Monday, September 12, 2005

Poor

Responding to a reporter about criticism that a racial component was behind the government's slow response after Katrina hit, President George W. Bush, answered "The storm didn't discriminate, and neither will the recovery effort." Let’s assume he is correct. Let’s assume that the US government did its utmost to save lives and the slow response was just the result of unpredictable circumstances.

Still, who suffered most? Millionaires or the underprivileged? Those who could afford to leave New Orleans or those who did not? Again, the poor suffered most. Living in Iraq, Palestine, Europe or the United States it’s always the poor that suffer most.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

In Remembrance

Different people choose to remember different things. Today, September 11th, while most people choose to remember the events of New York 2001, I choose to remember the assassination of the controversial, democratically elected leftist leader Salvador Allende, President of Chile.

Today thirty-two years ago, General Pinochet, with the backing of the CIA staged a Coup d’Etat which ended the 3 year presidency of Allende with his death. " After Pinochet assumed power, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kisinger
told US President Richard Nixon that the U.S. "didn't do it" (referring to the coup itself) but had "created the conditions as great as possible" , including leading economic sanctions." - (Wikipedia)

Lately, ex-leader of the US Christian Coalition and President Bush supporter Pat Robertson has called for the assassination of another leftist democratically elected President, that of Venezuela , Hugo Chavez. Let’s just hope that history does not repeat itself.

Friday, September 09, 2005

September

September is not one of my favourite months. To say the truth, my feelings towards September verge on to hatred. There are various reasons why I have blacklisted this month, so let’s start……

As a child September always meant back to school. Not that I hated school, I just hated summer ending. Being brought up in St. Julian’s, I spent whole days at the Balluta pitch. The sea in September was never calm so no water polo games were played.

Then comes the weather. The sticky gloomy days of this month are a nightmare. No amount of washing will make you feel clean. This is Feeling-Sticky month!

To top it off, most people, after doing nothing the whole of August, feel that September is the right month to either start something new or catch up. Apart from a few new projects that I will be involved in, most clients that I could not get hold of or meet during August, have decided to contact me all on September first. I spent the last couple of weeks working more than 12 hours a day nearly every day. This situation repeats itself every September. (By the way, this is the reason I have not been blogging much lately)

And what about the name? I can forgive October, November and December for not being the eighth, ninth and tenth month respectively but I could never forgive September for not being the seventh. Why call yourself the seventh when you are ninth? This pretentious month is why October, November and December are confused. Its like being at the butcher’s. If you ask who is last and some ugly guy says “its me and I’m the seventh”, you assume that if you should be served after he is then you are eighth.

There were so many things that I wanted to blog about these couple of weeks but did not have the time. From Katrina’s devastation to Bush’s incompetence, from the new political movement ANR (which chose the Italian word Alleanza for the name of a nationalist movement!) to Malta’s third siege, that of Ta Qali. Well quite a busy month. I will try to catch up.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Life Cycle

Yesterday a group of fifty people left Malta to make a journey of 1850km over 10 days. This is the seventh year of the Life-Cycle challenge and this year it involves 37 cyclists, accompanied by a medical team of two physiotherapists and a doctor, two cooks and translators.

I happen to know two of the participants, Bernard and Emerson, good luck guys. They have been preparing for the event for months with such dedication and commitment that it’s hard to believe that they are amateurs. Those of you who would like to know more (and donate something) can visit
www.lifecyclechallenge.com.

In today’s Independent, in an article covering the story there is a hint that the cyclists might be taking illicit substances to help them through the journey. Ms. Anna Miggiani, Life cycle Chairman and official cook, said that “beans are often a staple of the diet over the course of the challenge”. If this is true this would explain the sudden increase in speed in certain parts of the journey. This would also explain the increase in toxic fumes that is expected in Budapest, Belgrade, Tirana, Delfi and the Acropolis over the next ten days.

Joking apart, those interested in giving a donation can send a cheque to the Life Cycle Organisation c/o the Renal Unit or a text message to these numbers: 5061-7351: Lm 1, 5061-8928: Lm3 and 5061-0208: Lm5.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Universal Man

In a self promoting article, Paul Smith (of Paul Smith Fashion House) in Intelligent Life (summer 2004), opens with the following statement:

We live in an age of specialisation. There are specialists for everything: cardiovascular specialists, fibre-optic specialists, divorce-law specialists. We tend to think of artists in the same way - a painter paints, a writer writes, an actor acts, a musician makes music and so on.

How true and yet how depressing. Are people really that two dimensional? What happened to the classical notion of the Universal Man? Is it that difficult to find engineers who paint, scientists who write or programmers who play music? I know loads of people who have developed their three-dimensionality, mostly man and women with a scientific background. Yet, a lot of people are surprised by this. I am always shocked that people that know me at work are usually quite surprised to find out that I spend a considerable amount of time painting. Is it that surprising that an interior designer paints? It’s like saying that a programmer isn’t able to do math.

And what about our educational system? Is it geared up to produce complete human beings? Or are we just producing two-dimensional specialists? Sometimes I feel we’re producing neither.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Senglea Fest

Friday 26th and Saturday 27th August, Friends of St. Luke’s Hospital Foundation and Lions Club La Valletta are organising Senglea Fest – two days of educational and entertaining activities to promote awareness and interest in one of Malta’s richest areas of culture. Details of the full program for Friday can be found here and for Saturday here.

In light of this, artists will be spending some time in the area on either Friday or Saturday, or both, creating works of art reflective of the environment. As a good Samaritan, I shall be there painting. Artists who would like to join can have a look at Artissa.com for further details. Whoever wants to see (and maybe buy) the works produced during these days can view the works on Saturday evening, during the dinner at Il-Gardjola.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Six-Pack

Tourism and Culture Minister Francis Zammit Dimech said that the government has identified six tourist zones to be given priority for embellishment projects…….."This, to address the perception that Malta has 5 star facilities, but a 2 star environment,”

Is it just a perception? If it is, an advertising campaign would be enough, no? And who has the wrong perception, the Maltese or tourists? Are tourists so blind not to see our perfect country? Or are the Maltese so pampered and arrogant not to appreciate this beautiful rock.

But, what if it is not just a perception, whose fault is it? Definitely not Minister Zammit Dimech’s, he has only been responsible for the environment between ’94-’96 and between ’98-‘2002.

So, if Minister Zammit Dimech wants to start a campaign, I have a slogan for him…… “Whoever buys this six-pack bull – will get a pupu

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Speeding Tickets

Today I stumbled across these two articles. The first was about a certain Mr. Bonello who argued that “In the absence of a certificate proving that the cameras at St Julian’s are calibrated,………… the authorities could not prove that the machine was correct when it issued his ticket.” Mr. Bonello managed not to be fined. The second was a reply by Dr. Ian Micallef describing how the “choice of the particular make of the speed cameras was reached after a long deliberation and was based on a number of important factors.”

It turns out that all speeding cameras installed on the Maltese islands are only calibrated by the manufacturer before coming to Malta. I understand that due to costs, it is quite difficult to have accredited Maltese labs to certify such equipment. What I do not understand is that if the claims of the Chairman of the Local Enforcement System Management Committee is correct than Mr. Bonello should have been fined. In fact he was not. So either the Sliema traffic tribunal was wrong or the Dr. Ian Micallef. In either case we have a problem.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Walking Route

In reply to my email i sent yesterday to the MTA, this morning I recieved the following:

Dear Mr. Cefai,

We are in receipt of your email for which we thank you. This has been forwarded to our product Planning & Development Directorate for their attention.

Yours sincerely,
M...........D.............

Senior Executive
Customer Service Unit
HR & Support Services Directorate
Malta Tourism Authority


now we'll see.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Ta’ Cenc II

  • This means that the owner is admitting that he erected the gate recently.
  • According to the MEPA site there is no application, or has been an application to erect a gate
  • Thus, the gate was erected illegally
  • The implication……..The police were protecting an illegal operation.

If someone believes that my reasoning is wrong, please inform me.


As I have already mentioned yesterday, the MTA advertises the route we intended to walk on Saturday as a Walking Route for Gozo. I wrote the following to the administrators of visitmalta.com;

Dear Sir/Madame,

I believe you have a mistake on your website. The Sannat Walking Route for Gozo is not accessible to people. Yesterday, Saturday 13th August 2005, people working for the Ta Cenc Hotel, blocked the road with a recently erected gate and prevented me and others from walking on the same road you are advertising on your site. So please, either remove the route from your site or make sure that in the future people can truly walk the routes you advertise.

Could you also please confirm if all other routes are accessible?

Waiting for your reply,

Rupert Cefai

Now, we’ll see what they reply.

On a lighter note, last Saturday there was this guy, who appeared to be Victor Borg’s son (due to appearance) who was running after the organisers to see what they had to say to the people gathered there. At one particular moment, this guy was behind me and il-Gurdun. When realizing who he was, the conversation between il-Gurdun and myself went something like this….

Gurdun: Dan mhux sew li ghalqu it-triq.

Bertu: mhux ghalxejn ghalqu hawn, issa nigu mal-lejl u xorta nghaddu

Gurdun: iva hekk nghamlu, issa nigu xi s-saghtejn ta filghodu u nintrabtu bil ktajjen ma xi Dolmen.

In a few seconds the poor guy was next to his father pointing his fingers at us. Obviously, at two in the morning I was at home sleeping. Unfortunately, I would never know if someone went looking for us early Sunday morning.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Ta' Cenc

Yesterday, I felt ashamed to be Maltese. What was supposed to be an educational tour, organised by Eko-Logika, of Ta’ Cenc, Gozo, and its surroundings turned out to be an example of how things are run here in Malta. If you have money you have power, if you have power you have the state on your side.

At around 17:00, together with my wife, I arrived at Ta Cenc, with the intent of spending a few hours there, painting in the open air. To my dismay, I found a group of men closing a gate (which apparently was not there the day before) and blocking the entrance to the Ta’ Cenc area including the Neolithic temple, the three dolmen and the cart ruts. The men, people working for Mr. Victor Borg, owner of the Ta Cenc Hotel, did not let us through and a few minutes later were joined by the police waiting for the rest of the group to arrive.

We left to Sannat to join the others where all had to meet. After walking from the Sannat main square to Ta’ Cenc with the whole group, some 200 people (Maltese, Gozitans and tourists), we were again blocked by the owner of the Ta Cenc Hotel and the police. Now, I am not that stupid not to understand what the meaning of private property is, but I also know the meaning of right of passage. If it is true that Mr. Victor Borg owns the land, it is also true that the passage that was blocked yesterday has been publicly used for probably centuries to say the least. If it was illegal to go to visit the historical remains, the fauna and flora of the area, why would the government put up signs in the vicinity, to indicate the area? Why would the MTA advertise the same road as a Walking Route for Gozo? And most of all, why would the police back up such a violation of my basic right to walk freely?

After more than an hour all of us staying in front of the gate, with different people describing what we ought have seen, a few of us decided it was time to walk in and start our tour. In a few seconds, a dozen of extra policemen came out from nowhere, staff from the Ta’ Cenc Hotel came out, threatening us, pushing us and pulling us with Victor Borg and his son ordering their people and the police to throw us behind the gate.

When all was over, and we were enjoying paintings and photographs by other artists of the previous walk at Xaghra l-Hamra, a troglodyte, owner of a nearby restaurant came threatening us, claiming that the road was his and did not want us there.

Now, since MEPA is always so keen to pull down illegal structures, I hope that soon enough we hear of some Enforcement Notice to pull down the gate put up by Victor Borg.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Art With a Purpose

Eko-Logika together with the Ceratonia Foundation and a number of NGOs are organising an educational event at ta Cenc. Eko-Logika, is a coalition for the protection of Xaghra l-Hamra and ta’ Cenc. Protection from what? Well from golf courses of course.

The event includes the following:

  • A guided walk around the l-Imramma Neolithic Temple, the three dolmens, and the pre-historic cart ruts. While walking, one can appreciate various species of birds such as the scarce Spectacled Warbler, the Corn Bunting and the Blue Rock Thrush, and one of the most impressive colonies of Cory's Shearwater in the Maltese islands and a small colony of the elusive Storm Petrel. Ta' Cenc is also world famous as the natural home of several species of flora and fauna. The area includes a rich Mediterranean plant biodiversity in its garigue and rupestral habitats with several rare endemic species such as the National Maltese Plant Rock Centaury.
  • At the same time as the guided walks, a group of artists (poets, musicians, writers, photographers and painters) will be on the garigue. The collective production of the artists will be part of an eventual exhibition to visually raise public awareness to the loss of our countryside heritage.
  • A discussion on Alternative Tourism for Gozo.

Since all this is happening for a good cause, you shall find me there painting. It should be fun. Those of you who can join, please do

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Impenn

“PIETA' : Il-Gvern qed jippjana li meta jkollu r-riżorsi meħtieġa jkun jista' jgħin lil dawk l-istudenti li jagħżlu li jispeċjalizzaw fil-qasam li jkunu għażlu.”

Anki jien, meta ikolli r-rizorsi mehtiega nixtieq nixtri villa il-Bahamas, indur id-dinja, intella ezebizzjoni fil-Guggenheim Museum u nixtri lil mara xi djamant ta nofs miljun lira.

Biss jien la m’ghandix flus, ma niftahx halqi.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Four Figure Tables

After our bitter sweet experience at the Manoel Theatre, Gordon Pace Flores, Bernard Bonnici and myself have moved our exhibition, Four Figure Tables, to del Borgo. We were meant to keep our exhibits at the Manoel until the end of August but the cafeteria has closed and so it was useless to keep them there.

So, whoever did not manage to see Gordon’s Calligraphy, Bernard’s Photographs and my paintings at the Manoel, can now see them at del Borgo, Birgu. The exhibits will stay there till the end of August.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Anamelech

Anamelech - bearer of ill news. An obscure demon.
Anamelech - was worshipped at Sepharvahim, a town of the Assyrians.
Anamelech - reveals himself in the shape of a quail.
Anamelech - his name, we are told, signified a "good king".
Anamelech - some declare that this demon was the moon, as Andramalech is the sun.
Anamelech - today, the son of a bitch paid me a visit.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Tommy

Today I met Tommy. Tommy, for a few years, lived where I grew up.
I grew up in Ta’ Giorni, a government housing estate in St. Julian’s. The housing estate is surrounded by the old quarters of St. Julian’s on one side and Ta Giorni Heights on the other. In the former lived the real Giljanizi, in the latter those that had the money to buy a nice piece of land and settle with tal-pepe. In the middle there was us, a bunch of low to middle class families that managed to get hold of a government flat or house. Most of those who lived in government houses stayed there while those who lived in flats and had built up a good career for themselves left, leaving a vacant space which would soon be filled by others.

Tommy’s family wasn’t one of the early settlers in Ta’ Giorni. They replaced someone. I don’t remember which block of flats they lived in but I know that they came from Valletta. Tommy was a little older than most of us and he was what one today would call a bully. He was bigger than average, he swore, he smoked and he was always fighting and bullying other kids. He had his little gang of rascals, always running around with him, vandalising and terrorising. After a few months that he came to St. Julian’s, Tommy was king.

I cannot say that I was bullied when I was young, not even by Tommy. I was always big enough to stand on my own two feet and intelligent enough to stay away from people like him. Most of my friends weren’t that lucky. I remember once he stole a girl’s hair band threw the band in the middle of the road and peed on it. Another time his gang stole someone’s bike and hid it somewhere, with the poor kid in tears trying to explain to his mother that he does not know where he left his bike (or else his teeth would be knocked out).

Tommy today was very kind to me. He let me park my car in those 100sq.m. he controls. In his own way Tommy is still king, he is king of his own parking lot. Tommy, today, is a parking attendant.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Finally

Finally I managed to force myself to start work on my next exhibition. Well not exactly, I was commissioned to make a painting for del Borgo, and managed to finish it before the official opening, which is tomorrow. Forcing myself to paint puts me in the right frame of mind to continue work. Today I have planned my first couple of paintings for the exhibition and made a series of studies for the first. I am not one of those artists (if I might call myself so) that all he has to do is sit down and wait for inspiration to knock on his door. I have to work hard and prepare my work diligently. Only a small percentage of my work is the result of inspiration, most of it is the result of perspiration. How true Alfred Chircop was!

On a different note I noticed that other bloggers too are using their blog to present their artistic work. I very much appreciated Antoine Cassar’s multi lingual poem found here and Archibald’ song found here. Good work guys.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Artissa

Just a small note to inform those of you who might be interested that the auction at auctions.artissa.com will close tonight at 20:00. The auction, organised by Friends of St. Luke's Hospital Foundation and Lions Club Valletta seems to be the first of its kind, locally, and in my opinion quite a success.

Furthermore the
Artissa guys are doing a terrific job to promote Maltese Art (whatever that might be). At the moment there are 23 galleries of local artists or artists with local connections and 2 collective galleries online. The least we all could do is spread the word around.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Brag

Today I have been woken up by an sms from a friend of mine, “Cefai ara it-Times, IM Beck”. Since I rarely buy newspapers on a Saturday, (I follow my news mostly on the net) I had to get out of bed, dress up, walk 100m buy the newspapers all the while thinking why did IM Beck mention me in his article. In fact he did not. He mentioned del Borgo, which I designed and that’s why I’m blogging and bragging about it. I have been bragging about it all day.

He made one of the most beautiful comments I have ever read regarding my work and coming from bocca, who usually is very critical about everything is quite satisfying. About del Borgo he wrote “where the old and modern have been married to a degree of perfection I hadn’t thought was possible”.

He made my day.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Terrorism

50+ dead, 700 injured.
50 - mothers, fathers, sons, daughters.
As soon as I heard the news I rushed home to watch cnn/bbc/sky/euronews. Death, destruction, pain. Then I remembered of an essay by Ronald Harvey, found the book and read it…….

“One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter - a truism too often ignored. To the Arabs the Israelis are terrorists, and their own men freedom fighters. To the Israelis the Arabs are terrorists, and so it goes on. If beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, so does terrorism. Pascal summed it up:
'Why do you kill me?'
'Well, don’t you live on the other side of the water? If you lived on this side, my friend, I should be a murderer, and it would be wrong to kill you like this. But since you live on the other side, I am a brave man and it is right.'

And yet terrorist and freedom fighter are not really the same under different names. What distinguishes one from the other? A freedom fighter who kills or threatens to kill innocent, unarmed people in his attempt to free his country is a terrorist. If he confines his threats and actions to the armed forces and government of his country's oppressors he's no terrorist. Fighting between fighters is not terrorism, but threats, abduction and the killing or wounding of civilians or unarmed people most certainly is. The problem is, often, how to separate the innocent from the involved, the unarmed from the armed and, consequently, freedom fighting often degenerates into terrorism……. Terrorism is a cancer arising out of resentment; frustration and a feeling of injustice. People, who do not so suffer, rarely breed terrorists.”
“Our Fragmented World” (Green Books 1988)

But how about our share of responsibility? Are we responsible for our governments’ actions and decisions? Is there anything like State Terrorism? According to iraqbodycount.net, while I’m writing this, there are between 22000 and 26000 Civilians reported killed by the military intervention in Iraq. Are we so blind as not to see that all these killings breed terrorism? Aren’t there any innocent people in those numbers, or are they all criminals and terrorists?

Would this justify the bombings in London? Of course not. How could you ever explain to that little girl that her daddy will not come home tonight, or any other night, since Bush, Blair and others decided to invade Iraq because of the threat of weapons that do not even exist? How could you ever explain to that Muslim mother, whose son was traveling on that train, that he has been killed in the name of the same Allah whom he so believed in?

And yet, would humanity ever learn…..I doubt it will.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Il-Parrukkier

Ftit tal-granet ilu kelli diskussjoni frivola ma hbieb tieghi fuq id-differenza bejn arti u sena. Jien tal-fehma li dak kollu li ghandu x’jaqsam ma disinn ghal skop, hu sena u mhux arti. Ha nispjega ruhi. Jekk tiddisinja bicca ghamara, dik sena. Il-process tad-disinn jinkludi ukoll idea cara ta kif il-prodott irid isir, u ghalhekk nikkunsidrha sena. Arti, hi dik li l-iskop mhux kreazzjoni ta prodott izda ta sensazzjoni. Pittura hi arti mhux ghax hi pittura izda minhabba is-sensazzjoni li tnissel fik. Ghalkemm hafna drabi hu difficli li taqta linja, nemmen li hu importanti li din id-distinzjoni issir. Meta disinn jigi ikkunsidrat bhala arti, ir-rizultat dejjem ikun wiehed fjakk. Meta zarbun ikun sabih biss skomdu mhux disinn tajjeb, meta bus shelter tkun sabiha izda ma tipprotegik minn xejn, mhi shelter xejn etc. Ninharaq meta nara disinjaturi li jippruvaw jaghtu l-impressjoni li xogholhom hu arti minnflok jirreferu ghal xogholhom bhala sena. L-aqwa disinjaturi fl-istorja tal-bniedem ma kienux Dolce e Gabbana jew Valentino, izda dawk li holqu il-furketta, is-sikkina, il-buttuna, iz-zipp, etc u miljunelf haga ohra li nuzaw kuljum. Nies li hadd ma jaf min huma. Ninharaq ukoll meta niftakar li f’dan il-pajjiz ghalaqna l-iskejjel tas-snajja minflok investejna fihom.......biss dan argument iehor.

L-akbar ezempju ta nies tas-sena li jisthu jghidu li huma tali huma il-parukkiera. Niftakar meta kont ghadni tfal kont immur ma nannuwi kull filghodu ghand il-parrukier. Kien iqaxxarlu il-lehja, jaqtaghlu xaghru, iberfirlu is-suf ta ghajnejh, widnejh u imniehru. Meta jlesti, thallilu xi haga tal-flus u barra bid-daqq. Dak kien bniedem kburi li hu parukkier. Illum tmur ghand Hair Dresser jew Hair stylist jew Hair Designer etc. u hadd minnhom ma jqis ruhu parukkier. X’hemm hazin li tikkonsidra lilek innifsek parukkier u twahhal tabella mal-bieb li tghid Toni u Gajju – Parukkiera. Nahseb nista nehodha kontra il-parukkiera ghax ma ghadx fadalli wisq xaghar, u ghalhekk Hair Dresser m' ghadnix nuza.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

1 minn 13

Skond it-Times tal-llum, kull sena tul dawn l-ahhar ghaxar snin kien hemm incidenti relatati ma kmamar tan-nar. B’kollox 28 incident u 11-il ruh mejta, kwazi 3 incidenti u aktar minn mejjet fis-sena. Kull sena, wahda minn kull 13-il kamra ikollha incident.

Informazzjoni nieqsa f’dan kollu hi x’jikkawza dawn l-incidenti. Ma jezistux sistemi ta kontroll? Certu tahlit hu perikoluz? Is-shana u l-umdita ta pajjizna?

Tghid tezisti din l-informazzjoni?

Bhas-soltu issa nghamlu ftit storbju imbaghad ninsew kollox.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Irkant

U issa ftit sekondi ta pubblicita.........

Il-Friends of St. Lukes Hospital Foundation flimkien ma l-Lions Club Valletta qed jorganizzaw irkant ta pitturi minn diversi artisti Maltin. Min hu interessat jixtri xi pittura, jista jibbidja fuq auctions.artissa.com. Ghal aktar informazzjoni ghatu daqqa t'ghajn lil Artissa.com.

Progetti

Kienet gimgha ta decizjonijiet. Fost-il hafna irrelevanti, hadt tnejn li ha jzommuni okkupat sew dawn ix-xhur li gejjin.

  1. fil-hdax ta Novembru ser niftah it-tieni ezebizzjoni tieghi. Ghalkemm forsi ghadu kmieni biex nibda indoqq it-trumbetti, il-post diga ibbukjat. Ser nghamilha f’del Borgo Wine Bar, Birgu.
  2. ha nibda progett daqsxejn ambizzjuz.....irrid naghmel dizzjunarju ta kliem tekniku, bl-ingliz u mhux, li jintuza fl-industrija. Kollezzjoni ta kliem imbiccer u mfarrak li sab ruhu intuzat u abbuzat mill-haddiema Maltin. Ezempji:
    Tabella tal-kawxun – caution sign
    Paccwikk – Patch work
    Spakxin – inspection box

Hafna forsi jahsbu li din xi cajta. Hafna kliem li illum jintuzaw regolari fil-lingwa maltija ghandhom origini simili, bhal accjomu, cigcifogu, gakbin etc. Kull min jahseb li jista jghin, merhba bih.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Is-suq

Fejn issib massa ta nies, difficli li issib lili. Dik is-rassa kulhadd jaghfas fuq xulxin ma nistax ghaliha. Il-mara tghid li jien anti-socjali. Jien nghidilha li jien minhiex kontra is-socjeta (ghall-anqas mhux dejjem), sempliciment massa ta nies f’post wiehed iddejjaqni.

Ghadni ma fhimtx meta l-individwi isiru merhla. Persuna wahdu huwa individwu, anki tnejn u anki tlieta, izda fejn ikollok numru kbir ta nies l-individwalita tispicca. Meta tara massa ta nies mill-boghod kull sembjanza umana qisa tisparixxi. L-ezempju car huwa fl-isport jew f’xi mass meeting. Mhux ghax qatt ma attendejt f’xi wiehed minnhom. Zmieni inxejjer il-bandieri ghamiltu. Izda dak ghadda, kullhadd ifieq fl-ahhar.

Biss illum, ma nafx kif, sibt ruhi nghid iva biex immur is-suq ta Marsaxlokk. Kont ili snin ma mmur. Bejn ghax il-Hadd filghodu, bejn ghax mhux daqshekk vicin, bejn ghax xoppink idejjaqni, l-ahhar li mort nahseb ilu ghaxar snin. Nies kien hemm, u bil-bosta, izda kollha rajthom individwi, igorru l-istorja taghhom maghhom f’dik ix-xemx tizreg ta gurnata kwazi sajfija. Nies kbar, zghar, qosra, twal, hoxnin, irqaq, sbieh u koroh. Kien hemm Ewropej, Mediterraneji, Afrikani, Nord-Amerikani, Sud-Amerikani u Asjatici. F’dan ir-rahal ckejken, fuq blata f’nofs il-mediterran stajt issib xempju ta kull razza. Min jixtri u min ibiegh.

Koz, il-Malti kif inhu. Fejn hemm cans li jaqla lira razzismu ma jezistix.....

Monday, June 13, 2005

Viva r-Razza??!!!?


Wara li qrajt sensiela ta bloggs fuq kwistjonijiet razzjali, fuq l-emigranti minghajr timbru, fuq lowell u fuq balla Kazzati ohra, qrajt zewg bloggs, wiehed ta gybexi u l-iehor ta Sandro Zerafa li ispirawni.

Din il-kwistjoni ta razza pura iddejjaqli ftit il-bubu. U nghid ghalfejn. Familti tahlita shiha ta razez u kuluri. Mela ejja nibdew. Jien twelidt Malta, u anki l-genituri tieghi, biss ommijiethom u missierijiethom storja ohra. Missier ommi Skocciz, omm ommi ghandha nannuha Spanjol, omm missieri Taljana imwielda Tunez u missier missieri, Malti, biss emigra Tunez ta sentejn. Ghal skerz tad-destin kulhadd spicca fuq din il-bicca blata f’nofs il-Mediterran. Il-klassi tal-familja tvarja minn nobbli li harab mill-Italja biex jghix hajja ta sinjur f’Tunez, bahhri Skocciz li halla z-zerriegha warajh Malta, illitterat Malti f’Tunez li spicca kellu jigi Malta wara li xeba’ ipappiha u sar mastrudaxxa (wiehed tas-sena ukoll) u Maltija dixxendenti ta Spanjol li kienet thossha Ingliza aktar mir-Regina.

Ghad ghandi familjari jghixu Tunez, Franza, l-Amerka, l-Italja, l-Ingilterra, Skozja u ovvjament Malta. Biex taxxaqha, il-mara tieghi Maltija tal-Kanada. E, ghandi s-suspett li jien gejt konceput il-Germanja.

F’kull generazzjoni tal-familja tieghi li nistghu niftakru, dejjem issib lil xi immigrant sejjer jew gej lejn naha jew ohra tad-dinja. Dejjem kulhadd ghamel minn kollox biex itejjeb il-livell tal-ghixien tieghu ta familtu, hafna drabi billi jemigraw fejn hemm il-gid.

Ghalhekk, min jigi jitkellem mieghi fuq razza u il-biza li ir-razez jithalltu ikun sab il-persuna zbaljata. Min jahseb li ghax gejjin xi nord Afrikani bla timbru, ir-razza pura taghna tithallat ma jafx x’inhu jghid. Ahna il-Maltin, jekk jien nista nikwalifika tali, kollha bawla jew ta xi kavallier, jew ta xi suldat, jew ta xi bahri u jekk le, dixxendenti diretti ta dawk it-Tunezini li kienu invadew Sqallija xi elf sena ilu.

U Viva r-razza pura!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Catching Up

Another busy week and not enough time to blogg! There were a few things that I wanted to blogg about, so I’ll try to post short comments on.

Firstly there was the creation of the new (?) MLP B team. I think that alternative views and different opinions are healthy for a democracy, but why do the left always have to create new movements and organisations. Front Maltin Iqumu, CNI, and now the My Little Ponies team (copyrights to Hazevi). Another Mintoff’s creation? probably. Just another suicide squad? definitely. Will they achieve anything? I doubt it. Those of you who remember the (A)ssocjazzjoni (S)portiva (T)igne created by (A)lex (S)ciberras (T)rigona back in the 1980’s would probably guess who invented the name of the new movement.
----------
Another piece of news that really caught my attention was the proposed embellishment of the road from Castille to MIA. Why was it reported that the works will be done from Castille and not from Valletta? Is the office of the prime minister more important than our capital city? I would have understood if someone proposed to embellish the roads from MIA to our main tourists’ destinations. But why give such importance to Castille? Is it such a rarity that we embellish roads, that when we do they are news worthy? Ninu Zammit looked so proud on NET TV explaining the works that need to be done. Could not decide if he was the works manager or a policy maker.
----------
On a lighter note, this week I had a conversation with a person that came to the opening of the exhibition last month. The conversation went something like this

M: hawn Ru kif int? Kif mortu l-exhibition?
R: mhux hazin.
M: jien vera hadt gost dak inhar tal-party ghalkemm ix-xoghol li kien hemm mhux it-tip tieghi.
R: Ma nippretedix li kollox joghogob lil kulhadd, thabbilx rasek.
M: Nispera li ma tiehux ghalik imma jien naqsam il-pittura fi tnejn. Ghandek l-arti, dik li insibu fil-knejjes, taf liem? xoghol figurattiv, imbaghad ghandek id-dekorazzjoni. Taghkhom ghalija dekorazzjoni mhux arti.
R: mitt bniedem mitt fhema. Biss ma tahsibx li wara r-rinaxximent u il-barokk graw hafna affarijiet fid-dinja tal-pittura li tista tiddiskrivihom bhala arti? Ma tahsibx li wara l-invenzjoni tal-kamera, l-artist bhala ritrattista sar qisu annimal fil-periklu tal-estinzjoni? Ma tahsibx li l-arti illum saret mod kif l-artist jesprimi ruhu u ihalli hafna aktar spazju lil osservatur li jaghti interpretazzjoni tieghu? U b’hekk jinvolvieh aktar.
M: eh?
R: il-mara u t-tfal kif inhuma?..........

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

History repeating?

Lately I have noticed that there is a certain politico-religious fervour in the air. Is it just me or does anybody else feel the same thing? This made me think……..

In 1979 Mintoff achieved his political target, that of Malta being a free country. He won the next general election (though with a minority of votes) and a couple of years later resigned. Mintoff chose his successor, Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici resulting in one of Malta’s worst political periods in recent history.

After achieving his political target, that of joining EU and winning the subsequent general election, Fenech Adami resigned (though still very active as President of the Republic). He chose his successor, Lawrence Gonzi. Let’s just hope that he doesn’t lead us through KMB’s path.

--------------------

Back in 1987, when the Labour leadership had to convince its supporters that there was a need for a change in the constitution, resulting in a sure defeat in the next general election, Mintoff and KMB came up with the idea that neutrality will be entrenched in the constitution; we give you power you give us neutrality!

Today, once again there is talk about changes in our electoral system. The party that will benefit from such change will be Labour (and maybe (?) Alternattiva). So the nationalist party came up with the idea to entrench anti-abortion law in the constitution. Apart from the fact that the Prime Minister did not guarantee that the current issue on abortion will not be used as electoral ammunition in the next general election, there again seems to be a political blackmail in the making.

--------------------

Is it just a coincidence that as soon as this country has a Gonzi in high office, fundamentalism takes the upper hand? In the 1960s when Sir Michael Gonzi was Archbishop of Malta, it was a mortal sin to vote Labour and Labour supporters were buried in the Mizbla (the rubbish dump -an area just outside the consecrated area of the Addolorata cemetery), all this under the silent blessing of the Nationalist party in Government.

Just a year after joining EU, in the year 2005 (yes, the 21st century not the middle ages), whoever is opposing the entrenchment of the anti-abortion clause in the constitution, is being dubbed a Liberal Elite. Though being liberal I understand, elite no. I have my doubts if the elite of this country are liberal in thought.

Tonio Borg knows who the elite of this country are…

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Where is my Nemesis?

I don’t know if it was in Cavemen (1981) starring Ringo Starr (yes former Beatle), or History of the World part 1 (1981) by Mel Brooks that after describing the first artist, then obviously introduces the first art critic, the artist’s nemesis; a caveman on top of a rock pees on the paintings.

That kind of criticism in Malta does not exist; our art critics are usually full of praise. Personally, I have never read any articles that beat the hell out of an artist. In this country no one dares to make enemies, so no one offends anyone. But why should anyone be offended? Why do we take everything so personally?

What I even find more disturbing is the fact that arts journalism is nearly non existent. For my exhibition all newspapers were contacted and most of them published something but none published their own stuff. All that was published was material that the three artists together with write-ups from Ganna were prepared for the occasion. Some were not even capable to reproduce correctly the material we supplied. Quite a few journalists were invited for the opening night, none turned up. Ok, maybe it was not worth the hassle, you’d say, but other fellow artist complain of the same thing. (For those of you interested have a look at the Artissa Forum.)

So where can we start? I don’t know. Being a painter myself maybe I am too biased to offer good criticism, my perspective may be too limited. But there again even limited views are better than nothing. What I have learnt so far is the following;

I am my own best (and worst) critic. Not everyone likes my work. Some people have ulterior motives when they express their views (though not necessarily bad). Not all people are honest and when they are they are usually apologetic. None of my work is either all good or all bad and my own tastes are very different from the public’s.

At least, exhibiting my work was a learning experience.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Moviment -2

To keep up with the fundamentalist tendencies that are currently taking over Malta I am proposing to start a campaign to entrench (it seems to be the new buzzword) in our constitution the law prohibiting topless sunbathing. I already know that I have a supporter; well actually he came up with the idea. I think we should call the campaign “Moviment -2”.

Summer is coming soon so we better act fast. All these foreigners exposing their mammaries on our shores are to be deported back to their countries. If they are Maltese they should be locked up in jail.
Another issue should be the covering up of children's eyes while they are being breast fed. Maybe the midwives association could give a helping hand.
Anyone interested to help in this campaign – like spending Sundays running around beaches covering up zizzies - is welcome, (on second thoughts I don't think my wife will let me).

Any other ideas are welcome too.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Bears of Melitamalata

Lately I heard this story……

In a little country far away from here called Melitamalata, lived three bears. One was called Bonnie, the other Ceffi and the third Paciflor. Quite eccentric, the three of them, but whoever knew them thought “They’re good bears”. The bears had known each other for quite a long time. They had a lot of things in common. Two had no hair (the third was nearly there), two had hairy backs (of the Bearus Hairus Hafnus type) all of them believed in science, but most of all they shared a love for art. Bonnie loved photographs, quite a good photographer himself, Ceffi was a painter and Paciflor was a brilliant calligrapher.

Once, they decided to put up an exhibition. Not a small feat, since in Melitamalata any artistic venture is not easy to produce. First they had to decide on a theme. They called their exhibition “imwejjed ta erba’ figuri”. Secondly they had to find a venue. After a lot of closed doors they found one open. A very old theatre called “Teatru ta’ Leli” offered to host their exhibition.

Let me explain some things about this theatre: In the early 18th century, a local chieftain called Toni-Leli ta’ Villa-Hena decided to build this theatre “for the honest recreation of the people”. 300 years later this theatre is still being used regularly. The theatre had a bookshop, a cafeteria, a wine bar and a beautiful courtyard where exhibitions can be held. Though the facilities are not state of the art the ambience of the magnificent building makes up for any deficiency in amenities. The bookshop was run by a shady character called Gambalunga, who usually organized the exhibitions in this courtyard. A few weeks before the exhibitions by the three bears Gambalunga closed his shop and vanished.

A lot of stories were being told why Gambalunga closed the shop but none could be confirmed. No one informed the bears about this and as soon as they found out, they were in shock since Gambalunga was their only contact. The panic stricken bears made all necessary contacts with the management of the theatre so that the exhibition could be held. Everything was confirmed and the bears had their opening night as scheduled.

So far so good, until 5 days after the opening night, something extraordinary happened. Someone decided that it was time to restore the glass canopy that shelters the courtyard. Well what’s wrong with that you’d say? nothing really except that the courtyard was booked for 20 days by these bears and all of a sudden the area was transformed into a building site.

The problem in Melitamalata is that no one is responsible or accountable for what they do. And no one really cares about how their decisions affect other people. No one informed the bears that a scaffold was to be erected in the courtyard. No one dared to inform the bears that they had to move their exhibits to a safer place, though some of the staff working at the theatre moved the exhibits without the bears’ permission.

In sharp contrast with the Goldilocks story, no one knows who the little girl with the golden hair is. Funnily enough no one seemed to be responsible for all this. “Heq it had to be done hux.” What’s the big deal about disrupting an exhibition? Who cares that the bears spent a whole year preparing for this event. Who cares that the bears spent thousands of Liri to organise all this. No one does. I heard that as compensation the bears were offered to keep their works in the cafeteria for a longer period. The only problem is that the cafeteria opens only half days and people going to the exhibition are finding it closed.

Some of you might think that Melitamalata is a sickening country, well I think that too.

Luckily for us Malta is not. Things like these never happen in Malta.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Holier than Thou

Our beloved deputy prime-minister has managed to divide our country on a topic that until a few weeks ago everyone thought that there was a consensus upon. In Catholic Malta no one would even dare to debate, let alone legislate, a law in favour of a woman’s choice to abort. But this time the topic is not about women’s choice but future generations to legislate, no? Does it sound undemocratic? Well of course not. We have a right to impose on future generations our interpretation of when life starts and ends and since today we are an overwhelming majority we have the right to impose that in the future a simple majority is not enough. We are so holy.

The thing is women in Malta have the right. Yes, they have the right to go abroad and abort there, at least if they have the money to do so. So again it is just a division between the haves and have not. But I can understand Dr. Borg, our constitution does not protect life and we need to do something…..wait a minute…..our constitution does protect the right to life, not only for unborn children but for everyone. Chapter IV stipulates the following;

CONSTITUTION OF MALTA 11

Protection of right to life.
33. (1) No person shall intentionally be deprived of his life …………

So why all the fuss? Why put into the constitution something that is already there? Why not entrench into the constitution a ban on smoking for example? As far as I know quite a few people die of smoking related illnesses yearly and anyone who is truly pro-life cannot but agree. I think that there are a million other things that could be written in our constitution. Why our politicians never did it? That’s why there are laws.


Today I watched the repetition of Xarabank, aired last Friday. My conclusion? This is a country full of fundamentalists. Forget Bin Laden, forget al Qaeda, we shove our beliefs down people’s throat, and then try to be holier than the pope. Dr. Anglu Farrugia, even suggested that women that go abroad to abort, who till now do not infringe any law, should be investigated when they come back and possibly incriminated. What’s this the inquisition? Will women stop aborting just because it is written in the constitution or is it just the easiest thing to do? Of course investing more in educational programs, so that future generations can come to their own conclusions is much more difficult to propose, organise and fund. Investing in subjects such as PSD does not win you votes. On the other hand changing the constitution is much more fun, it gives exposure, political mileage etc.

So again, why all the fuss? Maybe to deviate attention from the poor performance of the present legislation? No of course not. Maybe to give breathing space to the Prime-Minister who in the last few weeks has been under pressure to reshuffle the cabinet? No of course not. Maybe because the pro-choice movement is gaining ground and we need to act fast. Yes that’s why. Eh? Which pro-choice movement?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Blackmail

Its been over a week that I have blogged. To tell you the truth I was not in the mood, something terrible happened to me and I was too pissed off to write. Now I am still pissed off but a little calmer. Well not really, its just that now I feel I can think straight, if I ever do.

Has anyone of you, who have nothing better to do but read this blog, ever felt blackmailed? Probably you did. But have you ever felt blackmailed by your own interests?

You see, I am pissed off by something that if I blog about it, the only ones that will suffer is me, and a couple of my dearest friends. No one will give a shit and nothing would change, especially in this country. I really hate it when I feel this helpless. A few words by Martin L. Gore came to mind,

…..You can't change the world
But you can change the facts
And when you change the facts
You change points of view
If you change points of view
You may change a vote
And when you change a vote
You may change the world…..

it may be true but how would you start to change the facts?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Gammari

Lately I could not stop thinking about my grandfather. His name was Jean-Marie Cefai, died at age 82 in 1987. That makes it more than eighteen years that he’s gone. My grandfather was a weird character. When he was very young his father migrated to Tunisia together with his wife and only son. There they lived in an Italian and French community where in his late twenties Jean-Marie met my grandmother Giannina d’Angelo. Just before the second world war he came back to Malta where he lived together with his wife and three kids till he died. Nobody called him Jean-Marie, only my Italian-French grandmother. All the rest called him Gammari, with that heavy maltese accent.

Until he was my age my grandfather never worked. He lived off his father’s and his father-in-law’s money, which were both prosperous businessmen in Tunis. Back in Malta he had to start to earn a living. Then he became a socialist. Well not really, a Mintuffjan is more appropriate. And he had good reasons to be. In a country where pseudo-historians try to make us believe that under the Mintoff government of the 70’s Malta has been through it’s worst period in history, have never met my grandfather. In his fifties he lost half of his right hand while working on a sawing machine. The joinery firm he worked for, still in operation today, sacked him. They had no use for a semi-invalid. He depended for his livelihood on his children, mainly my father. Then Mintoff came and gave him a pension.

I don’t know why I am writing all this but whenever something important happens in my life I always remember Gammari. I was the only one from all of my cousins that had the right to call him Gammari. Whatever I did was perfect to his eyes. That’s why I sought his approval because I knew I would get it. How proud he would have been last Thursday.

Death is a strange thing. I cannot understand how is it possible that a person that I have known for less than half of my life is still so present and important in whatever I do. Not that I believe in the afterlife or reincarnation but I truly believe that man remains immortal as long as his name is remembered.
This post is to remember your name nan.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Naming the unnamed

I find that one of the most difficult things to do when you finish a painting is to give it a name. My first temptation is to ‘title’ it “untitled” but then I feel guilty. No decent parent leaves their child unnamed or names them “unnamed”. Most people expect that a painting should have an artistic name, ok, but what’s that? Is it something like “deep emotions” or “the tempest”?
Though I tried different ways to come up with names I never found a winning formula that would give the right name for the right painting. I decided to do some research on the subject. I did not find much but at least found some meaningless stuff about names.......
Jackson Pollock also known as “Jack the Dripper” had five paintings entitled “number 1”. The guy created a special relationship between pissing and art. (Mummy Ghandi bzonn naghmel number 1.) It seems that Warhol’s "Piss Paintings" were a "parody of Jackson Pollock . . . referring to rumors that Pollock would urinate on a canvas before delivering it to a dealer or client he didn't like.”
J C Rowther recounts this story of a novelist who asked Somerset Maugham, to give advice on a title for his new novel. "Are there any tigers in it?" SM asked. The startled young man answered no. "Any drums?" No." "Then call it "No Tigers, No Drums."
In the USA, most boat owners name their boats Obsession.
In the late nineties, a Japanese couple were not permitted by the authorities to name their son Akuma (meaning devil) and in New Zealand in 2002 a couple tried to name their child after a motorcycle gang.
The name Rupert is a Low German form of Robert (till here I knew). Robert means "bright fame", derived from the Germanic elements hrod "fame" and beraht "bright". That’s quite stupid no? How can you name someone "bright fame" when he is not famous yet? What if he decides to be a hermit? Will that make him famous too?
Back to art. An interesting article about naming art could be found here:

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Dealing with loss

Today was my second appearance on a local newspaper. This time it was on Gallarija, the Malta Independent on Sunday’s Supplement. Again there was a mistake. What’s been described as a Rupert Cefai’s painting is Bernard’s photograph called “it-Tuttu”. At least Knots is there, he is the only one that looks decent. My mother in law was so proud this morning – “ir-ragel tat-tifla gabuh fuq il-gazzetta xi hlew”. I am not sure if she was more thrilled to see me or the dog, but anyway, il-kunjata was happy.

Yesterday we organised and mounted our art works at the Café Diva. Started at 11:00am and finished at 6:00pm. It took six people, seven man-hours each to transport, organise and hang 40+ pieces of art. Nuts. So now everything is set for Thursday, or nearly so. Only one thing left – Guze Stagno knows what.

This thing of leaving my paintings there alone at night really worries me. What if they could not sleep? What if they feel cold? What if they start crying? Who will be there to give them comfort? Paintings are not like books that you can always keep a copy. Or like a photograph that you can reprint. I am not judging the artistic value of different media its just that once you sell a painting its gone. You have sold your creation, your child, and its no longer there. Any ideas how to cope with such loss?

Friday, May 06, 2005

Triple bill

This morning I just could not believe my eyes, I was there on page 6 of Showtime (Times of Malta art Supplement). With that bald round head with a glass of wine in hand…..oh the artist is cool. Apart from the fact that I never studied under Willy Apap as claimed on the article (though I feel I am greatly influenced by his work) and nowhere did they mention the name of the exhibition and the dates from when till when, it was quite impressive to see a full page dedicated to the three of us (Gordon, Bernard and il sotto scritto). I was greatly impressed how awkward it feels to look at your own picture printed there on Malta’s daily newspaper in English.

My dog, Knots, was quite offended by the fact that he was cropped off the picture, and the rest, ie my head, was enlarged to fit the space. In comparison to the other two my head is twice as big – maybe I have become the Buras Guze mentioned this week.

Analysing the pictures, we look like three Mafiosi. In a deep and intellectual conversation with Gordon this afternoon we came to the conclusion that …..Gordon qisu qattiel u Bernard qisu tork tat-tarag. I look like one of those characters from a cheap mafia movie, or some sort of miami vice charachter but without hair.

For those of you unfortunate enough to have missed the Times this morning here is a link to the online version (and you can see Knots too, but without pictures of the paintings)

http://showtime.timesofmalta.com/article.php?id=793

Thursday, May 05, 2005

...and let there be light

having followed the blogs of Toni Sant, Robert Micallef, Guze Stagno and Immanuel Mifsud for the past few weeks i have decided to give it a go and have my own piece of mind shared with the rest of the world. As soon as i sat down to start writing (or is it typing?) I realised that this stuff is not easy. Its like staring at a blank canvas with a paintbrush in one hand and palette full of colours on the other. The limitless choice for subjects is overwhelming.

there is another dilemma, should i write in Maltese or English? though for the moment I have opted for english i reserve the right (as a maltese with a familja slimiza) to be bilingual......u mela z...... sur kappillan.

back to the canvas issue, lately I have read the book by Anna Held Audette "The Blank Canvas - Inviting the Muse" - one of those Lm1 books from Liz tal-Mosta. Probably the best ktieb tal-lira I have ever read. Any artists suffering from dry spells should try and get hold of a copy. The book opens with a quote from Ernst Gombrich...

Seeing depends on knowledge
and knowledge, of course, depends on your college
but when you are erudite and wise
what matters is, to use your eyes.

though I do not know what erudite means (sa araldajt nasal) I will try to use my eyes for subjects to write about on this blog.

and another thing.... I doubt if I'll ever be able to write every day but i'll try to post regularly