July 08, 2010
Mykonos. Lying northward of the sacred island of Delos, Mykonos is as profane as it gets. Largely barren, it used to be a brothel during ancient times, or so Herodotus tells us, and it continues its erotic, carnal ways as the mecca of gay and lesbian love. Sir Elton and lady John were just here, received like royalty by the gay community which is comprised mostly of foreigners. The locals are very liberal in their acceptance of “foreign customs,” as they call them, “as long as nobody comes near my children.”
The place was known only to a few of us back in the late fifties for its white-washed picturesque houses, 365 churches, and windmills. Then Cole Porter visited on a private boat, word got out about the clearest water in the whole wide Med, and then came the end: Jackie Kennedy arrived while her hubby was in the White House and went shopping. The next thing we knew a boutique selling sandals, fake Pucci blouses, and all sorts of trinkets popped up on the ground floor of every house around the port, soon to be followed by thousands of gays who discovered the greatest beaches to run around nude in this side of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Well, you can guess the rest. Gays and straights have coexisted peacefully ever since, while real estate sharks descended on the island and began to build houses for rich Athenians bored looking at the Parthenon year round. Mind you, although the place exploded with cheap tourism and cheaper nightclubs and restaurants, the local authorities kept to the island style, and no matter how rich and bullying the tycoon, the houses, some of them worth in the tens of millions, all have to adhere to the white-washed picturesque design Mykonians made their own long ago.
I used to write regularly about Mykonos as I would sail over from Athens every chance I got. I used to bring the Greek karate team over on my boat as the boys needed rest and recreation after our exertions on the mainland, and although I say so myself, we never lost a fight in a club throughout the 70s and 80s. And for some strange reason we always got the girl, or so we told each other. Then I got old, karate changed into a sport—people flicking at each other and getting points as a result—Mykonos got much too popular, so I started spending my summers in Gstaad looking at grazing cows. It was fun while it lasted but I quickly got bored. Cows are sweet but do not contribute much when engaged in a quasi-intellectual conversation. Back to basics, I told myself.
This is the second visit to Mykonos on Bushido, which I built in 2004. The first time I fell over in the dark onto two men engaged in you-know-what I swore at them, but they turned out to be two Russians sleeping al-fresco who did not take kindly to my insults. This time I’m over for my friend George Embirikos’s 50th birthday party which was held over three days—nights rather. Many of the 150 some guests came over on their boats, which the dreaded Meltemi—a wind that has been known to rip the horns off cuckolds—has forced into Ornos Bay, turning that particular cove into a tax collector’s wet dream. While government choppers have been hovering above photographing expensive houses with large swimming pools whose owners have declared tiny incomes, some wise guy inspector decided to shoot two birds with one cartridge and took pictures of yachts to boot. It got so bad that some of us decided our host must be a government informant. Still, I had a grand time, beating my record of 18 vodkas with ice and cranberry juice for the evening, and not a hint of a hangover the next day because of the Rubirosa rule of “Todo Liquido.” Which means do not mix your drinks and do not ingest any food, not even one hors d’oeuvres.
Joking aside, the birthplace of selective democracy is in a real mess. The rot began with Andreas Papandreou back in 1981 when he decided—like Gordon Brown—to bribe every Greek with state subsidies so he can remain in power forever. After twenty years of socialism, came a big blob of a man, Costa Karamanlis posing as a conservative, and his scandals were even worse than those of Ali Babandreou. After five years of cheating the electorate kicked him out and voted in the son of Ali Baba. George Papandreou means well but the Greeks are Greeks. The tax system has not been overhauled, the economy has not been streamlined, and growth has not been stimulated. Although the system is rotten to the core, cleaning out the Augean Stables by imprisoning ministers and politicians who have made great fortunes through kickbacks and out and out bribery is not in the cards. Papandreou hasn’t got the guts to do it. The great Greek thinker Taki says do it and the system will change. The people want it, Taki wants it, but those at the top haven’t got the balls to even begin.
Worse, the loyal opposition, headed by a bum called Samaras, is playing politics and saying we don’t need foreign help. In other words, let the country go to hell as long as we get our hands on government limos. Samaras is the lowest type of worm—I once beat him in the Greek tennis nationals 6-0, 6-0, and he asked the ref to put up 6-4, 6-4, on the board, and like a fool I agreed—who has betrayed everyone who has ever helped him. Poor old Hellas.