Monthly Archives: December 2011

Mr. Freeman wishes you…

On the dysfunctional year that ends today

I woke up and started reading a couple of blogs with my morning coffee. The majority of them reminded me that this is the last day of the year. I thought of translating two small abstracts to give you an idea of how this otherwise joyous day is experienced in Greece. Yes, there’s plenty of pessimism in them.

"Disfunction" by Susana Blasco

Author and veteran blogger Nikos Dimou wrote:

I was asked to give a label on 2011. I spontaneously answered “A year lost”. Then I remembered 2010 and I added “one more”.

Greece’s most read blogger, Pitsirikos, wrote:

The year 2011 was a beautiful and “useful year”. It was the year that the Greek society had a mirror turned towards itself and was told “That’s who you are!”.

Off I go now to have my second cup of coffee in downtown Athens with one of my best friends. He was laid off three days ago.

Jesus Christ! Here comes the troika!

Jesus Christ! Here comes the troika!

Made by street artist Absent.

Merry crisis

Some photos to “celebrate” the day… This is Christmas 2011 in Greece.

“Naked Christmas” by bleeps.gr (photo by G. Nikolakopoulos)

Season’s Greektings by Greek illustrator Spyros Derveniotis.

Season’s Greektings by Spyros Derveniotis

 Daniel, a British Erasmus student in Athens, sent me this photo – it’s a motto that has been around since the 2008 killing of Alexis Grigoropoulos by a policeman, an assassination that caused a rioting chaos in Athens for more than a month. Daniel took this photo in Panteion University.

Photo by Daniel @ Panteion University

Here’s another photo from the same door (not that it makes more sense, I just found it by chance)

Merry Crisis @ Panteion University

This is a graffiti on the external wall of Athens University’s old building (now mainly used for graduation ceremonies). I think the graffiti has been taken off by now.

Merry crisis @ Athens Kapodistrian University

The motto inspired a stencil artist too. The location is unknown.ste

Merry crisis stencil

If I am not mistaken, this graffiti was on the external wall of the Central Bank of Greece, at Panepistimiou street.

Merry crisis @ the Central Bank of Greece

Here’s a video from the city-sponsored Christmas tree in Syntagma square, back in 2008. Its burning was an unforgettable view. For almost a decade, the city’s mayors were proud of wasting thousands of euros to build “the tallest christmas tree in Europe”. This shallow megalomania that only needed a spark to show the void spirit of our corrupt politicians.

At first, people decorated the tree with garbage bags.

Then the tree was set on fire.

As you can see, that night, riot police used tear gas to disperse the crowd. It was a very moving view.

Finally, here’s a video by Ross Domoney, with a short historical background on the Alexis Grigoropoulos’ assassination and footage from this year’s demo which commemmorated the killing.

Exploring Revolt in Greece from Ross Domoney on Vimeo.

Days of strike (trailer)

Here’s the trailer of a short documentary I produced with my colleague, Yannis Vakrinos. It’s about the strike at Halyvourgia Ellados, one of the biggest strikes in Greece for the past 2 or 3 decades.

Here’s the trailer (subtitles in English are incorporated in YouTube)

The story goes like this: the company asked from its workers to stop working 8hrs per day, 5 days per week, and work instead for a total of 25 hrs per week, accompanied of course with a 40% cut in their salaries. If this was not accepted, the company’s owner said that he would have to fire 180 people, almost half of them. The justification for this was the economic crisis. However, workers said that production was surprisingly going up at around 70% between 2009-2011 and that their factory was so busy last summer that they hardly took any holidays.

The company’s administration has so far layed off 50 people. The workers were notified by a paper stuck on their home’s doors. Yes, they went to work in the morning and when they returned they found the paper there.

The worker’s, and not just them, believe that once this ground-breaking measure passes from their factory, it will spread all over the economy. So they feel as if they are protecting the last barrier which could stop the cuts and the abolition of the “8hrs/5days per week” right. Their struggle moved thousands of Greeks who arrive at the factory every day and bring food, medicines and money to the workers. They know that this strike must last, otherwise they will be the next ones to face the same cuts. As one steel worker said “if my salary is reduced from 800 euros to 500 euros, what would the super-market employee negotiate about? Will he be able to ask for 800? His boss will say that steel workers earn 500 euros and they are working under extreme conditions so his super-market employee should be happy with 400 euros!”.

The video will be hosted by Greek satirical team Ellinofreneia’s website but will not be under copyright restrictions. So, feel free to share it around. Thanks.

Did anybody see my future?

"Did anybody see my future?"

Photo taken from political zoo.

Pangalos’ reception in Berlin

This  is how the vice-president of the Greek government, Theodoros Pangalos, was received in Berlin by local Greek activists (of the Real Democracy movement). The banner stated support for the 400 strikers of Hellenic Halyvourgia steel industry. They’ve been on strike for about two months, one of the biggest labor actions for decades. The strike has been greatly underreported in the Greek media, causing concern and suspicion.

A poll for Papademos

PM Lucas Papademos at the Greek Parliament

A new opinion poll is presented today by Sunday’s Ethnos newspaper. It’s questions (and the results as a consequence) are constructed in a way to show that Lucas Papademos is the best we (can) have. Here are the results and some comments from me (in italics).

The participants were asked to choose between two politicians on who is the most appropriate for Prime Minister.

Current PM Lucas Papademos scored 54,3% against New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, who got 21,7%, while 24% denied to give an answer.

Against PASOK’s George Papandreou, Lucas Papademos was preferred by 71,8% to only 3,8%. Another 24,4% did not reply.

Between Antonis Samaras and George Papandreou the score was 38,3% to 10,7%. The remaining 51% did not reply.

This looked a bit dodgy to me as I haven’t seen this practice for a long time. Placing Papademos in a dilemma against worn out politicians, bearing their sins from the past, makes him look like the Messiah. Indirectly what I can see is the need for new political parties rather than the legimization of the technocrats around Europe. He is not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy.

On whether the co-operation government under Lucas Papademos is a positive or negative development for our country, 40,4% replied “Positive”, 16,6% replied “rather positive”, 9% replied “rather negative” and 37,7% gave a negative answer while 6,8% did not reply.

35,7% of the interviewees had a positive view of Papademos, 27% had a “rather positive” view, 10,4% was rather negative and the stance for the 19,3% was simply negative. A no-reply was given by 7,6%.

Surprisingly there was a question on whether the interviewee wished that the new government’s efforts suceed. An 83,6% replied “Yes”, a 4,4% did not want to give an answer and a whole 12% wished that their efforts will not suceed.

You might wander, why on earth are there Greeks who wish to see their country failing? well, this is a characteristic of this nation since antiquity, it never unites until it’s inevitable or until there is a common foreign ennemy. A reason for wanting this government to fail might also be a need to show that technocrats’ governments are not efficient. In any case, it’s not just the “irresponsible” citizens/interviewees who think that way. One simply has to see behind the current government’s (of cooperation?) sluggishness and he’ll discover Ministers sabotaging one another in view of the next elections. An illegitimate government that feels that way and has its mind in the elections.

Back to the poll, 13,2% would like to see Papademos becoming a politician with one of the existing political parties after the end of the current administration, a 35,3% wishes to see him stepping down from politics and a 30,5% wants Papademos to found a new party. The rest 21% had no opinion on the matter.

As for popularity, here’s the ranking.

Lucas Papademos: 62,7% positive/rather positive view and 29,7% negative/rather negative view.

Fotis Kouvelis (Democratic Left): 47,3% positive/rather positive view and 44,7% negative/rather negative view.

Giannis Dimaras (Panhellenic Citizens’ Chariot): 36,8% positive/rather positive view and 52,4% negative/rather negative view.

Alexis Tsipras (SYRIZA): 35,5% positive/rather positive view and 62,4% negative/rather negative view.

Antonis Samaras (New Democracy): 31,4% positive/rather positive view and 66% negative/rather negative view.

Giorgos Karatzaferis (LAOS): 27,5% positive/rather positive view and 70,5% negative/rather negative view.

Aleka Papariga (Communist Party): 24,3% positive/rather positive view and 72,6% negative/rather negative view.

Dora Bakoyannis (Democratic Alliance): 19% positive/rather positive view and 78,5% negative/rather negative view.

George Papandreou (PASOK): 15,6% positive/rather positive view and 83,7% negative/rather negative view.

Wake up!

"Wake up!" from bleeps.gr

On Loukanikos, the riot dog

A couple of days ago I’ve read that Loukanikos, Athens’ riot dog, was included among TIME’s Person of the Year feature story. Its central subject was “The Protester”.

Loukanikos posing for TIME Magazine

Loukanikos posing for TIME Magazine

Loukanikos with Patrick Witty and Peter Hapak after his portrait session for the TIME magazine.

Greece has a history in so-called “riot dogs“. There was Kanellos, now we have Loukanikos, who became internationaly known from a BBC video about the Greek protester’s front line dog. TIME Magazine’s website also hosts a collection of photos with Loukanikos’ appearances. Click here to see the gallery.

Thanks to modern technology, Loukanikos manages to become a sort of a pop idol. Videos in YouTube praising his braveness, blogs, facebook groups that want Loukanikos for Prime Minister, etc. Here’s an animation by Norwegian Flash-animator Bjørn-Magne Stuestøl (www.shagrat.net) in collaboration with David Rovics (from his “Big Red Sessions”-album -free for download at www.davidrovics.com– the song “Riot Dog” is David’s salute to this brave dog’s fight for justice in the economic turmoil that has hit Greece).

A high quality Flash edition of the animation can be seen here:
www.shagrat.net/riot.html

One of my favourite photos of Loukanikos had featured in a contest for Nikon.

Loukanikos “I am the Resistance”

The photo was taken by Aris Messinis (AFP/Getty Images) and can be seen in full here.

And here are some pop graphics of the canine resistance idol.

Loukanikos Che Guevara-style

Loukanikos Obama-style

If you’re interested in following Loukanikos’ activity, follow the Rebel Dog blog which posts photos sent from various people who have met the four-feet rebel.

Greek_riot_dog_by_Latuff2

Loukanikos drawn by Brazilian cartoonist Latuff in 2010.

Isn’t he adorable?