You get caught up in these tours, these dramas, these places, these vortexes of energy that draw you away from what you thought you would do and you either end up doing the one thing you dreaded doing from the start or something totally unexpected. My decent into low-fi photography is very much like that. I may not be eating oatmeal every morning like I should (man, the smell of cooking bacon or onions should be patented) but I am wandering around at every chance looking at shadows, angles and layers to capture. The camera is totally primitive and limited. I am looking at getting a DSLR for the fall tour, but love having one device to point click and send to the world. The blown out photos I can’t repair are a small price to pay for the happy accidents and chance to travel light. Besides, until I get my hard drive space management down, moving up to megamega pixels would be a disaster. And uh, I just realized I can clean the tiny lens and it makes a difference!

We have completed our run through the ancient rocks and now wander back indoors to the more traditional places for the rest of the tour. This has been an impressive tour of old outdoor venues, some of which I had never worked in.

The Herodic Theater in Athens is directly below the Acropolis and the protectors of the stone were only part of the challenge. Show day was 108 degrees F and for our Northern brothers it was a hot one. I feel like 10 years in Texas may have really helped me get through this day. Like the boss said, we played the 2 Greek Theaters in the states but here we were in the real deal… big difference in vibe.

The next old one we went from Greek to Roman in Pula, Croatia. This is one of the best examples of Roman Arena that still stands anywhere in Europe and though it was a flatbed load in/out gig, it really was a sight to see. The Croatians were a very welcoming crowd and turned out in droves.

The theatre in Viennes, France is different because it is a hillside theater rather than an oval or round arena/colluseum. Steep and filled with catacombs, its early 1st or 2nd century construction now features a 13th century fort/church above it and a rather modern rock stage over the stone reminants with dressing rooms and other stuffy storage below it.

The arena in Nimes, France (seen above and at the top of the post) is one of the ones I had been to before, as far back as 1991. Since then they have paved the load in and the arena floor with asphalt, put in a new stage, built a dressing room and production compound and given the caterers a little better set up to work with. Like the Arena de Verona we visited last year with the Seeger Sessions show, it is one of those places that you can to to the top of, sit down, feel the history just wash over you.

For the piles of stones, I wrote this poem…

We keep ending up in old piles of stones
That have far more worth than the structures shat
Across the planet in waves to make men rich
And fill with sad faces

The rock speaks as it has had the chance to stay where it is
For a time, longer than our lives but shorter than its original formation
Wind and rain, sun and toxins have had their way
But silent the rock sits waiting for hearts and feet to touch

They have been places of spectacle and death, show and tell
The innocent and the guilty have both walked through the gates
Thought, art and many versions of reality show have been seen
From the stands

Active ruins worn down
The tourists sit in flocks, talking into cellphones while the guide heartlessly repeats dates they don’t care about
How many photo albums have the same shot from the top of the rim
How many oily handprints colored the wall

And we’re just the entertainment, no swords or lions
No galleys on fire, no parades of the condemmed
Just singers of song and agents of beauty
Hired to put asses into stone seats
A grand tradition of escape for the locals
And another stop on the path for the minstrels

The long life of an empire’s building
Simple shapes give way to climb to the top

and you feel the breeze, look over the city, feel the sun on your neck in the cheap seats,

looking down at how small your part is

and knowing that climbing a pile of rocks is only one way to get perspective.

Aron Michalski 2007

Creative Commons License