“Aegean” in Tokyo

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If gyros, moussaka and tzatziki all sound Greek to you, it’s time to visit The Aegean, Tokyo’s only Greek restaurant, owned and operated by a Greek. Here you can chat with sculptor and restaurateur Nik Biniari and perhaps discover why Greek people always seem a notch more genki than the rest of us.

But before we indulge in food and drink, let’s pause for a moment to appreciate ancient history. Greece is, after all, the cradle of democracy. It was in Greece that man came up with the idea of one man, one vote — as long as the man didn’t happen to be a slave or a foreigner, of course. In quick succession, the Greeks invented the wheel, and then the barrel; followed by what is known today as Retsina.

At least part of the credit for inventing Retsina is due to the marauding hordes that invaded the land in olden times. In order to fool looters, the ancient Greeks mixed resin into their wine so that it would be left alone. Two side-benefits of this strategic move are that the resin preserves the wine and also keeps the blood pressure down. That’s why you seldom see two Greeks all worked up over such trifles as who’s the best midfielder of all time, or whether Turkey is a closer neighbor than Albania — at least not after a few glasses of Retsina.

But back to Tokyo, where Nik, who learned his trade at his father’s taverna since he was ten, is now the unofficial goodwill ambassador of the Greek Retsina Association. Of course Nik has stories to tell about other Greek wines, too. Ask him about Ouzo, for example.

Greek people are not just a tad more genki, they also tend to live longer. This has as much to do with the preservative quality of resin as with the types of food best exemplified by Nik’s home-cooking style of menu. Olive oil plays a large part in it, as well as goat’s cheese, fresh salad, garlic, yogurt, cucumber, and all the healthy things that have, regrettably, disappeared from most modern-day diets. Try Nik’s gyros, spicy beef served with pita bread, feta (goat’s) cheese, tomato, onion and olives. Or check out moussaka, a pie with several layers of potato, ground beef, eggplant and cheese besamel cream. And keep the tzatziki coming, that tasty mix of yogurt, garlic, olive oil, cucumber and salt that goes so well with pita or any other bread.

The interior of The Aegean is full of Nik’s original wood-carvings. Check out the old kotos with strings removed and now resembling the Elgin marbles. It makes you feel like you are inside a cozy taverna by the sea.

B1, Oriental Bldg.,
3-18-3 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku

Tel: 3407-1783
Fax: 3409-0268

AHEPA Meets With White House Officials

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Nicholas A. Karacostas, supreme president of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), a leading association for the nation’s three million American citizens of Greek heritage, and countless Philhellenes, met yesterday with officials from the White House Office of Public Engagement and National Security Council to discuss issues of importance to the American Hellenic community. He was joined by Executive Director Basil N. Mossaidis.

“We are extremely grateful for the generous amount of time we were afforded at the White House,” said Karacostas. “We are encouraged by the high level of engagement the Obama Administration has demonstrated to the community, and its desire to maintain a two-way open line of communication. We look forward to working with the administration on the issues and programs that resonate with our mission, including the ‘United We Serve’ Public Service Initiative.”

In addition to “United We Serve,” Greece’s path to become a member of the United States’ Visa Waiver Program and recent developments in the Eastern Mediterranean were discussed.

“The meetings were productive, and we had ample opportunity to present our views and positions on the issues,” added Karacostas. “Overall, we were very pleased and encouraged.”

(Press Release)

Ozzy Osbourne Collaborates With Greek Guitarist Gus G.

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As Blabbermouth.Net first reported, Randall Amplifiers has now confirmed via its Facebook page that 28-year-old Greek guitarist Gus G. has been tapped to play with Ozzy Osbourne at the closing concert of this year’s BlizzCon, which takes place August 21-22 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

In addition to his current axe-slinging duties with Firewind, Gus (real name: Kostas Karamitroudis) — who has an endorsement deal with Randall — has played in Mystic Prophecy, Nightrage, Arch Enemy and Dream Evil. The guitarist was born and grew up in Thessaloniki before moving to the US.

Dina Titus Fundraising Event in LA

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Left to Right: Dino Andrianos, Aris Anagnos, Dina Titus and Michael Galanakis

On Wednesday, August 19, 2009, Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV03) held a fundraising event and discussion of current political issues in Beverly Hills, CA as part of her effort to raise awareness about healthcare and energy reform and to reconfirm her support for Greek issues.
The event was hosted by Mr. & Mrs. David Nahai. Mr. Nahai, the CEO and General Manager of the LA Department of Water and Power, the largest municipal utility in the country, has been a strong proponent of renewable energy in an effort to take California to the next level of clean power generation. Several members of the American Hellenic Council attended the event, including President Mike Galanakis, Mr. Aris Anagnos & Mr. Dinos Andrianos.

During the event, Ms. Titus expressed her backing for energy reform and pursuing renewable energy as a solution to our dependence on foreign oil and curtailment of emissions. She has a strong record in her state for pursuing aggressive renewable energy portfolio standards and successfully pushing legislation for net metering.

As one could expect, a hot topic at the event among attendees was healthcare reform. Ms. Titus repeatedly stressed her support for comprehensive healthcare reform, including supporting a public option and other proposals that liberal Democrats are backing. On Greek issues, she reiterated her unwavering support for the unification of Cyprus and the protection of the name and territory of Macedonia from unfounded claims by FYROM. Her voting patterns show that Ms. Titus not only talks the talk but also walks the walk.

In private discussions with some of our board members, Ms. Titus referred to her recent trip to Greece as President Obama’s special envoy to the opening ceremony of the New Acropolis Museum last June. She mentioned that she was taken aback by the country’s hospitality and impressed by the new museum.

The event coincided with the announcement of Mr. John Guedry, a former executive at City National Bank that he would be running on the Republican Ticket against Ms. Titus in the upcoming election. Mr. Guedry is a former bank executive from Nevada. Nevada has been suffering from one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. When asked about the new opponent, Ms. Titus seemed confident that Nevadans will support her over someone who worked in the industry that is the cause for their woes.

Dina Titus is a first-term Member of the US House of Representatives from Nevada’s Third District but she carries decades of experience in public life and education under her belt. She grew up in a small community in Georgia where her Greek grandfather ran a restaurant. Growing up in a close-knit family, she was introduced to political discussions and community involvement. She went on to earn several degrees, including a Ph.D. from Florida State University. Then she went on to teach political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for more than 30 years. Before being elected to the US House of Representatives in 2008, she had also served at the Nevada State Senate for 20 years concurrently to her teaching position.

FOX25 Anchor Maria Stephanos "Back to Life" After Collapse

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FOX25 anchor Maria Stephanos is doing fine after collapsing today. Maria Stephanos’s husband updated press later today saying Maria is fine and just got dehydrated.

The popular tv personality reportedly ran five miles before her morning shift. It was after that run that Maria Stephanos reported that she felt like she “was going to pass out”.

Her husband Dale Stephanos told the Boston Herald that Maria got to the FOX studio and then collapsed:

“She couldn’t pull over because of all the construction but she finally made it to FOX, she dropped and they called 911.”

“They got an IV into her pretty quickly and she sprung right back to life… [She] successfully weaseled her way into a day off.”

But once she got rehydrated, Dale said Maria was “feeling hungry” when he left the hospital to grab his bride’s purse from the station.

“That’s sort of the default setting for any Greek mother,” laughed Stephanos.

(With information from BostonHerald.com & news.lalate.com)

“Dogtooth” Gets More Awards in Sarajevo

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“Dogtooth”, the movie of Yorgos Lanthimos which has won an award in Cannes gets more Awards in the Sarajevo Film Festival. The feature won the Special Jury Award and its female lead actress, Aggeliki Pappoulia, won a “Heart of Sarajevo” for Best Actress. The jury explained that “DOGTOOTH” depicts in a metaphorical way, with elements of clinical humour how the traditional family structure had to retreat into a fortress of control and safety, inflicting its members with psihological damage that resonates with us all.

Former US Presidential Candidate McCain Visits Rhodes

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Arizona senator and former US presidential candidate John McCain, as well as Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, on Tuesday evening arrived on the Dodecanese holiday island of Rhodes for a short visit.

On Wednesday the three US senators were given a guided tour of the island’s capital by Rhodes Mayor Hatzis Hatziefthymiou, with the highlights being the Palace of the Grand Magistre in the medieval town.

Afterwards, the three US lawmakers met with Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis, with talks mostly touching on Greek-American relations.

All three US senators expressed their admiration for the island’s natural beauty and praised efforts to preserve cultural heritage in the country.

McCain, a highly decorated US Navy pilot, said he first visited Rhodes during his naval career and has repeatedly visited since.

In response to a press question, McCain stressed that issues between Greece and Turkey continue to exist, but conditions have improved over the last years, adding that he believes relations will continue to improve in the future.

Sen. Lieberman expressed his optimism on the development and enhancement of the Greek-American relations.

On her part, Senator Collins thanked the local people and officials for the hospitality shown to US Navy personnel whose vessels dock at the Dodecanese island.

The US Senate trio departed the island on Wednesday afternoon.

Cat Cora’s Newest Restaurant Officially Open in Disney World

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Walt Disney World’s newest eatery, Kouzzina by Cat Cora, has officially opened at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort. Replacing the former Mediterranean-focused Spoodles, Kouzzina’s is also mostly a Mediterranean affair, with a focus on Greek dishes, and is open for both breakfast and dinner.
For those interested in meeting the Food Network chef, she will be appearing at the 2009 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival on October 30.

“I am pleased to welcome Cat Cora and her engaging new concept for Kouzzina to the Walt Disney World Resort,” said Jay Rasulo, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “This collaboration between Cat and Disney represents a significant step in our ongoing commitment to offer unique culinary experiences and choices for our guests.”

Cora has said that the new restaurant will feature “time-honored recipes passed down from my ancestors, as well as my favorite Greek and Mediterranean dishes that my family loves.”

(Photo Credit www.disunplugged.com & with information from www.lifthill.com)

Are Giannoulias’ Ideas Fresh Enough?

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All politicians can be united under two premises, change and fresh ideas. Everybody who runs for a position, high or low, wants to change things and to bring something new to the table. Most of the times the changes stay on paper and the fresh ideas fade away in the first days of their careers until the next election period. Alexi Giannoulias, a young Greek American, not only promises “freshness and change” if elected, but even his young age and background are a change from old politics. Giannoulias mixes up the pace of his campaign by meeting almost everybody that he can and also by making fun of himself. See what we mean in this behind the scenes video released by his campaign.

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Greek American Skate King Rides in the Skies

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Photo Credit tcolla.comPhoto Credit tcolla.com

Andrew Kessler is not anymore with us. The Greek American Skateboarder died last week from complications due to an allergic reaction to a wasp sting he suffered near Montauk, New York, where he was spending summer time surfing and helping a friend get off drugs.

The Skateboard community is shocked for the loss of such a good “brother” as they call him in thousands of mesages that are posted on internet sites and message boards. A forum in which people have posted threads and pictures of Andy can be found here.

Kessler was born in Athens, Greece, adopted by an American family and raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, along with another infant orphan from Athens raised as his twin sister. He started skateboarding in the early 1970s in Central Park, on a short hill near to its West 69th Street entrance. He soon joined a group of inner city kids congregating around the bandshell inside the park at West 71st Street, the street he was raised on. The steep paths of nearby Riverside Park also became a favorite haunt of Kessler and other skateboarders.

He was a prominent member of The Soul Artists of Zoo York, which eventually broke up in 1980 and was featured in the documentary Deathbowl to Downtown.

As skateboard technology advanced through the introduction of urethane wheels and specially designed skateboard trucks replaced makeshift rollerskate trucks, Kessler joined other New York kids in developing new forms and styles of skating, including the use of ramps — often consisting of plywood billboard leaned against a park wall or building — to “go vertical” and improvise other acrobatic tricks. Emerging as a leading figure among city boarders, he helped found an associated group of the 1970s graffiti gang The Soul Artists — a splinter group which became known as the skateboard crew Soul Artists of Zoo York.

Featured in trade catalogues and articles in skateboard magazines such as “Thrasher” and “Transworld Skateboarding,” Kessler became a guiding force in the design, development, funding and building of “skateparks” citywide, nationwide and eventually worldwide. He was also a community youth activist who worked with city teens to better themselves, their circumstances, and their urban environment, often in conjunction with the creation of free skating facilities to expend their energies on.

Kessler headed up efforts to create a skatepark in Riverside Park, which was dedicated by New York City Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern on August 21, 1996. Built with the help of teenagers from Harlem and the Upper West Side, Riverside Skate Park became the city’s first municipal park facility designed and constructed solely for skateboarders and rollerbladers. One of the top five applications in the National Park Service’s “Innovation in Recreation” Grant Program, the project received a $50,000 grant, which was matched by the New York City Parks Department, the City Parks Foundation, and local lumber, pipe and paint suppliers. Kessler supervised twenty Manhattan teenagers who, after participating in a workshop conducted by the Alternatives to Violence Project, spent five weeks building Riverside Skate Park. The result is one of the most creative recreation facilities in New York City, which transformed an obsolete and disused playground, and provided thousands of city kids a place of their own to skate. He recently designed and hand built, with the help of two friends, a skatepark for the Youth Center on Rock City Road in Woodstock, New York.

In a 1999 interview conducted by Masha Falkov, a high school student, that was posted on the Internet, Mr. Kessler related what he would want God to say to him at the Pearly Gates: “You’ve done a good job, but you left a few things out, so we’re sending you back.”

Watch a Video about Andy Kessler:
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(With Information from Wikipedia)