Saturday, February 28, 2004
MY RUSSIAN FRIEND
I'd had no luck tracking down my friend Leonid, a journalist in Moscow. I last saw him in 1994. I had to cover a beer expo at the New York Coliseum...tough work, but somebody had to do it, and I took him with me. I still have my Anchor Steam t-shirt from that event. When we got back to the office, people told me that Scott Muni had been ranting about me on WNEW-FM. In a column, I had taken his station to task for driving the Hootie & the Blowfish bandwagon. It showed to me that the station's slogan, "where rock lives" should really be "where rock lives...in a cryogenic chamber." Sadly for WNEW-FM, the Hootie moment in rock culture was not as lasting as the station was hoping for, their ratings went from anemic to dismal, and eventually they went to a talk format.
I wrote a story about the marketing of Russian vodka in the United States for Leonid's newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda. Not only was it my first story in any newspaper's business section, it was also the first printed in Russian. (Leonid translated).
The other day Leonid found me, doing a Google search and finding this Web log. The topic quickly turned to music. We acknowledged a shared fondness for Belle & Sebastian, and for British Sea Power. "I rate them high although emotionally we are on different frequencies, but I like the way they think," Leonid said about BSP. I agreed: After all, we are like 30 years older than the members of British Sea Power, the quite brilliant quartet from Brighton, England. And to me they even connect emotionally, at least on "Remember Me," an anthem that dares to make its mark with descending minor chords. Yeah, I like the way they think, too. "Same would be said about Lambchop," Leonid continued. "Their latest CD is on my turntable right now." He also mentioned Madrugada, a Norwegian band. "Really sad and beautiful tunes." I hadn't heard or heard of them, but I expect I will when Leonid visits next month.