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I Was a Commie Writer (My Experiences As American Correspondent For Krokodil Magazine In USSR)
Laissez Faire City Times ^ | January 6, 2002 | P.J. Gladnick

Posted on 01/06/2002 1:57:16 PM PST by PJ-Comix

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This was already posted at another forum by someone else and one of the people replying to the thread wondered why I would go to an Armenian mechanic with bad breath to translate some Russian when I had access to the UCLA campus. The answer is simple. I lived in West Hills at the time, a long distance from UCLA, so the foul breathed Armenian was a lot closer for the quickie translation I needed of the letter.

As to Vello Veski, I pondered whether I should use his real name or not but because it is so perfectly alliterative, I did use it (and we did call him "Mellow Vello." He was one of my best friends and quite a character. Actually his misadventures were much wilder than what was mentioned here so I kept those misadventures out because I didn't want to get him into trouble. However, I hope I don't ressurect any bad memories for him about the wife that ditched him for a travel agent.

And I sure would like to locate Leonid Florentiev. For what he did that evening in front of the American audience at UCLA he will always remain my personal hero.

1 posted on 01/06/2002 1:57:16 PM PST by PJ-Comix (pj@pjcomix.com)
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To: PJ-Comix
I've been waiting for this thread, thanks for posting it.
2 posted on 01/06/2002 2:09:34 PM PST by xm177e2
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To: PJ-Comix
Bumpski.

I remember reading about Krokodil in the 60s. Never thought I'd meet one of its writers. This thread's a keeper.

3 posted on 01/06/2002 2:09:53 PM PST by Romulus
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To: Romulus
One of the writers who couldn't even read most of his own writings. However, I learned enough Cyrillic to figure out what titles were published. I think I'll post a couple of the articles as JPG from Krokodil with my name in Cyrillic in just a bit. Stand by.
4 posted on 01/06/2002 2:12:22 PM PST by PJ-Comix
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To: PJ-Comix
P.J. you are a hoot, LMAO. I Worked with a few Russians, great to drink with though they get morose. One of my cousins married someone from Estionia, Ostland, I love to hear them try to pronounce the W's in my name.
5 posted on 01/06/2002 2:24:39 PM PST by Little Bill
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To: Romulus
Here is a page from Krokodil with a couple of my articles. My name is above the article title on the left. I believe the artcle on the left is about the "Canadianization of America" and the article on the right of mine is about unusual geographic place names. Anybody out there (Madrussian?) know enough Russian to translate the article titles? Oh and the translator's name is on the lower right. I believe, if my Cyrillic knowledge is still correct, that her name is Neresena Popova.


6 posted on 01/06/2002 2:26:22 PM PST by PJ-Comix
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To: Little Bill
I Worked with a few Russians, great to drink with though they get morose.

Yes, Leonid Florentiev was somewhat morose but who could blame him? All his life he had grown up under a system that turned out ultimately to be a fraud. I guess I was just lucky to be present when all his grievances against the system bubbled to the surface. BTW, I was quite surprised that his outburst did not appear in the news but considering that L.A. primary newspaper is the L.A. Times, maybe not so surprising.

7 posted on 01/06/2002 2:29:57 PM PST by PJ-Comix
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To: summer
FYI
8 posted on 01/06/2002 2:30:39 PM PST by PJ-Comix
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To: PJ-Comix
Really fascinating, PJ! BTTT!
9 posted on 01/06/2002 2:38:12 PM PST by summer
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To: PJ-Comix;Snow Bunny;Billie;William Wallace;Grampa Dave;ALOHA RONNIE;Mudboy Slim;Luis Gonzalez...
Simply awesome, PJ. Thank you. The disappointed American college students probably anticipated kinship with the visiting wise men from the golden fantasy land of communism only to be dissed, a la Rummy & the press corp, by the truthful Soviets. (^:
10 posted on 01/06/2002 2:39:05 PM PST by Ragtime Cowgirl
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
The disappointed American college students probably anticipated kinship with the visiting wise men from the golden fantasy land of communism only to be dissed, a la Rummy & the press corp, by the truthful Soviets.

Actually most of the audience weren't students but West L.A. liberal "grownups." Students tend to be pretty apathetic when it comes to "furriners." This was one of the great memories I have. A room full of L.A. liberals sitting nervously because the speaker from the much heralded Soviet Union went "off-track" with his UN-PC denunciations of Communism. And this from an editor of the largest magazine in the USSR! This is why, after that evening, I was absolutely convinced that communism was finished in Russia. Also it was interesting to see the dynamics on the stage between the somewhat unruly Krokodil staff members and the KGB watcher who was immaculately groomed.

Somebody should track down Leonid Florentiev and award him with the Ronald Reagan Medal of Freedom for what he did that evening.

11 posted on 01/06/2002 3:03:11 PM PST by PJ-Comix
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To: PJ-Comix
"How could a magazine satirize a society that only permitted a glossy version of itself to be presented in the press? As I found out later, Krokodil was permitted to satirize Soviet society—within limits. Because of this rare crack in the Soviet propaganda façade, Krokodil was extremely popular in the Soviet Union to such an extent that their monthly circulation was over 10 million. Actually many more than 10 million people read it because each copy of Krokodil, with its subtly humorous jabs at collectivist living, was passed around [to many people as a substitute fer toilet paper]...?!!!"

Good question...

FReegards...MUD

12 posted on 01/06/2002 3:03:21 PM PST by Mudboy Slim
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To: PJ-Comix
Note the Cyrillic gymnastics they went through to spell "P.J"! (p) (d-zh)!

I recently saw the reverse in an interview with a Russian whose middle inital was the "Backwards R". The writer just gave up and referred to him as Gregori Ya ..

13 posted on 01/06/2002 3:06:05 PM PST by Gorzaloon
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To: PJ-Comix
"...after that evening, I was absolutely convinced that communism was finished in Russia."

Communism is "finished" wherever there exists the FReedom to scrutinize Collectivist philosophy.

Great story, my FRiend...MUD

14 posted on 01/06/2002 3:06:11 PM PST by Mudboy Slim
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To: RJayneJ
Perhaps I should forward this article to Pravda and see if they can track down the whereabouts of Leonid Florentiev?
15 posted on 01/06/2002 3:09:42 PM PST by PJ-Comix
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To: Mudboy Slim
Um....Unlike most of the other periodicals in the Soviet Union that were used for toilet paper, Krokodil was cherished by the readers over there because within limits that magazine was allowed to satirize Soviet Society. BTW, I also knew my limits. Had they known that Ol' PJ was a "vicious rightwinger" they would never have allowed my writings in Krokodil (although Florentiev and the staffers would have appreciated it) so I kept my writings strictly non-political.

This perhaps was the misconception of Florentiev when he met me. He probably thought at first that I was just another dewey-eyed liberal such as what disgusted him with the American audience. Actually, just telling him my name was "PJ" wasn't enough since he didn't realize who I was. It wasn't until after I did the bit about Stalin and gave him my last name as well when the recognition came. Sometimes being on a strictly first name basis isn't the best policy.

16 posted on 01/06/2002 3:16:53 PM PST by PJ-Comix
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To: PJ-Comix
No, it says 'translated by E. Popova'.
17 posted on 01/06/2002 3:31:22 PM PST by Former_russian
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To: PJ-Comix
First title is "Creeping Canadization - A Menace to America"

Second title is "What's in the name to you?"

Below second article - "Translated by E. Popova"

18 posted on 01/06/2002 3:40:07 PM PST by l33t
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To: Former_russian
Thanx. BTW, what does the article title in red on the upper right say?
19 posted on 01/06/2002 3:41:41 PM PST by PJ-Comix
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To: l33t
Second title is "What's in the name to you?"

Thanx. That second article must have been the one I wrote about unusual geographic place names in North America. I believe the original title was "The United States Of Ralph" because I conjectured that if Americus Vespucci's mother had named her son "Ralph" then, my fellow Ralphians, we would today be the United States of Ralph.

20 posted on 01/06/2002 3:44:23 PM PST by PJ-Comix
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