Monday, January 09, 2006

A Summary of Recent Days

Krakow Saturday the 7th, 24 degrees, very windy and snowy and really bitterly cold.....though interiors nicely toasty.

I got up at the crack of dawn Wednesday and took the train to Lodz, super heavy snowfall delaying trains all over southern Poland....1 1/2 hours late into Czestochowa only usually a 1 1/2 hour trip....Lodz has two stations and I arrived at the rather distant Kaliska, nicely rebuilt....the NEW Poland is trying its damndest to be handicapped friendly. The Grand Hotel is a circa 1900 building, fuss and feathers, located right on Piotorkowska, the longest pedestrian street in all of Poland about 2 miles long and filled with students operated pedicabs which makes for great fun.....I can't believe how the super ugly city (the Butte of Europe though with circa 700,000 people) has brightened up! is still a visual horror but a lot of attention has been given to restoring the dozens of major town villas of the late tycoon families...this one mock gothic, the next curiously renaissance, the next glorious Judendstil (which they call Sezession in Poland)....I spent lots of Wed at the former Israel Poznanski palais, the largest of them all and now a well conveived museum of ths history of the city.....there is a wing dedicated to one of its favorite sons, Artur Rubenstin, with his recorded music playing and a thousand mementos of his life (a man said to have loved more women, drank more vodka and played better piano of anyone of the 20th century)....there are wrenching photos of the Lodz ghetto....and the story then emerges that until Hitler the city was a showcase, almost an eden, of religious tolerance between the three elements of the city, a strikingly anti Nazi German minority, the Polish minority, the Jewish one was in the majority which might explain the harmony, great photos of the oligarchs all enjoing each other with names as diverse as said Poznanski, Scheibler (the German tycoon of tycoons), Ostrowski (the polish).....I pondered a long time about the huge fortune places have when they have many different peoples.
It is only when one MAJORITY oppresses the other than things get sticky.

I then went to another great villa (these mansions quite pre- Chenal when I think about it) to Europe's first modern art museum.....It is a thriller really...heavy on Chagall, tons of Polish valid painters (of the type collected in the Hotel Wentzl dining room) whom the west does not know, lots of Max Ernst and current through people like the German Expresisonists (a great Heckl) and a few American modernists......It says so much about Lodz....and my next, last, museum is devoted to the Lodz film school, the place that produced great directors such as Wayda and Pollanski.

Lodz still has a tiny Jewish presence and I went to a really warm, chic little restaurant called Anatewka where the welcome is lovely, the food has much more spice (and garlic) than the average Polish dishes which I find quite tame, a place where a young Jewish girl violinist sits on the top of a ladder and plays old shtetl songs (slightly "fiddler on the roof" sentimental but nice all the same)....a second good dinner at the Grand, typically polish with the incomporable Zurek (the white borscht with quail eggs and mild wurstl) great duck.....Lodz is a bit of all right and most people on Planet Earth will hate the place. Certainly Poles do and yet the people of Lodz have a certain spritz which someone mute in Polish can IS my favorite place in the nation...though Krakow is the beguiler. It is a shame that country collecting tourists seem content with Warsaw...certainly a vibrant place but one with essential the antiquity of Oklahoma City after the wartime destruction.

Yes, Poland turns the mind on.....the people are SO kind....the train trip back from Lodz ran on time...I had a sentimental dinner at Wentzl last night and only felt homesickness from my family...remembering the fabulous dinner you hosted, Ellison.

This afternoon I am going to the Galleria (yes, that is what it is called) in Kazimierz the once Jewish is supposedly Poland's Cats' Meow (Chanel opened there yesterday)...and it should be a curious experience.

Hello to all....


Back in Poland

The Poe Family was in Slovakia and Poland during the holidays. Fred stayed on in Poland - traveling from Krakow to Lodz. Stay tuned for an update...