What Is True/Slant?
275+ knowledgeable contributors.
Reporting and insight on news of the moment.
Follow them and join the news conversation.

Jul. 17 2010 — 1:37 pm | 155 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Budapest is burning


The New European Environment – starring my brother Craig Young

An Emotional weather report

So, as usual after coffee and various salves I began my day with a check of the headlines and see Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called a snap election which she’ll probably win. Speaking of woman premieres, it seems Margaret Thatcher’s family are appalled by the idea of Meryl Streep playing Mrs T in a movie.

Speaking of …ecological disasters BP think they might have finally put a cap on the leak in the Gulf of Mexico. But I see also an oil pipeline has exploded in China and is keeping 2000 firefighters busy, which sounds like a pretty big blaze to me. The phrase “It’s a wonder these kind of things don’t happen more often” is fast becoming redundant. We’re all going to have to be brave to make it in this scary new world. Meanwhile, the environmental update from the Hungarian capital is that it’s hot… How hot? Well, it was 85 degrees Fahrenheit last night at 11pm in Budapest and this evening it is, as I like to say in a voice like Sam Elliott’s, still “hotter than a snake’s hide in a wagon rut” now at 7pm CET.

And I’m sitting here in the living room of this rather suitable-for-one apartment, trying to write with the television on. Christ, the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. CNN is the only English language channel I can get in my otherwise well equipped and well appointed gentleman’s quarterings in the 7th district, the oh-so boho old Jewish quarter of Budapest. Well, I can’t complain but sometimes I still do. I go to sleep every night in a bed fit for a Transylvanian Prince, in a heavy, antique furniture filled and airy apartment, equidistant to practically everything I need.

Finding gainful employment has been as slow as Continental drift, but that all seems to change around September, when the weather will also be agreeably cooler. Tomorrow, at least according to Wunderground, Budapest has a chance to cool down in the wake of a few welcome rainstorms that’ll wash the streets clean(ish) and give us all some relief. The so-called Jet-Set Hobo (might be time to hang up those spurs) is not cut out for this kind of heat – Not unless I’m near a beach with a pile of good books and someone nice to rub in the sun screen lotion. The position is open by the way, so if you’re glamorous and amorous, drop me a line. I make a good dry martini, I’m a good conversationalist and er, well that’s about it really I suppose.


‘At age 50, every man has the face he deserves.’

George Orwell

Lunched today with my friend Kiki today and not quite all we could talk about was the Mel Gibson affair. continue »

Jul. 14 2010 — 4:10 pm | 762 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

In the Czech Republic, calendar girls rule. Literally.

Firstly, let’s get it out of the way ‘Joyeux jour de la Bastille‘. As I believe I have touched on before – this time last year – the French revolution has long been a source of fascination for your correspondent. Rather like the Sarkozy/Bruni Presidency, it began with high hopes: “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven” wrote an optimistic William Wordsworth, who was actually in revolutionary France at the very time the paysans (peasants) were revolting. Of course, that blissful dawn had soon turned into the Reign of Terror, quicker than the Gallic voting public of today’s disenchantment with a supermodel wife. Poor little Nicolas Sarkozy, he can’t seem to get anything right these days. Take today’s Bastille Day parade. This was an attempt apparently to acknowledge France’s colonial past, thus troops from 13 former African colonies paraded up and down the Champs-Élysées. Many commentators see this as a celebration of a past the French should, in general, be mightily ashamed of. Nonetheless, an all female unit of soldiers from Benin led the parade, followed by troops from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Central African Republic, Senegal, Chad and Togo and the Ivory Coast. More criticism followed due to the fact that, well, Niger for example is not exactly an exemplary democracy.

A little bit closer to my home in Budapest, and I submit for your attention, Kristyna Koci, Chief Negotiator for the Czech Republic’s ruling political party, the Public Affairs party.

I kid you not. The photograph is taken from a just released 2011 calendar put out by the Czech Public Affairs party. continue »

Jul. 12 2010 — 2:39 pm | 125 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Poledancing for Gender Equality

Only in Hungary. Here’s what the pithy satirical news website Pestiside has to say about a new pole-dancing world record…

If there was ever going to be a pole-dancing world record set, you knew it would have to come from Hungary.

A reasonable hypothesis.

Former pornstar and pole dancing world champion Alma Pirner along with several other strippers pole artistes got together at the Dollhouse dance studio and slid up and down and ground their bodies against a chrome pole for 24 hours, with Pirner setting a solo record for eight hours of consecutive sliding around.

How invigorating. But the kind of thing you could read about every day online at Blikk, if you could er, penetrate the impenetrable, the Hungarian language that is. But here comes the kicker.

When asked why this did this, Pirner said that it was to prove that women are just as physically and mentally capable as men, and deserve to be treated equally in the workplace, which is kind of like BP promoting responsible deep-sea oil drilling, but still, it’s the thought that counts, right?

via Pestiside.hu: The International Voice of Underground Hungary.

One of the joys of living in this country. Much of the time, there’s no need to make it up.

Jul. 10 2010 — 4:51 pm | 58 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

The 10pm Saturday brunch

Bastille Day celebration near Chain Bridge

Image via Wikipedia

Saturday evening in Budapest, and as I write, either war has broken out on the streets around the apartment I’m renting, or there is a big fireworks display going on nearby. That’s Budapest for you, at least when the temperatures are hot. Every night in the Summer, something different. The Hobo is definitely housebound this evening however. Last night’s carousing with the Tasmanian Princess and the Welsh/Hungarian actress/antique dealer was quite enough high voltage bonhomie for one weekend. Probably.

Anyway, today we hoisted ourselves up to the highest point above Budapest we could (using our best petard but for good this time) in order to take a look at those not-so-distant London lights. Okay, I used Google Earth. Well, as previously noted, commentary on the British sociopolitical landscape has been part of the Jet-Set Hobo’s loosely assembled, journalistic beat. It might as well continue this way until the end, which may be nigh. So no more ado, here’s a quick round-up of today’s headlines from the Old Dart. (Colonial slang for Great Britain).

Raoul Moat manhunt: Investigation into Taser shots fired at fugitive

According to The Grauniad, sorry the Guardian, shots fired from a Taser could have caused the  Northumberland gunman to shoot himself after a six-hour standoff with police. Investigations have already begun into the actions of local police in the hours before the death of Raoul Moat. They are apparently focusing on whether the two Taser shots fired at the fugitive may have pushed him over the edge.

continue »

Jul. 9 2010 — 2:00 pm | 134 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

This week’s “News in Keef” – memoirs could break up the Stones

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

Image via Wikipedia

Apparently the Human Riff is planning to publish his memoirs in a few months. They contain revelations that you can best believe won’t go down well with ‘Sir’ Mick Jagger.

Maybe it’s his way of ending it. The Stones I mean. There is a time to quit and perhaps this is the only way. That thought just occured to me incidentally. Well, the Stones have gone on for just about as long as anyone has had the right to expect. Longer. And through it all, the two real anchors of the band, Jagger and Richards, have schemed against and fueded with the other. They’ve been like two Grand Dames of Soap Opera according to some insiders. At the same time, Mick has been quoted as saying they were like brothers born to different parents, or ‘brothers from another mother’ if you will. Or again, even if you won’t.

It’s certainly a highly combustible partnership, a love/hate working relationship some 59 years old. And still Rockin’. But for how much longer? Let’s see.

Keith Richard’s autobiography, which is simply entitled Life, will be published in October by Little, Brown. continue »

My T/S Activity Feed


    About Me

    I have never worked as a secret agent, but I did play one on TV: KGB spy Sergei Kukushkin in mini series The Company. More recently I played a debauched aristocrat in a tasty short film called Last Night in Buenos Aires. I was also the voice of the monster Buffalord in the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, believe it or not. In 'real life' I am a Travel Writer, Scriptwriter, After-Dinner Speaker, Entrepreneur and man-about-many-towns who has written and produced television for Fox Networks UK, the UK Sci-Fi Channel and New Zealand animation facility The Funny Farm. I have also edited or contributed to numerous guidebooks, to cities like Buenos Aires, Florence and London - as well as dear old Budapest of course. Between December and February I was Guest Editor at Time Out Beirut. I have also been fortunate enough to write about travel (and whatever else moves me) for True/Slant as 'The Jet-Set Hobo.' Well, it seemed a fun way to sum up what might laughingly be referred to as my lifestyle, and the label has stuck. There are worse appellations, don't you think?

    See my profile »
    Followers: 62
    Contributor Since: November 2008
    Location:The transit lounge

    What I'm Up To

    The Wildcats of Piran

    pirancatIt may seem an odd occupation for a globe-trotting, nightlife loving bachelor, but over the last few months, I’ve been writing a children’s book called The wild cats of Piran. It’s about a colony of feral cats who live in a small medieval town on the Adriatic sea. The book is intended to appeal to very bright 9 year olds and up. The sort of thing a bookish, cat loving adult could enjoy whipping through in a long afternoon sitting in a snug armchair by an open fire. A great believer in letting the work speak for itself, if you’re at all interested, I suggest you contact the author directly, here and I’ll send you the first few chapters as an attachment. Thank you for listening.