***WARNING***


Good
day. Since so much of our site’s content is lost in other designs,
hampered by ad code messing with the pages, or surrounded by gas and
low on evil, I’m going to start reprinting them for new eyes. You’ll
see classic Smilin’ Jack Ruby, stuff from me when I was relevant, early
Devin, and if there’s a God… some Brian Koukol. So, look for the CHUD
Rerun branding and enjoy. It’s nice revisiting some of this stuff. The following feature was brought to my attention by reader Rob Chase, who recalled the Prague adventure as his favorite moment from the site’s old days and since Hellboy 2 just got greenlit and since Devin has a MASSIVE Guillermo del Toro interview on the way, it was time. Here’s a big chunk. More to come. –
Nick


***END OF WARNING***

Reprinted from June of 2003.

I’m
getting my shit together for this jaunt to Prague, so I’ll
be even more scarce around here than I already have been
of late. With that said, unless the Czech Republic hotel
I’m at is totally lame, I plan to pop up an update at the
end of every hellish day on set and in the city that everyone
tells me is better than a greased up Natalie Portman. Tonight,
it all begins.

For
those who haven’t been reading the site for three or four
years, here’s a little update. I hate flying. HATE. IT.
I’ve discovered that the cure for that fear is to not fly.
So, what am I doing? Flying for many hours across hostile
seas and countries that hate me. Hell, I’m doing a layover
in Paris! Why don’t just slice my wrists and squirm around
in the terminal, it’s the same damn thing!

Anyhow,
if you felt like you needed more Hellboy coverage
yesterday then let me assure you a fiery tomorrow ’cause
I’m going to bring it.

Until
we speak again, be good, be smart, and help me mentally
hold those wings on the goddamn plane.

PART ONE

So
it begins…

Getting
ready for a flight for me is so much more than packing clothes
and making sure all the tickets, passports, and documents
are in order. It’s like one of those “Stallone suiting up
for battle” moments, finding every single way to do everything
but NOT fly in the process. That way, when it comes time
to get strapped onto a doomed fuselage there’s nothing left
undone.

So
of course, I tried to bust ass on site stuff and cut it
close to the wire before actually going to the morgue… I
mean airport. Thanks for the lift, Steve! So, I’m riding
MARTA (Atlanta’s semi-decent public transportation system),
and I see something kind of rare and interesting. Oh, this
has nothing to do with Hellboy, so if you
are only reading this for movie gossip click to the message
boards or something.

Anyways,
there’s this guy, maybe 22 years old. Boring haircut, HIDEOUS
goatee. But he’s nice and he’s talkative. Across from him
is a kind of tired looking black lady, the kind that looks
like she’d snap if you said word one to her. Doesn’t stop
Goatee Larry, though. He starts talking to her out of the
blue, and instead of transforming into a she-goat and devouring
his chin… she responded! Next thing you know, they’re having
a rather nice conversation. See, I tend to look at strangers
on a train as opponents. They’re all potential people to
be ready to fight. I assume everyone has a knife under their
coat and is about to whip it out and attempt to stab the
planet. Seriously, I’ve become a bit of a neurotic. To the
point of making my gun collection available. To the point
of sleeping with a big knife within grabbing difference.
To the point of keeping a wary eye on nearly every stranger
around.

Long
story only slightly shorter, it was nice to see. Normally,
I sit next to guys who look like they got their master’s
degree in rape or young toughs whose outfits look they came
out of the ‘White Boy Gangsta Sourcebook’. Sometimes, I
just sit next to people three steps below the homeless in
the class system.

So,
the ride to the airport lent an air of positive juju to
the trip.

The
vibe continued as the airport security thing was a breeze.
Maybe it’s my new preparation tools. In the past, I’d have
big metal belt buckles, my steel-toed stomp shoes, and a
+2 Bastard Sword on my way through the gate, which usually
led to strip searches, anal cavity searches, forced oral
sex, and pestilence. Oh, and some stuff I hate too. Now,
I have no metal objects at all. Shit, I barely have pants!
Ironically enough, I stained my brown HOT DOG shirt so I
had to swap it with my undershirt. What did it say, in these
politically correct, war fearing times? “27,000 Nuclear
Weapons, One is Missing”, The Sum of All Fears.
Probably not the wisest shirt to wear through international
airports, but thankfully people were too busy not wearing
deoderant to notice.

So
I board the plane. Not good.

I
envisioned these long (almost 8 hours from Atlanta to Paris)
flights to be more comfortable and luxurious than the hateful
flights throughout the United States, but no such luck.
In fact, I was “lucky” enough to get a seat right in front
of the emergency exit. The good part, enough leg room for
Kareem Abdul Giraffe. The bad part… no bag, which meant
no laptop, no books, and no nothing else unless I crawled
over my seatmate and went into the overhead storage to grab
stuff. The bullet bitten, I just took two Sleepinol pills
and hoped for a lot of unawakeness. Regarding my seatmates,
I was reminded of something a lot of us Americans suck at…
language diversity. The guys on either side of me spoke
in French, Spanish, and English as if it was no big thing,
which for them it wasn’t. Us, we can barely grasp our own
language and a few assorted Huttese sayings. I sat quietly
and respected their severely advanced communication skills
and hoped for sleep.

Then
came the turbulence. Enough to keep Ray Liotta and Lauren
Holly occupied for weeks.

I
have a bitch. We have technology that tells us when storms
are a week away, cell phones that send pictures of dogs
sitting at steering wheels, and movies that can make you
believe that Keanu Reeves would rather kiss Carrie-Anne
Moss than Monica Bellucci… how come we don’t have equipment
that not only SENSES turbulence, but allows pilots to AVOID
IT?!?!?! For F*ck’s sake, scientists… quit trying to build
a better heart or a cure for crotch rot and get on it!

To
the airline’s defense… the flight attendants were majestic.
There was a thin, cute French gal with perky bobbed hair
that reminded me of a perfect blend of Audrey Tatou and
Lucy Gutteridge (Top Secret!). There was a
voluptuous Spanish lady. There were a couple of dark, nondescript
sexies, and this one lady who almost seemed like a Nordic
Monica Bellucci. Same exact mouth and lips, and guys… I
know you’re with me when Monica’s lips are mentioned. There
are none better on the planet. So pouty… so… well, let’s
just say that they have value. Speaking of going down, I
knew the plane wouldn’t go down, not with all these class
act flight attendants on board. There was drama, however…

There
was this one guy who seemed to irritate the flight crew,
a guy in glass and a mustache… he wouldn’t sit down when
they asked him too. He was so plain, he freaked me out.
Plus he kept going to the bathroom. My fear of flying coupled
with the turbulence coupled with my new job to keep an eye
on Nondescript James made sleep seem like a faraway possibility.
Then, the turmoil was broken by a few minutes of quiet.
The seat belt light went off, and I grabbed my magazines
to start reviewing. All was well.

Then
the lights went out. Bedtime! Apparently at midnight on
these flights, there’s a bedtime. So much for working. I
put my shit away and tried to focus on the Sleepinol evaporating
in my stomach. I begged the Sleep Fairy to take me away.
I think I did something wrong, because the Turbulence Fairy
answered instead.

It
was weird, because there was a little door with a lock on
it that ALL of the flight attendants went into and down
a ladder to… somewhere. A place I envisioned which led to
an escape pod for the beautiful people to live to see another
day while the rest of us were turbulenced into the grave.
As the lone male attendant went for the door, I stopped
him. I asked him if everything was alright, and he said
it was though I think I saw more than a modicum of fear
in his eyes. Anyhow… after about 45 minutes of being rocked
around like a groupie after Lollapalooza I fell asleep.
I dreamed of many things, not the least of which was… no
kidding… being forced to eat lunch with a werewolf. That
wasn’t the weird part, the weird part was how picky he was.
He kept sending his food back. Finicky goddamn Lycanthropes…

I
awoke to see Nondescript James standing and checking out
the emergency exit. I unbuckled my seat belt, because I
honestly felt that he was going to pop the thing open and
I was going to have to tackle him and pound his head into
a fine dust. I would have enjoyed it too. He was just too
nondescript to be human. He also stole a soda from the beverage
cart and just stood there checking shit out. When people
would come to use the pisser, he’d show them the way in
and just stand there. I assumed he was plotting out our
Payne Stewart-esque demise… as it turned out he was probably
just stretching his legs out and trying to make the neverending
flight seem a little less neverending.

We
finally neared gay Paris (I say gay Paris because I caught
it stealing a glance at my ass) and landed without exploding,
which is always a plus.

I
forgot to mention… the folks at the gate in Atlanta wouldn’t
let me have two carry-on bags so they checked it at the
gate and assured me it’d be waiting in Prague without a
hitch. Cue ominous music.

Charles
De Gaulle might have been a great guy, but his airport sucks
the dick of Terence Trent D’Arby.

First
of all, it’s about as well organized as C. Thomas Howell’s
career and secondly it’s about as accommodating as a steady
stream of punches to the sternum. In the hopes of keeping
it simple, I went straight to my gate without nary a pit
stop and just waited there… forever. All the while, I noticed
just how… European everyone was. Well, except for the obvious
Americans of course. Bewildered, lost, clueless… you know
the sort. My ticket said I was sitting in row 5, which meant
one of two things:

  1. I
    was sitting in first class.
  2. The
    plane was the size of James Wood’s shaft.

If
you’re an up and coming actress, James Wood’s lovercraft
is an impressive sight. If you’re a transatlantic traveler,
it leaves a little to be desired. Trust me, I speak from
experience. Here’s a clue: I was NOT sitting in first class.
There was no first class. Well, John Lithgow’s wing gremlin
may have had a first class seat, but none of us indoor folk
did.

Thankfully,
the flight was only a little over an hour and the food was
nice, the flight was safe, and the view was terrific. Folks
who’ve not left America… there are places where grass and
trees grow endlessly without being turned into convinience
stores and Starbucks shops. It was nice seeing so much green,
it really was.

Things
were looking up. I’d survived over nine hours of being shoved
through the air at 600 miles an hour, it was all downhill.
Right?

Friggin’
wrong. My luggage made a decision wholly without me. It
liked Paris and was staying there. End of story. It had
already donned a beret and stopped showering. As I watched
the baggage claim conveyor belt come to a stop, it sunk
in. I was without clothing, toiletries, my camera, my tape
recorder, my shoes, my dildo, my Megatron figure, my… you
get the point. As I went to complain, I heard a familiar
name being massacred over the intercom. Mine!

Sony
Pictures (by the way, thanks folks… I really appreciate
the opportunity) had a ride waiting for me! I had the luggage
complaint lady tell them I’d be right out. We filed a claim
and discovered that the guy who checked my bag in wrote
the wrong flight number down on the receipt, thus delivering
a lonesome fate to my belongings. They were in Paris, probably
sitting in some square painting pictures of flowers in acrylic
paint while sipping an espresso and hating America. The
lady said she couldn’t find them, but assured me that they’d
sent it to Prague in the next flight and have it brought
to my hotel.

Shit.

Well
at least I had a ride.

I
went into the lobby of the airport and saw all the Czech
people with little signs with the names of their wards displayed
proudly. Except mine. My ride was nowhere to be found. I
wandered around for 45 minutes and finally gave up. I spent
750 crowns (around $33) and got my own damn ride. Remember
the car chase in Ronin? That’s what my cab
ride was like, right down to the part where I got out and
grappled with Stellan Skarsgaard. We BOOKED through Prague,
and I discovered that the Hilton is very unclose to the
airport. Oh, I also noticed that if I wasn’t totally in
love with my wonderfully wonderful and pregnant wife (did
you guys know that? In December, I join the ranks of the
Nation’s Spawned) and very happily married, I could get
a very legal and very reasonable WHORE sent to me? Cool!

Thankfully,
the hotel people were great. They had an adapter ready for
my laptop and I went into my room without a hitch where
the TV proudly featured 12 channels of languages I’ll never
speak… and the Discovery Channel and MSNBC. I got online
and the blood started pumping again. AOL worked and wasn’t
too gouging, people were updating CHUD, and my email was
coming in. All was well, except for a visit to my bank account,
which registered VERY feebly (Paypal? Help!). Things were
starting to heal. I spoke to my Sony contact and got things
situated, gave Scott Chitwood of Superhero Hype! A buzz
(he’s here for Hellboy love as well) and made plans for
early morning castle visitry, and started watching Buffy
Season 4 while eating AMAZING room service pizza and salad.

All
is well. I’m in a faraway land about to report on a film
I’m erect about, safe and sound in a nice hotel and surrounded
by DVDs to eventually review. It could be a shitload worse.
Folks, consider yourself caught up and get ready for part
two, sometime tomorrow. Oh, and I assure you… this Hellboy
trip coverage will soon actually feature Hellboy stuff. Until then…

PART TWO

One
word: Hotter than sizzled shit.

The
heat in Prague is considerably different than than the heat
in in Atlanta. In Atlanta, I own a car with this bizarre
newfangled invention known as air conditioning. Also, no
matter what store or business you enter, the climate is
controlled as in tune with any year after 1955 a.d. As a
result, your flesh is cool, your clothes hang loose, and
your sperm isn’t incinerated before having a chance to fly
free into your meaty vessel or tissue of choice.

Here,
the suns beats into you like the guys that hang out in front
of the Atomic Hoagie Shop.

Then,
you try to avoid the swelteringness of it all by hopping
into any joint you can, be it one of the nearly endless
supply of restaurant, pub, or coffee spot, or one of the
million places that sells crystal, film, and crystal film.
Guess what? The sun may be trapped in the sky but its resulting
heat knows no such barrier.

The
result is stench, the aromatic repercussions of freshly
minted sweat married with the already robust bouquet of
body odor and liquefied asshole. It’s nearly blinding. Even
soldiers of fortune and Jehovah’s Witnesses would feel the
burn.

Speaking
of soldiers…

It’s
weird to see men in uniform holding automatic weapons in
public areas. Well, not in print, the news, or on my XBOX.
But walking around with these armed maulers casting a nervous
eye and itchy trigger finger towards any nefarious looking
short Italian Americans (with a dash of Polish, not enough
to make me a vegetable), that’s spooky. Being a nervous,
wary guy (as detailed last episode), I start to wonder if
my very being can be considered a crime here in the land
of bounced Czechs. Maybe my DNA violates some international
treaty. Hell, maybe my balls are illegal contraband.

Just
in case, I steer clear of these Rainbow Six villains
given three dimensional life.

***Update***

Eventually,
this travelogue will feature Hellboy related
information. Until then, DEAL WITH IT! What do you want?
News, reviews, and opinion? That’s shit’s overrated. Ask
the guys at Alexa. F*ckin’ SNAP!

***End
of Update***

My
sleep schedule for ‘Prague Summer Adventure 2003′ was ferklempt
out the gate, and like many of the auteurs (that time in
Paris did me well!) we cover on CHUD.COM I was shooting
day for night. Time was flip-flopped. My watch said East
Coast. My laptop clock said England (don’t ask), and the
clock in my hotel said Prague.

My
body said "yeah you TRY and go to sleep, shit controller!".

So
after getting installment one of this travelogue (no relation
to Donal Logue) online and breathing, I was supposed to
sleep. Oh, by the way… big thanks to the MB folks and
emailers who commented on the first installment and to Big
Harry at AICN
for the blurb! Very appreciated. With my super-slow and
EXPENSIVE dialup (Jaro, thanks for the little Paypal pick-me-up),
my surf time is abbreviated as Joel Schu.

Instead
of plopping into bed like I should have, with visions of
sugar plums and Robert Z’Dar dancing in my head, I shoved
more of Buffy, Season #4 into the laptop and
watched and watched and watched. Every few hours, I’d check
for comments on the travelogue thread (stupidly forgetting
that it was like 3am on the East Coast) and growl over the
baseball scoreboards (a passion of mine right behind film,
food, and my wife and pets in the grand hierarchy). Finally
I started feeling drowsy, after seven or eight episodes
were in the rearview. Good, sleep was needed, plus Scott
would be calling just around the time I got around to waking
up and becoming a decent facsimile of human.

Right.
Dream on, Cthulhu.

After
washing up and doing the pre-bedtime prep thing, I noticed
a chance in the hue of my little hotel room.

Sunlight.
Feck! The sun was rising on Prague and I’m too much of a
softie to miss it.

I
think it was around 4:45am, Prague time. I think. It was
stunning. Absolutely stunning, both from my 4th floor window
and from the courtyard outside. Idiot that I am, I forgot
my camera. It’s the tourist thing to do, right? Experience
nothing in realtime, instead capturing everything through
a lens so you can show the photos to visitors like a collection
of shrunken heads you didn’t even make the time to listen
to the dying screams of. I hate that, I really do. Of course,
it didn’t stop me from hustling nuts back up to the the
room for the camera. By the time all was said and done (the
hotel is designed so that my room is the exact farthest
point from the elevators), most of the picturesque majesty
of the star’s morning arrival (no, not Ron Perlman… why
the Christ would I mention Hellboy so soon?
I’m only several thousand words into the article!), but
it was still a gorgeous sunrise. Still, the bellboys looked
at me like a gray alien. Who in their right mind would walk
around this damn early, especially someone in a Yankees
hat and an X-Men 2 shirt?

Screw
‘em, I’m Nick Nunziata of CNN Headline News!

I
did a little wandering before finally deciding to commit
to sleep. The sleep of the charmed. The sleep of the ancients.
The slumber of a guy who’s been flirting with sleep for
the better part of three days without really committing.
When I returned from dawn recon, I noticed something that
had eluded me all morning…

It
was hotter than dragonshit in my room. Now, there are three
types of people in this world, in my estimation:

1.
People who hate to be hot and would prefer extreme cold
over any kind of considerable heat.

2.
People who hate to be cold and would prefer extreme heat
over any kind of considerable cold.

3.
Chris Sarandon.

I’m
definitely a #1 (with occasional lapses into #3), and the
irony of me living in red-hot Georgia is not lost on this
writer. When visiting, you’ll often find my house not unlike
the Fortress of Solitude in the winter, except when my wife’s
running the joint. I’ll often return from a trip and the
place feels like Cozumel after a heatwave because she likes
to keep the energy bills low. BALLS TO THAT, I say! Same
goes for the car. If snouts aren’t encrusted with frost
and nipples are brittle and diamond hard, I’m off my game.

The
room was hot and operating the thermostat was like solving
a Rubic’s Cube wrapped in the Lament Configuration, painted
into an M.C. Escher illustration, locked in Al Capone’s
secret vaults. With each feeble attempt by me to create
coolness, it got hotter. I ran out of clothes to shed, and
was almost to pull a "Joe Seneca in Crossroads"
to make the bad hot go away.

Cold
bath time. I even tried the bath salts provided by the hotel,
but instead of making me feel relaxed and fresh, I felt
like the latest contestant on Who Wants To Be Bukkakke’d
By A Millionaire
.

Back
onto the laptop went the vampire slayer, and after a few
sequences of forced but fun and clever Whedon dialogue,
I entered Little Nemo’s fabled Slumberland.

BBBBBBBBBBBBRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNG!

It
was Chitwood. He was ready for a bipedal jaunt to the castle.
Eyes more laden with bags than a Prada shop, I bailed. "Call
me when you get back", I feebly propositioned. Sleep
finally came, that fitful and sweaty sleep usually reserved
to mid-80’s post-coital Kathleen Turner movie scenes.

But,
it was good.

I
awoke a few hours later and while getting ready, I balanced
my Buffy watching with the last two discs of Angel
(I will review both by Monday, hold me to it), and plugged
away at my T2: Extreme Edition review too
boot. It was productive. Not reproductive, because I didn’t
partake of any of the plentiful whorevertisements in every
brochure in town.

I
checked my email, and the only new digital missive of note
was from Smilin’ Jack bragging about how his Astros no-hit
my Yankees. I maintained a cool head, knowing that I’ll
be watching the New York team in the postseason while his
makes plans for 2004 and the semi-annual name change for
their bandbox of a stadium.

Then,
Scott called and we went downstairs to shoot the breeze.

I’d
forgotten just how many times Scott and my paths had crossed
over the past 5 years or so. While I briefly lurked at Jedinet
(don’t ask), he was at theForce.net. When I started CHUD.COM,
he was there still but when I added IGN DVD to my rounds
he was building FilmForce. From there, he went to Movieheadlines.net
and then to his current resting spot between Comingsoon.net
and SuperheroHype while I became a CHUD only guy and eventually
dipping a toe into every form of media I could find.

Survivors
of some nasty Internet movie fistf*cking are we! IGN, UGO,
Gorilla Nation affliliateships… them’s some serious up
and down times. But, we’re still around! Nyah Nyah!

Scott’s
a really normal and centered guy, not in any way prone to
bouts of profanity and seething venom like myself. Good
for him! Operating on a part-time basis for the site while
leading a normal life in Houston’s good work if you can
swing it.

Or,
you can be a twisted stack of sickness like myself. Either
way, it’s all good (or "it’s all goot" as it’s
said on the streets). It was then time for him to hit the
set of the Mignola comic adaptation. We all had different
days to be on set as to avoid coverage overlap, so he went
his way and I finally decided to seriously spend some time
on the streets of Prague.

It
was to be a painful and taxing decision.

Tomorrow,
this guy:

Walking
the streets of Prague is a surreal thing. I come from a
part of the world where walking on the streets at any time
of day can be a dangerous proposition. Parts of New York
and Atlanta are like little war zones, places where unassuming
folks minding their own business seem to have a big bullseye
painted on them. Look no further than the tale of a friend
whose relative came into Atlanta only to get carjacked and
blasted in the chest with a shotgun. Los Angeles? Every
time I go out there I find less reasons to go back. It seems
like every freeway exit is a potential host to Judgment
Night
II. The big cities in the United
States (though I’ve never had a problem in Chicago aside
from super-aggressive shoe polishers) are wonderful, but
seem to possess an element with little or no respect for
their fellow man. Prague is different. A city starting to
really capitalize on its tourism potential (stress the CAPITALIZE,
although a million people told me it’s a great town where
everything’s cheap… it’s SO the anti-cheap now), Prague’s
that weird mix of the very old and the even older when it
comes to architecture and personality. Fitting that a film
like Hellboy would shoot there, no? While
the people may very well hate the pants off of visitors,
they rarely show it. You can walk nearly anywhere here and
feel safe, and even if you whip out your camera and start
snapping away, they’re not going to give you hell. Wait
until you see of the pictures I shot during my jaunt. Neat
shit.

So,
since I wasn’t needed on set on Thursday, I walked the streets
of Prague like Bruce Jenner’s forgotten whore.

A
preface: I brought one pair of shorts on this trip. I figured
that way out here I’d be able to wear what I consider “good”
clothes here without sweating my skeleton off. I love the
summer, but I think summer fashion’s a large stack of simmering
balls. Shorts are great and all, but they tend to be limiting
in terms of what to wear with them. Also, I’m not a fan
of seeing man feet, so you won’t catch me wearing sandals
unless it’s one of those rare occasions where I enter a
gladiatorial pit for some sweaty, homoerotic combat. I’m
boring in this regard. Tennis shoes, shorts, and a t-shirt
or golf shirt’s about as creative as I’ll get. That said,
female summer clothes… the best! I think a memo went out
in Prague about 1,300 years ago that said something to the
effect of: “Women, when brassiere’s are invented and become
standard issue for your kind, you still don’t have to wear
them.” , because it certainly seemed like I’d stepped onto
the soil of nipple nation once the plane landed.

So,
I’m wearing jeans, a T-shirt underneath, a button-down shirt,
black socks, and my steel-tipped, height increasing, and
HEAVY Sketchers. Translation: Gear NOT to walk 25 miles
in. Regardless, 25 miles did I walk in these clothes, except
for the parts where I didn’t leave footprints because apparently
Jesus was carrying me.

The
sun’s heat embraced me like a back alley junkie, caressing
me and slowly robbing me of my vital functions. The first
thing I noticed about Prague is how funny looking the cars
are. The term “ergonomic” must not exist in Czech, because
so many of the cars look they were shat out of Cybertron
WAY early, laughingstocks to the fully formed Autobots.
They’re like preemie cars, the top of their head’s still
conical and their skeleton’s misshapen. These little monstrosities
don’t motor around town politely, either. They scream around
town at rates of speed that’d scare Evel Kneival’s stunt
double. While I didn’t sleep anyhow, the nearly constant
cacophony of screeching wheels, ambulances, and car horns
certainly wouldn’t have made things any easier.

So,
while the cars are freaky Jason the architecture is amazing.
Elegant and older than the hills (which have eyes, by the
way), the buildings of Prague are exactly what you’ve seen
in xXx, Blade II, and will soon
see (if you’re one of the 13 people who haven’t been repelled
by the trailers) in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Spires grasp towards the heavens, cathedrals harken back
to older times, and gargoyles and long dead religious figures
beckon on rooftops from their stone coffins. By day it’s
the universe of classic literature come to life and at night
it’s the devils playground, a place of shadow and mystery.
Of course, during the day it’s a sprawling collection of
tourists trying to spend a crown (the local currency) and
entrepreneurs trying to make one.

I
think I came at a good time. The city seems poised to become
too much of a tourist trap, an Epcot appendage located an
ocean away. The people are proud of their home, and for
a good reason. It’s amazing. Unfortunately, us invaders
(I noticed a ton of American, UK, and Asian visitors) and
our money and snapping cameras plan to leave no place untainted
by our footprints and I fear this will become too consumer
friendly before too long. The vendors on the main thoroughfares
know and understand English very well. As a result, there’s
enough street vendors to feed an army (well, at least the
Kiss Army) and if you can’t find a piece of Prague merchandise
within your first 200 paces you’re more useless than Steve
Wonder critiquing a silent film. The bars are plentiful,
the restaurants are exquisite (except for the ones proudly
touting American Cuisine and the rather unsightly and way
overtrafficked McDonald’s and KFC’s), and it may be the
only time in the past 8 years where I’ve gone 4 days without
seeing the Starbucks logo. I walked. And friggin’ walked
and walked.

Your
pal Nick has a decent sense of direction. But, like many
men he is prone to a loss in bearings, and asking for directions
is often not among the options, for fear of losing a bit
of "man-ness". When getting lost, these choices
are usually these:

  1. Go
    in one direction until you hit the sea. Then you know
    that eventually you’ll find either your goal or a major
    city. This is not a good option if you get lost in Iowa.
  1. Go
    in a slowly increasing circle. Eventually you’ll either
    find a familiar landmark or be eaten by jackals. Both
    options solve the original problem.
  1. Get
    lost long enough and cover the portion of the planet you
    haven’t experienced until you eventually have no choice
    but to arrive at a place you know. Keep trying until you
    find a warm place. I find this useful in the bedroom as
    well.
  1. Chris
    Sarandon.

I
chose 3. I should have chosen 4.

Oh,
a little side bitch session. If there’s one grammar gripe
that really irks me of late, aside from the too numerous
to mention common Internet gaffes… it’s when people say
“Should of” instead of “Should have”. WHY IN THE NAME OF
ANTON LEVAY DOES THIS OCCUR?

Anyhow…

I’m
a horrible tourist. If they were to shoot a movie about
the worst tourist in the world, they might as well call
it The Nunz. I don’t care much for touring
castles, learning about the history of a building or grotto,
and certainly am not one to snap pictures so much that Kodak’s
stock rises. To me, the beauty of new places is that there’s
new places to feed. New holes in the wall to discover. New
coffees to experience. New places to look for leather masks.
Thankfully, Prague is loaded with these things as well.
It’s a cultural orgy, and I mean that figuratively and sexually.

The
breathtaking architecture and scenery certainly doesn’t
hurt either, but this is a city that would please most anyone.
Keep in mind that I didn’t even venture to the farther off
places of the city, the places that taxi’s take people too
a few miles outside of the inner portion. I can only imagine
how wonderful those places are, but believe me when I tell
you: I got my money’s worth this day.

Though
Mr. Chitwood had given me a solid idea of where to walk,
I went beyond that area. Seemingly almost to the point where
the local language was Ewok.

The
walking began around 1pm and when I finally collapsed into
the lobby of the Prague Hilton it was around 6:30pm. For
those of you with math issues, that’s over five hours of
walking in the heat wrapped up in clothes like a short,
white Martin Lawrence. You see, I had my laptop in my bag,
my camera, some Hellboy comics (I re-read
Seed of Destruction, The Corpse, The Iron
Shoes
, The Wolves of August, and Almost Colossus over the trip this week), and a few other assorted goodies…
BUT I NEVER STOPPED WALKING!

I
kept meaning to pull over into a café and grab some grub
and place after place passed by without a visit. They looked
good, too. I just craved some air conditioning and a place
to write. None fit the bill (for air conditioning complaints
refer to part two of this rambling bitch of an article),
at least not to an American freak like me who knew that
if he stopped moving he’s sizzle into a puddle of boy sauce.
Really, I was sweating like Polanski at a preschool, but
absorbing the city as I was kept the fatigue and pain away.
Somehow I feel that Fodor’s has not yet embraced the "Walk
aimlessly in the heat wave" method of touring in their
Prague booklet.

Another
thing I noticed about Prague… sure, there are those standard
generic Hollywood Euro-villain looking folks and those “I
am Helga the bestial, I can bench press 900 kilos of Kielbasa”
women, but the people do have their “look”. First of all,
the women are tall. I mean, to me nearly everyone looks
tall but there are a lot of long, shapely legs to be seen
on these streets. Sometimes even attached to torsos! If
you are a single man, you just might lose your cool here.
This is a place where the good looking people dwell, both
men and women. There’s a lot of those guys who seem to want
to look like they crawled off the set of xxx wait, bad example. You get the point, though. These are
men who take their fashion very seriously, and there were
more than a few situations where I passed a handful of guys
sitting in an outdoor cafe with the shades, the clothes,
the semi-long tussled greasepit hair, and the look that
says "I am building secret rocket. I have much Black
Tar in my cavern lair." and I’m not sure I’m more worried
that they really are building secret rockets or that they
might be basing their waking days being what Simon West’s
perception of a local is.

Then,
there are those people who you start to worry has never
seen a mirror since their teething years. The male hair
stylists of Prague are either super cutting edge (specializing
in Gerard Butler meets Dougray Scott meets Andrew W.K.)
or trained by irradiated mallards (specializing in ‘mullet
in the front’, ‘mullet in the back’ or the rare but effective
‘worse than 100 mullets’). Some of the guys here are no
match for their svelte, sophisticated female counterparts.
Thankfully for them, they look like they could pulverize
granite for 8 hours a day and still have time to punch the
pants off me and all my friends, and the result is a lot
of these maulers having the arm of a very sexy young miss.
Even though they’re having a bad hair LIFE. Weird stuff,
and there were a few times I simply had to laugh, because
it really seems like these folks really are trying to overcompensate
on the fashion end, and it’s just a scene I’m either painfully
ignorant of or just plain unsympathetic too.

So,
while I bipedded all over the place I did some serious people
watching.

I
soon started to lose steam, though. The heat was intense,
and I was starting to notice that my feet were getting heavier.
I was starting to drag my feet a little, which is no big
deal at home walking from the den to the kitchen but on
these old and often cobblestone streets you could make a
fool of yourself in no time flat. Which I of course did.

I
misjudged a curb step by a lot, and did a subtle trip that
would have been almost completely unseen had I not screamed
"FA-HUCK!" as it happened. Heads both Czech and
English turned at that one, and I knew it was time to go
on a side mission: Find a Hellboy comic in the native
tongue. Maybe I’d get some of the crew to sign it, I thought
(note: I finally found one but didn’t have the dough). Now,
I was mixing my searing heat outdoor trekking with some
blistering heat indoor trekking, and I think I did a terrific
job of smelling the body odor of everyone I came into contact
with equally and without prejudice.

Men,
women, children, and if I’m not mistaken, a minotaur.

My
nose ripe with charbroiled stink, my feet feeling like anvils,
and my shirt starting to feel as damp as Charles Durning’s
favorite wife beater, I looked up for the only landmark
I remember being near my hotel… a gothic spire that was
one of a kind.

Or
one of about 300 as it turned out. Twice I walked a healthy
distance and twice was a taken in a direction that had as
much in common as the Prague Hilton as it did with the Lars
homestead. I then remembered my camera and figured "well
if I’m going to participate in Tobe Hooper’s Another
Spontaneous Combustion
, I might as well take some
pictures of Prague!". Out came the camera and snapping
away became the order of the day. The results of that snapping
will arrive in my Monday afternoon ‘Prague Photo Diary’,
provided my plane doesn’t nosedive into the sea or get caught
in mid-flight by Ultraman. The picture taking literally
resurrected me, and after my batteries died I had a new
mission: get more and find an adapter for my camera so I
could upload pictures to the web immediately.

The
mission was a fun one, because I was now on the outskirts
of tourism central and the shopkeepers became less and less
fluent. Funny conversations were had. You see, I’m very
fair with other languages. I’ll fail them equally and without
regard. In 10th grade I failed the unholy shit out of Latin.
So much so that my ex-teacher wouldn’t even commit to eye
contact with me in the hallways. French? Oh, I bent French
over a bench and rammed it up the ass with bad grades. That
teacher, I went out of my way to hate her in the halls.
She was one of those that refused to speak English in the
classroom, so if you needed to piss, save a kid in a burning
tree, or transform into Lee Majors you had to do it in French
or else it didn’t happen. Spanish? I didn’t fail it, instead
switched my high school graduation plan to avoid it. I took
Spanish in middle school, did the old churros y chocolatè
textbook. Hated every minute. I wish I paid attention though,
’cause Spanish would sure as f*ck have helped me nowadays.
Heck, if I knew Spanish I could use American ATMS!

Plus,
when your favor