Archive for McDonald’s

People who park their cars in glass houses shouldn’t … build them in Russia

Posted in Cultural Impressions, Russia: A love-hate relationship with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2009 by Alec

0116Over at the hilarifying blog English Russia, they’re raving in their endearing, barely grammatical English about how new “multistory automated parking garages” are going to save the commuter’s hell of Moscow from its dearth of available parking.

On paper, this idea makes sense.  Too much sense.  Nobody comes to Russia for convenient parking.  That’s like going to a biker bar for a Blueberry mojito.  Russia is supposed to be impenetrable, foreboding and crude, a kind of embodiment of shiny-happy American customer service’s worst nightmare.  It’s supposed to be illogical.

Needless to say, I was immediately against the idea the minute I heard it. Western capitalization of post-Soviet Russia almost turned Moscow into a McDonalds and may still yet, but its inexorable flow toward a smiley face-plastered future was luckily perverted by Russia’s prickly and brutal illogicality.

Of course, there’s still a good chance this sheer illogicality — I would say zaniness, if that didn’t bring to mind a Tom-and-Jerry cartoon instead of eternal, purposeless misery — may still wipe the pimple of this parking garage idea off Moscow’s greasy face.  Just looking at the complex gears required to raise and slot the cars into their parking spaces, it’s easy to imagine some drunken idiot jamming his Lada in like a well-placed wrench. Or figuring out how to overload the thing, bribing the supposedly competent “operator” to let him fit an extra car in, then another, until the whole “steklyashka” comes crashing down like a house of cards.  Or paying someone to shoot up a rival mob boss’s car on the third tier — I mean, the thing’s made out of glass for chrissakes!

In downtown London — wait, “Moscow-on-the-Thames” has already been overrun by the half-a-million Russians, let’s say somewhere a bit blander, like Toronto — this idea would undoubtedly take off, and probably earn some environmental credits from the government or something in the meantime.  But in Russia it’s just not meant to be, and I hope Moscow spits the first of these glass houses out like a rotten tooth.


McDonald’s, Dostoevsky, Vodka

Posted in Fun facts with tags , , , on September 9, 2008 by Alec

Fun facts from Sergei Aleksandrovich, professor of political science at St. Petersburg State University:

• Vodka is not a Russian drink: It was first introduced in the time of Peter the Great. Before that, peasants drank mead.

• Russian literature students’ most hated author: Dostoevsky. Number two: Tolstoy.

• A five-kilometer line formed outside the first McDonald’s in Russia when it opened its doors in 1988 (May I add that it’s still a hip place to go for a bite).

• East or West? A Russian saying goes, “Russia is the heart of the world.”