Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Dad The Socialist...or The Communist

In the true spirit of Donald Rumsfeld, I am always discovering "unknown unknowns" (things I didn't know that I didn't know) about Slovenia. Last night I got to watch this fantastic classic Slovenian film "My Dad, The Socialist Kulak" in Slovenian: Moj Ata, Socialisticni Kulak).

This film is a quirky little comedy about a Slovenian guy who fought in the army alongside the Russian Red Army, comes home to communism, and does his best to embrace it (farming his plot of land with the other loyal socialist farmers) while not really fully understanding how the system works and where his loyalties should lie. The characters are all pretty over the top, spouting off ideology, while not quite sure what they are talking about, and information is frequently misinterpreted which makes it a funny story above and beyond all the history...but the history lesson was also much appreciated. For example, I'd no idea that Yugoslavia was strongly allied with Stalin until 1948 when he and Tito had a major falling out (apparently over a Soviet film about the war which didn't give the Tito character a big enough role) and Yugoslavia turned towards a form of market socialism that was informally known as "Titoism" (ahhh, gotta admire the guy's ego).

A quick Google search shows that this film is sort of tough to get one's hands one, so I really lucked out on finding it on television. If I ever get a copy of the film, I'll see what I can do to put up a clip or two on the Youtube. It really is worth a look.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Passing through Ljubljana's main square a few hours before the Queen passed through to greet people, all I could think of was what a big upheaval the whole thing was for some inbred idiot... and this song.

I'm saving my energy for the end of the week when one of my truly favorite Brits comes to town .

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hip Hop iz Slovenije

While I am unapologetically in the school of thought that (save a few choice MC Solaar tracks) the only good rappers are American, I didn't want that opinion to stand in the way of me giving props to a young creative brother in our all-too-tiny community of African people in Slovenia. I had the chance to see a brief performance by Murat & Jose at the very wonderful opening of Kolovrateater in Ljubljana on Friday night, and I gotta give them props for doing an earnest job of things.

In case you're wondering, Jose's father comes from the country of Burundi (don't be ashamed I had to recheck where it was on the map too).

Here's one of their videos for their track "Postan ti sam".

Friday, October 17, 2008

Invisible Inflows

Two Latin American women who've been living in Spain without papers - Source

We recently had some family visitors from Germany, and at one point I was asked how life is here in Slovenia for immigrants.

This is a tough question. I gave a few anecdotes about poor pay, about other people of various backgrounds and their experiences, about how I get the sense that the Slovenian market doesn't really seem to know what to do with immigrants unless they are uneducated Bosnians here to do manual labour. All in all, it is very tough to say exactly how things are. It is one thing to talk about The Erased, but yet another thing to talk about The Invisible -- those who do not appear on public register, and even when they do, they cannot materialize on the social register. The immigrant experience is so very personal in so many ways that I would never be able to (and am not really interested to) comment on. But on the public scale, I rarely see immigrants on television except for the few times that the cart out some fortunate (usually European) foreigner who has triumphantly learned the language. So it's all so tough to say.

Today I came across this fantastic survey of immigration in Malta, Cyprus, and Slovenia. It is only 17 pages and certainly worth a read. Very illuminating.

"Where Slovenia is defined as a country of immigration there is an implicit understanding that this refers to mainly European migrants. People from outside of Europe (i.e. ‘Asians’ as defined in the table) are deemed at best to be a transient population, on their way further west to Italy, France or the UK. The experience of 2000 served to reinforce this perception. Asians, it was suggested during one of the interviews, are not attracted to Slovenia because of its image as a ‘communist’ country.

The distinction between the two migrant groups is problematic for two reasons. There is first and foremost the risk of racially profiling migrants. It is the non-white population who seem not to form part of the Slovenia’s immigration profile. In the case of some Asian migrants residing in Slovenia, this has led to questioning their motives for being there. The recent growth in the number of Chinese migrants, who work mainly in Chinese restaurants, has become a source of intrigue and suspicion. There are doubts over the economic viability of the restaurants, and an assumption that the businesses are simply fronts for illegal activities."

Read more here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The New Place To Be!

If you are in town come out and join me at the opening of Kolovrateater this Friday - 17th October. Its a historic old space near the castle, refashioned into a fantastic new kavarna/bar/club/theater/hang out place opened by young Ljubljana visionaries. I have been itching to do some socializing and maybe a drink or two...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Whew! Got It!

Received and returned yesterday!
Done and done.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Punching In

Dear Other American Expats/Travellers Around Le Monde,

How many of you have already received your absentee ballot?

I am still waiting.

When should I start to worry?

Yours Truly,
Brainy, Bigmouthed, Black, and For Barack!...By The Balkans

An Honor and A Privilege

A few weeks ago, I was honored to receive the Honest Blogger Award from the lovely Ms. Brigitte of Make Fetch Happen.

I have to pass this award on to seven other bloggers so without delay. I bestow this badge of maverickness on to:
1. young gifted and black
2. Black Girl In Prague
3. My So-Called Life in France
4. Chesca Says
5. Thinking With My Stomach
6. Cogito Ergo Sumana
7. Elyse Sewell

The rest of the requirements for receiving the award are below. However, this all seems a little chainletter-y to me. So winners, feel free to do these or not do them as you see fit.

1. When you receive the award, you must write a post showing it, including the name of blog that has presented you with the award and providing a link to that blog.

2. Choose a minimum of seven blogs that you feel are brilliant in their content or design.

3. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing them that they were recognized with this award.

4. (Optional) Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize to.

5. Pass it on!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

New Theme Song?

Pharrell, Lupe, and Q-Tip urging black people to get passports and see the world? Sounds good to me!

Paris Tokyo - Lupe feat. Q-Tip and Pharrell

Monday, October 6, 2008

Home On The Range

A week or so ago, we went down to the family farm and vineyard down in Dolenjska (Trebnje to be exact). I tasted the sweetest grapes and had the best and freshest lunch ever. We got to walk around the vineyards and explore a 500 year old house. Man, did I have a superb time!

Piggie water fountain

sign says, "Here we are again"

Saturday, October 4, 2008

O' Radovljica!

I got up early Monday morning and headed to the local train station to head to work. I was a little on edge as I knew I'd have to walk through the terrible grafitti-splashed slightly pee smelling stairwell to get down to the platform. But BOY was I surprised! The train station had been transformed into a lively be-muraled homage to our fair town. Check it out. Big props and respect to everyone who was involved in this -- most especially the person who flipped the Radovljica Wheel Man logo!