Friday, January 07, 2011

Metropolis; Life is the Stage

Post New Year's, Phi and I walked from our "hip-and-trendy" Fresh Hotel to Omonia Square towards the "anarchist neighborhood" of Exarchia. Despite remembering the street name of our destination, I had most helpfully left the map at the room to help lighten the load in my bag, which meant we had to use his iMap to figure out which street we had to go down. We walked up, then back down Emm Benaki, first going into a guitar shop where Phi admired the collection of guitars, then past several closed rock cafes, metal CD stores. Every reachable (at least standing) surface was covered in graffiti. Trundling up towards a slight hill, we turned around. I had already given up hope I was going to find any CD store - but somehow we finally stumbled upon Metropolis. It was towards the Omonia Square end and we'd done a full loop. I felt stunned for a second, then heaved a sigh of relief - I'd been anxious.

It was set up like a standard HMV or Tower Records - I rapidly scanned the sign to locate the CDs I was looking for. They were probably upstairs on the second floor. The ride up on the escalator I apologised for my crankiness and hugged Phi in happiness and gratitude. I had no idea where to start looking, I had written the name down in Greek but left it at the room and suddenly was very shy about asking - intent on looking through all the CDs if I had to. Phi jumped at it and asked one of the staff standing around "Thanasis Papa..." he stumbled and wavered. I jumped in, "Papakonstantinou" my words jumbled towards the end, becoming unduly self-conscious that Greek was a language I wasn't comfortable with. "Who?" "Papakonstantinou" We both echo. "Ah, here..." He walks quickly to the section and points them out - I immediately recognise the CD covers and start to deliberate which ones to get. "This one.." he starts to explain, but I'm barely listening because I know which ones I want, and have listened to all of them. "I know." I think to myself. But out of politeness I'm trying to listen carefully as he explains each album.

Unconvinced by my lack of reaction, he excitedly ran off with one of the CDs to put on the stereo. "Stay here! I put it on.." he gesticulates, pointing to the ceiling. I pick up 3 Thanasis CDs with a big smile on my face, thinking "Finally, I have the CDs!" content to supply money to the musicians that I have been listening to. A blast comes over the stereo as we disobey the helpful young man and head upstairs, I excitedly tell Phi "It's Thanasis!!" and watched as two young men in their twenties waiting in the cashier's line nodded in acknowledgement at the music and proceeded to mimic the kazoo on the opening of the first song "Imeros Ipnos" from Vrachnos Profitis. A ridiculous amount of excitement shot through my veins.

After finding VNV Nation, Covenant, Klaus Nomi and going through the familiar faces of the World Music section we decided to go up to the cafe.

Per usual my excitement was peaked at finding CDs I couldn't find elsewhere: most notably Thanasis Papakonstantinou CDs that I'd listened to many times over but only in mp3 form along with Klaus Nomi on YouTube. I was ecstatic, but didn't want to act like a goofball while in line. The cashier said something to Phi in Greek, we both look befuddled at her. She repeated her statement, then realised we weren't local, smiled in acknowledgement then repeated her statement in English.

We went to the landing where the lift was and leant against the railing. A man and a woman conversing become aware of us and stop talking. After awhile the woman turned around and spoke to us in Greek, I can't remember if I jumped in to explain we weren't local or if I just looked puzzled - either way she realised we were not local and explains that the CD store is down there. "Yes, but we want to go to the cafe..." "Oh then you're in the right place." Standing around laughing awkwardly the doors finally open, the woman says goodbye to the man and the man that rides the lift with us looks at us and explains that the store was built in what used to be a Hotel. "Which explains the lofty 4 meter ceilings..." I reply quickly, thinking I was being more social than clever, then feeling remorse at the inane remark, wanting the conversation to continue and not end with his agreeing.

The cafe and live venue space is located at the fourth floor, being late afternoon the sun was streaming in through the windows. The bar to the left, books on design, and a live venue towards the right and back. Sun streaming into my eyes, looking at the building that reminds me of quite a lot of embassy buildings... in Geneva. I've already told Phil since the beginning of the trip how much Athens reminds me Geneva. I was awaiting a piss take, but instead Phi pipes in unknowingly with a phrase I use, "Elsewhere as well..." The kind of response I usually make to others, and it was comfortable to be on the receiving end of it.

Metropolis Live Stage
Emmanouil Benaki & 54 Panepistimiou
(Up Panepistimiou, towards Omonia Square from Red Line Panepistimiou)
Λεωφόρος Ελευθερίου Βενιζέλου 54, Athens 10678, Greece
+30 21 0330 6682 ‎

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