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Catsimatidis appointed Greek Independence Parade Chairman February 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.
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The Board of Directors of the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York has unanimously appointed John Catsimatidis chairman for the Greek Parade 2007. The parade will take place on Sunday, April 15 on 5th Avenue in Manhattan.

Evzones, the Greek Presidential Guard, at an older Parade in New York

Catsimatidis, who has dedicated his services to the community and to various philanthropies, is chairman and chief executive officer of the Red Apple Group, a privately held company with annual sales of more than $2 billion and 10,000 employees, which has holdings in oil refining, retail petroleum products, convenience stores, supermarkets, real estate and aviation and is owner and editor of the Hellenic Times newspaper, the largest Greek -American newspaper printed in English in the United States.

Catsimatidis’ charitable activities include a term as chairman of the Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee (HANAC), a non-profit social services organization which operates low-income housing, medical services, housing for the elderly and home meal delivery in the metropolitan New York City area.

As co-chairman and founder of the Brooklyn Tech Endowment Foundation he oversaw the growth and development of its $10,000,000 fund, the largest gift to a secondary school in the United States. He funds the John Catsimatidis Scholarship Fund at the NYU School of Business, awarding two scholarships annually since 1988. He served a five-year term as president of the Manhattan Council of the Boy Scouts of America, is a director of the New York Police Athletic League and has also been active with the National Kidney Foundation, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, the Young Men’s Philanthropic League and the Alzheimer’s Foundation.

Catsimatidis was born in Greece in 1948 and brought to the United States by his parents while still an infant. Raised in New York City, he attended high school in Brooklyn and then New York University. Catsimatidis and his wife, Margo, have a daughter, Andrea John, and a son, John Andreas, Jr.

Related Links > http://www.greekparade.org

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Greek Television series films in Astoria February 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Media Radio TV.
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Manager George Delis may yet find himself treading the boards, cinematographically speaking. Demetri Demirakos, director of “On 31st Street”, a soap opera being filmed in Astoria and to be aired in Greece, Canada, Australia and the United States with dialogue in both Greek and English, offered Delis a part as a gangster in the series.

Delis in turn introduced Demirakos at a recent meeting of the Board 1 District Cabinet and the director received a warm welcome. “Everyone offered their support. There were no negative feelings at all,” Demirakos said.

“On 31st Street” takes place in Astoria, known for many years for having the largest concentration of Greek-speaking residents outside Athens. The 31st Street of the title, a major commercial strip that runs under the elevated ‘N’ and ‘W’ train line, is regarded as the heart of Astoria’s Greek community. The script is not confined to 31st Street, however; shooting has taken place at locations throughout Astoria. Executive Producer George Stamou said in a story in a daily newspaper that the entire Astoria Greek community has offered assistance in many forms, support which cast and crew deeply appreciate.

The series’ story line concerns Christina (Sophia Karvela) a young woman from a wealthy Greek family who breaks off her engagement to seek a new life in America. She meets Alex (Andreas Georgiou), a young Greek-American, and the two have 26 episodes of adventures in Astoria, in Queens and throughout the United States and the world. The series, of which Georgiou is one of the producers, will have its premiere in October.

Delis eagerly anticipates another turn before the cameras but is not sure if any role he plays will ever get on the air. “It cost $1,800 to join SAG the Screen Actors’ Guild and then there was a yearly fee,” he said in voicing one possible reason for his role in “A Bronx Tale” remaining unseen and unknown. “I said ‘forget it’.”

Greek old time planned for fundraiser February 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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‘Everyone is encouraged to participate. To dance, sing and break plates.’ Greek dancing, plate-breaking and authentic cuisine are just some of the things you can find at the Habitat for Humanity fundraiser being held at the Shish-Kabob Hut on February 25 at 6 p.m.

Bill Hampton, a board member for Habitat for Humanity, announced Thursday morning that the fundraiser’s purpose was to raise money and awareness about what the charity has to offer.

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization that provides housing for those who cannot afford to buy their own home. Part of their payment is to work off some of the cost by helping with the construction of the house, he explained.

All of the money raised at the fundraiser will go towards building supplies for a house that is currently being built in Buckhorn. The goal is to raise $3,000 to $5,000. While the dinner is about raising money, the event itself will be much more than that said Don Vassiliadis, owner of the Shish-Kabob Hut.

“There’s a few things. This is our first annual dinner for the Greek Canadian Club. This event is about promoting Greek culture, helping the community while having fun.”

Councillor Dean Pappas will be featured as a celebrity server and is very excited for the event. “How could I say no, it’s Greek,” he said. Tickets are $50 and anyone is welcome to come and see the festivities. “Everyone is encouraged to participate,” Mr. Vassiliadis added. “To dance, sing and break plates.”

Destroy Athens, says biennial February 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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An alternative art event looks at contemporary life in a metropolis tornbetween negative stereotypes and its ancient myth

In 2007, Athens will be hosting its first contemporary art biennial. Via its chosen theme, Destroy Athens, this event will present an alternative perspective on a metropolis that still plays on its own ancient myth, despite the fact that it is seriously suffering from ‘modern ailments’.

The first Athens Biennial, curated by Xenia Kalpaktsoglou, director of the Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art, journalist Augustine Zenakos and artist Poka Yio, and directed by art historian Marieke van Hal, has set its opening date for September 10, with Deutsche Bank as its main sponsor. Around 50-60 artists will participate, mostly international names, with around 10 to 15 Greek artists included. More information about the artists and venues involved will be announced in the coming months. The organisers talked about their project in the making.

The Athens Biennial has recently published Suggestions for the Destruction of Athens: A Handbook. This is a series of excerpts from diverse pieces of literature and publications beginning with Ezra Pound, “This thing, that hath a code and not a core”, moves on to a host of quotes from, among others, art historians, intellectuals, politicians, journalists and even actors such as Woody Allen. This rather puzzling manifesto of sorts is meant to be “an elliptical narrative, which can be read cover to cover as a progression through various realisations and instances of disillusionment. It is a kind of guide to the exhibition concept,” explain the organisers.

Marieke van Hal has previously worked as senior curator at Montevideo/TBA, the Netherlands Media Art Institute and general coordinator of the International Foundation Manifesta, European Biennial of Contemporary Art.

She says: “When introducing a new biennial in a new city, it makes sense to start with and choose a concept that is closely related to its location. Athens, or Greece in general, carries many pillars, democracy, philosophy, language/dialogue, to name a few, of our Western society, and with Destroy Athens the curators will reinvestigate and discuss some of the fundamental things that have formulated our identity of today. So, in this sense Destroy Athens can be seen as a metaphor for a wide range of present issues.

“At the same time, one can interpret the theme more concretely, looking at contemporary life in Athens, negative stereotypes related to the city like the traffic, pollution, permanent demonstrations, lack of greenery and space, stressed people, versus the positive stereotyping or utopia of the ancient past of Greece, which is the most familiar image projected abroad and symbolised in the cultural products that echo the great history of Greek culture and civilisation. These two sides have a lot of interesting aspects, which make them ideal for discussing how self-perception and the perception of others are interconnected in determining a sense of identity and social behaviour.”

As far as the Greek contemporary art scene is concerned, journalist Augustine Zenakos, of To Vima and To Vima tis Kyriakis, believes that “younger contemporary artists seem to worry less about traditional norms and the quasi-nationalistic hangups of their predecessors and more about conversing in a language that is increasingly common and supra-national”. One such younger contemporary artist is Poka Yio, also involved in the biennial: “I am happy that we the biennial team have done quite an unorthodox entry in this biennial system,” states the artist, whose own views on Athens were recently shown via a series of works entitled Shitty City, at the Gazonrouge. Furthermore, Poka Yio’s view of the Athens School of Fine Arts, where he studied, is that it is a “fata morgana. From afar it glows like a mystical Shangri-La for hundreds of young Greek artists, but when they manage to enter it the disillusionment is totally devastating.”

The Athens Biennial will run in close collaboration with the Istanbul Biennial, which opens on September 8. The Athens Biennial organisers have also teamed up with the Lyon Biennial, opening later in September, to organise a reception in Venice during the opening days of the Venice Biennial, king of biennials, next June. However, what about a possible collaboration with the first Thessaloniki Biennial, due to run next May. “We are open to a collaboration with this biennial as well, and we await their proposal,” say the Athens Biennial organisers.

The organisers stress that with close to 100 biennials in the world today, the Athens Biennial aims at being medium-sized and an autonomous non-profit organisation, as are most biennials. Yet with the Deste Foundation’s director being involved, there could be some overlaps with the events of the foundation. Curator Kalpaktsoglou says: “We, the Deste, are planning to have quite a few new productions specifically for the biennial.” She also believes that the Dakis Joannou collection itself could also be a point of reference for some artists. The 5th Deste Prize for contemporary Greek artists is also scheduled for May 2007. As for the future plans of the foundation, it is working on the development of a reference-only, specialised art library, which will be open to the public in the near future.

Athens under Parisian light February 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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The National Gallery’s latest show looks at French masters’ influence on Greek artists

Though the relationship between the Athens arts scene and the Munich Academy is a well-known one, the influence of Parisian masters on Greek artists has been comparatively overlooked. Greek painters who mostly travelled to the City of Light from as early as World War I and during the interwar years to study were exposed to the art trends of Cubism, Symbolism and Fauvism and later Abstraction and Surrealism. A new exhibition at the National Gallery tries to highlight this link through a parallel showcase of French and Greek artists of similar style and technique.

“Paris-Athens 1863-1940 was organised with the aim to shed light on one of the most exciting chapters in the history of modern Greek art,” National Gallery director Marina Lambraki-Plaka points out. “If the 19th century is characterised by the so-called Munich School, the focus of the Athens-Munich, Art and Culture in Modern Greece exhibition in 2000, the 20th century marks the shift of the Greek artists to Paris, Europe’s artistic capital, which gave birth to radical art movements.”

The display spans the period between the landmark year 1863 and the declaration of World War II, which forced Greek artists to leave Paris and return to their homeland. It was in 1863 that the Salon des Refuses (Salon of the Rejected) was held in Paris. Organised by modernist artists in reaction to Napoleon III marginalising them, the exhibition featured the work of Greek Nikos Xydias among those of Manet and Cezanne. In the years to follow, the list of Greek painters who drew their inspiration from Paris grew to include Orientalist Theodoros Rallis, Belle Epoque painter Iakovos Rizos, the so-called Paris School representatives, Konstantinos Maleas, Konstantinos Parthenis and Theodoros Papaloukas, and heavyweights Nikos Engonopoulos, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, Yannis Tsarouchis, Giorgos Bouzianis and Yannis Moralis. In the National Gallery’s display their works engage in discourse with those of Bonnard, Renoir, Matisse, Picasso, Derain and De Chirico, on loan among others from the Musee d’ Orsay, the Picasso Museum, the Georges Pompidou Centre and the Metropolitan Museum of New York.

The high societies of Paris and Athens, as displayed in Giovanni Boldini’s and Rizos’ works, seem to converse in the elegant portraits of leisure ladies in long dresses. Pavlos Mathiopoulos’ depiction of a Panepistimiou Street scene reflects Jean Beraud’s take on a Paris street. The 30s generation makes reference to the work of Andre Derain, and Nikos Engonopoulos alludes to the art of De Chirico. On the whole, Greek artists internalised their Parisian influences only to apply them to the Greek reality. And though Symbolism is strongly felt in the work of Maleas and Parthenis, Fauvism finds a less-pronounced equivalent. One of the most vivid examples of the Athens-Paris liaison, Hadjikyriakos-Ghika’s 1960 depiction of his workshop, is displayed alongside Picasso’s atelier of four years earlier. The works’ striking similarity, from their overt symbolism to the details of the foliage, couldn’t pass unnoticed by art specialists.

Paris-Athens 1863-1940 is on at the National Gallery (50 Vasileos Konstantinou Street, Athens, tel 210 7235937) through to March 31. Open: Monday-Saturday 9am-3pm; Sunday 10am-2pm; Tuesday closed. Admission at 6,50 euros (concessions 3 euros).

Return flights to Vienna from Cy£38 February 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in News Flights.
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Fares as low as 65 euros (£38) for Larnaca to Vienna return are being offered by a low-cost airline, which is starting operations to Cyprus in March.

SkyEurope Airlines is to offer two flights a week to the island beginning in March. The airline, whose main base is in Bratislava, Slovakia, will fly to Larnaca airport from Vienna every Monday and Friday and back again on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Communications Manager Tomas Kika yesterday said that there will even be a special introductory price of 19 euros all-inclusive on a first come, first serve basis.

“We chose to include Cyprus on our schedule as our research has shown that it is traditionally a very popular tourist destination with Austrians who love the beaches, culture and history of the island,” Kika said. He added that the airline’s policy is to establish itself in markets where few other budget airlines operate.

This year, the airline will fly to Cyprus from March 26 until October 26.

With bases also in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, SkyEurope is the first multi-based airline in Central Europe under the open skies policy. The airline operates short-haul “point-to-point” scheduled and charter passenger and cargo services. The airline was established in November 2001 and started operations in February 2002.

Employing around 700 people, it currently operates a total of 99 routes to 42 destinations in 19 countries, making it Central Europe’s largest low-cost airline. The SkyEurope fleet includes four Boeing 737-300s (operated by SkyEurope Airlines Hungary), three Boeing 737-500s and six Boeing 737-700s.

SkyEurope placed an order in 2005 for up to 32 new Boeing 737-700 aircraft (of which 16 are subject to purchase rights) to be delivered between 2006 and 2009, currently the largest order in Central Europe valued at US$1.76 billion at list prices.

WWF Hellas campaign for Aegean wetlands February 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Nature.
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The Greek branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF Hellas) on Thursday launched a campaign to save remaining Aegean island wetlands, announcing the initiative a day before World Wetlands Day on February 2.

After a two-year study, WWF Hellas concluded that ecosystems most at risk on Greece’s Aegean islands are the wetlands, which it said cover some 40 square kilometres on 50 islands, not including Crete. Of some 342 wetlands recorded on these islands, at least 25 have been completely destroyed and many others have been irreparably damaged, the group said.

The results of the survey will be presented during a series of events held on the island of Kos for World Wetland Day, organised in collaboration with local authorities and Dodecanese highschool education authorities.

Those in charge of the survey said the problems were caused by intense pollution, reclamation, filling in wetlands for construction and their overexploitation and misuse. The main types of wetlands found on islands are the estuaries of seasonal torrents, estuary marshes, coastal swamps, salt marshes, lakes, salterns, streams and springs.

WWF Hellas underlined the importance of Aegean wetlands, stressing that they were rare and valuable ecosystems in the semi-arid island environment, a home for many rare types of plants and animals and a resting place and refuge for millions of migratory birds.