June 18, 2006

From Russia - Reflections .....


I remember the 4th movie. It was a computer based program with Harrison Ford trying to outwit the bad guy trying to steal 40,000,000 using the computer. How could I forget - I saw it twice - both coming and going. But -
    an interesting observation was that Lenin (who?) is not held in much regard anymore. There is a movement to finally bury his embalmed body - it costs a small fortune to keep him looking his best - but Putin is resisting the push (no, not pushkin).  Stalin, who was chiefly responsible for the building of the Subway (Metro) and the canals and locks connecting Moscow to the Baltic Sea via the Volga during the 30's, is not seen or spoken of, except in regard to these achievements.  
    Like any tourist oriented location when you leave the boat at various ports of call you run the gauntlet of booths offering amber, laquer boxes, fur hats and scarfs, pictures and picture books galore, T-shirts, and many, many of these (I forgot the name) of colored doll boxes, within boxes, within boxes, etc sets, Russian Army and Navy hats, etc, etc, etc. We saw Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan shirts and especially striking were shirts featuring Lenin superimposed on the Golden Arches titled "McLenin." There was also a classic with Lenin holding his fist up with the middle finger extended titled: "Fuck the Revolution." Also available are copies of Fabrege Easter Eggs in all sizes, quality, and, of course, prices. Some of these doll sets (the word begins with an "M") feature NBA and NFL players.
    Driving in the big cities we saw lots of McDonalds (spelled in Russian), an occasional Pizza Hut and several KFCs. I don't think I saw Subway (maybe they are called Metro) shops.
    From what we could establish the cost of living in these large cities is very, very high. Apartments are sold based on square meters, not feet.
    Not only is there a lot of construction, but an attempt is being made to clean up, paint, restore as much as possible. The war ended 61 years ago, but their ability to rebuild and restore so many of these magnificent structures is truly amazing. But I was disturbed that I saw very little in the way of War related relics. We passed one park in Moscow that is dedicated to the war, but didn't go through it. Still I did see one WW II tank, but it wasn't a T-34. In St. Pete there is a very nice monument dedicated to the defense of the city during the 900 day siege. There are scattered minor stautes of soldiers with helmets and machine guns (before the AK47 era). Apparently, there are military museums in St. Pete, but we never got there. And, of course, there are many statues of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, various writers, composers, generals, etc. Oddly enough, no statues of Rasputin. We did see a picture of his battered body. Despite the poison, bullets, and beatings the autopsy showed that he had actually drowned.
    There is one Cathedral in St. Pete where many of the previous Tsars are buried. Off in one corner is the burial spot of the remains (bones identified through DNA) of Nicholas, Alexandra, and three of the daughters. The remains of the fourth daughter and the kid brother have not been found or identified. We did hear a story that someone who lived in Siberia claimed to be the Tsarivitch, raised a family, has passed away, and his son is trying to establish the fact that he did survive the slaughter, and, if so, the family would be entitled to the Romanoff estate worth some $30,000,000,000 (as in billion). The whole story is remeniscent of the movie "Anastasia" with Ingrown Bergman and Yultide Brunner.
    With that I'll go scratch my head and do some more reflecting - no, not genuflecting.