Saturday, 31 March 2007

flying rats

I hate pigeons. With a passion. I used to dislike them in Sydney. But now I have moved into a new category of absolute despise. These flying rats circulating round town are a hideous excuse for a bird. They are everywhere with their toxic crap eating away at the heritage listed buildings. They stink and are freaking ugly. Especially the big fat ones feasting on the pretzel crumbs scattered all over the footpaths by tourists who mistake the flying rats for a tourist attraction.

The first place we lived in was a flying rat nightmare. Michal, equipped with a metal spatula would religiously remove their poisonous shit from the window panes and the balcony. No matter how many attempts were made at stopping the flying rats from landing on our balcony (metal wire spikes were wound into position on the railing to scare the suckers off) they always managed to land helicopter style and perch their crap on our wooden balcony seat. Bleh. When we finally did move, the mother rat laid an egg in our flower pot. M&J 0 : Flying Rat 1.

I read recently that the French-Algerian artist Kader Attia made an instillation at the Lyons Biennial in 2005 that went to auction at Christie’s this month in New York. The work consisted of a massive cage. Inside it were sculptures of children made out of birdseed. The cage was then filled with pigeons that would attack the birdseed sculptures, giving the whole thing an eerie effect. Wanker. There are kids in Krakow having their eyes removed on a regular basis.

photo by Blaise Adilon

after the flying rats demolished her pretzel they moved in for her retinas

Friday, 30 March 2007

and the egg goes to...

Thank you to all those who participated in the egg limerick comp. Your year 7 English teachers would
have been proud. As stated in the previous post, the eggs are awarded to the first two entries. And
so it is with great pleasure to present Liam and Hugh with this folky Ukrainian Easter decoration.
Enjoy boys!
Ps. Hugh sent me his limericks directly to my email account, due to having problems with the
‘comments’ icon. Maybe this is a valid cause for disqualification, but I am a soft... egg.
I have posted his limerick entry for him in the comments section. 

Thursday, 29 March 2007

eggs and pussy willow

Lent is coming to an end. The 40 days before Easter of refusing yourself the little pleasures in life, such as booze, sweets, meat, shagging, dancing and laughing raucously in the street is a Catholic ritual not really adhered to by any one any more. Well, not on such a grand scale. People however, here and there might stop drinking wine with dinner or refuse to gobble chocolate for the period or even refrain from hosting a wedding (a big fat NO during Lent), all small sacrifices to strengthen the spirit. Religious clanking aside though, I think it is commendable. And also more proof as to why the almighty Pole has an iron will and the balls of a bull. Seriously, I have never met so many individuals on a grand scale who display such strength of character and self-reliance. ‘No bullshit’ should be the national catch cry, whilst powering through the national sport.

Aside from my gushing love for the average Pole, check out these eggs below! The local market I frequent has filled up with all things Easter and egg (and not too much of the chocolate variety). These particular ones were hand-painted by a Ukrainian woman working in Krakow (they’re not actual boiled eggs). Aren’t they tops? I bought two and have decided to send them to the first two people who post an egg limerick on crooked corner. You better not disappoint me!

Pussy willow is also huge around Easter time. Mainly, because it ripens during the spring period. But more importantly because it’s fury. And therefore resembles say, a rabbit? A chicken? A duck? A hairy egg?

With Easter comes Palm Sunday. That’s the day, to fill the gaps in your biblical trivia bank, when Jesus arrived to Jerusalem on a donkey and was greeted by the hordes waving palm leaves, a week before he was crucified. So the Poles, on Palm Sunday go to church and wave ‘palms’. Given there are no actual palms in Slavland, these decorative twigs and wheat grasses are dyed and arranged in a bouquet instead.

And for those keen to see it live but not in Poland? Don't fret. Way out west in Marayong you can catch a palm waving ceremony this Sunday no doubt. Just catch the Richmond yellow line. All stations.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

posh commy

Yesterday Michal and I went walkies after work in our new neighbourhood. We decided on a detour to check out the local commy architecture down the road. There are ugly things in life that you can shrug off or at least learn to accept. Like, for example Macquarie University buildings. Or tight white trousers on a size 16 ass. But Polish commy architecture is in a hideous world of its own. No matter how long you stare at it, no matter how many times you walk past it, live in it, see it re-painted or wonder at its holding capacity – it always remains disgusting and an eye-sore on the landscape. Plus, it holds no retro value and never will. This in itself is pretty amazing, given that ugly shit usually turns retro at some point or another. These structures litter all of Poland. And have done so since the 60s concrete slab revolution. Pity there’s not much tectonic plate activity in the area. I would welcome an earthquake.

This particular commy apartment block stands out amongst the other giants. Note its wooden decorative facade? That’s a special type of ugly. It is “posh commy” ugly. Obviously the Party was feeling generous when this little beauty was being built, and showered the some-are-more-equal-than-others citizens with a tad of architectural elitism. Love that raw timber feel!

Monday, 26 March 2007

red stocking alert

So I browsed the paper and there weren’t many fashion pics to steal. I only liked the one. See below. The designer is Elwira Horosz (starting out, yadda yadda not much yet in the way of fame – but maybe the fashion houses of Milan will one day be kind to her). In addition I have attached pictures of the local Krakovians donning the latest. Stockings that is.

photo by Krzysztof Karolczyk

photo by Michal

Tukan and Titka. The red stocking idea is all hers.

lying pays off

Driving Titka and friend home at around 9pm. Police car ahead indicates for me to pull over. I pull over and roll down my window. Policeman, "may I have your driver’s licence and rego papers?", Justyna, "sure, but may I ask what this is about?" (lie – I know what this is about – I only have the dimmer lights on because the normal lights are broken). Policeman, "maybe if you turn on your lights you will know". Justyna, "gee, sorry (hands over her Australian licence and the rego papers), this is a hire car" (bad bad bad – hire car only under Michal’s name, shouldn’t be driving the thing at all).

Policeman, "how long have you been in the country for?" Justyna, "oh about 2 months and 1 week" (lie – I have been in the country for one year and two and a half months – but I say this because I can only drive on a foreign licence for three months). Policeman, "how long are you planning to stay?"

Justyna, "I leave next week" (lie – I live here now). Policeman, "ok. Well you turn on your lights from now on." Justyna, "I will, sorry sir" (waits for policeman to leave because can’t in fact turn on broken lights). Titka, "you are such a liar!!! I heard you deep breathe between every sentence!" Justyna - Avoids a ticket. Drops off Titka and friend. Goes home. Unlit.

Sunday, 25 March 2007


Finally saw some of the Krakow trendoids tonight. Given a lack of an obvious trendoid street in town, I have often wondered where they strut their stuff. So I managed to sneak in, with the help of Titka, into the annual fashion awards show in Nowa Huta. For those not in the know, Nowa Huta (New Steelworks) was a city erected in the 50s by the Commies. It was modelled on a utopian dream to have this amazingly industrial town close enough to be able to shit conveniently on Krakow, the intellectual and cultural centre of Poland. And shit it did. With years of acid rain and toxicity a plenty. It also brought in thousands of migrant workers from villages all around Poland to fuel the labour hungry machine and show Krakow that a good university and musical recitals where useless in the grand scheme of ‘productivity’! And now, surprise surprise, just like all leftover post-factory centres of the west, it has attracted the swarms of trendoids. I am just waiting for the first loft to pop up.

So after getting into the invite-only gala invite-less, not only did I manage to see that thick red-rimmed glasses are the new black Buddy Holly substitute, but also had an excellent opportunity to see some really cool designs. There was an obvious lack of pretension that I was anticipating. After I saw a few nannas sitting and admiring the designs of their grandkids, I didn’t mind so much to be wearing ill fitting jeans and unpolished Blunnies. And I liked the fact that you could buy a cream bun and an orange popper from a very non-designy looking woman at the intermission, whilst standing next to some fashion magazine editor hottie wearing the latest whatever. Once the official photos are up in tomorrow’s paper, I will steal them and put them into the blog for you to have a squeeze at.

And now I am off to bed. Michal was meant to arrive from Rome with his mum at midnight tonight. Unfortunately he made the mistake of buying a cheap Skyeurope ticket and their flight has been delayed until 6am tomorrow! See. Tightass tickets are not actually as good as I once dreamt about them being when living in Sydney. I used to think, “gee, ‘ain’t Europe grand – fly to any city for less than three cents return”. Well the bubble has burst on more than one occasion. I have come to learn that tightass flights are a ticket to hell, starvation, numb airport lounge butt cheeks, delayed passenger wrath and retard ground staff who know nothing (understandable as they are not re-compensated for dealing with aforementioned delayed passenger wrath). And what is worse you have no jetlag excuse to chuck a sickie.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

paper flower goodness

As I walked home from work across the Market Square, a dreary and miserable day as hell, a tiny tiny school girl approached me and handed me an origami flower saying “this is to make you smile” as she skipped away. Apparently the kids of Primary School No. 82 in Krakow have been folding these little numbers and handing them out in town for a “dzieƄ na tak” – a day for being positive. Another tick for why I love this place.


It was the first official day of spring on Thursday. Except it wasn’t. It snowed. And rained. And froze off all your limbs. But it did explain to me the mystery of the crooked toes that has been haunting me for years. My grandma used to have toes that overlapped one another in a fashion not dissimilar to this sketch I drew on the bus:

I always figured the nannas of Poland displayed similar grotesque deformities due to the Commy one-size-fits all shoe era. Not so my friends. It is because toes crawl underneath one another for warmth! As I walked in the slush with my freezing feet I became aware of my small toe on each foot navigating its crawling journey under the remaining four. They too crave warmth and crawl under one another to survive the harsh months of winter. Or spring. And give you a permanent cramp in the process. The end result will be that when I am 70 I will have very narrow feet and a further tactic for scaring my grandchildren.

Monday, 19 March 2007

dash of draught please

My Australian cushy existence hasn't prepared me for the morbidity of a Polish flu. Everyone left, right and centre has been warning me it might lead to pneumonia, heart failure and/or death. Hmm. After coughing all possible fluid out of my lungs (a good thing I have been told), scraping off the last layer of skin from my nose due to non-bleached dunny paper blowing action and a week of watching Brazilian soaps from the couch, I started to think that maybe the overreacting Slavic hordes of Krakow were not exaggerating after all.

But then again this is a land in which people equate walking around the house without slippers on, to an extreme sport. And should you ever open a window on the tram be prepared to have your head eaten alive by a nanna. She's been brought up to believe a draught is actually an illness. Really. People prefer to ride on stinking hot buses, sweating, farting, coughing, sniffling, sneezing and bad-breathing on one another and not open a window. Because a draught can kill you. Fresh air if at all breezy is death. And so my love for the public transport system has been put to a test in these winter months. I think I need to get better thanks. And start riding my bike.

Pity Michal still sounds like a potato harvesting tractor every time he opens his mouth to release another roaring series of coughs. It's been fun being disgusting phlegm buddies.

Slipperland stand at the station