Δευτέρα, 22 Δεκεμβρίου 2014

Holidays at the Trafalgar

by Justine-Frangouli-Argyris

The holidays are here and the city is resplendent in its festive lights, sparkling evergreens and beautifully decorated windows. Our beloved Trafalgar is aglow in its own right, bathed in the green-blue hue of its lit pines and the vibrant colors of its flower pots filled with winter bouquets.

This unique tower with its asymmetrical rooftops, emblematic for its convivial look, perched, as it is, on an island right in the midst of Côte-des-Neiges, has been known to pique the fantasies of passers-by. I, myself, like to roll back time and fantasize about carriages entering its courtyard through the elegant archway carrying beautifully attired ladies and debonair gentlemen on their way to opulent seasonal parties.

Throughout the century, the Trafalgar has born witness to many a magical moment, playing host to innumerable splendid events in its snowy landscape but a few meters from the Beaver Lake and carrying its glamorous past with a rare, dignified air.

Today, our building's grand entrance features a fabulous Christmas tree, gleaming under its shiny ornaments, while right beside it stands an elegant menorah, the nine-branched candelabrum representative of the celebration of Hanukkah.

At the Trafalgar, the spirits of Christmas and Hanukkah are not in contrast, but, rather, in unison, with one celebration complementing the other. Holidays at the Trafalgar exclude no one but, on the contrary, include everyone and are tantamount to a desire to come together, as a family, over and above any religious or cultural differences. They are celebrations that bring forth the joy of giving with their traditions of the offering of gifts.

I admire the multicultural community we live in and the joyous holiday spirit that manages to embrace every Montrealer and every resident of the Trafalgar at this time of year, irrespective of their ethnic background.

Christmas has become an intercultural celebration, reflecting the love and the joining of people in a happy and celebratory atmosphere. It is an occasion of joy and love for us all, a time for compassion and generosity that grants us a chance to unite and become one among friends.

Happy Holidays to all the residents of the Trafalgar, a building that holds us tightly in its splendidly decorated arms and shows off its proud and merry history!

 With our Greek Orthodox priest fr. Panagiotis Salatelis of St George's Cathedral
 Beautiful people at the Trafalgar
 The president of our association Mrs Danielle Medina with fr. Panagiotis

 Alex grew up at St. George's  Cathedral
What a blessing to have fr. Panagiotis with us
 Our lovely neighbor Elli
A lawyer with a judge
 Ben and Ted enjoyed a long talk

A cross-religion celebration
Our unique entrance
 Frank and Michael lit up the menorah

Cool moments

 Fr. Panagiotis lipt up the Christmas tree

 Ornaments for the Christmas tree
Great neighbors 

Πέμπτη, 18 Δεκεμβρίου 2014

Beware of Greeks In Despair!

Justine Frangouli-Argyris

In a surprise move last week, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras called a snap presidential election for December, moving it forward from its planned February date with potentially unpredictable results for the future of Greece and the eurozone.

Since claiming the Prime Minister's chair in 2012, the head of the conservative New Democracy party, who has governed in tandem with his socialist “PA.SO.K” party counterpart, Evangelos Venizelos, has continued to pressure an overburdened Greek electorate with a mix of salary and pension cuts, tax hikes and other harsh measures. The so-called austerity “memorandum” plunged the Greek economy into a five-year recession, increased unemployment to the highest level in Europe and brought about the devastation of the country's middle class. The result being that Samaras found himself trapped in a political dead-end, opting to speed up the election and, potentially, force the country into early national elections should the current Parliament be unable to choose a President.

The Samaras-Venizelos coalition had little choice, expecting, as it was, to receive a show of support from its European partners at a time when the country drastically cut its budget deficit and was finally able to present a growing economy. Regardless, the so-called “troika,” that is managing the Greek bailout program, continues to insist on further steps to close a paltry and disputable potential funding gap of approximately 2 billion euros for fiscal 2015 when the country's total debt amounts to some 350 billion euros.

In fact, Germany has been prodding the Greeks to agree to a new “memorandum” in order to force any future government, most notably the radical leftist “Syriza” party, down this road. The intent  being, to lock Syriza's leader, Alexis Tsipras, who is well ahead in the polls and fervently anti-austerity, into a continuation of the status quo by removing any potential bargaining power that a convincing electoral victory could provide.

However, Samaras and Venizelos turned the tables on their European lenders with the early presidential election call, possibly forcing the Germans into direct negotiations with Tsipras who has staked his reputation on freeing the country from the clutches of the devastating “memorandum” at any cost.

Unfortunately, either Europe does not understand the level of destruction its austerity program has caused or it simply does not care. Perhaps the many European leaders, who have visited the Presidential or Prime Ministerial palaces under tight security, have not taken the time to wander around Athens and glimpse, first-hand, the rampant hunger, destitution and poverty. Perhaps they have no idea that the middle class households, that have seen their wages and pensions slashed and their tax burden jump, can barely get by.

They probably haven't visited the orphanages and nurseries where parents send their children because they have no food to offer them nor have they have walked by Athens' squares to observe the many desperate graduates wandering around, aimlessly and jobless, after years of university study.

They have not witnessed the thousands who put their life's savings into a home, only to lose it all nor have they roamed the neighborhoods where hundreds of homeless Greeks and illegal aliens live in the streets, subsisting on what the soup kitchens of the Greek Orthodox Church can provide.

The Greeks are desperate, suffering for years without any hope. They are no longer frightened by the tumbling stock market and the increasing bond spreads nor by a looming national bankruptcy and a return to the Drachma.

In their vast majority, they have lost everything including their self-respect and their pride but, above all, their optimism that something may change.

This explains why, should the current Parliament fail to elect a President, they will cast their vote for Alexis Tsipras and his party, not necessarily because they believe in his rhetoric, but because they have nothing left to lose.

As such, it appears that the Europeans will soon be forced to deal straightforwardly with Syriza, a party lacking in any clear economic or political program except for its refusal to continue down the path of austerity. It is there that they will find themselves face to face with the Greek reality and the indignation of a people who are no longer willing to forgo their personal dignity.




Παρασκευή, 25 Ιουλίου 2014

Top Three Fish Destinations in Athens

Justine Frangouli-Argyris
Huffington Post

Athens is not only the Acropolis, Kerameikos and a plethora of museums and archaeological sites. For the Greek capital stretches far away to the sea, intersecting with Piraeus and its beautiful circular port, and reaches the Saronic Gulf, offering numerous marinas and beaches along the way, beginning at Faliron and continuing far beyond magical Cape Sounion.

As such, Athens is not simply souvlaki and tzatziki but a city that offers a seafood dining experience second to none. A panoply of refined culinary proposals centered around an abundance of fresh fish and other marine delicacies are what comprise the finest of gourmet Athens.
Although very difficult to choose amongst the many excellent restaurants or "fish tavernas," I would recommend all visitors indulge in any, or all for that matter, of the following three top fish destinations.

Starting from the city, a must is the aptly named "Kollias," the domain of Tassos Kollias, located at the corner of Amfitheas and Syngrou avenues.
Apart from the mouthwatering freshest of fish (from sea bass to seabream to blackfish), Kollias offers delicacies such as squid cooked in all matter of heavenly ways apart from the traditional crisp fried.

One can also find excellent accompaniments such as Kollias' superb eggplant salad and other such specialties bearing the influence of Instabul on offer here. Kollias often features amazing crab claws or "kavourodagkanes," spaghetti tossed with morsels of lobster or shrimp or urchin, three kinds of homemade breads and some 35 types of raki and ouzo from all over Greece. Tassos Kollias has created a simple but chic "resto" in the heart of Athens and, all this, with very affordable prices for such excellent quality and polished service. Known for years for his other eatery in Piraeus, "Tabouria," Kollias has become the relatively new, trendy hangout, populated by those who appreciate top-notch seafood and including many amongst Greece's political and cultural elite.

The iconic fish restaurant "Varoulko," with renowned chef Lefteris Lazarou, recently returned to its natural digs in Piraeus. With its simple yet abstract modern décor, it literally touches the sea, resting as it does right in front of the small picturesque harbor of Mikrolimano.
Chef Lazarou features classic Greek fish dishes with a sophisticated touch. Little dashes of creativity and imagination are added to traditional servings such as the white fish roe salad, or "tarama," and a herring salad that mesmerizes with its distinct smoky aroma.

For lunch, the menu includes popular staples like the aforementioned fish roe and herring salads, grilled sardines and steamed clams all tweaked with Lazarou's signature in some way. For the more adventurous, there is a wonderful lobster "moussaka" and all this is at very reasonable prices.
Lefteris Lazarou has established an enticing tasting menu paired with ouzo or raki featuring many small specialty "tapas" for 20 to 22 euros. The prevalent "varoulko," or winch, is there to remind of the original restaurant and Lazarou has, once again, created a must destination for fish in Piraeus.
Tsirosalata at Varoulko, a special taste!
For those desirous of combining exquisite seafood dining with a cooling swim, there is none better than "Lambros," in Vouliagmeni. Located just opposite the lake of Vouliagmeni, the restaurant was built back in 1889 when Vouliagmeni was a vacation getaway for Athenians.

Resting at a strategically spectacular angle of Vouliagmeni Bay overlooking the Saronic Gulf, the restaurant was established by Lukas Lambrou and is now run by his sons, Dimitri & George. At first, the entire structure was comprised of old stone, part of which still adorns the remodelled restaurant's entrance today.

The elegant environment with its tasteful décor and exemplary service is sure to satisfy the most demanding of guests at lunch and dinner.

For years, Lambros' reputation has resulted from the freshness of its fish and seafood. The freshness of the products served have made this restaurant synonymous with all that is the delight of the Greek seas. Lambros' strength lies in the numerous exclusive collaborations that the owners have made with fishermen from all over Greece, enabling them to continuously offer seafood that is the purest and the freshest. One can usually find mullet, grouper, sea bream, sea bass, crayfish, lobster, shrimp, squid and smelts to name but a few.

Of course, on a personal note, I would opt for Lambros' famous shrimp salad and the cooked greens, or "horta," which, for years, have remained a classic. Lambros restaurant remains a favorite respite during the typical Athenian heat wave.
Photo: Justine Frangouli-Argyris

Παρασκευή, 9 Μαΐου 2014

European Elections and Greece: An Unpredictable Scenario

By Justine Frangouli-Argyris

In Greece, today, no one can foresee what will transpire nationally after the European elections later this month given the fact that the far-left party (Syriza) is leading in public opinion while the once dominant socialists (Elia/Pasok) are polling a paltry 7 %.

According to a recent poll conducted by Pulse for the weekly review Pontiki, the opposition Syriza holds a statistically significant lead over the governing rightist New Democracy party of 2% .

Shockingly, the fascist Golden Dawn party, on whose legality the Greek Supreme Court will shortly rule, continues to hold onto third place with the newly formed Potami, or “River,” led by popular journalist Stavros Theodorakis, placing fourth among the electorate.

Following is a detailed summary of voting intentions in Greece for the 2014 Euro-elections (as published in Pontiki):

Syriza 22,5%


The unpredictable outcome may threaten the stability of the current coalition government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' New Democracy and Evangelos Venizelos' Pasok, causing great concern among the Hellenes of the Diaspora as everything may eventually be at stake. For, even if Syriza does not triumph on election day, how can the government continue to cling to power with its coalition partner falling to 7% among voter preference?

According to Mr. Anthony Diamantaris, the publisher of the historical New York daily, The National Herald, “the upcoming elections will likely have historical significance since it is possible that they may determine the future of the country and, in turn, become a silent referendum on whether Greece wants to remain inside or outside the euro. The political system is exhausted. Understandably, the people seem to be looking for new, more hopeful political forces. This, however, entails the risk of the prevailing of extreme political forces--from both sides of the political spectrum—and the empowerment of individuals completely unprepared to handle current critical national issues. And, of course, should no decisive result ensue, anarchy would be the worst of all possible consequences. As for the Greek community in America, I think that we are closely watching the developments with pain, sorrow and worry and, as always, in solidarity with the sorely suffering people of Greece."

Dr. Stefanos Constantinidis, Professor of Political Science at Montreal's UQAM University, notes that "these elections will be a first taste of what will follow in national elections in Greece. They will outline eventual developments for the Greek political system and the future of Samaras’ government. We are in front of political readjustments. The outcome will be judged by whether Syriza and New Democracy can hold onto their percentages or if one of the two can come away with a decisive victory."

How this will affect the stability of the government is a matter of concern to the political analysts of Europe.   As Constantinidis states,"It will also depend on the percentages of the other parties. parties. If Elia/Pasok collapses, for example , it will create a different outlook for the current government and the political system '

The Hellenic Diaspora in North America, despite the fact that it may have limited in-depth knowledge of the upcoming electoral game and its impact on the Samaras–Venizelos government, is well aware of the following key points:

1) that Syriza, with the endless internal confusion amongst its partners, is losing ground whereas it could have developed a momentum that could overturn today’s political balance;

2) that New Democracy, with the help of its EU partners and encouraging recent macroeconomic data, may be on the verge of benefiting from a “post-austerity season,” as international markets continue to show improving stability in Greece;

3) that the fascist party, Golden Dawn, continues to be dangerously popular even though its leaders have been indicted and jailed;

4) that the infant River party was formed in order to attract disillusioned center-leftists and, in effect, in order to syphon votes from Syriza;

5) and that Evangelos Venizelos of Pasok, by remaining in a centre-right coalition government in spite of his leftist roots, has sacrificed his political future on the altar of the country's stability and paid a princely sum by seeing his base migrate to the support of others (mainly Syriza).

It turns out that May 25th, the day of European parliamentary elections in Greece, will be a day of judgment on the country's future in the European Union after all.

Σάββατο, 26 Απριλίου 2014

Meliti Kontogiorgi, a Lefkadian artist in Cohoes NY!

One of us from Lefkada, Meliti Kontogiorgi is currently presenting her work at a gallery in CohoesNY. The artist is interested in the way the narratives of mass culture and collective imaginary are shaping our identities, how relations of power and violence interfere in the process and what is our reaction when facing those challenges.

The Foundry presents: VAS: Meliti Kontogiorgi
April 26, 2014

VAS: Meliti Kontogiorgi: The Foundry for Art Culture & Design
119 Remsen Street, Cohoes

Saturday, April 26- Sunday, June 1

Viewing : Gallery Hours
Saturdays + Sundays : 1-4pm

Artist Reception : Saturday, April 26 : 6-9pm

According to French novelist Michel Houellebecq, the world is a brutal place; the artist must accept this and respond with increased brutality. Through her work Meliti Kontogiorgi deals with this brutality by directly confronting it in an attempt to cancel it out.

The main themes of her work are the construction and functioning of the mechanisms of representation. She is interested in the way the narratives of mass culture and collective imaginary are shaping our identities, how relations of power and violence interfere in the process and what is our reaction when facing those challenges.

Meliti’s methodology regarding the mechanisms of representation is to treat them with increased absurdity. She reduces them to absurd constructions, in order to contradict and cancel the status of the representation itself. After all, if we can’t accept brutality, we can react to it by acknowledging its senseless and absurd nature, using irony and the ridiculous as a defense. It is with this diverting process that she creates protective screens to confront reality, building little shelters of sensitiveness.
Viewing : Gallery Hours
Saturdays + Sundays : 1-4pm

For additional information, please call (518) 229-2173

Παρασκευή, 18 Απριλίου 2014

My Spiritual Greek Easter!

By Justine Frangouli-Argyris

The Greek Orthodox celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus as the ultimate celebration of Christianity. The Resurrection, Jesus' return to life following his crucifixion, symbolizes the purification of the soul and a spiritual uplifting, consistent with the onset of nature's spring. Throughout Holy Week, Orthodoxy is in grieving for Christ's ascent to Calvary and his crucifixion but on the day of the Resurrection there is the cleansing from sin and the restart of the human race.

But what does the Resurrection mean for the Greek Orthodox? What is the spiritual breadth of that great day for Christianity?

According to the Orthodox religion, the Resurrection of the Lord shows how Christ, the only begotten Son of God out of love and charity, came to save the sinners. It all began with the commitment of the Lord himself to rebuild mankind. It continued with his holy life. Our Lord, through words and deeds, "revealed the true virtues that restore mankind to paradise lost." And it ended in his sacrifice and his passion through which he offers people forgiveness from sins and the restoration of the original communion with God.

On the Day of Resurrection, the Orthodox celebrate the brilliant rebirth of Jesus Christ because in this day the uncreated and imperishable light of the Lord, the Creator and Redeemer of the world, shines from the grave. Christ is the true light that enlightens every man coming into the world. He is the light that shines in the darkness, a light that darkness can not conquer. It is the light that gives life, true, infinite, eternal life. Those who acquire it are rendered the ability to become children of God, to know his glory, to savour the power of his grace.

The "Great and Sacred" Easter is the feast of feasts, the predominant glorious moment of Orthodox Christianity. It is the great day that brings more joy, more exquisite brilliance and glory, because it shows the divine light that radiates through the deified human nature of the risen Christ. Thanks to the Resurrection of Christ, human nature appears dressed with the resplendent garment of divine immortality and eternity and opens the way for the Resurrection of all.
In light of the Resurrection, our fears are diminished, our doubts defeated and our faith strengthened as Paul the Apostle teaches: "We,...We believe...knowing that Christ is risen so we can rise though Christ."

In light of the Resurrection, we can clearly distinguish the most compelling evidence of the unconditional love of God, the definitive evidence of eternal life that will inspire us and encourage us to walk the path of repentance, penance and sacrifice. In light of the Resurrection, we can reinvent the way towards a more authentic existence, the way to another purer life.

Whoever is impregnated by the light of the Resurrection is not daunted by pain nor sorrow nor disease, as heavy and difficult or even fatal as it can be, because none of this can detract from the final abolition of the death and the reinvention of life.

The light of the Resurrection leaves no disappointment and no barrier to besiege us but makes us move towards building the unshakeable foundation of the Lord. Because God forgives, we find the strength to forgive. Because God loves us, we find the strength to love.

This year, however, the Resurrection is not only spiritual in nature for Greece. After a devastating economic crisis that began in 2010, the country is showing signs of growth and a primary budgetary surplus and was recently able to tap the financial markets, floating a five-year bond at 4,95% that was many times oversubscribed. This year, the Greeks will roast their lambs once more in the feast of the Resurrection of Christ but also in the Resurrection of their country's economy and their hearts.

Τετάρτη, 16 Απριλίου 2014

"Unfolding" memories by Demetrios Papakostas. A must see exhibition!

Dévoilements" / "Unfolding"  DEMETRIOS PAPAKOSTAS
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english to follow…..
« Dévoilements »
23 avril à 2 mai  2014

le jeudi  24 avril à 17h

Déclaration de l’artiste

J’ai travaillé, par intermittences, depuis deux ans sur une série de tableaux appelée « Dévoilements ». Mon esprit, au départ, jonglait avec des images telles que ouverture ou révélation; ouvrir un récipient, pénétrer dans une pièce ou même simplement marcher le long d’un grand couloir. Chacune de ces actions comporte un certain mystère pour moi, et s’accompagne souvent de l’impact qui se crée au moment d’entrer dans un espace inexploré ou un état d’esprit inconnu.  

Suivant le diagnostic de démence de mon père qui m’a conduit à passer du temps avec lui à l’hôpital, je me suis souvent demandé comment ils pouvaient se sentir, lui et les autres comme lui lorsque, confus par moments, ils ne se rappellent plus de l’endroit où ils se trouvent ou comment ils ont pu échouer là; j’ai songé à quel point tout cela devait être terrifiant pour eux. Cet événement m’a amené à découvrir mes propres anxiétés et inhibitions face à mes initiatives et à la capacité d’être à l’écoute de mon instinct quant aux chemins qui s’ouvrent à moi.

Cette exploration d’avenues nouvelles s’est manifestée dans ma démarche artistique par un regard différent et des perspectives de recherche inédites. Au gré de ces inspirations, de nouvelles possibilités d’utiliser la surface, l’espace et la forme ont surgi et ont nourri les conversations sur l’expérience de la couleur et sa perception spatiale. En faisant surtout appel aux formes géométriques, ce processus s’est révélé être une voie d’accès à l’expression de la mouvance et à la découverte de l’inattendu. « Dévoilements» reflète les phases changeantes de cette exploration.
April 23rd. to May 2nd. 2014
Artist Statement

 Over the past two years I have been working intermittently on a series of paintings titled “Unfolding”. My initial thought had to do with the idea of opening up or revealing; a container opening, stepping through a door or even walking down a long passageway. Each of these actions carries a certain mystery for me including the impact of entering into an unknown space or state of mind.

Ever since my father was diagnosed with dementia and having to spend time in the hospital with him, I often wonder how he and many others like him feel, at times being confused, not remembering where they are, or how they got there must all feel very frightening. This event has fuelled my own anxieties and inhibitions I have about moving forward and finding insights to the roads I choose to pursue.

My artistic choices, the roads chosen and progressing forward began to show up as exploration of new ways. Leaning into the process, possibilities for using surface, space and form, initiated conversations around the color experience and perception of color-spatial. Using primarily geometric forms, this expression then becomes a gateway conveying movement and the discovery of the unexpected. “Unfolding is the ongoing expression of all of this searching.
Exposition / Exhibition
23 avril à 2 mai / April 23rd. to May 2nd. 2014

le jeudi  24 avril à 17h

April 24th. at 5 pm

Rencontrer l’artist / Meet the artist 
Le samedi 26 avril à 13h
Saturday, April 26th. at 1:00 pm

Galerie Espace  4844 Boul. St.Laurent Montreal,Qc
Heures: 13h – 19h tous les jours
Hours: 1:00 – 7:00 pm everyday

info: Tel.; 514 886 8827

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