laupäev, jaanuar 03, 2009

an encounter with the godfather

Wintertime is the time to be in Lõuna Eesti. Tallinn may have the medieval flavor, kitschy bars, and money-leaking tourists, but Tartu and environs have the winter sports, attractive Olympic gold-winning athletes, and somewhat less-attractive wannabe athletes as well.

Tartu also has the ice and snow, and the strange appearance of the sun during the past few days has meant that young fathers like myself who wish to spend quality time with their daughters have ventured forth, sled in hand, child in tow, to the Tartu Spordipark for some rigorous kelgutamine -- sledding.

All would be well, except yesterday my naine and lapsed had an encounter with Priit Pullerits, the godfather of Estonian journalism, a Postimees editor and columnist who provides his fellow maarahvas with crucial insights into winter sports and integration.

Pullerits, as you may recall, in 2007 raised the important question of why gay rights groups choose to parade down main thoroughfares, rather than gather beside lakes. But yesterday, he had something else on his mind: why were all these abominable tykes on sleds crowding up his cross-country skiing trails!

You see, the Tartu Maraton is just weeks away, and the Tartu Spordipark is the ideal place to train for the marathon, a 63-kilometer test of endurance. Kiddies on sleds may be useful inspiration for those journalists who wish to encourage Estonian population growth or stress the importance of exercise for today's Internet-loving slothful youth, but when the Estonian godfather of journalism straps on his suusad [skis], he means business and y'all better get the hell out of the way.

Fortunately, I wasn't there to witness Pullerits scold the children for interrupting his marathon training, but I did quiz our friend Mart, who was present for the scolding, about it. "So did you fight him?" I asked Mart, a calm man of Seto extraction who teaches nature restoration. "I beg your pardon?" he replied politely. "Did you fight Pullerits when he told you your kids couldn't sled on the course?" I asked again. Mart smiled to himself and responded in the negative.

Today we went back to Tartu Spordipark and were pleased to see that no one had heeded Pullerits' advice to stay completely clear of the cross-country skiing tracks. On the other hand, there were now so many skiiers that the kids and their sleds had migrated to a lone hill unfrequented by would-be Marathon participants. Besides, what responsible parent would let their kid sled in front of a Marathon man like Pullerits anyway? That would be a recipe for disaster.

And though the problem appeared to have been solved -- kids and sleds get their one hill, Pullerits and other ski-heads get the rest of the park -- someone had posted a large red and black sign at the entrance to the Spordipark that proclaimed that sledding on trails designated for skiers was strictly forbidden. "Ah," our friend Helen pointed out when she saw the sign. "I can see that our friend Pullerits has been here."

26 kommentaari:

Vello ütles ...

I'll join your Holy War, Giustino. Had I been there, I would have helped you tackle that sourpuss. Then we'd have given him a couple of brownies before escorting him to the nearest port-a-potty for a thorough swirly.

I still treasure the issue of Eesti Ekspress where they dissected the history of Estonian journalism. 1965 was something like: "Pullerits born; Estonian journalism begins shameful history."

And then there was his classic column about bohemians and how they were the rot of the earth. I wonder if he'd put sledders in that category?

And consider this: they let the man teach.

Kristopher ütles ...

What is the best sledding area in Tartu, anyway? I remember eying the "bowl" around Oru and Von Baeri...

Giustino ütles ...

Kassitoome is for the big {drunk} boys and girls, Kristopher. Tartu Spordipark seems more child friendly.

LPR ütles ...

Letting Pillerputs teach is the same as to letting Savisaar govern - we ain't got nobody else. This is it. The bottom of the barrel has been scraped clean. Its a very small country.

Juhan ütles ...

I remember when some time ago I complained about one of PP-s numerous silly remarks and exclaimed "he is so stupid", then a friend of mine, a physicist, replied "no he's not, he just has a systematic error". His sports blog is occasionally so weird and has become a source for in jokes, "what would pullerits do..?".

However, sledding on or close to ski tracks is needlessly annoyng and dangerous. I guess he has been to America long enough to go and actually complain. I would have kept quiet like a true Estonian and skied on doing my best to avoid accidents.

Giustino ütles ...

My favorite Pulleritsm is that the "majority is oppressed by the minority." There is wisdom in there. Somewhere.

Helen ütles ...

The actual encounter was like this: I was skiing, and Mart was sledging with the kids. All hills were covered with pure ice, only one hill had artificial snow and ski tracks. After my kids had fallen on ice numerous times and my daughter's cheek was bloody, I told my family to come and sledge on snow. Mart came and warned that Pullerits would come and scare us away. But, he said, luckily Pullerits is not here now. 10 seconds later Pullerits passed us and said "Don't sledge here, this is Tartu's only skiing track!". and rushed onto the next round. When he passed me again (he is much faster than I am), I stopped him and said "This is tartu's only sledging hill as well!" (we had been trying Kassitoome, but it was just ice and awful), but he said "Surely you'll find some place else" and went off again, reluctant to start arguing with a young mother.
Sure, let the kids fall into pieces and blood, so that Pullerits could practice for his marathon!

Wv Sky ütles ...

Here in America, (as Giustino well knows) there are always places for skiers, tubers and sledders and snowboarders. These are almost always separated for safety, and there are officials to make sure of that. Considering that there's a local Marathon about to take place in Tartu, I don't see a problem with keeping the kids off the course, at least until the events over. No matter what kind of ass the guy might be, I believe he's in the right on this one.

LPR ütles ...

Wv Sky

You are right but, they do not have such luxury there. No such infrastructure and even if there was there's this particular mindset people have in Estonia that would let them still do whatever the hell they please.

It'll take time before Estonia builds up enough social capital that would allow people to live less stressful lives.

For now, let them enjoy the fruits of freedom. This is what it is. You can walk around drinking from the bottle of Viru Valge and nobody's going to stop you. That's freedom.

A lot of people sang for it.

Sellist eestit me tahtsimegi.

Unknown ütles ...

You can walk around drinking from the bottle of Viru Valge and nobody's going to stop you.

Except those guys with white and blue Škoda Superbs.

Giustino ütles ...

I understand the skiers' frustration. It's the park that has been poorly organized. Pullerits has written about the situation on his blog:

Sprindirada on viimastel päevadel kulutanud ja sõidetamatuks lihvinud emad-isad, kes toovad lapsi sinna kelgutama. Lisaks on laste vahel ohtlik suusatada. Mida võiks ette võtta, et hoida kelgutajad suusaradadelt eemale? Kas oleks mõeldav panna üles keelavad märgid?

Tähtvere spordipark on avalikuks kasutamiseks mõeldud, me ei saa piirata kelgutajate õigusi viibida spordipargis. Loodame külmale, et toota ka kelgumäe lumi. Seniks saame kelgutajaid teavitada ohtudest suusarajal kelgutamisest ning panna üles sildid, mis keelavad suusaradadel kelgutamise. Täna andsime tellimuse infotahvlite jaoks.

Juhan ütles ...

Indeed, the park officials do not seem to be the brightest people of all. For today they have produced quite a lot of artificial snow so the skiers and others do not need to occupy the same space anymore. But while achieving this they have completely blocked one loop on the ski track with a big pile of snow. This effectively reduces the track length to about 600 metres and now it feels like you're skiing on a carousel.

Helen ütles ...

JUst a comment: the marathon is not going to take place on these tracks, but miles and miles and miles away!
Of course Pullerits is right in a way, but we a talking about specific conditions: every hill in Tartu is covered with ice, except for that one small hill with artificial snow. Besides, on that day there were 2 more skiers besides Pullerits and me, and a whole lot more kids (including Justin's family). The next day the problem was solved, because they had produced artificial snow on another hill as well.
We are not talking about principles, but about very specific weather conditions and the will to tolerate each other in these conditions.

LPR ütles ...

Heart-warming news from my hometown:

A town where there's so much love in the air that it often clouds the reasoning.

Wv Sky ütles ...

It'll take time before Estonia builds up enough social capital that would allow people to live less stressful lives. For now, let them enjoy the fruits of freedom.

Trust me, the more social capitol the more stress and the less freedom. I feel much more free in Estonia than I do here in the U.S. And that includes the time I got stopped outside of Tartu and forced to give a breathalyzer test. I had no issue with the test whatsoever. The REALLY cute officer was pleasant and she went on her way, as did I.

Kyberviiking ütles ...

On this one, Mr. P. is not "right in a way", but completely right.

For sledders (and snowboarders and ATV-owners with or without children)- stay away from the ski tracks.

The primary reason for this is that the preparation of ski tracks takes a lot of hard work, especially if there is a snow problem. Sledding destroys the tracks. Besides, there are a lot of places suitable for sledding, but only a few places were proper skiing tracks can be maintained.

The second reason - and perhaps more convincing for non-skiers - is that it is dangerous. If a skier, coming down a slope with only a reasonable speed, collides with a small child...well, in Helen's words "kids fall into pieces and blood."

I have seen such incidents. An experienced skier will in most cases be able to sacrifice itself and save the child. But this not so always and there are also non-experienced skiers about. Actually in this situation my sympathy lies with the skier, a little with the unfortunate child, but not even a bit with the child's usually very arrogant parents.

Helen, the skiing tracks are actually made for skiers (as railways for trains, skating-rinks for skaters etc).

This discussion was lively a few years ago in Tallinn, where the Nõmme and Pirita skiing tracks got massively clogged and destroyed by parents and their lovely offspring. Naturally, no one dares to argue with young mothers. But after some nasty accidents (blood, broken bones, poles and skis from the skiers' side, hysteric mothers from the kid side mostly), the sledders have wisely retreated to the designated sledding slopes, some other places or learned to ski.

This is exactly about principles. You do not steal, drive drunk, smoke in smoke-free areas, park on the slots for the handicapped and sled on ski tracks. Teach these to your children. Civilize them. Buy them skis.

Kristopher ütles ...

If I were Pullerits, I would invest in a pair of those roller-skis.

And if they have trouble making snow for one trail, how do they plan to hold the marathon?

Kristopher ütles ...

As for real skiing, it's called the countryside. Look into it. The snow map shows 20 cm snow cover south of Võru.

Mingus ütles ...

It's a bar. You should be able to smoke in bars if you want to. Parents should also be allowed to take their kids to bars without them inhaling smoke. So what do you do? Have a smoking section, or allow smoking after a certain time. If the city can't organize the park in the proper way, they need to deal with it and Pullerits needs to understand that until they do, he's gotta' deal with kids or go somewhere else. I've never understood people who train for a marathon on a track.

Juhan ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Doris ütles ...

Just because it's Pullerits, I want to say that he's wrong. Because... even if he is right he has a way of expressing himself that is so abrasive that you just want to bash his head in for good measure. Take some creative writing and proper Estonian lessons and get rid of that horrible facial hair!

As for sleighing and hills, there used to be the Lillem2gi in Karlova, only last I heard they were planning some real estate development there so don't know if it's still sleighable (I just go on and on inventing words and then go and yell at people for not speaking/writing properly. yes, I'm a hypocrite)

Kristopher ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Kristopher ütles ...

Yeah, the "sleighs" and "sledges" would appear to be out (heavy enough to flatten a skier plus someone would have to pick up the dog or horse poop). Kids on "sleds" on the other hand would be in. :P

Giustino ütles ...

For sledders (and snowboarders and ATV-owners with or without children)- stay away from the ski tracks.

They are not clearly demarcated at the Tartu Spordipark, and, as Pullerits himself found out, the park is open to anyone, even small uncivilized children, their sleds, and hysterical mothers :)

This discussion was lively a few years ago in Tallinn ... But after some nasty accidents (blood, broken bones, poles and skis from the skiers' side, hysteric mothers from the kid side mostly)

That's just Tallinn. A crowd of people there can't gather without mass looting and carnage. It's the spirit of the city.

This is exactly about principles.

An Estonian undoubtedly wrote this line.

Well, I didn't write this piece to slime Pullerits. It was meant to illustrate how regular outings in Estonia bring you into close contact with relatively known personalities. You can judge the godfather for yourself.

LPR ütles ...

This is true, G. In Estonia everyone is a relatively known personality.

Compare this for a moment with the reality in US. How long would have it taken for you to get your mug on TV here?

Other than standing in a crowd of plump midwesterners hollering behind the studio windows of NBC (or is it ABC), it would take years of hard work, talent, unbelievable stroke of luck or gross misfortune to get your image displayed in the idiot box.

Bäckman ütles ...

Pulletits is on the tube, too?

I never heard a this guy, neither could I find anyting online.