Remnants of Hapsburg Pressburg

July 8th, 2015 § 0

One of the great things about having a dog is that he will take you off the beaten track. Sometimes far off the beaten track. In this case on a 37 degree day, Thor insisted on going through the woods. I ended up crawling through bracken in shorts with low rise socks (very cool looking invention until crossing berries and vines in the woods).

Pressburg Pionier Oberleutenant Karl Hoper L
Pressburg Pionier Oberleutenant Karl Hoper (L)

In this case, Thor led me to a very old memorial tableau from 1909, reminding us of some unfortunate Pionier (in German) who were blown up by a mine. Until I saw the date I couldn't understand why the Russians or Slovak would write in German, as the Russians also had Pioneers. But no, this was a trace of Hapsburg Pressburg, when Pressberg was probably about the fifteenth city in the Austrian side of Austro-Hungary.

Bratislava Castle Danube boats postcard 1
Bratislava Castle Danube boats postcard (L)

While I was there I took a photo of the castle with boats passing. This photo has the feel of old postcards for me. Technically it's shot on a Leica R 50mm f2 mounted on a Sony NEX-5T. With the NEX-5T you can mount all your amazing old manual lens. Aperture exposure mode works great (unlike on the Canon 5D Mark III and other Canon DSLR). 

Presburg Mirror

January 20th, 2015 § 0

So this is how Hans felt
before the war. Hitler's voice drones
on the radio. A toothbrush in his hands,
his eyes in the mirror. Surely,
he thought, it won't come to this.
Level heads will prevail. Not twenty years
ago the cannons went silent.

But this time my bleary eyes admit,
it's been seventy years. Three generations
lived and died with just whispers
in the jungles or Balkan piano clatter.
An inconsequential hundred thousand
Arab children may have starved.

Nothing real, nothing like this. Slow heartbeat,
the distant boom of the end, absolute.
Hans' wife pooh-poohed the menace then
as mine now. Take Gretta with you my love
while you're out with the dog. Fresh air
will do you all good.
She smiles, urgently
rubbing cream into her forehead. A furrow
across her brow, dismisses any other care.

Real men do not fret about
what they cannot change.
Children
to be taken to school, cannons to load.
Duties to be discharged equally.
Centuries alter not man's destiny, woman's
insouciance. Accept the force. Indispensable
nation. Sieg Heil!

View from Konigswart

November 13th, 2013 § 0

Where the Austrian emperors came to greet their Hungarian armies. Ironically, it's one of the last great NATO listening posts now, still fenced and guarded with now unneeded and obsolete gigantic satellite dishes. The woods stretch off in all directions for miles. From the watchtower one can see in every direction, from Hainburg to Bratislava to Kittsee and further to Hungary.

Konigswart NATO Kittsee full
Konigswart NATO Kittsee full

View from Konigswart Continues »

Humanity, Mortality and the Dalai Lama

May 18th, 2013 § 2

stunning nature
nature vs humanity: in the very long run nature must win

When asked what surprised him most about humanity, the Dalai Lama answered:

Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.

Apparently the Dalai Lama never said this. What a pity if he didn’t. This is our life. We lose our time pursuing matters of little consequence, preening before our peers and dreaming of irrelevant wealth. Long term stress-related cancer claimed Steve Jobs as surely as it will claim you or me, if we don’t live better and balance our lives better.

One of my best friends and my long term creative partner died in a car crash on his birthday a week after mine, just before he hit thirty. My life was changed, his was ended. This is mortality.

On the other hand, since we are all in an inevitable rush to the finish line, what does it matter if we labour out our existence and pushing to the top of the ant pile? If we are going to be dead soon we may as well work hard while you have the chance.

Or to pivot one more time. Since we don’t live long, what does it really matter what we think or feel in our nanosecond?

To put some perspective on matters, life on earth is 450 million years old and has been nearly snuffed out three times before our epoch. Those 450 million years are just a short day in the history of our solar system which is approximately 4.5 billions years old and has another 6 billion years to go before the sun extinguishes itself, burning through all the helium.

Humanity, Mortality and the Dalai Lama Continues »

Tigre v Meste (Tigers in the City) Film Review

April 1st, 2013 § 0

Tigers in the City is ostensibly an urban love story mixed with an international crime thriller. As strange as that mix sounds, the actual film is even stranger.

TIgre v Meste cast
TIgre v Meste cast

The main story follows a hotshot young prosecutor in Bratislava, Rudolf Jazvec. This gentleman at the age of thirty has not lost his virginity, much to the amusement of his randy bon vivant zoo keeper friend Hyena who has been boffing Rudolf's oversexed younger sister and fitness instructor Jane for the last five years. Rudolf is in love with a radio host on Bratislava's culture channel, Marina Kuznikova.

Kristina Tothova Diana Morova
Kristina Tothova and Diana Morova in an intimate moment,
no it's not a lesbian love story: Tóthová plays a man

Unknown to anyone except the viewer, Marina's Russian husband Ivan (the boxing instructor of Jane) has been brought in by Marina's mafioso brother to eliminate a troublesome state prosecutor. Rudolf.

Tigre v Meste (Tigers in the City) Film Review Continues »

Lóve by Jakub Kroner: Review

March 30th, 2013 § 0

Lóve is a deeply sinister film. There aren't many films made these days in Bratislava or Slovakia that make it to theatres. More particularly there are even fewer films for young Slovaks to see themselves in. I've just survived the brutal skinhead-centric feature My Dog Killer (opening film of Febiofest) and had higher hopes for the very glamorously and heavily marketed Lóve.

Love poster Jakub Kroner
Love poster Jakub Kroner

Here we have three typical student girls living in the main dormitories at Mlynskina Dolina. They sneak boys in and out of their rooms and dream of having punky guys turn up with pear spirits in their underpants. After drinking the bottle straight, some of them have sex with the said punky guys. The next week Sandra cries that Tomas doesn't call her anymore. So far so good. The same maudlin story which French étudiantes might live through, albeit with better rooms and better liquor.

Lóve by Jakub Kroner: Review Continues »

Bicycles and Bratislava

September 30th, 2012 § 0

Bicycles and Bratislava, what could be better? Two of my favorite things.

PARA – Žena from Martina SLOVAKOVA

Things are happening culturally in Bratislava, a lot of the work is just underground.

Bicycles and Bratislava Continues »