Alkinoos’ best-of collection entitled ‘Local Stranger’, will be hiting record stores on March 26th. His amalgamation of Cypriot and Greek influences along with byzantine, classical and rock music elements, in addition to his unique vocal delivery, have seen him transcend the confines of the international Greek community and have resulted in his first international record release through Wrasse Records. “Local Stranger” is an introduction to Alkinoos’ songwriting, his dreams and beliefs. It opens a window into his chosen homeland at a time when it finds itself at the centre of a political and economic whirlwind.
Alkinoos' 2012 world tour includes UK, USA, Canada, France, Turkey, Germany, Greece, Cyprus, Belgium, Holland and Russia. Find dates here
On his home turf, the double live album ‘Glass World’, with full band and choir was released in November 2011 by Universal Music Greece. On the same day, Universal also released ‘Synkomidi’ (Harvest), a box set containing Alkinoos’ 8 personal albums. This collector’s item also contains special prints of all the albums’ artwork made by Alkinoos’ father, Antis Ioannidis.
We blame you!
By Alkinoos Ioannidis
“We blame you, you know.” That’s what an Englishman told me in London. In the sense that us Greeks are hurting the other European countries’ economies. Because of my “Local Stranger” collection’s release, I will often be met with similar foreign journalists’ lines.
What to reply? What to tell him? That his colonialist grandfathers treated my Cypriot grandfathers like animals because they were shepherds and had no butler? That his queen, this old lady of the fabulous hats, when young would sign with her own hand the death sentences for 19 and 20 year old boys who were fighting for their land’s freedom? Tell him about his country’s foreign policy which artificially bred hatred between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, forcefully bred Turkey’s appetite for Cyprus and, with the help of our own endless, silly machoism, created the Cyprus issue and thousands of dead, missing and refugees?
Tell him about the ’44-’49 civil war here in Greece and the role that his country’s foreign policy played? About its alliance with the defeated Nazi collaborators and all kinds of traitors against those who fought for freedom on the mountains? About how they took advantage of our local communist leadership’s brain hardening and provincialism in order to once and for all get rid of the most promising and altruistic part of the country’s population? About how since then it has been the well-placed, the selfish and the supra-Greeks devoid of Hellas –those “patriots” who, when saying “I love my homeland”, mean, in the best case, “I love myself” or even “I hate all others”- who have prevailed and brought the country to today’s ruination?
And let me not talk of Germany, I do not wish to tire you with the self-evident.
“We blame you!” Oh come on, Robert, do behave yourself, do not be a child! I can just as well put the blame on you.
Your companies and your governments have bred and supported our corruption, so they could sell us –at double the price- their useless, faulty guns, their pharmaceuticals and their telecommunications. They set up Olympics. Ours cost twice as much as those of Sydney, as was proudly declared by a then minister of our government to a TV station abroad. Asked “Do you mean then that it’s all covered by foreign capital?” he replied, quite displeased (we do have dignity!): “No! This is exclusively our money. We will know exactly how much after the Games’ end!” It was the state that paid, namely us, namely our grandchildren. And we cried “Hooray!” and we staged beautiful opening and closing ceremonies. A proper funeral home!
“We blame you!” Both my grandfathers were killed at war. I never once heard my parents, who grew up poor and orphaned, nor did I hear my refugee widower grandmothers, collectively accuse the Germans, the English, the Turks or the Bulgarians. They kept a silence, a deep knowledge that man, no matter his ancestry, hosts within him the angel, as well as the beast. He secretly feeds it, hides it behind smiles and costless goodness, suppresses it when it disturbs the everyday and sets it free whenever conditions allow for it. Unless his culture and his ethics prevail. Should I be waxing philosophical about it?
No. What then? Let me get to the “unimportant”. Shall I speak of the trash that your own show-business has been selling us for decades? Of all the pop, rock and “charts” silliness we have been force-fed with? Of how for each quality song, we have had to also love a bag of trash songs and to connect our adolescence and our life to them? But then you might say, “What do I care if you bought the trash you were sold by the record companies and the radio stations? It was up to you not to listen to them. Do you always have to blame the others?”
Ok, then, back to ours: You’re right, Robert, and more. In the first parliament of our new state, each member boasted an average of 200 godchildren. We have been rotten since the very beginning. The Greek civil strife during the revolution cost us more dead than the uprise itself against the Ottomans did. We baptized the “Italian” Capodistria a Greek and then killed him, because he didn’t share our vices. No matter the blood we shed, no matter the battle songs we sang, no matter how many heroic Exoduses we undertook, in the end it was you who made us into a state, so we could run your business. One of the three first parties in our new country, the one who basically predominated, was called “English”. This sums it all up. What fixation was it that ever made us believe we could raise our head?
You lost some noble children here, Robert, I know. Poets, utopians, Oxfordian classics scholars, adolescent philellhenes, Greeks by erudition, Platonists when no one around here had even heard about Plato for centuries. We were illiterate Arvanites, Vlachs, Turc-gypsies, Turcophones, Pomaks, Slavomacedonians, Tsamides. It was you who sank the armada at the naval Battle of Navarino, you who gave us a state, you who made us Greeks. We were the ones to simply win the Euro soccer cup and to go around beating Albanian immigrants.
Maybe not, maybe all this is to be shared between us, it’s not for export, it’s automatically turned into exaggeration and lies then. I will tell him instead:
Do not think we have had it easy all these years, Robert! It has been no fun post-surgery sleeping in a folding bed in a hospital corridor. No fun being a person with a disability not being able to move around in our cities. No fun paying for tax “closure” and being considered a crook by definition. Nor has it been fun driving and dying on our roads. Or giving birth by C-section so that the obstetrician can be paid more, or being prescribed formula milk for your infant so he can collect a commission. It has been no fun not finding your right at court. No fun being ruled by those who have ruled us. No fun living in ugliness, where anyone could build whatever, wherever. No fun being a child with no education and no free time, a child with five private classes a day, a child stressed and depressed. It has been no fun being an elderly without hospital care or a pension to speak of, waiting to die in front of a TV set. And it hasn’t always been much fun being a Greek hailing from Egypt, Cyprus, Asia Minor, Epirus, Imvros or Pontus. So do not say we have been feasting on borrowed money all these years. The borrowed money that we pay for has been provided by your governments’ and your companies’ corruptors and has fed the corrupted among us, their corrupted. And the powerful have been making fortunes out of our misery and humiliation, and today they want more.
How is it possible then that this rich and incorruptible country of yours, despite having sucked the blood of its colonies for so many years, now owes money, too? Why do you suffer cuts in education, social security, wages and welfare, why have you been having homeless living under bridges for years, hungry people on your streets and illiterates in the year 2012? That is another, huge, international issue that it would be wise if we approached together. It doesn’t stem from the situation in Greece. So don’t blame us for what we are not responsible for.
If you want to blame us, do so for the lack of an organized defense against an unprecedented, yet expected assault. Blame us for proving unprepared, disconnected provincials, autistic, fatalists, loiterers, an unfortified city in the face of the monster’s announced charge. And do blame yourself a bit, too, for instead of sympathizing with the suffering masses of poor Greeks, you have been sucking on the candy sold to you by the markets, the editors’ magazines and the racist analysis on TV stations, while you’re waiting for your turn. Every day you are being told of the Greek laziness, the Greek corruption, the Greek lying. We will tell you the truth you are not being told: Prepare to lose everything you think you own. Because you will lose it all!
Don’t be telling me “This cannot possibly happen!” That is what we said, too, only to wake up today with no ground beneath our feet. Tomorrow it will be your turn. Blame us twice when you will be deprived of your pension and of the money you’ve won with your sweat and with your being absent from your children’s lives, of the money you gave them to safeguard, when you won’t have a doctor to treat you, or a house to shelter you, welfare services to care for you, food to eat, or a song to sing. Blame us not for stealing your money, but because it was we who breached the doors for others to rob you. Our responsibility lies not only in creating debt, robbing our own lives, constructing illegally, being paid in undeclared money, both receiving and giving cash gifts, voting for the inadequate and bribing. Not only in getting married next to kitsch swimming pools, with fireworks and limos despite our personal debts, in burning banknotes at nightclubs, in wanting both the member of parliament and the artist to represent our cheapest, most inelegant side. Of course we are at fault for all these, and more. In all truth, though, our biggest guilt lies in that we made the beginning for them to suck on your own blood, too.
Our obligation today is to fight for your children’s sake. And your obligation is to fight for ours. This is the only way.
The rest is nonsense.
“We blame you”? Idiot...
Translation: Elisa Papageorgiou
The Greek original was posted here: http://www.alkinoos.gr/el/news.html