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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

LOVE & DEATH: Teetotalers Bore Public To Tears at 'Bum Park'




About a week before we adopted our dog, Bela, we stumbled upon a charming park just down the road from our building.


By charming, I mean the open grassy spaces; the playground always crawling with children; the radio loudspeaker that carries surreal Radio Retro tunes; the benches packed with gossipping babushkas.


It's called Baumann Park, and even though I do find it charming, I've taken to calling it Bum's Park because there are bums everywhere you look, both on and off the benches. There are certain parts of the park Bela and I don't go to because bums take their naps in those patches of grass.


During a recent Saturday evening walk, posters outside the park were advertising a "Youth Against Drugs" rally, which was starting just as we got there. I was cheered by this sign of community activism. And given the living examples of the ills of excess everywhere you look in this particular park, it seemed a fitting venue.


What we witnessed, though, was sad. A man straight out of the suburban Illinois high school featured in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (Bueller? Bueller?) sat at a brown desk on the stage of the band shell reading into a microphone the definitions of narkomania and alkogolism. The benches in front of the stage were sparsely filled by teenagers, each with a beer, a cigarette or both in their hands, their backs to the stage. There were some curious adult onlookers, a few babushkas, and one pair who looked like a father and son.


Boredom reigned. This f a man at a desk speaking in a mon otone voice f was to convince kids that drugs and alcohol are hazardous?


The second part of the rally was a discotheque featuring ice-pick techno music and a young man sporting black jeans and a cream-colored blazer lip-synching to the latest pop music torture f songs titled "My First Love" and "Sweet Dream."


While one babuskha bopped her head to the tunes, a gaggle of lanky girls got up and walked toward the front of the stage, where they stood together drinking and smoking.


Last month, the Federation Council unanimously approved an amendment to the law on mass media forbidding the dissemination of information on "producing, preparing and using" drugs. The amendment also bans information about the medical advantages of drugs.


It's summertime, kids aren't in school, and if President Vladimir Putin approves this amendment and signs it into law, they and their parents might not be able to read about the realities of drugs. Rallies like this may then take on a new importance.


Hopefully someone on the Federation Council's committee for science, culture, education, health and environment, which was behind the media amendment, can come up with a better plan.


Anyone? Anyone?