Athens - The Truth: Searching for Manos, Just Before the Bubble Burst
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'Athens - The Truth' gets to grips with the modern capital of Greece. Written in an easy and generally non-academic style it offers a widely researched feast of details to satisfy both the armchair traveller and the actual traveller alike, whether the latter be tourists, visitors..., students, teachers, or business people. Written from a rational and secular point of view, the book provides both a thrilling account of what makes Athens tick and a vivid explanation of why Greece is as it is today. Searching for Manos and his music in and around many of the significant places of Athens, the author observes many of the qualities that infuse not only the music of Greece but also many of the behaviours, aspects, and forms of expression that are typical of Athens. The final chapters allow the reader both an appreciation of the Greek psyche and a clear account of the precarious point at which Greece now stands. A thirteen-page index assists the location of specific details. Ch. 1: The first chapter (the Introduction) relates the power of one particular form of Greek music and recounts the life-story of the famous and much-loved composer who was largely responsible for its creation: Manos Hadjidakis. Ch. 2: The second chapter explores rebetika by way of an evening in a music-taverna and consideration of the tragic population exchange between Turkey and Greece that followed the Greek Genocide of the early 20th century. Ch. 3: Chapter Three explores the church known as Kapnikarea, the Kerameikos archaeological site, the Technopolis entertainment centre, the Hill of Nymphs, Karaghiozis theatre, Athenian operetta, and the inner-city locality of Ano Petralona. Ch. 4: Chapter Four reveals the three distinct and dramatic stages of the development of 'the Modern Greek State', the current Hellenic Republic having been instituted only in 1974. Also explored are the church of Agioi Theodoroi, some of the many attractions of Odos Akadimias and Panepistimiou, the localities of Exarcheia and Omonoia Square, and Greece's most popular form of song, laika. Ch. 5: Chapter Five reveals the dramatic events of Greece's seven long years of dictatorship, from 1967 till 1974, and the resistance displayed by artists, intellectuals, and composers like Hadjidakis, whose 'Street of Dreams', his home from when he was a young lad until he was almost 40 is also explored, along with the Varvakeios Agora, the Nakas music emporium, the Benaki Museum, and the localities of Kolonaki, Mets, and Pangrati. Ch. 6: Amidst examination of the Centre for Folk Art and Tradition, the Museum of Greek Popular Musical Instruments, the district of Anafiotika, the National Gardens, and Athens's old Turkish Quarter, once the site of half a dozen mosques and where Islamic influences are still to be seen inside a Turkish bath-house and the Tower of the Winds, Chapter Six locates first clues as to why Greece is in serious trouble. Ch. 7: After a tour taking in one of Athens's most impressive department stores, its Cathedral, the Byzantine Museum, and the towering Mount Lykavittos, Chapter Seven culminates in an account of an evening begun at the Neo Elliniko Theatro and ended amidst the late night revelries of a typical rebetika club. Ch. 8: Chapter Eight considers events at the concert hall of the Megaron Mousikis, the Zappeion complex, and the nature of Greek television. Ch. 9: Chapter Nine commences at the Attica Zoological Park and moves via a frightening encounter with a plain-clothes policemen to consideration of the English reporter Ann Chapman, found bound with wire and strangled in Athens in 1971. Ch. 10: Alongside exploration of the Pallas Theatre, the Athens Theatre Museum, the locality of Exarcheia, and a class at an Athenian drama school, Chapter Ten gets to grips with Greek Orthodoxy, examining how the one God of the religion that now dominates the Hellenic Republic defeated the more than 370 legendary gods of Ancient Greece and revealing how the colourful 'pagan' religion of Greek mythology has recently been resurrected. Ch. 11: After consideration of the National Archaeological Museum, Chapter Eleven visits the city's most densely populated locality (Kypseli), the Syntagma Metro exhibition, and The Academy of Athens, and ends with a consideration of the situation of homosexual people living in Greece. Ch. 12: An examination of the National Historical Museum at the beginning of Chapter Twelve spurs discussion of Hellenism, that belief and movement which holds that not only did the Balkan Peninsula belong since antiquity to the Greeks but so too did the whole of Asia Minor (now the Republic of Turkey). The reasons for the survival of the Greek language are reviewed and the chapter ends with a look at Athens's 'Riviera', where on weekends thousands of young Athenians meet at seaside night-clubs. Ch. 13: Chapter Thirteen moves from the Monument of Lysicrates, to the Acropolis Museum, the Greek National Theatre, an exhibition of the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece at Technopolis, and a display of 700 largely erotic paintings by Yiannis Tsarouchis at the Benaki Museum of Modern Art. Ch. 14: Chapter Fourteen considers the history of Megalis Tou Ghenous Scholis Square, the giant glass sculpture of Dromeas II, the history of Greek painting as revealed in the National Gallery & Soutsos Museum, modern psychological painting at the Frissiras gallery, and the churches of Agia Eirini & Panaghia Chrysospiliotissa. Ch. 15: Chapter Fifteen covers Avissinias Square Market, Apostolou Pavlou Street, the Acropolis, the Herodes Atticus Theatre, the Philopappou Monument, the Glezos-Santas Memorial, Piraeus from Kastella to Keratsini, and Greece's pressing problems with 'economic migrants'. Ch. 16: Chapter Sixteen examines the locality of Monastiraki, the Tzistarakis Mosque, the Ancient Agora (its Stoa of Attalos, The Theseion, The Church of the Holy Apostles, and The Altar of Twelve Gods), followed by the Vallianos National Library, the Athens Municipal Library, the locality of Kifissia, and a musical first-night at the Pallas Theatre. Ch. 17: After an examination of Athens's most prestigious entertainment superstore, Chapter Seventeen ascends to the monastery and forest of Kaisariani and an encounter revealing details of the 'black economy', endemic tax evasion, nepotism, and corruption. The chapter ends with a final concert, given by the renowned Greek singer Manolis Lidakis and musicians. Afterword: An extended Afterword describes how for three and a half years (until the time of publication, mid 2013) Greece lurched from one cliff-hanging crisis to another while miseries endured by ordinary Greek citizens increased to levels that were horrifying. The Afterword ends with the swelling demand amongst Greeks for social justice, a change of direction, and determined political action against ruthless financial institutions and international corporations.
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