September 01, 2003

Look, Ma, I'm Quoted in the...

Look, Ma, I'm Quoted in the Prague Post! That heication, The Prague Pill, has bitten the dust, so the Post quoted some silly old column I wrote back in the day. The Pill gave it a decent shot; on several occasions I'd get an e-mail from the likes of Paul Wilson or some other ex-expat of note, saying "hey did you see this interesting thing in the Prague Pill?" The editors were quite decent to me, mailing some issues to Los Angeles, and even including some old Velvet column I'd written and forgotten about.

For that 0.4% of you interested in the one-of-a-kind atmosphere in which any Prague English-language publication must toil, here's an increasingly angry discussion thread that will bring the glories and horrors of expatria flooding all back at once. Looking at that, and thinking back, you can see this rather obvious underlying fear of being unmasked as an unworthy provincial fraud. Never in my life, before or since, have I seen so many people (Czechs and foreigners alike) so obsessed by whether someone was "professional." Legitimacy is as legitimacy does, I say. Embrace the inner amateur, etc.

Posted by at September 1, 2003 08:49 PM
Comments

Thank you Matt. Wowee.

Posted by: henry at September 2, 2003 08:18 PM

What's your specific wowee, Henry?

Posted by: Matt Welch at September 2, 2003 08:40 PM

I hate to say this, but as a former Prague ex-pat who was actually working for a living when I was there, the only thing I really wanted in an English-language paper was a reliable restaurant and culture guide so that I could make suggestions to clients from the UK and the U.S. about what to do with themselves in the off-hours! Anything beyond that was, as the saying goes, gravy.

Having said that, I appreciated the effort that went into every English-language publication that came out while I was there -- Prognosis, the Post, the Central European Business Review, etc.

Posted by: Brant at September 3, 2003 02:39 AM

And Matt, I would add that the obsession over who was "professional" extended to my field, as well. Everything I did was examined with a virtual magnifying glass by my Czech colleagues, and my methods were found wanting when they realized that I was improvising half of the time (Americans were somehow expected to automatically have answers for everything, or else they were "unprofessional").

But I got results -- one of the first television commercials that I produced won an award for best television commercial of the year for the Czech and Slovak Republics, and still polls as one of the best-liked commercials in the brief history of advertising in that region. To this day, a few Czechs are still scratching their heads, wondering, How did he do that when he was so unprofessional?

Posted by: Brant at September 3, 2003 10:11 AM

Brant -- I wrote a juvenile Prognosis column about the cult of professionality ... must go look it up.

Posted by: Matt Welch at September 3, 2003 11:11 AM

I remember all of this, being a former Postie. Only saw a few bits from the Pill on-line, but that's a thread that I'm going to have to print out and keep for the novel about Prague that I have yet to write.

My favourite memory is being sent all of Kent's business plans by the orphaned masses in Budapest. Think I may still have them somewhere. Those circulated for weeks..... har har har.

Posted by: Kocourkov at September 6, 2003 02:56 PM
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I was there, the only thing I really wanted in an English-language paper was a reliable restaurant and culture guide so that I could make suggestions to clients from the UK and the U.S. about what to do with themselves in the off-hours! Anything beyond that was, as the saying goes, gravy.

Having said that, I appreciated the effort that went into every English-language publication that came out while I was there -- Prognosis, the Post, the Central European Business Review, etc.

Posted by: Brant at September 3, 2003 02:39 AM

And Matt, I would add that the obsession over who was "professional" extended to my field, as well. Everything I did was examined with a virtual magnifying glass by my Czech colleagues, and my methods were found wanting when they realized that I was improvising half of the time (Americans were somehow expected to automatically have answers for everything, or else they were "unprofessional").

But I got results -- one of the first television commercials that I produced won an award for best television commercial of the year for the Czech and Slovak Republics, and still polls as one of the best-liked commercials in the brief history of advertising in that region. To this day, a few Czechs are still scratching their heads, wondering, How did he do that when he was so unprofessional?

Posted by: Brant at September 3, 2003 10:11 AM

Brant -- I wrote a juvenile Prognosis column about the cult of professionality ... must go look it up.

Posted by: Matt Welch at September 3, 2003 11:11 AM

I remember all of this, being a former Postie. Only saw a few bits from the Pill on-line, but that's a thread that I'm going to have to print out and keep for the novel about Prague that I have yet to write.

My favourite memory is being sent all of Kent's business plans by the orphaned masses in Budapest. Think I may still have them somewhere. Those circulated for weeks..... har har har.

Posted by: Kocourkov at September 6, 2003 02:56 PM
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