Tuesday, April 08, 2008


it has been more than a week since izmir lost to milano in a contest over where the expo 2015 mega trade fair will be hosted.

like a football meet, the loss was accepted, logged and forgotten. not one line appeared, not one word was uttered; -as if something shameful had happened-, about why it was milano that won and how come izmir was beaten... except, of course, the regular confusion of technics and tactics with long term, meaningful strategy and policy: we missed the chance because the foreign ministry did not work well, propaganda was aimed at the wrong agents, african delegates that constituted the majority were neglected and so on...

let's do a necropsy on the dead horse we got at our doorstep, then:

first and foremost, milano is a real city; izmir is an inflated third-and-a-half-world settlement, splattered by hazard on a fine geography like fresh cow manure. she is an overgrown village dressed like a town. she is confusing and confused, unplanned, abused, unwieldy and ugly. she is the perfect concrete canyon, ripped off from the sea, arteries congested, life spaces choked, condemned to the car, dirty, unkempt and exhausting. izmir is a place that holds, without even putting it on, an urban garb agaisnt her deformed peasant's body. a front without depth.

the aerial propaganda photos of izmir for the expo showed hectares of buildings heaped upon each other. no greenery, no parks, no recreational breathing spaces, no tribute at all to nature - with the sole exception of graveyards and the "culture park" that houses the annual izmir fair since the 1930s. slab after slab after slab of ugly concrete marks the landscape otherwise.

izmir's cultural contribution to turkey - leave alone the globalizing world - is scant. alarmingly few poets, lettrists, artists have originated from izmir in the latter days at least - and that, through istanbul. the country's third largest settlement of no less than three million is hardly even mentioned in the news unless because of some atrocious crime or accident, or events that are projections of ankara or istanbul.

izmir is a seven millenia old city. except for its badly spoilated citadel and few-and-far-between small stone houses of yesteryear, one would think it was built yesterday.

on the day the balloting was to be held in paris, the republic square in the rather posh part of town, was filled to the brim with people, merry making, listening to the pop stars and other showpersons that were "sending izmir's message to the delegates". that was not all, a lot of "ambassadors", from the president himself to brazilian football stars playing in turkish teams were involved in the parade to make izmir the location of choice. some delegates in paris, too, had to undergo or endure -what, to me, is an ordeal- plenty of folk dancing as well as a staging of "anatolian fire", a so called modern dance recital that somehow turks came to love - although, considering the nation's affinity with suıch occupations as the ballet, little comment seems to be necessary. oh, and not to forget, some two thousand or so paid persons officially joined the campaign to lure the expo to izmir.

staging multi million dollar shows, although more for home consumption that persuasive propaganda apparently did not wash over being a real city with permanent physical and cultural attractions that appeal to real people. but it certainly was easier.

the expo failure is now forgotten for good. nobody of any might or effect will ever probe into it again. and should a similar opportunity, say the olympics, should befall the way of any turkish city (?), the powers that be will only try to bring in more singers, louder drummers, more colored folk dancers and maybe, a few african footballers this time - just in case.

third-and-a-half-world means always running tangent to rationality.

oops, by the way, the highway that circles milano, with its astral geographical layout, its constellated combination of the arondissement and grid city plan, the road that gets you near anywhere in the urban area is called the "tangentziale". some things are never same, are they?

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