There’s been an ever-growing competition, particularly among Moscow’s male expats and the women who keep company with them, to prove their decadent credentials. Each carries with them their CV of perversions and drug binges, and brags about their decadent ways like investment bankers boasting about “doin’ deals.” You can’t go a week here without hearing some expat tell you about his drug problem, his 2-on-1, whore-hopping, girlfriend-swapping, the pair of handcuffs, the Trainspotting-esque life (incidentally the most predictable, sentimental, Social Democratic film of them all!), and so on… Coat and Tie has now become Coke and Tie-Me-Up, and it’s losing its appeal fast. (more…)
There was an earlier version of this very column that was much better. But it got spiked. Matt didn’t like it, and nowadays, what Matt says, goes. See, I sold him the eXile for a song-or rather, a dirge. And lemme tell ya folks, that song I sold myself for ain’t gonna hit the turntables of Russkiye Gvozdy anytime soon.
I nearly had a stroke when I heard that Matt Taibbi was going to be the newly-installed rival editor at Living Here-or rather, Night of the Living Here-the Freddy Krueger of local publications. That paper has risen from the dead so many times that even Jesus must be getting nervous. Hey, those punks are stealing my schtick! I had a monopoly on this resurrection thing for 2000 years, and now look at ’em! Yaweh, can’t we do something? They’re making us look bad! Give ’em the old fire and thunder! (more…)
Now that I’m back in print, I’m starting to hear it all over again: Ames, are you some kind of anti-Russian?
The short answer is, if I didn’t like it here, I’d leave. The long answer goes something like this: You have no idea what my life was like before I arrived. So I’ll tell you. (more…)
I’ll write stories that will make them come from the ends of the earth to kill me… then at last it will be over, and that’ll be fine with me.
I have a contract out on me. Not an employment contract with all kinds of expat benefits and a $3000 apartment-but the other kind of contract. The bad kind of contract.
At first I was told that “they,” or rather a “she” and a “he,” wanted to have me killed. Then my sentence was reduced to having my legs broken. Not as in, “Break a leg, Mark! Good luck with your new ‘paper.” But as in, “I’m a-gonna break yo’ fuckin legs!” She can have it arranged, as she let one too many persons know. See, she’s in the real estate business, which in Moscow means, flat-head central. (more…)
Posted: February 20th, 1997
A British expat goes down to the local kiosk to buy himself a pack of cigarettes, and notices a street bum begging for money. He hands the bum 3000 rubles, gets his cigarettes, then leaves. The next morning, passing the kiosk on his way to work, he sees the same bum and gives him another 3000 rubles. The bum thanks him, leans closer, then asks him earnestly, “Is there anyone you want me to kill?” (more…)
Posted: February 20th, 1997
Where are your greatest dangers?-in pity.
I did everything I could to avoid her. She’d been leaving message after desperate-rape-victim-voice message on my answering machine. What could I say? You were your own worst enemy, Marina. You let your old boyfriend screw you over time and time again, and you never learned. You had your chance to sell Living Here, and you balked. I couldn’t think of anything nice or comforting to say, and since I never disliked her, I thought it was best to avoid it all. Finally, about a week and a half ago, I caved. I agreed to meet my former LH boss, Marina Psch-, at Sally O’Brien’s for a drink. I guess I owed it to her to tell her in person why I, and the staff, all left Living Here. She broke into tears several times, which, I have to admit, gave me a lump in my throat. It’s why I hate talking to people. There’s no winning with humans-it’s a lose-lose situation, every time: either humiliation or pain, no in- (more…)
Posted: February 6th, 1997