Sunday, January 31, 2016

Why the USSR?

Because everything eventually must fade out...

For almost 70 years, the Soviet Union was a grand political and economic experiment gone horribly wrong, and a Cold War military superpower that fed our American fears of nuclear Armageddon. For those of us that lived on our side of the Iron Curtain, they were the embodiment of Aldous Huxley's "Player on the Other Side". In reality, they were our closest neighbor in a slow decline.

They had their share of heroes, to be sure. Yuri Gagarin, first man in space. Author Boris Pasternak. Composer Sergei Prokoviev. They had their villains and boogeymen as well. Stalin. Kruschev. The KGB and Spetznaz. Good and evil, just like us.

I remember when the Berlin Wall came down. A lot of Americans cheered that day, like we won some long game of Risk. It was my first peek at our ideological opposites, and I couldn't find a reason to hate anyone who was so eager to embrace us.

Fiction has done a great job giving us Soviets to fear. James Bond fighting SMERSH. Batman fought both the NKVDemon and the KGBeast. But there was that Russian honor and pride in characters like Teen Titan Red Star and the Avenger, Black Widow. Even Captain America found his opposite in Red Guardian.

But it had its time, and Gorbachev knew when it was time to let it all go. And in much the same way, it's time for me to do so as well. I'll be walking away from the site for now, but I know Grant, MK, and the rest will have something up their sleeves to get the band back together soon.

Thank you, Thoughtballoons, for the most unique writing experience I've ever been part of. You are all blessed beyond words. Za zdorov'ya.


  1. Thanks, Ray. It's been a real pleasure reading you and getting to know you a little bit.

    As tribute, one of my favorite USSR stories from when I was a kid was a photograph from 1984--my mother holding up three year-old me in front of the Berlin Wall. The "Press" name apparently comes from St. Petersburgh, where my Ashkenazi Jewish great grand-parents left the country after the Czar and his family were killed.

    1. Wow! That is definitely a story that should be told. And thanks for all the kind words. Be well, and in the words of Warren Ellis, write faster, there's damage to be done.


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