'A modern day journey through the wild western Balkans'

Sunday, June 11, 2006

So much bull shit!

Yeah, so much bull shit. And i have no idea where to put it all. I wonder why we even bother with a revolution sometimes. At least for the gringos in the so-called west. We are all utterly intoxicated with bull shit. Our jobs. Our politics. Our economics. Our wars. Our struggles. Our families. Why is there so much bull shit?

Our bull shit is the real smelly kind too, it's the shit that stays on top, covering everything with it rank layers. It just basks in the sun, but keeps its moisture by covering up all the real stuff below -- sending putrid aromas teeming through our being, poisoning us, filling us, until we can no longer tell what the real thing looks like. Our world has been invaded by bull shit. And to be quite frank, it think it stinks.

So why do we all worship and dabble in this artificial top layer of fecal waste I ask? Why are we so afraid to dig just a bit...and get to the good stuff, the stuff that counts. We fight and kill, fuck and eat, work and spend - and in the end i ask 'what the fuck for?' Are we really here to just go through the fucking motions. Or is it just that painful that we constantly spasm to what's easy, and that is the bull shit on the surface.

Wouldn't it do us some good to dig a bit? To seek what the others layers hold. Hell, maybe its just more bull shit, but wouldn't you like to find out? I'm so tired of this world of bull shit. It makes even the nice things smell like shit.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Presidential Shwag!

Well, Montenegro is now a 'new' country. As the world globalizes and wide unions form from Europe to Asia and Latin America -- southeast Europe, in fine Balkan fashion, continues to fragment. And guess what, it aint' over yet baby. No, the fat lady hasn't even begun to sing.

The thing i like most about all this fragmenation stuff is that i appear much more intelligent than i really am. Way back when I could only say i spoke two or three languages. Now, as countries continue to spar over their identities, cultures, and ancient borders i seem to pick up a new language every few years. Before it was straight forward, I speak Serbo-Croatian. Then the Croats and Serbs gave it go and shabam! I speak Croatian and Serbian. Then the Serbs decide to give Bosnia a go and poof! I speak Croatian, Serbian and Bosnian.

When the Kosovo crisis was astir in 1998 I can remember sitting in Podgorica with Minister of Social Welfare, Dragisa Burzan. He is an English educated politician who i found quite kind and sort of down to earth. When we met to discuss the influx of refugees to Plav, an isolated part of northern Montenegro that borders with Kosovo and Albania, he asked me which language I preferred to speak in. I naively replied, 'It's all the same to me Mr. Minister, Serbian is fine though.' His eyebrows sort of scrunched together and with a gentle smile he added, in English, 'Let's speak in Montenegrin then!'

And so it is. Montenegro becomes the newest member of the growing European community. More power to 'em i say. The sad thing is, though, Montenegrin leadership, like most countries in the region...is, for lack of a better phrase, a warlord gang. Milo Dukanovic, who is flaunted by the likes of Mr. Solana of the EU, was a pro-Milosevic nationalist who rallied Montenegrin troops to set Dubrovnik alight, destroy east Mostar, and send tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslims from eastern Herzegovina fleeing.

After things settled down in Bosnia, Milo got clever. He apologized for Montenegro's participation in the war. Sincere or not, its unheard of a balkan male to say sorry, let alone admit they actually were responsible for their own actions. He turned his focus to the power grab in Montenegro and to edge out Milosevic's buddy, a bid headed, big haired Bulatovic. Of course to maintain power one needs money and monopolies. So, first things first, alcohol and cigarettes. If you control that, you control the hearts and minds of most Montenegrins.

Then came fuel and then, get this, the drugs. Yup, the Albanians love to produce and smuggle drugs - but they never ever consume them. The borders into Europe were getting more and more confusing and difficult and they found a lovely new path -- marijuana via Montenegro and the hard stuff via Croatia. The hard stuff was supposed to get to the EU, but young Croats, living under the Tudman regime, found a way to escape the reality of his fascist regime. Thanks to Franjo, Milo, and the Albanians, Dalmatia is now wrought with countless herion addicts hanging out in misery on the Adriatic coast. But we won't talk about that now. Let's get back to Milo.

So we get this shwaggy, dirt weed from Albania sent to us by the President of Montenegro. Gotta love it. Who's gonna arrest you when the president gave it to you? But Milo has 'changed' his ways. He has taken speech lessons from the Americans and boy oh boy has he recieved the golden tongue award. Not only is he King of Hill of the youngest country in Europe, he has a fortune to lean back on. And i didn't even get into bank laundering of Italian mafia money on the Montenegrin coast.

So click one more off the list of Yugoslavia and click one onto the map of Europe. Kosova is next. And it won't be pretty. Serbia just may come the Beogradski pasaluk. Jebi ga, tako je zivot nekad.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

zbogom companera

It was the strangest and saddest funeral I have ever been to. And i'm not really sure why. The shock of her death really didn't sit in with most of us until the funeral was over. In the days after her death we were really just dumbfounded. It was hard to react to the reality. She had gone so quickly, only six weeks after finding out that her body was poisoned with cancer.

The Muslim burial was visited by Christians, Jews, communists and atheists alike. And in the end, when her coffin was covered and the last shovel of heavy, wet earth was placed on her final resting place it started to sink in. Of the hundreds who attended the funeral, about fifty of us stayed behind. None of us knew why. We just couldn't go. We just couldn't say goodbye. Nothing was agreed or spoken, we just sort of lingered around her grave. Some cried, some just stared, some even began to laugh and tell stories of the wonderful person that she was. And we still couldn't, wouldn't leave.

Waves of sadness seemed to hit us collectively. People held each other and hugged, but in a very non-dramatic sort of way. We all were just holding on to our last moment with her. We slowly dispersed back to our cars. The entire ride back to Sarajevo no one spoke a word. I think we were all speaking with Farah instead. I hope she was listening. We love you dear friend. I love you. And will miss you. Zbogom companera, sleep with the angels tonight.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I'm back

Yes, companeros...it's been a long time. And it is now time to vent. And vent I will. I traveled deep into the heart of the revolution at the European Social Forum in Athens in early May. I must be getting soft in my old age...although i understand the militant left, and was once a vocal leader in that movement during la revolucion in Cuba - I have seen the light.

The forum, which is usually painted both red and green, was overwhelmingly red in Greece. It became painfully obvious that the political and historical problems of the Balkans are very much unsolved. We have not moved on. The fascist, right wing government of Greece is countered by a violent anarchist movement. The forum itself was a creative and energetic show of resistance. Although i missed the greens and talk of sustainable living, non-violent resistance, environmental issues and general tree hugging, I found the socialist and communist movements to be filled with pain, anger but at the same time resolve and commitment.

The region is wrought with political prisoners, horrendous immigration policies, corrupt and violent police forces, and the lobby of the ultra capitalist yankee neo-liberal's always turns a blind eye to human rights once they find the political elite to enforce their economic model. So we took to the streets.

In similar fashion to Edinburgh for the G8 protests, we were, by and large, a mass of peaceful protesters. The police, as they did in Portland in 2002, had plans of their own and the corporate media to back their actions. A small group of anarchists....always decked out in black and masked, expressed their discontent with smashing some bank windows as they do. What bothers me about our anarchist brothers and sisters is that they always choose these peaceful forums to vent their rage - and hide amongst us when the police inevitably attack. Attack they did. With wanton disregard the police charged peaceful protesters, amongst us many children and elderly. They gassed us, beat us and herded us like cattle as we expressed our peaceful discontent with the repressive system they uphold.

At one moment the police succeeded in breaking the protest in two, hoping that we would simply disassemble and the protest would fall apart. They chased the anarchists, fair enough, who only numbered a few dozen in this crowd. We, however, numbered in the thousands. To the Greek police that did not matter. They charged again, tear gassing us again, beating us again and herding us....again. The protesters resisted the urge to run and peacefully disobeyed the order to disperse. Some yelled at the anarchist for constantly provoking the police in our midst. As i ran gasping for air from the tear gas, the police close behind us weilding riot sticks the somewhat panicked peaceniks were confronted by none other than the violent anarchists.

I understand rage. I understand the adrenaline and the fight or flight sensation. What i don't understand is what happened next. The often dramatic Italian pacifists continued to scream at the anarchists...and began calling them fascists. The anarchists, in a full sprint retreat from the encroaching police, stopped mid march and confronted the Italians. The rocks that had been hailed at the police just minutes earlier were now directed at the protesters!! I couldn't fucking believe it. An anarchist then lauched a rock into the Italians, who were literally 1 meter away. An old man dropped to the ground, blood poured from his head and he started to convulse immediately. Not a good sign. Tempers raged, some anarchists could not believe that this had happened where others were ready to give it ago with anyone that stood in their path of rage.

A panicked crowd gathered around our downed comrade. Frantic Italians charged at the ambulance that was attempting to pass. The paramedics were terrified not knowing what had happened and having mad Italians bashing on the windshield. They soon rolled up with a stretcher and the old man was wisked away. A pool of blood and pieces of his brain lay still in the street. No time to ponder, the police charge us again. Three more tear gas cartridges fired at us. The sting in the lungs and eyes is excruciating. Panic and mayhem. I wanted to stand in front of them, just stand and watch them charge us. Peacefully disregard their need for violence. But the army of riot ants surrounded us on all sides, still herding, still poisoning us with their chemical weapons.

The anarchists resumed hailing rocks and chunks of asphalt at the police. I wandered, struggling to see through my burning eyes, thinking of the old convulsing Italian. I have seen many dead comrades in Bosnia and Kosovo...and back in the day in Cuba, Bolivia, and the Congo.

But our fight today is a different one. It is a fight for our dignity. It is a fight for our planet. Our resources. Our health. The wars of yesteryear were fought over territory and ideology. The wars of today are fought for resources and markets. Their force and strength is our undying want to consume. To increase our buying power. To have what others have. What we need is no longer a factor. And our earth, nor our souls can sustain this.

It is when we say NO to corporate powers and their corporate monarchies that they loose their power. When we pay a bit more for a locally produced product. When we educate ourselves as to who owns what. When we understand that we have the power NOT to buy something. We have the power NOT to vote for someone. We have the power NOT to support the monster that is destroying us and our planet.

The real revolution is the evolution of the mind.