• Siege Of Leningrad

    January 27th is an anniversary of the lifting of the Siege of Leningrad – one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies of the World War II. 900 days of bombing and starvation claimed over 600,000 lives.

    Someone overlayed old photos of the blockade with the photos of St. Petersburg today to create haunting images at the same time signifying that life goes on even after a horrible tragedy like the one that happened 70 years ago.
    (Click for more)

  • Jewish Music:Then And Now

    This may be of interest to my 3.5 Jewish readers.

    Few days ago Venus mentioned klezmer-punk band Golem in one of  her posts. I looked up few of their videos and one song sounded vaguely familiar:

    This is their take on the famous Yiddish song Rumania, Rumania originally composed and performed by Aaron Lebedeff. It just happened that the same day I was watching  “The Komediant”  – a documentary about a world famous Yiddish actor Pesachke Burstein. The movie mentioned that his son – Mike Burstyn grew up among famous Jewish performers and that Aaron Lebedeff himself taught Mike to sing “Rumania” while he was still in the stroller. The DVD included this version of “Rumania” performed by Mike Burstyn and Bruce Adler:

    You can pick your own favorite, personally I didn’t care for the punk version. Not everything can be punked up.

    If you made it this far, here is a bonus list of words that you may have heard before but didn’t know where they came from. By the way, the word “Shrek” means “monster” in Yiddish.

    But wait! If you made it this far you must really be a fan of Yiddish and Jewish music. Enjoy:

  • Rising Sun Over St.Louis

    A little historical aside before I get to the subject.
    If you ever drive on I-70 past the sign “Historic Downtown Rocheport” don’t waste your time getting off the highway. Here is a 1-second tour of the place.

    Now get back on the road, you still have a couple of hours to go.

    St.Louis Japanese Festival is one of the better-organized, meaningful and entertaining festivals in the country. I visited it once before and enjoyed it so much that I didn’t have any reservations about going there again.
    The Japanese Festival is once-a-year occasion when otherwise shy Americans release their inner Japanese, normally hidden deep inside, wrap themselves in shower curtains and prance around in uncomfortable wooden flip-flops pretending to like weird-looking food.

    My favorite Japanese traditional entertainer Masaji Terasawa was there once again making spun sugar sculptures, origami figures and making fun of the public.

    I have few clips of his performance.

    The Sumo demonstration was probably the highlight of the day since we decided not to stick around for karaoke.

    On the way back I was tempted to get some “Free water in the name of Jesus” but decided against it, just in case it turns into wine and causes me to get a DUI. I wasn’t so sure I could count on Jesus to pay the ticket.

  • Old Newspapers: A Geographical Conundrum

    In the late 1987 even the show Jeopardy fell victim to the confusion between the two Kansas City’s:

    ©The Free Lance Star. January 4,1988

    Continue reading →

  • Let The Alcohol Brighten Up Your Holidays

    For thousands of years alcoholic beverages drastically improved countless holiday parties on every continent in every political and social system. Here is an appropriate illustration from the Life Magazine Archives taken in Leningrad in 1956.

    Before:

    A party inside the home of a so-called “typical Soviet worker”, the Dmitriev family. The father, a skilled metal worker, is actually a member of the Communist Party & does much side work for it, so they live far above working class average. © Time Inc. Ed Clark

    After:

    © Time Inc. Ed Clark

    Caption reads:A party at the home of a so-called “typical Soviet worker”, the Dmitriev family. The father, a skilled metal worker, is actually a member of the Communist Party & does much side work for it, so they live far above working class average. (the line about side work for the Communist Party doesn’t make any sense to me, not sure what it means).