Wednesday, January 30, 2008

We Now Interrupt...

While this video is not by the Balkans, it sure is brainy, bigmouthed, black, and best of all....Badu.

I've been watching it non-stop!


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fruition Times Three

7.11.2007 Ljubljana, Slovenija. Trije Janezi Janše pred Etnografskim muzejem Slovenije.FOTO:JURE ERŽEN/Delo

I thought it curious a few weeks ago when I received an email from Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Janša. I was still in California at my mom's house and I didn't have much time to dig through my email. The Captain always jokes that "Slovenia needs me", but an email from the Prime Minister, this just couldn't be....or could it?

I responded to the person telling him I was still in the States but would be back by week's end and should be able to help him. As soon as I got back here to Slovenia , I rechecked my email and and realized it was Janez Janša from Maska, a journal that I do work for. I remember seeing his name listed as Publisher in the previous copy but didn't think much of it. I just thought it was an odd coincidence...

...turns out it wasn't. My emailing Janez Janša is, actually, part of the new (and rather mysterious) art group Janša, Janša, Janša, a group of artists who'd recently changed their names to that of the Prime Minister for reasons which they would not divulge to the public.

So, excited to be part of such an intriguing project, I busily set about doing the work for them at break neck speed. They were under an impending deadline for an end-of-the-month performance at Berlin's Transmediale Festival. Well, I got all the materials to them at the zero hour and they raced over to Berlin where it turned out half of their performance (the Signature performance) had been cancelled for what has been termed "judicial and legal reasons" and "the personal ethical concerns of the curator" (source, in Slovene only). Why the curators waited until the last minute -- when they knew full well what was to go on -- is not known and the artists have called them out onto the floor to give a full explanation.

In the meantime, you can watch the super art-tastic video of the first performance, Signature Art Context, (in which they walk through and create their own signature in the holocaust museum) here.

(Thanks for the tip, Dr. Fil)

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Tale of Two Pivos

As Pengovsky mentioned just the other day, one of Slovenia's beloved pivos (beers) is getting a (much-needed) face lift. This reminds me that I should point out one of the funny quirks between the Captain and I. Well, not only are we of different nationalities and different ethnic backgrounds, but we are-- and this is the thing people seem to point out most often when we go out--allegiant to opposing beers!

While The Captain and all his mates are all dyed in the wool Laško-nistas, I took a shine to Union early on and refused to be swayed. The other day, at our favorite pizzeria, our friend who is one of the owners mentioned it and wondered why there was this rift in the family, noting that most people just bow to peer pressure on the matter of beer. I told her that many have tried, but none have succeeded; when it comes to this simple matter of personal taste, I am going have to vote Union.

Ultimately, I'd prefer a nice margarita or a lovely mojito over any of this stuff, but (as you might imagine) they are not as free flowing as I'd like. So I slowly nurse my Union with one hand, while batting away Laško wielding naysayers with the other. Ultimately, the punchline is that all the drama is over two beers that are now owned by the same company, however this foolish rivalry started long before me or the merger, and whoever's the Big Boss Man at the pivovarna is too busy counting his money (Scrooge McDuck style) to even care.

Friday, January 25, 2008

My Aching Thumbs or Give My Remote Control A Break!

This week, I finally got into Ljubljana to make the acquaintance of the faboulous Mr. Paterson_si, and it turns out he -- surprise, surprise -- also works in journalism. In fact, it turns out he is quite the pro, but he was kind enough to break away from his very busy schedule to have a brief coffee and chat with me.

As we talked, he quickly confirmed my newfound (two-day old) realization that while there might be a problem with censorship in Slovenian news there is still the overriding fact that there are FAR TOO MANY NEWS OUTLETS in this country. While I know I come from America where everything on television has been reduced to sensationalism and entertainment, I've travelled enough to know that Slovenian has FAR TOO LITTLE (sensationalism and entertainment). In addition to the four or five national tv stations, it seems every small area has its own television station and every small television station has ITS own news. While this makes perfect sense in America, it DOES NOT make sense in a country this small. There is simply not that much that needs to get hashed and re-hashed. For the few minutes that the airwaves are news-free there seem to be political debate shows that fill the time going on an on until the wee hours of the night. I continuously find myself asking...when do these politicians and pundits sleep? And, honestly, is there really so much going on that they have to hang around parliament until the 11PM telecast? I really don't think so.

Now, I don't wanna insult anyone. I love this place, I really do, and I never thought I'd ask this, but is it too much to ask for a little more mindless entertainment and a little less play-by-play?

Sonček (A Little Sun): Walking Through Radovljica

Wow, wow, what beautiful days we've been having!

I'm still super swamped but I had a few errands to run the other day so I took the opportunity to take a bit of a detour home and snap some more pictures, this time on the newer side of glorious Radovljica.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Zipped Shut

Sorry for the intermittent posts, I've been working a lot, with occasional breaks to check on new of the US elections and whether Amy has killed herself yet.

Speaking of news, I came across this very interesting NY Times article (via Marko Bucik) on the rise of censorship in Slovenia. As you may or may not know, I am a budding journalist here and this is of great concern to me. While I haven't experienced any sort of censorship (and don't anticipate I will, since I have been working with a really great editor), I have heard buzzing about it in the artistic circle I have been working with.

While the censorship seems to be more of the back alley dealing for control of papers and politically-motivated firings (the type of censorship which is no doubt par for the course in the states) rather than out and out total blackouts, this type of stuff is not the kind of press the current EU president needs...nor is it sending a good message to and about other countries transitioning from Communist state control.

Anyway, check out that article and then head over to Pengovsky for more Slo-media drama.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Road Home

sunset on the way home from Celovec/ Klagenfurt

We had an impromptu shopping day in Klagenfurt yesterday, but for some reason all I really wanted to do was walk around in the nice weather. It figures....


In other news, with regards to this, I'm currently of the mind that I am more of an explorer than anything else. I get a thrill out of pushing the limits of my comfort zone and watching myself adapt, I like meeting new people, openminded, fascinating, thinking people who are as curious as I am. That having been said, it's a curious thing that I am still reluctant to go to expat things. In theory it sounds like the perfect place to meet people like me, but in practice it doesn't usually feel that way. How strange...

Friday, January 18, 2008

O Boj!

Yesterday, I took a little time away from the brainbusting editing work I've been doing for Maska journal, in order to head into Ljubljana and run some errands, handle some business, and finally meet up with my new friend, artist Andrej Kamnik. As Andrej and I chatted, I found out that he had actually been to New York once, with his arts collective, Grejpfrut (click on the chef!). However they weren't there participating in just idle tourism, they were actually shooting a movie, and not just any movie, but the first (and probably only) Slovene kung-fu movie. Now I know that the market probably wasn't crying out for this sort of thing, but now that it exists we may as well check it out, no?

the special people of Grejpfrut

So for your viewing pleasure, here is the link (English subtitles here) and for those who can't sit through a film right now, here is a link to some wacky stills!

It never seeks to amaze me how I am always able to go to a new place and quickly find the weird people. Thank God for that! Despite the fact that we had crummy weather yesterday, I was -- as usual -- very happy I made the trip into Ljubljana.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

This or That

Me in Mexico last week

Always one to torture myself with abstract thoughts, I spent part of my winter vacation thinking about expats vs. migrant workers vs. immigrants. After a few weird experiences with expats, I am wondering what an expat actually is and whether I really want to/should/can identify myself as one and even if I do identify whether I should gravitate towards that community. There are a lot of other immigrants/migrant workers I've seen around my town and also in Ljubljana who have probably never been to a single expat event. While the migrant workers I've seen here seem to come from many different backgrounds and work different types of jobs here, I think there are a lot of people who may be automatically excluded from these expats groups and their activities by the mere fact that either they don't speak English or don't have web access or lack funds or (like me) don't have adequate transportation. Where do they hang out? Where/ what is their social support network? As I am trying to build my own social network I am curious to think about this.

I'm not sure where this is going, but I am probably going to be rambling about this off and on for the next weeks, just musing and throwing out information. I've grown up used to feeling marginalized, and it was a weird (but not surprising) experience to get marginalized by Americans outside of America, however it is a good reminder that I usually have more fun and learn more by lingering at the margins anyways. So that's what I'm gonna try and focus on for a while. ...well, that and ten million other things.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Uh... Where?

For all those people who are STILL confused as to where in the world I live, Der Spiegel recently published a very good and thorough profile of Slovenia , with background on the country and the potential (good and bad) ramifications of Slovenia's current position as EU president.

As for WHY I am here, I'm still in the process of getting my head checked....

(thanks, Dr. Fil!)

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Disappearance of Carniola or Aliens Are Your Friends

Oh fellow Slobbers! This had been on my mind for a while and leave it to the wonderfully fiesty (in many languages, no less!) Ms.Alcessa to speak it aloud. Is it true? Is Carniola dead?

Since I am a Christian and believe in such things, I am hoping against hope that there will be a resurrection, that maybe if we all just believe long enough and strong enough that the grave stone will be pushed aside and a glorious new Glory Of will emerge. I hope I do not wait in vain.

one good resurrection deserves another, no?

Back In The Saddle Again

I'm baaaaack!

After crossing too many time zones and packing almost too much I finally slid into the Schengen (it's so spooky driving through a border that is no longer a border, I didn't see a soul!).

Now, for a little matter of getting into a regular line of work...anyone know of any big evil corporations that needs a sweet little black American girl as a minion?
Or perhaps you know a villain in need of a henchman? Either way, do let me know.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Srečno Novo Leto? Let's Get On The Map!

Happy New Year! Or so I thought....

I've spent the last three weeks trying to explain to friends and family where in the world I have moved to and just last night I had to explain to a sofa full of people that not only do I not live in Russia, but I've never even been there. It's been pretty maddening. So I've been quite eager for the Slovenian EU presidency to get the show on the road so the place can finally get on the map (and I can sip drinks and eat party snacks in peace). But according to this BBC article , sexing up the place is not part of the plan...

"We want to make the Western Balkans stable and predictable, maybe even boring," says Mr Kacin (
Jelco Kacin, Slovenian Member of the European Parliament).

"That's why we would like to fill the gap between Ljubljana and Thessaloniki [in Greece] with member states."

And Slovenia? Is that boring, I wonder?

"Since we are taking over the presidency in a few weeks I believe that we are boring enough that everybody is recognizing Slovenia as a boring, predictable state."

In a world with tabloids chock full of people famous for nothing, why oh why would Slovenia want to do so much and still go unrecognized? It simply makes no sense. While I've already suspected Slovenia of having a slight problem with self-esteem, this new plan is downright self-loathing. Something must be done!

Lucky for everyone, I am headed down to LA in just a few days. I'll see what I can do to get Slovenia an A-list publicist or Hollywood agent, someone that can get the country seen and heard. It won't be easy, but it'll be worth it! This campaign has only begun and it is headed in the wrong direction. I can call Slovenian people many things, but boring isn't one of them...bored maybe, but never boring!