The Making of a Bohemian Microcosm
Montmartre evolved following a massive urban reconstruction and relocation scheme initiated by a great man of the 19th century: Napoleon III. Together with his ambitious town planning prefect Baron Haussmann, he aimed at creating a mundane Paris of dazzling allure and wanted it to become „the most beautiful city of Europe“ – not without granting spacious plots of land in prime locations to Haussmann, his many friends and financial supporters. By rigorously stomping unsightly areas into the ground and by replacing humble housing by posh manorial edifices and narrow crooked alleyways by grandiose and airy boulevards and squares, Paris’s face was substantially lifted and embellished – albeit at the expense of the less privileged population, who became early victims of gentrification. Read article
Reading time: about 6 minutes
Hergé: Master of the Comic Strip
Georges Prosper Remi – born in Etterbeek/Brussels on May 22nd of 1907 – became a renowned cartoonist who chose to sign his drawings with the pseudonym Hergé (RG), standing for his initials read backwards. The adventures of his tireless heroes Tintin and Snowy were first published in 1929 – and nothing could halt their ascent or their lasting worldwide success. Their exciting adventures were translated into numerous languages and devoured by hundreds of millions of readers – notwithstanding their age. The constant flow of Hergé’s inspiration sprang from the reality situations of everday life, a reliable source likely never to run dry. Before founding his Studios Hergé, the productive artist accomplished the challenge of his unique creative mission as a solitary fighter for more than two decades. Georges Remi died in 1983. The artist’s legacy comprises a wealth of works of impressive diversity in its distinctive unequivocal style. It is displayed at the Hergé Museum in Louvain-la-Neuve near Brussels in the Belgian region of Walloon Brabant.
Reading time: about 2 minutes
Murphy’s law. Sometimes – no matter how much goodwill may have been invested into planning – things just don’t work out the way they should. Take a wildlife safari, for instance and imagine this scenario: At the ungodly hour of four-thirty in the morning, when it is still pitch dark outside, one’s proper physical system has not gained momentum yet, the game reserve is 90 minutes away from the hotel, vision is limited, the vehicle’s irritated GPS fabricates unfathomable directions once the smoothly paved stretch ends and we turn off-road. Rain is pouring (pouring!). Aboard a forlorn minibus a bunch of drowsy journalists are resting their exhausted frames against foggy window panes and limply jump out of their seats involuntarily each time the bus rattles into a pothole with a thud. Or conquers another especially mean hump. And another.
Reading time: about 7 minutes
Bringing down the rare Haggis scotticus – the Wild Haggis – to secure the next traditional Haggis meal – requires utmost agility and perseverance by human persecutors equipped with equally-measured lower extremities. One must know that Wild Haggii vary in characteristics and that it is two different genera who roam steep and rough highlandish terrain. In both cases the legs on their left are different in length from the ones on their right – and vice versa. Either way, their unusual physique allows them to swiftly climb and scuttle around their regular habitat unperturbed by topographical challenges, albeit in one single direction only: Wild Haggii featuring longer legs on the left, move around clockwise, whereas the ones relying on extended limbs on their right, will logically proceed counter-clockwise. A refined GPS system usually prevents painful head-on collisions and all Haggii, limbed in whichever fashion, are said to lead a fairly peaceful coexistence.
Reading time: about 4 minutes
Great sculptors and painters of their time have created an architectural treasure, whose masterly opulence bears witness to their genius to this day. Jan Preisler, Mikoláš Aleš, Max Švabinský, František Ženíšek, Ladislav Šaloun, Josef Mařatka, Josef Václav Myslbek or Alfons Mucha – names difficult to pronounce – were but a small fraction within the remarkable group of skillful artists involved in building and decorating Obecní dům – the Municipal House located right in the heart of Prague. Since its inauguration in January of 1912, the extraordinary building has served as a splendid stage for atmospheric concerts, grand festive balls as well as fancy fashion shows and is justly listed a national heritage site. Its two protagonists – the Smetana Hall and the Municipal House Restaurant – alone are well worth the trip to Prague, from whichever corner of the globe it may have to commence. Read article
Reading time: about 2 minutes