Sunday, October 4, 2015
Friday, October 2, 2015
For years and years, Action Small Appliance was my downstairs neighbor. They were great. You never knew they were there, they were so quiet. Well, they moved over to Bellevue and the storefront was vacant for quite a while. Then this summer, it became a workspace called Common Area Maintenance - not a very catchy name, but it wasn't not my call. There was a lot of renovation that went on. I was OK with that activity, because it didn't seem to go on for too long at a stretch. It only became slightly annoying when they added a sound system. This wasn't just some stereo; it was a small PA that could generate a lot of volume. Sometimes it did just that. Being directly upstairs wasn't a treat, especially since they seemed to play fairly bland pop music along the lines of Fleetwood Mac and Bruce Springsteen. I kind of expected artists to have a little more adventurous taste in music, but alas. After having quite a loud event when the space was mostly remodeled, things settled down. I figured that would be like that forever. We would coexist with mutual respect and so forth. That's how it was for the most part. Well, earlier in the week they hung up these signs in the hallway:
OK, so bottom line: they're bad neighbors. I have separate issues with the cops, namely that they didn't show, but this was a real shitty thing for these gallery folk to do to their neighbors. I know the old trick: invite the whole building and be as loud as you want, because everybody was invited/warned. Sorry guys, it doesn't work that way. I'm told that they're going to have more events like this in the future. Uh, no they're not. They're either going to be a gallery, not a club, or they're going to leave the neighborhood. They can make noise until 10:00, but after that, they shut it down. From now on, at one minute after ten, I call the cops. I don't want this to become a war, but it may come to that. I believe they rely on grants to operate, so when it comes time for more funding, I can round up a bunch of people from this building to speak against it. It's great to live with mutual respect with your neighbors. The gallery mooks crossed a line last night and I'm very unhappy having them in this building.
Sunday, September 27, 2015
Sunday, September 20, 2015
Sunday, September 13, 2015
OK, I did a good enough job posting over on Facebook. Why no blog posts? Because Blogger wouldn't let me log in. Stupid Blogger. I might be outgrowing you. I don't know. All I know is that this trip was the best one yet. There were no drunken political arguments with my relatives this time around, because Ukraine wasn't on the itinerary. This was also the most solitary trip I've ever taken. I rarely talked with anybody, maybe a few Brits here and there, and quite a few Turks for sure. I wasn't excluding anybody from my sparkling presence for any reason; it's just that I felt like I was reaching for a different experience than most, as this was my eighth visit. And I really achieved that, especially in Central Anatolia. There's just something about the entire area that I find endlessly intriguing. Anyhow, here are some photos. If you want more elaborate descriptions, just go over to my FB page.
Sunday, August 2, 2015
I’m off to Turkey for a month tomorrow. Usually I start out in Ukraine, visit some relatives, see a few sights and move on. That’s not happening this time around. I know that there are a few relatives and acquaintances from the home village of Peremilov that are Facebook friends, so maybe a little clarification is in order. OK, it’s not that I don’t care about you; it’s just that there’s this war you’ve got going on with Russia. Never mind this business about “separatists.” You’re fighting Russia. Ever since I started visiting Ukraine in 1993, everybody’s been telling me that there was going to be a war like this. I thought you guys were being delusional. As the American, I felt it was my job to be the optimist. I thought that talking positively about the future would make things seem less grim. I feel a bit foolish about that now, given what’s happened over the last year and a half.
But let’s back up a bit. Ever since my first visit, it’s been tough to ignore that Ukraine has been poorly governed. Elected and appointed officials methodically loot the treasury without the least thought to the people they’re supposed to be representing or serving. The rule of law doesn’t apply and the economy is a ruin. The thing about the corruption is that it continues even when it’s exposed. Politicians seem to be proud to be corrupt, just as so many Ukrainians are proud alcoholics. What’s the supreme mystery here is that the corruption is never-ending because the people expect it. Yeah, just look at the last guy they elected as their president, Viktor Yanukovych. Despite poisoning his opponent and committing widespread election fraud, he eventually became president of the country (after a revolution and a very disappointing term by the guy he almost killed). Everybody knew he’d be a disaster, but they made him president anyway. There was something of a popular rebellion against him and he was eventually kicked out of office last year. That’s when Russia moved in and all this crazy stuff started up in earnest. So it’s not just about Russian aggression; that’s a part of this whole mess, but basically, it’s about how Ukrainians allow crappy government to happen. It’s about the almost unimaginable selfishness of the ruling apparatus. It’s about how nothing works. Back in the Soviet times, they could curse the faceless bureaucracy and the lunacy of Leninism and appreciate the stability of a system that seemingly could preserve itself forever. They were powerless to do much about it, but at least most everybody was in the same boat. Everyone was poor, everything was broken and there was nothing worth buying. Fast forward to now and they’re theoretically living in a parliamentary democracy with representatives who are supposed to represent their interests, but they still act like there’s a Soviet Union. People don’t vote and they don’t hold their government accountable until it gets so intolerable that they have to rise in rebellion. That, folks, is no way to run a country. I can no longer be the optimist with my relatives, nor can I sit there and listen to why they’re not planning on voting in elections. I love my relatives, but I simply don’t have the vocabulary to tell them all these things. Sure, they’re a blast to drink, talk and sing with, but I can’t listen to their national plight, because it’s all their fault. Gah, it’s totally frustrating.
OK, so on the one hand, I feel like a complete dumbass for being the pollyanna. On the other hand, this is the kind of thing that happens when you allow bad government to operate for decades. Of course, having a large neighbor wanting to revive its empire is a problem, too, but it’s a component that highlights the larger problem. So tomorrow I head off to Turkey, a country that’s actually fun to visit and full of friendly people. I will go to Ukraine again once the war is over. Until then, I say to you: Я думаю о вас каждый день, и я молюсь за ваше будущее. Дай Боже, родственники. And there you have it.
(Cross-posted over on Facebook, obviously)
(Cross-posted over on Facebook, obviously)