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The Semi-Regular Newsletter

Travels in Russia

KLM Rocks Across Europe!
Santa Claus in Moscow
Television Is a Time Suck
The Reality of Irrelevance
Salute Mayor Luzhkov
Impeachment Happens
I Am Not The Only One...
I'm Back! Did Ya Miss Me?
Chechnya Burning
Weddings in Winter
The Jews Are Here!
Gailyn Goes to Town
Is There a Central Bank?
Santa Barbara is Real
Nick's Thanksgiving in Russia
Den' Rozhdeniya = Birthdays
Those Crazy Expats
It's Just a Few Drops of Vodka...
Elections Are Always Rigged
The Blind Leading the Blind
Good Russian Grooms
You Say 'Boris Berezovskiy' Fast
Too Cold to Care!
Russian Oil Towns
Sneaky Siberian Tigers
Which Way is St Peterburg?
Where am I again? Oh, yeah...
I Love Me Some Vodka
It's a Gosorg Halloween
Hunger Comes to Us All
Why Don't They Just Learn English?!
Post-Crisis, Life Goes On
Is Yeltsin 'The Man'?
Murmansk - Brrrr!
Taganka Hides Her Secrects
These are Communists
It's a Power Vaccum
The Commies are Back
Propaganda is Good for You
You Better Buy Russian!
Sex Ed Soviet Style
Party over, oops outta time!
Russian Healthcare in Moscow
What Russian Financial Crisis?
YE Prices in Russia
The Hungry Duck
Russian Caviar Mafia
Magical Mushrooms
Shhhh! We're Bear Hunting
Soviet Street Scams
Bez Dollarov
A Koshka Konspiracy
On The Dacha
The Banking Implosion
Surviving Army Life
Shashleek is Steak on Steroids
Dacha Thinking
Beach Weekend
Dos Vedanya
Equality Means Only She Works
Jogging is an Extreme Sport
Russians Have Reunions Too
My Folks in Massive Moscow
Better than Fireworks
Miners Are Real Men
The Russian Mafia is the Roof
No One Smiles in the CIS
One Year Anniversary
Russian Brides Rock
Laura is My St Pete Connection
Change is in the Wind
Chuck Norris' Beverly Hills Casino
The Expat Woman's Predicament
Street Food is Yummy!
Spring Flowers Make June Leavers
The Provinces Are Provincial
Ever Take an Elektrichka?
The English Invasion
Nuttin Like New Money
Rules Are Made to Break
All Black is Russian Fashion
Easter Memories = Easter Dinner
Politics, Russian Style
Theresa Tries to Russify
I Go to Gay Clubs Worldwide
I Hide on Women's Day
New & Shiny: Nizhny Novgorod
Psst! Wanna job in Moscow?
Fili Park Has All the Bootlegs
Web Page Reactions
Take a Break at Dom Odaha
Expat Living in Moscow is Swank
Why Are You Remonting?
They Look Like Telephones...
In Need of a Decent Hairstylist
Smashing Bottles in Red Square


Russia, July 20, 1998

Hello from Vladivostok

Life in the Far East capitol, Vlad, ain't like living in Moscow!

Last week, a good friend of mine moved to Moscow from Vladivostok. Nicole lived in Vlad for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Russia Far East and is now trying to land on her feet after her service. She is in that position I was in around November. With visas running out (or not legal to begin with), employment rejections (or no answer at all), and little (or no) money, she is a bit stressed out. To get her mind of her predicament, we had a fun time chatting about anything but her current situation over tasty Tex-Mex and Margaritas at a local restaurant.

Actually, she is still in a bit of a culture shock from her experience. That night, as we strolled through Moscow, she was amazed at the simple things, like electric signs, the street cleaning water trucks, and the flowers in the parks. Nicole kept comparing the relative comforts of Moscow, with the stark life she was accustomed to. I guess Russell Working is not exaggerating in his articles about Vlad life.

The Moscow Times, July 16, 1998

Reality in Far East Beats 'Santa Barbara' Any Day

By Russell Working

Both cities have beaches contaminated by parasites: in Vladivostok's case, microscopic intestinal worms caused by sewage spills; in Santa Barbara's, oily surfer dads who tell their 3-year-olds, 'Zach, if you gotta' pee, just go up the beach there where nobody's looking.'

Perhaps in an ideal world, neither Russia nor America would have to deal with such public health menaces. But life's not like that. And thus, 1 have to say 1 am looking forward to heading back to. Vladivostok after visiting my parents in Santa Barbara. True, there are certain advantages to life in a Mediterranean climate where the sea doesn't freeze and the town is filled with palm trees. 1 am relatively confident that no one will ever call a soap opera 'Vladivostok.' But Vladivostok has perks of its own:

  • Naked bungee-jumping sailors. Last month, a handful of Royal Canadian sailors took a bungee operator at his word when he offered a free leap to anyone willing to bare all sailors reported. Alas, police received this with less jubilation than the onlookers. The, bungee operator is said to have had to pay to keep the sailors from being arrested.
  • A clairvoyant mayor. On July 4, Santa Barbara Mayor Harriet Miller rode down the street in an open car, and she had a very nice wave. But there was no indication she commands supernatural powers over forces of light and darkness like Vladivostok Mayor Viktor Cherepkov. Last year a reporter found Cherepkov under his desk talking to a 'cosmic benefactor,' and in 1994 he used psychic powers, he said, to stun a would-be kidnapper and escape.
  • Cow inseminating contests. Americans, though laudably interested in presidential insemination habits, fail to reward those tireless workers who ensure there will always be an Arch Deluxe awaiting every hungry McDonald's customer. In Vladivostok, Governor Yevgeny 'The Bull' Nazdratenko confers a prize each summer upon the top 'insemination technician.' I'm not sure how he establishes the winner.
  • A vigorous media. Vladimir Shkrabov, publisher of Krasnoye Znarnya, reportedly bashed down the door of a rival paper and chopped all the computer cables with an axe in a property dispute fast fall. This year, he cut a hole in the wall of his former building, sneaked in and began publishing after a court awarded the site to a rival. There was no indication that the Santa Barbara News-Press' publisher has wielded an ax against alternative newsweeklies.

In short, while Santa Barbara has much in its favor (24-hour electricity, girls named Dawn and Amber), no Canadians bungee-jumped naked or cows got pregnant, to my knowledge, during my stay. It makes you want to flag down the mayor and say, 'And you call this a city?'

Russell Working is editor of the Vladivostok News.

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