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From Russia With Love

Every year since 2001, Nikola-Lenivets, a popular art park about 220 kilometers from Moscow, has celebrated the Slavic holiday of Maslenitsa by burning a specially-made artwork.

Maslenitsa symbolizes the passing of winter and the coming of spring, a new beginning, but this year, the artistic tradition has been more grandiose and more meaningful than ever. A 23-meter-tall wooden tower of Babel designed by young architect Ekaterina Polyakova was set ablaze in a ceremony designed to symbolize the end of discord between nations.

Last Sunday, before the tower was set ablaze, the thousands of people who arrived at Nikola-Lenivets for the event were invited to climb up and leave a piece of paper on which they had written all the things they wished to get rid of from their lives, so they could burn with the tower.

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  • Kevin Dickson March 17, 2022, 8:33 AM

    The Russians are a baffling lot. Their national heroes are poets and they’ve produced some of the finest music, art and literature known to mankind. And yet every 80 years or so they rise up and do something totally barbaric. I for the life of me cannot figure them out.

    • Mike Austin March 17, 2022, 9:05 AM

      No kidding. The land of Pushkin, Gogol and Rimsky-Korsakov has also produced Ivan the Terrible, Lenin and Stalin. Russian short story writers, dancers and composers are the finest in History. But then we must toss into this mix the Holodomor, the Gulag and the Lubyanka.

      Maybe the one precedes the other.

    • KCK March 17, 2022, 9:10 AM

      It’s a good piece of post mod art. God is not mocked, though. He dispersed the nations and confused their languages as a reminder that mankind ain’t His competitor. IOW, let God take care of stopping the Tower of Babel.

      I went to Russia to see European art. What I learned was that Catherine started her art collection (mostly) honestly, and nothing could be more instructive than how the Soves stole all that fukn art from the Russian citizens. It is and was an art crime on the grand scale. I went in 2015 (I think it was) to see the Matisse collection because I had the feeling it was then or never.

      The Russians have a permanent case of inferiority as they compare themselves to the “real” Europe. They are the redheaded stepchild; they stand outside the ballroom looking in. Also: they smell of fish.

      There are a couple of others here who’ve spent much more time in Russia than myself, but that’s my take. If I were magically in charge I’d humiliate Putin personally, and do as much as possible to dominate Russia. This is called: deterrence. You can avoid war so well that one day it’ll be clawing at your door like a wolf.

      Biden: put him in the Oval Office with a slot for pizzas and booze. Send in little children. Lock the door.

      Congress: dominate their program and their persons. Turn as many laws and programs back on them as possible. Governors: get up in their faces and get oil, forests, wheat, tech., cattle all back to work. Bureaucrats: put as many of them in jail as possible, and when they say stuff like gender or energy, kneecap them.

      • Mike Austin March 17, 2022, 9:16 AM

        Catherine the Great enjoyed parties where the vodka flowed like water. All the great Russian boyars would come. The highlight of the evening was when a huge block of ice was dragged into the proceedings and two naked dwarves were placed onto the ice and forced to copulate for the guests.

        A swell time was held by all.

        • Casey Klahn March 17, 2022, 4:04 PM

          Among Catherine’s faults you might include hired regicide. The fukn dwarves was the least of it.

          • Mike Austin March 18, 2022, 5:10 AM

            Catherine’s husband Peter III got what he deserved. His death gave Russia what she needed.

      • Vanderleun March 17, 2022, 9:26 AM

        I am down with the last graph. . . cubed.

        • gwbnyc March 18, 2022, 7:49 AM

          ya can almost hear the tinkle.

    • The Cheez March 18, 2022, 7:13 PM

      America has bombed the shit out of children and civilians worldwide “because reasons” since…well…Sherman’s March to the sea, burning entire towns and cities in the South during winter (including food stores and farming implements and seed). Dresden also comes to mind. Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria. It turns out many of the attacks in the US on American citizens were committed by our own government.

      Unlike Russia, we don’t have periods of immense beauty and art that interrupts our barbarism.

      • Harbinger March 20, 2022, 2:59 PM

        What this country needs is more Somalis and Mexicans.

  • Mike Austin March 17, 2022, 9:11 AM

    The Ancients would have had a heyday with this burning of the Tower of Babel. They would have taken it as an omen of the coming destruction of anything representing a babel of tongues. NATO and the EU spring to mind.

  • jwm March 17, 2022, 11:10 AM

    The Tower is right before you as you read this.
    Like it, or not we’re participating. Imagine striking the internet dead. Gone. How much chaos would follow? Could the world re-set everything on, say, 1960’s technology? Would we want to?


    • ghostsniper March 17, 2022, 2:53 PM

      I’d probably start getting more stuff done.

  • tired dog March 17, 2022, 3:15 PM

    Hippies, they need more hippies, more freaks, more illiterati, like Burning Man.

  • PA Cat March 17, 2022, 4:53 PM

    The burning of the Russian wooden tower reminded me of a now-defunct Texas A&M tradition, namely Bonfire– the annual construction of a multi-layered stack of logs that was burned in connection with the school’s longstanding football rivalry with the University of Texas. In 1999, the pile of logs collapsed during construction, killing 12 students and injuring 27 others. Texas A&M officially canceled Bonfire in 2002.

    Anyone who wants the details of the 1999 tragedy– here is an account from the April 2000 issue of Texas Monthly:

  • Anonymous March 18, 2022, 7:45 AM

    another looped, ceaseless, devitalizing, mindless, numbing, brain-gimleting soundtrack.

    alright I’m OK I’m OK I’m OK…