Hilarious! Thank you, John Mueller and the Guardian for this giggle.
Qatar returns statues to Greece amid nudity dispute
Culture clash erupts after Greek minister visits Doha show and spots ancient treasures covered in strategically placed cloth.
Naked ambition: cash-strapped Greece has long been wooing Qatar. The display was meant to ‘open a bridge of friendship’ between the countries. Photograph: Alamy
It was a spat that nobody wanted – neither the Greeks, the Qataris nor, say officials, the two nude statues that sparked the furore.
But in a classic clash of cultures, Greece has found itself at odds with the oil-rich state – a nation it is keen to woo financially – over the presentation of masterworks depicting athletes in an exhibition dedicated to the Olympic games.
“The statues are now back at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens,” said a culture ministry official.
The dispute, though authorities are not calling it that, broke when Greece’s culture minister, Costas Tzavaras, arrived in Doha last month to discover the “anatomically challenging” treasures cloaked in cloth for fear of offending female spectators.
“In a society where there are certain laws and traditions authorities felt women would be scandalised by seeing such things, even on statues,” added the official who was present at the time.
“The minister, of course, said while he totally respected local customs he couldn’t accept the antiquities not being exhibited in their natural state,” she told the Guardian. “They were great works of art and aesthetically it was wrong.”
The statues, an archaic-era Greek youth and a Roman-era copy of a classical athlete, were to be the centrepiece of an exhibition entitled Olympic Games: Past and Present. Bankrupt Greece was delighted to facilitate when organisers in Doha got in touch. Mired in its worst economic crisis in modern times, the debt-stricken country is eager for investment from the Gulf state, which this year promised to pour €1bn into a joint investment fund.
In another hopeful sign, the emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, recently bought six isles in the Ionian sea with a view to building palaces on them for his three wives and 24 children.
Visiting the Qatari capital for the opening of the show, Tzavaras seized the opportunity to describe the exhibition as “opening a bridge of friendship” between the countries. The discovery of the covered-up antiquities was a setback few had envisaged.
“We don’t want to portray it as a row, and we certainly didn’t want it to overshadow the exhibition,” explained the official. “It was all very friendly. When they turned down our request (to remove the cloth) the statues were boxed up again and sent back to Athens.”
Mystery, nonetheless, shrouds the affair. The show, which had previously been hosted in Berlin, features more than 700 artworks from around Greece, including numerous nude statues. It remains unclear why Qatari authorities had taken such umbrage over the antiquities in question, although officials in Athens described the young athletes – both from Eleusis – as being especially beautiful.
“We’re going to drive ‘all the way’ out there,” AdventureMan tells me and we laugh, because ‘all the way’ is such a relative term. When we lived in Kuwait and in Qatar, we would drive a minimum 30 minutes to get to a restaurant, any restaurant, not only because of distances but also because of traffic, horrendous traffic, in the evenings. While the Seafood Platter Deli is 13 miles away, it takes us less than 20 minutes to get there. Welcome to Pensacola
This is a very unusual restaurant. It is so old-timey Gulf Seacoast, and at the same time, I thought as we entered “My Moslem friends would love this!”
Many of my Moslem friends think Americans are unbelievers. They think we don’t talk about God. They don’t know we pray – sometimes without ceasing. Just as I was astounded as I learned things about Islam and Moslem culture living in the Middle East, they were also astounded learning things about us, like that we take care of our families. Think about it – most of what many people in the world know about Americans comes from the impact of cable TV. They watch American TV and they think they understand American culture. Horrifying thought, isn’t it?
So how amazing is it to walk into a restaurant where, as you stand at the counter to order, and you look at the big menu on the wall, there is a stand, with a bible on it. And there is paper, and a pencil, and a sign saying “Prayer requests.” I don’t know about your restaurant experiences, but this is unique in my experience – in America. In the Middle East, there are all kinds of restaurants with Qu’ranic verses on the walls, and the sounds of religious services piped into the restaurant. People talk about God all the time. It’s a whole different world; and my Moslem friends would feel right at home in the Seafood Platter Deli.
Of course, in Saudi Arabia, we would rush to buy our pre-sunset felafels, and then sit and munch, listening to all the souk grates coming down as shops closed for the Mahgrib prayer. Everything closed, five times a day, in Saudi Arabia, for prayer.
At the Gulf Coast Seafood Deli / Seafood Platter Deli (I don’t know what the real name is, and both names appear when you Google it) there are scriptures on the wall. When you sit down, the little basket holding condiments tells you to “count your blessings.”
The interior dining room (as opposed to the deli section, and the counter where you order food when you come in) is wall-to-wall sea mural, family friendly, Fish and sea life everywhere. There are also families who pray when their meal is delivered to the table, before they eat. The wait-staff is patient, and personal. You get the impression they truly want you to have a good experience at this restaurant.
We were hungry. We are mildly disgruntled to see piping hot food delivered to tables around us who arrived after we did, but not very. Even though we are hungry, we know that our ordering our food grilled or blackened slows things up in the kitchen, where the majority of the meals are fried. It is really really hard for people like us to watch other customers thoroughly enjoying their fried shrimp, fried catfish, fried grouper, fried scallops, etc. They look SO delicious. Every now and then, maybe once every couple months, we slip up and eat something deep fried, just because yes, yes, it tastes so good, and we know it is like the WORST thing for us. What a pity that deliciousness can be so lethal.
Ah! There it is! Our meals! We tuck right in and then I remember “Oh no! I haven’t taken any pictures!” AdventureMan is used to this, and bless his heart, he stops eating so I can shoot what is left of his grilled scallops, so tasty and delicious, so fresh!
I had so much salmon on my platter that I had salmon and steamed vegetables for dinner, too! The salmon was copious, lightly blackened, seared on the outside, moist on the inside, just the way I love it. It was some of the best salmon I have had in Pensacola (not exactly salmon country, but that little Alaska girl still lives in my heart and I can’t resist salmon when I see it on the menu.)
There’s another thing we loved about the Seafood Platter Deli – remember Dembo’s Smokehouse? We love restaurants that honor their heritage, and the Seafood Platter Deli has this wonderful wall:
Last, but not least, the food was so good, and so plentiful, that we couldn’t eat it all and ended up taking some home. We also took home some dessert, one dessert, $1.99 for a goodly portion of Vanilla Wafer pudding, that old-fashioned kind, maybe Banana pudding. It was so GOOD, we wish we’d gotten two.
Gulf Coast Seafood Deli / Seafood Platter Deli
Address: 2250 W Nine Mile Rd, Pensacola, FL 32534
We love this place, and look forward to driving ‘all the way out there’ for more fabulous Gulf seafood.
“Pay attention!” AdventureMan nudged me, hard. I was trying to find the Star of the East that Father Neal Goldsborough had just pointed out on our Christ Church dome, but I couldn’t find it. And I WAS listening, I was paying attention, I just also wanted to see the star, the special star on our dome, signifying the star that the wise men followed to find the child Christ.
I see a lot of other heads swiveled to look up, searching the dome for that special star. It’s one of my favorite feasts of the year, Epiphany; I can hear those camels grumbling and sputtering as they clop across the hard roads, I can feel the bite of the cold in the deserts (yes, in the winter deserts can be bone-freezing cold), and I can imagine the wise man consulting as to exactly where that star is leading.
Later after the service, a kind Christ Church parishoner shows us where the star is – painted with more gold, shining brightly just over the horizon in the dome of Christ Church. It is beautiful, subtle, and it makes me happy to know that one star is special.
In this photo, you can see the hanging lamp that obscured my view of the star during the sermon, and you can see a slightly brighter star in the center of the lower dome:
A little closer, and the star shines even more brightly:
The National Commission for Museums and Monuments, the governmental body in Nigeria that regulates the nation’s museum systems, is demanding the return of 32 artifacts recently acquired by the Museum of Fine Art in Boston. Consisting of various bronze and ivory sculptures looted during the Benin Massacre of 1897, the Director-General of the commission, Yusuf Abdallah Usman, states that the pieces were illegally taken by the British Expedition as spoils of war.
The MFA in Boston acquired the pieces last month as a gift from New York banker and collector Robert Owen Lehman, who purchased the Benin pieces in the 1950s and 1970s. But the pieces were originally looted by British soldiers in the late 1890s, following the Benin massacre of 1897. In a statement made by Usman, the commission stated: “Without mincing words, these artworks are heirlooms of the great people of the Benin Kingdom and Nigeria generally. They form part of the history of the people. The gap created by this senseless exploitation is causing our people, untold anguish, discomfort and disillusionment.”
According to Huffington Post blogger and Princeton art history professorChika Okeke-Agulu, the laws governing cultural heritage in the United States are lenient toward museums holding works like those from the Benin Court. Commenting on the ethical imperatives associated with the looted art acquisitions, he has stated that “calls for the resolution of the problem caused by British looters of Benin royal art collection will not go away — especially now that Nigerian/world-citizen voices have learned to harness the popular power of the Internet to demand action.”
We like Maria’s; we like the variety of seafoods they carry, and we like that the fish is fresh. We often see the fishermen parked with their boats next to Maria’s, hauling out this morning’s catch.
AdventureMan runs into Maria for tonight’s dinner and I notice their mermaid. I think the artist must have had a lot of fun painting this Mermaid, who is not your Starbucks Mermaid:
And doesn’t strike you as sad that this perky little mermaid would be offering up her half-brothers and half-sisters for eating?
Maria’s Fresh Seafood Market
621 East Cervantes Street Pensacola, FL 32501
Our travel companions and we agreed, it is always better to have a little extra time for connections going, to insure that we give luggage enough time to be transferred, and for us to make transfers, etc. We make room for things that could go wrong, and we thank God if they don’t. Truth be told, we always kind of expect something to go a little wrong, and schedule in a little extra time to handle it.
I was glad we had a little extra time departing on this trip because coming through Atlanta just a couple weeks before, I had heard rumblings of a new international departures terminal. I’ve come in through Atlanta so many times, I know the routine, but now . . . it might be different! When we arrive in Atlanta, we end up in terminal E, and it is just a short walk (or train ride, but we all enjoy the walk knowing there is a very long flight in front of us) to terminal F. It is not a long walk, but a very empty walk, reminds me of coming into Dubai when they had just opened new parts of the arrivals terminal, and it had some long and ghostly walks.
As you arrive in the new terminal F, you see a grand crystal chandelier sparkling in the sunshine:
The terminal is large, and clean, the kind of clean when a place hasn’t been open very long and doesn’t have those grungy cracks and corners, clean clean clean
On our way to our gate, gate 6, we pass gate 4 where passengers are loading for Amsterdam, and one of our companions runs into an aunt and uncle on their way to Europe for a few weeks. Isn’t life grand? What are the chances? They had hoped to connect, but Atlanta is a big airport and they knew their chances were slim, and then – there they were, face to face! Their gate right next to ours!
We sat at the charging terminal so as to get all charged up for the long flight ahead. Due to tailwinds, the flight that is 17 hours coming from Johannesburg to Atlanta is only around 15 hours going Atlanta – Johannesburg. Still – 15 hours is longer than the grueling 14 hours from Dubai to Atlanta, and a long time to be in one aircraft, let alone one seat.
We take turns going to pick up something to eat. There is a small food court upstairs, including a Starbucks, and we choose PeiWei, where there are a lot of customers. They don’t have the wrap I want, but they have a good stir fry, so we order and get one of those lighting-up-things that buzzes when your order is ready. We always watch for where the flight crews are ordering; they go through these places often and know where to good value for the money is. The flight crews were at PeiWei.
We take our to-go boxes back to the charging station and our companions go, ending up also at Pei Wei. We were all relatively happy (it’s still airport food) and none of us got sick.
The flight was long. We had prayed for travel mercies, and I spotted three empty seats on the flight, one between AdventureMan and me, one between our companions, and one in front of us. Thanks be to God, I am thankful for a little extra space and the ability to get out and walk from time to time.
When we arrive in Johannesburg, our luggage all arrives with us, we don’t need a visa because we are US citizens, we are met by the concierge service from our hotel, the Westcliff, and put into a large car for transfer. I cannot imagine an easier way to transit Johannesburg.
I love this photo. It has the essence of true art; it is immediate and compelling, and pulls you in. Or at least it pulls me in. It reminds me of the Pieta (see end of article)
From the Huffington Post on AOL News:
New York Times photographer Samuel Aranda was announced the winner of the iconic World Press Photo competition on Friday.
The 55th annual jury of the World Press Photo contest selected Aranda’s photograph of a woman consoling an injured male relative in Yemen as 2011′s photo of the year. The woman is covered almost entirely by her burqa, by exception of small parts of her face and arms that seem to sneak out from beneath her robes. Aranda took the photograph in a Sanaa mosque that was being used as a hospital by demonstrators protesting against Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The Times’ Lens blog described the winning photograph as having the “feel of a Renaissance painting.” Mr. Aranda told the Times that it was one of the first shots he took during his two months on assignment in Yemen. “The woman is not just crying. It was something more. You can feel that the woman is really strong,” Aranda said of the female subject in his photograph.
The World Press Photo competition is one of the most famous competitions for photojournalists in the world. The award-winning photographs are made into a traveling exhibition, which visits more than 45 countries over the course of the year. Click over to the World Press Photo website to view all the winners and exhibit schedule.
Thank you, my friend Hayfa, for sending this flash mob from City Center Mall; very nice;
But this one dates from May 2011, and I love the energy!
And one more, this time at Villagio! Wooo HOOOO, Qatar!
I’m eager to see one done at the Souk al Waqif!
I think Qatar’s National Day is December 18th, and the Qataris know how to party. It would be lovely to see a Qatari flash mob.
We kept wanting to go to Five Sisters Blues Cafe – everyone tells us it is a really fun place with great food – but it takes us a while to find it. I’m printing the Google map for you; it is at the corner of Belmont and DeVilliers. Not that hard to find if you know Pensacola, but we are still learning Pensacola.
Five Sisters exterior:
“Where’ve you been?” our waitress, Lisa, asked as we were seated. We must have looked goofy, we’ve never been there before, so we said, “this is our first time” and she laughed and said “I know that! I haven’t seen you before! We’ve been open a year! Where’ve you been?”
We just laughed, she had really caught us off guard. The place was packed, on a Wednesday afternoon, people all around us eating giant salads, plates heaped with fried chicken, everything we saw coming out to the tables looked delicious. Lisa brought us iced-tea, and I lost my heart, look, REAL mint in the tea, just like home . . .
We were overwhelmed. There is a lot going on in the restaurant, people laughing, art works on the walls, a new menu to peruse and we don’t know what we want. We finally decide to share the sampler platter with two fried green tomatoes, 4 crab cakes and 4 shrimp, which came with three very tasty sauces – WOW. Wowed right off the top:
AdventureMan even said, in wonder “This crab cake really tastes like crab with a C!” and it was. You know, the other kind, that calls itself crab, but is really flavored Alaskan pollock, and not crab at all? This was real crab, and it tasted crabby. Yummm.
AdventureMan had a vegetable platter. Now this is Southern cooking at it’s best, so don’t expect ‘vegetable’ to be Vegan. Even Mac and Cheese qualifies as a vegetable, and beans usually have some pork to flavor them, etc. He said the entire plate was delicious.
I tried something I had never had before, catish over grits. I never thought I liked grits until our daughter-in-laws stepmother (I know, I know, it sounds complicated, and it is another thing we have in common with people all over the world; we all have complicated relationships) made Smoked Gouda Grits one night with her Barbecued Shrimp and a whole new world opened up to me. Wooo HOOO. Anyway, I didn’t eat all the grits; the catfish was filling, but this dish knocked my socks off and I don’t think I could duplicate it, so I’m just going to have to go back to Five Sisters every time I get a craving for it:
If we are what we eat, we are becoming very Southern.
Lisa, the waitress, was a lot of fun, helpful in making recommendations, quick when we asked for anything, and she told us about an upcoming special jazz night that we really needed to attend. OK. That sounded like fun.
Lisa was right. It was really fun. We walked in, early, and every table was taken. There was a Jazz Society of Pensacola membership table at the entrance, and the lady just laughed and said “Look! There are lots of chairs empty, just go to a table and ask if you can join them.”
Hmm. We’re actually used to that, living in Germany all those years, but I didn’t know you could do that here. We ended up at a table with another couple, and as we chatted, we had a really good time with them. They were so gracious and welcoming to people they had never met and who aren’t even members (yet) of the Jazz Society. We laughed a lot. He told us that they didn’t have a lot of rules, but that when things got lively, no oxygen machines were allowed on the dance floor because they might explode, LLOOLLL!
This place was ROCKIN’. People were dancing between the tables, people from young to old, just having a great time listening to some very very good music. Within an hour, there were no empty seats at all, some people were standing, and others were eating out on the covered patio. It was raining (rain in Pensacola during a drought is a good thing) and the evening was called Monday Night Blues. How cool is that? The atmosphere was perfect.
Of course we had dinner. AdventureMan had BBQ on Red Beans and Rice and I had the Shrimp Basket. No Mom, I did not eat the French Fries.
I did eat ONE of the hushpuppies. I could not resist.
Five Sisters Blues Cafe is just a really fun place, immaculately clean, great food and great service. We can’t wait to go back again.