THIS BLOG IS CLOSED; POSTS ARE ARCHIVED ON MY NEW SITE
An updated biography is here.
When I resigned from The New York Times to run a music festival in Belgrade, I thought I was walking out on journalism. Instead, I started trying to make some sense of it, along with myself and the world. This website compiles assorted efforts.
I spent most of last year writing a book, which is awaiting publication. I’m now working on the next one. In 2009, I published a fake Financial Times from the future. I also wrote Barack Obama’s Nobel prize speech.
I was posted to the Balkans by chance, having trained as a reporter at Reuters. At 26, I was running their Romanian bureau, and from there I was assigned to Macedonia, to cover an Albanian insurgency. In the summer of 2001, this story led world news bulletins. After 11 September, it disappeared, along with most Balkan war correspondents, who decamped to West Asia and Afghanistan. This got me hired by The New York Times.
My job was to monitor whether Serbs had accepted guilt for the Yugoslav wars. But there wasn’t space to question Western policy, so I did it under a pseudonym instead. And while I traipsed around old crime scenes, denouncing subservience to warmongers, the Times was enabling the invasion of Iraq, on the same pre-emptive pretext as Slobodan Milosevic.
Promoting artists felt more honest, and our festival taught me a lot. About 150,000 people came, but most of the takings vanished, despite (or because of) us hiring hundreds of jump-suited gunmen as security. They came recommended by the government. “Mired in what, from the outside, looked like true Balkan chaos,” wrote a visiting BBC reporter, “the festival always looked as if it was on the brink of falling apart.”
After holding it together, just, I escaped, and thought I’d stay in London for six months. Almost six years later I’m still here, like most of the Chagos islanders, though I take occasional reporting trips, while standing on my head and juggling for a living.
Mostly I’ve worked as a part-time private investigator, interspersed with spells of writing and editing. I’ve been inspired by Samuel Freedman’s dictum that “great journalism comes from the curmudgeons, the dissidents, the lonely individualists, who insist on pursuing what fascinates or outrages them and tracking it to the ground.” Reading this revived my sense of purpose.
To contact me, use the form below.