CULTURE

The art director

In late November, an architect friend from Rome was telling me of the changes he had observed in Athens – not always in the most favorable light. Suddenly, he turned to the subject of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Athens Olympics, which he had watched on television back home. He was enchanted. His sweeping praise competed with his minute descriptions of all the small details he had enjoyed, revealing honest enthusiasm. I had thought, of course, that they would appeal to foreigners, especially to cultivated ones like Claudio, but how would they have seemed, I wondered, to simple folk? «I will have you know,» he answered, «that the day after, everyone in the neighborhood – the greengrocer, the people at work, everyone – was going on about how magical and moving the spectacles were… Especially the opening ceremony, which in one night transformed into admiration all the snide comments as to whether Athens would be ready on time, on the ‘accident’ by [sprinters] Kenteris and Thanou. Tell me, who created the ceremonies?» I then went on to tell him everything about the man who gave us so much joy and made us so proud, for the unrivaled «Face of the Year,» the artistic director of the ceremonies, Dimitris Papaioannou.