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  • Michael Krakovskiy 12:32 am on June 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alexander Pushkin, Armand-Emmanuel de Vignerot, , , City Hall building, , , electricity meters, , , , Pushkin monument, , sadistic gym teacher, sculptor,   

    Odessa Close Up 

    I own a few quality Canon lenses, but 100-400 zoom lens is my favorite. 100-400 is heavy and it needs to be swapped in for something more reasonable often because it only catches a small part of the overall picture. Yes, extreme closeup is a cheesy trick: every object starts looking more significant than it already is when the focus is on it and the background disappears in a soft blur known as “bokeh“. But more often than not I do want to get rid of the clutter and take a closer look at something, to intensely focus on one thing. Sometimes looking at an object zoomed in at 400 you find something new – like a ghostly outline of the old company name hiding behind a new neon sign or a joke left in by the sculptor or notice what is going on on the tops of skyscrapers.

    100-400 seems to add a strange, otherworldly glow to things – the glow that I associate with memory.

    Here’s a series of closeup photos of my hometown, Odessa. Beware, if you are from there this might cause some serious nostalgia.

    The postal boxes were repainted a few times, but are still pretty much the same.

    A core sample is the best demonstration for watermelons

    But you have to trust the merchant’s sign that the grapes from Tairovo are sweet!sweet!

    The dish of my childhood – a tomato salad with tomatoes that taste like tomatoes.

    The building in the background is gone, but the old horse chestnut (which is probably a few hundred years old) is still around

    Here’s what you do with the leaves of acacia: you rip them off in one motion and hold them tight in your fist. Then you let go in an upward motion and try to catch as many as you can. Then you play age old game of loves me-loves me not with the remaining leaves. Well, at least that what I remember.

    Kitteh, as neglected as the city itself voices her complaint.

    A pigeon walks around in fallen acacia flowers in front of my hildhood home. I gathered a bunch of these flowers. They still smell like the city that I lost.

    These flowers in the park are still the same.

    A terrible piece of tile grafitti sprung on a refined and sophisticated building by its new owners is now covered in even cruder grafitti. Soon the slate will be wiped clean. The act of tiled vandalism always amazed me when I saw it as a kid – it was one of the first hints as to what happened in 1919.

    The staircase that leads to the sea at 13th Station of the Big Fountain. If you were brave, you could ride it down, but it lead to more sprains, scrapes, ruined pants and mis. injuries than I care to remember. Yet few kids could pass by the opportunity to ride it down.

    Seemingly indestructable electrical poles are surprisingly free of ads, but they must have carried more of them than many newspapers.

    Pushkin’s fish is still spitting into the fountain basin full of coins left by tourists.

    Corn on the cob at the beach is as spectacular as ever

    A remnant of a communal flat: after the Soviets kicked out and mostly shot the old tenants, what is known in New York as a “classic 5“, a spacious one family apartment became a 5 family apartment. The communal spirit was not complete though – all 5 bells would have been connected to separate electricity meters.

    These sturdy cast iron garbage urns might be pre-revolutionary in origin. They always reminded me of the Pushkin monument and the drinking fountain in the park (which I’ll cover further down).

    Mercury from the City Hall building stares blankly

    The iron fence of the old synagogue reminds me the fence in front of a church on 5th Avenue.

    This is where I would jump off almost every time when visiting the park

    Bullheads!

    The laurel crown of Odessa’s beloved founder, Armand-Emmanuel de Vignerot du Plessis, Duc de Richelieu, looked like a kangol-style hat to me when I was little. I guess it still does.

    Poor old lion dragged from somebody’s pre-revolutionary dacha to “the old Odessa corner”. I sat on this beast many a time for a photo, and so did probably millions of locals and tourists.

    They still use homemade brooms – I’m sure these are superior to synthetic-bristled ones. At the very least they must be cheaper.

    Wild grapes are in every other courtyard. They are extremely sour when green, but rarely survive into maturity.

    This Atlas always amused me because unlike other classical atlases he wore a working man’s belt. He is in a very bad way.

    This lion appears on dozens of buildings. I guess it was on sale two centuries ago.

    It’s pretty hard to destroy ironwork.

    I bet Alexander Pushkin tied his horses to this thing. Or something. It was good for jumping on and off it.

    These trashcans were all over the place when I was a kid – I only found one in the back of a courtyard.

    I bet this kid with a cournucopia (or just a bouquet) of flowers had a wingwang at some point.

    A piece of Soviet sculptural impotence is still memorable to me for some reason. I think it’s supposed to sybolize basketball. Or the last drop of patience or something.

    The crown of one of the last remaining cast iron ad pillars

    There were a few of these things all over the city. As a kid I was told that these were for sampling gas – I remember trying to smell it at some point.

    The entrance to the park – a place to meet after school.

    A park bench

    When I was crawling around the park as a toddler this fountain used to work. It always reminded me the Pushkin monument – it might have been cast by the same company. I still have memories of my father raising me up so I could take a drink.

    Our sadistic gym teacher made us do pull-ups on these bars.

    This is another place where no self-respecting child would walk on the ground instead of skipping on the parapet

    This lamp has seen better times

    Some people say these wells were operational at some point, others say that they were simply ornaments dragged from elsewhere where they were operational. In any case, these are reminders of the time when Odessa’s major source of water was roof-collected rain and the Fountains.

    A lamp of the Soviet vintage

    A horrible Soviet-era mosaic that is nevertheless burnt into my childhood memory

    The soccer stadium lights always made me sad for some reason

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:00 am on August 8, 2004 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Dielectrics, , , , Rocco's restaurant, , sculptor, Vera Mukhina   

    Thorough The Drinking Glass 

    I’ve been thinking about soda (aka pop) a bit lately, so there’ll be a few soda related posts. Here’s the first one.

    My childhood memories about soda come down to three things: Soviet drinking glasses, Soviet soda machines, soda siphons and the little booth in Odessa run by a cantankerous married pair.

    The mass produced Soviet glass is a legendary piece of glassware.  I took me a while to figure out how to translate the Russian word for this type of glassware –  “граненый”.  “Edged” immediately came to mind, but the proper term is “paneled”. 

    The Soviet paneled glass was designed in 1943 by the sculptor Vera Mukhina (best known for her sculpture “The Worker and Collective-Farm Girl” and  it’s shape was possibly suggested by Kasimir Malevich (famous for his painting “Black Square“).

    The author of the article linked above suggests that the popularity of the glass came from the fact that worker’s hands became accustomed to things with edges such as hexagonal nuts.  The cheapness and robustness of the glass indeed made it very popular.  So popular that is became a symbol of alcoholism in Russia after being featured in countless anti-alcoholism posters and cartoons.

    There’s a similar glass that is popular in American restaurants, but it is a little different: the panels do not reach the top of the glass and they come in a number of sizes:

    American style paneled glass

    I bought 8 very similar glasses today since I gave up on looking for the real deal on eBay. Also this seems to be a similar glass used in Rocco’s restaurant, the subject of the show on which I am currently hooked.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 11:53 am on June 25, 2004 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Arturo Di Modica, Charging Bull, Dolly Parton, insurance form, , , sculptor, The Statue of Three Lies,   

    Italian Bullion 

    This here person wrote an essay on statues that get rubbed for good luck. He mentioned Dolly Parton’s statue , but forgot to mention the Wall Street Bull :

    I always thought that there’s supposed to be a statue of a bear, but apparently it’s not so. I also thought that the bull was made much earlier than 1989. And I did not know that it was basically a Italian-born sculptor Arturo Di Modica’s equivalent of grafitti. Apparently the bull was involved in a traffic incident once. I would really like to see that dude’s insurance form.

    Also not mentioned there The Statue of Three Lies.

     
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