Posts Tagged ‘Poland’

Mad Dogs & Englishmen

November 16, 2009

There are not many people who can say they drink vodka for a living, but I’m happy to report that this particular session on the sauce paid my bed and board for a week or two at least! An article on Polish vodka is probably not the most original pitch in the world (in fact I’d already written one for Wizzair Magazine in when I was working for Cracow Life), but it’s the type editors love because a) it’s a local product with lots of history and cultural impact b) it gives the writer plenty of scope for having fun!

I pitched this article with the headline ‘Mad Dogs & Englishmen’ as a vodka tasting article centred around a night out in Krakow in which a bunch of English guys try, amongst other things, the famous Mad Dog (Wsciekly Pies) shot. In the end I went out with just one English guy and his girlfriend (who got cut out of the piece, as – although her company was very charming! – she didn’t have any quotes I wanted to use). Thankfully Simon proved to be not only a bit of a vodka connoisseur but came up with some brilliantly expressive tasting reactions (‘I’m getting burnt plastic’ and much more!)… Good man!

I nearly cried when the commissioning editor, Lucille from Jetaway magazine (who had raved about how much she loved the piece!) emailled me to say Jet2 had cancelled their Krakow route and she couldn’t run it (in these cases incidentally I would have been paid a kill fee – just half the original commission, but been free to sell the article elsewhere). However luckily Ryanair Magazine (published by the same company) also liked it and gave it a new home! Weyhey! Although the Editor did change the title to Sharp Shooters… which I’m not at all upset about if only because I love the Gangsta Cru.

So without further ado, here is the super Sharp Shooters/Mad Dogs & Englishmen… and I’d just like any editors out there know that I’m available for more vodka-related commissions…

Klezmer Musicians in Krakow

October 29, 2009

Earlier in the year I travelled back to my ex-home of Krakow Poland to write a couple of features that I had been commissioned to do by Jetaway. One was on Communist Tour, another a vodka article (which eventually got dropped as Jet2 stopped flying to Krakow… luckily Ryanair have picked it up and it should be published soon!). I was also lucky enough to get a third assignment with Wizzair, interviewing me old mucker Monsieur Trebacz about his free-wheeling life as a bike tour guide and part-time DJ.

Anyhow, in an attempt to make the trip yet more profitable I decided to take a chance and research an article that no one had commissioned but I hoped to sell to the broadsheets thus paving the way into the lucrative business of travel writing for newspapers… naturally this plan didn’t work, and I must say still a bit flummoxed on how to break into this market. By chance I have the email of the NY Times Travel Editor’s email and he told me that due to the economic crisis they weren’t commissioning any more articles, instead publishing the large backlog of stories they have gathering cyber dust in their inbox. This could of course have been a polite way of saying we’re not interested but it certainly tallies with the reports of newspapers under strain and slashing budgets (one my reason why I launched Urban Travel Blog).

Anyhow the upshot of all this is that I had a very well-researched 1500 word article on the modernisation of traditional Jewish klezmer folk music in Krakow which I had spent the best part of a week polishing kicking around on my desktop for six months. Shame really as it was a good ‘un… but what with my funky new concept of an online travel magazine now up-and-running I have handily provided myself with the perfect publishing platform. Ok, sadly no one is paying me just yet but with the digital revolution well underway who knows, self-publishing my articles may prove even more profitable than writing for other editors.

Hope you enjoy my encounters with ‘The New Klezmers of Krakow‘.