Finland Station

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Broken Ring Monument

A great many of the trucks leaving tracks on the Road of Life were American Studebaker 6x6s, shipped across the Atlantic by merchant seamen like my dad.

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Piskarevskoye Memorial Cemetery

What one sees here are rows of mass graves, mounds labeled with the years 1941-45, the years of The Great Patriotic War.

During the seige of Leningrad over one million Soviet soldiers and over six hundred thousand Soviet civilians died. More civilians died here than all American military deaths on all fronts in WW II.

I’m thinking of a number of things this afternoon.

I can’t imagine the number of deaths.

How many visitors immediately think of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact when they see “Great Patriotic War”? How many think of western Ukraine, Belarus and Kresy?

I’m trying to understand Russian nationalism and the influence of people like Ivan Ilyen and Alexander Dugin. What does Alexander Dugin think when he sees the New York Times – the Grey Lady, America’s Newspaper of Record, All the News that’s Fit to Print – publishing a cartoon showing Trump and Putin having sex? What do Americans know about Russian nationalism? How many Americans can find St. Petersburg on a map?

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“Hope is passive,” Moore said about [his new Trump documentary]. “Hope gives you permission to let someone else do the work. Hope leads people to believe that tax returns, or a pee tape, or the FBI or an adult film star will save the country. Hope, and the passivity that comes with it, is what helped get us here to begin with. It’s the lazy way out. We don’t need hope. We need action.”

Passive faith in some sort of just teleology seems very much part of the fabric of American society, displayed both by those with a belief that some diety will right all wrongs and those who see themselves as humanists while retaining a similar faith in some universal truth force. Wrenching Americans away from video screens and into a struggle for political power will involve redefining selves as something other than passive consumers of mass media.

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Victory Square

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St. Petersburg

Winter Palace

Cruiser Aurora

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Drama Theater

The theater is across the street from my hotel. Driving in I thought it was some sort of abandoned industrial complex. It is immense, fantastical. Today it’s quite dilapidated, but it’s easy to see how 30 or 40 years ago it was really cool. It would absolutely fit right into many a science fiction film.

It’s very much still in use – I peeked in the windows and read the notices. Season starts September 22. Tiles are actively falling from 10 meters up the walls and towers (watch your head).

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Veliky Novgorod

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