On Sunday, I spent a few morning hours filing another pool report for Michelle Obama, this time because her originally scheduled pool reporter had dropped out. As before, the full post follows below. The only change from the original is that I had mispelled a name in the version I first sent out. This mistake has been fixed here.
One other note: The second Pool was sent at 8:45 EST on April 5, which means either stars aligned or I was also subbing in as an assignment editor for Huffington Post, kinda sorta. Or I was just an oracle. Or the web is predictable. (Read below and click above to figure out what I was talking about.)
More descriptive account forthcoming once your pooler gets to a wifi
connection. In the meantime, the important-cant-wait-till-dawn in-new-york stuff.
After the welcoming ceremony at prague castle, flotus toured the grounds with Madame Livia Klausova, the Czech first lady.
They toured St. Vitus’s cathedral and St. George’s Basilica. Flotus wore
a Michael Kors skirt (black), an Alaia Azzedine (black; sp?), and a
Mochino top (white). Afte listening to music at St. George’s, a czech tv
correspondent aske Michelle hav she was doing. She said “great,” before
handlers intervened and broke it up. Another Czech TV correspondent
asked “what are you wearing?” Michelle, walking away, did not respond.
Afterwards, Klausova did a gaggle with Czech reporters in Czech. Your
pooler has tape but understands none of it. According to the local ap
reporter, she said michelle was “very nice” and “very pleasant” and that
Michelle was delighted by the tour and will be back for sure. Klausova
gave Michelle some Czech glass by Moser. Michelle gave Klausova a vase.
The Czech president gave Obama a book on the Prague castle. Obama gave
the president something in a big box, which Klausova could not identify.
Klausova also called Michelle “very natural,” according to the on site
translation by AP.
We are headed next to old jewish cemetary. FLOTUS has flats to better
negotiate the cobblestones.
FLOTUS was joined by Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod for a tour of the Pinkas Synagogue, the Old Jewish Cemetery and the Old New Synagogue in Prague’s Jewish Quarter.
But first, more details from the visit to Prague castle. According to the Dorling Kindersley travel guide, which another reporter had on hand, the St. Vitus’s Cathedral began construction in 1344 on orders of John of Luxembourg. It has a fun vocabulary, including words like flying buttresses, ambitious gargoyles, gothic vaulting, a crypt, a royal mausoleum and a chancel. Your pooler was particularly impressed by the gargoyles. (See examples here: http://www.worldofstock.com/closeups/ADT7726.php )
St. George’s Basilica was founded by Prince Vratislav (915-21), and is the final resting place of St. Ludmilla, widow of 9th century Prince Borivoj, Bohemia’s first female Christian saint, who was strangled by as she knelt in prayer, according to the Kindersley travel guide. (Your pooler suggests that this last detail, as relayed by the travel guide, about kneeling in prayer, may require a second or third source to meet the high standards for verification and accuracy required some news organizations. The Encyclopedia Britannica, for instance, only mentions that she was strangled, not that she was kneeling in prayer at the same time.)
Both places were very cold. FLOTUS walked often with her arms crossed in front of her. Klausova carried a small purse, which matched her dun and cream-colored outfit. They were guided through the buildings by Dr. Frantisek Kadlee, the director of Prague Information Services. The two women chatted throughout their morning together, without the help of an interpreter, and out of earshot. In St. George’s, they heard two performances by the Prague School for the Blind, Carl Stamitz’s “Darmstadter Konzert,” with clarinet and cembalo, and Giovanni Battisat Pergolisi’s “Fa un Partem,” with a singer and a cembalo.
After the president’s motorcade left Prague castle, the FLOTUS motorcade headed to the Jewish quarter. The first part of the tour was the Pinkas synagogue, which has been inscribed on the inside with the names of 80,000 Holocaust victims from Bohemia and Morovia. The listing is mostly alphabetical, though new names are still being added based on ongoing research. Michelle was primarily toured around by Michaela Sidenberg, the visual arts curator of the Jewish Museum in Prague. The secret service agents were given disposable felt kipot, the Jewish head coverings also known as yarmulkes, to wear during the tour. Emanuel and Axelrod wore more traditional woven kipot. Axelrod’s was white with gray and black stitching. Emanuel’s was blue with white and gray stitching. It was a somber tour, with Axelrod and Emanuel mostly following behind Michelle, who asked questions which your pooler could not hear. Michelle also visited a room of children’s drawings which had been created between 1942 and 1944 in Terazin, a transit station for Jews who were being sent to the extermination camps. More on the drawings can be found here: http://www.jewishmuseum.cz/en/a-ex-pinkasp.htm Because of space issues, your pooler did not witness the tour of this room.
The group then came out into the cemetery, which is populated by about 12,000 gravestones, with graves sometimes stacked 12 layers deep. Dorling Kindersley’s book says there are estimated to be 100,000 people buried in the space. The FLOTUS group made several stops as they wound their way through the path, including at the oldest gravestone of Avigdor Kara (1439). According to Sidenberg, Michelle followed the Jewish tradition of depositing a wish on a small piece of folded paper near the grave of Rabbi Low. “She had it prepared,” said Sidenberg. “And I think it’s a secret.” By tradition, these things are. The press staging in the cemetery was complex and kinetic, so your pooler did not witness the placing of the paper. The tour finished at the Old-New synagogue, where Obama greeted several dignitaries (your pooler is seeking their names) and was given a glass Kiddush cup. “It’s beautiful,” Michelle said. “It’s wonderful, thank you.” At another point she was overheard telling one of her hosts, “It’s too short. We leave right away.” Later she could be heard to say, “This was a wonderful visit. We’ll be back.”
“Every single moment was a moment to cherish,” Sidenberg said afterwards of the tour with Obama. “She was very interested in every aspect of Jewish faith and Jewish tradition.”
Outside the Old New Synagogue the streets had been closed and hundreds of people had gathered behind barricades. They called Obama’s name when she appeared in the street. She also stopped at one point to waive to shop keepers as she passed.
In addition to aforementioned attire, she wore a sort of double-banded, double-buckled belt around her waist, black with what looked like metal studs. The blouse had a large white bow, which suggests, if nothing else, that at some point soon Huffington Post, Glamour or People Magazine will run a photo montage of “FLOTUS and The Bow,” suggesting a hot new trend.
Immediately after the tour, Michelle departed for the airport. Your pool did not accompany. But at 1:45 CEST, your pool was informed by an aide that her plane had already departed, bound for the United States of America.