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Mark Ames

In the Reagan years alternative culture trends came and went with such speed that only a desperate fool tried to keep up. I was a desperate fool, and I tried at times to keep up, but I was too slow and too angry to succeed. The trends were more radically different on the surface than in substance — from post-punk to goth to ska to psychedelia, shockabilly and hardcore. Those and about a dozen other faggy trends exploded between 1978 and 1983. Some of it was great — Joy Division, The Cramps, Butthole Surfers, The Specials, Husker Du… By the end of the horrible Eighties, my generation had exhausted itself and made corporate collaboration a religion. As a going away gift, it gave to the country retro-70s, ecstasy-fueled rave parties, and that ol’ shocker of shockers, girls acting like big fat lesbians. Those trends took the least amount of effort to cook up and seemed almost fresh at the time, in the late 80s; it was the most an exhausted generation could hope to produce after a decade bleeding at the nose. (more…)

Posted: August 23rd, 2001

limonov2


In the autumn of 1998, I got a call from Edward Limonov asking me if I could do a favor for him. His newspaper Limonka—known for its mix of extreme politics and avant-garde aesthetics—was preparing to celebrate its fourth anniversary at the Mayakovskaya Museum.

“My boys begged me to bring Johnny Rotten to the party,” Limonov told me, laughing. “I know it’s a small chance, but maybe Mr. Rotten will think it’s interesting to speak before a group of radical Russian youths who worship him.”

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Posted: March 11th, 2001

ameshead2

I can tell you God’s plan for this place very concisely: God created this place as a critique of me.
– John Dolan

I hate this time of the year. Being stuck in the Moscow heat is like unpaid overtime work. Have I mentioned how much I sweat? It’s bad, and it’s ready to come back. Like Mike from last issue’s Tipper’s Tips, any being that has had the misfortune of having my Moroccan torso pumping away on top of them has had to endure gutter drains of sweat… What a sight I must make! I’d hate to have me on top of me! Looking up at me! How many times have I heard:

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Posted: May 22nd, 1997

Moscow Babylon

Almost two years ago, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Russia’s victory over the Nazis, I experienced the quintessential evening of Moscow Decadence. It began at around midnight in the parking lot of the Young Pioneer’s stadium. My friends, a mixture of Europeans and techno-Russians, spread the goods atop a mirror: an 8-ball of whiff cut into rails as long as asparagus stalks, 6 caps of X, and some diazapams to smoothe the ride. (more…)

Posted: May 8th, 1997

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…)

Posted: April 17th, 1997

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Posted: April 10th, 1997

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…)

Posted: March 20th, 1997