Friday, June 29, 2012

Genesis or The Last Engagement of the Liberal Artists

Genesis is far greater a legend than a reality. When you hear it described, the words take flight under the dashing feet of your imagination, like the stones of Notre Dame in Bradbury's The Halloween Tree, constructing a grand edifice of the ear and mind that overshadows the actuality of the brick and mortar building which resides unassuming on one of the many nameless avenues in Luxor, Egypt. It's a place better heard about than experienced, the most amazing sight I wish I had never seen. So allow me to spread the legend and describe for you now Genesis, the best bar in the world.

The tables are aquariums. There are ostriches, peacocks, a donkey and a camel (named either Gogol or Googoo, personally I hope the former), in addition to the two Great Danes who saunter casually around the tables when they're not sprawled over the floor or patrons' laps. The walls are decked with animal print fabric, the most prominent of which being a faux cowhide, although almost all the available wall space and rafters are bannered with flags of the world. The California flag is signed by none other than Don Ryan, a frequent patron and unparalleled character (well, maybe not unparalleled, the field is fairly saturated with oddballs and eccentrics) in the egyptological world. Have I mentioned the swimming pool yet? Because there is a swimming pool, right next to the private pagodas and assorted animals. And the cottage pie is absolutely delicious. It is owned by an eminently Russian-Ukranian woman, Julia, with her Egyptian husband who, it is rumored, has a second wife. An Englishwoman.

In the Genesis of reality, Julia is by far the bar's best and most endearing feature. An excellent and attentive hostess in her own harshly hospitable way, Julia sat with us the whole night on both occasions we visited the bar, ever unsmiling but never unpleasant, recounting woes with that singular dour serenity of an eastern European. Beheadings, car accidents, fixed ballots, ailing camels and all manner of messes she discussed with cogent monotone, not complaining, just relating. Stoicism with a shrug. In the meantime her adorable daughter (after downing an entire carton of juice) showed me innumerable photos on camera and phone of herself and her family while Elvis the Great Dane slept at my feet, despite all attempts of paw tickling and ear scratching to coax him awake. On our second night at Genesis we met up the enigmatic Liberal Artists and in the hour before they showed up, Elvis' sister and mate slept in my lap on our couch. She had just recently had puppies, all of which Julia, having more than enough animals in her posse already, gave away. When one member of our party pleasantly asked Julia if it was true that there was now a whole gaggle of Great Danes scattered throughout Luxor, she answered succinctly and true to form saying, "Yes...One iz dead." 

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