As I spoke about some alternative spaces, the situation got slightly better in the last year. JOLANDA was a sort of tiny bar/club ran by a group of students mostly from Slovakia who rented a house for living, which also had a former bar in the ground floor. Except for some acoustic shows there used to take place various thematic evenings, discussions, projections, parties, they planned to open a small info shop there. After a year they had to shut the place down due to a high rent they had to pay, but it seems some new people took over in spite of the money troubles and are going on in a similar vein.
Last spring two older punks/activists from Brno opened a vegan/vegetarian restaurant called VEGALITE where you can get vegan menus and other veggie food during the day. With the evening it turns into a wild bar with projections, discussions, parties, small DIY concerts. Very nice place to go!
But still, this town misses a real DIY space that anyone could get involved with and take an active part in its running. Since summer 2008 a collective of people from various ‘corners’ of the local DIY scene has tried to find some suitable place where they could start this centre. They got a possibility to use a part of an old factory, were negotiating with the owner and getting prepared. At the moment it seems to have gotten to some kind of a standstill. Let’s see what happens with DIY FLEK in the near future. You can get in touch through email@example.com.
And last, but not least, Martino from MAD PIGS has opened a brand new shop in Brno at the beginning of this year. It’s called Voltage Shop and apart from selling music, fanzines and clothes, it should also become a sort of a punx meeting point and info-centre. They also have an e-shop if you wanted to order something. That’s quite cool, cause Lumber’s shop, an older shop in Brno where I used to come and meet people and get great tapes and zines some 9 years ago, has turned into a boring emo-gothic-metal-punkrock boutique.
Fanzines... there are not many of them here and they are mostly written in Czech, so you won’t probably be lucky to read anything... But still… A fixed star is “Hluboka Orba”, made by Filip of SEE YOU IN HELL – after 16 years (since 1993!) It is rather a book than a fanzine – completely excellent reading. 27th issue just came out. Filip also wrote a book mapping out Czechoslovakian punk/hardcore before 1989. It contents also many photos, an exhaustive list of all known recordings and also an English summary.
Miruus (firstname.lastname@example.org, FESTA and RISPOSTA bass player) has his cool fanzine called “Smrt” – third issue came out as a split zine with “ZLO” written by Kuba of MASS GENOCIDE PROCESS. Raw/punk/hardcore/crust... interviews, reviews, reports from gigs... cool cut’n’paste graphics and especially a great style of writing – very clever, but also ironic, funny, sarcastic. I love it!
“Spalena ramena” (‘Burnt shoulders’) is a punk/HC zine done by a Hungarian guy who lives in Brno. His name is Erik and he’s also been publishing a rather metal/grind zine called “Shrunken and mumified”. His new zine is written in English and is really interesting. Contact him at email@example.com.
My fanzine is called “Drunk nach osten!!!” and it’s 100% concerned about East European diy punk/hc. The zero issue was only in Czech, just a long report from the travels of my friend and me around the south-eastern Europe, about meeting punks, going to shows, squats etc… The first regular issue has two language versions – Czech and English one. There are some interviews (DISTRESS/KOMATOZ, FxPxOx/THIS HOME IS PREPARED, ADIEKSODO, reviews, tour reports, lots of lyrics etc…). I’m just finishing the English version of the second issue (you will find it in pdf at http://dno.maskcontrol.com) and I’m more than interested in anyone who gets in touch, shares info about their local scene, helps with distribution (trades are welcome!).
Out of the labels/distros, the biggest one is without any doubt Ultima Ratio which is run by Mirek (SCARTO, KORUBO). He’s released many good and really well-done tapes and vinyls, and has cool records in his distro. The shame is, that he releases most recordings with huge delays... or finally not at all. Lots of (for me usually boring, but sometimes also good) punkrock is being released by Papagajuv Hlasatel Records (www.phr.cz) a full-time “professional” distribution, but still with a nice attitude. Then there’s Hluboka Orba recs.– Filip’s small label releasing only in cooperation with other labels. I’m copying and distributing some zines and stuff that I trade, but there’s not much of it, really. However, if you want to trade something for my zine or whatever, get in touch!
In summer 2008 a compilation LP called “Spalte Brno na prach” (Burn Brno to ashes) was released. It contains 27 unreleased songs from 12 bands from our town: EVIDENCE SMRTI, SEE YOU IN HELL, MAC GYVER, AGE OF DEATH, THE LOUDEST SILENCE NEVER HEARD, FESTA DESPERATO, MAD PIGS, RISPOSTA, PRIPYAT, CORE BASTARDS, REAKCE NA ZMENU and ZEMEZLUC. It contains a huge booklet with info about the bands, local gig organizers, fanzines political activities etc. It was co-released in cooperation of the bands and 14 labels, search for it on the net, someone should have it! Plans are slowly being made for a second number of this compilation.
Some anarcho/eco/animal rights/antifa/etc activities seem to be quite low here at the moment or at least not very obvious. But maybe I’m just not paying enough interest. Food Not Bombs grew up to four more or less independent groups who give away free vegan food every weekend, also NESEHNUTI is still working – local grassroots organization, founded by some local anarchists/punks in the late 90’s, nowadays unfortunately less radical, but still somewhat cool. It is concerned with stuff like human/animal rights, refugees, environment, feminism...
Every year there’s a kind of an outdoor protest movement meeting/street party called “Protestfest”.
The collective around this also organises some other actions during the year. A new small group of animal rights activist appeared, organising protests against fur shops, Christmas fish-eating tradition, etc., organising discussions and projections, publishing flyers…
Talking about the nazi scum… while the situation in the past few years was pretty peaceful here in Brno, it seems to be changing right now. Influenced by their fellows from Germany the Czech nazis have generally adopted the image of what they call “autonomous nationalism”, widely using the tactics of the autonomous/left/anarchist movement. In autumn 2008 a nazi demonstration that was aimed against the local Gypsy community took place in a small Czech town of Litvinov. It ended up in big riots, the cops trying not to let the nazis enter the Gypsy neighbourhood, Gypsies in the streets ready to protect their homes and families from a pogrom, many local people demonstrating alongside with the nazis. To draw a parallel, I’d say that this demo was something like the battle of Seattle for the Czech nazis. Now they seem to have got the feeling of having the power to do “something”. With the upcoming crisis some people in Czech began more hardcore in their attitudes towards Gypsies and immigrants. There is even an official NS political party trying to get into the parliament. In Brno there have also been some attacks by nazis in the last year (one alternative/hippie bar was attacked, some people were beaten on the street, a homemade smoke bomb was thrown to a show in Vegalite that had a Good Night White Pride logo on the poster).
On the other hand, the state is starting to panic and cops are making crazy doubtful raids against Czech nazis, jailing them for nonsense and trying to suppress them with power (= I’m not crying for the nazis, but if cops do this to them, it’s just a question of time, when they do that to anyone else…). Let’s see how this all turns out in the following months.
OK, I hope I didin’t forget anything that was worth mentioning...