Category: "poland"

smutno

07/06/17 07:13

The man who grabs women's genitals is in the country where men kiss women's hands.

By Thomas Swick • Category: poland

the last movie

03/07/17 09:25

Polish competed with Spanish last night at Regal South Beach Cinemas as the local community of Poles came out for Andrzej Wajda’s final film, Afterimage. (If you watched the Academy Awards the other week, you saw a photograph of the great director during the In Memoriam montage.)

The film tells the story of Wladyslaw Strzeminski, an artist and art instructor in Lodz who, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, refused to submit to the state-mandated ideology of socialist realism. In an early scene, Strzeminski is in his apartment, about to dab paint on a blank canvas, when the room, and the canvas, are suddenly washed in red. Outside men are raising a huge banner to Stalin on the building’s façade. The artist, who is missing an arm and a leg, uses his crutch to rip a hole in the banner and return natural light to his living quarters. It is the beginning of his demise: He eventually loses his job, gets kicked out of the artists’ union, finds himself unemployable and ineligible for food stamps. In one heartbreaking scene, he is even refused paint in a store he’s shopped at for years.  

 After the movie, there was a reception, attended mostly by Poles. One expressed regret that Americans were seeing such a depressing depiction of Poland. I had a different view: Americans tend to know about the horrors of World War II, but what came after has not received all that much attention in the States (despite the efforts of Wajda, Milosz, and many others). Poland suffered greatly under Stalinism, a suffering that seems all the more cruel when you consider that, in the war, Poland was on the winning side.

By Thomas Swick • Category: poland

polish music day

12/02/13 08:08

Friday morning I drove to Miami to see my friend Zosia who is visiting from Warsaw. Listening to Chopin's Scherzo No. 1 on Classical South Florida I thought I heard echoes of my favorite Polish Christmas carol, "Lulajze Jezuniu."

Driving home I listened to the Anna German CD Zosia had given me.

But before I got here, I stopped in Hollywood to see our friends Magda and Ryszard. Ryszard was listening to a Polish radio station that was playing the top ten songs for the week. "They're all sad," he complained while the No. 3 song played. A short time later, the No. 1 song came on. It was by the old rock band Kult. "Nine sad," said Ryszard, "and one angry."

By Thomas Swick • Category: poland

american joke

10/02/13 07:21

I came back from Poland - where bookstores have large sections devoted to travel literature, sometimes next to sections of international reportage - to find Extreme RVs on the Travel Channel.

Oh, and the new editor of Conde Nast Traveler is the former editor of Martha Stewart Living.

By Thomas Swick • Category: books, poland

cold war yawns

09/27/13 07:53

Among the things Hania brought back from Poland Sunday – jewelry, ceramics, vodka – was my secret police file, which she obtained at the beautifully named Institute of National Memory. The file makes for very dull reading, which I have to take most of the blame for; my two and a half years in Warsaw were more queue-and-tutor than cloak-and-dagger. But reading one official document after another I have come to the conclusion that the disintegration of communism in Eastern Europe was partly the result of a collective sense of boredom.

By Thomas Swick • Category: politics, poland

Overnight flight from Miami to Frankfurt, sitting in the last row of the next-to-last section, just by the galley where, when the flight attendants weren't banging carts, passengers were stretching their legs and vocal chords.

9 a.m. breakfast in Frankfurt - all the tables around us held tall glasses of beer, delivered by a cheerful waitress from Thailand.

Arrived in Warsaw at 1:30. Hania's new brown suitcase was the first to fall onto the luggage carousel. It had bright new ribbons I assumed were tied by TSA after they opened it and found nothing suspicious inside.

Her cousin Jurek and his wife Monika took us to their apartment in Muranow, a block from the new Jewish museum. I carried Hania's heavy suitcase - no elevator - up to the third floor. We were shown around the apartment, then Hania went to get something from her suitcase which, it turned out, was not her suitcase. So I carried the heavy thing down two flights of stairs and we all drove back to Chopin Airport as if having quickly decided Poland wasn't for us.

Inside the airport we explained the problem to the man at the information booth. With a wry smile, he gave us a number to call. Shortly, a man in a tie appeared and walked us through a passageway that led back to the luggage carousels. He disappeared into the lost luggage room and reappeared with Hania's suitcase. We gave him the one we had taken.

The next morning we woke up to sunshine, turned on the radio, and heard a man singing: "Vamos a la playa."

By Thomas Swick • Category: Travel, poland