Tag Archives: Novak Djokovic

November 21st: the feast of the Presentation of the Virgin; the Virgin in the Crossroad in C-town; and, November 8th: feast of the Archangels, Слава/Slava of the Ђоковићи/Đokovići

22 Nov

Today, November 21st is one of my favorite Orthodox holidays, the Presentation (Εἴσόδια/Воведение) of the Virgin to the Temple. God gives Joachim and Anna, who have not been able to have a child, the blessing of conceiving Mary. Riding on the old Jewish story of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, also not being able to conceive, until the angels visit Abraham and announce that Sarah, already 80 years old, will conceive the male child who then becomes Isaac (in a wonderful moment of irreverent Jewish humor, Sarah hears all this from the kitchen and laughs out loud), Anna herself names the Jewish matriarch in her prayers to God, asking him to perform the same miracle for her.

(Sadistically, God then later orders Abraham to sacrifice Isaac and Abraham obeys, but God then puts a ram in Isaac’s place at the last moment; don’t ask me to explain this one-more story of the monotheist God’s perversity and cruel power plays — listen to Benjamin Britten’s beautiful setting of the story below. *1)

When she’s three years old, Joachim and Anna take the toddler Mary to live in the Temple in Jerusalem, in order to thank God for the miracle of her birth or to keep her pure, since she’s such a holy baby, or until she starts to menstruate and thus turns of marrying age — it’s not very clear which it is (and let’s, again, ignore Semitic monotheism’s misogynist obsession with female purity.)

But they somewhat sadly leave her at the Temple, and as they walk away they turn and look, and the child Mary is not only not crying for the parents who have abandoned her here with all these long-bearded old men, but she’s dancing happily — “with her feet” — delighted to be living in the Lord’s house, and all the years she spends there an angel descends daily and feeds her “like a dove.”

The Church of the Savior in Chora in C-town has a set of Mary’s life cycle mosaics in the exonarthex;

The Presentation of Mary to the Temple (above)

And the angel that descends to feed her (above)

Click and enjoy these here because if you go to the Church of the Chora in Istanbul today, these and many other beautiful mosaics and frescoes will be covered by the drapes of the hysterics and puritans of monotheism.”

And a couple of Western images of the holiday (below), though it has largely fallen into obscurity today in the Catholic Church:

Giotto’s fresco of the event in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua (above)

And Titian’s spectacular fresco (above) — along with details (below) — in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice

The story of the Presentation of the Virgin is not found in any of the canonical gospels but only in the apocryphal Gospel of St. James, also known as the Infancy Gospel. This is probably why it’s been forgotten in the Catholic West; the Catholic Church, in its lame post-Vatican II attempts at modernization, deleted important saints from the Church calendar, like George and Catherine and Nicholas, because we have no scientific evidence of their miracles (hellloooo…do we have “scientific evidence” of the Incarnation or the Resurrection or any “scientific” proof of the doctrine of the Transubstantiation/Communion? Don’t get me started and let’s not go there…), they certainly were not going to give any credence to an apocryphal tall tale, even though, as the above masterpieces of Giotto and Titian testify, it was still an important enough Catholic holiday during the Renaissance.

Below is the Greek text in screen shots; sorry couldn’t find a cut-and-paste form of the passage with full Greek accent system and I always try to when I post something; you’ll have to click:

and English:

“When the child turned three, Joachim said, “Let’s call the pure women of the Hebrews. Let them take up lamps and light them so that the child will not turn back and her heart will never be led away from the temple of the Lord.” And they did these things until they went up to the temple of the Lord. And the priest welcomed her.  Kissing her, he blessed her and said, “The Lord God has magnified your name for all generations; through you the Lord will reveal deliverance to the children of Israel in the last days.” And he set her down on the third step of the altar and the Lord God poured grace upon her. She danced triumphantly with her feet and every house in Israel loved her.”

And her parents went down, marveling at and praising and glorifying the Lord God because the child had not turned back to look at them. While Mary was in the temple of the Lord, she was fed like a dove and received food from the hand of an angel.” (emphases mine)


Furthermore…today is also the feast of one of my favorite churches in the whole world, the Presentation of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church of Stavrodromi or the Church of the Panagia in Pera in the Pera/Beyoğlu section of C-town. This church is hidden in an alley off the current İstiklâl Caddesi, the Jadde of this blog.

The church is a little hard to find, since it’s one of Istanbul’s pre-Tanzimat churches, meaning it was built before the 19th century reforms (1789) that lifted traditional restrictions on the building of non-Muslim places of worship; before the reforms churches had to have low, barn-like roofs because domes were not allowed, had to have high walls surrounding their premises, so that they were not conspicuous from the street, were prohibitted from having bell-towers (all church bell towers in Istanbul date from after the 1850s), and generally could not be higher or be more visible than any neighboring mosques (Wait…you mean, Islam isn’t the most tolerant religion in the world?).

View of Panagia Pera from above, hidden by surrounding buildings; western facade; and eastern facade with conspicuously later bell-tower. (below)

So, while the exterior was traditionally Ottoman in its plainness and modesty, the interior testifies to the fact that this Pera parish became Istanbul’s most extravagantly wealthy community beginning in the early 19th c. (pics below, from Iason AthanasiadisΤί χαμπέρια από την Πόλη;)

Even more compelling about Pera’s Panagia is that it survived unscathed the Anti-Greek Pogrom of September 1955. Of course, the old ladies will tell you that that was a miracle…why almost all of the rest of Istanbul’s 90 plus churches were completely ransacked or totally destroyed is a question you’re tempted to ask. Did its enforced inconspicuousness save it? I dunno. Yes, it’s a little hard to find, but it’s only about 50 yards off Pera’s main drag and the rioters of this Menderes-government-organized orgy of destruction knew every single Greek business on the street and in the neighborhood and every single other Greek church throughout Istanbul… It’s hard to believe that they didn’t know of Pera’s second largest Greek church, after the Holy Trinity in Taksim, which was thoroughly gutted. Let’s just call it a nice surprise.

Hagia Triada (below), now restored:

The neighboring Zappeion, (above) once Istanbul’s most prestigious lycée for girls: “Surrounding buildings of the Aya Triada are still left black from the arson attack in 1955. The priests of the Church refuse to clean the surface so that the memory of the Istanbul riots will be remembered.”


More… Today, on the Julian (Old) Calendar still used by Russians, Serbs, Bulgarians and Macedonians, but not Romanians — I think — is November 8th the Feast of the Archangels, Michael and Gabriel. Always a thirteen-day difference, so you know.

It’s the Slava of the Đokovići. A Слава/Slava is…(from an old post):

“…Serbs are the only Orthodox Christians to not observe personal namedays.

Serbian-Slava-Festivityὁ σῖτος, ὁ οἶνος καὶ τὸ ἔλεον τοῦ δούλου σουthe wheat, wine and oil of Thy servant

Instead they observe the saint’s day on which their clan’s ancestors first converted to Christianity in a beautiful celebration called a slava, (the “glory”) and hereworth reading — which is essentially an offering and feast of remembrance, a ritual of ancestor-worship that proves that Serbs probably have more of one foot still in the pagan past than any other Slavic people

Slava 1

Many of their funerary customs are similar to ours — like the artos or artoklasia above and koljivo below — meaning they developed together spontaneously or they represent the influence of known Slavic sub-strata in the language, genes and culture of modern Greeks — and now that I said that I’ll have to go into a witness protection program.


Koljivo or Koliva just like Greeks make.  Commemorating the dead with the seeds of life.

So my man, Novak Đoković tweeted a message on the occasion of his family’s Slava today:

Novak Djokovic@DjokerNole

Срећна Слава свима који данас славе Св. Архангела Михајла. Нека нас наш заштитник чува и води кроз живот у светлости,љубави и миру.”

Happy Glory to all who today celebrate St. Archangel Michael. May our protector keep us and guide us through life in light, love and peace.

Cool… Wish I were there. Thanks for your attention this far. Later!


*1 Benjamin Britten’s beautiful setting of the Abraham and Isaac story:


Write us: with comments or observations, or to be put on our mailing list or to be taken off our mailing list, contact us at nikobakos@gmail.com.

Novak Djokovic piles pressure on Rafael Nadal at ATP Finals

10 Nov

He’s not a man.  He’s a phenomenon.

See article.



Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

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.

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

And Djoković suffering from a long, late season, Serbian meltdown didn’t make 2016 any better

6 Jan


Maybe Melbourne will be the beginning of a new start, because we know there’s a thin line with him between these flip-outs and professional disintegration; though usually he sadistically tortures us by bringing us to the edge of the abyss, then making some sort of theatrical recovery.

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Novak at Paribas Masters: “…when will love be secure?”

13 Nov

Novak Paribas


My constantly frazzled tennis nerves usually get a rest between the US Open and Melbourne, but Djok beating Murray too in straight sets, even if only at Paribas — it’s getting kind of unnerving.  When your guy’s game is up and down, you worry about his consistency; when it’s become superhuman in the trail of wreckage it leaves behind, then, of course, you start wondering how long he can keep it up.  Such is the human condition.  Never satisfied.  Never at ease.  Never content.

Especially in love.  “When will labor be joyful? when will love be secure?” — Giosuè Carducci…I think…

From the Bleacher Report:

Novak Djokovic beat Andy Murray 6-2, 6-4 in the BNP Paribas Masters 2015 final to set a new record for Masters titles won in a single year, grabbing his sixth of the season, per tennis writer Carole Bouchard. The Serb already held the previous record of five, which was set in 2011. 

Djokovic dominated Murray from start to finish, once again showing why he’s considered one of the world’s best returners. Murray held his own in the rallies but never found his serve on the slower hard court in Paris.

Per Sky Sports, the Djoker has now beaten Murray 21 times in 30 meetings, and he’s still unbeaten on indoor hard courts against the Scot. Sunday’s win handed him his 58th career title, via bet365.

Djokovic has been in sensational form since the US Open and he instantly put heaps of pressure on Murray’s serve. Fans in Paris were treated to a 20-shot rally on just the second point, but it wasn’t a preview of what was to come.

Murray barely held his serve in the opening game, couldn’t even steal a point on Djokovic’s serve and immediately gave up three break points in the third game….

See the rest.

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

The Dormition — denim shorts at the analoi…

16 Aug


The Dormition fresco at the monastery of Gračanica in Kosovo. (click)

Rebecca West’s description of the fresco and the meaning of the event in the Orthodox Church (s opposed to the Catholic Assumption) is still the most moving and right-on that exists:

“Across one of the walls of Grachanitsa is shown the Falling Asleep of the Virgin Mary, the state which preceded her Assumption, a subject often treated by the Byzantines.  There is no man living today who, exploring his mind in the light of that idea, could draw out so much.

“In the foreground of the fresco is the Virgin lying on her bier.  By the lax yet immutable line is rendered the marvel of death, the death which is more than the mere perishing of consciousness, which can strike where there is no consciousness and annul a tree, a flower, an ear of corn.  Above her bier there shines a star of light; within it stands Christ, taking into his arms his mother’s soul in the likeness of a swaddled child.  Their haloes make a peaceful pattern, the stamp of a super-imperial power, within the angles of the star.  About them throngs a crowd of apostles and disciples, come hastily from the next world or from distant lands to attend the Virgin’s death, wearing their haloes as bubbling yet serene spheres.  On the edge of the crowd stand some bishops in their cross-covered mantles, rock-like with the endurance of the Church, which cannot be perturbed by the most lacerating grief, and still others, also in flowing garments but with bodies liquid with grief, and others, also in flowing garments but with bodies tautened by effort, low under the weight of the bier.  The background is full of angels as the Eastern Church loved to conceive them, ethereal messengers who are perpetually irradiated by the divine beauty and communicate its laws to flesh-bound man, a dream of perfect vision and unfrustrated will.

“The huge imaginative space occupied by this small fresco is washed by two swinging tides. There is a wave of such sincere and childish grief as children feel when their mothers die, that breaks and falls and ebbs; there is a rising sea of exaltation in the Son who can work all magic and cancel this death or any other, making glory and movement where stillness and the end seem to be ineluctable. The sides of the fresco are filled in with buildings, distorted with the most superb audacity in order to comply with the general pattern, yet solid and realistic in effect; we are amazed, as we all so often are during our lives, that our most prodigious experiences take place in the setting of the everyday world, that the same scenery should be used for the pantomine and the tragedy. Behind these buildings there is a firmament which evokes another recurrent amazement. It is the most astonishing of all the things which happen to us that anything should happen at all. It is incredible that there should be men and women, mothers and sons, biers and buildings, grief and joy; it would seem so much more probable that the universe should have as its sole packing empty nothingness. Existence in itself, taken at its least miraculous, is a miracle.”


Cute young cantor in t-shirt and denim shorts at the analoi at Hagia Eirene last night.  (???)   Fine by me.  Especially with the sweetest lyrical tenor.  The cantors at Hagia Eirene in Astoria have become the best without compare in all of New York, and if they’re the best in New York, they’re the best in the United States.  Though this is not the place to get into the pitiful state of ecclesiastic music in most of the Greek Church in America.


I’M SORRY FOR LONG ABSENCE.  THE JADDE WILL SOON BE BACK WITH MORE SERIOUS MATERIAL.  Personal issues and the overwhelming flood of international developments worldwide — especially Djok defending his Wimbledon title against Rolex Federer — left me drowned in more than I could intelligently comment on.  But will be back soon.



Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Some Valium for Rafa…

30 Mar

From the Guardian: Rafael Nadal admits nerves and loss of confidence after Miami defeat — story pasted below.  The BBC video hasn’t been posted yet, so just reading it doesn’t give you such a good sense of his washed-out-ness or his mangled English (compare it to Djok’s nearly flawless command), but as soon as I find it I’ll post it.


Rafael Nadal has said he is struggling with nerves and self-confidence issues after he was beaten in the third round by his fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco at the Miami Open on Sunday.

“It is not a question of tennis. The thing is the question of being relaxed enough to play well on court,” he said after the 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 loss at Key Biscayne.

“A month and a half ago I didn’t have the game. My game has improved but … I am still playing with too much nerves for a lot of moments, important moments, still a little anxious on those moments.”

Nadal rejected the notion his numerous past injury problems were leading him to doubt his body.

“The physical problems are in the past. I am in competition. I’m playing weeks in a row. Is not an excuse,” he said. “It is a different story today. I am feeling more tired than usual, feeling that I don’t have this self-confidence that when I hit the ball I am going to hit the ball where I want to hit the ball, to go for the ball knowing that my position will be the right one.

“All these are small things that are difficult to explain. One of the tougher things has been fixed, that is the game, in my opinion. Now I need to fix again the nerves, the self-control on court. That’s another issue.

“I am a little bit on and off too much. That is something that didn’t happen in the past.  [It was actually “didn’t happen-ed” or “diren jápenet.]  In the past I have been able to change a lot of situations, negative situations, in my career and I want to do it again. I am confident that I can do it. I don’t know if I am going to do it but I hope I can.”.

With the clay court part of the season coming up, Nadal’s preferred surface, he said the opportunity is there for him to turn his form around but he said that would not happen if he is unable to fix his mental issues.

“The tournaments that are coming are historically good for my game, good tournaments for my confidence,” he said. “But if I’m not able to control all these things, I am not going to have the possibility to compete well and have success in those events.”

See also: Why I can’t stand watching Rafael Nadal win and Why I love watching Rafael Nadal lose and Whatever it is [Rafa], it begins to grate.

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Stefan Djoković

21 Jan

Now M. is really gonna get on my case for being a ridiculous Djoković groupie

Nobak Sdjokovic628x471(click)

Nothing exciting to report from the Australian Open yet — just the top guys creaming the rest till they get to their inevitable show-down.  But Djoković did declare that he’s going into the 2015 and the Open with his marriage and new son bringing “new meaning” and joy to his life.

“The year 2014 has been the best of my life. I started my family … I feel more satisfied and complete. I am happy to such an extent that it’s hard to express and describe it…”

…Djokovic said in an interview with the holiday edition of the Serbian daily Politika.

Yeah, this is old news.  What I didn’t know — and found moving — is that the kid’s name is Стефан, Stefan, which was the obligatory imperial name of Serbian mediaeval kings: Stefan Nemanjić, Stefan Dušan, Stefan Uroš

Just one of those things that get me a little hopped-up.  Not to mention that this kind of hetero-sentimentality from anyone else would make me throw up.  But hotness has its privileges.

Car_Dušan,_Manastir_Lesnovo,_XIV_vek,_MakedonijaTsar Stefan Dušan, fresco from the monastery of Lesnovo, XIV century.

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com


My man ain’t got ninety-nine problems…just Nadal

12 Dec

hi-res-0c731edbd10be95df90d5dc75b0df971_crop_northJulian Finney/Getty Images (click)

From DNAIndia:“‘I have a problem, his name is Rafael Nadal,’ says Novak Djokovic on elusive French Open title.”

Dunno about Rafa, but a Serb — part Kosovar Serb — saying that about me would make me very nervous.

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Djoković king of the court: “…a chilling and simple declaration of intent.”

20 Nov

From the Guardian:

1 Novak Djoković

2014 Won 61 Lost 8 Titles 7 Prize money $14,250,527

There is no sensible argument about who is the best player still standing at the end of 2014. Advocates of Rafael Nadal have to acknowledge the dominance of Novak Djoković, below, at least until the Spaniard returns to full fitness, while Roger Federer, sitting just behind the Serb in the rankings after a rousing surge at the end of the season, is now also struggling with a back problem. In the jungle of modern tennis Djoković is not only the best but the strongest. He declared on Sunday, “Right now I’m at my pinnacle in the career. I physically feel very fit. I’m very motivated to keep on playing on a very high level.” That is a chilling and simple declaration of intent. [my emphases]

Serbia's Novak Djokovic has shown that he is top dog when it comes to survival of the fittest.

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

%d bloggers like this: