Zmievskaya Balka, Rostov-on-Don

This statue has a lot of raw power for me. One woman stands erect, futilely raising her hands to shield herself and the child who hides behind her. A man stretches out his bound wrists, looking directly towards his executioners with mournful eyes. While his body is bent his head, like the woman’s is erect. He may have no choice but to accept his death, yet he doesn’t show surrender. By his side lie another man and woman. This man has head bowed. His head slumps between his shoulders, his arms seeming to strain to hold his body off the ground. He has perhaps already been shot. The second woman cries out, holding a hand to her face – she too, has perhaps already been struck with bullets.

I know nothing of the provenance of the work, and so my thoughts are but baseless conjecture. I find myself wondering if the style here is in part due to the victims in this ravine including a significant fraction of non-Jews. I say this knowing it is quite possibly entirely unfair. I’m just taken with the range of ways those murdered by state action are depicted.

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Lost in Translation

Sitting in a bar/restaurant in Rostov-on-Don waiting for the Skoda’s oil to be changed. Bar has THT music videos on. I’m finding them bizarre, and wondering if they are any more bizarre than American music videos. Young men, lonely and tormented, seem to be endlessly “saved” by angelic young women. I’m certainly not in my 20s any more. Even when I was I didn’t relate to these scenes. Perhaps I’m simply not artistic enough to be lonely and tormented.

Where is the music video showing the guy who meets a woman who can intelligently discuss Yuliya Yurchenko? Perhaps what seem like trite and formulaic portrayals of young angst and redemption here are really allegory? The young man is Greece’s economy and the woman the EU?

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Lenin’s statue dominates his square. He seems at home here, as he did in Vitebsk. At Chornobyl he was a visitor who had overstayed his welcome.

I walked to Voronezh’s Lenin Square from a hotel which blasted the “70s and More” radio station in its restaurant, furnishing diners with Stevie Wonder, Booker T and similar rather un-Russian artists, presented by an American DJ who would be at home in Blandville in any of the contiguous 48 states. How do young Russians reconcile these worlds?

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Kharkiv Holodomor Memorial

The eyes of each of these figures were haunting.

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Memorial to the men who died defending the base when the Luftwaffe attacked the American bombers here

Rotary launcher for nuclear missiles

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National Museum of the History of Ukraine

Suspended in the museum’s stairwell are munitions. A glance shows that these are quite modern, not from either of the world wars.

Looking down you can see where the bombs and missiles are falling: on eastern Ukraine. Ukraine is a country at war.

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Babi Yar

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Last night I spent about two hours having dinner in the Hotel Ukraine restaurant, enjoying the Lvivske beer and the view of the Maidan. During that time it seemed that nearly the only artist diners heard was Sade. Now, I like Sade. I have two of her albums, which I bought 30 years ago. I remember being captivated by one of her music videos, 30 years ago.

This morning I came down to the restaurant breakfast buffet (which is excellent, by the way – I will definitely be staying here when next in Kyiv) to find playing on the restaurant audio: Sade. It’s 7:45 in the morning. American tourists are literally waddling about the long tables, heaping their already too-full plates with food. There is not a sultry Nigerian in sight. The other thing on this audio, also played last night, is an instrumental arrangement which incorporates the opening riff of America’s Ventura Highway. This always takes me back to the early 1970s.

Tourists have some cocky, somewhat aggressive slogans on their t-shirts: “Stick to your guns”, “Heck yeah”. People affect rebellious uniqueness via their purchase of corporate merchandise produced in sweatshops. What would the world be like if we demonstrated rebelliousness via authentic acts of coordinated resistance to oppression?

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I have just seen my first Porsche since Odessa. Trust me, I notice these things. Lousy roads from Odessa to Uman’ to Lviv. Many Ladas of various years and models belching various quantities of black smoke. No Porsches. Kyiv: no Ladas. I think there are few poor farmers living in Kyiv.

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