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Visit Beautiful Norilsk!
June 21, 2007 5:34 AM   Subscribe

Norilsk is a big city in northern Siberia. On the permafrost. It was built by slave labor in the 1930s. Norilsk Nickle, a very profitable company, wants you to invest there. Some think it's a hell hole. Others think it was the downfall of the Soviet economy.
posted by MarshallPoe (30 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Never been there myself. Don't plan to go.
posted by MarshallPoe at 5:35 AM on June 21, 2007


Some people will complain that your first four links are to Wikipedia. I say fuck 'em.

If I could get a good job there, I'd move there and, as the first person to ever to have moved there voluntarily, I'd become the life of the party. (Until I killed myself. But even then, I'd make sure I was the death of the party.)
posted by pracowity at 6:33 AM on June 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


If Al Gore is right, won't the weather here be really nice in a couple of decades?
posted by oddman at 6:45 AM on June 21, 2007


Something tells me that a much better post could have been made on this topic.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:46 AM on June 21, 2007


If Al Gore is right, the permafrost is going to be a sea of mud.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:53 AM on June 21, 2007


I am halfway through "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, I started reading it at Gooseberry Beach in Newport on Sunday. After having read Albert Camus' "The Plague" while fighting the flu some years ago I learned my lesson. I think Siberia is a perfectly lovely place if you are sitting on a beach in Newport reading about it.
posted by MapGuy at 7:15 AM on June 21, 2007


thanks for the links - for some reason I've been obsessed with this place for about 6 months, but haven't been able to find out much about it. I saw a french documentary about life there which was fascinating - they have subterranean cow farms, for instance, and grow grass for the cows underground too in giant rooms with electric lights. There was a particular image of vast cucumber greenhouses glowing in the middle of the choked black city which has haunted me ever since. I would actually like to go there, so thanks very much for the links.
posted by silence at 7:26 AM on June 21, 2007


I am halfway through "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn...

Me too. It's truly grim and frostbitten. Imagine being compelled to labor all day in sub-zero temperatures with little food and ratty clothes to build buildings that nobody needs, that are usually torn down anyway. Sisyphus on ice.
posted by The Straightener at 7:57 AM on June 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


After a month the first family decided to begin eating their children. Russians were used to cooking small portions, so not even all their pots could properly hold the chopped up remains of little Vanya who dreamed of being an ice skater. The whole kitchen rattled from lids clanking and juices overflowing. Neighbors soon picked up the scent and demanded they be good communists and share.

on the same page, we are informed that "Norilsk's main drag is diabolically perpendicular"
posted by pyramid termite at 8:22 AM on June 21, 2007


Here's a good Norilsk post.
posted by fish tick at 8:34 AM on June 21, 2007


I bet they were better off under ironclad communist dictatorship , but don't let this drag you faith in free market down !

In the next 50 years, if they work really hard, they will reach today's america ! Now why should one want to do that without having a couple million dollars in the pocket, I don't understand.
posted by elpapacito at 8:34 AM on June 21, 2007


It may be a hellhole, but if you don't have it you can't get the 7 armies every turn for the Asian continent.
posted by DU at 8:45 AM on June 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


I fired up Google Earth and checked this place out. The satellite images of Norilsk aren't that great, but there are quite a few pictures from there, mostly on Panoramio. I tried searching for "Norilsk" at the Panoramio site, but had no luck.

So, if you've got Google Earth, just type in Norilsk and zoom in; lots of (very, very cold-looking) images to be had.
posted by JoshTeeters at 9:12 AM on June 21, 2007


Okay, with a little more poking around on Panoramio, I found a way to bring up the pictures from around Norilsk:

linky
posted by JoshTeeters at 9:16 AM on June 21, 2007


I'm finding it had to get my head around what -50 degrees must feel like, even indoors.
posted by fire&wings at 9:20 AM on June 21, 2007


Any MetaFilter meetups in Norilsk?
posted by rolypolyman at 9:23 AM on June 21, 2007


I'm finding it had to get my head around what -50 degrees must feel like, even indoors.

fire&wings: Yeah, same here. During the winter where I live, it occasionally reaches 10F or sometimes even 0F, and with those temperatures, I whine like a baby. I can't imagine -50.

-58C (one of the lowest temps recorded, listed on Wikipedia) comes out as -72.4F.

Jebus.
posted by JoshTeeters at 9:40 AM on June 21, 2007


“I bet they were better off under ironclad communist dictatorship , but don't let this drag you faith in free market down !”

Given that this was a gulag city under "ironclad communist dictatorship", this is one of the most mind-bogglingly stupid and offensive statements I've seen in a long time.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:46 AM on June 21, 2007


Metafilter: With the only other choice being manly love or a right hand, most fork over the $50 $5 exorbitant price for rough callous skinned friction with the scent of a fish market.
posted by BeerFilter at 9:52 AM on June 21, 2007



re: frostbite Always remember that nubs don’t increase your chances of mating.

true, so true...
posted by geos at 10:27 AM on June 21, 2007


Rapacious gangster capitalism - better than Stalin or your money back we poison you with polonium.
posted by Artw at 10:30 AM on June 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Norilskrussia.net would be a fantastically disturbing/intriguing description of the city if, you know, it provided even one citation or, maybe, fewer descriptions of beggars with "three arms and lizard skin."
posted by Ms. Saint at 10:43 AM on June 21, 2007


But that's what makes it NOT Wikipedia! What, you want it to beall wikipedia links?
posted by Artw at 10:52 AM on June 21, 2007


I am halfway through "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Me too. It's truly grim and frostbitten.


Great book, but if you want "truly grim and frostbitten" follow Ivan D. with Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov (review). Makes Solzhenitsyn look like a walk in Gorky Park. (Solzh said "Shalamov's experience in the camps was longer and more bitter than my own, and I respectfully confess that to him and not me was it given to touch those depths of bestiality and despair toward which life in the camps dragged us all.")
posted by languagehat at 10:53 AM on June 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


I fear a world where there are no options other than Wikipedia, The Awesome Source of Widsom and Truth, and three-armed, lizard-skinned beggars.
posted by Ms. Saint at 10:57 AM on June 21, 2007


I'm finding it had to get my head around what -50 degrees must feel like, even indoors.

i've experienced -25F with a 25 to 30 mph wind while snowing ... back then they called that a wind chill of -70F, now they consider it -55F

it feels real damn cold ... without the right clothing, it knocks the breath right out of you

to clean up the parking lot, i wore two pairs of pants, two flannel shirts, two coats, put the hood up over my head, and wrapped a towel around my face with only glasses and nose sticking out ... it was warm enough but my glasses fogged within 5 seconds and within 20, the fog froze, so i had to take them off and couldn't really see what i was cleaning up anymore

the joys of michigan weather ... of course, the worst thing is that there are many places where it gets even colder more often ... that was record weather where i live
posted by pyramid termite at 11:10 AM on June 21, 2007


Great book, but if you want "truly grim and frostbitten" follow Ivan D. with Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov (review). Makes Solzhenitsyn look like a walk in Gorky Park.

I will do that, thanks for the rec-o.
posted by The Straightener at 12:02 PM on June 21, 2007


Similar to lh's recommendation above, Donbas: A True Story of an Escape Across Russia, is a good read.
posted by vronsky at 5:09 PM on June 21, 2007


From Wiki:
Re: Pollution
Heavy metal pollution near Norilsk is so severe that it is now economically feasible to mine the soil, which has been polluted so severely that it has economic grades of platinum and palladium.
H-O-L-Y F-U-C-K
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:49 PM on June 21, 2007


There's several dozen Norilsk-tagged photos on Flickr. Nina Stawski, who appears to be a journalist of some kind, has a Norilsk set. Andrew Rudenko lives there, apparently.

This photo, of the world's northern-most mosque, is awesome. No three-armed, lizard-skinned beggars, though.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:48 AM on June 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


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