I dawdled just a little too long this morning, then was barely behind the curve all afternoon in search of a meal. It culminated at 4:01 pm at a McDonalds that closed at 4:00 (my phone still said 3:59, but I was in no position to argue), followed closely by my arrival at the big “always open” store that also closed at 4.
I headed back to my neighborhood, and was happy to see the run-down večerka (večer means evening, a večerka is a store that keeps long hours) that supplies the drunks in my neighborhood was still open even as their competition closed. I entered and thought I had come to the wrong place. Fruit? A variety of food? Efficient use of space? No bums? The store is under new management. All that, reasonable prices, and my favorite cookies. I am feasting tonight!
But before I go home I decided to have a little christmas cheer at one of the only places open in my neighborhood, the non-stop sports bar that almost never puts sports on the TV. I think there’s a big fotbal (rhymes with soccer) match on right now, but instead we’re watching a czech-budget film that features clever demons dragging greedy people down to hell.
Speaking of movies as I ramble on, last night I watched Límonadove Joe, (rhymes with “He-man Otto-vey Yo-way”), a Czech western filmed in 1964. Until I typed that date I had not put the film in the context of the politics of the time. The hero, Lemonade Joe, is shamelessly capatalist. So shamelessly that it circles back around and becomes irony, but then loops back around again. It is a silly movie; perhaps a precursor to Rustler’s Rhapsody (which is funny as hell). It takes place in a rough-and-tumble Arizona town, and opens with an extended brawl in the Trigger Whiskey Saloon. The bar is owned by Mr. Badman. Then Mr. Goodman and his beautiful daughter come to town, reformers with a message of abstinence.
Conflict ensues, and Lemonade Joe arrives. He drinks only KoloKola. (“Lemonade” is a generic term for soda here.) He kicks some ass with ease, makes everyone want to drink KoloKola, awards the distribution rights for the drink to the Goodmans, and moves on. Lemonade Joe is a crusader for justice and a shill for KoloKola. One of my favorite bits was when two drunks stagger out of the Trigger Whiskey Saloon to have a gunfight. They are plastered beyond competence and after fumbling around they laugh, embrace, and head back into the bar, their pistols still lying in the road. Not long after, once they are converted to KoloKola, they head out for a duel and shoot each other. “No need to call the doctor when they’re drinking KoloKola!” someone proclaims.
The ending is apparent from a long way off, but you have to respect the way they went for a staggering pile of clichés heaped up with reckless gusto, with a coating of hyperbole served sideways with irony. And when it’s all over, neither good nor evil triumphs, in true czech fashion. There is a winner, but I won’t tell you who.
On another note, there really should be a Trigger Whiskey Saloon here in Prague. Everyone knows the movie. Maybe there is one. If there isn’t, the Czechs aren’t as opportunistic as I thought.