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The Return of Greece

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ATHENS—This ancient city without tourists reminds me of the Athens I once knew and loved, but for the hideous ’60s modern buildings that defaced its beauty like plastic surgery gone wrong. Walking around the winter royal palace and the national gardens, I point out some old beauties to the wife on Herod Atticus and King George II streets. The chic addresses are of friends, now mostly gone forever, and I include number 13 Herod Atticus, where over the course of six weeks the greatest classic since The Iliad was written by the famous scholar Taki back in 1974. (My publisher and dear friend Tom Stacey made close to a billion from it, and built numerous Xanadus the world over, each palace containing ten floors, each floor ten

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ATHENS—This ancient city without tourists reminds me of the Athens I once knew and loved, but for the hideous ’60s modern buildings that defaced its beauty like plastic surgery gone wrong. Walking around the winter royal palace and the national gardens, I point out some old beauties to the wife on Herod Atticus and King George II streets. The chic addresses are of friends, now mostly gone forever, and I include number 13 Herod Atticus, where over the course of six weeks the greatest classic since The Iliad was written by the famous scholar Taki back in 1974. (My publisher and dear friend Tom Stacey made close to a billion from it, and built numerous Xanadus the world over, each palace containing ten floors, each floor ten beauties.)

Now I feel like Harry Thaw, the millionaire nut who murdered the most famous architect of the time, Stanford White, correctly suspecting that White was the lover of Madame Thaw, better known as Evelyn Nesbit. (Our very own Dame Joan Collins played la Nesbit on screen.) Thaw was let out after a couple of years because the doctors ruled he was momentarily bonkers, and when he arrived in Palm Beach, where his mother was waiting for him at the station, he looked around and exclaimed: “My God, I shot the wrong architect.” If I ever wish Greeks dead, which is almost never, it is when I see the horrors they put up in place of the classics the 19th-century Germans had erected. Aside from the Plaka underneath the Acropolis, the palace area I just mentioned, and certain houses in nearby Kolonaki, the rest of the city is one long cement block after another stuffed to the gills with humanity.

And yet! The Attic sun and breezes, the Greek way of laughing off disasters and heading for the beach, the pride of the people, make it all worthwhile. I remember as a child the great hunger of 1942, when even Mussolini asked Hitler to allow some food to be distributed so millions would not starve, and going with my fräulein to an empty bakery and getting a small roll of bread. Greeks lying on the sidewalk too weak to walk did not beg. I think of them when large, tough, overweight black as well as white New Yorkers approach me on Park Avenue and ask for change “to get some food.”

Wandering around the ancient city and seeing the monuments erected to bravery, intelligence, and wisdom, my blood pressure races upward thinking of today’s monument desecrators. Athens should be their dream, their modern petulance satisfied as women, children, slaves, and foreigners were excluded from citizenship and participation in the democratic process. Our monuments, however, are sacrosanct, and even the statue of Metaxas, the dictator who faced the Axis forces in 1940, refused the Italian ultimatum, and counterattacked in Albania, a man hated by the left, stands proud and unblemished near the Hilton.

Taki Theodoracopulos
Taki Theodoracopulos (born August 11, 1936), originally named Panagiotis Theodoracopulos and best known as Taki, is a Greek journalist and writer living in New York City, London and Gstaad, Switzerland.

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