Sunday, June 06, 2010

Eternal Sunshine

I remember hearing an urban legend/true story about a Bay Area guitarist who was asleep inside a house when a bug bomb went off, and afterwards was perhaps ot-nay so art-smay, and then went on to sing for Rancid. I'm reminded of that after taking on a bathroom-prettifying project yesterday and using about half a canister of "Goof-Off" in a small, poorly ventilated area, and then finding myself talking to rocks and mailboxes and seeing lots of pretty colors as I walked around later. My head stopped swimming a bit later on but even this morning, chillingly, I had the song "I Will Try" by Insted (a band I haven't listened to since I discovered the joys of beer) lodged in my head. I finally dislodged it -- by turning my brain to "Survival" by Outspoken, a band I never liked, even in my straightest of straight edge days.

So let's pretend that I was going to write something super brilliant, but instead (insted) I killed off all those poor brain cells and now I'm just gonna show you old Czechoslovak ads, from that same Zetor Brno hockey program that I've mined in the past.

I don't know why this blows my mind so much (Goof-Off?) but this is apparently a film viewer/editor of a type I've never seen. Not that I'm an expert. But the whole thing, the way it's put together, just looks strange. This scan is awful -- my scanner doesn't deal with grays well, apparently -- but that's a viewing screen underneath the little hood. I dunno, maybe this sort of thing was common all over '60s-'70s America, but I never saw anything like it.

If you had asked me in the early 1980s to "draw what Communism looks like," my subconscious would have picked this image up and converted it into poorly-rendered scratchings in a Big Chief tablet. This is, as far as I can tell, an ad for a uranium mine. I don't know if it was a big draw in the area -- "bring your kids to the uranium mine!" -- or if this is just a "be proud of your uranium mine" type of thing. Also curious: it's in Zdar nad Sazavou, which according to Google Maps, is a good hour away from Brno. I think it's still going strong, if this link right here is the same place. I'll add it to the places to visit list.

Trivia: Zdar nad Sazavou is the birthplace of not one but two members of the recently-World Championship-winning Czech hockey team, Tomas Rolinek (who was the captain) and Petr Vampola. So the message is, I guess, if you want your kid to grow up to play hockey, expose them to uranium. Or "Goof-Off."

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#22 -- "To End a War" by Richard Holbrooke

This came out of a discussion with a friend about the Dayton Accords and the troubled federation that is current Bosnia-Herzegovina. It's probably overdue that I read this; I'm just not crazy for politicians' memoirs. This is certainly self-serving, though not as bad as it could be, and Holbrooke gives some great insight into the negotiating process and the way seemingly minuscule issues tangled things up. I came away (as was the intention, I imagine) thinking that even the flawed Dayton deal was quite an achievement.

It needed a better editor; it's a bit repetitive and occasionally disjointed. And there's some score-settling involved -- the French, the Bosnian Serbs, the Bosnian Muslims, and Boutros-Boutros Ghali all come off looking pretty bad. Eventually I'll hunt around to see if there are any memoirs from any of those sides, or anyone who thinks Dayton was the wrong way to go in the first place. Despite its flaws, this gave me some new insights into something I'm pretty passionate about, so score for that.

Also: it includes Slobodan Milosevic hanging out in an Ohio sports bar, and where else will you get that?

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