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  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:38 am on December 5, 2003 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: a high school teacher, a journalist, Africa, Army recruiter, , , , high school teacher, native food, , Police Academy, , prison guard, psychological warfare specialist, Social history, , spy, text search, Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do   

    Unrussian Profession or Dig Me My Grave Long Wide and Deep 

    Thanks to a recommendation from I bought “Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs“. It’s really a tribute to an older book called “Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do”.

    Gig consists of monologues of a wide cross section of working people. There’s a porn star, a software developer, prison guard, a prisoner (don’t know if that’s technically a job), an air force general, a high school teacher, a journalist and enough representatives of other professions to make a thousand “x y and z walk into a bar” jokes.

    My favorite little story was about a single mom who had a gig as a psychological warfare specialist. She ended up getting my dream job when an Army recruiter asked her about her specialization preference. Since “spy” was not an option she took the next best thing.
    Modern psywarriors, like this girl, sometimes hail from rather somewhat rural places, so they get a lot of multicultural sensitivity training. One point brought home to them is that it is very important to never refuse native food or drink that is offered to them by friendlies, even if it’s gross. In training they even have a mock dinner during which they have to down “weird” drinks and eat “weird” food. That training kind of came in handy to our protagonist, as she was offered “gruel goat” meal in Africa which you had to eat with your hands. She handled that well.

    Turkish coffee turned out to be a stumbling block for her : ” … Turkish coffee. It’s got like a half an inch of grounds on the bottom. Well, I didn’t know if I was supposed to eat the grounds or not …”

    What to do, what to do? Of course she decided to ask one of the guys. Guess what kind of advice he gave her. Riiight. I’d do the same thing.

    Anyway, you can read her story here tanks to the guy at Amazon who sneaked full text search past the lawyers.

    touched upon the most fascinating topic of what professions “Russian” immigrants never choose. Police officer appeared rather often on the list of professions suggested by her readers. Well, a guy who’s desk was right next to mine in a High School pre-calculus class finished the Police Academy here in New York. I am not sure if he actually became a cop though.

    One story that he told me was kind of funny (I can’t judge it’s truthfulness though) . He smokes a lot. And once he was caught smoking right next to what he described as an “ammo dump”. The instructor who caught him came up with a creative punishment. My friend was forced to dig a proper human size grave and then bury the cigarette butt in it. Yeah, being an NYPD cadet is tough.

    Another “Russian” classmate of mine became a US Marine. I wonder where he is right now. “Semper Fi” means the same thing even with a Russian accent. Yeah. By the way, the motto of NYPD is “Fidelis Ad Mortem”.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 10:03 am on March 10, 2003 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Africa, , black musician, Charlie Parker, , Curiouser, , Griot, , historian and story teller, , , , Lankandia Cissoko, , music producing device, musician, , ,   

    Music to My Ears 

    I would like to note, that I am not one of those people, who say “I can’t live without my music”. You know, the kind that never go anywhere without a walkman or a music producing device of some kind. I would give up music rather than literature or visual arts. I absolutely hate dance, but that’s another story.

    My musical tastes followed a rather strange path. As a kid, I didn’t have much preference for music. I tried to get into classical music, but it seemed either boring or cartoony to me. Then, came the Beatlemania period. I really, really liked the Beatles. For me Beatlemania happened in the late eighties / early nineties. I still have an email address that reflects that.

    Having listened to all the Beatles albums it was the time for me to find something new. I tried classical music again, got bored and got into jazz instead. Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan, Thelonious Monk and the like replaced the fab 4 for me. I can’t get into blues too much though. Too depressing.

    I started exploring a little further. Unexpectedly I liked bluegrass. Bluegrass is a type of country music that sound more like jazz. The Carter Family and Doc Watson became my new favorites.

    Now my tastes are getting curiouser and curiouser. I noticed a black musician who plays an exotic instrument sometimes in the subway. He never failed to get a dollar or two from me. I did a little bit of research, and turned out that the West African instrument that he plays is called a Kora.

    (picture taken from http://www.kora-music.com/ )

    And the musician is in fact a Griot, a master historian and story teller. I bought some Kora music cds from Amazon, but that only made me realize that the guy in the subway was a Griot and Kora player of a highest caliber. Maybe the gleaming columns of the 34th street station added to my enjoyment for jazzy and modern, yet so ancient sounds of the Kora.

    Unfortunately this Kora player didn’t have a cd, but he did have a little business card (a printed piece of paper in fact) that said that his name is Lankandia Cissoko and gave a phone number for his agent. You know, how come those crappy new agey idiots that play in Times Square have a cd, and this guy doesn’t? Totally unfair.

    I always held electronic music in contempt. makes me think about giving that a try. I am thinking about exploring Theremin music first.

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