They say it is wise for all men, even the loftiest of minds, to maintain an air of commerce about them. It seems I can’t seem to find my commercial bone, and as such find most modern anything, particularly television spectacles, quite distasteful. I am not proclaiming to be of a lofty disposition, merely warning the reader about my general wariness of anything commercial and the inherent bias. Of course, I should really get on with learning some commercial tricks – distasteful or not. But that is not the point of this piece.
Yesterday was Kosova’s 7th independence anniversary yet one of the most prominent Albanian TV programs (Opinion) was preoccupied with the latest and – to me- most distasteful fad: “Fifty shades of Grey.”
I have previously mentioned how out of touch with reality the core center of Tirana is.
The south of the country just suffered major floods, leading to loss of land, drowned livestock and submerged homes.
Everyday there is some covert attempt to assassinate someone – a politician or businessman or some person of influence. Much like Italy during the 70’s and 80’s, when the mafia and corrupt politicians were “taking each other out” (so to speak), Albania seems to be entering that phase right now.
The justice system is corrupt and needs major overhauling; Police wield their power without reproachfulness. The state of womanhood is a precarious one: violence against women, though not considered normal, still continues and to my shock the many many national and international women’s rights organizations are nowhere to be seen nor heard. Poverty is on the rise as new strict measures implemented by the new government in an attempt to pull the country out of transitional chaos are tugging at people’s pockets.
The institutions, the structures and infrastructures necessary to really do the job are missing. They were once there but transition to capitalism rendered them useless, ineffective and dinosauric. New, useful, effective structures need to be developed. You can’t have superstructures without the substructures and infrastructures. It’s just that simple. Yet, they continue to waste budgets on these superstructures and facades of “development”.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous piece, Durres is being overhauled in time for local elections. What do I mean by overhauled? Anything long-lasting and meaningful? No, no! Just some street lights, bike lanes, overpasses, a new main square that looks like a giant white marbled restroom, albeit one with palm trees, and re-painting of the facades of old Italianate villas situated only within the main boulevard, completely ignoring and even bulldozing other beautiful and historic structures outside that area.
And the peripheral neighborhoods? Well, the photos I posted of one of them give an idea of those areas: still dominated by Soviet block buildings, chaotic, lacking basic infrastructures and all of it standing on streets made of puddles. And mind you, this is Durres, the 2nd biggest and economically important city in the country and, if you decide to shut an eye and ear and hang around only its center, it is quite a beautiful town.
But reality is always deeper and larger than just the center. Take that reality and apply it to smaller towns. To hamlets. Villages. To the unreachable and unforgiving mountain villages of the north. What can one expect? Natural beauty abounds, no questions. In fact, it is majestic. But where man has put his hands, or rather, has not put his hands, it is bleak.
And this reality, the reality of the majority, together with its sacred national holidays, is systematically ignored and disrespected by these meaningless vacuous spectacles and their hosts. And by the hordes of women, in their pathetic attempt to copy Sex and The City, rushing to see a movie based on fan-fiction written by an amateur with sadomasochistic inclinations and peddled to the housewives of America. But shoosh! They think they are being trendy and cool and as such attempting to distance themselves from the grim reality surrounding them and their empty lives. Of course I mean the new professional class of Tirana’s young, who in an ironic twist, come from those rural, grim, bleak areas to make it in Albania’s metropolis. Perhaps it is not that ironic to want to distance yourself from a bleak past. Hypocritical, yes.
And so, though disappointed, I was not much surprised to see one of the most watched and top grossing shows on TV dedicate the 17th of February to pornography and not to Kosova’s independence. I am now heading to find a Konica quote sure to succinctly summarize this situation in a perfection only he commanded and as timely as ever. I will be looking for it.
That said: HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, KOSOVA!