İzmirliyim
stevedarn
The wind blew me to Izmir in the summer of 1984, and I have never left. I travel extensively, but I am always glad to come home. There is much to be said for a city which is situated on a bay, is multicultural and liberal, has something of a small-town feel, and is manageable on a day-to-day basis. My work takes me to Istanbul often, and I suspect that as a younger man I would have enjoyed its splendour and energy immensely, but these days I am unwilling to sit in traffic for hours and have a low tolerance of jostling crowds. A colleague recently told me that, with 450,000 new residents every year, the Istanbul city planners spend their time shuffling the locations of bus-stops, having given up any hope of creating order amongst chaos. I am relatively at peace here, and feel safe and welcome.

IZMIR by Necati Cumalı

I scramble the letters

I
R
I Z
M

I gather them up, shuffle them, cut them
Lay them out in front of me
And hunt for my place

I would have liked to give you your name I…..
Your name was a city with trees
That permeated you like a fragrance
Enclosed you like a shell
You brought me red roses
You healed me
On roads damp with autumn rain
My arm at your waist we walked along

How many white pigeons soared in the sky
And gulls and sailboats on the sea
Grape-ripening summer
Autumn afternoons yellow as quince
Fermented on the greengrocer’s shelves
Morning noon and night a woman
At the garden gate of a house
Shook out the tablecloths
Smiling sadly at the perched sparrows
Each of her children in a different city

Streets that grow narrower and narrower
Houses that get smaller and smaller
Emerge into the joy of living
Slopes descending to the sea
Are knotted with laughter
The path to the work place
Leads to their doors
Dining tables are one
With sitting rooms
That’s the Izmir I love

The Izmir that comes in a sweat
As long as the sun slaps her waters
No hand can wipe away
The light of those eyes
Or extinguish that hope
Oh Izmir, working man’s brother
City of invincible honour
With your sun-filled days stay…


Amsterdam
stevedarn
In the late sixties and early seventies, Amsterdam was the destination for the youth of Europe. I spent several summers there, or at least it was the starting point for many a journey. I have many memories - the 'slaptuin', where you could rent a mattress and get a bowl of muesli in the morning to the music of The Doors or The Airplane, the tea-shops, where you could spend a day drinking tea, drawing, sewing, reading or indulging in some other peaceful activity, and the station, from which you could explore the whole country and eat a machine-vended sausage while you were changing trains. There was a converted warehouse somewhere, called the 'Milky Way', where you could eat macrobiotic or microbiotic food, watch a band, or just hang out. It was all cheap, and very, very cool.
Of course, things have changed. I believe that the slaptuin have gone, and I expect the Milky Way has too. The youth who go there seem to have a bit more cash, at least enough to buy dope in the old teashops, and there aren't many VW Microbuses parked in Dam Square these days, though I gather that the Magic Bus still drops in from time to time.
It wasn't until I became a language teacher that I understood why even the street cleaners in the city could speak English. The Dutch are smart, liberal, adaptable people with a healthy ability to reach outside their own, geographically limited, boundaries. Below is a well written personal account of the city by a perceptive young Ukrainian writer. The Russian original follows.
I would like to go back.

Romantic winter in Amsterdam



They say that winter dulls the senses, slows the rhythm of life and even the metabolism. This excellent catalyst for all processes in the body can become a journey. Want this drive? You in Amsterdam! The fact that this city is not quite the resort town during the winter cold is an undeniable fact, but your personal reason to "thaw" is compelling - vigorous bicycle riding, shopping, tea and cake ... But the fame of this corner of the planet has not necessarily been won by the innocent joys of travel. Among the forbidden fruits offered are "grass", sex for sale in the famous red light district and the freedom of same-sex love. Nevertheless, one thing which brings tourists flocking to Amsterdam is its unique, special Christmas, a Christmas spirit in which old houses are part of the fabulous scenery, where the lights sparkle and shimmer with garlands, gleaming tinsel and festive decorations. But first things first.

"Gordo young wind blows"

In the cold season the temperature here rarely drops below zero, But the proximity of the Amstel River, provides a special, slightly penetrating moisture. And, as if in confirmation of the universal freedom of the behaviour of the wind, that wind can be hidden - in a cafe, in the museum, just a scarf wrapped from head to toe, in the sex-shop, at last, and you can simply substitute ones hair - let it ruffle! The adventure begins!

"Forever young, forever drunk"

The atmosphere of Amsterdam is not something that consists of empty words, but something tangible. It is unclear why the city offers a special charm, but the air seems full of fluidity - completely reckless, heady youth and freedom. However, contrary to popular opinion, Amsterdam is not the native land of legalized drugs. All of them are officially banned, the nuance being is that the crime is not the sale of cannabis in coffee shops or the private possession of small amount of marijuana for personal consumption, but the exclusion of pleasure, the personal choice of the individual.

"Torsion-Kruchu pedals, Kruchu"

In Moscow - The Kremlin and Bentley, in Venice - San Marco and gondolas, in Paris - Notre Dame and pedestrians, and in Amsterdam - canals and bicycles! Cycling here can be regarded as national transport. Cyclists are "sacred cows", Amstera. Locals joke about the cycle tracks and bicycle paths. Indeed, the most advantageous of those on the move are the a two-wheeled drivers. Woe to pedestrians intruding into the protected zone marked with white stripes! - None of the cyclists will not forgive such transgerssions and simply spray insolent mud. All the bicycles are old, almost antique. Why? Because they may stolen at any opportunity!

''Chocolate in foil''

The Netherlands is famous for its pastoral landscapes, and only a short distance away from the mega-urbanized Amsterdam, are plush hills, windmills, cows with velvet sides and shaggy fur ears which don't seem to be anything out of the ordinary. It's very easy to believe that now you have come across a tall red-cheeked girl in a lace apron and wooden clogs who offers you a taste of the famous cheese, Dutch herrings and ... chocolate wrapped in cartoon animal shaped foil. The village of Volendam is located near Amsterdam and represents a startling contrast to the city - the financial and industrial centre of Europe. Take the time to go there and enjoy the quiet pastoral pleasures of rural life. A pair of clogs and a porcelain mill are must-have souvenirs

''Tussauds, Van Gogh and baguettes''

Spiritual food in the capital of the Netherlands? - plenty! The Reiksmuseum, the home of more than seven million items (only a small paroportion of them are exhibited), the Van Gogh Museum, which contains more than 700 of his works including pictures and even children's drawings, Madame Tussauds wax museum is located in a house, which in itself is a 4400-year old piece of history, and finally the Museum of Sex, in which, for a modest fee of 2.5 euros you can survey a vast collection of images, shapes, and even "sexual attractions".
Attitude of local residents to the food of the body body, sex, isfull of healthy self-irony. The sex shops sell the most incredible things, every appliance that you can imagine, even with an exceptional imagination! Particularly look at the terrific hanging garlands "baguette", which upon closer examination are not actually baguettes at all, but...

To "add heat" in winter, it is worth a stroll in the red light district. In windows with a reddish illumination sit those who sells pleasures of the flesh: men, women and even transvestites. If the curtain on the window is drawn, it literally means: "Busy!" But these discoveries, the joy and pleasure of Amsterdam do not end there. Add shopping, "floating houses", the elegant town square, old facades ...
Riding on a boat through the city, throw a coin into the water to return. What a coin! Take a handful because you should definitely visit here in the spring, when the city turns into the tulip capital of the world ... But that's another story!


Романтика зимнего Амстердама



Говорят, что зима притупляет чувства, замедляет ритм жизни и даже — обмен веществ. Отличным катализатором всех процессов в организме может стать путешествие. Хотите настоящего драйва? Вам в Амстердам! То, что этот город — совершенно не курортное местечко во время зимних холодов, — факт неоспоримый. Но тем уважительней будет ваша личная причина «согреваться» — энергичными велосипедными прогулками, шопингом, чаем с пирожными… Однако свою славу самого отвязного уголка планеты Амстердам снискал отнюдь не невинными туристическими радостями. В числе запретных плодов, предлагаемых Амстером, — «травка», секс на продажу в знаменитом Квартале красных фонарей и свобода однополой любви. Тем не менее, то, ради чего в Амстердам зимой стекаются туристы, — это неповторимый, особый новогодне-рождественский дух, когда старинные дома становятся частью сказочных декораций, где искрятся огни, переливаются гирлянды, поблескивает мишура и праздничные украшения. Однако обо всем по порядку.

«Гордо дуют молодые ветра»

В холодное время года температура здесь редко опускается ниже нуля. Но близость реки Амстел, в устье которой и устроился город, обеспечивает особую, слегка пронизывающую, влажность. И, словно в подтверждение всеобщей свободы или ветреных нравов, здесь очень «дует»! От ветра можно скрываться — в кафе, в музее, просто укутавшись шарфом с головы до ног, в секс-шопе, наконец;, а можно просто подставить ему волосы — пусть треплет! Приключение начинается!

«Вечно молодой, вечно пьяный»

Атмосфера Амстердама — не пустые слова; это нечто осязаемое. Непонятно, что именно обеспечивает городу такой особый шарм, но воздух будто насыщен флюидами совершенно бесшабашной, пьянящей молодости и свободы. Тем не менее, вопреки расхожему мнению, Амстердам — вовсе не родина легализованных наркотиков. Все они официально под запретом; нюанс состоит в том, что уголовно не преследуется продажа конопли в кофе-шопах и личное владение небольшим количеством марихуаны для собственного потребления. Впрочем, запретные удовольствия — личный выбор каждого.

«Кручу-кручу педали, кручу»

В Москве — Кремль и Бентли, в Венеции — Сан-Марко и гондолы, в Париже — Нотр-Дамм и пешеходы, а в Амстердаме — каналы и велосипеды! Велосипед здесь можно считать национальным транспортом, потому что он есть почти у каждого. Велосипедисты — «священные коровы» Амстера. Местные жители шутят, что велосипедная дорожка здесь есть… даже у велосипедной дорожки! Действительно, главное преимущество в движении — у двухколесных водителей. И горе пешеходам, вторгающимся в заповедную зону, обозначенную белыми полосами! — ни один велосипедист не простит такой оплошности и запросто обрызгает наглеца грязью. Все велосипеды — старые и почти антикварные. Почему? Да их же угоняют буквально на каждом шагу!

«А потім маленьке звірятко загортає шоколад у фольгу»

Нидерланды славятся своими пасторальными пейзажами, и в небольшом отдалении от мега-урбанизированного Амстердама плюшевые холмы, мельницы, коровы с бархатными боками и лохматыми меховыми ушами совсем не кажутся чем-то необычайным. И очень легко поверить в то, что вот прямо сейчас к вам выйдет рослая румяная девушка в кружевном переднике, деревянных сабо-кломпенах и предложит отведать знаменитого сыра, голландской селедки и… шоколада, завернутого в фольгу мультяшными зверюшками. Деревушка Волендам находится неподалеку от Амстердама и являет потрясающий контраст с городом — финансовым и промышленным центром Европы. Не пожалейте времени, поезжайте туда и насладитесь тихими пасторальными радостями деревенской жизни. Пара сабо и фарфоровая мельничка в качестве сувенира — must have!

'Тюссо, Ван Гог и багеты'

Духовной пищи в столице Нидерландов — предостаточно! Рейксмузеум, хранилище более чем семи миллионов экспонатов (выставлена лишь малая часть из них); Музей Ван Гога, содержащий более 700 его работ, в числе которых — картины и даже детские рисунки; Музей восковых фигур Мадам Тюссо, расположенный в доме, который сам по себе — экспонат (ему более 400 лет!); Музей секса, наконец! За скромную плату в 2, 5 евро вы сможете обозреть огромную коллекцию изображений, фигур и даже «сексуальных аттракционов».

Отношение местных жителей к пище телесной — сексу — исполнено здоровой самоиронии. В секс-шопах продаются самые невероятные вещи, применение которым можно придумать, обладая лишь исключительной фантазией! Особенно потрясающе смотрятся развешанные гирляндами «багеты», которые при ближайшем рассмотрении — вовсе даже не багеты, а…

Чтобы «добавить жару» среди зимы, стоит прогуляться в Район красных фонарей. В витринах-окнах с красноватой подсветкой сидят те, кто продает телесные наслаждения: мужчины, женщины и даже трансвеститы. Если шторка на окне задернута, это буквально означает: «Занято!» Однако этим открытия, радости и удовольствия Амстердама не заканчиваются. Прибавьте сюда шопинг, «плавучие дома», где живут люди, нарядные площади города, старинные фасады домов…

Катаясь на катере по каналам города, бросьте монетку в воду, чтобы вернуться. Да что монетку! Не пожалейте пригоршни — вы должны обязательно побывать здесь весной, когда город превращается в тюльпановую столицу мира… Но это уже совсем другая история!

Work and Pleasure
stevedarn
I am one of the lucky ones. I am my own boss, I manage my own time, I enjoy my work and, most of the time, I can justify my existence.

Old Izmir
stevedarn


This is the city in which I live, or rather an earlier incarnation of it. I have lived here for some twenty-six years now, and have seen some changes, but nothing as radical as what went before. As Smyrna, the city was the home of Lydians, Persians, Macedonians, Greeks, Romans, Ottomans, Byzantines and ultimately Turks. There is little left of Smyrna as a result of war and the great fire of 1922. The modern city is essentially a product of gradual rebuilding following the proclamation of the Turkish Republic in 1923.

Read more about Izmir: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Izmir
Izmir guide: http://www.izmirliyiz.com/en/index-en.php
News, views and information: http://izmir-blog.blogspot.com/
More photos: http://www.3dizmir.com/

Music Matters
stevedarn
Music is part of our lives. It's everywhere - in the car, in the shopping-centre, in the home. I belong to a generation that grew up with music, beginning with clandestine tunings into 208 Radio Luxembourg, through the pirate off-shore radio stations, via the Woodstock Festival, to the blandness of Radio One. We were the youth who lovingly carried their latest Psychedelic or Progressive Rock albums under their arms, listened attentively at each other's houses, and actually knew something about the music and artists that we listened to. Unlike many of my contemporaries, I have not made the quantum leap to classical music, my feet firmly rooted in the late sixties. I know from blog searches that there are many of my kind out there, and many more who would like to rediscover their halcyon days, including some of today's youth who are interested in musical roots and perhaps what their parents are listening to. Here are some places to start your adventure.

Music Database http://www.allmusic.com/

CD Database http://www.gracenote.com/

Sixties Psych Streaming Radio http://www.techwebsound.com/

If you are particularly interested in the music and culture of the late sixties, as I am, you might also like to look at these:

Live Plasma (music and movie search) http://www.liveplasma.com/
Tuneglue Audiomap (interactive radio) http://audiomap.tuneglue.net/
Musicovery (interactive radio) http://musicovery.com/
Toffee Sunday Smash http://web.mac.com/andymorten/iWeb/Site/Podcast/Podcast.html
Fusion 45 (ready-made playlists online) http://www.fusion45.net/
Beyond the Beat Generation (radio) http://www.beyondthebeatgeneration.com/
Hippyland (for hippies, young and old) http://www.hippy.com/php/index2.php
Sixties City (all about the sixties) http://www.sixtiescity.com/
Groovy Times (another sixties site) http://www.nicke.abelgratis.com/
Psychedelic Music (music) http://www.psychedelic-music.com/
Psychedelic Shack (music and literature) http://www.pooterland.com/
Marmalade Skies (British psych music) http://www.marmalade-skies.co.uk/
Turn me on Deadman (radio station and news) http://www.turnmeondeadman.com/
Digital Meltdown (blogroll) http://music-bloggers.blogspot.com/
History of Psychedelia (BBC radio documentary) http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/r2music/documentaries/psych.shtml
DigitalDreamDoor (lists) http://digitaldreamdoor.nutsie.com/
CD Covers CC (CD covers) http://www.cdcovers.cc/
Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs http://www.rollingstone.com/news/coverstory/500songs
Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/5938174/the_rs_500_greatest_albums_of_all_time
The Archive (history of UK rock festivals) http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/
Concert Vault (rock concerts online) http://www.wolfgangsvault.com/concerts/
Alaska Jim's Music Charts (music charts) http://www.alaskajim.com/
Rocklists (lists) http://www.rocklistmusic.co.uk/
Lyrics Freak (song lyrics) http://www.lyricsfreak.com/
Rock Wisdom (quotes) http://www.rockwisdom.com/
Bomp Online Record Store (oldies specialists) http://www.bomp.com/x/
Album Cover Art Gallery http://tralfaz-archives.com/coverart/coverart.html

and if by some small chance you happen to live in Turkey, as I do:

Turkish Psych http://psychevanhetfolk.homestead.com/TurkishProgressive.html
MusicMoz Turkey http://musicmoz.org/Regional/Middle_East/Turkey/


Ethiopiques
stevedarn



Ethiopia is a fascinating country. According to their calendar, the year is now 2002, there are 13 months in the year, one being only five or six days long, and the year begins on August 29th or 30th. It all depend on when you believe Jesus was born. There don't seem to be any seasons - it could be spring, summer or autumn now, but it's definitely not raining. Amongst the confusion there is sanity. The sun rises and sets at roughly the same time each day, Ethiopian drivers don't lean on their horns, and the call to prayer isn't amplified. There is no economy. Coffee, some other agricultural products, and a legal stimulant called 'khat' account for most of the GDP. The Ethiopians have received aid for so long that the concept of an economy is beyond most of them, and they don't seem to be particularly bothered about it, or anything else for that matter.

Perhaps the above is a little on the light-hearted side, even lacking in detailed accuracy, but then Ethiopia, to me, is a light-hearted country where accuracy is either hard to establish or irrelevant. Here's what Hishe Hailu has to say in response.....

'Ethiopia is the only African nation that has been a shining beacon of independence and exemplary to the disdained world in smashing the white supremacy that prevailed in the 19th century. You can read histories and stories related to the Battle of Adwa(1896) whereby the Italian aggressors were thrown to the dust bin of history. This victory of ours has given impetus to the rest of the world to fight for its independence.

Ethiopia is the political center of Africa. You can think of the international and continental organizations based in Addis Ababa. Addis Ababa is second to Washington DC in being a diplomatic center.

Ethiopia has its own alphabet and religion. It has a language called Ge'ez-one of the authentic languages of the holy bible. It is the first African country to accept Christianity and Islam. It is the very country that was mentioned more than 50 times in the holy bible. The Prophet Mohammed had also a special respect to this nation (if interested you can read the Hadith).

Its new year is mostly September 11. This has got nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ. We celebrate the birth of our Lord on December. By the way, Ethiopia is the only Christian country whereby God is praised everyday. In English, if one says good morning the response is good morning, in French, Spanish, etc it is all the same. In Ethiopia if you say Endemin neh/nesh? (how are you?) the response is Egziabher yimesgen (Praise be to God).

We have four seasons and they have names (kiremt, bega, tsedey, meker) but we have 13 months of sunshine.

We have our own music notes composed in the 5th century. The composition has five volumes (five big books). They are used for liturgical services. Our music is divided into two: spiritual songs and secular ones. By the notes you can identify which one is spiritual and which one secular. We also have original music instruments. I promise next time if you come to Addis, I will take you to our music Yared school attributed to the great 5th century Ethiopian music legend and I am dead sure you will be caught by surprise. You may refuse to go back to Europe.

We have one of the best philosophers on earth. You can check Zera Yacob-an Ethiopian philosopher in google

We have an economy Mr. Steve. We are not demanding the amount of aid we used to beg. Rome was not built....We export spices, oil seeds, coffee, hides and skins, flowers, textile products, leather products (were you not happy with leather jacket and pair of shoes you bought in Addis?), gold, now we will be exporting power to the Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti.'

Yes, Hishe. Respect.

In the beginning
stevedarn
FredOrange Juice - really!

I suppose all blogs have to start somewhere, so perhaps the beginning would be a good idea. It all began for me in a post-war prefab in Croxley Green, not far from the end of the world, otherwise known as the end of the Metropolitan line. Perhaps it all started before that, but that may be another story. The Rickmansworth-Watford area, though by no means the badlands, is hardly newsworthy; not city, not country, not quite London, not quite anywhere, which, perhaps, is why I left. Had I stayed, it would have been a quite normal life, but in the event it hasn't - certainly not what Fred and Sylvia would have expected. I wonder where it all went wrong, or perhaps it didn't.

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