Freaky Fridays in Bucharest make the paper (and me) blue

Freaky Fridays have made a career over the past couple of months in Targu Mures so it was time to export a little of the magic to the nation’s capital, Bucharest.

I woke up early to be as close to spending 24 hours on the Bucharest streets as possible–thus shining a brief ray of light on Adi’s day, who wakes up every morning at 5 AM to work. Yes, dear reader, somewhere in the bowels of the Bucharest neighborhood of Militari (big up, ba!) there is a man in PJs trying to see the world in the 5 AM cold and no matter how you curl up, you will still wake up in the sound of his furious typing.

One day a few years ago when Andrei was trying to express the fact that he missed me, he said he liked waking up to the sound of me pounding the keyboard. I told him it was not the most heterosexual of things to say, but that I will accept such statements from a man who makes soup wearing nothing but boxers and dancing simultaneously.

Back to the Bucharest Friday.

It kicked off with me being nervous as I had to engage a group of journalists in a discussion about the future of online journalism in Romania and the likes. Although Lavi had promised she will bring some major embarassment to the event (by yelling “yeah!” after I uttered the words “Next Journalism,” I escaped unharmed and with my self-confidence nearly intact. All I can say is that the Romanian online news wars are going to happen in 2007 and it’s not going to be a pretty sight.

From there (12:05 PM probably), the day generated/descended into a consumerist debauchery powered by the fact that there was no way I was going to return home until Saturday. Purchases included: a frozen margarita at Amsterdam Cafe (nothing memorable), cheese pies, cofees, a shirt, a reliable 1,5 L bottle of Cappy Ice Fruit (like, sooooo many vitamins), a Poiana chocolate, two breast-shaped plum gombotzes at Villa Crose, a concert ticket and some vodka tonics.

The anchor piece of the afternoon was “Hartia va fi albastra” (The Paper Will Be Blue), the third movie about the Romanian revolution to hit the street in the last month. It closes an unrelated trilogy and certifies an important moment in the history of Romanian cinema. What could this moment be? Well, seeing three Romanian movies in a row that don’t feature agression towards women or excessive filth and consumption thereof is quite a treat.

Hartia va fi albastra“Hartia va fi albastra” is the weakest of the three movies. Sure, they can’t be compared in how they decided to tackle the topic, but they can be compared feeling-wise. And the predominant feeling I experienced watching this movie was sleep. No offense to director Radu Munteanu, but my eye lids were flickering heavily soon after the opening scene. It’s true that it was damn cold and deserted inside the Patria theater–things which encourage sleep–but a steadier hand wouldn’t have been bad.

The movie centers on the unanswered question of “who shot at us” (us, the freedom-hungry people) on the nights of Dec. 21-22. During those nights there were random burst of gun fights in cities across the country and we have yet to figure out who was shooting whom. Popular mythology says the people and the army joined forces to fire at an unknown enemy we call “terrorists.”

The movie doesn’t shed much light on the question and it more or less fuels the frustration. When Costi, a young police officer who leaves his patrol team to join the people defending the television building (where the message of freedom was broadcast from), starts firing at shadows without asking who he’s shooting at it becomes clear how the cover of night and the idea of the revolution was blinding enough to turn frustrated Romanians into paranoid robots.

Here’s what the website of the movie says:

The original inspiration for the film is a tragic incident which took place in the Romanian revolution in 1989, in which two armoured squads of Interior Ministry troops that went to protect a military unit were accidentally butchered. This episode received considerable media attention.

In the days following the departure of the Ceausescus, when the Romanian people had no clear enemy, over 1,000 people died in such accidents and personal vendettas.

This is not a bad movie (not like Munteanu’s “Furia” anyway), but it does fall short in conveying the drama of these accidental deaths.

Before I get to the second big moment of the day, let me just say that walking around Bucharest carrying a plant doesn’t make a man look like a sexy beast. It was Jo‘s birthday this and the second half of her gift (Luiza‘s idea) was a plant–a small bamboo to be more exact (although there were heavy fights over whether the green thingie is actually a bamboo). I had to carry the damn plant, along with its stone-infested little jar for enough streets to feel there isn’t a pick-up line in the world you can succesfully feed a woman while holding this object. Imagine the possibilities of embarrasement a sentence using the word “plant” presents.

The plant spend the night on the couch in B52 where we descended for the “Niste Baieti” show. Yes, the same “Niste Baieti” that I praised in a previous post have returned home to Bucharest to punk after a succesful tour through the country. One of the most fortunate coincidences, because as I write this, my voice is still raspy and the back of my neck is still sore. It was great, great, great and oh yeah, GREAT!

The night did have a specialness to it as it was my last one in Bucharest for a while. Parting with friends is never easy. Parting with them after three months of crazy freaky nights, of stupid conversations, of shared hopes and expectations, of sorrows, joys, regrets and happy coincidences is even harder. I feel like I am leaving home all over again, feeling about as lost as I felt three years ago. And the only thing soothing my psyche in such moments is loud, pumping guitars that have taken upon themselves to say the unsaid and do the heavy emotional lifting.

As Pitchfork said in its review of The Killers’ “Sam’s Town”:

Rock music in the 21st century has been subject to an unprecedented emotional arms race of Cold War proportions. Displaced from its traditional role of party music by dance and hip-hop, rock has focused more than ever on introspection, aiming for resonant feelings rather than escapist fun.

There is no escaping the pain and introspection you feel when you jump on the train and leave Bucharest behind. It’s not the city that breaks my heart. It’s all of them that I leave behind–smiling, crying or poking fun at me…

2 Responses to “Freaky Fridays in Bucharest make the paper (and me) blue”

  1. 😀
    Multumiri! Acum sta la loc de cinste intre carti, may it be bambus sau nu.

  2. “The movie centers on the unanswered question of “who shot at us” – I wouldn’t say so. In fact, for me that was the least important aspect of the film. I found the relationship between characters very intriguing and finely described. It reminded a lot me of “…Mr. Lazarescu”.

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