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                She's Czech, I'm American- Jun 08

In February I stayed up late and had a conversation, which started out well enough, and led to a discussion, which fell apart into an argument.  We were a strange mix:  me, the young, drunk, wild-eyed American, a British man with a beard as long as my forearm, and all the paranoia about governments and the rich that go along with it, and a Czech girl who was pretty at the same time that she was ugly; about her personality I haven’t a clue.  She was with a quiet and proud African, who made the greatest impression on me.
I had thrown-up earlier in the night so I was able to drink more than usual without blacking out.  Even while throwing-up I was drunk enough that I wasn’t really disgusted by the fact that some had gotten on my sleeve.
In the late morning I fell asleep on a matrress without covers.  When I woke I was freezing and I couldn’t stop my teeth from chattering.  I think my teeth are what woke me up.  Some guy was in the next bed and wrapped in what looked like a sleeping bag, that greedy son of a bitch.
When I left the flat it was past noon, and the one fucking day with sun.  I was almost blind from my hangover.  I walked slowly so as not to puke on my way home.  My head could have split apart.  At home I fell asleep and woke up when it was dark and realized that I was going to be sick for the next couple days.

Lovers and the smell of weed line the way along the Vltava late at night.
            I get drunk and find the ruins of an old church.  Something they haven’t reconstructed or urbanized.  The arch has sunk several feet into the ground so that it only comes up to my chin.  On the outside the disintegrating red brick and plaster is exposed.
            My feet sink into the ground, and the construction site has been set, but the work has not begun.  It looks like one part of the building is being used as a school.  It’s a school as old as my nation.
            I walk around the outside, pace back and forth.  But a building can only entertain you for so long, even one as old and beautiful as this.

The girls in Bohemia Bagel are talking about finding billions of dollars of oil of the coast in Brazil, and sugarcane ethanol, and US corn subsidies and all this bullshit that I don’t want to hear this early.  ‘The US is fucked up,’ she says.  That’s a nice vest you’re wearing.  How are you enjoying Prague?  Some guys are talking about McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches, and how filling the egg part is.  ‘It’s powder, no egg,’ I mumble to myself. 
I’ve been day dreaming for so long in this city that when English breaks through it just puts me in a bad mood.  You don’t have to listen to those conversations on the bus, on the street, or on the television, for all you know there is brilliance in what is being said.  Not knowing is all you need.
We have a poor reputation.  There’s the Americans that come abroad and don’t shut up about the states, they compare everything, and never miss a chance to mention how great it is back in the States.  Then there are the Americans that come abroad and shit all over the country, they’re the jackasses that pretend they’re from Canada.  Everything is wrong back home while they occupy their days travelling through Europe, spending money they never earned. 

It takes me hours before i realize I’m legitimately ill.  You drink enough absinth and wine, smoke enough cigarettes, and you become accustomed to a constant sore throat.

I’m thankful when the following day is cloudy with slight rain.  I couldn’t take being sick for another sunny day.

The city of Prague is a township divided into parts, and when people come to visit Prague they mostly stay in Prague 1, Prague 7 by the castle, and part of Prague 2.  In these areas you can find all of the things that have made Prague famous:  Old Town Square, Prague Castle, Wenceslas Square, the National Theatre, the Jewish Quarter and its Cemetery, the Dancing House, the gardens, and the parks.  But these are only parts of Prague, and rather boring ones at that.
If Brooklyn is the beating heart of New York, than Žižkov is the beating heart of this city.  It’s in Prague 3, east of the city centre, and is something of an enigma for being so close to the centre.  It doesn’t really have historic buildings, unless you count the Prague TV Tower, which is famous for overwhelming the Prague skyline and having giant babies crawling up the side.  The modern development is minimal, and most of the area’s flats are before reconstruction, communist cement apartment blocks, and dumpy houses.  It won’t always be this way, but for the time being it’s unique in its utilitarianism.
I read once that Žižkov has more bars per square kilometre than anywhere else in the world.  I don’t know if it’s true, or if it was true, but I can say that the amount of bars is irrational.  Not only one on every street corner, but one or two in between, and up the side streets, in the parks, and even in the bottom floors of houses.  When I lived there, it was full of graffiti, dirty, conventionally ugly, populated by students and blue-collar workers, and far from suburban.  When I tell Czechs that I lived in Žižkov they usually respond with, “It is full of very many Gypsies,” which is only partially true.

This place is a disease, Hllavani Nadrazi, the main train station, Ali Baba and his den of forty thieves, the Czech hell-hole.  Nothing really terrible has happened to me today, but I still hate this bitch.  A pigeon is hopping close enough to me that I could kick it.  What the fuck are these birds doing indoors?  I’m suddenly overcome with fear that a bird will shit on me.  I search the ceiling.  That would happen here.
They have been trying to fix the station by putting in a trashy little shopping center, but that won’t help.  They need to eat the loss, place dynamite and blow it up.  The train station in Berlin looks like a modern airport.  It puts Prague to shame.  The one in Paris isn’t nice, but it’s large, somewhat clean, and safe.  The safety in Paris was from the army presence.  Men walking around with machine guns would probably also scare the Czechs.
I watch as two girls tear up a McDonald’s bag and set it on the ground so they can sit down.  My father had his wallet stolen the first time he was in Prague, but he’s an easy mark, an obvious American with his billfold in his back-pocket.
The police station was boarded like a bunker.  The inside was full of smoke, mountains of ash in the ashtrays, and pornography on the computer screens.  The one proactive thing I have seen the Hllavani Nadrazi police do is beat the shit of a homeless person with billy-clubs.  It was late at night and I was returning to the city when I saw the police descend on him, throwing him out the glass doors.  I then noticed another homeless person slumped against a support column with blood running down his bald head and his eyes closed.  The police didn’t do that one.

As I’m cleaning my apartment I find a small notebook that was left by the person before me.  The first thing I notice when I open it are the pages full of numbers.  Some have names beside them, others have countries.  The hand writing is small, neat, and clean.
In the front of the notebook there is a poem about 9-11, a rant to a newspaper, and a laundry list of neo-conservative national actions, including withdrawing from the UN and NATO and reinstating the Monroe Doctrine.  This little number is also in the front:
“As an American who has lived in Europe for more than half of my 45 years.  For those who ask if Americans should identify the problems which cause the widespread hatred of America in the Muslim world I can say this:  I, and I think most Americans, can not be bothered. I would only say that America does what it deams is in its interest.  America’s interests are freedom, democracy, peace and wealth.  Those who hate us for them can go to hell and we should help them.”
Apparently people like this do exist.  And if I knew they existed, I never guessed you would run into them across the ocean.

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