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(Photos by the author)
I arrived in Athens only hours after the February 12 anti-austerity riots, the acrid odor of burnt-out banks still lingering downtown, and checked into a familiar haunt, the Hostel Zorbas on Victoria Square. The last time I stayed there, in the summer of 2001, the place still took drachmas and buzzed with backpackers just returned from Piraeus, where the ferries fan out to the pleasure islands of the Aegean. A decade later, those memories felt like the flashback scenes in The Road. This time the hostel had only two other guests. There was Anas, a young Syrian refugee planning his way north to Sweden — “They called me up for military service, and I’m not going to shoot my own people,” he was telling the desk clerk when I arrived — and there was Guy, an 18-year-old anarchist from Brooklyn. Guy was in town to forge relationships with his brothers in black and study Greek riot tactics.

Welcome to the Austerity Athens hostel scene. (more…)

March 14th, 2012 | Comments (85)

Special St. Patrick's Day "Economic Meltdown" Report: Ireland--Portrait of a Celtic Tiger as a Spotted Pond Turtle

So it’s that time of the year again. That time of the year when you put on the stupid, oversized green hat, get outrageously drunk, approach a young man/woman/shaved-ape in a bleary haze and ramble on about how your third-cousin’s…

March 16th, 2010 | Comments (68)

CNBC: A Dumb, Perky Cheerleader for the Team That Stole Our Money

There aren’t a huge number of constants in the world of finance. First of all, that word, finance, includes a guy sitting in a cube cold-calling retirees while he’s working at Fidelity. It also includes Larry Fink, the CEO of…

February 24th, 2009 | Comments (13)