Monthly Archives: September 2009

Former DNC Chair Howard Dean Talked Health Care Reform at Woman’s National Democratic Club in Washington

Former DNC Chair, former Vermont governor and presidential contender Dr. Howard Dean surrounded by Nucchi Currier and Peggy Orchowski of the Woman's National Democratic Club in Washington, D.C.

Former DNC Chair, former Vermont governor and presidential contender Dr. Howard Dean surrounded by Nucchi Currier and Peggy Orchowski of the Woman’s National Democratic Club in Washington, D.C.

HOWARD DEAN, the former DNC Chair, talked about one of the most discussed topics currently – President Obama’s plan to reform the American health care system – at an event at the Woman’s National Democratic Club in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, September 22, 2009.

GOV. DEAN said that “80 percent of Americans have health care insurance and that 80 percent of them are satisfied with their policies, which means that the Republicans are trying to scare 65 percent of the population with a government alternative – The Public Option.”

“THERE WILL NOT be reform without the public option,” says Gov. Dean. “You cannot do the same thing as before and expect a different result.”
He added, “Without the public option, the result will be an annual gift of $60 billion to the insurance industry through federal payments to provide decent coverage for the uninsured and underinsured.”

HOWEVER, Gov. Dean is optimistic, and expects a public option in the end. “To reach the goal, the citizens have to get more involved, and contact their representatives in Congress. Despite the health care industry’s power, in the end the voters are more important for the politicians.”

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Swedish-born Californian Kerstin Shirokow wrote a book about her adventurous life – ‘Confessions of a Swedish Girl’

Agneta Nilsson, founder of SWEA, and Kerstin Shirokow

Agneta Nilsson, founder of SWEA (Swedish Women’s Education Association) and Kerstin Shirokow

“I LOVE SANTA BARBARA. I have lived here for over 40 years now, and have taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara City College for over 35 years,” says Swedish-born Kerstin Shirokow, who grew up Kerstin Hård af Segerstad, in Eskilstuna, Sweden, a little industrial town in the central part of the country.

IN 2007 Kerstin published stories from her life in English, “Confessions of a Swedish Girl”, which chronicle the story of a free spirited, curious and adventurous Swede, and her travels around the world. “The book took about a year to finish. I wanted to write it because I have had so much fun in my life which I wanted to share with others, and also be an inspiration to young women to ‘go for it.’ To live and work in a foreign country gives you so much more than just to visit as a tourist.”

SINCE THEN she has translated the book into Swedish, and hopes to find a publisher for the Swedish version.

SHE SAYS that her life in California is quite pleasant.

“I SWIM EVERY day, have picnics and walk on the beach. From May 20th to September it is warm enough to swim in the ocean. But I also travel abroad a lot, and came back from my summer vacation in Sweden recently.”
She was also a columnist, “Montecito Matron,” for the local paper Montecito Journal, for nearly five years in the late 1990s. When she first arrived in the United States in the 1950s, she wrote articles about her American experiences for her home town newspaper, Eskilstuna -Kuriren

Kerstin Shirokow and family

Kerstin Shirokow and family

KERSTIN Shirokow’s daughter Katya produces wild life movies for television all over the world. Her son Mike was tragically killed in a car accident about 20 years ago.

“I GO TO SWEDEN every summer and visit my sister,” says Kerstin. She is also active in what she calls “the wonderful organization SWEA” (Swedish Women’s Educational Association). We are about 30 members in Santa Barbara, and we meet about once a month and have a great time. I know other
Swedes as well. My niece and her daughter live here, and we see each other frequently.”
She adds that she sometimes misses Swedish food, although some of it is available at IKEA, such as the Swedish children’s favorite “Kalles Kaviar,” as well as “kokosbollar” and Swedish shrimp.

Kerstin Shirokow

Kerstin Shirokow

KERSTIN GREW up in a conservative and protective environment. “In Eskilstuna, I first attended a public grammar school for four years,”says Kerstin, who had three siblings, two older brothers and a sister. In 1946 she graduated from Eskilstuna Högre Allmänna Läroverk after studying at the school for eight years. “I studied German for eight years, English for five and French for four years.”

KERSTIN’S FATHER was an army officer and head of the town’s arms factory. He was forced to retire at the age of 50 as a major. This put the family in a rather difficult situation financially, and Kerstin’s mother had to start to work to make ends meet, since her father’s pension was not enough to support four school children. “I am sure it was difficult for my mother. She was a general’s daughter and had never worked to earn a living.”

KERSTIN ALSO talks about her special childhood memory of when she fell through the glass ceiling of the department store Epa, once a very familiar chain of stores.

“A FRIEND and I were playing on a yard in the middle of which there was a house, the object of which was to protect Epa’s glass ceiling, which was there to let light into the store. And it was, of course, built of glass.It had a little window, which was open one day and naturally I crawled in. I took a couple of steps on the glass ceiling — and it broke! I fell down and landed on the counter for underwear and stockings.”

WHEN THE SALES girl saw Kerstin, she fainted, and since it was rush hour, a whole lot of people gathered around her. Kerstin looked up and saw her friend’s frightened face in the hole in the ceiling. An old man came forward and said: “That was the funniest thing I have seen in a long time,” and gave Kerstin a two-crown coin. Some employees came and carried Kerstin up to an office, bandaged her legs, which were bleeding from cuts. The local newspaper, Eskilstuna-Kuriren, covered the story without mentioning any names.

“MY MOTHER, who had been to Stockholm, came home the next day and had read about the incident during the train ride. When my father met her at the train station, she said: “What a terrible thing! Imagine that parents don’t look after their children better! The poor child could have been killed. Do you know who it was? I would like to call the parents and let them know what I think!”
“No need to do that, my dear, I know who it is.”
“You do? Who?”
“It is your own child, dear!”

WHEN THE SECOND WORLD WAR broke out, Kerstin’s father returned to the army. And she, herself, became a so called “airplane spotter” during the summer months before graduation.

“THAT IS SOMETHING that I shall never forget. We were 10 girls between 15 and 17 years old (there’s a photo of them in “Confessions of a Swedish Girl” ), and we stood in a tower 24/7, reporting allied and German planes that crossed Swedish airspace. We telephoned their nationality, altitude, direction and speed to a central office, and then Swedish air force planes were sent out to try to get them to leave the country’s territory. This was done in order to prevent them from shooting down each other over
Swedish territory.”

IN ESKILSTUNA, as in most of Sweden at the time, almost nobody owned a car. Kerstin’s parents certainly didn’t and very few of their friends. “You walked, took the bus or the train.” It was a different society, with a pronounced class structure: working class, middle class and upper class, not the least in the education system.

“SWEDEN WAS not enough for me – and I soon realized that I wanted to see the rest of the world, just like my Aunt Elsa, who had traveled a lot. And to do so, I would have to learn foreign languages. I studied English, as major, and minors in French and Spanish at the Stockholm University and received the equivalent of an M.A. But I also realized that one had to live in the countries to be fluent in languages, not just be a tourist. To improve my English skills, I took a job in London as ʻa mother’s helperʼ (au pairs had not been invented yet). To practice French I took care of children in Oyonnax, a small town in southern France. Having learnt English and French that way, I figured I could teach it, so I became a governess in Spain.”

KERSTIN IS STILL in contact with the children she taught there, and their children have come to visit her in the United States.

“BUT AMERICA was my dream! I wanted to see America. With my three foreign languages, I thought that I could easily get a scholarship at an American college. So I applied to Harvard, Yale and Princeton.!”
But Kerstin didn’t get any scholarships, and mentions that those universities only accepted males in those years.

“SINCE I HAD boasted to everybody that I was going to America, it was, of course, very embarrassing. But I was lucky. I heard about a small college in Illinois, Augustana College in Rock Island, where they wanted a Swedish teacher!:
“I had never heard of the college, and neither of Illinois, for that matter! But I applied, got the job, and I taught there for one year.”

Kerstin Shirokow

Kerstin Shirokow

“BUT I WANTED to go to California! California with its palm trees, Hollywood and stars like Tyrone Power, and the Pacific, had always been my dream. So when I heard that the Army Language School in Monterey, California, was looking for a Swedish-language teacher for army soldiers and officers, I applied and got the job. At the school, I met a Russian teacher, fell in love with him, we got married and had two children.”
With her husband George, who became employed by the CIA, she lived in Japan for seven years and in Italy for three. In 1967, the couple returned to California.

Sunset in Huanchaco, Peru

Sunset i Huanchaco, Peru

PICTURES FROM Huanchaco in northern Peru. Huanchaco is a beach and summer vacation resort near the city of Trujillo. It is famous, in particular, for being a surfer’s dream and its “cabillitos de tortora” (fishermen in Huanchaco use “caballitos,” an ancient-style fishing boat made from bundles of tortura reeds.”) The most famous food in Huanchaco is the ceviche. Not far away from the resort, the famous ruins of Chan Chan are located.

Sunset in Huanchaco, Peru

 

Sunset in Huanchaco, Peru

Swedish hip-hop artists Adam Tensta and Eboi performed at the House of Sweden for an enthusiastic crowd

Swedish hip-hop artists Adam Tensta and Eboi perform at the House of Sweden's roof top in Washington, D.C.

Swedish hip-hop artists Adam Tensta and Eboi perform at the House of Sweden’s roof top in Washington, D.C.

WHAT AN EVENING it was! Swedish hip-hop artists Adam Tensta and Eboi performed, with warm up music by DJ Rooftop, at a sold out event at the House of Sweden’s Roof top in Washington, D.C., on Saturday night, September 19.

“WASHINGTON, D.C. – we love you! ? det n?ra svenskar i huset (Are there any Swedes in the house)? We want to party now,” screamed Adam Tensta, and an enthusiastic crowd – of all ages — responded “Jaa!!” “Yes” in Swedish. It was also an event that really “sat the crowd on fire.” The decibel almost made the building swing. And even one complaint came to the police, from not so amused neighbors one can presume? But as somebody said “no party is a success until the Metropolitan police are called because the music is too loud.”

AFTER THE CONCERT an after party followed at Mat?in Georgetown.

After the concert: Ana Zovko, Eboi, Rebecka J?nsson and Adam Tensta

After the concert: Ana Zovko, Eboi, Rebecka J?nsson and Adam Tensta

Anna Alassaad, Martin Bengtsson, Jamal Alassaad and Jenny M?lqvist

Anna Alassaad, Martin Bengtsson, Jamal Alassaad and Jenny M?lqvist

Sarah Holmberg, Agnes Said and Ida Lyxell

Sarah Holmberg, Agnes Said and Ida Lyxell

Amanda Schmaltz and Annie Erling

Amanda Schmaltz and Annie Erling

?a Borss?

?a Borss?

Adam Tensta
Eboi and Adam Tensta perform
DJ Rooftop

DJ Rooftop

DJ Donald Syriani and Faryde Yanine

DJ Donald Syriani and Faryde Yanine on their way to the event.

The stage before the concert

The stage before the concert

House of Sweden at night

House of Sweden at night

Swedish Hip-Hop Artist Adam Tensta performs at “Euro Night 2009″ in Washington

Linda Gustavsson, Daniella S?derberg, Johan Kramming, Eva Rosencrantz and Martin Johansson

Swedish embassy team at Euro Night 2009: Linda Gustavsson, Daniella S?derberg, Johan Kramming, Eva Rosencrantz and Martin Johansson

THE EUROPEAN UNION Embassies in Washington held their second “Euro Night” at the French Embassy on Friday night, Sept. 18, providing a “cultural tour” of Europe, and a very festive night, where the guests can enjoy national dishes and beverages from the embassies’ home countries. This year’s Euro Night also featured Swedish hip-hop stars Adam Tensta and Eboi.

Swedish hip-hop artists Eboi and Adam Tensta

Swedish hip-hop artists Eboi and Adam Tensta performed at “Euro Night 2009″ at the French Embassy on Friday night.

Swedish Cultural Attach?Mats Widbom and his wife Annette

Swedish Cultural Attach?Mats Widbom and his wife Annette

Katie Pidgeon and Mattias Sundholm from the Delegation of the European Commission in Washington, D.C.

Katie Pidgeon and Mattias Sundholm from the Delegation of the European Commission in Washington, D.C.

Rachel Lewis and Tony Mor?

Rachel Lewis and Tony Mor?came to the Euro Night event.

Laura Hill and Sanjeev Varghese

Laura Hill and Sanjeev Varghese

Catherine Skolnicki, Thomas Buller and Sheila Sherzoy

Catherine Skolnicki, Thomas Buller and Sheila Sherzoy

Sergio de Cosmo and Yalda Mokhayeri

Sergio de Cosmo and Yalda Mokhayeri

Marko Maver and Jan Konecnik represented Slovenia

Marko Maver and Jan Konecnik represented Slovenia

Andrew Sostek

Andrew Sostek

Representatives of France at the French booth

Representatives of France at the French booth

Adam Tensta and friend

Adam Tensta and friend

Eboi and Adam Tensta perform

Swedish Cultural Events in New York in September

A FASHION SHOW, by House of Organic (www.ekovaruhuset.se/), will be presented at The GreenShows Eco-Fashion Week (www.pr.com/press-release/174432) – the only premier fashion event of its sort in New York City — on September 16. House of Organic (Ekovaruhuset) is a collective of designers committed to sustainable, socially and environmentally responsible practices, and is led by Swedish designer Johanna Hofring. It is based in Stockholm and Paris as well as on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The invitation-only event features designers such as Anja Hynynen, Maja Gunn, Johanna Hofring, Righteous Fashion and Tor S?derin, Sweden; and Eko-Lab, Kaori Yamazaki, Meiling Chen, and Mika Machida-Whyce, New York.

ROY ANDERSSON, the award-winning Swedish filmmaker, will introduce his life’s work at a retrospective film exhibition that runs through September 18 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA). Andersson is one of Sweden’s most acclaimed filmmakers and is famous for his visually interesting work with absurd tendencies. His third film “Songs from the Second Floor” won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000. His four feature films, his student project from the 1960′s as well as commercials and short films are being show at the MoMA (www.moma.org/visit/calendar/films/990).

THE MUSICAL “Kristina,” based on Swedish author Vilhelm Moberg’s series of novels “The Emigrants,” and featuring music by Benny Andersson and text by Bj?rn Ulvaeus of ABBA fame, will be presented at concert event at Carnegie Hall in New York September 23-24 (www.kristinathemusical.com/). This U.S. premiere will be performed in English and only for two nights. Previously the musical has attracted a lot of popular and critical acclaim in Sweden and abroad, after opening in Sweden 1995. The performance in New York has a cast of over 30 artists, and the original “Kristina,” Helen Sj?holm; English tenor Russell Watson; and the 50-piece American Theatre Orchestra will be part of it.

ON SEPTEMBER 28-29, Swedish electronic music act “Fever Ray” will perform two shows at the Webster Hall in New York (http://feverray.com/). This is part of a North American tour. “Fever Ray” is a solo project by Karin Dreijer Andersson, whose debut album was released earlier this year. She is also part of the Swedish electronic music duo “The Knife,” well-known for its album “Silent Shout,” which was selected Top Music Album of 2006 by the editors of Pitchfork Media. Fever Ray’s album consists of dark textured soundscapes and haunting vocal styles, and is moody, somber and personal.

AN EXHIBITION of 75 remarkably visionary drawings by the Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Hill (1849-1911) will be showcased at Scandinavia House (www.scandinaviahouse.org/) in New York, starting September 30. The art works were produced during the artist’s last 30 years, when he suffered from mental illness. Being criticized by his contemporaries, he is now considered an important precursor of such movements as Surrealism, Expressionism, and even Pop art. During the opening reception on September 30, G?ran Christenson, director of Malm? Art Museum in Sweden, will give a curator’s talk.

Festive Reception Ends “Metropolis Now!” Exhibition at Meridian in Washington, D.C.

Ambassador Kenton Keith, Senior Vice President of Meridian International Center, artist Holly Bass, and Philippa P.B. Hughes, Chief Creative Contrarian of The Pink Line Project

Ambassador Kenton Keith, Senior Vice President of Meridian International Center, artist Holly Bass, and Philippa P.B. Hughes, Chief Creative Contrarian of The Pink Line Project

A FESTIVE RECEPTION ended the “Metropolis Now! – A Selection of Chinese Contemporary Art” exhibition at the Meridian International Center in Washington, D.C., on Thursday night, September 10th. Meridian, in partnership with the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) in Beijing, and the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Washington, D.C. opened the exhibition of March 25, 2009. The exhibition was organized to commemorate 30 years of formal diplomatic ties between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, and was officially opened in the presence of H.E. Zhou Wenzhong, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the United States. The exhibition “Metropolis Now!” was a selection of 52 paintings, sculptures, mixed media, and video installations by 31 artists. The event was presented by the President and the Board of Trustees of Meridian International Center, and Philippa P.B. Hughes of The Pink Line Project.

Richard Marks, Emma O'Rourke, James Gilbey and Mallory Tablantino

Richard Marks, Emma O’Rourke, James Gilbey and Mallory Tablantino

Samar Hussein

Samar Hussein

Lizette Corro and Ann Kenkel

Lizette Corro and Ann Kenkel

Lena Skanby and Richard Gold

Lena Skanby and Richard Gold

Artist Holly Bass
Meridian International Center
Meridian International Center
Meridian International Center

Catalonian Restaurant Can Roquet – charming with exquisite and inventive cuisine

Restaurant Can Roquet in Romany?de la Selva on the Costa Brava, Spain

Restaurant Can Roquet, located in the charming medieval village of Romany?de la Selva on the Costa Brava, Spain

RESTAURANT CAN ROQUET is one of many excellent restaurants on the Costa Brava in Spain. The most famous restaurant in the region is, of course, world-famous El Bull? situated near the town Roses, about an hour and a half further north on the coast. Can Roquet is located in the charming and picturesque medieval village of Romany?de la Selva, near the old church and Pla? de l’Esgl?ia, close to Cristina d’Aro in the Girona province and about an hour north of Barcelona.

DURING A RECENT VISIT, it was obvious that the place is as good as last time we visited it about two years ago. Owners Ken and Donald, both Belgians, prepare dishes that are exquisite and impeccably presented. This charming and original atmosphere with candles everywhere, is the perfect backdrop to the fabulous and inventive dishes, consisting of a wide range of local products. Adding to the delightful meal are the two small appetizer dishes that are served before any ordered appetizer and the main course. This time we were served a white gazpacho, made of almonds, with garlic, and sherry foam, and a shrimp in a glass with leaf mint, filo pastry and sweet and sour sauce. Both were extraordinary! For more information, phone 34 972-833081, or visit their exciting Web site: www.canroquet.com.

Appetizers -- white gazpacho, made of almonds, with garlic, and sherry foam, and a shrimp in a glass with leaf mint, filo pastry and sweet and sour sauce

Appetizers — white gazpacho, made of almonds, with garlic, and sherry foam, and a shrimp in a glass with leaf mint, filo pastry and sweet and sour sauce

Duck with duck liver and wine sauce
Duck with duck liver and wine sauce

Duck with duck liver and wine sauce

Tournedo of oxtail with wine sauce

Tournedo of oxtail with wine sauce

The Can Roquet menu - printed paper handmade by the restaurant staff

The Can Roquet menu – printed paper handmade by the restaurant staff

Sunset from Restaurant Can Roquet in Romany?de la Selva, Costa Brava, Spain

Sunset from Restaurant Can Roquet in Romany?de la Selva, Costa Brava, Spain

Romany?de la Selva, Costa Brava, Spain

Romany?de la Selva, Costa Brava, Spain

Romany?de la Selva, Costa Brava, Spain

Romany?de la Selva, Costa Brava, Spain

‘Come Rock at Peacock Shock’ event draws big crowds to the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington

Sara Rouhi, Ashley Walley and Jennifer Huynh

Sara Rouhi, Ashley Walley and Jennifer Huynh

ASIA AFTER DARK – “Peacock Shock!” – an event to indulge your senses in Asia and enjoy an evening of art, dance and creative fun – in the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., drew big crowds on Thursday night. Guests were urged to dress in their favorite peacock colors and be “prepared to be ‘shocked’ by the beauty of Freer’s crown jewel, Whistler’s Peacock Room, which according to the National Endowment for the Humanities is a “masterpiece of American art.”

Philippa Hughes, Jonathan Sousa and Amanda Williams

Philippa Hughes, The Pink Line Project; Jonathan Sousa, Sousa Consulting; and Amanda Williams, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Ms. Williams was instrumental in arranging the Asia After Dark event.

THE GUESTS were able to learn more about the gallery’s history, and take part in a text-message scavenger hunt hosted by The Pink Line Project, sip the specialty drink, “The Golden Peacock” and sample delicious food from Asia Nine in Chinatown, and Bangkok Joe’s and Mie N Yu in Georgetown.

Myron and Rachel Belkind

Myron and Rachel Belkind

IN THE BEAUTIFUL courtyard Boogie Bots performed new wave dance, and guests could watch contestants from MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew, and could dance the night away to DJs Yellow Fever.

Marisha Tare and Laura Tierney

Marisha Tare and Laura Tierney

Vanessa and Doug

Vanessa and Doug

The Peacock Room at Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

The Peacock Room at Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Asia After Dark event

Asia After Dark event

Asia After Dark event
Asia After Dark event
Asia After Dark event
Asia After Dark event

Swedish hip-hop artist Adam Tensta performs in Washington

Swedish hip-hop artist Adam Tensta will perform in Washington, D.C., Friday, September 18, at the Euro Night 2009 event at the French Embassy, 4101, Reservoir Road, N.W., and the following night at the House of Sweden’s Rooftop Terrace, 2900 K Street, N.W.

During the second annual “Euro Night” event – which is arranged by the European Union embassies in Washington – the guests will be able to take a tour around Europe and feast on national dishes without leaving D.C.! And they will get to listen to Adam Tensta rock the “House of France” throughout the evening.

The evening of September 19, the Swedish Embassy will kick off its embassy fall program, with the spectacular view of the city, cocktails and electro/house/R&B influenced sounds by Adam Tensta and DJ Rooftop at the House of Sweden’s Rooftop Terrace.

Tensta’s d?ut album “It’s A Tensta Thing,” which was acclaimed by critics, came out in 2007, and topped the Swedish charts with hits like Dopeboy, My Cool and They Wanna Know. Tensta, who was raised by a single mother, grow up in an area – Tensta — on the outskirts of Stockholm that was filled with violence and crime. He soon became a success story and has opened for such famous artists as Jay-Z, Rihanna, Youssou N’Dour, Akon and Dead Prez.

The E.U. member nations who are participating in Euro Night are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom.

For information and tickets about Euro Night 2009 at the French Embassy, go to www.EuroNight.org. Tickets to the Live Performance by Adam Tensta at the House of Sweden are available at www.ticketweb.com.