Monday, June 18, 2007

Racoco in Poland

Visual artist Olek and I are in Kochowice, Poland, staying at her parents' house in Kochowice (see photo; sorry it's sideways, it looks right after 7 shots of Luksosawa). We have eaten several home-cooked meals and drunk several beers and bottles of vodka in the 36 hours I have been here -- all research.

Today when we looked on the internet to find the hours Auschwitz was open and in searching for means of transportation the name of Agata's grandfather's name, Zygmund Pyzik, popped up on the screen, with his date of birth, and date of his death at the camp. It was a solemn moment - I think Agata was surprised to see the name and information there. She knew the story, but it was a shock to have it in front of her. She told the story to me:

It seems her mother's father had a twin brother, who was caught by police selling black market food and supplies. They took his identification away. Because he had to continue working, he took his brother's identification. He was caught a second time, and this time sent to Auschwitz. Her grandfather had a very difficult time getting a job for a while after the war - he was officially dead.

The area where she lives has an interesting history, many of the men who lived here were soldiers in the German army during the war, which has led to some tensions, but also to many leaving for jobs in Germany. The main source of employment here is the coal mines, but jobs are difficult to get. Both of Agata's parents work there, although now her father is retired.

We spent the afternoon in Katowice, the big town nearby, and partly wandered, partly looked for musicians who would perform with us (on July 1, at the central Bytom marketplace, see r.h. photo). We spoke to a bartender at one of Agata's favorite bars, who makes delicious hot beer - a concoction a bit like mulled wine with spices and other alcohols mixed in. He gave us the numbers of several possible musicians and also suggested we go to the local music academy. So we wandered over to find it to post a notice on the bulletin board. It has been difficult to find musicians who do not want to be paid, and paid quite a lot - especially if one is coming from the USA, one is expected to have money. Sadly, this is not always the case. . .
However, we finally were able to get in touch by phone with one of Agata's favorite bands, Koalaband, a group that sings blues and African-based melodies and rhythms but singing in the Silesian dialect. We are meeting them for drinks tomorrow in a nearby town. They seem very bizarre, so we have high hopes that they might be interested in what we are doing. . .

1 comment:

Chris Becker said...

I too hope the Koalaband will join you and Agata in your upcoming performance. That sounds like a great band!