Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Rock on, Russia!

Saturday we went to a rock concert. An interesting marketing ploy by the Stary Melnik beer company – admission was 3 bottle caps from bottles of Stary Melnik beer. (Though when we got there they were being careless, to say the least, about whether people actually had the three bottle caps when they went in – they were more concerned with whether people were trying to sneak in any vodka or beer from other companies.)

English Teacher M and I went – and taking dates, of course, this meant we had to drink twelve beers before we could go in. This left us a bit bloated, but feeling pretty cheerful.

I went there ready to rock – I was wearing a black jacket, a black t-shirt, and black leather gloves with the fingers cut off, that African Student S uses for bike riding and which he left here one time. I was going to wear cargo pants until English Teacher M reminded me that jeans would be more suitable. I didn’t have any clean jeans, but of course, man, rock ain’t about clean jeans!

A bunch of local groups were playing, with the headline acts Korney, Zemfira, and Bi-2. Korney and Zemfira are a bit on the noodly dreamy alternativey side to be really rockin’, but Bi-2 are pretty rockin’, if a bit ponderous and Pearl Jam-like.

I’d been joking all day about flashing the symbol of the horned hand to show how much I was rocking – but damned if, when we got there, everybody wasn’t really flashing the symbol of the horned hand at the stage to show how much they were rocking.

I thought people stopped doing that back in 1986.

It was cool, though, man. We rocked.

Sunday a student of mine took a bunch of us out to her dacha in the country, where we barbecued chicken. A fabulous day – Russian girls running around in bikinis, swimming in a spring fed lake, playing volleyball, eating fresh berries and grilled chicken and vegetables from their garden. The girls were a rather tame crew, by our standards – noneof them drink – but they’re a reasonably fun bunch, they like to dance and such. They certainly didn’t mind that WE put away loads of beer.

One of those days that makes me glad I didn't become an anaesthesiologist.

After we left there at about ten pm, we went back to Vodkaberg and tried to get to a party they were having in one of the squares – supposedly the largest dance party in Russia. When we got there, however, we discovered that they were not allowing people to take alcohol of any sort into the square, not even in plastic bottles. What insane bullshit is this, cried I. Naturally this had not stopped people from getting drunk – the area on the perimeter of the square was completely COVERED with empty beer and vodka bottles, and most of the people in the square (mainly teenagers) were clearly shitfaced.

No alcohol? What the hell is happening to this city. The law about no beer drinking on the streets proves to be largely unenforced, but there’s plenty of creeping alcohol fascism – some of the cafes won’t serve people under 21 now, for example. What will this city be without drunk teenagers?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

English Groupies Vs. Gremlins

I'd been using the general term "English Groupies" to refer to girls who think are enamored of foreigners --- but then we'd been noticing a bit of a dichotomy -- a lot of these girls who are enamored of foreigners don't really speak English, would might make the expression "English Groupie" a bit misleading.

Therefore, we will now refer to the latter group -- the giggly drunk ones who love foreigners but don't speak any English -- as Gremlins. Thanks to English Teacher R for that terminology.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Drain Bamage

A teacher at another school here in Vodkaberg got his head knocked in recently. He was apparently returning from drinking down by the river, but he has no real memory of what happened. Another teacher found him the next morning wandering in a park covered with blood with little idea where he was or what had happened.

The guy is Austrailian, came here with a Russian girlfriend that he met studying down there; they just wanted to get her all the right visas to go back, but it was going to take several months so he got a job as an English teacher here.

The teacher who found him said the guy kept asking, as he escorted him to the hospital, "Why would you want to stay in Russia?"

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Magnificent Desolation

Came out of the nightclub full of 17-year-olds this morning at 5:30am, me, a 40 year old married American, and a 50 year old Irish guy. The Irish guy had to go buy a bus ticket, so we went to the bus station and got the ticket, and treated ourselves to breakfast beers at the bus station bar. We considered having some steamed hamburgers, but to just have more beer.

Then we decided to walk over to the Pirate Disc Market to see if it was open yet. It wasn't. Walking around it, I noticed an abandoned half-constructed apartment block over a hill nearby. We walked into what I can only describe as the most magnificent desolation I've ever seen -- something like a cross between a landfill and a swamp, with five stories of half-completed concrete apartment house towering over it, big strange chunks of metal and abandoned construction equipment here and there, crumbling sheets of concrete, and most interestingly a half-completed drainage system and little concrete shelters that I assume were probably going to be guard stations.

We wandered drunkenly about in the empty apartment for a while, the floors littered with crumbled concrete, hypodermic needles and the occasional condom, and the Irish guy said, "So, did you ever imagine when you were a child that your life would bring you to this place and this time?"

"Unfortunately. . . yes," I replied.

My digital camera got stolen by the cops last October, but I'll probably buy a new one soon and I've GOT to get some pictures of this.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Model Behavior

A few of the females guests at my birthday party -- namely a reserved older women that English Teacher P brought, and African Student S's female friend from Germany -- were apparently "surprised" by our drunken behaviour.
Well, okay, we got pretty drunk and acted up a bit, but think of all the things that DIDN'T happen:
no severed arteries

no fighting

no shouting (beyond the friendly boisterous kind)

no passing out

no vomitting

no police or angry neighbors

no severed arteries

no fucking in the toilet/kitchen/back room

We were on model behaviour, I think. For all that it was still a pretty good party.