• Behind The Iron Curtain: Siege of Leningrad In Posters

    January 18, 1943: In a winter offensive, the Soviet Red Army drove westward, capturing Velikye-Luki on January 1st, near the border of the Byelorussian S.S.R. This offensive resulted in the relief of Leningrad after a 17-month siege by Axis forces.

     

    Youth of the City of Lenin!** Let our selfless work help the Red Army to crush and destroy the enemy!
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  • Russian Gourmet: Borscht

    During the course of my (long) life I have tried many variations of the beet and cabbage soup otherwise known as borscht: hot and cold, with meat or vegetarian, chopped and  shredded, home-made and not, but no one ever managed to make it better than my Mom. Now my daughter says that mine is even better than that, I guess this is just how life works. Borscht is delicious and good for you, but most importantly it’s cheap and easy to make. A word of caution: you can’t make a small amount of borscht, there will always be more than you expected.
    First, assemble the ingredients: beets (I had 4 medium), 2 carrots, small or medium head of cabbage, 1 red pepper, some fresh parsley, 2 stalks of celery, 1 medium onion, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, 3-4 potatoes and a can of V-8 or tomato juice.

    Cut off the beet greens and discard them unless you have a pet goat or a vegetarian friend. Peel the beets.

    Put the beets in a large pot half-full (half-empty?) with slightly salted water.

    Cover, bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour until a knife can easily go through a cooked beet.
    In the meantime, chop an onion and sauté it in a small amount of (olive) oil. While this is being done, shred carrots and chop parsley and celery.

    Add all of this to the skillet with onions and continue to sauté.

    Now you have time to slice the cabbage, red pepper (I used half) and cube potatoes (not too small).

    When the beets are ready, remove them from the pot and set aside to cool down. Add all the vegetables and the contents of the skillet to the pot. Cook until potatoes can be cut with a spoon, about 20 minutes. When the beets are cool enough to handle, shred them and add to the pot. Bring to a boil. At this time add tomato paste and V-8. Bring to a boil and adjust the salt. You are done.
    Since this borscht is virtually fat-free, a dollop of sour cream will add a bit of substance and contrast the sweetness of the beets. You can serve it cold, warm or hot and it will only get better the next day and even better after that, if you still have any left.

    There are thousands of borscht recipes on the internet and every schmuck with a video camera posted one on  Youtube; I have no idea and no desire to try what they taste like, most likely they are disgusting vinegar-tasting pots of overcooked cabbage and beets. The only recipe you’ll ever need is here. Enjoy it or else!
    Here is a video of the yesterday’s borscht-cooking session.

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  • Old Photos: Ricky Nelson

    Some photos of Ricky Nelson in Wichita, KS taken in 1958.

    © Time Inc.Ralph Crane
    Rock singer/actor Ricky Nelson (L) singing & playing guitar w. his lead guitarist James Burton on stage overlooking 5,000 rapt young fans during concert.
    Rock singer/actor Ricky Nelson (L) singing & playing guitar w/ his lead guitarist James Burton on stage overlooking 5,000 rapt young fans during concert.© Time Inc.Ralph Crane
    Rock singer/actor Ricky Nelson signing autographs for mob of young female fans pressed against fence at airport upon his arrival for a concert.
    Rock singer/actor Ricky Nelson signing autographs for mob of young female fans pressed against fence at airport upon his arrival for a concert.© Time Inc.Ralph Crane
    Rock singer/actor Ricky Nelson (R) singing into mike next to his lead guitarist James Burton on stage overlooking 5,000 rapt young fans during concert.
    Rock singer/actor Ricky Nelson (R) singing into mike next to his lead guitarist James Burton on stage overlooking 5,000 rapt young fans during concert.© Time Inc.Ralph Crane
    Fans going wild in hotel for autograph from Pop Singer Ricky Nelson.
    Fans going wild in hotel for autograph from Pop Singer Ricky Nelson.© Time Inc.Ralph Crane
    Rock singer/actor Ricky Nelson signing autographs w. teenage female fan in bkgrd. at airport upon his arrival for a concert.© Time Inc.Ralph Crane

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  • Old Photos: Kansas Doctor, Frank J. Strick

    Besides the name of the doctor -Frank J. Strick and the year these photos were taken in Kansas -1949, I wasn’t able to find much about this set. One photo shows a road sign with distances to Burlington, Yates Center and Iola, KS so that somewhat outlines the general area in the Southeast Kansas.

    © Time Inc.Thomas Mcavoy.
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  • 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.

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