Come to America! Visit scenic lands stolen from the locals! Overpay for fake-buttered popcorn! Observe the sermonizing of once-fêted, belatedly reviled Hollywood phonies! Pray at Walmart! It’s all so fucking amazing!
Here you go!
September in Athens can be toasty indeed, I am rapidly finding out. Every day I start with a mental checklist of things I want to do: the Gaultier exhibit at the Benaki, the store in Kolonaki that sells the spoon sweets, the hike behind Lycabettus…then I have my first espresso freddo from Coffee Island, then the second (with extra ice) then the sun starts displaying its teeth and in a matter of minutes my list shrinks as I go from can-do to torpor beyond repair. But it’s precisely having been brought to that lazy place that let me identify a few fool-proof and mostly cost-effective ways to throw some serious shade at the monolithic heatwave that is your basic September in the Greek capital. Can’t be bothered? I know, it’s hot out. But stick with me…
1. Make a beeline for the nearest museum. And then slow down.
While there may be a deficit of cooling breezes in Athens even in late summer, there is no shortage of cultural refreshment. The hot days are a perfect opportunity to recalibrate and instead of rushing through the centuries with the velocity of a metro train racing from station to station, slowing your pace. Whether you’re at the Acropolis Museum or the Benaki or another, It’s a great way to spend time focusing on a few objects at a time instead of trying to take everything in at once (what are those hoplites smiling about? wait—is it a smile?) and to indulge in the aircon. Plus the heat is a perfect excuse to check out some of Athens’ fantastic museum cafés.
2. Ride the bus to Limanakia.
Mykonos is great, but you can’t get there by bus. But hop on the 122 from Elliniko metro station and don’t get off until you hear “Limanakia A”. There are lots of little coves starting at about Vouliagmeni, but only at Limanakia (Greek for “little port”) will you find a spot that blends city beach energy with island getaway atmosphere. But you go there less for the vibe than the water which is a clear and shimmering emerald-blue. Remember, there’s no sand here: you just walk down some rough steps, maybe grab a drink at the lone beach bar, and dive right in. Warning: the bus ride is long, crowded and bumpy and making friends along the way is not assured, but once you get there you’re going to love it.
3. Drink this lemonade.
There’s nothing like a cold frappé to start the day, but when I see Greeks clinging to their caffeine under the hot afternoon sun it makes me wonder if they have overlooked the awesomeness of the Hellenic lemon. And not all are created equal: there is something about the lemons squeezed into the Chios Fruits lemonade that will literally knock your socks off (but hopefully you are already wearing sandals by now). Because I had not tasted lemonade this completely fantastic since going to the county fair as a kid, I had to ask Yiannis Trantalis, the juice co.’s Chief Commercial Officer, what makes it so good. “We carefully select all of our citrus crop,” he told me, “paying special attention not to receive any rotten or non A-class fruits. We do all the squeezing ourselves, using the lemons’ own essential oil and pulp.” They also pasteurize the lemonade just once, “to keep it as fresh as possible.” If you can find this lemonade at a kiosk near you, and manage to get your hands on some ice cubes, you will have the answer to an Athenian heat wave in a glass.
4. Cut your hair off.
If the trip to Limanakia and the pitcher of Chios Fruits Lemonade has still not managed to keep the sweat from your brow, follow suggestion number four and cut your hair off. Okay, not all of it (although it’s certainly an option), but have you noticed all the fantastic vintage barber shops in Athens? The sun is so bright it can be easy to overlook them, but trust me they’re there and Athens could right the book on impeccable grooming. In fact it’s hard to recommend just one, but I’d say make an appointment at Aki Pierro Barber & Shop on Solonos St. Heck, I haven’t even had my hair cut there yet but I’ve visited and can tell you the guys leaving the shop look ready to walk onto a movie set. Cool stuff.
5. Party all night and sleep all day.
It was almost 9:30 the other night and was getting testy (via text, of course) with Panagiotis for making me wait to go out to dinner. “It’s still early,” he wrote. However, I have realized that if you shed the Anglo-Saxon skin a bit and start having dinner later, then go for drinks say, in Gazi later than that, you can easily transform yourself from a diurnal being dodging the bright sunlight into a creature of the night. It may not work every day of the week, but if you can live by the night two or three days a week in the hot season, you’ll feel better in the morning. Because you’ll be sleeping through it.
6. Book this room.
Finally, if your air conditioner broke or you just can’t be bothered to schlep to the beach, check into the Presidential Suite at the King George Hotel. Because there’s nothing like a view of the sun-drenched Acropolis from the comfort of your own private swimming pool. And I checked—it was booked this week, but there’s always next, and guess what? If it’s September, it’s probably gonna be hot.
1. According to Greek press reports, when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were still married, they shacked up in a semi-private, fully secret micro-resort on a rocky outcropping opposite the crowded holiday island of Santorini, where the swimming pool is all:
2. The fact that Brangelina were there does not preclude the possibility of Jennifer Aniston having also stayed there, but if she did she probably did so with someone other than Pitt. Because Jennifer symbolizes limitless talent, beauty and love, we think she might have swum (swam?) naked here as well, at the beach of Aphrodite’s rock which is technically in Cyprus, but on the Greek side of the island.
The lady on the left is very clearly possibly Jennifer Aniston, and it’s possible that after I (right) left the rock, she plunged into the aquamarine waters and had a little swim.
3. It is very likely that either Brad or Jen may have possibly at one point or another, together or separately, frolicked in the Grecian buff on the shores of this beach on the island of Milos. Milos, where they shot that stupid video for that awful song (if God exists, may She ban it), and that hasn’t yet been overrun with snarky Gallic junior executives from Louis Vuitton like the Ile-St-Louis or…Mykonos. Seriously, take a look at this piece of beach:
4. You may have heard that sexy-back-in-1984 Tom Hanks has a house on the petite Greek island of Antiparos, pictured below. Who cares, when the fact is that Jennifer Aniston was once really possibly seen on a secluded beach here swimming NAKED?
5. The 69th place on our list of places where Brad and Jen may have swam/swum naked (missed numbers 5 thru 68? We didn’t buy your booze!) is of course Mykonos. Pictured here is the Mykonos Blu Luxury Resort, which has this great beach…
….where there have been reported Aniston sightings. For our exclusive account of what happens at an amazing Greek island resort when you are neither Jennifer Aniston nor swimming naked, check out our Grecotel Caramel hotel diary here.
At any given moment in the late 1970s the mercury could be off the charts at Studio 54, the legendary ‘70s New York disco that would have turned 40 year this year—the same age, incidentally, as that of CHIC, the band Nile Rodgers co-founded with bassist Bernard Edwards and that churned out hits like Le Freak that for a time helped make America’s dance floors burn hotter than a mid-summer’s afternoon in hell. Rodgers, guitar fiend, hitmaker, chart topper, multi Grammy Award winner, Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer has by any yardstick earned the right to rest on his laurels, but such is far from the case as recent collaborations with Pharrell, Daft Punk, Disclosure and more and a fresh CHIC album and tour can attest. He is every bit as iconic as the pop legends whose work he has produced and at the youthful age of 64 a very tough act to follow. And not the easiest guy to get on the phone. But in a world without Bowie, Prince and George, Good times, these? Well, save that debate for another moment and for now consider how…
1. Nile Rodgers produced Let’s Dance, and you didn’t.
2. Nile Rodgers produced The Wild Boys, one of the best Duran Duran tracks ever…
TQ: The Wild Boys..Whose dark vision was that?
Rodgers: “Mine. You have to go back in time. We had already done The Reflex and we were great friends. After that, they were so huge they were almost like a boy band but I knew they were real musicians and they played their own stuff, whereas most boy bands are just out there to be pretty and pretend, one or 2 guys may sing, that’s the formula. I knew that Duran wasn’t that, but their fan base was treating them like that so their critics started treating them like that. So I said wait a minute guys, we have to make an extreme left turn because you are much better than that. My dilemma is that I have nothing against guilty pleasure put-together pop bands, I mean music and art is supposed to be for fun, it’s supposed to be for release, and for a lot of people that’s how they get into music, they start with a cute boy band or girl band, they speak to a certain generation, but as they get older and more sophisticated they sort of move on and they get into a higher art form. Duran Duran were at point for me where it felt like they needed to move on to a higher art form. So we did Wild Boys as a very experimental kind of project, and things just fell together with the diretor Russell Mulcahy and it sort of worked out perfectly. And there’s no other Duran record like that before or after.”
3. Nile Rodgers refreshingly reveals not loving lemonade doesn’t make you a bad person. In fact, it might even make a you a better one. Wait, what?
TQ: Those millennials…disco v. EDM…you probably know where I’m going with this…
Nile Rodgers: “We recently played Glastonbury and we had about 200,000 people at our set. Every song we play in our shows everybody knows – in fact I have a funny line I say to the crowd, ‘You know what, I’m just going to play our #1 records..it’s sort of a joke because I’ve done so many songs. So when they’re watching us play, they are actually fascinated with the technical facility of the musicianship, and that’s something that’s gone away. When we were kids, people made a big deal about the musicians and the way they could play. Now, you see a huge pop star and no one cares about the band …you know, Pink came flying down from the ceiling, Beyonce had like 45 dancers and they are all in sync and it was incredible, you know that kind of thing, but rarely do people say, Jesus Christ, Adele’s band was killing it, who’s the drummer, man they were amazing!”
4. If disco once ruled the world, that was due in no small part to Nile Rodgers and CHIC. Today, disco is mainly remembered for the backlash against it. #What’s up with that?
Nile Rodgers: “When punk rock was our biggest rival, our best friends were all the punk rock bands, the Ramones, Bow Wow Wow, Blondie…some of the bands we would actually go on to produce. Same with EDM: guys like Avicii, Disclosure, Sam Smith, they’re my best friends! Last night, at 12:46, I got an MP3 from Disclosure because they were in the studio with me and Anderson Paak and Bruno Mars..we were recording two or three weeks ago. After we finished I sent the entire session to Anderson and he probably sent some stuff off to Disclosure unbeknownst to me, so at 12:46 in the morning I get a mix saying ‘Hey Nile, I hope you dig this, this is what I did with the stuff you and Anderson were working on.’ The EDM community and CHIC, which I have to call the disco/R&B/funk community are very closely aligned..that’s why I play on so many of their records.”
Punk rockers kibitzing with the deans of disco, how unthinkable is that? Imagine the implications for erstwhile enemies Washington D.C., or the Middle East…
5. Like A Virgin
from Wikipedia: “Nile Rodgers was chosen as the primary producer of the album, due to his work with David Bowie. Rodgers enlisted the help of his former Chic bandmates Bernard Edwards, who was the bassist, and Tony Thompson, who played drums; they appeared on several tracks of the album.”
6. George Michael and that secret single everyone’s talking about…
Nile Rodgers: “I get a phone call from the estate and they say Nile, we know you’ve been reluctant to give us the music…I had finished this thing on the 22nd of December. I said I’ve been reluctant to give it you because I have so much respect for George and this is so different from what he did originally and David his producer said, you ‘ve got to think of this as like what you did for David Bowie. Let’s Dance was an album basically of old covers…you took a song like Modern Love, like China Girl…
TQ: And made them commercial, unforgettable pop hits.
all photos of Nile Rodgers by Diego Paul Sanchez