December 3, 2008 — Contents

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WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 3 CONTENTS

(1)  EDITORIAL:  The Ruble as Rubble

(2)  EDITORIAL:  His so-called “Life” in Neo-Soviet Russia

(3)  Russia’s Neo-Soviet Weaponization of Energy Continues Apace

(4)  Putin is trying to Repeal the Laws of Nature

(5)  An Early Russian Christmas Carol:  Oh Holy Stalin!

(6)  Ouch! Annals of Neo-Soviet Sports Humiliation

NOTE:  If you are in New York City, you can stop by the Leica Gallery at 670 Broadway and take in a show of photographs (sample above) by Fulbright Scholar Jason Eskenazi, who has just released a new book of photographs called Wonderland:  A Fairytale of the Soviet Monolith.  The author describes his book on his website as follows:

The USSR was not only a vast closed territory with extensive geographical boundaries that stretched from Europe through Asia but is also a huge well of memory or dis-memory – a utopian vision that became a dystopian nightmare lasting nearly a century. The story of Communism is the story of the 20th century. For many, the Soviet Union existed, like their childhood, as a fairy tale where many of the realities of life were hidden from plain view. When the Berlin Wall finally fell so too did the illusion of that utopia. But time changes memory. The ex-Soviets confused the memory of their innocent youth for their nation’s utopian vision, unable to confront its history and thus creating nostalgia for tragedy. This book tries to seek and portray the socialist dream, the nightmare of the USSR beneath the veneer and the reality that emerged after the fall. And like all fairy tales try to teach us: the hard lessons of self-reliance.

The author is interviewed about his work, and a sample of the photographs, are available here.

6 responses to “December 3, 2008 — Contents

  1. The website you linked to says, “After the Berlin Wall fell, American Jason Eskenazi spent more than a decade photographing in the former Soviet Union.”

    First of all, the decade following the fall of the Berlin Wall was hardly Russia’s shining moment. It was probably one of the worst periods in Russian history, at least for ordinary people (if not for wealthy oligarchs). The closest analogy would be American photos from the Great Depression era. But not to worry, Russia is making a comeback now!

    The website also says:

    When Jason Eskenazi was growing up in Queens, N.Y., during the Reagan era, he kept hearing about this mysterious thing — “The Evil Empire.” He became so curious about it that once the Berlin Wall fell, he decided to visit and to document what he saw.

    “I wanted to see history,” says Eskenazi, who, in his day job, works as a security guard at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. “I was not trusting what I was reading or seeing. I wanted to see it for myself, to go to the source of it.”

    Hmm… Didn’t trust what he heard and saw in the American media… Smart guy!

    Eskenazi spent more than a decade photographing life in the former Soviet Union and has just published his photographs in a book, Wonderland: A Fairy Tale of the Soviet Monolith.

    The point is that he’s saying it was a fairytale (the myth of the Soviet monolith). That’s why he went there and why he stayed there for more than a decade telling a story in photographs. He fell in love with the place and its people.

    Eskenazi says the trip felt like moving back in time to a place with no advertisements and fewer cars on the road. Women wore summer dresses.

    “There were all these things from 50 years ago, and everything looked like the photography that I was brought up on,” he says.

    Eskenazi … quickly learned the words for, “Where is the wedding?” or “Where is the funeral?” so he could enter into ritual and community life.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    Gosh, looks like we really touched nerve. Interestingly enough, that’s exactly what we were trying to do. Thanks for the confirmation, Mishenka! It’s nice to have it in writing. Twice! You’re as predictable (and boring) as clockwork.

  2. So how does LaRussophobe treat such a book? You take one photograph, completely devoid of any context, showing some slightly goofy ordinary people (of the sort that can be found on any Sunday in any American trailer park) and you present that one photo as being illustrative of the whole book, as if this was a book depicting the horrors of Soviet life (you know, concentration camps, gulags, those sorts of everyday things).

    Almost everyone I know that remembers the Soviet Union has only fond memories of that time. And no, most of the folks I know were not disaffected dissidents or trying to get out of the country.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    Well, if you come across a more flattering one, why don’t you show it to us. Could it be you can’t, because there isn’t one? Dimwit. If you knew the first thing about Putin’s Russia, you’d know that much of it looks just as bad today, if not worse. Russians aren’t in the top 100 nations of the world for male adult lifespan, are ravaged by every plague from tuberculosis to alcoholism to AIDS to murder, and their population is rapidly plunging. Instead of seeking to reform those problems (which would require you to admit them), just like in Soviet days you deny and rationalize. No better proof that nothing has changed in Russia, which btw is ruled by a proud KGB spy.

    Imbecile.

    BTW, because of your offensive lie, your privilege of advertising your blog here has been revoked. We did not rely on only one photograph, but linked to a whole gallery readers can judge for themselves. We demand an apology for your outrageous misrepresentation, and if we don’t get it your ability to post here will be totally revoked.

  3. “It was probably one of the worst periods in Russian history”….

    Give me a break, are you a mental dwarf or what, I would think that Stalin’s Reign of Terror, the persistent decades of the Gulag up until the 70’s that swallowed one out of four Russians or more, or the unrelenting repression of all decades past Lenin made the 90’s, aside from the economic problems, a benign reprieve in comparison. You’ve got to be an amoral idiot or history challenged to make a statement so stupid.

    Misha, you are a known entity in the little group of known fools along with the other moron that spends equal times on zombie issues at his site that makes the rounds on sites critical of Russia spewing the usual pro-Communist idiocy. Get a life.

  4. Well, you did link to the whole gallery, which is where I found it, and I was unaware of this book before I read about it on your blog (I’ll give you that much). And I’ll probably have to buy the damned thing now. But you should still come clean about your psychological motives for publishing this blog in the first place. Why is it that you so obviously hate Russia (and the Russian people) so much?

    If I can’t post my honest thoughts in here then I won’t read in here either (and why should I?)

    Are you interested in honest dialog and debate or only endless polemicizing? I would never censor someone from my own blog (Misha’s Russia Blog <– and there’s the hated plug) just because I disagreed with them, even if I thought their views were abominable.

    I know you have “issues” with those who come into your blog and take the tone that they have some “right” to publish their comments, no matter what. You emphasize that according to the rules of “private property” no one has the right to publish except those who “own” a printing press (AS IF any of your own capital was on the line in this–an internet blog–and AS IF you actually “owned” any part of the internet–other than your own modem). That view might be fine, for the NY Times; but for a blog? C’mon! Get real! Please!

    As I said, anyone is free to publish anything they want in my blog, and the more adversarial they are the more I welcome them (as long as they are not racist, bigoted, or just plain hate-filled). I would challenge you to find one thing which I have said (now or ever) which represents hate against anyone. If you can’t then I would suggest that your censorship of me is borne of fear (of my ideas) more than anything else.

    But the fear of ideas is the very hallmark of a despot!

    I am more interested in free inquiry and arriving at the truth than I am at exercising my parochial “rights” to censor someone from my blog, just because I disagree with them and just because I happen to “own” the user-id and password to it. And yes, I readily admit that I make mistakes too.

    As one internet advocate said long ago (and I’m sorry but forgot his name even if I did remember his quote), “Information wants to be free.” Why do you have a problem with free expression in a forum that you are not paying for? (Could it be the little Mini-Me Stalin/Saakashvili inside of you?) Are you afraid of my “propaganda” or just afraid of discovering the truth, which might not happen to align with your own tidy self-created “inner world”?

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    We accept your apology, however warped, as being probably the best neo-Soviet reptile like you can manage. But the ban on advertising stands.

  5. Misha, you may remember what another character said long time ago: Бога нет, кричал Остап Бендер, вызывая ксендзов на диспут (There is no God – Ostap Bender was screaming, inviting priests for a discussion).

    When you are saying that 90-s where the worst decade in Russian history – there is no point arguing with you. Your “propaganda” is just like Ostap Bender’s – nothing to be afraid of; it’s just boring!

    And you psychoanalysis of why this blog exists… what makes you qualified to know the answer (and if one says “you should come clean” – that implies that one knows the real reasons, rather than the ones that are described on “About” page).

    I am happy for you that you allow all kind of comments on your blog! I also see quite a robust dialog going on there – oh, never mind…

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