« NITLE Blog CensusRoad Trip »

Center for Hellenic Studies

I'm writing this on a northbound train, headed back to Vermont after spending three days (and three air-conditioned nights) at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, DC.

The Center for Hellenic Studies is the kind of place that would launch a thousand classics careers, if only more people knew about it. Picture an ivory tower, sliced into two-story bungalows and tastefully arranged along a half dozen acres of shrubbery somewhere between the Italian Embassy and Cheney's underground bunker. Add an opulent mansion filled with rare Greek texts, a full-time chef, antiques in every corner, and a Harvard affiliation, and that's the CHS in a nutshell.

The Center was founded in remote antiquity by someone very, very rich, and it's been quietly thriving ever since as the real estate under it appreciates. Every year, a dozen or so pre-tenure classics scholars are accepted for a year in residence, each one getting a bedroom in one of the cozy white bungalows, a comfortable office to work in, and luncheon served promptly at half noon on the terrace. Each classics scholar writes a book, returns in triumph to his home institution (where Tenure patiently knits), and goes on to raise forth a new generation of classicists to repeat the cycle.

You may be wondering what on Earth I was doing there - all I know about the Hellenic world is what I picked up from filmstrips in the fifth grade. It turns out this timeless discipline has a hard core of forward-thinking markup geeks who are crazy about technology. In more typical higher-ed environments, people will apply for a three-year grant just to install a CGI script, but here they were discussing scalable vector graphics, XSLT, the Text Encoding Initiative, and all sorts of other ambitious projects.

It was also fun to eavesdrop on classicists talking shop. I gave up my place in line at the tuna salad amphora just so I could run and transcribe the following:

"Obviously sole practitioners at individual institutions, however vivarian, can't routinize the charisma"

Where else are you likely to hear that spoken in a slow Southern drawl?

The very best thing about my visit was being within slogging distance of a pizzeria called 2 Amys. I was tipped off to its existence by my very amiable bungalow mate (a man who, if I didn't know my cat, I would call the loudest walker in the country. Stomp! Stomp!). Two Amys has gone through the trouble of getting itself certified as a genuine pizzeria by the appropriate Neapolitan pizza authorities. They serve marvelous tasting pies, thin and puffed up from the oven, served up in a brightly-lit, busy room that cheers the lonesome blogger. Also helpful on that front is the fizzy red pizza wine, which tastes exactly how you wanted wine to taste when you were a kid, before you had actually tried any and were disappointed. The pizza at 2 Amys was so good that I didn't even mind walking two miles through the hot ozone chowder that passes for atmosphere in summertime Washington.

My problem is, now I'm in Brandon, Vermont, where the pizza tastes like rubber bands. Can anyone recommend a good pizzeria in Portland, Oregon, or Portland, Maine, to take the edge off my withdrawal? I'll be travelling through both Portlands en route to the Open Source conference next month, and staying for a while in the western one. Better yet, if you're at the conference, or just happen to live in occidental Portland, drop me a line and we'll catch ourselves a slice.

« NITLE Blog CensusRoad Trip »

Greatest Hits

The Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel
The story of America's most awesome infrastructure project.

Argentina on Two Steaks A Day
Eating the happiest cows in the world

Scott and Scurvy
Why did 19th century explorers forget the simple cure for scurvy?

No Evidence of Disease
A cancer story with an unfortunate complication.

Controlled Tango Into Terrain
Trying to learn how to dance in Argentina

Dabblers and Blowhards
Calling out Paul Graham for a silly essay about painting

Attacked By Thugs
Warsaw police hijinks

Dating Without Kundera
Practical alternatives to the Slavic Dave Matthews

A Rocket To Nowhere
A Space Shuttle rant

Best Practices For Time Travelers
The story of John Titor, visitor from the future

100 Years Of Turbulence
The Wright Brothers and the harmful effects of patent law

Every Damn Thing

2020 Mar Apr Jun Aug Sep Oct
2019 May Jun Jul Aug Dec
2018 Oct Nov Dec
2017 Feb Sep
2016 May Oct
2015 May Jul Nov
2014 Jul Aug
2013 Feb Dec
2012 Feb Sep Nov Dec
2011 Aug
2010 Mar May Jun Jul
2009 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep
2008 Jan Apr May Aug Nov
2007 Jan Mar Apr May Jul Dec
2006 Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov
2005 Jan Feb Mar Apr Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2004 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Oct Nov Dec
2003 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2002 May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Your Host

Maciej Cegłowski


Please ask permission before reprinting full-text posts or I will crush you.