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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Plane, Gershwin And Beer's Popularity

After July’s tragic crash of an Air France Concorde, William Kerr, of Halifax, Canada, wrote in for background information on the new supersonic Tupolev airliner.

Actually, this plane will be called the Tu-244. According to its specs, it will seat 300 passengers, and the manufacturer plans to produce between 500 and 1,000 such planes, depending on the demand. We are told that the new supersonic Tupolev will have many advantages over similar planes of this type. And, would you believe it, we are producing it jointly with the United States. I was very sorry to hear about the Air France Concorde crash, which resulted in so many lost lives. Let’s hope that will be the last crash of a supersonic airplane.

Dr. Gershon Batulayan, of South Gotabato, Philippines, wrote in to say that he understood that George Gershwin, the famous composer, was a Russian Jew who emigrated to the United States. He wondered if I knew George Gershwin personally.

My dear sir, how could I have known him personally when I was a mere student in school when he died in 1937? Despite my lack of first-hand acquaintance with Gershwin, I did cover the visit of the Porgy and Bess Company to Leningrad and Moscow right after World War II. I still remember how I was impressed by the charming melodies. Actually, you labor under a misapprehension about Gershwin’s birthplace — he was actually born in Brooklyn, New York, although his parents did come to the United States from Russia. Another well-known composer, Irving Berlin, also had roots in Russia; he was born in Tobolsk, Siberia.

Richard Jones, of Miami, Florida, wrote in to ask if Russians are big beer drinkers.

Well, you would think so, judging by the constant television advertisements for bottled beer, canned beer, imported beer, domestically made beer — no end of brands. We make light and strong beer in three different colors. I have even taken a liking to the voice of an announcer on a TV beer commercial who says, "This is the right kind of beer!"

With all this beer available these days, you continually see something that would have seemed unusual only 10 years ago: people sitting on subway trains or on the bus sipping beer, then putting the can or bottle on the floor. In this summer weather, people often walk in the streets holding a beer bottle in their hand.

Despite all this relatively new-found interest in the barmy brew that is so popular in the United States and Europe, we do not have that many beer halls, bars or pubs, as you commonly see in the West. And per capita beer consumption in Great Britain and Austria is four times greater than it is in our country.

Joe Adamov hosts "Moscow Mailbag" on the Voice of Russia.