The Exquisite Corpse home archives submit black market comrads hot sites search
The Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
Edited by Andrei Codrescu
ec chair poetick kultur anti-amthropomorphism
gallery zounds the making and unmaking of person
new economics of late capitalism
diaries and memoirs translation and her retinue
working class sweat
the corpse reads classics letters the book of revelations and epiphanies
the making and unmaking of person
Translation and Her Retinue

Bucharest Report
by Haim Haskal

I am a native Romanian. I took my first trip to that country this year after an absence of more than 53 years. I walked the streets of center of Bucharest and I saw a shabby-looking city. I imagined the elegant boulevards of my youth and here is Istanbul on the Dambovitsa (the river which flows through Bucharest). Potholes galore, garbage in the streets, unpaved roads many little Dacia cars spewing pollution in all directions. People must make do with small salaries of $100 to $200 a month--one can barely survive on that. So why so many casinos? I counted at least 10 during my walks. Worse, people have no confidence in the political establishment and don't believe that things will improve. Young people are thinking of leaving. Recently Romanians were asked to vote on amendments to the Constitution. One taxi driver told me: we don't know what we are voting for, they say they will tell us later! There is talk of corruption and theft in the higher echelons you can read about that in the Romanian press on the internet. So whom can you blame? It can't be us! Some intelligent people recognize that and have terrible inferiority complexes. Others accept it as a way of life.
     In Romanian it is called the "custom of the land". Il faut graisser la patte.
     Amazingly, my only cousin in Romania talked to me about the mayor of Cluj. He is a known racist who agitates against the Hungarians (there aren't many Jews left.) His name is Funari and is anathema to the West. He also has the dubious distinction of having renamed a main street in Cluj after the Fascist "Fuhrer" of Romania Antonescu during the years 1940-44. My cousin married to a very prominent musician in Romania showed me a photograph of her and her husband in the company of Funari. The occasion is the award of another medal to her husband by the city of Cluj. She explained to me that after all Funari is a very good mayor, the city is clean and he is a very good administrator. What else is there? It reminded me that Mussolini made the trains run on time in Italy. So much for the political maturity of the citizens, albeit a small sample. I expected more from highly educated people.
     Walking the streets of Bucharest, I saw on the billboards the picture of the notorious Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, Captain of the Green Shirts of the Iron Guard patterned after the Nazis. Is the clock running counterclockwise in Romania?
     At the University of Bucharest I attended a seminar on "negationism" that is the denial of Romanian participation in the pogroms and deportation of Jews during World War II. A political scientist who works for Radio Free Europe in Prague, with whom I have been in correspondence for some time, invited me to attend his seminar. It was very interesting to see young Romanian students learning for the first time about this painful reality. A very commendable educational project, given that President Iliescu talks about the subject through both sides of his mouth. More education is needed, too many lies are flying around. It is not the main problem of Romania but I have been told by several people that anti-Semitism is rampant. The Jewish community is senile; the leadership is composed of those in positions in the ancien regime who continue to profit from the newly dicovered profession of being Jewish. In fact I have been told that some non-Jews claim to have Jewish roots to take advantage of free medical care and financial help from the Joint Distribution Committee. The Jewish State Theater still exists and presents plays in Yiddish by non-Jewish actors for a mostly non-Jewish Romanian public who do not understand Yiddish and have to listen to the translation in Romanian by means of headphones. I met such an actor at the theater who spoke to us in Yiddish but told us that he is not Jewish. Sounded to me like the world of Scholem Alechem.




home archives submit black market comrads hot sites search ec chair peotick kultur anti-amthropomorphism
new economics of late capitalism gallery zounds the making and unmaking of person
diaries and memoirs translation and her retinue
the book of revelations and epiphanies working class sweat
the making and unmaking of person the corpse reads classics letters

©1999-2004 Exquisite Corpse.
Site design by Compulsive Creations.