- oktoober 3, 2011
Read Part One here: 6 characters I see every day on the Tallinn trolley
The Skunk smells like he slept in a septic tank but ironically waited to soil himself until just before he stepped on the trolley. I’ve seen entire trolley cars on the busy morning commute empty because of one skunk in the bank, seemingly oblivious to the fact that his stench is so offensive that people would rather be late to work than endure 20 minutes of smelling it.
The worst part about The Skunk is that there’s no way of appealing to him (or her). What do you say? “Please shower vigorously and burn the clothes you’re wearing before stepping on public transport again.” If the sight of people gagging and covering their noses can’t convince The Skunk that he needs to re-think his personal hygiene regimen, a few kind words won’t be effective, either.
There have been a few times on the trolley that I’ve spotted a young girl decked out in designer clothes from head to toe, texting furiously on a fake-jewel-encrusted iPhone, storing huge bug-eye sunglasses atop her bleached-blonde hair and asked myself, “Did Paris Hilton move to Tallinn?”
Obviously the answer is no – because Paris Hilton would never ride public transport. If the sign of a male rullnokk is to spend all of one’s money on a fancy car and live at home with one’s parents, then the sign of a female rullnokk is to spend all of one’s money on fancy clothes and ride the trolley between Mustamäe and Kesklinn every day. The Socialite appears to be the nucleus of a large social circle, constantly sending and receiving text messages that must certainly relate to tonight’s massive party. But if you could see The Socialite’s phone you’d realize that she’s simply chatting with SMS Laen, “earning” money for a new pair of shoes.
The Transporter has to move his stuff — and what better way to do so than to haul it onto public transport and get in everyone’s way? The Transporter clambers onto the trolley with multiple bags full of what look like knick-knacks from his living room: framed pictures taken in the 1950s, DVDs, clothes, cookware, and Matryoshka dolls. He hauls his bags of junk onto the trolley and lets out a massive sigh. He’s frustrated. He has to share the trolley with commuters.
The Transporter is not rude or inconsiderate; he simply doesn’t understand the meaning of the word public in the phrase public transportation. He interprets the word public to mean my, which is why he is visibly annoyed that so many people have decided to hitch a ride on his personal moving van today. I once had to share a trolley with a transporter moving a TV. He didn’t put it in the aisle, though – that would be impolite to the other passengers. He gave the TV its own seat.
The Whiney Foreigner
The Whiney Foreigner is impossible to miss: iPhone earbuds permanently in place, reading either some impressively urbane book on his Kindle or E Nagu Eesti, underdressed in the winter and the first to don shorts in the summer, and constantly scowling at his fellow passengers, from whom he interprets an offense every minute or so. The Whiney Foreigner rides the trolley in complete silence yet complains incessantly to his friends of the horror of public transportation in Estonia.
“The guy next to me on the trolley smells like a dumpster,” The Whiney Foreigner tweets on his way to work. When an old lady wearing a comically oversized coat sits next to him, squeezing his face against the window, he glares at her but backs down when she glares back even more menacingly. When The Whiney Foreigner finally gets off the trolley at his stop, he exhales conspicuously; a passive-aggressive way of telling everyone that he had been holding his breath for the entire trip to avoid the smell. No one notices.
- september 26, 2011
I love this time of year: the air turns crisp and the sun retreats behind a layer of cloud cover that frequently treats Tallinn to short bursts of easy rain. But the best part about fall in Estonia is discovering which people regularly visit the solarium. Although not probable, it’s conceivable that someone in Estonia could have a tan during the summer. But sporting a tan in September is a farce; it’s a dead giveaway that a person goes tanning.
And while I’m no enemy of the artificial tan, some people are currently walking around Tallinn looking as if they locked themselves in a tanning bed and turned the dial to “crispy”. Here are six ways you can tell if you visit the tanning salon too often.
You’re frequently mistaken for a parking cone
If your skin has taken on the same shock-orange hue of a parking cone, you’re probably visiting the solarium too frequently. “But what’s wrong with being mistaken for a parking cone?,” you ask. “At least I won’t get hit by cars.”
Fair point. But people often use parking cones as improvised trash cans by putting garbage into the holes on the tops of them. Also, dogs pee on them.
Cheesy, bass-heavy porn music spontaneously begins playing whenever you’re around a member of the opposite sex
Picture this scenario: you discover that your refrigerator stopped working overnight, spoiling all of your cold cuts. You call a refrigerator repair man, who says he’ll come right over. But you’re dirty from playing softball with your sorority all morning: thinking you have at least 30 minutes, you jump into the shower. The doorbell rings, so you wrap a towel around yourself and open the door. Suddenly, porn music fills the air – it sounds like the opening credits of Seinfeld if the show had taken place in the 70s. You and the repairman lock eyes. “So,” he says. “I hear you’re having problems storing meat. I think I can be of assistance.”
Excessive tanning has turned your life into an adult entertainment movie. Congratulations, you’re a B-list porn star.
You’ve been invited to play an Oompa Loompa in a new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie
While the Oompa Loompas from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are associated with positive sentiments – they have respectable work ethics, they make something that everyone enjoys, they spontaneously break out into song – I doubt many people would feel comfortable sitting next to one on the bus. Which is to say, tanning your skin to the point that you look like an orange candy slave will most likely have a negative effect on your social life.
The broader point here is that, once a person’s skin color has left the “human tones” palette, that person is no longer doing themselves any favors by visiting the tanning salon.
People throw their drinks on you in public, thinking you’re on fire
I’ve never seen someone self-immolate, so I have no idea what it would look like. Most people don’t. That’s why it’d be easy to excuse someone for screaming “FIRE!” and throwing their drink on another person if that person’s skin radiated light and heat. I’ve had a few close calls on the tram with high school girls whose skin tone could best be described as “Minute Maid”.
Hunters stalk you, hoping to turn your skin into a handbag
One ironic side effect of excessive tanning is that it makes human skin look like that of a reptile. Some people apparently find that look attractive from a sexual perspective – keep me away from their porn collections – and some people find it attractive from a fashion perspective.
Unfortunately, in order for a snakeskin or alligator skin handbag to be produced, a snake or alligator has to die. Which is why it’s not advisable to tan yourself into looking like a lizard-human hybrid: people will try to kill you and turn your skin into multiple handbags.
Little children approach you constantly, asking for free KoolAid
The KoolAid man is one of the most beloved product spokesmen of all time – but being mistaken for him wouldn’t be very flattering. For one, the KoolAid man is extremely round: to be confused for him, a person would have to be morbidly obese. Second, the KoolAid man’s skin is a dark red hue: not only would tanning your skin to match that color cause physical harm, it’d also be ruinously expensive at 4 or 5 euros per tanning session.
If little children approach you on the street and ask you for free KoolAid, you’re too tan. You’re also attracting the attention of the police’s anti-pedophile task force.
- september 19, 2011
The Tallinn city council recently ordered the production of four promotional videos, at a price of more than €50,000, with the intention of introducing aspects of Tallinn to potential tourists that they may not have previously been aware of. The videos, titled “Design, arts, and crafts in Tallinn”, “Introducing Tallinn”, “A relaxing vacation in Tallinn”, and “Christmas in Tallinn”, will be produced in an effort to attract more tourists to the city.
But if the goal is simply to bring people here, why focus on things that are true? If the Tallinn city council wants to attract more tourists to the city, it needs to sell them a vision of a vacation that they won’t be able to experience anywhere else — even if that vision is a fantasy. So I’ve taken it upon myself to write the script for a fifth promotional video that will hopefully fill the void left by the snoozefests designed to get old grannies excited about visiting a wonderland of handicrafts and Christmas markets. I call it Tallinn ExtremeZone: Danger Level 7.
[Black screen. Foreboding music playing. Scrolling text, ala Star Wars]
In the year 1012, a powerful, evil wizard was apprehended by the peasants he had bedeviled for years and executed in a nondescript patch of woods near the sea. Before the peasants beheaded him, he cast a curse on the spot of land, damning it to a
millennium of chaos, turbulence, and maximum adventure. That spot of land was present-day Tallinn, and the curse expires next year. You’d better hurry if you want to visit…the most dangerous place on Earth.
[30-seconds of extreme guitar solo]
[Camera zoomed in on tower of Town Hall Square, pans down to narrator, standing in Raekoja plats]
Narrator: Welcome to Tallinn, the most dangerous place on Earth. Tallinn has been classified by the World Extreme Society, WES, as having a Danger Level of 7. This means it experiences a constant, imminent threat of wicked partying and getting wasted.
At any moment, I am in danger of spontaneously breaking out into party, getting into a firefight with members of the local resistance, being mortared and/or shelled, or hearing killer music. Please note: I am a trained professional and understand how to react in such situations. Amateurs may want practice on a less extreme city before visiting Tallinn — such as Mogadishu or Kabul.
[Video goes to black. 10-second guitar solo, slightly more extreme than introductory guitar solo]
[Camera zooms in on freedom monument, pans down to narrator, standing in Vabaduse Väljak]
Narrator: This is a town square where extreme behavior can be witnessed at any hour. One example is skateboarding, which you can see taking place behind me. Don’t let the apparent lack of skill or pre-pubescence of these skateboards fool you: they are extreme characters, and they shouldn’t be approached or taunted.
[Skateboarder falls behind narrator, begins to cry]
Narrator: We’d better get out of here. I think this is getting a little too extreme.
[Camera zooms in on Solaris Keskus sign, pans down to narrator, standing in front of entrance]
Narrator: I’m standing outside of the Solaris Keskus, considered the most extreme mall in the world. At any moment, the roof is liable to cave in. You [points to camera] have probably been shopping before, right? [Camera shakes up and down to simulate person nodding] Well, have you ever been…extreme shopping? [Narrator stares into camera while 10-second guitar solo plays] I didn’t think so. Follow me.
[Narrator walks through entrance and continues on, with back toward camera]
Narrator: Keep in mind that the roof might collapse at any moment. This is seriously dangerous, what we’re doing. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a more extreme situation in a retail center. We will be lucky to make it out of this alive. My heart is racing; I think I’m going to need to sit down after this. We’re almost to the exit…just a few more seconds…almost there…[narrator walks through exit] Phew! We made it! That was a close call. Let’s get out of here.
[Camera zooms in on Club Hollywood sign, pans down to narrator, standing near fountain]
Narrator: Welcome to Hell. We’re outside the most extreme nightclub this side of Bangkok, called Club Hollywood. This isn’t for the faint of heart, I can tell you that much. Now, even an experienced extreme tourist like me can’t walk straight in here without some sort of protection: word has it that some STDs have evolved and become
native to Club Hollywood. I’ll be putting this hazmat suit on to talk to some of the patrons here.
[Video cuts to interior of nightclub. Narrator is wearing a full hazmat suit.]
Narrator: [muffled] Now, the music here can supposedly cause dementia after less than 30 minutes of exposure, so we’ll have to be quick. Let me talk to this guy over here. Excuse me, sir. Sir? You have a Australian flag tattooed onto your arm. Are you Australian?
Narrator: What advice would you give to other extreme travelers who wish to visit Tallinn?
Narrator: How are you coping with the dangers of Tallinn?
Man: [projectile vomits onto narrator]
Narrator: Biohazard! Biological attack! Get me out of here! Oh God, it stings! It stings! Help me! Help! I can’t feel my legs! I can’t feel my leeeeeeeeee…
[Narrator flails wildly and knocks camera to ground. Camera catches footage of narrator being hosed down by members of the film crew with what look like fire extinguishers]
[Blank screen. 10-second guitar solo]
[Camera zooms in on foliage of a tree, pans down to narrator, standing in front of Bronze Solider statue]
Narrator: I’m standing here in front of a statue known colloquially as the Bronze Soldier. Think this is some boring, old war monument? Think again. When this statue was moved to this war ceremony in 2007, people literally rioted in the streets for two days. If that’s not extreme, I don’t know what is.
Most people think the London riots were senseless – and those took place because the police killed someone. The Bronze Soldier riot just sort of happened: a statue being moved was reason enough for people to smash storefronts and light stuff on fire.
[Camera zooms in on tower of Town Hall Square, pans down to narrator, standing in Raekoja plats]
Narrator: Thanks for taking this tour with me of the most dangerous place on Earth. Even standing right here — in what would look like a pleasant, European town square to the untrained eye – is practically a death-wish.
[A stag party, all dressed in military fatigues, begins singing drinking songs in the background]
Narrator: Heavily militarized, the troops here in Tallinn are all drunk and apparently extremely horny – a deadly combination that even most adrenaline junkies would shy away from. But not you, the ultimate thrill-seeker. You want to come visit Tallinn because at any second, you could be caught up in a something…extreme.
[A member of the stag party stumbles into the narrator and projectile vomits on him]
Narrator: Biohazard! Biohazard! Get the extinguishers!
[Two members of the film crew begin hosing the narrator down with what look like fire extinguishers. The screen fades to black. 30 seconds of extreme guitar solo]
- september 12, 2011
An American think tank named the Center for Strategic & International Studies recently published the results of a poll they conducted, which revealed that half of the ethnic Russians living in Estonia think Stalin did more good than harm. It’s an interesting point, and one that deserves exploration — by someone else.
The question that comes to my mind is how far this logic can be stretched: if the Man of Steel, responsible for the deaths of between 3 and 60 million people through execution, gulag imprisonment, deportations to Siberia, deliberately-imposed famine, and a laundry list of other chapter titles from the Sociopath’s Quick-reference Guidebook did more good than harm, what else can we say the same about?
Can we pick any random historical tragedy and try to claim that its net effect was positive, without actually identifying any positive effect it had and instead ambiguously insisting that it simply changed the course of history for the better? Hey, it’s Monday morning — why not.
The Black Death did more good than harm.
In the middle of the 14th century, a plague broke out across Europe that wiped out between 30 and 60% of the continent’s population and reduced the world’s population by about a quarter. The plague is generally accepted to have traveled to Europe from China via rodents, who carried plague-infected fleas with them as stowaways on merchant ships. Early symptoms of the plague included swollen sores on the inner thighs which oozed puss and spewed blood when dissected. Most of those afflicted died within two to seven days of infection.
But was the black death really all that bad? Every movie I’ve ever seen set in medieval Europe makes it out to be a crowded, filthy, prostitute-ridden hellscape. Reserving a table at a restaurant must have been a chore. Rent prices were probably sky high in the centers of towns, and the transportation choices for a morning commute were limited. And can you imagine the state of public bathrooms? Yuck! Sure, for those experiencing puss-oozing crotch sores and days of agonizing pain and endless vomiting, the black death was pretty miserable. But the net effect of a large-scale population decline in overcrowded urban areas was a more comfortable life for the lucky few who survived — which sounds like a win to me!
What about the effect of the black death on culture? Had the plague never gripped Europe, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the classic 2010 British horror film, Black Death. Which would be a shame — because Black Death stars Sean Bean, who plays Ulric, a knight obsessed with killing the necromancer responsible for summoning the plague (the movie isn’t entirely historically accurate). One year after appearing in Black Death, Sean Bean graced our television screens as Eddard Stark in Game of Thrones — one of the greatest TV series of all time.
So had the black death not cut the population of Europe in half in the mid-14th century, the world would be without the film Black Death. And if the world was without the film Black Death, Sean Bean may never have been “discovered” and subsequently cast as Eddard Stark, the main character in the first season of Game of Thrones. And without a lead character, the producers of Game of Thrones may have never embarked upon creating what I consider to be the grandest achievement in human history. Obviously that would be a far greater tragedy than the loss of life on a massive scale.
So why not apply this “butterfly effect” argumentation to every tragedy or madman in human history and claim that nothing catastrophic was truly bad — merely transformative. Pol Pot? Chernobyl? Pinochet? Why not claim that these people and disasters did more good than harm in the long run?
Two reasons. The first is that no human being is able to comprehend and evaluate the symphony of infinite events unceasingly taking place in unison. Therefore, it’d be impossible for anyone to say that any one event or person made the world a better place than had they not existed or happened. It’s pretty much the theme from every time travel-based science fiction movie ever made.
And the second reason? It’s because saying Stalin did more good than harm makes you look like an asshole.
- september 5, 2011
“Did you know that the president of Estonia is from New Jersey?”
My mom’s breathless, excited state was uncharacteristic of her. So was her having any knowledge of Estonia.
“He grew up in Bergen county, an hour up the turnpike!”
She had apparently fallen down the Wikipedia rabbit hole and landed on THI’s page, whereupon she discovered that the current and fourth president of the Republic of Estonia is a Jersey Boy. My mom, being a Jersey Girl, was fascinated: perhaps it made Estonia, where her son is living, seem a little less far away. She immediately picked up the phone and frantically dialed my Skype-In number – paying no mind to the time difference – and woke me up at 3am to deliver this bit of trivia.
I’ve never been to Leonia, New Jersey – the city in which THI grew up – but from looking at it on Google Maps, I can say that it suffers from a significant flaw: it’s quite far from Seaside Heights, the epicenter of summer activity in New Jersey. Seaside Heights can be thought of as the Pärnu of New Jersey – or, arguably, of the entire east coast of the United States. Seaside Heights is where you go in the summertime. Seaside Heights is the Jersey Shore.
Which begs the question: what kind of a Jersey Boy was THI? I’d estimate the journey from Leonia to Seaside Heights to be nearly two hours by car; much more on a warm summer day, when the entire state descends upon the city to relax at the beach and play games on the boardwalk. Leonia, however, is essentially a suburb of New York City: it is located a mere 30 minutes by car — across the George Washington bridge and down the Henry Hudson parkway — from Morningside Heights, the home of Columbia University, where THI earned his undergraduate degree. Given his proximity to Manhattan and his educational choices, one wonders if THI didn’t eschew the Jersey Shore for something more “New York” during his years in the US. The Hamptons, perhaps?
But let’s give THI the benefit of the doubt and assume that he didn’t identify with the Manhattan set; he was a guido, loud and proud, and the best two months of his life were those he spent at Seaside Heights in the summer of 1972 before matriculating to Columbia University. He rented a sharehouse there with seven friends and worked as a lifeguard for 20 hours each week.
Shirtless and impeccably sculpted, THI strolled the boardwalk of Seaside Heights every day during that summer in pursuit of good times. His name being difficult to pronounce, his friends simply called him T. And given his inherent leadership qualities, his group of friends congregated under the moniker of T’s Boys, which they had printed on the t-shirts they wore to nightclubs and bars. For T, the days of the summer of 1972 consisted of sun and sand; the nights, of cocktails and easy conversation. T never drank to excess, never let a confrontation escalate to the point of violence, and was quick to lend a helping hand to a friend in need. A preeminent wingman and a never-ending source of quick jokes and lighthearted quips, T naturally became the center of gravity of any social situation in which he found himself.
One night, toward the end of the summer, as the nightclub he and T’s Boys had occupied for the previous span of hours that passed like minutes was closing, T invited the girl he had flirted with all summer to watch the sun rise. Carrying their shoes – his were a thick-soled platform set, the latest fashion – they trekked through the sand to the most isolated stretch of beach they could find. And as the sun rose and painted the water with fantastic hues of pink and goldenrod, T ran a hand over the thick sideburns that decorated the side of his face, down to the shag carpet coating the entirety of his upper lip, and finally rested it on his chest – exposed unapologetically to the world down to the fourth button of the wide-lapel, polka-dotted disco shirt he bought after seeing Fleetwood Mac in concert. He felt his neck; something was missing.
“Someday,” he announced matter-of-factly, ostensibly to his muse but more likely to no one in particular, “I’m going to be the president of a country called Estonia.”
- august 29, 2011
Arno Vaarikas on olnud keskkooli nõustaja viimased viis aastat ning nüüd toob oma teadmised ka romantikuteni andes romantilist nõu. Kas teil on suhtes probleemid? Arno kuulab!
Minu mees töötab aastast kuus kuud Norras. Ma armastan teda, aga ma olen nii üksildane kui tema ära on. Mida ma teen? Aita mind, Arno!
Tere Üksildane Tartus!
Sinu olukord imeb. Mul on sõber Tartus, Jasper, kes on väga diskreetne. Võib-olla sa võiksid temaga hook-up’ida kui sinu mees on Norras? Ma ei tea. See on väga raske küsimus.
Tere Arno! Mul on vaja nõu!
Mul on tugevad tunded naise vastu, kes töötab minu kontoris. Ma tahan teda kohtingule kutsuda, aga meie kontoris on keelatud kahel töötajal suhe olla. Tõesti ma mõtlen, et see naine on kaunis ja tark ja naljakas ja…parim naine maailmas! Aga töö on minul hea ja ma saan sittakanti raha. Mida ma teen, Arno?
Defineeri sittakanti (igakuine, bruto)? Kas sinu firma uusi töötajaid otsib? Mul on viis aastat kogemust keskkooli nõustajana ja ma trükin 37 sõna minutis. Kas sa saaksid anda minu CV oma bossile?
Oh, ja ma ei tea, mida teha sinu olukorras. See kõlab keeruliselt.
Mul on kõige halvim lugu!
Minu abikaasa lahkus koos õega! Nüüd ma olen üksi, kahe lapsega, ilma rahata ja mul on suur hunnik võlgasid! Mida ma teha saan? Ma olen ikka veel ametlikult abielus! Kindlasti peab minu abikaasa oma arved maksma, onju? Kas õigussüsteem aitab mind?
Tere, Lootusetu Tallinnas.
See on tõesti väga kurb lugu. Ma lugesin seda neli korda ja sinu valu ja viha on südantlõhestav. Ma tunnen kaasa sinu lastele, kes on suurimad ohvrid sellel traagilisel lo-
Kurat! Ma loksutasin just oma kohvi maha! Need on uued püksid ja nüüd on need rikutud! Miks CoffeeIn topsid on nii õhukesed? Tore, ma lähen pärast tööd kinno ja mul ei ole aega riideid vahetada. Perfektne. Mul on nüüd terve päev halb tuju.
Ma olen olnud suhtes oma naisega kaks aastat, aga tema tahab Londonisse kolida. Ma ei tea Londonis mitte kedagi ja minu inglise keel ei ole väga hea. Ma lihtsalt ei taha Londonisse kolida, aga ma ei taha ka lahku minna. Kas ma peaksin temal jääda paluma?
-Hirmul tuleviku ees
Tere Hirmul tuleviku ees
Kui kuum sinu naine on? Väga kuum või…? Kui tema on väga kuum siis arvatavasti sa peaksid koos temaga kolima. Aga kui tema ei ole nii kuum, tulge minuga Hollywoodi sellel nädalalõpul. Seal on palju kuumi ja lihtsaid tibusid. Ja joogid ei ole väga kallid…nagu 2€ tequila shot’i eest. Hea hind. Mõnikord ma varastan shotte välismaalastelt kui nad ei näe. Ma saan teile õpetada, kuidas seda teha. Väga ökonoomne, mis on oluline, sest minu palk keskkoolist on jama. Kas sinu firm uusi töötajaid otsib?
PS – Sa mõtled, et sinu elu imeb? Üks tsikk just kirjutas mulle ja ütles, et tema mees lahkus koos mehe enda õega!
- august 22, 2011
- Meet the cast of Pärnu Shore
- Pärnu Shore, Episode One: A rullnokk’s work is never done
- Pärnu Shore, Episode Two: All’s fair in love and shore
- Pärnu Shore, Episode Three: Between a rullnokk and a hard place
- Pärnu Shore, Season Finale: We’ll always have the shore
Priit and Jaanika are working the early-morning shift at Rullnokk’s; they both came straight to work from a heavy night of drinking at Shüüters. Priit describes the drama of the night before to Jaanika: Priit broke things off with Heleen because Kevin told him that she and Jaanika are dating. Shocked by the ridiculous rumor, Jaanika assures Kevin that she has never been romantically involved with another woman outside of Club Hollywood in Tallinn and that even if she was attracted to Heleen, she wouldn’t make a move on her knowing how strongly Heleen feels about Priit. Priit, confused but inexplicably not embarrassed or ashamed of his behavior, tells Jaanika that he intends to make amends with Heleen that night. Jaanika in turn explains that, because Pärnu Shore filming ends the next day, she plans to confess her feelings to Kevin that night as well, despite Priit’s advice against doing so.
Back at the house, Heleen and Riina awake to the sounds of Martin
and Kevin brawling in the kitchen. The girls separate the two and ask what happened: Martin explains that he and Kevin had arrived home from Shüüters minutes earlier, and Kevin was trying to take the last beer in the refrigerator. Impressed by Kevin’s insatiable thirst for alcohol – even at 13:00 on a Saturday, following nearly 15 hours of non-stop drinking – Riina diffuses the situation by offering Martin the beer she keeps hidden in her underwear drawer. Martin’s face turns red and he confesses to drinking that beer the day before. Disgusted, Riina grabs the beer from Kevin’s hands and returns to her room.
Heleen asks Kevin if he’ll join her on the balcony for a few minutes. The two go to the balcony, and Heleen tells him about the drama from the night before with Priit. She confesses her history with Priit to Kevin and asks for advice: Kevin suggests that she go for a walk to clear her head. Preferably in the direction of a store. Preferably a store that sells beer. And preferably she would return with a six-pack of A. Le Coq premium. Kevin then falls asleep.
Priit and Jaanika return home from work and take naps: the roommates are planning a massive night out to celebrate the end of Pärnu Shore. Kevin has offered to concoct a new drink recipe to mark the occasion – he calls it the Olukord, and it is a mixture of rum, raspberries, tequila, ice, and the special Estonian ingredient, sea-buckthorn berries. Jaanika tells Kevin that she has something very important to speak with him about before everyone gets so drunk that their emotions stop working. Kevin tells her that they’ll talk when he returns from buying Olukord materials at the store.
While getting ready, Heleen asks Riina for advice on confronting Priit: the previous night changed her impression of him, she claims, and she wants to clear the air but also to let him know that she’s no longer interested in him romantically. Riina suggests that she write him a note to avoid an awkward, one-on-one confrontation. Heleen agrees and the two draft what they consider to be a firm yet empathetic rejection letter:
Ma ei ole enam sinust huvitatud. Vabandust.
…Sa tead kes ma olen.
Helen puts the note in a place where she knows Priit will read it — the beer shelf in the refrigerator – and continues getting ready for the night. Meanwhile, Kevin comes back to the house and begins making the Olukord. He opens the refrigerator door and finds Heleen’s note for Priit, but he assumes Jaanika wrote it for him. Finding it odd that a woman he has never expressed any interest in just rejected him, he places the note in a drawer and continues making drinks.
At around 22:00, the roommates gather in the kitchen to drink Olukord and discuss their plan for the evening. Jaanika begins to say something sentimental about their time in the Pärnu Shore house but, taking stock of her roommates and their ability to process abstract notions such as “love” or “friendship”, changes course and tells a joke about nudist midgets. The roommates laugh and finalize their plans: they’ll get wasted, go to Shüüters, get more wasted, and try to hook up with people. As they finish their drinks, Martin opens the silverware to fetch a straw and finds Heleen’s note for Priit. He assumes the note was placed there for him to read by Riina, whom he saw naked days earlier. Confused as to why a woman that he has never expressed interest in would reject him, he places the note in a cupboard and rallies the roommates to leave for Shüüters.
At Shüüters, Jaanika approaches Kevin and asks to talk with him in private. Thinking
she wants to explain the note, Kevin stops her in mid-sentence, telling her that he knows how she feels about him and that he feels the same about her. Jaanika assumes that Priit told Kevin about her feelings for him and is relieved to not have to suffer through in-person, human-to-human communication. Instead, she breathes a sigh of relief and returns to the dance floor, convinced that this roundabout exchange means she and Kevin are now dating. Meanwhile, Priit approaches Heleen with the intent of revealing his feelings for her. Heleen sees Priit walking towards her: believing that he read her note and is upset about it, Heleen stops him before he can say anything and tells him that she knows how he feels about her, and that the feelings are mutual. Satisfied, Priit returns to the bar with the understanding that he and Heleen are now dating.
After multiple shots of Viru Valge, Martin decides to confront Riina about her rejection letter. Riina sees Martin approaching her from a distance; when he finally reaches her, she stops him before he can say anything and informs him that they’re leaving the club. The two go home and retreat to the mitte-magamise magamistuba. Martin never bothers to bring up the letter.
At nearly 3am in Shüüters, having drunk enough cider to put most humans into a coma, Heleen experiences a moment of introspective reflection. She considers the summer at the Pärnu Shore house: she contemplates her status as a rullnokk and the trajectory her life is on. She tries to define what success means to her. Being a good mom? Making a lot of money? Doing intellectually challenging work? She looks out upon the dance floor – occupied by zombie-like creatures who are only awake by virtue of energy drinks and the desire to drunkenly grope members of the opposite sex – and questions whether the rullnokk lifestyle can ever truly deliver happiness to her. And then, in mid-thought, she vomits. Security escorts her out of Shüüters and she walks to the beach, where she passes out. The other roommates have all moved out by the time she makes it home the next day. The only thing left in the house is her rejection note to Priit, which is sitting on the kitchen counter; she assumes Jaanika meant for her to read it. Confused as to why a woman that she’s never expressed interest in has just rejected her, she packs her things and leaves the house.
- august 15, 2011
A routine Munitsipaalpolitsei stop at the Tõnimägi tram stop ignites latent urban tension when police fine Priit Puunägu, a well-known rullnokk, for jänest sõitsmise eest. Priit attempts to flee the tram but is tackled by an officer and forced to accept a ticket. The other tram riders begin shouting at the police for harassing Priit.
September 8th, 17:15
A group of Priit’s friends and family begin a non-violent protest outside of the Munitsipaalpolitsei headquarters near Old Town. They claim that rullnokks have been specifically and systematically targeted by the Tallinn police for years. An ETV camera crew arrives at the protest and interviews Martin Linnuaja, Priit Puunägu’s best friend:
“Do you realize that someone driving a 20-year-old BMW at 180kph is five times more likely to be pulled over by the police than someone in any other car, driving at a much slower speed? Do you realize that a 22-year-old man with a shaved head is eight times more likely to be arrested for committing a crime than someone who hasn’t committed a crime? Did you know that last year, over 200 young men who list their profession as ehitaja were denied loans? Rullnokks have been pushed to the fringes of Estonian society for too long, and we’re not going to take it anymore!”
ETV captures footage of Martin turning to the crowd and screaming, “Tallinn: Mis sul viga on?” The mob responds with a deafening cheer; the ETV crew packs up its gear and leaves, fearing that the restive throng of rullnokks may become unruly.
September 8th, 22:38
Having begun to assemble at around 20:00, a massive group of rullnokks in Vabadjuse Väljak erupts into chant, repeating Martin Linnuaja’s words over and over again: Tallinn, mis sul viga on? Hungry, a small subset of the mob moves to a nearby hamburger stand and loots it. One of the looters screams, “Tasuta purks igale mehele!”
September 9th, 2:02
A group of rullnokks milling outside of Club Hollywood storms the entrance to the club and loots the bar. Terrified, a stag party from Liverpool flees the club; one of the stag partiers informs the British embassy of the incident, and, in turn, the embassy arranges evacuation of all British citizens in Estonia. A RyanAir jet is chartered, and 300 men are given one-way tickets to London Luton, leaving the next day.
Tallinn’s police chief issues an order to all units on patrol: Estonia’s tourism industry must not be compromised. Disperse every crowd of rullnokks using any means necessary.
September 9th, 16:22
Tallinn’s rullnokks begin to wake up. Martin Linnuaja organizes a second night of rioting and hamburger looting through the social networking website Rate.ee. He sends a message to a small group of rullnokks, instructing them to pass the message on to every rullnokk they know: the mob will meet in Vabaduse Väljak again at 20:00 and move on to loot every hamburger stand in town.
September 9th, 18:12
Taavi Merekiisu, the head of the Tallinn police department’s cyber crimes unit, intercepts the message on Rate.ee using sophisticated data forensics reverse-cryptology techniques (it was accidentally sent to him). Taavi informs Tallinn’s police chief of the plan, who suggests shutting down Rate.ee to prevent the mob from organizing further. Taavi disapproves of the police chief’s strategy, thinking it may further provoke the rabid rullnokks: he suggests that the police assemble an undercover unit to infiltrate the mob and arrest its leader. The police chief agrees and instructs Taavi, who is also the head of the Tallinn police department’s undercover unit, to bring together a team and attend the rally.
September 9th, 19:48
Taavi and his undercover team start driving to Vabaduse Väljak in a rented white van. To fit in with the rullnokks, they have all shaved their heads and are wearing tight jeans adorned with strategic holes. At 20:08, Martin Linnuaja addresses the mob: he tells them that they’ll begin the night by looting the nearby hamburger stand again. Although the manager of the nearby hamburger stand was well aware that his shop would be looted, he concluded that the number of hamburgers he would sell to rullnokks in the hour leading up to the looting would more than pay for what would be looted.
Taavi’s team identifies Martin Linnuaja as the leader of the mob but decides against arresting him during the riot for fear of upsetting the mob. Instead, having skipped dinner to attend the rally, the undercover unit follows the mob to the hamburger stand and enjoys a free burger each before going home.
September 10th, 8:12
A crack team of police sharpshooters, led by Taavi Merekiisu, who is also head of the Tallinn police department’s special weapons and tactics team, surrounds Martin Linnuaja’s apartment complex in Kristiine. They break the door down with a battering ram and, prepared to meet resistance from a heavily armed, militarized organized crime cell, are relieved to find only Martin Linnuaja – drunk, naked, and covered in hamburger wrappers – passed out on his couch.
The police spend 20 minutes trying to wake Martin up, allow him to shower to alleviate his hangover, wait for him to drink an entire pot of coffee, and then whisk him away to the police station to be booked and questioned. Once at the police station, they wait for half an hour until the first officer arrives at 9:00 and unlocks the door.
September 10th, 16:08
With the ringleader of the civil unrest in police custody, the rioting has completely stopped and journalists and pundits dissect the series of events. Two talkshow pundits pose the question, What caused these riots?, to their viewers, who call into the show and posit their hypotheses: prolonged police brutality against rullnokks, government spending cuts that disproportionately affected rullnokks, a two-tiered, polarized Estonian society consisting of only rullnokks and those with high school diplomas, the inherent laziness of rullnokks, chronic and widespread unemployment within the rullnokk community, and a number of other theories are submitted.
One of the pundits suggests asking Martin Linnuaja himself what the root cause of the riots was, so they call the Tallinn police station. Taavi Merekiisu, who also acts as the Tallinn police department’s switchboard operator, answers the phone and then hands it to Martin. The pundit asks Martin why he incited the riots that led to the looting of a hamburger stand. Martin responds that he was hungry.
- august 8, 2011
I’ve noticed something this summer that I didn’t last summer: in Estonia, it’s socially acceptable to walk around sans shirt in the summertime (I’ll assume that it’s socially acceptable in winter, too, but that no one does it because they’d die). I’ve seen it countless times since the sun remembered that Estonia exists sometime in May and decided to reacquaint itself with us: guys, usually beer-in-hand, walking around shirtless in the Old Town and near Viru Keskus. Sometimes they have a shirt tucked into the back of their pants, but many times they have no shirt with them at all – a bold move in the summer, when the weather is more unreliable than a Greek bus schedule.
This “shirts-off” behavior leads to another phenomenon that looks wholly out of place in Estonia: the Baltic sunburn. In a tropical climate, a person can become sunburned in a matter of hours; in Estonia, it takes days of nearly non-stop exposure to the sun. That means a sunburn isn’t the product of a trip to the beach — it’s the product of spending every waking minute of daylight in the sun without a shirt on. Going grocery shopping without a shirt on. Filling up one’s gas tank without a shirt on. Walking the dog without a shirt on. It takes real, concerted effort.
These artificial artifacts of a Nordic climate are the result of some Estonians having hypnotized themselves into thinking that Estonia has a real summer. The opposite happens in warmer climates; in Texas, where I’m from, I’ve seen people climb out of their SUVs (inside which the AC is set to full-blast) wearing The North Face parkas in weather evocative of an urbanized swamp. I think people instinctively believe that whichever season is abbreviated in their geography is more chic than that which they have in abundance. In Estonia, summer is associated with wealthy socialites idling lazily at a resort in South Beach, Miami. In Texas, winter is associated with those same wealthy socialites carving through fresh powder at a chichi resort in the Alps.
The truth is, summer in Estonia, mild as it may be, is better than the alternative. Estonia simply isn’t a “shirts-off” kind of place – and for that, I am grateful. When Estonians conjure up images of a summer paradise – of 40-degree heat and white, sandy beaches – they don’t consider the other side of real life in such a place. Ever sweated through your underwear? Ever gotten sunburned between your toes? Ever had to wrangle with an afro as a white man? These are the real life issues that people who live in hot places have to deal with. It’s not all beaches and margaritas.
And the same can be said for people living near the equator who romanticize snow. I speak from experience: growing up, I dreamt of snow days and white Christmases, having only seen snow in random, pathetic one-hour bursts which shut the city down and on TV. I never considered the downsides of living in a winter wonderland: of having to cover myself in 10 kilos of clothing just to walk to the grocery store. Of walking alongside a wall of snow covered in an ever-increasing layer of dog urine and feces on my way to work every day. Of having to de-frost my beard after fetching the mail. One imagines that snowy winters are all snowmen and cups of cocoa when he lives in a climate where heat warnings are issued on Christmas day.
But pretty soon, the summer illusion will come to an end, and the shirtless über-optimists will begin to layer up. It’s August, and within the next two months, summer will give way to Finter (Fall-Winter; there’s pretty much no Fall in Estonia) and we’ll all be back in our jackets and snow boots. More than likely, I’ll be the first person complaining about how cold it is.
- august 1, 2011
- Meet the cast of Pärnu Shore
- Pärnu Shore, Episode One: A rullnokk’s work is never done
- Pärnu Shore, Episode Two: All’s fair in love and shore
- Pärnu Shore, Episode Three: Between a rullnokk and a hard place
- Pärnu Shore, Season Finale: We’ll always have the shore
Riina and Heleen, desperately bored in the last hour of their shift at Rullnokk’s, devise a competition to keep themselves entertained: whoever can ignore a customer at the ordering window for the longest wins. Riina is up first and wins the contest handily by ignoring a customer for 50 minutes — the remainder of their shift. The two leave and begin walking home.
Back at the house, Kevin and Jaanika sunbathe on the porch while Priit and Martin rest up before a big night out. Kevin asks Jaanika who she thinks is the most attractive roommate; Jaanika, not wanting to reveal to Kevin that she has feelings for him, refuses to answer. Kevin immediately responds by volunteering who he thinks is the most attractive: Heleen. Jaanika tries to not appear upset, but Kevin senses that she is bothered by what he said and concludes that Jaanika has a secret crush on Heleen.
Riina and Heleen arrive home and join Kevin and Jaanika on the porch. The roommates had agreed the night before to go to Shüüters, and Jaanika suggests that they all get ready now so they can drink before leaving. Kevin offers to make a batch of his signature drink: Ropsifest, a mixture of vodka, tequila, whiskey, energy drink, cranberry juice, orange juice, vanilla ice cream, and ice. The girls leave to begin getting ready and Kevin leaves for the store to get his supplies.
Martin awakes to find Riina and Heleen getting changed in the room. He pretends to remain asleep and watches the girls try on outfits and remembers after a few minutes that he has a beer stashed in his bedside table. He quietly retrieves the beer, but the pssssst sound the can makes as he opens it reveals to the girls that he’s awake. Riina and Heleen cover themselves and begin screaming for Martin to leave; he takes another beer from his nightstand and goes to the porch to drink.
The sound of Heleen and Riina screaming wakes Priit up, and, noticing that it’s past noon, he heads to the kitchen to make a drink. He considers asking the other roommates if they’d like drinks but decides against it: he wants to make sure he gets enough liquor to himself. As he scours the refrigerator looking for Saku, Kevin returns home with bags full of alcohol and mixers. Kevin begins making his Ropsifest drink and tells Priit that Jaanika and Heleen are dating. Realizing that he might be caught in the middle of a love triangle, Priit tells Kevin about his history with Heleen and confesses that he doesn’t have any feelings for her. Kevin is shocked by the news and advises Priit to avoid revealing their discussion to anyone. The two agree and cheers their Ropsifest drinks to a good night out.
The girls come to the kitchen to begin drinking Ropsifest, and after an hour the entire group is drunk. Priit suggests that they leave; still angry at Martin, Kevin doesn’t remind anyone that he’s on the porch and the roommates leave without him. The roommates arrive at Shüüters and are given a table in the VIP section by the manager, who is excited about having his club featured on Pärnu Shore. He gives the roommates two bottles of Viru Valge and tells them to have a good night.
The group moves to the dance floor after an hour of drinking, but Priit and Heleen remain in the booth. Priit asks Heleen how long she and Jaanika have been seeing each other, and why she never brought their relationship up to him. Heleen, obviously confused, asks Priit where he heard such a ridiculous thing; Priit, sensing his opportunity to cut things off with Heleen, responds that it’s not important and tells Heleen that he’s offended and doesn’t want to see her anymore. Heleen runs out of the club, and Priit buys Kevin a drink for helping him out of his predicament.