"Polish jazz, which was celebrating its triumphs in the 1950s and 60s, gradually became bogged down under the power of omnipresent and omnipotent institutions" ... "The 1990s saw the birth of a musical trend that wanted nothing less than to turn the established order of things to ash by the most drastic of means. This new trend was called yass." Though the headiest and most experimental days are behind them, "yass" is still used to indicate Polish jazz that's more than traditional jazz, and has been used to describe Skalpel, Jazzpospolita, and Pink Freud, who have performed Autechre live for Boiler Room and RBMA.
Ever since the end of World War II, there have been rumors in Poland that the Nazis hid a substantial part of the loot from their European conquests in hidden tunnels underneath the Owl Mountains near Książ Castle. A number of independent researchers have worked to discover the location of these tunnels, but in the end, they found nothing. ...or did they?
Wargaming the Defense of the Baltics. As Presently Postured, NATO Cannot Successfully Defend the Territory of its Most Exposed Members. [more inside]
A Polish student of mine tells me they all see this documentary about photographer Julien Bryan in high school. He was an American who was in Warsaw at the beginning of the war. The four-part documentary (which includes his film Siege) is available on YouTube, dubbed into English. [more inside]
Young pianists from around the world have gathered in Warsaw for the 17th International Chopin Competition, which is now in the second day of its final round, streaming live beginning in half an hour. Today, Eric Lu, Szymon Nehring, and Georgijs Osokins will enter the
octagon Warsaw Philharmonic to interpret the piano concerto in E minor, op. 11. [more inside]
Excavate! (Flash) Build a team of archaeologists to manage a dig in Poland. Discover ruins, catalog nails and tombstone pieces, deal with local officials and press, earn more research funding and see if you can achieve a master's in archaeology with this half-hour turn-based isometric exploration game.
On April 3, 1946 a young girl was photographed looking out over the ruins of the Warsaw ghetto. Sixtynine years later this picture has gone viral in Poland leading to a search for this unknown woman, who if still alive, would be in her eighties and could be living anywhere in the world.
- 100 Years of Fashion in 2 Minutes
- 100 Years of Men's Fashion in 3 Minutes
- 100 Years of Men's Swimwear in 3 Minutes (women's)
- 100 Years of Fitness in 100 Seconds
- 100 Years of Female Dance
- 100 Years of Music
- AFI's 100 Years ... (youtube playlist from American Film Institute)
- 100 Years of Black Beauty
- 100 Years of History in 2 Minutes
Jakub Rozalski is a Polish illustrator whose artwork mixes retrofuturism and the Polish countryside of the 1920s (with special appearances of Wojtek the army bear), in a style reminiscent of the Kossak dynasty of realist painters, but with mechs. Note that during WW1 the Russians did experiment with the Lebedenko (aka Tsar Tank), a 12-m high, 60-ton war machine that was barely less fantastic than those painted by Rozalski.
Welcome to the Polish Sahara! Glaciers and medieval industrial degradation created the Bledow Desert, a small area of scrub and blowing sands in Poland. Former WWII training ground - now a tourist destination.
"Ida" (trailer: YouTube & Apple) is a black & white (and a Polish language) film from Poland by director Pavel Pawlikowski (this link contains spoilers). Hailed a film "masterpiece" by more than one critic, the film has now been recognized in America by not just one Oscar nomination (Foreign Language Film) but a 2nd in the broader category of Cinematography. For those interested in filmmaking, cinematography, and lighting, here is a look at three scenes from Ida. More? Here are another four scenes. The film is not without controversy, including Poles who are upset at the portrayal of their countrymen (and women) during the Nazi occupation and the Stalinism that followed WWII. Does 'Ida' misrepresent Poland's treatment of Jews?
In the records of human conflicts, there are at least three Chicken Wars. Two left little mark on the world at large, and the third resulted in some strange work-arounds for heavy tariffs. The first was Wojna kokosza, the Chicken or Hen War of 1537, when an anti-royalist and anti-absolutist rokosz (rebellion) by the Polish nobility resulted in near-extinction of local "kokosz" (an egg laying hen), but little else. The second was an odd spin-off of the more serious War of the Quarduple Alliance that lasted from 1717 to 1720. Though most of the activity happened in Europe, there were some battles in North America. The Texas manifestation was the capture of some chickens by French forces from a Spanish mission, and a costly overreaction by Spanish religious and military men. The third Chicken War was a duel of tariffs during the Cold War, with the only lasting casualty being the availability of foreign-made light trucks in the United States. [more inside]
Russia bans apples from Poland due to health regulation violations. Ukrainian cornmeal and McDonalds are also on the hit list. Russia has a pattern of banning the products of countries it has disputes with — under the guise of sanitary violations — in order to impose political pressure. [more inside]
From behind the New Yorker's temporarily removed paywall, a postmodern murder mystery from Poland in 2007.
Wojciech Jarzelski, Poland's last Communist leader, has died from complications following a stroke. [more inside]
Just over a month out from the final of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, to be held in Denmark, and the line-up of acts contesting semi-finals one and two, and getting a bye into the grand final, is clear. While there's the usual rivalries, and a special focus on how Ukraine and Russia will do in the voting, the entry that is receiving much early attention is from never-winning Poland... [more inside]
Stefan Grabiński is often called "the Polish Poe" or "the Polish Lovecraft," which are both useful for short-hand, but don't quite capture Grabiński's style. As suggested by China Miéville in the Guardian, "where Poe's horror is agonised, a kind of extended shriek, Grabinski's is cerebral, investigative. His protagonists are tortured and aghast, but not because they suffer at the caprice of Lovecraftian blind idiot gods: Grabinski's universe is strange and its principles are perhaps not those we expect, but they are principles - rules - and it is in their exploration that the mystery lies." If you haven't heard of Grabiński, it is probably because only a few of his works have recently been translated to English. The primary translator is Miroslaw Lipinski, who runs a site dedicated to Grabiński. You can read Lipinksi's translation of Strabismus (PDF linked inside), and The Wandering Train online. [more inside]
Alexander II was known as the liberator of serfs, because under his rule, in 1861, serfs were granted the freedom to marry without having to gain consent, to own property, and to own businesses. In 1862, Alexander II signed off on the ethnic cleansing of Circassians that began as a simple resettlement, and led to (by official Tsarist documents, more by other accounts) over 400,000 deaths. Circassians in fact protest the 2014 Olympics in Sochi being that it was the supposed site of their final expulsion. [more inside]
What happens to a nation that's suffered a great crime? What happens when the wrong can't be made right?
Tadeusz Mazowiecki has died. The first prime minister after the fall of communist regime in Poland was later an UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Bosnia and resigned this post in protest over the failure of international community to prevent the Srebrenica massacre. [more inside]
"Polish architect Jakub Szczesny claims to have built the world's narrowest house, just 122 centimetres across at its widest point."
Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the largest organized rebellion by Jews during World War II. Marek Edelman, a leader of the uprising, recalls the ghetto and the revolt. [more inside]
Jodie: Life in Warsaw. A short film about an American woman trying to grow happiness, living in the socialist-era housing estate where her husband grew up.
On March 5 a team of four Polish climbers completed the first winter ascent of Broad Peak, one of the world's 8000m mountains. On the descent two of the climbers, Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski, ran into problems and were forced to spend the night at 7900m. Despite efforts to establish radio contact and locate the climbers the next morning they were declared missing on March 6. On March 8 expedition leader Krzysztof Wielicki reported that Berbeka and Kowalski were dead and that the team was heading home. [more inside]
Newly declassified documents show the United States had full knowledge of the Katyn massacre, the Soviet massacre of 22,000 Polish officers. The Soviets attempted to blame Nazi Germany. The scars of Katyn remain on Poland, after the Russian State Duma admitted and condemned Stalin's role in Katyn, a delegation of 130 prominent Poles including the President on their way to commemorate the 70th anniversary at the site died in a plane crash.
"A farming town hid a Jewish-born teacher during the Holocaust. I went to dig up what it had buried."
Though I grew up in America, I have been visiting my family in Poland since I was a child. But it is only recently, since the great debate began two years ago between [Jan] Gross and [Timothy] Snyder over the causes and extent of Polish co-operation with the Nazis during the Holocaust, that I thought to ask the old people of my family village about what happened during the war. My grandparents mentioned bits and pieces of our family’s World War II history over the years, but it often seemed too painful for them to recall, or as though they wanted the memories to simply be forgotten. When I finally decided to broach the topic with them, my grandmother repeated that she didn’t understand why I cared to dig so deep into the past, why I cared so much about Wladyslaw and his story.[more inside]
Heavy Breeding. "In 1920, the brothers Lutz and Heinz Heck, directors of the Berlin and Munich zoos, respectively, began a two-decade breeding experiment. Working with domestic cattle sought out for their 'primitive' characteristics, they attempted to recreate 'in appearance and behavior' the living likeness of the animals’ extinct wild ancestor: the aurochs. 'Once found everywhere in Germany,' according to Lutz Heck, by the end of the Middle Ages the aurochs had largely succumbed to climate change, overhunting, and competition from domestic breeds." [more inside]
In a high profile gaffe President Barack Obama has recently caused anger in Poland by referring to a Nazi death camp as a "Polish death camp" during a ceremony honoring World War II hero Jan Karski with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “The White House will apologize for this outrageous error,” Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski tweeted. Sikorski said that Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk “will make a statement in the morning. It’s a pity that this important ceremony was upstaged by ignorance and incompetence.” [more inside]
With just over one week to the UEFA Euro 2012 kickoff, a BBC Panorama special Stadiums of Hate uncovers widespread, systemic racism and far-right violence amongst sects of Polish and Ukranian Football fans.
The eight fingered Polish-Norwegian artist Andrej Nebb with his band, performing Bo jo cie kochom in Oslo in 1980. How he lost two fingers? Cutting his guitar with a chainsaw. That’s why he had to play bass instead. Basically he fled communism to live a rock ‘n’ roll life. Here he is back in Poland in 2002, at Przystanek Woodstock.
Piotr Czerski sets out a Polish manifesto demanding respect for the internet generation (translated from the original Polish) that is reminiscent of a Eastern European addition to previous internet manifestos. Poland is somewhere this has definite roots however, with a recent anti-ACTA protest of over 10,000 people and legislators wear anon masks in parliament.
A walk through Białowieża Forest. Białowieża Forest is a primeval (old-growth) forest on the border of Poland and Belarus, first set aside as a preserve for wisent (European bison) in 1638. [more inside]
Anti-ACTA protests have begun around Europe after the secret treaty was signed in Tokyo last Friday. Activists have planned larger protests for Saturday 11 February. The European Parliament will formally consider ACTA in June. (previously) [more inside]
78 78s - In Search Of Lost Time - is a streaming mix of beautiful 78s from around the world, collected and curated by Ian Nagoski. "I started sifting through boxes of junky old 78s that no one else wanted about 15 years ago, and almost right away, I made a rule: Anything that wasn't in English, buy it." [more inside]
Diagnosed with cancer, my father decided to have his tongue removed. It’s an extreme treatment, but he’s always known how to make things work out.
On December 13, 1981, Poland awoke to an announcement by Premier Wojciech Jaruzelski declaring a "state of war" (stan wojenny). Martial law would last until July 22, 1983. [more inside]
Franz Sedlacek (1891 – 1945) was an Austrian painter who belonged to the tradition known as "New Objectivity" ("neue Sachlichkeit"), an artistic movement similar to Magical Realism. At the end of the Second World War he "disappeared" as a soldier of the Wehrmacht somewhere in Poland.
Views of Power is a project by Konrad Pustoła which reframes the point of view of the most powerful and influential people in Krakow, Poland by positioning photographs taken from those persons' office windows and posting them on billboards throughout the city. Some discussion on the project at New Art.
To celebrate the recent summer solstice, residents of Poznań, Poland gathered to break the country’s record for releasing paper lanterns by setting 8,000 of the glowing lights aloft. More. (via) [more inside]
802 Prisoners attempted escape from Auschwitz. 144 were successful. Kazimierz Piechowski, a Polish boy scout, was one of them. Today, at age 91, he tells his story. [more inside]
Satiric Art by Polish artist Pawła Kuczyńskiego (Paul Kuczynski).
"The Szpilman Award is awarded to works that exist only for a moment or a short period of time. The purpose of the award is to promote such works whose forms consist of ephemeral situations." This years winner is Treebute to Yogya. The organisers also maintain a blog and an encyclopædia of ephemeral works.
Animal Farm; or, a Short and Somewhat Political History of Comics in Poland by Tomasz Kołodziejczak, translated by Michael Kandel. More Polish comics info here.
Lviv Interactive, a project of the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe, is mapping the history, architecture, and human landscape of the City of Lions - including locations no longer there. [more inside]