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From the Archive: The Beginning of a Post-Soviet Dream

Yesterday, I won a Fulbright (!!!) student scholarship to Azerbaijan. Today I began to reflect on what this might mean and began to think of some images, among many other things, that united me to Azeris and other people in the region. Peculiarly, the first thing that came to mind was this quote from my U.S. passport that anyone who has seen it from Bratislava to Baku (if you were a “Seinfeld” fan you must surely remember, “It’s been a long journey from Milan to Minsk…”) cannot help but memorize, recite and possibly even begin to call me “young man”. One friend sent a note when I received the Fulbright, “Go east, young man,” no doubt a tribute to the Horace Greeley quote in the latest U.S. passport design:


“Go west, young man, and grow up with the country.” – Horace Greeley

Additionally, I combed through some old images to find a few that united east, and west in some interesting form:

Alexanderplatz, a symbol of communist East Berlin, is today home to several multinational fast food chains and shops. September 20, 2007.

El Lissitzky and Sergei Sen’kin’s “The Task of the Press is the Education of the Masses,” on exhibit at “Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918-1945,” at the Guggenheim in New York on October 20, 2007.

The guide in the manor house museum, a classic mess of a Slovak museum, in Oponice, Slovakia on June 17, 2010 beside the remains of an airplane that, according to locals, dismantled over the skies of Oponice before an American parachute brigade landed in the town during the Second World War. Other exhibits in the museum include a room that is in tribute to a hometown hero and fascist sympathizer, Queen Geraldine of Albania, a hunting trophy room, and a room replete with priestly frocks.

Grant Newburger, 50, a supporter of Bob Avakian’s Revolutionary Communist Party, in his apartment at a Cabrini Green high rise building on the northeast corner of Halsted and Division streets in Chicago on December 18, 2007. There are red portraits of Mao and Stalin on the walls.

A coke machine stands at the entrance to the United Electrical Workers Western Region Union Hall in Chicago, Ill. on February 26, 2009, a day after Serious Materials of Sunnyvale, California announced plans to buy the Republic Windows and Doors Factory whose closure led to a 6-day sit-in strike last December and rehire the old workers.

Two young Cuban girls study the doll in which messages were hidden by Ernesto Che Guevara and his companeros to deliver messages to the frontline of their guerilla war against the Cuban state headed by Fulgencio Batista at that time in the Museum of the Revolution during a tour with their grandather in Havana, Cuba on March 7, 2010. One of the girls is wearing a Miley Cyrus purse.

(It is the 50th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs, celebrated as a triumph at the Museum of the Revolution and in Cuba. Raul Castro suggested for the first time the imposition of a limit of two, five-year terms for all politicians, including himself, a remarkable gesture in a country ruled for 52 years by Fidel Castro and now, as of late, his brother Raul.)