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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The 'Red Wheel' Tour '94

One week of superlatives was followed by another. And so, this week's column will continue with the formula of my previous column, highlighting some of the most notable and dubious events of the past week. Spiritual event of the week: The beginning of the coast-to-coast Russia '94 comeback tour by Alex "Gulag Crusher" Solzhenitsyn and his Red Wheel Band. It's wonderful that the greatest Russian refugee and the most famous living writer is back on native ground. However, the "Khomeini effect" or anything of large political and social significance shouldn't be expected from the comeback. The name (let alone the works) of Solzhenitsyn is very little known to new generations of Russians. Among the literary and intellectual community he is much respected, but not exceptionally influential, because he has been out of touch for too long and is not a trendy author (in terms of style, corruption etc.). This stiuation will probably not change for the better as Solzhenitsyn's literary works, although important and history making etc. etc., are far from being entertaining, stylish and smart in the marketing sense, which would make them attractive for the general (especially the younger) reader. Since the marketing situation and cultural ambience don't look too promising for Alexander Isayevich, he will hopefully do his best and manage to avoid it, for if he doesn't, his credibility and charisma will vanish quickly and for ever. If I were Solzhenitsyn, I'd keep a very low profile, I'd tell all politicians to keep away from me and I'd try to create something more readable and more in touch with modern times than his hyper-boring "Red Wheel" epic. I wish him the best of luck with this. Political event of the week: I have no idea. Artistic (non-) event of the week: A would-be grand happening at the Moskva swimming pool. Since July 1993 the pool has been empty of water because of a lack of funds for its renovation. Patriots and clerics demand that the Church of Christ the Savior (blown up in 1931) should be rebuilt on the old spot where the pool now is. Last weekend, a group of young artists (Andrei Velikanov, Masha Katkova, Marat Kim) decided to turn the controversial public object into a conceptual art festival. Precisely 1,000 prominent Russian citizens (from Boris Yeltsin to yours truly) were given equal space -- three square meters -- in which they were supposed to create something preferably related to the historical and/or current environment of the infamous basin. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't hot or bright, and out of 1,000 invited artists only about 50 turned up. At the beginning of the event an exhibitionist performance artist, Alexander Brenner, climbed up to a diving tower and started a kind of public masturbation accompanied by loud yells. While we were wondering when he would finish, militiamen went up and dragged him down. Later it was explained to me that this was done for no moral or aesthetic reason, but simply because the tower is in an emergency state and may fall down. Garik Vinogradov made a nice installation, proposing to build a Church of Father Frost on the base of the swimming pool. Another good project was a scheme and miniature model of a "nuclear power station of basin type," which will supply the whole center of Moscow with cheap electric energy. The object I liked best was a giant liquid -- or, rather, quicksilver-type -- hedgehog made by Boris Stuchebryukov from 23,232 razorblades. Music was occasionally heard and half-a-dozen television crews ran around. The event could have been better and more fun, but too few people seemed to care. Seriously speaking, the basin needs urgent renovation. Rebuilding the giant church would be absolutely stupid and tasteless, but knowing our authorities I guess this is exactly what they are planning to do. Well, if they really care about religion and congregations and spiritual health, for one tenth of the money needed to replicate the demolished church they could build a dozen churches in the new regions of Moscow, where they are much more needed. Musical event of the week: Russian Breakthrough concert at Soviet Wings (Krylya Sovietov) sports arena. Nazi punk rock has come of age. (Read review in the Weekend section.)