poemless. a slap in the face of public taste.

April 28, 2010

“This is nothing compared to how Putin rigged the UK elections…”

Rupert Murdoch won’t decide this election – Alexander Lebedev will!

A few days ago, a friend sent me a link to a comment on European Tribune about the upcoming UK elections. Before you head over there in blissful ignorance to find out what’s going on, like I did, here’s some background:

FT: James Murdoch ambushes Indy editor.

On Wednesday afternoon, Mr Murdoch walked into The Independent’s newsroom in Kensington, central London, carrying a copy of the newspaper. He was accompanied by Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, which publishes The Times and The Sun among others.

The newspaper he was carrying was one of 300,000 Independents being distributed for free in the UK that day with a special wraparound front page advertising The Independent’s claim to freedom from proprietorial interference.
The advert stated: “Rupert Murdoch won’t decide this election – you will.”

The younger Mr Murdoch reached the busy editorial desk where The Independent’s editor-in-chief, Simon Kelner, was planning the following day’s edition with colleagues, and brandished the newspaper in his hand.

“What are you fucking playing at?” Mr Murdoch asked Mr Kelner in a loud voice and in front of dozens of bemused journalists.

At that point, Mr Kelner invited Mr Murdoch and Ms Brooks into his office where there was a heated conversation lasting about 15 minutes, one of those present told the Financial Times.

The Independent boss later told colleagues Mr Murdoch had complained, with the use of further expletives, that the advertisement besmirched his father’s reputation.[…]

“If Rupert Murdoch’s private life had been under attack, I could understand why it would excite so much anger, but to suggest that by saying he tried to influence elections you were damaging his reputation does seem quite extraordinary,” said Steve Barnett, professor of media at the University of Westminster.

He said: “[Rupert] Murdoch himself told a House of Lords committee [in 2007] that he influenced what was in the editorial comment sections of his tabloid newspapers and in 1992 The Sun claimed that it had won the election on behalf of John Major.”

In this election campaign, The Sun and News of the World have come out in favour the Conservative party. In the past week, both papers have reacted very strongly against a surge in support for the Liberal Democrats, which could see David Cameron’s Conservative party failing to win a majority in parliament.

Last month, The Independent papers were bought by Alexander Lebedev, the Russian multimillionaire who also owns the London Evening Standard.

… for one pound sterling, no less. According to ceebs at ET, who lives on the small island and would know, the Independent has been supporting the Lib Dems and Murdoch has been backing the Tories. Should you have forgotten the sway Murdoch’s media empire has in elections, here is some dude on a cannabis forum to remind you.

Ceebs also reposted the following Twitter updates:

@MichaelWolffNYC I’m hearing details of the threats made by James Murdoch against the Lebedevs–bare knuckle tabloid stuff.

@MichaelWolffNYC Here’s what I hear… James Murdoch, in the lingo of Sun newsdesk, called Simon Kelner a “fucking fuckwit”

@MichaelWolffNYC Also… Murdoch, Jr. , snarling at Kelner, said the Independent, recently bought by Alexander Lebedev was “funded by Putin’s money”

Is the paper backing the Lib Dems funded by Putin’s money? All one pound sterling of it? For all I know, this is the kind of insult all monied Russians in London get. After all, it’s not like the Murdoch media is famous for relying on facts. But I was still curious to know what kind of relationship Alexander with an x has with his fellow former KGB agent, Vladimir Putin. (No, Vova, I’m not insinuating anything carnal….) To my knowledge it’s not all wine and roses, unlike the relationship between the premier and Lebedev’s fellow emigre tycoon, Roman Abramovich, who has multiple photos of Vova in his office, including a portrait of the premier wearing a kimono!

For one, Lebedev also owns a significant stake in Novaya Gazeta. Not exactly a paper one associates with the promotion of Putinism. I’ve also heard Lebedev be quite critical of the less-than-free market atmosphere in Russia, which lead me to believe he was one of those folks who lecture about democracy when they’re thinking of capitalism. The kind of person who’d … vote Tory. However, Wikipedia informs me that he is also a member of the political party “Just (Fair) Russia,” which is either an impotent opposition party, a tool of the Kremlin or a cabal of schemers waiting for word from Dima to exert their independence. So, that’s unhelpful.

Who knows what -if any- influence Lebedev has on the Independent’s political persuasion? I’m not even certain the man’s officially taken charge of the paper yet. And if he did have a hand in the challenge to Murdoch’s electioneering propaganda, to what degree is it a marketing rather than political ploy? For all I know, pistols drawn at Murdoch are just another indicator of Alexander’s impeccable cool, in case the hipster specs didn’t get that message across. Meh, seriously, kids, this is about as nonstory as nonstories get.

The fact that the world’s most powerful media baron(‘s son) and his Latynina-esque (wow, that’s spooky…) partner flipped out when a well-connected former Russian spy bought the town’s biggest paper, and then another, which is now promoting the rival political party which was not even the rival party until a few days ago, when it went from being a meek 3rd party with questionable viability to leading the polls over both Labour and theTories, and just happens to be headed by a … er … kids, I am not making this up, Russian aristocrat, it’s a tempest in a teapot.

Move along, folks. Nothing to see here. Go on now. Surely you have something better to do than read this tabloid gossip.

Especially you Brits, who should be busy busting out your slovars and learning to sing “God Save the Queen” in Russian!

April 27, 2010

You say To-MAY-to, I say To-MAT-to. Or, Censored in Russia!

Filed under: Culture: Russia,Culture: U.S. — poemless @ 6:00 PM

A case study in the irreconcilable aspects of American and Russian culture. National ideologies, cultural sensitivities, urban legends, or just another way we annoy each other for kicks?

There are aspects of Russian culture which leave me a bit baffled. There are aspects of American culture which also have me baffled. Generally speaking, people baffle me. My general philosophy is thus: I celebrate cultural diversity as a weapon against existential monotony and intellectual inertia; I claim the right to opt in/out of social norms as I see fit and extend this right to everyone else; I harbor a deep suspicion that said norms are the pretty packaging of tribalism, identity, largely constructs which, like a good home, keep us feeling secure so long when we remain locked inside them, provide some peace of mind and a decent road map should we venture outside, yet are hardly immutable or impervious to outside forces. Like, to wolves, for example.

Still, sometimes the I feel like I’m living in bizarro world when trying to navigate the respective moral landscapes of Russia and America. Despite being at times diametrically opposed (though rarely in the cases most often assumed), neither seems very intutive or logical to me. Which is weird, since one prides its culture on the former, and one on the latter.

Example I. Mat.

Recently, a post of mine was republished on Inoforum.

Being an indignant American, I could only bring myself to care about the fact that the F word had been edited out, resulting in the following exchange:

Me: …if you want to post my stuff elsewhere, it is ok, but ONLY so long as you do not censor it.

E–: …as you know, “mat” is not allowed in a civilized/cultured Russian society… A lot of Russian girls dislike mat extremely… Mat is not allowed among kids. Most of us are not kids, but it can’t be ruled out that kids are taking interest of our resource… I said that usually mat is not allowed among adults, however it is also not banned, but requires a justification — mat is good to use only in an adequate situation.

Me: I refuse to let society decide which words are “good” and which words are “bad.”

E–: Poemless, the problem is not that the society imposes what is good/bad on women. The problem is that mat hurts some girls. They just feel negative about it.

Maybe you are thinking that because I’m not up in arms about the policies of one Russian premier, I have some kind of double standard about what is ok for Russians and what is ok for me. Oh, no. I will happily let Putin run my country (may not be a joy ride, but could not possibly be worse than my current choices. Oh who am I kidding – the man is total joy ride.) Likewise, I think that if a devushka wants to say or write “mat” – let ‘er! And fuck anyone who says otherwise! (so… this won’t be getting reposted…)

Who is Russia to dictate to me what is civilized society, anyway? Just because they drink tea and watch ballet they’re the pinnacle of civilization? I’ve been to Moscow – you can’t fool me. Besides, who said I was trying to be civil? Also, what is this nonsense about girls being “hurt” by vulgar language?

I step back. Are there some irrational things that “hurt” me? Yes. Do I know any Russian women who go around swearing like sailors? No… Still, I don’t use such language in any kind of professional or formal setting, and mostly employ it only in creative writing. And when something’s happened that requires me to call maintenance. Or I’ve been put on hold by someone in India. Ok, I swear. Who cares? Some woman in Russia? Really? I start a blog and Russian porn spammers are now an unavoidable part of life, but I can’t write “fuck?” Even if I accept that it were more offensive to the average Russian, even if I were to accept that writing f in Russia were punishable by death, I should compromise my values (you’ll have to pry my freedom of speech out of my cold dead hand!) in deference to your quaint sensibilities? Madness!

Cultural chauvinism? I don’t think so. I’m not interested in dictating to the rest of the world what is or is not offensive. I’m just reserving the right to say “fuck” even if it offends people. Because if the rest of the world can’t handle that, we’re in trouble.

P.S. Natalia Antonova has moved to Moscow. She’s also unafraid of colorful language. So, if the tulips are weeping in Moscow, you’ll know why…

Example II. Kompromat.

So, having been informed that it’s not ok for me to say “fuck,” which, in my culture is considered a lesser offense than, oh, sceewing a prostitute with your two best friends and having a home movie of it posted on the Internet, you can imagine my confusion when said video provokes more silly jokes than moral indignation. Not surprise. Not frustration. I happen to share their ambivalence. In my country, this kind of thing would bring the Puritans right out of the woodwork, be pointed to as the root cause of recent natural disasters. (Which is about as nuts as anyone being hurt by a curse word.) But confused. Because I can’t curse. Given the arbitrariness of national sensitivities (I recently heard a new item about African immigrants being offended that Americans allowed their pets to share their bed) how can I possibly consistently respect any of them? Let alone all of them… That is, if I hypothetically wanted to? Anyway, back to Katyagate.

A Good Treaty (and friends) gives a summary of the reactions the scandal has provoked in Russia. Note the absence of volcano scapegoating.

A. This just proves the people who made the tape know nothing about Russian society, which is is less offended than bemused by the whole thing. The perpetrators are out of touch and the security apparatus is out of control.

B. This just proves the people who made the tape know exactly what they are doing, which is not to stamp the liberal opposition with scarlet letters, but make them appear less serious. Instead of evoking political disenchantment, now these figures will evoke pathetic images in the public psyche.

(C). This just proves Nashi’s looking for a way to justify its existence.

And then there is my reaction, (D) Why do I care? Before now the only reason I had to care about sex scandals was that they might expose the moral hypocrisy of their all-star line ups. Take that out of the equation and all I can think is … more p)rn on the Internet. Reaction (E) this just proves all cultures are sex-obsessed. And lastly, reaction (F) “God, I hope no one ever makes a sex tape of me. I’ve always wanted to sleep with Edichka, but now I am not so sure…”

Note how my own cultural sensibilities prevented me from using the f word in the context of that last sentence. Fortunately, mystical intervention has designated this “Reaction F” making it literarily unnecessary to do so.

What is the moral of this story, dear readers?

I guess that depends on who you ask. If you are asking me, it is that the cultural “norms” of countries and nationalities are no less arbitrated by convenience than are my own individual sensitivities.

But if you ask America, they’ll tell you it’s evidence of how censorship-mad Russia is, no freedom of speech there at all. And Russia will probably tell you it illustrates America’s quest for cultural hegemony and sick, demented relationship with sex.

Ignore them.
Decide for yourself.

April 22, 2010

Odds & Ends: Sick and Wrong Edition

Contents: Who’s the snotty nose now, Vlad? Soapy Peter v. the Nazis. The bastard Czech offspring of Houellebecq and Lautreamont. Rahm Emanuel’s eyes are bigger than his b … oh don’t make me be crass. Let’s just say his appetite is disproportionate to his performance.


I was originally going to entitle this “A comparative study in Russian and Swiss propaganda,” but found out that Euronews is not Swiss, or not just Swiss, but comes out of Lyon (meh, same diff…) and is “European.” Whatever the hell that means. In America it means white. As in, “Where are your grandparents from?” “Europe.” “I can see that. What country in Europe?” “Switzerland.” “Ah. Well, that explains a lot…” Maybe it was this subconscious “whitenews” that made me believe it was Swiss. I don’t know.

Maybe I just needed someone to blame for news of Vovochka’s illness.

So I was watching Putin’s Duma address on RT, thinking, “Gah. He’s boring them to death. He’s even boring himself to death. Look at him. What a crap job. Hasn’t he already done enough for his country? Can’t he get some lackey to give his boring speeches while he’s off riding his pony around his empire, stealing from the rich to give to the State?”

Then I saw it the very same story on Euronews

“The recession in Russia is over according to Vladimir Putin, who has delivered his annual report to the lower house of parliament.
The prime minister likes to project a healthy image. But he was visibly ill, addressing members of the Duma with a trembling voice and regular coughing.

He admitted the economic situation was far from ideal.

“I would like to reiterate how important it is for everyone, not only the government but for everyone in this room today, to maintain a responsible economic policy and avoid holding our hand out to anyone,” he said in the speech.”

… and thought, “Ah. Well, that explains a lot… Like, why he has enough water on the podium to take a bath in. I just thought he was really, really thirsty. And bored delirious. He must have a fever. Why isn’t he in bed? Hasn’t he already done enough for his country? Can’t he get some lackey to give his boring speeches while he’s tucked in bed, sipping honey tea and having fairytales read to him?”

Seriously, I admire his work ethic and all, but how effective can you be when you are trying to convince the world your country is robust and healthy as you’re about to pass out from weakness? Especially if you are the action hero leader of said country? Haven’t you ever shown up at a doctor appointment to find your physician has a cold, and thought, “What a terrible doctor!” Even though you intellectually know they can get colds too? It’s like if your dentist were missing teeth. So I don’t see how a clean economic bill of health benefits by delivery from someone pale and shivering with illness.

Or maybe he’s not sick. Maybe Surkov bit him and turned him into a vampire and that’s why he is pale and lightheaded. And all those water bottles and tea cups are meant to distract from the cask of blood he’s sipping from behind the podium.

In any case, I hope you feel better soon, Vova!!!


One of the legacies of the repressive Communist era is the ability of Russians to always find inventive ways to entertain themselves. Another is homophobia. Another is police brutality. You see where this is going…

Moscow Times: Bubble-Blowing Teens Attacked in Gay Mix-Up.

“ST. PETERSBURG — Young people who gathered to celebrate spring by blowing bubbles at an annual flash mob in central St. Petersburg were attacked by a group of suspected neo-Nazis who mistook the gathering for a gay pride event, flash mob organizers said.
Some 500 people stood blowing bubbles on the steps of Gorkovskaya metro station and in the surrounding Alexandrovsky Park at about 4 p.m. Sunday — the agreed time for the start of the flash mob — when about 30 men ran up and started beating them and firing rubber bullets.

Several people fell to the ground before the attackers fled at the sight of approaching OMON riot police officers. A reporter saw officers detain at least one attacker. Police also detained about 30 bubble-blowers for five hours on suspicion of walking on the grass, a charge that they denied, organizers said.[…]

The annual bubble-blowing flash mob, known alternatively as “Dream Flash” and “Soapy Peter,” presents itself as nonpolitical and mostly attracts teenagers.

“It has nothing to do with the gay community or with any political, ideological or any other organization,” Yulia, the flash mob’s organizer, said by phone Monday.

She spoke on condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal for staging the event, which is not sanctioned by city authorities.

“It’s simply a celebration of spring with the idea that a group of people come together and walk around the city center blowing bubbles and enjoy spring,” she said.[…]

Several minutes after the attackers struck, OMON police declared the flash mob an illegal gathering and started to drive the participants, many of whom continued to blow bubbles, away from the metro and then out of the park with the aid of two police vehicles.

“Put away your bubbles,” one police officer barked through a megaphone.”

Enter: a group of neo-Nazis attacking a flashmob. Enter: a group of teens upset that their “Soapy Peter” bubble blowing event was confused for a gay pride spectacle. Enter: scary OMON forces ordering people to put away their bubbles. There is a curious innocence to the whole scene, as if it were a prank skit made by university students as a metaphor for the senseless, random cruelty of society. Except that it it isn’t. Well, I hope we’ve all learned the lesson from this tragic story:

Don’t name your town “Peter.”

(In unrelated news, Evo Morales says eating chicken makes you gay.)


I ran out of books to read last night. I’d been to the library looking for Ice by Sorokin on the recommendation of Scowspi, but it’s been checked out. Rummaging through my own stacks, I found a little tome I acquired free on the last day of a booksale and had proceeded to never read. It’s Czech. It’s surrealist. It’s compact. Why haven’t I read it? It’s pornographic. Which is no reason not to read a book, but the thing is I didn’t acquire it to read it. I acquired it to give the prudes at the library booksale something to giggle about. Anyway, I took it off the shelf, convinced myself hell is for silly people and dug into it last night. The title is Edition 69, and it is by Vítězslav Nezval and Jindřich Štyrský. You would not expect a book full of obscene -and I do mean obscene; I’m not being quaint now- pictures to have much quality to offer in the way of prose. Ah, but do the Czechs ever disappoint?! It’s brilliant, in simple way. I was thinking it reminded me of Les chants de Maldoror in its surrealist autobiographical style, with some of the more unredeeming aspects of Houellebecq thrown in for bad taste.

I’d never heard of the authors so today I googled them:

“Vítězslav Nezval was a member of the avant-garde group of artists Devětsil (literally “nine forces”, the Czech name of the Butterbur plant but to a Czech-speaker an obvius reference to the nine founding members of the group). Devětsil members were the most prolific Czech artists of their generation. In 1922, the Devetsil group included, but was not limited to, Vítězslav Nezval, Jindřich Štyrský, Jaroslav Seifert, Karel Teige, and Toyen (Marie Cerminova). Also associated with the group was the later founder of the Prague Linguistic School, Roman Jakobson. Like the proletarian group before it, Devětsil looked to France for inspiration for their avant-garde literature and their Marxist political ideology originating from Russia. Though the Czechoslovakian state was newly formed after World War I, the younger generation felt there was still room for improvement and that a radical solution was necessary to gain true liberation. Most of these intellectuals had a zest for revolution and professed their allegiance to Lenin. Though their philosopher-president, Thomas Masaryk gave them the first real socially-minded democracy, Nezval and others in his group did not accept this regime as representative of their beliefs and goals. In their writings they expressed their preference for the Marxist-internationalist consciousness of class solidarity.[…]

Nezval was also a founding figure of the Poetism movement. His output consists of a number of poetry collections, experimental plays and novels, memoirs, essays, and translations. Along with Karel Teige, Jindřich Štyrský, and Toyen, Nezval frequently traveled to Paris where he rubbed shoulders with the French surrealists. His close friendship with André Breton and Paul Éluard was instrumental in founding The Surrealist Group of Czechoslovakia in 1934. It was the first group of this kind outside France and Nezval served as the editor of its journal Surrealismus.”

The Devětsil:

“The Devětsil (Czech pronunciation: [ˈdɛvjɛtsɪl]) was an association of Czech avant-garde artists, founded in 1920 in Prague. From 1923 on there was also an active group in Brno. The movement discontinued its activities in 1930 (1927 in Brno).

Founded as U. S. Devětsil (Umělecký Svaz Devětsil – Devětsil Artistic Federation), its name was changed several times. From 1925, it was called the Svaz moderní kultury Devětsil (the Devětsil Union of Modern Culture).

The artistic output of its members was varied, but typically focused on magic realism, proletkult, and, beginning in 1923, Poetism, an artistic program formulated by Vítězslav Nezval and Karel Teige.

The group was very active in organizing the Czech art scene of the period. Members published several art magazines – ReD (Revue Devětsilu), Disk and Pásmo, as well as occasional anthologies (most importantly Devětsil and Život) and organized several exhibitions.

For the most part, Devětsil artists produced poetry and illustration, but they also made contributions to many other art forms, including sculpture, film and even calligraphy.

For about two years Devětsil functioned without any particular theoretical grounding, but as the members changed and those that remained developed and modified their style, it was decided, particularly by Karel Teige, that they begin formulating theories behind their activity. Most of these theories were to be spread through manifestos published by the group. Like any good theorist, Teige was always ready to change his ideas and sometimes moved from one aesthetic to an opposite one. The group formulated a movement that they called Poetism. The long echoed cry, “make it new,” was vital to the Poetists way of thinking. The Devětsil members were surrounded by the new in science, architecture and industry. Even their country was new. In order for art to survive, or at least in order to be worthwhile, it had to constantly be ahead of other changes in life. The Poetists advocated the law of antagonism. This law explains historical progress as reliant on discontinuity. New types and styles of art are continuously necessary for development and vital to these changes are conditions of contradiction. The first manifesto of Devětsil urged new artists to look deeper into ordinary objects for poetic quality. Skyscrapers, airplanes, mimes, and poster lettering were the new arts. Inspired by the Berlin Dadaists, Seifert claimed “art is dead.” Following him, Teige remarked, “the most beautiful paintings in existence today are the ones which were not painted by anyone.” [1]”

Incredible! Why have I never heard of these people? A Czech Marxist-Leninist-Poetist-Surrealist-Gothic Avant Garde? It’s like one of those crazy genres Netflix invents to cater to your own personal tastes (those “based on your interest in Critically-acclaimed Cerebral Dark Foreign Erotic Films” recommendations freak me out!) Anyway, I’m quite enjoying Nezval and his ilk. Since beginning this post. I’ve torn through Edition 69 (which contained, among other things, a manifesto about p0rnophilia and the class system) and several slender collections of poetry. Exquisite, sublime poetry. Don’t even get me started on “The Lilac By The Museum On St. Wenceslas Square” which burst into bloom while he slept… It’s all too much.


Apparently Rahm Emanuel has nothing better to do than sit up at night scheming up new ways to piss me off. And to his credit, it seems to be the one thing he’s quite successful at. There was that time he ran someone against my friend in a primary, won the primary and lost the general. Actually, that’s the most tolerable part of that story… And then there was the time he showed up at Glen’s Diner, sat next to me, was waited on hand and foot while I waited an hour for my salad only to be informed they’d run out of salad dressing. Then there was the week I woke up to helicopters each morning because my neighbor had decided to take the position of Chief of Staff. And then there was the time he could barely even get his own party to support a watered down piece of crap masquerading as a healthcare reform bill.

But I’m less vocal about his D.C. failures. Because I want him to stay there. Democrats all over Chicago cheered when he took the White House gig. Because they love him and were happy for him? Oh hell no. Because it meant he was leaving! The poor citizens of my fair district were finally given the opportunity to have a decent Congressman when he left. Our whole neighborhood could not get an audience with Emanuel during the run up to the invasion of Iraq. My new Rep. came to my holiday party and brought a whole cheesecake. Just sayin’.

So I am thinking it’s ok if he’s wrecking national policy so long as he’s not here and I can eat a fucking salald in peace. And I get cheesecake.

It’s unfortunate I’ve already used the phrase, “Oh hell no.” It would have been a perfect response to this:

Obama aide Emanuel: I’d like to be mayor of Chicago.

Damn it! You are the chief advisor to the leader of the free world, but that’s not enough? Why won’t you just LEAVE ME ALONE! PLEASE… Insatiable freak.

Below are the reasons Emanuel would be a crap mayor of Chicago:

~ Chicago likes two kinds of mayors: dictators who rule with an iron fist, and progressive reformers. Emanuel is neither of these, as the recent healthcare debate illustrated. He could not even get his whole party on board, let alone one member of the opposition. Apparently they are not afraid of him. This would have been excusable were he presenting some radical socialist legislation that was ahead of the curve. But he never even entertained the possibility of a public option, let alone single payer healthcare. Fail. Fail. If you can’t even get a few Democrats to support a rather reasonable request, how are you going to get 3 million people to cream “How high?” when you shout, “Jump!” Not gonna happen.

~ Emanuel likes to wear finely tailored suits. That’s cool, if you are running for mayor of New York. I just can’t see our little rascal in a beige trench and fedora, the Mayor of Chicago uniform.

~ Chicago is not Ravenswood. Chicago is not all the cool little trendy neighborhoods and posh suites in mile high skyscrapers. It’s the inner city. There are poor people there. This man believed it beneath his station to communicate with and represent a rather well-off area while he was Congressman. What is he going to do if he has to communicate with and represent rather uneducated and smelly people? Who have no money to give him!!! But who need the snow removed like ASAP.

~ Uhm, we don’t want him to be Mayor. I’m not one of those trite progressives who won’t be happy until Ralph Nader is running the city. I like Mayor Daley. I admire him. Sure he’s corrupt, but you can tell he loves the city. Sure he’s divisive, but the man gets things done. Emanuel tells people to fuck off by calling them names and giving them the finger. Daley tells people to fuck off by bulldozing the airport he wants to turn into a park in the middle of the night. It’s the difference between a schoolyard bully and a leader.

~ Salad.

~ Cheesecake.

Ok that’s all for now. Thanks for reading and Happy Lenin’s birthday and Earth day!

April 14, 2010

Lessons to be learned from Katyn.

Filed under: Politics: Russia — poemless @ 5:54 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Putin, embracing Polish counterpart:

Note the resemblance between Vladimir Putin and John Locke… No, not the father of liberalism. The leader of the group in the TV drama where there is a really terrible plane crash in a deserted area where evil lurks, followed by inexplicable phenomena and events that appear to be taking place in a parallel universe. Sound familiar? Like, maybe, the news over the past several days?

I live in a very Polish part of the world, except it is not Poland. Nevertheless, we have a Polish TV station, signs on businesses which read, “mowimy po polsku,” and a gigantic memorial to Katyn in one of the cemeteries, the local creator of which perished along with nearly 100 others in the forest near Smolensk this weekend. Taken together with the fact that on a good day I have a finely tuned radar for people talking smack about Russia and VVP, I prepared to be a busy little blogger after learning of the accident. “Oh wonderful. It’s going to be like August ’08 all over again,” I thought. I braced myself for the barrage of conspiracy theories, russophobia and general scapegoating and hysteria that was about to be unleashed in the media.

And I braced myself. And waited. … And waited.

Then I realized I was living in some kind of freaking Twilight Zone episode where the horrific deaths of masses of Poles in Russia bring the two countries together.

I mean, it was sad. Mostly it was just incredibly sad. The news. Polish people crying, everyone crying, masses, obituaries, memorials, vigils. Some balanced tributes to the fallen President “whose patriotism was only matched by his controversial politics.” Some explanation that the pilot had ignored requests to land elsewhere, there was a lot of fog. Some questions about why so many VIPs were on one plane. Some interviews with Polish dignitaries praising Putin for “opening his heart, and Russia’s heart, to the world.” Some …

Wait! What?! The KGB spy who kills journalists for sport and plans to invade Eastern Europe just because he can? The man my very own Secretary of State cum theologian has assured me has no soul? Y’all have suddenly decided he has a heart? Putin? … Really?

So now I am thinking, T- that’s it, you’re watching far too much RT. You need to stop loading up on delicious propaganda carbs and consume your media more responsibly. “Healthfully” as they like to say. So I flipped off RT and the local news (which I assumed had some unwritten mourning protocol before launching into the political aspects of the tragedy, out of respect for the dead. Who were Polish. A very important ally of America. A very important demographic in our town.) Like any good blogger I, though paralyzed with the immensity of the tragedy and hating myself for what I was about to do, proceeded to google for the red meat. Which I guess makes me even more heartless than Vladimir fucking Vladimirovich.

And here’s what I found:

BBC: “Russia-Poland thaw grows from tragedy.”

WSJ: “Poles and Russians unite.”

RIAN: “Poland thanks Russia for help in presidential plane crash probe.”

NYT: “Tragedy as Harbinger of Change.”

Guardian: “Poland and Russia: reconciled in tragedy.”

The winner for the best headline?

“Is Poland Becoming Pro-Putin?”

The winner for the best observation?

From Vadim Nikitin:

“But it is not only Russia which rose to the occasion and above pettiness. Poland must be equally praised, especially when it could have easily turned the tragedy into an opportunity to whip up anti-Russian sentiment and conspiracies.

Russia’s behavior is reminiscent of its outreach to the US after the September 11th attacks, when Putin, in the words of the US government, “seized upon the tragedies of the World Trade Center and Pentagon as an opportunity to transform relations with the U.S. from distant and sometimes hostile to one of broad cooperation and new opportunities in many fields”.

Yet Poland’s magnanimous response is very different how the US responded to Russia’s unprecedented overture…”

But nothing could have prepared me for THIS:

Slate: “Another Tragedy in the Haunted Forest But this time, no one suspects a conspiracy to kill the Polish elite.”

By … Are you sitting down? … Anne Applebaum.

“On Saturday, the Polish president, the Polish national bank chairman, the chief of the Polish general staff, and a host of other military and political leaders, some of whom were my friends and my husband’s colleagues, died in a tragic plane crash in the forest near Smolensk, not far from where 20,000 Polish officers were secretly murdered by Stalin 70 years ago. But this time around, nobody suspects a conspiracy.

Of course, a few fringe Web sites might make that claim, and the odd politician might voice it. But the Russian and Polish governments, the Russian and Polish media, and the vast majority of Russians and Poles believe the culprits to be pilot error and fog. More to the point, discussion of these potential causes has been open and frank. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk immediately flew to visit the crash site, accompanied by his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. Polish forensic investigators were on the ground within hours. The Russian government is offering assistance and waiving visa requirements for all families who want to travel to Russia. There are TV cameras everywhere. Russian airport officials have been speaking in public, answering questions, talking to journalists. […]

Indeed, Russian officials are showing more transparency in the wake of this tragedy than they have shown following some of their own.

And yet there is no law that says the past has to strangle the present: Countries can change, political cultures can grow more open, politicians can learn not to shroud difficult events in mystery and deceit. Over the last 20 years, Russian and Polish officials have begun to acquire the art of speaking with the public, even if they don’t always choose to do so. This is a real change, and we have seen what kind of impact it can have over the last few days.

Although there is not much to be grateful for this week, I am thankful, at least, that the families of the dedicated public servants who died on that plane will not have to wait 70 years to learn what really happened. This terrible disaster, in that strange and bloody forest, contains eerie echoes of the past. But it is not destined to become yet another “blank spot” in this region’s dark history.”

Alrighty, then. Still don’t believe that whatever happened in that horrible crash did something to the space-time continuum?

I realize some of you reading this will immediately find fault with the article. Well, I’m a blogger too and I know that game. I’m not about to cherry pick this looking for one good reason to rake poor Anne over the coals to preserve my bad ass reputation even though the woman undoubtedly just lost friends and acquaintances in smoldering wreck on the floor of a forest/mass grave. As I wrote in the past:

“I did not exactly need another reason to dislike the journalistic hacktastrophe that is Ms. Applebaum’s Washington Post column. Oh, no. No, what I need – and I am being serious here – is for Anne to write something really insightful, responsible, constructive, for her to put me in my place, so that I could humbly bow to her wisdom and walk away. Inspired. Filled with grace and knowledge. Because appreciating people is much more rewarding than resenting them.”

Given Anne’s past penchant for conspiracy theories and blood-curdling heartlessness, I struggle to explain her generosity of perspective. I’d like to think that it’s simply the matter of Death reminding us of our own mortality, wrenching our priorities into place. Life is short; what’s to be gained by endless grudges and mistrust? Or perhaps it took a real tragedy, and not some small-time thug pinching her pocketbook (which is so boring only blaming it on Putin could make anyone fucking care) to make Anne take the weight of her words seriously, to use her power a journalist responsibly. Or maybe it’s the shale. Who knows? All I know is that I was not the only one expecting a radically different response from her. The day of the accident, Mark Adomanis wrote:

“The only question I have is who is going to be the first person to blame the death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, and a number of other high-ranking Polish military and civilian officials, on Vladimir Putin? Any takers? Speaking personally, my money is on Anne Applebaum, who is not only married to Poland’s hawkish foreign minister but has some real experience in the “blaming everything on Putin” field as she once wrote a column directly blaming him (really!) for the theft of her purse. However, as always, there are a number of other strong contestants in the field so this is far from a done deal.”

Mark’s received some heat for this. And deservingly so. It’s one of those things everyone is thinking, but you can’t actually write a post about it until the event has occurred somewhere that is not your imagination if you want to maintain any credibility. That said, I only found Mark’s article because I thought, “Damn. Applebaum blamed Putin for her fucking purse. You know she is going to go for his throat over this. Christ almighty. Here we go…” And there I was, ready to have his back. Ready to lecture her on not having any decency or dignity in this time of terrible loss. Ready to be better than her. And so I googled “poland applebaum putin plane crash.” … Nothing but Mark’s piece came up.

So, if Anne wants to lecture me – I’m pretty sure I am the one who deserves it. For falling into the very same trap of cynical, lazy and downright sick and perverse thinking that has previously defined her columns. Which I now understand. While it is still ludicrous to assume Putin stole your wallet or Roman Polanski isn’t a child rapist, it is incredibly easy to fall into a narrative, a well-established pattern of discourse, a particular set of expectations and roles. When the world around you stopped making sense a long time ago, why continue to operate within confines of reason and logic? When you’ve seen the lowness to which people are capable of stooping, why expect the world to behave with dignity and compassion? It’s so much easier to just go batshit crazy, become vicious and follow a script. This approach provides both a coping mechanism and muse.

But what about everyone else? Seriously, the goodwill fest has me a bit perplexed. Of course, logic and dignity would dictate this outcome. Every time there is a freak tragedy on a massive scale, the world comes together, tries to show compassion for the victims, their loved ones and their country and compensates for the deficit of compassion with money, aid and resources. Look, I’m not arguing that Poland and Russia are typically incapable or even unwilling to embrace reason and compassion, but let’s face it, these are not usually the first lines of defense in their relationship. If these two countries were renowned for their sobriety and responsibility, a planeload of VIPs would not have been on their way to commemorate a massacre in the first place.

Here’s my theory. Instead of reading this weird lovefest as Russia finally not being evil for once, I suggest a more practical explanation. For once, what happened was not Russia’s fault. Usually terrible tragedies, for which this country is a magnet (<– note another LOST allusion), are their fault, directly or indirectly, through injustice or, more commonly, incompetence. Not forced to busy themselves with damage control PR, the Russian administration could proceed to behave the way any normal person would logically be expected to behave: generously and compassionately. Which had the effect of prompting Poland to respond to Russia's overtures the way any normal person would logically be expected to: gratefully and graciously.


How hard was that?

The last lesson of the day, children, is that this was actually so simple it should not have taken a plane full of people's mothers and fathers, people's children, people's leaders to go down in flames on the way to commemorate a massacre to get people to behave the way any normal person would logically be expected to behave. As I bemoaned in my Cold War diatribe, it takes an unacknowledged effort to maintain hostilities, even if they are only emotional or ideological. I'm not suggesting everyone declare bygones and join in a round of kumbaya. But to quote Anne, "there is no law that says the past has to strangle the present: Countries can change."

In the course of writing this (yeah I know it's too long – countries can chage; writers cannot), a Polish MP has blamed Russia for the crash, Latynina has blamed Russia for creating such distrust that the Poles “suspect[ed] that the fog was just a political ruse instigated by Putin,” and some nut has compared Russia to Dracula.

So perhaps this was a fluke. Plane crash improving ties? Madness! Is it time to return to reality and leave reason and compassion back on the island and wait for another plance crash before we return to them? To be continued, I suspect…

April 9, 2010

Odds & Ends: I’ve not thought of a catchy title for this Edition.

Filed under: Odds & Ends — poemless @ 5:34 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Contents: A story, a photo, a meal, a complaint and a rant.

My aunt, uncle and cousins all have names that start with “S”. They did this on purpose. The following stories all start with “S” but it is by sheer coincidence.

I. Slava the Plumber.

Regardless of the fact that he’s listed as comrade-in-arms over to the right, it’s been a while since I’ve strolled over to Dmitry Orlov’s site. As karma would have it, he’s been giving away free books while I’ve been gone. But not now. However, he is giving away free prose:

“Last night, just as I was falling asleep, my wife walked into the bedroom and told me that there is a big leak in the kitchen. I was quick to realize that were are not on the boat, and so this incident will not involve me plunging into icy bilge-water armed with a hammer, a screwdriver and an oily rag. And so I calmly strode into the kitchen and gently horsed the garbage disposal unit back onto its bracket (it had vibrated off). And then I asked her: “Aren’t you glad you married a plumber?” (Perhaps I was wrong to use the words “glad” and “married” in the same sentence.) My memory jogged, I thought of one of my favorite plumber-bloggers, Slava S. Here’s an excerpt. I can only hope that my clumsy English translation can do justice to his elegant Russian prose.”

“Talk to her.” (Excerpt)

“Поговори с ней.”

Little gems indeed! (I wonder if Vova taught his little girls judo…)

I don’t know if Slava S. is really a plumber, but I would barely be surprised. Up until a year or so ago, I had the task of processing decades worth of books acquired through an exchange program between my institution and RAN. You don’t even know how many Ivan Ivanovich Ivanovs have written books. To differentiate between them all, people began identifying their profession. As a result, one commonly finds books of poetry by Ivan Ivanov – mathemetician, novels by Ivan Ivanov -engineer and the collected short stories of Ivan Ivanov – physicist. It is one of the many reasons I love Russia. The plumbers write poetry. If I were God and could invent humanity, the plumbers would write poetry. I guess this is why I can’t grasp the concept of Russia as some kind of aberrant, wrongheaded country constantly throwing civilization out of alignment. Civilization is where the plumbers are poets. Right?

II. Sartorialist in Moscow.

Another reason I love Russia is that you can dress up without the mobs of slobs around you demanding to know what the special occasion is. From the Sartorialist:

“Growing up during the end of the Cold War, I had always heard that Russia was super grey and depressing. Isn’t there an old, famous Burger King commercial about a Russian fashion show? All the “models” were wearing head-to-toe grey and dressed exactly alike. Not that I base my world view on a burger commercials, but I continue to be surprised at just how much bright, vivid color is in Moscow. I love that this young lady, who is so dramatic in her tailored, red coat, is not a fashionista but a typical working girl… actually, an “Account Manager for a built-in appliances manufacturer.”

I mean, I don’t know any “Account Manager for a built-in appliance manufacturer” in Queens, New York that dresses like her. If so, I’d visit Queens more often.”

I bet there is one. I bet there is a whole cult of underground wage slave fashionistas. It’s just that the Sartorialist only looks for them in Manhattan, the Tuileries garden and Milan fashion shows. I can’t be the only girl in America who wakes up every day and deplores that just by making an effort she’s doomed to being over-dressed for the rest of her life. Well, perhaps I am overstating it a bit. I’m currently sporting a hot pink slouchy t-shirt, jeans, leather boots, an old pin-striped blazer and a look on my face that says, “I just dare you to tell me to my face I’m too old to pull this off.” In my defense, I was running late for the train this morning because I’d been watching George Snuffalupagus on GMA reporting “Live from the new Russia!” What the hell is the new Russia? He was reporting from some barren old tsarist estate (Peterhof, I presume.) If Peterhof is the new Russia, what’s the old Russia? I’m so confused. Anyway, I digress…

The point is, just because you are paid to be an account manager for a built-in appliance manufacturer, it doesn’t follow that you have to look like an account manager for a built-in appliance manufacturer. Unless an account manager for a built-in appliance manufacturer looks like a Hollywood starlet. Which apparently is the case in Russia.

III. Serbian food.

“It’s big, it’s meaty, it’s wrapped in bacon. Behold Klopa’s half-kilo Big Cevap.”

Photo possibly NSFW.

This is why people are afraid of the Serbs. It gets even scarier. The reviewer goes on to say, “I’d provide a link to their website but when I tried to look at the menu I got a malware warning.” Serbs, terrifying plates of grilled meats, malware. This is ripe for Gary Shteyngart story.

Oooh, looking at the menu, I see they serve chicken liver wrapped in bacon. OMG, this place is a few blocks from my apartment? I’ll never be anemic again! “Само слога Србина спасава!” Woo hoo!

IV. Simon Shuster.

I can’t put my finger on just why, but everything this person writes gets under my skin. I keep seeing articles in Time like, “Kyrgyzstan: Did Moscow Subvert a U.S. Ally?” or “Anti-Putin Movement Gains Confidence in Russia” … He’s young. I’m hesitant to label the poor fellow. OTOH, he has a blog called, “Shitocracy.” I’d like to thank Mr.’s Ames and Taibbi for giving every young jerk who writes about Russia the idea that being obnoxious will give you street creds. I mean, you are writing for fucking Time magazine, Shuster. This goes for you too, Adomanis: being an angry young man is an asset, not a substitute for anything. Do yourself (and all of us, because you have great promise) a favor and break the rules in a way that lets the world know you’ve made the effort to learn them. It’s more disarming that way. If we all think back, it wasn’t the eXile’s infantilism that impressed us, but that moment of realization in the midst of their infantilism that made us sit up and think, “Oh fuck. They’re serious, aren’t they? Whoa.” Back to Shuster and his shit blog. I can’t prove it at the moment, but I suspect he’s doing the “I’m just a dumb idiot trying to find out what’s goin’ on in Russia” shtick but actually has an agenda that isn’t interested in learning anything new at all actually.

This what happens when you write about Russia for too long. You begin suspecting everyone of a hidden agenda. The whole Russia expert-o-sphere is like the paranoiac wing of the insane asylum. I pray for a lobotomy. Until that day, I’ll maintain that just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they are not after you. Or that Simon Shuster doesn’t have an agenda.

V. Son of START

I am so not going to analyze it and tell you what’s good and bad. The only thing I know is that they’ve agreed they should have fewer nukes and there is a link between offense and defense. Maybe next year we can all get together and agree to language recognizing the world is not flat and then pat ourselves on the back for being such awesome team players.

Who cares?

As Mark Adomanis writes,

“Despite the media chorus, I actually think that the new START treaty really isn’t going to be that important in the grand scheme of things: the Russians don’t want to spend the large amounts of money necessary to maintain a gigantic nuclear arsenal (despite some talk to the contrary they are perfectly capable of doing this, but would prefer not to), the Obama administration has fixated on disarmament as a political priority and, therefore, some sort of deal was all but assured.[…]

START will do very little, and perhaps nothing at all, to address Russia’s worries about the planned ABM system in Romania, nor will it magically resolve continued NATO-Russian tensions over Georgia. I have no problem with what came out of START, surely reducing the number of nuclear weapons is a no-brainer, but I’d advise everyone to dial down their enthusiasm just a bit: this is a much more limited and specific deal than most people believe and the likelihood that it will spill over into the broader relationship seems rather slim.”

I read this shortly after a having a few other private conversations with people, people younger than I, who took either a similarly cynical or, more worrisome, outright militaristic view of things. And, as a result, had one of those, “OMG!!! I am old!!!” freak out moments in which I became disgusted with the youth, youth who have no historical perspective, no appreciation for the accomplishments of their elders, no criteria for valuing anything beyond its immediate, practical application, and worst of all the sins of youth: that pathetic sense of invincibility. Ha!

I’m generally pro-youth. I had a professor who once noted that only the youth are capable of real revolution. Not because one always becomes more cynical and conservative as one ages, but simply because more mature folks just don’t have the energy any more.

I am positive there loads of old curmudgeons who are bored with discussion of nuclear deproliferation or who have learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. I am positive there are Samantha Smiths in our midst. Besides, I do welcome the unnerving views of those who don’t give a hoot about START. Because it forces me to ask myself, “Why do I care?” … [thinking] … “Because I grew up during the damn Cold War is why! Sheesh…”

You can see why I’m baffled when people won’t accept my claim that I am in fact a hopeless idealist. Which brings me back to the START. To the start of START. The only reason realists have the luxury of dismissing the importance of a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia is because of the huge undertaking of two idealists. Sure, in many ways Reagan and Gorbachev were realists. In many ways they were also failures. But within a few short years our two nations went from an unprecedented nuclear arms build-up and bona fide war scare to actually putting the complete elimination of nuclear weapons on the negotiating table for a brief, freaky moment. Now, is that a very realistic thing to do? Not really. Did they pursue arms reduction for realistic reasons? Of course the military build up was a drain on our economies. Yet let’s not ignore the very real fact that the two leaders were also beholden to their respective military industrial complexes. I don’t think you can say that there was anything obvious or inevitable about the discussions which took place between Reagan and Gorbachev or the agreements which were the products of those meetings. It only appears so with hindsight. At the time, it was a radical departure from the status quo, one few thought could work, and none thought very realistic.

It’s incredibly difficult to try to convey the existential feeling of what it was like during those last years of the Cold War, in the early 80’s, to those who were not there. Especially as experienced by an adolescent. There is no real comparison to it in these days of the GWOT. There was no sense, as a kid, that our relationship with Russia could change. The choice was between constant distrust and vigilance, or annihilating humanity. Now we long for the bad old days when we had an identifiable enemy, when the Olympics were more fun, when our maps were so neatly illustrative of our politics. But in truth, it was a constant stressor. There was no desirable opportunity for confrontation and catharsis, no expectation of mission accomplished. It was just something we lived with, like AIDS.

And worse was the sheer absurdity of it. The arms build up fed on itself when long, long ago we’d passed the point when we could have won that game. The time, energy, money, and emotion we invested into winning a race to see who could blow up the whole world several times over. But was it the realists who stepped in and said, whoa, why are we spending money on the ability to blow up the whole world 15 times over? No, it was the senile Christian and the man who wanted to make the Soviet Union a free country, while still being the Soviet Union. Crazy people. Crazy people who, unlike every single pundit, policy wonk, realist, historian or journalist out there, would bear the ultimate responsibility for the pain and suffering and let’s face it, ultimate failure of humanity if they ever had to press the button. Maybe that’s the only way I can convey the weight of that situation and the immense sea change that was required to reach the original START. Only dreamers would attempt it. Surely you smug young realists can attest to the fact that such creatures are extremely rare in politics.

So that’s one reason people think the New START is important and you don’t. It’s important to honor the attempts and vision of Reagan and Gorbachev, however loathed and despised they may be in their own countries, despite all their failures. And it is important to continue that legacy. Not out of sentimentality (well, out of that too) but because no one who was ever alive in those years wants to return to them. They might talk like they do, but they don’t. You can say, Well, we’re never going to go to war with Russia anyway. Many people said this during the Cold War too. It’s probably true. So why is it necessary to posses the capacity to wipe each other off the face of the planet? Many many times over? Why not chuck all the nukes. Dear smug young realists, the fact that the New measly START was all we were willing to eek out on the arms reduction front makes me think perhaps you too have committed the crime of idealism. Only whereas Gorbachev and Reagan were idealist about what they could accomplish, you are idealists about what won’t happen to us.

Here’s another thing that bothers me about the “Meh. Nukes. What.E.Vah.” crowd. It’s so last century, right? The new war is on Terrorism. Get with the program. Tis not the Russkies we must fear but the Islamofascists. You know. The people we trained to beat the Russkies. Hello! They won’t nuke us. They’ll hijack planes and mail us anthrax and kidnap mercenaries and throw rocks and bomb subways, yo. … To me this is like chasing a mosquito around the room with a fly swatter while someone has a bazooka pointed at you.

I’m not up late at night wringing my hands, worried that people have forgotten about the nuclear threat. But I am ever soo slightly concerned that we have lost a bit of perspective. That we are content to rest on our laurels. What have we learned from the 80’s? That it is actually an incredibly horrible and irresponsible idea to have so many nukes because life is not a Hollywood movie and in live real people really die and suffer? Or that if you give a Russian a Pepsi he’ll kick out the Commies and opt for diet of high fructose cornsyrupy democracy? Or that Russians are evil whatever their system and all the carbonated beverages in the world won’t save us from the Putin, who wants to kill us, so let’s keep those nukes on hand. Plus, it will make the MIC happy. Give us some bargaining power. So we keep playing the same game. “A strange game…”

If my pro-idealism argument doesn’t convince, perhaps a comment left in response to Mark’s post will:

“Don’t underestimate the importance of the new START agreement. US-Russian strategic nuclear relations happen on a plane that’s pretty firmly detached from just about any other dimension of the relationship.[…]

In fact, it’s precisely because of the lack of good will in other parts of the relationship that START is important – it keeps us engaged with one another on nuclear issues so that when there is a crisis in the relationship, it doesn’t rapidly ratchet us up to Def-Con 3. There’s plenty to get enthusiastic about when you evaluate it on this level.”

Or, in the words of Steven Patrick Morrissey, “If it’s not love, then it’s the bomb that will bring us together…”
la la la la la la ….

Thanks for reading and have a lovely weekend.

April 6, 2010

I was lost – then I was found.

Filed under: Meta — poemless @ 1:27 PM

Phrases people enter into search engines to arrive at this site:

an elitist snob can wear everyone down
beautiful smelly convict women
cat eating pie
cat in a body cast and pie
crazy dmitry rogozin
eduard limonov “russian women” lazy
femdom: woman hanged man
flavored vodka graph
how to say by me some candy in russian
i do ignore you cat
is vladislav surkov jewish
la times column “dissolve switzerland”
medvedev no you fucking can’t
mikhail in north korea
old time photos of native american women
our enemy is our laziness
putin naked
putin sexy
putin shirtless
red lipstick
russians speak like champagne bubbles
scott spires
the world capitalist system
tsarist site: https://poemless.wordpress.com
“vladimir putin” overweight
you’ve got this really wrong
шартуни али насер

Now I know what people who work at Google are doing all day. (Looking at ridiculous searches instead of improving their algorithm so the poor soul looking for old time photos of native american women doesn’t waste her time here.) I wish I knew the culprits behind these searches. Some of them deserve a medal. And “medvedev no you fucking can’t” and “putin sexy” have gotten my hopes up that Vova’s reading my blog. 😉

April 2, 2010

Thoughts on the new look? [Updated]

Filed under: Meta — poemless @ 2:42 PM

[Update: I was about to go blind reading that new font, and my header on the old theme has been magically fixed, by wp gnomes responding to my complaining, I assume. So, a return to the devil we know.]

April 1, 2010

Let’s Play a Game of “Guess the April Fool’s Story.”

Filed under: Odds & Ends — poemless @ 4:23 PM

Because every day you read the news and pray it’s a joke. Especially you Russia watchers.

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