VISIBLE CITIES – INVISIBLE CITIES
AT HOME IN THE CITY
HARRY PYE’s POSTCARD FROM LONDON
Tarvo Hanno Varres
ROCK-MUSIC FROM BUDAPEST
AMSTERDAM IS A CITY
PERM. WHERE IS THIS PLACE? WHAT IS THIS PLACE?
A HAPPY MORNING
VILEN KÜNNAPU’s SHORT
INTERVIEW WITH THE POET
SCENES OF PAIDE
Jan Ping aka Brüggemeier
ROCK-MUSIC FROM BUDAPEST
Vittula. I was there on Friday. I met there with my French friend Pierre. Later his American friend, a banker John joined us. John is planning to start lending money in here to the retired – it seems that nobody is interested in giving them any, although they all have big, old, a bit ramshackle flats with high ceilings, where they spend their old age penny-less. John was a bit worried about them.
So, Vittula. It sounds like a Finnish equivalent to Noku, however it is a completely different place. It is a place that somehow summarizes my experience and image of Budapest. It is a small place in the basement.
On Friday when I dropped in a band was playing there in the corner, some friend of Pierre was taking abuse of the guitar. The place is small and was heavily crowded; hence, sitting in the back-corner I missed the music. Instead, I made an acquaintance with a weasel-faced bearded artist who, being thin and small, paints fat women with flowers. As always, the life of a freelancer is hard, he explained, his paintings are not selling well – I guess it is not the most popular subject matter then.
Vittula’s walls are completely indifferent – it is not an interior-designed place – and there are more places like this around here. The certain touch of these second-hand bars is what makes Budapest the Budapest for me. These are unimportant places filled up just with a counter, some ancient chairs, half-burnt tables, sometimes some old stinky couch, a couple of hideous lamps and a bit of sound in addition. That’s it. That is all you need.
And you can find a lot of places like this in here. When the weather turned cold many of them were closed – they where outside in the courtyards of the housing blocks in need of repairs. But some of them have light roofs and the gas-heaters in the corners emit enough heat so that people can calmly drink their booze without freezing to death. These are places, which you can easily miss walking on the street; sometimes you can’t almost recognize them from the outside as they may not have any signs or ads. You just enter some vague door and you are drawn into somewhat sleazy and noisy world. It is plenteous and sudden, old and brave, stuffy and bold.
This is what Budapest is like: smooth, filthy, a bit ponderous city hard to grasp. Walking along the street you find places where people have just took a leak or dogs shit; you see houses speaking of century-old awe-inspiring aristocracy that are now sadly but self-confidently dropping the paint from their faces; you notice cars, speeding arrogantly on the streets full of holes, trying to run over you. But you do not have a clearly defined spot that would help you to attach yourself to the city. Chased by car-drivers you escape to the riverside. The river is gathering all the filth of the city and together with it she is taking away any definite image of the city. On the other side of the river you can see a hill on top of which a dignified woman with wings is standing. She, having a sword in her hand, is somehow supposed to symbolise liberty and freedom. But any deeper understanding of this association flows together with all the other shit down the Danube towards south.
Hence, Vittula and Budapest: the first is the quintessence and a small model of the other. Or to put it differently and to say it in a bold and arrogant way: Budapest is a shameless bog where you can freely piss, where people are not worried about what is ugly or rude or even unhygienic. I really like how the waitresses of second-hand bars empty the ashtrays – last time a chick was just going around carrying some white bucket and poured the content of the ashtrays into it putting the ashy tray back to the table with such a rush that the ash sticking to the walls of the tray followed the inertia and started to float all over the table. That is what this city is about – no special rituals or nice manners, it is just filthy, proud and arrogant.
Karli Luik is an architect studying at the moment gender studies in Budapest.