Our good pal Emre is making good with his burgeoning Turkish-language career. A playful music video has been released for his single “Kaderin Yerine,” which we announced here a month ago. Emre also just performed with Turkey’s biggest superstar, Sezen Aksu. Great things happening for a deserving and super-talented artist.Emre Yilmaz – Kaderin Yerine
from Mantar Film
>Our final evening in Istanbul capped a bountiful excursion, for sure. After I spent a second day in bed with total body-breakdown, Ayhan and I were invited to accompany Turkey’s most popular singer Sertab (see posts below, for background blah blah) and her partner Demir, to a private birthday party for world-acclaimed pianist Fazil Say.
After Sertab participated in the “European Capital of Culture” festivities Sunday night (see below post), we took a cab to meet with them at Beymen Café in the Nisantasi nabe, had a drink and catch-up, before their driver took us to the fabulous age-old Zihni Bar, which used to be the home of an architect and for more than 50 years (see left), has been considered one of Istanbul’s premier upscale destinations.This joint was like stepping inside F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” with women adorned in elbow-length gloves, dressed in their best black, and men outfitted in their finest nighttime garb. While smoking indoors is illegal in Turkey, there was an old-school civility, as people lit their cigarettes—again, like a different era—as if above the (often silly) laws that pervade modern world culture.Our host played grand piano, and was accompanied throughout the night by his talented guests: a violinist here, a belly dancer there…And yes, Sertab sang. She offered one of her hits “Lal,” which the pair performed together a few years ago at New York’s Carnegie Hall.Ayhan tells me the room was filled with Turkish celebs: singers, actors, comedians, who of course were faceless to me (Ayhan finally was forgiven for not knowing Mary Tyler Moore, when I met her years ago and had a near breakdown, to his shrug).
Talk about a grand finale… A night to remember amid a week I shall never forget.
>We were fortunate to arrive in Istanbul just in time for the city’s launch as the“European Capital of Culture” for the continent in 2010, which will continue throughout the year. On Sunday evening, the city hosted an outrageous opening celebration, with four simultaneous concerts at 20:10 (8:10 p.m.), to coincide with the year 2010.
One was in our nabe of Sultanahmet, which we pranced down to see during a horrifying Ottoman Empire marching band, serving the most conservative sect of the population (read: so uncool… and not pretty. Imagine your high school marching band, with shrill oboes included).The other, hipper celebrations took place in Bağcılar, Pendik and Taksim Squares (the latter featured Turkey’s biggest male superstar, Tarkan), with an “official” opening indoors at Haliç Congress (including a performance by Sertab, whom we would see later that evening). Unfortunately, rain fell steadily across the city, making the outdoor concerts a royal pain in the ass. After checking out the action close by, Ayhan and I decided to watch the majority of the festival launch on the TV in the lobby of the Hotel Kybele.The celeb culminated with a stupendous fireworks show at each of the locations… which Ayhan and I dashed out to see from our locale. Pretty amazing stuff, and great timing, for sure.
>Three full days in Istanbul, but after my previous travels from NYC to Istanbul to Ankara and back to Istanbul—all over the course of three days, including being wide awake for 33 successive hours—my body at last said, “No more, fat boy,” and, despite the stimulating sites surrounding, I at last simply shut down. Meese spent the majority of two days in bed at the Kybele Hotel, nursing a cold and fever that left me unable to move. Hey, but at least we had a room with a view (see hotel post below, cool cats).
The nights: fucking fabulous, as you can see on either side of this post. And here, reflections of a wondrous urban, modern & yet oh-so historic city. My fourth visit to Istanbul… and as fresh and tasty as the bread here. Sans a lot of description, drink it all in.Above, a group of buddies asked Ayhan to take their picture. I stood alongside with my camera, to take same.Above, ruins in this ancient city stand alongside modern architecture, awaiting reconstruction. The nation is actively pursuing preservation, so many buildings like this are not allowed to be torn down for generic highrises (Note to NYC Mayor Bloomberg: Hey queenie, honoring history is a meaningful alternative to lining your deep pockets with developers’ $$$).Above, one of the two Four Seasons Hotels in Istanbul. This used to be a prison. Nice digs, eh?Above, the modern rail system that works its way throughout the city, all above ground. About $1 a ride. Ideal for people watching.No, people don’t really dress like this. Except your mamer when she’s playing geisha for your diddy.The hot Turkish version of Adrian Pasdar?The police station serving the Sultanahmet nabe.Prayer benches close to Blue Mosque.This ancient wall greeted us as we entered Istanbul on the overnight bus at dawn.1970’s kitsch? Cell phones are even more pervasive in Turkey than in the U.S. They’re years ahead in terms of effective coverage—and unlike the monopoly that carriers have on phones in the States, there, you buy your phone first, then select a plan. When is the FCC going to fix that gaffe?
>Saturday evening in Istanbul, we had the unexpected pleasure of an invitation from Sertab Erener, one of the nation’s most popular singers (and a wonderful ally to Ayhan and me, since she and partner Demir came to the States to release her English-language debut “Painted On Water” last year) to see singer Nil Karaibrahimgil (on right) in concert.
Along with Ayhan’s niece Pinar, who works in Istanbul as a textile designer, we met Sertab at a fabu bar in the crowded Beyoğlu district, had a cocktail, then dashed to four-level club XLarge, a former cinema (and gay club on weekends). Sertab was admitted through a back entrance and we were all escorted to the top level—above the VIP area!—where we were all treated like royalty. It doesn’t get much better than this.Before meeting with Sertab, Ayhan and I met with Mehmet—who was part of the children’s choir in Ayhan’s musical “Gods,” in the mid 1990s. Ironically, Pinar was also in the chorus, and she joined us at cool coffee bar Urban, nestled along a back alley in the Beyoğlu nabe—which is characterized by a wide pedestrian-only walkway (below) with shops, stores and restaurants on both sides. Ayhan invited Mehmet to come to the States to serve as an intern as he and production partner Dennis work on Karine Hannah’s upcoming third album. He arrives in NYC Feb. 1, so we’ll be seeing more of his handsome face…
>One of the more shocking cultural differences between urban Istanbul and the U.S. is the rampant number of wild dogs and cats that roam the streets. In the States, we treat our woofs and meows as members of the family, but in Turkey, pets are more likely birds and fish—not other mammals.As a result, it’s the norm to see cats… everywhere… and dogs—big dogs—often traveling in packs, sleeping on the streets, integrating with city life. In Istanbul, at least, there is an effort to control the population; dogs are scooped up, neutered or spayed (with an identifying tag in their ears), and then released back to their home turf. There’s even “public housing”—open doghouses with water bowls, here and there. It’s all quite humane.While the dogs are, for the most part, as friendly as they could be (our buddy below is sitting beside Ayhan), we saw women who were utterly terrified… as if they were mountain lions who would eat their young.As far as the cats go, I too was frightened. They are, after all, disciples of Satan… though this critter was actually chilling on a sofa inside a coffee bar. I don’t think he sucked out my soul.