Friday, September 30, 2011


I remember the day it was time for me to report to the U.S. Air Force induction depot.  That was so very long ago.  I knew there was quite a trip ahead of me to the training base so I had some reading material in my pockets:  a New Testament, and "The Fire Next Time" by James Baldwin. 

"The Fire Next Time" is really two essays - "My Dungeon Shook — Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of Emancipation," and "Down At The Cross — Letter from a Region of My Mind."  In the book, Baldwin says “A vast amount of the Negro problem is the white man’s profound desire not to be judged by those who are not white, not to be seen as he is."  That rang a bell with me.

We've talked before about how it could be dangerous in those days to admit one's Croatian ancestry.  I could easily substitute in my head the words "A vast amount of the Croat problem is the anglo's profound desire not to be judged by those who are not anglo, not to be seen as he is."  Hmmmm, different but similar life experiences. 

Baldwin also said "We are controlled by our confusion, far more than we know, and the American dream has therefore become something much more closely resembling a nightmare, on the private, domestic, and international levels. Privately, we cannot stand our lives and dare not examine them; domestically, we take no responsibility for (and no pride in) what goes on in our country; and, internationally for many millions of people, we are an unmitigated disaster."  I didn't see that as a "Black" issue, but a wide spread issue becoming woven deep into the fabric of the country.

I was almost finished with the book when the bus arrived at the training facility.  The sergeant was Black and he was so very courteous at first.  "Empty your pockets please gentlemen," the man said, so I did.  Everyone did.  Men who had brought pocket knives and such were promptly relieved of those things.  The sergeant stopped and looked at my New Testament and my James Baldwin book and a frown furrowed on his forehead.  He looked me up and down.  "I'll have to take these," he said, "You are a thinker and that's not allowed here," and that was that. 
A line from the song "Oh Mary don't you weep, don't you mourn" was the source of the title of Baldwin's book.

God gave Moses the rainbow sign
No more water, but fire next time.

The title of his first essay came from another couplet
The very moment I thought I was lost
The dungeon shook and the chains fell off.

I was familiar with the song because me and my friends we sang the song in the fields and in the churches.  The choir at Riverside Baptist over on Wheeler Avenue in Houston, Texas could really belt it out all swaying with the music and everything.
Oh Mary, don't you weep, don't you mourn
Oh Mary, don't you weep, don't you mourn.
Pharoah's army got drownded
Oh Mary don't you weep.

If I could I surely would
Stand on the rock where Moses stood.
Pharoah's army got drownded
Oh Mary don't you weep.

Mary wore three links of chain
Every link was Jesus' name.
Pharoah's army got drownded
Oh Mary don't you weep.

One of these nights about 12 o' clock
This old worlds going to reel and rock.
Pharoah's army got drownded
Oh Mary don't you weep.

God told Moses what to do
To lead the Hebrew children through.
Pharoah's army got drownded
Oh Mary don't you weep.

Moses stood on the red sea shore
Smotin' the water with a two by four.
Pharoah's army got drownded
Oh Mary don't you weep.

God gave Moses the rainbow sign
No more water, but fire next time

Pharoah's army got drownded
Oh Mary don't you weep.

Mary wore three links of chain
Every link was Jesus name.
Pharoah's army got drownded
Oh Mary don't you weep.

The very moment I thought I was lost
The dungeon shook and the chains fell off.

Pharoah's army got drownded
Oh Mary don't you weep.

Anyway, "The Fire Next Time" came to mind today when the Texas Forest Service revealed this morning that as of today 3.8 million acres of land had been burned so far in the fires in Texas this year.  Let's work out what this means.  Montenegro has about 3.4 million acres.  More land in Texas has been burned away than a whole country.  Croatia has a little over 13 million acres so a space equivalent to thirty six per cent of Croatia has been burned away in Texas.  That's about thirteen percent of Serbia including the Vojvodinja which has been burned away.  If you just look at the Vojvodinija by itself that's about 60 percent of that place up in smoke and its a space about half the size of Bosnia or Kosovo more or less.  Got the picture?  The fires in Texas have burned vast areas this year.Pick a Balkan country - any Balkan country and fires of this magnitude would have be devastating.     Aren't you glad I didn't pick Cheech and Chong's "Up in Smoke" to illustrate my thoughts and feelings about all this?  Here is some one's version of "Mary Don't You Weep"
do sljedeći put, blagoslov - until next time, blessings,

Canovals a.k.a. Slavonac
30  Rujan 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Remembering our Vasilija ...

Vasilija Radojčić.  21 April 1936 - 25 September 2011. Buried in New Cemetary in Belgrade at 11:30 Wednesday 28 September 2011.  Predeceased by her husband Milan Đorđević of many years, Vasilija  is survived by her daughter Mirjana.  Valsilija sang not only Serbian traditional music but also the traditional songs of Makedonija and Bosnija. Sevdelinka will be poorer in the absence of her vocal talents. 

In all of her fifty-plus year career, Vasilija never sang in a bar. About this she said "I guess the songs I sang were not for ... banging glasses. Maybe they are afraid and to invite me because I was always represented in the media as a lady, a married woman ..."  Vasilija, your voice will be with us always.

Her first record was "Poletela sojka ptica."

Poletela sojka ptica prije vremena,
poletela sojka ptica prije vremena,
aj, gigano, prije vremena.

Pitale je drugarice: Zašto ne pevaš?
Pitale je drugarice: Zašto ne pevaš,
aj, gigano, zašto ne pevaš?

Pevala bi i igrala bi, al' mi car ne da,
pevala bi i igrala bi, al' mi car ne da,
aj, gigano, al' mi car ne da.

Imala sam jedno drago vrlo daleko,
imala sam jedno drago vrlo daleko,
aj, gigano, vrlo daleko.

Pisaću mu tužno pismo, tužno, žalosno,
pisaću mu tužno pismo, tužno žalosno,
aj, gigano, tužno žalosno.

Approximate english translation:
Sojka birds flew ahead of time,
Sojka birds flew ahead of time,
aj, Gigan, ahead of time.
Asked her companion: Why do not you sing?
Asked her companion: Why can you not sing,
aj, Gigan, why you not sing?
Sang and played to be, But my emporor is not that
sang and played to be, But my emporor is not that
aj, Gigan, But we is not that emporor.
I had one very much happy,
I had one very much happy,
aj, Gigan, very far.
Writing a letter to him sad, sad, sad,
Writing to him letter sad, sad sad,
aj, Gigan, sad sad.


do sljedeći put, blagoslov - until next time, blessings,

Canovals a.k.a. Slavonac
29 Rujan 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Then there came ...

"Then there came along some Yids, and when they saw the fire, came up to the children and asked them what they were doing there and whether there was anyone with them, and when the children had told them what and how, the Yids told them to go along with them, saying that they would have a fine time at their house. The children agreed and went with the Yids, and the Yids took them to their house. They didn't have anyone else at home, only their mother, and when they came home, they shut the boy up to get fat and made the girl a servant to their mother. One day, when the boy had been well fed and was fat, the Yids went out on some errand and told their mother to roast him, and then when they came home in the evening from their work, they would eat him..." 
We hear this story from Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic in "Civuti", Srpske narodne pripovjetke, ("Yids" in "Serbian folk tales") 1853.

From "O jevrejskom pitanju u Srbiji" ("The Jewish question in Serbia") which Nikola Jovanovic wrote back in August 1878 we hear:   "...Europe has forced the Hebrews on us for us to grant them in our country all the rights that we have acquired and enjoy. But that the Jews or any non-Serb elements should have the same right as those native to Serbia, we challenge and deny."  Ten to twelve percent of the population of the territory of Serbia were Croats, who, in other words, as non-Serbian elements, along with Jews and Roma and Vlaks and whoever else was there, were to have no rights according to this fellow.

At the opening of the twentieth century, Milan Obradovic, a Serb journalist in Bjelovar wrote a pamphlet entitled: "How the Jews have for forty years deceived the wretched and ignorant Croats, that they are Croats of the Mosaic faith and thus have enslaved them, frustrated them politically, sucked them dry materially, cramming all the Croatian money into their own tills and pockets." 

Bjelovar.  This fellow lived in Bjelovar which is in Croatia and yet he writes: "wretched and ignorant Croats?"  Uh huh.  Jup, that's what what he wrote.  Just a dumb question - if I'm a non-Serbian element not worth of rights in Serbia, what is this Serbian fellow doing in MY HOME, in the region of my ancestors? Explain to me this, please.  I'm not angry about him being there, but please explain to me  this.  I don't understand.

What does this have to do with the music of Croatia?  It has a lot to do with our music.  Where is the music today from our "Mosaic Croatian brothers"?  Where is it?  Can I hear this music to make up my own mind do I like it or not?  Play this music please.  I wish to hear it just to know how it sounds.  Why do I not have this freedom to hear this poetry and this music played and sung by my "Mosiac Croatian brothers."  Who took this freedom away from me?  I thought I was free, but, maybe not.  Not yet. 

The Englishman on BBC during the Homeland War said something along the lines of 'They bomb our graveyards, they bomb our churches, they bomb our orphanages, they bomb our libraries as if to erase any knowledge that we ever existed.'  If I don't have it word for word exactly as he said it, please don't raise a fuss, you know it was words very much like those and the facts were very much like those words.  At every holiday and every memorial day we run around yelling and writing "Ne zaboravite!"  (No forget).  

No forget. Don't forget.  But we have already forgotten.

It's like someone has chopped off your arm with an axe.  Then they swing the axe at your head but they don't succeed in chopping off your head.  So then, you go around saying "I will never forget!, Ne zaboravite. Nikada" when you talk about the strike aimed at your head, but you don't miss your arm. You've already forgotten all about your arm.   

We have have forgotten.  

As long as we have forgotten, the men who declared that we Croats, as "non-Serb elements" should have no rights,  as long as we have forgotten, the men who called us "wretched and ignorant", have won.  They have won and we do not have our country back.  As long as we have forgotten, we are not yet free.  Worse, as long as we have forgotten, they are right, we are wretched and ignorant.

We must remember.  We cannot to forget.  We must not to forget.  

Sviraj, moj brat, sviraj.  kad  čujem vaša glazba svira, ja ću biti slobodan.
Ne zaboravite. Nikada!

Play, my brother, play.  When I hear your music playing, I will be free.
Don't forget.  Never!

do sljedeći put, blagoslov - until next time, blessings,

Canovals a.k.a. Slavonac
19 Rujan 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

He is dead. Thanks God.

He is dead. Thanks God.  
As for me, I doubt that I should much look forward to such an epitaph, yet there it is:  On je mrtav. Hvala Bogu.

There is a small fact most Croatians who live in Croatia do not know.  Perhaps most Croatians in the world don't know this either.  Most Croatians do not live within the borders of  Croatia.  We probably never have.  There are rather a lot of us and the greater number live in North America, especially in the United States. Dear reader, if you are not Croatian, the chances are that you have met one of us.  If you go to church at all you know some of our music.  Bach was one one of us.  He was a Croat - a Croat in the diaspora.  Earlier, in another blog, I related my response to the Croatian Embassy noting that " identifying one-self as Croatian, could be dangerous, not only in Yugoslavia, but even in the United States."  Until perhaps a decade or so after Croatia became independent, for the most part, we remained silent and invisible.  There was often a price to pay if you did not keep your mouth tightly sealed.  None-the-less Croatia is dear to us.  It is Home.  

And, as much as Hrvatska is Home, so is Texas, so is San Francisco, so is New Orleans, so is Madison, so is Seattle, and so is the United States - home.  We see little, if any, conflict in that matter.  For the Croatian-Texan, the notion is easy to see.  Alone, unique among the States of the United States, the proper manner in which to fly the red, white, and blue of the Texas flag is side by side as an equal nation with the red, white, and blue of the United States flag.  Teksikans serve in the United States military and see no problem with that.  

Now that you have a glimmer of understanding about that, bear in mind that several administrations in Washington past, the Federal Bureau of Investigations uncovered a plot for an "insurrection in Texas" and promptly dispatched a horde of armed agents to to deal with the matter probably as efficiently as they had dealt with such a matter earlier near Waco resulting in the deaths of women and children. As much as Texans did not like what was going on in the compound in Waco, when the children died we felt mighty grim.  Just don't go killing our babies.  Just don't.  We don't like it none.  When the matter of this "insurrection" came up, the Governor of Texas requested that the FBI withdraw and let him handle the matter.  I believe what the Governor said was something like "Go 'way, go way fast," and they went away fast.  They had crossed that invisible boundary line into the sovereign business of the State of Texas.  The Governor sent a single unarmed ranger up to the hills to talk to the old man who was at the helm of the "insurrection."  The fellows drunk some whiskey and they drunk some coffee.  Don't go tellin' me that I should have written "the fellows drank ,,,"  Unh uh, they drunk it.  Trust me, they drunk it and they threw the tin cans they drunk out of into the camp fire and the matter was settled.  It used to be that pert near every one's pickup truck had a "Republic of Texas" bumper sticker.  Now you can't find those bumper stickers no more, dang it!  Even so, the red, the white, and blue flies side by side with the red, the white, and the blue.  That's how it is.  

We Croatian - Americans have in our hearts the red, the white, and the blue flying side by side with the red and the white and the blue.  We stand at attention when the "Star Spangled Banner" is played and a tear might leak from our eyes while we sing it.  We stand at attention when the Lijepa naša domovino is played and a tear might leak from our eyes while we sing it.  God help us if there is ever an important soccer match between the Croatian team and the American team.  The whole stadium would probably cheer for both sides all during the game.  Can you imagine the noise?

In the first session of the 102 Congress, on September 19, 1991, Mr. D'Amato, Mr. Dole, Mr. Glenn, Mr. Pell, Mr. Gore, Mr. Nickles, Mr. Pressler, Mr. Riegle, and Mr. Seymour introduced a bill into the Senate of the United states entitled "To restrict United States assistance for Serbia or any part of Yugoslavia controlled by Serbia until certain conditions are met, and for other purposes."

The bill cites: 
"The Congress makes the following findings: 
(1) In 1990, the republics of Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, and Bosnia-Hercegovina held free and fair elections.
 (2) In 1990, the republics of Serbia and Montenegro held elections which were not free and fair.
(4) Since the Declaration of Independence by the Republic of Slovenia on June 25, 1991, more than 100 people have been killed, including civilians, by the Serbian-controlled Yugoslav federal army.
 (5) Since the Declaration of Independence by the Republic of Croatia on June 25, 1991, more than 500 people have been killed, including many innocent civilians, by the Serbian-controlled Yugoslav federal army and Serbian guerrillas.
(6) The Serbian-controlled Yugoslav federal army is actively using both ground and air forces in Croatia to attack the citizens that they are constitutionally bound to protect.
(11) The Serbian-controlled Yugoslav army's invasion into Croatia constitutes an illegal effort to alter the borders of Yugoslavia by force.
 (12) The leaders of the Serbian republic and the Serbian-controlled Yugoslav army are pressing an unacceptable agenda in an effort to hold onto power and privilege."

The bill was was read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations where it mouldered for a long long time.  We wondered why the American government didn't seem to mind that thousands of Croatian men, women, and children were being slaughtered and that did create a conflict in our hearts because our lady who wears a blue skirt and red blouse with a white sash and her children are dear to us.  Don't go killing our babies.  We don't like it.  We don't like it none.

The answer is simply that "Lawerence of Serbia" was at work.  According to Wikipedia "Lawrence Sidney Eagleburger (August 1, 1930 – June 4, 2011)[2] was an American statesman and former career diplomat, who served briefly as the United States Secretary of State under President George H. W. Bush. Previously, he had served in lesser capacities under Presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush. Eagleburger is the only career Foreign Service Officer to have served as the United States Secretary of State."  Under Nixon he was assistant to Henry Kissenger.  Under Carter he was ambassador to Yugoslavia.  He was advisor to Bush for south east European matters.  When Eagleburger denied that Serbian paramilitaries and the Yugoslav National Army had committed atrocities in the breakaway republic of Croatia, the European Press nicknamed him Lawrence of Serbia.

Lawerence of Serbia also served on the International Commission on Holocaust Insurances Claims. According to which covers Jewish matters in the San Francisco area, on June 8, 2001, Waxman, congressman from Los Angeles said the commission was poorly managed.  Lots of money was flowing, but not to the survivors of the Holocaust.  

Does it surprise you to know that Eagleburger, Brent Scowcroft and former Ambassadors to Belgrade John Scanlon, along with Ambassador Warren Zimmerman spoke Serbian among each other in US Security Council meetings?  Does it surprise you that Eagleburger knew Slobodan Milošević when Milosevic was still a banker?  House Banking Committe Chairman Henry Gonzales from Texas, pointed out the connections between Eagleburger and the Serbs.  First there is Ljubljanska Banka, and Global Motors/Yugo of America, a subsidiary of the Yugoslav arms maker Zavodi Crvena Zastava on whose boards Eagleburger served and, acting as a consultant for them was compensated millions of dollars.  Milošević tells us that he became friends with his buddy Eagleburger while he served on the board of Beobanka in Belgrade.   Now does it surprise you to learn that Eagleburger testified against the bi-partisan bill introduced into the Senate?

Does it surprise you that this same fellow wrote in the Washington Times on 8 December 2008 "We believe U.S. policy on Kosovo must be re-examined without delay, and we urge the Bush administration to make it clear that pending the results of such re-examination it would withhold recognition of a Kosovo independence declaration and discourage Kosovo’s Albanians from taking that step."  I was ambivalent toward the Kosovo Albanians until I read who was opposing it.  Now I know and now I pray that God help my brothers in Kosovo to achieve their dreams of freedom.  The Amerikanski press often portrays the Kosovo matter as a conflict between Muslim Albanians and Christian Serbs.  This year I met a Christian Albanian who lives in Great Britain so guess what?  This is not about some wild haired jihad after all, is it?  Croatian troops are in Kosovo as part of the NATO force there.  I have a video on YouTube honoring Croatian forces who served in Afghanistan.  Several comments on my video wonder why Croatian soldiers are somewhere not Croatian.  When I first read those comments I understood them as being simply xenophobic like many Americans were during the Viet Nam matter.  I went back in the wee hours this very morning  and looked at those comments again, at who wrote them, and now I understand. Do I have to spell it out or do you understand too?  

Eagleburger claimed to be a "moderate" Republican.  Some Teksikan Republican commented one time that "moderate" usually means they do not believe anything.  Lawrence of Serbia seems not to have believed in anything but his bank account.  

Because of Eagleburger, the Americans did not step in decisively to assist Croatia until after the massacres at Vukovar, until after the massacres at Srebenica, until after the siege of Dubrovnik and other atrocities came to light.  If he were yet alive, I would say that Eagleburger should stand trial for the deaths of all these people - hundreds of thousands of them, but alas, he is dead.  Lawrence of Serbia is dead.  On je mrtav. Hvala Bogu.

do sljedeći put, blagoslov - until next time, blessings,

Canovals a.k.a. Slavonac
14 Rujan 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


CJ, Clary, Cider, and Guinness, and Theodore and Teddy all remembered my birthday in a special way this year.  I liked that.  The youngest daughter did too.  I liked that too. So did a lot of my old classmates from high school years ago.  Marijan and Marina and Tatanja and Andrej and Gregor and a bunch of others from Home came by to say for sretan rodjendan too.  Altogether there may have been a hundred or so well wishers for my sixty-fifth birthday. Nice. Mucho dobro.  

My parent's daughter sent a card in which she commented on the photo I was using for whatever reason as my Facebook profile at the time.  She said "I see you have been fishing."  Yup.  Mmmm hmmm, I was impressed.  She wanted me to believe she was keeping abreast of my life.  She had been there three years ago Gospodin M. and I had stopped in for a few days with Tata before we wandered off to the Sabine pass where a boat was waiting for us.  A few weeks later a hurricane had struck the area we passed through.  No more little coastal fishing towns, no more boat.  

After the hurricane, all that remained of that little expedition were the memories, some memories of what came next (about which you already may have read in my last blog) and that blooming photograph of me and that fish.  I did not even have my beard back yet in that photo.  I was clean shaven at that time which in my clan means I was "available."  I am fully bearded now.    

Now look what I have done.  I wandered off the trail out into the forest somewhere so let's get us back on the trail.  The youngest daughter married with a really fine fellow.  He only had one flaw that I could find.  Sometimes he would poke my ribs a little about me being Croatian.  His family were Austrian, you see, the master race, at least the masters of Croatia in the Hapsburg days.  There was only thing, he said, that he could not understand.  He knew his family had come from a town in Austria with a seaport, but as far as he could tell, Austria is landlocked.  How could his family have come from an Austrian seaport town when there are not any.  I asked him what is name of their city.  He responded, "Split."  Mystery solved.  I showed him where on the map is Split. Of course, its right there in plain view on the map - on the Jadrana in Croatia. 

When his family had arrived in Texas, their passport showed that they were from the Österreichisch-ungarisches Reich - or simply Austria on Texicaneese.  That's a language I haven't mentioned before - its the english that Teksikanski speak when they are not speaking on teksikanski jezik.  Until after World War I, most Croats arriving in Texas came on papers from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and so they were often just called Austrians.

After World War I, things changed.  Their paper work said these new immigrants were from "Yugoslavia."  It didn't do anyone any good to try to say "I am Croatian."  The average Teksikan looked at the map and there was no Croatia anywhere to be found.  He might however however find "Yugoslavia."  Please understand that most Texans can find the nearest Walmart and that is about the extent of their geographical knowledge. 

I graded papers for a professor at Concordia University, Austin.  There was one question always on his final examinations - "The capitol of the Roman Empire was
a. Berlin 
b. Moscow
c. Philadelphia
d. Rome 
e. none of the above,
please circle the correct answer." 
The vast majority of his students chose anything but "Rome" for the capitol of the Roman Empire.  So where was a Croatian from?  Even if someone said "I am Croatian," behind his back people said "he's from somewhere in Yugoslavia.  Most Croatians who arrived in North America just shrugged their shoulders and said "we are from "Yugoslavia."

How did Croatians come to be submerged in "Yugoslavia?"  Before the fall of Austria, Hungary, or Germany, the Croatian Sabor or Parliament met in Zagreb on October 29, 1918, to declare "the Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia" to be a free and independent state. The Hapsburg Crown recognized Croatia and transferred the fleet to the Croatian government on October 31st 1918.  At 18:44 the following day the Royal Italian Navy sank the Croatian dreadnaught Viribus Unitis.  Almost at once the Italian, French and French African forces invaded from the west and Serbian troops invaded from the east.  On the first of December 1918, Serbian Prince Alexander announced the formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes ruled from Belgrade.  For the first time in at least thirteen centuries, the traditional Croatian institutions of Ban and Sabor were swept away by foreign armies bent on making Croatia and Croatians disappear from the face of the earth.

The American delegation to the Paris Peace talks in 1919 commented on the revision of Wilson's famous Fourteen Points noting that "An internal problem arises out of the refusal of the Croats to accept the domination of the Serbs of the Serbian Kingdom...The United States is clearly committed to the programme of national unity and independence. It must stipulate, however, for the protection of national supports a programme aiming at a Confederation of Southeastern Europe."  In other words, to protect the Croatian nation it was necessary to destroy it. There was no vote of the Croatian people about their future.   

Milan Sufflay was murdered by King Alexander's secret police.  Albert Einstein and Heinrich Mann joined in the international chorus of condemnation of the regime. The New York Times of May 6, 1931 quotes them:  "The facts show that cruelty and brutality practiced upon the Croatians only increase... Murder as a political weapon must not be tolerated and political Serbian murderers must not be made national heroes."  Just two years before Stjepan Radic had been publicly murdered by a deputy of the Serbian parliament and Alexander had outlawed political parties and begun the persecution of the Jews and Roma in the lands he controlled.   By August 1942, the Serbian government would proudly announce that Belgrade was the first city in the New Order to be Judenfrei or "free of Jews." Only 1,115 of Belgrade's twelve thousand Jews would survive.

After the communists left in the 1990s, mass graves were uncovered in Slovenia and in Croatia.  Hundreds of thousands had been butchered and their bodies hidden.  Neither the Russians nor the British nor the Americans wanted these graves found but the voice of the truth welled up from the caverns in the midst of the earth.  So then, who are the "Yugoslavs?"  I suppose they are the mythical denizens of a mythical land somewhere in Thackeray's "Rose and the Ring."

Jugoslavia isn't.  Croatia is.  Its that simple.

do sljedeći put, blagoslov - until next time, blessings,

Canovals a.k.a. Slavonac

13 Rujan 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

There was a time ...

Back in December 1995, in "Croatia Today," someone from the Croatian Embassy to the United States wrote "There was a time, not so long ago, when expressing the desire that Croatia be free, or identifying one-self as Croatian, could be dangerous, not only in Yugoslavia, but even in the United States."  Politicians and diplomats are sometimes so good with understatements. 

At the time I was born, no one much knew where the Croatian lands were.  But Croatians knew. Croatians all over the world in the diaspora knew.  We always have known.  The frustrating mystery to us was why no one else seemed to know.  We were invisible a lot of the time in those days.   I was not born in the Croatian lands.  I was born in the lands of the Este Mvskokvlke.

At the time I was born there, no one much knew where was the Este Mvskokvlke. Most people still do not know.  The Mvskoke knew.  Mvskoke everywhere knew.  The frustrating mystery to them was why no one else seemed to know.  They were invisible a lot of the time in those days.  The Mvskoke were not invisible to my father.  He was a professor in the only college designed to serve their people and he was a missionary to them as well.  Do you know what sofki is?  Or osofki?  I do. 

 Father learned their language.  Father spoke and preached and taught and sang with Mvskoke people on Mvskoke jezik.  While he encouraged the people to learn also english, he encouraged them to never abandon their heritage. Father was outraged when the Amerikanski sent agents to teach Ashiwi dances to Mvskoke people. It seemed to him that the Amerikanski government not only wanted the Mvskoke to be invisible but they perhaps wanted them to disappear altogether.  If you wonder why that today many of the Muskogee "stomp dance" songs sound awfully much like "ganga," well now you know. 

In the 1990's, after about a thousand years of foreign domination, our beloved Croatia began the journey back to freedom and democracy.  At the same time the Amerikanski stood out of the way after almost one hundred years and the Mvskoke began the same journey toward the rights and responsibilities of a sovereign nation. Beware invisible people.

Dr Wolff said I had polio.  He said I had to be in the hospital but I was going to die anyway in about six months.  My parents had lost one child to cholera and another to a miscarriage.  An assassin's bullet between the eyes of still another child made it's point. If I was going to die anyway they would pack me in ice to control the fever and just go daleko daleko and that's what they did.  I think some persons might have been disappointed but I lived.

Father told a story about how some lady the family knew went on and on about how it was that I walked funny.  Tata said that I walked before most kids learn to walk and so, if I walked funny, what of it?    A lot of kids who had polio in those years simply died, but I could walk.  Maybe I still walk funny and sometimes a bit slow, but I can walk and might even dance a little should the right partner wish.

By the second grade most of the other boys called me "jebeni Hrvat" and ran off to play on the far side of the playground during recess.  I knew that I was Hrvat, but at that age I had no idea what jebeni meant except that they probably didn't mean anything nice.  The teacher sat on her throne under the great spreading pecan tree with the girls at her feet where they lined up rocks to make the "walls" for the "house."  There they played with their baby dolls, and they needed a "daddy."  Most days they drafted me to be the daddy and I had to take care of the babies when they "went shopping."  Later on in life I would remember the training they gave me with a certain measure of gratitude.

One day the other boys came to kick the "house" down. We poured ashes from the burn pile on them and chased them away.  One of them, a boy with a false eye, challenged me to a duel about all that.  We would throw rocks at eat other until one of us surrendered.  If I won, all the guys would leave us alone.  If they won, they got to keep bothering all of us and they could keep calling me "jebeni Hrvat" whatever "jebeni" means.  He took his eye out ceremoniously and put it in his pocket.  We paced off twenty paces. The guys stood on the left side and cheered for him.  The girls stood on the right side and cheered for me.  I had no real idea about boys and girls at that age except that boys wore blue jeans girls wore dresses and smelled nicer, but if you think I didn't just love the fact that girls were cheering for me, think again.  With the girls beside me I was going to win this. 

The boys counted to three and we unleashed our first rocks.  Mine connected.  My rock hit him square in the eye where he had no eye.  He went down.  The teacher came running.  The mystery is - where was she while we were setting all this up?  I know that I was punished severely for my part in this.  I was not allowed to go to the far side of the play ground any more.   I was sentenced to stay close to her and play with the little girls for the rest of the year.  I know it was punishment from the tone of her voice as she announced this in front of all the children.  Hehe.  Some other time we will talk about my dear teacher and her husband who taught me about the printing press.

The next year we moved to another town.  I heard mother and dad talking about this move before we moved.  Tata wanted to be closer to other people who spoke.  He wanted me to hear our language from other people.  So there I was in the third grade at the Elementary School in the building that still stands across the Boling Highway from the Junior College.  You know, over there where the railroad track to New Gulf used to be.  It didn't take me long to be playing hopscotch with the girls.  I was tall enough to hold one end of the jump rope too so they kind of liked having me around.  It wasn't long before some fellow was calling me "jebeni Hrvat" and trying to hurt me.  I still didn't not know what means "jebeni." I ran.  I ran the best I could.  He caught me.  He knocked me down.  He pinned my leg and twisted.  I spent the rest of the third grade with that leg in a cast and using crutches to get around.  Mrs Zeidman usually gave me a ride over to the highschool where Tata taught chemistry and the sciences.  I shall always remember her with deep fondness and we may hear more about her later.  After I came off the crutches I walked over to the high school. 

One day, as I was crossing the tennis court, I heard those dreaded words again.  "Jebeni Hrvat!"  A kid came riding right up to my face on his bicycle.  He had a bow in his hand.  He strung and arrow on to the bow.  He said "ви сте мртви (you are dead)"  I didn't want to be dead so I picked his bike up by the front wheel, dumped him off on the ground, kicked him in such a place as he did not wish to fight more and proceeded to use my adrenalin to bend, maim, and otherwise destroy his bike.  Mrs Redding was the Superintendent of School's secretary.  Her sister saw the whole thing.  She called the police.  I never saw that boy again.  I heard later he went to reform school.  "Jebeni Hrvat" indeed!  It was a long time after that before anyone called me "jebeni Hrvat". 

I had around 60 years when I had some difficulty again.  There were some complications in my work place and there were some folk looking for whatever they could find to get rid of me.  The Rev Richard R  Goodwill was called in to mediate the matter.  Among his recommendations was that I go through "intensive evaluation" - code words for three days "psychiatric examination."  On the morning of the second day the Reverend Richard R Goodwill and the Rev. Dr. John Hirsch accused me of being a Bosnian terrorist.  The psychiatrist had a problem.  He was making money from Hirsch's employer from what the courts have since fairly routinely determined to be an abusive employment practice.  He suggested that a "counselor" back in my hometown take a look at me.  The next fellow wrote a letter to the effect that the only people who needed psychiatric help were the people who sent me to him. 

Bosnian Terrorist.  When I hear those words - I hear "Bosanski Ustaša."  First of all, a Bosnian is just another Croat who happens to be Muslim.  I am not Muslim.  I am a Christian.  I am a Lutheran Christian.  To say that a Lutheran church worker is Muslim is slander of the most ridiculous sort.  In a perfect world these two men would have already apologized.  It surely would have been nice.

The Ustaša part of what they said is pretty wild too.  I might think of some radical Bosnian as a Jihadist of some sort, but as Ustaša?  Unlikely.  Ustaša means "up-riser" and really isn't a bad word except that it has deep roots into the so called "Ustaša" or Nazi movement during World War II.  Again, serious slander I suppose, and just another way to call me a "jebeni Hrvat."

Yes, "There was a time, not so long ago, when ... identifying one-self as Croatian, could be dangerous."  Mr Ambassador, I finally learned what "jebeni Hrvat" means on english and if that's what I am, then that's what I am.  And I can still walk too.

do sljedeći put, blagoslov - until next time, blessings,

Canovals a.k.a. Slavonac

12 Rujan 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Nikada ne zaboravimo

Nikada, nikada, ne zaboravimo.  Nikada.  Never, never, we do not forget.  Never.  How can we forget?  How can I forget?

In early August was "Encuentro".  What a Croatian American was doing at a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Hispanic Pastor's Conference in Orlando Florida is perhaps one of those stories for another day.  Being with old friends from all over North America was fun.  Carole, my wife, was with me.  We hadn't had a vacation in five years so we plotted to take advantage of the few hours we were scheduled to have alone.  She had bought new clothes for Encuentro.  Hehe, she had bought new little black things too.  We even took a few  "cheese cake" photos.  Nothing you couldn't let your mother see, but cute.  Carole had the cutest one blown up to poster size and had it framed to hang in my home office.  It was on my wall for years.  

That picture is in a cardboard tube and went for "safekeeping" afterward with my parents daughter.  She won't give it back now.  I probably don't need it back, but [expletive deleted] its not hers.  It was private.  May the gnats from ten thousand donkeys behinds bite that obstinate evil woman's nose for eternity. 

Word came on 25 August.  Lorraine died.  Lorraine was Roy's wife and she had been my friend.  Lorraine told me that she would rattle chains any time I tried to sleep if I ever left my post.  We were scheduled to use Lorriane and Roy's condo on Otok Jug Otac starting that very day.  We couldn't do it.  As things turned out, we never stayed in their condo by the beach again.  I tried to spend a few days there later, but ,,, sigh ...

Labor Day came.  Mother was fading.  We ran like bats out of hell down the highway only to find that the San Bernard River was above flood stage.  So was Dance's Bayou and the Linville Bayou.
The road into the farm was impassable.  I could not get to my mother but in a manner of speaking she came to me.  Mother had always wanted to ride in an "army truck."  Her final ride from the "farm" was on an army truck with eight foot wheels which could traverse the flood waters.  Her funeral was early the next week.

Tuesday the following week it was almost time for me to leave for the office.  Carole called to me with panic in her voice.  She just pointed at the TV.  Something had happened.  They ran it again.  It was awful.  

Today is that day plus ten years.  We had prayers about all this at church this morning.  CJ found some footage neither of us had seen before.  It's still just plain awful.  

The following week in 2001 a barge filled with gasoline ran into the San Isabella causeway in the night.  Cars plummeted from the road into the dark dark water and people died. I knew some of them.   Friends were stranded on the Island for weeks.

The following week Carole was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  They said she had three days to live.  Five years later she died.  

I noticed last night that all my Muslim YouTube friends had disappeared.  Was it because they discovered my vocation?  Perhaps it because Muslims figured out that the tenth anniversary of 9/11 was not a good time to be around in public. Some of them had wanted to talk religion with me, but see, that's my job, my vocation,  but on YouTube for the most part I'm an entertainer, so I avoided any conflictual conversations.  As a matter of fact, most of my videos would even pass the the tenets of the Sharia, so I don't know what the matter is with these fellows.  I don't know.  Perhaps I will never know.  

Most of these fellows are Bosnians.  You know, our neighbors, our brothers, our kind. Its like they are Croats only Muslim. Yeah yeah yeah, someone is going to yell they have a lot of Turkish blood flowing in their veins. Sure, you bet.  The Turks came and took away half of Bosnia once upon a time and settled them in Anatolia.  The Turkish army that returned was largely Bosnian, so you mix Bosnian Muslims with Muslim Bosnians you get Bosnians not Turks - got it?  

The second of May 2011 is a date we should also not forget.  The day Bin Ladin finally met his date with death.  Seventy-nine days later at 8:24 Am,  up on the Fruška Gora at Krušedol (Крушедол Село) Goran Hadžić the butcher of Dalj, Erdut, Lovas, Stajićevo, Begejci, Tovarnik, Sremska Mitrovica, and Vukovar was finally securely in the hands of law enforcement. 

We will never forget.  We do not forget Szigetvár.  We do not forget  Goliad and the massacre of our Polish brothers there.  We do not forget Bleiburg.  We do not forget Vukovar.  We do not forget the Twin Towers.  Never we will forget.  We will live.  We will put on our underwear one leg at a time and then our socks.  We will keep on going but we will never forget.   Nikada ne zaboravimo.  Nikada nikada nikada. 

What follows is not my video.  It was shown on HRT in Croatia and I cannot get the recording for myself  but peugeot255 has it along with a large number of other outstanding selections.

Stoj Grad

Stoji grad
Pod kišom čelika ognja i smrti
Gdje paklena sila svoj zadnji ples vrti
Stoji grad

Stoji grad
Vječan k'o narod ponosno stoji
I posljednje dane dušmanu broji
Vukovar, Vukovar

Iz majčinog krika sloboda se rađa
I uskoro bijela zaplovit će lađa
Do Sunca

Iz krvi i bola niknut će cvijeće
I nikada narod zaboravit neće
Stoji grad

Standing City
The American may wish to sing "New York" where the song has "Vukovar."  In both cases monsters plotted their destruction.  In both cases there was a "rain of steel and fire death."  In both cases "the forces of hell his last dance spins."  In both cases the monsters underestimated the moral fiber of the people.  Both cities stand.  I chose this song today as a testament to the strength of the people in both cities.

standing city
 Under the rain of steel and fire death
 Where the forces of hell his last dance spins
 standing city

 standing city
 Everlasting like the people standing proudly
 The last days of the enemies has
 Vukovar, Vukovar

 From the mother's scream freedom is born
 and will soon set sail white ship
 till the Sun

 From the blood and the pain will sprout flowers
 and let never forget the people never forget
 standing city

do sljedeći put, blagoslov - until next time, blessings,

Canovals a.k.a. Slavonac
11 Rujan 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011


I don't have television.  I did have it for many years, but no more.  One day I realized that I had not turned it on in over a year.  I had been paying for service I did not use for the sake of visitors who never came to see me.  If they had come, I would not have turned the television on.  I would have wanted to talk. 

The day I realized I did had not watched television in all that time was the one day I tried  to turn it on.  It did not work.  The signal converter for my satellite antenna was analog. The days of analog television in these parts were gone.  The satellite company had sent a "smart card" for the change over to HD digital television.  I did not want to look through the stack of unopened mail for that stupid "smart card."  I called the company and told them where they could stick that "smart card."  So that was that.  They still send me mail every week offering to reconnect my service.

I remember when television changed from black and white to color.  Everyone seemed to have to have color television no matter what it cost.  Hmpffff!  I had always watched television in  color.  I did not need a color television, but I had gone along then with that change like  all the other sheep in the Amerikanski flock, but no more. There was no television in our house when I was a kid.  We had books.  Some of them had  pictures in them.  I suppose most of those pictures were black and white too, but I  always saw them in color.  The books which had no pictures at all often had the more  vibrant colors.  These days I listen to books with CJ and the colors are the brighter  still
Colors. Colors are not just colors you know, colors are alive. Tata drew pictures in the  air with his voice.  White split.  A plume of white went back to the green and beyond.  Another plume became whiter still and the red followed not far behind. A plume of black  came rumbling from the dark as though trying to catch up.  All of them leaving a trail of daffodils in their wake.  From the knot to the cauldron across the rolling plains they had come davno davno. Deda had songs about how the old ones put their wives and their lives in great wagons then and traveled far to the red of the cauldron.  Deda had songs about almost everything.

A few times Deda shook me from my sleep early in the morning with a big grin on his face as he softly said "dolaze!"  Under the pretense of going squirrel hunting we went down by where once stood the old school that he had built on his land long ago. Owning the land upon  which the school sits and building the building is one way to guarantee that you will be  president of the school board.  The sound of children playing in the school yard had ended  decades before.  Now, except for the forlorn sounds of the creatures that prowled  before the first colors of the zora painted the forest which had grown up over a few decades, all was quiet.  Deda struck up his one stringed instrument and began to sing such songs that even the wolves lay down respectfully close by and listened.  There had once been a stand of walnuts by a spring in such and such a place.  They found another such place and again planted walnuts and daffodils as they always did. 

"ona orah hory
hikori san"

 They did business with merchants from Petro Varadan, Asmara Khand, Takṣa Khand (which all mean the same thing even though they are not the same place), as well as Gandhara, and with merchants from Hayastan and Vihara where davno davno in each place there had also once  been daffodils and walnuts.  Then came another dieing time.

"mornarice engleski
osjetljiv tremolirati"

The old ones left behind a mountain with their name and a town with their name and came away daleko daleko.  This time the wagons had had wings and flew across veliko more.

"žuti narcisa
rijeka potoka i vode kotača"

The song continued about fire and flight, wagons and roads, rivers and streams, walnuts and daffodils, always the daffodils.

The cauldron is still there and you can see it for your self if you want to see it.  Anyone can see it.  After World War II it was given a new name which seems a bit odd theses days because the name honored soldiers in whose country the cauldron is not but was.  Well, kind of was anyway.  They began as the Česká setina, the Czech Centurions, inside the Russian Empire.  Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, after whom Masarykova ulica is named in almost every major city in Croatia, was involved up to his neck with the Československá střelecká brigáda (Czech-Slovak Rifle Brigade) as they soon were called.  Leon Trotsky, the People's Commissar of War ordered the disarming and arrest of the Legion, thus betraying his promise of safe passage to Vladivostok.  Afterwards the Czechoslovak Legion used heavily armed and armoured trains to control large lengths of the Trans-Siberian Railway (and of Russia itself) during the Russian Civil War at the end of World War I before they were finally evacuated.  In 1923 the Czech Republic renamed the cauldron to Štít legionárov. 

In the meantime the Car fell. Back in "U RAJ NIJE PIVO" we discussed Ferdinand Maksimilijan Josip, Carskog izHrvataska and then of Meksiko, who came and went in almost in a twinkling of an eye.  Today's historians look at the Car with disdain.  Maksimilijan after all was a foreigner was he not?  He was an Austrian, probably German speaking, maybe since he was the Car Hrvatska he spoke some of a Slavic Language as well, but certainly not Spanish, so what was he doing in Meksiko anyway?  The official historians dismiss him without remembering that Maksimilijan's last words in this life were "¡Viva México!" 

The man who replaced him also spoke on Spanish as his second language.  His first language was Zapotec.  Hmmm, he was no more of "Spanish" descent than the Emperor.  On 19 June 1867, the rifle shots that rang out on the Hill of Bells killed the Car, the Carica's sanity, and the Mexican constitution which Benito Juárez swore to protect. Not only did Juárez refuse to allow Maksimilian's body to be sent home to his native land, he rejected titles of nobility, the church, the constitution and everything decent. José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz said "no."  The Constitution, you see, forbade re-election.  Amidst the Porfirio rebellion, Juárez died of a heart attack.

Porfirio ushered in the Nova Zora.  This was the era when Cars were Cars, nobles were nobles, knights were knights, bishops were bishops, and entrepreneurs were entrepreneurs. The new Car wore the grand Grand Cross of the Royal Hungarian Order of St. Stephen as had Maksimilijan and the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour from France. He was a knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus.  He wore the Star of the Imperial Order of St. Alexander Nevsky and the Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic.  He was a Grand Knight of Most Honourable Order of the Bath and in Joe's stash of yellowed old documents is his ancestor's invitation to the inauguration of José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz  as president of Mexico as the dawn rose on the twentieth century.

Like any enlightened Car of the period, taxes on business transactions were repealed.  Telegraph lines began to operate.  Railroads were constructed.  Payrolls blossomed. Prosperity began to show its face.  A middle class appeared. The Amerikanski began again to "lose" shipments of rifles and cartridges near the border.  25 May, 1911, Portfirio sailed quietly away from the maelstrom to France and the Mexican dream receded into the Mexican nightmare as the revolution began.

The revolution had already begun. Seven years later the Car was murdered. He and his wife and his children , the family doctor and the servants were shot.  The reign of terror had spread into Europe where it would remain for a long long time.  Lev Davidovich Bronshtein was a leading terrorist in Europe and in North Amerika.  Marijan, a cousin x number of time removed related tales of the battles fought in Brownsville between the colors.  They were the "Reds" and the "Whites" who were associated with Bronshtein, or Trotsky as he was also known.  Marijan worked for the Amerikanski government but in Teksas he was on his own for the most part.  Several times he found himself caught between the parties whereupon he had to shoot his way out.

Once he was assigned to "lose" rifles and cartridges across the border.  The Federales took some exception to that. He and his partner found themselves trapped on the Mexican side with the sheer cliffs leading to the Rio Bravo descending at their back and the Mexican Federal army at the fore.  There was nothing to do, he said, except to shoot his way out.  Marijan told me that he was assigned by the United States Secret Service to Francisco Villa, to protect the man at the same time General Pershing was supposedly hunting the man.  I might have dismissed his stories as the wild stories of an old man except the University of Texas mounted an expedition to the location he gave for this particular adventure.  There in the desert were the remnants of many Mexican uniforms, and an unmistakable pile of spent brass cartridges where Marijan had made his stand.

Adelita.  A song of the Mexican revolution.  Adelita - a song of the Russian Revolution.  Adelita was a favorite of the Serbian communists as well.  Hmmmm, and no wonder, the practice for the Russian revolution took place right here on the border between Teksas and Tamalipas.  I've been planning to do a video of the song Adelita.  Soon, soon I will do that.

Oh, Bronshtein?  Jaime Ramón Mercader del Río Hernández killed him on 20 August 1940 in Mexico. His aunt is buried underneath the altar of a church here.  Her name was Adelita.  That's all I'm saying. 
Štít legionárov is no longer Štít legionárov, nor is it Stalinov Štít, nor is it in Austria nor Hungary, nor Czechoslovakia, nor Poland any more.  (Did they move the blooming mountain? hehe) Never-the-less, the mountain is still the Kotol.  The mountain is the Cauldron and it will always be so as long as anyone sings "ona orah hory, hikori san" and daffodils bloom. 

do sljedeći put, blagoslov - until next time, blessings,

Canovals a.k.a. Slavonac
9 Rujan 2011