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Rain and Global Economic Crisis in Athens

Poco 1970The rains have come. Its been about 3 days of on and off rain. When its on it really rains. Those long soaking rains that you like if you are a farmer and don't if you have to walk down the street to catch the bus without an umbrella. Then when the rain stops there are these amazing cloud displays with occasional breaks and bright sunlight for a few minutes or even an hour or so. Then the clouds fill the sky again and it rains, sometimes with thunder and lightning. I stayed home tonight. It was a matter of timing. The rain came right before I was planning to go out and never really let up. I didn't even have dinner. Just a mouthful of pastourma and a delicious hefe-weisbeir that I got at the Alpha Beta supermarket down the street. Then I hung out on the couch and did something I have not done in months. I listened to music. I started with the second Poco album. Then played Emerson, Lake and Palmer: Trilogy, then Parachute by the Pretty Things, then Pierce Turner, a terrific Irish bard from NYC and finally XTC. Greece is pretty cool if you are a collector of vinyl and obscure CDs. There are a lot of shops and you usually find a surprise or two. Even in some of the big electronics shops. I was at The Mall (again) because my daughter needed kneepads for volleyball and I found a couple hundred euros of cds that I wanted. I settled for just a few of them. The Byrds: Sweetheart at the Rodeo, The Essential Ten Years After, Pictures at an Exhibition, Blind Faith, Dylan: Times They Are A Changin, and best of all an album by Spooky Tooth called Spooky Two which I had not heard in about 40 years. A classic. I passed on the first Lou Reed solo album, the one with "I Can't Stand It" and a couple Blues Magoos and Vanilla Fudge albums. There was even a Great Lost Kingston Trio cd where they all had mod haircuts and hippy clothes.

Taverna during the economic crisisWell for those of you who don't know, there is a global economic crisis of epic proportions. So how are they handling it in Greece? Same way they handle other major world events. Going out to tavernas, eating, drinking and talking about it. I am reminded of when my friend Peter came to Greece and watched the events of 9/11 as they unfolded on TV.

"Its too surreal", he told me.
"I feel like I need to go back to America so I can be stunned like everyone else. Here it is hard to give a shit. The sun is shining. People are swimming, going to tavernas, music is playing. I am suffering because I feel guilty for not suffering."

He ended up cutting his trip short and going home a week early. I sort of have that feeling... well maybe not. The Athens News had an article on why the global meltdown won't affect Greece. First of all, normal people lost all their money in the stock market meltdown of 1999 and no longer invest in the Greek stock market, which is driven by foreign investment. The Greek banks did not invest in subprime stocks and their independence from the big financial groups, "often criticized as a sign of the local economy's backwardness" has kept them insulated. Not that it matters. If everything turned upside down here people would still go out to tavernas, eat and drink and talk about it. It reminds me of my friend Stan Roman, back at UNC-Chapel Hill. He had moved to the US from somewhere in Africa and I from Greece, both countries that had gone through revolutions and military dictatorships. He said "Even if there was a revolution in the states it wouldn't be a big deal. I mean people would still be buying albums and stuff".

Kapni Karea OuzeriSo what are the Greeks thinking about our election? Well first of all something like 82% of the people here support Obama. 5% support McCain and the rest are still for JFK.

Anyway now that it is raining the Pakistanis are selling umbrellas on the street. All different colors and designs. I bought a green one with roses. Amarandi bought a solid green one. Andrea found a mangled one on the street. They only cost 5 euros and are not meant to last. You can buy one and then leave it wherever you are when the sun comes out and then buy another when it rains again. Not only are you supporting the immigrants but the umbrella you leave behind can be taken by someone who can't afford a 5 euro umbrella. And the global economy marches on. Who needs Wall Street?

Saturday is my birthday. Friday we are going to see West Side Story. We got tickets through ACS and afterwards there is a cast party we are invited to. I don't know if there are any tickets left but try and there is a contact page and someone may know. Its the Broadway production on a world tour. The next night is the long awaited Madonna concert. I don't think I will make it but if she or any of the dancers want to meet me for an ouzo or a tsipuro after the show they can send me an e-mail. Even though its my birthday I don't have plans for that night, unless of course someone throws me a surprise party. But if you are planning to throw a surprise party for me be forwarned that I might not show up if Madonna actually wants to meet me after the show. Or if not Madonna maybe Brigitte Bako. That would be pretty funny if I got lucky and scored with a big celebrity who was visiting Greece and when I brought her back to my house there was a surprise party waiting for me. Well, I guess that would be better than my wife waiting for me.

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