Last night in Prague

January 28, 2006 |

Things are fairly mellow in ye olde Prague.  Nothing exciting happening.  The Czech way, moderate and uneventful.  I did a bit of window shopping last night and had a late lunch.  The first below par meal in Prague.  Had to happen sooner or later. 

After moving about “doing stuff” it was nice to get into a few more mundane tasks, starting with a laundry run.  Gave me a chance to finish my novel, Michael Connelly’s The Black Echo.  Not a bad cops and robbers read.   Because it was written in the early nineties and set in 1990 the characters are rushing off to pay phones here, there and everywhere.  I kept screaming at the pages for him or her to just use the mobile. Then I have my DOH! moment.  No mobiles, or at least ones that weren’t bricks.  Just shows how acclimatised we are to our times. 

To keep the mood of the day I had another ordinary meal at dinner.  Both were spontaneous picks not attributable to any book or recommendation.  I guess the law of averages caught up with me.  That said, 2 misses in 8 days in Prague is not a bad record.  The slight irritation of a poor meal was overcome when I accidentally came by the Ungelt Jazz Club and decided to have a squizz.  I spent a couple of hours listening to a seriously good modern jazz band riffing away to a crowd of affiicianados (and me).  I tend to have a low tolerance threshold to jazz.  It is the chronic introspection and pretension that gets up my nose a bit.  That changed last night.  The bad were a bunch of seriously daggy types who worked absolute magic.  Some seriously gorgeous women there too.

As a nod to culture and so as to feel I am achieving something I went to the Mucha museum.  He was a modern artist and poster painter in the tradition of Toulouse La Trec (sic ?) and a promoter of the Slavic dream, from about 1900 until the beginning of WWII.  His poster work is interesting ( I bought 4 prints) but his paintings are way too serious and border on pretentious.  He painted a stylised and romantic version of slavonic history.  It has a hint of the nonsense of Soviet neo realism or whatever the name is for that crap that was called Eastern Bloc art in the 1950s.  But his is a favourite son of Prague so there is plenty of his work around.

In my relaxed mode I spent a bit of time reading the various Australian news sites.  Interesting to see Julian McGauran joining the Liberals.  I had some dealings with him when I was a university student and he was making his first run at the Senate.  I was none too impressed with him then and his performance since then hardly inspires.  Average back bench material.  It is always interesting to see when something like this happening to hear predictions of the end of the Nationals.  Yeah right.  They will stagger on and slowly run out of puff.  At worst they will be replaced by another rural based and seriously conservative party.  But they have serious muscle in Qld and NSW so why would one non descript senator’s defection in Victoria cause the Nats there concern.  Talk about a merger between the Liberals and the Nats has been doing the rounds for 30 years.  Why the Liberal Party would want to have conservative bomb throwers whose politics are a bizarre mixture of socialist wealth distribution (agrarian socialism), corrupt pork barrelling  and extreme social conservatism inside the tent is beyond me.  But at times like this the merger article gets taken out of columnists’ top drawers, the names are changed and a few sentences are added to the intro and voila someone can make this weeks deadline without breaking a sweat.  They sound topical and serious and of course it brings a shrill reaction from National MPs which gives the story a bit of oxygen for a few more days.  It’ll go nowhere till the next stumble by a Nat.

The quality of columns in the Australian press is depressingly poor.  Take two recent pieces of nonsense by Ms Right and Mrs Left, Albrechtson and Marr, as typical examples.  Janet Albrechtson, the Leni Reifenstal of the non thinking right, has a stock of standard shrill pieces which she cuts and pastes and spits out to fill her Wednesday space.  The most recent burnt offering (it should be have been burnt full stop) has her batting on about how judge made law is ipso facto bad (based on assertion and a simplistic and usually wrong analysis) and human rights generally and the bill of rights in particular constitutes the legal version of barbarians at the gate.  What simplistic nonsense which defies overseas evidence.  Her antidote is the legislature, that sacred band of chosen wise men and women working magic for the benefit of us all while sipping from the font of wisdom.  And we all know how well the primacy of the legislature has been in protecting citizens rights.  On the left David Marr, at the Sydney Morning Herald screams conspiracy about the supposed continuing attack on the ABC and coup in the offing.  Gawd, haven’t heard that one for I guess it has to be at least a  month.  To get paid serious dollars for rehashing the same old article is a bigger scandal than what might happen to the ABC. Phillip Adams is not much better as he writes about the end of society as we know it, all wrought by those ‘orrid Libs. So many opinion pieces are just rehashes of previously written and oft stated comments by the same old usual suspects; Henderson, Manne and the list goes on.  How dreary these people are and how poorly we are served.  I guess I have become spoilt reading the International Herald Tribune and the Economist in my travels.  Yeah, columnists wear their teams colours there but at least in the US and the UK they do sometimes mix it up, see shades of grey and actually venture into new fields from time to time.  They also tend to be better wordsmiths.  Even Maureen Dowd, a dyed in the wool predictable lefty can push words around a page with a witty deftness that our sledgehammer scribes can’t manage.  Grrrrr…. There I go, on that damn soap box.

Tommorrow night, at 7pm, I fly out of Prague and an hour I return to the belly of the beast, Zagreb.  The next day I catch the 12.25pm flight and head to ye olde country.  Try to keep the huge homecoming crowd to just that.  

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