poemless. a slap in the face of public taste.

February 24, 2010

Guilty Pleasures…

Filed under: Odds & Ends — poemless @ 6:29 PM
Tags: , , ,

Contents: A cartoon, a video, a photo and a magazine article. All you need is a glass of chardonnay and you’ve got yourself a serving of superficial bliss.

The heated discussion ignited by the previous post has me seeking lighter fare. (So if you came here looking for a bunch of overeducated Westerner know-it-alls arguing about the relative merits and horrors of 90’s Russia, that’ll be the next post down.) For now, a few indulgences provided for my own enjoyment. But feel free to help yourselves.

I. Oh, snap!

From xkcd. (H/T: Sublime Oblivion)

Question #1: Can it be called “navel gazing” if stick figures do it? I mean, they don’t have navels.
Question #2: Has xkcd yet published the cartoon of stick figures going online to post xkcd cartoons of of stick figures going online to post xkcd cartoons?

II. Colbert takes on the Swiss, Irish and Russians!

February 23, 2010: Olympic International Houses

I hate WordPress. Why can’t I embed a damn video?! Well, follow the link – it’s worth it for the Swiss-bashing alone, though the praise for Putin is fun to watch as well…

III. Vova’s rockin’ the vampire suit.

How many old guys can rock the all black get-up and pull it off without looking like a washed up rockstar or a washed up theater critic or a washed up vampire? Johny Cash and… …. Just Johny Cash and Vova.

I am a sucker for a world leader who dresses like Johnny Cash and says stuff like this. I turn right into that girl at the party who politely informs you she’s had too much to drink. I know one day I will be on the stand explaining myself and begging for forgiveness before my willing executioners, but for today, I think he is just divine…

IV. Vanity Fair’s magnum opus on the eXile.

What? Looks like I am not the only one suffering withdrawal. But why are they publishing this now?

“Lost Exile.” Excerpts:

Ames on the 90’s:

Everything was about free markets and capitalism and democracy, and it was all leading us to some great new future, but all you had to do was look around in the streets and see there was something fucking wrong with it,” Ames says. “We were in the middle of total devastation, one of the worst, most horrible fucking tragedies of modern times.”

Fred Weir on the 90’s:

Ames had just turned 28. He ran around the city, chasing tank fire, ducking behind soldiers until they kicked him away. “It was this different world where everything was more intense and consequential and full of surprises,” he says. This was home.

By the mid-90s, a different species of expatriate was flocking to the Wild East, as it was known. The decade had all the indulgence of 1920s Paris and Weimar Berlin, without the bothersome art and poetry. There was too much money and sex to be had. Perestroika and glasnost were all very nice, but Russia was broke, and Yeltsin, committing to a raft of hasty privatization measures, ushered in Western bankers, consultants, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and opportunists of every other stripe, who joined the nascent capitalists and native raconteurs of Russia. According to The Christian Science Monitor’s Fred Weir, “It was, of course, the sexiest story in the world, because the great Soviet giant was transforming itself—we thought—into a Western country.” In fact, he says, “the fuckers were just looting Russia.”

The Hungry Duck:

“They would get up and continue dancing, blood everywhere,” Baseav says. Steele recalls a night when the deputy head of a Moscow police unit, drunk beyond all reckoning, emptied his pistol into the ceiling and made everybody lie on the floor for three hours. Lavelle claims he saw a man stabbed to death next to him one night. “No one thought it was unusual.”

Edushka, being disingenuous:

“One thing I couldn’t stand was Westerners who thought they had higher moral values than Russians, these people who came preaching Western civilization and then become connived,” The Economist’s Edward Lucas says. “The Exile exposed them.”

Ames on America:

“It’s kind of terrifying being back here. I find the rules here suffocating,” Ames says when I ask how it feels returning to the States after a decade and a half in Moscow. “I miss the extreme melodrama” of Russia, he says. “Here there are so many horrifying layers of décor and piety. Everything is at stake in this country—in theory it’s Rome, and yet it operates like small-town Nebraska. There’s so little real drama here.”

“Certain people” on how it ended:

Certain people close to The Exile, including some of those investors, claim Rossvyazokhrankultura did not cause it to fold. They say that Ames was tired of publishing it and that he used the government as a scapegoat. Alex Shifrin, The Exile’s lead investor, whom Ames accuses of abandoning him, would say only, “There are a lot of half-truths as to what happened.” Another investor claims the officials were simply looking for a bribe. “There was no government plot. I think everybody had it out for The Exile to some extent,” he says. But the investors didn’t “want to get involved with a media fight [Ames was] having with the feds.”

As always, thanks for reading!



  1. I love that cartoon. Thanks for posting it.

    Comment by maryb — February 24, 2010 @ 9:25 PM | Reply

  2. Wow.

    An article by Mark Adomanis appeared at the InoSmi.Ru (it’s a state-sponsored foreign press translating agency)! I have no idea, how could this get possible.

    (The link to the original can be found in the bottom of the translated text.)

    What then? Mark Adomanis will be cited in the prime-time of Russian state TV? You know, they (like, “Rossiya-24”) regularly cite excerpts from foreign press translations.

    Hm, hm, hm. …………………………………

    Comment by Evgeny — February 26, 2010 @ 7:50 AM | Reply

    • Hey – I’m not Mark’s manager. Perhaps you should tell him this news at his site? And maybe explain how it happened? 😉

      OTOH, if you are trying to advance my career, go right ahead…

      Comment by poemless — February 26, 2010 @ 11:51 AM | Reply

      • LOL. Poemless, I am equally clueless like you. I can’t have any relation to this news even in theory (you are mistaken if you think so), because Inosmi (Inosmi, not Inoforum!) guys are apparently watching over Mark Adomanis since at least October 2009. And I started reading your blog only recently. There are several translations from him at their website:


        Possibly, you don’t know everything about your Russian readers?..

        Comment by Evgeny — February 26, 2010 @ 1:22 PM | Reply

        • Possibly because one of them invited me to help him with a project scouting, translating and promoting Western articles for the Russian audience? Possibly because I am responding to him as we speak? Sorry if I overestimated Inoforum’s influence! 😉

          Wait, what exactly is Inoforum doing that InoSMI is not? Are you competitors? This fascinating.

          (No, I know nothing about my Russian readers; for all I know there are multiple Evgenys here. I don’t even know much about my American readers…)

          Comment by poemless — February 26, 2010 @ 1:34 PM | Reply

          • Oh wow – you don’t have to answer that. I really should learn to Google before asking questions. I’d totally forgotten about that InoSMI brewhaha.

            Well, best of luck to you guys!

            Comment by poemless — February 26, 2010 @ 1:47 PM | Reply

          • The major difference is, that InoSMI project operates under the cover of a Russian governmental news agency, while InoForum is a volunteer project, independent from everyone 🙂

            Inosmi was launched several years ago, as a daughter project of a Russian news agency. If you remember, it was a middle of hysteria in the Western press about bloody Russia, murderous Putin, stuff. The goal of the project was to make the Russian audience familiar with their Western image.

            Inoforum was organized less than a year ago by a group of enthusiasts, out of a fear that a new appointed editor-in-chief of InoSMI would render the resource into a pro-American-Government organization (kinda “another Voice of America”).

            Inoforum is a Russian patriotic resource, however, that doesn’t mean Anti-American 🙂 Instead, I am sure that a person like you would be met there with great interest. Why? I don’t know how to express that in words, just I’m sure you are the right person 🙂

            Now the major difference between the two projects is that Inosmi is more closed, while Inoforum is more open (it was founded by volunteers, its essense is the volunteer work).

            However, I did not invite you to help _me_ 🙂 _I_ don’t need your help, thanks 🙂 I have very little relation to the Inoforum but I deeply sympathize with it. So, I proposed you to attempt joining its team — in the ultimate terms it would mean for you broadening your influence 🙂 And I am sure that a person like you would have a good position at that resource.

            Comment by Evgeny — February 26, 2010 @ 1:52 PM | Reply

      • Unfortunately, I don’t have any career to hand over you. 😦 😦 Yet, that was the reason why I proposed you volunteering for Inoforum. That’s a place in Runet where people would be interested in your voice, and it would be heard. I don’t know people from the main editorial board (had no interest to contact them), but often interesting people have a more say at Inoforum than mere scouting/translating.

        Comment by Evgeny — February 26, 2010 @ 1:29 PM | Reply

  3. Talking of guilty pleasures, I hope you’ve seen these from Мульт Личности with Vova and Medvedev – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m61mQjiU4mE and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QF61fPW3E0

    Comment by Sputnik — March 2, 2010 @ 2:02 PM | Reply

    • Sweet. I take it this is the same people who did the New Year’s dance cartoon?

      Comment by poemless — March 3, 2010 @ 4:38 PM | Reply

      • Yes, they have a new series on Channel 1 at the moment. I just love the line, ‘The Germans are coming’.

        Comment by Sputnik — March 3, 2010 @ 11:49 PM | Reply

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