A man in snorkeling gear stops traffic on Prague’s Wenceslas Square. What do you do when you have one motorbike and a six-member family? And, sculptor David Černý gives Prague three more black babies. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.
What makes Czechs tick? Close to two decades after the fall of communism it is money, money and more money – and good things to spend it on, of course. A survey conducted for Mlada fronta Dnes shows that Czechs value goods and services as the most important factors in overall satisfaction, followed by freedom and education. The survey conducted by Gfk showed some surprising results – for instance what do respondents who vote for the Green Party need to feel happy? The answer was not a clean environment but a high income and private assets. What do Christian Democrat voters need? Forget about moral values – they appreciate a broad offer of goods and services. The survey clearly showed that while Czechs do not like to admit it they are very much in the grip of a consumerist lifestyle. Analysts have an explanation for the stated preferences – they say that Green Party supporters in the Czech Republic are different from those elsewhere in Europe in that most of them are successful, competitive young people climbing up the corporate ladder, rather than people who really care about Green issues. As for the Christian Democrats – their voters are mostly people living in small towns and villages who were used to a small selection of goods at the local mixed-goods store until suddenly the tempting world of shopping malls and supermarkets opened up to them. Even in the bigger cities a day at the shopping mall is still many people’s idea of a well-spent weekend.
Anyone who has been anywhere near the Žižkov TV tower in Prague must have noticed the dozen or so outsize black babies crawling up and down the tower – the work of sculptor David Černý. David’s babies – as they’ve been dubbed – are extremely popular but a bit out of reach. Now the sculptor has remedied that by producing three more babies for Kampa Island. The larger than life infants, crawling on a patch of grass, are attracting plenty of attention. David Černy’s other works in Prague are unmistakable and include a trabant on legs and an equestrian statue of St. Wenceslas - not the one at the top end of Wenceslas Square – but that hidden in the nearby Lucerna arcade where the good king hangs from the ceiling astride the belly of an upside down dead steed with its tongue hanging out.
Last Saturday people strolling up and down Wenceslas Square were treated to the sight of a man in snorkeling gear pushing a golf cart down the square. His progress was heavily impeded by the flippers he wore and he kept his head down as people jostled to take snapshots of him on their mobile phones. The man was far from mad – he turned out to be Josef Souček –the chief manager of Golf Club Praha who had lost a bet and was paying his dues.
Two fourteen-year-old boys in the town of Frýdek-Mýstek are in big trouble with the authorities after trying to blackmail a local shop owner into giving them a large sum of money. The boys bought a bottle of vodka in the shop and one of them secretly filmed the scene on his mobile phone. They then sent the shop owner a letter threatening to report him to the police for selling alcohol to minors. When he failed to reply, they wrote a second letter – asking him to meet them in the local graveyard at night and deliver 5,000 crowns in an envelope – which they wrapped around a stone and sent flying through his shop window. The owner called the police and when the boys came to pick up the money that night they had a big surprise in store. Although they are not yet fifteen, the case is going to court and they could be ordered to spend time in a correctional institute for juvenile delinquents.
You might think the not-too-distant memory of one of the worst fires in Prague’s modern history ravaging the entire left wing of the Industrial Palace at Prague’s main exhibition grounds might make people somewhat cautious to visit the place –but not when there an erotic fair to be seen! Hundreds of people paid a visit the 14th international fair of erotic goods and services, offering X-rated movies, sexy underwear, aphrodisiacs, a display of erotic photographs and paintings, a wide variety of sex toys and a strip tease event starring the Czech porn stars Paula Wild and Tarra White. Well, it’s lucky the big fire happened during a dentists’ exhibition – in the event of an erotic fair fire crews might have had a problem getting everyone out in time.
November 2 is All Souls Day in the Czech Republic and it is a tradition that has deep roots in this part of the world. Millions of people pay their respects to the dead, cemeteries are ablaze with candles and overflowing with flowers. Because the tradition is so strong it is difficult for imported holidays, such as Halloween, to take root although Halloween goods and costumes are now widely available in Czech stores. And, as an alternative way of remembering lost family and friends - a group of Czechs have established Mexican-style celebrations of the dead called Día de los Muertos, which in contrast to the somewhat pensive character of the Czech All Souls Day, is a happy, lively celebration of the departed involving music, dancing, good food and tequila. The Mexican style event was launched a few years back and first only a handful of curious people turned up. But organizer Malvína Řezáčová says news of it has spread fast. Last year 300 people turned up for the Dia de los Muertos celebrations, this year it was 600 and the event had to be moved to a bigger location to accommodate growing interest. Many people who had already paid their respects to the dead Czech-style visiting the cemetery with a wreath and candle during the day – turned up for the Mexican party that nigh to lift their spirits. “In Mexico people remember their departed with a smile” Malvína says. “It’s a regular party with eating, drinking and making merry – it is like you are inviting your departed back for a big celebration”.
What do you do when you have one motorbike and a six-member family? Some would buy a family van, but thirty-three- year-old Viktor Smutný from Uhelná Príbram simply extended his motorbike. His old Babeta moped can now carry six passengers – Viktor, his wife and four kids – and with its new coat of paint it was the hit of last year’s Uhelná Príbram motorbike race. It wasn’t eligible to compete of course, but it got plenty of admirers.