Saturday, May 22, 2010
"...Yes! The absynthe first, THEN the whipping. After! Yes, after the liqour, comes the ritual, ha ha yes, where the towns men go into the women's bedrooms to come at them with the whipping."
KWPISH! She jokingly imitates the crack of a cattle whip, not realising into what fearful realms the two brothers were falling.
"Usually our clothing is thin, as we just woke up, lying in bed, morning sleep crusts our eyes, yes then KWPISH! The whips cut into us, and we laugh. Then, from underneath our dresses, we throw them chocolate! Then the men, they leave, tie a new coloured ribbon around their whip and go to the next girl's room. The hero, the man with the most coloured ribbons by the end of the day, is the most masculine male in the villiage!"
Ludwig and Mutt glanced at each other as her diatribe continued.
"Haha yes! Also, after midday, the women are able to throw water on the men, to extinguish their flames, their passionate BURNINGS...but only cold water. The men must be allowed to keep whipping, without scald."
Our fellow passenger to Prague, blonde and tall, typical for Czechish women, carried a dizzy composure to match her dialogue. As we sat, uncomfortably wedged between a bratwurst-breathing German and a cricket clamoring Hindish, we, the two Australian travellers listened in perplexity to her diorama unfolding in front of us- of this ancient Czech Republican Easter tradition.
"Ah huh," I pondered what she had just told us, wondering why in fact, on this Easter Long Weekend, we were heading here, rather than, say, anywhere else on the planet.
I surmised, "So, basically, the men get boozed on hard liquor, and then beat the town women?"
"Yes! Exactly." Our Czech counterpart was excited: we had grasped the concept.
"And the women throw them chocolate in retaliation?"
"Yes! It is great fun, especially in the villiages!"
Not to sound culturally insensitive, but isn't this a bit like the savage Huns used to act around pillaging time? Ludwig leant over, close and out of earshot of the Czech girl, who was by now jabbering away to our moustachioed driver, Milan.
"We have to find this whipping thing." In seven words, Ludwig had ushered in the weekends mission.
"I'm dubious," I replied, louder than needed. "Something smells weird about it..."
Milan turned his cold Sovietske granite face to stare at me whilst still driving.
"YOU THINK MY CAR SMELL LIKE STINKING SEWERAGE??"
No, No, raging Russke, Mr Milan, your car smells like heaven overgrown with roses, please, let's just get there in the same form we left in, what'dya say, stranger, can we??
Easter in Prague? Jesus Christ. We were on our way to the resurrection, the rebirth of plague in the hearts of Australians, and there would be no return, no tumbling, not backwards, not now. The ancient red of the European sunset descending over the hills, as goats and roadhouses flew past the windows, reminded me of the Australian desert, or somewhere similarly stark and unfriendly. We crossed the border into the land of strange signposts and breweries, and then it was,
"HERE WE ARE!" Yelled our hitch, Milan, "PRAGUE! CAPITAL OF ZE CHHECK REPUBLIK!!" Milan beckoned us out of his stinking Volvo. Queue the empty wasteland. Nothing there except a KFC and a postbox.
"Umm, is this is? There isn't really much here...Isn't there supposed to be a castle or something...?"
Milan chortled at us.
"You must get train 30 kilometres from here. Then it is main centre."
Okay! So thanks for taking us to Prague Milan, enjoy the rest of your strange existence on the outskirts of nowhere. And to you, dear lady, I pray they do not leave any lasting scars from the whippings on your smooth and dangling legs. Okay, see you then, take care!
Ludwig, his ridiculously oversized bag and I, had reached the cavity known as the Czech Republican capital, Prague. Well, nearly. But the story today is not about this medievial museum of a town, a town known for Kafka, Absynthe and being a tromping zone for every dictator and his dog to roll the tanks on through. No, we want to get to the whipping, and that deep, eccentric earth exists around the Austrian/Czech border, in a old villiage called Czesky Krumlov. A town of lesbians, mud wrestling and whiskey. And no, all you perverts out there, not at the same time.
TWO DAYS LATER
Streams of melting snow blocked off the causeway as we waited between dogs, shifty schoolchildren and old men, potentially former Czech Republican dictators, on a rocky torpedo of a local bus. Winding and wildly careening, the guard rail seperating the wheel's of the vehicle from an abyss of 700 metres into vertical, picturesque countryside, was little assurance. The road to Czesky Krumlov. My brother's mood was even more turbulent than usual, and he refused to sit down. I was heaving in my own head and my functions were operating at base level (Eg, sitting, staring, howling like a spider monkey).
Through the fault of almost disaterous lateness, we had been the last to passengers to board the bus. There was only one seat left for two of us, and it was next to a dribbling Alsatian. Typical. "Better than sitting next to a Spider Monkey," I could almost read my brother's glare.
Ludwig was peeved because we almost missed the bus. We ran from the centre of Prague, mulled wine in hand. Spilling red over my soiled shirt, thanks a lot. We had decided it was prime opportunity to stop, discuss the weather and enjoy a amiable drink with a Lithuanian counterpart, precisely fourteen minutes before we were due to take our (paid for) tickets on a rural districts bus. We were escaping the skyscapers, the hustle and moan, of touristical Prague, and heading for the medieval crater of Krumlov near the Austrian border. That is, if we made the bus. Barrelling passed digified Asian photo fiends and teacherous tourist traps (Museum of Sex Machines and Torture anyone?), Ludwig with his spastic suitcase, and me with my hobo sack and boderline brindle, hacking my lungs in exasperation.
We had to catch a train to get to the bus. An elaborately webbing transport system of a foreign country, where their backwards letters mean exactly bupkiss to my map deciphering dementia. I had established how to order a beer, and that was enough.
"Quick! Platform 3" Ludwig sprang into being, still panting from having to lug the Taj Mahal around on his back.
We sprinted, leaving Ussain Bolt in our muddy wake, and made the Number 3 train to Hell. Gathering our breath, now we had to figure out where in the fucking crocodile creek of a backwater we were heading to would be our waiting bus.
An middle-eldish female, snout like a truffle sniffer to be sure, sat, red-coated opposite me and I attempted to ask her directions in my broken, shabby German. She replied in English,
"I am German, and I have no idea what you just said,"
"WherethefuckisthefuckinbusstationFUCKya?" did she understand my reply? Not by choice.
A helpful Czechish broad gave us some hints, we thanked her, departed the train, and were sprinting once again.
We had one minute to get to the train, I kid you not, we were already on tenterhooks, and now they were dangling over lava. We had made it! The bus station. Now a maddened dash to the platform...or....
"I'm going to go to the toilet!" Ludwig announced sprightly.
"Great! Can you get me a beer while you're at it?" I retorted, smiled, then ambled amicably off to the platform...
Wait, what freakish Chinese Checkers are we playing at, there is A BUS THERE WAITING! By this time Ludwig was whistling and zipping his fly, somewhere, distant, guzzling the atmosphere down at the bus station.
The bus driver started fuming, screeching at me in Czech jabber and slapping at his watch with his knuckle. I kept saying,
"Hold on! My brother, my...ahhh brother, he's coming!!!" and I blockaded the doorway from closing, even though he had lit the engine and was ready to fly. In retrospect, I don't think he would've cared if I had been dragged for miles caught in that door jam, bouncing along the tarmac like a disused sleeping bag... So as Ludwig was searching out to fulfil his brother's alcohol hankering, I was getting angry yabber hurled in my direction... Then, he appeared on the horizon, oh so far away...
"LUDWIG YOU FOOL!!!" I bellowed, coarsing my ribs, "HURRRRY THE CZECH UP!!!!"
"Maybe you should shout louder." A helpful Czech youth suggested to me.
Ludwig caught sight and starting running, a girlish gait without the zeal my emotions were crying for, and we climbed aboard our tumultuous transport. Doors closed, we were off. No seats. Dogs. Moustaches. Many.
"Fucking hell Mutt, there was no fucking beer anywhere, fucking shit, I think it's a fucking Czech fucking holiday or something, you and your fucking alcohol, Jesus fucking Christmas, you should get a holster on that fucking problem, fuck."
As he hammered on, as Ludwig spoke with the colour of a radioactive rainbow, all I could envisage was opening a fresh beer to drown him out.
WAIT! Hold on to your helmets vikings, wasn't there some theme about pussywillow whipping we were wandering towards? Some kind of bizarre spanking tradition, we were going to delve deep into, a Bohemian fetish, an excuse for the Bratislavan babes to get a little sexual satisfaction, a whip or two on their svelt and exercised arses by the gruff Czech louts looking for a laugh, weren't we getting somewhere near there? Or maybe we should let sleeping cultures lie...
Though we did witness the whipping. I believe, in the soggy dredges of my memory, it was in the days between two brothers wrestling in the mud for an American pornographic princess (TAKE NOTE- IF YOU SEE THIS ALLEDGED 'PHOTOGRAPHIC ARTIST', DO NOT SUBMIT TO HER BIDDING. YOU WILL END UP SWEARING AND MUDDY AND COLD, AND SHE WILL NOT EVEN SHOUT YOU A BEER) and one brother forcefully booted, mud-caked pants and a dirty haircut in tow, off a train heading south to Wien... I guess, it was...somewhere, in this ether of events over the Long (Lost) Weekend, lay the whipping.
It is probably better to eradicate these memories than transcribe them and scare others. It's just not fair. After all, it was Easter. Couldn't we have just bought an egg?
For those interested in further reading in Czech traditions and freaky perversions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_the_Czech_Republic will answer your queries on the whipping frontier. Don't take notice of the wiki phrase, "cheerful and lighthearted holiday, " as we saw the trees for the hiding eyes, and know what they really meant was "fearful and plighthearted horrordaze." Or something similar as we rode on, muddy and plighthearted, over the dying red sun and into Austria.
Friday, May 21, 2010
As I arrived in the dusky basement, time was already amassing aftergrowth; I was late, and everbody was as carved as lambs at the slaughterhouse. Lead down there by some Swede or Turk or incomprehensible Cockney cowboy, I thanked her and then shrank- they were already into their fifteenth jägermeister shot, and bellowing like walruses to reach the hundred mark. Hungry Centurions. My comrade, Piggy Stardust, had fore-warned me this would be happening- they had reached 200 hundred beer shots the week prior, maybe twenty-five penguins the week before, and now wanted to try for the 'big guns'.
"One hundred guzzles of that brown death goop," I assured myself as I heard their retches and witnessed their gratuitously withered eye sockets, "Is never going to happen".
-and as I descended those stairs, like the arrival of the sooth-sayer, my prophecy spoke truths.
It was the first time in over two years since I had set gaze on my dastardly friend of childhood, Piggy Bardust, the soldier from Mars. And by the look of him, it had been two years since his gawking features set gaze on any type of showerhead, unless it had been one which bilges out mud.
As I neared him, he growled and staggered upward, aghast, throwing his arms in the air and cheering my name, or praying for rain, or something, at least, into the heavens. My welcoming into the fen.
Alas, this chivalrous greeting was as short lived as a midget drug overdose- *BAM* out of nowhere, a girl alledging faction as his girlfriend, mowed him over and on to a metal bucket, in a fierce spear tackle, as only an Australian woman knows how.
Piggy was groaning, unholy, un-soldier like- it coupled with the wincing trepidation building in my psyche, churning in my system, trying to prepare for the days ahead.
Suddenly, in a wild dawning of the damned, Piggy cracked one bloodshot peeper open, registering my outstretched hand cast out as a ballast, and took the leverage of welcoming. A smiled crept on to his hairy face, he cringed from his wound by the bucket, and he shot me a "Mate... how ya doin'?" We were back.
Within one minute of this rekindling, the jäger's were pouring, severing the brains from the brain stems of these already twisted bar barbarians. Needless to call it, nobody lasted the hundred shots. Piggy was vomiting over my shoes and his own hallway within the hour, leaving me to disappear out into the Camden night... but hold the train, we are jumping ahead here...
This was the basement of The World's End. World's End- the illustriously touted 'metal bar', in the epicentre of dishevelled ol' London, opposite the Camden Eye, hour's past closing time. After forging my way past the Cockney Turk to the downstairs nightclub (The Underworld), a club of reknowned seediness, I was haggling the locals for info. This was a venue infamous for a crime against drum-kits, commited by Kurt Cobain in the early nineties- a club where the cockroaches looked better than the indie ladette patrons, and where instead of telling you to watch out for the urine puddles torrenting the dancefloor, the bouncers yelled 'SURF'S UP!'
Next days, ailing from algoes and aches which could have only been born in a murky wonderland like the Underworld, I was blessed with the week's finale, the final blazing firework display of atrocity. It came one morning around 6AM. A Thursday I believe, as I dreamed haplessly of deserted paradises. Amid this sickened visage, an eclipse swept across my desert sun. Awaking, I found the fattest, hairiest, drunkenest crazy meat torpedo of a World's End worker named Frank or Dave or Freddy, proceeding to try and get into my bed and pass out. At this moment, I was IN THE BED, and believed I would be crushed within seconds. A flabby pick-up truck of flesh barrelling towards me, I squawked, "DAVE, YOU FOUL FUCKER, WATCH OUT!!!" Then the proliferating bag of protoplasm plunged down, in a volcanic lunge, to fall asleep like a wee baby under my covers. I was standing on the bed, woken by this fearful attack, and thanking the moon he didn't shatter my spleen in my slumbers. Now, how to get rid of him? This took some serious thinking, not to mention water and beer pourage over his gargantuan head. When he finally lumbered off, naked as the new day calling, I felt the sheets- they were wet, and yes my friends, they were yellowed. I felt a dirge inside me rising.
"Really? Could he...?"
By the end of the week, I left with a bag full of sopping wettened fabric I previously called clothes, a ruined copy of Dostoyevsky, a bile-stained wallet 300 Pounds the lighter, and a headache the weight of Pavarotti's tumour.
But if I were called back into Camden, the fluctuating, multi-faceted, ever-astounding suburb hounding LIFE LIFE LIFE into all corners, then yes, I will go. If only to break Piggy out of his dungeon.