Novak and his cross

10 Jan

For me there’s always been something “real man” about a guy who’s not too macho to show some form of piety* — we all know those Greek men who cross themselves like they’re flicking crumbs off their tie, right? — especially if that “real man” is Orthodox, Serbian and Novak Djoković. I have a long history of dating sons of clergymen: priests, rabbis, even pastors.

Let’s hope he gets out of this Australian mess as soon as possible, though it’s hard for me to not put part of the blame on him.

* By “piety” I do not mean the Fellowship, or the Family, or C Street, or American Evangelism in any, any, any form, which I don’t consider Christianity or even religion, but the most dangerous threat to faith of any kind since Calvin. I hope my readers knew that about me before reading this.

Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Child”

10 Jan

Gyllenhaal’s film is minorly brilliant, haunting and unheimlich in a deep sense. But she only dedicated about 20 seconds of screen time to Oliver Jackson Cohen. WTF? That’s criminal. Why did she even bother with him?

Olivia Coleman, of course, was incredible — as always. Along with a brilliant performance, she also projects a certain kind of archetypal Englishwoman, not always in a flattering manner.

New header image: Bosnian woman and child in Sarajevo, 1947

10 Jan

This pic is also featured in post immediately below. It’s one of my favorites. Stylish 1940s dress and niqab-like hat/item. And so late. Wonder when Bosnian women started going veil-less. (And sorry I’m not sorry if focusing on the niqab is Islamophobic, orientalizing, or a fetishization of others’ identity. Denounce me to Big Sister.)

Bosnian History (@BosnianHistory) has fantastic pictures of Old Bosnia

10 Jan

Lifted by me without permission — hope she forgives me:

“Les Bosniaques en marche”, 1890
A couple from Kreševo, date unknown
At the fountain in Sarajevo, early 20th c.
Mostar 1898
Bihać, 1908
Bosnian Christian left, Bosnian Muslim right, date unkown
Bosnia: coffee and mangal, date unknown
Bosnian costumes, date unknown (the beauty, variety and opulence of Balkan female dress always blows me away, especially as the West has traditionally thought of the Balkans as a poor part of the world.)
Bosnia, dance, no further information (I love the movement of the colored salvar — the women’s long baggy pants.)
House and family in Herzegovina, date and location unknown (along with ethnic/religious affiliation of those pictured; but the women aren’t wearing salvar — see previous photo — which traditionally identified a woman as Muslim in the Balkans; I’m assuming they’re Croats or Serbs)
Mostar (date unknown): among other things, an illustration of the ridiculously phallic competition to make church towers higher than minarets — and it’s only gotten worse today.
Sarajevo, 1890, guessing, from left to right, Croatian, Serbian and Muslim women.
Sarajevo, 1892 (the gorgeous lattice work of the round cumba on house on left.)
Serbian woman from Herzegovina, date unkown, one of @BosnianHistory ‘s loveliest photos.
Travnik, 1900, love the low divan, coffee and cigarette (staples of civilized Ottoman life) and the partial smirk on the second from left woman that’s the only thing that comes close to a smile. In Dinner with Persephone by Patricia Storace, the best travel book on Greece since the earlier work of Patrick Leigh Fermor, which I give to all friends who are going to Greece for the first time, Storace writes: “The initial glance here is inquisitive, investigative. There are no easy smiles given away in Greece. It hasn’t yet been ascertained that your existence deserves a smile.” The huge, pearl-white teeth smile is, I think, an entirely American invention: the relentless positivity of the American psyche (Like, why are you smiling?) until the crazy smile descends into total psychosis.
Tuzla 1902
Bosnia urban couple, no further info, but an illustration that urban dress throughout the Balkans was basically a variety of Ottoman urban dress; the wildly imaginative costumes belonged more to the rural population.
Bosnia, no further info, but another image of Ottoman coffee “tea ceremony”. People swear, till today, that coffee made in the ashes of a mangal, like in the photo, tastes far superior to coffee made by any other contraption.
Bosnian Croats (no further info), hence, I guess, the resemblance to Catholic nuns’ headress.
Jajce, 1941
Bosnian bride and father-of in more contemporary image. Again, it’s obvious that these costumes cost a fortune for families. Luckily most of the gold is inherited. And I love the male vanity of dad. Montenegrin men (the butchest of Balkan butch) dress in similarly extravagant stuff, and if I’m not wrong every male in Montenegro still has a traditional outfit made for him for ceremonial occasions. The Male in nature?
Kolo in Busovača, 1926
Busovača, 1926
Sarajevo, girl at fountain, 1920s
Mostar, 1950s (relatively late, but Greek rural women wore traditional clothing until the 50s – 60s as well.)
Mostar, 1912
Mother and child in Sarajevo, 1947. This may be my absolute favorite: stylish 40s fashion and traditional niqab-like item.
Sarajevo, Logavina, 1904
Sarajevo, 1938
Sarajevo bakery, Eid/Bayram, 1910. Sorry man, but the niqab must be a real pain-in-the-*ss.
Latinluk, Sarajevo, 1933, Sephardic women on a stroll (Does anyone know what “Latinluk” means? In Turkish it literally means the “Latin-ness”
Sephardic women (or as caption says “Spanish women”) in Sarajevo, early 20th c.
Urban garb, Sarajevo, early 20th century. And an image of the much-commented-on height of Bosnians.
Tuzla, 1911
Woman in traditional dress, Mrkonjić Grad, Bosnia.
Muslim women in Sarajevo, 1925
Young men smoke nargilé (hookah) and play music, Sarajevo, 1898




The Nick Bakos urge to ask the beautiful Korean kid on the 7 train with the gorgeous eyes to put down his phone and pull down his mask for a minute…just a minute

7 Dec

St. Nicholas

7 Dec

Repost from a while ago: “They’re human beings” — December 6th

6 Dec

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Niko was never a name I was nuts about, though it was that of a grandfather I’m proud of.  And I never had a massive crush on St. Nicholas the way I do on St. Demetrius or St. Stephen or Nestor…or my Kanha…

But I do remember a sermon on December 6th ages ago, an unusually enlightened and intelligent one for a Greek-American priest, and an older one at that, at my parish in Whitestone.  I can only paraphrase it now:

“St. Nicholas was not one of our great warrior saints like St. Demetrius or St. George.  He wasn’t one of our intellectual, theologian saints like the Cappadocians.  He was simply a saint who made sure that, to the best of his abilities, everyone under his care had a place to sleep and food to eat.”

Then he went on to the part that I’ll really never forget:

“When someone comes to you in need, the first and only thing you’re to think of is the vulnerable and potentially humiliating position this human being has put himself in by needing and asking for your help.  You’re not to think of how much you can give or how much he needs.  Or if “he’s gonna spend it on drugs.”  You’re to keep him from feeling humiliated with whatever you can.  That’s all.”

My favorite St. Nicholas story — and probably the one that Santa Claus has its roots in — is how he went secretly to the home of the three daughters of a poor man at night and left them three bags of gold through the window so that they would have dowries and be able to marry.  He didn’t rail against the dowry system; he didn’t get off on his ideological correctness, like those anti-tipping assholes in New York who leave their waiter a little card explaining that tipping in the restaurant industry is exploitative, drafting the hapless kid into their cause by depriving him of income and not leaving him anything except the little card; he goes off flush with Anglo self-righteousness; the waiter goes home broke.  St. Nick simply gave three poor sisters what they needed so that they could survive in the world.  And we can talk ideology and exploitation later.

St. Nicholas Fra AngelicoFra Angelico

Comment: nikobakos@nicholasbakos

Tags: Krishna, Saint Demetrius, Saint Nicholas, St. Basil, St. Nestor


New Header Image — St. Demetrius on this his saint’s day, El Greco’s hand obvious

26 Oct

New Header Image: Damascus 1930

19 Oct

Very possible that this beautiful home was destroyed during Syrian War; that’s in case it had survived the hideous concrete apartment desecration that ruined so many eastern Mediterranean cities starting around the 1960s.

From Wong Kar Wai’s most charming and lilting and despairing love film (I know that there are millions who will screech in opposition horror), but sorry…it’s CHUNKING EXPRESS! Watch it!

14 Oct


See also:

Ten Years — the original trailer: A chilling film on Hong Kong’s de-Cantonization and absorption into communist China after being a light of a city amongst the grim, anti-sensual, violence of the CPR, with its stylish, glitzy, lacquered, risk-taking — both culturally and financially — shamelessly mercenary and shameless in its pursuit of money, lascivious, elegant panache and lifestyle, preserver of myriad traditional art forms that the Cultural Revolution ultimately just destroyed, is just going to be squashed. And in only ten years; it’s depressing



New Palestinian film and documentaries on Netflix

12 Oct
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