Friday, April 29, 2011

On our last visit here, we suggested that Hairy Harry may make a good presidential candidate.

You may remember that Hairy Harry is a scout, whom the Wormelings--still hiding in the Riga pils kitchen--sent to scout the streets of Riga. Hairy Harry decided that Riga was ready to become the capital city of Europe for an alternate lifestyle. After all, the famed city within a city in Denmark, Christiania, is being eliminated in a "Europe is clean and sterile at last!" campaign.

Hairy Harry asked one Jaņdžs to prepare a poster with him as a candidate for President of Riga pils. "Use lots or orange color," suggested Hairy Harry. "The Latvians seem to like it."

"Alright, I will do it," said Jaņdžs, "but with the understanding that the ultimate Wormeling candidate is one Colonel Yonderman or whom the Latvians call 'Pulkvedis Jandāhlins', which translates as one who makes lots of noise with pots and pans and drums and whatnot."

"Yes, of course," answered Hairy Harry, "I just want to try being presidential to see if I fit the part."

Jaņdžs said: "If you do not behave, I will put you back in the woodpile."
So it goes. Incidentally, for all who are curious, here is an advance copy of the official campaign photo of Colonel Yonderman, aka Pulkvedis Jandahlins.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter, Riga 2011. Easter this year in Riga is going about with an anxious eye. The way one person about Riga described it to me was that “Riga is like a frozen body” (sastingusi).
Another person tense over business conditions, a man with one leg long in politics, was taken aback by my criticism of Latvian politics and challenged in so many words: Well, if you are so smart, tell me how you would do it different. Tell it to me right now and don’t escape me confrontation free.

I replied the man something like this:

1) In a little over a month discussions of who will be the next Latvian President will start for real;
2) I have rewritten an old story (I started it when I was still living in Arlington, VA), a political allegory, which I have disguised as a children’s story. The actors in the story are little friendly humanoids known to their author as Wormelings or “Vurmīši” in Latvian. Vurmīši are born in a refrigerator in the basement of the Riga Pils (Riga Pils to Riga is something like the White House is to Washington). 

One afternoon the president of Latvia, suffering from a total loss of desire to give any further public speeches, wanders about the cabinets and rooms of the castle. The president goes down into the Pils cellar, discovers a refrigerator, and when he opens the refrigerator door, a tumult of Wormelings crying “Free at last!” make their escape. The rest is Wormeling history.
3) I have an exhibition coming up on June 1st. It is of my ‘reproducible art’, and will be at the Agija Suna Gallery in Old town Riga. The Wormelings will be prominent among the images. My interest in ‘reproducible art’ goes back to the 1970s and 1980s. A mix of a real politicker (long term strategy anthropologue), a silent non-academic academic, and artist of sorts, I walked for some years the streets of Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts, to get a feel of how walking the streets for some purpose feels like. Perhaps that is where the Wormelings were born.

4) However, since the Wormelings never realized their potential in Washington, DC, their being born in a refrigerator in the Riga Pils basement is a heaven sent second chance to be nominated for the post of the next president of Riga Pils.

5) Some people ask Wormeling/Vurmītis to show his passport to prove that he is a Riga and Latvia citizen and can run for office. Vurmītis retaliates by asking if Latvians know the origins of their most popular Holiday, Jāņi. Many other topics arise, such as why Riga should be the future capital city of Europe.

6) All of the five above mentioned points come together at more or less one time-sensitive occasion, and Riga has a best seller.
The man with one leg long in politics looked at his watch and said that he had a meeting coming up in ten minutes. He said he would give me word on the Wormelings next week. I got the impression that I should not hold my breath, which is why these photos of Vurmīši, anticipating some such, were taken two weeks ago.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

This is a basic Wormeling or Vurmītis of Riga, wbich is why it is also the passport picture of this friendliest of Riga creatures. Here it has been photographed next to a stone lion for creature comparison's sake.

While you may see a Wormeling at this time only at this blogspot, a Wormeling scout has been noted at a number of public places in Riga. One Vurmītis, as below, it was seen visiting Riga's Vermanu Park. It has also been noted at the gates of the Riga White House (see a few blogs below this picture):
Since the appearance of this and other pictures of a Wormeling scout in Riga last week, there have been a number of inquiries over whether a Wormeling is an apparition or a citizen of Riga and Latvia.
Some have commented that a Wormeling is a Populist and therefore not to be mentioned by Riga journalists. That is a shame, because aside from his appearance, a Wormeling is a human and a Latvian in every way. In all the ways that he looks different from a human being and a Latvian, he compensates for by increased doses of charisma and good will. But if he is denied Latvian citizenship even if he was born in the basement of the Riga White House, where is he to go?

This is a question that may nag this blogspot for a long time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The time is Easter, therefore, a happy Easter wish from Riga, its Wormelings (see the whole story some blogs below), and thanks for looking in.
After trying to rent not only a bicycle, but a pedaler as well (and failing to find anyone wishing to take the risk of a Wormeling on the back seat), the Wormeling scout had to move on. He found a more welcoming Riga in two street musicians at Vermanes Park, just about center of the city. The Latvian Foreign Ministry and Riga Cathedral are in the far background.
There are some famous names associated with the park, because at one time some of Riga's people had the park almost for themselves.
A famous Latvian publishing couple, Antons and Emiliya Benjamins had a big mansion next to the park. Their newspaper "Jaunākās Ziņas" could boast the largest readership in the world per newspaper published--four persons per issue. Antons Benjamins (1860-1939) started his life as a school teacher and director, then moved on to become an editor with a number of newspapers in Riga. Following his apprenticeship, in 1911 "AB" then became editor in chief of JZ. The newspaper played an important role in popularizing the Latvian language in a then largely German-speaking Riga. Unfortunately, the newspaper stopped publishing in 1940, and was replaced by a Communist Party newspaper "Cīņa".
After visiting the Benjamins estate (it is a hotel and restaurant now), our Wormeling went to look for a rest room. Vermanes Park, a much more public space now than in the 1930s, did not have one. What next?
Let me see. Where can I do it?
This looks as good a place as any to lay an Easter egg. Or maybe not. Let me look a little while longer.
The Latvian Freedom Monument (Brīvības piemineklis), built in the 1930s (from donations from the citizenry), and with an honor guard of Latvian soldiers in attendance during daylight hours, has to suffer insults from a certain kind of tourist, who, when in need to relieve himself at night time, is not shy to relieve himself on the monument.
However, rather than blame a tourist, the blame should go to the Rīga mayor who for reasons of his own refuses to build a respectable public outhouse nearby. However, perhaps the hide-and-seek that goes on between the police and those who relieve themselves is a kind of double-mirrors game that at the same time reveals, then hides a political rivalry. It is getting to be ridiculous situation. The Riga Dome will fix the problem, but it is waiting for 2014, when Riga is to be City of Culture , Europe.
Until then Wormeling scouts have to hold it, and grin and bear it. After all, they are not tourists, but were born in the basement of the Riga White House (pils).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Once the Wormeling scout escaped the Riga pils compound, he reconoitred Riga proper. St. Peter's church was one of his first stops, then a flower shop, then the Latvian Saeima building. He had some important questions that he wanted to ask the elite body of thinkers and lawmakers.

As the viewer can see, to have a better look, this Wormeling scout had to ask a passer by to raise him up off the street so he could see St. Peter's better.

Unfortunately, he did not get to see the gold plated rooster at the top of the church.

The next stop for Hairy Harry was a Riga flower stand. There had been no flowers in the refrigerator in the Riga pils basement.

Hairy Harry was happy to see all the colors and thought that in the future he, too, could come paint himself either blue, or yellow, or red, or orange.

Somehow Hairy Harry got lost. He wandered through the streets of Riga until he came upon a sign that he definately wanted to pose in front of. The sign had been painted or drawn or something by a well known Latvian cartoonist Maris Bishofs.

Hairy Harry had first seen the artist's cartoons in the New Yorker. Yes, indeed, Wormelings get around. Rumour is that they had first cousins who were born in the basement of the White House in Washington, D.C.

The artist had written above his drawing the following (translated from Latvian): "There may also be such monuments about which pigeons are allowed to roost.."

Then Hairy Harry found his way to the Latvian Saeima. It is not far from the Riga pils (castle). A sign on a street corner gave some kind of warning. It showed what is commonly called "a red brick". The Wormeling wanted to get a closer look of it.

The sign suggested that one could pass only with some kind of special permit. The question was what kind of permit. Was it a passport that showed that Hairy Harry was a Latvian?

Hairy Harry was not sure if the fact that he was born of a Latvian mind qualified him for Latvian citizenship.
Who kne the answer?

The best way to find out was to stand in front of the entrance to the Latvian Saeima and ask someone.

"Is this where I apply for my Latvian passport?" Hairy Harry asked a beautiful Latvian blond.

The blond was busy talking to her friend, and since a Wormeling is as thin as paper did not notice him.

"Oh, well," sighed Hairy Harry, "maybe the next time."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Those readers who have read (see below) the story of the birth of the Wormelings (Vurmīši in Latvian) in the abandoned refrigerator in the basement of the Riga Castle (pils) will appreciate these first pictures of the Wormeling escape into the world at large.

Just to make sure that there is no mistake over whence they come from
To be sure, this only a scout. The others are still in in the Riga pils enjoying a cake and a few peaches.
Just making sure. Maybe the wriglers are patentable.