Years ago I went to Prague by myself and took a lot of (in retrospect very earnest and juvenile) notes in a diary. I remember very clearly being overwhelmed as I sat on the steps of the National Museum: in front of me was a very simple memorial to Jan Palach, who had committed suicide by lighting himself on fire in front of the Museum. The memorial was a tattered wooden cross embedded in the cobblestones on the street. Right across the street from the memorial … is a McDonald’s. My brain couldn’t handle the dissonance, and even now I get a little sick thinking of it.
I decided to see if both these details were in Google Street View. Indeed they are. Check out the Palach memorial, then turn about 45 degrees to your left.
The simplicity and solemnity of the one, against the ugliness and plasticity of the other, is haunting to me in a way that few other things are.