Yugoslavia

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.

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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)

For:

cees-fun-foto

Sweet towel of my youth

Just last week mom held her first Hitchhiker book, read a bit and proclaimed: “This man is crazy!”

Today is the Towel Day, dedicated to Douglas Adams and his Guide. It makes so much sense that there is really nothing one can say to oppose it: If you carry a towel, chances are great that you have all the rest with you too. (And I’m not googling the matching original part from the book on purpose because writing from memory is fun.)

However, lest we forget and there are less and less of those who choose to remember, today is also – and has been for longer – the Day of Youth, one of the biggest holidays in ex-Yugoslavia, Tito’s birthday (not really, it was just celebrated then).

Photo: Zedd (both of bestia) & MM

And then I was 16 again

And then I was 16 again, and Yugoslavia was still whole, and foreign tourists were very much appreciated, and she expected to do a report on a bleak, Soviet neighbour, and now most obviously cannot wipe that wide smile off her face because instead was so pleasantly surprised by happiness, colours, the people, the history – which in a few years will get even bloodier, and in less than 15 years they will return, flying over Slovenia za Beograd, and then NATO will say, after losing a stealth or two: “We do deserts, we don’t do mountains.”

But in 1986 it was the eighties, everything was still possible and there were no problems. Who knows, maybe those pigeons in Dubrovnik still fly in to be fed an hour earlier every summer when the clock is advanced for daylight saving time. But for sure the time when any TV would choose to introduce a report from Dubrovnik with a Slovenian folk song has come and gone.

Bilo, pa nije. Sve što traje, počinje da prestaje.

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

(Thank you, Marjan, for the link.)

Jesse, come to LA and live forever, or “I take the diamonds”

The three songs in this post are quite possibly my favourite Joan Baez songs. It was my hitch-hiking, poetry-writing friend who introduced her to me, in the times of road travels down the Adriatic. I remember the time when I had five days to come back so that I could go back in the same direction on holidays with my family. Me and my friend made it all the way to Split, I could have stayed right there.

The hitch-hiking axiom #1: If we were flying, the car was tight on the inside and the driver was complaining all the time of rough times but then bought us dinner and cigarettes, the car was Yugo and the driver was from Kosovo.

Another time we were spreading the word around Postojna that everybody should go and VOTE. It seemed that it was the first time there were actually two candidates. “Vote for the young one,” we kept saying to everybody who had five minutes to spare. “He is the future.” We were right, he was the surprising winner and went straight to Belgrade to head the Presidency of Yugoslavia in the name of Slovenia. It was 1989. His name was Janez Drnovšek. When Bill Clinton was visiting Slovenia years later when we were already independent, Chelsea was not in the mood to take part in the festivities, and Drnovšek was our president. His son wrote in a book for Chelsea that he had bought himself new clothes for her and now she was a no-show. Rumours have it that she showed up after reading this.

As it goes, we made it back home too late to cast our votes ourselves.

Anyway, that was the hitch-hiking time with a tape I made from my friend’s records, and we kept offering it to the drivers to have our own soundtrack. Joan Baez was heavily represented.

I saw her live two times, the last time was seven years ago, and just now I saw she is coming back to Slovenia this October. I bet she looks even better now, after having hit 70 a few years ago.

Diamonds and Rust is a knickers-ripping song, as my friend Grega once said. The chorus goes like this:

…and if you’re offering me diamonds and rust, I’ve already paid.

At the concert in 2007, she sang her heart out, it was a good night, and she was her usual joking self. Then there came the part …and if you’re offering me diamonds and rust

and to my immeasurable grin this grey-haired hippie icon continued: I take the diamonds.

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

Here it is in full, the lyrics, and we all know who it was that was so good with words and at keeping things vague, don’t we now:

DIAMONDS AND RUST 
(Words and Music by Joan Baez)

Well I’ll be damned
Here comes your ghost again
But that’s not unusual
It’s just that the moon is full
And you happened to call
And here I sit
Hand on the telephone
Hearing a voice I’d known
A couple of light years ago
Heading straight for a fall

As I remember your eyes
Were bluer than robin’s eggs
My poetry was lousy you said
Where are you calling from?
A booth in the midwest
Ten years ago
I bought you some cufflinks
You brought me something
We both know what memories can bring
They bring diamonds and rust

Well you burst on the scene
Already a legend
The unwashed phenomenon
The original vagabond
You strayed into my arms
And there you stayed
Temporarily lost at sea
The Madonna was yours for free
Yes the girl on the half-shell
Would keep you unharmed

Now I see you standing
With brown leaves falling around
And snow in your hair
Now you’re smiling out the window
Of that crummy hotel
Over Washington Square
Our breath comes out white clouds
Mingles and hangs in the air
Speaking strictly for me
We both could have died then and there

Now you’re telling me
You’re not nostalgic
Then give me another word for it
You who are so good with words
And at keeping things vague
Because I need some of that vagueness now
It’s all come back too clearly
Yes I loved you dearly
And if you’re offering me diamonds and rust
I’ve already paid

© 1975 Chandos Music (ASCAP)

25th May will always remain special in my memory, the Day of Youth in Yugoslavia. The photo is of the actual serving of coffee in (present-day) Bosnian restaurant Das ist Valter, Ljubljana. Somehow I draw the connection with youth. And there’s not even any beer around (only milk for spoilt Slovenians). And a Drina. Photo: MM

Belgrade, good morning

Duško Radović had a good morning show on Belgrade radio, waking up the inhabitants of ex-Yugoslav capital with his wit for years. Here is just a taste, translated by Manja Maksimovič on the spot. Yes, from my scrapbook.

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Blessed be all those who know what they want, who have desires and ideas.

Just like every day they will fill today with something, no matter how little, modest, barely visible.

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Happiness is little, ordinary and far from striking, and there are many who are not able to see it.

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Do not burp in front of the underprivileged.

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There are people so clinically vain that they never leave tracks, only good impressions.

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Today is Tuesday, a little day, outsider, nobody’s time.

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Spring is coming. Lucky all to whom this matters.

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Image

A clock for word fans, from Pinterest

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Goodness cannot be returned since it is never given.

Good people are good for their own sake, not for others’.

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Nothing can disappear. Everything is here somewhere.

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The rain has been dripping, coming down in buckets, drizzling, pouring, the only thing it hasn’t done yet is stop.

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The rain fell on the grain for a reason and on us for no reason at all. It’s been ages since we stopped bearing fruit.

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There are memories to the left of us and desires to the right. We are somewhere in the middle, equally far from both of them.

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Even us who will never die must keep saying that everyone will die, out of respect for those who will die.

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Via Jugoslavia

In Grosseto, Tuscany, god still believes in Yugoslavia. Photo: MM

001

And in Slovenia too. Photo: MM

What were you doing 30 years ago?

Written on February 14th during the Olympics

On February 14th 1984, quite out of a blue, I told my teacher in school that I had to go to the dentist, and flew out of school as fast as I could. (I was going to something called all-day primary school, its last year, which included lunch and a few classes of independent work per day, very good for doing nothing at all, and lasted from 8am to 3.30pm.)

Instead of going to the dentist I ran straight home. Winter Olympic Games were in process, you see. In Sarajevo, no less, in what was my country at the time, Yugoslavia. True, we had a TV turned on in school hall but we were only allowed to watch it during recess. After watching the promising first run of men’s giant slalom which ended with a couple of our guys close to the top, I began to doubt that the second run will fall on a recess. And even though I had a favourite classmate with whom I loved to discuss sports and my deep feelings for him (he was not so keen on hearing this last bit), for this I had to be alone.

My father was there, in Sarajevo, for a month, covering the pulse for the media. The summer before we spent in the little village on the Croatian coast, as we did every summer since I was a little child.

Those three weeks in August by the sea were my growing-up time, my real life, I felt that this was how it was supposed to be: the sea took care of my pimples, the active life took care of my body shape, the sun took care of my tan… I turned into a goddess. It was temporary – I knew I couldn’t fool my classmates, I couldn’t fool the pool life guard in my city, I couldn’t fool that scout with his cute blue kerchief and eyes of almond – but in those three weeks I could sniff the life as it WILL become.

Not only because of him, the guitar man from Sarajevo. He was tall and yummy and Older, and he could play and sing and was teaching me songs, and he lived conveniently right across the street from us. One time I woke up in the middle of the night, hearing him returning home from the beach with friends where He Played and I Couldn’t Listen because of the damn Curfew which a not so liberal ex-cop mom plopped on my best friend – during holidays! – and I climbed down the balcony and they laughed and called me a moonwalker.

Yeah. Sarajevo. It’s always the best of them who get fucked.

Image

Poster by Trio

But this was a long time before any damage was done to the city, the country was still whole, we were still we, and Bosnia was our heart and soul. And in 1984 the whole world came to this heart for two weeks (just like right now the whole world is in Russia, making fun of the toilets). Most foreigners who were there could tell you that the most frequently used phrase by the locals was Nema problemakein Themani frke, no panic. Over there, nothing was ever a problem. Maybe that’s why they had to deal with so many of them, later.

But at that time everything was all right, the same venues that now stand in divided Sarajevo with bullets in their heads were catering nicely to sportsmen from all over the world. Not many remember a Yugoslav speed skater falling to her face, repeatedly, because it’s only proper that a host nation has a participant too and she was just not cut for it, or a little stutter during the Olympic oath which a Slovenian skier had to say in another, Serbo-Croate language (the languages had not separated yet either).

Who knows what we would remember from these games if there wasn’t for that giant slalom which I ran home to watch in peace – my parents were at work, my sister in kindergarten, I cherished peace then just as much as I do now. And so I was able to watch in peace how a man from Slovenia with smiling eyes took silver for Yugoslavia, its first winter Olympic medal ever. He reunited us again, after the death of Tito 4 years earlier. At the medal ceremony, Bosnians greeted him with a poster: Volimo Jureka više od bureka.They loved our Jure better than their burek – Bosnian favourite cheese pastry (or rather, as Klu points out in her comment, MEAT pastry).

In the next days, newspapers were full of heart-wrenching eye-moistening reports. It must be true that in the Balkans men only allow themselves get emotional over sports. Or maybe, hopefully, this sentence should be in the past tense. I remember an article describing him as he was talking to his parents over the phone on the day he won the medal. His hand was going to his eyes in an attempt to shut himself from the outside world, and the reporter noticed this hand and followed it for us.

I wonder if it was my father who wrote this article.

This is how the nation that didn’t exist but was composed of many nations, who got along fine for such a long time but then they stopped, got its favourite day. We were all happy then. And nobody even knew it was Valentine’s Day.

(And I just realised this was 30 years ago, hence the title. Damn!)

Top photo: serving of Bosnian-style coffee in Das ist Valter, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Photo: MM

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈