Today, Monday, May 21st is a very sad day for all of us Greek baby boomers who have learned that our beloved Harry Klynn is no longer with us. As I’m receiving “Xronia Polla” texts and phone calls (BTW Xronia Polla to all celebrating their name day) instead of having a fun day it will be a day to reflect, remember reminisce and bring out the dusty old LP’s with “Trabakoulas” a fictitious character Harry Klynn created that made all of us laugh and very few fully understand.
As a 19 year old who worked part-time at a Greek radio station at that time I had the privilege of interviewing one of the most amazing people I’ve ever come across Vasilis Triantafftlidis a philosopher posing as a comedian, one who used stand up comedy to make us Greeks think and understand that we were living in a bubble in the 80’s and the 90’s and that one day that bubble would burst to leave us naked as a people trying to figure out a few decades later what went wrong. Harry Klynn was way ahead of his time but we weren’t listening to his message because we were too busy throwing flowers at singers on a Monday night at the bouzoukia while sipping “Chivas Regan naoume” as he said.
I remember calling him to set up the interview and expected a jokester on the other line but instead in a serious soft spoken friendly tone I was given the time he’d be available. I wanted to ask him about soccer and Apollon Kalamarias a team that as an owner he had managed to bring to the first division going up against powerhouses like Olympiakos, Panathinaikos PAOK, and AEK but the interview turned into a lesson in philosophy, Greek literature and a history lesson on Pontos.
For reasons I don’t understand to this day, Harry Klynn was impressed by my questions and opened up to me in a way that a celebrity rarely does and asked me to accompany him and his staff for the weekend that he was in Philly and what a weekend it was. No, it wasn’t days of partying and smoking dope but hours of enlightenment and discussions that stuck like glue in my brain and helped me better understand the true meaning of life, the struggle of our people and unknown to me at the time, helped shape my character.
Harry Klynn was an ambassador of the Pontian people and used his celebrity status to bring the Pontian genocide at the forefront and make the rest of us aware of their history, culture and their uprooting from their homeland. The son of poor refugees, life was very harsh to the young Vasili who at the age of 5 yrs. old had to work to help feed his family and lived his life right out of the “Pontian playbook” with success and tragedy (the loss of his son Nikos) very similar to the lives of our brother and sister Pontians.
A re Harry, you might have left this world but you’ll be remembered forever. Rest In Peace, my friend.