In Search of Johns' Kingdom A short documentary commissioned by The Calvert Journal, about a shadowy Russian music collective. For fans of Grimes, Aphex Twin, Dirty Beaches, Prince Rama. [more inside]
"The room was upholstered in crimson and oatmeal and decorated with Socialist Realist frescoes of industrious maidens. A hefty multipointed star descended from the ceiling like a satellite returning from space. Above the tables a pair of identical life-size plaster statues of Soviet schoolgirls faced each other in the manner of temple guardians. They drummed on drums with a look of patriotic ecstasy; crimson blindfolds bound their eyes. Taking a swig of kvas, a fermented bread beverage that's slightly reminiscent of root beer, I wondered whether the statues were intended to be a political statement, nostalgic kitsch, or just a really ambitious exercise in color coordination." - The Surreal Thrill Of Moscow Dining by Alex Halberstadt
Former TV cameraman Rick Suddeth has posted numerous videos of everyday life in the former Soviet Union in the 1980s and early 1990s. These are mostly raw footage or lightly edited, some are silent. Moscow traffic ca. 1986. Moscow grocery store ca. 1990. Universam Department Store, Moscow, 1990. Queuing for wine at a state liquor store. In the Cosmos Night Club. [more inside]
What Russians really think - "Many in the west see Russia as aggressive and brainwashed. But its citizens have a different view." Meanwhile,[1,2] in Moscow and Lviv...
Face Control - A Moscow Travelogue [via mefi projects] Krish Raghav wrote this beautiful minicomic about his observations on a trip to Moscow: the people, the city, the history. [more inside]
Xenophobic Chill Descends Upon Moscow [NYTimes] “...For now, we have not encountered real aliens. However, the ‘fifth column’ of national traitors in Russia has unfortunately become an incontestable reality.”
The New York Times' Ellen Barry visits communities along M10, the Russian highway that links Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and finds a number of towns that are withering as the big cities grow. [more inside]
Zvyagintsev claims that the idea for Elena originated with an invitation from the British producer, Oliver Dungey, to participate in a multinational project in which four directors from different hemispheres would each produce a film about the apocalypse. Zvyagintsev ultimately bowed out of the project, but the film that resulted is certainly eschatological. Russian culture has a long tradition of allusions to the Book of Revelation - Tolstoy's Pierre Bezukhov is obsessed with the idea that Napoleon is the Antichrist and many of Dostoevsky's characters read the last book of the Bible - and Zvyagintsev was a natural fit to take up the theme. [more inside]
In the bicentennial celebration of the historic Battle of Borodino on September 7th, 1812, that saw the Russian Army, despite heavy losses, withstand the attack of Napoleon’s forces, Orion Art multimedia group held a massive festival at Spasskaya Tower in Red Square, Moscow… complete with guest appearance by the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Moscow of 1931 is a collection of hand-tinted lantern slides by Branson DeCou, an American photographer and travelogue lecturer who traveled the world for 30 years before his death in 1941. You can view more of the DeCou corpus online at the Branson Decou Archive at the University of California, Santa Cruz where they've been attempting to sort, preserve, identify and digitize 10,000 DeCou slides received in 1971, a gift referred to the university chancellor by photographer Ansel Adams. [more inside]
Hey, remember the ISS, that space station the Space Shuttle helped build before the shuttle was retired? Turns out humans might have to vacate that nifty space station for a bit. [more inside]
"Howe snapped more than 400 photographs in Moscow and St. Petersburg with his hand held Graflex camera, a state-of-the-art device that allowed its user to shoot without a tripod. His photographs of pedestrians, street vendors and aristocrats are rare glimpses of everyday life before the upheavals of World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution — and sparked huge interest in Russia among history buffs and local museums."
tonalist (aka composer Pavel Karmanov) is a YouTube user who has uploaded numerous videos featuring performances of contemporary/classical music from the former Soviet Union... [more inside]
"During the 1860s, several photographers based in Moscow and St. Petersburg produced series of cartes-de-visite showing Russian 'types.' These remarkable portraits provide a fascinating record of working-class townspeople, artisans, street vendors and peasants, some staged performing an activity, such as drinking tea or gaming, and some photographed in the performance of their occupation."
At least 35 dead in attacks on the Moscow subway. "Yuri Syomin, the head of the Moscow prosecutor's office, said the attacks had almost certainly been carried out by suicide bombers who boarded the metro at the height of the rush hour." Speculation is rampant as to the source of the attacks, with Ingushetia, Chechnya or Agastarn.
Moscow is home to the largest number of billionaires and in Russia, there are nearly 100 billionaires. Due to recent economic developments and the drop in oil prices, the oligarchs, who rose to prominence under Gorbachev, have lost a combined total of $200 billion. Help is here.
With the potential 'crisis' with Russia, Georgia, Europe et al, the BBC tries to imagine what a new Cold War would be like starting with a tour of the budding Moscow tourist attraction called the Confrontation Cold War Museum. Sold off in an auction last year, the underground bunker now belongs to a private company that plans to turn it into an entertainment complex with a museum about the Cold War, a restaurant and even a spa. But it is already possible to hold fashion shows around the 600-meter-long network of bare, cavernous tunnels.
As Moscow changes, so does its population of stray dogs. During Soviet times, Moscow's stray dogs foraged for food and avoided humans, since there wasn't much to be gained from begging. As the city became increasingly affluent, the dogs' behavior changed radically. Some recent adaptations include passive subway begging, observing stoplights, and a food scam called the "come-from-behind ambush." The stray dogs, whose population is estimated at 26,000, have even ceased some of their interpack warfare. Observe the Moscow subway dog here. [more inside]
Russos takes photos of Moscow Metro construction. Also of a half-abandoned river port, a cool bridge being put together, and an old underground nuclear submarine base. But mostly of the Metro, behind the scenes. (Don't ask me how he gets access.) [more inside]
Buildings that never were: Unrealized Moscow - grand scale architectural projects from the mid 1930s to the early 1950s.
Vladimir Aniskin, by day a farm equipment researcher (pdf), makes gorgeous Faberge-like creations, haunting and whimsical metaphors of war and peace, and more in extreme miniature. Moscow reporters have entered him in a competition (Russian-language page) for the strangest hobby practiced in Russia. Via the ever-brilliant aldaily.com.
You may owe your life to this man If it weren't for Stanislav Petrov, many or even most of us reading this might be dead now - or never born, for the teens among us. At least according to this article, and the other links above.
Gunmen hold about 700 hostage in Moscow theater Gunfire has been heard from a Moscow theatre where about 20 armed gunmen are reported to be holding the audience, believed to be about 700 people, hostage. More: Muslim members of the audience ... were also allowed to leave, Interfax said.
Matt Taibbi, co-founder of the eXile, Moscow's most caustic and painfully funny newspaper, has relocated to Buffalo, NY (?) to work his journalistic mojo there. That is, if he's not arrested over this editorial.
TV out in Moscow, due to fire in landmark tower. So, am I just too much of an old Cold Warrior, or is anyone else a bit twitchily nervous that after the TV press hammered Russian President Vladimir Putin over his handling of the Kursk disaster, now the TV just happens to be knocked out? Oh, and that Putin is saying how this incident shows that the whole economy needs more "security"? Hmm...