Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Pidhajtsi in Wintertime

I thought that I would post some photos of Pidhajtsi in wintertime. I am playing around with using the FotoPages site for posting my photos, so click here to see more.

By the way, I am not doing much writing at the moment as I, in addition to having my hands full as everyone else with the holidays, am spending a lot of time catching up on reading that I have fallen way behind on: ya know, Ukraine blogs, journals, Ukraine-lists and e-poshtas, Kuzio and Kyiv Post articles, etc., all the usual culprits. I'm also making a huge push to finish both Robert Service's recent biography of Lenin as well as to get through Slavoj Zizek's 40 pp essay "Repeating Lenin" and all the commentary it has provoked (the essay has become an infamous and provocative attempt to look at Lenin's thought and revive a form of Leninism for the 21st century). Revival of Lenin is not a rallying point for me, but the essay is thought provoking; check it out here. (Note: those who hate intellectual discourse or Cultural Studies-eese, stay clear of this piece; you'll just make yourselves mad. However, it actually is a well done piece; Zizek is always an entertaining writer, if at times a bit righteous and overly flamboyant.)

More in the New Year. . .

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

World's Best Fortuneteller

My daugher Julija has already discovered her future profession. She is now offering consultations; however, she speaks in tongues so you will need a translator or to be fluent in Babieese.


Friday, December 16, 2005

Poverty of Spiritual Understanding

DETROIT - The conservative American Family Association said Thursday it will consider reinstating a boycott against Ford Motor Co. because the automaker plans to continue running advertisements in gay publications.

See full article here.


Thursday, December 15, 2005


Ethnic Dance Theatre presents the only all-traditional Nutcracker in town. See and hear authentic ethnic dance and music from Hungarian Transylvania, Franconian Germany, Siberian Russia, Central Ukraine, the Appalachians, China, Egypt, and Mexico. Klara is delighted with Drosselmeyer's gifts of dancing dolls: Ukrainian tin soldiers, an Appalachian clogging rag doll, Austrian music box, and a Hungarian nutcracker. Tchaikovsky’s music (played on folk instruments) is adeptly interwoven with additional music from China, Egypt, Mexico, Bulgaria and more.

When: December 16-18, 2005, Friday and Saturday 7:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m.
Where: Concordia University, E.M. Pearson Theatre, 312 N. Hamline Ave., St. Paul
The Nutcracker!

On-line demo:

$12-$25 Ticketworks (no fees!): 651-209-6689

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

On the Road to a Doc, Part IV: Decay, Ruin, Neglect, Immiseration

(stills from videofootage from the town of Pidhajtsi, state of Ternopil)

"My mother used to work in a conservatives factory during Soviet times that employed over 100 people. After the collapse, the factory continued to work for some years, until it closed. It was said that the managers had a difficult time adjusting to the new environment, to market conditions, but everybody knows that what really happened is that they got rich by mismanaging their business. When the factory closed, they sold much of the equipment, and the conservatives section has never reopened. There was also a bakery and mill, that have reopened, but they are privately run and don’t employ as many people as they used to. Behind me is the building where they used to sell their products. This is a perfect example of the decline in the small towns of Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union, especially in Western Ukraine."

–Oksana Kolodnytska, 23 yr. old school teacher in Pidhajtsi who has a mastery of English and French, who is working on mastering Spanish, and who reads German, and who receives a $60/month wage that she shares with other members of her family, who survive mostly as subsistence and cash-crop farmers. She made this comment in English. She has never been outside of Ukraine.

The building in the background is the mill that was run down and then reopened as a private enterprise. The owners would not let me film inside.

Sunset over the fields during fall harvest this past Oct., 2005, in Pidhajtsi; try to make out the woman walking her cows.

A stencil that appeared in Kyiv around UPA day. The letters read UPA, the Ukrainian initials for Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which was an organization that fought both the German and Soviet occupations of Ukraine during WWII. UPA was active in Western Ukraine until the early 1950s. Many of those people descended from UPA veterans and supporters were for the OR. (Note: anyone who may think that UPA was an anti-Semitic institution, and who may think that many of the descendants of UPA veterans and supporters that became involved in oranizing behind the OR are in large part today neo-Nazis, simply needs to become better informed.)


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Promotion: Folk Dance Version of the Nutcracker

Greetings All,

I have been out of the blogosphere for a while, and will continue to be for the rest of the week more or less, as I have perfomance to do this weekend.

Here is a promotion of EDT's folksy version of the Nutcracker; check it out this weekend if you are anywhere near the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. See what I wrote about EDT here (and scroll down to the bottom to post "New Links Section: Folk Culture Corner"), and/or check out the company's website here.

OR EVEN BETTER YET, CHECK OUT A PREVIEW OF THE SHOW HERE (all the music was recorded live).

Friday, December 02, 2005

Day 3 of OR: Stills of Pidhajtsi Demo

Below are photos of an OR demonstration in the town of Pidhajtsi, about which I have written many times on this blog. It is a small town of pop approx. 4,000 (or up to 7,000 if you include the immediately surrounding villages of Halych, Stare Misto, and Sil'tse) that is located in the state of Ternopil, and is appox. 35km from the town of Berezhany (pop approx. 25,000) and 75km from the city of Ternopil (pop approx. 250,000), and is 40 km from the town and castle of Halych. Thus Pidhajtsi is in the heart of Halychyna (Galicia), and is perhaps one of the most representative of places indicating what Galician identity and heritage are all about. Many of its inhabitants will claim that Pidhajtsi is the heart of Galicia, which makes it a perfect place from which to talk about so-called "West Ukrainian Nationalism" and the role that it played in the OR.

The Pidhajtsi region or county was one of Ukraine's most fiercely pro-Yushchenko regions, which is witnessed by the fact that it had the highest voter turnout and most votes for Yushchenko in all three rounds of the election fiasco of 2004. Also, people from Pidhajtsi who were in Kyiv during the OR like to claim that their's was the first, giant-size poster proudly proclaiming where its barers were from to appear on Independence Square, which further suggests the fierceness of support for change that came from this town. (That poster is now in the town museum.) The people of Pidhajtsi have long suffered some of the highest rates of unemployment, some of the lowest rates of higher education, and therefore some of the highest poverty rates, and along with most of Western Ukraine some of the most disasterous infrastructrual problems in all of Ukraine. (Click here and scroll to the bottom to "Ukrainian Weekly Article About Pidhajtsi," for the piece I wrote about the collapse of the gymnasium in Pidhajtsi a month before the elections in 2004.)

All of which is to say that the people of Pidhajtsi, along with those of the rest of Western Ukraine in general, have suffered from a much greater degree of post-Soviet neglect by comparison to the people of many other regions of Ukraine; which also means that their fierce patriotism has mostly to do with the fact that they have more to gain through economic change than most anyone else.

And by the way, Western Ukrainian poverty is not due to the fact that, as some have stated in a totally unfounded claim, that Western Ukraine was Yushchenko's own little fiefdom that he ruined through his fondess for neoliberal or Milton-and-Thomas-Friedmanesque economics. Yushchenko, as head of the national bank for years and PM for one year, has more or less never directly controlled Western Ukraine. Furthermore, as national bank chief in the 1990s, he actually helped to stabilize the situation in Ukraine in general by doing his part to bring hyperinflation under contol; as PM he saw reforms that resulted in state workers and pensioners getting paid for the first time, for some in months, and for many in years. Whereas Yushchenko did his part as national bank chief and briefly as PM to inact reforms for the benefit of the country as a whole, Western Ukraine's deeper immiseration relative to the rest of Ukraine is due to the neglect of authorities and oligarchs whose attention has been focused elsewhere. It was totally false for anyone to have ever argued that a Yushchenko presidency risked spreading the ruination of the Western regions to the rest of the country. Unfortunately, a number of Western leftists completely swallowed this anti-Yushchenko propaganda of Ukraine's eastern-based oligarchs. These Western leftists bought this bit merely as stooges of their own ideologies, which is a really sorry situation, since those who supported Yanukovych in Ukraine did so in largepart because they too are victims of poverty, misinformation, and the authoritarian control of the eastern oligarchs over their regions. The real risk, which still looms as Ukrainians head for the very important parliamentary elections, is that the post-Kuchma oligarchy will deepen its control, resulting in an ever worsening state of generalized neglect and ruin throughout the country. Once again I repeat here that one could wrote a book along the lines of What's the Matter with Kansas, and call it What's the Matter with Donbass? and ask the important question of "Why do people vote or support those forces that work against their own, long-term, best interests?

I have a longer peice on the role of so-called "West Ukrainian Nationalism and the OR" in the works; for now enjoy these photos.

One other point: the OR happened throughout Ukraine and not just in Kyiv. I hope the series of three photo posts I have done here (this one, and the two below from Berezhany and Ternopil) helps to illsutrate how important this is to keep in mind. . .

(once again, these are all stills from video footage)