Photo: Μπάκο αλάνι…”Bako Alani” Redux

17 Nov

IMG_0579

(see previous post: “Photo: Jiannena graffitti: “Bako Alani“)

“Niko, I was curious, so I checked my Greek dictionary. Αλανη with an η does mean street dude, etc. as you say. Αλανι with an ι means an open space between occupied buildings. So maybe the graffiti was a sort of verbal squatting, a claim to the space as _un_occupied?”

H., sorry, but something happened to the word gender-wise in Greek slang that your dictionary doesn’t seem aware of; it became neuter to signify the person too.  Just google “είσαι πολύ αλάνι” and see what comes up:

“Γιαγιά είσαι πολύ μεγάλο αλάνι τελικά…”

“Μαλακα είσαι πολύ τυχερός που έχεις μια τέτοια γκόμενα, μπράβο ρε αλάνι, ;-)”

“αλάνι” — (neuter noun.) hate to contradict your dictionary again — doesn’t really mean an open space between two buildings, like it were an unbuilt-on lot waiting for a developer.  It usually means an unbuilt, by implication, unfenced piece of property, on the edges of a built-up area or on the edge of town, i.e., an area where “αλανιάρικα” kinds of activities take place: semi-legal and unwholesome (or superwholesome and fun).

Where “alana” has remained feminine in gender, it can mean empty lot.  But I know of only one use of it in modern Greek, in the haunting song of Giannes Spanos with lyrics by Leuteres Papadopoulos, one of the greatest lyricists of the Golden Age of twentieth-century Greek music, about the firing squad execution of Aristeides Pagkratides, thought to be Salonica’s infamous Şeyh Sü murderer, but later posthumously exonerated.

Μουσική: Γιάννης Σπανός

Στίχοι: Λευτέρης Παπαδόπουλος

Σ’ έστησαν σε μια γωνιά κι ήσουνα νέο παλικάρι
σ’ έστησαν σε μια γωνιά κι ήτανε τέσσερις φαντάροι
σ’ έστησαν σε μια γωνιά και σημαδεύαν την καρδιά σου
σ’ έστησαν σε μια γωνιά κι ήταν πρωί και παγωνιά

Σε καρτερούσε η ζωή και μια παραδουλεύτρα μάνα
κι έγινες κείνο το πρωί κόκκινο κρίνο στην αλάνα

Σ’ έστησαν σε μια γωνιά κι έκλαιγε η μοίρα σου παρέκει
σ’ έστησαν σε μια γωνιά κι είχε κι ο χάροντας τουφέκι
σ’ έστησαν σε μια γωνιά και τους κοιτούσες και γελούσες
σ’ έστησαν σε μια γωνιά κι ήταν πρωί και παγωνιά

Σε καρτερούσε η ζωή και μια παραδουλεύτρα μάνα
κι έγινες κείνο το πρωί κόκκινο κρίνο στην αλάνα

 –
“They set you up in a corner and you were a young man*
They put you in a corner and there were four soldiers
They put you up against a wall and were all aiming for your heart
They set you up in a corner and it was morning and freezing.
 –
“Life was “karterouse” you (waiting for/craving/expecting more of you)
along with a housekeeper mother.
But that morning you became a red lily in the alana.
 –
“They set you up in a corner and even your fate had stepped aside crying
They put you in a corner and even Death had a rifle
They put you up against a wall and you were looking at them and laughing
They set you up in a corner and it was morning and freezing.”
 –
(refrain)

The particular piece of graffiti in the Jiannena photo would have no meaning at all, if you’re dictionary were correct, since it’s on the corner of a completely built up intersection of a Jiannena avenue, with buildings on both sides and on the three other corners of the intersection it’s built on.  What then could it mean?  An advertisement for an “αλάνι” somewhere else that belongs to some Bakos?  Then it would be genitive: “Αλάνι Μπάκου”; or is it vocative? “Yo Bako! I got an alani I’m selling!” (Actually, “Yo Bake…” preferably, as an old girlfriend used to sarcastically address me when she could see me shifting gears into “Alani” mode.)

 

No.  It means:
             “MΠAKO”…(yes, vocative)
[είσαι] ALANI”
“Bakos, you street-dude”
Or, perhaps I am the “open space” in your dictionary?  Is it just a comment on my vapidness then?  Still…how did they know?
Because of course, the graffiti and the joke I tried to make about its possibly mysterious intent for me from an unknown sender/writer is now no longer even remotely funny.  As is ruined, as well, for me personally, the Spanos song, which I always though was about someone much more heroic than a mistaken-identity serial-killer — someone in the anti-Nazi resistance, for example, a partisan — and the song unfortunately is — or was — a great zeibekia.
 –

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

***********************************************************

* I’m not going to get into the definition of “pallikari” — how much more it means than just “young man” — in this post, not just now.  I don’t have the energy to do the word’s beauty justice.  The one foreigner who understood the word so perfectly and sweetly that he knew precisely when to — rightfully — stab us in the ribs with it was Tanpınar in his masterpiece “Huzur.”

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