Budapest, Hungary “Look at the American Computer Monkey! Dance, Monkey, Dance!”

Done with Greece. The only other notable exploit was visiting the Numismatic Museum.

Numismatic, you say? That’s right, numismatic. Meaning "of or relating to coins."

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If it’s ancient, and you could buy things with it, they’ve got it in a glass case.

Fascinating.

Aside from that I laid low. Stayed away from the big museum. Didn’t want any more trouble.

Flew to Budapest today, met up with Matt, found the FedEx with our Eurail tickets waiting for us at the hostel. Everything went according to plan. I’m flabbergasted.

Here is the ruggedly handsome Matt in all his rugged handsomeness.

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Just wandered around and had dinner. The city seems lovely. And the hookers are unsettlingly attractive.

We start moving tomorrow. Maybe Vienna, maybe Venice. Dunno. We’ve got 15 days to reach London and no clear idea how we’re going to do it, but we want to see as much as we can.

This Eurail thing is amazing. One price covers all your travel within a set timeframe, including buses and ferries. We’re both accustomed to sleeping in transit, and we’re going to try to arrange it so we never actually have to check into a hotel.

I’m crawling toward the finish line. The budget was blown on wreck dives and paraglides. Now I just spend on food and internet.

In other news, the Simpsons have encapsulated my life story into about a minute.

The episode’s original airdate was a couple weeks after the craziness began last year, so I’m not suggesting it’s actually a direct reference. It has also been pointed out that the world does not, in fact, revolve around me. No, quite the opposite.

Still, the similarities are chilling.

Looks like I kicked up a debate over the dancing-in-front-of-the-Parthenon thing. I realize it’s best to keep out of such dust clouds — rarely improves anything — but I’m irresistibly compelled to clarify a couple points.

First off, no, I wouldn’t dance in Flander’s Fields or Auschwitz or Ground Zero or Dealey Plaza or anything like that. I do have some common sense and decency.

…well, maybe Dealey Plaza.

When it comes to religion, I try to be careful. I danced in front of a Mosque in Brunei. It was a beautiful place, it felt appropriate, and for all the travel-weary, emotionally exhausted Islam-bashing I’ve done on my site, it seemed like a much-needed olive branch. Plus there’s really not much else to dance in front of in Brunei.

I danced with some Laotian Buddhist monks. I spent time with them beforehand; showing them the video, explaining the project, taking down their names, their email addresses, making sure they understood what I was doing and were comfortable with it. Again, the dance seemed appropriate. And at the risk of sounding incredibly pretentious, what little Buddhist philosophy I’ve been exposed to kind of jibes with the whole endeavor.

I wouldn’t dance in front of the Vatican. While I consider the Catholic Church a bloated parody of spiritual corruption, I recognize that about a billion people disagree with me and I wouldn’t want to offend them.

The Parthenon is not a religious site — at least not to any substantial group of people alive today. The religion it’s associated with is dead. It was wiped clear off the planet by a powerful wave called monotheism. If there’s a trace of it left in modern religion, it’s in the cloven hooves and horned brow of good old Lucifer Morningstar…and maybe the Christ-like resurrection of Dionysus. Anyway, the guard’s claim that I was desecrating a "holy religious site" is, I strongly believe, a holy load of crap.

Plus you can’t make much of a case for the sanctity of a place when there’s a $12 entrance fee.

As for being disrespectful to Greek culture — give me a freaking break.

A couple weeks ago I danced in front of the Pyramids at Giza. Not only were the guards aware of what I was doing, not only did they let me in after closing to do it, they even held the camera. Did they think I was being disrespectful to their culture?

And lemme point out, modern Greeks have about as much in common with the ancient Greeks, both ethnically and culturally, as the Arabs in Egypt have in common with their previous tenants.

What it comes down to is a matter of opinion over what is and isn’t offensive. And every time we let some ignorant prick in a leather jacket impose his knee-jerk view on what’s offensive, Jesus strangles a kitten.

14 Responses to Budapest, Hungary “Look at the American Computer Monkey! Dance, Monkey, Dance!”

  1. Ian Mayall

    Matt,

    If you get chance do go to Auschwitz as it is certainly worthwhile.

    Although personally travel to Krakow. Stay in the Old Jewish part near the Castle (Kazimierz) where most of Schindlers List was filmed (street scenes) and go in the coolest bar anywhere in the world (Alchemia).

    Krakow is like Prague but without the drunken stag parties going around it.

    I’ll see if I can pick an arguement with some Greeks as I’m off to Corfu in a couple of weeks.

    Travel safely.

  2. I would have liked to see you dance in front of the Vatican (I’m catholic – it wouldn’t have offended me). It seems to me that you’ve considered the ethics carefully…dancing at Auschwitz wouldn’t be right. But I don’t really see a problem with other cultural areas.

  3. > What it comes down to is a matter of opinion over what is and isn’t offensive.
    > And every time we let some ignorant prick in a leather jacket impose his
    > knee-jerk view on what’s offensive, Jesus strangles a kitten.

    Yeah, tell me about it.

    I dance like no other. Nowadays, people just like to stand in suits and look like assholes. They don’t sweat and they don’t move to the rhythm, like me.

    PS: I dance better than you.

  4. Tobias Ulrich

    It’s too bad you didn’t dance at the Vatican. It would have been great to offend all those conservative catholics.

  5. Ed

    “I wouldn’t want to offend them”

    Why not? Did Homer Simpson consider for even an instant how deeply YOU would be offended and humiliated by being pinned in the cruel glare of merciless public ridicule? Even stooping so slanderously low as to imply that you might be dancing for money. Sure he can blather on about how he and Bart, as role models for world youth, need show respect for religion – having never offended even the Church of Bob and their apostle Tom Cruise. But their actions demonstrate clearly how little respect they has for every holy dance we stand for. Why Marge has gone so far as to publically deny the validity of Our Blessed Dangling Preposition!

    Damn the pagans! Full speed adance!

  6. That’s it! Matt, deep down, you’re just a misunderstood Buddhist in search of enlightenment. You tell them that next time.

    😉

    Also, I think the last Pope, John Paul II, would have enjoyed your dancing video and wouldn’t mind you dancing in front of the Vatican.

  7. Vasso

    Hello

    I really like what you are doing! I think it is fun and I am jealous that you can afford to travel to all these great places. As a Greek (!) I feel a bit bothered by one thing: Don’t generalize when it comes to Greeks. I can believe in your story about the Parthenon incident although in all my life, I have never ran into something like this. Sounds a bit too dramatic and too streched. Some people like to take out their complexes on people just to feel superior -and they don’t have to be Greek. I don’t think Greeks would have any problems with somebody dancing in front of the Parthenon. This guard that you described does not represent Greeks at all. Oh, and another thing…we don’t consider the Parthenon as a holy place. Seriously, WTF??? We admire it though, because as a monument….it has managed to stand up there for such a long time! Next time I ‘ll go up there, I’ll dance in front of it too! What a better way to celebrate it!

  8. andy

    I remember seeing a couple of guys break dance for Pope John Paul II inside the walls of the Vatican. He told them that their talents were endless and to continue on with their dreams. He also found it very amusing. And just a guess, he was probably a pretty religous person. I’m sure if they understood what you were doing, and how it has actually motivated thousands of people, they would let it slide a little more. I’m sure if Pope John Paull II was still alive and able, he might have actually danced with you.

    I see how people can be upset, but I can’t see why they would be upset. Nothing wrong with any of it. Being an American, I can also understand where they get the “asshole” idea. Very much so. I don’t agree with the way many Americans act, but to ridicule ths, that’s uncalled for.

    It’s a dance. A movie. No harm, no disrespect. The man’s living his dreams. Let him be.

  9. Kate

    Why so angry at certain faiths. If one religion is corrupt, than aren’t all of them? Religion is a man-made organizing of those of similar beliefs. If the organization is corrupt it is because it is of man. That doesn’t mean the God they worship is also corrupt. It’s your site, so you can blast what you like, but I’m done reading and recommend to others not to also and that is my opinion.

  10. Barbara

    Ah well, my general opinion is that any organized religion is well worth offending, given that a huge amount of the horrors perpetrated on the world in recorded history have been done in the name of one or the other of them. Offend away – besides, as the old saying goes F$#% them if they can’t take a joke. As for Budapest – you’re quite right about the hookers – they’re the best that eastern Europe and the former Soviet countries have to offer. I lived in Budapest for 4 months, 3 months of it in the dead of winter. Every time I walked down Vaci utca and saw them standing around with the evil man who was peddling them in the bitter cold, I entertained notions of taking those beautiful girls off the street, setting them up in a nice flat, dating nice traveling more civilized business types, having them open their own bank accounts, taking only a modest 15% of their bookings, and later connecting them with modeling agencies in the west. I thought it was a fabulous idea, a win-win proposition for all concerned. I could get wealthy, they could get wealthy and eventually out of the oldest profession and not have to stand around feezing any more. I was mentally already searching for the right building in my head when my boy friend reminded me that the mob-connected thug and his pals would probably have something to say about it – something that would result in our untimely demise. Sigh. In lots of ways Budeapest is still kind like the wild west and I adored every minute of it and am very homesick for it. Hope you spent some time there before zooming away for other places.

  11. Maria

    You are really arrogant and a big ego.
    You lack respect for other people, and for all the places that you don´t understand (and since you lack knowledge about so much that includes big parts of the world).
    It´s obviously ok for you to offend people and to use people for your own selfish purpose around the world.
    A disrespectful big ego Matt, that´s all you are.

  12. Dori

    Wow I didn’t know that you were in Hungary too! :)

    It’s really cooool what you do 😀 It’s not the worst dance what I’ve ever seen. 😀

    So don’t give up your hobby, it’s funny and interesting 😀

  13. KisDressi

    In Hungary? And I why dont find the video (youtube) with on you dance here? Its cut out? Or you not danced here? :( (Sorry im not perfect in English)

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