Arts Desk

E.D. in the E.U.: Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic

"I was in the pool!"

Dispatches from E.D. Sedgwick's winter tour through Germany, the Czech Republic, and Poland.

We leave our Soviet-style hostel and begin the second day of our search for laundry.

A hurried consultation with the promoter from Usti Nad Labem reveals that there is a laundromat in Hradec Kralove, the next difficult-to-pronounce town we will play, but that, like most things in the Czech Republic, Hradec Kralove's laundromat closes at 5 p.m. We drive semi-frantically, hoping to arrive to the laundromat in time, and do. However, we find that the laundromat isn't really a laundromat, but an industrial laundry that, it seems, washes sheets and towels for hospitals and hotels. After a discussion about the possibility of leaving a load with the non-English speaking staff, we opt to do laundry at our host's house and dry it on the radiators.

The show is at "Klub 4," a small bar with a small stage on a cobblestone street near the center of town. We played at a similar small small bar on a similar cobblestone street in the same town little more than a year ago. The show goes well, and we make about 200 euros. At the merch table, people buy T-shirts, but not records, and not very many of them. This seems like a bad sign, but of what, I'm not sure.

After the show, we stay with the same nice couple that we stayed with last time. They like Shellac. From 2 a.m. to 4 a.m., left to my own devices in their living room, I watch Seinfeld videos on Czech YouTube. (Well, maybe YouTube is YouTube wherever one is, but the ads are in Czech.) Ingeniously, those who upload Seinfeld videos to YouTube have edited down many episodes from 22 minutes to nine, cutting less-funny subplots not related to each episode's main narrative thrust. For example, the episode in which George has Jerry's carpenter custom-design a sleeping area under George's desk at Yankee Stadium, only to have the desk destroyed by George Steinbrenner during a bomb threat George forces Jerry to phone-in, is hilarious without Elaine or Kramer interfering with the proceedings. Actually, it's better than the original episode.

I find this inspiring and, for lack of a better word, punk. Though I suspect that Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David—had David written this episode before he left Seinfeld—might object to the YouTube uploaders' hatchet job, well ... fuck those billionaires. A "fan edit" of their bloated iconic artwork is very liberating. (One caveat: Many YouTube Seinfeld mash-ups totally excise Elaine. This choice is, perhaps, anti-feminist.) I laugh aloud, alone in a Czech living room.

Then, at 4 a.m., I go to sleep on a mattress with a thin pillow, and sleep until 2:30 p.m.

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