Two weeks ago, we drove down south and met up with the wife’s family in a town called Henry’s Castle (Jindrichuv Hradec). The castle was nice, although I never learned who Henry was or how he came into a castle. Here are some weirdly-named towns and areas we’ve passed near or through in our last two road-trips (this one and the Austrian Alps trip) and their English translations:
• Sobeslav = Celebrate Yourself
• Tabor = Camp
• Pisek = Sand
• Velka Dobra = The Big Good
• Česká sibiř = Czech Siberia. Czech Siberia is a little hilly area near Tabor that tends to get colder weather and more snow than surrounding areas– something like that altitudinous stretch you hit about half an hour before hitting Los Angeles on Highway 5. To name it after a region that contains 8 time zones and 1/12th the world’s land mass is sort of an endearing stretch in my book. There’s also a ‘Czech Canada’, ‘Czech Switzerland’, ‘Czech Paradise’ and probably some others I’m forgetting.
Photo: short-lived Czech metal band Alarm. If there was really a song called “Highway to Hellichova”, I like to imagine that they would have made it.
This is all pretty subjective territory to wade into… but wasn’t 2009 the worst year for new music since, like, 1894? I was just looking at Pitchfork’s top 500 albums for 2009– off the top of my head, I couldn’t think of anything from this year that I was super excited about, but I figured there’d be a few gems I’d forgotten about. Nope. The Grizzly Bear album was probably the thing I like the most out of their top 50, and I don’t love that one. Like it a lot, but don’t love it. And it’s not like I’m a ‘Bah humbug, recent music isn’t as good as in my day‘ guy (or at least I hope not): 2008 was full of records I loved (Arthur Russell, David Byrne/Brian Eno, Fleet Foxes, pretty good Santogold all jump to mind, and that’s just off the top of my head).