It would never have occurred to me to take a journal on my return to Crete this past September.  Now, the whole collection of days and their events throughout the trip have started blending into a single impression, albeit a wonderful one.  The precise recollections dwindling are the sweet incidental interactions with people, not sights seen at one point or another.  Lesson learned.

Whereas I don’t think I traveled more than 30 kilometers in either direction from my Air Force base 45 years ago, on the return trip, Stephen and I traveled from Elafonisi on the SW tip of Crete, to Siteia on almost the NE tip.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The visit to Siteia was a pilgrimage to the Archaeological Museum of Siteia, whose crown jewel is the ‘Palaikastro Kouros’.  I will depend on any interest on your part to click HERE for details.

I haven’t found a single picture online or elsewhere up to the task of representing how exquisite the thing is ‘in person’, but here’s a photo robbed from the internet, and a detail shot of my own.  Victim of a fiery pillage, for something shattered into hundreds of pieces and buried in the Cretan soil for about 3500 years, it’s in pretty good shape, don’t you think?


Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

During the countdown to this trip to Athens and Crete, we became aware of the Palaikastro excavations in a video online, which included a gentleman by the name of Alexander MacGillivray, apparently the foremost authority on the small statue.  Here is a short ‘About’ him I found very intriguing.

At this point, you’re either asleep, or you might find it intriguing, too.

“I have always been obsessed with history and storytelling (same thing really). Add artifacts and you get archaeology – finding the tangible clues to make your stories believable. After all, aren’t true stories always more compelling? I’ve been lifting historical clues from the ground since I found old bottles in my mother’s deep rose beds alongside our St Lambert, Québec yard in the 1960s. Then, slides of Knossos projected onto a wall at Montreal’s Dawson College in 1970 triggered a longing to discover my connection to that strange Cretan civilization, the Minoans. They built huge, sumptuous palaces filled with rich art then vanished into myth, remembered only in Greek tales of the evil emperor Minos who fed young Athenian nobles to his Minotaur in Daedalus’s labyrinth until his own daughter Ariadne helped Theseus slay the beast and escape. Totally hooked, I studied ancient history and classics at McGill University and then focused on the Minoans for my PhD at Edinburgh University. In 1979 I was initiated to the tense thrill of delivering ancient artifacts from the ground, like some tireless midwife, with a British team at Knossos. In 1980 I worked at Sparta and since 1983 have co-directed a series of British excavations at the Minoan town and sanctuary site at Palaikastro in eastern Crete. From 1988 to 1997 I discovered the buzz of sharing my enthusiasm for history and archaeology with bright and eager young minds at Columbia University in New York. Now, much of my time is devoted to writing up the amazing things we’ve found at Palaikastro. But thirty years of digging up antiquities has shown me the other, less familiar side of archaeology; how we actively create what we find, strange as it sounds. My first foray into exposing how this works is ‘Minotaur’, in which I examine how Sir Arthur Evans created the Minoans. Next, I look at myself.”

Today, October 24, 2014, marks the Fifth Anniversary of Domani Dave.

To commemorate the occasion, I’m offering my single favorite from among the half-handful of posts from points when it seemed time to pull the plug.

I don’t know what the future holds; I still don’t know how it works.  I do know, however, that over the course of the past five years I’ve been cured of a chronic mild case of ‘Belle-of-the-Ball’, which is a fairly wide-spread, but little studied personality disorder characterized by the belief that one is endlessly fascinating and adorable.  Still feeling semi-adorable, though.

Sincere thanks for your e-visits!

(Click the image below, or here’s the original.)


Sunday, we went strolling the visual arts building on campus, looking for an exhibit which turned out to be in a gallery that is only open on weekdays.

Undeterred, we just wandered the halls – always plenty to look at in an art building.  Aside from the student work everywhere, there was this in a visiting professor’s office window.


About last month’s voyage, for better or for worse, the three previous bite-sized posts will have led you here.

In 1969, at the end of the fifteenth month of my eighteen-month military assignment at Iraklion Air Station on Crete, my father died unexpectedly at age forty-eight.  I got the news at the movie theatre on the airbase there, where I had taken, mostly out of curiosity, an off-duty part-time job as a projectionist.  Arrangements were made to pad the remaining three months of my tour on Crete onto my next assignment back in the US, and I was gone from the island within thirty-six hours, utterly bereft.

Iraklion Air Station, a communications intercept site (established sixty years ago this very month), was decommissioned in 1993, as technology had finally bypassed its mission.  The real-estate and buildings were subsequently turned over to the local Greek government with full ceremony in 1994.  Thereafter, the whole facility went from dormant to completely vandalized in a matter of years – fixtures ripped out or smashed, graffiti throughout, not an unbroken window in sight. Though some of the buildings are now slowly being reclaimed, it is for the most part an overgrown, post-apocalyptic ghost town.

On two trips to the base last month, one with Stephen and one without, I wandered around and around soaking up the space.  Never a large military installation, the grounds nevertheless seemed to have shrunk, and some of the buildings were in the ‘wrong’ place, but overall, it was more familiar than I had imagined it would be.  The upside of its being a ruin was that it presented itself like a dream that I could slowly sort out.

And thankfully, I think I did ‘sort’ most of it.

May I tell you something?  Though I tried to make it a point to keep ritual to a minimum during my return there after forty-five years, I did need some.  When I returned alone the second and final time to the lobby of that devastated movie theatre, on an impulse I put my hands over my ears, closed my eyes very tightly, and stood there for some while.  I don’t know what I imagined I was doing.

It seems obvious to write that the germ of the idea for Stephen and me to have chosen Crete as a destination was my need to go back to get some closure.  Lucky that the place is breathtakingly beautiful, with no reason to argue not going there;-)  When we go back to Crete again, as we plan to do, Stephen, who is neither a particularly sentimental nor melancholy person, has forbidden me to return to Iraklion Air Station.  I do try to put up with his caring about me.

Thank you for reading; you have been very tolerant.

The remains of the movie theatre viewed from my projection booth.  (Click to enlarge)

The remains of the movie theatre viewed from my projection booth. (Click to enlarge)

Didn't favor any photos with me included, but I relented once.  (Click to enlarge)

Didn’t favor any photos with me included, but I relented once. (Click to enlarge)

When I had finished my commitment to the USAF (Air Force) in early 1971 and returned to school, fortunately I recognized very quickly the futility of trying to communicate the experience of the previous four years – something I very much wanted to do.  That realization settled in naturally and peacefully, and I was never bitter about it, only grateful to it for saving me considerable heartache.

Zen in that particular instance, I do maintain a realistic, bordering on cynical view of communicating experiences in general, which begs the question of why I’m still blogging, coming up on five years this month.

As to the current post, it also begs the question of why I’m setting you up for telling a melancholy tale attached to my recent trip to Crete.  This is a story I wouldn’t attempt to relate to someone in my personal sphere, so I’ll be telling it to people I don’t even know.  That makes sense, albeit a little crooked.

Read, if you don’t mind, A Series of Fortunate Events (click) to get up to speed.  It only misstates one figure, the duration of my stay on Crete in 1968 and 1969.

We got back still in one piece Friday, after all but three weeks in Greece.

We experienced the most phenomenal good luck at every juncture, and had only one certifiable semi-demi meltdown from the stress of traveling in a country where apparently all the drivers are on too much Ritalin.

More maybe soon, after my circadian rhythms have settled.  I may even explain the title of the present post, but maybe not.  Seated at the keyboard, it’s always good to remind one’s self that one’s experiences are not to the one interesting.

Efcharistó, my dears.


Borrowing a venerable Sebastian Venable-ism, though you may be ‘famished’ for another post with actual content here on Domani Dave, you may be famished for a while longer.  We are in the final throes of preparing for our trip to Crete ten days from now.  I lived on Crete for fifteen months in the Sixties.

The flight was booked three months ago, but if you’ve been paying any attention at all, you are sensible to the fact that procrastination is the guiding force in my life.  Actually, we are all but ready to leave, but we travel so little and panic easily.

As I’ve pointed out before, put the two of us in an automobile, we quarrel.  If a rental car in a foreign country doesn’t finally do us in, eventually you should hear from me again here.  With any luck I’ll post from Crete, but if after a suspiciously long spell with no posts (I haven’t missed a month since 2009) and you vaguely recall some CNN thing about an air disaster over the Aegean and put two and two together…  think kind thoughts of your departed Dave.

And Stephen, too, of course.  Actually, mostly Stephen.


Here is a bit about me and author Edward Everett Tanner III, aka Patrick Dennis.

I’m going to suppose that I probably should have become a fan of the movie ‘Auntie Mame’ earlier in my life than when I finally did, though not so much earlier as when it was released in late 1958, as I was only eleven years-old at that time.

As a high school senior (1965), I held down the only paying student position at the local public library.  This job involved three after-school hours each weekday, and all day Saturday.  I don’t recall that more than once or twice I ever minded not being somewhere else.  Somewhat like Miss Holly Golightly describing Tiffany’s: ‘The quietness and the proud look of it, nothing very bad could happen to you there’.

Of the duties that befell a library job of such low rank was, of course, shelving books.  Menial as the task could be considered, I ran across and introduced myself to books I would otherwise probably never have encountered.  Two of these were ‘Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade’ and ‘Little Me: The Intimate Memoirs of that Great Star of Stage, Screen and Television, Belle Poitrine (as told to Patrick Dennis)’.  The latter was, by my estimation at the time, a little outré for our provincial library.

One my all-time favorite cinema moments occurs early in ‘Auntie Mame’.  Still abed from the previous late night, Mame has inflicted upon her a telephone call from her soon-to-be ward’s bank trustee, Mr. Dwight Babcock, who we learn needs to see her ‘right away’.  She says to him on the phone, “You say you’re within ‘spitting distance’… [micro-pause] How vivid.”

Read here a very brief bio of Patrick Dennis, which includes this interesting coda:

“[His] work fell out of fashion in the 1970s, and all of his books went out of print. In his later years, he left writing to become a butler, a job that his friends reported he enjoyed. At one time, he worked for Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s.  Although he was at long last using his real name, he was in essence working yet again under a pseudonym; his employers had no inkling that their butler, Tanner, was the world-famous author Patrick Dennis.”

Click to enlarge Mr. Dennis

Click to enlarge Mr. Dennis


Last evening, Stephen and I stumbled onto a recent Channel 4 documentary on PBS on the subject of Queen Elizabeth II’s mother-in-law, Princess Alice of Battenberg.  Find her history online here and here

Who knew that the royal consort’s mother was so über-eccentric and her life so labyrinthian?

At one point in the film, one of the royal relations is reported to have commented on Alice’s religious ecstasies with “I think she has anemia of the brain from too much contemplation”.

Remember the ‘eye-rolling’ from last post?  Sometimes just a sidelong glance from the person seated on the couch next to you is every bit enough.

Lest I continue to give you the wrong impression, Stephen is really quite fond of me.  And I him.  I’ll give you a status update on that when we return from two weeks on the road in September.



If you don’t know of them already, please investigate the ‘Humans of New York’.

When I showed this human to Stephen this morning, there was eye-rolling, meaning, ‘This is you all over’, which I knew already – which is, of course, why I showed it to him in the first place.  I am a sponge for Stephen’s disapproval.

Though I’m not suggesting that he actually did, Woody Allen could have written the text underneath the photo.  One of my very favorite movies — Top Ten, not just Woody Allen movies — is ‘Broadway Danny Rose’ from 1984.  Early in Allen’s standup comic career, he had a routine that began with his suggesting that inanimate objects were against him.  I personally subscribe to the notion that most objects in the inanimate world are against me.

But, not my famous rock from Crete.

And without your even having to ask, here’s another view of it.


give dave a break

Type 'Turn On, Tune In, Time Out' in the 'Search' field (just below) for a list of links to ten posts that might (maybe) lead you to believe that I can write a better post than the current one.
November 2014
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