• Behind the Iron Curtain:Sightseeing

    Long time ago (and I mean long,long time) I was traveling in what was then a beautiful and welcoming Republic of Georgia, still a part of soon to be defunct Soviet Union. Georgia is known for its beauty, Caucasus mountains and warm beaches on the Black Sea, ancient cultural relics, great food and some of the best wine in the world, and as the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. Stalin was born in the City of Gori which was a huge source of pride for the Georgian people. When Stalin was alive, his portraits, monuments and various other likenesses were literally everywhere. After Stalin’s Cult of Personality was condemned in 1956 most of this junk was removed and one of the few places that kept all of it’s pre-1956 glory was the City of Gori. From the huge portrait of Stalin at the entrance to the railway station to his monument and museum at his birthplace, complete with Stalin’s personal rail car, the city looked like the old days when it was the Birthplace of the “beloved” leader.
    By the time I was born all of the history books and movies were edited not to dwell on Stalin’s persona and the horrors during his regime. In the movies he was shown as a wise man of a few words, issuing battle-winning military directives, and in the books there may have been a mention or two about the cult of personality. It wasn’t a secret but it wasn’t talked about either. As it turned out later,everything was much worse than it was presented in 1956. So when I found myself staring in amazement at something I have never seen in my lifetime, I didn’t really think twice about standing at the birthplace of evil, on the contrary, it was neat to take a step back in time.
    A lot has changed since I stood next to the Stalin’s rail car in Gori. There is no Soviet Union, Georgia is not so welcoming anymore, and I don’t have curls. I found this old photo in my album and thought about my careless youth and fun memories I still have from that time.

  • When In Doubt – Check Her Out

    Dating world is a minefield already, sometimes a quick crotch-check a la Crocodile Dundee is necessary to ensure future compatibility.

    Candidates for the Amazing Philippines Beauties contest for transvestites and transsexuals wave after they were presented to the media at a hotel in Manila October 7, 2008. Some 25 contestants are vying for the annual crown which will be handed out on October 24.

  • Old Photos: One Fine Day In The USSR

    One day browsing through the Google Life Photo Archives I discovered a treasure trove of some old photos taken in the USSR sometime before 1956, when Stalin’s portraits were still hanging on many walls. These photos are pretty interesting, as they captured many small details of the Soviet life after the World War II, but even more interesting is the seemingly unlimited access granted to the photographer. Usually foreigners were strictly supervised and allowed access only to pre-approved showpieces of the Soviet achievement. Even in the 1980’s many foreigners were still guided to my school, one of the best in town, where kids met them all dressed up for the occasion and tried to strike a proper English conversation.
    I thought I’d try something different this time: I tagged the photos with my own comments. This is the first experimental batch and then we’ll see how it goes. Let me know if you are interested in seeing more of these with or without comments, since it takes some time and I’d could easily waste it somewhere else.

    On this photo you will notice a wood-burning stove next to the gas stove that doesn’t seem to work and has another burner standing on top. There are some photos showing gas stoves being loaded and moved to it’s probably a time when the whole apartment building was being converted to natural gas.

    “Ushanka Hat” is explained here and may even get aired out at some Halloween Party; here you will find more information about the “Kirza Army Boots”.


    Even in my day you still could buy bulk milk and that’s the purpose of the milk vessel below. We owned several and sometimes used it for kvass, other people took them to the beer taps.

    Wood burning water heater below is very familiar to me. We had one and some bath days started with me and my Dad looking for the firewood in the middle of the city. Then my Dad had it converted to the diesel fuel and we had to call the fire department to put it out when we tried it for the first time. This method could only be used on the lucky days when we had running water. On the unlucky days the tank served as a nice storage for water to flush the toilet.

    Possibly to be continued…

  • The ETAX Redemption

    Now that the ETAX got extended for at least another 5 years, Kansas City,MO won’t have to scramble to find alternative sources of revenue for some time. While I am clearly not a supporter of the Etax and have outlined my reasoning in multiple posts and comments, I think that the City and its residents should spend the next 5 years making the Etax more palatable to the non-residents (and even themselves) who currently contribute 40% to 50% of it.

    1.Dial down the hate and resentment.

    Whatever you might think of Johnson County (ironically not the only county who contributes the Etax,but the one which gets the most hate), it is the source of a large part of KCMO revenues, both in the form of Etax and various economic and philanthropic activities. Johnson Countians and other non-residents contribute by spending on food and entertainment, patronizing P&L district, Plaza, Sprint Center, other venues that you are so proud of. Additionally, multiple sponsorships and contributions come from the other side of the State Line to support the arts and causes based in Kansas City. Sprint center carries the name (and sponsorship) of an Overland Park,KS company, and the major benefactor and the Chairwoman of the Center for the Performing Arts lives in Mission Hills. There is a significant number of Friends of the Zoo, Nelson-Atkins sponsors, theater supporters who live outside the KCMO. I don’t even have to mention the Chiefs and Royals fans, who pay for the tickets, parking and every logo item they can get their hands on. You don’t have to like us, but you might consider stifling yourselves a little.


    Continue reading →

  • Old Photos: Kansas Republicans

    Hit it!


    These are some of the Kansas delegates to the Republican National Convention in 1948.

    I found the Platform pretty interesting in terms of which party could claim the same items today:

    • Reduction of the public debt
    • Federal aid to states for slum clearance and low-cost housing
    • Extension of Social Security benefits
    • A federal anti-lynching law
    • Federal civil rights legislation
    • Abolition of the poll tax
    • A crackdown on domestic Communism
    • Recognition of the state of Israel
    • International arms control “on basis of reliable disciplines against bad faith”.

    Banker Harlan Herrick, one of the Kansas delegates to Republican national convention. © Time Inc.George Skadding.

    Oilman Walter Fee, one of the Kansas delegates to Republican national convention. © Time Inc.George Skadding.© Time Inc.George Skadding.

    Rancher Ralph Perkins, one of the Kansas delegates to Republican national convention.

    Rancher Ralph Perkins, one of the Kansas delegates to Republican national convention.© Time Inc.George Skadding.

    Steel magnate Harry Darby, one of the Kansas delegates to Republican national convention.

    Steel magnate Harry Darby, one of the Kansas delegates to Republican national convention.© Time Inc.George Skadding.

    Druggist Preston Dunn, one of the Kansas delegates to Republican national convention

    Druggist Preston Dunn, one of the Kansas delegates to Republican national convention © Time Inc.George Skadding.

    Attorney John W. Breyfogle Jr., one of the Kansas delegates to Republican national convention.

    Attorney John W. Breyfogle Jr., one of the Kansas delegates to Republican national convention.© Time Inc.George Skadding.

    Dr. Hugh A. Hope, one of the Kansas delegates to Republican national convention.

    Dr. Hugh A. Hope, one of the Kansas delegates to Republican national convention.© Time Inc.George Skadding.

    Mayor Cleaver?

    Tax examiner Powers Porter, one of the Kansas delegates to Republican national convention.© Time Inc.George Skadding.

    More photos.