Stuff From Russia!

Looking for the Revolution
johnnie b. baker

There are a lot of people holding pictures of Yeltsin with a red X over his face, and a whole group of people with Russian flag armbands. The cathedral where the funeral was now seems to be the journalist/photographer hangout. The photographers have staked out all the steps. It's a good viewpoint. When the marchers start down the street they'll be right there.

There is a line of uniforms blocking the route right where the photographers are. They are the front line, and they all look under twenty. The more hardened looking troops are behind them, with more marching in. If there is going to be a confrontation, this seems to be where it would happen. Right at the start, before they head off to Red Square. The front of the march starts coming, with red banners spanning the width of the street, straight towards the unmoving faces of their young sons, the front line of defense.
Anna Arutunyan

Why are we writing about Moscow in Prague? Switch over to Juliette Caruso, who collects cities like masks: "I won't feign to analyze the eccentric life of cities, I turn part of it. I am a foreigner in no city but Moscow, where my accent juts out like a large nose, for everything west of Moscow is the West- the pee-smelling outskirts of Warsaw (does the word Warsaw have the same relationship to the word Moscow as the word Samsa to the word Kafka?) no longer walk Slavically in my dreams- now the dirt in New York and Paris smells like urine, whereas the dirt in Moscow reeks more pungently of rotting garbage. Banal differences- I am perplexed and saddened by the hoards of tourists that crowd the narrow streets of Prague, talking loud and pointing fingers- a phenomenon, I am sure, not common in Eastern European countries, one which is only perhaps two years old, for Moscow is still too far east to get its act together, uglier and more vicious with its subway spider-web. I know why Goddard quoted, the windows are filled with unbelievable garbage, because even if I come at dawn to this little street in old Prague, under the red-roofed archway, I won't find it empty, for like Paris and New York it crawls with meticulously reconstructed life, life-forms, and that which they need to survive. But now I speak to a gray man no longer called Rabinovich, a fellow character in a novel. He tries to listen to me, but cannot understand a word of what I am saying because they have already jumbled his papers and taken them all away, soon to seize him and make him disappear at any moment now, because this novel too has to approach a conclusion.
A Farewell to Russia
Ben Vincent

One thing I know I won't miss about Russia (and Moscow in particular) is the tendency of Russians to become incredibly rude once they don a uniform or are in a position of any power over you. This is particularly true in the service industry where often the Western tenet 'the customer is always right' is turned on its head. To give an example here is a not untypical exchange at a kiosk: Customer: 'A packet of cigarettes, please.'

The kiosk worker makes no reply.

Customer: 'A packet of cigarettes, please.'

Kiosk worker: 'you won't get anything till you give me the money.' Once the transaction is completed the customer walks off, bemused by brazenness and sheer lack of manners on the part of the kiosk worker, whose behavior could be accounted for by several different factors: I) in Soviet times everyone had a job and so no one was threatened by redundancy. Therefore service was terrible, as one's job was secure no matter what happened. II) the kiosk worker doesn't own the kiosk and gets paid a pittance for a not very rewarding job so he/she doesn't care too much about repeat custom III) the kiosk worker has a family of 5 to feed, gets a shit wage, and is not inclined to be polite to others in general IV)'manners' were frowned upon in Soviet times as a 'bourgeois' affectation and old habits die hard.

On to page 3 of The Budget Press Review #3!