A Gary Shteyngart novel come to life.
September 19, 2014 9:11 AM   Subscribe

Former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili is now living in Williamsburg. When he's not plotting a return to power (charges of corruption and human rights violations in his home country notwithstanding), he is trying to live a "normal life" in the neighborhood synonymous with hipsters and Hasids.

Do read the whole article, but here are some standout quotes:

Since leaving office last November, this George W. Bush favorite — whose confrontation with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia led to a disastrous war in 2008 — has commandeered his uncle’s apartment in a tower on the Williamsburg waterfront, where he luxuriates in the neighborhood’s time-honored tradition of mysteriously sourced wealth.

Mr. Saakashvili said that while he had a “normal life” in Brooklyn, he considered himself a big deal in Eastern Europe, pointing out that on a recent trip to Albania “they shut down traffic for us and our 20-car escort.”

“I used to look at this place from Manhattan, it was such a pity, it was mafia, a place where hit men dump bodies,” he said, recalling his time in the 1990s as a Columbia University Law School student. Now he sees “a jazzy atmosphere” rife with energy and new construction.

These days, [his wife, Sandra] Roelofs remains in Georgia with their younger son in a Tbilisi apartment. Their older son, Eduard, who once broke the world record for speed typing on an iPad, is at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.

“You know there is this Hasidic area,” he said as he pedaled his bike south. “They walk around in these big hats!”

For more on the charges against Shaakashvili, see this article at EurActiv.
posted by Cash4Lead (18 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
When I first saw the Mefi headline, I thought Williamsburg Virginia, which would have been interesting in another way, but this is very cool.
posted by xetere at 9:18 AM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Big hats!
posted by blue_beetle at 9:23 AM on September 19, 2014


I just thought it was awfully open-minded of the people of Georgia to vote for a man named Mikheil. It must have been the Athens vote that put him over.

(Seriously though, this would make an excellent seed for a sitcom. Get Eugene Mirman on the phone!)
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:28 AM on September 19, 2014


Whatever you say about the man, you have to respect the fact that he made his way up through Central America, risking life and limb on Mexico's notorious "La Bestia" trains and making the deadly Rio Grande crossing to eke out a precarious life as an undocumented American. Our immigration policy might be tough but at least it's fair!!
posted by threeants at 9:43 AM on September 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Their older son, Eduard, who once broke the world record for speed typing on an iPad
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:44 AM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was wondering who the hell lived in Williamsburg these days - now I know! Exiled presidents!

makes sense.
posted by The Whelk at 9:54 AM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Awl's take.
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:09 AM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


You have to admit "mysteriously sourced wealth" does sum up that whole area perfectly.
posted by The Whelk at 10:24 AM on September 19, 2014 [10 favorites]


"Williamsburg is part of the democratic transformation," he said, his words definitely not turning into ashes in his mouth
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:19 AM on September 19, 2014


There is a good taco van on north 7th.
posted by 13twelve at 11:36 AM on September 19, 2014


He gave me a gold necklace with some kind of religious pendant, which obviously I’m not going to wear because my God is Frank Zappa.”

Ha ha, I agree!
posted by Dick Laurent is Dead at 11:37 AM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Related.
posted by kewb at 11:58 AM on September 19, 2014


Well, this is nice for Williamsburg.
posted by arcticseal at 12:00 PM on September 19, 2014


I liked this reaction.
posted by saladin at 12:26 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


This would be such an amazing concept for a cartoon with a setup like Bojack Horseman.
posted by gucci mane at 2:16 PM on September 19, 2014


That's my friggen street! He must be my neighbor. I must have a party just to invite him...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:39 PM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


The title of this post is perfect.
posted by mlis at 4:45 PM on September 19, 2014


How rich does one have to be to be a Williamsburg hipster these days? Is it all scions of old money from the Hamptons and/or the wild kids of ex-Soviet oligarchs?
posted by acb at 12:31 PM on September 20, 2014


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