Athens Uncharted’s Third Invitation to the World (the third addition to our surely-doomed, semi-individualized attempt to personally invite every country to check out a local Athens, Georgia art scene website) 

by Bowen Craig 

Mainly because I find it fun, and because we at Athens Uncharted really do want to invite everyone to join us here to revel in the thriving local Athens art scene, I have penned a third installment to this Hollywood-laced proffer to check out our site. In the first two installments of this groundbreaking series we have invited Zanzibar, Burma (I refuse to call it Myanmar.), Moldova, Belize, Laos, Swaziland and Las Islas Maldivas (aka The Falkland Islands) to log onto AU, using my voluminous knowledge of the film and television work of Kevin Costner and Harrison Ford as shiny lures, like we might do if we were fishermen or liked to taunt elderly women in nursing homes (They’re both attracted to shiny things.).

Today we shall explore the cinematic work of Sir Patrick Swayze, who was probably only knighted by the Queen of England inside my mind, and not in reality. Whatever, I’ve now knighted him posthumously. I didn’t even know I had that power until just now. 


Beloved Lebanese,  

We would like to cordially proposition you to spend a few minutes exploring the Athens, Georgia art scene. Why not? It’s less mentally-damaging than 90% of the Internet. English is the third-most-spoken language in your country already, and we promise not to say anything insulting about any of your preferred activities or industries, such as goat herding, food processing, potato herding (harder than you’d think), sheep herding, olive herding, textile shepherding…and we won’t even mention the fact that your country’s residents’ name is also a semi-jokey term for lesbians. Oh, yes, in case you’re new to the Internet, I should explain that “lesbians” are women who prefer the sexual company of other women, but even though your dominant religion hasn’t been particularly overtly kind to lesbians, I do hear that Muslim countries, in general, actually usually have big underground gay scenes, probably due to Islam’s generally anti-sex attitude and the fact that people like having sex. Lebanese was more popular, in the lesbianical sense, back before The West became so cool with homosexuality that we felt the need to invent new genders just so the newest teenagers could have something to feel superior to their parents about…but I digress. 

The point is, we want you, and not only in a lesbian manner. We want you to join us. JOIN US NOW! We like the fact that you, and Jordan, are relatively peaceful places, at least when compared to most of your neighboring countries. We celebrate the fact that you’re pretty new to the world scene, achieving independence in 1943, which had to have been tough considering you arrived just when World War II was kicking into high gear. We at Athens Uncharted revel in the fact that due to your country’s prosperity in banking, tourism and higher learning, you were once routinely called “The Switzerland of the Middle East.” Nobody hates the Swiss, if you remove their cheese from the equation. Those cheap-ass, cocoa-sipping bastards cut holes in their signature dairy product, just to save money. But not you. You sell the world whole olives. Hell, sometimes you even cram pimentos in there so it’s more than just an oval-shaped snack food, it’s a meal fit for a king, a very small king, but a king nonetheless. 

Sure, you’ve had some civil war, but hey, who hasn’t? We had one, too. Most countries have. At least yours was multi-sided and lasted sixteen years. Damn, that’s a long-ass war. Anyway, that ended in 1990, around the time Sir Patrick Swayze was reading the script for the hit supernatural romance movie, Ghost. Since it’s entirely possible that you missed it when it was new, allow me to tease you a wee bit, you Lebanese explorers, you. Sir Patrick plays a recently dead man with unfinished business here on earth. You see, Sir Patty was madly in love, with Demi Moore in her heyday (So you can’t really blame him for sticking around on this plane too long.). Sir P wanted to let his lady love know that he hadn’t left her, not totally anyway, but what’s a ghost to do?

Ethereal spirits are notoriously bad communicators, but that’s only because most of them don’t know Whoopi Goldberg, who, in this movie plays a fake psychic. Her character arc takes her from wisecracking pretend psychic to wisecracking actual medium, as she tries to convince Demi that Sir Patrique loved her. The ghost man/human woman clay pottery love scene set to a classic, smooth love jam from the Everly Brothers’ was so iconic that, even if you didn’t see the movie, you probably know what scene I’m talking about. Watching Ghost has been scientifically-proven to make you want to visit Athens Uncharted. 


Dearest Surinamitans (Sur-names? Surinamites? I don’t know which to say, they all sound so cool.), 

We at Athens Uncharted beg you to join us for a rollicking good time learning about our local art scene. We know you’re probably too busy mining for zinc, fishing, shrimping (not in the dirty way), digging for Texas Tea (oil to those of you who aren’t familiar with The Beverly Hillbillies), growing rice and bananas, or mining for gold and bauxite to waste too much time checking out AU, but after a long day at the bauxite mine, what could be better than learning about something you’ve never heard of and will never see?  

Sure, most colonial histories are, these days, mainly casualty lists of the people the overlords murdered, tortured, raped, whipped or sold at auction, but at least yours involves a comparably genteel barter between European countries. In 1667, Britain traded Suriname to the Netherlands for New Amsterdam and a third-round draft pick. Come to think of it, I may be totally backwards on that one. The barter may be even more condescending than most colonial practices, and a whole country for one city, even one with as much potential as the future NYC, seems pretty out-of-balance, but at least country trades don’t inherently involve mass murder. That’s something, right? 

Suriname, you seem like a pretty diverse mix of people: East Indians, Creoles, Javanese, Hindu, Protestant Christian, Muslim, Roman Catholic. It’s no wonder you had such a rocky start to your independence (1975). The nickname of one of your primary languages, Taki-Taki, is awesome. You’ve got a clear view of the Caribbean. You’re located between a country called Guyana and another called French Guiana, and there’s got to be a good story on that one.  

So, Suriname, should you ever find yourself with a few free minutes between daily shrimping (the non-dirty kind) and nightly shrimping (the really dirty kind), may we humbly suggest that you check out Athens Uncharted. We’d love to have you join us.  

As an enticement, allow us to recommend that you explore the filmography of Sir Patrick Swayze, focusing especially on the popular 80’s American Civil War masterpiece North and South (Books One and Two). Based on the John Jakes trilogy, this drama covers America’s Civil War from both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line (our nickname for the regional divider), and is historical fiction, the best way to learn history, dramatic, not too graphic, and was a part of my childhood, the mini-series not the war (How old do you think I am?). Sir Patty plays Orry Maine, a combination of two characters from the book but far sexier than either, the Southern gentleman from South Carolina who befriends Pennsylvania Yankee, George Hazard, at the West Point military academy, leading to some understandable tension when their two regions declare war on one another. There are plenty of pretty American girls in fancy dresses with generous cleavage, the one American export everyone loves. Enjoy. 

Sri Lanka 

You’ve had it rough lately, economically and politically. Everybody has, but you’ve had it a little worse. But, personally, I congratulate the hell out of you for toppling a corrupt government pretty damn peacefully. That ain’t easy, but old-school protest techniques do, indeed, work, especially if you’ve got enough righteous outrage and enough cameramen to spread the anger to the rest of the world. Good on you, Sri Lankans. 

It must suck being so close to such a bigger and more well-known country. India may have cooler temples and better lentils, but you’ve got a lot of eggs and rubber processing plants. Not my best encouragement. OK, let’s try this one. You were formerly known as Ceylon, a printer ink color the whole world uses, even if we’re not totally sure it’s a real color. You’ve got a number of clothing manufacturing plants, so a lot of people everywhere wear stuff you made. That’s pretty cool, right?  

You broke free of British control in 1948, or rather India did and they wanted to get farther away from India than the nearest island. Hell, did Britain just forget you guys existed when Ghandi and Friends convinced the somewhat-United Kingdom to high-tail it back to the Atlantic? It may not be as dramatic, but it is less violent. I mean, you’ve had some violence, but who hasn’t? The Buddhist-Hindu tension has led to some migration, some murder and some tense moments in the factory break room, but hey, that was in the past. More recently you’ve tossed off political corruption with less violence than most Argentinean soccer riots. That’s something to be proud of.  

There’s a Sri Lankan dude in my Rotary Club and he’s a pretty impressive guy. He may not be representative of your entire country, but since he’s the only Sri Lankan I know, I can safely say I’m friends with every single Sri Lankan I’ve ever met. 

Ceylonese, allow me to recommend to you, for your viewing pleasure, the Patrick Swayze so-bad-it’s-good-in-fact-so-bad-it’s-a-classic movie Road House. Sir Patrick plays a conflicted bouncer in a rough & tumble Texas bar. Much like your country’s past, this bar, this road house, is a violent place, and Sir Swayze is the only man tough enough to handle the perpetually-angry clientele. He knows that he knows how to kill, intimately, he’s really good at killing…but he doesn’t want to kill. As you might imagine, circumstances force Sir Pat into one whopping moral dilemma. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but suffice it to say that he kicks some serious ass, and the dialogue, which could’ve been written by a tight-knit team of kittens high on cocaine (Yes, it’s that bad.), is actually so terrible that it’s endearing. Give it a quick watch one day between presidential coups and garment manufacturing

Those are our invitations for the day. Lebanese (not just lesbian Lebanese), Surinamians, Sri Lankankans, if you’re reading this, thank you for accepting our gracious invitation. Keep reading, I’m bound to make fun of some country you hate at some point.