Vladimir Lymaryov from Chelyabinsk: you’re awesome. As opposed to Nikita Mikhalkov (I know that comparison makes it easy, but still)

Hence this:

From Vladimir Lymaryov & dirty.ru. Did I mention that Vladimir Lymaryov, whoever he is, is kinda awesome?

Oh, and look, more awesome here.

Meanwhile, releasing “Citadel”, the THIRD freaking installment in the whole “Burnt by the sun” saga, on May 5, just 4 days before the May 9 Victory Day holidays, is NOT EXPLOITATIVE AT ALL, YOU GAIZ. I mean, I’m not surprised – Mikhalkov did the same thing last year. But still.

*sigh* And I’d liked “12” so very much…

Wednesday Music: damn it feels good to be a gangsta, and be descended from gangstas

So I’m a few days behind – on account of being too busy living and working to blog – but I wanted to point out that the flat I am staying in here in Moscow belonged to the wonderful woman to whom this essay was dedicated. She loved me very much, and she loved my mother, and that love still goes on, somewhere. She was also kind of gangsta. In ways I couldn’t begin to describe.

Since I also can’t begin to describe what I’ve been up to, especially since I am exhausted to the point of glassy-eyed giggling, here is some music. Starting with Ian Brown, at whose concert I was waving my beer around the other night like a damn fool, thanks, once again, to the undeserved kindness of wonderful people.

F.E.A.R. – Ian Brown
Don’t Let Me Down – The Beatles
Find Me Somebody to Love – Queen
Dirty Mind – the Pipettes
Heartbreak Hotel – Elvis Presley
Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta – Geto Boys
Kuinya – Ivan Kupala
Agora – Rovo
Black Sunday Afternoon – Anna Ternheim
Thorn-torn Lips – Robert Berkman

Since I haven’t forgotten where I’m from (in case you’re wondering), I thought it would be cool to include a video by Perkalaba, shot in Western Ukraine, with the participation of my cousin Solomia and my friend Rusya (they are the beautiful women running around/covered in food):

And yes, I realize, the following is kind of a cliche for those in the know, but I couldn’t care less right now:

Oh, Moscow. Oh. 😉

Mikhalkov’s “12”: One of the most glorious moments in modern Russian cinema


I don’t think you even need to like this movie in order to feel goosebumps crawling up your arms as you watch this one. If you can’t read the Russian subtitles and don’t understand Chechen, the kid expresses admiration for the knife, and the man gives it to him. After the dance, the kid’s wary father calls him home. The kid says that he’s sorry, he’s being called to do homework. The man answers with a pretty terrifying and accurate line,

“Don’t worry, boy, there will be enough of this war left over for you too.”

These are Chechen fighters, in a movie made in a post-Beslan world. And the beauty portrayed here cuts through all that. I never expected a conservative Russian filmmaker such as Nikita Mikhalkov to shoot a scene that can humanize and illuminate and goddamn it, hotify (from the word “hot” – the word “beautify” will not do) this particular group of people in a way that no amount of political debate can match. This scene is not didactic. Instead of being buggered by an agenda, you are enveloped in the intimacy of a childhood memory that stands apart from rhetoric. It’s a Lolita moment, in the sense of a work of art twinkling like a star through the fog of social commentary that immediately gets heaped upon it due to its very nature. You respond to it as an individual.

A (cranky) fellow writer recently told me, “how racist! What ‘ethnic’ people just randomly break out into dance? What kind of BS…” I had to interrupt him there, because I do actually randomly break out into dance. I’ve done it on sidewalks while waiting for a bus with my cousin, and on Independence Square with my uncle’s drunk brother, and countless other times, which I won’t mention, because I blog under my real name.

I can’t do the lezginka, but I sure as hell can shake my bum or wave my scarf when I get in the mood, which is often. When I do it, it’s not an artform, and it won’t give you goosebumps (in fact, it will probably just make you raise your eyebrow like that mustachioed guy in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and say “I weep for the future”), but if the above scene is racist, then so is my life. You know being an “ethnic” person in someone else’s eyes, and all.

Leaving me aside, it’s not at all abnormal for groups of people to break out in traditional dance. I’ve seen it happen in Brooklyn, Montmartre, and the legendary Borshagovka. They don’t always do it as beautifully as above, but they do it nonetheless.

I’d like to have a world with more dancing. The more people dance, the less time they have to kill each other.