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Friday, 15 December 2017

UK: Literary fiction in crisis; Collapsing Sales

From The Guardian, Literary fiction in crisis as sale drop dramatically, Arts Council England reports- New figures show that fewer UK writers earn enough to live on

This article made me think. I still buy a lot of books, mostly non-fiction.

The four most recent paperback works of fiction I have acquired?

The Sellout, Paul Beatty, 2016
White Tears, Hari Kunzru, 2017
The Dry, Jane Harper, 2016
The Life and Times of Hangman Thomas, Konstantinos Theotokis (tr. J.M.Q.Davies), 2016.

Apart from the compelling Theotokis novella, the other three are still in my book-pile, waiting for the right time to be read. They will all be read when the mood and subject grab me. I have dipped into all of them, and I know I will return to them. In the meantime, non-fiction rules my roost.

I am more likely to go back to the classics, from Homer to Hardy, if I'm honest.

I have tried a lot of contemporary fiction samples on my Kindle, but that doesn't help the authors make a living. I am also reading a number of unpublished manuscripts and type-scripts, which interest me far more than most of the well-designed new books on display in bookshops.

I admire fast readers who devour hundreds of novels each year.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Sweden, Visby, Gotland, Baltic Sea: Re-establishment of Military Unit

From ABC News, Sweden to re-establish military unit on Baltic Sea island (The Associated Press)

No island as important as Gotland, says US military chief (The, July, 2017)

Memories of Gotland, a beautiful, peaceful island:

Poundbury, Dorchester, Dorset: Plans for The Great Field

Poundbury residents have their say on plans for The Great Field, Dorset Echo

New US Embassy, London; Blues and Skiffle Records as Soft Power (1950s)

About the new U.S. Embassy in London

I think the only occasion that I visited the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, London, was to see an exhibition on The Story of the Blues:

Lonnie Donegan was apparently a frequent visit to the US Embassy Record Library in the early 1950's, In those days it was very hard to find US folk-blues records on sale in Britain, but the American Embassy had available, on loan, a good collection of Library of Congress recordings.

It seems that Lonnie borrowed these records, and was one of the first performers in the UK to add to his repertoire the songs of singers like Leadbelly, Josh White, Big Bill Broonzy, Muddy Waters, Lonnie Johnson, Washboard Sam, Leroy Carr and other old blues and country singers, as well as The Carter Family and Woody Guthrie. It has been reported that Lonnie failed to return some of the rare records; that is one way that knowledge of the blues was spread in Britain - all thanks to the American Embassy and the Library of the United States Information Service. Soft Power at its best!

"One source of loan for such recordings was the American Library of the United States Information Service at Grosvenor Square in London, and both Lonnie Donegan and Wally Whyton have testified to the importance of the availability of such loans. Donegan has even confessed to "losing" and paying for a recording by Muddy Waters in order to hang on to it" - The Skiffle Craze, Mike Dewe, 1998.

"Donegan had always been fascinated by country music. In his younger days this was manifested by listening to Hank Williams on AFN in Vienna and by his 'liberating' country discs from the American embassy" - Lonnie Donegan and the Birth of British Rock and Roll, Patrick Humphries, 2012.

"A young Tony Donegan sneaking into the American embassy to 'liberate' rare jazz and blues recordings, because it was the only place to get them". Patrick Humphries, ibid.

Let's hope the new Embassy Building will offer such essential cultural services and facilities, with both a warm welcome and stricter librarians!

D. K. Toteras, OCHI day in Greek-Town, San Francisco; World War II; Επέτειος του Οχι

Edited extracts from Bitter Tears,
by Demetrius K. Toteras

The World War affected everyone in Greektown a year before the U.S went to war. There wasn't a house in Greektown that hadn't lost someone as a result of the German invasion of Greece. Grieving families wore "Penthos," mourning black for the dead. Black became the colour of Greektown and the Mass for the dead was being held in church every Sunday…

Greektown came alive on that day of October the 28th, 1940.
Benito Mussolini became jealous of Hitler's great success and decided that he should invade Greece. After giving the Greek premier John Metaxas three hours to hand Greece over to him or be attacked by the great Italian armies, Mussolini waited.

The Greek said "No." OCHI!

The Greeks love the word No. Somehow it fits their attitudes of life. No! No! No! Everyone practises the word No, because saying No brings one as close as possible to complete freedom. My father would tell me, to be able to say No, and not give a damn about the consequences, gives one the feeling for life that can never be bought. My mother called him crazy, in fear that he would influence me to say No to her. He pointed to the Greek paper, The Kirika (The Herald), the paper that most liberal Greeks read.

"Look," he said, "it's in the paper. They're saying what I've said for years: NO. NO is the greatest word that man has invented. It means go to hell. It means fry me, cook me on a spit, torture me till your imagination goes dry, but No it is and No it stays."

"It's easy for you to say that," my mother tells him, "but I've never heard you saying No. Everybody borrows money from you. A coward like you loves to tell stories of heroes who have made NO the cause of their death, but you would let someone else say the No."

A week later in the Pindos mountain range, Benito Mussolini's armies are badly mauled up by Greek mountain troops screaming NO!  General Graziano talks to Mussolini on the phone and says that he isn't fighting soldiers, he is fighting madmen who charge at cannons, screaming NO. The battles move from the Pindos to the Grammos Mountains, close to where the Greek gods protect Greece. The earth opened up and the Italian army was devoured by the word NO! No destroyed the Italians…

Great conversations erupted from Greeks in Greektown. Spartan Greeks claimed that their "No" meant a history of No's that went back to the Persian wars. "Three hundred of us Spartans," K. says, "stopped the Persians at Thermopylae."

"Athenian Greeks said No, for they went back to Pericles, to the Golden Era of Greece." George K. said that Greek women were famous for the word No, and have driven men insane with the goddam word.

The word No was becoming a holiday of its own, along with Independence Day, Christmas and Easter. An official day was designated whereby all Greeks all over the world would celebrate NO as a force to be reckoned with. Say No to everything on that day.

All of Greektown was ready for a parade. Greek flags came out of the trunks, a white cross on a hazel blue background, crossed with the red, white and blue of the stars and stripes. Pictures of King George and Queen Frederica along with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were on every mantelpiece. Everyone felt the electricity that flows when victory is on everyone's lips. God is with the winners and God lets the winners taste the goodness of victory. "If it's only for a minute," my father said, "it is worth the NO."

…All of us had to go back to learning English with a new vigour. America was now New Athens and our world was a limited one. We lived in Greektown, where we could understand the world only as we knew it, as Greeks who were becoming Americans by the day. Soon we would be Americans and all the Greeks would some day go back to Greece, dressed in tailor-made suits, with golden watch chains folded across their vests.

"How else," K. asks C., the owner of the only General Store in Greektown, "can they justify being gone for 25 and more years from their home?"


Another evocative extract from Bitter Tears, about San Francisco's Greek-Town during World War II:

“Magdaline, my mother, loved the classics, and the myths that went along with them. Her favourite was the one about the Amazons and Hyppolita their queen; she pictured herself as an Amazon, ready to do battle with the world and all those foreign Greeks who lived in Greek Town. “They talk Greek like foreigners do, we're caught in a war”. She'd tell me we were foreigners in a strange land

The people who lived in Greek Town, although they all spoke Greek, might as well have been from different parts of the world. They were Greeks to the rest of the population, but among themselves they all belonged to specific parts of the Greek-speaking world. How could people like that exist in the 20th century?

One day my father (Costas, who came from Sinies, Corfu) took me for the first time to Pantolean’s Store on Third Street. I entered its forbidden domain as one would enter the sanctuary of a church. There were barrels of dried, salted cod; a foul-smelling piece of fish that was as hard as an oak board, called Bakalaro; barrels of olives; feta cheese; jugs of olive oil; Kalamata and black olives; smoked herring; salted smelt; barrels of lentils and beans; trays filled with koulouri bread made in the shape of a circle at the Greek bakery; all sorts of things to eat that required no ration stamps, because the American government didn't think people ate that kind of food on a daily basis. Chris’s market wasn't famous for its food, it was famous for the people who frequented the place. I had heard that everyone came here not only to shop, but to exchange information - priest and gamblers; miners, seamen and businessmen. M., from the Greek Herald, would come here and gather information for the local Greek newspaper. It was a place, my mother said, where blasphemous men who believed in nothing, congregated to insult God and his Holy Family and to exchange useless sachlamares (rubbish, crap, nonsense, baloney).

Inside the store it was a world on its own, separated from the world outside. Talk was the elixir of the Greeks’ lives.


Demetrius K. Toteras ©2012
posted with permission of Nine Muses Press, Occidental, California,
and ©2012, the Estate of D. K. Toteras.

I hope that by posting some sample sections, publishers, academics and interested readers will call for Bitter Tears and other important works by Toteras to be published, at long last.

D. K. Toteras fought in the Korean War, having signed up under-age. He was captured and became a prisoner-of-war. He died in California on Thursday 12 November, 2009.

The original working-title of "Bitter Tears" was "I Made My Mother Cry Bitter Tears, (A View of the Korean War by a 15-Year-Old Infantry Man, From Osan to the Pusan Perimeter).

See also:

Greek-Town, San Francisco, World War II; The World Shuddered, Demetrius K. Toteras (from Bitter Tears); A Great Greek Writer

D. K. Toteras, A Twenty-Year-Old Letter on the Meaning of Hellenism and On Being a Corfiot Mandoukiotis

D. K. Toteras, Young Greeks Learn to Speak English in a San Francisco Elementary School; Bitter Tears

Interested scholars and publishers are invited to make contact, to explore publication possibilities with the copyright holder.

All enquiries: Nine Muses Press, P.O. Box 1138, Occidental, California 95465

Related: some images from the net

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Brexit: Manfred Weber on a Brexit Transitional Deal

Keepen' Up O' Chris'mas; William Barnes; Dorset Traditions

Apologies for poor photo, taken from back of the packed hall.

Come down to-morrow night; an, mind
Don’t leave thy fiddle-bag behind;
We’ll sheake a lag, an’ drink a cup
O’eale, to keep wold Chris’mas up.

Have a good Wassail!

Dorset NHS hospitals review attempt fails (BBC News)

Dorset NHS hospital shake-up review attempt fails, BBC News

'An attempt to have a decision to reorganise Dorset NHS hospital services reviewed by the government has failed....Campaigner Naomi Patterson said: "People from the west side of the county will suffer massively if we've got to travel to the east of the county".,,Opponents now hope to launch an application for a judicial review at the High Court within weeks.'

Monday, 11 December 2017

D.K.Toteras, Young Greeks Learn to Speak English in a San Francisco Elementary School; Bitter Tears

Another short extract from Bitter Tears (the chapter entitled The Drunken King), the great Corfiot-American writer D. K. Toteras remembers his school days at a San Francisco Elementary School:

"It was Show and Tell time at the Elementary School. It was an event that was more an act of imagination than the explanation of anything. It was painful to find something and then to Tell about it in a foreign language. We had to make up stories in our broken English about junk that our mothers had lying around the house. Anything would do, as long as we said our stories in English. The teacher would put on a big broad smile.

All the Greeks who lived south of Market sent their children to the same school and Greek was becoming the language of the school yard, but English had to be spoken in the classroom. There was no reprieve. There was no excuse. You could not ask God for help when the teacher caught you speaking "gibberish."

…There was no fooling around. If you were caught speaking Greek the doors of hell opened. For every Greek word, you got to wear a dunce’s hat and your nose was stuck deep into a circle she drew on the blackboard. As far as she was concerned you were going to learn English or you would be humiliated until your existence turned into a glob of flesh deep under her desk, for the ultimate disobedience. Twice at the blackboard got you a trip under her desk. The rules were precise and exact. There was no appeal. The class would become excited seeing one of their own shoved under the desk for the afternoon for being caught talking Greek with another Greek.

Fear of humiliation turned many of us into docile little lambies. Greek, the Language of Philosophy, turned into the language of terror. Here is how the rules were:

One word got you a stern warning; two warnings, dunce’s hat, with circle drawn two inches higher than your nose, so you would have to stand on your toes to reach it.

If the dunce’s hat didn't do it for you, it was under the desk. The class would get excited when an example had to be made. They didn't want any part of it, and it would help the teacher to break down the language barrier.

"Do you understand?" she would yell, "You have to be stupid to want to put on the dunce’s hat or sit under my desk."

"Yes, teacher", the class would respond.

"Only English in this class- is that understood?"

"Yes, teacher." 

Under the desk was reserved for my new friend E.

His stubbornness was total. He only did what he thought he should do. The more you punished him, the stronger he became. He didn't fight the punishment, he fought the order.

"He is Cretan," my father said, "and it is peculiar to the Cretans to accept punishment as a sign of their strength."

He didn't seem to care. He would tell the teacher that Greek had existed long before her language ever came into existence, that her people lived in caves when Greeks studied philosophy. She didn't care what we said as long as we said it in English. Her job was to make sure we learned. It was plain and simple and it was always the same".

Demetrius K. Toteras ©2012
posted with permission of  Nine Muses Press, Occidental, California,
and ©2012, the Estate of D. K. Toteras.

I hope that by posting some sample sections, publishers, academics and interested readers will call for Bitter Tears and other important works by Toteras to be published, at long last.

D. K. Toteras fought in the Korean War, having signed up under-age. He was captured and became a prisoner-of-war. He died in California on Thursday 12 November, 2009.

See also:

Greek-Town, San Francisco, World War II; The World Shuddered, Demetrius K. Toteras (from Bitter Tears); A Great Greek Writer

D. K. Toteras, A Twenty-Year-Old Letter on the Meaning of Hellenism and On Being a Corfiot Mandoukiotis

Interested publishers are invited to make contact, to explore publication possibilities with the copyright holder.

All enquiries: Nine Muses Press, P.O. Box 1138, Occidental, California 95465

Sunday, 10 December 2017

D. K. Toteras, A Twenty-Year-Old Letter on the Meaning of Hellenism and On Being a Corfiot Mandoukiotis

When I was working in Sydney, Australia, I contributed a paper to a Conference on the Culture and Politics of the Diaspora (February 1998). The title of my paper was:

Ambassadors of Hellenism: Bilingual and Anglophone Greek Writers Overseas (Capetanakis, Trypanis, Tsaloumas and Toteras)- with reference to Noukios, Calvos, Cavafy and Seferis.

My main theme was a re-evaluation of four Greek writers in English - Capetanakis, Trypanis, Tsaloumas and Toteras. The conference, The Culture and Politics of the Diaspora, was organised by the Centre for European Studies, University of New South Wales, Australia.

In preparing my paper, I wrote to Demetrius Toteras asking for his thoughts on aspects of the topic. His helpful reply was written on 24th December, 1997, thirty years after I had first met him on the island of  Corfu. 

Here are some extracts from his reply:

I am still interested to read some of the intriguing works he went on to itemise in his letter...

See, for instance, my previous posting: Greek-Town, San Francisco, World War II; The World Shuddered, Demetrius K. Toteras (from Bitter Tears); A Great Greek Writer

All Enquiries, contact: Nine Muses Press, P.O. Box 1138, Occidental, California 95465

See also, my essay on Toteras in the book "Corfu Blues", Ars Interpres, 2006:

Greek-Town, San Francisco, World War II; The World Shuddered, Demetrius K. Toteras (from Bitter Tears); A Great Greek Writer

The World Shuddered, from Bitter Tears, by Demetrius K. Toteras

  Demetrius K. Toteras ©2012
posted with permission of  Nine Muses Press, Occidental, California,
 and ©2012, the Estate of D. K. Toteras

Nine Muses Press, , P.O. Box 1138, Occidental, California 95465

Introductory Note

The World Shuddered is the fourth of 27 sections or chapters of the fascinating, unpublished work,
  Bitter Tears, A Fictionalized Account of My Korean War Trauma. by D. K. Toteras. This section deals with the dimensions of modern war, and its impact on Greek members
of the population of San Francisco, and their sense of cultural identity.

I first met Demetrius Toteras on the Greek island of Corfu (the island from which his family hailed), 50 years ago this month, in December 1967. We kept in regular contact all his life. With the permission of his widow and family, I aim to post some representative sections from this extraordinary work, concentrating on Toteras' early experiences (very lightly fictionalized), as a Greek American growing up in San Francisco's Greek Town. D. K. Toteras is the author of the brilliant and intensely poetic prison play, Sunday They'll Make Me A Saint*. He left behind many other works in manuscript and type-script, and it is my hope that they will gradually see the light of day. With many thanks to Bronwen.

 I hope that by posting some sample sections, publishers, academics and interested readers will call for Bitter Tears and other important works by Toteras to be published, at long last.

D. K. Toteras fought in the Korean War, having signed up under-age. He was captured and became a prisoner-of-war. He died in California on Thursday 12 November, 2009.

Before that:

The World Shuddered

The World War brought great changes to Greektown. The Greeks that stayed behind and didn't go to war were either too old or had families. All the illegals were rounded up by the immigration and given the alternative, join the army and become a citizen or go to jail for illegal entry. Greektown was filled with skasti (illegally absconded) Greek merchant sailors who jumped ship at some Pacific Coast port.

The life of a Greek sailor in those days meant nothing. A Greek ship owner wanting to turn over a quick profit usually bought a ship that was ready to come apart, put a good insurance on it, registered the ship under a Panamanian flag and waited for the ship to go down in a storm or blow the rivets off the main boilers under high steam pressure.

If the owner couldn't wait for the inevitabilities to take place, he would help the situation along by making a deal with a willing captain to scuttle at three hundred fathoms of ocean. Deep enough and far out enough so the crew, if lucky, could get back again. The most favoured place to scuttle was off the coast of South America. The captain's pay-off was a cargo he could sell quickly on the black market, a cargo of cigarettes inbound and guana bird droppings outbound.   

Every Greek had a story of how he got here, and every sailor a horror story. An able bodied seaman's pay was 10 dollars a month and it was held by the ship's owner till the ship tied up at its home port in Greece. This didn't stop the sailors from jumping ship in South American or preferably U.S ports. Ships would lose half of their crews on a 2 to 3 year cruise. Buenos Aires, Santiago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle were the jump off  points. On the beach would be Greek labor contractors waiting to put the broke sailors to work, with a third of the sailor's pay going into the contractor's pocket.

One of labour contractors, John B., considered himself a decent, fair Greek. "I find the poor devils, I take them home with me, I give them a bed to sleep in, a meal, and then I find them work." For the sailors and the illegals, the business of keeping the money began all over again.

"Where are they going to go?" K. told my father one day. "They're broke when they get here and the contractors keep them broke." So when the great nation of the United States said ‘Join the army and become legal’, it also meant ‘Join the army and get rid of the contractors’. Thousands of illegals joined throughout the United States.

"I pledge allegiance, yes sir!" A quick salute and thousands of young Greeks became G.I. Joe, and along with the illegals, the first generation Greeks born here in the United States joined up.

In Greektown, Mrs. M. had the first gold star in her window. Her youngest boy was lost on the cruiser Los Angeles. "I thought fate would take care of him on his ship," she told my mother after the Naval officer had come to her door one fine, foggy morning dressed in his black uniform, gold bands on his cuffs, his white cap with a gold braid glistening in the doorway on 339 T. street. He explained to her in perfect English, standing at attention in her doorway with a posture that only an officer can have, a military look that says ‘Be proud he died for his country’, and handed her a golden star to hang on her window; but the poor woman, H. said, could not understand him.  If he’d had tears in his eyes, she would have known immediately what his toneless words meant, but H. had to translate the cold English words that poured into her ears like hot molten lead. 

"Oh God," she cried. Grief, she told my mother one day, the kind that comes and never leaves. "I have been wearing black almost all my life and all of them have gone to the depths of the sea." Her brothers had drowned and a year later her father, Capetanios Spiros, in his own caique, 2 miles off the coast of Corfu. He went down in a raging mistral wind.

"My father, with 3 of my nephews, who were working on his caique as moutsoi (cabin boys, inexperienced sailors)… You would think that God…," she stopped, and made her sign of the Cross. "There is no use to raise the name of God and to blaspheme him, now that my boy's soul needs to enter Hades. Charon has taken him to the land of the dead, Hades. I swore when I got married that I would never marry a seaman. Someone had cursed my family, so I married a cook and my son became a sailor." Her pain shrieked from within her soul, the agony that comes when one realizes the horror of his life for a moment. One sees the absurdity of existence, life that hangs on a thread. Life as the Greek always says, is an illusion, and death is the permanent reality.

The wearing of the black is the color of mourning to the memory of the dead. The dead must be remembered. They were part of our lives now. They become part of our memories. They sit with us when we eat. They are there when we need them. The world of the dead can't be seen with the eyes. They can only be felt with the soul. To the memory of the dead women dress in black and mourn the dead.

The gold stars kept appearing on the windows of Greektown and the church was having a mnimosino (memorial service) every Sunday, in remembrance of the dead. Relatives were dying in Greece at the hands of the German occupation. Starvation, disease and war dead amounted to over 500,000. Dead misery struck every house in Greektown. There were no letters from Greece and no one knew if their families were alive or dead. Mothers, grandmothers, fathers, children, cousins, uncles, who was alive? No one knew for sure. One day there were hopes, and the next day grief, that all had died.

My mother would go to church daily and light the big 25 cent white candles in front of the icon of Saint Constantinos and Eleni. At home in her bedroom she had, on her ikonostasio (icon or prayer corner), the silver and gold icon of Saint Spyridon, the patron saint of Corfu. She lit a red oil dish in front of the saint and prayed, "Save us, Oh Holy Saint, from the barbarian hordes that have fallen on us."

The streets from Howard to Townsend were becoming a winos’ paradise. Soldiers, sailors, marines, dockhands from the China and India docks were spending their money on the Third Street dives. Mornings on Third Street, the smell of wine and urine, the smell of roasting lamb oozing up from ovens of the Greek restaurants, all of it mixed with the cold fog, the sound of children going to school, old men shuffling past laid-out drunks, push carts filled with oranges. Gus' fruit wagon filled with oranges, pulled by his old bay horse Johnny; saloons, Big Nick's Frisco Bar, Jimmie's place, The Phinika coffee house, the grand  restaurant Minerva with its blue and white front. A sailor missing his white hat passed out in front of Chris P.'s grocery store, the 15 street car clanking its way up Third Street.

This was the South of Market. This is the place Jack London called the slot. East West, from Third to Seventh Street. North South, Market Street to the China Basin, you were in Greek Town. There was once a Greektown just like there was a Chinatown. Up on Petrero Hill the Slovaks and bohunkers lived, Dagos' town up at North Beach, the Maltese in the Bayview, Paddy Hill at the Noe where the Irish lived…enclaves where English was the second spoken language.

The South of Market an area with old wooden two-and-three storey walk-ups that had survived the 1906 fire. Streets with names like Tehema, Lucy, Clara, Mina. Streets that once housed the Irish, the Germans and now you could hear Greek being spoken though the narrow streets along with the slurred English of the drunken street life.

War was bitter for the ones who fought it. For the ones that stayed behind - heaven rewarded them in the safety and pleasures of money - and what ever it could buy. All the bars and saloons in San Francisco were raking in the plunder of war. The city was filled with men going to war; they might never come back again and the only way to make yourself brave enough to do it was to find a woman and a bottle of booze.

Where they were going money, was of no concern. A drunken sailor blew his last dime on a glass of watered Rosé and the city provided what ever was necessary for its fighting men. At night one could see the Salvation army rescue gang descend upon the passed-out drunks and cart them off to the Harbor Light shelter on the Embarcadero, then turn them loose at daybreak. The shore patrol hauled the sailors back to their ships; soldiers went to the military police barracks at the Mission Bay freight yards where the Southern Pacific Railroad provided all the facilities for the troop movement and what was left on the street was reshuffled in the door ways by 9 PM.

Chew-tabakia was what the Greeks called the winos. On Howard Street the trademark and custom of winos in those days to chew tobacco and swallow the tobacco juice along with the help of a slug of cheap sneaky pete (homemade alcohol). This cranked them up to the level of a “2 bit glow”, the kind uptown people had. It was the magic elixir, that extra something to get them through the day, and by night time they had passed out dead to the world. Drawn by the smell of unwashed flesh and fermented grape juice, the flies crawled in and out of their gaping mouths while they dreamed of kingdoms and places they had once been. Muscadooloo Joe…a bottle of Muscatel in his coat pocket…and the month had 32 days in it, the year 1,000. What day was it? No one cared. Time was figured on the street by the bottle…how long it took to get it…how long it took to drink it. Nothing else took place, no other problem existed, no world other than the dream world made of fumes of wine.

It was a time in history when the sober world shuddered in the totality of the world war. As if everyone in his own way was trying to destroy that which he was capable of destroying ... the world like some wounded beast was rolling over on its side... a world frenzy that circled the globe like a cloud of doom with one thought in mind with one devoted purpose with one end in view and all the pieces fitted together so logically that everyone supported the destruction of mankind. 

The battles were becoming operatic productions larger and greater than life. The great actors of the time, like the actors of the ancient tragedies, replayed the war...and made themselves self sacrificing heroes for the maddening throngs standing in line ...waiting to enter the plush-carpeted dream palaces just as the Fox 20th Century on 10th and Market took the place of the ancient amphitheatre to recreate the original reproduction of the destruction of the world for the patrons on the big silver screen.

I remember its bigness…its beauty…its awfulness. I had to look at exaggeration backwards in front of a wall which never stood out, like the drabness of a gray concrete wall.

Everyone and everything was affected by the war of the 40's. Words with large meanings were used. The world was becoming familiar with bigness like at no other time in history.

Bigness, like every word that it touches, pushes itself beyond human understanding. Everything was Big. Men were recruited and drafted in the millions, tanks and planes were made in the thousands. More effort was called upon to feed bigness...things were made in days and destroyed in seconds.

The Americans were placed in a reminder mode…of their needed effort toward the great war. Food was plentiful but it was rationed to make one think that there is suffering in the world. Ration stamps were issued to remind one of the effort that war creates, the sacrifices and the needs that are ever present. Blue stamps, red stamps, everything you bought had a stamp value stuck to it. If you didn't have them you went without or dealt in the black market. If you were caught, you went to jail. Food…gas…shoes…coffee...had stamp values. The caramel colored Muscatel and all the wines that California could produce found their way into the war effort that was going on down at Third Street in San Francisco.

Before we went to sleep we would recite the prayer that every Greek child knows, "Oh God, I lay down to sleep and my weapons are laid beside me. Teach me to be brave and not to fear the death that approaches." 


*From the foreword to Sunday They’ll Make Me a Saint, a play by Demetrius K. Toteras:

“In the course of thirty-five years of involvement with international writers from many cultures and countries, no work has made a more lasting impact on me than Toteras’ Sunday They’ll Make Me a Saint. I first read The Saint in 1968, and it has never become dated. It had a profoundly liberating effect then, as it does today. The Saint is a study of confinement which takes us into strange worlds without signposts, worlds beyond reason and logic. The language is one of constant inventiveness and the writing is full of original imagery. I believe Toteras is one of the most important voices of the English-speaking Greek Diaspora. This includes those Greeks who “dispersed” overseas to participate in the cultural and economic development of colonies, to trade, or who were refugees from poverty and political upheaval. In Toteras’ case, he found himself in tough circumstances, a Greek-American who grew up amongst the poverty of African-Americans, who fought in the Korean War and was a prisoner-of-war in his teens. His language reflects this background. It has the direct vitality and oral immediacy of the street, but his mother-tongue and further study of pre-classical and classical Greek gives his work extraordinary dimensions and philosophical resonances. Toteras also inherited the Greeks’ natural propensity for theatre and drama, including the heroic vision of self and the acceptance of death as a heroic act rather than as an inevitable event. In a lonely cell Toteras creates a 'theatre of the mind'. As you read The Saint you may say, “What is going on here?” Read it as a dramatic poem. Read it as a study of confinement. Read it as theatre of the mind. Read it to yourself out loud… Once you have read it, the experience will mark you. Perhaps we all need to experience confinement, even without bars, in order to become truly creative, free and human. I invite you to lock yourself in Toteras’ prison cell and participate in the canonization of the Patron Saint of Criminals and Men of the Night.


Contents and Synopsis of Bitter Tears 

Bitter Tears, A Fictionalized Account of my Korean War Trauma
Demetrius K. Toteras ©2012

Table of Contents/Synopsis



1. The Bus Station...............................................................

2. The Georgia Hotel...........................................................

3. Yet It Was Only Last Summer.........................................

4. The World Shuddered......................................................

5. The Drunken King............................................................

6. OXI....................................................................................

7. Blasphemy......................................................................

8. Enlistment......................................................................

9. I Made My Mama Cry.......................................................

10. Fort Ord.........................................................................

11. Babs..............................................................................

12. The Gambler..................................................................

13. The Rule Book...............................................................

14. From Camp Stoneman to the MATS Patrick...................

15. Saipan............................................................................

16. The Golden Days of Occupation....................................

17. On the Road to Pusan.....................................................

18. Taejon............................................................................

19. The Hills of Osan............................................................

20. The Battle of Osan..........................................................

21. The Battle of Pyonteak Bridge.......................................

22. Retreat...........................................................................

23. Captured........................................................................

24. Friends in a Foreign Land..............................................

25. The Burning of Taejon..................................................

26. Kill................................................................................

27. Epilogue........................................................................

From The Nut Festival

"Let me just stop here for a moment," I told Jimbo,
   "Can the meaning of it all be only to amuse and be amused?
     Can't there be more in life than just the role
     of an animated occurrence of events?"

"I wrote the passages the way they came to me while I was in prison looking at the stone walls around me, looking at the same faces that crossed my path day in and day out, long drawn faces filled with the fading hate that men hold onto in order to live...

Now is this possible to understand? Understand the nothingness of death?"

See also, the following posting: D. K. Toteras, A Twenty-Year-Old Letter on the Meaning of Hellenism and On Being a Corfiot Mandoukiotis

Paxos and Hydrocarbon Deposits, Past Oil Exploration and Research; Environmental Impact; The Ionian Sea Block 2; Corfu

Edward Lear's Paxos

With recent talk of renewed oil/ hydrocarbons exploration in the Ionian Sea and in Epirus, I am reminded of the distress and anxiety caused to many residents of the island of Paxos (Paxoi) thirty or forty years ago.

As someone who contemplated the possibility of building on the island in those days, all my planning was halted when AGIP began thumping the ground for seismic soundings; they made the very earth tremble all around the beautiful island, which I had come to care for deeply.

Bogdanatika is a village not far from Gaios, the main port of Paxos. Building permission was obtained back then for the construction of a small house in the village of Bogdanatika, but AGIP 's plans to explore and to drill for oil (and to use the nearby football pitch for its base camp), put paid to any such romantic and nature-loving ideas.

I did not share the optimism expressed by Sotiris Kostopoulos in 1984:

I could agree with the first two sentences above:

But even the mere threat of such disruptive and destructive exploration had an environmental spite of promises about modern technologies.

Some shocking revelations here:

Oil pioneer Michael Johnson says Greece has plenty of oil, too, Neo Magazine, May 1, 2016

Some online background research (for specialists, I am unsure how relevant these papers may be):


"A spectacular slump is observed in the Alpine sediments of the Antipaxos Island (Pre-Apulian zone, Western Greece). It can be followed in a zone of about 2000 m, in the eastern coast of the island. The slumped unit exposure length extends for more than 200 m, and is directly overlain and underlain by undeformed strata. The slump has an average thickness of 15 m and is composed, as the surrounding undeformed units, of calcareous mudstones and fine-grained calcareous sandstones. Synsedimentary folds that very often are transformed to contorted beds affect slump sediments. Fold and contorted bed axes present a NNW-SSE direction, coinciding with the general direction of the Pre-Apulian zone. Slump and overlain/underlain undeformed sediments originate from the flux of clastic mainly pelagic/neritic biogenic particles, emanating from turbidity currents. More than 50 samples have been collected and analyzed for calcareous nannofossil content. All samples were featured by the contemporaneous presence of abundant nannofossil flora implying the biostratigraphic correlation with the NP23 nannofossil biozone. The biostratigraphic assignment places the slump and the surrounding sediments to the Early Oligocene. As the Pre-Apulian zone corresponds to the slope between the Apulian Platform and the Ionian Basin, the presence of the slump is directly related to the same age sloping and tectonic mobility of this domain. The Antipaxos turbidites sediments are well integrated to the flysch deposition of the external Hellenide foreland basin system".

CROP PROJECT (transcrustal seismic exploration of the Mediterranean and Italy, including Paxos, pages 545-547)

Intended readership:Geoscientists, petroleum explorers, geothermal explorers, natural resources exploiters, soil engineers, soil safety and territorial planning dealers.

CROP Project: Deep Seismic Exploration of the Central Mediterranean and Italy, edited by I.R. Finetti,+AGIP&source=bl&ots=BNqajpH-h6&sig=T3QPHY2jsvSkIFCK02GZpRF2hBs&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiQjMSN_P7XAhUJK8AKHUx-CLEQ6AEIUTAJ#v=onepage&q=Paxos%2C%20AGIP&f=false

EXPLORATION: New oil source rocks cut in Greek Ionian basin (Oil and Gas Journal, 2/12/ 1996)
Vassilis Karakitsios University of Athens Athens, Nickos Rigakis Public Petroleum Corp. Athens

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller, BBC Radio 3; Death of a Rock Star, Buddy Holly. BBC 4

Only 17 days left to listen to Death of a Salesman on BBC Radio iPlayer

"David Suchet, Zoë Wanamaker and director Howard Davies, who all won awards for the sell-out production of Arthur Miller's All My Sons in the West End in 2010, reunite to create a new production for Radio 3 of Miller's 1949 classic about the American dream and his second big Broadway success".

Also, on BBC TV iPlayer,  Buddy Holly: Rave On

29 days left

"It was an all-too-brief career that lasted barely 18 months from That'll Be The Day topping the Billboard charts to the plane crash in February 1959 in Iowa that took Holly's life".

Charles II: Art & Power; Charles I: King and Collector

From BBC, Charles II, Art and Power, a review by Will Gompertz

Royal Collection Trust

The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace

Friday, 8 Dec 2017 - Sunday, 13 May 2018

"After over a decade of austere Cromwellian rule, the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 led to a resurgence of the arts in England. The court of Charles II became the centre for the patronage of leading artists and the collecting of great works of art, which served not only as decoration for the royal apartments but also as a means of glorifying the restored monarchy and reinforcing the position of Charles II as the rightful king".

Charles I: King and Collector

The Royal Academy of Arts

27 January — 15 April 2018

Friday, 8 December 2017

Corfou, from The Ionian Islands, Richard Monckton Milnes

Edward Lear, Analipsis

A poem by Richard Monckton Milnes, 1st Baron Houghton of Great Houghton (1809-1885):

Memorials of a Tour in Some Parts of Greece, Chiefly Poetical - published Dec 31, 1834

Corfou, from The Ionian Islands

Thou pleasant Island, whose rich garden-shores
Have had a long-lived fame of loveliness,
Recorded in the historic song, that framed
The unknown Poet of an unknown time,
Illustrating his native Ithaca,
And all her bright society of isles,-
Most pleasant land! To us, who journeying come
From the far west, and fall upon thy charms,
Our earliest welcome to Ionian seas,
Thou art a wonder and a deep delight,
Thy usual habitants can never know.
Thou art a portal, whence the Orient,
The long-desired, long-dreamt-of, Orient,
Opens upon us, with its stranger forms,
Outlines immense and gleaming distances,
And all the circumstance of faery-land.
Not only with a present happiness,
But taking from anticipated joys
An added sense of actual bliss, we stand
Upon thy cliffs, or tread the slopes that leave
No interval of shingle, rock, or sand,
Between their verdure and the Ocean's brow,-
Whose olive-groves (unlike the darkling growth,
That earns on western shores the traveller's scorn)
Can wear the grey that on their foliage lies,
As but the natural hoar of lengthened days,-
Making, with their thick-bossed and fissured trunks,
Bases far-spread and branches serpentine,
Sylvan cathedrals, such as in old times
Gave the first life to Gothic art, and led
Imagination so sublime a way.
Then forth advancing, to our novice eyes
How beautiful appears the concourse clad
In that which, of all garbs, may best befit
The grace and dignity of manly form:
The bright-red open vest, falling upon
The white thick-folded kirtle, and low cap
Above the high-shorn brow.
                                           Nor less than these,
With earnest joy, and not injurious pride,
We recognise of Britain and her force
The wonted ensigns and far-known array;
And feel how now the everlasting Sea,
Leaving his old and once imperious Spouse,
To faint, in all the beauty of her tears,
On the dank footsteps of a mouldering throne,
Has taken to himself another mate,
Whom his uxorious passion has endowed,
Not only with her antique properties,
But with all other gifts and privilege,
Within the circle of his regal hand.
Now forward,-forward on a beaming path,
But be each step as fair as hope has feigned it,
For me, the memory of the little while,
That here I rested happily, within
The close-drawn pale of English sympathies,
Will bear the fruit of many an after-thought,
Bright in the dubious track of after-years.

Find also on Bartleby

Dorchester, Dorset: Beneath the Market and the Car Park; Archaeological Evaluation Digs

From BBC News - 'No significant archaeology' at Dorchester Roman site

Archaeological Evaluation at Fairfield

Zagori, Greece: Say NO to Oil Exploration and Extraction! Hydrocarbon Deposits and Environmental Protection/Impact; The "Ioannina" Block




"In March 2017, Energean agreed to farm-out to Repsol a 60 per cent working interest in the Ioannina block, Western Greece. Repsol will be the Operator and plans to conduct a 2D seismic survey of the block in 2017/2018" (Energean Oil and Gas)

"The investment program during the 7-year exploration period is €32 million, including the acquisition of a Full Tensor Gravity Gradiometry survey (FTG), 2D seismic data, 
and the drilling of 2 wells".

Maps (slow loading)

Detailed history of Oil Exploration in Western Greece (English)

Greek Text

The Greek Government's Decision - Έγκριση Στρατηγικής Μελέτης Περιβαλλοντικών Επιπτώσεων (ΣΜΠΕ) για το πρόγραμμα έρευνας και εκμετάλλευσης υδρογονανθράκων στην περιοχή «Ιωάννινα» της Περιφέρειας Ηπείρου.

"Σήμερα 28-9-2017 κατατέθηκαν επίσημα στην ΕΔΕΥ ΑΕ τα απαιτούμενα δικαιολογητικά από τις εταιρείες Energean Oil & Gas και Repsol Exploracion SA, για τη μεταβίβαση του ποσοστού 60% της πρώτης στη δεύτερη, σχετικά με τη συμμετοχή τους στη Σύμβαση Μίσθωσης της περιοχής παραχώρησης «Ιωάννινα». Η μεγάλη Ισπανική εταιρεία που είναι ιδιαίτερα γνωστή στον πετρελαϊκό χώρο, αναλαμβάνει με την ολοκλήρωση της διαδικασίας αυτής και ως κάτοχος πλέον του 60% και ως Εντολοδόχος την εν λόγω παραχώρηση με σκοπό την έρευνα και εκμετάλλευση υδρογονανθράκων στη χερσαία περιοχή των Ιωαννίνων,  haεφαρμόζοντας ένα απαιτητικό πρόγραμμα σεισμικών ερευνών".

It's vital that detailed and understandable Environmental Impact Assessments are made publicly available for careful scrutiny, and that there is clarification as to whether the fracking extraction method is to be utilised in any area of the block.

A good friend has just written, confirming the local inhabitants' worst fears: "You can't exploit oil from a mountainous region. Epirus sits on top of a shale field. Fracking is the only means to exploit hydrocarbons from a shale field".

From DW, 2015

Concerns and Stark Choices

Vassilis Karakitsios University of Athens Athens, Nickos Rigakis Public Petroleum Corp. Athens

Oil pioneer Michael Johnson says Greece has plenty of oil, too, Neo Magazine, May I, 2016

"The World Bank will end its financial support for oil and gas exploration within the next two years in response to the growing threat posed by climate change...The Greenpeace International climate campaigner Gyorgy Dallos said: “The end is clearly coming for the oil and gas industry as the pace of change accelerates.” Dallos said the Bank had sent a damning vote of no confidence in the future of the fossil fuel industry. “The world’s financial institutions now need to take note and decide whether their financing is going to be part of the problem or the solution”.