July 04, 2019

Trolley Drama and Piano Trauma


Trolley Drama and Piano Trauma
Thankfully, this cormorant is not dead (see #2 below). Pixabay

Throwback Thursday

Russian and American flags
Photo: Pixabay

It’s Independence Day in the U.S. — an excellent time to reflect on Russia-U.S. relations. Although it doesn’t often feel like it, there’s so much more to Russian interactions with the U.S. than the Cold War.

Today’s featured article profiles Sitka, a town in present-day Alaska that is rooted at the intersection of Russian, American, and Native Alaskan history. Its residents celebrate the transfer of Alaska to the United States, commemorate its Russian founders, and reconcile the Russian and American imperialist pasts with Native heritage and experiences. Read more, right here on Russian Life.


Trolleys and Birds Fly Away (But for Very Different Reasons)

1. Goodbye, trolleybus! On Monday, the city of Perm retired trolleybuses from its public transport system. City officials said the trolleys had been underused for years; still, Perm citizens were saddened by the end of a city mainstay and resolved to remember the trolleybus in style. On Sunday, riders crowded onboard the last trolley and threw a farewell party. They decorated the trolley with balloons and signs saying “We’ll miss you!”, riding until the very last stop. It was a bittersweet moment as the trolley drove away into the night. Nevertheless, though the trolleybus has met its end, it lives on in the fond memories of many Perm citizens.

Last trolley in Perm
Goodbye, trolleybus, oh, where I will never be… / 59.ru

2. A foolproof (but not soundproof) idea. Recently, Gazprom Arena in St. Petersburg has had a problem: seagulls and cormorants won’t keep their beaks out of the humans’ business. The stadium’s solution? Scare them away with recordings of dying birds. These recordings, which often play overnight, have made early birds out of some irate residents. Meanwhile, some children worried about whether the birds were okay (bear in mind that we don’t know if birds were harmed in the recording of these sounds).

3. Nightmares come true. Last week, the Moscow Conservatory held the finals of the Tchaikovsky Competition, one of the world’s highest-stake competitions for pianists. Finalist An Tianxu came onstage expecting to play a Tchaikovsky concerto, then a Rachmaninov piece. The conductor lifted his hand… but instead of the slow, majestic Tchaikovsky, he started the rapid-fire Rachmaninov. For non-pianist readers: this is like getting your chair kicked out from under you, while perched above a steaming vat of kasha. Fortunately, An handled it with grace. Though he ultimately placed fourth, the jury awarded him a “special prize for self-confidence and bravery.” And on the internet, he’s probably more famous than the actual winner, which may be the best prize of all.

Shocked pianist
When the sheet music is pulled out from in front of you. / medici.tv

Blog Spotlight

Russia in 300 square meters: If you’re traveling to the Far East, don’t miss the microcosm of Russia that awaits you on Russky Island.

In Odder News

Police corgi
Yet another reason to love corgis. / Transport Management Office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Volga Federal District
  • Meet Ryzhy, the only corgi to serve in a Russian K-9 police unit.
  • Need a Soviet-themed way to procrastinate? Try out this game of Tetris that lets you stack Soviet apartment buildings.
  • A roadside robbery in the Russian countryside had an unexpected ending. Whether it’s happy or not is for you to decide.

Quote of the Week

“What’s next — removing the bear from the coat of arms?”

— An indignant Perm resident responding to the retirement of trolleybuses from the public transport system

Want more where this comes from? Give your inbox the gift of TWERF, our Thursday newsletter on the quirkiest, obscurest, and Russianest of Russian happenings of the week.

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