Biking in Athens (from an article for the Athens Voice)

actual bicycle path in athens (note pedestrian ignoring same)

I love to ride a bicycle. I love to ride a bicycle in Athens because I live here and it is here that I must express this love. Not because Athens is a great place to ride a bicycle. In fact, it is fairly difficult to ride here for a number of reasons. First off, there are no bicycle paths here (or so few that they amount to almost nothing). Second, and this should really be first, The drivers here are like some kind of wild animal. They won’t see you, and they will run you down and back over your corpse if they think they will get to their destination 5 seconds faster. You have to watch your ass carefully, paranoically. Your perception must be ever-acute. It helps to expect the worst. In any given situation, expect the driver to do the stupidest possible thing and you will never be disappointed.

Continue reading “Biking in Athens (from an article for the Athens Voice)”

Suicide at Syntagma

Suicide tree at Syntagma
The tree where Dimitris Christoulas shot himself.

 

I like Syntagma square. It used to be really nice before it got all….bummed out. The nice new marble waterfall fountains that were put in for the Olympics in 2004 were just what this polluted noisy town needed, a little grace, some good Feng Shui from the falling water and some white noise to drown out the perpetual angry hubub. Now those fountains are ripped apart, flung in the faces of the police who fling tear gas grenades back. And now this. A 77 year old retired pharmacist named Dimitris Christoulas put a gun to his head and killed himself next to a tree in Syntagma, one of the very trees that had been decorated for Christmas this year, (in lieu of a municipal tree which would surely have been burnt down).

He left this note

“The Tsolakoglou government has annihilated all traces for my survival, which was based on a very dignified pension that I alone paid for 35 years with no help from the state. And since my advanced age does not allow me a way of dynamically reacting (although if a fellow Greek were to grab a Kalashnikov, I would be right behind him), I see no other solution than this dignified end to my life, so I don’t find myself fishing through garbage cans for my sustenance. I believe that young people with no future, will one day take up arms and hang the traitors of this country at Syntagma square, just like the Italians did to Mussolini in 1945”

Candles at the suicide tree.
Candles at the suicide tree.

“Tsolakoglou government” is a reference to the first collaborator government of Greece, under the Germans during WWII.

I got nothing much else to say, but what a bummer. I have been saying that a lot these days.