Dissociative Identity Playlist – 09/01/15

A quick recap: I am going away for the remainder of the year so this will be my last show of 2015. That said, Dissociative Identity will still be on air through Gayle (‘Guy-Lee’), every Tuesday, 5-7 pm, with the show ‘I Woke Up In Massachusetts‘. We will still be offering you fair listeners a curated guide to the upcoming week’s local Boston/Cambridge independent live music scene so never fear: change is scary but good. Hope ya enjoy the show and talk to ya more soon.

  • Cliff

World Cup – Friday, September 4, 2015 @ Out of the Blue


Lady Bones – Sunday, September 6, 2015 @ Lilypad

Kal Marks – Sunday, September 6, 2015 @ Lilypad

So Sol – Friday, September 4, 2015 @ Out of the Blue

AJ Davila y Terror Amor – Sunday, September 6, 2015 @ Middle East Upstairs

Exit Order – Tuesday, September 1, 2015 @ Flywheel Arts Collective

The New Highway Hymnal – Saturday, September 5, 2015 @ Great Scott

Dirty Fences – Sunday, September 6, 2015 @ Middle East Upstairs

Earthquake Party! – Sunday, September 6, 2015 @ Middle East Upstairs

Rogue Trooper – Tuesday, September 1, 2015 @ Flywheel Arts Collective

Rye Pines – Sunday, September 6, 2015 @ Lilypad

Jarva Land and the Shark Bag Collective – Friday, September 4, 2015 @ Out of the Blue

Horsehands – Friday, September 4, 2015 @ Out of the Blue

Leather Daddy – Tuesday, September 1, 2015 @ Flywheel Arts Collective

Vundabar – Friday, September 4, 2015 @ Middle East Upstairs

Worst Gift – Sunday, September 6, 2015 @ Lilypad

Infinity Girl – Saturday, September 5, 2015 @ Great Scott

Fiddlehead – Saturday, September 5, 2015 @ Great Scott

High Pop – Friday, September 4, 2015 @ Middle East Upstairs

The Cavemen – Friday, September 5 @ Mom’s Mom’s

Mini Dresses – Friday, September 4, 2015 @ Middle East Upstairs

Horse Jumper of Love – Friday, September 4, 2015 @ Middle East Upstairs

Puzzle Mansion – Friday, September 4, 2015 @ Out of the Blue

Magic Shoppe – Friday, September 4, 2015 @ Out of the Blue

Funeral Advantage – Thursday, September 3, 2015 @ Great Scott

Bent Shapes – Thursday, September 3, 2015 @ Great Scott

Lost Film – Thursday, September 3, 2015 @ Great Scott

Magic Magic – Thursday, September 3, 2015 @ Great Scott

Uranium Daughters – Wednesday, September 2, 2015 @ O’Brien’s

Palm Spring Life – Wednesday, September 2, 2015 @ O’Brien’s

Rachel Hael – Friday, September 4, 2015 @ O’Brien’s

Lee Preston – Friday, September 4, 2015 @ O’Brien’s

Dent – Wednesday, September 2, 2015 @ Great Scott

Swervedriver – Sunday, September 6, 2015 @ Sinclair

Gambles – Tuesday, September 1, 2015 @ Great Scott

RIBS – Sunday, September 6, 2015 @ Sinclair

Dearly Beloved – Sunday, September 6, 2015 @ Sinclair

Deflector – Tuesday, September 1, 2015 @ Great Scott

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Dissociative Identity Playlist – -08/18/15

Kamasai Washington – Thursday, August 20, 2015 @ Sinclair

Fucko – Monday, August 24, 2015 @ O’Brien’s

The Furniture – Saturday August 22, 2015 @ Club Bohemia

The Sun Lions – Saturday August 22, 2015 @ Club Bohemia

Lvl Up – Saturday, August 22, 2015 @ Sinclair

Rough Francis – Friday, August 21, 2015 @ Charlie O’s

Krill – Saturday, August 22, 2015 @ Sinclair

Big Ups – Saturday, August 22, 2015 @ Sinclair

Palehound – Saturday, August 22, 2015 @ Sinclair

Gnarwhal – Sunday, August 23, 2015 @ Great Scott

Sheer Mag – Monday, August 24, 2015 @ Great Scott

The Channels – Monday, August 24, 2015 @ Great Scott

Royal Headaches – Monday, August 24, 2015 @ Great Scott

Holy Sons – Sunday, August 23, 2015 @ Middle East Upstairs

Vundabar – Sunday, August 23, 2015 @ O’Brien’s

Washer – Sunday, August 23, 2015 @ O’Brien’s

Swings – Sunday, August 23, 2015 @ O’Brien’s

The Sidekicks – Monday, August 24, 2015 @ O’Brien’s

All Dogs – Monday, August 24, 2015 @ O’Brien’s

Great Deceivers – Sunday, August 23, 2015 @ O’Brien’s

Radio Skotvoid – Friday, August 21, 2015 @ Deep Thoughts

Colleen Green – Monday, August 24, 2015 @ Middle East Upstairs

Digital Prisoners of War – Monday, August 24, 2015 @ Middle East Upstairs

Lady Bones – Sunday, August 23, 2015 @ O’Brien’s

Love Moon – Saturday, August 22, 2015 @ O’Brien’s

In Print – Saturday, August 22, 2015 @ O’Brien’s

Skinny Bones – Thursday, August 20, 2015 @ Great Scott

The Box Tiger – Tuesday, August 18, 2015 @ Great Scott

Forn – Friday, August 21, 2015 @ O’Brien’s

Pile – Sunday, August 23, 2015 @ Great Scott

Kal Marks – Sunday, August 23, 2015 @ Great Scott

IAN – Monday, August 24, 2015 @ Middle East Upstairs

Mannequin Pussy – Monday, August 24, 2015 @ Middle East Upstairs

Bunny’s A Swine – Sunday, August 23, 2015 @ Great Scott

Leapling – Sunday, August 23, 2015 @ Great Scott

Save Ends – Monday, August 24, 2015 @ O’Brien’s

Dead Trains – Saturday August 22, 2015 @ Club Bohemia

Sun Rad – Friday, August 21, 2015 @ Deep Thoughts

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Dissociative Identity Playlist – 08/11/15

A quick guide to today’s playlist and remember, all acts/artists/bands are playing live this upcoming week so be sure to check them out!

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Dissociative Identity Playlist – 08/04/15

Figured we’d give this a try. Embedded below are all the songs for today’s playlist, in order. Listen to Dissociative Identity on WBRS 100.1 fm, every Tues from 5 – 7 pm and follow along with the playlist posted here each week. That or just check it out on your own free time but I like to think it’s more fun to listen in live, eh? Regardless check out this and every playlist, click the links for additional information, and overall get a quick preview of the upcoming week’s local live music scene here in the Boston/Cambridge area. Enjoy.

Itasca – Sunday, August 9, 2015 @ Great Scott

Saintseneca – Thursday, August 6, 2015 @ Great Scott

And The Kids – Tuesday, August 4, 2015 @ Great Scott

PWR BTTM – Tuesday, August 4, 2015 @ Great Scott

Soft Eyes – Thursday, August 6, 2015 @ Middle East Downstairs

The Marty Kings – Monday, August 10, 2015 @ Zuzu

Mini Dresses – Thursday, August 6, 2015 @ Middle East Downstairs

Little My – Monday, August 10, 2015 @ Needless Things (Dover)

The I Want You – Tuesday, August 4, 2015 @ O’Briens

Julian Lynch – Sunday, August 9, 2015 @ Great Scott

Harmoos – Tuesday, August 4, 2015 @ O’Briens

Steep Leans – Tuesday, August 4, 2015 @ O’Briens

Shepherdess – Wednesday, August 5, 2015 @ O’Briens

Bong Wish – Thursday, August 6, 2015 @ Middle East Downstairs

Howlo – Wednesday, August 5, 2015 @ O’Briens

Wise Old Moon – Friday, August 7, 2015 @ O’Briens

The Mystery Lights – Thursday, August 6, 2015 @ Middle East Downstairs

Blood Cookie – Tuesday, August 11, 2015 @ O’Briens

Grenade in the Archive – Tuesday, August 11, 2015 @ O’Briens

The Migs – Thursday, August 6, 2015 @ Middle East Downstairs

Weather Weapons – Wednesday, August 5, 2015 @ O’Briens

Young Rising Songs – Wednesday, August 5, 2015 @ Sinclair

Hunter Hunted – Wednesday, August 5, 2015 @ Sinclair

Apartment 3 – Thursday, August 6, 2015 @ Red Door (Portsmouth)

Philip Selway -Friday, August 7, 2015 @ Sinclair

Vundabar – Saturday, August 8, 2015 @ Middle East Downstairs

Beware the Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion – Thursday, August 6, 2015 @ Middle East Downstairs

CreaturoS – Saturday, August 8, 2015 @ Middle East Downstairs

US Girls – Saturday, August 8, 2015 @ Out of the Blue

Quilt – Saturday, August 8, 2015 @ Middle East Downstairs

Beach Toys – Monday, August 10, 2015 @ Zuzu

Herbcraft – Thursday, August 6, 2015 @ Middle East Downstairs

DENT – Friday, August 7, 2015 @ The Record Company

Chasity – Sunday, August 9, 2015 @ O’Briens

Bugs and Rats – Friday, August 7, 2015 @ The Record Company

Rick Rude – Monday, August 10, 2015 @ Needless Things (Dover)

Horse Jumper of Love – Tuesday, August 4, 2015 @ Great Scott

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10 Days That Shook the World: Day 8

Thursday, June 26th, 2014: Considering the night before, the rest was glorious however with Rita’s father already on his way over to the hotel to pick us up, we quickly took a shower, got changed, and headed out to the lobby where we saw once more the familiar SUV. The day’s plan was mainly to do sight seeing however this would primarily entail one location in particular: the Mirsky, or Mir, castle. And so driving along the seemingly endless highways and roads, along with the quick stop to purchase wild mushrooms and blueberries, we eventually made the hour long journey to the castle. Overlooking a small village/town, the castle remained somewhat quiet to the extent that we were not even entirely sure if the location was in fact opened. Luckily, especially considering the long distance, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was indeed open and so after casually strolling through the gift shop along with some of the towers and even the dungeon, we began our guided tour of the castle. Now keep in mind the tour is an hour and a half and it’s all in Russian so graciously Rita’s father, Vitali, got me an audio guide which did account for much of the information in English, a tool which at least partially helped me to follow along.

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Essentially while the castle was initially commissioned and began construction under a rather successful noblemen and commander, his family, the Ilyinichs, died out before the actual completion of the castle and so was passed down instead to the Krzysztof family which began the long back and forth between different warring kingdoms. It is in this way that perhaps Mirsky is a good example of the history of Belarus as a whole: whether it was the Polish, the Latvians, the Germans, or the Russians, the castle for nearly three centuries appeared to exchange hands numerous times. This included, by the way, World War II, whereby the Soviet Union grabbed hold of it, followed by the Germans in 1941 which in fact used the location as a ‘ghetto’ for some of the local Jewish population, only to be reclaimed once more by the Red army. And considering such a turbulent history, like much of Belarus, a great deal of the castle had to be rebuilt however as the tour guide let us know, since the ‘sheep head’ (which was actually just a rock which looked vaguely like a sheep head) was still in its rightful place within the walls, the castle would continue to stand. And so a long hour and a half later we recollected ourselves, quickly grabbed some souvenirs, and once more hit the road, this time for some lunch.

A small road side restaurant was our destination of choice and so after placing our order (primarily Shashlyk, which is very similar to kebabs), we took a site in small cabin like booths which looked out into the woods and forests beside us. A very scenic location, Vitali began showing some pictures of his family before I tried to reciprocate by pulling out my phone and flipping through some of our photos during the course of our trip in Moscow & St. Petersburg. Amused and always smiling, the meal eventually came to which I gladly stuffed myself with (after all, I was basically ravenous after having little to nothing to eat for breakfast) before loading ourselves into the SUV once more and driving back into Minsk. Apparently some automated toll roads had been recently set up by a Swiss company, an annoyance which particularly frustrated the family because while the roads appeared to remain the same quality, now the costs were far greater, a thought which appeared to emerge several times during my trip. Whether it was inflation or even just basic services like the highway, it seemed as though all too often things were becoming ever more expensive yet the quality of services provided by the state or the economy remained the same, if not worse. Now beginning to reenter the city, we make our way back to the hotel where I decide to stay for a bit, not only to work on this blog but indeed to watch a bit of the US-Germany game (which, while a loss, definitely did not disappoint). Yet the time quickly grew upon me to go and meet up with Rita as well as her old high school friend, Ksenia, and so gathering myself together, I marched out of the hotel. The military parade, or at least practise for the parade, had just begun.

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Without really planning for it, our trip was taking place about a week before Independence day. The holiday marking the end of WWII and thus independence of Belarus, it is particularly important not only because it was the 70th anniversary but indeed, as briefly mentioned before, Belarus had been occupied by the Germans followed by the Russians, a struggle which had greatly devastated and nearly razed the city of Minsk as a whole. It is perhaps this history which makes accusations of fascists in Kiev all that more pressing for indeed, between Russia and Belarus, millions of soldiers let alone families were maimed and killed. This included Rita’s own family as the grandmother apparently accounts a story of hiding from Nazi’s in the woods with her little brother however the parade itself was both impressive and disheartening. Indeed I have definitely never seen anything like it as tanks rolled down major streets, soldiers lined just about every 10 meters, and even jets flew overhead however such an expense, especially for a country like Belarus, seemed like a poor idea. With an average monthly wage of about $600-$800, there surely must be better ways to utilize this money, from updating infrastructure to investing in further education or human capital more broadly. I was running late however and so walking as quickly as possible without attracting people’s attention (after all, at least from what I had heard, you really did not want to get noticed by the military during these events, particularly as an American), I made my way to the central square and once more met up with Rita. After waiting a bit for Rita’s friend, the meeting location was changed and so after hopping into a cab and getting ripped off on the price since we had spoken english in the taxi, we eventually reach ‘Friends’ where Ksenia was smiling and waiting for us.

A gigantic restaurant/brewery/bar, it was the first place either in Russia or Belarus that I found where ‘craft beers’ could be found. Indeed even asking Toly about craft beers in Moscow had slightly confused him and so delighted by the rather delicious hefeweizen, we began to catch up and become acquainted over some herring as well as a traditionally Belarusian soup. It was a long night so perhaps going into all of it here is probably not the best use of time or space (just feel free to ask me in person) however Rita’s friend worked as an economist for an energy firm, whereby she was well acquainted with Russia frequently providing funds to build power stations in Belarus and in return, being able to utilize them for decades to come, a mixture of intentions which seemed not quite generous so much as self interested. Furthermore I learned a bit about Belarusian cigarettes: basically, about a year or two ago, Luschenshenko (the ruler and “Last Dictator of Europe”) had wanted Belarus to become more independent and so had proclaimed that all cigarettes needed to be made within Belarus. Thus when I offered her a pack of Marlboro Lights, she appeared thrilled and quickly paused from her usual cigarette of choice, ‘Glamour’. And so, after watching Russia tie with Algeria in the World Cup, we eventually settled our bill, even discussed Crimea for a brief second, before finally grabbing a cab and making our way back to the hotel. And so ends day 8 of this 10 day travel blog, almost done (thank God, this has been charming and all but definitely ready to be done). Thanks for reading and be sure to catch day 9, featuring the actual birthday party for Rita’s father, sight seeing in Minsk, and discussions on Slipknot. Till then.

– Cliff

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10 Days That Shook the World: Day 7

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014: The night before hits me like a pile of bricks. It’s 11 am and with a strict checkout time of 12 pm Rita and I begin scrambling together our clothes and miscellaneous possessions, desperately trying to get out of the room on time before being charged for an additional night. Luckily it worked out fine and while certainly groggy, we hung around the lobby to utilize their wifi as we figured out how to get to the airport and further information on our actual flights. Once some vague understanding is developed, we begin lugging our bags down the streets until we reach our metro stop, whereby we realize that a taxi would be far more preferable and so we haggle our way into the cab and quickly make our way to the airport, way earlier than anticipated but I guess better than being late. Once there the check in process seemed like a breeze and so now with excessive time on our hands, we make our way to an overpriced airport cafe, grab some tea, soup, and some sandwiches, and even begin to write some on this very blog series before we finally board our flight.

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The flight is an immediate one as we need to transfer in Moscow however some confusion occurred when attempting to deal with passport control. Basically we had waited in line for the international section for a good 15 mins before finally reaching the front, whereby I silently handed over my ticket and my passport. A bored attendant looked briefly at my ticket before proclaiming that I was, in fact, in the wrong line: that flights to Belarus were actually considered domestic flights. Keep in mind Belarus is a separate country all together yet apparently the officials treated it more as a state within the federation than an actually independent and sovereign nation, an idea and theme which would become frequent not only within this day but indeed the days to come. Anyways since it was considered domestic, the process was actually very simple and so once through, we immediately boarded our flight and after a brief flight found ourselves in Belarus. As perhaps the photos have hinted at, Belarus is an extremely rural location, one where by nearly 40% of the country is wild woods and fields, an aspect which made it ideal for anyone interested in camping, backpacking, or generally the outdoors. Anyways as Rita and I waited for our baggage, a nervous rush begins to pulse through my veins. The whole reason we had choosen this particular date to arrive was because it was a day before Rita’s father’s 50th birthday. Furthermore it has been nearly 6 years since Rita had last seen her father and this side of the family and so without much access to the internet, we were not even sure if they would be picking us up from the airport. As if all of this was not enough, I was also in the position of being the very first boyfriend of anyone of his daughters that he had ever meet, a prospect which made me literally have nightmares of him spitting in my face upon arrival. And so emerging from the airport, we see a glowing smile as Rita’s father and step sister stand up, approach us, and give us a warm welcome. Indeed throughout the whole flight, in a paranoid state, I had repeatedly rehearsed how to say ‘ hello, my name is Cliff, pleasure to meet you’ in Russian, an expression which I think I blurted out as soon as arriving which at least appeared to go over alright. And so now loading up our bags, we hopped into the SUV and began our ride into central Minsk, all the while passing by the multitude of woods and fields along the highway.

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Rita proceeded to enlighten them on her experiences at university as well as her current work in Manhattan, all the while, as if attempting to include me, the father would point towards a monument and tell Rita to tell me that this was the National Library, or that this was the National Architectural University, and so one. While I certainly felt awkward with my nearly nonexistent Russian, I did greatly appreciate the pure excitement and enthusiasm to which the family greeted me and so we eventually made our way to central Minsk and to the exchange office. Keep in mind that like Russia, while Belarus certainly can accept debit cards, people tend to be far more trusting of cash (though cash which is nearly untouched & unwrinkled) and so I made my way to the exchange office in order to grab some Belarusian rubles for not only expenses but also to pay for the hotel. Yet this also made me feel somewhat paranoid as for perhaps the first time in my life, considering the exchange rate is approximately $1 to 10,000 Belarusian rubles, I held several million rubles in my hands, a sensation which was thrilling in both a good and bad way. And so silently dashing back to the SUV, we hopped back in, made our way to the hotel (Ufontana, i.e. the fountain though didn’t really see any fountain to speak of) and checked in. Nearly a month before our arrival, Minsk had been host to the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship and so had a taste of mass tourism from Europe more broadly however the lady was apparently ecstatic to have us considering tourism in Minsk is not necessarily normally booming. And so finally checked in, we said our goodbyes to Rita’s family, promising to see them in the morning, before making our way to a small restaurant for dinner. A couple of interesting notes to the spot: entitled Amsterdam, there appeared to be primarily pizza and Russian/Belarusian cuisine, thus slightly confusing me in regards to its name. Furthermore, unlike Russia, Belarus still allows smoking indoors and even in restaurants and so with ashtrays present at every table and young professionals puffing away while enjoying their pizza, the site was certainly an oddly nostalgic one.

After our meal then, we quickly went shopping at the grocery store next door, grabbed some small sweets and snacks, before hiking our way back to the hotel and finally grabbing some sleep. While a fairly relaxed day, I was certainly glad that everything had gone over well with my first introductions however the real test was still to come, including touring a castle as well as his actual birthday party. But alas this is a story for day 8/9 and so we will end it here however thanks for reading and be sure to comment/shoot me a message if you have any questions, comments, or concerns. Thanks and talk to ya later.

– Cliff

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10 Days That Shook the World: Day 6

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014: There’s just something incredibly relieving to finally getting a full nights rest and so after grabbing a shower where the water smelled a bit off and the rooms were littered with ikea furniture, we emerged out of the hostel over to grab some lunch. Before we had left Moscow, Toly had given us a small guidebook he had received from some other swanky hotel in St. Petersburg and so after careful analysis, Rita appeared confident over exactly where our day would take us, including with our starting point: lunch at the ‘Clean Plates Society’. Considering the fact that the whole meal, a Russian soup as well as a Russian style of potato and meat pie, cost only a little more than my single tea from the previous day, I was content & happily filled with, for the first time during this trip, regular coffee. We exited the sleek little cafe and back out into the beautiful day outside & with it, a cluster of site seeing occurred, though most predominantly we viewed the famous statue of Peter the Great, riding on horseback as he tramples and defeats a snake below, as well as St. Isaacs cathedral.

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The first photo is of an overview of the entire cathedral, though it clearly does not come close to relating the actual scale of the monument. The second photo, however, is one which I found to be a reoccurring theme while in St. Petersburg: during WWII, much of the city had been bombed and shelled, a prospect which had still left it’s scars to this day. A joke was that perhaps the city had been too cheap to actually repair the damages however in a certain sense I appreciated the intentionally remnants of WWII, those scabs of a darker time which should give pause to anyone considering needless avarice. Still, the best was yet to come and so we now found ourselves arriving at the State Hermitage Museum, this time open and swarming with tour groups and souvenir venders. Nervous of lines and large crowds, I was relatively relieved to find the process actually very easy and thus quickly inside with a map in hand, racing our way to particular exhibits of interest. With gold leafed hallways and exquisite enlightenment era art from the Netherlands to Spain, perhaps one of the most interesting aspect was, in fact, a room with portraits of a cat. Apparently one of the old tzars was as obsessed with cats as contemporary imgur users for he had commissioned numerous portraits of his cat, thus making it one of the first and only cats to actually have paintings done of it throughout its whole life, from youth to old age.

I could go on about the State Hermitage Museum however for the sake of brevity, I will move on to the Church of the Savior on Blood, the cathedral which we had briefly seen earlier however now, in a dry and better mood, we made our way inside, took several pictures of the extravagant murals lining the walls, and eventually exited to view the Kazan Cathedral literally right across from us. This cathedral I actually enjoyed slightly more (perhaps because it was for free) however an odd incident happened. Slowly walking through the cathedral, Rita and I noticed numerous individuals taking pictures (even though signs clearly stated not to, regardless of flash) and the souvenir table was bustling with prospective consumers. However upon exiting, a homeless man stood, silent and with his hand extended, hoping to receive something, anything. All the Christians looked away and scurried past as quickly as possible, a hypocrisy so outrageous that I felt compelled to give a little bit of change as we made our way out of the monument. Thus now finished with our sight seeing, we made our way to a grocery store, grabbed some potato & mushrooms as well as a beet salad, and relaxed before our night out.

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After a make shift meal, the time had come for our long over due beer with Igor, the attendant working at the front desk which had helped me out so greatly with the visa issues. Charmed though somewhat surprised that we had remembered, he quickly ran up to his room, changed his shirt so that now he was in all black, and made our way to Terminal, a bar which had evidently closed down so instead made out way to Mishka. A bar owned and run by the same folks as the ‘Clean Plate Society’, we went downstairs, ordered a couple beers and shots, and bumped into our waitress from earlier, who preceded to apologize for forgetting our tea refill (a grievance we did not really remember or care about). Still it was nice to make small talk about university life and night life in St. Petersburg however once finished, we made our way to another bar, introduced Igor to a Bloody Mary, and finally, after much coaxing, had Igor take us to his usual bar of choice.

A rather large upstairs location, it actually oddly had the feeling of a sports bar with waiters in goofy uniforms and tacky little decorations scattered on the walls with one major difference: the special, at least after midnight, was when you bought two shots, you got another two free. A dangerous combination, Rita and I split 4 between ourselves with Igor gladly taking 4 for himself before a neighbor at the next table, a somewhat wasted individual, noticed all of the English and so began to engage with us. Apparently all of his friends had made their way home (for good reason, it was closing in on 2 am on a Tuesday) and so after initially making fun of me for my lack of Russian, he quickly grew convinced that I was secretly Russian due to my enjoyment of the night watch/day watch movies and my ability to drink. Thus after he purchased me several more shots (I tried to buy him some but for the most part he refused) and a couple visits to the ‘smoking room’ (just about exactly what it sounds like: a little room in the middle of the bar with little to no ventilation), we finally said our goodbyes, stopped by a corner store to pick up some dried fish snacks, and eventually to the hostel room where sleep inevitably hit us like a bus.

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Sorry that it took me so long to post however, as promised, I will finish this travel series, if only for my own amusement. Anyways I hope it’s been relatively enjoyable to read and be sure to catch the next post, whereby Rita and I will be traveling to Minsk, Belarus and where I will be meeting her father for the first time. Till then.

– Cliff

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10 Days That Shook the World: Day 5

Monday, June 23rd, 2014: When told that Rita and I were taking the overnight train from Moscow to St. Petersburg, Toly laughed and commented that this is where we would meet the real Russia and Russia would meet us. Notorious for drunks, live poultry, and mysterious smells, the ride, either fortunately or unfortunately, was not nearly as eventful. Essentially since we got the cheapest tickets we could find, the set up featured no separate cabins but rather a series of bunk beds with no privacy to be heard of, thus forcing individuals to change in the bathroom, if not under the sheets or simply out in the hallway. The bigger difficulty, however, was simply getting sleep as the train rocked it’s way through the 8 hour journey and I found myself (about 6’2) trying to cram into the miniature top bunk, frequently hitting my head as I attempted to move the slightest inch. Regardless, these kinds of difficulties were kind of expected anyways and by 6:45 am we found ourselves in the overcast and raining city of St. Petersburg.

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Check in time at our hostel was 2 pm so we found ourselves with a great deal of time to kill and so, locking up our bags at the station, we made our way to a nearby coffee shop to grab some tea/coffee and use the wifi. Upon some research, one of the few locations I could find that was actually open at such an early hour was the St. Paul and Peter Fortress and so after settling the bill (which by the way was an excruciating $6 for a small tea…) we headed towards the subway. The fortress was originally made to commemorate a 17th century victory over the Swedes however over the centuries, had served the primary purpose of almost a trophy case of military dominance, where by flags and treasures of defeated foes were housed. This would have been incredible to witness however apparently only the front gates were open, allowing us to walk around and view the incredible structures however not to enter. Furthermore now beginning to rain harder, Rita found herself freezing cold and so we returned to the station, grabbed her an extra pair of socks and a jacket, and this time tried the Heritage Museum. Before arriving, however, we had a somewhat interesting encounter: apparently some individuals would bend over backwards to help foreigners, perhaps in the hopes of getting some extra money, however seemed nearly hostile to other Russians. For example, we were trying to find the bus station and so I asked a women in English where it was, to which she replied she did not know English. Then Rita tried, this time in Russian, to which she replied she did not know, a prospect which seemed fairly unbelievable. As I began walking away, apparently she began pleading that she could help, just to let her know what I needed. Now finally Rita approaches me, thus letting the women know that we were together, to which she immediately began apologizing to Rita and saying that she could help, that she just didn’t originally know that we were together… it was a bit off and sad to be certain, a theme which appeared to reemerge several times during this first day.

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Thus finally on the bus, we hop off at the Heritage Museum, taking some pictures of the amazing structure and surrounding courtyard only to find out that contrary to what google and stated, the museum was closed on Mondays… And so we began to walk to the metro only to happily bump into the Church of the Savior on Blood instead. A behemoth of a cathedral, we decided to not go in quite yet but instead to warm up and view some art over at the Russian Museum. One particular exhibit I found interesting was on the art and advertisements of WWI, an often sore and controversial subject for Russia considering not only the huge amount of lives lost but also the emergence of the Russian Revolution. Indeed for those who are unaware, the rise and popularity of Lenin and the bulshovicks can partially be attributed to their opposition to WWI and so after the successful revolution, the newly formed USSR immediately exited the war and gave nearly no mention or commemoration to the soldiers. Thus while I can partially sympathize (after all, WWI did somewhat feel like a meaningless war), it did feel terribly sad that such soldiers would be maimed, wounded, or killed and receive nearly no kind of appreciation for this sacrafice.

Anyways the museum did proceed to only get better from there including some more Vrubel pieces however 2 pm quickly grew upon us so after getting our fill of the Russian Museum, we once more returned to the train station, this time grabbing our bags, heading to the metro, getting somewhat lost however eventually arriving at Arooms Hostel. Tucked in a courtyard and beside one of the bridges, we checked in however had a scare when they told us they would not register my visa. Basically in a somewhat archaic remanent of visa history, it is still necessary for foreigners, once arriving into the country, to have their visa registered, so as to know where you are (big brother?). And since they were not willing to register the visa, I was now nervous that I would, in fact, be in the country illegally, a prospect which could subject me to massive fines if not outright jail time. And so after pleading with the front desk attendant, Igor, he made some phone calls and thankfully found out that I would not, in fact, need to be registered since I was only in Russia for less than 7 working days. And so, after promising to buy him a beer for all the phone calls and work, we settled into our room, bought some herring, bread, and saurcraut for dinner, as well as a small phone charger in order to actually be able to continue to communicate with the outside world, and eventually went to sleep, still beat from the extremely long train trip and overall day.

Admittedly as I review this post, it appears somewhat grim. While it was definitely one of the hardest days of the trip, I will assure you that overall I had a great time in St. Petersburg, a proposition I hope will become clear through the next several posts. I guess till then and thanks for reading.

– Cliff

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10 Days That Shook the World: Day 4

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014: After a late night and in a daze, I roll out of Toly’s bed and slowly stumble into the kitchen. Hearing some music, I expect to find Toly only to bump into his mom instead. Friendly and with little English, she offers me some tea, crepes with honey, and buckwheat with olive oil, a meal I gladly indulge in as Rita and Toly slowly emerge from their slumber. While I wish we could’ve stayed longer or frankly slept longer, a firm checkout time awaits us and so we grab the train, hop out at Pushkin square, and make our way to the hotel. Scrambling, we quickly pack up and go off to print out train tickets before heading to the metro and arriving at the Pushkin Museum.

A line to the main building winds around the block, apparently due to the opening of a special exhibit, so instead we go to one of the smaller permanent exhibits of 19th & 20th century Impressionism and modernism, a subject matter I prefer anyways compared to old religious icons (there’s only so many Madonna and child paintings that I can handle). Three floors of Renoir, Cezanne, Kandinsky, Van Gogh, and even some Picasso, I definitely preferred Pushkin to Tretyakov however after 2 hours, I was thrilled to exit to the beautiful and sunny day outside.
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Crossing the street, we found ourselves at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, the tallest Russian Orthodox Church in the world (at least according to Wikipedia, pictured above). A gorgeous spot overlooking the Moscow River, the building was clearly amazing however we were surprised to learn that this was, in fact, the cathedral where Pussy Riot had done their notorious protest song, the one which would have several members arrested and convicted. Seeing the actual location, you can understand why the arrests occurred however the charges (hooliganism relating to religious hatred) and the consequences (they were originally supposed to be in prison for at least 2 years) still feel excessive and bizarre. Regardless, now ravenous after exploring for so long, we walked past the old ‘Red October’ factories (a former candy manufacturer), bumped into a lost and confused American, and finally sat down for lunch. An expensive but definitely delicious spot that Toly had apparently read about, we grabbed a couple of beers, some more harcho (lamb soup), cheese and tomatoes, a cheese bread, an amazing green bean and walnut dip, and finished up with some tea before Toly’s younger brother, Oleg, joined us.

Since graduating Temple University, Oleg had started up his own company, where he designs websites for numerous companies and was beginning to expand into apps. Leading us to his car, we were amazed to be finally driven, for the first time, around Moscow. While it’s not necessarily the case that we saw a bunch of new sights, it was great to get an idea of how all these different landmarks were actually connected to one another and so driving around to Mumiy Troll (Russian Alt) and a rap about butts (not to be mistaken with ‘ass’, a point which the song jokingly makes towards the end), we speed down to the ‘little Kremlin’.

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The Izmailovo Kremlin, or ‘little Kremlin’, was apparently the winner of an online poll awhile back for what the true symbol of Russia should be and is where Peter the Great grew up. We started with an expansive flea market which was right outside before making our way to the courtyard, where a wooden Orthodox Church stood. Apparently some couples even liked to get married there as numerous stores and catering spots advertised the service however what was perhaps even more interesting was the expansive and admittedly aged hotels right outside. The hotels were constructed during the late 70’s in preparation for the 1980 Olympics, one in which, if you recall, the US boycotted due to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan (if ya know me well, you probably know how fond I am of the Mark Twain quote, “history doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme”).

Anyways after the stroll through time, we found ourselves once more scurrying through the streets of Moscow, back to the hotel to pick up our bags, and over to the train station, Leningradsky. Across the street were skyscrapers which reminded me of those Gotham style towers of the early 20th century, a relic of the past apparently inspired from Stalin’s visit to Manhattan. And so, while nearly missing our train, Rita and I hop onto the cart, make our way to our cramped bunk beds, and slowly begin our overnight trip to St. Petersburg. Thanks for reading, should be back in the US soon however I intend to finish this little series regardless (after all, we are only on day 4 and we still have St. Petersburg as well as Minsk, Belarus to cover). Till then.

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10 Days That Shook the World: Day 3

Saturday, June 21st, 2014: Rita is unfortunately still feeling sick though starting to turn the corner (though clearly unhappy with all of the expenses made at the numerous pharmacies). As usual, we get started a bit later than hoped however at least we are able to make our way, once out of the hotel, immediately to Chinatown. Now at this point I assume some of you have a puzzled look on your face so I will try to explain: yes, Moscow does have a Chinatown however there are little to no Chinese, let alone Asian, folks there. Perhaps it was named this way out of hope that one day it would become a great Chinatown like other cities, most notably NYC (and heck, I would include Philadelphia). Instead the area is more known as a ‘hipster’ hang out spot which I guess makes sense considering the somewhat ironic naming of the location.

Thus, after a stroll through the park we end up at Lyudi Kak Lyudi, a little coffee spot inside a nearly ancient building. There I decided to grab myself an Americano, mainly because a plain coffee is just about unheard of and hard to find in Russia, as well as two ‘pies’: one with meat, carrots, and onions while the other was spinach and cheese. And for less than $5 a slice, while somewhat expensive, they definitely filled me up right and so now growing late into the day, we hop back onto the metro to the State Tretyakov Gallery. A massive and ornate building, the gallery opens with an extensive display of 17th &18th century portraits, a subject matter which I don’t particularly care for however one room signaled a distinct change of pace. Walking up a small staircase, you are greeted by a massive piece covering nearly the entire wall entitled ‘The Princess of the Dreams’.
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Painted by Mikhail Alexsandrovich Vrubel, the entire room is dedicated to the works of Vrubel and as I meandered the room, I quickly found myself discovering a new favorite artist. You can google some of his works yourself (I would probably include the piece ‘Philosophy’ as well) however if I were to try to describe it, it has a very classical, Roman Greco feel utilizing Arcadia like imagery, all with the vivid use of darker blues and greens in an almost impressionist or post impressionist manner. And with that, the whole museum seemed to become better as the exhibits moved towards realism landscapes and even bits of Impressionism and modernism.

Afterwards, it’s back to the subway, rest a bit at the hotel, and once more to Cheberekis USSR, this time for some herrings, potatoes, and onions as well as harcho, a lamb soup which while a little salty, was absolutely amazing and just as we finished up, Toly stopped by and we began our journey to ‘Crisis of the Genre’. Half night club, half bar, and with one hell of an outdoor patio, we stop by the coat check, grab a couple Absolut shots, and head to the patio where we witness perhaps one of the largest rats imaginable. The club itself, then, was located in Chinatown and so the aesthetic reminded me of a typical spot in Brooklyn, though the addition of a dance floor and a coat check was definitely unexpected and the music included remixes ranging from Nirvana to Fun, though always over thumping house and trance music. Thus, with drinks complete and now beyond our ability to go back to the hotel (closes at 1 am and reopens at 6 am), we casually stroll to ‘clean ponds’ park and visit the Abai memorial, the spot where Moscow’s own occupy movement (or ‘Occupy Abai’) occurred.

The memorial is perhaps an appropriate location considering the fact that not only was the location right in the center of expensive cafés and nightclubs, but also because Abai Qunanbayuli was an Kazakh nationalist who greatly promoted his culture through his poetry. Thus, as Toly at least explained, while much of New York City’s own movement was centralized on economic concerns, that of Moscow was one of political concerns, whether it be with Putin or more broadly the lack of representation as a whole. Still, as with Occupy Wall Street, the apparent lack of leadership appeared to be its greatest downfall and so strolling the now nearly empty park, we take the last train out into the outskirts of Moscow, where Toly and his family live.

Tenement buildings and small shopping centers dot the landscape as we emerge from the station and with a brisk pace, we meet up with one of Toly’s friends, grab an espresso from McDonalds, and make small talk with a mixture of broken English and gestures. And at the suggestion of Toly and his friend, I grab a late night snack at a small shawarma stand, say our goodbyes, and make our way to Toly’s own building. As Rita and Toly remarked on growing up in similar cramped apartment buildings, I began to remark that I was almost jealous of the sense of community such a tight knit space would create, a point which was quickly corrected. Indeed, in almost a similar manner to the ‘tragedy of the commons’, Toly argued that with the Soviet era, communal spaces became the norm however because everything was shared, no sense of personal responsibility seemed to develop. And without such responsibility, much of the communal spaces quickly became abused, neglected, and often abandoned, creating a downward spiral which even after the fall of the Soviet Union did not seem to have changed much.

And so, cramming ourselves into an elevator and making our way to the apartment, having late night tea and staring out from his small balcony on the 13th floor, we said our goodnights and finally went to sleep, expecting to wake up early in order to scurry back to our hotel to check out on time. But of course, that is a matter for day 4 and so I will leave it here. Thanks for reading, feel free to shoot me an email either through the contacts page or just my email address/Facebook if ya have any questions or comments, and talk to ya guys again tomorrow (if possible: should be a busy one). Till then.

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