Argondia

Argondia

Vulnerability

It begins
by taking a step closer
to the cliff’s edge
to more fully view
the unfolding landscape.
It opens crossed arms
and closed fists
inviting friends, family,
sisters, brothers
partners, lovers,
enemies, and Others
to interlace
to share in the view.

-BD 7/18/16

Prague continued to provide us with unique artistic and human experiences. Friday night Baylen had picked out an event at the “Meet Factory,” an art space whose description reminded us very much of “Bedlam,” the art, theatre, music, dance, and social venue in the Twin Cities. The event was a techno which started at 10pm. So, in the spirit of not wanting to arrive too early, we took a tram to this old, repurposed meat factory  in an industrial part of Prague and arrived at 11:30pm. Little did our simple midwestern spirits realize that to arrive at 11:30pm at a techno is to essentially be alone for at least another 2-3 hours! The two headlining acts took the stage respectively at 3:00 and 4:30am!!!! However, we had come all this way and determined that we were going to see it through. We managed to shake our tail feathers until a little after 5 before heading to our tram stop to get home.

Enter “Strugglefest 2012!” We hopped on the tram at around 5:30 and at one critical juncture when we expected it to turn right, it turned left. We decided to trust the tram would get us to the stop we wanted and that maybe our sense of direction was off…until a voice came over the speaker saying that we had arrived at the last stop! Hopping of the tram, a map informed us that we were about as far west as we could be and still say that we were in Prague. UFFDAH! Luckily, after about another 30-minute wait, we were able to hop on a tram going the other direction and end up back at our hostel in time for breakfast around 7:30am.

Saturday had an understandably slow start and a leisurely afternoon of writing, reading, playing solo Bach in a park, and Skyping with loved ones back home. Let this be my public declaration (Ben’s) that I am missing Amanda tremendously! She’s a light in my life and her absence is regularly felt. OK, I’ll limit my public gushing to just that!

In the evening, Baylen and I met up with our local friend from Thursday, Bethany, who wanted to show us around her favorite park and have a picnic. We enjoyed great conversation (Bethany currently teaches a positive psychology course amongst many other things. Check out her inspiring work here http://www.bethanybutzer.com/), good views, and an adventure into Argondia, the magical cavern!!

Argondia is maybe the strangest place I’ve never imagined possible. A Czech artist, Reon Argondian, lives in a building in this park that he has transformed into his imagined world of Argondia. He has transformed EVERYTHING on the inside and covered the walls with paintings illustrating his world. He rose to a certain level of fame when members of Led Zeppelin purchased some of his work. Here is a glimpse into this crazy world.

image

image

image

Now, enjoy Wormwood’s interpretation of the music of Argondia. Katie Heilman, this one’s for you!

On the walk home, we crossed the bridge and saw a most wonderful sight. Around one hundred swans on the river asleep, drifting as the river would take them. We couldn’t get a picture, but I hope these words paint the scene for you.

Long after night falls
when breezes have turned to a chill
these long, graceful necks
curl around and tuck beneath
large, white wings.
Their solid bills so solitary
and singularly vocal under the sun
come together by hundreds
in the eddy of a river.
Not by choice
but because their drifting
like clouds in the wind
upon the obsidian waters
streaked with the moon’s silver
has taken them there
like some sort of driftwood
being reunited and reminded
that the pieces once were
the same tree.
Together in their sleeping
to be scattered again
upon sun’s rising
and eyes’ opening.

We’ve now arrived in Berlin and are enjoying the hospitality of an old friend, Maya Markwald!!

Advertisements

Czech Underground

Czech Underground

In what way do
humans resemble
candles,
burning down
to wax and
exchanging their
shape for
brief periods
of illumination?

In what way do
candles give
grief to darkness
and comfort
to shadow,
pulling back
the veil and
tucking it into
corners?

In what way do
all things shine
with tarnished
silver glare,
brandishing a
noble purpose
muddled by
the compromise
of entropy?

BW 7/15/16

 

It seems to me that Prague is an old city with a young spirit. The paving stones and mortar arches that greet us everywhere we wander show the re-furbished nature of the districts. We’ve explored most of the tourist attractions and some of the residential zones in walking distance. The city continues to live up to our expectations.  We’ve switched to a different hostel in the Vinohrady district and are enjoying the quieter parts of the city. We got Vietnamese stir-fry for dinner yesterday and realized it was the first time we visited a restaurant that was mostly locals. True residents of Prague, it seems, are nearly identical to Minneapolis folk. “They don’t eat sausage and goulash for every meal? Ridiculous? Of course, Minnesotans only eat tater-tot hot dish!”

image

With the recommendation of an online review and a hostel staff person, Wormwood ventured out to find an underground music club known as Vzorkovna. We even got two friendly strangers (Bethany and Amanda) we had met the day before and a couple of gentlemen from Turkey (Ömer and Mehmet) sharing our hostel to meet us at this hard-to-pronounce hipster den. We went bearing instruments in hopes of a jam session. We were not dissapointed.

Descending a ramshakle wooden staircase into a labyrinthian set of tunnels, we found ourselves in the grungiest, most incredible bar either of us have laid eyes upon. In place of posh chairs and couches, this establishment opted for upturned logs and plywood benches. The tables were adorned with red-wax candles that melted down right into the wood. The walls were festooned with artwork and tags and every anarchist mantra imaginable. To top it off there was a massive Irish wolf hound roaming around the place and lounging where he pleased! My mouth was literally agape with wonder.

Though it was a loud crowd, Wormwood set up on a small stage in one section of the club and played to the space. The bar’s owner introduced himself casually and told us to “do whatever we like.” We played for about a half hour and then set to sampling different common Czech liquors. One of the women that joined us for the evening was a Canadian now living in Prague. She recommended we try Becherovka, Slivovits, and Fernet. Our clear favorite was Becherovka (which has an herbal, cinnamon flavor) but Slovovits was also enjoyable. Fernet was a bit like cough syrup. Perhaps we should buy some the next time we’re coming down with a cold?

The footage of our playing is gritty at best. It was a dark bar and our microphone had trouble filtering the joyful noise of the crowd. This video gives you a glimpse, though, of the small space built for impromptu jam sessions.

We had a great time chatting with new friends early into the morning (when a shirtless Czech man cheerfully but insistently ushered us out the door.) Vzorkovna was a home-run for Prague in our books. Liquor, beer, and cider in various sized Mason jars at ridiculously reasonable prices made this dive a near-perfect hangout. This city has a lot to offer wannabe Bohemians like Ben and me. The presence of unpretentious modern culture is like a litmus test for the health of local humans – at least, that’s what Ben believes, and I agree with him because most of the time we are the same person.

Improvised Histories

Improvised Histories

A jester jests
for and about his king
poking his ribs
from the inside out.

-BD 7/13/16

Wormwood arrived in Prague on Monday and so far it has been a refreshing, energizing city. While it contains a rich history, it clearly embraces a thriving present that isn’t afraid to laugh at itself (See David Cerny’s “Piss” as our featured image). Apparently, if you text a message to a specific number, these statues will “spell out” your message onto the map of the Czech Republic.

In addition to lots of green space scattered about the city, something our midwestern spirits have come to rely upon, our eyes have fallen upon snapshots of David Cerny’s sculptures, a statue in a pond consisting of two legs splayed towards the sky, artistic graffiti covering old stone walls, and a refreshing book store near the Kafka museum whose featured titles include modern philosophy, social critiques, Czech poets, classic works, and even three Kafka works adapted into an illustrated children’s book titled “My First Kafka.” I couldn’t help but enjoy their version of Metamorphosis! While we both wanted to buy about 20 books, we could only realistically add one per person to our light pack. All in all, the presence of these things are a refreshing contrast to the things we wrote about in “Monuments.”

On Wednesday, we enjoyed an “improvised walking tour” led by Baylen Wagner. We’ve recorded its contents here. Please note that 100% of its contents are total nonsense…as you’ll quickly discover. Enjoy some of the silliness of our day!

In the middle of the walking tour, we stopped off at this giant metronome (or magic wand, if you’ll believe our tour guide) for a few sets, met a few folks (one of which was celebrating her birthday and got a Wormwood birthday set), and continued on our merry minstrel way. Here is one of those sets. What do you think? Did we keep time with the metronome?

Finally, since we were in a playful spirit, our child-like curiosity combined with our years of studying avant garde music (two sides of the same coin, really) got the better of us. As we were strolling through a park, we noticed these tall, hollow pipes that reminded us of organ pipes. Then this happened…

We have a couple more days in Prague which I anticipate we will enjoy tremendously before heading to meet up with our friend Maya Markwald in Berlin. Oh, and we had our first sips of real absinth made with our namesake…wormwood! No need to believe in the myths, it’s simply a tasty, bitter liqueur.

image