(Visit My Sweet Canary YouTube Channel)
It was a dream of mine to share the unique heritage of Jewish-Greek culture in my city. I saw a great opportunity when the film "My Sweet Canary" began their North America tour. An event which links the history with our very own Greek Rembetika band, The Rembetika Hipsters.
After extensive correspondence with Roy Sher, filmmaker of "My Sweet Canary" and the Greek Community and Hellenic Society of Calgary, I finally contacted the Rembetika Hipsters band, our local Rembetika music.
Here's what bandleader Allan Baekeland had to say:
"This is a fantastic idea...I'm not sure you're going to get a lot of help from the Greek community. There is a degree of ambivalence and even hostility towards rembetiko music amongst the local Greeks...unsavoury lyrics about drugs and criminal behavior, its Turkish origins, etc...I think we can get a good size audience for such an event in the fall."
I am sitting around a table at the Kehila Kedosha Greek Synagogue in Lower East Side Manhattan. This is the last remnants of Greek Jewish culture in the area. I am with my extended Greek Jewish family, dining upon some traditional delights. There is some argument at play. My grandfather stands out among the crowd, somehow dissatisfied. In my reflection, I see the argument revolves around the ancestral name. Did our name change upon immigration? In order to find the answer I travel outside of the synagogue, outside of the city limits to a small hut, in which an American hermit, living out in nature in a small, ramshackle hut often recurs as a returning dream-character. When I arrive to his hut, he greets me graciously. I ask about how to attain filtered water without a filter, after which he points me in the direction of a stream. Unaware, I lead the way and find that his once-densely forested nature hermitage is now interspersed with half-destroyed concrete buildings and functioning industrial office rooms. I enter one of the offices to let people know we are here to understand how to filter water without a filter, they look at me ignorantly and distractedly brush me off. The hermit then leads me to a stream, where the water is rushing clear as a cloudless sky through a gorgeous array of stones. I feel I’ve found what I’ve been after, but there is more, now faded into the forgetfulness of day.
widening, the open mountain
crevasse of grandfather's memory
"God's country west"
Washington is there
"is he in you?"
- excerpt from "on the importance of clothes..."