Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sketch Republik

Ok.. so I’m back in Vienna, and I have accumulated a few stories since the last post. But you know, if you're so busy travelling that you can't write blog entries, it isn't such a bad thing. And seeing that my after dinner coffee has kept me awake all night, here’s a few highlights from the last week.

Untold stories of Prague

On my first night in town (Friday), Martine and I drank quite a bit, had our faces painted and walked across Charles Bridge, abusing educating some other tourists on which statue to rub and how to rub them. On the other side of the bridge, we walked through an open air photography exibition (proving that any photo printed really big looks good),
ending up at a large walk-on map of the world. Skidding across it in my socks, I remember freaking out on how far I have travelled and that I'm a long way from home.

On Saturday night we went out with Thomas and Barbara, and got very, very, drunk. If there is one thing I learnt on this evening, it was Beckerovka depth charges in Pilsner beer can be an iffy combination.

On Tuesday night, Martine and I went to see Pink Floyd The Wall. I last saw this movie when I was a kid, so all the "I’m a post-war British rock superstar with an
absent father and a serious Oedipus complex, who blames women for all the evil in the world" bullshit had gone over my head. You know, the bit where mankind keeps getting tricked by the sticky web of femineity and all that nonsense. Although it was good to see a 1983 Bob Hoskins dressed like a pimp and the Pro Hart carpet was cool, but it was a little scary seeing Bob Geldof working with strong Nazi imagery. The movie did have some stingingly poignant references to redhead ex-girlfriends, but you know, I'm not about to shave my eyebrows off and swim in a pool of blood.

On Wednesday night, I was Martine’s date to her farewell dinner hosted by Alice (one of her colleagues who lives in Prague) at her apartment. Alice is half-Czech, half Native American, so as you can imagine, she has an interesting perspective on the world. When she heard that I'm a bit of a petrol head, she showed me her Mercedes 500SEC Coupe with the pride of a mother showing off her children's piano skills. "I can drive across Germany on one tank of gas, but in the city, she’s just a hog". Her partner (Ebor), had written a couple of books (one of them is about growing dope, but he doesn’t smoke it) but more on this later. Chris (a colleague of Martine and Alice), and his Czech neighbour Lenka also joined us. We ate tasty food and had some in depth political discussions. I presented my theory on the correlation between a nation’s car and the nation’s persona. I’ll explain this idea in a later blog once I work out how not to over generalise a country’s persona to the point of being derogative and racist. It was interesting to see how Chris (American) and Alice (Czech/American) disagreed with each other on so many things, but in a fun, playfully racist way. Pleaze correct my speeling of people's names if thay ah rong.

On Thursday, I went to the station to catch the bus to Kutna Hora to check out the Kostnice Ossuary (bone church), but I missed the bus by about five minutes and the next one wasn’t for another two hours. When I figured out that I would have only half an hour in Kutna Hora, I headed back in to town and got off at a couple of random metro stations to take photos, and then picked up where I left off on the Nissan 350z tour. After finding the Australian store (where they sell Vegemite for 100kr a jar), a gun store ($80 AUD for a 9mm Beretta, one owner), and a bike store (where I picked up a pair of decent clip in pedals for a third of the Austrian price - [I'm writing about bike tech. I can feel the Ianto within]), I got as far as the first U-turn near the Dancing building and stopped. I found an abandoned building with an open door. I entered the building and found evidence of active squats in many of the rooms. Rubbish and kibble strewn everywhere, the place was (and probably still is), a complete mess. I walked up the stairs and found my way to the top two floors, which appeared to have been damaged by a recent fire. I climbed up the final flight of stairs and found an attic, with a stone floor and mounds of bird shit everywhere. In the corner closest to the entrance, someone’s entire art portfolio was spread out over a large area, as if found at bus stop and brought back to this lair for a quick search for anything of value. I heard some footsteps from the floor below and came out of the attic to see a shirtless man standing at the bottom of my only exit. After exchanging a few words, we worked out what each other’s names were, where we were both from and why we were in this building. Roman, originally from Hungary, had come to Prague for a bit of tourism, but ended up saving his money and finding a squat. He indicated that he did not take drugs himself, but asked me if I was in the building to shoot up by way of slapping his arm and pointing at me. This could have been him asking for some or me if I wanted smack, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I used a couple of the Hungarian words I had learnt at Sziget, he smiled and returned to his room. I went back into the attic to take a few more photos, and Roman (now with a shirt), entered the room and casually leant on the doorframe. I felt a tiny bit unsafe, as no one else knew where I was, but I figured whatever bad stuff that could happen would either leave me dead or build character. I donated a bit more of my doubt to Roman, acknowledged his presence (the nod seems to work in all countries), and kept taking photos. Once I wa satisfied with my shots, I exited the now empty doorway and climbed down the stairs. Roman came out of his room and invited me in. I accepted and ventured in after him, checking behind doors to make sure I wasn’t being ambushed by some needle-wielding fiend. All was ok and Roman and I gesticulated chatted about how he had found the place and showed me his sleeping area. He let me take a couple of photos of him and his surrounds, and I tried to venture out onto the balcony but it was blocked off. I declined his offer of a bag of dope that he had filled with the left overs of a previous tenant
collected off the floor, thanked him again (in Hungarian, English and German), and left. This place wasn’t in any guide book and will probably be developed into ritzy apartments after the insurance money for the burnt floors comes in, but it did make up for not seeing the bone church. Thom Yorke's new solo album The Eraser, was my soundtrack for the day and is totally worth a listen or ten if you're a fan of Radiohead. Let's hope he doesn't go breaking up the band like Billy Corgan did with Smashing Pumpkins (James Iha's solo stuff was shit and doesn't count).

Dirndl Party – Vienna

One of the reasons for coming back to Vienna earlier than planned was to go to Petra and Verena’s joint 25th birthday party. About a month ago they were in the early stages of planning it the party, and they couldn’t think of a theme but they knew they wanted one. I suggested a traditional Austrian dress party, with Dirndls, Lederhosen and Austrian food. Surprisingly the girls thought it was a super idea and got right into planning the party. When I returned from Prague on Friday, I collected my costume from Thomas and we made our way to the party in full dress, attracting a few wtf? looks as we got on the bus. When we got there, we found a huge spread of Austrian foods (Speck Brot, Weiner stew, pig fat on bread), and a whole lot of Austrians wearing their Sunday best. You see in Austria, if someone has a traditional wedding, it is expected that you turn up in traditional dress. These occasions are looked on as being a bit daggy, but it means that almost everyone has a pair of Lederhosen or a Dirndl laying around waiting for just such an occasion. Anita’s bright orange hippy dirndl was rather popular, and my contemporary-traditional (neoclassical anyone?), Austrian all leather suit went down a treat. Homemade Sturm (an Austrian drink made from Most and wine), was on offer. This batch was particularly tasty as it had come from the cellar of one of the birthday girl’s dad. Some mango schnapps made its way into my hand and the night got a little hazy. The magical music box had operators sympathetic to the lone Australian in the audience, and AC/DC, Men at Work and The Vines got a spin. I lost my voice
yelling singing Thunderstruck with an Austrian guy who loves Acka Dacka. After the song, I taught him the phrase spitting chips as a term to describe his missing out on seeing AC/DC play in Germany 2 years ago and we celebrated this cultural exchange by dancing around like Angus Young for about ten minutes. Fun was had by all, with most of the guests making there way to IckeMicke for a spot of early morning bopping. When I bumped into Petra in the street the next day, she looked a bit shabby and said that she now felt 25. I suggested that this feeling would wear off once the hangover was gone.

Yesterday I went to the zoo and this evening I attended a dinner party held by people I met when I had my first random dinner party here in Vienna. It was cool, but that story can wait becasue I'm tired. More on the Sketch Republik soon as well.

Oh... and Martine: No Ferals.


Anonymous said...

Now I can't wait to go to the Czech Republic!!! With the best beer in the world I am bound to get drunk and meet some nice, nice Czech girls. I have a theory that Eastern Europeans women fuck better than Western European women. Perhaps you might know?

A little game I invented is called Sexual Risk. Its like the board game Risk except you have to instead of planting a platoon in a country you plant a girl in a country. There are variations of the game. Like you could see which places you have gotten drunk the most.


matrinre said...

sean - that theory about women sounds like a bad draft version of dan's theory about cars and countries...
looking forward to having a midori and lemonade at The Rockpool with you soon dan - i'll be the one reading a copy of '1985' making playfully feralist comments to the barkeep.

Anonymous said...

Cars and countries?? Sounds like a good thing....