Budapest, Hungary, 2-8 October, 2005
sipping eternal from the old waters of the blues, budapest squats next to the danube and drinks from her past.
it's like a murder or an abuse, but after it's been done; there's a feeling of need and retribution.
the danube covers 801,463 square kilometers = more than spain = something around texas.
in the lower end, near where it empties into the black sea it discharges over 6000 cubic meters of water every second. in other words, as you read this sentence the danube will have moved nearly 30,000 cubic meters of water. i'm no math whiz, so i might be wrong, but i think that's 300 football fields, filled three feet deep. every 6 seconds. or thereabouts.
anyway, in 2004 a report details this massive beast. called The Roof Report (provided here for your reading confusion) it will tell you more than you care about the DRB. but a few things are rather odd to read. for example, nearly 3/4 of the tested samples taken from the danube river basin contained DDT. belgrade still dumps raw sewage into the river. sturgeon are nearly extinct. dams. people get mysteriously sick. die. but fortunately, beaurocracy has its ups. most of these countries, such as romania and hungary, are EU members so they have to shoulder clean up requirements to escort father russia's post-industrial inheritance.
but the question is: where else but the danube can you place the past?
anyway budapest is russia's resurrected daughter, filthy from her second birth. she's a smart girl that was born on a dumb farm. she's clever but not dangerous, experienced but not jaded, unimpressed with her own voice. she's poor, and a bit embarrassed of this, but this is why she works so hard. she was raised in the factory, and happy to forget her russian style paternolstagic past, but like anyone that has a sordid story, it's pain to carry and beautiful to see ... as long as you're not hungarian.
i found it beautiful.
like most european cities, budapest is feminine; or at least she used to be. the russian culture of industry had an influence on her, but didn't change budapest, not deep down anyway. she's feminine; there's attention to details, labyrinthine city layout, green spaces, the slow flow of the river through town, the easy smiles on people's faces. people here in budapest are generally happy and seem friendly, though none of them will tell you such since they like to think of themselves as grumpy (but i think of myself that way, too).
exporting supermodels is a national industry.
these women have a worldwide and justified reputation for being beautiful. short skirts, long legs, and tall attitudes.
the men however, these ruddy and hairy dwarves, hardly take any care of themselves, which might be masculine in some way. but the men actually have nice-looking skulls, and could be quite handsome with a few weeks of exercise (and a shave) if only for some of the reasons the women are beautiful: thin bones, light eyes, and dark hair; it makes for a sexy human being. the basic problem is just that the men go bad fast. too much cinar, cigarettes and sausage, probly. and the women don't seem to pay much attention, but i'm sure they care.
most of my time in budapest was spent lecturing at an art school (standing), or commuting on a metro (standing).
i had nights to go out, and in that six day period i did the best i could to find the budapest that is alive today.
so i walked the sunsets.
as i mentioned (and as the hungarians repeated),
everyone here says that everyone else is depressed.
i don't find that. instead i find sincere (my friend Julia, a green-eyed intellect who seems to know everyone in town and finds all the best restaurants in half.a.thought.time), ambitious (the boy on the metro [see next page] who told me he would become a millionaire by being a PE coach, or perhaps a pole vaulter - he hadn't decided yet which, but he would be willing to kill for this million), patient (the lovely old woman that piled food on our plates in the cafeteria-canteen downstairs from the art school), well-educated (Julia's friend. Myer. i think he is named, that had lived in 8 countries, spoke english, arabic, hungarian, french, and some urdu or something along those lines), and a people overall faithful to their families (such as Virag, who had just had a baby and told me that her job was with her baby and sometimes helping her husband).
but not depressed.
i turn our attention to the amazing food.
budapest is a thick stew spiced with the russian flourish of schinocephalic domes and romanesque arches. and you can taste it when you dig in. it's made of going.away.things; huge bald thugs of men that carry tools, scowl, and eat several potatoes for lunch; metros that are built in part with wood and have analog buzzers instead of MIDI files of The Cheery White Woman; budapest has stone balconies; budapest has wrought-iron lamps and trashcans; there are palaces set atop hillsides; there are large black wolves in the forest; golden leaves piled impossibly and snow deep; soups are made with carrots, pasta and beef; the streets go silent at 8pm sharp and that is when the bars scream their dull and low roar of hatred that no one, not even the screamers, can understand.
(but back to the topic) the food is as simple and satisfying as missionary-style sex. but it also has paprika. if you eat it like the hungarians, that is. so since all european food, traditionally, has salt as its primary staple, the reason they do this is because paprika and salt are about as good together, probably better even, than butter and salt.
i went down to the river for dinner on the 7th of october. i ate halászlč belsöséggel (a local fish soup) and 2 pints of beer. dessert was somlói galuska, an espresso, and a glass of unicum,the hungarian bitter that's an herb alcohol. this boozie is well loved by young and old hungarians. anyway I had all of this lux at Horgásztanya Vendglő, on Fő utca where it intersects with Halász utca.. they have fishnets hanging from the ceiling, they have checkered table cloths, like grandma's. they have men that have worked there for their entire lives who all look the same. go there and live well while sitting down then feel warm when standing to leave.
hungarians hug and kiss a lot. bisous, pdas, etc. its natural to them, and they're free to discuss sex, body, and love openly. this has something to do with why they are so serious, but i'll be damned if i know what. the women really know how to kiss: they know how to fall into it and loosen their muscles without going noodle.
it's quite romantic, but not in the ROMANtic, italian, sense. they have their own ideas by now.
i'm now writing from the plane back to the US. i have been flirting with a tall blonde woman who appeared to be a supermodel. she might be german, but she's too beautiful. she has to be from poland. that was in the airport. now, by contrast, and reluctantly, i am sitting next to a christian fundamentalist and, as i am typing up cultural misjudgements on hungary she is writing in her book titled "My Partner's Prayer Journal."
i am already back in the united states.