Saturday, August 12, 2017

It's Time to Save Mykonos.


I was inspired to write a piece on Mykonos this week based upon an article I’d read in the Greek online newspaper, Protothema, offering a disturbing assessment of the state of our island (For those interested in reading the article, if it doesn’t automatically translate into English, you can get its essence through Google Translate). As I started to write my post, I experienced a sense of déjà vu, and so, I dropped “Mykonos” and “crime” into my browser and voilà, up popped a post I’d written three years ago almost to the day. Titled “Mykonos Shame On You.”

I couldn’t believe it.  The points I’d covered back then within the power and authority of the municipality to address had not only festered or worsened, but in neglect had attracted a host of additional opportunistic, insidious infections.

The only genuine improvement to what I’d described back then was that the island no longer faced drought, something I think all would agree was attributable to divine intervention raining down on the island, not political will.

Come to think of it, from the way things are going over here, divine intervention may be its only salvation.

In my original piece I wrote, “The new mayor does not take office until September [2014], so none of what I’m about to say is directed at him, except of course to point out what I trust he already knows: Mykonos is in desperate need of order.”

Three years have passed, and as I said at the time to the newly elected Mayor when handing him a copy of my then new novel, “Mykonos After Midnight,” fictionalizing where I thought the island was headed, “If this book comes true, it’s on your watch. So take care.”

Three years have passed…on his watch.

In the interest of full disclosure, it’s well known that I’m a close friend of the candidate that the Mayor defeated for office.  But I’m also a close friend of Mykonians of all political persuasions who feel defeated by the current state and direction of their island. In that, Mykonians are not alone, for international party hotspots, such as Spain’s Ibiza and Mallorca, face similar threats, yet they are taking action to contest their fates, and not just sitting idly by in the cannibals’ pot enjoying all the dancing around them as the heat cooks them up for dinner.

Here’s what I wrote three years ago. Kick it up a quantum level or so for a better idea of the tack Mykonos is on, and with no course correction in sight, I fear for its future. 

As I said then, and repeat now, Mykonos is in desperate need of order.

A half-dozen years ago, one of the fictional characters in my debut novel, Murder in Mykonos, said, “I’m like a Mykonian: I’m used to living in a bordello—filled with police.”

Just the other day I heard a Mykonian say, “Mykonos is a brothel run by police.”

I guess you could call that evolution.

Frankly, I’m not sure who’s running it now.  Certainly not its elected officials.  The new mayor does not take office until September, so none of what I’m about to say is directed at him, except of course to point out what I trust he already knows: Mykonos is in desperate need of order.

Those with influence build as they wish wherever they want—beaches and building codes be damned; all drive and park with reckless disregard for each other and pedestrians; garbage and construction materials are dumped with impunity wherever convenient; noise regulations are disregarded if it stands to make the right folks money; and municipal licensing and tax laws selectively ignored or unenforced.

And why, pray tell, is all this done?

For the benefit of the tourists is the answer, or rather the benefit of those who profit off their presence—for one could hardly say the lack of pedestrian walkways, taxis, and public bus transportation benefits tourists.

Yet, it’s incontrovertible that tourists love it here.  At least a certain kind of tourist does. Why wouldn’t they?  Amid its beautiful beaches, heavenly weather, and pristine sea they can behave in a manner utterly unthinkable back home, for Mykonos has evolved into a place where rules are not enforced nor statistics made public that might shock some into clearer thinking on the downsides of unfettered personal freedom amid a place literally immersed in natural (and artificial) intoxicants.

It’s a three-month open party. One that Mykonians once treated as a harmless tourist tsunami—sweeping in each June and receding by September—providing what they needed to keep their treasured island alive for the balance of the year. But the tsunami now carries away far more than it contributes, draining away the very spirit and identity of the island.

It is a place for profiteers unconcerned with the long-term health of the island. The businessman who avoids paying the fees and taxes he legitimately owes is not a colorful character beating the system, he’s a villain wrecking the future of every Mykonian child in the island’s underfunded schools, damaging the year-round quality of life for every Mykonian who must suffer with bad roads, understaffed public health facilities, and garbage polluting every vista, every nostril, every day. 

And it is a place where thousands of fish are about to die as one of its two municipal reservoirs runs dry because of poor municipal planning. There is an old adage that “a fish stinks from the head down.” In this case I think there are thousands of heads to blame.

Welcome to September, Mr. Mayor, we’re all rooting for you.




  1. I'd suggest that maybe you should run for mayor, but I wouldn't wish that on someone I care about, and the moneyed interests wouldn't allow to be done what needs to be done anyway. Why do I feel the urge to quote Dante? Instead, I'll quote President Potato-Head: Sad.

  2. Interesting you should refer to Dante, EvKa, for it was the thought behind this quote of his that inspired me to write this post:

    “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.”
    ― Dante Alighieri

  3. Dante was right.

    And his words should be echoed right here in the States, especially after the needless tragedy in Charlottesville, Va.

    And the so-called government in Washington should be ashamed -- and more -- for its response.