Oct 31, 2011

Greek Goddesses: 3.Sofia Vempo

"The singer of victory" she was nicknamed, for her patriotic and satirical songs that inspirited a whole nation during the Italo-Greek War, just before the plunderous Nazi occupation winter of 1941-1942. But Sofia Vempo (1910-1978) was so much more. "The voice of Greece", some said after the War.
A wonderful, memorable mezzo voice at any rate and a spirited actress retaining her integrity till the end.

Her debut? Anecdotal, as were many things in those old singers' lives. Living (after involuntary extritation of her family from Constaninople/Istanbul in 1914) in Volos and homesick of her brother Georgie who was studying in Salonica and hadn't written in a long time, in September 1933 she boarded the passengers' ship Cephallonia with her guitar and started singing to pass the time en route. Within minutes, the whole ship was around her, clapping and urging on, delighted in her voice.

She looked rather plain, compared to other beauties of the time, but her very feminine wiles, her generosity of spirit and her "brio" made her a very attractive woman.

"If only for a little while", 1943 slow foxtrot
Music by L.Rapitis, lyrics by M.Traiforos

Mysirlou (original version, sung by Sofia Vempo)
Music & Lyrics by Nick Rubanis

"It's the 13th of the month (accursed day)" a Zeibek dance
(Music by Manos Hadjidakis, from the 1955 film Stella by Michalis Cacoyiannis)
"They think I'm superstitious,
but fate wanted it that way,
that I'd remain an orphan on the 13th,
on the 13th to remain a widow as well..."

Her husband (and longtime musical partner) Mimis Traiforos wrote on her tombstone:
"My unbreakable Sofia, your glory is such that it cannot go any further.
And your soul has levered itself so high off your body, that you're sky, of earth made no longer."

Oct 28, 2011

To certain people there comes a day when they must say the great Yes or the great No

The historic Greek Ohi/ "No" (to voluntarily surrendering the country to the fascists) was absolutely right then; it built the nation as it came through the grandest adventure of the 20th century, fighting against Fascism and the powers of evil for whatever was good and decent and right. As mentioned on big international sites:
"it was a "No!" that brought Greece into the war on the Allied side; for a time, Greece was Britain's only ally against Hitler. Greece not only did not give Mussolini's forces free passage, they seized the offensive and drove them back through most of Albania [...] One theory suggests that had Greece agreed to surrender without resistance, Hitler would have been able to invade Russia in spring, rather than making his disastrous attempt to take it in winter. Western nations, always happy to credit ancient Greece with the development of democracy, may owe modern Greece an equal but usually unrecognized debt for helping to preserve democracy against its enemies during World War II."
Erick Mauraise in his book "Armored Warfare"about WW2 states that the two month delay caused to the Germans (April-May 27) by the resistence of the Greeks (France fell in two weeks) may well have caused Germany to lose the war, since without Greece the invasion of Russia (operation Barbarossa)would have taken place on May 1st as originally planned and the German army would have had 64 days (1st October-4th December) to capture Moscow before the coming of the Russian winter.
The same is hinted in the Historical archives of the Wermacht (in Alexandria-US) -'The Years of War' vol.8 "Vom Serbien bis Creta" (From Serbia to Crete)

«...On October 28th 1940 Greece was given an ultimatum with 3 hours time to reply to, not 3 days or 3 weeks. But even if it were 3 years' time, the answer would have been the same: No!"
  [from a speech by Franklin Roosvelt, on 6/10/1943.]

"For reasons of historical necessity, I have to admit that only the Greeks, out of all the adversaries who have confronted us, fought with bold courage and highest disregard of death" ~recorded by Herman Rauschning in Hitler's adress to the Reichstag on 5/4/1941 (chronicled as he did with all Hitler's speeches and mentioned in his book "Hitler Speaks")

Where's today's "No" when you need it??

"Duce Puts On His Uniform" (Music by Theophraste Sakellaridis, lyrics by George Thisbios, sung by Sofia Vempo) A parody of the song "Mario knits her dowry" as heard in the satirical drama «Bella Grecia», at the Mondial theatre in 1941.

"Children, children of Greece" (Music by Michael Soyoul, Lyrics by Mimis Traiforos & Emilios Savvidis, sung by Sofia Vempo) was first heard on the satirical play "Wartime Athens" at the Mondial theatre during the winter of 1940-1941.This song is written on an already existing melody, Zehra, a love song sung by Sofia Vempo. The melody was known and loved and Mimis Traiforos along with Vempo decided to change the lyrics and adjust them to the Greek reality of the time, creating a song for the Greek Soldiers; a song that would encourage the soldiers but would also inspirit their mothers and women who were waiting for their sons and husbands -or even fathers- to come back from the war.

The title of the post comes from Constantine Cavafy's poem ‘Che fece...il gran rifiuto’. Somewhat giving a different spin.

Oct 27, 2011

Greek Crisis T-shirt

Someone responds with a vengeance: "Your culture". (Click on the photo to see it written with pen on the right hand bottom corner)

Oct 21, 2011

"Greek Crisis Will Be Remembered as a Success Story"

Italy’s former EU Commissioner and president of Bocconi University, Mario Monti, speaking at the launch event of EurActiv Italy said there is no crisis of the euro, because the symptoms of a weak currency, inflation and exchange rate, are not there. Instead of this, Europe is going through a public debt and banking crisis, which can be tackled through rigorous structural reforms. “Even if Greece will not do all that Germany asks, they are putting in place the restructuring of their own rules, which is what Germany asked.” [quote]
Greeks are intent on an attack on nepotism and corruption which have destabilised the country.

Art is Thriving Amongst Greek Crisis

"Beyond the depressing headlines, there’s a manic side of Greece today, especially in Athens, which has an energy not seen elsewhere in the slow-moving Mediterranean. Art galleries are thriving. Street artists paint tiny gems amid the growing downtown squalor. A new generation of filmmakers has captured the air of uncertainty by making the familiar strange. Athens is an anarchic, overcaffeinated mess of a city, filled with oleander and concrete, jasmine and car exhaust: part Milan and part Karachi, a strange combination of European sophistication and third world chaos. The economic crisis has accentuated the divide".

From an article by Richard Donadio appearing in the New York Times. Read it here.

Oct 17, 2011

The Greek: A Guinea Pig of the Future Man (Now Available for International Distribution)

From the French satire «Les Guignols de l’info» a video criticizing the guinea-pig state on which Greeks are reduced to. An omen for people all over the world? It remains to be seen.

If can't watch the clip below, try this link.