An Open Letter to the "Kyiv Post"

In response to their August 25th, 2005 front page article "A Belgian Minstrel Comes alive in the Capital."

Dear Sirs,

I was so happy this morning to see the front page article on Michel Querriere from your August 25th issue.

Why, just this weekend, I was standing near the new Kyiv Bentley dealership on Bessarabski, watching the “elitni” in their D&G or FCUK clothes stumble out of Arena Nightclub and Casino, with it’s promises of instant riches obtainable from gaming. Most of them were drunk on $1,000.00 bottles of Cristal, yakking away on their Vertu cell phones and being escorted into their black German SUVs by professional bodyguards.

Upon observing this spectacle, I distinctly remember thinking to myself just how lucky I was to have been able to live the past year of my life in Kyiv, a city so obviously free of the “materialistic” mindset of the West. I, too, had tired of people who can never get enough of money and Kyiv has provided me with a much needed respite from the “materialistic idiots” of the West.

As a relatively new resident of Kiev trying to avoid materialism, may I be so bold as to suggest that Monsieur Querriere spend a night or two in Grigory Surkis’ tastefully subdued Premiere Palace Hotel? I would also recommend the proletarian ambiance at one of Kyiv’s best new restaurants, Decadence House. All are welcome there, regardless of means.

Thank God that Michel Querriere has decided to grace Kyiv with his presence and towering intellect for the next five years. This city obviously needs more well traveled and world-wise individuals such as him among its residents. I truly hope he doesn’t decide to de-camp to Spain or Italy this winter. If it grows too cold for him, perhaps some of Kyiv’s famous philanthropists, such as the aforementioned Mr. Surkis, Viktor Pinchuk or better yet President Yushenko’s son, Andrey, would be willing to lend him a room in one of their well heated apartments.


Mike Connor



Oh my Goth!

I don't know how I've been here a year an missed out on the Ukrainian Gothic Portal, which appers to serve all your Goth needs in Kiev.



Saw the above photo in this Mosnews article. Russian speakers should find it amusing.

Back From Prague

Well, actually it was a couple different places I was in. Prague, Olomouc, and (briefly) Brno. Quite busy there. Spent most of the time in the car driving around between sites actually. But I was able to get a night or two in Prague. Was able able to catch a beer with old-skool OHSer, Bob H., who had moved to Prague to teach business English for the next year. Now I'm back in Kiev, and some things are developing that could be big come fall. Will inform both my readers when this actually comes through. In the meantime, it's catching up on work and clearing out the inbox for me.


BBC Observation

One of the couple of English languages channels I get on my digital cable is BBC Prime. I've been watching it a bit for the past few months (along with my beloved Nostalgia) and have determined that British culture is centered around the following things:

1) Gardening

2) Antiques

3) Thinking about, but not actually, moving to the country

4) Oh, and Eastenders.

Now, I will concede the possibility that Brits aren't actually interested in these things and they only want the rest of the world to think that they're interested in them...

I can't decide which scenario is worse.



So, a sculpture is going to be erected to the letter "Ё" in Russia. This is after locals objected because of the connotation the letter has with certain unsavory Russian phrases. This objection initially struck me as odd, until I recalled my tutor saying that she doesn't even like using words that contain the sound "bl" somewhere in them...because that sound appears in a particularly unsavory Russian word.

After seeing this I shall be looking for a monument to the letter "F" somewhere in the states.

Oh, and for some reason the letter "Ё" is showing up in my browser as the letter "K" in that particular story. If ti does the same in yours, that might explain your confusion when reading it.

Nothing Happening

Before moving here last year, I learned that absolutely nothing happens in Eastern Europe in August. Everyone is on vacation, nothing gets done. I always found it kind of annoying actually. In the states (and especially in DC) August can get a bit slow, but you can still get things done if you need to. But actually being in Kiev and experiencing the August doldrums first hand is something else entirely. During the week, if people are in town, they aren't going to do a thing. On the weekends, you can completely forget about it. Everyone seems to be out at the Dacha. Making things worse has been the weather. This past week it hasn't been bad at all (if anything it's been a bit chilly for August...yesterday the high was in the low 60s) but the week before that it was easily approaching 100 in the city and you don't even want to move.

So yes, I've been reduced to blogging about the weather and stories about Russian pornos meant to parody Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko become news.

Thankfully, I've got a short trip to Prague at the beginning of next week for work so hopefully that'll give me some more material.



Stumbled across another podcast that I think is worth checking out. It's a weekly show (updated on Fridays) put together by members of a Dutch band called The Dorktones. It's about an hour of music every week, stuff you don't typically hear on the radio. Lot's of 60s garage, britpop, beat, blues, forgotten europop, ska, reggae, and soul. Very eclectic, but always well mixed every week. Go check it out.

UPDATE: After listening to this week's podcast, I should mention that it's an all instrumental ska special. But they're usually a lot more varied in content. In either case, this weeks episode is still good and I again recommend the podcast in general.


Арбус & Квас

How do you know it's summer in Kiev (besides the calendar or the temperature, smartass)? Well, just look on the street. At the beginning of summer, Kvas vendors will appear. They're the people dispensing drinks from these tanker looking things, as on the right in that picture, selling the surprisingly good drink that's basically made from fermenting bread.

When the dog days arrive, you start seeing these large cages appearing on the street. Shortly thereafter, said cages will be filled with watermelons, as on the left in that picture. The melons here are so good. Very sweet and they actually taste like watermelon...unlike the watered down flavorless things I've grown used to in the states. They're quite cheap too. A whole melon will go for about two bucks or less. Consequently, I've been eating watermelon every day for the past week or so. Come mid-September, they'll be gone.


Trip Over

So after spending a week in town I sent my brother off to Prague yesterday. I'd describe the week's events, but he already did a fine job of that over at his blog. So go there and read all about it. He also has lots of photos up on his flickr page.