Making Amends | News | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Making Amends 

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I don’t like making mistakes. For one, I don’t like looking more stupid and insipid than I already am. Second, it’s rough on my fragile ego. Third, and finally, it does me no good, anyway, since, no matter how many mistakes I make, CW publisher Jim Rizzi still refuses to fire me. He even has me up at all hours of the night on this vacation to Greece writing, blogging and taking photos. Why he pays me is a mystery, but more mysterious is why he won’t fire me. No matter how much I embarrass the good name of City Weekly, Rizzi makes me stay aboard.

nn

I tell him the readers need to be relieved of me. No dice. Maybe it’s time for another contest. Instead of finding someone to replace me'John Rasmuson, where are you?'how about we just give money to people who send Rizzi an e-mail detailing the reasons I should be let go of this enterprise. Maybe then he’ll get the message. It could break his publishers bank'and that’s before Rocky Anderson gets hold of his brigade of public-forum-writer defenders to get in on the action. Whenever Rocky gets some bad press, it’s like he presses a button and what seem to be the same people write basically the same letter and send them off to the newspapers, which religiously publish them.

nn

I believe he asks people to write them, but I’m not certain. I know he asked me to write nice things about him way back when or to write bad things about his enemies. Such times usually followed his appraisal of my profession as unethical, unprofessional, lazy or stupid'amidst telling me that what he just said applied to everyone else but me and this newspaper. Of course, that song has a new tune these days. I don’t really care, since he’ll be out of office shortly. He will, won’t he? Or is it true that he’s thinking of running again?

nn

I hope not, especially for the reason I read online'that he’d save Salt Lake City from the likes of mayoral candidate Dave Buhler or the equivalent. Great'another term of contentious hot air. I think Rocky is a very talented and committed individual. Smart, even. But he’s so soft-skinned, so enamored of his self worth, so vindictive and divisive'and as likely to blow up Salt Lake City as to save it'that I just hope he moves into a sphere large enough for his ego or stimulating enough for his progressive ideas. Just the fact that he hates Buhler is enough for me'I’m sending $100 to the Buhler campaign as soon as I get back. The check will have a note on it'“Dear Dave: This ain’t much money, but I want to tell you this from me and thousands of other people who live and work in Salt Lake City. I despise far-left-wing Democrats as much as I despise far-right-wing Republicans so, please, Dave, if you get elected, will you please cut the bullshit and get to really taking care of all of the city for all of us?nn

I’ll also send off $100 to other mayoral contenders: Jenny Wilson, Ralph Becker, and Keith Christensen, with the same message. If Rocky gets in the race, I’m going to ask Rizzi to move our offices from Main Street to South Salt Lake. It’s not like the guy has done Jack for Main Street anyway.

nn

Now, about that mistake I referenced at the top of this column. Last week, while in Crete, I wrote that it was there that German bombers first dropped their ordnance on European cities and civilians. Not true, as several e-mailers pointed out'all citing, among other examples, Guernica, in Spain, that was laid to waste a couple of years prior to the Battle of Crete.

nn

I was drawing information from the book Documents From the Battle and the Resistance of Crete by George I. Panagiotakis. Panagiotakis did not make that claim. I assumed it from the excerpt below, mistaking his reference to Greek villages and how they were destroyed to actual aerial raids on major Crete cities. But I was going from memory. Big mistake. Sorry. Now, will you fire me, Rizzi?

nn

You might note below the similarities between then and now that we face as a nation in Iraq and Afghanistan'which are italicized for those who need a gentle push. From the book:

nn

“The Battle of Crete was the sequel to the German-Italian invasion of Europe. The concordant participation of civilians, old chieftains (Kaptaneoi) and allied forces gave this battle the status of an epic story. In spite of their old age and rusty weapons, those old chieftains'ex-fighters on the Macedonian front'exhibited superb courage and determination. They fought side-by-side wreaking havoc among the German parachutists and the occupation army. The Germans had grossly miscalculated the reaction of Cretans. They anticipated a friendly attitude or, at least, a neutral one. However, the attitude of Cretans was completely the opposite and the Germans suffered great losses. What frustrated Germans most, however, was the irreparable damage to their morale with the continuous undermining of their belief that anything is possible for the Whermacht.

nn

“The pilling up of Cretan resistance, the stubbornness of men, women, and children to acknowledge the superiority of the enemy in arms and their defiance of death, had a demoralizing effect of Germans. On May 31, 1941, immediately after the occupation of the island, General Student, commander of the ‘Fortress of Crete,’ having received instructions from Berlin, issued an order for reprisals on the local population. His order stated, ‘Our troops should punish the population bypassing all formalities and without having to set up extraordinary court marshals.’ The pretext behind this appalling order was that ‘murderers and monsters are not entitled to ordinary justice. Obeying this order, local commanders organized squads to take up the task of “vengeance” against the population located in areas where German parachutists had dropped and been killed. The Germans executed 10 to 40 Cretans for every dead parachutist. Executions started from villages in the province of Cydonia. Then other areas followed: Alikianos, Ayia, Vrysses, Akyrtomado, Kontamari, Sternes and Perivolia. Mass executions by German parachutists took place for the first time in Europe at Kontomari. According to Greek records, approximately 2,000 civilians were executed.

nn

“Also, the first villages to be destroyed in Europe were those of Crete. Severe punishment was imposed on villagers who sheltered the British scampering to evacuation points or landed on Crete after the Battle. The jails at Ayia, Rethymnon and Heraklion were filled with Cretans. In particular, 2,000 Cretans were jailed in Ayia where living conditions were not fit even for animals. The farmers’ crops were removed violently; men and women were taken hostage or allocated to sites for hard labor on a daily basis.nn

I asked my mom’s cousin in Crete if she remembered the Germans. Oh, yes, she said in Greek. They took our sheep, they took our goats, they emptied our gardens. Yes, I remember being very hungry. I remember.

nn

But, they forget too. Cretans seem not to despise Germans, as they distinguish them from the “crazy man” Hitler. Not to mention, Germans are buying land and building homes all over Crete. Funny how a little dialogue and some hard currency reveals we all actually have a lot in common, including the common cause of being peaceful with each other. And rare is the mistake that can’t be amended if there is a willingness to acknowledge it and move forward. Excuse me, I’m moving to an ouzo now.

nn

View Saltas’ vacation photos at flickr.com/photos/jsaltas.

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About The Author

John Saltas

John Saltas

Bio:
John Saltas is a lamb eating, Bingham Canyon native, City Weekly feller who'd rather be in Greece.

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