Czech the News

Volume VIII
No. 5
May 2000

Resolution on Human Rights in Cuba Adopted

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva passed on April 18 a resolution on the human rights situation in Cuba sponsored by the Czech Republic and Poland. The resolution was supported by 21 countries, with 18 votes against it and 14 abstentions.

The Czech Republic acted out of the recognition that the status of human rights in Cuba has not improved since the adoption of last year's resolution. No political prisoners were released last year, and to the contrary, the number of sentenced, indicted, detained and harassed critics of the Cuban regime and peace activists has actually increased. The Czech Republic therefore deemed it necessary, in the spirit of the continuity of its policies, to revisit the human rights situation in Cuba.

The statement issued by the Czech Foreign Ministry on April 19 stresses that "the Czech Republic was not motivated in its effort by enmity towards the Cuban people. To the contrary, we see the resolution as an offer of a dialogue with Cuban authorities that would be conducive to the improvement in the human rights situation there. We are convinced that the Czech Republic's experience from the democratization of its political system can provide an inspiration for the search of a suitable model for Cuba."

The Czech Republic also welcomes the efforts of numerous countries to engage in a dialogue with Cuba, to lead the island nation from its isolation and to take concrete steps aimed at alleviating the economic hardship suffered by the Cuban people.

President Vaclav Havel said in a statement that "the aim of the resolution is not to strengthen the spirit of confrontation and intolerance. Rather we want to make clear that the problem of human rights in Cuba can only be solved by a cooperative attitude based on dialogue and the cooperation of democratic countries."

The United States welcomed the vote. "The Czech Republic and Poland deserve the thanks of all free individuals for drawing attention to the growing seriousness of the human rights situation in Cuba. Their tireless efforts to secure passage of this important resolution once again demonstrate their profound commitment to democracy and their deep conviction that human rights are inalienable and universal," Assistant Secretary of State Harold Hongju Koh and Nancy Rubin, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, said in a statement.

In front of the Czech Embassy in Havana, over 100,000 people took part in a protest march organized by the Cuban government. In a five-hour television discussion staged by the Castro regime and attended by the Cuban President, Czech diplomats in Havana were accused of fomenting "subversive activities" and of plotting and encouraging internal counter-revolution in the country. These accusations were dismissed by the Czech Foreign Ministry.

In contrast with official representatives, Cuban dissidents welcomed the Czech initiative with gratitude, as the "situation in Cuba in the area of civic and political rights justifies this type of international control," leading Cuban dissident and Chairman of the Cuban Commission for the Protection of Human Rights and National Reconciliation, Elizardo Sanchez, said.

Message from the Ambassador

Dear Readers:

On April 18, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in Geneva voted to condemn violations of basic human rights and freedoms in Cuba. In a move similar to last year's, the Commission acted on a resolution submitted jointly by representatives of the Czech Republic and Poland.

I believe that it is obvious why Czech diplomacy has been engaged in the active defense of human rights around the world: we remember that the democratic revolutions of 1989 would not have been possible without the support and solidarity our dissidents and activists received from the governments of the United States and other countries. We likewise remember that repressive regimes are prone to change only under sustained pressure from both within and without.

It is for this reason that Czech diplomacy has maintained communication with Cuban human rights activists, just as U.S. and other Western diplomats in Prague did with us during the Communist era. The Cuban regime understands this all too well, judging from the mass protest rally it organized in front of our embassy in Havana, and from the furious denunciations on their television of the Czech Republic in general and the staff of our embassy in Havana in particular.

The emotionally charged cause of Elián Gonzalez has added to the exceptional difficulty of diplomatic maneuvering in Geneva. Castro's regime propagandistically exploited this tragic situation, ignoring Elián's mother's motivation for taking him to the U.S. in the first place, an act which ended in her own untimely death. However, I believe that now, with Elián's father having arrived in the U.S., it is time to let the child return home, provided this is where his father truly wants his family to live. A person's decision concerning whether or not to emigrate should certainly be respected - that is a part of freedom, too. Let us hope that Elián will not live his whole life under a dictatorship. From our experience, the best way to help lies in encouraging contacts and dialogue. Isolation only shields dictatorships from necessary changes, while openness eventually erodes them.


Foreign Minister Visits California

Foreign Minister Jan Kavan visited Los Angeles and San Francisco on April 10 - 15. Visits of European politicians are less frequent on the West Coast, and Minister Kavan used this opportunity in full to inform about the current developments in the Czech Republic and to present the investment opportunities that are currently available. Minister Kavan addressed a forum organized by the Los Angeles World Affairs Council and spoke about the Czech foreign policy and the EU enlargement at UCLA. He met with the editorial board of Los Angeles Times. Minister Kavan also visited The Getty Museum, which cooperates on some projects in the Czech Republic, notably the renovation of a fresco on the souther facade of the St. Vitus cathedral at the Prague Castle.

In San Francisco Minister Kavan spoke at Hoover Institution, where he was introduced by the noted historian Timothy Garton Ash. Then he had a lunch with selected Hoover and Stanford University scholars including former Secretary of State George Schulz and Stanford provost Condoleezza Rice, adviser to presidential candidate George W. Bush. Minister Kavan, accompanied by the director of the Czechinvest, the government agency promoting investment opportunities in the Czech Republic, proceeded to Silicon Valley, where he visited the headquarters of Intel and talked with the company's top executives.

Minister Kavan also met with other business leaders, representatives of the Czech community, and other personalities of the Bay area, including the poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, whom he visited in his famed City Lights bookstore. This successful visit undoubtedly raised the profile of the Czech Republic among the important players in California's largest cities.

Ambassador Alexandr Vondra in Texas

Ambassador Alexandr Vondra visited Texas on April 5 - 7. During his meetings in Houston and San Antonio he promoted business opportunities in the Czech Republic. He had productive meetings with the representatives of the companies El Paso Energy, Reliant Energy, and SBC International, among others. Among the social highlights of the Ambassador's visit was the reception given by Houston Mayor Lee P. Brown, where Ambassador was joined by Captain Eugene Cernan, U.S. astronaut who is of Czech origin. Pictured here is Ambassador Vondra with Houston Mayor Lee P. Brown (right) and Ray Snokhous, Czech Honorary Consul in Houston.

News Digest

Yes, they had cars in Czechoslovakia - Czech Technology on Display

The Czech and Slovak National Museum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, opened a new exhibition on April 29 titled Czech Technology in Motion. It features Tatra and Skoda cars, motorcycles, bicycles trains and other exhibits that attest to the high level of technological prowess that Czechs reached during the first half of the last century. Among the leading attractions are the pictured 1947 Tatra T 87, from the product line of one of the first mass-produced aerodynamic cars ever, and a 1929 Cechie - a 10-foot long, single cylinder motorcycle that seats four. The exhibition runs through October 1.

profile: Charles A. Vanik

In 1973, a serious discussion started in the U.S. Congress on what would be an effective way to push the Soviet Union into allowing more freedom of emigration for persecuted people. The crucial role in the final decision-making had to be played by Charles A. Vanik, a congressman of Czech origin.

Vanik was born on April 7, 1913 in Cleveland, Ohio's east side community. His grandparents emigrated from Rokycany near Pilsen at the end of the 19th century, and established a butcher shop in Cleveland. He studied law; his first political involvement began when he was elected to the Cleveland City Council. During WW II Vanik served in the U.S. Navy in both the European and Pacific theaters.

After serving in the Cleveland Municipal Court from 1947 to 1954, Vanik became interested in seeking election to the U.S. Congress. In his people-oriented campaign, he defeated Robert Crosser, one of the highest ranking members of Congress. Consumer-oriented questions as well as decent and affordable housing were key issues throughout Vanik's Congressional career. However, he soon also focused on international financial questions.

Vanik became deeply involved in the election of President John F. Kennedy and served in the House as one of his closest legislative friends. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, his vote provided the majority to pass the historic Medicare Law, the backbone of all health care insurance for the elderly and disabled population of the country.

His first visit to Czechoslovakia was in 1956, after which time he visited the country almost every year, including 1968, the year of the Russian invasion. During his visits he always met a small group of dissidents, and tried to stop the Czechoslovak government from mistreating the freedom-loving people.

The same commitment for freedom and democracy led him to the most important legislation of his career, the Jackson - Vanik amendment to the Trade Act of 1974. Vanik prepared the first draft in the House of Representatives, while the Senate version of the bill was sponsored by Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson. These amendments were used to keep the trade opportunities of the Soviet Union open under certain conditions. The law became a firm section of world trade legislation, extremely significant in Eastern Europe, Israel, the Middle East, and more recently in China.

In the mid 1980s, after spending 32 years in Congress, Charles Vanik decided to retire from public service. In 1995 President Havel awarded Charles Vanik with the T.G. Masaryk Order, an award named after the man who served as a model for Vanik's productive progressive political career committed to justice for all, decency in policy making, and the durability of the laws he created.

We wish to thank Mr. Mark Talisman for providing materials for this article

Rebel Conquers America

On a sunny day in 1996 in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, Robert Neuner sat on the beach with his Czech friend from Fordham Business School in New York, Petr Bohacek, and considered the possibilities of importing from the Czech Republic. They considered the American market and decided they were looking for a product with a competitive price and within the financial reach of the two young businessmen. But above all they wanted a product the Czechs have perfected. Their answer - beer.

Anyone who knows anything about beer knows that some of the best comes from the Czech Republic. But in 1996, the only Czech beer recognized on the American market was Pilsner Urquell. Neuner and Bohacek started researching American beer distributors and Czech breweries and in the end their company, Czech Beer Importers, Inc., agreed to import from Lobkowicz Brewery in Vysoky Chlumec. Neuner then started the six-month process of applying for an importer's license that included an interview with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms (BATF) in Washington DC. Once the license was approved, it was another six months before the first bottle of Lobkowicz rolled into the United States.

Neuner initially started by introducing the beer in small shops and supermarkets, but the sales never reached the levels he had expected. Most consumers found the taste too sweet and the price too high. In the meantime, Neuner and Bohacek kept their eyes open for other Czech beers that had potential for American distributors. In March of 1998 at the Pivex trade fair in Brno, Bohacek met with representatives from Mestansky Brewery of Havlickuv Brod, the producers of Rebel beer. This was the beginning of a very prosperous relationship. "Right away we had a very different feeling," recalls Neuner. In his experience, many Czech companies harbored a mistrust of foreign businessmen, an outlook that made cooperation difficult, but with Rebel he found himself dealing with a company that was much more open, forward-looking, and most importantly, a company that wanted the business.

This attitude made all the difference. US sales of Rebel in the first quarter of this year have already seen an increase of 150% over the first quarter of last year. Neuner hopes that by the end of this year they will be importing 12,000 hectoliters into eleven states of the US, a significant increase from the 5,570 hectoliters that were brought to the US in 1999. Another factor that has been critical for the beer's growth in the US has been Bohacek's position in the Czech Republic. With his partner based in Prague, Neuner can focus his energies on developing the US market, without worrying about ordering, marketing, packaging and product research in the Czech Republic.

Rebel's good fortune will not stop Neuner and Bohacek from bringing other Czech beers to the US as well. This May, Rebel-Garnet, an amber beer, will be hitting the American market, and the company hopes to be importing Hostan from Znojmo by this summer. There are also plans to import draft beer. Neuner and Rebel may just be at the beginning, but so far they are on the right path.

Czech Republic Introduces VAT Reimbursement

Beginning April 1, the Czech Republic permits Value Added Tax (VAT) reimbursement to all foreign visitors who export goods outside the country. The refund applies to every purchased item valued at over 1,000 CZK. The goods must be exported within 30 days of the date of purchase. All exports must be certified by customs officials upon departure from the country on special forms, which may be obtained at retail shops, customs offices, and travel agents. The reimbursement must be claimed at the same retailer which sold the goods, in person or using specialized agencies, within 6 months of the date of purchase. For more information, our Embassy suggests that all interested parties contact their travel agents in sufficient time before their departure for the Czech Republic.

Upcoming Telecom Sales Raise Expectations

The sales of 51 percent stakes in the telecommunication companies Cesky Telecom and Ceske radiokomunikace are generally expected to bring increased revenues to the state treasury. Prime Minister Milos Zeman predicted in his late-March state of the economy speech that total income from remaining privatization should reach 500 billion CZK (13.2 billion USD). That amount represents nearly the entire state budget for the year 2000.

The government originally expected to get 93 billion CZK for the 51 percent stake in Cesky Telecom, but now it estimates that the amount will increase to twice as much. An extra bonus for the telecom companies' privatization is expected, as the government changed the privatization project of Ceske radiokomunikace and decided to sell the majority stake as a whole.

The Prime Minister's declaration inspired mixed reactions among Czech securities market specialists. However, according to some of them, the privatization gains could amount to between 300 billion and 500 billion CZK, with energy and gas distribution companies, and some 10 percent to 30 percent majority bonuses as well.

The telecom and broadcasting company Ceske radiokomunikace in 1999 made a net profit of 607 million CZK, the major part of which came from its subsidiary, mobile-phone operator RadioMobil. Ceske radiokomunikace accepted an offer from Deutsche Telekom on March 30 to increase the company's share in RadioMobil to up to 60.8 percent next year. Deutsche Telekom agreed to pay 765 million USD (29 billion CZK) for this increase. Deutsche Telekom has also expressed an interest in a stake in Ceske radiokomunikace. Cesky Telecom made a 6 billion CZK profit in 1999, a 13 percent increase from the previous year. It owns a majority of Eurotel, the biggest Czech mobile operator, and monopolizes fixed-line services. The decision about a majority owner should be made by the end of this year. The National Property Fund has appointed J.P. Morgan as the consultant for the Cesky Telecom privatization.

KB Gets A Makeover And A New CEO

Several weeks ago, before naming a new CEO last week, the Czech Republic's largest banking institution Komercni Banka (KB) committed itself to a 55 million CZK internal restructuring project. The plan, engineered by longtime consultant McKinsey & Co. is, however, likely to meet with close scrutiny from incoming chairman Radovan Vavra, whose mandate involves preparing the last major state-owned banking institution for privatization as early as this year. Mr. Vavra is a former Citibank manager. The project should turn the bank around in the sense that it was losing clients and market share due to scandals reported in the media. KB would not disclose the methods that the bank expects to use during the three-month project, but according to industry experts, it can go only in two directions: cutting costs, such as personnel, and increasing earnings. Critics also attack the bank for commissioning such a costly consulting job just when any prospective investor should be approving projects of this kind. The second-largest Czech bank, Ceska Sporitelna, which was sold to Austrian Erste Bank earlier this year, paid significantly less for a similar restructuring project carried out by Deloitte & Touche, media pointed out.

Czech OnLine Seen As Leading Czech ISP

Czech OnLine, acquired by the soon-to-be privatized Telekom Austria, is the largest Czech Internet Service Provider (ISP), a survey showed. The poll, conducted by Sofres Factum, said 33 percent of the surveyed Internet users were connected through Czech OnLine, which runs Video OnLine, the first free Czech ISP launched last year. Fixed-line monopoly Cesky Telecom's ISP Internet Online ranked second most popular with 27 percent of the market, the poll showed. In third position was Dutch World OnLine with 10 percent. The agency said the survey, the first in what should develop into a regular quarterly Internet market watch, also showed that the local site was the best known portal among Czech users. Three-fifths of users have also shopped online, it said.

Business Digest

Booknote: The Coasts of Bohemia

The Coasts of Bohemia, by Derek Sayer, Professor of Sociology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, offers an unusual and refreshing perspective on Czech history. It focuses not on the political history, but rather on the history of culture and also on what might be dubbed the history of history - how Czechs viewed their history and to what uses they put it. Sayer provides a unique perspective benefitting from distance, as well as familiarity with contemporary theory. His book can be recommended not just to readers interested in all things Czech, but also to students of nationalism.

The image of Bohemia in Western imagination went through many mutations, from the Bohemia of Shakespeare to which the book's title alludes, to Neville Chamberlain's infamous "faraway country" inhabited by peoples "of whom we know nothing." But Czechs themselves have dreamed or created various contours of their country. Sayer notes that the crown jewels of Czech kings are described in exhibition catalogues as a "national cultural memorial symbolizing the centuries-old tradition of the Czech state," or as belonging "to the most precious historical and artistic artifacts of our nation." Which state, and whose nation, Sayer asks, as he explores the grounding of modern Czech identity in the recaptured past.

Often there have been several incongruous Bohemias living alongside one another, notable among them the Bohemia of Czechs and the Bohemia of Germans, proceeding in increasing mutual exclusion until the cataclysmic resolution of the Second World War. Sayer is exceptionally good at describing the role of artists and intellectuals in creating the image of the Czech nation that eventually became the official mythology of the interwar Czechoslovakia. But that time saw also the emergence of another Bohemia - forward-looking, modern and cosmopolitan, enamored of everything avant-garde. It was well connected to modern movements from Bauhaus to surrealism, and considered itself to be decisively part of the West, although it remains largely unknown in the West today - a nice proposal for an exhibition lurks under the surface of his text. This modern Bohemia was also pervasively left-wing, which many of its protagonists came to regret bitterly after the Communist takeover of 1948. Just like the Soviets, Czech Communists were not interested in avant-garde. The mythology of the National Awakening with its parochial stress on "the people" proved to be a more pliant material for them.

Sayer treats Czechs critically. He describes all their foibles and delusions, not sparing even the most revered personalities. Yet he remains sympathetic even as he opens some of the more controversial chapters of Czech history, hot topics of debate among Czechs. The Coasts of Bohemia is a valuable contribution to this debate.

Originally published in 1998, The Coasts of Bohemia has just been reissued in paperback by Princeton University Press.

Review: First-class Entertainment

On cold, rainy nights, there is surely nothing better than to find a good friend -- someone who will not only understand you, but make you laugh at your problems and give you the courage to continue. And that's what the audience found during Jan Burian's presentation at the Czech embassy on April 18, 2000.

Burian belongs to an illustrious family of Czech entertainers. He is the grand-nephew of Emil Frantisek Burian, founder of the avant-garde theater D 34, playwright, composer and author. Thus it is not surprising that he is completely at ease on stage; he welcomed latecomers as naturally as if inviting them into his own home. And soon the audience did feel at home, in a comfortable mood, completely receptive to Burian's witty songs and wry jokes. One began to understand why jesters were valued by kings. Burian's imaginative, acute sense of humor has a marvelous effect even in print or in recordings. However, its impact is much stronger in a personal appearance, because his disarming grin and cherubic appearance throw one off one's guard, and the punch line comes as unexpectedly as a cream pie in the face in slapstick comedy.

As the show went on, one gradually became aware of Burian's adroitness and theatrical skill. Although he seemed to be improvising the entire show, there was no wasted motion. Every gesture evoked a response; every word was perfectly timed and conveyed for maximum effect. As he accompanied himself on the piano, he effortlessly slipped in sophisticated rhythmic patterns and complex jazz nuances, not for their own sake, but to provide subtle support for the mood which he was projecting. The cliche "art which conceals art" took on fresh significance here.

He jokingly described his material as belonging to the Prague folk tradition. With puckish gravity, he then compared Prague folklore to New York City folklore, and Moravian folklore to Washington folklore. But he did actually demonstrate a fact which surely is part of the tradition of his own family: the vigorous folk spirit of the Czech lands engenders art forms which persevere, even thrive in adversity. By mutating to fit time and circumstance, these art forms continue to give heart to artists as well as audiences.

Judith Fiehler

Czech Artist of the Month

Introduced by Projekt Praha 2000 by Chad Wyatt

PETR NIKL (1960) is an all-round artist who alternates between painting and installation, poetry, art theater, and experimentation of every kind. A member of the group of artists known as the Stubborns (Tvrdohlaví), since 1995 Nikl has belonged to the Mehedaha theater workshop (the name being a command to an elephant in Swahili), and frequently takes part in improvised performances with them, spontaneously combining visual with musical and theatrical elements. His paintings are inspired by the techniques of the old masters, such as Giotto, Breughel and Fra Angelico, and his consciously infantile subject-matter seems to derive from his determination never to grow old. Nikl deliberately situates his works in the world of the child, the world through the looking glass, on the grounds that real experience can only be expressed metaphorically. In 1995, Nikl received the prestigious Jindrich Chalupecky Prize. In conjunction with that award, the Prague publisher Divus brought out a creative book by him, in which his work is explained to children. Nikl is one of the most important artistic figures of his generation, not only because of his persevering search for apt visual expression, but also on account of his deep commitment to art. Petr Nikl will appear at the Czech Embassy with his theater project on May 31, 2000.

Czech Events around the USA

Czech Center New York
1109 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10028
Tel: (212) 288-0830 Fax: (212) 288-0971
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, 9 am - 5 pm Thursday 9 am - 7 pm
For schedule of events visit Czech Center' website at

The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library Cedar Rapids, Iowa

May 5-7: Three-day motorcoach trip to the Festival of Nations, St. Paul, Minn. Itinerary includes the Vesterheim Museum and the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah; Rochester, Minn.; the Festival of Nations, St. Paul; Fort Snelling, St. Paul;. Rates based on single, double, triple or quad room groupings.

May 8: Kava a Knihy (Coffee and Books) Reading Discussion Series, 7-9 pm "Babicka," by Bozena Nemcova. Free.

May 17: Learn at Lunch. Bob Stone of Cedar Rapids will discuss Tomas G. Masaryk: 1919-1937. Bring a sack lunch and learn about Masaryk, the George Washington of Czechoslovakia. Noon. Heritage Hall. Free.

May 19: Premiere of the film, "Dvorak and America." 7 pm Wilson Middle School, 2301 J Street SW, Cedar Rapids. The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, 30 16th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Call (319) 362-8500 for tickets and information.

May 20 and 21: Houby Days celebration in Czech Village and at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Call (319) 362-8500 for information. May 21: Red Cedar Chamber Music. "Celebrating Czech Heritage with Chamber Music." 4:30 pm The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, 30 16th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Call (319) 362-8500 for information.

May 28: Sunday Lifelong Learning Series. 2 pm Free. Heritage Hall. June 21: Learn at Lunch. In conjunction with the museum's summer exhibit, "Czech Technology in Motion," Don Pulkrab presents, "Wheels in Motion: Biking for Fitness and Fun." Bring a sack lunch and learn about biking for recreation, bicycle care and bike trails and events. Noon. Heritage Hall. Free.


May 6+7 During this year's Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema a recent Czech film "Cozy Dens" will have its Philadelphia premiere. The film will be screened at the Rity 5 Cinema located at Second and Walnut Streets in the Society Hill section of Center City Philadelphia, 1 block West of I-95. Show dates and times: Saturday, May 6, 2000 at 3:30 P.M., and Sunday, May 7, 2000 at 7:30 P.M.

May 9 On the occasion of the National Holiday of the Czech Republic the Hon. Consulate of the Czech Republic in Philadelphia will present the documentary film "The Artists' Revolution". The film will be shown at the Blue Bell, PA branch of the Wissahickon Valley Public Library located at 650 Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, PA, on Tuesday, May 9, 2000 at noon. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Peter A. Rafaeli, Hon. Consul General in Philadelphia. The cooperation of Mr. David J. Roberts, Library Director is herewith gratefully acknowledged. Admission is free. For info call 215.646.7777 or the library at 215.643.1320.

May / June The Heller Gallery in NYC presents Czech glasmakers Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtova. 420 W. 14th St., NY. Tel.: (212) 414-4014.

Uz Jsme Doma North American Tour

On Thursday, May 25, the avant-garde Czech rock band Uz Jsme Doma will kick off a 39-day tour of the U.S. and Canada at the Knitting Factory in New York City to promote its latest album.On July 6, 1985, the avant-garde Czech rock band Uz Jsme Doma held its first concert (illegally, of course, in communist Czechoslovakia) on a riverboat in Prague. In celebration of this anniversary, and to promote its recent release, Ears, UJD is embarking on a mammoth six week tour of North America. Since forming in the small Czechoslovakian border town of Teplice in 1985, Uz Jsme Doma has weathered the tyranny of Communism, numerous line-up changes, and relentless touring, including performances in war-torn Bosnia. The band's music, through a juxtaposition of the beautiful and ugly, familiar and strange, aims to provoke the listener to feel something genuine and new; in the famous words of one of the band's inspirations, Franz Kafka, to be "an axe for the frozen sea inside us."

For tour dates, contact Carl Hanni at Mod Media, 520-432-4493, For copies of Ears, please contact Patrick O'Donnell at Skoda Records, 202-547-8006,