Monthly Archives: November 2023

The Death of a DJ

Underground Music Man Zsolt Palotai

On the very day of the award ceremony of Budapest’s Pro Cultura Urbis Award, Zsolt Palotai (a.k.a. DJ Palotai) died suddenly at the age of 62.  He was one of the awardees, but could not attend the award ceremony.  He came to be known in Budapest as DJ Palotai, but he was not a traditional disc jockey.  Clearly not for those true boomers who came to know disc jockeys as entertainers in old-style discos playing disco genre – whatever that music is.  From bubble gum to Ra-Ra Rasputin, from Sugar Sugar to the Roof that mother fucker roof.

In the 1990s, DJ Palotai turned to alternative music, underground and techno (whatever techno is).  First, he began playing discs in a hangout called Tilos az Á (the Hungarian version of Trespassers W – for clues: W stands for ‘Will Be Prosecuted’).  Then he was associated with an underground or alternative radio station, Tilos Rádio (Forbidden Radio), where he could experiment with many new styles of music.

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The Birth of a City

We Take a Walk On the Bright Side

We do, from time to time, revisit the question: what kind of city is this?  We have discovered many dark sides of the city which is contemporary Hungarian landscape.

This time, let’s take a walk on the city’s bright side.

On a foggy November 17th day in the year 1873, forward-looking Hungarian magnates, ambitious merchants, and city elders decided that Buda, Óbuda and Pest should form one metropolis.  Budapest, a city of slightly less than two million residents now is almost as diverse as it was in 1873.  Almost – is the operative word here.  Germans and Jews, Serbs and Greeks, Armenians and Slovaks formed the majority of the 1873 population.  Soon each group began to assimilate and become Hungarian.  This process suffered setbacks and led to the dark days of Budapest’s Jewish community in 1944, as the leftover shoes on the bank of the Danube offer testimony to tragic events.

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The birthday of Budapest

To say that the year 1849 was a most peculiar one would be a major understatement. The previous year, 1848, was the year of revolutions all over Europe, but those slowly died down, having accomplished their main objective: the dissolution of the post-Napoleonic security system of Vienna, thus ushering in the era of rapid capitalistic progress. Not so in Hungary. The young, impetuous emperor, Franz Joseph, who approved and signed most demands of the revolution in 1848, insisted on the submission of Hungary and sent in the army. But the army proved useless in the face of Hungarian resistance; and a serious war ensued, which the Austrians were gradually losing. However, refusing to accept defeat, Austria called for Russian support, which did arrive and two hundred thousand Russian troops gradually overwhelmed the Hungarians. In August, 1849 the Hungarian army capitulated.

Faced with the reality of a threat from the encroaching Russian army, the Hungarian Parliament had legislated their main political objectives, as a last minute effort, in June of 1849. Most of these were not carried out then, but remained on the books, waiting to be realized in a better, more favourable time. Amongst them was the creation of a new, independent capital city: by uniting Pest, Buda, and Óbuda, the three neighbouring cities on either side of the Danube. On their own, each of them was quite insignificant; in fact, they were so different from each other that no sane person would have considered uniting them. But there was a new development, a new fixed bridge, that opened in the fall of 1849, that created a new condition in the life of these cities.

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The trouble with Tucker Carlson:

Why  conservatives should not support right-wing autocrats

Western liberal democracies have been under persistent attack in recent years by closed-minded left-wing ideologues who have taken over many of our leading institutions. Attempts to cancel, deplatform, and sanction anyone who dares to voice a dissenting opinion have been common in the media, in our universities, and in public life. It is all the more important, therefore, that resistance to such woke totalitarianism comes from trustworthy, well-informed, and objective opinion leaders, media organisations, and commentators.

As a refugee from communist Hungary myself, with painful memories of life under a dictatorship, I am highly sensitive to creeping totalitarianism at both ends of the political spectrum. I have therefore watched with growing concern the worrying trend among some conservative commentators, such as Tucker Carlson, who have been sycophantically promoting right-wing autocracts and illiberal regimes such as Viktor Orban’s in Hungary.

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The Beat Goes On

Dismissal from Paradise Corvinus

In my previous post, I touched on the dismissal of Professor Zoltán Ádám from Corvinus University.  Since the publication of that post, we have been informed of a number of new developments which show that Corvinus University is now on the attack.  In an orchestrated communications campaign, university big wigs are putting the blame on Professor Ádám, the whistleblower, who was let go for a lightweight or outright fabricated cause.  The spin factory spit out an interesting narrative.

The first output of the factory was a press release and followup interview with the new, transient Rector of Corvinus University. Both took the offensive in connection with spelling out the party line, why Professor Ádám was fired for cause.  The gist of this counteroffensive is that while Professor Ádám, in one case, opposed the waiver of a student’s disqualification for an exam, in another case, he knowingly approved, or simply acquiesced in granting a similar waiver to another student.  Since University communication and press releases specify neither the names of students involved nor the names of professors granting and denying this waiver, I try to use fictitious names for the readers to be able to follow the arguments of Rector Szabó.

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