Friday, March 14, 2008


Damn capitalism. So much to say, and with all the work and classes I didn’t have time to write event the shortest of posts.

First of all I was quite annoyed and upset when “just a Serb” threatened to poke out my eyes, but unfortunately that is once again the state of Serbian society - violence against anyone with a different opinion. Sarcasm is all I have left to confront it. It is dangerous when one reduces his identity to only one ethnic definition. It is dangerous when a state reduces its policy to one issue – Kosovo is Serbia. It seems in that case the opposite is also true - Serbia is reduced to being just Kosovo. And because we’ve lost Kosovo, we’re definitely loosing everything else. Quickly.

I was thrilled, therefore, with the news of elections. I am, at the same time, very scared about their potential outcome, but it seems this time, more than ever before, we have a referendum. Who has the majority? Which direction will the country take? After the elections we will see whether we will join the EU or Belarus. After the elections many of us will be forced to reexamine future ties with the motherland.

Another type of election which I always see as a test of society’s inclinations took place. It wasn’t too big a surprise that Oro will represent Serbia at the Eurovision in May. Hopefully this victory does not have a deeper meaning with regard to the elections. I hope it’s just a result of the fact that most performances, especially the one by my favorites, were kind of weak, and not a definite transition into romanticized nationalism. The song itself is not even bad, just a bit passé.

Despite my sincere wishes, it is now clear that it will be utterly impossible for me to attend Eurovision in Belgrade in person. What makes me feel a bit better is that the songs this year are quite bad, even for Eurovision standards. Serbia might actually do well again. But looks like it’s going to be quite a borring show.

Due to mislabeled videos on Youtube, it turned out my absolute favorite for Eurovision isn’t even representing his country. The lack of taste Icelanders showed in not picking Haffi Haff’s Wiggle Wiggle Song cost Western Europe their best chance to send next year’s event as west as it goes. My prediction, having listened to all the remaining contenders, is that all the Eurovision Eastern-Europo-phobes will be screaming again as the contest in 2009 moves to Asia, with Armenia winning. That is if the Armenians manage to beat turkey. The animal, not the country.

By the time we know where Eurovision is going, we’ll also know Serbia’s path. Safe trip everyone!

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Patriotic Youth of Serbia Wears Prada

Many of us, Serbs, stranded, here on hostile territory, have spent many a sleepless night wondering how best to contribute to the dignified struggle that our fellow countrymen and women have begun. Fortunately, our magnificent and considerate government has through its consular representatives granted us just such an opportunity. Although the ambassador has been withdrawn to solemnly pray for Kosovo in St. Sava Cathedral, the beheaded consulate still manages to perform its duties splendidly and has sent every Serbian man, woman and child in the US an open e-mail containing an invitation to a protest gathering as well as the e-mail addresses of every other man, woman and child in the US. It may be spam, but it’s our spam.

The location of this glorious gathering is a bit unclear to me. Not much to burn and pillage around the UN building. The UN itself is our friend and guardian of international law. Still, this is New York, so I’m sure there is a Starbucks, that sworn enemy of Serbhood, not more than a corner away. Nevertheless I should go beforehand and check out the shops in the vicinity, so that like my compatriots in Belgrade, I can express my affinity to law, justice and freedom and outrage over the policy of force by looting me some new goodies. It’s a shame they didn’t organize the protest in Soho, much nicer stores there. Still I hope I’ll find at least an Urban Outfitters somewhere.

The only remaining dilemma, both for me and other patriots at home is how do we then live with ourselves for wearing these imperialistic brands? In fact, how do I live here at all if I am to boycott enemy products? Oh, never mind, it’s all made in friendly China anyway.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

There Will Be Blood

Probably inspired by my bad premonitions about the events taking place back home I went to see the film with the ominous title. And just as I expected, the film is visually stunning, the music is discomforting but brilliant and Daniel Day Lewis is unpleasantly good.

The film is tense and intense and it tells us the dark and dirty background of the wealth and prosperity of America. The squabbling communities faced with the sudden prospect of getting rich with money from oil extracted from their dusty backyards also give some clues of how and why our oil obsessed world is such a mess. At the same time it is a wonderful insight into the greed-stricken human mind, the obsession with power that can never be satisfied. It speaks of people who hate people and perhaps life itself, people who bear grudges, cannot stand to be humble or humbled, people who can never be content but keep pushing their intentions at any cost. As a result there’s misery, violence and, as the name says, blood. Kind of reminds me of people on a stage in front of the Serbian Parliament the other day. I still hope, there was enough blood there.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The End

The dream is finally over. I have always been critical of the state in which Serbia is today, but what is happening exceeds my darkest fears. The revolution of October 5th 2000 has been overturned by another revolution, or better yet – coup. That is exactly what happened - the final steps of the coup which started on March 12th with the assassination of Zoran Djindjic. Now 5 years later it is complete. Vojislav Kostunica and Tomislav Nikolic, who inspired and participated in this murder have now taken absolute control of the country bringing their violent supporters from all over Serbia to deal with their opponents and destroy any hope of Serbia joining the civilized world. I am afraid of what this crystal night will bring. I am afraid for the lives of people who are still voices of reason. I expect that the aforementioned villains will use the chaos to introduce a state of emergency and take control officially as a government of “national unity”. This is the end.

Here We Go Again

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sad, Very Sad

If all this independence stuff is false, illegal and invalid, shouldn’t it be business as usual? We still have as much control over Kosovo as we did last week? If it weren’t for McDonalds’s restaurants, LDP and Albanian pastry shops we would have no problems whatsoever.

But hey, since we’re losing, let’s lose everything. We’re allowing the demolition of our own cities, cutting diplomatic ties with countries on which we heavily depend, we shouldn’t even sing anymore and choose our Eurovision representative. That’s how sad we are. We are so busy mourning the loss of our past that we don’t care we’re losing our future.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Just when you thought it was safe to go out…

As the police are once again ordered to let fascist thugs use Belgrade as target practice to vent their frustrations, the main parties plan to show the world some good old Serbian national unity, dashing all my naïve hopes expressed a few posts ago that change could be on the way.

On the other hand, the hysterical happiness of Kosovo’s Albanians makes me sad, as the country formally proclaims independence from an entity that for years has had no control over it, only to remain deeply dependent on various international organizations, desperately poor, divided and lawless.

There are so many things that are wrong with what happened yesterday in both Belgrade and Pristina. There is the story of international law and all the consequences this will have on conflicts around the world. I understand the difficulties in which Serbia as a country has been placed with its allies and partners supporting the partition of the country. Nevertheless, at this point in time I guess this was inevitable and unavoidable. How can you force a united population to accept something they are not ready to accept at any cost. Still, unilateral acts lead to frustration and aggression. Kosovo has its new symbols, but, indicatively, I did not see them anywhere in the celebrations. Neither side was willing to compromise, neither side was willing to talk, and now the problem remains only in a slightly different form. The international community was nonconstructive and biased and once again, there is a crisis, a long-term and potentially far-reaching crisis, and we are at the heart f of it. What worries me is that conflicts are not resolved they are cultivated and preserved to be reactivated at the next convenient moment.

What I wish for people of Serbia and Kosovo, whether in one, two or seventeen states, is independence from corrupt ill-meaning politicians, from religious inflammation, from false or exaggerated nationalistic mythologies. I wish us all personal fulfillment and peace of mind.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

New Museum

With the clouds moving quickly, as they seem to do so often in New York, across the blue sky in the background, the stacked up boxes of the New Museum building seem as if they are swaying, as if they are going to fall over. Does this building work? Hell, Yes, says a rainbow striped sign on the wireframe façade. On the outside it does look like piled silver containers, implanted among the old buildings of the lower East Side, but on the inside it feels like a proper building, simple, and white, pure, spacious and functional gallery space with natural light pouring in from skylights and rare windows. The “Unmonumental” exhibition is a mishmash of a whole lot of things. Some fun video work, excellent collages and interesting installations. Worth a visit? Hell, Yes.

Picture stolen. I actually forgot my camera

Monday, February 11, 2008

Diary of a February

“Snow Surprises Road Workers” - a title seen every year in Serbian media when out of nowhere snow falls in the middle of winter. I felt like a Serbian road worker yesterday, when out of a blue sunny sky a snowstorm descended upon New York and this morning as I checked the weather and saw the ominous “feels like -21C”. Lulled into the comfort of a warm sunny winter, I was in shock to see snow in February. Those whose warnings of the harshness of New York winter I laughed off must be happy now.

I’m reading Valjarevic’s “Diary of Another Winter” on the subway and am thoroughly enjoying myself. Apart from the fact that it made me want to write some more, the book has had therapeutic effects. I guess I am learning things. At least I am aware of my problems and willing to try to resolve them. I have to learn to be more patient and to appreciate the little things in life, to see the beauty in the ordinary. And I think I’m starting to get there.

Oh and the elections are over and I didn’t get to say anything about that. Eventually I did go and vote to give Boris another chance. And honestly, I am happier with the results than I thought I would be. Although the country is going to hell and I’m glad I’m not there, at least the end of that ghastly coalition government is in sight, and with it hopefully the end of kostunica. So that would be one big problem out of the way.

But Serbia would not be Serbia if it didn’t find something to be divided about. And I’m not talking about politics or Kosovo independence but Eurovision. It’s the time of the year when we decide who will represent Serbia in… hm, Belgrade. On YouTube there is a heated discussion, full of insults and aggression over who should sing in the Arena in May.

Surprisingly, having in mind all the additional media attention, no really big names on Beovision this year. The overall quality of the songs is lower than ever. I guess everyone is saving their better work for some more exotic location. Not as much fun when you can take a taxi to the venue and not get to stay in a fancy hotel free of charge. Some names are popping up as potential winner, so here’s my view on the three main contenders.

Ridiculously named Beauty Queens, the back-up vocals from our entry last year, have another Molitva-esque power ballad, and look like they are ready to pose for a bridal hairstyles catalogue. I think not.

The much lauded favourite, another ethno hit from the Zeljko Joksimovic, stands a good chance of winning, but I hope it won’t. Apart from the fact that I think this song is actually about Kosovo, it’s just another in a long line of songs with the same recipe. The lyrics don’t really make much sense, but you add a few archaic words, some tears, dreams and stuff, a touch of rural through the mentioning of a domesticated animal, crop or something similar, a tone of religiousness, and superimpose that on an unidentifiable world music tune from somewhere between Iran and Ireland and you’ve got a Joksimovic Eurovision hit. But, really, this is getting a little old.

My personal favorite, and the only actually decent piece in the lineup is the even more ridiculously name Zoe in Groove Land or whatever. It’s catchy, positive and fun, and I hope they win. With a touch of calypso it has a sort of Little Mermaid – Under the Sea vibe. So if we fail to join the EU, maybe we can eventually join the Caribbean Union. In the spirit of the omnipresent US election, in my neighborhood: I am Reluctant Dragon and I endorse Zoe.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Angry Rant

Congratulations to Novak! He deserves this victory. It’s a shame he will soon probably have to become British or Monacoise to avoid sport sanctions. Good news about Serbia rarely come from within. Another of Serbia’s heroes from last year, the Eurovision Song Contest winner, despite her background and obvious inclinations, started to actively and enthusiastically support the radical presidential candidate. I’m not saying that she should have given her support to that sloth of a president of ours but she could have at least kept her mouth shut (when she’s not singing, that is). And on one of the Serbian poor quality roads which according to promises and plans should have by now probably been a 6 lane freeway a dog died in vain, as the interior minister lives to do more damage. His boss, the prime minister, has today successfully averted the danger of moving a step closer to the EU. He has valiantly chosen between keeping Kosovo and joining the European Union in the name of all of us. Pity that the first isn’t actually ours to keep and the latter doesn’t want us anyway. Simultaneously he has managed to give away control over some of the greatest assets of this country to possibly the only more corrupt system that his. Hey, as long as we’re all shareholders… In the meantime, I am bitting my rich shareholder lips as my misplaced sense of conscience is forcing me to go and vote for the man who has by doing nothing and allowing all of this to happen undermined any hopes of true democracy in Serbia. In my dream boris tadic tells kostunica to fuck off, live on national television 10 minutes before the electoral silence begins. But that’s not going to happen. I’m just wondering if it’s because he really is THAT stupid or because he’s as bad as everyone else. So I guess, I’m gonna vote after all. I’m such an optimist.

I’ve been up till four working on a paper. It’s a gorgeous sunny day in New York City. I’m off to sleep now.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Election Circles of Hell

One down, one to go. Or is there? Is there any sense in prolonging the agony or is it the right time for euthanasia? How long can we postpone the inevitable? I left Serbia, temporarily for now, but with every intention of making it permanent. Maybe it’s time to let it fend for itself. My candidate ended up 5th. So we come to the delicate question: When is it time to stop compromising? To vote or not?

Now, I like Boris just fine. I remember him when he was just a psychology teacher. He was fun, and nice. I think, as a person, his set of values is in the right place. But we’re not voting for Boris anymore, are we? We’re voting for his policies, and his policies weakened his party and pushed it into a subordinate position in which they are bullied by kostunica into accepting whatever shallow pro-Russian, primitively Orthodox and uncritically traditional course for the country he has envisioned. If Boris gets backing from kostunica, it would clearly be blackmail again, another concession that civilized Serbia would have to make in order to avoid having a radical president. But is it worth it? Sure, the slow trickling of reform will continue, but the country will only sink deeper into lethargy. Should Boris be rewarded for his lack of courage and vision?

On the other hand, nothing but coming to power can stop the growth of the radicals. And let’s be honest, it will happen sooner or later. If nikolic is president, I’m sure it wouldn’t be long before we have a radical government. So what would that mean? In the short run, to be mild, nothing good. But it could get kostunica out of the picture forever. It could undermine the very existence of dss as their supporters would finally have to decide between DS and the radicals. It could liberate DS from their dss masters.It could strengthen LDP. And finally in power, the radicals would have the chance to show their incompetence and break all the impossible promises they have been free to make all these years. Preident Nikolic could be the one to finally, officially and unquestionably loose Kosovo.

So the question remains. Which of the two options that torture my conscience should I choose. To vote for a Kostunica-dominated status quo, or to stay firm, and for the first time ever not vote and let things take their course, even if it means a despicable victory for the radicals. Well, the next two weeks will show. Let’s see who supports whom, and who has what to say. Any ideas?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Breaking the Silence?

The polling station(s) have closed. My civic duty done, I can now freely speak of the by-gone election without breaking the silence. At least in the States. Except in LA where there is still another hour to go. And most other counties where Serbian citizens can vote. And off course Serbia itself. Anyway, who cares…

New York was in an election mood. The top of the Empire State glowing in red, white and blue, the coulors of the Serbian flag. The Times Square subway station was unusually deserted so I concluded everyone must be voting or at least watching news of the elections on their TV sets. We made our way past the Nikola Tesla Corner on 6th Avenue and came to the consulate building where a sign in Cyrillic letters said Polling Station No. 3 – Njujork. In the ballot box, almost as many pieces of paper as employees of the consulate.

Examined by ultraviolet lights and sprayed against repeated voting (in case we decide to commit trans-Atlantic electoral fraud), we cast our votes, in the Olympic spirit of taking part and not winning. Just to see the balance of power. Now we have to wait for the result of our vote, a little longer than the rest of the electorate. I’m afraid I see some radical changes ahead.