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żyć na kocią łapę Jason Gold


‘Żyć na kocią łapę’ – to live on the cat’s paw, or in sin, as we say in the United States, is the perfect old Polish idiom to illustrate in words what this book itself shows in photographs: that the capital city of Warsaw, to put it mildly, is a paradox. While the life of Poles has changed dramatically over the past twenty years or so, there is still a striking sense in Warsaw of a nation desperately clinging to its old ways. With the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 and Poland joining the European Union in 2004, one can only imagine the challenges (and changes) the average Polish citizen has faced over the last twenty years, and this is evident in the landscape. As well, Poland is one of the only EU countries that will post economic growth in 2008 and the country receives huge financial subsidies in a myriad of areas – money which the country actually has a hard time spending. The tension between Warsaw’s tumultuous past and it’s blossoming future is evident on every street corner. While strolling Warsaw’s streets, there is no possible way to avoid the shards (or edifices) of history all around you. The city is filled with more memorials than an army could count on their fingers and toes. If you spend any time in the city’s authentically rebuilt Old Town, you cannot help but be impressed by the damage that World War II caused. And yet, while the older generations seem to almost be mired in their history, there is a young generation that has created a thriving subculture that could compete with the ‘scene’ in New York or London. The youth take full advantage of their opportunity to freely travel all over Europe – and this makes a distinct impression on this subculture. As well, EU funds provide stimulus for amazing projects that the hipsters possess in such a way as to make Warsaw really über-cool. All in all, the city is crazy – from sipping coffee in a café located in a stillruined WWII building to grabbing some Vietnamese noodles next to a sex shop to visiting the Umschlagplatz in the former Jewish ghetto to wiping the sweat off one’s brow at 5 am while dancing to electro-pop, Warsaw seems to be the most interesting city I have yet had the pleasure of visiting.

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National Theater

Stare Miasto, Warsaw’s Old Town

Stare Miasto, Warsaw’s Old Town

Klub 55, Pałac Kultury: Palace of Culture

Klub Obiekt Znaleziony: Found Object

Klub Obiekt Znaleziony: Found Object

Koneser Vodka Factory: Culture and Arts Center, Praga

Amy Winehouse at Koneser

Toys for Adults, Koneser

Karma Coffee House, Plac Zbawiciela


SZTUCZNY: Artificial, Zachęta National Gallery of Art

“We are promptly giving the keys back to the coatroom.” Graffiti at Koneser

Plac Zamkowy, Stare Miasto

Police Officers Marching on Poland’s Indepence Day, November 11

Monument to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of WWII

Klub 55, Pałac Kultury: Palace of Culture

Stare Miasto

“We leash our dogs... and our cats?”

Ordynacka Street

Warsaw Jewish Ghetto Monument


Dzień niepodległości: Independence Day

Bar Klaps, Pawilony

Winnie the Pooh Street

Automaty do Gry: Slot Machines, Praga

The President’s Ball, National Theater

Carrefour, Praga

Carrefour, Praga

Still remembering Pope John Paul II

Kombatanci 10% zniżki, War Veterans get 10% off at Księgarnia Warszawa, Warsaw Bookstore

Metro Świetokrzyska


Thanks Magda.


Zyc na kocia lape  

Photographs taken in Warsaw, Poland

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