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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

METRO DEARY: Brave New Moscow Is Built




Moscow is actively undergoing construction, renovation and restoration. The city is said to be improving, at least on the outside. I don't know whether this is thanks to the mayor or the current administration, or despite them. But given that the process has taken on a dynamic of its own and already produced several visible results, I ask you to consider the following proposals.


1. Advertising. There is now a lot of it, but there should be even more to light up the streets and set off municipal buildings. The so-called Stalinist gothic buildings could serve as the most valuable advertising space, especially the city's seven renowned high rises. The French musician Jean-Michel Jarre already demonstrated how effectively these skyscrapers can be used when he used Moscow State University as a backdrop for his laser show during Moscow's 850th anniversary celebrations this September.


It wouldn't be difficult to imagine the university as the place for a chewing-gum advertisement, and the Ukraina Hotel could be made into the shape of an Absolut vodka bottle. I won't even mention the politically incorrect and ideologically backward five-pointed stars on the Kremlin towers, on which a Mercedes or Chrysler hood ornament or Texaco star would be more appropriate and functional against the city's skyline.


The other advertising Klondikes are the propagandistic monuments in the city. The statue of Lenin with his determined look and single-breasted overcoat on Oktyabrskaya Ploshchad could promote Hugo Boss clothing and the punk-like statue of Vladimir Mayakovsky on Triumfalnaya Ploshchad could be used to advertise companies like Diesel or Naf Naf. The sickly statue of Maxim Gorky at Belorussky Station would be an ideal place to promote Coldex and the sadly famous statue of Peter the Great on the bank of the Moscow River could have the logo: "Fisherman's Friend," the brand of the cough lozenge.


Finally, simple billboards should not be forgotten. They should cover up the roadside as much as possible so that the horrible industrial views around them cannot be seen. This is particularly the case for Shosse Entuziastov, Dmitrovskoye, Ryazanskoye, Varshavskoye and other highways. In general, if there were enough billboards, then there would be no need for Potemkin villages.


2. Renaming streets. Streets named after good people like Pushkin, Chekhov, Herzen and Kropotkin have disappeared from the city's maps. Dull and long forgotten names like Bolshaya and Malaya Dmitrovka and Bolshaya and Malaya Nikitka have taken their place. I can't say that I like this. But what I especially don't like is that the new names don't reflect the heroic spirit of the new Russia in any way. Therefore, here are several proposals for new street names.


First, Academician Sakharov Prospekt and Ulitsa Mashi Poryvayevoi, on which LUKoil, Uneximbank and Alfa Bank are located, should be renamed Privatization Prospekt and the surrounding streets should be called Voucher Lanes. Second, the New Arbat, which is, after all, a silly name, and on which the Moscow mayor's office is located, should be called Luzhkov Prospekt. The overpasses and parking lot in front of the office could be called Vladimir Gusinsky Square. (The business magnate also has an office there.) Third, Leninsky Prospekt could be renamed OMON Prospekt in memory of the Special Militia Team's activities in May 1993. Finally, Ulitsa Kosygina, where former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev lives, should be called Last Emperor Alley.


3. Hotel Rossiya. Everyone understands that this concrete monstrosity destroys the entire landscape around the Kremlin and should be removed from the face of the earth. But it is equally clear that it would be bad to build a large city center on the spot and unprofitable to reconstruct a two-story settlement. My idea is to leave the churches and taverns above ground and dig about 70 meters deep to create a powerful gambling center with prostitution and modern dancing. In this way, the rather weak name for the district, Zaryadye, would give rise to stronger associations than Los Vegas, Soho, or Pigale.


4. Reconstruction. During the past few years, several important buildings have been restored or rebuilt. But two places that were barbarously destroyed still await reconstruction -- the Sukharevskaya Tower and the Moskva swimming pool, where the Christ the Savior Cathedral again stands. Because it is no longer possible to put the pool in its old location, I propose putting a new one on the empty space between the Moscow River and the President Hotel.