Sunday, February 04, 2007


Russia is, of course, no longer the happy-go-lucky third world country it was a few years ago -- it's a burgeoning oil superpower run with an iron fist by an ex-KGB guy who clearly prefers his enemies to die slowly and pianfully, if possible. Life isn't as much fun here on many levels -- but one of the most alarming, to me, is not the nationalism, or that you can't drink beer on the street anymore, or the tremendous inflation.

It's the fact that -- and everybody I know agrees on this -- they now add some kind of preservative or something to the beer that causes unbelievably wicked hangovers.

The vodka that you get in nightclubs has always been bad, and the draft beer is complete crap in Russia under the best of circumstances, but since last summer it's been flat-out toxic. Several of my friends say the can no longer drink it because it causes the shits.

But of course, most of us drink it anyway. . .

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