Holy shit! So many emotions as I watched.
First, I was glad I’d gone to the bathroom before I started otherwise I’d of peed in my pants. All words fail. Amazing! Yep! Nope. Too pale. Fantastic? Yeah…maybe. Nah, too dramatic. It’s got a beauty to it that one or two words, no matter how grand, cannot fill the space that this leaves in its wake. The slowness, the faint sound of the motor’s whirr, feed into the grandeur.
For whom the bell tolls…it tolls for thee.
It picks up speed; the motor slightly louder.
Then at one point I notice the cars on the Westside Highway. Shortly after I start to weep. The men below, where it started, are no longer anything more then yellow specks that, if you didn’t know their significance, you’d dismiss as merely bits of “what’s down below”.
As they set it in place my mind, acting as director, asks, “How should this end?” Going back to my younger mind I shout, “A shot from the side. Have the camera swoop in on it. Yeah! Wow! Yeah, that’s the way to end it.” But then it stops, after the few men, so far above the City, settle it into place. Lovely. And far below I see the waters of the Memorial twinkling in the light.
Cut to black.
A Conversation with Grigoris Maninakis and Anna Eliopoulos about the upcoming Rebetika Concert (April 19—21) at the Hellenic Cultural Center, April 18, 2013
My first memory of Rebetika comes from more than 20 years ago. It was before I started doing my show at Hellenic Public Radio. I was meeting someone who was already doing a show for HPR so she could tell me a bit about the types of shows she was planning to do in the future. I must admit to having some trepidation about starting down this path. After all what did I really know about Greece? I’d travelled there and fallen in love with the culture, the history and the people but how could I possibly do a show week after week after week? In the weeks leading up to my first show, how many times had picked up the phone to call the station and tell them that the idea of me doing a show was ridiculous? A dozen? Two dozen? But each time that little voice in my head, the one that usually tells you that you CAN’T do something, told me that making that call would be something I’d regret for the rest of my life. The “What if’s” would be, in the long run, crushing.
The meeting with my friend almost pushed me over the edge though. After we sat and ordered she pulled a huge binder out of her bag and started leafing through showing me page after page of themes she wanted to explore. She was trying to help but this was daunting. I remember very few of those pages and themes but I do remember one in particular that stood out: REBETIKA. She had pictures of a few of the great practitioners—the only one I remember now is the one of Roza Eskenazi. So I asked what Rebetika was and her answer was three words: It’s Greek Blues.
I could go on but suffice to say that I was “sold”—hook, line and sinker.
This coming weekend at the Hellenic Cultural Center you’ll have the chance to experience Rebetika at its best.
She starts with a number: 936.
936 Sunday lunches with family.
But Alexandra Stratou has many more ingredients to add before she’s done with this recipe.
2 years of cooking school
2 slices of work
¾ cup of creativity
2 tbsp of love
Then there’s the more practical stuff that must be added:
1 graphic designer
…and of course there are the recipes themselves…75 to 80 of those.
But she’s wise enough to understand that for every project like this, every meaningful event in life, there will be those moments when things aren’t so bright and shiny so she adds:
a pinch of anxiety
and a few drops of doubt
but she tops it all with a sprig from the tree of life.
Actually the last ingredient is a blessing.
A blessing for Alexandra Stratou and her Kickstarter project. A project designed to create, as she so eloquently writes:
A Greek cookbook honoring family, uncompromised tradition, cooking & life.
Tonight I’ll be speaking to Alexandra about her combining cutting edge technologies and concepts like crowd-funding and video with generations old family recipes to create something that is both old and new. I’ll talk to her about her quest to bring her cookbook Cook[ειν] (Cookin’) to life.
A late-in-life reflection and modern-day philosophical exploration of what it means to age authentically.
Septuagenarian Klein (co-author: Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates, 2009) is on a personal quest to redeem the grizzled and gray-haired among us. Returning to the Greek island of Hydra, which he visited in his youth, he sought to watch and learn from a culture that, he writes, best embodies the grace of old age. Over leisurely glasses of retsina at the local tavern, he observed the “lived time” of his aged, Greek friends and lamented the contemporary Western desire to extend the prime of life beyond its course. What do we lose, he asks, when we deny our hard-earned senior citizenship and opt instead for implants, Viagra and a second career? With the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus as his guide, Klein navigates a veritable sea of great thinkers and their treatises on aging. From Aristotle to Frank Sinatra, each philosopher offers a different take on what it means to live a meaningful life in one’s later years. For Epicureans, it’s a life devoted to simple, enduring pleasures and free of pain, particularly the pain we incur on ourselves by pursuing certain pleasures. As it turns out, there are no specific rules to living life well or to making peace with old age, but Klein suggests that perhaps the act of asking can be “some kind of end in itself.” Some readers, especially younger readers, will reply in the affirmative when Klein wonders aloud if he is simply “a befuddled old geezer barking at the moon.” Others will appreciate the slow, lighthearted amble of his discourse and the wise cast of characters that inhabit his journey.
Charming and accessible, this philosophical survey simply and accessibly makes academic philosophy relevant to ordinary human emotion.
FROM THE KIRKUS REVIEW October 2012
I like to drive. I’ll get in my car and drive till I get to places I’ve never been before. For me it’s meditation and it’s entertainment. Entertainment because I almost always have a “book” in my CD player. I lean toward mysteries and thrillers. I enjoy them and it doesn’t require a great deal of concentration for me to focus on the story. I’m just “along for the ride”…so to speak. One of the authors I like is Lee Child whose main character is the oh, so noble, yet incredibly deadly, Jack Reacher.
So when a friend of mine found a Q&A with Lee Child in the New York Times Book Review back in November, she sent it to me. I got as far as his answer to the second question and was stopped dead in my tracks:
NYT: What was the last truly great book you read?
Child: The words “truly great book” set a very high bar, don’t they, in the context of the last couple of centuries. Therefore I’d have to pick “The Lost” by Daniel Mendelsohn. Nonfiction, but only incidentally. It’s a memoir, a Holocaust story, a detective story, both a rumination on and an analysis of narrative technique, a work of Old Testament and ancient Greek historiography, and a work of awful, heartbreaking, tragic suspense. A book of the decade, easily, and likely a book of the century.
Tonight I’ll be speaking to Daniel Mendelsohn about his new book “Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture”, and about his translation of the poetry of C.P. Cavafy. We’ll also talk about his upcoming discussion with John Freeman at the Morgan Library and Museum next Monday evening, February 11, at 7pm.
In the mean time if you want to know more about Daniel and his work please check out the links below.
…and since I have your attention here’s one other piece of information you might find interesting. Viktor Koen, a friend and frequent guest on “Graffiti”, did a TED talk in Athens recently. Tomorrow night, Friday, February 8th, he’s inviting folks to watch the talk at 7:30 on Youtube. It will be a non-centralized gathering of friends, family and anyone else interested to watch his TED talk.