Saturday, December 29, 2007

Reflecting on 07 and Thinking about 08

Hello friends - I hope this message finds you well after a happy Christmas and happy and healthy beginning of a wonderful new year!

With some time to decompress from a very busy last few months, I want to take the time to share with you my thoughts, wishes and hopes.
  • A great many THANK YOUs to all of you who have supported us here under the olive tree. Not only do I immensely enjoy your company, but I know your support will help me keep writing regardless of how much piles up in life. Efxaristo for the inspiration. This year, I hope you'll share your thoughts and feedback even more!
  • 2008 promises to be an important year for many reasons. For those of us sitting under this tree in the States, we are in the midst of an election that will hopefully decide the leader that will bring a smart way to approach the international and domestic scene. My hope is that you'll take time to identify the issues important to you, identify the candidates' stance and vote in the based on fact not fluff. For topics affecting Greek matters, I invite you to discuss your important topics under the olive tree and to engage each other - that's what it's all about.
  • My resolution for Under the Olive Tree this year is to work harder to make sure that I bring you topics of interest that spark conversations - both online, in offices, living rooms and cafes. With your support, I am sure we'll have plenty talk about!
Happy new year to all - let's make it memorable!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

NY Singers Join Voices for Greece

NYC's most beloved Greek singers join voices to support GREEK AID!

Thursday, November 1st
20-30 Steinway Street (next to Central)

Come eat, sing and dance to raise money for those who need our support to rebuild lives in Greece.

$20 donation goes directly to GREEK AID, Inc.

Want to be EXTRA Greek? Trade in some green for colorful carnation trays that you can purchase to shower your fave singers... again, proceeds go to the organization.
Parties of six or more are encouraged to make reservations at 718-726-7900.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

OVELIA Restaurant Hosts GREEK AID Dinner

OVELIA is graciously hosting a GREEK AID dinner this Thursday evening to benefit the organization raising money for the fire victims in Greece. The restaurant is also donating to the organization for every person attending the dinner so please make sure to have an appetite for Greek food this Thursday.

You get a delish meal.
GREEK AID gets money from OVELIA.
Money goes to important cause.


OVELIA is located in Astoria, NY on the corner of 30th Avenue and 34th Street.

New Acropolis Museum Speaks Loudest in Effort to Bring Elgin Marbles Home

This past Sunday, the New Acropolis museum opened its doors and seems to have melted some ice in the effort to bring the "Elgin" marbles closer to their right place near the Parthenon. The event was marked with a momentous transfer of nearly 4,500 artifacts into the new museum, which was designed to bridge the artifacts on display to their original location.

Naturally, the most notable transfer was the remaining components of the frieze, 60 percent of which remain in the British Museum. Poignantly, it is hard to determine whether the new space's most moving attribute is the space still awaiting the return of the marbles or the design which allows visitors to bask in the same sunlight and see the same surroundings as others standing only 800 feet away at the Parthenon itself.

For me, the resoundingly positive public opinion that is now supporting the Greek efforts is the biggest accomplishment. Contrary to simplistic demands and statements of years past, many, including British media, now contribute clever diplomacy and sheer demonstration of capability as the variables that prove that the marbles belong in Greece.

Well done fellow Greeks!
Once again, we prove that our actions have the potential to silence critics. Let's take this learning to heart.

Monday, September 24, 2007

GREEK AID 07 Kicks Off with Great Success

With a crowd well over 200, yesterday's inaugural GREEK AID event was a tremendous success.

Thanks to the efforts of many – organizers, community allies and attendees - we were able to reach many in our effort to support those affected by the devastating fires in Greece. This success will be our foundation for the great efforts to come to raise awareness and funds to support Greeks in need.

The entire GREEK AID organization is thrilled at the turn out and at how warmly it was embraced. In fact, a number of GREEK AID events will be unveiled in the coming weeks to continue the momentum thanks to our gracious partners.

Again, a great many thanks to everybody that contributed to the success!

Below is a glimpse of the energy of GREEK AID.

We hope that you will join us, either in person or in spirit, as this energy spreads for this good cause.

Friday, September 21, 2007

GREEK AID 07 in NY for Greek Fire Victims THIS SUNDAY

I admit to having a one-track mind of late considering the devastation that hit our homeland. So much so that I am now part of a group named GREEK AID, a non-for-profit organization founded in the shadow of these fires to help fire victims and other Greeks who need support.
Come join us THIS SUNDAY at 5 p.m., September 23rd in Athens Square in Astoria, Queens where we will rally to show our support for the fire victims.

In addition to local dance groups, we are honored to announce the following who will be attending and showing their support:

- Peter F. Vallone Jr., City Council Member
- Gus Karalekas, World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE)
- James Kalamaras, VP Hellenic Federation of NY
- Eleni Gage, Journalist and author of 'North of Ithaka'

As of today, we know that Assemblyman Michael Gianaris will try to attend.
Following the rally, a number of local businesses have opened their doors to allow GREEK AID to collect donations. Please stop by to support them (and GREEK AID) for their contribution. They include:

Many thanks to Daily Frappe, who promoted the rally and will be with us in spirit!

GREEK AID is a non-for-profit organization whose mission is to raise money to aid Greeks affected by natural disasters and those needing assistance due to serious medical conditions. Once raised, GREEK AID aims to deliver the maximum support to those in need by securing the method of delivery with the least administrative cost.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Save the Date for GREEK AID's Fire Relief Rally

With more details to come, please set aside Sunday, September 23rd on your calendars to join GREEK AID in the first of many efforts to support Greeks affected by natural disasters and serious health conditions.

The organization's first rally will raise money for the victims of the recent fires in Greece.


GREEK AID '07 Featuring music, performances and guest speakers


Sunday, September 23rd; 5 - 8 p.m.


Athens Square in Astoria, NY (30th Avenue and 30th Street)


Everybody! Bring family and friends!
Together we can make a difference!

GREEK AID is seeking contributions for a celebrity auction to be hosted on eBay following the rally. If you know somebody or some way to get items that might raise money, please contact

Monday, September 03, 2007

Hope for Un-Sexy Solutions After the Ashes

As an 'Under the Olive Tree' first, I am happy to share with you a guest blogger's insights on the recent happenings in Greece. Many thanks to Professor Andrew Livanis for his contribution to this discussion and look forward to this being the first of many contributions from him and you.

This past Wednesday (8/29/07), in Athens, thousands of people gathered outside the parliament buildings in protest of the government's slow and inadequate response to the fires.

Their protest was interesting in that it was silent, and there were no chants, protest songs, or angry mobs.

Participating in a protest is a sexy process. You’re not required to really do much besides follow whatever the crowds say and do. And, you’re given the illusion, as a participant, that you are actually doing something. But these days, protesting affects little in the way of policy. It’s a great photo-op opportunity. Many view it as a cathartic exercise. I think it’s silly.

(Before I continue, I should make a disclaimer to the disclaimer. I am not a member of any political party in Greece, nor do I hope for any particular party to come up as a victor in the next elections).

This protest was interesting for two respects. First, it was silent: while there were no screams of anger; there were no solutions preferred. Secondly, and most importantly, it protested the lack of a response on the government’s part, but failed to attack the government’s lack of a concerted prevention effort.

Some half-hearted prevention measures were put into place last year (2006), when a forest fire came close to burning down the home of the prime minister, Costas Karamanlis. The event prompted Karamanlis to promise strict measures to dissuade developers from building on land cleared by the blaze; satellite photos and spy planes, for example, would be taken at regular intervals to help enforce Greece’s law banning construction in forest areas.

However, there is no centralized plan to protect Greece’s economic/ecological interests. Notice that I used the slash to separate the two terms – that was done to indicate that they are interchangeable. In the United States, we seem to consider the two quite separate, but in Greece they are one and the same.

Many of the agricultural products that come from Greece are highly dependant on the ecological health of the countryside. And, tourism is largely based on the ecological beauty of the mountains, trees, soil, and water. So, in Greece: ecology à economy – it’s really a simple equation.

The crowds should have asked for some real changes. For example, Greece still lacks a land registry covering the whole country. While the EU has developed programs to rectify this situation, the program in Greece is moving quite slowly. This is important since having a comprehensive land registry would make it more difficult to have burned land reclassified as farmland, which can then be sold for development. Increasing this program could offer job opportunities to hundreds of Greeks throughout the country.

The civil defense department lacks a fire prevention strategy, which could lessen the impact of future fires. In other places prone to burning (i.e., Spain and Portugal) people clear undergrowth from their local forests during the winter and bulldoze firebreaks around villages. In summer round-the-clock fire-watches are maintained. This means more jobs for more Greeks, and the potential for fewer forest fires.

Greeks as a nation also are quite averse to purchasing insurance policies on their homes or land. Laws passed by parliament mandating insurance policies could potentially mitigate the economic impact of such forest fires to people in the future.

In times of anger and outrage, it is easy to simply express these emotions without any examination for change. Let’s hope that Greece as a country will not take the sexy route.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Greek Fire Relief - If You Want to Give DIRECTLY to Those in Need

Understandably, after the mishandling of rescue efforts and recent history's disappointment at how relief agencies distribute funds, many of you might be weary to give without being able to know for certain who your help aided.

Since your good will should not be dampened by red-tape, I have an idea...

If you know somebody that has been directly affected, please e-mail with the affected person(s) name, village, degree of loss and immediate needs.

If you are looking to donate money or items directly to those affected, also e-mail with your name, location, donation in mind.

We will then match the needs with the donations and help create a closer link.

Please refer friends and family members with similar concerns to do the same so we can make sure all of our support gets to those in need in whichever way is possible.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Greek Fire Relief - Now is the Time to Help!

The past few days we've all watched in horror as cruel fires have ravaged our homeland. As we anxiously reach out to family and friends in hope that the effects are only material, many questions, frustrations and theories have come forth.

- Who is responsible for these fires?
- Why can't authorities be closer to areas of need?
- How can citizens be better equipped?
- How do we make sure this never happens again?

Now, the most important question to answer is...

How can we help?

1.) Contribute to the national fund created by the National Bank of Greece.
You can do this by directly access the account info or by donating via PayPal, which was quickly mobilized by DailyFrappe.

2.) Contribute to the Greek Red Cross. The Red Cross, or Erithros Stavros, quickly dispatched both volunteer rescuers and medical personnel throughout the country to aid efforts. In addition to monetary donations, click here for a list of specific items they need to provide to their teams on the ground.

3.) Reach out to your local AHEPA chapter, most of which are collecting items and money for care packages to be sent to the affected areas. Most Greek Orthodox churches in the U.S. can help direct you to the local AHEPA efforts, which will likely be aligned with the church.

4.) Join the "Plant Your Roots in Greece" campaign to help mother nature come back in full force. With as little as $10, you can help plant a tree. Of note, it is important re-plantation is done by professionals as only specific types of trees can survive and help the scorched land.

This, thankfully, is only a small sampling of the humanitarian help being organized. Additional fund-raising efforts will be posted here, as well as on DailyFrappe... so please check both sites!

Also, please contact me at to let me know about any activities you are organizing in support of this effort for more help in getting the word out. In addition to posting on this site, I am happy to extend information to other social networks and media.

And our efforts will not stop at aiding those affected, once that important task is accomplished we will unite again to help prevent this from happening again!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ridiculously Tasty Greek Yogurt's Smart Ads

Interesting piece about FAGE's (my fave!) new advertising efforts in the New York Times! The brand, which I'd previously seen referred to as the "Aston Martin of yogurts" in a past USA Today, is now placing itself alongside other known luxuries, such as Tourneau watches.
Not only is this great exposure for a healthy and tasty product that I've been raving about for nearly a decade, but this is also a great demonstration of the popularity Greek products can obtain when marketed well to a broader public.

Bravo FAGE!

The New York Times ~ August 1, 2007
Advertising: Campaign for a Yogurt Enlists Stylish Partners

The images are eye-catching, luscious and tactile: on the left-hand page of the magazine is an advertisement for a Tourneau watch, its elaborate silver face shown up-close and in striking detail.

On the mirror page, a bed of white yogurt reflects the grooves and indentations of the timepiece, as if the magazine had been slammed shut with the yogurt and the watch facing each other. At the bottom of the page is an image of an overturned spoon, filled with creamy yogurt, hanging above a container of Fage Total. “Ridiculously Thick Yogurt,” is the tagline.

Readers of magazines like New York, Los Angeles Confidential, and Ocean Drive (of Miami) may have paused at the images and perhaps wondered how the symbiotic campaigns for such disparate products came together. In another spread, an Honora pearl necklace and diamond earrings have left their spiral impression in the Fage yogurt.

As it turns out, the unorthodox Fage (pronounced “fah-yeh”) campaign was dreamed up by Ogilvy New York, part of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, a subsidiary of WPP. Ogilvy New York conceived of not only the imagery but also the deal-making with both Honora and Tourneau, which are not Ogilvy clients. The agency approached both brands directly and worked with their in-house marketing departments on media placement and concept development, said Mark Tillinghast, group account director at Ogilvy.

“It was actually very easy,” Arturo Gigante, the senior art director on the campaign, said of persuading the brands to join the campaign. “They immediately recognized that it was a simple and fun way to incorporate their brands with Fage and appeal to a similar viewership, where one wasn’t competing with the other.”

Ralph Orssini, the president of Honora, acknowledged some initial concern about dunking his fine jewelry in yogurt for an ad. “At first I had to really be explained what the concept was,” he said, adding that he soon realized that the creative campaign could speak to a younger generation.

He also said that he saw similarities between the products: Honora pearls have the highest nacre content of pearls on the market, Mr. Orssini said, “so in essence, we sell ridiculously thick cultured pearls, and they sell ridiculously thick cultured yogurt.”

For Tourneau, the pairing seemed to underscore the sybaritic image that the brand tries to project, plus the physical qualities of the product. “In terms of luxury, the shape of the watch in the yogurt lends itself perfectly in ways a handbag or pair of shoes wouldn’t,” said Andrew Block, Tourneau’s executive vice president. “It’s all about making you stop to think,” he said, because “nobody has seen anything like this before.”

Besides the print campaign — which began last month and will run through the end of the year — Ogilvy is also handing out samples of Fage Total this summer on the Hamptons Luxury Liner bus and two Hamptons Citarella stores, in conjunction with Hamptons Magazine, which also features the ads.

Ogilvy is also hoping to sign up more partners for similar treatment with Fage, but it isn’t ready to announce any specific deals.

Antonios Maridakis, the executive vice president of Fage USA, said that the dissonance of the images is what makes them so striking to readers. “They may go back and take a minute to put two and two together, and that is what makes it more impactful and memorable,” he said.
Traditionally, yogurt marketing depicts the product as healthy, creamy and fruity, and usually features a fit young woman indulging in a spoonful or an energetic child grabbing a cup on the go. Luxury goods are conspicuously absent.

“Tourneau and Honora are known for making premium, beautiful products, and we thought that combination would show people we see ourselves up there — upscale and high end,” Mr. Maridakis said.

Since bringing its products to market in America in 2000, Fage, based in Greece, has cultivated a devoted following in urban markets, where Total yogurt is sold in high-end grocery stores like Whole Foods, Wild Oats and Trader Joe’s.

While most yogurt sells for about 89 cents a cup, Fage Total is sold for as much as $2 more. But that seems to only add to its allure.

We saw it take off tremendously,” said Tim Sperry, a retail consultant for natural and organic food manufacturers and a former buyer for Whole Foods. He added that in terms of sales, Fage was one of the top 10 yogurts at the supermarket and remains a dominant player within the specialty foods channel. “They really paved the way for European-style yogurts to break out of the traditional yogurt category,” Mr. Sperry said.

While major players like Dannon and Yoplait dominate the $3 billion yogurt industry, according to Nielsen Strategic Planner, denser, creamier Greek, French and other European-style yogurts are growing in popularity, according to Chris Crocker, a spokesman for the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. And over the last year, yogurts with a “natural” claim on the package label grew more than 10 percent, selling more than $266 million, according to Nielsen.

Fage manufactures its yogurt in Greece, importing it daily into the United States, but it plans to open a manufacturing plant in New York in 2008 because of growing consumer demand here, Mr. Maridakis said. While most yogurts use only one liter of milk, Fage Total yogurt uses about three liters, and employs a patented straining process to give it a dense, creamy texture, he said.

Perhaps that is why the Ogilvy creative team chose to use the yogurt to produce the campaign’s images, rather than rendering them on a computer. “We knew we would get better realism and texture from pressing the jewelry into the actual product,” said Mr. Gigante of Ogilvy, adding, “but the Tourneau watch was not returned, let me tell you that much.”

Greek Army Video Hits Famous Celeb Blog

In months past, you've probably heard about some videos posted on YouTube by our fair fantaroi. Well, in an amusing turn of events, one of sillier of these videos were linked to by celebrity blogger Perez Hilton.

The video itself shows a group of Greek soldiers lining up to goof off and dance to Madonna's "Time Goes By (So Slowly)".

While the dance sure is funny, what made me really laugh was the diversity of the comments, which ranged from:
- Surprised and amused (by those that enjoyed the fact that these guys weren't taking themselves seriously), to
- Bigoted (thanks to those that consider Greek-style something other than infused with oregano, feta and olive oil), and of course
- Belligerent (thanks to the ongoing Greco-Turkish YouTube standoffs).

See for yourself!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Acropolis Snubbed

The results are in and sad to say that the Acropolis was not voted as one of the new seven wonders of the world. While I will get into my thoughts in a moment, following are the "wonders" that were selected by over 90 million voters:

  1. Machu Picchu (Peru)
  2. Taj Mahal (India)
  3. Great Wall of China (China)
  4. Chichen Itza (Mexico)
  5. Petra (Jordan)
  6. Colosseum (Italy)
  7. Christ the Redeemer (Brazil)

So now, doing my best to not sound like a sore loser, my "key take-away"?

Selection of new wonders largely biased towards world's largest populations - China, India, Catholics, Muslims. While certain wonders were shoe-ins, I was stunned that a large statue in Brazil was selected over other more impressive feats. Then again, it's Jesus and with the tremendous number of Catholics in the world it really is no wonder Rio's statue made it.

Even without sore losers, this campaign was mired with controversy before the new wonders were unveiled, specifically as UNESCO dismissed the selection as "opinions of those with access to the Internet" and not the entire world in a press release last month.

While some countries, including Egypt and China, expressed concerns regarding the impact such a contest would have on tourism, a large corporate-backed campaign in Brazil was underway to "vote for the Christ". Perhaps explaining a bit of the bias, here telecom companies waived fees for those voting enabling a larger proportion of that country's population to vote.

Back to OUR wonder... well, no contest results or Internet vote could ever sway me to discount the Acropolis' wonder. Perhaps one reason I make an effort to stop by every time I'm in Athens... simply magical!

P.S. UNESCO does recognize the Acropolis as a World Heritage Site.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Hours Left to Vote the Acropolis into New 7 Wonders

If you've ever been there, you know the mystical awe that the Acropolis holds over Athens. Now, we have the power, through the simple click of the mouse, to vote this powerful Greek symbol into history once again as one of the new 7 wonders of the world. In addition to being a matter of Greek pride, this would be an excellent notch in the argument to bring home the Elgin marbles to their "wonder"ous home.

Currently competing against the Colosseum, Machu Pichu, Stonehenge, the Hagia Sofia and Taj Mahal among others, the Acropolis needs our vote. Simply
click here to vote online (its super fast) and consider the other voting methodologies that can even earn you a second vote.

But don't put it off, we only have 12 hours left to vote as of 7am Eastern time this morning.

The new 7 wonders will be announced in Lisbon, Portugal on 7-7-07.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Next Generation Greeks Hit 100!

The results are in and my response? BRAVO!

With your participation and feedback, our survey hit the ceiling goal of 100 respondents in one week, with nearly two/thirds of those responses coming in the first two days.

Even better? The initial preview of your feedback provided to community leaders has already prompted a discussion on re-evaluating how we organize and energize the Greek community.

The hard work is now on me as I analyze results and develop a report, but thank you for providing me the feedback to make that possible.

The results will be posted to the blog in the coming week.

EFXARISTO (to all of you and friends at DailyFrappe) kai BRAVO MAS!

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Great Big Olive-Thing in the Sky?

As you may have seen online, some talented folks are proposing that an interestingly shaped skyscraper be built in Western Athens (near the Agios Savvas metro station). While I do prefer the innovative shape to the traditional blocks of decades past, something about this proposed Athenian "multiskyscraper" disturbs me.

I guess the question is what kind of city does Athens or do we want Athens to be?

In the 60s, the minds that ruled (direct translation) deemed it right to build it into the cement jungle that many have tried to tame in recent years. Does adding a glass element to this cement build or learn from that experience?

I'd challenge our great architects to propose ideas that better capture the city's essence. I mean really, as much as I like olives, I am not sure that connecting it to some olive groves quite fits the bill.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Next Greek Generation Discussion on June 24th

A million thank you's to all of you who have rallied behind my upcoming presentation at the 1st annual Greek-American conference in NY by completing the survey online.

While you can continue to provide feedback, the initial survey results will be debuted tomorrow, Sunday, June 24th at the Stathakio Center (29th Street between Ditmars and 23rd Ave.) in Astoria, NY where the organization and communication for the next generation of Greeks will be discussed from 1-5 in the afternoon.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Greeks - The Next Generation

Greetings friends! Well it has been a crazy week, but I am very excited to announce that I've been invited to speak at the upcoming 1st Annual Greek-American conference organized by the Federation of Hellenic Societies of New York. I will be speaking about the importance and best practices for engaging and uniting the younger generations of Greeks around the world.

Naturally, I think that the most important part of my presentation depends on you!

As part of my preparation, I want to include an opinion shaped by reality, which is why I'd greatly appreciate your input via a survey I've developed online.


Please note that your answers, although extremely valuable, will remain confidential.
Of course - please make sure to link this on your blogs and pass it along via e-mail as I want to make sure to include as many opinions as possible.

Efxaristo PARA poly!

P.S. A great many thanks to my new friends at
DailyFrappe, who graciously provided me with information for the presentation and offered to take this survey to great new heights! If I sound like a fan, it's because I am.

P.P.S Stay tuned for more information on conference times and an update on developments!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Doing the Dance of Joy!

I have to admit that I am doing the dance of joy under the olive tree this morning!

Why dance the steps made famous by
Balky Bartakomos in the 80s sitcom "Perfect Strangers" you might ask?

Well... the fair editors of
Daily Frappe
gave a nod to the good ole' olive tree this morning in acknowledging a shared story.

Efxaristoume paidia!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Scottish crime writer praises Athens

On June 11th, the Daily Telegraph featured Athens as a surprising and energetic city as cited by philhellene and Scottish crime writer Paul Johnston. In the article, Johnston, who first came to Greece in 1976 and now splits his time between Athens and Edinburgh, masterfully explains how Athens has modernized (and Westernized) since his first taste, but notes that it still retains its unique charm thanks to a handful characteristically Greek assets, including periptera, which can best be described as sidewalk newsstands filled to the brim with newspapers, crisps, candy, beverages, ice cream and local soccer memorabilia.

In addition to professing that a glass of fresh-squeezed OJ is a must, Johnston also:

- Praises the Athenian skies and warm weather
- Highlights Exarchia and Monastiraki as places to visit for the cafes, bars and tasty eats
- Applauds the city's metro, suburban railways, trams and buses as cheap and reliable

Well, thank goodness for philhellenes since all many of us Hellenes can do is just complain!

Before you dismiss Johnston as a tourist enamored with Greece, take note that he lived in the country for a while since 1988. In addition to splitting his time between Athens and Edinburgh, which he cites as the Athens of the North, he also put Greece on the crime novel map with his novels, A Deeper Shade of Blue and The Golden Silence. In fact, The Golden Silence is scheduled to be developed as a film by a Glyfada-based company that plans to shoot in Greece with English-speaking actors in 2009. Paul Johnston's newest book, The Death List, goes on sale on June 15, 2007 in the UK and on July 1, 2007 in the US.

And for you pessimists, I thought it might be worth mentioning that this glowing piece will be seen by millions of potential tourists as the Daily Telegraph is the UK's best selling quality (non-tabloid) newspaper and boasts a readership over two million.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Cute London-based Greek-Cypriot couple introduce world to "Big Fat Greek Kitchen"

I absolutely love this cute cooking couple who epitomize the loving relationships of many old Greek couples, which not surprisingly revolve around a lady-boss and great food!

Check out the funny instructional videos that walk you through the making of meatballs, dolmadakia (stuffed grape leaves) and fahkes (lentils)!

In case you are wondering, their comedic kitchen is in London and the accent is Greek-Cypriot... making the sub-titles a great learning opportunity for those not 100% in the know.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Ensure Survival of Ecumenical Patriarch - Rally Your U.S. Congress to Support Bill for Religious Freedom

On May 3, U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney (D - NY) introduced House Resolution 373 that urges Turkey to respect the rights and religious freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. The orignial cosponsors for this resolution are Gus Billirakis, Henry Brown Jr, James McGovern, Michael McNulty, Frank Pallone, John Sarbanes, Zachary Space and Diane Waton.

The legislation is in response to Turkey's continued refusal to recognize the Patriarch as "Ecumenical", who is the leader of nearly 300 million Orthodox Christians world wide.

Turkey, which only recognizes the Orthodox's leader as the leader of the community in Constantinople, also requires by law that the patriarch be a Turkish citizen, all of whom have been ethnic Greeks since 1923. As the ethnically Greek population has been suffocated out of the country due to the illegal seizure of property since the 1950s and 60s, this stipulation essentially ensures that the Patriarchate will disappear from the seat of Orthodox Christianity unless Turkey amends the law intended to repress religious freedom.

The legislation urges Turkey to grant the Ecumenical Patriachate approprite international recognition, rights to train clergy of all nationalities, and respect human rights and property rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

It should be noted that the very message communicated by this resolution was the very message delivered by Pope Benedict in his recent visit to Turkey.

ALL Greek Americans and those concerned about religious freedom need to contact local representative to cosponsor and support H.RES. 373.

To contact by phone dial (202) 224-3121 and ask the operator for a local congressman's office.

To contact by email visit, enter you state and zip, and fill out the electronic form of your name and address to submit your message.

Many thanks to for updating the community about this important effort.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Put on a Happy Face

This morning the Danish were highlighted as the happiest people on Earth by Good Morning America, a popular morning TV program in the States. Despite cold weather, high taxes and questionable cuisine, the show indicated that low expectations, great welfare and an emphasis on simplicity help make the Danish so happy.

This struck me as interesting given that despite the old reputation of happy-go-lucky and hospitable, today's Greeks are increasingly gloomy. This was recently epitomized on a website that provided information to those interested to moving to Greece. On the message boards, a Greek responder indicated that some things are better left as dreams and that readers should avoid moving to the country.

Put simply, I find it downright irritating! While the country justifiable depends on and invests millions in tourism to showcase its beauty and charm, this attitude threatens to drive away the lifeblood. Why?

Depressing Environment? Not nature anyway. Millions flock to the country for a chance to come closer to the best nature has to offer. Mountains, agriculture, seas and skies!

Distrust in Government? The same survey that found the Danes happy also found Italians as cheerful. Italy's government has been plagued with credibility issues for years and years!

Opportunity? More than ever before the Greek government is offering incentives for new businesses for those that want to put in a little effort. Is unemployment a problem? Yes, but solutions are also available for those that take the initiative to find them.

While it is natural for life's daily problems to haze our perceptions of happiness, this wallowing in "poor me" attitude only brings on more stress and depression.

Greeks live in the most beautiful country in the world - how about we start using our famous brains... the ones that we boast brought the world democracy and philosophy (along with advances in near every field of study) to come up with smart, creative ways to leverage our resources for our individual and collective benefit!

Ande bravo!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

5th Avenue Goes Greek

After massive rains postponed NY's Greek Independence Day parade on April 15th, the Gods themselves joined in the festivities this past Sunday as the famed 5th Avenue sparkled in blue and white. Parade-goers revelled in solidarity alongside prominent personalities as a record 60 groups marched to the sounds of the Greek celebratory cry of "ZHTO!"

The parade, which was televised for the first time on NY's My9 Network (WWOR-TV) and hosted by Greek-Americans Ernie Anastos and Nick Gregory, as well as anchor Rosanna Scotto, supported a broader theme of religious freedom this year. While Greek Independence was declared in 1821, the theme is unfortunately very timely as religious suppression still plagues many parts of the world.

While I work to update the site with pictures and a "who's who" list of attendees to come soon, I'd love to hear from you about this year's parade...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Greek Authorities Rescue Stranded Cruise Ship

With Easter, the unofficial start of pre-tourist season in Greece not even upon us, AP reported this afternoon that a cruise ship run by Cypriot Louis Cruise Lines, SEA DIAMOND, hit rocks off the coast of Santorini, took on water and required an impressive rescue consisting of 12 ships, along with six navy rescue helicopters, two military transport plans and four warships.

The rescue of the nearly 1,200 tourists and 400-member crew was extensive, comparable to the equivalent of evacuating a 12-story building floating at sea, and resulted in the safe return of passengers and crew either to Athens or back to Santorini.

- The rescue process and result went off without a hitch based on accounts from officials and rescuees alike.
- Naysayers questioning Greek organizational capability should and will likely be silenced (at least for a bit).
- Skeptical and pessimistic Greeks concerned about media can find solace in balanced and glowing coverage of a potentially disastrous scenario.

While I have no doubt that this was taxing for all involved, I am thrilled that this was handled and presented famously - kudos to Greek efforts and those that reported it objectively (unlike me).

For more information, click here for the AP story.

Yet Another YouTube Stand-off

For the second time in as many months, YouTube is engaged in a standoff against yet another country thanks to offensive videos posted about the country's leadership. This time, Thailand has blocked YouTube because the site refused to remove a video depicting their beloved king's (or more specifically stand-in female) feet over his head - a major Buddhist taboo. As you may know this follows a similar stand off the popular website had with Turkey and it's similarly military-backed government in March.

If history is a lesson, YouTube will:

- Refuse to remove the clip initially, then
- Be blocked by the country in question, then
- Bend to their whim by removing the clip ...

... so that the respective population with limited freedoms of speech can access trite videos once again.

If the similar scenario does not play out, I will have to wonder why the site is taking such different approaches for a similar incursion as opposed to following a set "policy". That, my friends, will be a much longer discussion.

More info available on

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ancient Wreath Returns to Greece

By Malcolm Brabant BBC News, Athens

A spectacular golden wreath dating back to the 4th Century BC is due to go on display at the National Archaeology Museum in Greece. The Macedonian wreath was returned to Athens at the weekend by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Greece fought for 10 years to prove that it had been illegally spirited out of the country. The restitution of the wreath is part of a campaign aimed at restoring the Elgin (Parthenon) Marbles to Greece.

Now restored to its rightful home, the wreath is one of the most exquisite treasures in Greece. It is a floral crown, a confection of realistic leaves and flowers made of gold foil attached to a slender headband 28cm (11in) in diameter.

It was probably made after the death of Alexander the Great and worn on ceremonial occasions. Experts believe it was buried with the remains of its owner in northern Greece.

The Getty Museum purchased the wreath from a Swiss dealer in 1993 for just over $1m (750,000 euros; £500,000).

Last year, the Americans finally agreed to return their prized possession after the Greeks convinced them that it had been illegally excavated and smuggled out of the country.

The Getty's director, Michael Brand, told the BBC in a statement that everyone was saddened to see the wreath leaving, but that returning it to Greece was the correct action to take.

Greece hopes that other museums will now follow the Getty's example. In particular, it wants the British Museum in London to hand back the frieze known as the Elgin, or Parthenon, Marbles.

Greece claims they were stolen by Lord Elgin in 1801, but the British Museum insists that Lord Elgin legally obtained the Marbles from Greece's then rulers, the Turkish Ottoman Empire.

Moral pressure on Britain is due to increase later this year when Greece opens the new Acropolis Museum, complete with an empty space designed to show off the marbles in Aegean light, instead of what critics call "a gloomy cellar in London's Bloomsbury district".

Story from BBC NEWS.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Greek Critics Rip '300,' but Audiences Love It

THERMOPYLAE, Greece (AP) -- Greece's critics hated "300," but moviegoers here are lining up to watch the gory recreation of the Battle of Thermopylae in record numbers -- happy to lap up the Hollywood thrills and take an indulgent view of what detractors call a butchery of their ancient history.

The film had a record opening weekend in Greece with 325,000 ticket sales. That easily exceeded the previous mark set last year by "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" (220,000).

Inspired by Frank Miller's graphic novel, the movie directed by Zach Snyder is about 300 Spartans led by King Leonidas holding off hundreds of thousands of invading Persians -- and the odd imaginary monster -- at a mountain pass in Greece.

Critics dismissed the movie as gratuitously violent and historically inaccurate, one magazine describing it as a "bloodlust videogame."

They were soon drowned out by moviegoers.

"The film was incredible on all counts. It's the first time I've heard a cinema audience clap at the end of a movie," said Nikos Mastoris, who owns a comic bookstore in Athens. "The photography, the music, and all the scenes are really brilliant. The movie is very faithful to the comic book."
Haris Antonopoulos of distributors Village Roadshow said ticket sales of "300" in Greece have topped the 1 million mark -- out of a population of 11 million -- and is on course to beat the record-setting "Loufa kai parallagi: Sirines sto Egeo," a movie about life as a Greek army conscript which sold 1.4 million tickets in 2005.

The movie is showing at some 70 screens in the Athens area alone and double that nationwide. Cinemas in rural towns have added special midnight screenings to cope with demand.
The village of Thermopylae, population 250, lies about 125 miles north of Athens, and is marked by a modern monument near the country's main highway to the battle fought in 480 B.C.
Most villagers still haven't seen the movie because the nearest cinema is in the city of Lamia, an hour's drive to the north, but are still proud of its success. (The film has grossed more than $162 million in the United States alone so far, had a two-week run at No. 1 and after its third weekend still was No. 2, according to box office tracker Media by Numbers LLC.)

Local archaeologist Elena Froussou watched "300" and couldn't help being impressed.
"The movie was great spectacle," said Froussou. "There were many inaccuracies, but the movie (generally) does base itself on reality."

In the battle, King Leonidas (played by Gerard Butler) led a small force which fought to the death against the invading Persians, to give Athens valuable time to prepare its defenses and ultimately defeat the army of Emperor Xerxes I (Rodrigo Santoro).

Historians believe Leonidas was not a young man, unlike the way he's presented in the movie. And Sparta, of course, was not a democracy as it is depicted in the movie but a fearsome military power ruled with absolute authority.

Greek movie fans didn't seem to mind the history-bending or the comic-book style. And Greek Internet bloggers zealously defended the fantasy-laden movie -- many arguing that "300" stands up historically, although it is spiced up with allegorical interpretations. Xerxes' colossal proportions, they say, represent his inflated ego and monsters in his army represent an invincible force in the eyes of Greeks.

The Iranian government, which has drawn international condemnation over its nuclear program, has objected to the film's depiction of ancient Persia as barbaric and for what it sees as a politically loaded, West vs. Iran story line.

Copyright 2007 The
Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Remember the... Souli

Reminder... Sunday is March 25th!

While the big, fat Greek parade does not hit NY streets until April 15th, there are a number of Greek Independence Day celebrations taking place throughout the tri-state area this weekend.

Stay tuned for a highlight of some of the key functions, as well as other opportunities to support the Greek Independence Day parade that will take place (and be TELEVISED) on April 15th, 2007.

Zhtw to '21!

P.S. Remember the Souli... as in Remember the Alamo, but instead the Souli, where the ladies danced their way off the cliff.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

YouTube, MyTake - Turkey and censorship

While the commentary may be delayed, I wanted to acknowledge the ironic turn of events that recently took place on YouTube earlier this month and brought into focus problems about the Turkish (and by that I mean government) reality.

While the original video was likely posted by an ill-educated man, the absurdity is that this act simply demonstrated that the Turkish government holds Turkey and its people hostage under third-world terms. To compare, the entire world alludes to sexually compromising assumptions when it discusses key Greek historical figures, from Alexander to the philosophers, but there is a greater recognition that no such discussion can diminish the greatness of their successes... neither does the government decree against the will of others to discuss their opinions.

It is fitting perhaps... one is known as the cradle of democracy - the other is still trying to (re)write its history.

While the Turkish government and its tourist boards employ high-brow PR and advertising agencies to lure tourist dollars, euros and yen to Turkey and lobbies the EU for membership, it simultaneously invokes laws into action that make freedom of speech a crime. The same law criminalizes the country's own greatest minds and insults the intelligence of its people by suggesting that they cannot partake in discourse to defend Turkish ideals.

What is the Turkish government so worried about? It's own people?

What's worse? In the global quest to democratize other nations, this bastardization of the democratic essence is accepted by silence... a benefit granted by the "Great Powers" - US, UK and others, and enjoyed by the Turkish government for all too long a time... just ask Armenians, Pontians, the diaspora of Smyrni and Constantinople...oh wait, asking is not an option... most are tragically gone.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Musical Journay from Anatolia to Athens - Folk and Urban Music of the Aegean

This Friday, January 26th at 9pm, the Aegean Cultural Project and Alwan for the Arts are joining together for a musical journey that will begin in the Rebetiko underground of Athens and cross the Bosporus to Constantinople (sorry that is what we call it!) with the folk music of Anatolia's surrounding countryside.

A group of talented local musicians accompanied by traditional instruments, such as the baglama, oud, politiki lyra and bouzouki, promise to guide the audience through the rich and diverse music of the region, with both shared and unique songs sung in Greek, Turkish, Kurdish, and Armenian.

Friday, January 26th, 9:00 PM
Admission: $15 ($10 with student ID)
16 Beaver St, 4th Floor
Between Broad and New Streets
One block east of Whitehall Street and Bowling Green
Accessible via the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, J, M, Z, R and W

The Aegean Cultural Project is an organization dedicated to promoting appreciation for and interaction among the cultures of the Aegean region. The Aegean Cultural Project seeks to advance the unique cultural heritage of the Aegean Sea region through artistic performances and exhibitions and through activities designed to educate the public. It aims to organize and promote cultural exchanges worldwide with artists from a range of disciplines who represent and find inspiration from this diverse region.

Back on track...

With the holidays and January festivities behind us, I promise that you will see a great many more updates under the olive tree.

Rest assured that I have spent the past few weeks collecting lots of great info for you.

Stay tuned for some great finds!


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