Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lithuania Adventure, Part 4: Statuesque Vilnius

Frank Zappa was not Lithuanian, but Vilnius features a monument to him. The statue - a bust on a tall metal column - is tucked away in a small yard in the central part of the city. It is not necessarily the monument you would expect to such an avant-garde artist; aside from the street art on the wall behind the bust, it is a fairly straightforward statue. Music is always an important part of youth culture, and Zappa was inspirational in Eastern Europe as were other acts like the Beatles (in fact, Almaty, Kazakhstan features a peculiar Beatles monument - see a post from last year with a photo). He particularly influenced a Czech band, the Plastic People of the Universe, whose dissent in the face of repression inspired many others to challenge the communist regime.

Yesterday, Erik also passed by another interesting statue while he was walking in the former Jewish Ghetto. It is dedicated to Tsemakh Shabad, a doctor and prominent figure in Vilnius' Jewish community in the first half of the 20th century. The Russian inscription notes that he was the inspiration for Doctor Aibolit, a character linked to Doctor Doolittle (though no reference to him was on the English language version).

UPDATE: Erik forgot to include this statue of the writer Petras Cvirka in the original post. You can also click on the two panoramic photos to see nice views of Vilnius from the High Castle area.

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