Adding up the aftermath

Stephen Lewis was wise to turn down the opportunity to participate in a Ponzi scheme in a time and place where the downside of failure was absolute. The lesson:

  Fast-forward a decade to 2005, Bulgaria is about to enter the European Union and bank and insurance moguls whose memories are the only remaining links to the identities of initial depositors and investors are being shot wholesale in gangland-style slayings. On a wintry Sunday, I join a friend for an early morning hike part-way around the base of Vitosha mountain, just outside of Sofia. At the town of Bistritsa we leave the hiking path in search of a restaurant serving tripe soup and grappa (shkembe chorba and rakiya to afficionados). As we enter Bistritsa we pass a neighborhood of immense homes worthy of present day Las Vegas or 1970s American television soap operas about the scandalous lives of California rich. On the gated entrance way of every third or fourth such mansion are posted Necrologs — paper fliers announcing or commemorating the deaths — of the home’s owner. Most of the deceased seem relatively young and few likely to have died from natural causes. My hiking companion, a retired journalist explains … some of the deceased are businessmen, some are gangland heavies and “narco-millionaires,” and others are “credit-millionaires” i.e people who had borrowed large sums of money from banks on behalf of others and made fortunes on commissions for doing so.

This is one in a series of thoughtful posts that combine Steve’s wide travels and deep cultural understands with his photography. While some are timely, all are timeless. Samples here, here, here and here.

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