Vices we love: How hookers, clowns and bad meat triumphed over Communism

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

How hookers, clowns and bad meat triumphed over Communism

As Yael recently pointed out, teaching history is no longer in vague because it is oftentimes considered boring. Additionally, she reports, anti-Semitic Muslim students were offended by lessons on the Holocaust, which they believe never actually happened.

Now, as anyone who knows me can attest, I harbor a deep-seated fear of offending anti-Semitic Muslims. Hence, we're going to try and keep this short and, you know, inoffensive.

The Uni gave me a three-week vacation which I used to traipse around the neighborhood, starting off in Vienna and winding up, as of yesterday (or the day before? It's 4 AM) in Prague. Prague was perhaps the most intriguing and not only because they speak a language other than the Bad One in Vienna. Prague being in the Czech Republic uses Czech as the official language (shocking huh?) but is jammed with Americans. I have forgotten just exactly what I dislike the most about Americans and the brief conversations with the Prague contingent served as a good reminder.

"What's up?" (Vomiting)
"Not much. So what are you doing here?"
"Chillin'!"

I can't bear to transcribe any more.....retreating into my hermitude, I strolled across the Charles Bridge at night, which everyone should do at least once. Avoid the pickpockets.

Said pickpockets tend to be Gypsies (Roma if you're PC) and tend to be male. The womenfolk are more keen on prostitution. Guess how I know this.

No, not that way. Pervert. Rather, if you cross the Charles Bridge, you will, one way or another, find yourself staring at a yellow-green sign directing you to "the largest Irish pub in Prague". Located in District 1, this is the official start of Prague sleaze. (On a tangent, what east Europe needs is more Irish pubs. Alcohol is in short supply here.) It is in District One, under banners directing you to said Irish pub, that you will have to run the gauntlet of anorexic Roma hookers who, in solidarity with their Asian sisters, greet with cries of "Sucky, sucky?" There were two things I never understood about this set up- how any man would find these women- hard faces, gaunt bodies, interesting abrasions scattered about- the least bit attractive and how anybody could be drawn to cries of "Sucky, sucky"? Further, since you are at a main Prague thoroughfare, do you not die of shame even approaching these women?

Lurking nearby and keeping a watchful eye on the scene are African lads who, failing to follow the lead of the Budapest and Vienna brethren, skipped this whole "refugees seeking honest work" gambit and merely supervise. This would seem an additional disincentive, since these lads do not appear to be overly friendly and- if I may suggest- might be inclined to seek a bonus in addition to the standard hourly rate. (One fun gig in Budapest is to have fetching ladies buy you a drugged drink, watch you wake up and allow their special friend to march you off to the ATM for some extra compensation.)

Anyhoo, all of the foregoing takes place in the large shadow of McDonalds. We are talking about the biggest McDonalds ever- the supersized Donald. Donald takes up half a block and one entire floor of anotherwise dignified building which houses, on the second floor- and I am not making this up- the Museum of Communism. The Museum of Communism, which should really been seen (it's not far from the Charles Bridge) contains tons of delightful Soviet era knicknacks, like Babushka dolls dressed in red (of course.) Nobody really mentioned this, but the irony of it all is breathtaking. I recall one article where the man mentions that he became a capitalist for the sake of chocolate. This was mostly true- my family was big on orange smuggling, but to each their own. Communism didn't fail because people disagree with the ideas behind it but because people wanted a Big Mac. And hookers. So there. You don't learn stuff like this in school huh? (Tangentially, it is the biggest mystery to me that they have kept me for so long.)

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