Audio, Editorial

Gitanos de Portugal

http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/audios/gitanos/gitanos-portugal-07-09-13/2013073/

Gitanos de Portugal con motivo de la exposición Vidas Gitanas que será inaugurada en Lisboa el 23 de septiembre. Nos lo cuenta José Luis Fernández, comisario de la muestra.

Y escuchamos el fado flamenco del grupo Ciganos D¿ouro, una selección de tangos extremeños y fronterizos cantados en portugués, y a la gran fadista gitana Cedalia Moreira.

Advertisements
Standard
Audio, Editorial, Video

The Streets of Cairo in Coney Island from 1890s-1900s

There are surely hundreds of regional interpretations of this tune, few knows of its origin and its importance to the New York City midway and sideshows of the early nineteenth century. Best known as “The Streets of Cairo,” it is oftentimes connected to visions of Arabia and Egypt, to snake charmers, belly dancers, and other mysterious notions of Near East mysticism.

Although not quite “a place in France,” there were certain locations in New York where the fabled song came to life. “The Streets of Cairo” sideshow was constructed on Surf Avenue, Coney Island, after the success of the Algerian Village at the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893.

Sol Bloom, the entertainment director of the Columbian exposition, claimed to have composed the melody as the theme for the “Algerian” performances. (The song can actually be traced back much further to the 1700s Arabic song “Kradoutja”). Because Bloom did not copyright the song, New York vaudevillian entertainers quickly purloined the tune.

Image

Byron and Company. Show at Coney Island with a man “levitating” a woman on stage, ca. 1908.

Image

Byron and Company. Crowd wandering through the “Streets of Cairo” show with camels at Coney Island, ca 1896.

The Victorian taste for Oriental exoticism was insatiable. It was a time of ardent ethnographic interest; the richly illustrated National Geographic Magazinelaunched in 1888 and commercial photographs of the region were sold for home entertainment in the form of stereographs and ready-made travel albums. The awe-inspiring sight of the ancient, enigmatic pyramids and startlingly divergent culture was both frightening and alluring. During a time when overseas tourism was reserved for the elite, “The Streets of Cairo” transformed the sands of Coney Island Beach into that of an Arabic desert for the middle and working classes. It is likely that the Atlantic Ocean beyond its walls was a welcomed mirage on sweltering summer days.

Image

Byron and Company. Crowd watching a barker at the “Streets of Cairo” show at Coney Island, ca 1896.

The above photograph depicts the carnival “barker.”  Perhaps he is shouting this enticing pitch:

“This way for the Streets of Cairo! One hundred and fifty Oriental beauties! The warmest spectacle on earth! Pre-sen-ting Little Egypt! See her prance, see her wriggle! See her dance the Hootchy Kootchy! Anywhere else but in the ocean breezes of Coney Island she would be consumed by her own fire! Don’t rush! Don’t crowd! Plenty of seats for all!…When she dances, every fiber and every tissue in her entire anatomy shakes like a jar of jelly from your grandmother’s Thanksgiving dinner. Now, gentlemen, I don’t say that she’s hot. But I do say that she is as hot as a red hot stove on the fourth day of July in the hottest county in the state.”
Good Old Coney Island, Edo McCullough

Image

Byron and Company. Woman gypsy/dancer posing outside at Coney Island, ca 1896. Museum of the City of New York.

“Little Egypt” became an adopted stage name for the main dancers of the “Streets of Cairo” exhibit, the most famous of whom were Farida Mazar Spyropoulos, Ashea Wabe, and Fatima Djemille. The “hootchy cootchy” they performed was a caricature of traditional Middle Eastern dance that was more like an early form of burlesque. Although under an ethnographic guise, this risqué performance was perceived as quite provocative at the time.  This oriental cliché quickly became a fad (up to 20 “cootchy shows” would be performed at one time) and “Little Egypt” attained celebrity status. Ashea Wabe made front page news when she was busted for dancing at socialite Herbert Seeley’s Fifth Avenue Bachelor Party in 1896; the scandal came to an unfortunate end in 1906 when she was found dead by asphyxiation, leaving behind a $200,000 fortune.

Image

Byron and Company. Woman gypsy/dancer seated in her side-show theatre at Coney Island, ca 1896. Museum of the City of New York.

This photograph depicts a “Little Egypt” dancer smoking a Hookah in her harem. One can imagine the scent of tobacco and incense in the densely packed theatre. Even at Coney Island, the attire of the audience would have been conservative, with suit jackets and long dresses scarcely baring an ankle or wrist. In stark contrast, the dancer’s gauzy silks and potentially exposed midriff must have been startling.

Image

Byron and Company. A woman in a carnival or side-show with three large pythons, ca 1895. Museum of the City of New York.

A precedent to “The Streets of Cairo,” female snake charmers added a touch of Eastern mysticism to the classic side show lineup. The snake charming tradition dates back to Ancient Egypt and is still practiced today at the Coney Island Circus Sideshow.

Image

Byron and Company. Arabian Acrobats demonstrating acrobatic feats on the roof of Hammerstein’s Victoria Theatre, ca 1908. Museum of the City of New York.

For those who chose not to make the expedition down to Coney Island for their Oriental fix, the uniquely landscaped roof of Hammerstein’s Victoria (42nd Street at 7th Avenue) served as an alternative. Hammerstein produced a vaudeville adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé that emphasized  the notorious “Dance of the Seven Veils” and ran an astonishing 22 weeks. The above photograph depicts the incredible feats of strength performed by Arabic acrobats, it is possible that a similar display was presented as an opening act.

Image

Byron and Company. The operatic adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s “Salome” with music by Richard Strauss, presented at the Metropolitan Opera House on January 22, 1907. Museum of the City of New York.

In 1907 the Near East dance fad attempted to cross over from sideshow to center stage when the Metropolitan Opera presented Richard Strauss’s interpretation of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé. It was the most elaborate and expensive production to date, costing nearly $20,000. The famous belly dance and kissing finalé was considered a disgrace and the show closed after the opening night, and would not be performed at the Met again for twenty-seven years.  The  New York Times  headline bluntly states the reaction of the upper class: “How the Audience Took It: Many Disgusted by the Dance and the Kissing of the Head.”

Image

Byron and Company. Beggar among the crowd on Surf Avenue, Coney Island, ca 1896. Museum of the City of New York.

As the first wave of British and French colonialism came to an end,  the tawdry cultural stereotypes of the Middle East lost popularity in the sideshow  circuit.  Although the Hootchy Cootchy show faded from view as if an apparition, American culture remains deeply entranced by the melody. The next time you hear the infamous tune, peer through the “hole in the wall” to old New York and, if possible, allow yourself to be seduced by Little Egypt.

Standard
Audio, Editorial

Roma ‘hate’ speech of Cholet mayor Gilles Bourdouleix

Image

FRENCH investigators have opened a criminal probe into a politician who was allegedly recorded saying that Hitler “did not kill enough” Roma.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls had earlier called for Gilles Bourdouleix, controversial mayor of the western town of Cholet, to be “severely punished” for the comments.

Mr Bourdouleix reportedly muttered the remark on Sunday as he confronted members of the travelling community, also known as gypsies, who had illegally set up camp, according to a recording posted on the site of regional daily Courrier de l’Ouest.

“Maybe Hitler did not kill enough,” Mr Bourdouleix is heard saying after the Roma had reportedly given him the Nazi salute.

Mr Bourdouleix, who is a member of the lower house National Assembly with the centrist UDI party, is also facing expulsion from his party.

Local prosecutor Yves Gambert said his office had opened a preliminary investigation into the remarks on Monday, on charges of “defending crimes against humanity”.

“I believed that this justified the opening of an investigation,” he said.

Mr Bourdouleix faces up to five years in prison and a 45,000-euro ($60,000) fine if convicted on the charge.

Prosecutors have also ordered that the recording of the remark be analysed to see if it was altered.

Mr Bourdouleix has said his comments were taken out of context and alleged the recording was tampered with.

The comments sparked an uproar, with Mr Valls describing them as “unacceptable”.

“These comments are a defence of crimes committed in the Second World War, a defence of Nazism and coming from a mayor, from a member of parliament, it’s completely intolerable,” he said on TV channel i-TELE.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Mr Bourdouleix’s comments were “not worthy of an elected representative” and were “punishable by law”.

Mr Bourdouleix also risks being kicked out of his party.

“I hope Mr Bourdouleix’s political party will take on its responsibilities, because this is unacceptable behaviour and not the first time for this man,” Mr Ayrault said.

Mr Bourdouleix has made controversial remarks about Roma in the past, including in November 2010, when he threatened to drive a truck through one of their caravan camps, and last November, when he said France was facing a “new invasion” from the community.

The European Association for the Defence of Human Rights says almost 12,000 Roma were evicted from camps across France last year, 80 per cent of them forcibly.

A French law stipulates that every town of more than 5,000 inhabitants must set up sites able to house members of the travelling community — be they Roma, circus performers or fun fair organisers.

In Cholet, authorities say the site devoted to travellers was temporarily closed due to works, adding the Roma had moved on since Sunday’s incident.

More

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/french-mp-gilles-bourdouleix-under-fire-over-nazi-roma-remark-8728833.html

http://pays-de-la-loire.france3.fr/2013/07/22/gens-du-voyage-le-maire-de-cholet-gilles-bourdouleix-evoque-hitler-291563.html

Standard
Audio, Editorial

20 June – World Refugee Day

More people are refugees or internally displaced than at any time since 1994, with the crisis in Syria having emerged as a major new factor in global displacement.

UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report, released on Wednesday, covers displacement that occurred during 2012 based on data from governments, NGO partners, and the UN refugee agency itself. The report shows that as of the end of 2012, more than 45.2 million people were in situations of displacement compared to 42.5 million at the end of 2011.

This includes 15.4 million refugees, 937,000 asylum seekers, and 28.8 million people forced to flee within the borders of their own countries. The report does not include the rise in those forced from their homes in Syria during the current year.

War remains the dominant cause. A full 55 percent of all refugees listed in UNHCR’s report come from just five war-affected countries: Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan. The report also charts major new displacement from Mali, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and from Sudan into South Sudan and Ethiopia.

“These truly are alarming numbers. They reflect individual suffering on a huge scale and they reflect the difficulties of the international community in preventing conflicts and promoting timely solutions for them,” said António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees and head of UNHCR.

The report highlights worrisome trends, including the rate at which people are being forced into situations of displacement. During 2012 some 7.6 million people became newly displaced, 1.1 million as refugees and 6.5 million as internally displaced people. This translates to a new refugee or internally displaced person every 4.1 seconds.

© UNHCR
Major source countries of refugees, end 2012

Also evident is a continuing gap between richer and poorer countries in hosting refugees. Of 10.5 million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate — a further 4.9 million Palestinian refugees fall under the mandate of its sister-agency, the UN Relief and Works Agency), half are hosted by countries that have a per capita GDP of less than US$5,000. In all, developing countries host 81 percent of the world’s refugees compared to 70 percent a decade ago.

Children below age 18 make up 46 percent of all refugees. In addition, a record 21,300 asylum applications submitted during 2012 were from children who were unaccompanied or separated from their parents. This is the highest number of unaccompanied or separated children that UNHCR has recorded.

Global displacement for any year is the sum of new displacement, existing unresolved displacement, and subtracting resolved displacement such as people returning home or being allowed to settle permanently outside their home country through citizenship or some other solution.

UNHCR works to help people who are forcibly displaced, including through aid and immediate practical help, and by finding solutions to their plight. The year 2012 saw an end to displacement for 2.7 million people, including 526,000 refugees and 2.1 million internally displaced people. Among those for whom solutions were found are 74,800 people submitted by UNHCR for resettlement in third countries.

Last year saw little change from 2011 in the rankings of the world’s major refugee hosting countries. Pakistan continued to host more refugees than any other nation (1.6 million), followed by Iran (868,200) and Germany (589,700).

© UNHCR
Major refugee hosting countries, end 2012

Afghanistan remained the world’s top producer of refugees, a position it has held for 32 years. On average, one out of every four refugees worldwide is Afghan, with 95 percent located in Pakistan or Iran. Somalia, another protracted conflict, was the world’s second largest refugee-producing nation during 2012, however there the rate of refugee outflow slowed. Iraqis were the third largest refugee group (746,700 persons), followed by Syrians (471,400).

With people displaced inside their own countries, the figure of 28.8 million for 2012 is the highest level in more than two decades. This includes 17.7 million who are being helped by the UN refugee agency. UNHCR assistance to IDPs is not automatic but occurs at the request of governments. Significant new internal displacement was seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Syria.

Audio file

Assembly President Jean-Claude Mignon has marked World Refugee Day by expressing his concern at the “humanitarian disaster” in Syria.

“The drastic situation of the Syrian refugees is constantly worsening and has reached an unprecedented level of suffering,” the President of the Parliamentary Assembly declared. “ A million and a half Syrians have fled their country – it is an outright humanitarian disaster!

“Failing a political agreement to resolve a situation which has lasted far too long, the humanitarian crisis is stalemated and will only make the trauma more severe and profound for the refugees.

“Certain groups of refugees are naturally more vulnerable than others. Over half a million children, uprooted, disoriented, their schooling broken off, sometimes separated from their families, are paying the heaviest price for the conflict.

“Very often they flee with only their mothers, aunts or grandmothers who are themselves a vulnerable group, especially in the event of pregnancy.

“The immensely generous humanitarian aid provided by the states adjacent to Syria and by international organisations such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is reaching its limits and running out. They must be given more resources and support to enable them to continue carrying out their mission effectively.”

Mignon’s call to European governments to show greater solidarity with the plight of refugees is echoed by Olivier Beer, the Strasbourg-based UNHCR Representative to the European Institutions.

In an interview, the United Nations refugee agency official describes the scale of the humanitarian situation in Syria as “dramatic and worrying.”

He adds: “At the end of last year, there was 470,000 Syrian refugees outside Syria. Today, we are talking about 1.6 million refugees with almost half a million in Lebanon and Jordan. We feel that we will have maybe 3 million at the year’s end.”

Standard