20 years ago today a popular Russian rock singer Victor Tsoi died in a car accident.
20 years ago his songs spoke to us.
20 years ago we raised our arms and yelled “We Are Waiting for Changes” together with him.
20 years ago his songs sounded like a war cry.
20 years later it’s still the most played CD that I own.
We want changes!
It’s the demand of our hearts.
We want changes!
It’s the demand of our eyes.
In our laughter, in our tears, and the pulse in our veins.
We want changes!
Being my own awesome tipster I took this picture of the billboard recently placed around 17th and Jefferson facing the southbound traffic on the I-35.
Not only this billboard is in direct view of the few coveted Kansas City visitors who are probably attending one of the “bored meetings”; Mayor Funky himself can probably see it from his vantage point high atop the City Hall. City of Rogers, AR is poaching guests straight from the Funk’s Front Porch.
It’s not unusual to see signs like this on the highways but they are mostly located in the middle of nowhere so a person may be convinced to visit a city down the road. But as any tipster with a map knows – Rogers is not on I-35; in fact I-35 doesn’t even pass through Arkansas.
The fact that this billboard wasn’t burned down to the ground by the few remaining employees of the Kansas City Convention and Visitor Bureau shows a complete ineffectiveness of the Funky Administration and is probably somehow racist, but I am still working on this part.
Visit Rogers, it’s only 218 miles away on a different highway!
I had to double-check the title to make sure that the word “old-timey” doesn’t have any dirty meaning known only to Chimpo. Seems like I am safe for now but you can’t be too sure with him.
Long time ago, before the word “mail” got itself attached to the letter “e”, people wrote letters and exchanged postcards. Even I was in on the pen pal craze writing a couple of letters in broken English to some unfortunate American girl from Minnesota who wasted her parents’ money on a trip to the Soviet Union. Nowadays the post office is dying a slow death surviving only by delivering junk mail and bills. The email is faster, easer, more convenient and free, but one thing that’s being lost is the appreciation of the distances it travels making our world seem smaller and without borders. When an old card or a letter traveled for weeks crossing many countries and continents , it was an event to open a mailbox to find something touched by your friend or a relative and then be every mail person on the way. Email arrives instantly and no one touches it except the government’s supercomputer which makes sure you are not an evildoer. Many Americans grow up to think that the world looks like this. Many studies have been done to show that Americans can’t find other countries and even their own states on the map even if threatened with waterboarding. I always hated geography myself but I can still point out most countries on the map and even the majority of American states, except the little ones in the East, but they don’t count anyway.
Recently I’ve found an interesting website that preserves or, maybe, even resurrects an old hobby of exchanging postcards. Postcrossing.com has 43,693 members in 178 countries who connect through the website to send and receive postcards to each other. After registration you can initially send up to 5 cards to random members and then become eligible to receive up five cards from others. In the first batch my daughter and I mailed cards to Taiwan, Finland, Australia, Netherlands and Germany for a total of 23,344 miles traveled. Some of these arrived in less than 5days. We received messages from all of the recipients thanking us for the cards. Many people post their cards online and one local girl even made a presentation in her club with cards from around the world.
Hopefully, after some time our map of the world will be filled with cards we mailed. So far it looks like this. Again, like many years ago, I run (OK, walk) to the mailbox to see if there is anything there for me, besides bills and pizza coupons. I like the feeling. Try it for yourself.
No place makes life seem so short like a cemetery. Birth, childhood, first steps, first words, school, first love, family, kids, work, feelings, thoughts, achievements, joys, tragedies – everything that makes up a person’s life becomes just a dash between the two dates. Most of the people will never have anything named after them, will not be a subject of a documentary or even have their own article on Wikipedia; no one will want to dress up like them, sell their costumes or posable figures. At the cemetery we promise not to forget, but to the next generation a person becomes just an image on strangely colored photos, a subject of nostalgic anecdotes and a name on a small gravestone. Their children will wonder about the origins of their foreign-sounding middle names, tracing them on a family tree compiled by an aging relative, trying to capture the memories before they are slowly dissolved in time. The only difference between us and our ancestors is that we leave more proof of our existence – photos, videos, blogs, facebook profiles – these things will probably float around somewhere long after the end date is stamped on our gravestones.
No place makes a person want to live like a cemetery…
Public outrage is easy to come by these days. Whether it is signing a petition to remove a statue from the public view, complaining about a store ad being too gay or just clicking on a Facebook page to support or condemn some cause, expressing your views doesn’t even require a trip to a mailbox anymore. And while some comments on these sites and petitions look angry and radical, these people should stand back in awe of the original masters of public character assassination and manufactured outrage – the Soviet Press.
The following page was published in the Soviet Literaturnaya Gazeta (Literary Newspaper) on November 1st 1958. In this issue various writers, artists, organizations, and even regular Soviet citizens expressed their outrage with the actions of Boris Pasternak, the author of Doctor Zhivago, who was awarded a Nobel Prize for his anti-Soviet novel. Famous Russian joke “I haven’t read Pasternak, but I condemn him” was extracted from one of the letters on this page.