Blog archive June 2008
things about prague:
1. it is ridiculously beautiful, but much of the beauty is diffused across the urban scenery rather than being concentrated into set-pieces. this means that you want to photograph almost everything, and yet the thing that you have in your viewfinder isn't that special by itself. it's the accumulation of small beauties, street after street to wasteful profusion, that counts.
2. conversely, most of the set-piece beauties, like the charles bridge or old town square, are so crowded with tourists and souvenir-sellers that you can't get a decent shot. all the best photos of those places are in books, taken at dawn, taken ten years ago. when i was there, the old town square's best view had a giant screen set up with car advertising so that people could watch the euro 2008 football tournament. the charles bridge has roadworks and scaffolding at one end. much of the cathedral is covered in blue scaffolding [which my photos avoid, hence none of the apse].
3. so i kind of gave up on general photography of the obvious things, and yet i still came back with over 200 photos.
4. the cathedral is one of the most photogenic buildings i have ever encountered, externally at least. inside is disappointing - bald - by comparison, except for the tomb of john of nepomuk. i couldn't get anywhere near the tomb of st. wenceslaus because of the crowds.
5. signs in prague are quirky. symbols are subject to individual, rather whimsical, interpretation. the road-mender doesn't always have high heels, the zebra crossing man is sometimes short and dumpy not at all like michael jackson. in britain the signage system was created by graphic designers to be rational, legible and uniform, so the czech versions look charmingly amateur.
6. the tv tower is a great piece of communist futurism, although it was finished after the revolution. the inside is as functional as a bus shelter, but who's looking?
7. the metro is another great piece of communist futurism - at least the central mid-1970s stations. each station has a diferent colour combination. amazing what can be done if there is no advertising. note also the neat modernist graphics.
not bad for a weekend, i guess, especially when you throw in the drum'n'bass. here's a photo [taken by peter davis, top] of some of the junglists in the tv tower lift [top left is me]. lev [lower right] said it looked like "a future dub group - lunar moon kit four or something" so i added the caption. aiming for the cover of knowledge magazine.
was in prague last weekend on the annual office outing [photos later]. on saturday night space had been reserved for us all in a bar in the old town, but a few of us had caught wind that london elektricity and hospital records were playing at a club a block away. so we snuck away as soon as decently possible and were rewarded with one of the best night's clubbing of our lives. footage here from the dancefloor
and here from the balcony at 3.30am when we were taking a breather.
the sound has come out pretty good for a phone vid so use your headphones or proper speakers not the tinny computer speakers. the intensity was unrelenting and amazing, as was the joy - none of the heaviness that can cloud these events, everyone was there for the music and the dancing. we danced for four hours without a break, drowning in sweat. our clothes were wrecked. our feet hurt for days afterwards. our heads are still buzzing.
these office events are as much divisive as uniting. you find you have little in common with people you have a good working relationship with. but you also discover [are given ;-) ] new alliances. a small group of us found a different trajectory through the weekend, in the city as well as the clubs.
that saturday evening was an object lesson in belonging. i was ill at ease, as always, in the bar full of people getting drunk, and dancing to cheesy music. i watched the football to avoid socialising. i wondered why i felt threatened and antagonised by the pleasures of my friends. i was glad just to get out of there. minutes later, walking down the stairs of the old theatre towards the smoke and boom of the dancefloor, i was intensely happy and relaxed. i have the roadmap for these places in my head. "this is my church. this is where i heal my hurts." and the people who think me constrained, prim even, because i won't get drunk with them, never see the four hours of madness on the dancefloor.
went to paris the week before last courtesy of clestra who were launching a new partition range at the T1 tower in la defense. we took the eurostar on thursday morning [champagne all round], lunch in the restaurant on top of the pompidou centre looking out across paris. then a walking tour of some of the newer parts of paris near the bibliotheque nationale. then to the very 'boutique' hotel kube - we made note of the ice bar for later. then the clestra party, and back to the ice bar for vodka. in the morning we took the eurostar back to st pancras again, and some of us went back to work.
if you think your home cooking is bad, check out these spreads from the 1970 'tomorrow's world' book. i guess in 1970 cuisine was on its way out in favour of pills and space food. the psychedelic tablecloths don't exactly help.
if you fancy more of this kind of thing [to browse over lunch, maybe] try the flickr group 'magically revolting'. it specialises in the culinary black hole caused by mid-20th century advances in food science and presentation.