Entries Tagged as 'trusted media & news'

travel & foreign landstrusted media & news

Boris Berezovsky: death of an oligarch

No Gravatar

Boris Berezovsky

Who, me? (Pic by AFP/Carl de Souza)

I arrived in Russia in 1997, when Boris Berezovsky’s influence was at its height. The year before, he had managed to get Boris Yeltsin reelected, and we need not think too hard about how or why that was achieved. In those days Berezovsky was often in Chechnya, and I couldn’t keep up with how much stuff he owned. Then Putin became president, and shortly afterwards the “Godfather of the Kremlin” was out.

Sometime later I read a vehemently anti-Putin editorial in a major British newspaper, before such things were commonplace. Who wrote this? I wondered. And then I saw the byline:

Boris Berezovsky. I was stunned. Hadn’t the editor done a quick web search before paying this “Russian businessman” to write his screed? Evidently not, although I now understand that serial failure to grasp that not every opponent of Putin is a brave Solzhenitsyn is characteristic of the UK and US media.  [Read more →]

art & entertainmenttrusted media & news

Tutus gone wild! The Bolshoi Theater acid attack

No Gravatar

Ballet: sometimes it’s better if the curtains stay closed.

For somebody who’s not remotely interested in ballet, I’ve watched a lot of ballet. I acquired my experience by accident, after getting to know a Moscow bank executive in the early 2000s. He had a box close to the stage at his permanent disposal, and offered me free access. Figuring I might as well see what this jumping about in tutus lark was about I went very often, for a year or so.

I can’t recall much of what I saw now, and probably remember the weird ones better than the good ones. [Read more →]

travel & foreign landstrusted media & news

Don’t tear down this wall

No Gravatar

File:Berlinermauer.jpg

Communism: it sucked.

The Berlin Wall was a powerful symbol for me of the rottenness of Marxist regimes as I grew up in the 1980s. After all, no country in the capitalist West ever built a wall to keep its inhabitants from escaping. Thus when I first visited the city in the late 1990s, one of the first things I did was visit the East Side Gallery of graffiti art, sprayed on a surviving stretch of the Wall.

I remember being surprised by two things: how bad a lot of the art was and the terrible condition it was in. Even the famous images by Keith Haring, Gerald Scarfe and that picture of Leonid Brezhnev kissing Erich Honecker were peeling away. “Hell,” I thought, “even if the Germans want to forget the DDR, they should at least take care of the Wall to keep the tourist dollars flowing in…”

Still, I never thought I’d see a news report about a developer trying to tear down a chunk of the Wall so that he could build some apartments for rich people. But that’s what happened last week, until a crowd of protestors showed up to stop it from happening. [Read more →]

religion & philosophytrusted media & news

Ex-popes, politicians and pensioner pop stars

No Gravatar

See y’all later… it’s a fine art, knowing when to quit.

This Monday Pope Benedict XVI surprised the world by resigning, making him the first pope to do so in 600 years. Immediately the media was abuzz with countless instant articles on the legacy of “God’s Rottweiler”. Most of it was written by non-Catholics, none of whom have a dog in the fight, but that didn’t stop them from rambling on.

A non-Catholic myself, my response was nonetheless admiration- that the Pope knew when to call it a day. As spiritual leader of 1.2 billion people, it must be difficult to get up in the morning and deal with all that responsibility when you’re geriatric and sickly. I can barely be bothered with it myself and I’m 47 years younger than Benedict and spiritual leader of nobody. But power has a strong allure, and very few people surrender it willingly. [Read more →]

animalstravel & foreign lands

Of Iranian monkeys and other space invaders

No Gravatar

“Space,” as 1970s prog-rock legends Hawkwind once told us, “is deep.” But that’s not all, for as Yuri Gagarin also informed us, it can be a disappointing place for religious believers.

You see, the first cosmonaut apparently took a peek out of the porthole while he was in orbit to see if the Deity was floating about. When he didn’t see an old man with a white beard anywhere nearby, he allegedly declared: “I don’t see any God up here.”

I was thinking about Gagarin’s ultra-scientific observation this week when I read about the Iranian space monkey that the mullahs reportedly shot into the cosmos a few days ago. What did our terrified primate friend see up there as he looked out the window? If he told his theocratic bosses there’s no Allah, then he’d be headed for the chop. On the other hand, since it is strictly forbidden for Muslims to depict Allah, there’s no way the monkey could have recognized his Creator in the first place. [Read more →]
religion & philosophytrusted media & news

2012: Apocalypse today and my five favorite prophets

No Gravatar

Apparently the world is going to end today. That’s what the Mayans said anyway, though I’ve heard this might be a misinterpretation. Ah, well- it was nice while it lasted, some of the time. The world, that is.

I’ve long been fascinated by The End. In fact I once spent a year reading exclusively about the Apocalypse, and my head was duly filled with the wonderful and terrifying visions of countless prophets and messiahs. Some of these fellows were dangerous, most were not. After a while I developed a fondness for certain seers. Here are some of my favorites. [Read more →]

race & culturetrusted media & news

No place for anger…

No Gravatar

I don’t feel angry at Adam Lanza. I know that makes some of you cringe, but I don’t have room in my heart right now for anger. I’m too filled up with pain for the lives that were lost, admiration for the heroic acts of our nation’s teachers, guilt for not doing enough to keep things like this from happening, and fear for what the future may hold. If Adam Lanza were standing in front of me right now, I would wrap my arms around him and tell him I’m sorry.

[Read more →]

technologytrusted media & news

Recalling old times through new connections

No Gravatar

In the local media this past month, some attention devoted to the 25th anniversary of the rescue of Jessica McClure from a well in southwest Midland, Texas, where she was trapped for three days. That attention also provided for me an opportunity to connect with a one-time co-worker of mine – someone I have not seen for many, many years – and gain a renewed appreciation for how much smaller our world has become through the world wide web.
[Read more →]

politics & governmenttrusted media & news

Trick or cheat!

No Gravatar

politics & governmenttrusted media & news

Voters should have a choice of more than two flavors

No Gravatar

sportstrusted media & news

The French are building “Tebowing” statues now

No Gravatar

Alright, I know Tim Tebow’s popular here in America, but since his trade to New York, it seems his fame has gone global. This is just getting absurd, as we now have “The Tebower” located in some French museum. And look, he’s not even doing it right. He’s supposed to be on one knee with his right hand held in a fist against his forehead while his left hand reaches down to hold a football helmet.

Ugh, fuckin’ French people — get a clue.

 

travel & foreign landstrusted media & news

Yes, they really are in the EU: Latvian nostalgia for the Waffen SS death machine

No Gravatar

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like Nazis very much. Call me crazy, but all that Judenhass, genocide, invading other people’s countries, war and Thousand Year Reich stuff – it’s just not for me. It’s kind of, you know, evil.

Now Latvians on the other hand, they’re a different kettle of fish. They’re totally nuts for Nazis! No, really! It’s incredible! Is it the black leather and the skulls? The uniforms? The cool salute? The goose stepping? The death camps? It’s difficult to say, but one thing’s for sure, in Latvia the Swastika never goes out of style! [Read more →]
politics & governmenttrusted media & news

What Clint Eastwood should have said

No Gravatar

sportstravel & foreign lands

More jet packs please- memories of Olympic glory

No Gravatar

Ever since I was a wee zygote, I have had zero interest in sports. Soccer? Swimming? Table-tennis? Nah. It’s only during the Olympics, when the coverage is so overwhelming that I become aware of what’s going on in the world of running and jumping. And indeed, when I look back, I see that in spite of my indifference I actually have numerous memories of Games past.

Take the Moscow Olympics of 1980 for instance. I was five years old and a girl from my small Scottish town was doing something over there. Our teachers told us all about it. Anyway, she didn’t win a medal, but they did name a street in a rubbish suburb in her honor fifteen years later, so her glory is undiminished, although I can’t actually remember her name. [Read more →]
art & entertainmenttravel & foreign lands

Nazis, gangsters, sex kittens and unfortunate tattoos

No Gravatar

Last week the directors of the Bayreuth Festival got into a kerfuffle with the Russian bass-baritone Yevgeny Nikitin when a German TV show revealed that he has a swastika tattoo on one of his man-boobs. This was a problem because Nikitin had been invited to perform the lead in “The Flying Dutchman,” an opera by Richard Wagner, the music world’s most famous anti-Semite, whose work was much beloved by Adolph Hitler, another noted anti-Semite. It was a Nazi supernova!

[Read more →]

travel & foreign landstrusted media & news

Around the world with a bunch of embalmed communists

No Gravatar

Recently there’s been some blather about removing Lenin from Red Square and inserting him into a hole in the ground. Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it. About once a year some Russian public figure suggests burying the Father of the Proletariat, everybody talks about it for a day or two, and then the idea fades away. You see, the interesting thing about Lenin is that, after you’ve seen him once you forget that he’s there. I mean, I’m sure Putin never thinks that there’s a hollowed out shell of a human located in a glass box a stone’s throw from his office. I lived in central Moscow for three years and hardly ever thought about it myself. Lenin’s basically invisible. Familiarity breeds indifference.

[Read more →]

art & entertainmentmovies

Somebody still loves you, Tom Cruise

No Gravatar

Recently I was mildly surprised to hear that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are getting divorced. Why, only a few days before I had read an interview in People magazine in which Cruise kept banging on about “Kate” and his daughter Suri, and how he was looking forward to a happy 50th birthday celebration with his family. And then this Tuesday Tom turned 50, alone… How could it all have gone so wrong so quickly?

I’ve had a soft spot for Cruise since 2002, a year I spent exclusively watching movies made by one of the Toms, either Cruise or Hanks. I was forced into this because I was living in Russia, where English language movies were in short supply. A recent encounter with a preposterous French movie entitled Trouble Every Day had led me to the epiphany that while bad art house films were just that, even the worst Hollywood movies at least had high production values. It was time for a Tom. [Read more →]

politics & governmenttrusted media & news

Obama inserts himself into more than just Presidential bios

No Gravatar

politics & governmenttrusted media & news

$10 million chandelier for sale

No Gravatar

moneypolitics & government

The plague of lolz

No Gravatar

March Madness concludes, an event handled something like an outbreak of typhus in workplaces across the country; treated with quarantine and let to run its course. Recent racial tensions notwithstanding, it culminated in a charmingly integrated riot. But if it weren’t the parade of paid amateurs in their skivvies, it would be some other diversion; perhaps the buttons on our shirts or better, the buttons on Kim K’s shirt. Are the flags still at half-staff? Must be for Whitney, national treasure that she was. It couldn’t be that there are caskets burdened with the bits of American soldiers pouring into New Jersey as they have never been lowered for that yet. There is a drought across the nation. It is a drought not of water, though that, too. What we thirst for, seek and find absent in every dusty bucket on every rusted hook is seriousness for the serious matters; sobriety in the face of sobering events. We desperadoes are a small and vilified minority. Instead of frank discourse we meet the mouthpieces of vested interests or free-lance mouthpieces without portfolio who, on speculation, ape the paid press agents. For any who question the state of affairs, whether it is the public debt or private vice there is one ready rejoinder with all the insight and subtlety of a vuvuzela; lol. [Read more →]

« Previous PageNext Page »