Showing posts with label 1922. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1922. Show all posts

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Mourn, Be Fierce. One Life to Live

From the balcony: Arvanitaki at Carnegie Hall 2/1/2014. 
Eleftheria Arvanitaki enthralled a packed Carnegie Hall with her songs Feb. 1.
They included heavy laments, but these miroloi were uplifting in their poetic pain. Such songs are not wallowing in sadness, but what one blogger calls "stoic innoculation." It's a very Greek sentiment, aided by the uplift of the bouzouki. And, last Saturday, there was innocence conveyed in the breaks in Arvanitaki's voice, and a collective sway we felt whispering the lyrics together. The New York Times review notes that she draws on rebetika that is "mournful and fierce." Rebetika is the Asia Minor musical-blues influence that arrived in the 1920s with devastated refugees forced to abandon their homes.
I can't get enough of one Arvanitaki song, "το παράπoνο," ("The Lament"), which is an adaptation of an Odysseas Elytis poem. The poetry doesn't translate easily. It roughly says that one may set out to do one thing in life and find, looking back, that it was as if someone else was acting. It concludes: "a second life, there isn't." However, halfway through one's life, there is the other half to live ...
Εδώ στου δρόμο τα μισά 
 έφτασε η ώρα να το πω 
Άλλα είναι εκείνα που αγαπώ 
 γ'αλλού γ'αλλού ξεκίνησα. 
 Στ' αληθινά στα ψεύτικα 
 το λέω και τ' ομολογώ 
Σαν να 'μουν άλλος και όχι εγώ 
 μες' στη ζωή πορεύτηκα 
 Όσο κι αν κανείς προσέχει 
 όσο κ'αν τα κυνηγά 
Πάντα πάντα θα 'ναι αργά 
 δεύτερη ζωή δεν έχει.
Below, Arvanitaki sings the song To Parapono, with more of her hits to follow. The song is on a 1996 album of Greek poetry set to music called,"Songs For The Months" explained on a great music blog. Other quiet songs I recommend: Καθρεφτίζω το νου and Παράπονο (Ξενιτιά).  In New York, her orchestra included Armenian oud player Ara Dinkjian. More from a clever British blogger who says musical laments, for Greeks, are "not wallowing in sadness, but stoic innoculation." Here's the ANT1 Greek interview with Arvanitaki about the New York show.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

We Are So Fortunate

The curls and somber face on a used book have transported me each night in a rather delirious week ... with only a little bread and water, feeling ill .... over mountains, through villages, past gendarmes ... on a horse-drawn wagon full of refugees. It was 1915. This biography has gripped me because the narrator, Veron, not only looks like my grandmother and was the age of my grandmother in 1915, but lived near my grandmother in Turkey. She tells a story my grandmother never wrote down, but could have, about the refugees' escape and the futility of hate. And what motivates hate and war: money and power.
Seared in the mind of a child and written for posterity by her son, Veron speaks simply without judgement and tells of violence, starvation, lies, death and, miraculously, hope and love.
Each day we breathe, we must remember our unlikely fortune. Each of us is a survivor with a purpose.
Read "The Road Home," by David Kherdian. A Newberry Honor Book. 1979, Greenwillow Books, New York.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Δrachma βlues

Sarcasm from London aside, read this NYTimes opinion piece for ignored historical perspective on Greece. It posits that the Lausanne Treaty is a big factor in the Greek mindset today. (Plus 1940s civil war & 1960s-70s military rule.) The treaty was Europe's solution circa 1922 that condoned the movement of an estimated 400,000 Muslims from Greece and more than 1.2 million surviving Greek Christians from Turkey - including members of my family. Today, the author says, because Greeks were lorded over by Ottomans for 400 years, they won't be controlled by central bankers nor any authority including government. The Times recommends a journalist's book we have: "Twice A Stranger: How Mass Expulsions Forged Modern Greece & Turkey," by Bruce Clark.
You can't blame the population's tax evasion on prior oppression, but some Greeks are beyond frustrated or defiant. Watch the Prism GR2010 episode "Roads, Rage & Relics" (under the lawlessness theme) to see regular Greeks blowing off tolls and exhibiting societal breakdown in action.