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Cyprus gets green light to adopt euro July 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Cyprus News.
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European Union Finance Ministers have given Cyprus and Malta the definitive go-ahead to adopt the euro.

The Ministers, meeting in Brussels, agreed that the two Mediterranean islands were ready to adopt the single European currency as expected on January 1, 2008. The decision will increase the ranks of the currency club to 15 members.

With the last EU hurdle out of the way, the duo has less than five months for the massive practical preparations necessary to usher in the euro and retire the Cyprus pound and Maltese lire. The European Commission set Cyprus and Malta on the path in May by ruling that they had met the strict macro-economic criteria needed to become members of the eurozone.

One euro will be worth 0.585274 Cyprus pounds and 0.4293 Maltese lire.

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One minute’s shameful silence July 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News.
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In yet another eminently surreal moment, Greece’s Parliament last week held a minute’s silence in memory of the trees and wildlife lost in a massive blaze on Mount Parnitha.

The move was proposed by main opposition socialist party leader George Papandreou and readily accepted by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. The incident could be seen as a rather tasteless attempt to display ecological sensitivity with the aim of placating an exceptionally angry segment of the Greek population.

But it can be interpreted in other ways too. The individual, or individuals, who came up with the idea undoubtedly evaluate the environment using human yardsticks, according to the culture of the dominant species, the conqueror of the earth, the race that considers itself to have been born to enjoy and exploit the fruits of the earth. And it is precisely this warped relationship between modern man and his environment that has caused the problem of global warming.

So, instead of observing a minute’s silence for something which has not actually died yet, perhaps we should spend some time considering that our environment, the flora and fauna around us, will continue their lives on this planet irrespective of us.

The truth is that it is our own existence as a species that we are threatening. So let’s respect the laws of our habitat, albeit for reasons of self-preservation.

Instead of wandering the earth like arrogant, foolish beings, wielding our technology like an ax, let us continue our exciting journey through life by finally assimilating some of the lost wisdom of our forefathers, who were conscious, grateful and humble toward the galaxy that accommodated them and refrained from abusing its many riches.

Perhaps it would be more appropriate to observe a minute’s shamed silence to mark the gloomy future that with sheer recklessness we are bequeathing to our children and our grandchildren through our actions, omissions and shortcomings.

The trees do not need us. The same trees, or similar ones, will grow back in this eternal game of natural selection and growth.

Let us be silent for a moment out of shame for what we have done to Athens and other large cities, for the monstrous construction that has made our lives unbearable, for having some of the most polluted air in Europe, for our rivers full of toxic waste.

If we want a different, better life, we can have it. It is a matter of policies, a matter of priorities. The Greece that hosted a successful Olympiad in 2004 can enjoy the quality of life that it deserves, parks and forests and better, cleaner cities. The question is: Do we want it enough?

The Power of the (wired) masses July 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News.
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Wired masses in physical form

Five thousand people came together in Syntagma Square on a hot mid-summer Sunday evening. It was not a small crowd.

It was people who had spread the word via sms and blog messages in what may well be the first bodily manifestation of specific groups in Greece who use the new technologies to communicate.

Users of mobile phones, laptops and a range of state-of-the-art gadgets turned up in Syntagma as citizens. They left their digital world behind and took to the street in the flesh, their senses fully activated.

Along with its breath of fresh air, the demo brought some bewilderment. People met spontaneously, by inviting one another, by urging one another. “Let’s do something, let’s make our voices heard beyond political expediency.” And they did indeed do something. The silent digital mass and the new media wished to make an impact on politics, and it did so. But the voice has not yet fully matured. Disappointment, rage even disgust were expressed mostly through offensive gestures.

The whole thing was above political expediency. There was no sign of efforts to take political advantage or self-interest. But politics was omnipresent. Physical presence is also a form of politics: We are here as responsible and active citizens, not as voters or clients. The open-palm gesture of insult indicates the lack of guidance from above, while sending a message to our political administrators: You people, you are so out of touch.

The sms crowd has surfaced from that vast middle class, the ranks of educated albeit potentially nouveaux pauvres. These people possess the tools but no political power. They speak the language of the times, they fail, or do not wish, to understand the language of the political elite. They were hooked on their home cinemas. Now they strive to make themselves heard openly. Let’s listen to what they have to say.

Jan Garbarek performs on Lycabettus tonight July 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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Garbarek back with high-profile backup

Acclaimed Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek, who gained wider recognition in Greece via a collaboration with composer Eleni Karaindrou for her soundtrack to Theo Angelopoulos’s film “The Beekeeper” in 1990, is back in Greece for two performances, tonight at the capital’s Lycabettus Theater and tomorrow at the Gis Theater in Thessaloniki.

For his current tour, Garbarek is joined by a team of high-profile musicians, French drummer Manu Katche, German bassist Eberhard Weber, and Scandinavian pianist Rainer Bruninghaus.

A veteran recording artist whose activity dates back to the late 60s, Garbarek has intrigued a growing number of listeners with work conveying cinematic, languid and minimalist qualities.

Reacting to his playing on “The Beekeeper” soundtrack, Karaindrou had noted, “He transformed the saxophone into an ancient wind instrument that treads on Greek land and embraces the Balkans.”

Garbarek, who made his recording debut in the late 60s playing on a jazz album by the American artist George Russell, made an impact as a composer several years later with “Dis,” a commercially successful joint effort with guitarist Ralph Towner.

The Norwegian’s most recent solo effort, 2003’s “In Praise of Dreams,” was nominated for a Grammy award. Garbarek’s most recent recording activity was for “Neighborhood,” an album released last year by Katche.

Exotic sounds woven into rock festival’s bill July 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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Klezmer act Sophie Solomon is on the bill

Now approaching its finale, the six-day Gagarin Open-Air Festival, this summer’s biggest rock festival in Athens, in terms of duration and number of acts, enters its fifth night this evening with popular Arizona group Calexico as the headline act on a bill that includes Beirut, A Hawk and a Hawksaw, and klezmer act Sophie Solomon. Overall, tonight’s bill promises lots of exotic musical charm.

Calexico, for instance, have grown to become one of the contemporary scene’s more appealing acts on the strength of a sound that is heavily reliant on mariachi-Mexican elements. Beirut, a one-man project undertaken by singer and multi-instrumentalist Zach Condon, which proved to be one of the indie scene’s more unanticipated success stories of last year, combines a wide variety of styles, from pop-rock, Eastern European Gypsy styles and indie-folk. Condon, who dropped out of high school, claims to have traveled through Europe at the age of 16, an experience that aroused his interest in Balkan folk and Gypsy music.

A Hawk and a Hawksaw share similar ethnographic interests. The band’s second album, 2005’s “Darkness at Noon,” delved into Eastern European music. Band leader Jeremy Barnes traveled to Romania to record with the Gypsy brass band Fanfare Ciocarlia for the act’s third album, last year’s “The Way the Wind Blows.”

At the Olympic Baseball Arena, Hellenikon, southern Athens.

Hip-hop icon Snoop Dogg performs tonight in Athens July 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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Snoop Dogg’s adventures and misadventures have both boosted and harmed his career.

Arguably hip-hop’s most iconic figure, Snoop Dogg, renowned as much for his work as for his notorious adventures and misadventures, gives his first ever Greek performance tonight in Athens.

The event’s organizers have announced a late venue switch and transferred the show to a larger venue as a result of higher-than-expected ticket demand. The production has been moved from the Thea club to the Kingdom club, formerly known as On The Rocks, in the seaside suburb of Varkiza.

Snoop Dogg’s success and impact on contemporary music is one of the primary reasons for hip-hop’s dominance in the mainstream music charts in the USA, where he has sold half his career’s 40 million albums to date. He is the embodiment of what came to be known as “gangsta rap” in the 90s. Snoop Dogg’s work seemed to blur the lines between reality and fiction. Introduced to the music world through “The Chronic” album by Dr Dre, one of the most sought-after producers in contemporary music, Snoop Dogg gained swift fame both on the fresh appeal of his laconic rhyming and the violence carried by his lyrics, which seemed real. This view was bolstered when, early in his career, the budding rapper was arrested on charges of being an accomplice to murder. The legal wrangles fanned Snoop Dogg’s fame and his debut album, 1993’s “Doggystyle,” entered the US charts at No 1.

In the long run, though, the trouble proved a hindrance to his artistic progress. Snoop Dogg, who spent a considerable amount of his time fighting the charges in 1994 and 1995 before being cleared, did not release his follow-up album, “Doggfather,” until late in 1996.

In more recent times, Snoop Dogg, now 34, has moved away from his gangsta rap roots for milder lyrics. In Greece, Snoop Dogg has enjoyed enduring popularity with steady sales over his 14-year career. Now, fans get to witness the legendary rap act on stage.

Doors open 7.30 p.m. For ticket info call > 210 9625105.

Depicting life in Los Angeles July 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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Artist Konstantin Kakanias has curated a show that paints the image of the city in which he lives

‘Americana’ by Ed Ruscha (1965/2003, gelatin silver print, 18.7×18.7cm, edition of eight, Gagosian Gallery). The work is one of the highlights in ‘Darling, Take Fountain,’ the show curated by Konstantin Kakanias.

A few years ago, the Hollywood-based Greek artist Konstantin Kakanias had cast the heroine of his paintings, the fictional and vain Mrs Tependris, in the role of a contemporary art collector. Those familiar with the work of Kakanias often note that Mrs Tependris is not just the artist’s muse but also his alter ego. The role of Mrs Tependris as an art collector reflects the interest that Kakanias takes in the work of other artists. It is out of this interest that Kakanias recently decided to curate a show on contemporary art from Los Angeles, the city where he has been living for the past eight years.

“Darling, Take Fountain” which is the title of the show currently being held in the new space of the Kalfayan galleries in Kolonaki, the phrase was the answer Bette Davis gave when asked the way to become famous, is not meant as a documentation of contemporary Los Angeles art and does not intend to make a theoretical, curatorial statement. It is more about an artist’s emotional involvement with the city in which he lives and his relationship with his Los Angeles-based artist friends whose work he admires. No works of Kakanias are included, yet the show is an expression both of the artist’s taste and of the way he experiences life in Los Angeles.

Judging from the show, it is interesting to note that Kakanias sees Los Angeles as a city without people, a place where meeting others and building relationships does not come easy. According to Kakanias, the concept of the show is “Los Angeles dehumanized. A huge metropolis, vast, endless and isolating with no feelings, no emotions, no personal relations, vacuous, plastic, ‘white on white’ as Warhol says in his brilliant “Popism.””

However, “Darling, Take Fountain” is not a dark, pessimistic exhibition. Most of the works have an ethereal and graceful quality about them, which in fact reminds one of Kakanias’s drawings, and, seen together, put across a relaxed atmosphere. This feeling of relaxation and liberation is actually what Kakanias considers to be another dominant aspect of life in Los Angeles. Kakanias says that contrary to New York’s art world, which is more compact and center-based, the LA art scene is less constricted, more open-minded and autonomous. This was in fact the reason why Kakanias decided to move to Los Angeles, having previously lived in New York and Paris.

The exhibition features works by both young and established artists. Highlights include a beautiful drawing-map of Los Angeles as seen from Mulholland Drive by the renowned painter David Hockney. There are also black-and-white photos from the 1960s by Ed Ruscha. From the 60s, there are also the pop-inspired paintings of logos by Sister Corita, a Californian nun-artist whose personality left a distinctive mark on the art world of the time. Among the works by the younger artists, those of Pae White, a spider’s web sprayed with paint and presented inside a diaphanous material, or the monochrome landscapes by Sandeep Mukherjee are among the most interesting. Also participating are Justin Beal, Kim Fisher, Keith Boadwee, Jeff Burton, Piero Golia, Dan McCleary, Jennifer Nocon, Catherine Opie, George Stoll, Eric Wesley and Sam Durant.

Seen as a whole, the works presented compose a fresh and charming exhibition about Los Angeles seen through the eyes of a Greek artist and his artist friends who live in the city.

At the Kalfayan Gallery, 11 Haritos Street, Kolonaki, Athens, tel 210 7217679. To September 29.