Blog

My KGB file – Yes, there was probably a file with my name on it

March 7, 2012 / Comments Off on My KGB file – Yes, there was probably a file with my name on it
My KGB file

*Updated at bottom Excuse me while I continue to geek out on Soviet government memos… As I flip through, I’m continually amazed at the level of specificity in these memos, and to realize that “Big Brother” genuinely read all letters received from North American activists and government officials. (Paging Amnesty International.) We like to complain…

Keep Reading »

The loneliness of crossing oceans

March 2, 2012 / 1 Comment
Umbrellas on the Spanish Steps

I’ve been writing about a trip I took to Rome with my parents a few years ago. We tried to find the apartment we’d lived in while we were waiting for our Canadian paperwork, but then didn’t. We did eat a lot of gelato and drink a lot of wine. But one of the things…

Keep Reading »

Apparatchiks with typewriters, or, in the Soviet archives

February 28, 2012 / Comments Off on Apparatchiks with typewriters, or, in the Soviet archives
Russian Cyrillic typewriter of the type found in Soviet archives

I recently got my hands on a research collection from the Soviet archives of government documents on Jewish immigration, dating from 1957 to 1989. The book was published in 1998, just as the post-collapse euphoria came to a close and Russian archives began to fold back in on themselves, so these documents are no longer…

Keep Reading »

Soviet Jewry books: A reading assignment

February 6, 2012 / 4 Comments
, ,
Russian Reading List for trip

I made a reading list! Or “curated” if you want to be fancy about it. You all should go read it. It’s for the Jewish Book Council and covers what I consider some of the best reading on Soviet Jewish history. The books are: When They Come for Us, We’ll be Gone: The Epic Struggle…

Keep Reading »

Not my perestroika: Shades of might have beens

December 15, 2011 / Comments Off on Not my perestroika: Shades of might have beens
,
My Perestroika documentary screenshot

Every year, on September 1, Russian children start their first day of school. All of them, en masse. And before them, it was Soviet children. My mother went to school in pinafored uniform, braids and bows in her hair, flowers in her arms. Twenty years later, a carbon copy photo of my cousin doing and…

Keep Reading »

Live, in the kitchen, from Moscow

September 26, 2011 / 1 Comment
The Kitchen Debate - Nixon and Kruschev meeting in Moscow at the American National Exhibition, 1959

So this happened – 1959, Moscow, at the Kruschev and Nixon meeting in, where else, a kitchen. It took the Kremlin until 1959 to realize how starved for things the nation was. In July of that year, Moscow’s Sokolniki Park hosted the American National Exhibition. …In just two week two million Russians had had their…

Keep Reading »

Hiding out in the ‘burbs

September 21, 2011 / 7 Comments
,
Film still representing the lives of immigrants in the suburbs

Surprisingly to some, many of the people living in the suburbs – places like Peel or Scarborough – do so voluntarily—almost as if they like it or something. Moreover, a very significant chunk of those suburbanites aren’t white and weren’t born in Canada, a fact that raises some rather sticky questions. To wit, as downtown…

Keep Reading »

A suitcase full of matryoshkas and salami (Immigrant Decor Part 2)

July 15, 2011 / Comments Off on A suitcase full of matryoshkas and salami (Immigrant Decor Part 2)
, ,
Russian Matryoshka nesting dolls at the Ottawa Children's Museum

Today’s peek into the immigrant home comes from Anna Tarkov, a journalist and blogger from Chicago. She’s been published in the Chicago Tribune, Time Out Chicago, and others, and her blog, THE OUTSIDER… and the rueful dilettante, is full of insights on the state of journalism today. Though she left the USSR much later than…

Keep Reading »

Do Russian and Soviet memorabilia an immigrant make?

June 23, 2011 / 4 Comments
,
Anna Sui makeup display representing Russian tchotchkes

I talked about Russian tchotchkes a few weeks ago. And then recently, I spotted this make-up collection from Anna Sui, and though it’s called “Dolly Girl” and references wind mills, it has an unmistakable waft of the Slavo-folksy to me. $27 worth, no less. I’m not a fan of the Russian “look”—tchotchkes, nostalgia, kitsch, call…

Keep Reading »

A Russian primer on making journalists irrelevant

June 9, 2011 / Comments Off on A Russian primer on making journalists irrelevant
Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya's grave

In Russia today, journalists are murdered like Anna Politkovskaya, beaten like Oleg Kashin and intimidated like me, but — as terrible as this will sound — that is not the real problem. The real problem is that journalists are ignored. The risks they take in challenging Vladimir Putin and the Russian oligarchy have ceased to…

Keep Reading »
et, Phasellus sit elementum risus quis ut dolor