Happy Greek Independence Day!
Find out about Agia Lavra, the church where the revolution began, in my Church Hopping column on Burnside Writers Collective.
And read my previous post on the history of March 25 being Greek Independence Day here.
Usually you can make it to more than one Carnival because Greek Orthodox follow the Julian calendar, while Catholics use the new, Gregorian, calendar. However, this year our calendars coincide.
Carnival is basically a time to many go wild right before the seriousness of the 40-day fast of Great Lent leading up to the Crucifixion of Christ on Good Friday and His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Though it’s certainly tied to Orthodox Christianity, practicing Orthodox believers don’t participate in its more reckless aspects that are tied to Dionysus. The parades and floats, though? Those are fun!
Greece—specifically Arillas Beach in Corfu—is listed by Fodor’s as one of the 15 Best Beaches for 2014. …And so is the Jersey Shore, with a shout-out to Ocean Grove. It’s like they’re just listing the beaches of my childhood.
Can I give you an insider tip, though? For a less touristy, more authentic beach visit, check out Lagouvardos Beach. It’s in the Peloponnese, on the mainland of Greece. It’s become especially popular with surfers.
It also happens to be where Before Midnight was filmed.
And just check out these pictures I took there at sunset!
What’s your favorite beach? Coney Island??
What an impressive mustache! Cavafy via Wikipedia
When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
~ from the poem “Ithaca” by Constantine P. Cavafy
Born in the Egyptian province of Alexandria, Constantine Peter Cavafy was born to Greek parents in 1863. Riffing on last week’s British invasion theme, I’ll note that he actually spent some time in the Beatles‘ hometown of Liverpool. Cavafy’s life, like Kerouac’s, was one of movement. From Liverpool, he moved back to Alexandria, and then from there to Constantinople and back to Alexandria. He also spent some time in France.
Cavafy worked as a journalist, and it wasn’t until he was in his forties that he wrote his most important works of poetry — giving all us late-bloomers hope! He urges us to embrace life’s journey in his passionate 1911 poem Ithaca, inspired by Homer’s Odyssey. He urges us to slow down, to explore, to learn, to experience, to savor. It is the perspective one gains on the journey itself that matters.
Tonight PEN presents a tribute to Cavafy, featuring André Aciman, Michael Cunningham, Mark Doty, Olympia Dukakis, Craig Dykers, Edmund Keeley, Harry Kremmydas, Daniel Mendelsohn, Orhan Pamuk, Dimitris Papaioannou, and Kathleen Turner. For more information on the New York tribute, visit the PEN America website.
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If there had not been the virtue and courage of the Greeks, we do not know which the outcome of World War II would have been – Winston Churchill
Today is Oxi Day. The day Greeks said “No” during World War II.
You can read my post on the history of this day here.
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It’s Coffee Week! Sunday, September 29, is International Coffee Day, so I’m devoting the entire week to all things coffee.
First, a bit about Coffee Day, via Squidoo:
After a comprehensive research, it looks like that people started to talk about this festival as early as 2005, but there has been virtually on mentioning of this term until 2009 when a few local coffee shops began offering free drinks and discount coupons. In 2010, there has been news on national newspaper that briefly talks about activities on the day.
My conclusion is that the history of this festival is relatively short and my own conspiracy theory is that some sort of a national coffee association started to promote it as a way to generate more business.
So why devote a whole week to International Coffee Day 2013? Well, one of my missions here on this blog is “embracing the beatific.” For me, part of that means noticing and celebrating the little things in life. So often we get hung up on fancy restaurants that serve rich meals that we take the ordinary for granted, even though it sustains us. A cup of coffee can be a great comfort. A pot of coffee can be shared amongst friends. It can fuel a writer’s creativity.
As usual, I’ll be putting a literary spin on things.
Let me kick things off by first telling you a little about the history of coffee. From what I’ve read, coffee originated in Africa, and by the sixteenth century had found its way over to the Middle East. From there it reached Europe and Asia, only coming to the Americas later on. Having first been cultivated by Arabs, coffee shops were prevalent in the Ottoman Empire. In fact, they became so popular in Mecca—not simply because they served coffee but because they became gathering spots, where people could discuss politics—that they were banned in the early 1500s. Imagine coffee shops as speakeasies!
It was about 1645 when the first European coffee shop opened, and that was in Venice, Italy. Apparently, Greeks had an impact on coffee culture, which is no surprise really when you think about the Greek Empire’s impact on history. Johannes Theodat was a Greek who set up the first coffee shop in Vienna. In any regard, coffee houses became the place for artists and writers to meet in nineteenth-century Europe. Again, it wasn’t so much about the coffee—though certainly there was an art to making a good cup of coffee. Much like Starbucks is today, coffee houses back then were places writers could go in, order a cup of coffee, and spend hours writing or conversing. Low on cost, high on value.
Here in America, we can thank Italian Americans for setting up coffee shops in places like Greenwich Village and North Beach. And wouldn’t you know it, these were the places the writers commonly associated with the Beats hung out. Tiny tenements made for cramped quarters, so eager to socialize on the cheap these poets and novelists met up at coffee shops in the 1940s. By the ’50s, they were doing poetry readings there. Today, many cafes offer poetry readings and live music.
Curlisto is a salon that specializes in curly hair but provides services for all hair types. As the salon’s website says:
Christo awakens his clients to the hair they’ve always dreamed of and could only hope to achieve. With his keen insight into the special needs of curly hair and his desire to allow his clients to celebrate their individual style, Christo’s philosophy centers on providing clients with the flexibility to wear their curly hair the way they want and choose to; that is why Curlisto was created….
Curlisto focuses on first nourishing the hair with ingredients that specifically remedy curly hair challenges. Each client’s curls are unique, with specific texture, structure, and wave. Curlisto methods of reviving hair with special treatments are the basis from which an individual’s particular needs are met. Cutting curly hair is an art….
The hairstyles at Greek American Fashion Week were indeed works of art. They worked with the models’ natural hair textures to create eye-catching hairstyles. Whether rocking unrestrained locks, perfectly coiffed bouffants, or elegant updos, the models had hairstyles that brought out their natural beauty and complemented their wardrobe.
Curlisto was founded by Christo:
At the age of 12, Christo started his apprenticeship at his family’s salon in the Greek island of Cyprus. During his teenage years, he ventured to Paris and advanced as a young talent for his Parisian clientele. By his early 20s, Christo led a team of platform artists around the world to educate salon professionals. His passion for hair also led him to develop his own line of hair care products that are now widely distributed in Europe, Asia and South Africa. In 2002, Christo opened Christo Fifth Avenue Salon so he could expand his empire and service his A-list and royalty clientele.
Christo’s hair expertise has appeared on Bravo’s “Guide to Style,” TLC’s “Date Patrol,” PIX11, ABC, CBS, FOX 5, and Telemundo. His work has been featured in such print publications as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York, Vanity Fair, American Salon, Glamour, Teen Vogue, and Marie Claire.
Curlisto Salon is conveniently located in Midtown New York and offers a variety of services from cuts and styling to hair treatments. The salon also sells its high-quality hair products, for men and women, that extend beyond “curly” to “wavy,” “medium,” “tight,” and “coily,” in addition to “straight.” These products are great for curly Greek hair as well as other hair types. The website also features how-to videos so you can replicate the looks on your own. Thanks to Curlisto, you can have runway-worthy hair every day!
I’m about to head out to the Greek American Fashion Week Runway Event, so I’m leaving you with a few photos I snapped at the Greek American Fashion Week Kick-Off Event that was held on Wednesday night at the Lower East Side’s lush rooftop bar The DL.
Parked outside was the aptly named Nomad truck, “the wandering fashion boutique” … and you know my obsession with sweet rides.
In case you’re wondering, I wore a black shift with buttons down the side to the kick-off event. My hair was in a low side bun. I had neutral eye makeup with strong brows and dark, berry lips, inspired by Michelle Williams and Emma Watson.
I felt like I was at my house in Greece with all the palm trees on the rooftop!
I feel incredibly honored to have been invited to read at the 2013 New York City Poetry Festival. I had such a blast hearing so many great poets read at last year’s festival, and it never occurred to me that just a year later I would be joining them on stage. I have poet RA Araya to thank for continually supporting my writing. He invited me to read Homer in the ancient Homeric Greek and from the literary biography I’m coauthoring with Paul Maher Jr. entitled Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” so I read two road trip pieces.
For my Homer selection, I chose the opening passage from The Odyssey. Growing up in the Peloponnesus, my father had to memorize part of the epic poem in school. To this day, he still can recite the lines! I studied Classical Greek at Pomona College (while a student at Scripps), which is different than Homeric Greek. We never really read aloud in class because it’s a “dead” language, one that is no longer spoken but read by scholars. There are debates about how ancient Greek dialects were spoken, as the pronunciation is, according to some scholars, different than modern Greek. I am therefore definitely not adept at reading in the ancient tongue, but if someone asks me to read something specific, I do my best. Fortunately, there are many great English translations of The Odyssey out there too!
It was a no brainer to choose one of the passages about poetry from Burning Furiously Beautiful. In telling the story of the making of the novel On the Road, it was important that the literary biography also explored Kerouac’s poetry and his friendship with other poets. Although he is mainly remembered as a novelist, Kerouac wrote poetry throughout his life, including the period when he was on the road. There’s a really strong section in the book about how Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg influenced each other’s writing, and I wanted to read that, but in the end I found a passage in Burning Furiously Beautiful that seemed to better encapsulate the mood of the Poetry Festival. In the passage, Kerouac has been walking along the highway, hitchhiking, and finds himself composing a poem about everything he sees around him. It reminded me of how out on Governors Island we were all a bunch of writers lofting in the grass and translating the world around us into poetic language.
I read directly after RA, who opened up the event with his famously short-but-sweet poem, and then came Hillary Keel, Sarah Sarai, Carmen Bardeguez-Brown, Kate Levin, Carlos Manuel Rivera, Sparrow, Bonafide Rojas, and Keith Roach. They were amazing! Seriously. Hilary read in German and a couple of the other poets read in Spanish, and I suspect our reading—under the name Miguel Algarin’s Brooklyn Poetry—was the most linguistically diverse at the Festival. I had traveled over the Governors Island with Kate, and I think this was her best reading yet. In addition to poetry about Manhattan and our value as people, she read from her punk novel, which I would’ve thought was a poem if she hadn’t said otherwise. I always enjoy hearing Sarah read, and in particular enjoyed her poem about meeting an angel at a bus stop. The poet who had me in stitches, though, was Sparrow. I’d heard him sing at RA’s birthday party last year, and I loved hearing his one-liner poems this time around.
Special thanks too to our stage manager Liz von Klemperer, who did an excellent job. There were a lot of volunteers who kept the entire event running smoothly. The New York City Poetry Festival is put on by The Poetry Society of New York and is organized by Stephanie Berger and Nicholas Adamski. For the full lineup of the two-day event, check out NYCPF 2013.
I also want to thank my family and friends who trekked out to the island—some coming from as far as Jersey and Brooklyn—to support my reading. The photos here were taken by Leslie Marks, except the last one which is a self portrait. For more photos of me and all the other amazing poets, check out asterix611’s flickr.
While surfing the Web, I came across an article titled “Vacationing in the Most Miserable Place on Earth This Summer?” The tag line: “The Mediterranean is a miserable place.”
By the second sentence, the author Curtis Tate, was finger-pointing Greece: “[...] Greece was the flag bearer for the economic and social misery these countries are experiencing.”
There are countries in the news right now for deadly protests, horrific crimes against women, suicide bombers, and warlords. Vacationing in those countries would quite possibly be a more miserable experience.
But wait! Tate’s article actually has nothing to do with vacations. It’s about how people actually living in the Mediterranean–not only in Greece but also France–are unhappy with their current economic situation. His article concludes by saying “[...] China, Brazil, and even Kenya are optimistic for the future….” I have nothing against those countries, and I’m sure they can make lovely vacation destinations, but I’ve heard more people say they’d want to travel to France and Greece. Tate’s article is dangerously misleading.
Tate’s article title perhaps compels readers to click to read but it is offensive in its fear mongering. Unfortunately it appears to be a tactic he–or his editor–has used before:
To be fair, the actual content of Tate’s “Miserable Place” article is not inaccurate in terms of the statics cited for the outlook of people in the Mediterranean.
The topic is not even his original idea.
Instead of linking to the Pew Research Center’s reports that he cites, Tate links to Drew DeSilver’s article published the day before his, entitled “The Mediterranean: Go for the Beaches, Not the Mood.” Although not identical word for word, Tate’s and DeSilver’s articles have the same content and in the same order. While Tate’s title invokes fear, DeSilver’s title is slightly more optimistic but suggests that the mood will affect one’s vacation.
While it is true that a poor economy can put a damper on tourism because of diminished resources and increased crime, neither Tate’s nor DeSilver’s articles are not making this point. Their articles says absolutely nothing about if and how the economy is affecting vacationers.Instead, Tate remarks that young people are unemployed. Unless he is subtly trying to warn you that you’ll be ordering your frappes from someone in their forties instead of some hot young thang, the fact that young people aren’t finding work right now probably isn’t going to deter your vacation plans. Oh and about that age thing — Jennifer Aniston is 44 and John Stamos is 49. We age well.
DeSilver says, “And, in what should surprise exactly no one, Greece has by far the bleakest outlook.” Hm… “in what should surprise exactly no one,” huh? He’s right: I’m not surprised that the statistics say 99% of Greeks say their country’s economic situation is “very or somewhat bad.” We’re a notoriously melodramatic people. Have you ever read the tragedies?
Does our “miserable” and “very or somewhat bad” outlook on the economy really affect who we are and how we treat our tourists, though?
My sense is that it doesn’t. Certainly, I’m a bit biased, but I’m basing my understanding of Greek tourism on the fact that every non-Greek I know who has visited there has loved it. They’ve found the people to be warm and generous, and they’ve gone multiple times or wished they could.
An article published the same day as Tate’s article was titled “Greece: Athens Tourism Up 10% for First Time in Three Years.” It concluded saying, “Arrivals at regional airports across the country last month showed a 20.5% increase in arrivals of foreign tourists compared to the same month last year.” Earlier this year, the Austrian newspaper Der Standard even hypothesized that this could be “the year of Greek tourism,” according to Capital.Gr.
I did my due diligence and checked out the Pew Research Center’s report. Guess what. The words “travel,” “traveler,” and “vacation” appeared no where in the report.
Greece needs your tourism now more than ever.