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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

All hail Zuby Nehty, guardians of Weird Music forever 🤘

Today I wrote about the odyssey of the second (and first) times I saw Zuby Nehty, one of my favorite bands. In the story, I describe them as "Operation Ivy meets They Might Be Giants," which I realize is a bit of an insider name-drop. (I try to avoid mentioning too many obscure bands, unless of course I'm writing about them, since some reviewers complained when Goldbergs came out that I was too punk-rock with my band knowledge. But here, I think it's ok.)

This happened almost 20 years ago, and I'm startled I remember this much. As with all nonfiction, I'm nervous that it means more to me than it ever could mean to anyone else. But that's why I'm sharing it, I guess. Here's how I found out about Zuby Nehty, and part of why I love them so much.

A Concert at the End of Prague

For a year I lived in Prague. I was living deep in the middle of my own thoughts, desperately wanting to find my own inner Kafka, kind of suspecting that even Kafka didn’t really want to find his inner Kafka. Eastern Europe appealed to me, part because of its historical Judaism, part because it was just so damn vampiric.
I signed up for a study-abroad program — because my American school didn’t have a program available in the country, I enrolled directly in the Czech foreign-student program. Several students from another program were on my flight, a more lavish American program, staying in dorms that faintly resembled hotel rooms. We were housed in the more modest Czech student dorms, a fake-wooden-paneled Communist affair with mattresses stuffed with sawdust and a single receptionist posted at the door — the same blank-faced woman sat there, day and night — who did not know, or steadfastly refused, to speak English.
We were a motley crew: a handful of Americans, one or two representatives from an assortment of European countries, and several Finns. Weirdly, they all were Czechophiliacs, knowledgeable in both the country’s history and its contemporary culture, as though a whole gang of the coolest kids in Helsinki’s premier art school all climbed on a plane one day and, to their mutual surprise, found that they’d all bought tickets for the same place. 

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