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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

GUIDE TO THE STARS:




"If the stars are lit, does it mean someone needs them?" asked Vladimir Mayakovsky, the Revolutionary poet, who could just as accurately be identified as the father of Russian rap. My question is who needs the stars of today's Russia -- the fashion gurus, singers, writers, and other celebrities who have placed their names in the polluted sky over Moscow?


Someone must, or else they would have long ago flickered out.


But this week the local lights were outshone by out-of-towners, as they oft en are. This time the spotlight was on the Rolling Stones, whose fans in Russia and the "near abroad" had waited more than 30 years for them. Many were again disappointed after spending hours Monday waiting near the Baltschug Kempinski Hotel to catch a glimpse of their idols. They did finally get "Satisfaction," however, at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday at Luzhniki Stadium, where despite the shoddy sound system, they heard Mick Jagger, who jumped on stage, shouting in Russian and wearing a red scarf, like some Viktor Anpilov-supporting babushka.


The fans, who included middle-aged businessmen and the young employees of Western companies, along with a hefty number of expats, were already warmed up by the St. Petersburg Brit-pop band Spleen, the latest teen icon. Promoters of the Stones tour booked the band specifically to attract a younger generation. But the age gap remained unbridgeable. As Dr. Martens-wearing teenagers danced to "Sugar-Free Orbit," Spleen's hymn of the modern Russian consumer generation, bearded Stones fans in leather jackets screamed swear words at the stage.


Those harsh words may have been deserved after the band's recent behavior in the Far East city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Anna Alexeyevna, a cleaning lady in the city's Lada Hotel, said the drunk-out-of-their-minds band members trashed their suite, breaking a Soviet-made radio, a sink and a bedside table. The drummer was seen running through the corridors in his underwear. The damage totaled about 4,000 rubles ($638), so a good portion of the money paid by the local Spleen-affected fans will go straight to the owners of the Lada.


Although drinking binges are nothing new to Russia, and rock bands trashing hotel rooms is an international cliche, this kind of debauchery came as something of a surprise from the delicate and intelligent members of Spleen, whose name has nothing to do with internal organs, but hearkens back to 19th-century Russian literature. Alexander Pushkin's masterpiece "Eugene Onegin" tells the tale of an outsider to bourgeois society who is sick with "English spleen, or Russian depression." Onegin treated his ailment by chugging red wine. It seems the young musicians follow a similar prescription.