The Corner

The Shadow of Uncle Joe

In Impromptus yesterday — the first part of a Prague journal — I talked a bit about music: for there is hardly any city more musical, more music-soaked, than Prague. In today’s column, today’s installment, I mention the metronome: the big old metronome that sits on a hilltop, looming over the city. The arm of this thing goes lazily, inexorably, back and forth, all day long (and all night long?). Prague kids ought to know how to keep time.

Starting in 1956, a huge monument to Stalin occupied this very spot. Then, in 1962, Khrushchev said, “No more Stalin” — and that was that. When the Kremlin spoke, the satellites hopped. But people in Prague still say, “Meet me at Stalin.” They don’t say, “Meet me at the metronome.”

Have you ever heard anything more romantic? You can imagine the whisper from one lover to another: “I’ll see you at Stalin, darling.”

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