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 Although the ambassador has been withdrawn to solemnly pray for Kosovo in St. Sava Cathedral, the beheaded consulate still manages to perform its duties splendidly and has sent every Serbian man, woman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.