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Cabernet Sauvignon may have Greek roots September 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Wine And Spirits.
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Cabernet Sauvignon is a direct descendant of an obscure Greek wine grape known as Volitsa, a new book suggests, Decanter UK magazine reports.

In Desert Island Wines, Miles Lambert-Gocs proposes that Cabernet Sauvignon made its way to Europe via the coastal region of what is now Albania. He believes this link has never been explored. Lambert-Gocs became convinced that Volitsa was the modern name for an ancient grape called Balisca. He then found relevant references in the Roman classical texts of Pliny and Columella. When combined with visual comparisons to modern Cabernet Sauvignon, he believes this evidence is enough to merit exploring the DNA.

‘I have pointed out a solid possibility of Cabernet’s tie to antiquity and classical Greece,’ Lambert-Gocs told Decanter. ‘It will be good to have DNA proof, sort of a “family tree”, and I have provided a jumping off point.’

However, wine boffins are sceptical. ‘I’m not convinced that there’s a close connection at all,’ said grape geneticist Carole Meredith, Professor Emerita at University of California, Davis. In 1996, Meredith discovered that Cabernet Sauvignon is a hybrid of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. She said comparisons of the DNA profiles of Volitsa Mavri and Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon did not reveal any notable similarity. ‘If there is a connection, it’s not a close one and is no closer than the connections that undoubtedly exist among dozens of European grape varieties.’

Lambert-Gocs says he wrote the chapter precisely to encourage further scientific exploration. ‘Volitsa is not identical to Cabernet Sauvignon. Rather, it is one of Cabernet Sauvignon’s ancestors, and definitely the one that can concretely tie the variety to ancient Greece,’ he said. ‘If this does not motivate ampelographers and geneticists to visit the areas of Greece and Albania that are involved, I don’t know what would.’

New Acropolis Museum to open in stages in 2008 September 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Architecture Greece, Arts Museums.
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The transfer of artifacts from the old Acropolis Museum, which stands atop the historic hill itself, to the new ultra-modern and spacious Museum will begin on October14, Greek Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis announced on Monday during a tour of the under-construction new venue, which is in the final stages of completion.

  The transfer is expected to take three months, as the new Museum will be opened to visitors in stages, beginning in early 2008, and starting with the third floor. It will be fully open to the public after roughly one year, the Minister added.

“A great vision is being carried out; an ultra-modern Museum that has a dialectical relationship with the Acropolis,” Liapis said as he toured the new building with Acropolis curator Alexandros Mantis and the director of the organisation for the construction of the new Acropolis Museum, archaeologist Dimitris Pantermalis.

The new state-of-the-art Museum directly faces the Acropolis and the Parthenon Temple atop the hill from the south.

In the first phase of the new Museum’s operation, possibly as soon as January, the public will be able to visit the top floor where the east and north metopes of the Parthenon will be on display after their transfer from the old Museum.

In anticipation of the much-hoped for return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum, meanwhile, copies of the friezes, currently in London, will be displayed on the same floor but will be covered with a transparent veil to indicate their continued absence. The Minister also underlined that Greece will continue to press for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens.

“We are all obliged to intensify our efforts for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum because only then will we have fulfilled our historic duty,” Liapis stressed.

The new building is dominated by the use of hi-tech glass that allows visitors to maintain visual contact with the structures on the Acropolis, while viewing the artifacts on display.

On the ground floor, visitors will have direct visual contact with subterranean archaeological remains of an ancient Athenian neighbourhood that were uncovered at a depth of seven metres, when the foundations for the new Museum were being dug. This links the daily lives ancient Athens’ residents with the temples directly opposite the Museum.

To the right and left on this floor, artifacts found on the slopes leading up to the Acropolis will be on display, such as those from the Theatre of Dionysus, the Temple of Pan and the Temple of the Nymphs.

The Caryatid women columns taken from the Erechtheum Temple on the Acropolis, now replaced with replicas, and various archaic sculptures will be displayed on the ramps and the first floor. A cafeteria and restaurant will be located on the second floor, while the third floor will be devoted to the display of the Parthenon Marbles.

Regarding the controversy over the Ministry’s plans to demolish two 1930s-era art deco buildings on Areopagitou Street that partially block the view of the Acropolis from the Museum’s lower floors, Liapis said he would continue his predecessor’s policy, namely, to advocate their expropriation and demolition.

According to the Minister, the old Museum on the Acropolis will be used to display items and materials to help visitors gain a better understanding of the site, such as illustrations by 16th and 17th century travellers, and before the Parthenon and the other buildings on the Acropolis suffered extensive damage from a 1688 siege. Other materials will describe archaeological digs around the site, photographs of brass and copper statues that were at the Acropolis and were only known through the copies and other information.

Jazz in Athens > the old and the new September 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Greek, Music Life Live Gigs.
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Season begins at Half Note Jazz Club in Mets and Guru Bar-Jazz Upstairs in Theatrou Square in the Greek capital 

Swing it? Milo Z and his band are the curtain-raiser at the Half Note Jazz Club in Athens next month. Also on the jazz club’s program is Kevin Mahogany and his quintet. The capital’s other jazz joint, Guru Bar, also has an interesting lineup this season.

“It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing,” according to the legendary Duke Ellington. In “swing,” read rhythm and that authentic jazz sound, be it traditional, classic or contemporary, and even avant-garde. This interchange between the old and the new is the focus this season of the capital city’s two main jazz joints, the Half Note Jazz Club and Guru Bar-Jazz Upstairs. Highlights this season include a series of concerts celebrating the Half Note’s 30th birthday, and a concert at Guru with Lee Konitz, who will celebrate his 80th birthday at the Theatrou Square venue.

From the Half Note angle, the jazz club began on Michalakopoulou Street, moved to Strefi Hill for a spell, dropped anchor in Ambelokipi and then moved to its current address in Mets. In the early days, the club started off by inviting local acts, but when the tide turned and they extended their invitations overseas, local jazz fans got some rare treats: Archie Shepp, Lou Donaldson, Carmen Lundy, Jimmy Cobb, Andy Sheppard and many more. Though the Half Note is mainly about jazz, the venue has also presented blues bands and others that flirt with Afro-American musical traditions, world music and even ethnic sounds.

For this season, the Half Note presents, among others, local act the Milo Z Band (5-11 October, for funk and hip-hop), the Sonny Fortune Quartet (12-18 October, a master saxophonist continues the traditions of John Coltrane), the Kevin Mahogany quintet (19-25 October, with classic jazz numbers, blues and brushstrokes of soul), and Hubert Sumlin with Buddy Flett and the Bluebirds (2-8 October, electronic blues).

Just below Athinas Street, behind the flower stalls and on Theatrou Square, Guru Bar is preparing its cozy loft to host Greek and foreign musicians. Headliner Lee Konitz will be at Jazz Upstairs on December 6, 7 and 8.

Konitz is one of the last surviving names of those legendary performers that first appeared in the 1940s and is probably the only saxophone player of that era who was not profoundly influenced by Charlie Parker. He recorded with Claude Thornhill and Lennie Tristano, and later with Miles Davis on the legendary “Birth of Cool.”

There are other names appearing on the Guru Bar bill that are also worthy of attention: The Five Corners Quintet (September 27-29), a great Finnish jazz band whose previous appearances include the Lincoln Center in New York; the J.P. Gallis quartet with Coltraine covers (3-6 October); the Benny Lackner Trio (25-27 October) and much, much more.

For the complete performance programs, please visit > www.halfnote.gr or www.bargurubar.gr

Fassbinder masterpiece returns September 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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Restored digitally, mammoth ‘Berlin Alexanderplatz’ to be screened in full at Trianon Theater in Athens

Remember Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Hanna Schygulla of “Berlin Alexanderplatz”? A revamped version of the mammoth production was recently unveiled at the Berlin Film Festival.

Is it a film or a television mini-series? To this day, film historians have not decided to which genre Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “Berlin Alexanderplatz” belongs. Either way, the screen adaptation of the novel by Alfred Doblin (1878-1957) into 14 episodes totaling 15 hours is one of the most monumental productions of the 20th century. In 1983, when the series was first shown on television, New York Times film critic Vincent Canby wrote that without “Berlin Alexanderplatz,” Fassbinder would have been a great artist without a great work.

Greek broadcaster ERT offered the Greek public the same treat that same year, cultivating a weekly appointment that was never missed. Every self-respecting cinephile at the time felt a duty to know whether the young villain Franz Biberkopf does, in fact, murder Mieze with whom he is deeply in love and whether the reason Biberkopf’s life falls into ruin has to do with the hold exercised over him by Reinhold, the gangster with the sad eyes.

This year, 25 years after the death of the heretical German director, “Berlin Alexanderplatz” has been restored digitally on a Fassbinder Foundation initiative and was unveiled at the Berlin Film Festival during a special ceremony. As of this Thursday, the mammoth production will be screened over the course of a week at the Trianon cinema in central Athens. The event is being held in collaboration with the Goethe Institute and the Art Free distribution company.

“Fassbinder’s cinema is full of Biberkopfs, victims of false consciousness,” wrote Susan Sontag in Vanity Fair in 1983. “And the material of ‘Berlin Alexanderplatz’ is prefigured throughout his films, whose recurrent subject is damaged lives and marginal existences, petty criminals, prostitutes, transvestites, immigrant workers, depressed housewives, and overweight workers at the end of their tether… But ‘Berlin Alexanderplatz’ is more than a summary of his main themes. It was the fulfilment, and the origin.”

In the novel, Doblin describes Berlin as a city aboil in the 1920s: the hordes of the unemployed, the hungry, the proletariat, the hypocritical petit-bourgeoisie. He paints a portrait of a city like Sodom before its destruction, a city that would soon fall into the clutches of fascism. Fassbinder was first introduced to Doblin at the age of 14. Even though he only read 100 pages, the novel continued to haunt him. He carried it around with him for years.

Adapting the book for the screen was one of Fassbinder’s most ambitious endeavors, the dream of a lifetime and the crowning achievement of his career, it was filmed between 1979 and 1980. Although in his brief life, he died at the age of 37, Fassbinder created some 40 films, his work on Doblin’s novel remains a landmark to this day. The life and times of Biberkopf is a collage of myths, allegories, parabole and symbols. He comes out of prison with a desire to lead an honest life but the people around him and the world with all its troubles soon crush his aspirations. “He is a cheated victim who suffers his Golgotha until the very end, a blind, small man who refuses to open his eyes to History as it thunders ahead,” writes critic Michel Demopoulos.

The story, on page and on screen, has so many principal and secondary characters, plots and sub-plots, and twists and turns, that it is impossible to squeeze a synopsis into a few lines. The content, however, is not what’s important. What is important is the writer’s stance toward his characters. Doblin believed that even behind the most heinous acts lies a need for tenderness, that violence is another form of love and that people who become close will inevitably harm one another.

From the first episode, titled “The Punishment Begins,” to the epilogue, “My dream from the dream of Franz Biberkopf von Alfred Doblin,” the true subject for Fassbinder is the encounter between the hero Biberkopf and Reinhold, which he saw as an encounter that determined the lives of two men. Neither is homosexual, but they share a pure love that cannot be defined by social norms. Doblin’s interpretation of the relationship helped Fassbinder deal with his own problems, fears and homosexual urges, and, according to the director, saved him from destruction.

The greatest part of the film is set indoors and the only piece of the symbolic square that we are given is the metro station. The streets are narrow and sunless. Studio decor enhances the claustrophobic feel, while the stars, Gunter Lamprecht as Franz Biberkopf, Barbara Sukowa as Emilie “Mietze” Karsunke, Gottfried John as Reinhold and Hanna Schygulla as Eva, offer memorable performances, corpulent interpretations rich in tone and color.

“Berlin Alexanderplatz” triggered mixed reactions in West Germany when it first came out. Cinema critics exalted it, while television critics were extremely negative in their reviews. In the end, Fassbinder’s most arduous endeavor in his entire career may have been more suitable for the stage. For the artist, the work means freedom, a full statement of his obsessions and the end of his course as an artist. For the next two years and up to his death in 1982, Fassbinder turned to productions that were more professional and less about making a personal confession, “Lili Marleen,” “Lola,” “Veronica Voss” and “Querelle”.

At the Trianon Cinema, 21 Kodringtonos Street, Athens, tel 210 8215469, nearest metro station Victoria.

Greek rowers come second in Europe September 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Aquatics.
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Greeks earn four medals in Poznan’s European Championship, including two golds

Greece won two gold and two other medals in the European Rowing Championship in Poznan, Poland, yesterday as all of its four entries in the finals finished in the top three.

The results on the last day of the event took Greece to second place in the medals table behind the Czech Republic, a remarkable feat for this country at a European level.

Chryssa Biskitzi and Alexandra Tsiavou won gold in the women’s lightweight double sculls after leading the way from start to finish, clocking 7.21.03, over 11 seconds ahead of their closest rivals, Poland. Biskitzi and Tsiavou have already secured their trip to next year’s Olympic Games in Beijing.

In the men’s double sculls, Yiannis Tsamis and Yiannis Christou had scraped through to the final on Saturday, but yesterday they staged an amazing comeback in the last 300 meters to overtake Italy, Russia and Croatia and finish first with nearly a boat’s length ahead of the chasing pack. It was an amazing result and the first top-level medal for the unfancied Greek crew.

Vassilis Polymeros and Dimitris Mougios earned the silver medal in the men’s lightweight double sculls, losing only to 2005 world champions Zsolt Hirling and Tamas Varga of Hungary. The Greeks, who have also qualified for the Beijing Olympics, timed 6.39.26, behind Hungary’s 6.36.99.

Finally, Greece won the bronze medal in the men’s four, with the crew consisting of Yiannis Tsilis, Giorgos Tziallas, Giorgos Tziobanidis and Pavlos Gavriilidis. They clocked 6.13.50, just a second behind second-placed Germany. The Czech Republic finished first.

Related Links > http://www.wioslarstwo.poznan.pl/rowing/europachampion/organizing.html

The geography of surface water pollution in Greece September 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Environment, Nature, Science.
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Non-coastal Epirus has cleanest lakes and rivers in Europe > The waters of the Pindus ranges are as clear as they look. Water quality in Epirus, excepting its coastal areas, is exceptionally good.

  Pictured is the Aspropotamos (White) River.

The quality of lake and river water in Greece varies widely. Typically, bodies of water that have been subject to human activity, chiefly in the form of industry and agriculture, but also in the form of urban waste, have poor quality water. By contrast, surface waters in the Pindus region and throughout Epirus, apart from its coast, are considered to be the cleanest in Europe.

The basic cause of pollution of surface water “is not the lack of legislation so much as the lack of monitoring compliance with it,” George Zalidis, director of the Applied Soil Science laboratory at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, said. Moreover, local government, which is responsible for inspections, is vulnerable to pressure from local communities.

Hence there are cases such as that of Lake Koroneia, where once again scores of dead birds were found in the past few days. That lake receives unprocessed urban effluent from the Municipality of Langada, around 10,000 inhabitants, because the waste processing plant installed 10 years ago is not in operation.

Applying the European Union directive on water quality (2000/60), Aristotle University studied five physical and chemical parameters to measure water quality in rivers and lakes, using data collected by the Agriculture Ministry.

The first parameter they examined was the electrical conductivity of the water, which depends on the degree of salinity. As Zalidis explained, salinity comes from sea water entering bodies of fresh water (in estuaries, for example), but also from human activity. In Koroneia, large amounts of salt used by dyeing firms enter the lake. A more serious problem affects water in eastern and central Macedonia, due to pollutants from both Greece and neighboring countries.

The second parameter examined was the increase in the water’s pH, which is a common phenomenon in Koroneia. The rise in pH stems from substances that enter the lake as a result of industrial activity. “Fish and other organisms cannot tolerate these sudden changes and they die,” said Zalidis. The same applies to the third parameter, the concentration of dissolved oxygen. When the oxygen in water falls below a certain level, life cannot survive in the water and mass deaths ensue.

The levels of nitrates and phosphorus in the water rise as a result of farming and the use of fertilizers, as well as due to industrial outflow which overloads lakes and rivers with organic substances. In terms of geography, the highest levels of nitrates appear in rivers such as the Nestos, Evros and Axios that also cross other states.

High concentrations also occur in areas with intensive farming, such as the plain of Thessaly with the Pineios river, the Serres plain (Strymonas) and Appollonia (Axios). High levels of phosphorus appear in the Evros and Axios rivers, and the lakes of Petres, Heimaitidia, Zazari, Koronia and Ioannina.

Business agenda in Greece > 24 to 30 September September 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Shows & Conferences.
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Monday

  • Piraeus Chamber of Commerce and Industry meets at 7 p.m.
  • The Exporters’ Association of Northern Greece (SEVE) in cooperation with the Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship of Southeastern Europe (IMESE) hosts a conference focusing in particular on International Trade Management. At 7 p.m. at the IMESE premises in Thessaloniki. Tel 2310 535333.
  • Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SBBE) hosts a workshop on «Mass Customization,» at 1.45 p.m. at its premises in Thessaloniki. Tel 2310 539817 or visit > www.sbbe.gr

Tuesday

  • The Hellenic Management Center hosts its annual congress on «The Future of the Traditional Greek Shipping Company,» at 6 p.m. at the Eugenides Foundation on Syngrou Avenue in Athens. Tel 210 4125945 or visit > www.helmc.com

Wednesday

  • Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) hosts a conference on «Investing in the Western Balkans,» at 5 p.m. at the Divani Caravel Hotel in Athens. Tel 211 5006000 or visit > www.sev.org.gr
  • Hay Group hosts a conference on «Achieving Peak Performance: Lessons Learnt from Leading Companies,» at 9 a.m. at the Athenaeum Inter-Continental Hotel. For details visit > www.leaders-forum.com

Thursday

  • The first international conference on «Strategic Developments in Services Marketing,» begins at the Business School of the University of the Aegean and the Homerion Cultural Center of Chios Municipality in Chios island. The conference is hosted by the University of the Aegean and will run through Saturday. For details visit > www.ba.aegean.gr
  • International Exhibition of Machinery – Equipment for the Food Industry and Food Technology Trofotech-Foodtech 2007 opens at 5.30 p.m. at the Old Airport in Hellenikon in Athens. The exhibition will run through Sunday. Tel 210 7568888 or visit > www.foodtech-expo.com
  • An International conference on «Building low energy cooling and advanced ventilation technologies in the 21st century,» begins at the Aldemar Knossos Royal Village Hotel, Hersonissos, Crete. To Saturday. Tel 210 9730697 or visit >  www.palenc2007.conferences.gr

Saturday

  • The Technical College of Larissa is hosting a conference on «Management of International Business and Economics Systems 2007,» at its facilities in Larissa prefecture. To Sunday.