It’s been a half a year or so since New Worlds lumbered into flight and perhaps time for some thoughts on its nascent development. I had hoped, as expressed in the “About New Worlds” post, that it would become more than just “my blog” and more of a self-sustaining community of sorts. Of course, founding a community implies some sort of government, the principles of which I am admittedly insufficiently knowledgable.
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First, some context. Eleven summers ago I spent what I am sure I will always remember as the most magical month of my life in this glorious city of St. Petersburg. After nine months of letters and occasional phone calls, I finally met in person the wonderful woman who was to become my wife, the dear Sophia Anatolievna. We spent all of June, the most romantic month here with its endless ‘white nights,’ discovering each other in new and deeper ways. Before that month was complete she had ensured my eternal happiness by agreeing to spend the rest of her life with me.
In addition to the joys of our romance, it was a supremely entertaining adventure. Sophia had prepared a rigorous schedule of exploration of the cultural wonders of the city, including numerous symphonic and chamber music events, a ballet and an opera, as well as the required perusal of a half a dozen museums and visits to the major tsars’ summer palaces in the suburbs. There was another side to the entertainment, however, provided through the efforts of her brother-in-law Anatoli, better known by his adopted name of ‘George.’ He had been a co-founder of the legendary rock group Aquarium in the seventies along with Boris Grebenshikov (aka ‘Bob’). Though George, more a playwrite and poet than a musician, had dropped out early, Bob had gone on to write hundreds of songs well known to generations of Russians and played with scores of brilliant musicians across the decades. He’s practically the Russian Bob Dylan/Lennon + much more.
Yesterday we journeyed by electric train to Gorkofskoye, a small community of “dachas” (summer houses) about an hour’s travel to the north and west, almost halfway to the Finnish border. Sophia had often told me stories about her time spent there over many years visiting her Aunt Elena. Her description of picking mushrooms and berries in the forest, playing with her aunt’s many dogs- either her own or strays she had adopted- had always sounded so delightfully bucolic, quite a contrast with the chaotic rush of St. Petersburg. I had met Aunt Elena on my first visit eleven years ago when she had made a trip into the city and had been impressed with her energy and sharp mind for a 71 year-old. She was also extremely likable and we’d taken to each other instantly. It hadn’t been our initial plan to visit because Sophia and Jeremy had just spent a week with her already before my arrival, but I felt a desire to see her and Gorkovskoye and to personally thank her for letting us stay in her year-round apartment in the city. The idea of a return visit was greeted enthusiastically by Jeremy, who had enjoyed his time there immensely, and Elena was very pleased as well. At 81, it was likely the last time she might see her grand-nephew, as well as Sophia and me.
One of the most common phrases you hear in Russia is “Ne rabotaet” – it’s not working. I screwed up before I left and lost my debit card in an ATM and didn’t have time to get a new one before leaving. I have a Plus system enabled credit union card, though, so I’ve been trying to use it to get some rubles. The other day I found a “bank-o-mat” (ATM) which sported the Plus symbol and enthusiastically put the card in. Then I saw the dreaded “ne rabotaet” on the screen and wondered if I’d ever see my only link with American cash again. A passing Russian saw my consternation and helpfully pointed to the message and said “ne rabotaet.” I was too panicked to even try Russian so I just said “but but – my card…” and he hit a couple of buttons and it popped back out. I’ve since found a couple of working machines and have lots of rubles to play with. I’m guarding my credit union card like precious gold ever since.
I can't say this — (Moderation policies in effect) But can I say — (Moderation policies in effect) No? Well, then, an acceptable comment. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? Did that one make it? Oh, brave, Maxwell, I honor thy space. Now this– the father of one of my son's friends works with a lot of scientists, some of whom have seen Inconvenient Truth, but dismiss it with this comment: "Anything can be done with a model." I also know a young woman whose brother is a NASA scientist working on the Mars Project. He's also a fundamentalist Christian who denies global warming exists. I therefore broach this serious topic with the following statement: WTF? WTF? Thank you.
Where is “here” you ask? Well, none other than St. Petersburg, Russia, where there is not only one, but at least two KFCs, as well as multiple MacDonalds and at least one- probably more- Pizza Huts. Russia is certainly changing. When I was here eleven years ago I was struck by the absence of signs. One of the first public streets I walked down had numerous cafes, bars, and other stores but no signs on the street advertising their presence. This is clearly the biggest change- now the signs are everywhere. Another big change is the increase in automotive traffic. It’s noisy, chaotic and the air is BAD. Still, the city is incredibly beautiful and full of unique character. It’s now nearly midnight, still not dark outside and the nightlife is just getting started. I’m having a blast trying out my lousy Russian. Still, it’s best to ask first if someone understands English, ’cause there’s a fair chance they do. I nearly collided with one guy on the street so took the opportunity to ask him (laboriously in Russian) if he knew where I could find an internet cafe.
“Dunno mate” he answered in a New Zealand accent, “but maybe this bloke does.” Pointing out his friend from New York.
After Hiroshima,Vietnam, Reagan, and, perhaps most excruciating, the six years of slowly growing dictatorship under the Bush regime, I am well aware that most of what the media tells us is bald faced blather. Therefore, it is of the utmost refreshment to hear other voices suggest that Israeli officials should be charged with war crimes or what Israel is doing is state-sponsored terrorism. By extension, there are those who rightly proclaim that the biggest obstacle to peace in the Middle East also happens to be the world’s biggest terrorist state, the United States.
A Shakespearean character, introduced in Henry the Fourth First Part, and brought to fruition in Henry the Fifth. He’s a soldier, a Lieutenant in the King’s Army; he’s also a cutthroat brawler, a cutpurse, a rapist, and and ill-tempered friend. His name is — Ancient Pistol. Really. He’s introduced as a friend of the now-deceased Sir John Falstaff; and has somehow ended up with Falstaff’s wife, Hostess Quickly, who was also apparently engaged to Nym, who almost ends up in a duel to the death with Ancient Pistol over a gambling debt (and Hostess Quickly). The fight is stopped by Bardolph, another friend of Falstaff, who swears he will run the winner through. They quit their circling, and make friends again. for awhile.
Later, Bardolph is arrested for looting. Ancient Pistol, who has heroically held a bridge near Harfeld, is commended by his superiors — and immediately asks in turn to have Bardolph freed. When refused, Ancient Pistol rips in to the most brutal stream of curses — curses that, although they are over four hundred years old, still have the ability to shock with their vehemence. He is truly a multifaceted character.
‘Ancient Pistol’. Now, goddamn it, that is a COOL name. Totally ‘effin COOL. SHAKESPEARE. WOW.
This has been your daily dose of Kaos. Thank you.
No deletions, no comments — I’m just gonna go far out here and say something REALLY freaky ‘less Maxwell jumps out — but wait — he’s probably in Russia, and can’t access the admin — HA! I RULE! I OWN THIS BLOG! Until he gets back. Then there’ll be hell to pay. He’ll probably beat me up, like the last time. Or remember the famously-now-deleted Aldous Pigkiller post? Whooo! The only deleted post so far, and now ANYTHING GOES!! Now that’s bloggin’. Just try to stop me. I’M the blogger. I’M the blog-king. Ha!
I can’t really tell you any of the good ones. Innappropriate for certain audiences, or just plain innappropriate, or just one of those stories that has to wait for thirty years after Max has his last bike accident. You know. Like the Bonfire Story. So here, instead, is a Mildy.
One day, Max is on another road trip in his good ‘ol red truck, Mac. Cruising along, he doesn’t spot the poor dead dog lying in the road until it’s too late — KaaWHUMP — and he flinches, but — after all — the dog is predeceased, merely a husk of the former creature that inhabited it, poor puppy.