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Thursday, August 21, 2008


I can hardly think of anything more likely to unify Europe than an ex- KGB thug running Russia as if this were still the good old days of Leonid Brezhnev. The invasion of the Republic of Georgia and the threatening of Poland with nuclear war by a Russian general has stripped the old eastern block nations of their last prepuce of innocence.
The Slavic states and the ancient Baltic Republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are now feeling chillingly exposed to the Russian bear. These people fight their cultural wars with real guns and real bombs. But in their rush to cover themselves in a NATO blanket, all the recent cultural shocks suffered by the unblocked Soviet block are revealed to be nothing more than social pinpricks; such as the beach wars currently raging along the Baltic Coast where pious, Catholic (and ex Communist) Poland abuts the hedonistic, Lutheran (and ex-communist) ex-East Germany, bisecting the picturesque Isle of Userdom.
The long cervix of Userdom bridges the Baltic Sea and the Lagoon of Stettin, the aneurism formed as the river Oder meets the coast near the Polish port. During the 20th Century the most exciting thing to happen here was the launching of the Nazi “Vengeance Rockets” from Peenemunde, on the western tip of the isle. But since the Iron Curtain was dropped for the last time (we hope) the poetic resort towns have sparkled along the coast.
Their names float off the tongue with Germanic romance: Ahlbeck, Herinsdorf, Bansin, Ueckeritz, Koelpinsee, Zempin, and Karlshagen. Like a string of pearls they stretch along 250 miles of rolling forests and meadows bordered by bluffs and wide sandy beaches. Of course the Baltic Sea temperature in August is a mere 62 degrees Fahrenheit, which to a resident of Florida seems rather frigid.
But to the hardy German tourists who have been drawn to Userdom since before Adolf Hitler was German, these are balmy climes indeed. And to the Poles, who are now free to enjoy these beaches without even the fig leaf of a passport (since January of 2008, when they joined the Schengen Treaty) the beaches of Userdom represent a frightening peek-a-boo of previously hidden worlds, some of which no self respecting Pole still feels comfortable gazing upon.If you read the advertising for Userdom you will eventually uncover the stark details of the brave new conflicts arising on the Isle; electrical charging beach parking (1.80 Euro a day), boat hires, restaurants, bars, hotels, umbrella and sun lounger rentals, volleyball, windsurfing and sailing schools, playgrounds, sandy beaches, public sanitary facilities and nude areas – plenty and plenty of nude areas.
It has long been a brave nude world on the German shore. Nudism was a popular hobby under the ancient Communist regime, in part I suspect because of the meager implements required to become a practicing nudist. There is no competency test and no qualifying heats, and no real accruements required except perhaps a straw hat and a pair of flip flops. And political disadents were easy to spot; they had their mouths open. But to the tightly bundled Polish Catholics just across the border the sudden visage of naked krauts amongst the dunes has proven unnerving. As they say, old nudes, is not good nudes.As 63 year old Stanislawa Borecka, bemoaned loudly, “What a cheek, sunbathing naked! Directly on the coast …where normal people walk! What am I supposed to tell my grandson now?” Poor Stanislawa had just crossed from Swinoujscie (the Polish side) to Swinemunde (the German shore) and was so unhinged that she swore not to return until the swinehunds cover their sausages.
Edward Zajac, a local Polish politician adept at the American style of moral politics, is properly outraged. “It’s abnormal!”, he ranted. Zajac is now demanding that the Germans move their naked behinds (and fronts) further inland, where wandering Poles will no longer be subjected to Hun heinies.
And oddly enough, the sour Krauts’ nerves have also been laid bare. According to Ines Muller, his joy of nudity has been spoiled because the Pollocks from up the beach insist upon noticing that the Germans are unadorned. He complained, “The Poles come over dressed and stare. You feel like an ape in a zoo. The Poles come with their binoculars, stare and swear." It sounds like a cultural war that would make Jimmy Swaggart and Ted Kazinski giggle with glee, at least until autumn when the nudist beaches will be clothed for the winter.And before Pooty-poot turned out to be more like Staly-Stalin (and George Bush more like Georgie-porgie), the uproar over bare naked frau and fruenden might have been enough wedge politics for a weasel like Zajac to mine for a generation or two. After all, every brave nude world provides politicians with brave new her-eyes-ons.
But with the shinning example of Russian repression fresh in everyone’s minds, I suspect that some social genius on pig land will simply tack up a sign at the border with two arrows:one will point toward the German side, warning the easily offended Catholics to look out for the nudists. And the second arrow will point the way inland, warning the unwary to look out for phallus headed Russians. One is an annoyance, while the other is a real threat to life. And the whole trick in life is knowing the difference between the two. After all, nudists usually need fear no pickpockets. But when they get one, he’s a real doozy.

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