Tag Archives: Estonia

Some of my favorite graffiti displays

I like graffiti that sends a message. There’s one wall decoration that I still wish I’d captured, but I never got around to it. I used to go to the Peace Club, a dive bar outside Camp Casey in South Korea– back when we still had troops that far north. In the bathroom, they had a piss-trough instead of urinals. I remember it well. The wall over the trough was littered with graffiti; there was barely room for anything new. After all the time I spent there, removing consumed beer from my body, I read most of it. One “exchange” is still crystal clear.

“I used to believe in the common decency of man”

“I still do”

They were written by two people, the second below the first. After a while, I used to pick the spot at the trough that would put these two lines at eye-level. In some ways, I still miss that wall and these two comments. I doubt it’s there any more. Last I heard, the Peace Club was no more. I do hope that management kept that wall intact.

Ever since then, I’ve been extremely interested in graffiti. The first, up top, is from a small covered walkway in Old Quebec. Yeah, some people still aren’t crazy about being French-speakers in an English-speaking country.

Iceland is such a sanitary country, but they are developing a graffiti problem. This wall just struck me as the antithesis of what one expects to see in Iceland.

Tallin, Estonia had some good material as well. The tagger below, it seems, was hungry. I guess he (or she) likes Italian.

The next one, though, is my favorite from Estonia. It sends a pretty powerful political message, and indicates the importance of open dialogue in a free society.

There was clearly a taggers’ debate going on here. First, someone wrote “Fuck Fascism!” I happen to concur. Next, someone put “anti” in front. Since I’m not a fascist, “Fuck AntiFascism!” doesn’t exactly resonate. But, a third person joined the conversation and crossed out “anti,” and then a fourth person crossed out “Fuck”. So, we wind up with the message, “Fascism!” Of course, I could have the order of events a bit screwed up, but we can see clearly where the discussion ends. Such a shame.

Also political was a bit of graffiti I saw in  Paris metro station. This was during the Sarkozy/Segoline election, which got pretty nasty.

Wow, I guess this guy doesn’t watch Fox News!

They call this art?!

Here’s what bugs me. On the sidewalk, this monstrosity is on display, and I’m supposed to be impressed. I’m not. It’s nothing short of moronic. But, maybe I’m just simple-minded.

Inside the studio (behind this “art” thing), on the other hand, some great material hung on the walls. The stuff on display is something like a blend of Francis Bacon’s treatment of Pope Innocent, touches of Viking heritage from across the Baltic Sea and a depressing use of color that reflects the Eastern European experience under the Soviet Union.

So, why the hell, I ask, did they put plumbing on display? Yeah, let’s make sure nobody sees the real talent by telling the public to like this garbage.

Pretty soon, we’ll start calling Home Depot an art gallery.

I just love foreign street signs

The guy in this street sign has feet! And, it looks like he’s strutting rather than merely walking. This is surprising, as I did not see a whole lot of strutting in Estonia. Everyone seemed happy, but their movement from Point A to Point B was distinctly walking.

It would have been cool to see a few Estonians moving with a Saturday Night Fever-style strut. Eastern Europeans adorned in fake gold chains cruising up and down Pikk Street … it would have been great. Instead of Travolta commenting on the East River, you’d have some local saying, “I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to get over that wall.


I have now been to the former Soviet Union! I spent a day in Tallinn, Estonia, and it is an interesting place. The “Old Town” has a medieval feel. The streets are of cobblestone; they are narrow and cozy. Small alleys entertain visions of hidden gems.

The city is a bit touristy now, which I imagine is a reaction to the emergent demands of capitalism in a country that was once an oft-forgotten Communist bloc outpost. But, Tallinn has retained much of its European charm, with castles and high walls.


Scavenger Hunt Update

When I left New York, I told my colleagues that I wanted to see a Scandinavian midget. While I have seen several short people (though not many), none actually qualifies as a midget.

Aside from the midget search, the ferry ride to Tallinn is nothing short of dull. The boat is moving along, but I can feel the motion. On six hours of sleep and not enough coffee, it’s not pleasant. But, I’m willing to pay the price to catch a glimpse of something new.

Do you have your papers?

A small misadventure on the way to Estonia …

I did not realize that I’d need my passport to cross into Tallinn. Since I didn’t need it to get from Iceland to Finland– or France to Italy a while back– it was an easy oversight. Well, it won’t be my last flawed assumption, I’m sure.

Much to my chagrin, I had to run back to the hotel to pick up my “papers”. It seems that I could be stopped when I arrive in country (or coming back to Finland). I hope I get stopped [written while on the ferry] and asked my wife to take a picture if it happens.

This is my first trip toa former Soviet republic, and I’m psyched. I can finally get a first-hand look at the world behind the now nonexistent Iron Curtain.

Oh, I made it back to the ferry in time, with my papers. I actually ran part of the way, and it didn’t feel all bad. Nobody checked my passport.

Going to Estonia

I’m planning to catch the 12:30 ferry to Tallinn, Estonia. I have no idea what I’m going to find there, but you can be sure I’ll take plenty of pictures and keep you posted!

Apparently, there are several round-trip ferries every day. Depending on which you choose, the trip can last anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours.