These images come from a massive tome called Omagiu—or, Homage. This book was republished yearly in Romania, beginning in the seventies, when their “Conduc?tor”, or leader, Nicolae Ceau?escu got it into his head that his friend, Kim Il Sung of North Korea, had a pretty good thing going in regards to his personality cult. So, each year, on Nicolae’s birthday, this tribute to him was published, each year becoming larger and larger—not just in pages, but in page size. The version I picked up while in Romania was published in 1978 and runs about 650 pages. It’s mostly filled with letters sent in from various Romanian towns, wishing Nicolae great good health on his birthday, as well as official letters from governments. But the images are what interest me. Come see:
If you sit with important people, then you are important.
(Click to make larger, and check out the guy with Nicolae in the top left.
I never knew Ron Jeremy was an ambassador.)
Fahrenheit 451 fireman outfit is, just look at the banner on the wall).
(click for larger)
When I went looking for this book back in 2000 in Bucharest, I was surprised how hard it was to track down. At one time, it was an obligatory part of every worker’s bookshelf. I scoured the used bookstores, and when I asked, received scornful looks in reply. “Why do you want that?” Finally I tracked it down from a guy selling books on the street. He, too, was perplexed.
It got worse, though, when I explained my reasons. I was writing a book on the Romanian Revolution of 1989 (though to many Romanians, “revolution” is too strong a word for it—it’s overshadowed by conspiracies), and was writing a 100-page section from Nicolae’s point-of-view during his last hours, when he was captured, tried, and executed on Christmas Day. I wanted to gather as much material as I could about this man, so I could better understand him.
Understandably, people didn’t take to this well. “Why write about him? Just forget the bastard!” Fair enough, but I had my own interests, and Omagiu helped me start to come to grips with a time and place that no longer exists, and a culture that was no less scarring for its brevity.
Addition: Here’s a lovely one from our friends at Wikipedia: