Author Archives: Alexander Billinis

Obsessed with traces of lost empires (especially the Byzantine and the Hapsburg), Alexander Billinis self-identifies as an American-Generation-X-Liberal, but with a European’s faith in social democracy. An international banker who's spent much of his career in the Europe of the Financial Crisis, Billinis has most recently lived in Chicago and in Sombor, Serbia, in the multi-ethnic province of Vojvodina. Before that, he lived in the UK and Greece. A bi-national citizen of the United States and Greece, with a facility in several languages, this “Roaming East Roman” has now returned to the United States for the foreseeable future, unearthing his law degree to practice the law; and writing and lecturing on the side. His book, The Eagle has Two Faces: Journeys through Byzantine Europe, is a travelogue of the Balkans, Asia Minor, and Southern Italy. His second book, a novel, Hidden Mosaics: An Aegean Tale, reveals the common heritage of an Aegean littoral now divided up by exclusivist states. Both books are available via amazon.com and other online vendors.

Unmasked Nostalgia

“As the years have passed for me here, and particularly in fractious 2016, I fear that the age of multiple masks, and luminous, colorful ones, is yielding to that of the mono-mask.”—By Alexander Billinis Roaming East Roman By Alexander Billinis CHICAGO Illinois—(Weekly Hubris)—December 2016—Some people wear the mask of only one nation, assigned them at […]

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When “No” Actually Means “Yes”

“My family’s three-year sojourn in London was a great adventure and a linguistic one as well. On one particular occasion, after a long series of management meetings punctuated by British colloquialisms, I threw up my hands: ‘Such a strange language you speak, so different from English.’”—Alexander Billinis Roaming East Roman By Alexander Billinis CHICAGO Illinois—(Weekly […]

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Bulkes: The “Greek Republic” that “Never Existed”

“‘It was more than that, much more,’ Bincho said, pulling on the last tobacco in his cigarette. ‘They had their own ‘civil war’, a Bartolomeski Noc, or St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.’ I looked blank. ‘A terrible mass killing, here in the middle of Yugoslavia, and in the midst of the Greek Civil War.’ Standing up, […]

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Easter Eggcentricity

“There’s a saying, in the Balkans: ‘Only an onion skin separates one people from the other.’ We are so similar, one to another, despite perceived differences (though our misperceptions are often strong enough to bring us to blows). We are one people, and this is nowhere truer than in the Eastern Mediterranean.”—Alexander Billinis Roaming East […]

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Thessaloniki Comfort Food

“Both of us were now full-on hungry, and hot in the midday Macedonian sun, and we retreated into a stoa, one of the arcaded pedestrian streets which define Europe’s great cities. Here in Thessaloniki, a stoa typically has a feel part Viennese, part Ottoman. The elegance of the past confronts a present tense of peeling […]

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The ‘Rakija’ Purchase

“We sat down, and before anything else appeared, the waiter returned with a small clear glass bottle containing his rakija, nearly a fourth of a liter of it, and it was 10 a.m.!  Smooth, no bite, and the delightful aftertaste of raspberry, but just as subtle as the drink was smooth. When homemade spirits are […]

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Stolen Figs, Stolen Spuds

“Turning his sparkling Corfiot eyes my way, he said, ‘Alekaki, row me to the shore,’ grinning as he stripped down to his Fruit-of-the-Loom tank top and same-brand tighty-whities: ‘We’re off to steal figs!’”—Alexander Billinis Roaming East Roman By Alexander Billinis CHICAGO Illinois—(Weekly Hubris)—1/25/2016—I remember it well, particularly on a freezing day here in Chicago, though […]

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“Monumenticide” & Edifice Complexes

“In the YouTube era, we bear witness in near real time to what ISIS is doing to our shared history. Culture expressed in stone, a past preserved, simply ‘has to go’ for such barbarians. The destruction of ancient architectural sites and works of art, in this era of greater sensitivity to cultural preservation, comprises a […]

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The Joys of “Avjar”: Culinary Memory Lane

“My kids helped out, when not goofing off in the garden. We cleaned each pepper thoroughly, and then pulled out the barbecue for the grilling. Given the size of our grill, this process took several hours, with breaks for a large lunch of Greek salad, grilled pork chops, last year’s Ajvar, and liberal draughts of […]

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Drinking with Thracians . . .

“We were all Greek citizens, and proud to be: yet we were so different. I was Greek yet American-born and bred; the other three were born in Greece, and in Thrace, specifically. One of the professors had origins in Asia Minor; the other was Thracian, but with roots in Eastern Thrace, now Turkey. The only true local, […]

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