slo+yu music

Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day but only in Slovenia, if we believe Wikipedia. How lucky then that mom is Slovenian out of all nations. And how lucky that I was born near her.

Last year I wrote about how we found our first dog in the trash on this day. Talking about a present. Here he is, his name was Žak:

This year amore is cutting chocolate salami for you, mom, but you’ll have to fight bestia for it. 😀 (nahh, we don’t let him eat that! It’s got rum!)

And now let us sing all together with Slovenian vocal orchestra Perpetuum Jazzile (check out their youtube channel for more amazing a cappella singing) for my mom and all the mothers in the world:


Photo: a © signature mmm production

Three tails of Ljubljana dragon

Today is the Slovenian Cultural Holiday, and conveniently, and surprisingly for me (even though apparently since 1991), it’s a day off work. (Another case of “If you live long enough.”) So I bring you three Slovenian tails, or better tales, or better raps, since in Slovenian “rep” = a tail.

The first two have stuck in my memory after hearing them for the first time on the radio when I was last in Slovenia, whereas the last one is an old favourite. Love me some rap/hiphop.

First, a story about an actual elderly woman (in the video portrayed by a well-known actress) who lives in the same building as the rapper Rok Trkaj and who must walk the stairs without the elevator despite her osteoporosis, so he often carries her bags for her and he’d promised her to write a rap about old people for a change. And he did.

I’ll always remember him because he walked over half of Slovenia or more to promote one of his records, and by the line from an epic hip hop battle: “Ti si morski sadež in tole tlele je bla rižota.” (“You are a frutta di mare and this right now was a risotto.”) Can’t beat my feeding preferences. (Even though in this battle, and in many more, he was beaten by the king of Slovenian hiphop, N’toko. I’ve translated his song “I’m a Slovenian” here.)

The second song is calling young people to

“…go out, even if it rains.
Go out, even if it snows.
I’d like to return to those times
when time was running more slowly
when in rough times nobody was reaching for their phones
because we didn’t have any
and yet we still connected
we shared good memories by talking to each other
sunny days we spent in the street, on the bike
images remained in our minds without a single like.
Technology has brought us together
but also set us apart
showing it all, concealing the soul
rules have changed
we make friends with a click
no need to say a word.
Look up, look me in the eye
shake my hand, have a beer with me
I’m here before you in flesh and blood.
Go out, that’s where life truly happens.”
(translated on the spot by Manja Maksimovič)

Trubarjeva, Ljubljana

And Murat knows what he is saying because a while ago he and Jose did the song Nazaj (“Back”) with a similar sentiment, in which Slovenian legend Benč repeats the words from his old song about how he wishes to return in time but knows it is not to be. And then Murat & Jose add:

So quickly that we can’t even see
in such a noise that we can’t hear a thing
on and on, as fast as we can
hey folks, by the way, do we even know where we go?

There is no doubt about the difference in quality of life back then and now. Never mind the holiday where there was none.

Photo: MM

Featured photo: Statue of greatest Slovenian poet France Prešeren, whose death was turned into the national cultural holiday. All the photos taken in Ljubljana this summer.

Happy birthday, stric Matic!

Today celebrates my fun-loving uncle.

Once upon a time my uncle heard the Bosnian band Zabranjeno pušenje and was so pleased with its sarcasm and especially “Zenica blues” that it is now included in his standard repertoire.

I made him two tapes with their music. We went to hear them in concert in Tivoli hall in Ljubljana and there he was approached by a security man and asked to put out his cigarette, even though this was years before the restriction law. Funny that, considering that Zabranjeno pušenje means No smoking. When many years later uncle sold me his belladonna ford, the tapes were still in it.

The album of the band that includes “Zenica blues” is called Das ist Walter. The intro is taken from the partisan film “Walter Defends Sarajevo”. It’s a dialogue between two Germans overlooking the city.

Merkwürdig! Seit ich in Sarajevo bin, suche ich Walter und finde ihn nicht. Und jetzt, wo ich gehen muss, weiss ich wer er ist.

– Sie wissen wer Walter ist?! Sagen Sie mir sofort seinen Namen!

– Ich werde ihn Ihnen zeigen… Sehen Sie diese Stadt? Das ist Walter!

In short, the hero Walter, who the Germans are desperately trying to get hold of, is the entire city of Sarajevo.

For some years now, “Das ist Walter” is also a restaurant in Ljubljana (with branches in some other cities) serving Bosnian meat delicacies such as ćevapčići. Even though we had mighty fun the last time we were there with their Italian menu (“prava bosanska čorba”, real Bosnian stew, became “lawyer’s stew”, because “pravo” also means “law” and google translate was at work), but that’s all good because not only čevapčiči are great but also uncle is in love with their beer. And for an expert like him that says a lot.

And here is another Bosnian band, Dubioza kolektiv, that probably he doesn’t know yet. They say that Walter will be back. And when he comes, he’ll be pissed off. No matter how he might look. 😀

Ovaj grad, ova zemlja = This town, this country
ima zajeban karakter = has a messed up character
najviše kad treba = when we need him most
vratiće se Walter = Walter will return

Happy birthday, Matic, and I wish you many more Walters just when you need them!

Photo: MM

How much is it if I cry?

First a song by a Serbian band that I have translated for the occasion, then a true story, which is how I like them the most.
Riblja čorba: Dva dinara, druže / Two dinars, comrade
Translated by Manja Maksimovič

We were coming up with names for our children.
I loved her more and more every single day.
I was certain that I’d finally found the right woman.
We were saving for an apartment together.

I was sitting alone at our table.
Everything worth a damn had gone down the drain.
A woman made an ass out of me again.
I was just supporting cast.

I wished to howl, I ran downstairs.
I wasn’t able to hold it much longer.
A social case in front of the toilet said:
“Two dinars, comrade.”

“Number one, one dinar, number two, two.”
My glance pierced him like a sword.
“Excuse me,” I inquired.
“And how much is it if I cry?”

Should one drive from Ljubljana to Rome, out of one home into another, this means 7 to 8 hours highway time with many pit stops. Not only bestia but also I have to use the toilet on several occasions.

The first one comes soon, because amore needs an espresso to see the day clearly. This means a cappuccino for me. Immediately upon tasting it, my tummy makes a rumble and I cringe in pain. What a godawful broth. I almost have to run.

The toilet of the bar is next to the gas station. There is a bus, with people smoking in front, obviously travelling great distance, south to west.

When I reach the toilet, there is a line and a woman is collecting coins. Obviously the bus women have invaded the premises. They occupy all the sinks too, performing morning ablutions, watering their faces and cleavages, gurgling, making horrible-sounding attempts to clear their lungs. Like at home. Don’t you just love sleeping on the bus.

The scene worsens my pain and to think that I’ll have to pay for the experience makes me make an epic eye-roll.

The coin-collecting woman throws me a glance and mumbles something in the cursing way of a gypsy, possibly convinced that I cannot understand. But I can.

(She, in one of ex-Yugoslav languages:) Rolling eyes, are you?

(Me, repeating after her:) Rolling eyes.

(She, aghast:) You are Macedonian!

(Me, looking her in the eye:) Do I look it?

(She, laughing now in disbelief:) You are Slovenian!!

Since we are in the middle of Slovenia, this shouldn’t come as such a surprise but I know, Slovenia is a transit country. And Slovenians would rather not discuss nationalities with a coin-collector. Instead they would stare dead ahead. Or check their nails.

(Me, deciding to be jovial:) You can tell me, what on earth are you putting in these coffees so that everybody needs to come in here and pay you? What a market niche!

She grins widely now. A booth empties and I run in. Upon exiting I’m even happy a little and ask her how much she thinks it was worth. She says: “Daj šta daš.” Give what you give. I give her 50 cents to make it level with the toilet in Pisa where I was similarly appalled that I had to pay, but there the price was fixed, and greet her goodbye, still grinning. Obviously I made her day.

When I have to pee again, it’s hours later and we are in a service station somewhere in Italy. Off the highway it’s all rather the same until you start to climb the Apenini. I have to walk up and up and up to find a toilet.

As soon as I see there is no line, I decide to dash for the closest booth, when I pass another lady employee. She looks at me in something like horror but I choose to ignore her and proceed, thinking: “Oh no you won’t, goddamnit. You don’t even speak my language. You don’t need these bloody coins, your make-up costs more than my bra.”

Then I stop listening to my internal monologue and while peeing have a listen around me. Something is off.

I buckle up and just before making my exit I realise what is happening.

I only hear male voices.

She did try to warn me.

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

Featured photo: Off the roof this morning. Photo: MM

Thursday Doors, October 29

Three Doors Down is a band that I don’t know at all but every time I see this name somewhere I chuckle, because it sounds like somebody is counting off the original The Doors members. And now when I hear it I’ll be thinking of Thursdays too. Today I have three doors, three songs with own translation and one band down. The Party Breakers Serbian-style.

Serbians usually use Cyrillic alphabet when they write, and even when they don’t, they spell foreign names in the manner of “write as you speak” (piši kao što govoriš). Keith Richards thus becomes Kit Ričards, Washington turns into Vašington, and Kate Winslet is written down as Kejt Vinslet.

In this manner the band I wish to highlight today answers to the name of Partibrejkers (in Cyrillic that would be Партибрејкерс). They come from Belgrade, Serbia. And they have been known to rock’n’roll.

Before the first song I wish to show you a door that made me think Serbian thoughts. This shop is in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where “write as you speak” was never a thing. So I don’t know if this is an official shop or a rip-off or what. Somehow I can’t believe that Apple would make such an error of judgement. 😀 And yet, I want to know.

I want to know / Hoću da znam

Translated by Manja Maksimovič

I want to know
where this road is leading
me and my life

Whose is the beginning
whose is the end
who is the man
who knows the eternal secret

Where there is heart
there the sun shines
Where there is fear
there lives the darkness

To be same, to be special
to be free, to be your own
same, special
free, your own

Mary, mother of God
do you see
what they are doing to your children

Hoću da znam
kuda vodi ovaj put
mene, i život moj

Čiji je početak
čiji je kraj
koji to čovek
večnu tajnu zna

Tamo gde je srce
tamo sija Sunce
tamo gde je strah
tamo živi mrak

Biti isti, biti poseban
biti slobodan
biti samo svoj
isti, poseban
slobodan, biti samo svoj

Marijo, majko Božija
da li vidiš
šta rade sa tvojom decom

Speaking of which, this is the door of a spiritual centre in Rome. And a window.

Hypnotised mass / Hipnotisana gomila

Translated by Manja Maksimovič

We aren’t going anywhere
we aren’t doing anything
we are one huge
hypnotised mass

But I’ve got the key
and I know the lock
I’ll unlock it
and plant stuff in your head

I can entertain you
I can make you crazy
I can put you to sleep
I can wake you up

Do you believe me
or do you think with your own head?

Mi ne idemo nikud
i ne radimo ništa
mi smo jedna velika
hipnotisana gomila

Al’ ja znam ključ
ja poznajem tu bravu
odključaću i staviću
ti svašta u glavu

Ja mogu da te zabavim
ja mogu da te sludim
ja mogu da te uspavam
ja mogu da te budim

Da li veruješ meni
Ili misliš tvojom glavom

This is a building in Roma’s Monteverde district with three doors up. And the song below is from a concert in 1991 when Slovenia said goodbye to Serbia, then still in Yugoslavia which was starting to break at the seams, with heartbreaking results. And in eight years’ time this led to NATO bombing Belgrade, which is something that you would NEVER EVER EVER believe if somebody told you when you were 16.

It is Germans who bomb Belgrade.

What I attempt now / Ono što pokušavam sad

Translated by Manja Maksimovič

I was never young
I’ve been old since forever
I spend angry days alone
alone I’m licking my wounds

Do you want me to be alive
do you want me to be happy
give me faith
protect me from everything

What I attempt to do now
you won’t till the end of your life

Do you want me to be alive
do you want me to be happy
offer me faith
protect me from everything

Nikad nisam bio mlad
bio sam uvek star
ljute dane provodim sam
sam, ližem svoje rane

Želiš li da sam živ
želiš li da sam srećan
daj mi veru
zaštiti me od svega

Ono što pokušavam sad
ti nećes za ceo svoj život

Želiš li da sam živ
želiš li da sam srećan
pruži mi veru
zaštiti me od svega

Photo: MM

For Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors challenge.

One Marija

When I was little, I didn’t have records, I had cassettes. One of those that got most play time was Od šanka do šanka (“From Bar to Bar”) by Andrej Šifrer.

He is a Slovenian singer/songwriter even though the songs on this album are in Croatian language (in order to reach other republics of Yugoslavia beyond Slovenia, no doubt). We all knew Croatian, or what was called Serbo-Croatian at the time, so I tried writing down lyrics and singing along with him.

The song below, which I have just translated into English, was written for his wife by the name of Marija. I loved to sing the chorus as Maaaaanja instead, pretending he was singing it for me.

This summer I had a drink with a friend in the centre of my hometown, where I return only twice every year since moving to Tuscany: once in winter, once in summer. During the conversation she lowered her voice and said: “Don’t turn now but look who is coming! He and his wife divorced this year, did you know that?”

by Andrej Šifrer
Translated by Manja Maksimovič

Somewhere close to us
sometimes a voice can be heard
as if the Earth
is calling us to work.

When I plough the field
I’m thinking of sowing
and when I sow
I’m getting ready for harvest.

We had known before
what would happen and what not
but I can see the face
from which the darkness drinks the tears.

Believe the morning after a night
believe the Earth and its might
we are the grain
out of which the world is growing.

Don’t be afraid of the days before us
don’t be afraid of the dumb and the evil
the light is with us
we are better than them.

Marija, one Marija
arranges life out of tiny pebbles from our island.
Marija, one Marija
in the mirror of my parks, of my pride.

Those who know everything
and those who know nothing
believe me
those are the dangerous ones.

Yet as I go through my day
I’m more and more convinced
that they are
one and the same.

Featured photo: Yesterday, from the roof. Photo: MM

Bandiera rossa

Formula 1. The only thing he still likes to watch on TV.
Italian commentator mentions “bandiera rossa”.
I start to hum this traditional resistance tune, here in the rendition of Slovenian punk band with the name that translates as Bastards:
He says with a smirk:
“I don’t think this is the kind of banner they meant.”

Two images from this year’s Mille miglia race in Val d’Orcia. Proof that you can mess up with a point-and-shoot. I had the unfortunate dusk/dawn setting on throughout the bright day. Photo: MM

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: (Non)Sense of hearing

A little aurally-visual journey for Cee’s sense challenge.

It begins sombrely, in Prague, with a choir practicing.

It continues on the Spanish steps in Roma with another choir, Scandinavian. It was sudden. The beautiful notes startled us and made us smile. (Or join in – mom used to be a choir singer too.)

Two years ago I got my first record player for my birthday. All things come to those who wait.

With the player came a stack of old records and this bilingual collection of New Yugoslav Poetry. Nothing about Yugoslavia will ever be new again.

This is the wall in a restaurant in Piran, Slovenia by the name of Sarajevo 1984. There were winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, that year and I was 14 years old. More on that here. These are album covers of Yugoslav musicians of the time. The inscription below says: “If you are falling off a rock, you might as well try to fly. There is nothing to lose.”

Two images from my 40th birthday celebration 5 years ago. That grin is self-explanatory.

And to conclude: a proof that mom is indeed a rapper.

Photo: MM (and one by an anonymous friendly person)


ADD-IT: This post has a part II. on my new blog right here.

Once there were raspberries (Maline so, by Tomaž Šalamun). Now there are jellyfish (=Meduze, by Matter). Yes, I just put the greatest Slovenian poet and the youngest Slovenian hiphop-something (not identified yet) band into one post. Not only is the music hooking, but the text equally makes raspberry-type sense (=nah). In short – I’m bought (or is it sold?) Give it a try.

Holiday check-in by runaway uncle

Greetings all the way to Slovenia on her Statehood Day from the runaway uncle who only reads my blog when he is in it because it’s in English and it’s “too complicated”, says he who speaks Turkish, Arabic, Kurdish and who knows what else.

As you can see, he is suffering greatly and daily.

He needs to drive through ugly countryside…

…to hideous locations, for example Piombino below:

He needs to walk the bestia in terrible conditions.

He needs to eat asparagi con burro e parmigiano.

And he needs to drink the green ones that concern him a little.

Whereas red ones don’t at all.

Photo: MM

And here is a topical tune by Slovenian Americans or American Slovenians with the greatest lie in a title: because pivo is. And I don’t even have to translate a thing.

The Vadnals: No beer today

We were driving through Ljubljana on a Sunday afternoon

all we had left was a dinar (old Yugoslav currency)

we stopped at a gostilna to have a little pivo

and then we heard the bartender holler:

No pivo today, no pivo today

you can’t buy pivo on Sunday.

No pivo today, no pivo today

you gotta come around on Monday.

Top five concerts of all times

I have never really thought about lining them up like that, but here they are, my favourite 5 concerts of all times, as asked by Daily Rock Report. I don’t choose by absolute quality but rather how they felt at those specific moments.

1. Suicidal Tendencies, Vienna, 1994: this one caught me (and others) by surprise and we still haven’t quite recovered. This is their concert from Madrid a year earlier:

2. House of Pain, Vienna, 1994 (?): I was on the stage with them! (Pulled out from the pit for suffering, but still!)

3. Rock in Riem, Germany, 1994, two-day festival with Clawfinger, Rage against the Machine, Therapy?, Aerosmith & Peter Gabriel (the first three bands I saw repeatedly over the years and they always more than delivered, and during the last two we were resting in the beer tent). This line-up of all the line-ups included Extreme (!), The Breeders, Manic Street Preachers, Soul Asylum, Nina Hagen, Crowded House, the Cranberries, Bonnie Raitt, Richie Havens, Paradise Lost, and ok also Smashing Pumpkins – so that we weren’t TOO angry that we missed Radiohead since they played first and our bus driver got lost.)

4. Pearl Jam (I saw them 8 times, each one was special, narrowing them down to three: Budapest 1996 – because it was the first, Ljubljana 2000 – because it was at home, Prague 2012 – because it was the happiest).

5. Urban Species, Paris, 90’s: Another unexpected perfect one

(Honorary mention: Plavi orkestar, Ljubljana, 1984; Dire Straits, Ljubljana, 1985; Michelle Shocked, Vienna, 90’s; Guns ‘n Roses + Faith No More + Soundgarden, Vienna, 1992; Ice-T & Body Count, Vienna, 1993)

These are just the very best, the other hundreds were merely good (ok, there were a few bad ones too, but really just a few).

It is obvious that all these dates are a bit removed, but I’m not done yet, just a bit more picky. Last year I heard Pearl Jam in Trieste as well as Caparezza and Paolo Nutini in Roma, this year possibly Manu Chao in Slovenia. And below is how I like to look at concerts. It’s interesting that nowadays I think my chest is examined for other reasons. In Italy nobody reads.

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

From Iggy Pop and The Stooges gig in Tivoli, Ljubljana, 2008. Photo: Zedd

It’s been a while

For my friend. Not that much is the same, just the wine.
Djordje Balašević: Ostaje mi to što se volimo / I’m left knowing that we love each other

Translated by Manja Maksimovič

My childhood friend lives in the country happily 
like in a Russian novel, yes, exactly like that. 
He has a wife and a son and a cellar full of wine 
and couldn’t care less for the rest. 

Recently I see him less and less 
mostly just when he celebrates something. 
He doesn’t ask many questions, he reaches out his hand and says: 
“It’s been a while.” 

And then we remember the days when we were wild and fast as reindeer 
and the closer we are to truth and sadness the more we approach the next litre.  

I ask him if he knows that you’re gone, that you’re gone. 
“Well, yes,” he says, “she had another man, you know that.” 
I ask him if he knows that we love each other, still love each other. 
“Aren’t you a lucky one,” he grumbles, “you can be such a child sometimes.” 

In the Tuscan country. Photo: MM

My childhood friend looks at life austerely 
he sees the sky and the earth, and he’s right about that. 
I am a damn poet standing in the rain 
who is lying and loving.

Even though we went to the same rough school of life 
we are distant sometimes, it’s only human. 
Everybody carries an own little god on the inside 
that he secretly worships. 

And so we remember the times when we were running from the wind like wild stallions
and the closer we are to truth and sadness the more we approach the next glass.

I ask him what to do now that you’re gone, you’re gone. 
“Never mind,” he says, “there are many more like her.” 
I ask him if he knows that we love each other, still love each other.  
“Right,” he grumbles, “pass that bottle, pal.” 

My childhood friend married green 
but lucked out, whereas me, I haven’t, you see. 
I have loved many, some perfectly empty 
some perfectly foreign. 

And more and more I feel that there is no way 
of describing you to him, the only true one. 
That’s why I’m dissolving the whole world in the wine 
there are no limits to what can fit into this glass. 

And I quickly turn the subject to our childhood and stallions with sweaty breath  
and the closer we are to truth and sadness the more we approach the next drop.  

I ask him if he knows that it doesn’t matter that you’re gone. 
“Okay then,” he says, “what are you left with now?” 
I’m left knowing that we love each other, we still love each other. 
“Don’t know if it’s the wine,” he grumbles, “but this is getting ridiculous.” 

Who sings thinks no evil

Since it’s Azra, this must be Trpanj. They go together so well. And yet, only the latitude matches.
“Who is singing over there” by Azra / Azra: Tko to tamo pjeva 

Translated by Manja Maksimovič

where do we go from here
crowned heads stick out from the sand
what are they doing?
farting into dust

kamo dalje
iz pijeska vire krunisane glave
što to rade
prde u prašinu

i have a feeling
that standard has turned the people sour
they eat shit and daydream

čini mi se
da je standard pokvario ljude
jedu govna i sanjare

it will improve
take off the medals and fill up the halls
the trophy street has run out of steam

bit će bolje
skini medalje i napuni sale
ulici trofeja ponestaje snage

abandoned girls
junkies and harlots
count on you

ostavljene djevojke
narkomani i bludnice
uzdaju se u tebe

Not my Balkan.

armoured boats
were taking you to all four sides
you were truly consistent

blindirani brodovi
vozili te na četiri strane
zbilja si bio dosljedan

and so generous
managing other people’s pain
is no small fucking feat

i velikodušan
raspolagati tuđom mukom
nije mala zajebancija

it will improve
take off the medals and fill up the halls
the trophy street has run out of steam

bit će bolje
skini medalje i napuni sale
ulici trofeja ponestaje snage

abandoned girls
junkies and harlots
count on you

ostavljene djevojke
narkomani i bludnice
uzdaju se u tebe

Not my monkeys. Isola del Giglio. Photo: MM