Politico: Where politics is a family affair

In July 2019 Kyriakos Mitsotakis became Greece’s prime minister,  signalling the restoration of one of the country’s most powerful political families after more than a decade of political and economic turmoil following the onset of the 2008 financial crisis.

Greek politics is incorrigibly dynastic. Since the end of military rule in 1974, leadership of the country has been passed around a handful of political families. Read more here in Politico.

LA Times: Wanted: People willing to live on a beautiful, remote Greek island

widescreen of port

A small, windswept island off the coast of Greece has ample beauty, an ancient shipwreck and flocks of migratory birds. What it lacks is people.

What’s happening on Antikythera is a microcosm of what’s going on in the entire country as Greece continues to deal with a demographic malaise exacerbated by the departure of young professionals of child-bearing years. My story in the LA Times. http://ow.ly/GgPu50uym2a

Dancing on Dionysiou Areopagitou

Summer is here. When you wander a little further away from the crowds and scooters on Makriyanni St you can sometimes be rewarded by scenes like this… dancers practising at the foot of the Acropolis. It was beautiful and serene. Enjoy.

Rent a riot

53607146_625491167912622_1976335922878218240_nFor nearly a decade Athens’s Syntagma Square was the country’s theater of war, where Greeks angry at wage and pension cuts protested outside Parliament in a hail of stones and tear gas.

But on Sunday, it was just a theater. Actors replaced anarchists. Extras stood in for riot cops. Everything rang mostly true: roars as protestors charged the police, smoke swirling from fake tear gas, a fire burning in a skip, debris.

It’s so ironic that Greece is trying to make its archaeological sites and pristine beaches the drawcard for film and TV productions when in fact it’s its more recent history as the epicentre of the European financial crisis that is more attractive to film-makers.

Investment is key now to support a recovery after Greece received what the government vowed would be its last bailout loan in August 2018. So fencing off the city’s central square on a sunny long weekend is a small price to pay for the business and publicity a big movie could bring after the bruising austerity of recent years. One of the mock protest banners at the film-shoot read:  “Greece – not for sale”. Ok, but maybe now open for business.


Goodbye Yoda

575619_3787373919907_218040913_nA friend died this weekend. He was a difficult, accomplished man, whose innate compassion came with a bluster that often scared people. It scared me when I first met him.

Yannis Behrakis was a friend. I feel lucky I could call him that. We weren’t incredibly close but I knew I could rely on him if I ever needed to. He was smart and incisive in a way few people are. He had an abruptness that I shared so I had a lot of patience for him when sometimes people would get annoyed. I privately called him “Yoda”. He hated that.

He could be incredibly kind. He found incredible satisfaction in being a father and a husband and a son. He was funny. At my wedding, while I was, pregnant, dancing, he told me to be careful, otherwise my child “would turn into frappe”. You have to be Greek to appreciate that joke.

Most of all, he had this amazing gift to see things through a camera lens few other people can. Everyone recognised that, which is why he won awards and a Pulitzer. So often I had marveled at a photo and then looked down at the caption to see Reuters/Yannis Behrakis.

I did that the other day, before Yanni died, telling an editor about an amazing photo that she should use, without knowing or remembering it was Yanni’s. It’s the one above – it says so much about the country he loved that not one of us, his print colleagues, could ever get down on paper or screen, in all the billions of words we’ve used over the years to describe what happened in this country. It was humbling.

A lot will be written about Yanni in the next few days and his pictures will be rightly republished, reminding us of incredibly difficult work he did over the years in hellish places. It’s the best tribute we could give him – remembering.