The orphans of Romania who are building new lives underground

A story I wrote and that ran in Huck Magazine, a subculture bi-monthly. I knew about the children of the tunnels, but was just one of the passers-by. Huck readers and I now look at them through the eyes of Joost, the Dutchman photographer who lived with the boys, and in many respects was one of them. What a Channel 4 presenter called “hell on Earth” is the circumstantial home of a streetside family that’s seen harder times than most of us can dream of:

Homeless and disenfranchised in Eastern Europe – by Matei Rosca

Joost Vandebrug’s intimate photo project captures the cobbled-together community of the lost boys of Bucharest.

“What do you expect? We are here, at the Gates of the Orient, where nothing is ever too severe.” – Mateiu Caragiale via Raymond Poincare, Craii de Curtea-Veche, 1929

Romania is a country with a troubled present and a violent past. Far from healed, it still bears scars from Niculae Ceausescu’s totalitarian communist regime. Two of the deeper ones are the failing child protection and healthcare systems.Despite a lack of data, charities estimate that 1,000-1,200 minors aged between four and eighteen are sleeping and living rough in the city of Bucharest. About half are thought to be Roma. Drug, alcohol abuse, hepatitis, AIDS and other health problems are rampant. They are constant targets of paedophiles and violent policing and they survive mainly off charity, petty crime and panhandling.

Graffiti around Bucharest's Gara de Nord, where the Lost Boys hustle and huff glue. Picture credit Joost Vandebrug

Graffiti around Bucharest’s Gara de Nord, where the Lost Boys hustle and huff glue. Picture credit Joost Vandebrug

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Tech Strings

“Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?” – Joseph Heller, Catch 22, 1961


This picture I took at 2014’s EMF Camp festival in Bletchley UK is an apt depiction of the atmosphere in some corners of the tech industry. is the San Francisco-based website that first covered the Silicon Valley wage-fixing cartel and most harshly scrutinised Pierre Omidyar’s motives for putting $250 million into his First Look media venture. Most journalists ignored the scandalous conspiracy to steal tech workers’ wages and ran drooling coverage of First Look, letting Pando take the freehold on both stories. Then Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post and nobody showed any more mercy because The Post wasn’t a quaint tech startup which could do no wrong.

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From The Guardian: Ikea funds went to Romanian secret police in communist era

Secret police files reveal six-figure payments to Ceausescu’s henchmen, as retailer denies knowingly paying Securitate.

by the Deviant’s Matei Rosca in Bucharest
251: The picture shows the state archive's inventory entry for the formerly classified dossier of a dedicated secret operation over several years, evidence of the close relationship IKEA had with the Securitate

251: The picture shows the state archive’s inventory entry for the formerly classified dossier of a dedicated secret operation over several years, evidence of the close relationship IKEA had with the Securitate


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This is Iulian Nanu’s world and we are all just living in it

Editor’s memo
Such as it is, here’s the inevitable first guest post on this site.
Tired with office routine and disillusioned by the rat race of corporate Britain, a friend of the Deviant decided one year ago to develop the White Saviour inside himself and build some much-needed justification for his selfish views of the world. He wanted to believe he deserves his easy life because he is a good guy, and to cement this largely illusory pillar of his mind, he conveniently took a year off to travel and volunteer.

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Looks like shit to me

- copyright Anastasia Ciupac

– copyright Anastasia Ciupac

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Open-hearted pilgrims beaten down by bad gust of fate — disturbing traveller’s tale

<<UPDATE: Tomaso and Elisabetta have been released by the Indian Supreme Court and their convictions overturned this February. They have since returned to Italy. Tomaso’s Facebook page shows him living in London.>>

“… be just, and if you can’t be just – be arbitrary.”

– Bill Burroughs, Naked Lunch

Tomaso Bruno: 30, Albenga-born (life sentence, Varanasi District Jail)

Elisabetta Boncompagni: 39, Turin-born (life sentence, Varanasi District Jail)

Francesco Montis, aka Kekko: Terralba-born (dead at 30, cremated)

-photos courtesy of Marina Maurizio

Backpacking through India in the hopes of finding one’s soul may turn out a worse trip than first imagined – and just after general elections in the world’s biggest democracy some of the reasons for this are well worth pointing out.

Tomaso Bruno, Francesco Montis and Elisabetta Boncompagni were living in London before taking that pilgrimage. Squatters and keen ravers, they were a fixture at parties and are still well known among the Italians within the capital’s crusty bohemia. Francesco and Elisabetta were in a longterm relationship at the time.

It was December 28, 2009 when the three arrived in India. A month later, on the 31st of January 2010 they checked in at Hotel Buddha, Varanasi. They were sharing the same room and the same bed, which seemed peculiar to the hotel staff.

Three days later, Francesco was dead.

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GUSH Cosmetics Au Naturel

From between the Deviant’s sofa cushions!

Eco-friendlier-than-thou multinational cosmetics corporation’s North America boss had ties with tar sands oil extraction and strip-mining industries.

Soap tycoon Mark ‘Castevet’ Constantine of LUSH Cosmetics talks to the Deviant on the phone – shocking revelations further down

Highlights are: attempts to discredit the reporter, a complete denial that Lush took dirty oil money although it did, an admission of his own hypocrisy, a candid admission that his top CEO isn’t ‘a big environmentalist’, a dig at the reporter personally and then an attempted bribery in the form of a veiled job offer to the reporter, swiftly withdrawn after refusal.

WOT A BELTER!!! [More copy editing and sub-editing, formatting etc on the context story soon]

Now read on –

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Daily Mail’s Readers for Sale

- illustration by Anastasia Ciupac, all rights reserved

– illustration by Anastasia Ciupac, all rights reserved

The Deviant’s plan was to make the first ‘corporate tyrants’ story on the site about LUSH Cosmetics, that naff and tacky soapmongers for soap-dodging hippies with daddy’s money to spend on priviledge-guilt allieviating soap. I do have a delightful one about Lush North America in the drawer, however, the Universe wanted the Deviant to start off with the Daily Mail. And you don’t fuck about with greater powers. So:

It reaches the Deviant that the world’s favourite news website and Britain’s most indignant, if conflicted, daily paper’s pre-teen peeving online counterpart is openly pimping out its database of vociferous patriots to any interested buyer, through a subsidiary it appears to own, up in the Sheffield wastelands. Wonder where all that spam was coming from?

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Getting Tense

The Deviant’s first head-banging, gut-kicking, moon-howling belter of a WORLD EXCLUSIVE story featuring a schizoid, lying, hundred-million international corporate powerhouse dragged out of its dark lair and in full exposure to the public eye will appear soon.

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Letter from Chișinău

Cutting from Private Eye 1353 (NOV2013): back then I wrote the readers of Britain’s finest news and current affairs magazine a letter from Chisinau. At the time I didn’t know that Russia was about to go to war with Ukraine to prevent it from warming up to Western Europe.

I wrote at the time:

“As I’m having a large glass of rocket-fuel Romanian moonshine, its crystalline sheen clearer than the coldest of springwaters, I raise it to the defiance the people of Moldova showed the Kremlin yesterday by signing the association agreement with the EU in Vilnius, thus turning their backs to the foul soviet ways perhaps for good. Something that big Ukraine could not bring herself to do in spite of public opinion. Amen, Mahalo and Geezus bless.”

The piece below appeared in the Eye just prior to the fateful Vilnius summit:

private eye 1353 letter from chisinau cutting

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