Jerusalem: What really happened
At long last is the publication of Monsieur de Plume’s account of our trip to Jerusalem. This is the first time that I have had a guest writer in my blog, and I have to say that it’s kind of exciting. Msr. de Plume writes with a certain exuberance that is brought on by his advancing years. You see, he realizes that he isn’t going to live forever so he wants to say as much as possible in the shortest amount of time.
For those of you who just joined us, this is the final of a 3-part series about my trip to Israel if February/March of this year, and the majority of it has to do with a trip that several of us took to Jerusalem. Please do go back and read part one and part two.
One final note: Even though some of you know me as “Tim”, in professional and skeptic circles everyone calls me “TJ”. I actually prefer being called TJ, but old habits are hard to break.
TJ is a great guy but he was suffering from sunstroke or plague or something when he wrote part one. The guide confessed to me secretly that he loved his years at the Improv in Jersey City. Now in the witness protection program, he enjoys nothing more than making up facts about people places and things he had never seen before. He had actually never been to Jerusalem and I’m not entirely sure that we were there either.
He would point something out, make something up, then step just out of sight and sound and watch and laugh hysterically as the others swallowed it hook, line, and sinker and took pictures. The more they listened, the more extreme it became. He was making up things about a six hundred year old bus driver and a giant milk carton, and I could scarcely believe they were still lapping it up. He promised to take us to the place where Elvis died but I think by then he must have realized he had over egged it. A lot of Christians are big fans of both of the kings.
The whole place looks a little like something Cecil B. DeMille or Malpaso cobbled together out of sets from other old epics. It was all too contrived and a little coincidental that everything happened within walking distance of a gift shop that belonged to an ‘honest friend’. We were probably in some back-lot behind a studio somewhere.
We saw a lot of rubbish, tatty old buildings, men with strange hats and facial hair, mismatched bits of pirate costumes, outsized crosses, heard loads of great stories about sea adventures, bowling balls coming to life and handmaidens with tentacles but the whole time we had to keep stumps because we were in danger of being lynched by hostile tribal Christians. I made the mistake of dipping my whole hand and part of my head in some sort of oil and for penance smelled like a tart for the rest of the week.
TJ was most impressed by the World Peace Institute which he had traveled all this way to visit but found it closed, possibly forever, by the size and age of the padlock on the door.
There were a lot of camera crews in attendance everywhere that looked as if it would be a good place to get a shot of a bearded man kicking a kitten or perhaps just kicking a ball (because you can remove the ball and put the cat in later in post-production). In fact, a man from one of the networks explained that if you reverse the video and speed it up, a building crew looks just like its frantically demolishing something, which is far more interesting.
The strategic placement of cameras at flashpoints only supported my assumption that people love to be on TV and make up news whenever there is a camera around. It was kind of like the holy version of American Idol’s real train wreck TV and perhaps when the crew gets lucky and they have a really big impressive looking camera, the volunteer actors (who were just walking to work when they happened upon a chance to become famous) will perform something really spectacular like…a real train wreck! Of course everybody knows that the bigger the camera the more people are inside it watching.
The old man at Gethsemane wasn’t yelling anything offensive. From my rudimentary language skills I was able to understand that he was telling the soldier at the gate post that he must love his dog or it had soft hair or other and that his mother must take really good care of it. This wasn’t well received so a fracas started. A few punches were thrown and then some old Russian ladies singing hymns behind a relic stopped and rubbernecked for a while then started hurtling insults and olive pits until the whole thing descended into some sort of folk dance. At this point we realized that we’d better get moving if we were going to outdo the Russians. We bought very tightly rolled up Jerusalem posters as make shift batons because the locals were charging a fortune for good sized real rocks. Despite searching desperately TJ remarked that he was disappointed that he couldn’t find any pebble bigger than a pea and that in his experience would never be large enough to dent even a really small kittens head.
By the time we were ready to join the fray the whole thing had finished so we didn’t get a chance to get any licks in. Eventually the old man thanked the soldier with the dog for not shooting him again. I asked if I could have a crack at it but the soldier uttered something about a license and tradition and I wasn’t prepared to part with any baksheesh when the guidebooks say it’s free. The soldier washed the mans feet with a soft cloth and mineral water he had in a jewel encrusted canteen which he carried expressly for this purpose and then they left arm in arm. The old man laughed as he promised the soldier his daughters hand in marriage and the soldier refused with a grin the size of Belgium as has been the ritual here for eons.
We feasted on the guard dog into the wee hours of the morning over a fire made out of some rough old olive trees we found in a garden near by as the old Russian ladies ‘entertained’ us with their amazing acrobatic skills. Then we drank toast after toast to Odin until we passed out. Eventually the sun came up and we returned to Earth or the Sheraton, I’m not sure which, but it felt good to kiss/smell the soiled carpet of my temporary pay by the day home and the world was at peace.
If you are interested in witnessing this spectacle it happens every day but slow news days are excellent by virtue of the number cameras and consequently opportunities for ad hoc improv actors to make some news but the Friday matinee is known for its pageantry. I suggest you save money by bringing some nice lumpy rocks from home, since these can be used for throwing or barter if you hold them just right. Wear some good steel toed running shoes and two pairs of hazchem gloves in case you encounter any strange oils and don’t want to get stink hand for life.