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The Man Behind the Gray Falcon: Interview with Nebojsa Malic

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Nebojsa Malic describes himself as a historian by education and a political analyst, columnist and blogger by circumstance. Having his name stamped on many a prolifically written political analysis, Nebojsa is best known for authoring blogs Gray Falcon (English, since 2004) and Sivi Soko (Serbian, since 2005), as well as contributing to online magazine Antiwar.com regularly, since 2000. He is also a frequent guest commentator on Russia Today and continues contributing to an array of political analysis publications in Serbia.

Born in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, thirty-seven years ago, he has been living in the United States since 1996. He currently resides in the Washington, D.C. area. His sophisticated, witty style, uncompromising, razor-sharp, thus controversial attitudes and smart cynicism earned him many fans and followers as well as scorn and criticism from anti-Serbian propagandists.

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SLM: You are one of the best known Serbian political bloggers in the United States. Please profile your audience?

NM – Very eclectic. There are Serbs, of course – both recent arrivals and older, second- or third-generation folks. But there are also Americans, Greeks, Romanians, Russians, Italians, etc. I am constantly surprised by fans who contact me from all over the world. They recognize something in what I write about that applies to their own situation, I guess.

SLM: A reader would consider you a Serb nationalist and an anti-globalist of sorts. How would you describe your ideology in a nutshell?

NM – It is difficult, because I would have to use labels that are prejudiced in advance. “Nationalist” is basically a label invented and used as an insult by anti-nationalists (first Communists, then globalists). I prefer patriot, something that ought to be completely normal and non-controversial by itself. I do oppose the postmodern omnipotent state, and its ultimate manifestation, trans-nationalism, because I consider them tyrannical. I also favor liberty (and the responsibility that comes with it). 

SLM: What is a place for a perceived Serb nationalist writer in the United States?

NM – Not in the mainstream media, for sure. But that is the beauty of the Internet, which has freed people from the constraints of the mainstream. If you don’t like the New York Times’ coverage, there is stuff like Antiwar.com (where I’ve been a columnist for 14 years now) which will give you more accurate information. On the other hand, the Serbs seem obsessed with trying to put you into a box:  Chetnik or Partisan, Democrat or Progressive, monarchist or republican, “ours” or “theirs”… And then we wonder why we can’t have nice things. 

SLM: Don’t you think it is like that with all groups of people?  Black and White? Conservative and liberal?  Republican or Democrat? Pro-Israel and pro-Palestine?  Why do you think categorizing and branding individuals is a Serbian trait rather than a human one?

NM: Everyone tends to categorize people, of course, but with most other groups the “tribal” identity is good enough to count you in; in the Serbian diaspora, being Serbian isn’t enough – you have to be the “right” kind of Serbian. Nationalism – we’re doing it wrong. 

SLM: Any message to young Serbs feeling the nationalist pride, but fearing contempt or criticism or being unable to manifest it properly?

NM – Any society that insists you be ashamed of your identity doesn’t deserve your loyalty. One should never have to apologize for existing, for having a culture, a history, a tradition – especially one so honorable, pious and freedom-loving as ours. Be proud of yourself and your heritage, but don’t be a chauvinist – i.e. express it by denigrating others. Keep the high moral ground, the “choistvo” of our ancestors. 

SLM: I once read that Serbs were ranked number one in the world for having the highest self-esteem, probably in some kind of an entertainment blog.  Would you generally agree, or would you say that Serbs are just full of themselves?

NM: Possibly because of the sort of Serb behaviors I’m dealing with on a daily basis (in politics and the media), I see expressions of extreme negativity much more often. I dare say most normal Serbs have a healthy self-esteem, as well they should, while a small group of media and political “elite” (ha!) are doing their utmost to destroy it. 

SLM: The readers of your blog get your positions on the state of Serbdom perfectly well. Please illustrate it for the SerbLife reader?

NM – For almost a hundred years now, the Serbs have been trying to escape from themselves, trying to be something else, so their false “friends”, rotten “allies” and ill-intentioned “advisers” would like them. And the more we do it, the worse off we are. The ironic thing is that ordinary Americans can totally relate to our core values – freedom, family, tradition. Many foreigners have fallen in love with the Serbs because of those values, not in spite of them. It is when we try not to be Serbs that we get lost and bogged down in misery and despair. Why pursue self-denial when it is so manifestly harmful?

SLM: The last 20 years of Serbian history have been very tumultuous. These characters played important roles in the Serbian national progress. Please characterize them as historical figures. (Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic, Zoran Djindjic, Milorad Dodik, Boris Tadic).

NM: Milosevic started the process that gave us our identity back, but didn’t realize its repression in Yugoslavia was a feature, not a bug. Karadzic led the fight of Serbs to live in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was recognized for the first time ever. Dodik is defending that recognition against all attacks, foreign and domestic. Djindjic and Tadic agreed to be used in attempts to reverse or obliterate all those gains; depending on how kind future historians may be, those two will be remembered either as traitors, or as footnotes.

SLM: As an immigrant and a keen sociopolitical observer and analyst, how do you perceive the role of the American Serb Diaspora in the overall Serb national affairs?

NM – I’m an accidental immigrant; I didn’t mean to stay here permanently, it just kind of happened. So perhaps my perspective is a little different. Serbia believes we are all spoiled rich brats who refuse to share our immense wealth and instead just want to “enjoy life” while they suffer. Meanwhile, a lot of older people in the Diaspora have this image in their minds of what Serbia should be, and it doesn’t conform to reality. So both sides are angry and disappointed, because they are working from perceptions, rather than reality. But anger and bitterness don’t build a house. Those who wish to help will always find a way.

SLM: That being said, whose shoulders does the burden fall on to reach out to the other side?

NM: My feeling is that the Diaspora has more capacity to take the initiative right now, and should do so.

SLM: Are there any Serbian activists that you follow or gain inspiration from either in Serbia or in the Diaspora?

NM: I follow a great many patriotic activists, and link to many in a weekly feature on my Serbian blog. From people who organized resistance to “color” revolutions, documentary filmmakers, bloggers, humorists, songwriters… it is actually a very long list, and I’d hate to leave anyone out. 

SLM: And the last question, on a lighter side: what kind of music would top your playlist these days?

NM: My music taste is all over the place, from Classical to Country. I’ve been on a Russian kick recently, so a lot of Elena Vaenga, Grigory Leps and the Alexandrov Red Army Choir. 

Who We Follow: DJ Bobby S.

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DJ Bobby S. the DJ formerly known as DJ Drisd or better known as Bobby (Boban) Stankovic is taking on NYC nightlife in a new body.  With a new mix that came out this October his style is ready to disarm nightclubs everywhere.  Pick up his new mix right here on Souncloud.com.  Click HERE for download.
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SLM: Bobby, what’s with the name change?
DJBS: Well, the best way to put it I suppose is that I have sort of grown out of some of my old skin and wanted a change with a fresher newer look and more of a mature approach to my dj’ing style.
SLM: Musically, where would you say your inspiration comes from?  Which DJ could you most relate to and look up to that’s made it big in the scene?
DJBS: My inspiration musically comes mainly from being a young teenager and growing up listening to rock and metal music in the early 90’s.  As a drummer for over 15 years playing in bands and playing showcases for artists, beatmatching has sort of come naturally for me.  As far as DJ inspiration, I would definitely have to say DJ’s such as DJ AM, DJ Premier and Q Bert who have paved the way for many other younger generation DJ’s.
SLM: What do you think of Dragan Roganovic, also known as DJ Dirty South, probably the most famous and popular Serb DJ out there?
DJBS: I think hes an incredible DJ/producer, and a great talent. He has developed his own style and really made a impact on the EDM scene globally.
SLM: Any big plans coming up?
DJBS: Currently I am working on traveling out to Serbia for a headlining performance at Catch night club in Novi Sad for a “NYC” Party Night, as well as some other nightclubs around Serbia.  I am also keeping busy doing mix-tapes and playing all around New York City my hometown.
SLM:  What made you stop drumming?
DJBS: I never really stopped, I’ve always had my drumset nearby, and always knew that i would keep playing. I grew up wanting to play the drums more than anything, and i will always see myself playing. Currently, im getting back into the studio to write more tracks and music with some old bandmates.
SLM: What about the Serb Nightlife scene in NY?  I know you work on some of the events and that mainstream music is your forte but how do you think it compares to other cities around the world?
DJBS: Right now I think the Serbian Nightlife scene is like no other in the country. We produce Serbian parties at some of the most exclusive venues NYC has to offer. I think the Serbian nightlife scene in NYC has come a long way and I am very proud to say that i am part of it. It’s a great feeling to be able to bring such an experience to the Serbian Community in the NYC area.
SLM:What’s your top Serb song at the moment and of all time?
DJBS: Definitely the new Ceca album, probably “Brat”. I would have to say my favorite Serbian song to play live of all time would be Vesna Zmijanac – Ide Preko Cafe Del Mar that DJ DANE and Serbocharged shared with me from Sydney Australia.
SLM: Any collaboration with the Club Parada guys in Australia coming up?
DJBS: We are always up to something.  Secrets.
SLM: Secrets don’t make friends! Just kidding!
SLM: What about mainstream, favorite of all time and current?
DJBS: Right now some of favorite new tunes to play out live are tracks by Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Charli XCX, Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea to name a few. My favorite tracks of all time to play would definitely be some of the older hip-hop from the 90’s and 2000’s. Along with many other Top 40 tracks.
SLM: Would you ever think about moving somewhere else other than NYC?
DJBS: I have always wanted to try living out on the West coast, San Diego/L.A. area. I have visited there several times and love it. I could see myself living there at some point. However, being born and raised in NYC its always a great feeling coming back because there really is no city quite like it.
SLM: What’s your policy on song requests?
DJBS: I feel as a DJ its important to know that you have to play for the crowd and give them an unforgettable experience. I always do my best to play songs that are requested and blend them in with my set, however its impossible to always be able to do that.
SLM: Play out the scenario of an annoying drunk always approaching the DJ booth to play “vozi me na pale” at high tide?
 DJBS: That’s a hard question haha, usually it only happens once or twice, I press the mute button on him but security is very good at their job, thankfully.
SLM: How’s the love life?  Settling soon or still partying on?
 DJBS:It would be nice to settle down at some point soon, but it’s not always so easy to find the right one. I must admit I love the nightlife scene, and am grateful to still be part of it, and keep the parties going.
SLM: I love the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and I understand you do as well.  How do you really feel about them?
DJBS: Its beyond love haha.  The RHCP have been a great influence on me growing up with their amazing and unique style. They were never afraid to take their music to new heights and create a sound that is like no other.
SLM: Let’s close off with some advice you can give to young-ins who want to go into the DJ scene?
DJBS: I would always tell the younger DJ’s coming up, to constantly practice and craft your skill. Know what direction you want to take your DJ skills into whether it be production, turntabalism or both. Playing out live is also a great way to gain experience with the crowd, and nightlife promoters etc.

Who We Follow: Daniela Kelava, Fitness Model

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To all the guys staring at Daniela’s gorgeous picture, you better have an extremely heavy dumbell in your hand or else get lost.  When I first reached out to Daniela it was no surprise she was responding to me from the gym.  Getting her swole on (arguably swell, but I’ll use Daniela’s terminology in this case), I was clearly bothering her and she agreed to reach out when she was done.  Four hours later she reached out and I couldn’t believe that she was in the gym that long, apparently this is standard body building procedure, but hey, “no pain, no gain”, right Daniela?.

DK: RIGHT!

SLM: Daniela, tell us a bit about yourself and bodybuilding, how did you get into it?

DK: I started working out when I was 18 years old and immediately fell in love with the changes I saw in my body, after that I decided I wanted to become a personal trainer and learn how my body works with different nutrition.  Once I figured myself out I decided I wanted to help others and share my knowledge.  After many success stories I was approached by someone who had asked me if I had ever thought about competing in the NPC (National Physique Committee).  My first bikini show in the NPC was November 2nd 2013 where I placed second in my class! Once I placed second that automatically qualified me for nationals! After taking a short break from dieting and later continuing, I decided to go for nationals in June of 2014.  Unfortunately, I did not do as well as I expected, due to being “too muscular” for my division. Yes, I said too muscular, and yes there is such a things as being too muscular for your division. After nationals I had to make a choice.  Do I stay in the bikini division or do I cross over to the figure division? The difference between the two is that bikini is more of a softer look and figure is more of a harder more muscular look.  So I decided since I already have the muscle that I would step up my game and cross over to compete with the big girls.  As of right now I am in my “bulking” phase and I am growing each day stronger and better!  Watch out for me in 2015!  It’s gonna be insane with the package I’m gonna bring!

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SLM: Where are you from back home?
DK: I am not from the motherland, I was actually born in Interlaken, Switzerland.  My mom is from Zenica and my dad is from Petrovac.
SLM: How did your parents end up there, and how was it living there?  Do you speak any Swiss languages?
DK: They took off before the war, and then my brother and I were born there, after the war ended we were forced to go back or go to Germany.  So, we went to Germany and after they wanted to kick us out too.  We decided to go to America after that.  I speak German and Serbian!
SLM: What city do you now live in?
DK: Chicago!
SLM: How long have you lived in the states?
DK: I’ve been living in the states for 15 years now. 
SLM: How many times a week do you go to the gym and how many hours a day do you spend there?
DK:  I’m in the gym 6 days a week and I usually spend a total of 4 hours in the gym! I split my workouts and cardio into 3 different time in the day because realistically who has 4 hours to spend at a gym at once haha.
SLM: If you do drink what do you drink? What’s your poison?
DK: I barely drink, but if I do drink it is a vodka soda with a lemon! My poison is sweets! I will beat up a bum for chocolate haha
SLM:  When is the last time you had cevapi in a lepina?
DK: On Sunday at my grandmas house haha.  YUM! Now your making me hungry!
SLM:  Haha good to hear, was that a cheat or part of the regime?
DK: CHEAT!
SLM: Where do you spend your time outside of the gym? another job?
DK: When I am not at the gym I’m usually at home prepping my food, watching movies, or studying! I’m a homebody I like to stay in. Very rarely will you find me out if my friends don’t drag me out.  When I am getting ready to compete FORGET IT! haha.  I also work as a personal trainer at L.A. Fitness. 
SLM: If you were my trainer how long would it take you to see my first pair of abs?
DK: That all depends in what kind of shape you’re in and how disciplined you are when it comes to your diet.
SLM: Let’s say in bad shape, very bad shape, and I was forced to eat what you told me to and you’re allowed to beat me until I get that last rep in.
DK: I can’t give you an exact time because Everyone is different but let’s say you were a 200 lbs man out of shape, my guess with a strict diet and workout routine that your would follow and not cheat on, anywhere from 3-6 months
SLM: Are you single?
DK:  I am currently seeing someone, but we have not put a title on it so far.
SLM: Pity for all the guys out there.
SLM: What is a must for a guy to even have a chance?
DK: A MUST!  For a guy is that he HAS to lift and he HAS to be big! Meaning a bodybuilder like myself. It’s very hard to be with anyone else because they don’t understand why I can’t go out, eat, or drink certain things. I’ve tried to be with people who don’t compete and it always fails. Another must is that a guy had to be intelligent, a gentlemen, and he has to be able to make me laugh. Laughter is the key to my heart next to big guns haha.
SLM: What are we going to tell all the Serbian guys after they see your InstaGram pics and this interview?
DK: Haha,GET BIG!
SLM: What kind of music do you listen to at the gym?  Any Serbian Music?  What’s your favorite song to pump iron to?
DK:  I can’t listen to just anything! I do listen to Serbian music when I hangout with my Serbian friends. While at the gym I like to listen to hip-hop and rap sometimes I’ll switch it to house music.
SLM: At what Serb event would we be most likely to catch you attending?
DK: Depending on who is coming singer wise I would probably attend the event, given the fact that I am not getting ready to compete! There is also several Serbian bars and restaurants I enjoy going to with my friends.
SLM: Last but not least, “What’s your slava baby?”
DK: Arandjelov Dan!