New York: Bosnian-Hercegovinian film festival

East Ethnians who have the good fortune to be in New York from 29 April to 1 May will certainly want to catch the Bosnian-Hercegovinian film festival at the Anthology Film Archives theatre (2nd and 2nd). The program includes films by Srdjan Vuletić, Pjer Žalica, Ademir Kenović, and others, with several guest appearances, and a fine time to be had by all.

The walls had fallen down and the Windows had opened

It is hard not to be delighted by Matt Taibbi's very dishy review of some book by a fellow named Friedman, who is apparently a columnist at the New York Times. A favorite passage:

"Friedman is a person who not only speaks in malapropisms, he also hears malapropisms. Told level; heard flat. This is the intellectual version of Far Out Space Nuts, when NASA repairman Bob Denver sets a whole sitcom in motion by pressing "launch" instead of "lunch" in a space capsule. And once he hits that button, the rocket takes off.

And boy, does it take off. Predictably, Friedman spends the rest of his huge book piling one insane image on top of the other, so that by the end—and I'm not joking here—we are meant to understand that the flat world is a giant ice-cream sundae that is more beef than sizzle, in which everyone can fit his hose into his fire hydrant, and in which most but not all of us are covered with a mostly good special sauce. Moreover, Friedman's book is the first I have encountered, anywhere, in which the reader needs a calculator to figure the value of the author's metaphors."

But there is a lot more. I have no intention of reading the book in question, but it would seem that there is one.


The counterrevolution will be silkscreened

While I try not to make a habit of reproducing advertisements that amuse me, this one amused me.

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If anybody really wants to put the image on a t-shirt, they can. Probably it would go best on this type of t-shirt.

And he's off?

No details yet, but B92 is reporting that ICTY indictee Nebojša Pavković, who said before that he would not go to the Hague alive, has announced his decision to go to the Hague. Alive, most likely.

Update: B92 reports that Mr Pavković feels ready to go on trial since he has prepared a defence. BBC reports that he has decided to face trial because he is, as he says himself, an "honourable soldier who has devoted his life and honour to his country." BBC also reports that cannibal Armin Miewes will have to face trial again.

Imagine all the people

The project Zamisli Srbiju (Imagine Serbia) has set out to encourage young people to take a role in imagining the future of a country in which "there are powerful structures which revolve around big capital, big crime and big politics, for whom the status quo is convenient, and who are very worried that they will one day have to face European standards which could threaten their monopoly positions and profitable activities." They are asking participants in their forum and some public figures to discuss how they imagine Serbia. One answer came from the cultural-political journalist Petar Luković:

"One June morning in 1977 -- I remember for a reason -- I was drinking my first morning coffee, espresso with cold milk, in the garden of the Šumatovac restaurant, I looked into the blue, sunny sky and found myself deciding that I would go to London that afternoon. The Sex Pistols had released the single "God Save the Queen," the Stranglers had just celebrated their debut album, the Clash had a concert then ... a perfectly good reason for me to organise a nice weekend on the Island. I got travellers checks and some pounds at Ljubljanska banka, bought a plane ticket at the main office of JAT, and I brought my red passport in which there was no visa (I remind the younger residents of Serbia that we never needed visas then, the majority of owners of SFRJ passports had no idea what they were for). I told my parents that I was going to England and the only thing they asked me -- I remember -- was when I was coming back.

I pulled this episode out of my memory as the only possible answer to today's science-fictitious question of how I imagine Serbia, if I am able to imagine anything at all. I imagine being free to, if it crosses your mind, go to London or Paris or Amsterdam, being able to afford that from your pay, not having to fuck around standing in line 96 hours in front of every embassy, where you will have to patiently explain to the officials the reason you want to go to London, to prove that you will not liquidate Bosniaks on Trafalgar Square like the Serbian national heroes of the Mladić or Karadžić or colonel Beara type, to promise that you will behave respectably because, you know, England is not Republika Srpska or Kosovo and that on the Island they use freezer trucks to transport ice cream and not corpses."

The essay continues, listing reasons why "Serbian society -- like in a cartoon -- is hurrying backward" and any imaginary rendition seems like, well, imagining.


Tourists not to be subject to forced mobilisation

Since Serbia-Montenegro does not relieve its citizens living in other countries of the obligation of military service, one barrier to young people visiting their families, say, for a summer jaunt, has been the possibility that they will be arrested at the border and forcibly mobilised, which can nearly ruin anybody's vacation. Now the federal defence minister Prvoslav Davinić has agreed that people who can prove that their stay in another country is "justified" will not be kidnapped into servitude between now and 1 October, reports Dnevnik. The next task is to distill this charming practice down into an appealing slogan for tourism.

More on Mittal Steel, Omarska and Ljubija

In February we gave a few details on the plan by Mittal Steel to purchase and refurbish a mass grave site near Prijedor. Recently the magazine BH Dani published an update. However, since Dani keeps its content behind a subscription portal, this has not been available to everyone. Now Domovina.net has made available an English translation (by Maja Lovrenović), together with the photos. Just follow the link and scroll down. Thanks to Justwatch.

For your European reading pleasure

Thanks to Sivola for the link, many of the readers of this site might also be interested in the magazine Café Babel, with a choice of editions in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Catalan. The current issue includes a feature and forum on European Roma. Read and enjoy.

Travel reading

B92 has launched a section of travel essays. The current feature is a fine photo essay on Bangkok, and there is a nice archive developing. Write your own travel essay for the site, and you may be the proud recipient of a book or CD published by B92.


Carnival of the Balkans #3!!

Every time I try to compile the Balkan Carnival, blog.hr goes down! it happened again today, but they seemed to recover fairly quickly. Drax points out that technical reliability is not the service's only problem--they are also worried about acquiring a non-serious image, as blogs are not respected by mainstream media in the Balkans. But we respect one another (yes?), so here is another selection of this month's favorite items from Balkan blogs.

Yakima Gulag realized that it had become a Balkan blog, and explained to readers how and why. At Science and Politics, the variations on identity come together with a religious, political, and scientific reflection on how the heck our kids get so smart. It makes for an interesting reflection on identity and its pleasures and problems, and also at least by implication on ways in which Balkan identity can be chosen.

The issue of identity and its being chosen or rejected came up again in relation to the question of language. Filologanoga offered a linguistic-historical reflection on the new recodification of the Croatian language, contrasting concerns about uniqueness with enthusiasm for creativity and diversity. Meanwhile a completely different take on linguistic diversity is offered by 20-month old David Muir. The final word on the question of identity comes, as it should, from an advertisement by a sweets manufacturer.

Economic conditions remained challenging in the region, as Drax reports that they are threatening even establishments for gambling on sports matches. In Croatia, Seesaw reports that tourists are finding that Serbian agencies offer the best prices for coastal destinations in Croatia. However, there may be an incipient growth market for Bosnian snail farmers.

Not all of the economic and political improvements are moving at a snail's pace, though. Seesaw reports that >Romania and Bulgaria are expected to lead the Balkan charge into the EU. And Serbia-Montenegro was susrprised to get a favorable feasibility study which nobody seems to have got around to translating. The trifecta of developments led to a debate on whether Balkan neighbors are pleased by one anothers' success in dealing with accession to the EU.

While CNN continued a daily osvrt on the scandals of Croatian public life. On scandals elsewhere in the region, Morpheus informs us of the plan for war criminals to be captured by Pierce Brosnan. And East Ethnia followed war-criminal developments on other fronts.

It was a good month for Balkan musicians. The Bosnian supergroup Bijelo Dugme announced reunion plans, a fact which Bosny celebrated with a song translation. And "Crvena jabuka" is now 20 years old. Chuck Berry is older still, but the Partibrejkersi will open for him in Zagreb. In the folk-jazz department, electronic harmonikas Belinda Bedelkovic was featured in an interesting video. In the folk-crime department, Ceca tried to do a foreign tour but was denied visas by Canada and Australia.

The local and global competed in a pro-sljivovica poster provided by Novala, while spring was hailed by dandelion salad recipes from Yakima and from the eastern part of Ethnia. At Gulistan, there was food porn for lovers of squid.

Several Balkan blogs offered new features and changes. "The Glory of Carniola" tried a design change in the spirit of April 1, and then changed the page design anyway, from the touristy to the newspaperish. Kushtrim Xhakli put up a new interactive map of his regular destinations in Prishtine. And quiet for a while, Dvevnik ulice is back. The Burekeaters are also moving to a new home. We hope it will be large enough to hold the creation that breaks the record for the world's largest burek. In the news about bloggers, Mat Savelli is headed to grad school. And Teekay faces the technical and cultural shock of moving from Sarajevo to some distant place. Had he gone to Britain, he may have got some benefit from the advice that was found by URLanje.

A few new blogs made their appearance, including Hamburek and investigative journalism by Zeljko Peratovic. Let's keep seeing more as the blogosfera gets wider and more well rounded.


The carnival is coming

Thanks to all of the people who sent submissions to the Balkan carnival. I am arranging, editing, and compiling, but probably will not have the thing up until tomrrow. Watch this space.


Reminder: Balkan carnival #3 on Monday!

I will be off enjoying life in New York this weekend, but I will leave this post at the top throughout to remind everyone to send me their submissions for the Carnival of the Balkans, the periodic collection of the most informative, telling, amusing or otherwise good Balkan blogging.

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If you are from the Balkans, write about the Balkans, have visited the Balkans, or have dodirne tačke of any Balkanic sort, send your submissions to me at eastethnia at gmail dot com, replacing the ats and dots with the appropriate symbols. The carnival will be posted here and at the carnival archive site on 18 April. Take part in the best that Balkan blogging has to offer!