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RUSSIA and Hollywood

This post is an experiment in typography. Today a Stanford expert told me that Times New Roman was fine for books, but not for computer screens. He recommended Verdana, so as a trial I am sending this post in that font, bold. Please tell me if you think it is better than Times New Roman. John Gale calls our attention to a new book on Russia, Mark Taplin, Open Lands: Travels Through Russia's Once Forbidden Places. Here is an extract on Hollywood's contribution to Russian reform:

"When the USSR dissolved itself and vast forbidden land areas were opened to travel, former Foreign Service officer Mark Taplin undertook a long journey into these lands long hidden from non-Russian eyes. Here's one glimpse of what he saw: "The Hotel Sukhona was, in a manner of speaking, mobbed. Milling about in its lobby, which was equipped with two ragamuffin lounge chairs and a plastic palm, were clusters of toughs in different sizes and shapes, all sharing the hungry unscrupulous look of the modern Russian trader. There was something unmistakable about them; perhaps it was the no-name-brand tracksuits, the hefty gym bags, the gold watches, the insistent leitmotif of unshaven coolness. Here was Hollywood's contribution to Russian reform. Somehow, young Russians on the make had confused the image of sleazy drug maven with that of yuppie entrepreneur.

I wondered why they could not help looking unsavory because, deep down, they felt that what they were doing was unsavory. For at least three generations, there had been no such thing as a respectable Russian businessman. To most of their countrymen, they were still 'spekulantiy,' speculators who made their way in the world by fleecing the common folk. Real, honest work was done in front of a steel furnace or on a factory floor. Manufacturing made a country strong; everything else was capitalist smoke and mirrors. The idea that profit could be justified by a middleman's effort to bring a product closer to the consumer, or to expand the range of goods available to the public, was little understood or appreciated, especially outside of the big cities. The average Russian felt in his or her bones that there was a natural, fair price for any given item. For many decades, the stilted prices of the state stores had served as the standard.To pay 'more' for a given product, even if it was never available before, was still, for many people, wrong. Unaccustomed to prices in the outside world and the mischief brought on by inflation, people were tearing their hair out over ten-cent loaves of bread and one-dollar bottles of vodka."


RH: I await your comments on the font and on the post.

Ronald Hilton - 5/2/03