Sunday, April 21, 2013
Monday, April 8, 2013
I bought this little booklet of panoramic photographs of Prague for 10 CZK in some dusty antikvariat in Prague in the mid-1990s. The photos are from the Czech news agency CTK and appear to date from the mid-1970s, since the packet includes a photo of a bright and clean Nusle Bridge, which opened in 1973. I also love the cover shot of the castle and Charles Bridge because it includes a few branches of the giant weeping willow tree that used to grow on that spot (which was sadly cut down for some reason and has since been replaced by a much smaller tree).
The photographs depict a much quieter city than the Prague of today. There are only a few dozen people scattered across the Charles Bridge on a bright summer’s day, and not a kiosk in sight. Today, the bridge is packed with merchants and musicians and hundreds (if not thousands) of tourists, even on the grayest of days. Ditto Old Town Square.
It’s also fun to see the trams circling Wenceslas Square, before the highway was wedged between the square and the National Museum, also in the mid-1970s, I’m guessing, and all the pastel-colored cars parked in Old Town Square.
I'd say Petřín pretty much looks the same as it does in these photographs. (If you're visiting Prague in the spring, summer or fall, and you don't take a walk on Petřín hill, with its incredible views across the city, and its apple blossoms and lush grass, you're missing a real treat.)
As an accompanying brochure to the photos exhalts:A darker time for Czech life and politics (although some would certainlyi disagree), but oh, to have had the chance to see the Prague of 1975 as a Western tourist.
“Prague is never the same, it changes with the seasons of the year, with each hour of the day. Blossoming streets of Petřín parks in spring, like rosy lace beneath the blue canopy of the sky. Painters are ashamed to paint the scenery, it is trumpery, they say. The transparent air of the summer evenings with neon signs in Wenceslas Square. Warm summer nights on the Vltava banks, old lamps illuminating the Kampa Island. Thousands of shining windows in the Northern or Southern Town, families, homes, life. Autumn fogs in the morning through which the ruby light of traffic signs blinks on the crossroads: Stop. Yes, let us stop for a while at least, look around and play hid-and-seek with Prague.”
Saturday, April 6, 2013
A few weeks ago I was asked by my friend Lindsay Taylor at the Prague Film & Theater Center if I'd like to be one of the models for a photo shoot by Belgian-based Fab Longo of GO Photography and his colleague, Vito Motiv, from Luxembourg.
I'd seen some of their rather unusual work before on Facebook and so I jumped at the chance, not knowing exactly what I was getting myself in for. All I knew was that they were using a moody ad for "Boardwalk Empire," featuring an intimidating-looking Steve Buscemi, as their inspiration for the night.
I wore my best suit, brought a few cigars and a pipe as props, and had a blast as Fab and Vito used a green screen, a smoke machine, and a few tricks in post-production to produce the photographs that you see here. I thought you'd get a kick out of them just as much as I did. Funny that I keep getting typecast as the mean, obnoxious, intimidating middle-aged guy, which seems to be about the only part that I'm asked to play in the few film roles I've had the pleasure to be involved in.
I'm also including a few final shots of the other models I was working with that night -- Paul Dean (Bleeding Eyes), Jay DeYonker (the hoodlum), Gayle Roberts (Edith Piaf), and Žéna Lí (um, well, you decide what she is in that crazy shot!).
Anyway, I believe Fab and Vito are planning an exhibition of their work in Prague soon, so I'll keep you posted.