Goodbye, Queen of sadness

Vida Pavlović was known as "the Queen of good Roma music," and "the Queen of the kafana," and has now passed away in her sixtieth year. She said of herself, as reported in Večernje novosti:

"I am the Queen of pain and sadness. What glamour, what pomp. All my songs are nothing but longing and emotion. Those are the things that have marked my life. Like they came directly from my tears. Like I was ground by stone. That is how my life has been. All the songs I have sung, I have also lived. My life is one song, a long one, with many sad and beautiful verses. From my earliest youth I have watched people celebrate, mourn and make parties around my songs"

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Her musical career began at 14, when she began to sing for her uncle's band and continued along the way "from Šabac to Virovitice, from Sydney to New York, Vienna to Berlin, Paris and Oslo." Her name was regarded as "a synonym for an artist who sings from the soul and to whom the public is always happy to listen."

Vida Pavlović, "Već godinu ima" (mp3) (do wait for it to load)


The Friday random ten thingie

It is Friday, isn't it? Faced with stacks of work to finish, the best thing is to take a moment off to post the Friday Random Ten. Here goes...

Carmen Consoli -- Bambina impertinente
Miss Kittin -- Madam Hollywood
John Cale -- Paris 1919
Cabaret patetico -- I will survive
Sleater-Kinney -- More than a feeling
Al Green -- Love and happiness
Kevin Ayers -- Stranger in blue suede shoes
Squeeze -- Up the junction
The beautiful south -- Just a few things that I ain't
Snakefinger -- Beatnik party

This week the iTunes bot seems to have pulled up a lot of stuff I have not listened to in a while. Nice of it.

On the sacrament of property appreciation

Maybe by now you already know the story: young Benjamin Halbe buys a used 1999 VW Golf for, let's say, the price you might expect. Then he discovers that the former owner was one Joseph Ratzinger, more lately known by the name Pope Benedict XVI. What would any reasonable person do? Of course, he put it up for auction on an internet auction site, where it was sold to a Texan collector for €189,000.

All of this would be merely gossip, except I also have a VW Golf, which is a couple years newer and has fewer miles on it. I'm not selling it, of course, but it seems that it would have to be worth more than the six year old one that Mr Halbe sold. You might object that I have never been and will never be Pope, but I have met lots of people named Popović.

The wrong Sarajevo band in mind?

This is the "no comment" photo of the day from PCNEN. They seem to have got all the other languages right.

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This may be a good moment to mention the veb sajt of the group Zabranjeno pušenje, which offers an alarmingly large selection of MP3 files for your listening pleasure.


"You can't have a one-person conspiracy"

The Abu Ghraib torture case will not end with a few low-ranking soldiers being compelled to give guilty pleas. A military judge, colonel James Pohl, rejected Pfc. Lynndie England's guilty plea today after testimony made it impossible to believe that she and a private, Charles Graner, had conspired to commit torture. England had testified that the photos which made the world aware of the torture which was being committed were made on personal initiative, while Graner testified that he had ordered her to make the photos because they "had a legitimate training use for guards." Pohl took into consideration the conflicting stories of the "conspirators" and rejected the guilty plea, observing: "You can't have a one-person conspiracy."

The story of a few soldiers taking over a prison to commit torture was not believable to the judge, and the clear implication is that the torture had to be part of a policy. That does not mean that the high-ranking military and political officials responsible for making torture a policy will be prosecuted, only that the evidence now shows that they should be.

Wayne S. Vucinich, 1913-2005

One of the first and best American Balkanologists, Professor Wayne Vucinich, has died at the age of 91. Stanford University has released a detailed and thoughtful obituary, describing his influence and citing several of the scholars he influenced. Anybody wishing to express their respect is advised, "In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Stanford University for the Wayne S. and Sara Stys Vucinich Fund for Slavic Studies, Stanford University, Attn: Gift Processing, 326 Galvez St., Stanford, CA 94305-6105."

Times are tough

But that is not reason enough to respond to this job announcement.

Tito po drugi put

Twenty five years ago, on 4 May 1980, Josip Broz Tito died. Writing for ANSA, Beatrice Ottaviano reports that he has become an icon for the young left of the Balkans, and speaks of his "renewed popularity."

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Tito with a cheetah, photo from Titoville.

The spokesperson for the "house of Flowers" memorial museum in Belgrade, Svetlana Ognjanović, tells ANSA that that the museum received 14.000 visitors in 2003, 35.000 in 2004, and expects 60.000 this year. Some people are making their visit part of a pilgrimage, walking the 450 kilometres from Tito's birthplace in Kumrovec to the memorial in Belgrade, and not all of the pilgrims are from the territory that Tito once governed. Ms Ognjanović also reports receiving a group of 300 Americans.

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Tito with Edward Kennedy, senator from Massachusetts, photo from Titoville.

Beatrice Ottaviano also calls attention to the mystery of the seven miracles of Tito: "Everybody worked, but nobody did anything; nobody did anything, but all of the plans were fulfilled; all of the plans were fulfilled, but the shops were empty; the shops were empty, but everybody had everything; everybody had everything, but everybody stole; everybody stole, but nobody lacked anything." Dayenu!


Worth a visit

The Sarajevo daily Oslobođenje has revised and updated its web presentation. More articles are available, the graphic resolution is clearer, and the whole thing is much pregledniji. If you haven't been there for a while, enjoy their new look.

Winner in the "most overlooked" category

That is indeed what the New York Times has to say about the tourist potential of Zagreb. Shall we start with the backhanded compliments? Oh, we shall. Their travel writer Alex Crevar admires the "charms and chutzpah of an Old World city that is still coming to grips with modernity," and observes its "lack of tourism savoir-faire." But he does note that there is much good food and wine to be had, together with a pleasurable consumer and club scene. And he truthfully observes that "Zagreb was made for walking." Most importantly, he realizes that "there seem to be as many cafe-bars in Zagreb as people," which is good enough for me. But he misses my favorite restaurant, contact me personally if you want perfectly prepared high cuisine served to you while you sit on an Adolf Loos chair (for a pretty lipa, yes).

For a tepid summary of the promotion, have a gander at Večernjak.


The mysterious number, 9999

Somebody in Belgium is the 9999th visitor to East Ethnia. For you, a dog picture:

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This is not actually a photo of Lajoš Gordy, but of some other dog of the same breed. Looks a lot like him, though.

This is not simply self promotion

It is also promotion of my friends! The project that resulted in Facing the past, facing the future: Confronting ethnicity and conflict in Bosnia and former Yugoslavia (table of contents at the publisher's site) began with one of the yearly "Konjic seminars" in 2001, and the book is finally out.

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Congratulations to editors Florian Bieber and Carsten Wieland, and thanks to Angelo Longo Editore and the Europe and the Balkans International Network.

News for the doggies of Zagreb

Hina's articles claims that all European cities have this, but I was really not aware. It seems that Zagreb will put doggie WCs in several major parks, thereby providing a great convenience to owners (26.000 of them registered in the city) and to other users of all those non-WC spaces.

Apparently what they are really building is a bunch of sandboxes with garbage bins nearby. Which is still nice.


Setting the Cambodian tribunal in motion

Certainly all of the readers here are familiar with the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, under which cities were emptied and several hundred thousand "class enemies" liquidated. Estimates of the number of people killed cluster around 1.7 million, out of a population of 8 million. Count on the United Nations: within thirty years they have snapped into action and given the go-ahead for a tribunal to try those offenders that are still around.

Extensive documentation on the Cambodian genocide (or am I obligated to say "democide"? "politicide"?) is available in either eight or ten languages, depending on how you count, through Yale University's genocide studies program.

The museum of external debt

Yesterday the Museum of the External Debt opened at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Buenos Aires. The museum graphically follows the evolution of the Argentine debt, which began with a 700,000 pound loan from Baring Brothers in 1824 and grew in the last part of the twentieth century from 8,279 million dollars in 1976 to 191,000 million in 2004.

The exhibition includes historical material, but also illustrates the debt through works of art: a speeding "financial bicycle," an installation by the Escombros group "Golden dreams and a cardboard nightmare" designed to remind people of the megalomaniac projects that ended with mass trash-picking for subsistence (it is a cardboard train car painted gold, filled with cardboard). Along the way one can admire portraits and speeches of past presidents and finance ministers who provided the source material, as well as duelling currencies issued between 1969 and 2005.

Eduardo López, the designer of the exhibit, notes:

"It is an atypical museum. When a person visits other museums in the world, they see paintings, sculptures, art, that is, patrimony. This museum is just the opposite, it shows the patrimony that does not exist, which the country has lost."

The exhibit is scheduled to be open for six months. So hurry to Buenos Aires and bring back a catalog for me.