Perhaps there’s just something in the air…or the water, but the raging populist drive reflected in Thursday’s Brexit vote and the US Presidential campaign seems to be taking root on Mykonos.
A half-dozen times this week different Mykonians lamented to me on their island’s future. That’s not unusual. I’ve been hearing similar complaints every year for over thirty years. Some say it’s only natural. :) This time, though, the complaint was specific, with each one expressly saying, “We’re turning into Las Vegas.”
That gave me a chill. No, not because of my own memories of times in Las Vegas, but because those were practically the very words I’d used to describe the potential fate of the island more than three years ago in Mykonos After Midnight (no cover shot this time).
Here is dialog from that Kaldis book #5 among Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis, his colleague Yianni Kouros, and Lefteris, a local Mykonos businessman. I’ve edited the conversation slightly so as to avoid a plot spoiler.
[It starts off with the local, Lefteris, saying,] “Can you imagine [turning] … Mykonos… into the Las Vegas of the Mediterranean?”
“And that’s a good thing?” said Kouros.
Andreas rubbed his forehead. “Don't you think the island has gone about as far off in the ‘nightlife direction’ as the Mykonians can take?”
“Maybe, but it has only profited the handful of locals who control it. Look, I love this place as much as any Mykonian. I grew up here and raised my family here. But I'm a realist. There is no going back to the old days. None. All we can do is try to protect the future, make things fairer so that no longer will one man get rich and another go to jail for doing exactly the same thing just because one has connections and the other does not.
“If we'd commit as a community to turning our island into a worldwide entertainment destination, a Las Vegas on the sea, it would become a year-round tourist attraction, and not just a place for partying kids in the summer.”
Lefteris turned his hands palms up and shrugged. “But none of that is ever going to happen...The big boys here have all the juice and the big boys elsewhere don’t want Mykonos to [succeed]. And you don't have to look very hard to see how nasty some of them are willing to play.”
[When alone with Andreas, Kouros said,] “Las Vegas may not be a bad comparison for the way Mykonos could end up. I hear it's surrounded by desert filled with never to be discovered bodies. Mykonos has the Aegean.”
“Let's hope it doesn't go that way.”
“What's to stop it? If all it takes is money to do whatever you want, those with the most get to call the shots,” said Kouros.
Andreas put his arm around Kouros’ shoulder. “If you’re right, there's nothing you or I can do to affect the end of that story; it's all up to the Mykonians.”
***So, to those Mykonians now concerned and complaining, I suggest that perhaps some constructive guidance can be found in the words of U.S. Representative and veteran civil rights leader, John Lewis, offered in his speech Wednesday announcing his and his colleagues’ determination to occupy the floor of the United States Congress until that government body addresses common sense gun-control measures.
Here are relevant excerpts from Representative Lewis’ speech, modified as indicated for local consumption.
“[You] were elected to lead, [fill in position]. [You] must be headlights, and not taillights. [You] cannot continue to stick [y]our heads in the sand and ignore the reality of [what is happening to our island]… [T]his is a fact. It is not an opinion. [You] must remove the blinders. The time for silence and patience is long gone.
We are calling on the leadership of the [island] to bring common-sense … legislation [and enforcement] to the [fore]… [You] came here to do [y]our jobs. [You] came here to work. The [Mykonian] people are demanding action.”
As Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis once said, “It’s all up to the Mykonians.”