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A trip of a lifetime!

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8 minute read

by Glenn Kubish

Russia has tugged at me for a long time.

As a boy in a house with a Bible and an Edmonton Journal subscription, I followed the acts of a small number of characters in the bigger world: the Apostles, the NHL stars, and Russian and American politicians. My young imagination was peopled by, basically, St. Paul, Phil Esposito, Bobby Orr and Ken Dryden, with room for Nixon, Ford, Brehznev, Gromyko, Chernenko, and, later, Reagan, Andropov, and Gorby.

In international play, Kharlamov represented the Soviet Union at 11 World Championships, winning 8 gold medals, 2 silvers and 1 bronze. He participated in three Olympics, 1972, 1976 and 1980, finishing with two gold medals and a silver, and participated in the 1972 Summit Series against Canada.

The Canada-Russia hockey series in 1972 captivated us. We watched games in assembly in the school gym on giant TVs that sat on wheeled legs. After school, when a friend in net made a great save during a road hockey game on 67 St, someone would invariably yell “Tretiak!” It was the highest compliment. Indoors, we spent hours and hours playing Coleco table hockey. My friend across the lane, Brucey Straka, spray-painted red a squad of plastic players. We replayed the 1972 series until some time in late 1979. Valery Kharlamov was unstoppable down the left wing groove.

Boris Spassky playing Bobby Fischer in chess made its way to me in northeast Edmonton. I had a stamp collection and there was a Pushkin stamp.

Vasily Alekseyev was a Soviet super heavyweight lifter. He won 2 Olympic gold medals and set 80 world records. He died in 2011 at 69.

On TV, the Russians were larger than life. Think Vasily Alekseyev. And artistic. Think Rodnina and Zaitsev. There were Russian judges, shorthand for Cold War intrigue. And Boris and Natasha. Le Carre. And Robert Ludlum. Bony M’s Rasputin.

Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) was a Marxist revolutionary, theorist, and Soviet politician.

We studied the Russian Revolution in social studies. Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky. Ice pick. Mexico. We drank Black Russians. Vodka and coffee liqueur, if I remember right. Purges. Five year plans. Collectivized farms.

Flying ????????

As an undergraduate, I took a year-long Soviet politics course with Professor Max Mote. I learned there were academics who considered themselves Kremlinologists. And those words, just the exotic sound of those words: Kremlin. Pravda. Izvestia. Aeroflot. GUM. And the Gulag Archipelago. We studied the theory of mutual assured destruction and then went to drink at Dewey’s. I read Jonathan Schell’s The Fate of the Earth in New Yorker instalments while sitting in Rutherford South Library. Connery and Daniela Bianchi in Bond.

99 Luftballons is an anti-war protest song by the German band Nena released in 1983.

It’s all over and I’m standing pretty.  Nena, too. I have no way of proving this, but I believe I have listened to 99 Red Balloons more than anyone else in northeast Edmonton. I have always tried to chase down, to name the something that is out there. It was all clear on the dance floor at Crackerjacks.

Karenia, as I kinda picture her.

Then the literature found me. And I lost myself in it. I lost stanines, too. Instead of reading Lipsey, Purvis, Sparks and Steiner, I read Tolstoy, Chekov, Pushkin and Turgenev. This country of beautiful, suffering people, what was it? This Karenina, this Vronsky, these peasants, these trains, this passion, these fathers and children, this sense that happiness is not among the goods to be achieved on earth. Then the writings of the dissidents. Solzhenitsyn was a beacon.

Somehow I got a lapel pin from the Moscow Olympics.

Snowden, of course, ended up in a Russian airport.

Pushkin above – Shelagh right

This year, I made it to Russia. Shelagh and I attended the Winter Bike Congress in Moscow earlier this month. We took a train in through the dark from the Sheremetyevo airport and emerged on Tverskaya Street, a river of light and traffic and the sound was tires on slush. Horns blared. Women in mink coats walked the sidewalks. Black BMW 7 series coupes flew by. Light standards were adorned with LED displays in the shape of giant goblets. Workers chipped ice.

Shelagh on Tverskaya

We saw a lot. We saw Red Square. The metro station announcements: “This is Park Kultury.” Unlike Manhattan, people looked at each other. Tulips and roses at the foot of the towering Pushkin statue. We walked through the GUM store and we walked past Gucci and Manolo Blahnik and Valentino and even Levi’s. Nothing to lose but our chains, I thought. We ate deer heart and drank vodka at LavkaLavka. We walked to LavkaLavka, remembering to walk past the Rachmaninoff statue on the way. It snowed snowflakes. Crews shovelled. A young boy carried with two hands a big piece of ice. We met remarkable people. We rode bicycles on closed streets with thousands of others. People above waved from bridges.


And, oh, yeah, we go rounded merrily in the cold. Whirrrrr!

It wasn’t that I was home. It was precisely not home. But I did meet a lot of myself there.
(Glenn Kubish is a former print and TV journalist. We’d like to thank Glenn and his wife Shelagh for letting us publish this wonderful story and congratulations on your amazing trip to Russia!  The Todayville Team)

By Glenn Kubish

I live in Edmonton.
I ride a bicycle.
I play a guitar.
I like coffee.
I am married to Shelagh.
I like to read.
I try write short sentences.
I blog at http://glennkubish.blogspot.ca/
I tweet at @kub64

 

 

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The Grand Opening is TODAY!

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A Day Filled With Hope – Years in the Making!
For years the CACAC has been walking hand-in-hand with many different partners, community members, donors, policy makers, and leaders in research and advocacy towards this moment.The Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence now stands in the heart of Central Alberta, the first Centre of its kind in North America, creating space for different strategic partners to operate alongside one another in the best interest of children, youths, and families who have experienced any form of abuse.

Now, during this momentous chapter in our history, we invite you to join us for the Grand Opening of the Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence. 

We’re excited to welcome you and your family to the Grand Opening of the Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence today!

Today’s events are family friendly, and there’s something for everyone!

From Noon to 5:00PM the public is welcome to come and see everything the building has to offer at the SKCOE Open House! Staff from every organization from within the SKCOE will be there to answer questions. This is a great opportunity to learn about why this Centre is so important for Central Alberta.

Beginning at 7:00PM, the public is also invited to the formal program at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, which is the building immediately North West of us across the parking lot. The formal program will have many messages and presentations from dignitaries, and you can pick up our Champions of Courage pin, which was minted for the Grand Opening only! Following the program there is a ribbon cutting ceremony.

There is a lot to celebrate, so come out and say hi!

When: Thursday, May 16

Where: Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence, and Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, Main Campus of Red Deer Polytechnic, Red Deer, AB.

12:00 PM – 5:00 PM – Open House

7:00 PM – Formal Program at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to follow.

How to get to the Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence

Please note that there will also be parking available at the lot directly North of the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.

Detailed RDP Parking Map

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