The Summer of Jon

TSOJ: Final Thoughts on Prague

My visit in Prague was cut short by a flu/Ebola virus/black plague/monkey pox ailment, but I did have a few observations about Prague before I was put down for the count by a disease that would have killed an ordinary person.

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Someday I will learn how to keep my fingers out of the pictures.

9. Don’t ever, ever, ever, eat in a restaurant where the head waiter walks away from the dining area and shoots a “snot rocket” into a potted plant.

8. There is something about Prague residents and their dogs. I saw many dogs along the way, but the people of Prague take their dogs everywhere: Trains, buses, underground stations, supermarkets, restaurants…everywhere. Most of these dogs were not the little baby dogs I now see so many women carrying around like children in the US, but real life-sized dogs that could pick up one of those baby dogs and snap its head off. I began to wonder if the dogs were a hold over from the years of Soviet occupation where the streets were patrolled by soldiers and their dogs. I don’t know, but I never stepped in a pile of dog poo, which is more than I can say about some European cities; I’m talking to you, Paris.

7. Men’s fashion in Prague is a mix of hillbilly and Soviet Bloc circa 1985. I don’t know if the poorly dressed men were from Prague or if they were visitors from other lands where mirrors don’t exist, but I do know that the men in Prague have the fashion sense of an average 8th grade boy. I am certainly no fashion icon, I have the yellow shoes to prove it, but I know acid washed jeans and mullets are no longer setting any trends.

6. Fashionable women in Prague are expected to have blonde hair and wear a pink top made of some silky fabric.

5. David Černý is a fantastic artist. Rarely have I been more intrigued by a living artist. This guy has done some amazing, thought-provoking things in his time. His work says more about the Czech attitude toward power and the world than an entire book on Czech history could.

The Pissing Men. That is a map of the Czech Republic they are standing in. Their hips, Anthony Wieners, and hands move to spell out words in the water below.

The Pissing Men. That is a map of the Czech Republic they are standing in. Their hips, Anthony Wieners, and hands move to spell out words in the water below.

4. The Czech attitude toward life is a mix of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Stoicism. I really believe that oppression has created a unique attitude toward life that is not optimistic but at the same time is not pessimistic. I did not see anyone in Prague laughing and yet the whole city seems to be holding in a belly laugh as they poke fun at the powers that exist around them. On the hillside overlooking the city there once stood a huge statue of Stalin. This was replaced by a statue of Michael Jackson…yep, Michael Jackson. Now, in the same location is a huge metronome that was built to show the passing of time…the metronome no longer works and is stuck like an old man trying to touch his toes. One would think that repairing a statue like this would be important to the people of Prague, but it isn’t, I guess they figure time marches on whether we measure it or not.

Typical of the Czech attitude toward life: the men's urinals in an expensive mall.

Typical of the Czech attitude toward life: the men’s urinals in an expensive mall.

The Metronome stands where Stalin and the King of Pop once stood.

The Metronome stands where Stalin and the King of Pop once stood.

If Ray Manzarak dies do you still expect him to show up in August?

If Ray Manzarek dies do you still expect him to show up in August?

3. Things that don’t make sense to me are not necessarily wrong, they are just different. I hate having to turn my key over when leaving a hotel, but in Prague my hotel key was this bulky thing with a rubber ring around it. I really thought the whole thing was pretty dumb until I discovered it all made sense.

This is a big stupid key. Why is it so big and stupid?

This is a big stupid key. Why is it so big and stupid?

Why is there this dumb rubber thing around it?

Why is there this dumb rubber thing around it?

Oh, I see. When I lock my door from the inside the rubber thing protects my door. Oh, I will never leave me key in the room and lock myself out this way...this is smart.

Oh, I see. When I lock my door from the inside the rubber thing protects my door. Oh, I will never leave me key in the room and lock myself out this way…this is smart.

2. If you are going to visit Prague get a map and a compass. I finally realized while in Prague why I get lost so often when traveling: There are no natural landmarks that I can see to let me know where I am. Where I live you can always see a mountain or the ocean or something that lets you know where you are. In most of these old cities you can’t see anything beyond the block you are standing on and none of the streets are straight for more than two blocks so good luck looking down the avenue to see where you are going.

Which tower is that? What direction am I facing? Why am I so lost again?

Which tower is that? What direction am I facing? Why am I so lost again?

1. Prague is an affordable city. Beer is a dollar. A meal can still be eaten at a restaurant for ten bucks and hotels are inexpensive. If you are on a budget Prague is a great place to stay.

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