|Dialectical Materialism and the Russian Toilet
|In another vast lecture theatre Kurt held forth to a mixed audience
of Communication students, lecturing on the forgotten glories of Russian
cinema. Kurt continued to show old films on the school's one video player
while talking about dialectical realism - later to become the very essence
of capitalist advertising. The students stared, the staff fidgeted - they
had obviously never heard of Eisenstein's theories - known well in the
West they had no currency here. Kurt ended with the famous Red Flag sequence
from Potemkin and was immediately surrounded by beautiful young women who
began to clutch at his clothing like delicate birds anxious to feel his
aura. Over in the corner the collected academics collected to discuss these
strange phenomena of late capitalism.
Vodka poured across the table - Mack toasted them all - himself, the school, the city, the German partner university, Arkansas, the president, the great friendships that could exist and future free trade zones, Russian men and women, children, dogs and horses, American and German men and women, an end to conflict, war, peace and immigration controls. Once Russia solved its present problems there would be a whole new era of peace and prosperity and the state would rise to its previous preeminence and become a major trade and production center. They drank to these ambitions forgetting completey they were not in Russia at all. Alex felt his legs becoming paralyzed, they were both sweating, dizzy.
Then all of a sudden the Rector appeared imperiously and demanded our presence at a public lecture on the future of a market driven economy in a newly independent state. There would be a special series of musical interludes and some local acrobats would perform. Moldavian champagne would be served. Unfortunately we were tired, exhausted. Plus we had a date in a local bar with twelve young daughters of the post Soviet era. We refused to go - one the minders - Mack - went pale white. The other stood up straight like a true proletarian and marched off to the event that would be missing its main guests.
Mack blundered towards the door - vodka in hand. He was heading for the stairs and a bottle secreted in Alyosha's office. All was lost - he would be demoted, deported and humiliated. No longer would he have the privileges of the chauffeur driven car and the gorgeous private secretary - he would be lucky to end up guarding a level crossing in Minsk. The old days the old days - he thought - why couldn't he forget the old days? There were no deportations anymore - you were just fired and that was it.
Mack had disappeared - the sylphs with long legs and perfect skin were clearing off the tables. Outside children were playing in the falling leaves and a babushka was beating a carpet with a large paddle. Alex said fuck the Rector and the Vice Rector and the Dean and the Sub dean and the Lenin Shipyard Worker Culture Hall - we're taking those babes drinking and dancing.
That night we went drinking with a mixed gaggle of eight Natashas, four Olgas and three Yelenas with one lone male who couldn't believe his luck. They constantly chaffed him and told him to stop bragging and pretending he knew the West. This boy was under remote control - all night he shuttled back and forth to the bar with beer and wine and snacks. One fine tradition - no-one gets drunk on an empty stomach.
Came the BIG problem - where to pee? Toilets are not yet on the bar construction requirements. Anywhere you like - choose a tree. But under the trees in the subterranian dark people were sitting, drinking, kissing - the only refuge from their overcrowded family apartments. There must be a toilet - we'll find one. At the request from the security guard - guns handcuffs and nightstick that an LAPD cop would have been proud of - a lanky type nods and suddenly goes ballistic - leaping over a two meter steel fence to open a gate from behind.
The door opens and discloses a yard cramped with building materials.
By the light of a disposable lighter we find a toilet between a pile of
bricks and some logs. Well, it was a shed with a hole in the ground reminiscent
of farm toilets in Australia where a post hole was dug and the toilet moved
over it. No choice - the risk of total immersion.