Envision a country which packs all its culture into only its capital city, named
by a sociopath called Valad the Impaler, who got his kicks during the 1460's
impaling victims with wooden stakes.
Then understand that this capital city, billed as a Paris of the East,
borrowed its culture from Parisian outcasts who wanted to be the elites in a
culture of their own. What you’ve
got is a country that considers trips to the toilet a cultural treat.
The old Bucharest wasn’t much to scream at but the new Bucharest doesn’t even
deserve a yelp. Ceausescu wanted to
modernize Bucharest by razing every building built before 1970 and putting in
its place a new structure which could be even more poorly built just as long as
it had the name ‘Ceausescu’ somewhere in its title.
The insane dictator had plans to build metro stops inside all the
famous Romanian monuments. The
priests working at the famous Curtea Veche Church, over four hundred years old,
weren’t pleased to hear that their pews would be turned into turnstyles for a
subway entrance. Ceausescu’s
execution halted the plan, but the growing influence of Western pop culture has
taken over where Ceausescu was forced to stop.
Rebellious Romanian youth have taken to using the church walls as their
own spray painted bulletin boards.
By 1997, the church had acquired the same stale urine stench and rough hewn look
of the worst London or New York subway stops.
Bucharest city authorities feel that they might as well go all the way
now and build a subway there.
The pompous of Bucharest are constantly trying to imitate French intellectuals.
Pass by any café on Calea Victorei and you are bound to see crowds of
young students with stacks of books in front of them discussing ideas none of
them are even familiar with. A
random sampling of these café intellectuals revealed that nearly half couldn’t
read, and of the half that could, only a quarter could comprehend what they had
read. Apparently, the Bucharestites
think that just sitting in a café with a stack of books makes one an
intellectual. The ones who really
think they’re cream of the intellectual crop speak to one another in abysmal
French. The French is so badly
pronounced and so grammatically incorrect that no one understands a word the
others are saying, but with so few French people passing through -- why come to
the Paris of the East when the Paris of the West serves better food and actually
has people who speak French -- no one can prove these intellectuals don’t really
know the language. We’ve been able
to verify these intellectuals’ lack of French by approaching them with a simple
“Bonjour” and receiving only puzzled stares in return.
For a night on the town, hang out at the former headquarters of the Romanian
Communist Party. It’s just
outside the palace. In the old days,
you couldn’t even walk in front of it.
Today, the headquarters have been turned into a bullpen, and all former
Communists have been sentenced to two years as matador clowns.
A red flapping flag with hammers, sickles, and pictures of Workers’
Parties is pinned to the matador clown’s butt.
An excited bull is then released into the pen, where it chases the
flapping red flag. Reported one
Romanian official embarrassed to have himself named, “We all know now that
Communism is one big joke. Bringing
the Communists’ butts into it makes Communism the butt of all jokes.”
So far, no one has found this funny, particularly the Communists who are
having their butts regularly gored.
If this kind of entertainment floats your boat, tickets can be bought for half
price (around US$5) an hour before the show.