Thursday, May 31, 2007

Ten Years Later

I can’t believe it’s been a whole decade since the ridiculous night at the Intercontinental, the bad suits, worse dresses, and terrible hair-styles. When I get home I have to dig out that photo album (back than photos were still made of paper) and look at my high-school graduation pictures. Maybe brush up on some names…
I haven’t really stayed in touch. Much. Belgrade must really be big, since there are many people I haven’t seen once since 1997. Some I see from time to time, and usually it’s work related. But we did have a fun four years together.
A class friend called me to say that a get-together is planned in a few days. Symbolically we agreed to meet in front of KST and go there together. I’m guessing it will be the same small groups of people – the same seating arrangements. The window crew, the wall crew… Only we’re all a little older. There’ll be a lot of gossip, I’m sure. It’s a chance to see who’s gotten fat, who’s balding, who’s pregnant and with which child. Fortunately, I’m not in any of these categories so I can breathe a little easier. If only I can think of what to wear.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Home, Sweet Home

Enough of writing on other people’s blogs! I have my own, thank you very much. I barely manage to post here from time to time but sometimes I just can’t keep my mouth shut. There was a well-intentioned post on homophobia over at Belgrade 2.0 which turned into a rather nasty debate…
Why is it even called phobia? Is it fear? It’s downright hatred and rage. Shouldn’t it be "misohomy" or something?

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Without getting into an analysis of the Serbian judicial system and whether it is enough or not, I’m glad they got the maximum possible sentence.
I just hope that by the time these senior assassins leave jail in 40 years, Serbia will have made up for what was lost on March 12th 2003.
I also hope that, in coming years, there will be more evidence and more trials in this case. Those in anyway involved in his murder must never again be allowed anywhere near Djindjic’s hard-earned position.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Comic Books and Film

Spiderman 3 is a terrible film. It is long, boring and idiotic. I love comic books and I get quite excited about any film based on comics, so this was quite a disappointment. I haven’t really read much of Marvel, though. Personally, I always preferred the Franco-Belgian school. In fact the only reason for my first visit to Brussels, on a day trip from Holland, apart from trying the waffles and buying some Godiva, was to visit the comic book museum. Two years ago when Ivan and I went there again, it was actually the only museum we visited.
And yesterday the world marked
one hundred years since the birth of HergĂ© with events, stamps and coins celebrating his famous creation - Tintin, one of my favourite childhood heros. In our house comic books were treated with respect and my sister and I were actually encouraged to read them as my father has an enormous collection spanning all the way into the sixties. When I was little, I was secretly hoping someone would discover me and call me to play Tintin, or perhaps, Spirou in a film. I think that hair style would look really good on me. So, I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. Spielberg.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

My Own Private Idaho

With all the Eurovision euphoria these days I almost forgot about our parliamentary circus. After much ado about nothing and pressure from everyone from the EU to the Eurosong winner, the MPs finally voted in our new government, a “democratic one”, none the less.
But let’s not get over-excited. This coalition, though it was inevitable, is based on deep mistrust and completely irreconcilable program differences. The idea of mutual control is not bad, but I’m afraid all we’ve got is a government which is ineffective and cannot agree on any important issue.
Then there are issues which are “not important”…
Today is the International Day Against HOmophobia. Human rights, in any form, are not a priority of this government. Today also happens to be my birthday. You could say, it was meant to be. Happy Birthday to Me! Happy IDAHO, all.

Monday, May 14, 2007

King of Chandeliers

Belgrade Design Week 2007 ended on Saturday. Similar to last year it was a series of lectures on all things design – from architecture to digital effects. It was interesting, educational and inspirational.
As a big fan of architecture, it was a real treat to listen to Rem Koolhaas, Ora Ito was a lot of fun, Mirko Ilic gave a very good lecture, although he is, in my view, very unlikable. I was particularly happy to listen to one of my favorite design collectives – Droog Design, as I’ve been a fan for quite a while.

But probably more than anything, I’m glad BDW made it possible to visit one of my favorite buildings in Belgrade, otherwise closed to the public – the Federation Palace.
With its enormous size, over the top simplicity and amazing artwork it is an actual palace build in the social-realism style of the fifties and sixties.

The most impressive is the great hall with its colossal sun-shaped chandelier which looks like an early influence for the dome of the Sony Center at Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz.
Wouldn’t mind having one in my room.
Wouldn’t mind having a big enough room, for that matter.
Would mind having their electricity bill, though.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Belgrade 2008 Eurovision Song Contest!!!

We jumped and screamed last night as votes were coming in. A tense standoff reminiscent of 2004 between rising Eurovision superpowers Ukraine and Serbia, this time ended favorably for us. Marija won! I am sorry for Verka, but ultimately I decided to play it safe and vote for my other favorite – Slovenia just in case.

I spend the whole day at Belgrade Design Week (more of that tomorrow) listening to interesting lectures and hoping that rumors of surprise guest Brad Pitt, would be false. Fortunately, it was all a publicity stunt. Otherwise I would have been seriously tempted to miss the contest and go the BDW after-party.

I’m very happy Belgrade will get to host Eurovision which is, in my view, the ultimate and most amusing pop spectacle. Yes it’s trashy and camp, but that’s what makes it so good to watch. Plus it’s not bad for the local economy or the gay community.

So, as we are devising plans how to manage to come back from New York next May to see the spectacle live in Belgrade Arena, I have to mention three things which kind of spoil the fun for me:

“Political voting”
Immediately after the show we switched to BBC where there was again talk of political voting in the contest. Although voting certainly is predictable I think it’s just a bad case of sour grapes. If anything, much of the voting is a triumph over politics. We have to remember that many of these “block” countries are not on perfect terms with each other and some have even gone through conflicts.
Voting is just a result of similar languages and sensibilities and it’s a positive sign. Yes, in this sense, some eastern countries do have an advantage, but it is not enough, unless you can also draw votes from the west.
The whole story kind of reminds of something Rem Koolhaas said at his lecture yesterday, speaking of the West’s attitude towards architecture in Russia, China and Arab countries. He spoke of latent racism or at least latent feeling of superiority, in not being able to accept that the world is changing and shifting focus. So, if the UK wants to fair better next time maybe they should just send something less teletubbiesque and maybe they’ll get some votes. Who knows, if Scotland secedes in a few years maybe England will finally get some “political” votes.

We took a walk to Republic Square to see the spontaneous outpouring of public joy. There was quite a crowd, and it was mostly benign, but naturally there were also significant numbers of football-fan-like types chanting the usual nationalistic slogans along with Marija’s name. These are the same people who would probably beat her up in the street if they suspected she was a Gypsy or if it turned out she actually was gay.

We ran into some friends who were actually angry that we won and that people were rejoicing because Eurovision “lacks quality”. I tried in vain to explain that whether you like it or not it is at least good PR, free advertising and a great opportunity for tourism in Serbia and Belgrade. Some people should just relax and not take everything too seriously.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Eurovision 2007, Semifinals

Today, I’ll steer away from dark topics. It seems the rise of fascism in Parliament did not have such a profound effect on the Serbian economy as I was kept late at work by a foreign client. I did miss all but one lecture on the first day of the Belgrade Design Week conference, but I did somehow manage to get home for the Eurosong semifinals.
Marija was great. Not just because she’s… one of us, but the understated dramatics made this, in my view, one of the best performances in recent years. She and her sophisticated lesbian sisterhood were far better that any of the other semifinalists.
Some surprises in the pick for the finals, though. I’m glad the entranced Slovenian opera singer went through. I’m sorry my vote went to waste, as not too dramatic Drama Queen failed to reach the finals. The song was much better live. I also liked the Dutch and the Albanians, but none of them made it through.
Can’t wait for the finals! I really hoped Ukraine would win, but now that I saw Marija’s performance and I think we actually have a chance to win… It would be great to have the contest in Belgrade in 2008, even if I won’t be here to see it live. At least I hope I’ll be able to see the whole of the final night, and still get to the BDW closing party in time to get my picture taken with the “mystery” guest.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Monday evening was very interesting. Two very important and very different events took place in the center of Belgrade not far from each other.
In the glitzy art-deco interior of Belgrade’s only specialized musical and comedy theater on Terazije, the deputy mayor, opening the second edition of Belgrade Design Week, didn’t fail to mention the city’s title as the south-east European city of the future. Then we saw a film about last year’s design week, and visionary and inspirational people from all over the world who gathered in Serbia and spoke of creating a better world.
Right around the corner, in the Parliament, the picture was a bit more bleak. The future did not seam as bright. In fact, it looked very much like our unattractive past. Despite that, the MPs acted as if they were entertainers –stand up comedians trying to think of the funniest reply so that the whole chamber would burst into laughter, while the country slowly sinks into fascism.
If anything good came out of yesterday’s election of our new radical parliament speaker, it is that things are finally clear. Dss can no longer pretend to be a reformist pro-european party and DS has no more excuses to be lazy. Sadly, this clarity only makes us see that we have many more lost years ahead of us.One of the senior radicals said: the future belongs to us. And there’s a lovely musical called Cabaret, with a catchy song called “Tomorrow belongs to me”. Unfortunately not enough people remember what happened “tomorrow”.

Monday, May 07, 2007

It’s My Slava and I’ll Cry If I Want To

Despite of spending a nice St. George’s day at my parents’ house with family, friends and all the delicious food, I am feeling slightly depressed these days. Serbia is just too much to handle sometimes. I did, at least, manage to avoid too much political confrontation with some of the guests but only by skillfully diverting the conversation to celebrity big brother at the very last moment.
The only people that seem to be able to find a common language in this country today are the various fascist brotherhoods and orthodox talibans when they agree on whom to beat up next. Legally organized peaceful protests of citizens get canceled or simply don’t get scheduled and no one seems to be worried by the increasing silence caused by the threat of violence.
Even the police stay silent. No big surprise in a country that is not legally governed by anyone. The political parties are nowhere near to that level of cooperation in regards to forming a new government. Probably because, apart from a few, they are basically skinheads in suits. Well, at least they are balding.
And naturally there’s Kosovo. Oh, the sacred 15% of our land - 18% of Serbia without Kosovo :) is the ever present excuse for every form of repression and always a good reason to beat people up. Legalize pot? No, we have to think of Kosovo. Gay rights? No, Kosovo. The economy? Maybe later, you know, Kosovo. I’m sorry I have to pee! Wait! Kosovo!
In the meantime, schoolchildren form this holiest of lands are staying with their less holly Belgrade friends, which is I guess a nice gesture. These poor little pawns deserve some time off. Anyway, some people I know work in schools and are in charge of showing these kids around town, so a colleague - a catechesis teacher asked my friend: “If you want, I can fill in for you. You know, as a believer, Kosovo is esential to me so, so I’ll gladly help”.
Not because of the children. No. Kosovo. Had the children been, say, orphans from Kragujevac, she wouldn’t have cared less, the big believer. What if they were, god forbid, Muslims?
Today it’s back to my parents house for another round of guests.
Damn it! Should I eat another slice of this chocolate cake when the status of Kosovo is still not resolved favorably?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Celebrity, Who?

It was a starry night at the Big Brother red carpet. The small crowd went: I know him, I think. You know, you remember him. Isn’t she… No. Wait, I’m sure I know this one… Uhm, maybe not. At least I have heard of most of these people, but I somehow thought being a celebrity meant more than having your picture published in Gloria once. Than again if you’re well known and have an actual successful career, why would you put it on hold so the rest of the world could watch you cut your toenails in prime time. The only really famous person is the huge scary folk singer, but for her it’s a sensible business decision. Why pay the tabloids to publish your “candid” nude pictures, when you can parade naked in the aforementioned prime time. Definitely not worth watching. Unless the model guy decides to work out with his top off.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Tough Crowd

Now, I’m not an art historian, but I’m not particularly thrilled by the exhibits coming to Belgrade lately. I mean I’m glad someone is finally sending us something, but I have a feeling they’re keeping the best for themselves. As with the recent exhibition of British artists in the Contemporary Art Museum, the pieces from St. Etienne in 25th of May Museum left me thinking more about the poor state of the museum building than the art. Maybe it’s just me.