• Old Photos: Labor Day

    Some photos of the Labor Day Celebrations over the years.

    WPA Workers marching in the Labor Day Parade. Detroit,1938. © Time Inc. William Vandivert

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  • Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

    Starting with this post and continuing here, I promise this is the last one using the set of photos from 1938 Kansas City. There are many reasons why I do this, but the main two are: I enjoy it and I feel like somewhat of an explorer, possibly drawing attention to the photos that haven’t been seen for many years if ever. Any old photos of this quality are fun to browse through but I especially enjoy finding the ones related to this area or to my previous life in the USSR. You may find all my previous photo-posts here.

    Just like the previous batch, this one ends with some vintage NSFW, not that I am trying to compete with TKC, but the fact that a Life Magazine photographer even submitted these in the end of the 1930’s is in itself amusing. Interestingly enough, this is not a unique occurrence in the Life Photo Archives, I had few more shared in my post about the Persephone.

    All the photos are linked to the larger images, feel free to click and look at the detail.

    © Time Inc. William Vandivert

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  • Old Photos: Soyuz – Apollo

    Yesterday marked 35 years (very old I am) from the launch of the Soviet-American joint space mission Souyz-Apollo.

    TIME cover 07-21-1975 "Space Spectacular" US-Soviet space Link-up. ©Time

    (L-R) American astronaut Deke Slayton and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Leonov frolicking during US-Soviet Apollo Soyuz linkup.©Time

    US Astronaut Thomas Stafford (L) w. cosmonaut Alexei Leonov meeting in padded hatchway of the docking module that connects their spacecrafts (Apollo/Soyuz) during joint mission by US & Soviet Union.©Time

    Amer. astronauts Tom Stafford (R) & Donald "Deke" Slayton w. bottle of Russian vodka, aboard Apollo spacecraft orbiting Earth during 9-day joint US/USSR space mission.©Time

    Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov displaying sketch he made of American astronaut Tom Stafford whom he encountered during historic rendezvous and link up of Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft.©Time

    And now we dance: “We will leave our footprints on the dusty trails of far-away planets”

  • Marxism-Bremzenism

    We had no housing to speak of, we had no cars to speak of, we all wore the same clothes
    Anya Von Bremzen

    It rained communism and income redistribution.

    In dim light reluctantly released by the Government so the citizens wouldn’t bump into each other I was schlepping to kindergarten. It was 5 in the morning. I turned 5 just few months before and my sleeping in days were long gone. The System wouldn’t let me stay in bed past 7 for the next sixty years, when it will spit out my chewed up and worn out shell of a body patched up like Frankenstein monster by the torture they called free medicine.

    I looked around. Zombie-like builders of communism were slowly moving past me. Same clothes, same faces, empty eyes. Years of being fed just bread and fat-free ideology drained the will to live out of people. At night, when the curtains were closed and my parents covered up the listening devices, they whispered about something they called meat.  Once a year they tried to recreate meat out of contraband mayo and turnips. It was horrible but we stunned our taste buds with vodka to make it palatable.

    It was early spring but one couldn’t tell just by looking at the Communist-controlled weather. Behind the barbwire fences, system’s functionaries, the apparatchiks,  were frolicking in the sun and warmth. We got what was left.  Used air contained hardly any oxygen. I stopped to take a deep breath.

    The International Women’s Day – a holiday celebrating heavy women in cotton-stuffed waist jackets, head scarves and year-round galoshes was approaching. Communist cell in the kindergarten was preparing a concert where like trained monkeys we would attempt to entertain these never-smiling representatives of the weaker gender. Weaker? I evil-laughed on the inside, grinding my teeth. My face remained stoic and expressionless.

    I was assigned to perform a Russian folk dance. The System knew I was Jewish and it was their way of putting and extra-painful twist on the torture that was dancing. My head yearned to be covered. My feet were itching to break out in Freilach. I craved gefilte fish even though I didn’t know what gefilte was. Or fish. Instead I found myself standing next to a girl, dressed in a Russian shirt and shorts. It was so cold inside that even ever-present Lenin’s portrait on the wall was covered with frost. My legs were slowly turning blue to match the shorts.


    When the music started the headmistress’s eyes told me I had to smile and dance or I will be forced to read Das Kapital while marching around the room for the fifth time in a month. My smile felt like a grimace and my dance moves were awkward, but I couldn’t bring myself to read about the plight of the proletariat one more time.

    Scary women in the audience did not smile anyway. They just didn’t know how. After the performance the teachers force-fed us disgusting chocolates filled with Marxism and Leninism. I willed myself not to gag. This came useful later when I lived on the streets of New York doing anything for a buck. Just like Marx predicted.

    Standing there ashamed and smeared with chocolate, in a room where one could cut ideology with a knife, I had a dream that I, I someday will tearfully tell about my hardships to the American press and be quoted in every article about Russia.

    Fucking Anya Von Bremzen.

  • Panaderia San Luis

    Few days ago I was getting a haircut and noticed that some culinary business next door had been replaced by a Mexican Bakery.

    I asked the lady who was cutting my hair if she tried it yet, but she sounded hesitant to try something different. I, on the other hand, can’t pass a bakery of any kind without checking it out. I’ve been to a Mexican Bakery (Panaderia) before and our local grocery stores frequently sell Mexican traditional baked goods, reflecting Olathe’s rapidly growing Hispanic population.
    Panaderia San Luis opened at this location little over 3 months ago and seems to be staying busy. It offers a variety of pastries like familiar fruit-filled turnovers, as well as a huge selection of Mexican baked goods.

    There are fresh rolls…

    …a cold case with several varieties of Tres Leches cakes

    …and tortillas and tamales to go.

    Most of the items are made in the store (I noticed a different address on the package of tortillas) and are priced 60 cents and up.

    Pastries that are not so obvious or priced differently are marked in English and Spanish.

    My usual pet peeve with ethnic businesses is their neglect of potential mainstream customers. Many times a curious shopper shows up but feels intimidated or overwhelmed by the amount of unknown items and no one around to explain what they are. Panaderia San Luis got this right – not only everything is clearly marked, the owner is there to explain and answer questions in English to your satisfaction. The experience is very different from my first visit to a Mexican Bakery in Kansas City, KS where no one seemed to speak English and I had to watch the other customers to figure out what to do. Instead of a basket you get a tray and a pair of kitchen tongs, then bring your loaded tray to the checkout.

    Panaderia San Luis located at 2077 E.Santa Fe in Olathe is a nice addition to a growing list of authentic eateries in my neighborhood and a definite step up from your grocery bakery department both in quality and freshness.

    I hope they stick around.

    *this post is not sponsored or compensated in any way.