Venedikt Erofeev, Moscow-Petushki / Moscow to the End of the Line / Moscow Stations / Moscow Circles, translated by H. William Tjalsma:
I’ve noticed that, in general, if a person feels nasty in the morning but is full of plans and dreams and vigor in the evening, he’s a very bad person. Mornings, rotten; evenings, fine – a sure sign of a bad type. But take someone who’s full of energy and hope in the morning, but overwhelmed with exhaustion in the evening . for sure he’s a trashy, narrow- minded mediocrity. That sort of person is disgusting to me. I don’t know how he strikes you, but to me he’s disgusting.
Of course, there are those for whom morning and evening are equally pleasing, who are equally pleased by sunrise and by sunset. These are simply bastards. It’s sickening even to talk about them. But then, if someone is equally repulsed by morning and evening, I really don’t know what to say about him. That’s the ultimate cocksucking scum. Because our stores stay open till nine and you can always get something at the big Eliseev grocery up till eleven, so if you’re not scum, by evening you’ll always be able to create some sort of little chasm.
I’ve drunk large quantities of dreadful muck in my time, but never Balsam of Canaan:
To drink vodka, even from the bottle, is nothing other than weariness of spirit, and vanity. To mix vodka with eau de cologne, there is a certain caprice, but no pathos whatsoever. But if you drink a glass of “Balsam of Canaan,” there is caprice and an idea and pathos, and beyond that a hint of the metaphysical.
Which component of “Balsam of Canaan” do we value above all else? Well, the methylated spirits, of course. But, after all, the methylated spirits, being only an object of inspiration, are themselves simply devoid of this inspiration. What is it, in this case, the miasma which it exudes. In order to set off this miasma, a touch of fragrance is necessary. For this reason velvet beer or, best of all, Ostankino or Czech beer, is added in the proportion 1:2, with one part refined furniture polish.
I won’t remind you how to refine furniture polish – any child knows that. For some reason no one in Russia knows why Pushkin died, but how to refine furniture polish – that, everyone knows.
In any event, write down the recipe for “Balsam of Canaan” (as one of our hack writers might have put it, “Life is given to man only one time and it must be lived so as not to make mistakes in recipes”):
Methylated Spirits 100g.
Velvet Beer 200g.
Refined Furniture Polish 100g.
The doc by Pawel Pawlikowski has some excellent footage, although the mise en scène is a bit hackneyed:
- Capnolagnia and liberty in Russia
I don’t think author and diplomat Juan Valera (“Good should always be in fashion”) will mind me revealing his smoking fetish,
- Why they didn’t find Lorca
Bishop Gibson of Granada understands beatific bureaucracy but not tradition. Featuring a bad Vietnamese flamenco clip.
- Top 10 Russian football songs: No. 8: the 1938 Futbol’nyy Marsh (“Football March”) by Matvey Blanter, composer of Stalin-era patriotic ditties
With a recording of a barrel alarm clock, a Shostakovich anecdote, a copyright tussle between the Russian Premier League and the
- Top 10 Russian football songs: No. 9: Okolofutbola (“Round Football”, ahem) by Feduk (2013)
The hiphop theme of a cinematic tribute to Spartak ultras: “Stand in line with your brother and don’t take one step
- Brenda strikes back
“Don’t waste your time on obscure contemporary composers, John,” she said.