Stereotype: Pale, blond, pink-eyed white people. So very, very white.
Truth: A corrupt government, a country with a huge mob problem, and Albanians (the ones that haven't yet been, uh, "ethnically cleansed") own more pizzerias than you think. They are the most Italian non-Italy country you will find this side of South America.
Ti Shqipëri më jep nder më jep emrin shqipëtar (Albania give me honor, give me the Albanian name.)
Ti Serbia cën lëck mi fëcking dëck (probably self-explanatory)
Previous Olympic History:
They have not won a single medal in the modern Olympics, although there isn't yet a competition for Best Victim of Mass Slaughter (come on, Olympics! If rhythmic gymnastics and ping pong are in there, "Genocide" should certainly get in there too, right? Stick it in the Winter Olympics. Nobody will give a shit, and you'll get to spread the medals around so they're not always won by rich countries. Let's let Sudan, Rwanda, and Albania compete for SOMETHING, OK?).
Anyway, they've (Albania) come as close as Rovena Marku's 60th place finish in the women's 50 meter freestyle. Which is maybe swimming? Running? Hangglide? Who gives a shit? They finished 60th, savvy?
Albania's last Olympic winner: Cleosthenes of Epidamus who, in the 66th Games in 516 B.C., was the winner of the quadriga race, a race with chariots drawn by four horses. OF THE APOCALYPSE. No, actually, just regular horses.
2008 Olympic Prospects:
None. Absolutely none. Absolutely fucking no prospects. Not a single prospect. There exist no prospects we know of.
Visual aid: This video of Albania's Olympic training methods may shed light on their prospects. (Sidenote: these are not actually Albanians... they are speaking Turkish)
The Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, and Ottomans have all had empires that have ruled Albania. Canadian DJM longs to put another furniture joke in here because that shit never gets old, but leaves it out for fear of being vetoed. It would have had to do with a "boudoir" though.
Kneel Before Zog:
After the Ottomon Empire split up, the country was consolidated into the Principality of Albania. In 1925, the country was ruled by President Ahmet Zogu, who declared himself King Zog I three years later, in 1928. Apparently "me minus u" equals... Zog!
During his reign he is said to have survived over 55 assassination attempts (Serbians were still using training wheels, apparently). Example: in 1931 Zog (ZOG!) I was attending a performance of Pagliacci at the Vienna Opera House. As he got into his car, would-be assassins started shooting at him. Zog pulled out his own gun (he always carried a pistol with him) and started firing back at his would-be assassins. This is the only occasion in modern history when a Head of State has returned fire with potential assassins, other than that time Harrison Ford got into it on Air Force One, and that other time that Dick Cheney shot that old guy in the face. You never know, man. That old guy might have been trying to whack him.
Zog's reign ended when the fascists from Italy (Ciao!) took over the country in 1939 (he fled the country), and the Communists took over after the fascists. The royal family, in the form of his son Leka, returned to Albania in 2002. Thus far no one has attempted to assassinate them. Pussies.
It's like Schindler's... country:
Albania is unique in that it is the only European country occupied by Nazis that ended WWII with a larger Jewish population than before the war (uh... in Socialist Albania, Jews survive YOU! Or something.). This is even more notable because Albania was Europe's only largely Muslim country. Only one Jewish family of six was deported and killed during the Nazi occupation of Albania. The Albanians also provided protection for other Jews from nearby countries. You would have thought they would have built up some good Genocide Karma, right? Guess not.
Albanians constitute the vast majority of the 3.6 million people in Albania (so it's not just a clever name!), but there are some Greeks, Macedonian Slavs, Roma (Gypsies!), Bulgarians, Balkan Egyptians and Jews. Also, there are Aromanians (kinda like Romanians, but with a capital "A" (plus they smell terrific!)), Torbesh (Macedonian Muslims), Gorani (a Muslim Slavic ethnic group that has 9 whole villages in Albania), and Armani (expensive clothes).
Ethnic groups (2004 est., Government of Albania): Albanian 98.6%, Greeks 1.17%, others 0.23% (Vlachs, Roma, Serbs, Montenegrins, Macedonians, Balkan Egyptians, and Bulgarians).
The capital of Albania is Tirana. The mayor of Tirana is a former artist who painted the city in bright colors upon being elected mayor. A great profile of him in The New Yorker magazine can be found here. Since their archives suck, here is a similar article that appeared in the NY Times magazine a few months later.
Oddest stat of the year:
Tourists spend more money in Albania than any other country in the world, on a per tourist basis. The average tourist spent $17,500 last year; the second closest was Moldova, with $4,500. What the f*ck?
Lebanon is third with $4,000, and yeah, I could see how you could spend big dough in Lebanon. It's expensive (like #4 Luxembourg), and fashion-oriented (always $$$). But Albania and Moldova? Is the
Those who Repeat History Class Are Doomed to Fail It:
The first president post-communism was a cardiologist named Sali Berisha. He ruled from 1992 until 1997, when his government collapsed after a pyramid investment scheme cost the country two billion dollars, and lead to near-anarchy, as various mobs took over military compounds and stole tons of weapons (starring Vin Diesel?).
The rumor at the time was that the schemes were surviving because of widespread laundering of European criminal money. OHHHHHHH THAT'S where all the tourism money is going! Jesus. Had us worried there for a second.
Berisha returned to power in 2005 as Prime Minister. Because of Zog, then Facism, then Communism, then Berisha, Albania has never really known democracy, and struggles more than most post-Soviet countries with it. It has some widespread corruption in its government that it has been ranked below Libya and Iran in that department. Oh, good. The one Muslim European nation is chock full of corruption and can't handle democracy. That should be good for clearing up racist opinions.
Look, there's something you don't see everyday:
Albania is a Muslim country (perhaps the only one) that really, really likes the US. It has sent troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, taken in prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, and loves George Bush. Of course, it helps that the majority of the Albanian Muslim population (which is 70% of Albania's population) are Sufis. Sufis are the mystical sect of Islam (by which we mean their reflections do not appear in mirrors). SML had a Sufi classmate in his Arabic class, and they are, he discovered, sort of the flaky hippies of Muslims. DJM saw a Sufi in a movie one time. Probably. John Rhys-Davies?
They also like the USA because they backed NATO into going to war in 1999 against Serbia to stop the violence against ethnic Albanias in Kosovo (the Kosovars).
John Belushi was Albanian. James Belushi is not accepted anywhere in the world... in fact, he's actually the anti-Mastercard. Meanwhile his show is STILL ON THE FUCKING AIR and Arrested Development got canceled. Shit. Maybe the writers' strike is a good thing.
Mother Theresa is of Albania origin. Her birth name (before she married Jesus, or whatever) was Agnes Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, though she was born in Skojpe (Macedonia, remember?).
18th century Pope Clement XI was of Albanian origin. In fact, his family was originally soldiers of Scanderbeg, the Albanian who lead the fight against the Ottoman Turks in the 15th century, and held them off for 25 years. He was known as the Dragon of Albania, and it his crest that is found on the Albanian flag today.
(DJM's minor flag rant: AHHHH WHAT IN THE HELL IS THAT? That is the most terrifying flag ever. What the hell, Albania? I understand that you want to, you know, strike fear into your enemies' hearts or whatever but I didn't DO ANYTHING TO YOU and I don't appreciate you keeping me awake at night with all the lights on while I try to get the image of your monstrous two-headed hell-born creature out of my brain where its been burned no SEARED for all time. Holy shit. Change the flag, OK? Something pleasant. Like the Seychelles:
See, isn't that better? Change that thing, Albania. You're not helping anything. You're just scaring people. OK, back to the article.)
Nadir Mura, Grand Illusionist. Behold the most uninspiring and nonaweing (we can make up words if we want) display of "magic" you will ever see. Nadir makes that uncle who pulls quarters from behind your ear look like... David Copperfield. We'd go so far as to say he's reached *the nadir* of illusionists! AHAHA! We are SO CLEVER.
Zanfina Ismaili is listed as "Lap Dancer, Stripper" on Wikipedia's list of famous Albanians. Hockey player Tie Domi (the Albanian Assassin) is of Albanian descent. Speaking of Albanian assassins: Elyesa Bazna, aka Cicero, the model for 007.
Like every other country in Eastern Europe, Albania claims Alexander the Great as one of their own.
Eliza Dushku is Albanian, as is James Belushi (who?), both seen here on the Jimmy Kimmel show:
is one of those people you want to see naked. Probably you'd enjoy this
Kosovo: One week to Independence Day. Next up: A New Flag!
Kosovo is an autonomous region in Serbia that is 90% Albanian. Right now there are tri-country talks (USA, Serbia, Kosovo) on how the process of getting Kosovo's independence should occur. If no deal is worked out, Kosovo will secede on December 10th (the end of the talks). They tried this peacefully in 1990, seceding from Milosevic's alarmingly increasingly brutal Serbia. Only Albania recognized them. This lead to the Kosovo War in 1999, after Milosevic cracked down on Albanian rights in Kosovo. As it stands now, Russia (and obviously Serbia) seems opposed to recognizing Kosovo if it declares its independence. The US, Britain and France appear likely to recognize Kosovo, if it is declared on December 10th. Kosovo's population is 2 million. It would be a landlocked country that borders Macedonia the south, Serbia to the east, and Albania to the west. Just to remind you of the Balkans' official motto: If You're Looking to Start a World War, Why Not Consider the BalkaOH GOD NO A BOMB IS FALLING SOMEBODY HELP NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
You Tube is full of vicious little clips from Kosovars kissing off the "barbaric" Serbians. This one cracked me up, if only because it illustrates the Albanian cultural habit of using cell phones as analogies, even when they are not really applicable.
Albania's recognized National Sport is Bola (Ladder Golf). The Albanians derived the name of the game from the Spanish throwing weapon called Bolas, which had weights on the ends of an interconnected cord. Probably the less said about this the better. Actually, just don't even read this paragraph. FUCK too late.
Somewhere in the Bronx, there is a rapper named Nik Platinum. He has Marky Mark's blessing (is he possibly a former member of the Funky Bunch?).
Um, here's a woefully inappropriate (but kinda funny?) video made by (American?) soldiers in Kosovo during the war, set to the tune of Kokomo:
They're not going to win anything ever and will be lucky to make it out of the decade without being involved in at least two or three major wars. But hey, they got that tourism money!
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yea ur rite. we're all proud to b albanian and some ppl r racist to albanian good 4 them theyre loss. we're all ppl the same. the past was a long time ago. MOVE ON!! think bout ur future hopefully not here lol jk..
admire Italy for their fashion, culture and style and US for their independence, courage and achievement.