April 28, 2009

Thankfully it doesn’t happen often. If I were in charge of Gougourounia it most definitely would not – as a rule. So, Conan has a drum. Well, good for him. The way he beats it just makes me want to borrow it, keep it… for a while.

My heart and soul are pissed off with me. So would you be,if someone were to pull a stop|start|go|no|yes stunt on you the way I have. But screaming “fuuuuuuuuck!!” at me won’t stop me from persistently trying to crash my own hard drive, or stuffing my head full of rocks, for that matter. Deep breath.

I respect the boundaries I found, as well as the choices people make and by which they live. For themselves as well as for one another. And then I find something. Someone. And something. Suddenly I am struck. I can feel emotions creeping up on me and I’m irresistibly drawn.

I touch and I feel a charge. I hear a breath with a voice all its own. There is definitely pleasure there and around us. I resist at the point I would ask and want more. It’s the ‘right’ thing, dontcha know…dontcha know.

Now, the existence of ‘right’ may well be called into question. It is almost never the same word or meaning twice. Almost never. I feel that when we fused, as it were, it was just right. Do I mean true. Yes, maybe that makes more sense. Ah, maybe true is true. True is true.

Almost at the speed of light? No. I take my goddamn time and go round and about like a silly boy on a bicycle. Look. No hands. And eventually, kiss, speak, touch, tears. Yes, you guessed right; ‘right’ thing just flew out the window. After all that resistance, day after day in a private time warp.

It is not a showdown between ‘my rules’ and ‘your rules’ as if on a quest for compromise. One soul seeks the other. Naturally, instinctually, it’s almost primal. No, not scary at all. Scary would be not being able to let go when you respect. Why in hell would one want to suffocate what is at the centre of such an intimate universe?

Resistance came with every step. Is it more selfish to speak or to keep quiet? Timing. Comedy. Yes, well, the facts remain as they are. More fluid in some ways than we may realise. Priorities don’t dictate but they make for a pretty good guide. So that getting lost does not become piece-of-piss easy.

There are times when one doesn’t need to pepper dubious prose with the word love or throw in the odd ‘in love’ for good measure.

Never say never, you said.

I won’t.


What was that all about?

April 28, 2009

Maybe a WTF would have sufficed. The jury, however, is out on the subject of acronyms. It’s been a year since I last posted anything. A strange, dark and interesting year. Sadness, anger, disillusionment and noise. It’s interesting how looking at the date of the last post has thrown me. It’s interesting, to me, how I come back to this spot and try and take stock. And all this when all I want to do is hide.

A horse walks into a bar and the barman asks, “what’s with the long face…?”

That’s more like it.


Almost Back

April 30, 2008

Yes, well, now that everyone has left maybe we can back to the matter at hand. In this case it’s probably about blogging in the name of Gougourounia. Hell, why not? I mean, there are people all over the world who seem to be into this blogging thing.

Alright, then, we’ll see how it goes.

After all, life is too short for common sense…


On The Sixth Day of Christmas

December 20, 2006


I had a bloody toothache. Called a friend in Connecticut and his gynaecologist wife called my local pharmacy to prescribe penicillin. Should I walk in and pretend I’m a woman? Would the cross-dresser at the diner across the street take umbrage?


Went to dinner with John B – wonderful little Indian place on Upper West Side.


Poor Lisa was fretting over her paycheck which came late, as the mailman must obviously have gotten into the spirit of the season well ahead of time, whilst the newspaper from the Old Country was delivered a mere 4 days after being bunged in the mail.

Paycheck finally arrived. Called Lisa and told her I’d be in Midtown Manhattan anyway, so I could bring it with me.

We met not far from the New York Public Library lions – a block away from the Old Country Consulate where I’d stopped there for a coffee, a smoke and a pee. Lisa and I had a smoke as people walked by. Behind the Library we have Bryant Park. Lots of little seasonal stands including a local corner of Lindt Heaven.

Naturally, we both extolled the virtues of the Swiss chocolatier. We agreed that no one else on this planet can make a white chocolate like Lindt. Not Leonidas, not Guylian. And yes, Godiva is for plebs. We laughed – considering we were a former freelancer with a real job and a former freelancer enslaved by an albatross he loves.

After dinner I headed back home. On the way, however, John and I stopped for a beer at a bar. I realised that I’d done some shooting outside this bar 6 or so years ago. The obligatory neon in a car side mirror shot type of thing. No one took notice at the time. The producer had called me a few days later to ask what the hell these shots were all about. I made a polite, yet insencere apology. They ended up as a brief montage in the first of my footage seen on US TV since Sarajevo. And John and I had a beer each.

Lisa was packing for an impending Christmas trip when I got back to the loft. I told her to relax. Her flight’s not until Thursday. So, she brought out her large format Mamiya and made me sit for a couple of Polaroids. 2 Excellent pictures. She then handed me the monster.

Looking down and trying to focus through a lens that cost the better half of a second hand car (she bought the kit in question second-hand) while quite happy on antibiotics was almost harrowing. “Arrrghhh, ma la ka!” she screamed, “you made my forearm look like a leg of mutton!”. Hrrrmmph.

Chris then arrived and we all sat down for tea. Chris had a beer.

Lisa took wonderful pictures of Chris. Once she scans the Polaroids we get to keep our choice of picture.

We called it a night.

Lisa had left a small bag on the door handle to my room. White Chocolate balls by Lindt.

Today was one of the most beautiful days I’ve had.

I love my family. I love Chris and Lisa.

I love Christmas when it just unfolds and doesn’t necessarily fall on the day itself.


‘bye, George

December 5, 2006

Dearest George,

Your passing away is the only thing even more tragic than what your life had become. I will never understand how a man so generous of spirit and so wonderfully intelligent gradually vanished before our very eyes. I feel that there are more than just a few people who love you to the extent that we knew you would one day leave us. And yet one is never and should never be prepared for the inevitable.

I will always feel love and frustration when I remember you. Frustration at what your life became and how you would not let anyone who loved you stay close or even get close.

As your life gradually became more lonely and as you started vanishing before of our very eyes, our frustration grew.

My anger was never the kind of anger one feels towards something bad. George, you were one of the kindest people I have ever known. But you were never kind enough to yourself.

I believe that all those who love you dearly will always be sad. But we will also be happy that we knew you.

When I remember you it will also be a reminder that I will always find kindness in this world.

I wish you had chosen to stay with us but I am also relieved that you will not suffer any longer.

If there is a God, I ask Him to Keep your Soul and to give you all the love you deserve.

For eternity.



December 5, 2006

Nick and Sophie called this afternoon and told me about George Pierides passing away. I know I was angry with him, as were many others who loved him.

I think Nick was probably the kindest of all, as he would still check up on him occasionally at what was left of his house in

George became increasingly more tolerant of the hoodlums who became a little rent-a-crowd, gradually sucking him dry and literally ransacking his place.

These people didn’t even afford him the dignity of Mme Hortense as they removed artefacts, money, furniture and what have you while he was still alive.

However prepared one can be for the inevitable it was obviously still a shock to hear the news. I’ll always be happy I knew him.

I remember when he got wind of the fact that I was shitting bricks at the prospect of going to Mogadishu he had swung by the house and told me to take my Rolex off,  giving me his Swatch to wear instead.

“Re malaka”, I remember him telling me, “don’t you know that they’ll kill you without so much as giving it a second thought, let alone seeing a Rolex on your wrist?”

The strange thing is that his visit calmed me. Well, not that strange, actually, bearing in mind that it is comforting when someone shows he cares even in such a uniquely convoluted way.

I miss him terribly. I have done for a while now.


It’s been a while

November 26, 2006

That cellphone bill was taken care of and they didn’t even charge me for the call I made to take care of it. That was a few days ago. Today my cellphone rang. Somehow I was hoping it would ring but I wanted it to be a surprise. Two out of two ain’t bad at all. ‘Twas a bunch of friends sitting at a restaurant in the old country. Now, don’t give me crap about etiquette; the instigator is a restauranteur himself so it’s anything goes. He told me the waitress was cute and then 5 more people spoke to me, all telling me they’d missed me. I miss them as well.

“Yeah, March, probably… nothing much, just working on the film… no, been out of work for a while… still in Kato Brooklyn… I miss you too… no, not Christmas. March, probably”

I looked at more footage and then went and did my laundry. Beautiful weather for late November.


Bicycles and Blog Tips

October 14, 2006

There is madness to this method. Despite what the average blogsmith may tell you, staring aimlessly at traffic stats can make for a very gratifying – if pointless – minute or two. Gazing at mine, however, I have a bit of advice for y’all. A previous post entitled The Benefits of Smoking seems to have attracted more visits than any other. There you go; free advice. You get what you pay for. A stitch in time and silver linings.

Don’t people realise that you can’t quantify such a pleasure in terms of cold, rational statistical terms. Sure, a pack a day will make you more aware of your lungs and their yearning to be free of your body but we ain’t here to dicuss astral traveling.

My travel agent of late has been the Donnell Library, right across the street from MoMa. Yeah, Free Friday Nights by Target. Better than a 99c burger from Wendy’s. That’s where Union Street comes in. It connects Carroll Gardens to Red Hook in Brooklyn. The connection is apparent when one walks over the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, which can be quite evocative late at night. Don’t look down if you’re an emotional wreck. Or so I’ve been told by a passing local. An unsolicited piece of advice that I’ll make sure to pass on to others. All in good time.

Union Street can bristle with happenstance or even garden-variety coincidence. ‘Paper in knapsack, strolling towards the subway. I was thinking of bicycles and silly helmets. Lisa tells me she doesn’t wear one. Good for her – neither would I, as a self respecting Mediterranean type whose appearance is of no consequence.

The ‘paper carried an article on the hazards of riding a bicycle in New York. Inspired stuff. And I hear two cyclists on Union as the pass me by:

“I’ve had it with their pretentious ways…”

“…I told you they’re just a bunch of asshole yuppies with too much money”

“…I just don’t want to see them again…”

Now, were they leaving a party or merely making polite cycling conversation? Next time that happens I’ll jog alongside and either make notes or indulge in a bit of stirring. Have stick, will travel and what have you.

At the Donnell I had to settle a late fee. On my way to the Media Lab, though, I noticed a book and borrowed it. “The Sand Cafe” by Neill MacFarquhar. Neill, who once spent a few years in Cyprus was involved in a near-fatal bicycle accident in New York a few years ago. The book is fabulous if you’re interested in the media and the Middle East. A slightly darker version would be the book on Bosnia that has yet to be written.

Lisa has a bicycle as did John. John would have left me the damn thing had it not been stolen just before he left Red Hook to travel the world and make documentaries.

My documentary still needs to be editied.

And that’s why I bought a new monitor


Tuesday is Late

September 26, 2006

There is now a strategy in place to get out of the recent doldrums and into ‘better’ sleeping pattern. The Donnel Library is open till 8 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The DVDs go back tonight and if I’m there in good time, I’ll help myself to some more.

The place is so disorganised, though, that hunting through shelves can get quite annoying. DVDs are the only choice as the VHS player presently lives somewhere in the past in Clinton Hill.

Fatih Akin is a talented director. So far, I’ve caught 2 of his films. “Head On” appeared at some ungodly hour on the Sundance Channel many months ago and “In July” goes back to the Donnel tonight. Hopefully I can find one of his earlier films.

Lars von Trier’s “Epidemic”, on the other hand is, well, he lets the cat out of the bag during the audio commentary. It’s all about getting funding for 2 films in order to make the second, pretty early on in his filmmaking career. Fair enough, and it’s still worth watching.

Last night’s screening concluded with Manoel de Oliveira’s “I’m Going Home”, which almost derailed me. It’s amazing what someone can do at the age of 92. It was a bit unnerving, however.

It was early morning by the time I crashed out. It’s OK, The Donnel Library is open till 8 tonight.


Square Flags Rule

September 19, 2006

Switzerland is a very cool country, indeed. Not boring at all, babes galore and plenty of snow in the winter. Caroline tells me that whenever she presents her business card in New York, people look at her and say: “Wow, you’re from the Red Cross?”

Never mind.


Beam Me Out

September 18, 2006

There’s a pile of audiovisual entertainment piling up on my hard drive. If ever questioned by customs officers about the multitude of DVD copies you have, please remind them that it is well within your rights to maintain a ‘time shift’ copy of whatever it was you were intent on enjoying had you had a bit more time at your disposal.

Now, to use the concept of time and coming up with such an action as disposal is almost sinister, if not improbable. If you let your mind wander after briefly focusing on shifting, it all starts falling into place. Or maybe it all starts gathering in the same container.

Sundays are becoming more endearing and less stressful than getting second wind during the wee hours when only credit card customer service is available to the average mortal, if getting on the phone at 3 A.M. is you weapon of choice. As such, one should introduce at least a modicum of stress and break out in a longing for Monday. Take a shower, shave the neighbour’s dog and garnish a dish with 4 rashes of bacon and a bit of fabulous potato salad. Eating to live is a form of punishment, after all.

Getting a bit fidgety, though, I decided to travel while staying put. The DSL connection was fine today and so I launched my Real Player and headed straight for Cyprus. It was prime time here and re-run time there. Fair enough. I’m feeling a bit silly about not making use of my monthly metrocard. Less than an hour from now I could be at the Casa Calamari where I once wanted to celebrate a wedding anniversary. The eatery is still there but the anniversaries are no longer valid as any self-repecting judge in Brooklyn can tell you.

OK, I’ll stay here and assume the distance that is just out of range of the reading glasses. Park comfortably, switch eyewear and let the player do the streaming.

Barging straight into a programme in progress. An Alfa TV rebroadcast via CyBC, 7 time zones away and we’re touring … New York. Rappers in Times Square, Dunkin’ Donuts, The Bread Factory and a jaunt to Astoria.

Just in the nick of time I realised I was dangerously low on smokes. Off to the Yemeni gentleman on Columbia.

Indian Summer in a former Dutch Colony best enjoyed outdoors.



September 13, 2006

Yes, I know the subject of Gougourounia has not come up for a while. It’s easier to describe how one can be used as a conduit when one is tired. The other ingredient is happenstance and/or coincidence – depending on the resonance.

Off to the Yemeni gentleman on Columbia for some beer. Tonight’s choice is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

“… and a pack of smokes?”

“yes, please – yellows”

“… matches?”

“no, thanks”

But this time, the routine was disrupted as he turned around an handed over a little Bic lighter as a gift. On the house. Gratis. Wow, this isn’t the sort of thing that happens at a bodega. But it did and off I went after thanking him for my new lighter. Much nicer than the big blue Bic. The small one’s purple. A gift and an unusual colour to boot.

Time to cross the street after noticing a less-than-treacherous path towards the brand new sidewalk (a sign of gentrification). A song, whose lyrics escape me now, popped into my head. Gougourounian. This time, though there was a parallel version, as if annotated. Somehting about singing like a frog and talking like a rabbit.

Wait a minute, someone’s left their knapsack on top of their car. Bummer, I hope they have the common sense to  retrace their steps to the…


I looked around and there was a man with a limp making his way across the treacherous potholes that had been there since way before gentrification started spreading in a concrete manner.

“… sir, thank you for being so honest and not taking it”.

He probably meant the knapsack and not the lighter.

All this, less than a day after I gave a lost and hammered Irishman 2 cigarettes and directions to the nearest subway station.

Had I not been distracted by the parallel text involving rabbits and frogs, I would have had the clarity of mind to ask the man to thank my parents who taught me the rule of thumb of wrong and right. No offence taken.

I hope the Irishman made his way way home safely. He told me he was on parole and took a swig from the quarter of gin he had in the back pocket of his jeans, before wandering off in the general direction of the nearest subway station.


Not Enough Sugar

September 6, 2006

Hmm, not enough sugar in this coffee. Still, the bodega doesn’t usually serve the stuff at this time of day. Excuse me as I count my blessings.

Blessings are important. As are friends, who are also a blessing. Walking back from the bodega and getting to the Village Voice dispenser, I ran into Greg. He lives upstairs, has a varied life and will be cooking at the diner for a while because he likes that. I met Greg while while having a beer on the roof one evening, having recently moved into my corner of the loft.

Checked e-mail. Dinner invitation from John and Lynn. I’ll take a bottle of White. From K: Any time next week is fine except Tuesday due to a wine tasting she just has to attend.

I think I’ll call Franz. My favourite bar is open tonight and I haven’t had a beer in almost a week. Franz and I met there one evening, talking large ships. Today the Queen Mary 2 sets off.

There are other people I’ve met as well, some of whom are becoming friends. Petra wasn’t here long enough but seeing her was always a blast – especially when she and Franz would have a little argument.

But don’t think this is a pattern of any sort. Alex hasn’t had a drink in years… crap… forgot to call Alex.


The Sky

August 29, 2006

One of my favourite quotes popped into my head, as I looked out of the window this morning. To paraphrase; “The sky looked like God had wiped his arse with it”


Message to Elli

August 24, 2006

“Hello, Baby”