St. Petersburg-Moscow-Novosibirsk-Barnaul-Gorno Altaysk-Lake Teletskoy

Tue 27 April
Clock rings at 7:00. Fall asleep again. Get up at 7:45. Realize that the train already departs at 8:28. Decide to take the train at 14:26 and fall asleep again. Hear Mr. P. playing the double bass at noon. Finally get my things together and leave. Arrive at the station and the train arrives, too. Have to change to a bus at Summerau. The bus hits Rybník, Kaplice and Ceské Budejovice. Buy two beers at C. B. The train to Praha is nearly empty. Arrive at about 19:00 in Praha. Phone Jakub, Youcef and Tomás, but no one picks up the phone. Take tram 3 to Café Slavia, but it doesn't go there. Get out at Manes exhibition hall. Carry the heavy luggage to Café Slavia. Phone again and meet Jakub at nám. Miru. We buy some food in a renovated market building. Jakub prepares a meal. Make a salad out of tomatoes and leek. Veronika comes home. She was babysitting the whole day. A friend comes along, Herbert, he studies history and politics and works for a radio station. We talk about NATO bombing YU. At midnight we leave for Club Akropolis. Hadji is there. Shows the poster of his forthcoming concert.


Wed 28 April
9:15. Take a tram from Vinohradská to nám. I. P. Pavlova. Walk to Štepánská. Visit a photo shop. Have a look at a Fuji 4.5x6 camera for 19.000.-Kc. Works rather mechanically. Visit Austrian Cultural Institute Gallery and a shop for weapons. Czech pistols for about 15.000 Kc, even less. Phone Ryszard at about 11:00. He is not working for the Warszawa Cultural Institute anymore. Meet Zdenek at Café Slavia. Large sized photographs are fixed on the café walls. Sexy portraits of well-known Czech actresses. We leave for a dark restaurace near Manes exhibition hall. Zdenek smokes one of his special cigarettes and talks about politics and modern life. He is fond of modern technology, even nuclear energy. It's just a matter of handling, he says. Zdenek takes me back to Vinohrady. Leave my 16mm Camera in the flat and head for Smíchov. Wait a long time for tram 11. Change at nam. I. P. Pavlova. Tram 10 arrives. Miss it because I don't realize in time that it goes to Andel, Smíchov. Could also take tram 4 and 6. They don't arrive within a month. So I have to wait again for tram 10. By mistake I get out too early and have to walk to Kroftova, where is the Club Punt Azul. Three bands performing. First band is called Stargazer, followed by a rock band. A lady moving like a tiger is the singer. Last band Snake with Ondrej and Jakub from Stargazer. Meet Veronika, Jakub's sister, and Tomás. He mentions that he lost his job, which was no good anyway and now he has no money at all. Together with Hadji, Tomás and a friend we leave for Újezd and Club Akropolis. Wait quite a long time for the tram. At Club Akropolis Hadji explains how he used to falsify train tickets with brake fluid, WC cleaner and milk. Further on he tells me about his time in Berlin, where he went with his band but stayed three months. Years ago.

Thu 29 April
10:00. Leave for the train station. Buy a ticket to St. Peterburg. Visit the main post office and buy a bunch of different stamps. Lunch at a restaurace near the market hall in Vinohrady. Take my luggage and leave the flat at Manesova. Release Petra, a friend of Jakub, who I locked accidentally, as she has no key. 13:31 departure. The train is completely new. IC... rolls through the plains of Czech Republic. Flat country. Kolín, Pardubice, finally Ostrava. Heavy industries, smog. Zebrzydowice. Border to Poland. Katowice region similarly industrialized. Graffiti of the same mental disaster: hooligans and skins. Dwilight. The full moon rises. Conductor wants me to change the wagon. Move into the compartment of a heavyweight passenger. Strange beard round the mouth, mobile phone in front of him. He is reading a book. Cover shows a pin up girl. Two bottles of water and a bottle of a soft drink close to him. Leave this compartment after a while and move into an empty one.


Fri 30 April
10:00. Breakfast with Ryszard. Sunny but rather fresh. We take a local train to the central station and walk towards Ul. Elektoralna. Ryszard used to work there at the Warszawa Cultural Centre. Look for a bank at Krakowske Przedmiescie. Walk along and aloft in vain. Finally find a Bureau du Change. The cashier informs me that no commission is charged and where I may find a teller machine. The rate for the dollar is 3.92. Meet Ryszard at the columns at the entrance to the old town. He joins me to buy stamps and a telephone card. We have a look at the State Gallery of Modern Arts. Collection Arthur Andersen. American artists as Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein, Stella, Hockney, Rosenquist, Oldenburg, Johns. Later on we look inside catalogues until we are deadly tired. Have a coffee at Café Miedzi Nami in Ul. Bracka. Head for Nowy Swiat and take a bus to Ujazdowski Castle. Vernissage. A video is shown. The artist created a sculpture out of a block of frozen meat. A sitting human, the knees close to the chest and embraced by the arms. The artist placed this sculpture in a park and two dogs search for it and find it and start to eat it. The micro is very close to the animals. A huge fridge is in the room, inside it is a copy of the sculpture. Vodka and tomato juice is served. Talk to a friend of Ryszard. They toured together in a theatre group some years ago. We go to the café in the castle. Peter, whom we met in the afternoon, joins us, as does Tomek, an artist. Peter creates computer programs for small firms. Later on Ryszard and me look for a restaurant. The first one is empty and dark, the second crowded, dark and rustic. Prefer the third one. It is located in a first floor, very spacious and offers Italian dishes. A friend of Ryszard picks us up in her car. We cross the river Wisla and come to an old part of town, which didn't get destroyed in WWII. Visit Wojtech, a photographer, in his small flat on the 20th floor. Great view over the whole town. He offers gin and martini and shows a flash, made in CCCP, powered by an accumulator in a separate bag. The whole thing is as big as a Russian tank in a frozen field near the unknown soldier's grave.
We leave and the lady drives us back to Pruszkow in her small Daewo car. Ryszard offers some Bison Grass Vodka. He says the result of the communist era is that people are still inactive. They wait until somebody tells them what to do.

Sat 01 May
11:00. Look a video from a concert of Goran Bregovic. Brass gypsy band, Bulgarian singer. Ryszard leaves for his garden. I wonder that he is already up because of all the vodka yesterday. Leave for the train station Pruszków. The train stops ten times on the way to Warszawa Centralna. Flat country, single houses in between gardens. Sometimes small fields. The station is a labyrinth. Takes me ages to find the main hall. A train to Moscow arrives. Have a look at the platform. Two, three groups of people try to get piles of huge boxes through the windows into the compartments. Seems to be some kind of business. Look for the international counter. Make reservation for Tuesday 0:30. Inshallah. Visit the palace kultury panorama terrace on the 30th floor. The escalator goes up within seconds. Great view, especially to the bridges crossing the Wisla. The country looks like a disc and I am in the middle of it. To the south countless blocks of flats and a huge power plant. Leave and take tram 4, which goes in Marszalkowska, crosses the river and returns after some stops. Get out at the bridge and look for a restaurant. Terribly hungry. Later I walk around near Teatr Wielki. Take Ul. Wierzbowa towards Ul. Senatorska instead of Krakowskie Przedmiescie. Have to go back and take another wrong way that leads me into a park and to the monument of the unknown soldier, where I was together with Doc Law eight, nine years ago. Walk along Malachowskiego, where we stayed in Hotel Garnizonova. The hotel has another name now. Ask at Hotel Warszawa for the price of a double room. $50. Proceed into Ul. Szpitalna and fall into Café Miedzi Nami, Ul. Bracka. Stay there for hours. Get to know a young man from France. Leave for the train 22:30 to Pruszków. Ryszard is watching TV. American shoot-'em-up movie. The hero of the film has got a hundred lives. We look at videos made by the theatre Ryszard used to work for and videos by Fura del Baus. Destroyed car, ruined industrial area, naked bodies, dirt, colours.

Sun 02 May
9:00. Sunny but not as bright as yesterday. Look a video, a documentary of an event in a hangar. Take the train into town, tram 22, cross the Wisla. Not very exciting part of town. Go back. Take a bus to Hotel Forum, Ul. Marszalkowska/Ul. Swietokrzyska and change to tram 4 to the south. Get out at Zbawiciela, close to Ul. Noakowskiego, where I knew a lady who I met in Greece in the seventies. She hasn't lived there for years. Proceed to Ul. Emilii Plater and the Central Station. Walk along Aleje Jerozolimskie until Hotel Forum and rest at Café Miedzi Nami. Ryszard arrives at 18:00. We eat a little and walk to Metro Marszalkowska. Get out at Park Krolikarni. There is a performance of the Theatre Montownia. A man with a tenor horn appears and runs around blowin' the instrument. A woman is carried by all the actors who are hidden under her wide skirt. Suddenly they all come out and run around. Balloons are released, things carried to and fro, a ladder is set up in the middle. Actors are all dressed in blue overalls. A long piece of blue garment is moved around in a circle. The actors undress. All of them wear the same underwear. Stripes of black and white. A band performs a permanent soundtrack. Ryszard leaves for vodka. The actors run a lot in good mood. Sometimes they act depressed, a new leader comes up, action again. A man dressed as a priest uses bells for lambs to make them lambs and to gather them in a corral. We leave. It is quite cold. Have a look in a nearby pub. Rustic design, young people, commercial music. Have a few vodkas there and leave for the party in a flat of one of the actors in a block in the south. Very private atmosphere. Back to Pruszków by taxi.

Mon 03 May
9:00. Ryszard phones Krzystof, whom I met some years ago. He gets his father on the phone. The son is on the countryside. Take a train into town. Ticket inspection on the way. Have a ticket but didn't put it into the small mechanic aparatus that makes holes into the paper. I don't care much about it and when the inspectors want money, 20 Dollars, I don't understand anything. After two, three stations they leave the wagon. Take a tram to the park near Hotel Victoria. Crowds because of the national holiday. Not much happening. Just these big cars with Mafiosi-looking officials, similar looking drivers and security men. Leave the place and walk along Nowy Swiat. It's only for pedestrians today. Military tents built up. The smell of improper storage. Walk towards Hotel Forum. Take a tram to the north. Not very interesting. Phone Jaroslav in St. Petersburg. Talk to a man who speaks German but doesn't know Jaroslav. Try to send a telegram. There are hundreds of addresses in my address book, but Jaroslav's is not complete. Phone his father in Sochi, but he won't tell me the address, he is too suspicious. Have a coffee in a café in Nowy Swiat. Leave for nowhere. Pass a place to eat, clean and cheap. A canteen. The menu card is on the wall, a woman stays behind a cashier's desk. I order this and that and she gives me a voucher, which I pass through a small window into the kitchen. Another woman takes the voucher and passes me a dish. Have a look at the Café Miedzi Nami. Order espresso and write a few postcards. Back to the train station. Very young security guards in all the shopping arcades. Back to Pruszków by WKD. A little vodka with Ryszard. We look at a video of Formalny Teatr, St. Peterburg. Get the address of one of the actors. Take my things and leave for the station. Buy what I can get there. The train leaves at 0:32.

Tue 04 May
Share the compartment with a student from Krakov and a businessman from Riga. The conductor, provodnik, takes our tickets. Get some bed sheets. Talk for some time. Fall asleep. In the morning arrival at the border. Too tired to watch the changing of the wheels. Passport control by Polish guards. Train moves for some hundred meters. Russian passport control. Customs guards check the outside of the train. Inside the wagon a guard comes along, carrying a wooden box like a vendor's tray, doing the bureaucratic work on it. Looks at all the pages of my passport, looks at the visa, looks at the photos, looks at me. Asks if I speak Russian. Leaves, informing me about registering in St. Peterburg within two or three days. Another guard enters the compartment. We have to move out. He takes off some panels and looks under the beds. No smile ever. Train moves again. A female guard wants to see the completed money declaration. I haven't done it, but she is helpful. Write down half a dozen different foreign currencies. She puts a stamp on it and signs. The student and the businessman have to show their money. The train moves rather slowly. We pass Grodno. Some industries. Flat country. Little activity. A few cars on the roads. The meadows not very green yet. Radio inside the wagon. Young people moving up and down the corridor. Talk to a lady from Barcelona. She coaches young skaters from Poland and they are on the way to St. Peterburg. Birch tree forests. Swamps. Small houses, people working in their gardens. Ruins of former industries. A group of men laying in the grass at a corner of a devastated plant. Have a look at the restaurant car. Eat a nourishing soup and some fried meat with potatoes and vegetables. Order beer, vodka, coffee and smoke a cigar. Leave a one dollar tip, but the waiter offers me another beer for it. Just a few people in the restaurant car. Take some photographs during afternoon. Great country. So calm. Sometimes a few cars, stopping at a railway crossing. People moving slowly, the train moving slowly. Charcoal fire at the end of the wagon. Real fire. The coal stored in the space between two wagons. It is even possible to open a door of the train. Rather cold wind outside. Stop at Polotsk for 15 minutes. My fellow passengers go out for a walk. 18:30. The station isn't much frequented. Adam offers a beer from Belarus. Smells like honey.

Wed, 5 May
Get up rather early. The train still rolls through flat birch-tree forests. White spots on the ground inside the woods. Snow. Shallow waters covered by a thin ice. The train hits the outskirts of St. Peterburg. Arrive at really deserted Varshavsky Vokzal. The train stops in an open space. The station building doesn't make much sense. There are two parallel running buildings. Suggest that a roof was covering the space between them. Look for the Kamera Chranenia, luggage lock. Walk around but can't find it. Ask a woman in the café. Walk into town just carrying the movie camera. Anyway, it's quite heavy. Buy a map and a telephone card. Cross Obvodny Kanal and walk along Ismailovsky prospekt. Continue in Sadovaya ul. and try to find Nevsky prospekt. A long way. The map is good for nothing. Have a tea in a new and spacious place at Sennaya ploshchad. The place offers very few things to eat and there is hardly anybody in. Reach Nevsky prospekt at Gostiny Dvor warehouse, an incredible long building with arcades and new shops of any kind. Try to phone from a cell, but it doesn't work. Enter Hotel Grand Europe, five stars, and ask at the telephone counter. To phone a foreign country the additional code 810 has to be dialed. The hotel offers a call for $6 per minute. Leave and try to find the address Bernd always offered to me, but, as I remember, didn't really like to write it down. On the day of my departure I had to force him to write it down: Liteiny prospekt 51/2/B. Can't find the flat in the whole house. But there is a flat 51/21B. Nobody opens. Ask an old lady coming up the stairs. She talks a lot but I don't understand Russian. Leave a message on the door. Head for Moskovsky vokzal and look for FREE CULTURE PUSHKINSKAJA 10 at Ligovsky prospekt 35. Ask somebody in the house and the man takes me to the director. Ask if I can stay in the house. We talk this and that. Finally I mention a friend's name and then it is easy to get a studio in the house. Leave for the train station to get my luggage. Take Metro from Pl. Vosstaniya to ? Baltiisky vokzal. Get my rucksack and go back to the Metro. A constant stream of people leads me into the system. At the escalators the crowd is stopped, but more and more people are coming through the gates. I feel I will get crushed and leave the station behind a lady from a cleaning crew. Outside the building I watch a constant stream of people coming from Baltiisky vokzal pouring into the Metro. Probably a suburban train has arrived, carrying a thousand people. Walk towards the tram station on Obvodnoj Kanal and get into a tram. Unfortunately, the tram goes a wrong direction already after a few hundred meters. I stay and a passenger advises me to get out at Moskovskiye vorota and to take the Metro. The tram passes the Metro station and I have to go back a long way. Face a curious monument, a triumphal arch made of iron. Iron columns. Again into the Metro. The typical Metro smell. Air without any nutrition. Have to change at Tekhnologichesky Institut. Get lost in the station. Have to move to another station, but arrive where I have been before. Great. All the time carrying this rucksack filled with paper and film material. Finally reach my new studio. Clean the room. Dust on the tables. Go out again and buy some food in nearby shops. Wash my dirty clothes. Have a look at the café in the yard called Fish Fabrique. A band is performing. Sounds like funky disco soul. Some problems with mike noise and cable contact noise. Leave deadly tired.

Thu 06 May
11:00. Boil some water for tea. Leave to buy some salmon and vodka. Meet Kolja, the director, in the yard. He introduces me to bearded X, who wants to build a John Lennon temple in the city. His studio is both office and flat. The walls are covered by John Lennon posters from many different years. The name of his cat is Hey Jude. There is a model construction of a John Lennon temple in the room. The record player spins to John Lennon. X's grandfather was from Austria and had been taken to a Siberian prison.
Leave and meet Ludmilla, the secretary of the foundation. Stay for awhile in her office to get information. Have a look a the Café Fish Fabrique. Evgeni Orlov and friends have lunch there, but no one speaks English. Get to know a young lady who sells books at concerts and various other events. Join her until Nevsky prospekt. Go back and have a look at the exhibitions in the house. Curious puppet installation in the basement. Paintings in the Museum for Nonconformist Art. Look for the Internet Centre on the last floor. The equipment is rather poor, the director not too cooperative. Leave to find Slava at Novoismailovsky Prosp., near Park Pobedy. Take a tram on Ligovsky prosp. next to Moskovsky Vokzal. Very soon the tram turns towards somewhere and I have to go out. Walk around a block, I don't know why, and it takes me ages. Have to take a tram back to Metro Ligovsky prosp. Try to enter the station, but can't stand it. Crowds of people and poor air. Walk around in nearby backyards. Wouldn't like to live there. Take some pictures of a fucked up building and a forgotten construction site. Take the next tram to nowhere and have to walk back. Finally succeed getting inside a Metro station. Out at Park Pobedy and walk towards Novoismailovsky prosp. Look for number 16. Find 18 and 20. It must be the other direction. Cross an open space and find a bloc. It is 16, but where is the entrance. At the back. It is a nine-story-high building, a student hostel. Ask the receptionist about my friend Slava and have to face the fact that there are 11 blocks on number 16. No chance to find out the building. Give up and leave. Pass a high office building with burned out top floors. Take tram 29 back to the city. Change at Obvodnoj Kanal, which isn't really necessary, and nearly get run over by a car as the tram stops just somewhere in the middle of the road, and there is no platform. Great. Take a trolleybus and get back to Ligovsky prosp. Walk along Nevsky prosp. Eat schoarma, similar to kebab, at a small place. Difficult to handle without messing up the clothes. Have a look at the pinball machines in Gostiny Dvor. Stay at the Metro entrance, meeting point for young people. Back to Ligovsky prosp. Ask at the Gostinitsa Oktyabrskaya for the price. It's 850 Rbl for one person, 1000 for a double.

Fri 07 May
12:00. Terribly late. It is snowing. Darkness, wind. Meet Evgeni out at Ligovsky Prosp. He introduces me to Oleg, who runs the record shop in the culture centre. He speaks German. Visit Ludmilla in the office. The email system doesn't work. She has a guest from Potsdam. Leave and take trolleybus 7 towards the Central Post Office. Don't care about getting out in time and end up somewhere on Vasilievsky island. Terribly cold wind. A bus station in the shadow, really hard to stand. Wait on the other side of the street for trolleybus 7. Back to Nevsky prosp. Try to buy a Lomo camera in a shop. The shutter doesn't work. There is just one camera left. Walk along Malaya Morckaya ul. until the post office. An airmail envelope with stamps on it costs 7 Rbl. Fall into a nearby restaurant, located in a basement a few steps under road level. Everything new. Order pike perch. Take a bus and walk along Nevsky prosp. Visit Oleg in the record shop Baza. He offers a free ticket for a concert at Spartak. I take tram 25 to this place. The tram goes along Litejni Prosp., I miss the station to get out and end up on the other side of Liteiny Most, crossroad Ul. Lebedeva / Ul. Komsomola. Various trams come along. But all of them turn to the left into Ul. Komsomola, which leads to Finlandsky Vokzal. Twice I get in such a tram. Walk back to the crossroad and wait there for ages. Cold winds. I ask two young men how to get away from here. Finally a trolleybus comes from Finlandsky Vokzal and we run for the station at Ul. Komsomola. Past the bridge I get out too early, so I finally have to walk to this place, Spartak. Can't find it and ask inside a museum. Spartak is an old cinema. Several bands are performing. The foyer is packed with gambling machines. Watch the band, the singer is really a satanic character. Leave after a few songs, walk along Liteiny prosp. and take a bus back home.

Sat 08 May
Wake up at 8:00, at 10:00, and get up at 1:30. Shave. Evgeni offers me his big mirror. He introduces me to Daniel Dalseth from USA, who uses a studio on the 5th floor. Get out and leave for Gostiny Dvor warehouse. Pass a market area at Sadovaya Ul. The roofed market space is in a disastrous shape. Buy an electric heater for cooking and two pots. Proceed to Ploshchad Mira, now called Sennaya Ploshchad. There is a crowded market space located in front of the Metro station. The middle of the square is a construction site. Looks like decades of resting. Leave for home. Visit performers AXE on 5th floor. One of the members, a lady, has lived in Rotterdam several years. She knows my dear friend Lukas, the bandleader of DULL SCHICKSAL. AXE performed in Austria some years ago, when Franz Kumpl organized the cultural exchange with artists from Pushkinskaya 10. AXE introduce me to Alexander Retz, a photographer, who has a very small studio on 2nd floor. He doesn't speak English. The TV is on. He shows me a lot of photographs, B/W, subject Ulitsa. Photos of people in the streets. Also photos from corners of the town, backyards. Another subject is sewer covers. He has really a lot of it in different design. Leave for my studio and feel cold.

Sun 09 May
12:00. Telephone call. My friend Bernd informs me about the car he let his girlfriend. She crashed it. I have never seen this lady. Drink some tea. Take a bus towards River Neva. Walk around with the Bolex camera. Buy a scarf. Visit a new restaurant at Ul. XY. Quite good, but permanent radio program. Leave for a nearby café on Nevsky Prosp., a yard under glass roof. Expensive design. Next to me two men talking Austrian dialect. Read the St. Peterburg Times. Back to the street again. Crowds all over. The celebration of the victory some 44 years ago. Do some single frame shooting with the Bolex. Masses of people, music corpses, veterans, banners, stickers. Buy some food and go home. Prepare the buckwheat and eat it. Leave again. Knock on Daniel's door. He isn't there. Neither is AXE. Gallery NAVICULA ARTIS already closed. Rest at Café FISH FABRIQUE. Try to smoke a cigar, but it is damned dry. Go back to my studio and build a crude humidor out of a plastic bottle. Back to the café. Ask the barman about a place called Manhattan Kotyol, a jazz club at Nabereshnaja Fontanki. He shows me the location on my map. The map is old. The road is still called Dzerzhinskovo ul. in honour of the founder of the KGB.

Mon 10 May
Terribly tired, aching backbones. Get up at 2:00. Eat a cake made from the small black seeds of a red flourishing plant. Poppy. Find Daniel's message on the door. Pay a short visit to his studio. He uses some heavy smelling chemicals for glueing and wears a mask. Buy a telephone card and try to phone friend Bernd in the backwoods. The card contains 100 units. To initialize a long distance call I already lose 20 units. Try to phone from four, five different phones. Finally it works. He is on the phone and tells me the full address of Slava. Decide to look for him again. Take a bus to Gostiny Dvor. The bus stops hundreds of meters past crossroad Sadovaya ul. on Nevsky prosp. Walk back and look for the tram station at Sadovay ul. to go to Moskovsky prosp. The station is also far off the crossroad. Crowds of people waiting. No tram coming for ages. Leave by taxi. It means I stop any car. After a very short distance the street is blocked and the driver has to take another road, which leads us close to the Neva, far off where I want to go. Try to satisfy the man with 10 Rbl. He looks at me as if he can't believe it. Offer 15 Rbl and at least 20 Rbl. In coins, as I only have big bills in the wallet. Walk along Moskovsky prosp. Surprise. There are no tram rails. Obviously they are lying under the pavement. Walk until Tekhnologichesky Institut and fall into a restaurant. New one. A lady speaks English. Order pike perch. Take a trolleybus to Park Pobedy. Have to change for tram 29. Wait a long time. Cold wind. Hitch a ride from a Mercedes taxi and arrive at Novoismailovsky prosp. 16, korpus 4. I ask for Jaroslav and have to leave my passport with the concierge. Room 121 is on the 5th floor, next to the elevator. Knock several times. The door looks like it has been opened several times without a key. Graffiti like: cops eat shit. Finally a young lady opens. The flat is very small. Actually one room, divided into a very small kitchen and a working/sleeping space. Packed with things. Jaroslav doesn't stay there any more. The lady provides me with his new tel. number. Phone him from the foyer. Somebody else picks up the phone. He is not at home. Walk back to Moskovsky Prosp. Heavy cold winds and never from behind. Take the next tram, number 25, as it is too windy. Turns off after some stations close to Metro Elektrosila. There is no shelter at the tram stop. Wait an eternity for tram 29. Get out again at Ul. Sadovaya/ Lermontowsky prosp. Another tram is coming. Ask a lady if it will proceed in Sadovaya ul. She says no. But the tram does. Wind. Cold. Ask the drivers of arriving minibuses. They leave for any other direction. A tram ticket is 2 Rbl, a much more reliable minibus costs 4 Rbl. The problem is that I don't know where the minibuses are going and many times they are full anyway. After some days I arrive at Nevsky prosp. and take bus 7 to Moskovsky Vokzal. Try to get information about the train to Moscow. In vain. Crowds of people. Walk back home and fall into bed. Read about the Trans-Siberian railway in the Lonely Planet guide. Toss and turn half night on this small bed. Have to definitely buy some aspirin.

Tue 11 May
Wake up and fall asleep several times. 11:30. Tea. Visit Ludmilla in the office. The photographer Andrej is there. Try to explain that I need somebody who wants to process 450 B/W photos. He doesn't want to do it, but tries to call a friend. Takes hours and the friend would like to get $200 for the work. Ludmilla has brought her Italian espresso machine. After coffee I leave. Visit the graphic studio on 1st floor. Dimitry isn't in the office. Try to call Jaroslav several times. Phone Denis. Nobody picks up the phone. Walk along Nevsky prosp. towards Gostinitsa Moskva, Ploshchad Alexander Nevsky. Have a look inside different shops. Eat at a new restaurant. Financial Times is sold there. Costs about $10. Go back to Pushkinskaya 10. Dima is in his office now. He calculates the costs of printing the postcards. $160. Quite high. Leave and visit a photolab on Nevsky prosp. 148. No B/W development. Buy a new Lomo camera for 800 Rbl, $30. Get another photo lab address: Nevsky prosp. 54. Take a taxi. The driver says that he is working 12 hours a day and 7 days a week and he earns about $200 a month. The company is private. Have a coffee at Bistro LAIMA, on Kanal Griboyedova. Great space. Very new. Looks like the staircase of a big museum. But no toilets. Take a walk to Gostiny Dvor and further on along nabr. Reki Fontanki. Take a taxi to number 90 on the edge of former Ul. Dzershinskogo, renamed Ul. Gorochovaya. Look for the jazz club Manhattan Kotyol. Nobody in there. Leave for Lomonosova pl. and Apraksin Dvor, the disastrous market space along Ul Sadovaya. Look for a rockabilly place mentioned in the Lonely Planet guide, but can't find it. Back home by taxi. Visit performers AXE. Maxim, Pavel and the sound engineer are in the studio. Some friends arrive. They are on the way to Moscow and will take the night train. Go to sleep at 1:00. Can't sleep. There is noise in the house until 5:00. Some people rushing up and down the stairs. Drum and bass. Banging doors. Voices. Seems to be an old building, but I can hear everything down to the 1st floor, I think. No concert in Café Fish Fabrique, luckily.


Wed 12 May
Clock rings at 9:00. Don't get up until 11:00. Wash some clothes. Prepare some buckwheat porridge. Try to call Jaroslav. Phone Denis, member of Formalny Theatre, who left a note on the door yesterday. Shall meet him in Galerie 21 at 19:30. Visit Ludmilla in the office. Sabina and Nikolas from Potsdam are there. We leave for a vernissage in the Peter and Paul fortress. On the way to the Metro station Nikolas says that he is from Karaganda in Kazakstan. Now he and his mother live in Dresden. Sabina's grandfather lives in St. Peterburg. He is more than 80 years old and can't walk anymore. The family has been in great difficulties since the rouble crashed last August.
We change the metro at Gostiny Dvor. The station is completely filled with people. The arriving train is already full. We get inside. Leave at Metro Gorkovskaya and walk towards the fortress. The exhibition shows small size drawings on transparent paper. Can't find out what is so special about these drawings. Sunny day. Have a rest on a bench inside the fortress, facing a church. To the left a building Monetny Dvor is written on it. Nearby a woman is speaking into a microphone. Is she selling tours? Too much noise. Leave. Wait in the sun for a bus to cross Kirov bridge. The bus arrives after some time, but it is totally crowded. Take a taxi to Gostiny Dvor. Crowds too. Walk along Nevsky prosp. Listen to a Dixieland band. Get my B/W negative in the photolab at 19:00. Take a bus back home. Have a look at the performance in Galerie 21. Ludmilla and Sabina are there too. Finally meet Denis. The show is immensely loud. The performer uses various kinds of unusual metallic-electric equipment for creating sounds and a lot of microphones. Talk to a man, Vladimir, who has gone around the borders of former CCCP by bicycle. He shows a book full of stamps of remote authority outposts. He even has been in Magadan, a place where some of the most deadly gulags were situated. Vladimir's last trip was around the world. By bike, of course, and with no money. Can't imagine how he did it. He is 45 years old and yesterday was his birthday. We say good bye and I join Denis and his friends for a drink at Café Fish Fabrique. A video projection is on screen and eating my nerves. Talk to Dima, a friend of Denis. We arrange to meet tomorrow at Metro Chkalovskaya at 20:00.

Thu 13 May
11:00. Clock already rings at 9:00. Was awake at 7:00 the first time. The useless high temperature problem. Eat some yoghurt and take two aspirins. Getting better then. Buckwheat for breakfast. Arrange the furniture in the room a little different. Sunny day. Finally when I go out the weather changes. Ask Oleg from record shop Basa about sending an email. Leave for Apraksin Dvor. The market site is quite crowded in the center. The rest is devastated. Market ruins. Nearly everybody wears a leather jacket. Do some single frame shooting with the Bolex. Walk along the wretched shops and workshops. Order some kind of fish in a market café. The mashed potatoes taste really artificial. Leave and call Jaroslav from Sadovaya ul. Finally get him on the phone. We arrange a meeting at Kazansky Sobor. He wears an army jacket. We walk along Nevsky prosp. and have a tea in a self-service café. Old Russian style. Plastic cups. Plastic tables and chairs. We split at Metro Poshchad Vosstaniya. Take Metro to Chkalovskaya and wait for Denis at the platform about half an hour. Deafening sounds of coming and leaving trains. Leave. Meet Dima and Misha in front of the station. We walk to the flat, which is used as a sound studio. Ilya opens the door. We have some tea, they smoke some Kazakstan gold and leave for a walk. Outside we meet Denis. Walk along a channel. Quite a lot of rubbish in the shallow water. Cables, iron scrap, tubes, heavy metal. Cross a wooden bridge. Seems to be made by the army. Enter a park and an area for sport activities. Finally reach the sea. The channel, now really wide, flows into the sea. New blocks of flats on the other shore. Chilly. Take some aspirins again. Shoot some photos near the water. Back to Metro Chkalovskaya by tram. Leave for home. Succeed in getting the film into the spiral of the developing tank made in Russia.

Fri 14 May
11:00. Clock rings much earlier, but I can't manage to get up. Yoghurt for breakfast. Shave and leave. Take a bus to Kazansky Sobor. Jaroslav is already there, sitting on a park bench near the fountain. We walk to restaurant LAIMA and eat some fish. Pike perch. Then we go to the train ticket center near Kazan cathedral. Train tickets for foreigners are sold at a special fare and that's about five times as much as the normal fare. The first train leaves at 13:05. We walk to the Central Telegraph. Great halls. Spacious atmosphere. In one of the halls PC's are installed. The price is 50 Rbl, about $2, per hour. Have to go to the Central Post Office to look for envelopes. Jaroslav leaves for home. Back to Nevsky Prosp. Have to find a funnel which I will need to fill the photochemicals in bottles. Search for it at Gostiny Dvor. Have a beer on the terrace there, facing Nevsky prosp. The permanent sound system forces me to leave. It is also cold. Don't go far. Fall into a bistro and order pike perch. The place is quite new. Half of the restaurant is devastated by the sound system of a TV monitor. American movie. Great view of passing people on Nevsky prosp. Even watch Slava passing, accompanied by a young lady. Leave and have a look at a nearby café and bakery. Bought some fresh ground coffee there recently. The coffee was so expensive that I had to pay in advance otherwise the lady wouldn´t have started to grind the coffee beans. Leave for home and start to dilute the photochemicals. Fortunately I find some coffee filters. Denis knocks on the door. He phones a young photographer who may want to do the processing of the photos. I finish developing the negatives. Denis is quite hyperactive, as he worked on the soundtrack for his performance whole night long. During daytime he was rehearsing. He also phones a friend working for an advertising agency who might know a printing company. It's already late when he leaves. At Café Fish Fabrique a concert starts.

Date: Friday, 14-May-99 06:32 PM
From: Backwood \ Internet: (backwood@servus.at)
To: Center \ Internet: (cds@spbnit.ru)
hallo karl
bin gerade mit mutter zum lüften angereist. habe Dir leider nicht früher schreiben können, weil ich diesen kasten nicht in gang gebracht habe und mir erst bei Deiner tochter tips holen musste. Du hast zahlreiche post bekommen. ein gewisser YAROSLAV<yarosla@hotmail.com> hinterlies Dir seine adresse - Vassiljevski Island, 11 Linja 46 flat 10. kontaktzeit 9 - 10 e.m.moscow time. also regards from MIKE call 812/314-17-77.
Deinen förderungsantrag werde ich bearbeiten. weiters hast Du eine zusendung des Cork Film Festivals +formular bekommen. ich muss jetzt schlussmachen sonst versäume ich noch Deine tochter franziska rechtzeitig abzuholen, sie nächtigt heute in Lasberg. ich hoffe Dir gehts gut und meldest Dich ob das mit dem email so geklappt hat. grüsse auch von mutter (in gottes namen, dass DU wieder gut nach hause kommst. zitat ende.) bis bald Werner

Sat 15 May
10:00. Leave for Kuznechny Rynok. Take a taxi. The driver can't believe it. It seems to be very near. He charges more than the usual price. I agree. The market is just around the corner. It's an old hall. In the meat section huge axes are thrown on half carcasses of cattle. Buy young onions, a bunch of parsley, garlic, cream, dried apricots, salted cucumbers, Korean carrots (hot), cabbage in marinade. Honey is quite expensive. 300g cost 130 Rbl., $4. In front of the hall old people are offering flowers, milk and a few vegetables. Buy some blue flowers with a strong smell. Hyacinths. Carry the food stuff home. Jaroslav comes along. We take a bus to the Int. Telegraph to send some emails. Go back to Pushkinskaya to meet the photographers Inna and Roman. We have a look at the vernissage in the Museum for Nonconformist Art on the 3rd floor. Quite a lot of people. Flashes popping. Seems to be a serious event. My landlord Evgeni is in charge, well dressed. His son too. My guests want to know details about the job, so we go to my studio. Show them the negatives. We leave together. I change some money because they have to buy the photographic paper and then we split. Have to buy some food. Try to get the buckwheat in a shop close to Moskovsky Vokzal. The shop is totally crowded with young people. They all leave by train and need some chips, chocolate, peanuts, whatever. The lady doesn't understand what I order in Russian. Think it can't be spelled so badly. Have to show her what I want to buy. Should probably use a kind of telescope antenna to point at the things. Prepare the buckwheat and a salad from young onions and parsley. Don't have anything else for a salad. Wait for Inna's phone call. Try to call her, but it is engaged a long time. She phones at about midnight and suggests to meet in an hour. Take a taxi to the Int. Telegraph. Still open to do long distance calls. Roman and Inna are about half an hour late. We enter the hall and they show me the prints, which are still wet. The exposure time of the negative was good. I used a hard contrast developer, because I didn't know what was written on the cardboard box. This wasn't so good. Faces almost white. Inna suggests taking new pictures tomorrow. Walk back home all along Nevsky prosp.


Subject: St. Peterburg
Date: Sat, 15 May 1999 15:15:22 +0400
From: CDS <cds@spbnit.ru>
To: backwood@servus.at
Mon cher Werner
Schreibe diese Nachricht im Telegraph office in der City. Das Gebaeude ist alt und gediegen, kaum Kunden. Fuer email service gibt es kleine Kojen mit Glasfronten. Sehr comfortabel. Man muss immer wieder solche Orte aufsuchen, weil im Freien sind tausende Menschen unterwegs und endlose Fahrzeugkolonnen quaelen sich durch die Stadt. Zu Stosszeiten wage ich mich nicht in die Metro, weil ich bin etwas claustrophob. Es ist unvorstellbar wieviele Leute zu den Eingaengen stroemen, sich vor den Rolltreppen stauen, wieviele Tonnen von Menschen von den Rolltreppen auf und abgekarrt werden. Und selbst diese riesigen Bahnsteige in den Stationen sind complett voll. Wahnsinn. Hier leben angeblich ueber fuenf Millionen. Denke oefter an eine Wanderung im Gebirge, wo man vielleicht bloss ein paar Leute trifft. Langsam gewoehne ich mich aber doch ein wenig an das Stadtleben. Das Kulturzentrum Puschkinska 10, in dem ich wohne, ist erst im Herbst renoviert worden. Die Farbe blaettert ab, mein Waschbecken ueberlegt taeglich, ob es herunterfallen soll oder nicht, an der Decke Flecken von undichten Rohrleitungen. Die Strassenbahnschienen sind ein grosses Problem fuer die Autofahrer. Wo sich diese beiden Systeme in die Quere kommen, dort ist Niemandsland. Bin hier anfangs mit Bus und Tram herumgefahren. Die Einheimischen stehen oft mit Buechern in den Stationen. Ein Verkehrsmittel kommt nie bald. Man wartet ewig. Ganze Bibliotheken kann man hier in Strassenbahnstationen durchlesen. Fahre jetzt meistens mit dem Taxi. Die ganze Zeit war es entsetzlich kalt. Eisiger Wind. Selbst bei diesen Temperaturen sitzen Leute im Park. Jeder, der etwas auf sich haelt, traegt hier eine Lederjacke. War auf einem Markt, wo frueher anscheinend auch kleinere Betriebe waren. Ziemlich abgewrackt und desolat, dafuer Discomusic und eine besondere Dichte von Lederjackentraegern. Wahrscheinlich haben sie alle zu viele Agentenfilme gesehen. Falls du mir eine Nachricht schicken willst, ist das moeglich an dieses Telegraphen amt. Die Adresse ist cds@spbnit.ru In die Betreff Zeile musst Du meinen Namen schreiben. so long backwood

Subject: Leningrad
Date: Sat, 15 May 1999 16:07:44 -0700
From: "Busines Com. Center SPb Russia _7" <cds@spbnit.ru>
Organization: Busines Com. Center SPb Russia _7
To: guenter@pall.com
Dear Sir
Befinde mich im Central Telegraf in der city nahe der Admiralitaet und dem Winterpalast, auch unter Eremitage bekannt. Dort war ich aber noch nicht, weil ich mich auf viel profaneren Plaetzen herumtreibe, wie Metrostationen, in klapprigen Trolleybussen, rumpelnden Strassenbahngarnituren oder meistens in den dazugehoerigen Haltestellen, in denen die Einheimischen ganze Bibliotheken auslesen. Da ich meistens kein Buch mithabe und die Stationen schlecht geschuetzt sind, halte ich das naechstbeste Fahrzeug an. Fast jeder Besitzer eines Standardautomobiles bietet Taxidienste an. Heute war ich zum ersten mal auf einem Gemuesemarkt. Stehe naemlich immer sehr spaet auf, weil ich noch spaeter ins Bett gehe. Mein Studio ist ganz passabel, direkt luxurioes im Zentrum gelegen. Des nachts haemmert jedoch das Café sechs Stock unter mir drum n bass bis in den morgen. Es wird hier um 4.00 Uhr hell und bleibt es auch bis 23.00 Uhr. Der Gemuesemarkt ist in einer alten Halle untergebracht. Es gibt allerhand gruenes, Dill, violette Pfefferminzblaetter, Petersilie, Zwieberl.. in der Stadt ist ja noch nicht viel gruen. Die Baeume haben bloss winzige Blaetter. Renne immer noch in voller Montur herum. Zum Glueck ist es seit zwei Tagen wieder sonnig. Es war saukalt. Der Central Telegraf ist ein luxurioeses Gebaeude, Marmor, Mahagoni, art deco. Bloss ein paar Auslaender, die hier in kleinen Kammerln am PC sitzen. Bin gerade mit einem Bekannten unterwegs, den ich bei der letzten Reise in Sochi am Schwarzen Meer kennengelernt habe. Er studiert jetzt hier, will aber etwas anderes machen. Etwa Begleitung/Betreuung von Reisenden. Er spricht deutsch und english. So eine Assistenz ist nicht zu unterschaetzen. Zum Beispiel auf dem Bahnhof. Es ist mir bis heute schleierhaft, wie man zu einer Fahrkarte kommt. Letztes Jahr war eine Krise, der Rubel ist drastisch abgewertet worden. Ein Dollar sind 24 Rubel. Seit dem ich da bin ist er schon auf 25,00 gestiegen. Eine Metrofahrt kostet 2 Rubel, eine Tramwayfahrt auch. Waere mir lieber, wenn das ein Vielfaches kosten wuerde, dafuer aber auch benuetzbar waere. Die Metro ist zu gewissen Zeiten so an der Grenze beansprucht, dass ich nicht einmal gegen Bezahlung dieses Gelaende betreten moechte. Ansonsten renne ich hier herum, treffe staendig jemanden, weil ich ja einige Auftraege zu vergeben habe, wie Fotoentwicklung, Druck etc und jede Menge Information brauche. Café's sind eine Raritaet, weil ueberall die sound systems in Betrieb sind. so long. yours backwood
PS falls Du Lust hast, kannst du mir eine Nachricht schicken. Die Adresse ist >cds@spnit.ru<. Unter Betreff musst Du meinen Namen schreiben.

Subject: Leningrad
Date: Sat, 15 May 1999 16:58:39 -0700
From: "Busines Com. Center SPb Russia _7" <cds@spbnit.ru>Organization: busines Com. Center SPb Russia _7
To: dodorama@hotmail.com
Dear Lucas
At Central Telegraf in the very city of St. Peterburg. A great place. rather quiet. Just a few foreigners who write emails. This machine I am working has a great archiv of sent emails, which the senders did not delete. I could read them all and even save the messages on a floppy disc. Think there might be some interesting text. I am here already since May 7th, but did not go out, because it was so terrible cold. Polar winds, even snow a week ago. I got a studio at the cultural centre >Puschkinskaja 10<, 6th floor, quite spacy. The bed is incredible small, blankets rare. If I intend to stay longer I will have to buy at least a matrace. Mostly I hazzle around to get information. I do not hesitate to give bribes to get it. Beside that I walk through the town, take buses or trams and fall into any shop, café or restaurant and try to spend Rubles. Taking trams and trolleybusses is a tiresome endeavor, there is never one coming soon and the tram stops are badly sheltered if the exist at all. The aborigenes use to read whole bibliothecas in these tram stops. I do not start with this habit, I try to get a taxi. Nearly every common motorist will stop and offer a taxi ride. To take a Metro during rush hours is an experience I will not try again. There is a constant stream of people already from the street towards the Metro entrance. Stations one might not notice when walking along, but suddenly you are inside this stream and soon at the gate to the escalaror and down it goes together with thousands. The huge halls downstairs are also completely full and full trains arrive every minute and people are streaming from one station to another one, all in the middle of the earth. I am still working on my project to send a few hundreds of postcards. Everything is complicated. At least I have a foto now. I even bought equipment to develope the negative myself. Now I have to find a laboratory and then a printing company and a shop that sells envelopes. I have to finish this message because I have a meeting with a young fotographer, who wants to do the job and we have to buy the fotographic paper in a shop I already have been. Should change some money before. so long john backwood



Sun 16 May
10:00. Hard to get up. Phone Dima. Arrange to meet on the small bridge close to Kazanski Sobor at 18:00. Smoke a cigar. Jaroslav passes by. We have some tea and talk and talk. He leaves at 15:00. Finish a few letters and leave for the Int. Telegraph. Send some emails, try to print them. One disappears. Did I delete it? Ask for assistance at the counter because the program is written in Russian. Meet Dima, Ilya and Denis on the bridge. Tell Denis about the photographs. He phones Roman, who didn't really start with the prints yet, and arranges a meeting. We walk along Griboyedova Kanal and pass Kirov Teatr. The sun is shining. Great architecture along the channel. Cross a small bridge and they enter the next house to smoke some weed. Walk along a long red brick building, a factory for military clothes. On Pl Truda we meet Roman. The whole square is a construction site. Sunset. Sand dunes. Little boys throwing stones at each other. We enter a café. Walls full of car registration numbers. Roman changes batteries and puts film into his Eos camera. He throws the packaging material into the channel. We proceed to New Holland and reach Bol. Neva at Anglijskaya naberezhnaya. On the opposite shore ships loaded with a whole Russian forest are anchored. We head for a huge crane and Roman takes photos there. Walk towards Prosp. Rimckogo Korsakova and pass Nikolsky Sobor. We have a rest at a café and eat some salmon. At Ploshchad Mira I want to know how long the place has already been under construction. Ilya estimates ten years. We take a tram, cross Nevsky Prosp., get out at the circus, next to Ploshchad Belinskogo and visit a Norwegian artist named Zat in a communal flat at Ul. Mochovnaya. He studies drums there. Ilya worked over some of his recorded music and presents the tape. Zat's room is 2 by 5 meters and contains a cupboard, a wardrobe, a brass bed, a table covered by a plastic sheet, an aquarium, TV, stereo and a piece of an original St. Peterburg gutter. Back to Gostiny Dvor. Dima, Denis and Ilya take the Metro. Go back by bus to Pushkinskaya 10. Prepare some buckwheat. 3:00. Have to get up at 9:00 at least.

Date: Sunday, 16-May-99 02:43 AM
From: x DODORAMA \ Internet: (dodorama@hotmail.com)
To: Center \ Internet: (cds@spbnit.ru)
Subject: drago torpedowicz aka john backwood
hey drago,
short note to let you know i'm in the middle of the string em up festival, something i organise in cooperation with jon rose, who made the programm. it's a huge succes, artistically that is. audience attendance is mediocre. so how's Leningrad life. do you meet people there? every time i read one of your reports it sounds like you're alone in a anonymous indiffernt world. but maybe this is true? this week, finally the AA kismet cd is ready, the one with Eveline. so how long are you staying there? i'll be off to france and spAIN in the summer. now are busy times see ye lukas

Subject: Leningrad
Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 17:54:54 +0400
From: cds@mmt.spbnit.ru>
To: jdk@xs4all.nl
Dear Johan
Just took a bus along Nevsky Prospect towards river Neva and Hermitage heading for the International Telegraf, where I am now in one of the little offices for to write emails. Its a great building, huge halls, expensive old furniture, marble, plastic flowers, securities, art deco. Dozens of telephone cabins for international phone calls. They were still crowded some years ago, but now hardly anybody seems to use them, as in a step of progress new telephon cells have been installed in town, working with cards. It was really tiresome some years ago to call to a foreign country. One had to give the number to a clerk and then to wait until he could manage to get the call work. Anyway. I am here since Wed, 5 may and stay in the cultural centre >Puschkinskaja 10<. Because I knew somebody who knows the administrator of the centre, I got a small but spacy studio in the building. There is not much furniture in the room. This studio is in the 6th floor. Down in the yard is a cafè where bands perform nearly every day. If there is no band drum n bass is played all night long.
17:45 I have to close, because I will meet a musician on a bridge at 18:00.

Mon 17 May
9:00. Take a bus to the Int. Telegraph where I meet Inna and Roman. He printed half a dozen of the photos he shot yesterday. Choose three of them. Try to write a message at the Telegraph. Leave for Gostiny Dvor and buy two Cuban cigars. They seem to have been stored in the shop under bright neon light for decades. Even taken out from the humidor they don't smell at all. Look for Kolja in his office. He doesn't know a printing company, but introduces me to the manager of the Café Fish Fabrique, who doesn't know either. Together we have a look at the graphic studio where I already was some days ago. Juri, the man we are looking for, isn't there. Take a bus on Nevsky prosp., walk along the channel Nab. Reki Moiki. Stay for a while on a bridge for pedestrians. Moves slightly. Observe a building of peculiar architecture. DOM KULTURY. Head for the post office. Buy stamps. Spend all my money. Walk towards Anglijskaya naberezhnaya. Rest at the stone armament close to Neva River and fall asleep in the sun. Walk along the river until a wall prevents me entering the harbour. All the cranes you can see aren't moving at all. Either old equipment or no work. The huge halls and shipyards without any sign of activity. Back to Nevsky. Try to find a place to change money. In Gostiny Dvor the rate is 2,390 Rbl for $100. Have seen a sign out of the tram: 2,430. Rbl. Find another bureau du change further on Nevsky. Seven awful cabins and a stupid security guard. It's like I should be happy to get my dollars changed here. Have a look at Nevsky Palace Hotel on the other side of the boulevard. The café isn't located on Nevsky prosp., it is somewhere inside in the middle of the building without windows and there are no international newspapers. Clever architecture. One of the most boring places in town, run by an Austrian company. Meet Jaroslav and Nastassja by chance on the street. We walk along Litenij Prosp., have a coffee at a very basic café and head for a building which is known as the Egyptian House. We walk up a flight of stairs. Inside the loft in the darkness up a small tower, we reach a platform from which we have a great view over St. Peterburg. The place seems to be quite popular, noticing the litter all around. We watch the sun set. Very clear contours. Buy some food and go back to the studio I live in. Nastassja is from Sochi, too. As is Jaroslav. She studies French and speaks English and German. Last year she was in Germany. One month hitchhiking around.
We try a wine from Georgia. Tastes sweet. Another wine from Russia is too sweet. We can't drink it.

Date: Monday, 17-May-99 05:37 PM
From: Peter\ Internet: (peter@berlin.snafu.de)
To: Center \ Internet: (cds@spbnit.ru)
Subject: backwood, austria
yes, yes dear john
just back from one week in brandenburg/ wuensdorf, working on an exhibition there. in wuensdorf had been the biggest kaserne of the russians in the former ddr. now a place for artists, still. i decided not to work there, but in a kulturhof, together with a schuster/shoemaker and some ukrainian blackworkers. so i also heard a lot of russian speaking, saw a lot of russian space and i speak now nearly perfect russian, at least during playing chess. und ausserdem i feel a little bit russian. i really goes fast getting changed my soul, - there must be something already before. and you hast es wieder mal geschafft nach good old ruski zu kommen und die dortige bevoelkerung aus- und aufzuhalten. respect. i would also like to go there and look at the prospects and the inhabitants. but first i have to go to austria, tomorrow night, for one week, to look for my nepomuks, which will meet each other on the 28.6.99 in the landhaus (notice the term already now!). hope you a back from petersburg then. they alive, dont talk to mafia ahoi peter

Date: Monday, 17-May-99 06:44 PM
From: KASIA@HP-Belgium-om1.om.hp.com \ Internet: (kasia@hp-belgium-om1.om.hp.com)
To: Center \ Internet: (cds@spbnit.ru)
Subject: to: John Backwood
Hello Karl,
I was not sure what "your name" is... Are you John or Karl in Petersburg? Quite a surprise to find you in Russia all of a sudden! How long for?? We haven't been in touch for a while - I remember you were very busy with some European projects - did anything come out of that? I've seen Tom Floh's website. I really like it! Did he ever buy his truck?
<It was really tiresome four years ago to call to a foreign country. You had to give the number to a operator and then wait until he could manage to get the call work>
I remember that - it worked the same way in Poland too. I guess everywhere in Eastern Europe.
<I got a small but spacy studio in the building>.
Wow! That must be nice - certainly if you intend to stay for a while?
<How is Brussels>
I just got a new job at HP, but I'm still in the old one too. So I'm very busy. I was also contacted by a Belgian bank who offered me a high level position in ... Poland. I'm very honoured about the offer, but at the same time very confused. I don't know what to do. I still have to go through more interviews, but I seem to be the only candidate and they seem to push me to accept the offer. I am not sure if I want to go back to Poland... I also have exams til mid June - so for the moment my life is crazy & hectic. Will you have time to pass by when you return?
do svidanija, k.

Date: Monday, 17-May-99 04:33 PM
From: Herbert \ Internet: (wink@ufg.ac.at)
To: Center \ Internet: (cds@spbnit.ru)
Subject: john backwood
Hy Karl
Na, da geht es Dir eh ganz gut in Leningrad. Bei uns in der Schule beginnt allmaehlich der Abgabestress. Alle stellen noch schnell, schnell ihre Kunstwerke fertig. Auch ich. Letztes Wochenende waren wir, Gerda und Kids in Wien. Dort ist, glaube ich, nicht so viel los wie in Leningrad. Zumindest sind die Leute nicht hilfsbereit, dafuer gross dran. Deine Kinder waren vorigen Donnerstag bei uns. Alle sind wohl auf. Vorher waren wir beim Erwin. Das ist immer ein gezaenke zwischen ihm und der Mitzi. Er weiss halt alles und sie nichts .Der Goffy ist am Samstag volltrunken beim Jackpoint Charly die Stiege rueckwaerts runtergedonnert und hat sich seinen Kopf furchtbar angeschlagen. Seitdem hoert er auf einem Ohr fast nichts mehr. Gestern waren seine Vorsaetze gross. Wie wird das heute wohl sein? Wird er ein paar Tage der Versuchung, sich restlos zu betrinken standhalten und wie viele weisse Maeuse wird er sehen? Fragen ueber Fragen gruss W-herb

Tue 18 May
10:30. Jaroslav calls. We decide to meet at Kazhansky Sobor at 1:30. Have a look at DOM KNIGI opposite the cathedral and buy some postcards and a Lieutenant Blueberry album. Costs less than $2 but there are just a few. We leave for TIPOGRAFIA N. GRIGORIBA at Ul. Saslonova 7. This address I got from the president of the John Lennon Foundation. The entrance is through a door from a backyard. We have to wait at the gate. A man disguised as a soldier points at a telephone. Jaroslav tries different numbers, but nobody picks up the phone. After some time the unnecessary doorman allows us to pass. We enter an office and negotiate the printing of postcards. A lady with immense bosoms finally has to tell us that the company can't print such small sizes. She offers an address of a small company at Ul. Marata 33. We have a look at that address, but can't find the printer. We find a suspicious door in a backyard. After a while an old man opens the door. He says that he doesn't really print anymore, but offers to do the job. He shows us his machines, we discuss the technical details and leave. Our next address is TIPOGRAFIA ROSK at Kovencki pereulo, quite close to Moskovsky Vokzal. This address I got from Juri, who runs the graphic studio at Pushkinskaya 10. We enter an office and talk to Tatjana Valerevna. She offers silk screen printing and it looks reliable. I propose bringing the text and the photos tomorrow. We leave and visit a restaurant near Pl. Vosstaniya. Jaroslav has to visit friends because he wants to use a washing machine. Go back to my studio, smoke a cigar and look inside the Lieutenant Blueberry album. Have an appointment at the Telegraph at 24:00. Inna and Roman already have worked out all 500 photos. Denis phones and we arrange a meeting for tomorrow. Jaroslav comes back from washing clothes, makes a few phone calls and leaves for home. Start to work on the text for the postcard.

Date: Tuesday, 18-May-99 09:46 PM
From: Francesca \ Internet: (francesca@servus.at)
To: Center \ Internet: (cds@spbnit.ru)
Subject: John Backwood
Betreff: John Backwood
Datum: Mon, 17 May 1999 21:59:54 +0200
Von: Francesca <francesca@servus.at>
An: John Backwood <cds@mmt.spbnit.ru>
dear papa!
tagelang nichts am pc getan, leider. ich war von freitag auf Samstag bei der lasberger oma über nacht. hab werner getroffen, er kümmert sich brav um dein häuschen. ma war mit´n gschrapal in der bundes hauptstadt. in o.ö. tut sich wie immer fast nix, immer faaaaad. am wochenende kommen chantall und lea zu mir pfingstferien ..... juhu. im garten blühen die tulpen rosa und die büsche grünen. heute war's ziemlich warm und ich hab die abendsonne im garten genossen und federball gespielt. ich hab dich lieb komm gut zurück bussi francesca
ps.: hab dieses mail gestern schon geschickt, leider an die falsche adresse!

Wed 19 May
9:30. Too late. The clock stopped counting the time at 8:00. Low battery. Have some tea for breakfast. Leave and have a look at the bureau du change just round the corner Nevsky prosp./Ligovsky prosp. Customers are queuing. Take a bus to the Int. Telegraph. Jaroslav arrives at the same time. Stay at the damned PC until 19:30. Great. Costs 300 Rbl. At the beginning I try to write the text on an electric typewriter, but have to give up. The machine is very difficult to handle. Then use a PC. Quite tiresome too, as the WORD program is in Russian. Stay at home until 23:00. Phone Ilya. Arrange a meeting for tomorrow at 15:00. Go out for a walk. Take a trolleybus towards Most Alexander Nevsky, the old part on Nevsky Prosp. The bus soon turns to the left and goes along Suborovskij Prosp. until it reaches Smolny Sobor, where it turns to go back. Take another trolleybus and go to Hotel Moskva, located at Alexander Nevsky bridge. Walk back to Pl. Vosstaniya, buy a few beers and go home.


Thu 20 May
8:00. Have to find a Xerox centre in Rusovskaya Ul. close to Vitebsky Vokzal. Take the Metro to Pushkinskaya and walk. The shop is totally new. Finish the layout of my postcard and leave for the printing company ROSK. Mrs. Tatjana is talking to somebody on the telephone a long time. Another lady in the office offers me coffee. She speaks English and went to Vienna as a singer in a choir. Pay in advance and leave. Walk along Ul. Zhukovskogo and Prosp. Liteiny nearly until the Neva. Then head for the centre again, as I have an appointment with Ilya at the Telegraph at 15:00. Cross the channel Fontanki Reki, pass a park Letny Sad and the Mars Field. Marsovo Polye. Walk along Nabr. Reki Moiki to the Telegraph. Phone Denis and forget the card in the apparatus. Ilya doesn't come. Rest at a café opposite the Telegraph. Ilya passes by 40 min later. He shows me how to print labels on the PC. Then we have a coffee at Bistro LAIMA, in the street café. Ilya has a serious health problem. He can't drink any alcohol and coffee. It will disturb the level of protein in his blood and cause the accumulation of water in the cells. We take a walk along the Neva and reach a road construction site. Terrible smell from hot asphalt. Have to take another street. Pass a building that hosted horses some decades ago. Looks quite sad. We have a rest in the sun at the monument in the middle of the Mars Field. The wind is quite cold. Take a tram to Ploshchad Alexandra Nevskogo. A long way. We are late, but Denis is still there. We decide to walk Sinopskaya nab. along the Neva. Desolate houses, an electric power plant, a red-brick factory. Ilya suggests it's for champagne. We stop at Most Petra Belyukogo. Great architecture. The embankment in heavy granite. Take Prosp. Suvorovsky back to Ploshchad Vosstaniya. Buy some food, cream and sugar. Prepare tea in my studio. Ilya and Denis leave about midnight. Wash some clothes until 2:30.


Fri 21 May
10:00. No water. The construction site in the yard causes these troubles. Ask Evgeni about the water. He offers me a bottle as reserve supply. Jaroslav comes along. We make up our minds to go to the harbour. Take a bus to the other side of the Neva and have a short visit at the University. Try to find out a tram to the passenger harbour. Finally, we take a taxi. The driver takes us to Gostinitsa Morskaya. Looks rather sleepy. One huge cruiser, Maltese flag, lays along the pier. Terribly neat and clean. There is a shop in the hotel selling URAL motorbikes with powered sidecar for $1,900. We have a look at the café on the 7th floor. Dark design. Leave and walk around expo pavilions. A channel pretends to get us to the beach. We stop another car and get out at Gostinitsa Pribaltiiskaya. Expensive hotel. Have a coffee there. A huge entrance on the sea side is closed. There is no café. The square between the hotel and the sea is immense. A flight of stairs leads up to the hotel terrace, but nobody is there. The doors are closed. We have a rest in the bright sun at the sea side on top of connected containers close to the bank reinforcement. Die Sonne scheint, der Wind aber ist kalt. Der Strand ist mit allerlei Gestein übersät. Das Ufer ziemlich flach. Hinter uns der Hotelkasten und mehrere Maschinen, die Asphalt wegfräsen und auf LKW laden. Kinder schmeissen immer wieder Steine auf die Container. Schrecke dabei von einer nightmare in die andere. Jaroslav hat Erkundigungen eingeholt. Kronstadt liegt irgendwo vor uns im Meer. We go back by trolleybus. Jaroslav gets out at one of the Linii on Bolshoy prosp. Check the mail at the Telegraph. Werner informs me about the weather in Austria. Rain. He is raking the grass in my garden, and father is mowing with the scythe. Visit the café opposite the Telegraph. Customers always queuing up at the counter. There is just one lady. She has to make coffee, put snacks into the microwave, get the ice cream from a fridge, open bottles...etc. Take a bus to Novaya Gollandia. Open air concert in a small yard. Just a few people. Take a taxi to Nevsky prosp. and look for the shop on Nabr. Fontanki that sells telephone cards. Closed. Leave for Pushkinskaya 10 to see the performance of AXE. Happens in a whole flight of stairs. Full of symbolism. In the basement the woman lies on a bed. Pavel sits on a chair that is tied to the balustrade on the 6th floor. Maxim lets a puppet down on a string, another puppet is coming up by balloon. Suits on clothes-hanger moving up, others down. Permanent soundtrack. Answering machine, telephone, telephone service as: no connection with this number. Maxim opens his suitcase, very bright light emerges, he washes his face in a container placed inside the suitcase. Then he puts on fresh clothes and takes a seat at a small table with the two others. It's difficult to watch because the stairs are quite crowded. At the end Pavel moves down into the basement, lies on the bed and blows into a thin plastic tube. Permanent soundtrack. Maxim pours drops of water down the six floors. The clothes of Pavel, made of paper, somehow dissolve. That's the end. Have some tea with Denis. Later on we visit a small club called Griboedova. The bar is crowded, the sound system merciless. The ceiling very close. The place was built as an air raid shelter. Think I would never have gone down there. Leave at 3:00.

Sat 22 May
Wash the dishes, shave and leave. Head for Fontanki nabr. to buy a telephone card. Walk along the channel and turn to Litenij Prosp. and have a look at the address of Mr. XY, who my friend Mr. P. gave to me. Nobody at home. Fall into a café and eat the red fish. Sunny day. Hot. Walk around Pl. Belinskogo, buy some cigars at Gostiny Dvor, change money near the Int. Telegraph. Visit a café close the bridge Nab. Reki Moiki and Nevsky Posp. Stay at the bridge and look at the nearby landing stage for excursion boats. There is a strange couple around. The woman has to piss and does it hardly sheltered by a car. Take a bus to Hermitage. It's about closing time. I just want to have a look at the foyer, but the guard shouts SAKRITO, closed. Try to find a bus to Pl. Alexander Nevsky all along Nevsky Prosp. The one I take stops at Pl. Vosstaniya. Change to bus No 5, but it turns to the left the very first time. Have to go back and wait for eternities for trolleybus 10. This bus also turns to the left. Great. At least I have to learn to take either bus No. 1 or No. 22. Cross Most Alexander Nevsky and go on and on. Get out at a peripheral market. Countless new small kiosks but also private people selling clothes which they hold in their hands. Go back to Gostinitsa Moskva. The small café near the entrance is about to close. 19:00. Go back home and stay until 22:00. Visit Club Griboyedova because I heard about a 16mm film presentation. In fact videos of 16 mm films are shown. The sound is deafening. Leave soon. Meet Jaroslav outside Café Fish Fabrique. The café is totally full. Impossible to enter. There is at least no air inside.

Sun 23 May
9:00. Leave for Bistro Laima at about 12:00 to meet Ilya. He is half an hour late and wants to meet his uncle outside Metro Gostiny Dvor. We take Metro to Baltijskij Vokzal and change for a suburban train called ELECTRICKA to Oranienbaum. The fare is incredibly cheap. The train crowded. Luckily we find a place to sit. The wooden benches are designed for three people. Peddlers continuously enter the wagon, address the passengers and try to get rid of tooth paste, ice cream or shaving cream, magazines, socks. The train takes 45 min to Oranienbaum. From the station we walk along blocks of flats and industrial spaces towards the sea. We pass an anchoring ground for dull blue, aged war ships. Small ones. Some of them already half sunken. The ferry boat departs in two hours. We walk back to Oranienbaum and look for a café. Takes a while until we find one. It is new, TV program and video clips. Stupid pop video clips. We order cold borscht. At the other table Ilya recognizes the owners of a music label and organizers of concerts. We have to hurry. There is a bus near the station leaving for the ferry boat. It's just some scrap on four wheels. The doors crash together but hardly close. The naked iron welded together really crude, bolts everywhere, tubes along the floor. The back part of the bus is nearly touching the road surface. No shock absorbers. When the heap of scrape starts to move, it nearly falls into pieces. As we ride over some holes in the road I nearly take off through the roof. Luckily this adventure lasts only 5 minutes, including the overtaking of a truck loaded with timber. The boat is about to leave. When we try to go on board, we have to realize that the tickets are sold in the hall far away. We rush back, the captain waits for us. A strong wind is blowing. Try to shoot with the Bolex, but my fingers get frozen stiff. Close to Kronstadt, a big tanker flying the flag of Malta is taking course to crash the ferry boat. Our captain has no chance. The boat sinks and we have to swim to the shore. In Kronstadt we walk along anchoring ships, closed navy areas, wretched shipyards, military areas and blocks of flats. On the other side of the island we find some rust-eaten iron huts. Scrap, litter all around and in the shallow waters. Walk along a red brick viaduct, can't imagine what it was ever good for, and a long old building, probably military barracks, totally rotten. Reach the main square, where a huge cathedral is located. Really too big for this small island. Needs some restoration. Broken windows. In front of the entrance sound equipment is installed, penetrating the neighborhood. We visit a restaurant and order fish. Look for the bus station. The bus uses a dam to the northern shores outside St. Peterburg. We pass several dam construction sites, which look rather unfinished and forgotten. From the dam a few islands are to be seen. Former naval fortresses. The bus gets into a traffic jam. Arrive at Metro Chyornaya Rechka. Get out at Gostiny Dvor and take a bus back home. Go out again at midnight to call a friend in Moscow. Answering machine. Try another number. Somebody picks up the phone, it's not the one I know, of course, and he doesn't speak much English. The person I know is not in Moscow, but will probably be there in June. The call box is on Ligovsky Prosp. close to Nevsky prosp. and opposite Moskovsy Vokzal. Several trams are going along Ligovsky Prosp. Not at this time. In the night it is a construction site. The rail tracks crossing Nevsky prosp. get changed. Heavy machinery is lifting up stones and lets them fall onto a truck. Tremendous noise. How to make a telephone call under these conditions, especially with somebody who doesn't speak much English? A reasonable government should be able to get its citizen taught at least two foreign languages. From the cultural centre Pushkinskaya 10 to Nevsky prosp. is about 100 meters. Cross Nevsky Prosp. is Metro Pl. Vosstaniya. During day time GAI authorities, traffic police, are watching the traffic from the first floor of the building on the corner. The guards address the pedestrians via loudspeaker. When the green light for pedestrians turns to red, the cars start immediately. The prospekt has got eight or ten lanes. It is only possible to cross with the crowd. A little further on Ligovsky prosp. a night shop is located. There is a guard inside the shop and guards outside on patrol. Further on a police station is located on the first floor. Every time I pass I see guards questioning or interrogating some poor fellow. Sometimes I stop and look, but a guard will notice it and what then? Head for home. Just a few meters in front of me two guards turn the arms of a man up his back that he goes down the ground and take him to the station. As I pass, a heavily drunk man comes along carrying the seat of a car. He moves into the doorway, the guards have disappeared. A few meters later an old woman gets out from nowhere and addresses me. She has a strangely disfigured face. I pass.

Mon 24 May
8:00. Gennady, Evgeni's son, knocks on my door. Telephone. Valodja is calling. He is in Moscow. Prepare about ten empty yogurt containers to send them abroad. Leave a postcard inside and apply the address labels. Take a bus to the Central Post Office. Queue up for a while at the wrong counter. Try the counter for international letters. The devushka there informs me that these containers are not letters. Other customers in the line confirm that, in order to get rid of me. Look for the counter for parcels. Closed from 1:00 - 1:45. Wait until it opens. The devushkas there can't believe it: ten boxes with nothing inside. They offer me ten customs declarations and ten international address labels for petit paquet. Takes a long time to fill out the forms. Sender, receiver, contents, signature. Other customers in the line must have damned me. The devushka takes the empty yogurt containers, wraps each one in paper, fixes the address label and the customs declaration and ties a string around the box. Leave the place exhausted and take a bus to Nevsky prosp. Check the emails at the Central Telegraph. No message. Fall into the café on the other side of the street. Nobody queuing up. Surprise. Order some strange flat, oily cake which I don't like to eat then. Have a look at a nearby bureau du change where I already was before. It's a construction site today. Have lunch at Bistro LAIMA, Griboyedova Kanal, at the street garden. Order soup and fish. The bouillon is lovely and comes together with two rolled pancakes filled with cheese. Stay quite a long time and even count the passing pedestrians. Unbelievable: sixty persons per minute as the place is so close to the Metro Nevsky prosp. Leave for the Telegraph again, send two messages to my brothers. Back home by bus. Strong winds and it starts to rain. Shall buy a rain coat. Paste the address labels on the 500 envelopes I bought. Denis calls and we confirm an appointment for tomorrow. Jaroslav calls and passes by. He tries to find out the tel. number of the guy who organized the film presentation in Griboyedova Club. Want to ask him about empty reels for the 16 mm camera. Inna and Roman offered me a few hundred meters of B/W material but without reels. Griboyedova was a writer who got killed in Persia decades ago. Have a look inside the Lieutenant Blueberry albums I bought. Go to sleep at 2:00.

Subject: Buerocratie
Date: Mon, 24 May 1999 19:15:23 +0400
From: BCC <cds@spbnit.ru>
Organization: NCCU
To: guenter@pall.com, backwood@servus.at, francesca@servus.at
Komme gerade von einem Café, LAIMA, am Griboedova Kanal gelegen, ein paar Schritte entfernt von Nevsky Prospekt, den jeder Mensch aus der Umgebung von St. Peterburg einmal taeglich zumindest betritt. Angeblich wohnen in der Umgebung fuenf Millionen Menschen. Bloss ein paar Schritte sind es auch zur Metrostation. Das Café hat einen Schanigarten aus Kunststoff und ist ganz neu. Die Kellnerinnen hinter der Theke sind zahlreich und nett uniformiert. Self service. An sich ist nicht vorgesehen, dass man laenger verweilt. Bleibe aber doch und bestelle von Zeit zu Zeit etwas neues. Trotz der centralen Lage kostet der gekochte Lachs incl. Vorspeise und Bier bloss drei dollar, in Rubel 75.- An dem Café stroemen pro Minute etwa 60 Menschen vorbei.
Anfangs ist es sonnig, dann aber kommen Wolken auf und es wird ungemuetlich. Zuvor bin ich auf dem Hauptpostamt. Ich will eine spezielle Sendung aufgeben. Leere Jogourttetrapack. Die sind schoen stabil und in Oesterreich eine Raritaet. Obwohl sie leer sind, ist es nicht moeglich, sie als Briefe aufzugeben. Das sagt man mir, nachdem ich 20 Minuten in einer Schlange stehe und verweist mich an den internationalen Packetschalter. Dort amuesiert man sich jedenfalls ueber die Sendung, ist aber erst nach groesster Hartnaeckigkeit meinerseits bereit, taetig zu werden, das heisst, man haendigt mir Zolldeklarationen und Adressklebezettel aus. Meine Jogourtetrapaks werden jedes einzeln in Packpapier verpackt, mit Adresszettel und Deklaration versehen und verschnuert. Die Schlange hinter mir muss ewig warten und wünscht mich auf den Mond.
Gestern. Ausflug mit einem Bekannten zur Insel Kronstadt, die ein paar Seemeilen entfernt liegt. Fahren mit Elektricka, eine Art S-Bahn 45 Minuten und steigen in Oranienbaum aus. Von dort spazieren wir zur Faehre, vorbei an Dutzenden vertaeuten, mattblau gealterten Kanonenbooten. Einige davon schon halb gesunken. Auf der Ueberfahrt pfeift der Wind, dass ich beinahe erfriere an Deck. Schlecht ausgeruestet. In Kronstadt, das man erst seit ein paar Jahren besuchen kann, liegen jede Menge Schiffe vor Anker. Einige schon halb unter Wasser. Umfangreiche Uferverbauung in solidem Granit. Die Strassen heissen noch Ulica Lenina und Ul. Karla Marxa. Schwarze U-Boote liegen vor Anker. Wir besuchen nahezu jedes Café, an dem wir vorbeikommen. Essen in einem Restaurant Fisch (Lachs), incl Vorspeise und Tee. Drei Dollar. Fuer uns beide.
Viele aus Eisenblech zusammengeschweisste Bootsbaracken. Ein zusammenfallendes Viadukt, hunderte Meter lang und eine Art Kaserne, auch eine Ruine. Im Zentrum gibt es noch eine riesige Kathedrale, viel zu gross fuer diese Kleinstadt. Ebenfalls renovierungsbedürftig. Zerbrochene Fensterscheiben. Vor dem Haupteingang ist eine Verstärkeranlage aufgebaut und der riesige Platz wird mit Kommerzpop verschallt. Wir fluechten in einen Bus und der faehrt ueber einen Damm in Richtung Stadt zurueck. Im Wasser sieht man vereinzelt Inseln mit verrosteten Installationen. Befestigungsanlagen etwa. Am Damm gibt es in Abstaenden Schleusenanlagen, halbfertig aussehend. Verrostetes Betoneisen ragt heraus. Die Arbeiten sind eingestellt. Kein Geld vorhanden? Oder die Anlage ist ohnehin fertig und tadellos im Einsatz.
Der groesste Geldschein notiert mit 500 Rubel. Das sind 20 Dollar. Letzten August ist die Waehrung ueber Nacht auf ein Drittel abgewertet worden. Sehr viele Leute haben dabei Geld verloren, wie man sich vorstellen kann. Ich muss jetzt Schluss machen. Werner ich habe zwei mails von Dir bekommen, von Guenter und Franziska je eines. so long Backwood

Tue 25 May
9:00. Clock rings at 8:00. Can't remember the dream. The handkerchief I lost yesterday appeared somehow in the dream. Visit Kuznechni Rynok. Buy some apples. Where do they come from at this time? Tomatoes, basil, cream, dried apricots, milk in a plastic bottle from an elderly woman on the street, small cucumbers and Korean carrots. Take the food back home and leave for the Telegraph. Try to print return-address labels. Have to ask an expert for assistance to get it done. Have lunch at a café on the corner Nab. Reki Moiki and Nevsky prosp. See a guy with dreadlocks, whom I pass nearly every day somewhere on Nevsky Prosp. He wears an old coat with a fur collar and he seems to live on the remnants customers leave on their plates. He has to be quick, as some lady will take away the dishes. I offer him my soup Soljanka with all the sausage left. Leave and try to shoot a photo of the café. The film won't move. Rewind the film into the container by mistake. Have to look for a new film then. Walk along Ul. Zelyabova and have a look at the grand warehouse there. Expensive atmosphere. Crowded by guards. Buy a Cuban cigar. Walk around the block and have a rest at Café Bogart at Ul Konjushennaya, the only pedestrian area of St. Peterburg. The café has got a space outside. Smoke the remnants of yesterday evening's cigar, a Hoyo de Monterrey, which supposedly was lying decades under a bright neon tube and got basically restored in my primitively built humidor. Unpleasant winds. The sun just comes through from time to time. Leave for the printing company. Walk towards Nab. Fontanki, cross the bridge at the construction site Pl. Belinskogo and pass DOM KINO. Ask for the film festival office. It's another entrance, next to the main doors. Small and crowded. Get stopped immediately by a doorman and two ladies. They call the festival office and pass me the phone. Talk to Mrs. Alexandra and leave my cassette for her. Have to rush for the printing company. Cross the channel Nab. Reki Fontanki and head for Lijtenij Prosp. Walk along Ul. Nekrasova and Kovensky per. Mrs. Tatjana is about to leave. Receive my 450 photos, text in silk-screen printing technique at the back. Perfectly done. Take the photos home and start to put them into the envelopes. Have to leave again to meet Denis. Walk to Metro Vosstanya. The street lights are already changing when I start to cross Nevsky Prosp. Just pass the first lane when on five other lanes in front of me cars start to move. Somehow I can manage to escape into the middle of Nevsky Prosp. Has 6 lanes in each direction. Take Metro to Pushkinskaya where I realize that I am an hour too early by mistake. Walk around inside Vitebsky Vokzal. Old hall, huge flight of stairs. A colossal head of Lenin. The trains leave from the first floor. Plenty of guards fooling around, armed with automatic weapons. Walk out a side entrance. A truck is coming around a corner, rushing straight towards me so that I have to make a quick move. The truck stops at the entrance, a door opens at the rear. Guards move out of the truck. Other guards coming out the station. Leave and buy a beer at one of the kiosks on the other side of the street facing the main entrance. A very small guard stops two young men in front of the entrance, does a body search. Beside them a permanent stream of people entering the train station. Denis comes. He introduces me to his father, who accompanies him. We walk along Sagorodny prosp. until we get to a youth theatre, Teatr Junogo Sritelij. In front of the theatre a noisy amusement park, built up by some foreign company. Denis' father is a hydrologist. He shows me a ten ruble note. On it is a picture of a hydroelectric power plant on the River Jennisey. He was working there. Now he is a beekeeper. He was 12 during WWII. He remembers that the Germans threw leaflets with this picture on it: Churchill and Roosevelt singing, Stalin dancing. The song text dealt with no capitalists in the west and in the CCCP. Denis' father says that 80% of Soviet economy was for military purposes. Now production is low. Walk back to the train station. It was built by the Austrian Franz Anton von Gerstner. Have a tea in a huge hall. Just a few customers. We leave and walk along Ul. Borodinskaya. Not much traffic there. Surprise. At the end of this street on each side exactly the same building. Denis' father lives on Nab. Reki Fontanki. We say good bye, walk along Ul. Lomonosova and pass Aleksandrinski Teatr. Denis has to hurry to catch the last Metro. Walk along Nevsky prosp., pass the police station on Ligovsky prosp. near my home. Several guards inside and one victim. One of the guards is searching the man. Grabs in all his pockets. Look at this scenario until a guard notices and addresses me. So I think it is better to move on. Work on the cards again. Prepare some buckwheat and a tomato and cucumber salad. Go to sleep at 3:00. Rather tired.

Wed 26 May
9:00. Terribly tired from the work with address labels, envelopes and stamps. Jaroslav phones. Seal all the 450 envelopes. Call Ilya and arrange a meeting at 14:30 at Café Bogart. Jaroslav passes the café by chance. Ilya comes later, together with a friend. They bought a CD recorder to produce some CDs for Zat, the Norwegian musician. Starts to rain. Leave for the post office. When I unpack the heaps of letters, the lady immediately disappears. After some time another lady shows up, but doesn't want to take the letters. She calls another woman, who guides me to the letter boxes at the entrance. These ladies must hate letters. They only sell stamps and don't want to keep a letter at the counter. My letters were already put in order. Different batches for different countries. They don't care a damn about that. I have to open all the ribbons to throw the letters into the box. Walk towards Nab. Fontanki. Eat in a café on Grivtsova pereulok. Fish. Proceed to Ploshchad Mira, now called Sennaya Ploshchad. Some activity at the forlorn constructing site in the middle of the square. A crane moves and workers cut iron bars with welding gadgets and grinding plates. There is a crowded market in front of the Metro entrance. Take a tram to the Neva and walk to Ul. Shpalernaya, where I look for the jazz club JFZ. Highbrow audience. Good music. Piano, French horn and Vladimir Volkov on double bass. During the break I address Volkov, introduce myself and mention Mr. P., my friend, whom he must know. But he doesn't remember Mr. P. and he assures that he has never lived at the address I was looking for him, the one Mr. P. supplied me with. He doesn't remember to have met him in spring, when a piece of music of Mr. P. was performed somewhere in St. Peterburg, and my friend had gone there by plane, as he told me at that time. Rather confused, I meet Jaroslav at the entrance. The doorman doesn't allow him to enter. As I am a foreigner, I can arrange it. We stay just a short while and leave. Jaroslav knows people in Ul. Spalernaya. We have a look at the address. The kitchen is already crowded with three or four guests. Maxim, who lives in the flat, made a film and does various other things, which he won't speak of in detail. One of the guests is a filmmaker, too. We talk about technical details. Within a short time about six more people arrive. One or two mosquitoes are flying around in the kitchen. We leave and walk along Nab. Fontanki. Pass a Dum Druzhba and have a look at the café there. Spacious ambience but permanent radio program. Jaroslav takes a Metro at Nevsky prosp., I take a walk back home. Read an article about steel exports in the St. Peterburg Times. USA put restrictions on steel imports from Russia. The terminus DUMPING is defined as selling goods abroad for cheaper than they cost to produce or than are sold domestically. A very mysterious matter is the 50% devaluation of the rouble in August 1998. Now the steel producers have to pay just half of the wages they had to pay before. Another article deals with the Railway Ministry. There are three so-called monopolies in Russia. Gas giant GAZPROM, the Unified Energy Systems, the Railway Ministry. A Swiss-based company TRANS RAIL, was set up in 1998 to serve as a middleman between the Ministry and foreign clients who transport freight on Russia's railways. 50% of the company is held by the Railway Ministry, the rest by Militzer & Munch, a leading international freight forwarder. Trans Rail brings in about 50% of the Ministry's $2 Billion cash a year. There are speculations that money which should be sent back to the Ministry is being siphoned off for individual purposes in Switzerland. Similar to a scheme by which Aeroflot hard currency earnings were funnelled through a Swiss company BEREZOVSKY is alleged to have set up. KOVALYOV, the first deputy railway minister, has a son who holds a position in TRANS RAIL. Analogous situation is said to exist with the OKTYABRSKAYA Railroad and YEVROSIB, a company that was started by AKSYONENKO's nephew. Aksyonenko worked in the leadership of the Oktyabrskaya line. He is reported to be connected to Berezowsky through ROMAN ABRAMOVICH, the head of SIBNEFT, an oil company said to be controlled by Berezowsky.

Thu 27 May
9:00. Clock rings. Get up later. No water. Wash some clothes when it appears again. Phone Dima, he is not at home. Call the film festival. Nobody picks up the phone. Ludmilla asks me to assist her in translating the program for the anniversary of the house. Takes hours. Daniel calls. He wants to get his travel guide back. Leave for the pager company office on Nab. Fontanki to buy telephone cards. An English bookshop is located next to it. Buy one of the Lonely Planet Travel Guides. Eat at a restaurant on Nevsky prosp. I have been there before. Will never go there again because of the permanent radio program. Leave for home. Watch a performance in the yard, Maxim is participating, as he told me yesterday. Long-haired actors dressed in hippy clothes. Bongos. Throwing around a small ball. Can't get the concept. Take a bus to Café Bogart and smoke a cigar. The sun disappears and it gets cold in the street garden. Watch a group of very young break dance performers. The audience is immense. Probably two hundred people. No one wants to give a single coin for the great show. Compared to the hippy performance at the cultural centre, what a difference.

Fri 28 May
11:00. Didn't use the clock. Visit Kolja, the director, in his office. He hasn't reached the man who could have given me accommodation in Moscow and offers me the tel. number of another friend. Suggest leaving on Sunday. Have a look at some galleries on Nevsky Prosp. All of them are commercial galleries and just show kitsch. Starts to rain a little, stops again and starts again. Buy a plastic rain coat on Liteiny prosp., close to some other commercial exhibition space. Take a tram towards Troitsky Most, former Kirov Most. Have a look at the café near the tram station in front of the bridge. The entrance is through a photo shop. GAI police arrive at the square. They force drivers to stop. These get out the car, come along, the policeman salutes. Don't get the system how they choose drivers to stop. Seems to be an arbitrary act. Visit the Mramorny Dworez, Marble Palace, Russian State Museum. Offer the entrance fee at the counter. The devushka asks whether I am a tourist or Russian citizen. Tell her that I am Russian. She accepts the normal fee. Remember a painting which shows Kabakov in a wardrobe. Huge portraits of the Ludwigs by Helnwein. Get out again very soon. Walk along Millionnaya ul. Have a look at every café I see, but most of them are in the basement. Reach Bol. Konyushennaya ul. and take some photographs of the former horse stables which look quite decaying. Enter the yard. Many taxis gathered there. Various ones with flat tyres. Obviously the cars have been there a long time. The buildings in the yard decaying, too. Great. Phone from a box in Konyushennaya and forget my address book. Realize it at Griboyedova Kanal ten minutes later when I want to phone again. Head back and - surprise - the book is still there. Head for Dom Kino, in fact for the film festival office, as I can't get them by phone. Pass the Russian Museum. Try to enter. Guards. Address a man who comes from the huge hall. There will be a Strauss ball on Saturday he tells me. Get to Ploshad Belinskogo and Dom Kino. Ask at the gate for the MESSAGE TO MEN film festival office. The devushkas won't let me go inside. Stay there and an endless stream of people pass the narrow corridor. Some show small member cards, others printed invitations. Leave when it is nearly impossible to get out again because of the crowd. The building has got a huge entrance, but only the small gate is used for the event. Finally succeed in getting out again. Meet Dmitri and his girlfriend, who I met in a flat in Ul. Spalernaya two days ago. Today is the premiere of the film MOLOCH, which won a price in Cannes. The story so far deals with a meeting of a German dictator of the forties with friends in a place in the mountains. Dmitri shows me the cameraman. I ask him if he can get us into the film. Another man translates. Talk to him also. He is an actor in the film. Dmitri shows me Alexandra, the lady working for the film festival, whoI had talked to by telephone. They all can't get us into the film. Finally a lady arrives and she offers us invitation cards. I pass the gate together with a young woman. The devushka there starts to speak to her about me. Dmitri comes back and says something, don't know what, and we pass. She suggested that I was Russian but I was talking English with her. We watch the film. The huge hall is completely full. The film uses such long shots. Have a drink in one of the buffets. At the end actors and staff are on the stage and somebody is addressing the audience. Applause. Leave with Dmitri and his friend for Nevsky prosp. They use a recently renovated passage. Labyrinthine. We say good bye and I walk all the way to St. Isaac's cathedral and look for the Port Klub, where a small film festival shall be held. At the entrance just guards of the Port Club Disco who don't know anything. Probably it finished at 22:00. Walk back and enter a restaurant. Have to wait an eternity at the counter. The poor lady has to do all jobs by herself. Passing the order, getting the beer from the tap...The fish is really fat and the French fries, which I didn't want from the beginning, are weak and dark. Impossible to eat. Back home. Jaroslav phones at midnight. I didn't come to the appointment at Café Bogart at 20:00.

Sat 29 May
8:00. Get up that early. Leave for shopping. The bakery near Nevsky prosp. isn't open yet. Walk up Ligovsky Prosp. Have a look for a tobacconist and find Quinteros, even stored in a humidor. Rather quiet on the sidewalk at that time. Jaroslav knocks on the door at 9:00. He plans to go to Pskov, where a friend is creating a website for him. Call Daniel because of the 16mm film material offered to him by someone he knows. Phone Dmitri. We arrange to meet at Metro Udelnaya at 13:00. Take a Metro to Technologichesky Institut instead of Gostiny Dvor. Three stations more. When I leave the station, I face the car of guards. Two guards check the identity card of a young man, short hair, leather jacket. Dmitri and his girlfriend are about 30 minutes late. Opposite the Metro station is a suburban train station. We buy a ticket to the Gulf of Finland. The train isn't too crowded, we even get a seat. About one hundred people are sitting in this wagon of the ELECTRICKA. The train rolls through birch tree forests. Wooden houses scattered around. We get out at KOMAROBO and walk inside a recreation area. Beautiful houses made of wood. We enter the garden of one of the houses. Igor and Andrea, friends of Dmitri, are watching TV. We move to the conservatory and have tea. Igor has a broken arm caused by a bicycle accident. Dmitri looks at some photographs on the table. They show Igor and his Swiss girlfriend on Mount Elbrus. She is working on a project in Perm and flies there via St. Peterburg once a month. Andrea was in Germany and Holland about eight years ago and speaks some German. In the garden there are a few more buildings. One was for animals, another is a rotten cellar. Igor suggests that it was filled with ice in the wintertime. Dmitri and Andrea are busy with some fishing equipment. Kicking a ball to and fro with Igor. His dog gets quite excited about it. Sunny day. The whole estate would be pleased with some investment. The old house is beautiful. Even rooms upstairs. Old furniture, old, cracked paint. The house belongs to Andrea's girlfriend. Her grandfather was a doctor under Stalin and got the house as a grant. Igor stays at home. We leave for the beach. Pass the train station, walk along the rail tracks, cross a forest of birch and pine trees and reach the coast. Then walk along the shore for miles, pass a restaurant with a parking lot of expensive cars. Near this place a line of scattered rocks leads out to sea a hundred meters. Fishermen are perched on these rocks, clouds appear. Lucky to have taken my jacket. Andrea and Dmitri throw out their lines in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Finland. I rest at a rock sheltered from the wind and fall half asleep. Sprays of rain. Go back to the beach and take a walk in the sands, barefoot. Close to the shore a beautiful wooden house is located in between pine trees. It has even got a small tower with small, blue and yellow coloured window glasses. In fact, the house is decaying. Open doors, broken windows, others covered by crude boards. When Dmitri and Andrea have enough of fishing - they don't catch any fish - we leave for a coffee in a restaurant on the beach. Very new place, just a few people there. All the food is served on plastic plates and the coffee in plastic cups. The lady cleaning the table piles up all the plastic plates and throws them in a nearby bucket. The beach is not very polluted yet. We take a different route through the forest and pass old wooden houses, individual architecture. Many of them decaying because of the conditions of ownership. They houses belong to institutions, factories, academies...which probably have other problems at the moment. We pass the cottage of the major of St. Peterburg. It looks totally wrecked. The major, dressed in worn out clothes, is begging at the gate. We buy some Pelmeni at the kiosk near the train station, some sauce and a bottle of wine coming from a solchoz on the Crimea in another, actually closing shop. Hot ears. Was it the sun and the wind on the beach? Back to the house. The Pelmeni are put on the fire and Andrea and Dmitri start to play chess. Andrea's wife comes home. His father used to coach pilots. Andrea was in Workuta in the army. A remote place far north. He could persuade his father to send the pilots to Kazakstan. There they loaded some Kazakstan Gold and flew it to Workuta to have a good time. That's what Andrea told me. We start to eat the Pelmeni when we realize we have to be at the station in five minutes to catch the last train. Run all the way. Quite unpleasant to run with a bag containing a 16 mm Bolex H16 camera inside. Arrive at the station, the schedule is different on Saturdays, the train leaves later. Inside the wagons some passengers are lying on the benches. Vodka. Get out at Udelnaya. Split. Take metro to Nevsky prosp. Crowds of people everywhere. Litter, noise, singing and shouting people. In the passage under Ul. Sadovaya crowds of people. Some gates already closed. Hardly possible to get through the passage. Wait for a bus in front of Gostiny Dvor. The bus is full. Don't know how and why I get inside. Horrible ride. Get out the next station. Still quite far from home. Some other busses pass. They are nearly empty. Think about throwing myself into one of the channels. Finally reach home. Exhausted. Take a shower, drink a lot of tea and eat all food I have at home. Denis phones. Lay down and sleep.


Sun 30 May
11:00. Some tea. Wash the socks. Leave for the Int. Telegraph Office. No messages. Have lunch at Café Bogart. Smoke a cigar. Got too humid in my storage. Hard to get the smoke out of it. Walk along Nevsky prosp. Crowded. Bright light but strong wind. Take a tram per chance in Ul. Sadovaya. Cross the bridge near Marble Palace Marmorny Dvorets. Tram turns back at Metro Chkalovskaya. The studio Ilya uses for work is near this station. Try to go back on another tram. It turns to the left very soon, crosses a bridge and passes the TV tower. Get out and walk back to a square. Rather uninhabited. Strong winds. Jump into a bus and get out at Metro Sportivnaya. In the park a man is lying under a tree and his best friend is trying to get him up. He tears at his leatherjacket really hard. In vain. The guy is too heavy and doesn't really want to get up. Vodka. Take Metro to Pl. Vosstaniya and wait for Denis at Metro Mayakovskaya. We visit a café. Nobody in there and it closes very soon. Denis has to go to Baltiisky Dom cultural centre. Today his partner told him that he wants to do his own performance. Denis planned to participate in a festival with this production. His partner told him that he used the rehearsals just to structure his time. We split. Head for Ul. Sovietskaya 6 to meet Dmitri. Eat some Blini pancake in a small place facing a square hosting a covered kiosk passage close to Moskovsky Vokzal. Order a soup, called bouillon. Some instant stuff is put in a plastic cup and hot water from the Samovar poured upon. Walk along Suvorovsky prosp. until 6th Sovietskaya. Dmitri isn't there at 21:00. Somebody else opens the door. Decide to come again later. Stay at the entrance of a post office in the bright light of the evening sun. Go back after a while and meet Dmitri. We stay in Aljoscha's room. He is a painter and, of course, does various other things, is now watching TV. Dmitri leaves to buy some beer. He comes back with a 2-litre plastic bottle. Talk about the bombing of Serbia. Try to point out that it is just a few people who are responsible for the war and who make a big profit out of it. We can't do anything. A friend is coming. Speaks English. After midnight they rush for the Metro. I go home on foot.


Mon 31 May 1999
11:00. Jaroslav phones. Meet him at Café Bogart. Denis comes at 12:30 or later. He accompanies me to the railway KASSA. Try to buy a ticket for Moscow. Queue up quite a while. As I am already close to the counter, the devushka closes for a break. Stay. After 20 minutes she comes back. Get the ticket issued. Leave for restaurant Laima to have lunch. Have a look at the Russian Museum. Closed. We visit the Engineer's Palace. The exhibition is already closed. Denis knows a painter who is a professor at Novi Akademij. We hassle around at the gate. Fortunately TIMUR NOVIKOV, the director of this academy, passes by. He is blind because of meningitis a few years ago, as Denis knows. A young lady is guiding him. He invites us to the New Academy. We enter a studio somewhere in the palace. New Academism is a funny style. Timur wants to leave soon. We have a look at the art shop of the museum. Hundreds of Matrioschkas and these small boxes made of paper maché and lacquer. Prices between 150 and 300 and more. Think this is quite expensive. Denis and the lady in charge of the artworks show up. I have to learn that the prices are in dollars. Shock. We cross Mars Field and walk along Nabr. Moiki. Vladislav, a friend of Denis, lives at number 81 on the top floor. It is the flat of his parents. Great view. He studies philosophy and sometimes works as a DJ. It happens that we talk about art. Vladislav thinks that there is nothing new in art. Eclecticism. We don't agree. His young son is with him, as is his son's mother, but they don't live together. We leave and visit the Moiki to eat something. Fried eggs and Solyanka, a kind of soup that may contain anything one can imagine, at any rate, however, sausages. Then we take a bus to nowhere and visit two other friends of Denis. Two young musicians who live in a one-room ground floor apartment. There is just one window into a dark, tiny yard. One of them plays trumpet and is from Barnaul, Siberia, the other is from X and plays violin. Ask them how they like St. Petersburg. They are glad to be here. We go out together and walk towards the bridge near Smolny Cathedral We say good bye there. Take a tram back to Moskovsky Vokzal. Eat some crepes near the roofed kiosk passage and go home. Start to pack my things. Somebody knocks on the door. Four people in the anteroom. How did they get inside the studio? They look rather surprised at me. A tall man, dressed in a suit, another man, bald-headed and weighing 120 kilos, and a fresh young lady. She asks me what I am doing here. Somebody mentions Barbara. What shall I say? Just mention Nikolai, the director. They try to understand and leave. The guy in the suit shakes my hand.