In the Netherlands, the annual calendar is marked by the singular occasion of what has been named “skirt day,” the spring day on which the collective female population decides — the mode and procedure of this decision are still unknown, at least, to men – to dress in skirts, celebrating the arrival of bearable and slightly non-rainy weather. Weather that does not destroy your shoes and splatter your calves. In Tirana I have observed a similar type of phenomenon, which I would love to baptize, analogously, “shorts day.” As if captured by the Dionysian spirit itself, all the djem, çuna (e lagjes or për shoqënisë), the weed-smoking and already bare-torso’d naçu, and all the other exotic varieties of masculine identities that I have had the pleasure to savior ever since my arrival, decide to pull out the shorts from their wardrobes (or did their mothers prepare them for them while they were taking a shower?) and parade them through the neighborhood streets. Most of them have started going to the gym one or two months ago to work away the winter fat, and the first results are proudly on display. It is a curiosity that most Albanian boys and men disregard their legs when working out. So the display underneath the shorts shows 9 out of 10 times skinny little legs, topped off by a buff chest. Sometimes it is a small miracle that they don’t topple over.
But this relative atrophy stops at the thighs. Even the most underdeveloped Albanian set of legs has a very high probability of being crowned by a magnificent ass. I have hinted about this before, but I cannot stress this enough: the Albanian male ass has not been sufficiently lauded, not by the Ottoman poets, not by Gjergj Fishta, not by Lord Byron. Who will sing the praise of these behinds that would make any South-American samba dancer blush in pure, untempered shame? “No Persian cumber, boy, for me!”
The feet that are turned slightly outward, tightening the butt. The knees kicking forward the legs as they walk ever so slightly, while the whole rump revolves around a midpoint centered at the bottom of the spine, forcing alternately one and the other butt cheek backward. It is a magnificent display that, particularly in the summer, is executed as if in slow motion, the beauty of which is only enforced by the seeming unconscious nature of the spectacle. They don’t know it, but they’re doing it, and if this supple movement beneath the fabric of those jeans and sweatpants was what Marx meant with his definition of ideology, I would be ready to fight and die to this higher cause.
This unimaginably fortuitous day has arrived two days ago, and I was forced, by the gravitational pull of culture, to abandon it’s proliferation throughout this week.
Now I’m in the middle of Berlin, sitting in the courtyard of the KW gallery, surrounded by flip-flopping 32%-shaved hippies, long-haired anti-culture types, empty talk about union politics, overpriced beers and torn shirts, tote bags with slogans and pink hats, posters about the dictatorship of capital and calls to arms, “ESCAPE” and “Remove the 2014 Ice Hockey World Championship from Belarus” signs, ex-heroin addicts and #Occupy wannabees playing little curator, Café Bravo with a tagliatelle with ragout and rucola for 7 euros, bodies thoroughly devoid of any sexual appeal, worn out by nightly sessions on change that will never come, bodies that forgot how to fuck properly. Roma saxophone players playing “Hit the road jack, no more no more no more.” Where are the djembes?! Please, God, whom I disproved this morning in class, rid this world of djembes, forcefully! Strollers, French, corduroy jackets, ironic tattoos, ironic t-shirts, more ironic t-shirts, WHO TORE A HOLE IN YOUR IRONIC T-SHIRT?
It seems ironic that this weekend that I am here attending the New World Summit at the Berlin Biennale, an attempt to address the exclusionary practices that support so-called democratic systems, a songwriter-football fan decides to return to Albania after more than 20 years, Attila the Stockbroker. In an at least slightly perverse move, enacted by a German curator dispatched to Tirana to spice up the cultural life, this man is expected to sing, yet again, his well-known songs “Ballad for Comrade Enver Hoxha” and “Holiday in Tirana.” An interview with him proves revealing:
“Listen,” explains on Attila. ”You know socialist realism? I do socialist surrealism. ”For me there are no sickle and hammer, but sickle and bike, sickle and fish, or sickle and dead dog.” In fact, the use of the Stalinist Albanian language has become a sarcastic element for some British artists, the place of the postmodern sketches of Monty Python.
I made the song for Enver when during fishing I thought: “What if Enver were a turbit fish with named Tristan?”
This is the cultural product that is expelled from the Occidental alt-art scene, this festering wound filled with ironic puss, the moment I enter it — let’s not enter into issues of causation here — a faux communist, ready to sing his cheesy chorus to these wonderful, tender, butë, Albanian asses, soft and malleable, in shorts with a couture of unabated eros. I envy them, these shorts, these shorts that, however, will hear the same old song. And in this chant of social ideals turned into ironic tune, we will be united, through the forceful imagination of this man bereft of the spectacle of pleasure and leisure embellishing the Tiranas streets.