Two Compositions on the Subject of Dreams

31 May 2006
For interested Prague residents, take note of the following information from Hubert:

Hubert Ho's "Two Vocal Compositions on the Subject of Dreams"

based on texts of Langston Hughes and Jiří Suchý
will be premiered on

evening of Monday, June 5, 2006

The composition is scored for mezzo-soprano, oboe, trumpet, and percussion consisting of congas and vibraphone. This set of poems was chosen for their concern on the subject of dreams, albeit in very different contexts. For Hughes, a major figure of the Harlem Renaissance, dreams deferred refer to life goals, desires in life, which when postponed, end up in destruction. Hughes is critical both of the individual and the society that doesn´t allow his dream to come to fruition. The musical setting is intended to capture the ironic twists and cynical flavor which pervades througout the poem. Suchý's poem is more simple in language and conception. Here I react to the poem by creating a
musical commentary which is at odds with the regularity of rhyme and meter in the text. These two

Composer Hubert Ho is currently an American Fulbright student at HAMU (Musical Academy of Performing Arts) studying under Professor Marek Kopelent. A former Presidential Scholar in the Arts, his works have been performed by ensembles such as the New York New Music Ensemble and the California EAR Unit, and in venues such as the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Future projects include pieces for New York percussionist Russell Greenberg, Amsterdam-based American clarinettist Laura Carmichael, and the Bakersfield Symphony Chamber Music Series.

Mezzo-soprano Kristýna Valoušková was awarded the prestigious prize of the Fulbright grant, on the basis of which she in 1992-93 studied at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in the Baltimore, USA, with the reknowned American singer Phyllis Bryn-Julson. Due to her singing qualities she frequently interprets contemporary songs and cantata works - at the FORFEST 2004 festival she premiered a number of works by Israel composer Max Stern and by the American composer Daniel Kessner.

Trumpeter Ladislav Kozderka is one of the most sought after performers in Prague and is a member of the FOK and Narodni Opera orchestras among others. He is a member of the band ˇUz jsme domaˇand can be heard on their CD "Rybi Tuk."

Oboist Vladislav Borovka is a frequent interpreter of new music. He is a member of the Prague Philharmonia. In 1997 he was awarded second prize at the Chomutov Music Competition. In the fall of 1998 he received a scholarship to study at the Toho Gauken Orchestra Academy in Toyama, Japan. He graduated from HAMU, from the studio of Jiri Mihule.

Percussionist Junko Honda is another frequent interpreter of contemporary music. She performs with the Prague Philharmonia and with FOK among other orchestras. Recently she partook in the Krasa Dneska series held at Svandovo Divadlo, and has performed at the Ostrava Days New Music Festival. She graduated from HAMU, from the studio of Vladimir Vlasak.

Concert details:
Date and Time : Monday, June 5, 2006, 7:30pm (i.e., 19:30)
Place: Galerie, HAMU, Musical Academy, Malostranske Namesti 13
Sponsor: Katedra Skladby (Faculty of Composition) - HAMU
The program will also include works by other composers in the Faculty of Composition, HAMU (Academy of Music)

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Blogging to the Next Level

25 May 2006
Blogs have become the next sure step to fame and glory, a "fashion" article by Anna Bahney reports in the NYTimes.

I'm expecting the agents to call any moment. You can fill in the rest:

"Hello, is this Jesse at NVB?"

"Yes. How did you get my number? OK, I'm ready to sign my book deal and appear on a major TV show."

"Great. Well, you know that you'll have to change all places to famous ones like New York City and change the title. Eastern Europe is so 1990s. We thought "Naked in New York" would draw in more readers. But that will have to wait. First, we have a message from your dissertation advisor's lawyer to deliver. It seems that the blog-as-dissertation idea is not going over so well..."


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More Postal Fun

24 May 2006

Ježek Stamp 2006
Originally uploaded by youplayawhat.
For the second day in a row I've got exciting things in the mail. Today I noticed that the stamp on one envelope had a picture of Jaroslav Ježek, a partial namesake of this blog. The 12-crown stamp commemorates the centenary of his birth.

As critic Jiří Černý titled his Lidové noviny column (of 24 April 2006), "Ježek Won't Be Winning the Elections," but at least he won't be forgotten completely. Since these are the denomination of stamps for sending letters to the U.S., some of you may get your own personal copy!

Černý's column is reprinted (in Czech) at his blog/Web site.,br />

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1 Box Cookies, 1 Bar Soap, 3 Packages of Candy, 2 Postcards

23 May 2006
Now that's what I like to see on the Customs Declaration when I go to get a package at the Post Office!

An emergency shipment of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups also arrived recently. (Wow, I forgot how sweet they are!) And Amy delivered a jar of 365 all natural stir-it-yourself-really-ground-peanut Creamy Peanut eanut Butter. (Thank goodness no Marmite or Vegemite.)

National Language Hopes Dashed

Washington, DC — [transmitted by our remote correspondent, Heikke Makkinen] In a blow to Czechs and Finns living in America, the United States Senate voted to declare English the "national language" of the U.S. The vote was approved 63 to 34 last Thursday (18 May).

According to Honza Dudák, spokesperson of the newly established lobbying group BAGUS (Board for the Advancement of Greater Ugro-Finnic and Slavic), Czech and Finnish should have been at the top of many Senators' list of choices. The unofficial opinion of the group is that speaking a "more complex" language makes you smarter and more articulate, and these lobbyists see the language vote as a missed opportunity to improve American education and the image of the United States abroad.

"We hoped that they would acknowledge not only Czechs and Finns currently living in the U.S. by declaring our languages as the official ones, but we had also hoped that they would recognize our great contributions to American culture!" said one observer on the National Mall. "Our languages and cultures have not played a small role," shouted another, "everyone knows Dvořák was the father of American music." [The editor of this blog cannot actually endorse this as a truth about "American" music.] And Lordi, the surprise Finnish winners of Eurovision 2006, may increase pressure in their efforts to establish Finnish as a world language even though parts of their winning song were in English. They want not just a "victory for rock music," says the lead singer, but also a "victory for open-mindedness."

The vote also attracted attention from linguists. "What will they do next, establish an advisory board to defend American English against bad grammar?" scoffed Professor and Grammarian Henry Higgins, who runs a private institute. "Why," he continued, "can't the English teach their children how to speak? The distinction of their verbal class—by which I mean fear of linguistic impurity or degradation—by now should be antique!"

The language debate is only a feather on the albatross that immigration issues have recently become. Even the President seems to be weighted down (as he expressed in no doubt perfect English). The Washington Post reports on President Bush's seeming change of heart:
The Senate action came hours after President Bush, who visited the border town of Yuma, Ariz., asked Congress to approve a $1.95 billion budget request to deploy National Guard troops and 1,000 additional enforcement agents to the U.S.-Mexico border. Bush also endorsed for the first time [but probably not the last] the construction of 370 miles of southern border fences to cut down on illegal immigration.

Also last week, a triple-layered wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was approved. It is rumored to include a "sound barrier." The barrier is considered to be a first line defense against linguistic change that may stealthily sneak across the border. One Will S., who spoke on the condition of anonymity, suspected that the wall may eventually extend all the way to the "coasts of Bohemia."

Related: Laura Swisher’s response.

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Vzpomínka / Reminiscence

22 May 2006
Just a couple months ago my friend Ashley visited, and we went to Vienna.

We also saw Prague, of course, but I'm sure you've all heard enought about Prague! You might be interested to know how we got from Prague to Vienna? Why, we took the Western Express vlaček &mdash the little train! Well, we were going to "Western" Europe (haha). This train runs daily from the ticket office at the Prague exhibition grounds (Výstaviště).

In Vienna, the capital of music and culture and stuff, we wanted to be hip. So, we stood in line to get tickets to the Staatsoper.

That was the longest line I've waited in since going to Disney World as a kid, and I thought we were a bit insane; especially when we got to our standing-room spots. (The soreness of waiting in line had nothing, though, on how my back felt after standing through a three-hour opera.)

(But hey, it only cost 2 Euros each, and the production was fantastic! It was Mozart's Don Giovanni. There is an obsession with Mozart this year, particularly in Vienna. They are a tourist destination and know how to use things like this. It all reminded me a bit of a certain Mel Brooks movie: "Merchandising, merchandising, merchandising. Now, if you come over here . . . you can see some of our items . . . Mozart the Kugel-ball candy, Mozart the Caffe Latte, Mozart the Toilet Paper, and . . . my personal favorite . . . Mozart the Flame-thrower.")

The next night we went to another concert.

We got very posh seats because one of Ashley's friends works for the symphony.

These nice ducks were swimming in one of the fountains at the grounds of Schönbrunn palace.

And I loved the Victorian greenhouse (it really was green).

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Another One Down

21 May 2006
I finally finished one of the books I was reading for pleasure: James's The Europeans, which I chose for a number of reasons, particularly its description of a tram on the second page. Well OK, there were a few other reasons too, like its discussion of European-American relations and its author. But anyway, toward the end I found another passage that I identified with, albeit somewhat contrarily to the way than James wrote the scene. We join the Baroness Münster, who came to America to seek a new fortune (and perhaps a matrimonial prospect), on a wet Sunday morning in her sitting room:
To-day her irritation had a peculiar keenness; it appeared to feed upon itself. It urged her to do something; but it suggested no particularly profitable line of action. If she could have done something at the moment, on the spot, she would have stepped upon a European steamer and turned her back, with a kind of rapture, upon that profoundly mortifying failure, her visit to her American relations. It is not exactly apparent why she should have termed this enterprise a failure. . . . Her irritation came, at bottom, from the sense, which, always present, had suddenly grown acute, that the social soil on this big, vague continent was somehow not adapted for growing those plants whose frangrance she especially inclined to inhale and by which she liked to see herself surrounded — a species of vegetation for which she carried a collection of seedlings, as we may say, in her pocket. . . . She felt the annoyance of a rather wearied swimmer who, on nearing shore, to land, finds a smooth straight wall of rock when he had counted upon a clean firm beach. Her power, in the American air, seemed to have lost its prehensile attributes; the smooth wall of rock was insurmountable.
According to the jacket bio (of the Penguin Popular Classics), Thomas Hardy described James's style as a "ponderously warm manner of saying nothing in infinite sentences." James captures so much of the sentiment of those moments in which people want to express fundamental things — which shouldn't be so difficult, should it? — but can't, won't, or don't get the chance. I would feel guilty about offering this passage since it foreshadows the end, but of course Henry James novels aren't really events as much as they are inter-personal encounters often metaphorized by properties (that is, objects of an inanimate nature). The appearance of a deus ex machina, who walks in through the open parlor windows at the end, seemed a bit facile, but overall it's a good read.

I may have a bit more to say about Euro-Am relations soon as I think about my response to a travelogue presented in yesterday's Rovnost that presented a rather jarring, distasteful, and downright culturally insensitive account. (In fact, it was so bad that it seemed likely an American had written it about a visit to the Czech Republic and it was then translated to Czech and the people, places, and things were changed to protect the identities of the innocent.)

Since I can't find the article on their Web site, here are a few other recent events of note:

Most [Czech] celebrities support ODS.
The mushroom season begins.
Boby Centrum hosts the dance competition of the Czech Republic.

And in election news, Deleted by Tomorrow reports on Macek's attack on Minister Rath. Haha. Hilarious? You decide. These Europeans! Of course, if it had actually been a duel, it would have been not the first this election season!

Image of "Europeans and Natives" courtesy of the British Library online images catalog.

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The Blog That Was Meant to Be

19 May 2006
When I started this blog, I actually envisioned it to be more a rumination on Brno and the city's peculiarities. It seems to have gone in slightly other directions, however. There is certainly a lot of information about Brno, but perhaps not the major tourist sites. In case you are thinking of visiting the city (and not having me as a tour guide!), then I recommend Steve's tourist guide to the city. It places more emphasis on "Places to Get Drunk" than I would (it may perhaps be suited for planning stag parties), but overall seems respectably informative. It would be a good guide for a two- or three-day visit to Brno.

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A Little Semiopathy?

I came across the "Silly Signs" blog recently. It is not post-intensive, but fun to keep an eye on. And given the many election posters I've featured recently, a bit of "theoretical framework" to deal with all of this visual representation seemed especially appropriate. (Academic throat clearing...harumph, harumph.)

I had not seen many of the British signs that the blogger posts, although some of the signs are from other places. In particular, I enjoyed this post about heavy plants.

Other bloggers have also found some shocking signage recently. Zagreb, for example, seems to have an problem with unruly dogs! M.L. reports from his recent trip to southern Slavia (you have to scroll down to the middle of the post). Beatroot reports some disturbing homophobic signage in Poland.

There is always this variation on "do the funky dance" that my brother and I found below the Žižkov monument above Prague.

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So You Want a Metropolis?

17 May 2006
Brno's paper Rovnost reports that plans are underway to widen the D1 freeway to six lanes. This "improvement" will only affect the portions that circle the city to the south. Minister for Transportation Milan Šimonovský announced that the freeway would be in service by 2011. Research indicates that, on the stretch for the proposed expansion, more than half of the cars are Brno drivers seeking a fast route to bypass congeseted city streets.


Šimonovský is a minister from the KDU-ČSL (Christian Democrats) party. This announcement sure comes at a convenient moment for the elections.

So Brno wants to be a metropolis? Well, it's going to require a lot of ugly freeways.

In that file photo it looks like the freeway already has three lanes in each direction . . .


In case you would like a little more context on the elections, the provides a convenient overview of the current structure of things. (They give a bit too much weight to the Union of Freedom party [US] and the European Democrats [ED]. Both of these parties are considered fringe contenders; in fact, it is possible that they may lose their five percent representation that allows them to have a certain number of ministers placed in the government. It also does not mention the quiet coalition between the Social Democrats and the Communists, which Šimonovský mentioned in a January interview.)

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Electing Capitalism, or, Pepino and Cold Chicken

16 May 2006
A few more bits on the "election" campaign. I noted an article in yesterday's Lidové noviny (15 May) about advertising campaigns that are capitalizing on campaign ads. At least three companies have launched ads that involve election themes, and some of these schemes are amusing.

Vote Eurotel
Eurotel (one of the three major mobile phone companies in the Czech Republic) ran TV ads in April that asked, "Volím Eurotel, a koho volíte vy?" (I'm voting for Eurotel. What about you?) Eurotel spokesperson Mirka Mikulíková told LN, "Our campaign ended in mid-April and had no connection to the elections. It was an acquisition campaign to attract new customers." Well, it was certainly a rather close coincidence. But this one is probably the most uninteresting of the three.

Elect Mr. Cool
Upon checking the mail when I got back home from my trip to Budapest and Vienna, I found a plain white envelope with "2006 Elections" stamped on the outside in a red sans-serif font. This might be similar to the election packets that eligible voters receive in the mail here before elections. Inside was a picture of a perfectly roasted chicken and the slogan, "Vote for Vodňany Chicken—we offer you a palatable [stravitelný] candidate." The candidate is "MVDr. Chicken Cooled, Csc."—well, at least they have credentials.

The inside of the glossy brochure offers ten points about how "We fulfill what others promise." These points include: finance (sensible prices), security (no bird flu), science and research (development of "chicken ham"), agriculture (they only use Czech chickens), and regional politics (they give Czechs jobs).

More than a bit of Euroskepticism hides just under the neo-nationalism.

The Safer Sex Party
Given the bizarre candidates in the 2004 campaign for the European Parliament—these included a "Poet’s party," adults dressed up as babies, a candidate for "Czech King" from the royalty party, and a porn star—I suppose this one is to be expected. It is still a bit bizarre, however.

Safe Sex Party campaign billboards proclaim, "We are seeking partners across the political spectrum." The Safe Sex ad campaign is from the Olza Trading company, a the manufacturer of "Pepino" condoms. We take our inspiration from life," explains Olza's director Josef Vybranec. "Even in a family home the wife does not always vote for the same party as the husband." According to LN, not only does the party have over four thousand registered members already, but it is also supported by eight candidates for parliamentary deputies. (?) In fact, according to these statistics, the Safe Sex Party could the fifth largest! (At about 88,000 the Communists have the most registered members, although that is only because they are the most organized and demand allegiance from their members. I suspect that most Czechs would be loathe to be locked in to a particular party unless it was necessary.)

This may not be as ridiculous as it sounds at first. According to their Web site, Pepino is requesting members of the Czech Parliament to "symbolically" join their party to help fight HIV-AIDS. In order to join, the members are asked to contribute between 1,000 and 50,000 crowns to charities that Pepino supports. The campaign also hopes to encourage a number of demonstrations in clubs to raise awareness of STDs. A picture of a recent SSP demo in Ostrava (note the people dressed as condoms/ghosts):

There is no hidden message to this post. It is only reportage.

The LN article was by Hana Mášová. The pictures are by Jesse (except the one from the SSP demonstration, which I downloaded from their Web site).

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Fire + Tuba =

I don't often check out boingboing, but this is an entertaining post. The flaming tuba, realized and conceived by David Silverman. Just a few years ago I might've actually wanted to use this! (Scary thought, eh?)

A friend of mine, Anna Maltese, is an expert fire dancer. I'd watch her perform with her other fire and circus pals -- and that's when it hit me: fire+tuba=fun. Very simple equation. The "+" was the the tricky part. . . .

Now I am happily performing with Anna's fire company, Phoenix Projekt. Call me Tubatron. Here to spread joy, music, tuba flames, and pedal-tone B flats.

Thanks, Liz, for the heads up!

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Other Solutions

15 May 2006
The Czech Republic will hold Country-wide parliamentary elections on 2 and 3 June, a mere 18 days away! As a foreigner, I don't have a highly personal stake in the elections, but it's hard to miss the election posters and advertising. Karla is scouring Prague for pictures of posters from the various parties, and I'm sure those interested can find plenty of information for themselves. I suppose I am interested in the trivial side of things as usual--but then, if you aren't interested in that sort of thing you probably wouldn't be reading this.

Recently, my the Communist Party ads have drawn my attention. For a few reasons: the Czech Communists are, reportedly, the only "unreformed" Communist party in Eastern Europe (basically, they didn't change their name after 1989); there is a large amount of support for the party despite their dubious leadership in pre-1989 Czechoslovakia; the party, given its history here, is a rather polarizing issue, and its posters are often the subject of amusing or sobering defacement. It also seems, as others have noted, that the party is cultivating a new image in attempt to gain support from younger voters. Anecdotal wisdom here holds that support for the party is strongest among elderly voters who remember the "golden" times when everyone was guaranteed a job and taken care of. Middle-aged voters tend to remember the pre-1989 period more clearly and, thus, it makes sense that The Party would seek support among younger voters who do not have such personal memories (and gut reactions) on which to base their election choices.

The original Communist slogan was: "We have different solutions." You can imagine that this provided rich fodder for jokers and graffiti artists. The most common response was probably, "Yeah, I bet they do..." followed by an ironic eyeroll. The motto has now changed to "We have solutions." At least it's not so freely susceptible to parody. Someone did say it ominously echoed the "final solution," but with such a negative history I suppose there is no escaping these associations.

One large billboard by the bus station across from Brno's Hotel Grand boldly challenged, "Education for tuition? We have other solutions" The implication is that the Communists can deliver free education for all. (Most Czech-language university courses are free at present, but some politicians would like to see a different, more American-style, tuition system.)

The new sign at the bus stop is still a Communist ad. It now says, "Attainable living space? We have solutions." It is, as I can attest, difficult to find apartments if you are not willing to pay top dollar (so to speak). This problem is not unique to the Czech Republic, though I do appreciate the problem. Yet, as one quick-witted graffiti artist soon reminded, the Communist solution will probably be "in a panelák"! You don't have to look far in most Czech towns to find one of these panel houses, eyesores that are the emblem of Communism's planned living communities.

There has been far too much about the elections on the blog lately, at least considering that I claim to discuss "arts and culture" in Brno. However, there will probably be a few more election "informations" as I write about my blogosphere abscences and recent adventures.

Thank you, Amy, for the photo! Higher resolution available on my flickr page.

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Election Predictions

03 May 2006
The illustration is a graph of pre-election surveys of "How the Elections Would Turn Out" if they happened today. The numbers show the "opinions of the public by percentage." I photographed it in the April 29 edition of Rovnost.

The major portions are as follows:
  • ODS (Civic Democrats): 30.6
  • ČSSD (Social Democrats): 26.4
  • KSČM (Communist Party): 18.1
  • KDU-ČSL (Christian Democrats-"People's" Party): 11.0
  • Strana zelených (Green Party): 7.8
  • others (some are named)

If you add the ČSSD and KSČM numbers, you get 44.5 &mdash certainly the largest percentage, though not a clear majority. This is why a ČSSD and KSČM alliance worries some. However, there are rumors of a ODS and KDU-ČSL alliance, which would yield a 41.6 percentage &mdash also significant. These, of course, are just a lot of predictions but add a bit of perspective to my May Day comments.

In the next week or so, I will be gone about 43.2 percent of the time, so you may notice that blog posts may lag. I will eat some Sacher Torte and have a Wiener melange for you in Vienna. Mmmmm! (If I can get up early enough to catch the bus. Dobrou.)

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Dancing in the Streets!

01 May 2006

Don't Play in the Street?
Originally uploaded by youplayawhat.
I think this sign speaks for itself. This is obviously a "dancing in the streets" zone, which is a suitable activity for the first of May. Hooray!!

In fact, as you may have guessed (or not), there is no celebration evident whatsoever. Schools and government buildings are sporting Czech tricolor banners, but otherwise there is little activity. According to the Brno newspaper Rovnost (29 April, p. 6), "The Communists transformed this celebration of spring into a compulsory celebration of industrial success. This has caused many people to renounce the holiday until their deaths." Rovnost gives the following schedule of events, as you can see closely connected with the upcoming June elections:

  • Communist Party: Cultural program, introduction of election candidates; 9.00-12.00 at Pisárecký park
  • Young Conservatives: Transparency, anti-Communist flyers; 9.00-12.00 at Pisárecký park
  • Czech-Moravian Chamber of Labor Associations: Cultural program, dance theater, historical fencing, music performance; 13.00-18.00 at castle Špilberk
  • Social Democrat Party: Sightseeing voyage on a steamship [!!?], diving, the green Zekon country band, historical fencing; Brno reservoir, 13.00-17.00

Perhaps in a bit of light irony, the paper reports just a few pages later (p. 8) that Communist MEP Jiří Dolejš was beaten up last Wednesday night: "Unknown attackers fell upon him and, according to witnesses, beat him up for his Communist beliefs." The premier Jiří Paroubek (of the Social Democrat Party [ČSSD]), accused his main opposition, the Civic Democrats [ODS], of creating the atmosphere that fostered the attack: "This is the chosen atmosphere of intolerance, a direct cold war, which the ODS has unleashed. They are intensifying this lack of understanding and uncontrolled anti-Communism. This is primarily the work of the ODS, but also the media &mdash Mladá Fronta Dnes, Lidové noviny [two major Czech newspapers]." To put this in perspective, Paroubek's party has formed a sort of liason with the Czech Communist Party in order to gain a majority in parliament. This cooperation is slightly disturbing and makes for a very emotionally sensitive debate, as you can imagine. There is much more to this attack than a mere interparty dispute. (Read a response heard on Czech Radio for another perspective.)

What is there to celebrate? Well, the first of May marks the official entry of the Czech Republic into the EU. This was only two years ago, but of course the Czechs are not going to celebrate anything that hasn't yet yielded what they see as satisfactory results. The continuing strong economy, development funding, rising standard of living, are usually eclipsed by such things like rising prices, encroachment of "foreign" management, regulations against the old way of making goulash, or possible negative impacts on the Moravian wine industry. I'm celebrating by drinking tea from my low-quality Interspar mug that was on sale a month back for less than 10 crowns! It's the perfect accessory to any neo-capitalist breakfast set. If you hurry, there might still be a few in stock at your local Interspar.

The classic recognition of the first of May, however, is the Romantic poem Máj by Karel Hynek Mácha (1810-1836). The poem opens,
Byl pozdní večer &mdash první máj &mdash
večerní máj &mdash byl lásky čas.
Hrdliččin zval ku lásce hlas,
kde borový zaváněl háj.

Late evening &mdash first of May
Evening May &mdash it was Love time.
The turtle dove's voice raised to love
In a fragrant pinewood clearing.

Some consider Máj, published shortly before Mácha's death, to be the beginnings of modern Czech literature. It tells a story of passionate requited love, which involves the competition between a son and father for the same girl, and eventually ends in fratricide and the requisite (for Romantics anyway) drug-induced dreams. At the time some considered it immoral, but it is a fairly typical of Romanticism &mdash a lot of extreme emotions and bizarre natural occurences, along the lines of Byron or Berlioz. The rather violent nature of the poem seems well-suited to the pagan connotation of spring celebrations. Perhaps it is nice to know that now someone was just beaten up for their beliefs rather than shot in the back in the forest or dueled to death in a "historical fencing" match. (Sorry to give away the poem's denoument, but there is much more that happens along the way, of course, and the shooting is just the main event. In fact it turns out to be more about the "Mother land," or nation, than anything else in the end.)

A nicely presented version of the poem, with illustrations by Jan Zrzavý, is here. I can't endorse the English translation, but it seems to convey the poem's general idea. An essay on the poem's significance is here. And an article on the Mácha statue in Prague's Petřin park. Alex posts a picture of flowers at the statue's base.

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