Czechoslovakia Will Be Forever With Us

Long Live Czechoslovakia ?

September 2, 2017

Allan Stevo

Naturally, lots of people still use the term Czechoslovakia as if it is a country. This is despite the fact that it hasn’t been a country for 24 years. It’s what they remember and just like they say about dogs, it can sometimes be hard to teach an old (or young) human new tricks. From that perspective, for the next 80 years, Czechoslovakia will be with us, at least until a large portion of people who were alive in the year 1993 pass from the earth.

From another perspective though one might wonder if Czechoslovakia will forever be with us. When a person misspeaks to a member of the media, they can be spoken to by such uppity people and attacked as if no one in the media ever makes a mistake. The media is certainly not among the most intellectually selective industries. Many people in the media tend to be duds.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

Photo credit: kolinskypres.cz

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Choosing To Feel Offended

I’m Offended

September 1, 2017

Allan Stevo

An Austrian friend of mine who is an avid reader of a wide array of world media commented to me that America is unique in that it is the only place where you can worm your way out of an intellectual discussion by saying “I’m offended” and others will recognize it as a legitimate reason to stop the discussion.
 

Only in America

This observation provides an interesting piece of insight on how freedom of speech is interpreted in America. Being sensitive to the feelings of another is at times of paramount importance. In the context of an intellectual discussion it ought to have little place, for digging at the truth should be the goal of intellectual discussion and such cries obfuscate the truth.
 

Better to Laugh at Such a Person

The notion of saying “I’m offended” and genuinely meaning it should be an all out embarrassment to anyone who says it. Such a person should be laughed at in the context of an intellectual discussion.
 

The Choice to Feel Offended

Being offended is of course, like all other feelings, a choice. There is a moment between input and output, between cause and effect, where the conscious mind may pause and reflect and even take control. You choose to feel offended.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

Photo credit: mononews.gr

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Slovaks Have Bagpipes Too

Gajdy

August 31, 2017

Allan Stevo

As a child growing up on the south side of Chicago, at this time of year I watched practically everyone take any, even minuscule (1/256), Irish ancestry and parade it around like it was the coolest thing on earth. They would tell colourful jokes with brogues, discuss what it really meant for St Patrick to chase the snakes from Ireland, and would shout over green beers and green rivers about the potato famine.

The drone of bagpipes, a rebel instrument, was always my favorite part of the day. The drone of banned bagpipes. The drone resonates deep inside. It builds the soul, it solidifies the fortitude , it enlivens the spirit, it makes the brave braver.

The instrument is beautiful and evokes the emotion in me that rebellions are made of.

In this environment, I asked my family if we had any Irish blood. The answer I heard went something like this: “In the 6th century Celtic tribes invaded the land of our ancestors (Slovakia), raping and pillaging everything in their path. We may not have Irish blood in us, but somewhere, far enough back we surely have Celtic blood in us.”

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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Načo Pôjdem Domov – A Roma (Gypsy) Song In Slovak

Načo pôjdem domov

August 30, 2017

Allan Stevo

Below is the Roma song “Načo pôjdem domov,” commonly played in Slovakia by bands in Slovakia whether they are Gypsy or Slovak and mentioned in this article about the Cigánsky bašavel (Gypsy Party) held each year at Červený Kameň, a castle near Bratislava.

 
Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

Photo credit: miret.cz

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A Slovak Charity And A Party They Throw

Cigánsky bašavel

August 29, 2017

Allan Stevo

UPDATE August 13, 2011 – There has been a last minute change of plans: the event will, sadly, not be held at Cerveny Kamen, but instead in Senec, at on the south side of Slnecne Jazera, in the small amphitheater.

There’s a castle not far from Bratislava Červený Kameň – “Red Stone Castle” – that was owned by a wealthy family of the past named the Fuggers.  I warn you not to read their name aloud, lest someone think you are being inappropriate.  The Fuggers had great wealth, from, among other things, taking the minerals out of the hills of present-day Central Slovakia.  The pleasant castle is home to all kinds of events, including the one that’s coming up this weekend – Cigánsky bašavel or “Gypsy party.”

Hundreds of people will get together on the large lawn of the castle for a party that will last all day Saturday.  There will be a stage with lots of fun taking place on it.  There will be talented people on that stage dancing, singing, doing a host of other things to entertain the audience.  On stage will be mostly Gypsies, as part of the purpose is to show off the talent of the Gypsy community in Slovakia. In the audience members will be both Gypsy and gadžo (non-Gypsies).  But the most important issue, the most interesting issue is why they are all there.

Divé Maky is the name of the organization that will organize this event.  Its name translates as “Wild Poppies.”  One of the most interesting things that Divé Maky does should be of great interest to anyone with a passion for Central European Gyspy culture.  For that matter, it should be of interest for anyone with a passion for Slovakia, since some 10% of Slovakia’s citizens are widely estimated to be ethnically Roma (a.k.a. “Gypsy” in common parlance).

The reason that this issue might be important to anyone with an interest in Slovakia is that when 10% of a country’s population is consistently having trouble, that can really be difficult for a country.  And many Gypsies in Slovakia tend to have trouble when viewed from an ethnic Slovak perspective.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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The Gypsies Are Coming

The Gypsies are Coming

August 28, 2017

Allan Stevo

This morning the Gypsies are going around Castle Hill in Bratislava looking for scrap metal.  They come around once a week in a car with a loud speaker attached to the top, a Zhiguli, as it’s called by Slovaks – an old make of car from the former Soviet Union.  Behind the Zhiguli, they tow a trailer that they will fill with the scrap that they find.

And you can hear the recorded announcement begin, always in the same voice…

Honourable citizens… we’ll take your old things, your old stove, your old washing machines, honorable citizens, your old metal, your old appliances, your old irons…

Honourable citizens… we’ll take your old things, your old stove, your old washing machines, honorable citizens, your old metal, your old appliances, your old irons…

And everyone on Castle Hill, or anywhere in Bratislava, knows that they can put out their old metal pieces for the Gypsies when they hear that recording.  The Gypsies will come down every street, driving slowly, on the lookout for you to flag them down.  They will be looking for appliances left out on the curb, or anything that may be of value.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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Slovakia Is Always With Us: Burning Man

Gerlach, High Tatras, Slovakia | Photo: wikimedia.org

Gerlach, High Tatras, Slovakia

Gerlach

August 26, 2017

Allan Stevo

With a population of 206 people Gerlach, Nevada, adjacent to the Black Rock Desert is the last gasoline stop before heading out into “the Playa,” the location of an annual counter culture gathering of some 70,000 people known as Burning Man.

While reviewing that detail earlier this week, it occurred to me that Gerlach (or Gerlachovsky stit) is also the name of the tallest peak in Slovakia, the tallest peak of the High Tatras, the tallest peak of the entire 1,500 km (932 mile) long Carpathian Mountain chain as well as the tallest peak in Northern and Central Europe. 2,654.4 m (8,709 ft), named for the village of Gerlachov at its base. The mountain has a characteristic cauldron like cirque that is often referenced by Slovaks and can be seen from the south.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

Photo credit: wikimedia.org

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The Moral Obligation To Speak Truth To Power

Pastor Russell O. Siler (1942-2014)

Pastor Russell O. Siler (1942-2014)


Russ Siler & Honesty

August 25, 2017

Allan Stevo

Being a writer means many projects are left unfinished. Sometimes even at the last moment pieces are left, forever abandoned, deemed by that harsh inner editor to be too inferior in concept or in some other way unworthy of being shared with an audience. Understanding this, it is with great hesitation that I read or share items that the author did not approve the final draft of.

It’s questionable if work should be published posthumously without the author’s permission since it ends up being a glimpse into the author’s soul and creative process that the author perhaps did not intend to share. The ultimate argument is that even in its raw form there is important value to the world.

The Trial by Franz Kafka, The First Man by Albert Camus, Ian Fleming’s The Man With the Golden Gun, The Pale King by David Foster Wallace, The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens, A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway all went to print in versions the author did not finish or approve of.

Below, is the writing of a pastor I met in Jerusalem in 2004, who for many years wrote a love-filled, insightful, and caring email on the situation of Israel and Palestine. It is not common for insight and love to accompany writing on the relationship between Palestine and Israel.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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