Another General Update


I was invited to a concert at the conservatory early last week by Ani, the pianist I’d met at the performance of Beethoven’s 4th last month at the opera house (she’s the sixth from the left, looking to her right).  It was a mixture of (relatively) “modern” pieces, mostly Messiaen as well as Boulez, Schoenberg, Berg,  and one or two Georgian composers, and core repertory stuff—Bach, Chopin, Ravel, Brahms.  It was an interesting performance: it was subtitled “Instrumental Theater”, with one piece linked to the next by transitional music—flutes, strings, drums—as the first pianist would leave and the next seat him or herself, with the lighting dept. creatively modifying the ambiance on stage.  The epilogue, Chopin’s elegiac, mercurial Nocturne op. 27 no. 2, was played (by Ani) completely in the dark.  The playing was excellent, and the program thoughtfully put together.  A good night out.


A little get-together at Ben & Ian’s (also known as Inibini’s).  Mats is a Swedish free-lance photographer, also working for Swedish radio, who was staying at Ben’s for about a week, before he left for a tour of the Middle-East.  On the right is Shaman, who also sofa-surfed at Ben’s for a while.  As I may have mentioned, he’s a bizarre but interesting guy; his father is Scottish, his mother from Bhutan, and he appears to have grown up in France.  From what we can gather, he floats around Tbilisi, staying at various people’s houses, reading people’s palms for a few lari, and does various artistic projects.  He recently made a video of a song of his, which is on YouTube.  A little while ago we had some friends over (at Inibini’s), and he was prevailed upon to read Marika’s palm.  With no sense of irony, he held her hand open before him, his intense but heavy-lidded gaze fixed mostly on her face, and in a serious, heavily French-accented voice asked various questions, and made a number of suggestions.  The whole thing seemed a total charade to me, but Marika was tolerably impressed; he would ask what books she was reading at the

Shaman reading Marika's palm

Shaman reading Marika's palm

moment (Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man), and ask what idea or phrase struck her.  From this he would suggest something quite different but in some convoluted way linked with it: he said something about green pearls, and about elegant china, which she would soon encounter, and when she did, she would have to make some decisions about the kind of person she wanted to be.  A charlatan, clearly, but not without a certain psychological insight—he managed to convince Marika that he had tapped into some esoteric plane on which her future was inscribed.  He’s also something of a womanizer; he’s a striking looking guy, despite the large mass of shaggy wool into which he’s let his hair congeal, and he has a certain, to me unmistakeably Gallic, affectation of composure and superciliousness that some women might find fascinating.  A surprising number of Georgian women I’ve met say they’ve met him, usually in the context of a subtle but insistent seduction.  One woman told me that he’d come up to her in the street, and asked to use her phone, since his wasn’t working; he dialed a number that didn’t respond, thanked her, and left.  It turned out that he’d dialed his own mobile so that he could see her number; later he called her, and said something like “Why haven’t you phoned?  Don’t you want to see me anymore? You left such an impression on me and I want to see you!”  The perplexed woman, having no idea who it was, tried first to figure out who it might be, but finally hung up.  But I dare say it works with many others.

Denis Jones at the London Pub

Denis Jones at the London Pub

Went to the London Pub with a friend last week and saw this fellow performing.  It’s a terrible picture, but the playing was fantastic; he’s from Manchester, tall and lanky, with a full beard that makes him look like a young and nervous Lytton Strachey.  At his feet he had an array of pedals and buttons and dials, and to his left a large mixing board.  He’d start by recording some riff or rhythm on his guitar, sometimes adding a beat from his computer, looping it, adding another, then another, perhaps a vocal loop, then another guitar bit, until the texture was incredibly complex, musically interesting, melodic, and intensely emotive.  Once the whole thing was in motion, he’d sing his song over it all, still strumming or soloing on his guitar.  Outstanding.  Other songs were simply his voice, high and flexible and expressive, and his guitar, bluesy, gritty, fantastic.  He has a MySpace page, worth checking out.

Also went to the demonstration in front of the parliament last week.  It was an

Rally at the parliament

Rally at the parliament

opposition rally generally vilifying Saakashvili as well as commemorating the demonstration on the same day last year that turned ugly: police shooting tear-gas and rubber bullets, demonstrators throwing bottles and stones, and a number of people were injured.  It was more sedate this time, with nothing really untoward happening; somewhere between 5,000-6,000 people showed up at the square in front of the parliament, blocking Rustaveli (the main traffic artery in downtown Tbilisi) and making a festive commotion.  A surprising number of pensioners—Saakashvili has been promising various reforms, and things have apparently become better in the past few years, but they’re still unsatisfied with their rally31paltry pensions, which amount to something like $50 a month.  A number of well-known opposition politicians were also present, including their leader Levan Gachachiladze, a burly fellow dressed in a track-suit and looking like he’d just come from the gym.  As he walked through the crowd towards the speaking platform (a small truck parked in the middle of the square with one side of it torn off), people massed toward him and reached toward him to shake his hand.  (WordPress is once again making life difficult by insisting on uploading the picture askew—I’ve rotated it every which way and then tried uploading it again, but it always comes out this way…Wordpress should address this issue!).  I was interested to see a good number of the foreign media there, including WDR, here interviewing Gachachiladze.  Germans, British, American, Japanese—quite a lot of interest in the demo.  Here are some more pics:



I was interested to see a lot of support for Obama…


…as well as the odd traditionalist….apologies once again for WordPress’s intransigence…



2 Responses

  1. Hey, look this shaman! This type guys bother me so much. I would have with him fight on any (I would find one) reason to seem more strange than he is, so he would never have idea to bother me again 🙂 But most georgian woman are patient 🙂

    Thanks for sharing link of musician form UK. nice and interesting.

    Pictures from Georgia makes me sad 😦 elderly people are seeking for a peace and end of the troubles. They have no idea! 😦 I think so, because of from them presented pictures. They want just peace and better life they deserve!

  2. Yes, the older generation in Georgia have a tough time. Sad to see so many of them working so hard for almost nothing… Hope things get better soon…

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