The roots of my affection for Russia, Russians & Splean
I found the first Russian pop song that I like. I heard it at a flea market and went over to the guy blasting it on his tape player to have him write the name down. Then I noticed he was selling what looked like homemade photos of half-naked women. The lower half. He tried to entice me, randomly pulling out an 8×10″ glossy of a woman languorously leaning against a car, asking, “Erotica?”
The band is Splean and the song is “Anglo-Russkiy Slovar” (English-Russian dictionary). The video is horrible.
Other than my previous visit to Russia last century, which left an indelible mark on me, I have spent the most time among Russians while working for EF language school/camp in California. It was a summer program where European and Asian teenagers came together to live on the Long Beach State campus to learn English in the mornings and have free time otherwise. It was the “otherwise” that made it hell for all of us working there.
The Russians made an impression. They arrived angry upon realizing that what they were promised back home from EF was all lies. EF lied to everyone, but the Danes, for example, took it in stride, deciding to make the most of being in California. The Russians weren’t so forgiving, and many of them made it their raison d’etre to cause trouble.
Some of them. I tried to focus on the others, who were extraordinarily well-read and expressed pure contempt when I confessed that not only had I not read any Russian classics, but few American neither. They were deep, thoughtful people, and they piqued my interest about Russia and drew me towards them. That is, when I wasn’t taking some numnut to the hospital thirty minutes after telling him not to run by the pool or when they weren’t stealing my keys, or getting caught for drinking, or burning the fence, or for anything else I have successfully forgotten.
Everyone who thinks I should write a book about my travels, the best stories are really from the three summers I did that ridiculous job, partly thanks to the Russians. Just look to the left here. Sorry the picture is small. I can’t find the original, but this is evidence of the mistake I made on a weekend trip to Las Vegas when I told everyone to dress up because we were going out for a night on the town. These two Russians were 14 and 15 years old.
There are a dozen stories just from that one weekend, but when you take hundreds of Euro teens to Las Vegas, it’s impossible to come away without a dozen stories.
Why don’t you stay with me? You can follow along with RSS, subscribe to an email feed, see what’s cooking on Facebook, pray that I’ll say something worth remembering on Twitter and if you are really slumming it, there’s always Google+. (I’ll follow you back!)
I did one summer (the burning the fence one), which was enough to keep me away from Russia (and the Russians away from EF) for a long time! Will this visit of your result in any stories to persuade me otherwise, do you think?
In a word: no.