‘I Nearly Slapped My Little Cousin’s Face’: A Letter to The Observer

economakis I Nearly Slapped My Little Cousins Face: A Letter to The ObserverIt’s been well over a month since I received one of the most riveting letters in the history of letter writing. It’s an e-mail from a man who says he’s the eldest cousin of Alistair Economakis–the landlord that’s awfully close to turning the 15-unit, 60-room tenement building he owns at 47 East Third Street into a mansion for his family.

Despite several e-mails sent from The Observer to the landlord’s lawyer (as well as to that lawyer’s spokesperson) asking to confirm that Mr. Economakis has a cousin named Evel, we still haven’t heard anything one way or the other. So take the letter with a grain of salt.

 

Dear Mr. Abelson,

Your recent story about New York landlord Alistair Economakis’s fight to rid the five-story tenement on 47 East Third Street of its tenants has disturbed me, but it hasn’t surprised me. That’s because I have known Alistair’s family for many years now. You see, I have the misfortune of being his first—and eldest—cousin.

Alistair was always a rich brat. I remember once, in some village in southern Greece, he stuck his five-year-old head out of his father’s—my uncle’s—car, and, encouraged by his guffawing dad, shouted insults at elderly women, calling them "hags". I nearly slapped my little cousin’s face for that. I regret now I didn’t.

The apple doesn’t usually fall far from the tree. My uncle Alexander (Alistair’s father) is a philandering old playboy who idolizes the worst in America—including the robber barons of the 19th century. Back in 2005, when I first learned of the scandal brewing in New York around the Economakis name, I asked my uncle if it was true Alistair was trying to evict people from the building in the East Village. His answer, word-for-word, was: "Yes, and good for him—most of the tenants are Jews anyway. He’ll make a killing when he sells the building."

Shocked? You shouldn’t be. It’s almost impossible to be filthy rich and not be a rotten scoundrel inside. After all, behind most great fortunes lies a crime. But Alistair and his wife Catherine Economakis (who is much wealthier than my cousin, and is the real force behind the scenes) will reap what they’ve sown. Their crime will come back—again and again, for as long as they live—to haunt them. Of this I haven’t the slightest doubt.

My cousin, who grew up in Greece and England, wraps himself in the American flag and evokes the U.S. Constitution to "justify" his family’s need to live in 60 rooms, in a 11,000-square-foot home. I’ve read the popular outcry, the indignant outrage. Yet what do people expect from the likes of my cousin and his wife? Crying "shame!" or noting the irony in the fact that Alistair’s mother-in-law is a Columbia University dean who teaches urban studies, of all things, is an exercise in futility. I can assure you they aren’t at all fazed by such criticism.

So many good people bemoan the legal ruling allowing the eviction to take place. This is naïve. Who makes the laws, after all? The government does. And what is the government but the representative of a country’s ruling class? What do low-income tenants expect from the enemy, after all?

Yet what goes around tends to come around. You can spit on the collective—as Alistair and Cathy Economakis have done, but it’s quite another thing when the collective turns around and spits on you!

Low income tenants of New York! Run the Economakises—and all human lice like them—out of town! Turn their "American dream"—a dream at your expense—into a real nightmare! Give them no quarter! Make it physically and psychologically impossible for them to evict you! Send THEM packing!

 

Evel Economakis

Athens, Greece