Friday, December 4, 2020

Notes From the Lockdown Part 3:

The Shitty Sequel

I don't know about you people, but I've had just about enough of this fucking coronavirus. Just when we thought we were out of the woods, the crazed corona creature reared its ugly head again. We did the lockdown. Twice. Each time we were released into the wild again, gulping fresh air like a whale who's been underwater too long (Ok. I'm the whale in this analogy), then forced to submerge again.

There was absolutely no problem working at home due to being a writer. Hell, I hate commuting in tin cans full of dismal people going to dismal jobs they hate – only because it adds hours to my work day. Working at home means I get to wake up whenever and take breaks whenever. But there is a downside to working at home.

Apparently, there's a slow process of devolution and entropy inherent in the process. According to the philosophers at The Oatmeal, it's only a matter of time between leaving the office water cooler conversations behind and total loss of personal hygiene and bladder control. Apparently, we need offices to keep us civilized.

For me, I just missed the damn pub and my beer and fried cheese.

Third Time's A Charm

We all know the drill: the first movie is charming, refreshing, and even sometimes, a rollicking tour de force. The first time the virus closed CZ tighter than a frog's asshole (and that shit's watertight. Word.), it was a novelty. Stay home and work? Hells yeah, baby! Wear a mask? Mkay, I can do that.

But in the pandemic sequel, they locked our asses down again for the second time. I started missing the Czech pub. I can't begin to describe the Czech pub experience, but it has to be the single most gratifying pub experience in the world after the Irish pub. Czech pubs possess a certain spirit (hundreds actually), a casual style of dining (greasy yummy gimmeh!), and a calm that borders on the mystical.

Just when we thought it was safe to go back into the water: lockdown part 3. The thing I don't get about this is the fact that during the 1st two lockdowns, Czechia was the safest country in Europe. While the virus was cutting a deadly swath through Italy, Spain, and France, CZ locked its borders and stopped the flow of incoming people so fast it would put Trump's border wall to shame.

But then they released the lockdown, and we went back to work, shopping, eating/drinking (pubs!), and the rest. And just like in the time of the Spanish Flu in America after WWI, people quarantined, were released, and partied like it was 1919. Then el bastardo Spanish Flu virus returned with a vengeance for the sequel (This time, it's personal) and killed 50 million people globally. All those poor fux wanted to do after forced quarantine was to go out in public, get liquored up, and French kiss random strangers. As one does.

Essential Business

One of the most hotly contested aspects of the coronavirus lockdown in the Czech Republic is the closure of everything except what the government deems 'essential business.' Sure, pubs are considered essential to every Czech who contributes to the global title of Highest Beer Consumers in the World. But not to the government. There was apparently too much laughing and drinking and hugging and spitting in each others faces, even though it is rarely in anger.

So the gubmint decided to close all pubs and restaurants, allowing for food pickup windows and food delivery. But this time, they did not allow people to stand outside the beer window and drink. This time, in their infinite wisdom, They decided to make public drinking illegal. This time, it was fucking personal. One of the greatest charms of Czechia (and Europe in general) is that some random douchebag cop won't walk up to you while you're having a beer on a park bench and tell you to pour it out (as in Mair-Kuh, where I'm from). Oh yeah, Mr. Redneck Cop, yessuh! Then I poured the beer down my throat while he yelled at me to stop. I told him that pouring beer on the ground was alcohol abuse. And to go fuck himself (maybe). I digress.

So by telling the Czech public that they weren't ready to leave their hovels and eat, drink, and be merry, they announced a list of restrictions. Among them, a list of exceptions to the lockdown, which they called 'essential businesses.'

Restaurants and pubs weren't apparently essential businesses. But flower shops were. Mysteriously, flower shops all over Czechia kept supplying lovers and mourners with flowers nonstop. Which is weird. There's still love in the time of coronavirus, but funerals were halted. Nobody could go to funerals. I guess they piled up the bodies in freezers for months (or cremated them), because I didn't see any floating down the river.

The wife told me the flower shops stayed open because the fearless leader of CZ is an oligarch who prospered in agriculture, including flowers and such. Go figure. Corruption in the Czech Republic? Say it isn't so!

Flea markets were apparently considered essential business. Lucky for me, because one of my favorite weekend pastimes is to go walking around vast areas of concrete landscapes in search of wacky items to add to my growing list of projects which I'll never finish. But it keeps the body and soul moving, as it were. Currently I'm working on a home tiki bar and DIY retro/steampunk lamps built from scrap.

The biggest flea market in Prague is the one near u Elektry tram stop in Vysočany. That place is YUGE. It's about 2km long and a half km wide. I like to go there for the necessary walking to stave off atrophy, pursue my hobby as a budding hoarder, and get to the far end of the flea for some fine draft beer.

I don't know why random trash and treasures are considered essential business, but you can be sure there was some serious bribery behind it. While nobody needs to be sitting in a tiny sauna breathing sweat and viruses from strangers, certainly nobody needs to buy second-hand lamps from random Slobs from Slobovia.

And just when I popped my head out for a flea market stroll after the second lockdown, I was caught on camera in the Czech media, which said something like 'shame on these bastards for going to flea markets in a pandemic.' The news rag went on to say how people weren't respecting safe distances, blah, blah, blah.

While I was at the flea, I remember thinking something like 'WTF are all those people doing over there at that table?' Naturally, I wandered over. It was a table full of second-hand electronics you could find in a garbage can: old chargers, plugs, cables, adapters, and various items only a person living in a cave without electricity would find appealing.

Once I got to the table, I knew it was a setup. Seriously? Who would buy this shit? Then my wife sent me the news: my Wide Ass (Inc) was captured by the Czech media at the flea market (must have been a wide angle lens). I'm easy to spot, even though it's from behind. I'm the largest human in the photo.

Darkest Before Dawn

There's supposed to be a vaccine on the horizon. While I just came up for air on Thursday to have fried cheese and beer at the pub, the good news is on the way. We can now go back to all the drinking and cheesing and gallivanting we normally do. But we still wear masks. And we squirt the anti-viral hand gel on our hands when we enter the shrines of CZ consumerism.

Last night I had my first fried cheese and beer in a pub in more than a month. And this is the single most religious experience an atheist can possibly have in pandemic times. Just in time for Xmas.


I wish you all my sincere best wishes during these troubling times; and happy holidays!

- Ho ho ho, Big Sir

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Prague Pickpockets Going Broke During Lockdown

(With a Nod to The Onion)

Ever since the coronavirus took over the world, businesses have closed, people either work from home or lose their jobs, and we wonder if this is the next human reset button from that queen bitch Mother Nature. The COVID thang has impacted all creatures great and small. But nobody has been hit harder than the unseen masses of Prague workers who rely on the most personal of contact: the pickpocket.

Touch and Go

Prague has been hit especially hard during this crisis as it produces nothing other than tourism and marginally driveable cars. But the industry hit hardest by this crisis is the age old profession of pick-pocketing. Where there are tourists, there are pickpockets. And Prague is a capital of both. When the waiters aren't padding your bill, taxis will. And if you still have money left on your way back to your hotel, you can rest assured that a pickpocket will relieve you of whatever you have left.

Until now. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and nothing is more desperate than social distancing. You can't hug, shake hands, or even bump fists without a icky feeling of potential contagion. And you most definitely cannot pick anyone's pocket.

Just like the swarthy, smarmy pimps posing as taxi drivers exist to rip off tourists, the seedy underbelly of Prague life is propped up by the humble pickpocket. This artful dodger is firmly entrenched in the very fabric of Prague life, so much so that all the guidebooks are filled with warnings about pickpockets.

And the pickpockets pay no mind at all. Cops gave them a wink and a pass, and Czech laws are so fucktarded that a cop must actually witness a pickpocket taking your wallet from you before they will step in. That's because cops are paid off, but that's a different story.

Thief Trade in Danger

But now the pickpockets are seriously worried. How are they going to make a livelihood in the age of social distancing? Also, once the Czech borders slammed shut tighter than a frog's asshole (and that shit's watertight), no tourist targets were anywhere to be found.

Speaking with Honza, a self-proclaimed pickpocket, he was vexed. How was he going to milk the sacred cash cow of tourists when there were no tourists?

"I have no idea what I'm gonna do now," Honza wondered. "This fucking country has been closed for nearly 3 months. THREE MONTHS WITH NO TOURISTS! How am I going to eat when there are no pockets to pick?!? These local Czechs are so broke they can't pay attention, so where will I get my income? There's not exactly an unemployment option for people in my line of work!"

Honza (not his real name) is not even a gypsy. Czechs blame gypsies for all the crime in the Czech Republic, but that's just a smoke screen. Especially when it comes to pickpocketing – because gypsies are so damn bad at it. A pair of loud mouthed gypsy kids approaching a tourist will not be getting anywhere near their pockets. They can only produce results at the very bottom of the pickpocket food chain – on the night trams, preying on passed out drunks.

"I trained for making widgets," Honza explained, "but the fuckin' country turned from Commieville to Mickey D's overnight and the widget factory closed. Who knew nobody would buy widgets any more? Am I supposed to flip McBurgers now? No. Fucking. Way!"

"So I did the only thing a sensible Czech would do: I learned a new trade. Sliding your hand inside a target's pocket is the ultimate rush – and payday! Hell-LO! And it's dead easy in Prague. Trams crammed with loud Americans and Brits staring at their phones nonstop. They're not even paying attention to their pockets! Candy from a baby, I tell you – muahahahaha!"

But now they've got signs everywhere: Wear a mask. Stay 2 meters apart. Avoid unnecessary contact. How is Honza and the mighty army of black market petty thieves going to survive this crisis? Prague taxi drivers have flooded the social media forums complaining about how they haven't been able to rob a single tourist for months. And the scourge of Uber. And Czech waiters can no longer pad the bills of drunk tourists.

Survival of the Fittest

How will Czechia survive this crisis? How will thieves make a living? Fortunately for Czech parasites, there is always a way to make money for the lucky few who got free flats and entire buildings under post-Communist restitution. Even when the entire Czech economy shut down for 3 months, landlords will still get their drop of blood from their tenant hosts. The Czech government has decreed that those who could not pay their rent during the coronavirus crisis could not be evicted from their flats. But they would be in debt to their landlord indefinitely.

So if you want to survive in post-viral Prague, you'd better buy a block of flats (if you have a spare million bucks), or learn a trade that will never go out of style in Prague: the gentle art of pickpocketing.