkers with good stuff to hawk. Furniture. I really need furniture, but I'm happy with my 'yoga room', which is a room that is completely empty except for a yoga mat because that is all the furniture I could afford when I first moved to Izmir. The yoga mat cost about $12 or $13 U.S., which is a real bargain when you consider the fact that I have a room that is always clean, and hiring a cleaning lady costs about 60TL.

In truth, I'd rather have a sofa. I'd rather have a table and chairs, but those are things that can be purchased or built, kept or thrown away. Over the years I've seen a lot of nice furniture come and go, get recycled, outlive its usefulness... but I've never seen a yoga mat that looked old or even used.

About my apartment, I know that it's the first place I saw in Izmir... the rent is reasonable, the neighborhood is OK, and it's a livable couple of rooms, but I'm beginning to envy the places my friends have. I think I'm going to stay here only as long as I need to before making some kind of move to a better neighborhood. The area is a little bit conservative and I'm having trouble with the Ramadan drummers at night... actually, they came around yesterday asking for money, a young guy and an old guy (I filmed them waking everyone up before, so I know it was really them).

They looked so sweet, so sincere, that I actually paid them. My anger over the sleep I'd lost these past few weeks melted away completely. I'm a sucker for tradition, and these guys seemed genuinely nice.

The recommended amount was about 5TL, but I only had small coins, about 1TL, in my coin bag. At the very least, these guys are doing their jobs well night after night, playing their drum to wake everyone up between 3:30am and 4:30am and deserve a few coins.

At the very, very least, I didn't kick their asses and take their silly drum.