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Here comes the cold

October - December 2001

    This photo-report covers the months of slowly approaching winter cold, the time of rustling leaves and pale skies, the time of water getting slower and finally freezing, the time when nights quickly get longer and the dusk engulfs the city for long hours. Two years ago I called my pre-Christmas story here "Speeding Ahead" - and the name is still valid. Moscow keeps pressing the pedal into the floor. Even the title picture this year reminds of that of '99...

October alley, downtown Moscow

    As some of the visitors of these pages write to me, here are many nostalgic pictures. Yes, exactly this, pictures to remind of Moscow not from a tourist guide, just a city where human beings live, dance, go shopping, and drive through the night streets not necessarily realizing how beautiful they are.

    Welcome to the fall months of 2001.

As always in my stories here, you can zoom in on any picture. Just click on an image and a larger and better quality photo will open. Many of the photos are worth looking at in postcard size.

The fountain will be shut down in a few days, when the night cold comes... Used to be an old residential area, will become an expensive development across the river from Kremlin Shemyakin's poor kids attacked by world-wide vice

View of Zamoskvorechie, a very traditional Moscow skyline
All the Shemyakin's vice

   The fall begins with the last days of flying water in the fountain in front of the Bolshoi - it will be turned off in a few days, when the first night frosts will be forecasted by professional liars also known as meteorologists. The light becomes unmistakably autumnish, transparent and a bit smoky at the same time, and the brown leaves cover streets and paths in the parks like brick pebbles that remain at the space where old houses have been demolished to clear the area for modern office blocks and international hotels.

More of the vice... ...and more, at a different angle

   Mikhail Shemyakin, a famous Russian sculptor who now lives abroad but frequently brings pieces of his art to Russia, opened a big group in the park almost in the middle of the city. It is supposed to fight moral degradation of a big city: describes (or, rather, demonstrates) all the human vices that threaten poor innocent kids. Vice is black, kids are gold, everything is very straightforward. The sculpture is popular among families spending weekend in the park and among guests of Moscow who found a new background for tourist photos.

Troitskaya (Trinity) tower of Moscow Kremlin Late fall evening sun Sweeping the summer away Constructions workers - new buildings grow all year round

   Views of the late fall and early winter are more spectacular in the dark. A few daylight photos are shown in the row above, and on the left you see a few traffic pictures...

Along Moskva river Erotic shops and arcadas along the major avenue Shop windows illuminate the streets

Apartment block at Kotelnicheskaya Print shop window
   Lights of shops' windows and cars' headlights illuminate Moscow more impressively than street lamps. Street lights are dull and tell you nothing, while bright windows offer either straightforward services and goods or elaborate shows created by advertising companies. And the cars add motion. Moscow is a fast city - many people who come here form different places across Russia keep repeating this. "Moscow is a crazy place where everything and everyone race instead of decently moving, where you have to watch everything at fast forward, not normal play mode." The question is, what is normal. We who live in Moscow for all our lives, or at least for some long while, believe that our pace is normal, and anything below is too slow...

Sunset colors above the Canal Everything is a commercial ad Fashion show for the customers in GUM

The bridge and Kempinsky Hotel
The first Russian reality (or peep, whatevr you prefer) show was a success; the lines to watch, huge

   More about light... It is so strange and treacherous in Moscow. Pale late afternoon sky above the channel with a strange silhouette of monstrous monument to Peter The Great makes a nice contrast to the streets overloaded with ads. Endless billboards, bigger and brighter stand in front to walls decorated with other ads (where the cellular phones have the shapes and are packed like condoms) - and the tram in front of all that is not just a public transportation, but also another ad-on-wheels.

   Inside the buildings there is also a lot to watch. Big malls offer all sorts of entertainment for shoppers, and the fashion shows are among the nicest. In a large Russia hotel in the middle of Moscow for three weeks six young people were living "behind the glass", under close surveillance of cameras broadcasting their every move on TV and the Internet. Moreover, spectators could watch these participants of the first Russian reality show through the glass walls of their apartment. And the line of Muscovites waiting for a chance to look behind the glass was very, very long round the clock. As long as once the line to the Lenin's Tomb (by some irony located a few hundred feet away from the location of "Behind the glass" apartment).

Moscow Blues Festival
Moscow International Advertising Festival
Real American bluesmen have the drive that Moscow loves
Disco dance at midnight
   Indoors Moscow keeps the pace of its outdoor life. Of course, there are quiet places - but many more offer rhythms of a huge urban beast, and they are the same all over the world. Anyway, Moscow is the most international - or cosmopolitan - city in Russia. American blues sound natural here, and are welcome. Disco clubs and DJs play the same pieces as in other capitals. And all these sounds and dances belong here... Vanessa Mae was playing her enchanting violin this December in Moscow Kremlin for one evening - and her impossible mix of tradition, modern sound, and loving soul was also fitting Moscow perfectly.

   The closer Christmas and New Year sounds, the more numerous are festivals and other events, both professional and for entertainment of a general public. Year end means summing up - and we all prefer to do it in the merry environment.

   But before showing first Christmas pictures, let us take a look at the city a few thousand kilometers east of Moscow, in the middle of Siberia. Just for a change…

A view of winter coming to the Ob river... Bridges and smokes of industrial Novosibirsk Russian mix at the Siberian Fair

Local WTC in Novosibirsk Once here was the center of Russian Empire
   Novosibirsk in November may be a bit jumpy. Almost springtime mild weather can overnight turn into harsh winter, with biting clod wind, angry blizzards, and -15 Centigrade (approx 5 F). Views of Novosibirsk are also sometimes surprising. Passenger jets fly low above the city, and the big WTC sign on a building of Siberian Fair may look ominous to impressionable persons. Interiors of the building at some points are also surprising at some points. A huge wooden crucifix next to the ad of a plastic card company and the State Seal made of cast iron marks the entrance to the bar, the only smoking area in a non-smoking exhibition environment. Easy to find but a little bit difficult to explain.

Bowling center in Novosibirsk - and me playing ;-)
   Novosibirsk in November may be a bit jumpy. Almost springtime mild weather can overnight turn into harsh winter, with biting clod wind, angry blizzards, and -15 Centigrade (approx 5 F). Views of Novosibirsk are also sometimes surprising. Passenger jets fly low above the city, and the big WTC sign on a building of Siberian Fair may look ominous to impressionable persons. Interiors of the building at some points are also surprising at some points. A huge wooden crucifix next to the ad of a plastic card company and the State Seal made of cast iron marks the entrance to the bar, the only smoking area in a non-smoking exhibition environment. Easy to find but a little bit difficult to explain.

...And like two years ago, when I had visited the city the last time, I was enjoying the Bowling Center in this November - the right place to spend a few hours in the evening after long sessions of a big Internet Festival...

Next day the Christmas tree in front of the Bolshoi will be completed Center of Moscow, State Duma in the background In front of Moscow Mayor offices In residential area, in front of McDonalds in Sokolniki

Night on Tverskaya
Manezhnaya square is empty at the time of cold sunset
Low sun can hardly penetrate the icy air...
   Well, let us go back to Moscow. Now it's time for Christmas trees. Alas, they are getting more and more high-tech and unnatural every year... Very neat cones made of steel cleverly decorated with plastic branches fill all Moscow squares. It's wonderful there are so many of them. Too bad, none of them smells of forest.

   December this year is really cold, Russian winter from a textbook. Frosty air is so nice to watch the city through its strange haze. The cold of early sunsets blends with almost royal blue of the long twilights... It is really worth watching - have you ever tried?

A Christmas tree by the Detski Mir at Lubyanka Square Too much sewage discharged to Yauza - no cold can make freeze Fortunately, there still are decent fur trees in Moscow! Crooked lanes of old Moscow full of December twilight

Night lights of Tverskaya
Boulevards in the afternoon turning into evening...

   Well, the last set of photos marks the end of the 45th story in this project... Twilight of early afternoon, heavy snowfalls and biting crisp cold, New Year light decorations, man-made and real fur-trees in these pictures hardly need any comments. It's just Moscow as we Muscovites like it ;-)

   ...The fact that still amazes me is not that the number of this story is 45. Nothing impressive in this number, even my age is a bit larger. However, this row of 45 illustrated essays spans over 7 years now - and this is impressive by the standards of the Web that still is so young itself (even if pretends to be mature occasionally).

   Have nice holidays - I post this story a few days before Christmas. More photos and comments will be coming next year - please come in again and check some day!


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2002!
Andrey - asebrant@online.ru

Time to say Goodbye and go to work ;-)

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