Thursday, May 28, 2009
Polytechnic University and Babylon Fest
Yesterday in the afternoon we made our way back to Exarchia with a Dutch girl who was staying at our squat. Our main goal was to see the infamous Polytechnic university. The university had been involved in the uprising against the Greek military Junta in 1973 and was also the most prominent university in the December uprising. Greek Anarchists and some communists had used it as a base to launch protests and to store molotov cocktails in December and January.
We made ourway to the University, not paying our fares on the metro (its an honor system going in and occasionally Greek police check--none of the anarchists pay). The university is covered in amazing Graffiti. Though not all of it is Anarchist as one would expect. The Greek Communist Party,KKE, has a lot of grafitti on the walls too and a bunch of hammer and sickle signs. They have memorialized the crushed gates that a tank had rolled over in1973. It was also funny how every student we saw was wearing black. We looked like outsiders, especially cause we were taking lots of pictures.
After being blown away by the Polytechnic University, we walked through a largely immigrant neighborhood. An older ethnically Greek man walking in front of us kept saying "Dont walk in my country" in English to every immigrant that walked past. He was also saying other stuff that I cant remember.
As we walked into the square where the Dutch girl, Arisa, had some friends, we sat and drank some vodka and tsiporo. Then we watched as Arisa and her friends spun and ate fire. Maria made friends with one of the firespinners who was originally from Spain, but had been living in Greece for about 10 years. Her name was also Maria and the two Marias spent most of the night hanging out and dancing. (this is her pictured below with a little girl hugging her.)
After a few hours, of a beautiful view and hanging out with some firespinners, they told us that they were going to a concert. Andy and Joe went back to the Squat and Maria, Dan, and I left with them. We made our way, with the marias dancing to bongo music and guitar, to what turned out to be the European Jazz festival. The Greek Maria turned out to be adept at scoring free drinks and free everything and after several drinks and some smooth Jazz they told us that there was another concert they were going to. We followed them again even further away from our squat and grabbed a bus. As luck would have it, Stratos and another Greek anarchist from our squat was on the bus. We got off in the same spot and we quickly realized that this "concert" was actually Babylon Fest (a massive 4 day long Anarchist festival). The concert was free and many Greek bands were there. Chomsky and Zinn were just some of the speakers who were supposed to headline in. There were also many Anarchist groups and unions including the CGT with all their books and literature (in Greek unfortunately). There were definitely over 10,000 Greek youths the night went (it was ridiculous). The Marias danced to punk and reggae and jazz, while Dan and I scoped out stuff and rocked out to a Greek Metal band. All in all a good night!.... Athens is the most radical city ever!