Tuesday, November 28, 2006

How Not to Pick Up Chicks

I've mentioned how cranky and impatient I've been with people lately.

Last Friday we were at the House of Pain and some girls took a liking to us, village girls from a cruddy middle-of-nowhere factory-town that I had the unhappiness to visit once, and they were remotely cute, so we were trying to be hospitable to them.

The cutest one, a little mousy-blonde thing with only one vaguely-noticable herpes blister, kept trying to talk to me, but she couldn't understand my Russian, or at least kept claiming she didn't.

"Where are you living in Samara," I asked, in Russian.

"I don't understand," she answered, in Russian.

"Where - are - you - living - in - Samara," I said again, in Russian.

"Sorry, I don't understand you," she said again.


That, she understood. And got up and walked off, in a huff.

"What did you do," asked my colleague, crossly.

"Well, if she wasn't a stupid bitch I wouldn't have to call her a stupid bitch!" I said.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Alarming Rise in Nationalism, and High Heels.

Gosh. Another outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin has died under mysterious and unpleasant circumstances.

The general feeling among the flathead contingent is not that Putin was somehow responsible, but that these deaths are actually orchestrated by the CIA in an effort to discredit the Kremlin. Yeah, well, I don't see any good guys to root for anywhere, anymore.

All the new guys who come here are still thinking they're in Slut and Alcohol Paradise, but I spoke with an African student I know who has been here a while last night, and he agreed: something strange is going on here. A frightening rise in Nationalism -- with of course a lot of good old fashioned greed and xenophobia. It's like Berlin in the 30's, or the Reagan 80's in America, I'm not sure which.

Of course, that African student was with one of the hottest chicks I've seen in my entire life. So you take the good, you take the bad, I suppose.

And here's one for the foot fetishists:

Friday, November 24, 2006

My Changing Inner World, And Tits

Several of my acquaintances have commented on how reserved and sedate I've been lately (if not exactly sober.)

One girl, a Russian girl who has been a pal and occasional sex partner for a couple of years, said the other day over dinner that my "inner world seemed to have changed."

Maybe so. I know it seems like more difficult work going out drinking and shit than it does going to actual work; teaching English seems like something I do to relax, and debauchery is my main occupation.

Could I -- gasp -- be growing up?

No, I don't think so either. Here are some more titties.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Now, telling people I got hit up by the cops for 300 rubles, the usual response of people I know around here (students and teachers both) is: "the next time it happens, call this number or show them this business card."

Now I've been here over six years, and heard this many time, and I'm not playing that shit for a number of reasons:

1) It's often bullshit -- people with no influence often try to portray themselves as people with influence to impress, in which case the cops won't give a damn, and may even get extra angry that you tried to pull rank on them.

2) Rich guys, politicians, mobsters and cops have a lot of downward mobility -- The is a very precarious balance in the relations of politicians, businessmen, gangsters, and the police, and this balance can change in a heartbeat. If you're trying to drop the name of a businessman or gangster or politician who has recently gone out of favour with the cops, for example, you're probably going to get doubly screwed.

Look at what happened to the richest guy in Russia, Mikhail Khodarkovsky; late 2004 would not have been the time to be flashing his business cards at the cops and expecting them to let you go. If that could happen to the richest guy in Russia, imagine how delicate the situation of some Armenian gangster owner of grilled chicken stands is going to be.

And lastly:

3) Getting favors means you have to give favors -- Obviously, these people have very little reason to offer you protection, and endanger their own relationship with the cops, and if you get in trouble, they'll be expecting favors in return -- most likely free English lessons, but who knows what else they might ask expect.

I think of the time I was going out with the teenage daughter of the local Captain of the Internal Affairs division -- he liked me and was always nice to me, but while I could have name dropped him to get out of trouble, you can imagine that he would have been expecting a ring on his little girls finger if I did it too often.

So me, I think that unless you want to make a lifestyle of it and get into all that Godfather bullshit, you're better off just paying the cops 300 rubles and shrugging it off.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Easy Go, Easy Come

Man, as if further proof was needed that life is no longer going my way here in Vodkaberg:

Last night I had a quick fast-food dinner with some of my friends and then walked out onto the street afterwards, taking my plastic cup of draft beer with me to finish on the bus. This is pretty much standard operational procedure in Vodkaberg; as I've mentioned numerous times, people constantly drink beer on the streets.

And damned if three cops didn't come up to me and tell me I had to pay a 590 ruble fine for drinking on the street.

They were reasonably pleasant about it, anyway; polite and non-threatening and all. That they didn't beat my up can only be considered a plus.

The cops love to stop people and extort money from them for real and imaginary violations in Moscow and St. Petersberg; here in Vodkaberg, however, they don't usually stop people on the streets unless they're obviously from the Caucuses. (The traffic police are the major extorters here; I think the cops figure that if you don't even have a car, you're probably not worth bothering with.)

The let me go for 300 after I explained I was an English teacher, and they saw that all my money was mostly in the form of crumpled ten-ruble notes in my front pocket.

Anyway, after that happened, another couple of guys I know called, and we set about getting drunk until three o' clock in the morning; in the toilet of the bar we were at, I found 500 rubles lying in one of the stalls.

So I guess I'm still ahead of the game. For now.

The actual fact of whether it actually IS illegal to drink on the street is kind of sketchy; a law was apparently passed two years ago, but I never saw any evidence it was actually being enforced.

BBC news article on the subject

Another article about the subject of Beer drinking and advertising

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Do the fuckin' math. . .

See, it used to be easy, when there were only a couple of foreigners in town that I knew. We'd have a party with two or three foreigners, and it wasn't hard to turn up four or five or six girls for the party.

Now I don't even know how many foreigners I know here -- in my immediate circle there are about eight.

So you see my point: to get the same surrounded-by-women feeling at a party these days, we'd have to dig up like 40 girls. Even in Russia that's unlikely.

Err, unless you're really rich, I guess.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Political Discussion, and Tits

The House of Pain nightclub, as I said, grows less and less hospitable to we foreigners -- the hostility is generally understated, however, and expressed in quiet scorn rather than open disapproval.

Last Friday, however, was the first time I was openly called out. We were sitting with some of the few girls we know who still actually seem to relish our company, and a guy I know from Czech Republic -- an engineering student -- came over to say hi. The young Russian guy he was with heard that I was American, and began violently gesticulating: "NO! NO! Americans no welcome in Russia!"

I said, "Look, moron, NOBODY likes George Bush, what the hell do you want me to do about it? I'm hear teaching English to people so they can have some global economic power, what the fuck do you want from me?"

I said this in English, and somebody translated it; I might have been able to say the same thing in my bad Russian, but it wouldn't have had such elan.

"America want control world! America protiv Russia, we need World War III!" And this from a guy who wasn't even drunk.

Now I was on my feet. "Are you serious??!! You want EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD ON THE EARTH TO DIE, BECAUSE YOU DON'T LIKE GEORGE BUSH??!!" I switched to bad Russian here -- "You're ready for your mother, father, grandmother, and all the people in the world to die, slowly and painfully??!"

"Is it better to be a slave?" he said in Russian.

"MY GOD! Have you never heard of Nuclear Winter, you dickwad? You would destroy the whole world, rather than just wait two years for him to fucking get voted out of office??!!"

"If you hit me, I call police and you go jail!" yelled the Russian guy. He wasn't especially big or anything, although neither am I. He held up his mobile phone.

"Easy Rambo," said one of my colleagues, putting his arm around my neck. "Come on now."

"What? I'm just making conversation, what?" I said, genuinely confused.

"Are you aware that you had both of your hands in fists and were leaning forward with a vein standing out in your neck?"

"Geez, was I? Really? I didn't. . ." I offered to buy the Russian guy a drink, and apologized; he wasn't really having it however, and at about that time a girl I know dragged me out to the dance floor.

I've almost gotten in several fights recently, and have generally been in the position of starting it. I've always said that when you start wanting to lay hands on the natives, it's time to leave; I guess my time is about up.

Now: here are some pictures of tits that I have taken at the House of Pain. As promised.

Monday, November 13, 2006

More Masturbating to ROADHOUSE

Anybody who knows me knows that one of my great pleasures of life here in Vodkaberg is the pirate disc market, which I visit nearly every weekend. While "pirate disc market" brings up images of cutlasses and eyepatches and sodomizing the cabin boy, in reality it's just a big parkinglot behind the bus station, where illegally copied DVDs, CDs, software and console games are sold. The guys who sell them tend to be young men, film and computer geeks themselves, and you can buy beer and hot dogs and such out there, so it's generally a cool place to spend the afternoon, as far as I'm concerned.

You can find all kinds of cool stuff, if you look around long enough. There is always the chance that whatever you buy might be completely dubbed over in Russian, or have been recorded right off a cinema screen with a camera-phone, but after a few missteps one learns the vendors who have the decent quality goods.

Prices for quality DVDs are about $3 - $4; if you're willing to take a chance with the quality you can get DVDs for less than $1. CDs with MP-3 collections of nine or ten hours of music cost about $3.

I admit to loving the blatant illegality of the place.

Today I really had to wrestle with myself to avoid buying ROAD HOUSE 2. Get thee behind me, Satan.

I made a joke in a previous post about the bouncers at a certain club masturbating while watching ROADHOUSE. It later occurred to me that it sounded like a joke I'd head before -- the Wikipedia entry for Roadhouse reveals the following:

Ron White frequently references this movie when he talks about the story about being thrown out of a bar in New York City, saying, "They hang out with other bouncers talking about bouncing, then go home and watch Road House and fondle themselves."

However, I've never fucking heard of Ron White, or Blue Collar TV, which he is apparently a part of.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hard Times In The Land of Mullets

So as I mentioned, Vodkaberg has recently started to go yuppie-uppity on me. One side effect of this is that several of the cheapest old-school Russian nightclubs have closed down -- leaving only one cheap club in town, the one we like, which we generally refer to as the House of Pain, due to the horrendous hangovers caused by the cheap bootleg alcohol and the hypoxia resulting from hanging out in its badly-ventilated environs.

Since it's the only cheap place left, the place is now packed with flatheads. A complete penis-fest -- there's even started to be a line at the men's bathroom, which in a nightclub, is a sure sign of penis-ridden doom.

And as I mentioned, the motherfucking goofballs have started to wear MULLET haircuts. And not a reserved Mick Jagger "Shag" either -- they've got fucking Billy Ray Cyrus haircuts, these fuckers. I never thought anything would make me miss the Level One haircuts, but Jesus Christ, I think this is it.

Anyway, there were still a reasonable amount of girls in the place last night, check back in a few days and I'll post all the pictures of girls in low-cut shirts that I took with my camera-phone.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Boozers are Losers

Lest anybody think I'm bullshitting about most of the vodka being sold around here being completely bogus mixtures of rubbing alcohol and water (if you're lucky -- these poor bastards got industrial solvent of some kind, looks like.)

Recent stories on BBC.com --

Siberia Ravaged By Bootleg Vodka

Fake Russian Alcohol 'Kills Many'

As I said, we switched from drinking the counterfeit vodka at our local nightclub to drinking absinthe, figuring it would be better for our health, but judging by our increasingly horrendous hangovers, they've just been dumping methylated spirit into the absinthe to make it stretch a little further.

My god, is nothing sacred in this fucking place?

Putin's response is to nationalize the Vodka industry to insure quality control. Judging by the quality of the railroads, public transport, and the roads, I'm thinking I'm going to invest in stock in Russian coffin makers and stomach pumps.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My Fifteen Minutes

So as I said, the TV journalist wife of English Teacher R made a program about Halloween, and filmed me buying and carving a pumpkin, interviewed me, and filmed a bit of the party (before it was prematurely aborted). In addition there's an interview with a Catholic priest and the (extremely small) Goth community in Vodkaberg.

It wasn't as bad a smear-job as I was expecting on the foreigners, although I do look pretty hungover and middle-aged. That's hardly her fault, though.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

How I Spent the Day of Peace and Unity

Today is the holiday in Russia on which the October Revolution used to be celebrated. Through some changes in the type of calendar used, the October Revolution ended up being celebrated on November 7 every year. Go figure.

Putin is big on public holidays, perhaps just as well since he doesn't seem to be too much on public elections, so the holiday has been retained in the post-Communist era -- there has been a lot of talk about what in fact should be celebrated on this day. The most recent decision has been to call it "The Day of Peace and Unity," which seems like a pretty good thing to celebrate, if you're celebrating something.

I was going to do something healthy and outdoorsy today, despite the shitty grey cold weather, but English Teacher P woke me up at noon and came over and cooked eggs and sausage and bacon, and then we had some vodka. He left about four and I decided that , for a man of my generation, I've spent relatively little time using the Internet and playing computer games, so I spent the rest of the evening doing that. (It's 3:00am now.)

I went to perverse-sex chatrooms trying to find some bored girl to have a cyber-wank with, but the only one I could find was a girl who wanted to role-play having sex with a Rottweiler.

Man, people are freaky.

Friday, November 03, 2006

You Wanna Fucking Know Why I'm Not Married??!!

I'm 37. When I reveal this fact to my students, or to new girls that I meet in bars, and then answer their second question, "Are you married?", their inevitable response is a horrified: "Why aren't you married?"

You see, a Russian girl has no problems with a middle-aged guy being drunk in a nightclub and trying to pick up girls 15 years younger than him. That's normal. But a 37 year old guy not being married? That's truly fucking strange.

One of my acquaintances, English Groupie J, has since she was 15 years old made most of her money by banging a married rich guy with three kids -- one in particular, but of course there are others when she needs extra money for a trip to Cuba or Dubai or whatever.

"If I met a guy your age," she said to me once, "who wasn't married, I'd think there must be something wrong with him."

"Amazing," I said. "And yet you think there's nothing wrong with a married guy banging a younger girl while his wife sits home with the kids. Astounding."

She looked at me -- as they all do -- like she had no fucking idea what I was talking about.