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A sozzled bird

Saint Petersburg (Russia) Fontanka
Panteleymonovskiy Most
Friday, 27 June 2014

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A great deal is demanded of an enlightened individual – including, for instance, that he should look at something with utmost precision. His look should be unprejudiced and open – only then will his eyes lead him to true understanding.

Those who walk in the centre of Saint Petersburg over the Panteleymonovskiy Bridge can see a peculiar performance taking place atop a quay wall at the junction of the rivers Fontanka and Moika: men and women, children and elders leaning far out of the parapet and throwing breadcrumbs down to a black bird – a creature that is fashioned out of bronze and perched on a stone ledge that sticks out of the masonry mid-way between the water and the street. The monument is called Tschischik-Pyschik, which portrays an almost life-sized siskin (tschischik). According to a report in the «St Petersburg City Journal» (3 March 2006), the bird was installed in 1994 at the initiative of the architect Wjatscheslaw Buchajew and harks back to a popular local song that dates back to the mid-19th century, the lyric of which goes: «Tschischik-Pischik, where were you? – I have drunk vodka – On the banks of the Fontanka – First a tiny glass – Then a second – And now my brain is all abuzz!» Tour guides usually like to say that a bird was once actually seen guzzling vodka at this spot. Other sources however explain that there had once existed an institute for jurisprudence at the address Fontanka 6 and that its students, dressed in green-yellow uniforms, had been nicknamed siskins. The verse is therefore considered to deal with a student song. The popularity of the monument has no doubt to do with the fact that it bears neither a political nor historical connotation, but simply places the human weakness for alcoholic drinks on a pedestal – and, as such, it is perhaps not accidental that the pedestal lies below the level of the street.

See also

  • Recipe related to this Episoda: Rassolnik (Soup made from pickled cucumbers and brine, root vegetables, buckwheat, veal kidney and dill)
  • Episoda – a broadcast for Santa Lemusa (Introduction)
  • Biography of Peter Polter

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