On the Frontlines of the Refugee Crisis

If you would like to humanize the humanitarian crisis that’s happening right now in the Middle East, Turkey, Greece and the Aegean, watch this short documentary from the NYT. In it, you will be presented with a view of the crisis from the front lines – the Greek coast guard and the refugees themselves. What can one say? The scenes are simply heartbreaking. Refugees–among them many women and children–desperately attempting to flee war and state collapse, and on the other side, the Greek coast guard and Greek islanders who simply lack the resources to deal with such an enormous, difficult situation but make every effort to do so. And no one lends a hand. The EU has forsaken Greece, made it into some sort of quarantine zone–problem solved, they must say! Typical Eurocrats–heartless, cruel, selfish to the core. And the broader international community? Well, the US has done little, in no small part due to the rampant Islamophobia gripping the country (fomented more so by the vile campaign of Donald Trump). And so the lost are left to fend for themselves, told (effectively), to deal with it, wait a bit (or, you know, for months or years), for some sort of coherent policy to emerge. Such will never arrive. For these are the world’s forgotten, the have nots–everyday Syrians, Afghans, and others–the “collateral damage” from the games of the great powers, whose mercy is absent and lust for destruction knows no bounds. Perhaps a few heads of state should sit and watch this video–watch as near-dead children are rescued and resuscitated, watch as the masses of the dispossessed float in the cold Aegean–and see their policies in action. For ours is a reprehensible global order, writ large in this video through the suffering of the innocent.


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On the Frontier of the EU

A good article that details the situation on Greece’s eastern Aegean islands:

But the deal has also turned Greece’s eastern Aegean islands into holding centres. Those rescued by the Hellenic Coast Guard are shipped to the islands of Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Leros, and Kos, and confined there until their first asylum interview has been conducted. Depending on the outcome, they are either given permission to complete the asylum process on the mainland or deported back to Turkey. But so far, just 509 people have been returned to Turkey under the deal and there are now some 14,000 refugees on the islands, overwhelming facilities built for half that number. More arrive nearly every day.

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Papazoglou, 1935, Kalogria (“Nun”).

Βαρέθηκα τον κόσμο πιά, καλογριά θα γίνω,
και απάνω σε ψηλό βουνό, μονάχη μου θα μείνω.

I’m tired of this world, I’ll become a nun,
and go up to a tall mountain, where I’ll live alone.


Here’s a wonderful version sung by Eleftheria Arvanitaki in her younger years. The folk guitar in this recording is simply fantastic–what a sound.

And the original:

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Βραχνάς, Αθανασίου – Αίγινα, 1977

Aigina, 1977. Nikos Vraxnas and Thanasis Athanasiou–two old school rebetes, prepping for an album that never came to be. Enjoy and, please, appreciate the extraordinary uniqueness of this recording:



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An Aerial Video of the Corinthia

The Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth has produced a wonderful video of the Corinthia’s antiquities from the air. Take a look:

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Yiovan Tsaous Tabouras

Here, Stavros Kourousis, author of From Tabouras to Bouzouki, plays one of Tsaous’ actual instruments–the larger tabouras (he also played a smaller tzouras). As Kourousis notes, Tsaous recorded Diamanto Alaniara, Blamissa, Se mia Mikroula, and Yelasmenos with this instrument. It sounds the way it does, in part, because the strings are quite old. According to the man who keeps the instrument, they haven’t been changed since Tsaous’ death in 1942 (though this is somewhat difficult to believe).

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H Drosoula

“The Dew”

From the Indian Summer of Rebetika…Tsitsanis, 1944, with Markos singing. The teke mentioned in this song is that of Miltos Sidheris, Nikiforos Fokas Street, Thessaloniki. Tsitsanis spent most of the war in Thessaloniki, where he wrote many of his finest songs, all of which were recorded after the war–so, too, this one in ’45 or ’46.



A modern version from Skopelos:



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