Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Strike up the blog.

Melting and refreezing left a thin sheet of ice on the grass along my walk this morning. As I went along, sometimes I punched holes in it with my cane, and it broke like cheap glass.

I went to the Union Station McDonald’s for breakfast this morning and the TV there had live coverage of the Great Saddam Statue Pull. When I got to work, I tuned in to NPR — which was carrying the BBC — shortly before a reporter said “It’s coming down! They’re all saying death to Saddam!”

Later, some of the BBC talking-head wankers were worried that there will be “chaos” in Baghdad today. Looting. “People taking the law into their own hands.” Shocking, shocking! More like a big celebration, I figure... and some necktie parties for assorted Ba’athists. I say, let the long-suffering people of Baghdad have fun for a few days.

The newsmen and women were making comparisons to statue-pulling in the former Soviet bloc in the early ’90s. Not all of them went down immediately, however. I distinctly remember seeing a number of standing statues of Lenin in Russia, three years after the fall of the USSR. One was in Irkutsk, in a park I believe, with Lenin boldly gesturing with an arm. According to our guide, a young fellow with considerable English skills, this statue was known locally as “Lenin hailing a cab.”

I wish I could remember that guide’s name. Once, he pointed to some drab Soviet building and explained that the largest church in Siberia used to be there, until Stalin had it destroyed. Someone asked why Uncle Joe had done that. “Because,” the guide answered, “Stalin was a weird dude.”

In St. Petersburg, Lenin still stood at Finland Station in 1994 haranguing a long-gone 1917 audience — and still does, if a couple of Web sites are to be believed. But I don’t begrudge the original bolshie his spot at Finland Station. He’s an important historical figure, after all, and that was an important moment.

In Vilnius (I think), all the Lenin statues were gone (no surprise, that), but I saw some socialist realism still standing at one of the city’s bridges. Four statues, in fact, one at each corner of the bridge, and each representing some kind of Idealized Worker: a buff farmer, a ramrod factory worker, that sort of thing. I have to wonder what children growing up long after communism will make of those stone exhortations to increase centralized production. Probably nothing. They would be about as interesting as Spanish-American War monuments are to Americans now; that is, only of interest to eccentrics like me.


Post a Comment

<< Home