Editorial and Business Offices: The Texas Observer, 600 W. 7th St., Austin, Texas 78701. Telephone 477-0746. N41111011Y everything. At any given time, literally day or night, you can probably find between one-fourth and one-fifth of all Soves waiting in line for ice cream cones, apartment applications, theater tickets, bread, transportation, library books, beauty shop appointments, anything, everything. The single tackiest thing one can do in the Soviet Union is to take a cut in line. But, given the “classless” society, certain folks are automatically shown to the head of almost any line party honchos, v.i.p.’s of almost any stripe, and, embarrassingly enough, touring Amerikanskis. Try standing in line for three to four hours every day and see how much it improves your temper. For all of the above reasons and many more, the Russian street life is semi-grim. The people . tend to be overweight and stolid. There is little expression in their faces as they talk with one another, they seldom gesticulate and are not friendly. When one nods and smiles to folks on the streets or in parks, they seldom respond, even the children. They are more apt to stare at you sullenly. And they snap at one another frequently. The Russians are not the wittiest folks I’ve ever come across. On the rare occasions when they make jokes, they tend to preface them with, “And now I will tell you a funny story ” It’s frequently a good thing that you have advance warning. After the story is over, everybody laughs with big slow “Huh, huh, huhs,” as though it hurt their hernias. Moscow Moscow, with the exception of the Kremlin and Red Square, is one of the ugliest cities I have ever seen. It’s on a par with Abilene, Amarillo, and Lubbock. It has 7.5 million inhabitants and grows in semi-orderly circles. The center of the city contains some fairly attractive 19th century architecture, along with the fantastic and spectacular onion-domed churches of post card fame. The rest of the city is made up of your basic Soviet cracker box schlock apartment houses from eight to 12 stories high. The cracker boXes are utterly without redeeming architectural value. Not even the grossest American ticky-tacky can touch it for unrelieved ugliness. Most of it is pre-fab and very badly done. Talk about your instant slum the tiles come up off the floors, the bricks fall off the outside walls, the doors don’t fit the jambs, the stairsteps are wildly uneven, and the elevators literally never stop level with the floors I think there must have been an anti-level resolution passed at the 15th Party Congress. The matter of Soviet building construction is worth a book in itself. It’s one of the few things they have a sort of sense of humor about. Their one humorous publication, Crocodile, frequently runs cartoons about construction snafus sinks that aren’t connected to the plumbing, front steps that don’t come down to the street, and balconies that get put on solid walls no windows, no doors, just balconies stuck onto solid brick walls. On the up side, Moscow’s city planners are leaving plenty of green space between the buildings, much more than one sees in European or American cities. If they ever get around to replacing the cracker boxes with decent buildings, they’ll have a good-looking city. Nice and spacey with trees all about. They’ve also got an excellent mass transit system which they carefully expand along with the city’s growth. The subway system is first-rate and both motorized and electric buses chug around everywhere. But the whole place sort of looks as though the Soviets needed to import the entire population of Switzerland to tidy it up. Tidiness is not a Soviet characteristic. Lawn-mowers have apparently never made it into a five-year plan spaces that should be lawns are either packed dirt or scraggy green weeds. In the midst of what is obviously intended to be a nice park-like area one consistently sees piles of junk that look as though they’d been there since before the revolution. Next to buildings that are clearly at least 10 years old, one frequently sees piles of leftover construction materials little of this, little of that, just garbaging up the place. It was quite difficult for our delegation to get an accurate reading on the housing situation in Moscow, since we were cribb’d, cabin’d, and confined by official sources. As near as we could figure out, there used to be an awful housing shortage but now things are considerably better but still not as good as the Soves would have us believe. Specifically, our Soviet sources said there are scarcely any communal apartments left, i.e., those in which several families share the kitchen and bathroom. I would not dare to put a percentage on it, but there are still plenty of such places around. One bedroom apartments frequently shelter Mom, Dad, a couple of kids, and an odd grandparent or two. Young people have the devil of a time finding any larivacy in which to neck or whatever else it is that young Soviets do in private. They are driven to public benches in parks, taxi cabs, or \(a Contributing Editors: Steve Barthelme, Bill Brammer, Gary Cartwright, Joe Frantz, Larry Goodwyn, Bill Hamilton, Bill Helmer, Dave Hickey, Franklin Jones, Lyman Jones, Larry L. King, Georgia Earnest Klipple, Larry Lee, Al Melinger, Robert L. Montgomery, Willie Morris, Bill Porterfield, James Presley, Buck Ramsey, John Rogers, Mary Beth Rogers, Roger Shattuck, Edwin Shrake, Dan Strawn, John P. Sullivan, Tom Sutherland. We will serve no .group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. The editor has exclusive control over the editorial policies and contents of the Observer. None of the other people who are associated with the enterprise shares this responsibility with her. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them the editor does not necessarily imply that she agrees with them, because this is a journal of free voices. Published by Texas Observer Publishing Co., biweekly except for a three week interval between issues twice a year, in July and January; 25 issues per year. Entered as second-class matter April 26, 1937, at the Post Office at Austin, Texas, under the Act of March 3, 1879. Second class postage paid at Austin, Texas. Single Copy, 50. One year, $8.00; two years, $14.00; three yeard, $19.00; plus, for Texas addresses, 5% sales tax. Foreign, except APO/FPO. 50 additional per year. Airmail, bulk orders, and group rates on request. Microfilmed by Microfilming Corporation of America, 21 Harristown Road, Glen Rock, N.J. 07452. ‘ Change of Address: Please give old and new address, including zip codes, and allow two weeks. Postmaster: Send form 3579 to Texas Observer, 600 W. 7th St., Austin, Texas 78701. THE TEXAS OBSERVER The Texas Observer Publishing Co. 1974 Ronnie Dugger, Publisher A window to the South A journal of free voices Vol. LXVI, No. 21 Nov. 1, 1974 Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Democrat, which in turn incorporated the Austin ForumAdvocate. EDITOR CO-EDITOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR EDITOR AT LARGE Kaye Northcott Molly him John Ferguson Ronnie Dugger BUSINESS STAFF Joe Espinosa Jr. C. R. Olofson Keith Stanford
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