Issue #03/58, February 10 - 24, 1999  smlogo.gif

Thank You Porn

In This Issue
Moscow Babylon

FIMACO: an eXile exclusive
Thank You Porn
Fear of an eXile Planet


The eXile & Me
by Dar Zhutayev

It all started last summer, at my friend's birthday party. The friend in question, Dima, is a kind of Russian eXpat in Russia - one of those who left the "get me the fuck out of here!!!" limbo region includung our hometown and actually comprising all of Russia except Moscow and settled in the megapolis. Back in the happy pre-crisis days he could actually afford to serve martinis to his guests. And all the guests at that party belonged to the chosen few. Russian, but not too much, young, sophisticated, all affiliated to Western companies, all earning handsomely, listening to the right music, watching the right videos and reading the right books. None of your wacky Fascist intellectuals, smelly schizoid Communists or incoherent hippies there. By the time the martinis had passed around for the third time, I began to definitely feel out of place and depressed. Getting laid was entirely out of the question, so I just sat in the corner watching the crowd. A subtle change had come over them all. The bodies straightened out and stiffened, the voices lost their Russian inflections and began to sound very American. Everybody stood there discussing projects. I actually overheard a fragment of a conversation between an ad photographer and a rock musician selling hi-fi equipment for a living: "Does this project pose a challenge to you?" "No, this project doesn't pose a challenge to me!" Amazing. Cultural shock. An alien semiotic structure was stifling me and my inferiority complex blazed forth.

I first got a drunk philosophy student cornered and we discussed Heidegger for a couple of minutes. It was no good. Heidegger or no Heidegger, I was the pariah: I didn't sell Snickers and use the proceeds to buy Tampax or vice versa, my life prospects were dim, and no projects ever posed any challenges to me. Then I grabbed hold of the host, Dima. He is a rare one. No amount of kilo-bucks he earns is ever going to corrupt him from his old-world Soviet innocence. We spend most of our time together complaining to each other about the injustices of this world or deconstructing our ever-failing family lives in a fine analytical manner. Pressing Dima against the wall (I am a fat guy, by the way), I poured forth my complaints. I was no good. A failure as a human being. Worse than anybody in that room. I was out of touch with the glittering reality of Swinging Moscow, hopelessly square and outdated, and would always remain so. "Wait a minute," he said. "We live in a democratic society and there is an opportunity for anyone, even nerds like yourself. There must be a way out for you. I know there is a way out for you. It's the eXile!"

"What the fuck is the eXile?"

"It's an English-language newspaper so noir that the Megapolis-Express reads like bedtime stories in comparison. Except for the [sic] page, personally I can't read it at all, it disturbs my peace of mind. All that black humor, pro-Communist propaganda, and rape-celebrating editorials. It's run by two American hippies, Mark and Matt, who could not get away with the kind of writing they like in the States and came here to enjoy the impunity a bedlam country like Russia has to offer. Dr. Limonov writes a seditious column in bad English. If there ever was a place for you, that is it. You are postmodern, Communist, and a pain in everybody's ass. Go ahead and write something for them." In a couple of weeks, after several phone calls and missed appointments - (My own unpunctuality can be matched only by that of the esteemed editors. I once called the office and, Mark and Matt being absent, asked Sveta the assistant director when they would come. "Fuck if I know," she said. "It's a free country ...") - I made my first aquaintance with the eXile editors.

My first contribution was how to say "eXile" in Sanskrit (I am a specialist in dead Indian languages and forgotten Buddhist scriptures). Having consulted Monier-Williams' English-Sanskrit Dictionary (there really exists such a book, believe it or not) I happily ran to the office waving a card with about twenty synonyms on it. "Which am I to use?" I asked Mark. "Whichever looks stupidest," he replied grinning. As I was drawing out 'vipravasanam' (literally "the state of dwelling away from one's native location") in Devanagari characters, Mark noticed that my trembling hands. Handing me a ruler, he asked me whom I had gotten drunk with the night before. When he learned it was Pasha Bylevsky, a revolutionary Komsomol leader, he suggested I write a piece on the young radical Communist movement in contemporary Russia. And when I'd finished that they not only published it, but also made it cover piece!

Maybe writing for the eXile I am hopelessly compromising myself. Maybe I will be shunned by all right-thinking Westerners and English-reading Russians or, if I ever want to go to the U. $., will be denied entry there for appearing in that decadent and depraved periodical which is sure to be sooner or later prohibited there. However, as a Russian folk proverb goes, 'if you are afraid of teeth, you should not practice oral sex'. Besides money considerations (of course, paramount in my case) and fame considerations (imagine being decadent and depraved in such company as Comrade Limonov and, well, Salman Rushdie!), I also completely agree with Mark Ames: the world needs the eXile. I, for one, do. The Bardak pullout nightlife section is very useful: each time I read it, I get a fresh injection of healthy class (and, of course, national) hatred. Of the same opinion are militants of the clandestine Russian Rebel Army interviewed by me in New Year's issue. They use Bardak on a regular basis in determining which clubs and restaurants will be the first targets of terrorist assaults in a campaign to purify Moscow of Americans scheduled for the summer of this year (I sincerely hope most or all eXpats living in Moscow will have taken their hint from my article and left the country by then).

The newspaper proper sometimes provides good reading. What I enjoy about it the most is the way Mark, Matt, Kevin et al (sound dialecticians all) argue their points. The late lamented Sergei Kuryokhin. a postmodern musician and Limonov/Dugin cohort, once remarked in the perestroika years that the rhethoric Gorbachev was using against Yeltsin was just of the wrong kind. Saying "Comrade Yeltsin does not seem to have a constructive attitude towards the new Union Treaty" did not do much to convince the people that Gorbachev was right. What he should have said instead is something like "Yeltsin is a dick-sucking carnivore!", which, beside being much more convincing, would have been 100 per cent true. The eXile authors seem to have mastered this style of argumentation to perfection: "President penis Levon Ter-Petrosyan penis said that penis penis ... " And an argument like Krazy Kevin's immortal "If you don't agree with me, leave me the fuck alone" is sure to shut up any opponent.

Sometimes the eXile editors seem to be carrying this freedom of speech thing too far. For instance, I don't quite understand why they should express such heartfelt regrets that Abe Lincoln freed the slaves. However, come to think of it - Where else can one say in print that he digs rape and rape is cool, revel in the details of the sexual molestation of an eighteen-year-old girl by an adult Indian citizen, or discuss the link of his ability or inability to achieve an erection to the class struggle of the proletariat? Or (let's be serious for a moment) where in the English-language press can one catch a glimpse of the real struggles of Russia trampled under by the new world order?

On this second anniversary of the eXile I wish the newspaper every success. Let Matt Taibbi never contract a lung infection again, let Mark Ames practice safe sex and never catch the crabs again. Let them publish every stream of consciousness that I ever submit in electronic form in MS Word/RTF format (and pay for it - at the same rates, at least). Let the Rolling Stone run another, more detailed piece on the eXile, preferably mentioning not only the editors, but the rank-and-file writers too ... And one last wish.

When I was a green young supporter of the opposition some five years ago I used only pro-Yeltsin newspapers for toilet paper, not opposition publications. As the soi-disant "patriotic" papers got more and more paranoid and nauseating I restricted this exception to Communist press only. Then to anti-Zyuganov publications. Now I have no scruples about wiping my ass with any newspaper, regardless of political hue, but (I know it sounds like crude flattery but is true nevertheless) I generally preserve copies of the eXile. Even if they don't contain articles by myself. So - let the standards of the eXile remain so high that this will always be the case.

ImageMap - turn on images!!!