Good morning, America.
I woke up this morning not to any kind of “New America” but to an America that has finally allowed its baser instincts to chew through the leash on which they have been held for many years and take charge.
We usually think we don't have enough of it, as if it would suddenly run out. And sometimes time seems to stand still. We set ourselves appointments in time, deadlines in time, and sometimes allow ourselves a timeout.
The whole world has agreed to this arbitrary standard, as a means of segmenting our finite human sojourn on this planet. We have divided it up into a certain amount of months, weeks, days, and hours and we agree to allow it to reign supreme over all our activities. Time is a cruel master - it never bends to our needs and we are forever chasing after it.
While America is reeling and holding its head at the thought of Donald Trump as a possible 45th President of the United States, so too is Serbia biting its nails to see who will come out on top of the extraordinary one-party elections coming soon to this country.
I think you see where I am going with this...
Not everyone makes a New Year’s resolution – except maybe as a joke. The Resolution is a promise made to yourself, the universe, and anyone standing near enough to hear and bored enough to listen, about something you would like to do differently in the year to come.
On December 23rd, my latest book, Grumpy in Belgrade: The Prehistory, will hit bookstores all across Belgrade. Impact craters from the collision are expected to form along Knez Mihailova. Please alter your routes accordingly.
The new book, which exists now in the future, is all about the past - the prehistory of my Serbian sojourn. The pieces collected in the new volume of grumpiness were written between 2002 and 2006 - just before I began posting them here on B92.
My routine had all the usual morning hiccups associated with my as yet decaffeinated state: I dropped the spoon while making my coffee; I found a dark thread on my white bathrobe, which it seemed I had inadvertently put on inside out; the butter knife slipped from my hand mid-toast; reaching for it, I hit the bread and overturned it; I took a new piece of bread (and new knife) and re-booted. Thus reconfigured, I proceeded to my breakfast.
On sale in Aisle 7.
The mystery is that I no longer know where I am when I go to the supermarket in Belgrade. Today, for example, I started out list-in-handed on a journey to IDEA in New Belgrade. I had received in the post a special Happy Birthday coupon for a 10% discount (on almost everything except what I wanted to buy I found in the fine print).
The branding of Serbia has been going through a very long series of false starts and misfires for as long as I have known about it. I was involved in an early post-transition project in 2004 and 2005, but the branding initiative was ultimately shelved because no one could address the elephant in the conference room:
What is Serbia's brand?
Yesterday I woke up knowing that I would face the mountainous terrain of Serbian bureaucracy in order to finish the establishment of my branding agency. It is mountainous, full of crags, hairpin turns, and impasses due to rock slides, and while
Case Study: Same-sex Marriage. It is not acceptable anymore to merely accept this and generally agree with it. The Socially Acceptable Model is to "celebrate" it. We must loudly proclaim our most underscored, emphatic, and rainbow-painted glee. We must show Vindication and Exaltation. Otherwise, we might be mistaken for a Scalia-style dissenter.
And God forbid we actually do dissent...