Monday, January 18, 2010

My Good Friend Sal Magundi

Those of you who are intelligent, i.e. the majority of The LG Report readers, will know that "salmagundi" is an actual word in the English language, and not the name of my friend. 

I have a cousin Sal, but his last name is not "Magundi."  I would tell you his last name but then I'd have to enter the Witness Protection Progam (again.)

Salmagundi is defined as:  1.a dish of chopped meat, eggs, etc. flavored with onions, anchovies, vinegar, and oil;  2.any mixture or medley

We are using the latter definition for purposes of this post.

Let's start with this 2004 photo taken on the Greek island of Santorini: 

Visible are the domes of two churches, one in the foreground and one in the background, overlooking the Aegean Sea.  My father was born and raised in Greece, and I've been there about ten times or so.  Take it from me, there are a lot of churches in Greece.  A shitload, in fact, to use an ecumenical term.  But, believe me, I'm not trying to get all theological on you. Don't head for the exits, I need my clicks.

Here's another picture from Greece:

This picture overlooks my father's hometown, Gavrion, and its port, on Andros Island in the Cyclades island chain.  It's hard to discern from this distance -- the photo was taken before I knew I'd be blogging --but there are a lot of small churches dotting the hillside.  Many of those little white spots you see against the brown hills are chapels that can accommodate no more than 10 people.  Some have room for even fewer worshippers.

My uncle Leo, like my father, was born and raised on Andros.  He's pictured here on the far right.  Uncle Leo was the best uncle as you could ever hope for:  fun, funny, nice...everybody loved him.  And, on top of all that, he had a nice fishing boat.  This photo was taken about three weeks before he died at a dinner we had high up in the mountains above Gavrion.

Uncle Leo emigrated to the U.S. in the 1950s.  There he built a very successful life for himself and his family.  He and my father had some truly wacky adventures.  Perhaps I'll recount them another set of blog posts, or maybe a book someday, who knows. 

Uncle Leo retired back to Gavrion with Aunt Rita (2nd from left) for his final years. 

Now to the point.

Everytime I go to Greece, I'm impressed with the religious zeal of people who would climb way, way up desolate hillsides to build churches in almost total isolation.  It always strikes me that these are very faith-filled people. I also wonder how parishoners would actually get to these buildings, because they are frequently erected in impossible-to-get-to locations, far from any roads.  

Then, not long before Uncle Leo died, I was in Greece and, surveying the landscape, I said to him, "I can't believe how devoted to the Lord Greeks are.  They build these little churches all over the place, no matter how isolated they are.  It must be really difficult to get building materials to these remote locations."

Uncle Leo looked at me in disbelief, as if I had just stepped off a spaceship.  "What are you talking about?' he said, with a disdainful tone reserved for idiots.  This was familiar since my father had used it on me many times while I worked in his diners. 

"You get a tax break in Greece for having a church on your property.  People do it to pay less in taxes." 

Ah, yes, of course.  Twenty-five years of illusions shattered in five seconds.  Such is life.

The turmoil at NBC is really having far-reaching effects.  Supposedly, if Conan O'Brien leaves, the network will have to pay him $30 million.  In order to recoup some of that loss, NBC has asked its stars to take on second jobs.  Here you can see The Today Show's Matt Lauer in an ad for his new part-time job as a pharmacist.  Word is that he may be swiping some prescription-strength Rogaine under the table. 

Have a good night folks.

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