Music Adventure

I first traveled to Europe fifty years ago. During the four months I lived in Paris I preferred listening to British rock and American soul, tuning into pirate stations such as Radio Caroline and Radio Luxembourg to hear the Beatles and Rolling Stones.

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I also listened to Antoine, Johnny Hallyday, Mireille Mathieu, Michel Poinareff, and Sylvie Vartan to some extent but French vocalists seemed to lack intensity and feeling.

However, passing through Italy I was glad to catch one of those French pop singers, while in Greece I strained to hear Arabic music some distance away.

Over time I tired of rock and desired something different, preferably quieter. I was drawn to Afro pop, rai, fado, and even popular Greek vocalists.

Now I look forward to exploring the choices in Athens and spend too much money buying laika CDs there.

This year I brought back a number of discs by Stelios Bikakis, Giorgos Giannias, Pantelis Pantelidis, and Paschalis Terzis. Plus a couple of surprising purchases: Takim and Zipelia Cress.

I heard a few cuts of  Takim during the few minutes I spent in a store buying a CD by one of the artists already on my list. But it was long enough to realize I definitely liked what I was being exposed to.

I number of young musicians collaborated on this project and the performers are seven men who recorded after a ten year hiatus. The name sounds Turkish and the music has a distinctly eastern flavor.

I was introduced to Zipelia Cress by Vangelis, who is the composer of the music played on this CD. It’s mellow rock inspired by the familiar San Francisco sound. I returned to the store for his autograph but passed up buying a follow-up CD with a harder edge.

I didn’t find everything I looked for this time but I’ll undoubtedly return with a new list in a couple of years.

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

http://www.nikosdiaman.com

Book Lover

I was hoping to visit Papasotiriou again, a large bookstore across from the university in Central Athens. Especially the large English-language section on the top floor where I found the latest titles in Greek history, politics, and culture in previous years. But it’s no longer in business.

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There are English-language books at Public on Syntagma Square, though nothing resembling the depth of titles stocked by the defunct bookstore. However, it’s a great source for new Greek CDs.

One evening I noticed a bookstore in the neighborhood specializing in dictionaries but it was closed. A few days later I checked it out during business hours and was amazed at what I found. Lexikopoleio sells French, English, Spanish, and Italian books as well as dictionaries. And all titles are sold at the prices charged in their country of origin.

When Odile Brehier rented the space in the wake of the economic meltdown, women passing by frequently asked her if she really wanted to do this. She was undeterred by their skepticism and launched what’s become a successful venture five years ago.

Odile’s father was French and her mother Greek. She was born in the French Congo and has lived most of her life in Athens. Working as a translator is a solitary task. The store allows her an opportunity to socialize with like-minded people.

An event I attended hosted by Lexikopoleio featured young Greek prose writers and the editor who put together a book of their work for French readers. An overflow crowd packed the store and some lingered afterwards for a reception with people chatting with one another both inside and out in the street.

Brehier is a charming and gracious host who enthusiastically greets both old friends and new visitors to her store. She lives and works in Pangrati, or Frog Island, an area defined by two rivers that still flow underground.

I look forward to visiting this neighborhood gem and seeing her again the next time I visit the city.

image & text copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

www.nikosdiaman.com

It’s Complicated!

Family relationships can be difficult even in the best of times and adoptions present an added complexity to the situation.

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Wars disrupt the daily lives of everyone involved and this was especially true during World War II in Central Europe where millions of civilians were targeted for extermination.

Holocaust survivors were left with deep psychic scars that affected them throughout their lives.

Aida’s Secrets directed by Alon and Shaul Schwarz (Israel/United States/Germany/Canada) 2016 unveils a fascinating trail of secrets and lies.

The main part of the story involves the search and meeting for a brother whose very existence was kept secret from an adoptee for over sixty years. But this is only the beginning of a broader investigation to piece together the details of a truly complicated mystery.

The film screens again at San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 36 Friday 5 August 2016 at the Piedmont Theatre in Oakland.

For more information and tickets check the Jewish Film Institute.

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

www.nikosdiaman.com

Jewish & Gay

At the start of the HIV/AIDS pandemic 35 years ago, a positive diagnosis was a death sentence. Closeted gay men coming out to their families for the first time both as homosexual and infected with the dreaded virus often faced rejection from parents and died without parental understanding and comfort.

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Neither homophobia nor the disease has been entirely vanquished but society has adjusted somewhat to the existence of homosexuality and an extremely serious illness.

Who’s Gonna Love Me Now? directed by Tomer and Barak Heymann (Israel/UK) 2015 is a documentary about a 39-year old, gay Israeli living in London who’s estranged from his religious family back home. He must come to terms with himself as well as bridge the gap between him and his family.

The film will screen three times during San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 36: Sunday 24 July 2016 at the CinEearts in Palo Alto, Saturday 30 July 2016 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, and 31 July 2016 at the Roda Theatre in Berkeley.

More information and tickets available at Jewish Film Institute.

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

www.nikosdiaman.com

Shared Dish

Hummus! The Movie directed by Oren Rosenfeld (USA/Israel) 2015 documents a popular Middle Eastern spread.

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Chickpeas (garbanzos) and tahini are the basic ingredients for a dish that probably originated in Egypt. But the Lebanese have strong claims to it.

It’s increasingly appreciated by people from the three major religious faiths in the area and increasingly enjoyed by a very diverse group of both locals and tourists.

Hummus has become an all consuming activity for a widow who took over her late husband’s restaurant, a religious calling for a spiritual seeker, and an adventure for someone unsatisfied with the established business passed on to him by his father.

The documentary hops around from one town to another in its quest for the culinary treat.

The film will be screened three times during the upcoming San Francisco Jewish Film Festival: Cinéarts, Palo Alto Square Saturday 23 July 2016, Castro Theatre, San Francisco Sunday 24 July 2016, and Piedmont Theatre, Oakland Friday 5 August 2016.

Contact Jewish Film Institute for more info and tickets.

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

www.nikosdiaman.com

Lonely Hearts

A young, fiercely independent, autistic woman is the main character in Wedding Doll directed by Nitzan Gilady (Israel) 2015.

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She works in a small paper factory and designs dresses as well as makes dolls in her spare time. Hagit dreams of marrying some day and is courted by the factory owner’s son.

Her mother’s life revolves around the care and protection of Hagit. Her own needs and desires frequently deferred.

The impending closure of the factory changes everything. Difficult choices must be made and challenges overcome in this haunting, yet touching story.

The film opened 1 July 2016 at the Rafael Film Center in San Rafael and the Roxie in San Francisco. It screens 27 July 2016 at the Embassy of Israel/Avalon in Washington and 1 November 2016 at the Chicago Israel FF in Highland Park, IL.

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

http://www.nikosdiaman.com

Country Girl

Seasons often mark memorable events in an individual’s life. And for young people summer is associated with romance.

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Summertime directed by Catherine Corsini (France) 2015 is about the awakening of a young woman who moved to the city from a small farming community during the 1970s.

Her participation in a women’s liberation group and her attraction to one of the other women she meets there sets in motion an intense but troubled love affair.

It’s one of the showcase films of Frameline 40 and will screen at least once more at the Landmark Theatres Piedmont in Oakland Thursday 23 June 2016.

Contact Frameline for more info and tickets.

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

www.nikosdiaman.com