The Greeks Just Won’t Stop Fighting and I’m Bored
It’s May 2010 and I’m sitting with my coworkers in front of the miniature TV we managed to get the IT guy to install in our office in Athens. We’re watching the news for updates on the bombing of Marfin Bank on Stadiou Street. No one in the office is doing any work. In fact, those in my department are the only people who showed up to work at all, since today marks one of the first in a series of national strikes.
Instead, we’re all crouching in front of the TV, which prompts my boss to shout from the door of her office, “Can someone tell me what could be so important that you guys have yet to post anything about Lady Gaga’s Armani costume for American Idol?” Bless her, she likes mixing her morning pills with a shot of whiskey.
One year later—October 2011—and I’ve flown to Athens from London with three VICE staffers to cover a two-day-long national strike for our series Teenage Riot. It’s boiling hot, the people are angry, and I’m an intern desperate for a job at VICE, so I spend the next couple of days running through protesting crowds and away from blocks of rock, clouds of tear gas, and flagpole-swinging communists. I have no idea how hanging out in the closet of Greek Vogue as a teenager led to this, but I’m loving it.
But now, I’m so fucking bored of it. Yesterday saw yet another national strike in Greece, one that was very similar to the one we filmed last year. The weather was perversely hot for mid-October, thousands of people gathered in Syntagma Square to protest a bunch of new austerity measures, Molotov cocktails were thrown in the air, and a man died.
I understand that should make me angry, but all it’s done is make me feel depressed and confused. It’s been three years since the bombing of Marfin Bank and, in these three years, I’ve managed to move from London to Athens, then back again, change jobs twice, go through a couple of boyfriends, drop acid at fashion week, and attend a few too many weddings.
The place where I come from, however, hasn’t changed one bit. It keeps burning itself to the ground, being refurbished, then burned down again. Every year, a little before the passing of new austerity measures, we hear that things are looking up—that the economy is back on track—only to then see bigger cuts to our parents’ pension cheques and a rise of support for the extremist right-wing party, Golden Dawn.
Is this madness ever going to end? And is protesting (read: rioting) really the best way to go about changing things?
Having fled to London just before the real shit hit the fan, I hardly feel like I have the right to pass judgement on a situation I only encounter on Christmas and during the summer holidays, so I called my friend Petros to chat about what’s going on.
VICE: Hey man. First of all, a guy died today and a guy died almost exactly one year ago.
Petros: That’s true. But the guy today died because of heart failure during the demo before any tear gas was thrown, which was what caused the death of that protester last year. Not that that makes things any better. Also, both guys were PAME (Communist front) members.
Spooky. What really upset me last year was how PAME was protesting alongside us on the first day, but turned against us by the second. My boss and I got chased by a group of men waving red flagpoles at us.
The thing with PAME is that they would always hold their own demos at completely separate times from the rest of us. So, when they announced they’d be joining in last year, that was a first. Everyone was surprised. After what happened, they announced that was the last time they were going to join in and just went back to their old way of doing things, which is meeting earlier than the rest of us, walking to the parliament, then walking right past it. That’s pretty much it. That’s what they did yesterday, too.
Members of PAME demonstrating.
So they pretty much censored themselves. What about far-right elements? What’s the presence of the Golden Dawn at demos these days?
Non-existent, or at least not obvious. Of course there must be far-right elements, but the larger sentiment is mostly liberal. In fact, a lot of yesterday’s chants were against the Golden Dawn or linking the Golden Dawn to the police. My two favorites are, “Let’s get together and kick the Nazis out of Parliament!” and “Beware, Beware. Golden Dawners in uniform!”
Last week, VICE Style found this hoodie with a built-in holster that the NRA was selling on its website. It’s an item that seems to only appeal to the most insanely paranoid gun-fetishists in America, people who might claim that Trayvon Martin would still be alive if he had been wearing one that fateful night. Or he and George Zimmerman would both be dead. Same difference, right? But that’s only the beginning of the fun, bizarre gun accessories the NRA store has to offer.
Here are a few totally reasonable things you can buy that help you protect yourself (or kill people):
NRA Total Concealment Holster
This holster manages to kill two birds with one phallus-shaped projectile. Because it allows the gun-toter to conceal a pistol right above their junk, it offers a much needed beefing-up of the bulge. And, according to the product description, “It even works on shirtless summer days!” Now, you can finally pack heat poolside! You’ll never lose Marco Polo again.
Tactical Pen (pictured above)
You never know when the time will come for you to stand your ground, which is why it is important to be able to turn a seemingly innocuous object into a serious weapon at a moment’s notice. The Tactical Pen is perfect for everyday writing, but when the shit hits the fan, like when you’re signing a check for a case of beer or putting down your John Hancock on a petition to ban gay marriage, you can turn this writing utensil into a deadly weapon. It is finally true that the pen is mightier than the sword! (The NRA also sells swords.)
Concealed Carry Day Planner
“Oh, hello there, Mr. Threat To My Person. You want to assault me? Let me check my schedule—BLAM! You’re dead now, because I had a gun in my day planner! And my wife said that this thing was a waste of 40 bucks! I can’t wait to see the expression on her face while she cleans the blood off my shoes!”
Leatherette Wrapped Flask
Let’s say you’re drinking out of your flask in the usual places—the movie theater, car, your nephew’s bar mitzvah, wherever—you probably don’t want to get hassled by some uppity usher/state patrolman/rabbi, right? You want to own a flask that says not only are you getting drunk in public, you also might have a gun on you, possibly in your day planner.