Saturday, April 12, 2008

About manges (3) -Women mangisses...

A typical missunderstanding is that we mix up koutsavakia and manges. Koutsavakia was an extreme, limited and short living phenomenon. It was judged to vanish into thin air, to be degenerated from its birth. Manges were their successors. They were not as provocative as the priors, they continued existing and still do, though as a deformated echo.

To get a little closer to
rebetiko language, I`m going to use some examples from composers, musicians and male and women singers, because they consist the only disposable material we have. Let us take some women first. Roza Eskenazy used to greet Tomboulis, her permanent collaborator with a rather neutral voice saying: "Yia sou Tombouli mou, m`ekapses!" ( = Cheer up my Tomboulis, you set fire on me with your playing". There are some other examples where she is greeting "psaradakia"( = fish sellers) and manges. In those cases one can notice that she prolongs the last letter or syllable. She says "na zisoun ta psaradakiaaa!" or "na zisoun oi mangeees". The prolonging of the last vocals was something typical in mangiko language.
Roza Eskenazy was, first of all, a sensual and experienced woman who played, in her way, with men and she was joining
mangia since very early times. She certainly was an ideal combination of a real woman and mangissa. By the way, during her last years when she gave different interviews, her voice was calm, tender, girlish. If we did not know, we could never believe that she was a legend of rebetiko.

Rita Abadzi, this extraordinary bird, was a complicated case. The belief that she was a mangissa is a common place among rebetiko lovers. I doubt it. Very few things are known about her personality, she is sporadically named by those who left parts of their rebetiko memories. The fact that she sung even "tough" songs cannot be seen as a proof. There are no signs in Rita`s songs, in her short greetings or comments while she sings, which allow us to draw a conclusion that she used the mangiko language. My personal opinion is that she was a very intelligent, sensible and carefull human being who was keeping a distance, though her rich discography (c.a. 310 records).

I named only Roza Eskenazy and Rita Abadzi because only those two have given us a wider opportunity to listen to their voices speaking besides their singing. Concerning
Daisy Stavropoulou, Sotiria Bellou and the latter women singers, things are more clear. But this post is about the older mangia, including Tsitsanis.

Concerning men, Vangelis Papazoglou speaks like a typical serious mangas in his short dialogue with Stellakis in "I foni tou Nargilé" (The water-pipe´s voice). I´m sure he was not exaggerating. One can easily understand that.

I believe that Dalgas was also a serious mangas, Zaharias Kasimatis, Kostas Karipis, Kostas Tzovenos, Markos, Keromytis, Stratos and many, many others. Sotiris Gavalas was also a typical mangas. When he says "Arpa tin" (get it! - ie. get the knife thrust) in the song "In the Bezesteni yard" ( CD Mortika) he is not acting, he is himself.

The most mangiko (tough) voice in rebetiko recordings is, unquestionably, the one of the so-called Kostas Bezos or Kostis. It is on purpose, but it is convincing. He had nothing to do with manges, as much as we know, he belonged to another world. But he was very clever and capable, both him and his musicians in their group called "The white birds". In his (?) really nice songs there is a gathering of expressions and mangiko words which we hardly meet in the rest of rebetiko recordings. It is obvious that they overloaded the song texts so that they would impress. When he says exactly the same ("άρπαχτη!"), as Sotiris Gavalas, in the song "Τούτο το καλοκαιράκι" (This nice summer), he plays to be a mangas, but nothing's wrong with that.

Vasilis Tsitsanis lived with one foot inside mangia and the other out of it. He knew very well all the roles and the rules but, he was not in need to be a mangas, in the known way. He was a very intelligent country boy and he remained in that up to the end.

Michalis Genitsaris was an αρκουδόμαγκας (tough and dangerous mangas)(αρκούδα=bear+mangas). Ηe was tough but "logical" having an original mangas way of thinking. He avoided troubles but had nothing against to take the law in his hands when it needed.

Dimitsis Gogos (Bayiaderas) was a real mangas, too. Today's "experts" have a snobbish way to see him and believe that he was some kind of a romantic serenader. It is funny because Bayaderas was in the whole thing of Piraeus rebetiko from the very beginning. He was brave and serious. I believe in everything he has said. His "romantic" songs were, simply, a clever choise he did after he was advised by a connoisseur named Faltaitz. His mangika songs were perfect, very rythmical and had a style of his own.

Giannis Papaioannou was also a real mangas. You can feel it in his voice. When he played live and the people were talking loudly, he used to say in a mangas way: "ησυχία, έχουμε άρρωστο!" (be quiet, there is somebody who is sick here!).

What I wrote was only comments coming from a very carefull listening of the records. Otherwise it seems to me foolish to judge who was mangas and who wasn't. Besides all that and in connection to the tendency to almost avoid going deeper in writing or discussing rebetiko, I consider that there is a superficial feeling that manges just talked about hasch, waterpipes, that they were only involved in quarrels, knifing each other and playing music. Like if they were the "Ηollow Men" without everyday problems... And it is worrying...

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