Glen Starkey had fun at a “beer-fueled underground bike racing” event held on an undisclosed muddy ridgeline overlooking San Luis Obispo (“If you’re bored, you’re boring,” Dec 31, 2009). I appreciate Glen’s weekly spiel on the local music/art scene, but I disagree that what he describes as a “thrill-a-minute, live-on-the-razor’s-edge, laugh-in-the-face-of-death, crazy-ass world” is art. Furthermore, no true Bohemian would consider it “bohemian.”
Being only one generation removed from my grandfather’s village in South Bohemia’s gentle foothills, I take gentle exception to use of the word “bohemians” in this article’s subtitle and to Starkey’s corrupted usage: “SLOhemians”.
Here’s why. In her book The Road through Czechoslovakia (Grosset & Dunlap, New York. 1930), Dorothy Giles tells how this particular myth about Bohemians began:
“They belie their name, these Bohemians. They are sober, phlegmatic, not given to hot enthusiasms. No trait of theirs won for their nation the reputation of exuberant gaiety, of laissez faire. Rather, the miserliness of the king of France whose daughter, coming to be queen of Bohemia, brought no other dowry than the right of free entry into France for all Bohemians. The Czechs were a home-keeping people, too occupied with affairs east of the Rhine for foreign travel. So it happened that none of them claimed the privilege, which was seized on by every strolling player, mountebank and gypsy. These, writing themselves down Bohemians, entered into France free of charge.” She concludes, “Even so are national reputations made.”