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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Headliners Wickenheiser and Straschnitzki lead the way at Lending Cupboard fundraiser with $10,000.00 donation
‘An Evening with The Lending Cupboard’ proves an inspiring, community-building event
Special guests Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser and Ryan Straschnitzki strongly endorse TLC’s vision
‘An Evening with The Lending Cupboard’, held on June 16th at the Cambridge Hotel in Red Deer, proved to be an exciting, inspiring event featuring Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser and Ryan Straschnitzki.
“When I was contacted to come and do this, it was a no-brainer given what I do now in medicine,” explained Wickenheiser, who is also of course a highly-acclaimed Olympic gold medalist and author in her own right. “This is a brilliant idea. I don’t know why we aren’t doing this across the country – it makes a lot of sense!
“It provides a very valuable service in the community…if we can help to raise that profile, that’s so good.”
During the event, Wickenheiser shared many details of her own memorable journey, reflecting on the hockey dreams that have been intrinsic to her life from a young age. She then interviewed Straschnitzki onstage, giving him the opportunity to reflect on the Humboldt bus crash of April 6, 2018 and the courageous steps he has taken to re-build his life since.
“My entire process from the time of the accident has made me realize how this kind of support really helps out,” explained Straschnitzki, adding that bolstering awareness about the service is critical as well. “It’s such a great idea, and it benefits so many people. The more the word can be spread about it, there’s even more of an impact that can be made. “Being in a wheelchair these past four years, I’ve realized how inaccessible things can be when you live with a disability, so I think it’s important to raise awareness about these kinds of programs,” he added. “I think it’s a great initiative!”
Executive Director Dawna Morey also commented on how thankful she was for how the event unfolded, and how inviting Wickenheiser and Straschnitzki – who turned out to be a powerful duo – was indeed the right choice. “I’m humbled that they joined us, and I’m also humbled by their incredible generosity – having donated $10,000 back to The Lending Cupboard.”
Amanda Blair, TLC’s Board Chair, said she was blown away by the generosity of all the attendees, including of course Wickenheiser and Straschnitzki – and the overall support from the community. “Seeing everyone pull together just gives you that faith in humanity – it warms your heart,” she said. “Everyone there was also super enthusiastic about it – I think a lot of people learned more about The Lending Cupboard, which is also what we are trying to do.”
Last chance!! The 2022 Red Deer Hospital Lottery ends tonight!
The 2022 Red Deer Hospital Lottery Dream Home, designed by Sorento Custom Homes, continues Sorento’s tradition of award winning designs. This $890,000 bungalow features 2,994 sq ft of developed living space. Located at 145 Emerald Drive in the new neighbourhood of Evergreen, this outstanding home brings together the charm of a beach house with the sophistication of city living.
Among its most unique features are a shower room – in keeping with Sorento’s custom of exquisite ensuite designs, as well as a functional pocket office that provides just the right amount of space for your home office. You’ll enjoy 3 large bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, and large flex room on the lower level next to the spacious family room. You’ll love the large sundeck off the dining room, and the kitchen is sure to please every foodie!
Enjoy the convenience of the 5 piece ensuite connecting to a large walk-in closet and adjoining laundry room. The design of this unique home is complemented by gorgeous furnishings provided by Urban Barn.
Vehicle may not be exactly as shown.
DRIVE IN STYLE
2022 GMC Yukon SLT
RETAIL VALUE $81,987
Purchased from Kipp Scott GMC
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