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Sex Gods February 4, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology, Gay Life, Sports & Games.
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Sports stars have been erotic icons since the time of ancient Greece > The ancient Greeks thought that going to the gym regularly was a good way to prepare young men for war, and a necessary training for the body’s health. It was also the place to pick up boys.

Socrates, the philosopher, always had an eye for the cute young man, and he describes the scene at Taureas’ gym when the hunk of the day walked in. ‘The fellow looked absolutely amazing: his beauty, his size. Everyone seemed to me to fancy him – they were so dumb-struck and confused when he came in – with a great crowd of lovers following him.’ A friend adds: ‘If he took his kit off, you wouldn’t bother with his face …’

This was a familiar scene to Socrates’s audience. The classical Greeks were obsessed with beautiful bodies and spent a good deal of time talking about them, honing them, and looking at each other’s flesh. In the gym, men – and men only – took all their clothes off, poured oil over their bodies and then had it scraped off, and then they exercised naked, including wrestling together. In a culture that supported affectionate and erotic relations between males, it is no surprise that going to the gym was a pretty sexy affair.

04-02-08_runners.jpg  This was part of the good life. Every Greek city worth its name had a string of gymnasiums and many citizens went to the gym every day. One little poem celebrates the ideal vividly: ‘He’s a lucky guy, who’s in love, goes to the gym, comes home and sleeps with his beautiful boy all day.’ These words were written for performance by a man among his friends, drinking happily at a symposium – the evening parties at which men relaxed together. For the ancient Greek, sex and sport went together naturally.

The professional athlete on his way to the Olympic Games was sometimes advised not to have sex before the day to save his strength. But the man who won at the Olympic Games returned home in a procession as grand as any ticker-tape parade, and, like any modern celebrity, became a sex-bomb overnight. Even the cabbage-eared boxer, sweaty from the fray, had his passionate admirers.

Sport was where masculinity was on display – and masculinity was a turn-on for the Greek spectators. In a city such as Athens, the Greek man was surrounded by statues of beautiful heroes and warriors – naked bodies, impossibly developed, and perfectly formed. These statues are now seen as the masterpieces of classical art. But these wonderful bodies, like pictures of supermodels for women today, were a frightening ideal to live up to. The gym could also be an anxious experience.

Men should ‘glow with fabulous conditioning: neither lean nor skinny, nor excessive in weight, but etched with symmetry’. That’s Lucian, a Greek satirist from the Roman Empire, spelling out what to aim for: a six-pack, good legs, to be beautifully symmetrical but not too heavy with muscles …

Socrates was famous for wandering up to acquaintances in the street and warning them that they had got flabby and clearly weren’t working out hard enough. Looking at citizens’ bodies and being looked at critically was all part of the life of the gym. In the city, there was no place to hide. Your body was open to the public gaze – and revealed what sort of a man you were.

Athenians found it disgusting that in Sparta women also exercised. For them it was an all-male business. And they recognized that sport in the gym was very much like the grapplings of the bedroom. ‘Before wrestling under the rules of the Goddess of Love,’ wrote the novelist Achilles Tatius, ‘boys get to grapple on the wrestling mat, publicly locking bodies together in the gym – and no one says that these embraces are immodest.’ Wrestling is a training for when ‘bodies rub firmly against one another in the athletics of pleasure’.

Achilles Tatius is a sly and wicked writer, but he touches the heart of the issue. For ancient Greeks, going to the gym was never just about sport. It was always about sex, too.

Article by Simon Goldhill, a professor of Greek literature and culture at the University of Cambridge. © Copyright The Guardian

See a slide show of pictures from the Athens 2004 Olympic Games > click here

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Costas Coulentianos > a retrospective exhibition February 4, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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Maria Demetriades and Ben Coulentianos present the work of Costas Coulentianos. The exhibition is going to include mainly, bass-relief’s from wood, stainless steel and gold-plated bronze, from his late period, before his death in 1995.

Coulentianos arrived in Paris before 63 years, in December 1945, he obtained a scholarship from the French government. After a short passage from the Ecole des Beaux Arts and Zatkin’s workshop in the Grande Chaumiere, the artist distant himself from the academic perception that was instilled within him, by his studies in the Greek Superior School of Fine Arts (1936-1939).

In 1947, his acquaintance with Henri Laurens was very influential for his later work. His sculptures, many of them made out of lead, are a proof of the determining influence of the great Laurens (1947-1952). Since 1952, he started working with iron, rounded organic forms. The “Acrobats” period, between 1952-1959, was very important.

After the making of the last “Acrobat” in 1959, he passed to abstraction. In 1962 he did his first solo exhibition, in the eminent, at the time, Galerie de France. Simultaneously, he started to work together with architects in order to incorporate sculpture into architecture. He attempted to do that by making big sculptures for public buildings and open spaces. At the same period he formulated repetitive decorative elements made out of plaster, cement or concrete that was poured in polyester moulds. A defining feature in the sculptures of this period was the torch-welding with a detachable bronze stick (in the period of the sixties).

In 1966, he moved in central France where he built a workshop that manufactured looms for the production of tapestries, of his own design (1969-1975).

The first bolted sculptures, that characterized his work until the end, came from that same period. Coulentianos started teaching in the School of Decorative Arts in Paris (1975-1976) and after moving in the south of France he taught in the School of Fine Arts in Marseilles (1979-1980).

Between 1979 and 1982 he created a new series of sculptures that was named “New Generation”. With sculptures from this series, he represented Greece, in the 1980, Biennale of Venice. Since then and for the following 15 years he had a tight contact with Greece, until his last exhibition that occurred in 1991.

Coulentianos, remains in the history of sculpture as an artisan, with the complete meaning of the word. His work started with the essential theme of the female figure, naked, sited, lying, standing, acrobat and dancer. Gradually he was lead to dispute the traditional conceptions and liberated himself from specific views towards the human body, his work did not pay tribute to something visible, but to the internal dynamics that seek expression. He remained loyal to the inspiring figures that marked his training in Greece, he particularly loved ancient Greek sculpture and created sculptures that were unadorned, strict, vivid, balanced and very powerful.

Gallery Medousa, 7 Xenokratous Street, Kolonaki, Athens. To March 1st.

Saint Etienne > quality pop act in town February 4, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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Saint Etienne play Saturday at the Gagarin club in Athens.

Like most groups whose lineups include former music journalists, the quality pop band Saint Etienne, in Athens for a show at the Gagarin Club this Saturday, was formed with a specific concept in mind: to fuse the sound of pop music in London back in the 60s with the club-circuit dance styles that characterized the UK in the early 90s.

Led by the group’s key songwriters Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs with Sarah Cracknell on sensual vocals, the British pop band from Surrey, England managed to achieve their artistic objective. The group’s work also helped add substance to the alternative dance-music scene and contributed a distinctive quality to the domain.

Since their 1992 debut album “Foxbase Alpha”, Saint Etienne have experimented with various aspects of contemporary music. The band’s infectious melodies, their impeccably produced material, intelligent lyrics and Cracknell’s delightful vocals combine to create a highly distinctive style.

Saint Etienne’s upcoming show in Athens this weekend will include material from various phases of the trio’s eight-album career.

Gagarin 205 Club, 205 Liosion Street, Athens, tel 210 8547600.

Related Links > http://www.gagarin205.gr

Record number of US visitors for Greece in 2007 February 4, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Tourism.
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US tourist arrivals to Greece hit a record number last year, according to data provided by the Athens International Airport (AIA), collated in a quantitative and qualitative survey on the profile of American tourists.

Arrivals from the US for any reason recorded an increase of 34 percent compared to 2006, while the number of US vacationers arriving at Athens Airport rose by 13.5 percent.

The US market – along with those of Germany, Britain and Italy – is among the most profitable for Greece’s tourism sector, in terms of either number of arrivals or foreign exchange income. The impressive rise in tourist numbers from the US started in 2005 and continued for the next two years.

Unlike other traditional tourism markets which were not greatly influenced by the Olympics, the Athens 2004 Games made a major contribution to the increase in the number of arrivals from the US.

In addition to the overall promotion of Greece during the 2004 Games, safety concerns were also allayed. Feelings of security are taken into serious consideration primarily by US visitors when choosing a holiday destination.

In addition, an important contribution to rising arrivals has been the considerable funds spent on advertising Greece as a tourist destination in the US market, as well as the country’s upgraded participation in international fairs and exhibitions.

As for 2008, concerns about tourism are focused on the rising appreciation of the euro against the US dollar. This, naturally, is an issue faced by all European destinations, as it intensifies competition amid efforts to claim larger shares from the US tourism market.

In contrast, Greece’s closest competitor, Turkey, has no reason to worry about currency considerations. Security seems to be the greatest problem US visitors face in that country. However, such a development necessitates the launch of an intensive advertising campaign in the US also this year in order to maintain the rising numbers of US visitors to Greece.

Arrivals of US visitors to Greece in 2006 recorded an increase of approximately 400 percent compared to 2005. In 2007, 416,381 arrivals via direct flights were recorded from the US, against 319,146 one year previously.

The survey carried out by AIA on the US market shows that 435,490 Americans who arrived at Athens Airport in 2007 stated they were coming to Greece for a vacation, compared to 383,890 in 2006.

AIA communication and marketing director Giorgos Karamanos says an increase in air transport capacity – with new airlines connecting Athens with US cities – has helped the continuing rise in US arrivals.

Last summer, 79 percent of US visitors said they had come to Greece for a vacation (76 percent in 2006), 11 percent said they came to visit relatives and friends (13 percent in 2006) and 10 percent reported that they were on a business trip (11 percent in 2006).

Their stay in Greece increased by one day, to 16, of which six were spent in Athens. Most US visitors held a college degree, while the average amount spent by Americans in Greece was much higher than any other foreign visitor group. Their numbers were evenly split between men and women.

The vast majority of tourists from the US stated as their place of residence New York, followed by Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington and Philadelphia.

Panayiotis Yiannakis also takes on Olympiakos February 4, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Basketball.
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Greece coach, still at helm, succeeds Pini Gershon at struggling but ambitious Piraeus club

Greece basketball coach Panayiotis Yiannakis has taken over the helm at Olympiakos in place of Israeli Pini Gershon, the struggling Piraeus team announced last night. The deal, it said, will run through the summer of 2010.

Yiannakis, a monumental figure in Greek basketball, both as a player and coach, will also continue coaching the men’s national team, which he has successfully led since 2005, following a less impressive first tenure between 1996 and 1999.

Gershon’s days at Olympiakos looked grim following successive defeats against PAOK in the domestic league last weekend and Montepaschi Siena in the Euroleague on Wednesday. “I always say that you pay the coach money to have somebody to blame in defeats,” Gershon, sensing his end, declared after the Euroleague defeat. Olympiakos scraped through to the competition’s second stage. “We have a great administration and if they think that there is someone who can do the job better than me, then that’s OK,” continued the Israeli who led Maccabi to two Euroleague titles before joining Olympiakos.

Panathinaikos moves to top in the Greek Super League February 4, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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Celebrating its centennial anniversary yesterday, the historic Athens club Panathinaikos became the new leader in the Greek Super League on Sunday after being the only team among the soccer competition’s top three to emerge victorious in the 19th round of play, or almost two-thirds of the way into the season.

Panathinaikos, which was founded on February 3, 1908, overcame a stubborn Asteras Tripolis, the season’s surprise team, for a 2-0 home victory following goals that came relatively late.

AEK, the previous league leader, suffered a 3-2 home defeat against midtable Panionios, after trailing 3-0, to drop to second place.

Panathinaikos now leads with 43 points, one point ahead of second-placed AEK, which has held top spot for most of the season. Olympiakos, preparing to meet English powerhouse Chelsea later this month in the Champions League for a place in the quarterfinals, slipped from second to third with 41 points after being stunned 1-0 away at relegation-threatened Thessaloniki club Apollon Kalamaria.

Panathinaikos had to wait until the 76th minute to breach the Asteras Tripolis defense. A cross from Greece international Giorgos Karagounis was delightfully headed by substitute Dame N’Doye for the encounter’s opening goal.

Seven minutes later, the visitors, who had threatened to score several times, were left with 10 men when Horacio Cardozo, expressing his team’s frustration, was shown a second yellow card for a wild lunge at Panathinaikos striker Dimitris Salpigidis. The latter was credited with Panathinaikos’s second, two minutes from time, when the ball bounced off the striker’s knee and into the net following a goalmouth scramble.

Aris moved up to fourth with a comfortable 2-0 win at home against bottom-placed Ergotelis. Defender Avraam Papadopoulos opened from the penalty spot on 22 minutes and Spaniard Felipe Sanson made it 2-0 in the 59th. In the round’s other games, it was: Veria-Iraklis, 1-2; OFI-PAOK, 2-0; Atromitos-Xanthi, 2-3; Levadiakos-Larissa, 0-1.

New partners for Greece’s Forthnet February 4, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Internet & Web, Telecoms.
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GO plc and Emirates International Telecommunications Malta Limited (EITML) said that they have acquired about 21 percent of Greek alternative telecom and ISP Forthnet for 93.8 million euros.

GO and EITML decided to acquire all the shares of Cypriot-registered company Forgendo, which had in turn agreed with Forthnet shareholders – Novator Equities, Cycladic Catalyst Master Fund, and the Foundation of Research and Technology – to acquire a total of 8,158,912 shares at 11.5 euros per share.

Novator sold its entire 10.12 percent stake, Cycladic sold all of its 5.73 percent stake and the Foundation sold 5.15 percent stake of its 11.36 percent holding in Forthnet to Forgendo. The transaction is subject to Greek regulatory approvals.

Last week, Forthnet, which is listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, closed 0.2 percent lower at 9.5 euros, implying that GO and EITML have paid a 21 percent premium for the 21 percent holding. GO plc is 60 percent owned by the parent company of EITML, Dubai Holdings LLC.