The Horde

16 Apr

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I’m afraid if he wins.  I’m even more afraid if he doesn’t win.  Sorry, but I don’t see much hope for a people who can only form that kind of political culture.

Oh, here we go again…

28 Feb


Do f*cking Anglo-Saxons never tire of the end of Frenchdom genre? (which always just sounds like pure jealousy mostly).  I spent four of the most heady, sensuous, verbally stimulating and intelligent, beautiful months of my life in and around Albi and Toulouse.  I’ll take Albi over, say,  Colchester any day.


My 2016 man of the year

15 Feb

Omar Daqneesh


“First they came for the Socialists…”

30 Jan


JFK Airport yesterday.

The full poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller :

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

“Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

“Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

“Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”


Belgrade: do we have a problem?

19 Jan

Novak Djokovic, the six-time men’s singles champion at the Australian Open, was defeated in five sets in the second round of the tournament in Melbourne on Thursday. Paul Crock/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 1.56.46 PM.png

MELBOURNE, Australia — In one of the biggest upsets in Australian Open history, Novak Djokovic, a six-time champion in the tournament, was defeated in five sets in the second round by Denis Istomin, a wild card from Uzbekistan ranked 117th in the world.

With Istomin’s stunning 7-6 (10-8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 victory, Djokovic, ranked No. 2, suffered his earliest defeat in a Grand Slam tournament in nearly nine years.

It was also the latest blow to Djokovic’s battered aura of invincibility. In June, after winning the French Open for the first time, the elastic Serb held all four Grand Slam singles titles at the same time. Now, he is the reigning champion only in Paris.

“He was an underdog, but he didn’t show any nerves in the big moments,” Djokovic said about his opponent after the match. “Surely he didn’t play that many big matches, but just everything came together for him. It was the right moment for him, the right day, and he was better.”

Djokovic was upset in the third round of Wimbledon last year by an American, Sam Querrey, surprised in the final of the United States Open by Stan Wawrinka, and then shocked on Thursday afternoon by Istomin, who made it into the Australian Open only by winning an Asian wild-card event.


Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, ranked 117th in the world, gave Djokovic his earliest defeat in a Grand Slam tournament in nearly nine years. Credit Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

But although Djokovic and the other members of the so-called Big Four have dominated tennis over the last decade, there is great depth and danger at the lower levels. Istomin, a 30-year-old in wraparound sunglasses, made it clear from the start that this could be a struggle. The opening game required 16 minutes before Djokovic won it and raised both arms in celebration.

But Istomin would be the one exulting nearly five hours later, when he finished off the biggest win of his career with a powerful first serve down the middle that Djokovic, one of the best returners in history, lunged for and reached with his backhand but could not manage to put back in play.

“First of all, I feel sorry for Novak; I was playing so good today,” Istomin said after the match. “I surprised myself as well.”

“So many lines!” Djokovic complained at one frustrated stage as Istomin hit another winner.

But though this might have been vintage Istomin, it was far from vintage Djokovic. At his best, the 29-year-old is one of the most consistent baseline players in history. On Thursday, he had more unforced errors (72) than winners (68), and he also looked tentative at some major turning points.

“There was intensity, of course,” Djokovic said. “We played four-and-a-half hours. It’s just that, you know, it’s one of these days when you don’t feel that great on the court, don’t have much rhythm, and the player you’re playing against is feeling the ball very well. So, you know, that’s sport.”

His defeat leaves Andy Murray, the world’s No. 1 player, as the favorite to win his first Australian Open title. But Istomin’s big moment will give many lesser-ranked men faith that they, too, can play the match of their lives in Rod Laver Arena.


Χιόνιζε… Όλη νύχτα στα Γιάννενα χιόνιζε

12 Jan

Μια τέτοια νύχτα πριν από χρόνια
Κάποιος περπάτησε μόνος
Δεν ξέρω πόσα λασπωμένα χιλιόμετρα
Κάποιος περπάτησε μόνος

Νύχτα και συννεφιά, χωρίς άστρα
Πήγαινε το δρόμο δρόμο

Ξημερώματα, μπήκε στα Γιάννενα
Στο πρώτο χάνι έφαγε και κοιμήθηκε τρία μερόνυχτα
Ξύπνησε απ’ το χιόνι που έπαιφτε μαλακά
Στάθηκε στο παράθυρο και άκουγε τα κλαρίνα
Και άκουγε τα κλαρίνα
Πότε θαμπά και πότε δίπλα του
Πότε θαμπά
Και πότε δίπλα του
Όπως τα ‘φερνε ο άνεμος

Και άκουσε μετά τη φωνή πεντακάθαρη
Από κάπου κοντά την άκουσε
Σαν αλύχτημα και σαν να την έσφαζαν τη γυναίκα
Κι ούτε καυγάς, ούτε τίποτα άλλο
Όλη νύχτα στα Γιάννενα χιόνιζε

Ξημερώματα, πλήρωσε ότι χρωστούσε και γύριζε στο χωριό του
Στα πενήντα του θα ‘τανε
Με γκρίζα μαλλιά και τρεις θυγατέρες, ανύπαντρες
Χήρος τέσσερα χρόνια
Στα πενήντα του θα ‘τανε

Χήρος τέσσερα χρόνια
Με τη μαύρη κάπα στις πλάτες
Αχ, το τι χιόνι σήκωσαν
Τι χιόνι σήκωσαν τούτες οι πλάτες
Κανένας δε το ‘μαθε…
Κανένας δε το ‘μαθε…


For translation see: Jiannena

A buddy from Novi Sad reminds me to be optimistic: “Оно што радиш на божић, радићеш целе године.”

9 Jan


“Ono šta radiš na Božić radićeš cele godine” — “What you do for Christmas, you will do for the entire year.”

I think that when I start worrying about Djoković’ nervous condition, my friends start to worry about my nervous condition.  So — the timing couldn’t have been better — I posted that piece about Nole’s possible meltdown as 2016 closed, and the day after Christmas, he wins the first of the year’s Grand Slams in Melbourne.  A great start!

(And a great game from Murray too.)


And M. from Novi Sad rushed to send me this Serbian proverb to lift my spirits even higher than they already were.  Nice of friends to think of you.

She actually sent me the proverb in Latin script first, and I asked her for the Cyrillic for the post.  We then bonded around our concern for the use of Cyrillic script, because it actually does bug me in Serbia that so much “public” language uses Latin script.

There’s even a graffiti campaign apparently:


“Write with the Cryrllic.”

Take heed.  It’s a slippery slope.  You write Latin script for this and then for that and then for everything and the Cyrillic gets harder and harder to use.  Then one morning you wake up and you’re Croatian.

And Христос се роди!  Christ is born!  Merry Christmas!  And let’s hope Djok bears out the truth in the proverb.


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