Greece is the all-weather scapegoat of EU: A never ending humilation

Today EU threatens Greece over border controls! As a draft report of the European Commission says:  Greece has “seriously neglected” its obligations to control the external frontier of Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone.

Some days ago at the ‘Annual Team Building’ of the Elite  at Davos, the Chief Accountant of the EU, Mr. Schauble  with his linguistic games referred to the democratic elected PM of Greece as an idiot!

As anyone can understand, Greece’s humiliation has no limits! Of course, this humiliation is reinforced by the strong opposition inside the country from the partisans of the left/ right wing and  ala Greek style neo-liberals(an interesting amalgamation of right wing people).

One thing is the common truth and the curse for the Greeks, they are not able to see themselves as an entity and being accompanied by their notorious low self esteem they are blaming each other (an ongoing attitude) for any governmental action.

The above combination is an easy target for the failed leaders of Europe and their politics.

Last year Angela Merkel, as formidable Hegemon of Europe -in terms of financial power only- announced without taking consideration the rest of the European countries  and mainly the countries that are the  entrance of the refugees-such Greece, which at the moment is an impoverished country- the acceptance of the Syrian refugees. Consequently, quite a few Europeans (Poland, Czech republic, Denmark, few German states, Britain) either closed their borders or started seizing the valuables of the Refugees (Denmark, some states of Germany…).

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It was a matter of serendipity by seeing the above two artefacts at the Victoria Gallery in Bath the other day and so ironic at the same time. The two figures represent Europe and Asia. Europe as an emancipated intellectual woman proud of the great achievement of the Enlightenment being accompanied by Asia, who is holding her ‘valuables for better or for worse’!

At the beginning of the 21st Century Europe’s leaders are trying to set aside their responsibilities by finding their all times scapegoat, Greece! The values of the Enlightenment have been replaced by the motto ‘show me the money’ for better or for worse.

 

 

 

 

 

Key West

T.S. Elliot writes in his poem ‘ The Waste Land’ that April is the cruellest month but I’m quite sure that he disregarded the dark days of January  after Christmas and New Year  that all the perks such as vacation and salary seem quite in the distant future. All the big fun has already finished and you have to carry on with your working life until the next big event!

Taking into the consideration all the above, I decided to create Foucault’s Heterotopia (other places in the world that are misaligned with respect to normal or everyday space) and post some pictures from my -so much fun- trip to Key West – the southernmost island of the USA before sailing towards Havana.

Key West has plenty of history and I have singled out some interesting points in its history (wikipedia)

During colonial and pre colonial times, Spaniards and British were interchanging  power in the island and during the Ten Years’ War many Cubans sought refuge in Key West.

In 1889 it was the largest and wealthiest city in Florida and John F. Kennedy was to use “90 miles from Cuba” extensively in his speeches against F. Castro.

Prior to the Cuban Revolution of 1959, there were regular ferry and airplane services between Key West and Havana(Wikipedia).

At the moment, there are airplane services from Key West to Havana.

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The Key West History Museum

 

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Duval Street. The most famous street of Key West

 

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The oldest house in Key West

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Ernest Hemingway’s House

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Happy New Year to all friends of this blog!

Καλή Χρονιά σε όλους τους φίλους αυτού του blog!

 

Miami Art Deco

The idea for this post has been triggered by the recent Art Basel Miami Beach art fair that it’s taking place at the moment (3-6 Dec.)  at South Beach, Miami’s fabulous art deco district.  Travis Cohen writes about South Beach that  “it  was reborn in Art Deco. After the vicious hurricane of September 1926, which utterly razed the city, wrought havoc, and left some 400 dead, Miami Beach saw a building boom that lasted the better part of 20 years. That era of rebuilding focused primarily on resurrecting the fledgling resort community in the chic new style that had come out of the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Artes Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, which would be shortened simply to ‘Art Deco.'”

I was pleasantly surprised by seeing this beautiful iconic art deco area of Miami and I’m not sure that these photos will depict the real  picture and atmosphere of the South Beach district.

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Ocean Drive, South Beach.

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Ocean Drive.

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Lincoln Road.

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The Church is situated in the middle of the Lincoln road mall.

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Lincoln Road.

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The art deco architecture goes hand in hand with the fabulous Miami pastel hues.

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Lincoln road.

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The beach is fabulous with the white sand!

IMG_6921The famous Miami Beach Broadwalk. It seemed to me that the only concern of those people who were running up and down the Broadwalk in extraordinary fit bodies were ‘how to Jogging properly’!

Miami is fabulous and I think the secret of its recipe is the influence of the Cuban culture. This laid back and friendly atmosphere in an American context is a good combination. The alarming point is that despite this city has red flag concerning the floods there is no precaution about the future and the threats that the global warming poses on these cities, which are a few feet above the sea level!

p.s If you like some more Miami art deco architecture myy friend Despina has done good job on her blog! Enjoy it!

At Ernest Hemingway’s Key West Home

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 It’s common truth that every person when he is exposed to something new tries to bring in his own experience to make sense the new situation he is into. The same happened to me when I stepped into Hemingway’s home in Key West (the island at the far end of the USA  and 90 miles from Cuba). To say the truth,  I didn’t expect that this house  will stir some details of my own personal memories. I remembered the day that my mother  bought – from her cousin, a salesman in a publishing company in Greece – all the series of Hemingway’s books which were leather-bound in red colour with gold letters on the books’ spine and cover.  That time, I was around 16 years old  and I had a vivid memory of my mother lying in her bed and reading one of the book of the series, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”.  Our conversation was about the translation, I believed then that the cause I didn’t enjoy reading this particular title was the translation but my mother had a different opinion and for sure experience, she was  avid reader and she was taking great pleasure by reading it.  This title  among others – “Death in the Afternoon”, “Winner Take Nothing”, “To have and Have Not” –  had been written in this house.  Hemingway with his second wife Pauline have resided for 9 years in this house and he wrote the 70% of all his work.  This impressive Hemingway’s estate  is supposed to be the largest house in town comparing to the relative small houses in Key West.

 

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Hemingway’s House from outside,  at Whitehead Street.

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The entrance

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The stair at the front entrance leads to the bedrooms upstairs.

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One of his magnificent balconies.

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One of the descendant of Hemingway’s cats. Ernest Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat by a ship’s captain and some of the cats who live on the museum grounds are descendants of that original cat,

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Kitchen as it was in Hemingway’s time there.

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One of his living room. Hemingway was avid collector of Spanish furniture of 17th & 18th century.

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Pauline’s boudoir.

Hemingway’s studio where he was working everyday from 9-12 pm.

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His typewriter.  “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed” Hemingway.

 

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One of the corner of his studio. Above his armchair and below his desk.

IMG_7318The swimming pool where all the parties were taking place. Pauline was the best party’s organizer according to the curator of the House.

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His third wife Marthe Cellhorn (Cuba years)                                                                                                 Hemingway’s books

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The first wife Hadley Richardson (The Paris year) and his second wife Pauline Pfeiffer (Key West Years).

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Whitehead street and below is the old lighthouse as a view from Hemingway’s house.

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Below one of the small house in Hemingway’s neighborhood.IMG_7077

 

Visiting Hemingway’s house in Key West was one my finest days in this beautiful  island. I had the impression that  it’s the Cuban influence that gives such a vibrant colour not only to this American island but to the whole area including Miami.

The website of the house is http://www.hemingwayhome.com/.

p.s One of his book about Paris!

12241552_997162850345433_4712333655832055710_n“Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

Apple Brandy/Cider festival

These autumn days, I felt nostalgic about my father’s wine producing days. One of my father’s hobbies was that of producing his own wine -two barrels maximum-  and every autumn as children, we were helping in the collection of grapes, which that time as I remembered, it was quite hard thing to do but we were compensating later by the fun we had stomping the grapes with our feets  in the grape mill(Patitiri).

Back in England, I didn’t imagine that I could find a similar activity but this time with apples. The production of cider and apple brandy(Calvados in French) has similar process.  The West country in England (Somerset) is  famous for the cider production and specifically one farm -the Somerset Cider Brandy company,  is the first farm producing Calvados/ apple brandy in England.

As I was reading about this tradition of apple harvesting and producing cider … I found out that  the western British tradition of Wasailling (Wassailing is a very ancient custom that is rarely done today. The word ‘wassail‘ comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase ‘waes hael’, which means ‘good health’. Originally, the wassail was a drink made of mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and sugar. The apple trees and making an offering of cider and bread in Autumn to protect the fertility of the orchard appears to be a relatively ancient tradition, superficially dating back to the pre-Christian early medieval period).

The apple festival of the Somerset Cider Brandy Company was quite elaborated and  all of us had great fun by drinking hot cider and eating the ploughman’s sandwich(a kind of) accompanied by live music!

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Children and dogs had a lot of fun playing in the apple hills.

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Apple pressing using straws! This specific ingredient is important for the cider production.

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To extract the juice from the pulp, wooden screw presses were used from medieval times onwards.  The apple pulp had first to be built into a ‘cheese’ using alternate thin layers of pulp and straw.IMG_6646

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Apple Orchard in the farm.IMG_6616

Brandy Distillery. Last records for distilling Cider Brandy in England date back to 1678. The Somerset Cider Brandy Company revived the tradition in 1987 when we obtained the first commercial distilling license in English recorded history.IMG_6650

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The shop.

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One of the nicest autumn activities in the English countryside! Apple Harvest!

Let’s Talk about Fashion and Politics

“Fashion contains every human activity from economics to politics” said Iris Apfel in the movie “Iris”, a documentary about her life as a business woman and style icon. Vivienne Westwood agreed that fashion is about politics and her statement in the Channel 4 news was quite polemic, she believed that Corbynism is a way out of our current financial system since “the logical conclusion of this financial system is total poverty for everybody”!

It is interesting enough that the new age of politicians and economists have embraced fashion to introduce themselves and create awareness of their new economic ideas. Perhaps, it was always like that but some months ago the whole concept  was highlighted by the Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and Alexis Tsipras with the “no-tie” appearance, the revolutionary one!

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Who doesn’t remember Varoufakis’ appearance at No. 10 with George Osborne which “shook the world” of all “preppies”.

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Millions of comments on social media and newspapers about the appearance of the newcomers in the international politics.   Yanis Varoufakis with his hard rock appearance and George Osborne with his very tight and thin suit (austerity on the go). No more wide trousers and jackets to be lost inside. You get what you need to cover your body  the designers dictate during the years of crisis.

On the other hand, Corbyn in his first appearance as the Leader of the Labour Party  in the Prime Minister’s question time in the British Parliament chose to wear something from the high street shops (M&S…) – shiny and brand new as a British working class person would have chosen to wear for a special occasion. The visual contrast was obvious comparing it with Cameron’s tailored and fine material suit! Corbyn managed to put visually their difference before expressing it orally.

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Another recent political fashion incidence  was that of  Merkel’s. During the period of negotiation with the Greek PM, Alexis Tsipras she had never changed the colour of her jacket. The same yellow colour in different shades. Somebody can search about the semiotics of the yellow and I’m sure he/she will find out what Angela meant despite it’s not so hard  to make his/her own assumptions.

BERLIN, GERMANY - MARCH 23: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras depart after speaking to the media following talks at the Chancellery on March 23, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. The two leaders are meeting as relations between the Tsipras government and Germany have soured amidst contrary views between the two countries on how Greece can best work itself out of its current economic morass. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

In the meantime, during this week in London and New York the fashion people have their prime. The  fashion week spring 2016  is on and all of those that are interesting in watching the new trends for spring 2016 are attending the big spectacle by carrying themselves as models in the streets and being a kind of inspiration for the great fashion designers and introducing the “fashion street style”!

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Deauville in the movies

Belle Epoque and Deauville are two words chained together.  Someone who visits Deauville can feel strongly the joie de vivre of this era. The magnificent architecture of the houses, the well maintained  Promenade des Planches for big walks along the beach and the fact that the beach closets named after the Hollywood stars – a landmark for recognising the place as the setting for the film “Un Homme and Une Femme” by Claude Lelouch – show the prosperity of the place and the reason why the creative people used it as a setting of their work. For quite a long time, I had a very vivid memory of Jean Louis Trintignant’s racing car speeding on a huge sandy beach, somewhere in France, and meeting up with Anouk Aimee. That time, I was quite young and didn’t question about the name of the place,  only later in life  when I saw  “Private Lives” by Noel Coward in the theatre, I kept in my mind the name.  Deauville was the resort for the  international bourgeoisie of that time and it was connected to major European cities with fast trains. It was really well maintained place for  leisure and the   two main casinos in the area  kept entertaining the bourgeoisie. The Casino in Deauville was the original Casino Royale by Ian Fleming. Deauville was the setting of the film “Coco before Chanel” with Audrey Tatou and the birthplace of Chanel’s Clothing career. As well as, the town has been mentioned in one of the chapters of  Proust’s in Search of Lost Time.

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Le Promenade des Planches: The beach closets dedicated to the stars of Hollywood.

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Deauville Corniche.

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Deauville’s Townhall.

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Deauville beach.

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Casino Royale, Deauville

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Mansions along the beach of Trouville.IMG_4962

 

 

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A library at the Plage of Deauville.

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Shopping  in Trouville is a totally different experience from Deauville.

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A view of Trouville from the boat.

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Deauville has kept its international profile by hosting the American Film Festival and each year troops of celebrities come to visit the resort. Perhaps, Deauville’s  aura is due to the myth and exclusivity that stills offers to its residents.

For cinephiles and bookworms places like Deauville are a bonus for reviving our imagination even further. Somehow, it works as historical archaeological sites of the modern times!