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City Beat July 10, 2003
Afternoon At the Reformed Rajj
By John Dolan Browse author Email
Page 3 of 3
It was cheerier at the main stage, where our Ambassador, the drooping buzzard Vershbow, was informing the crowd that President Bush had been informed of the terrorist incidents at Tushino. He seemed to think we'd want to know that our C-in-C was aware of our little troubles. At this point a loud American voice shouted, "Bush sucks!" The crowd didn't react; Vershbow stumbled through his speech, looking pained and eager to return to Spasso House, where the real party, for people who matter, had happened a day earlier.

When B-2 started playing we left. Not because they were bad. They were, in fact, good. It was more the cumulative impression of stupid invincibility that radiated from Vershbow, from the desiccated Republican fetus in his booth, from the expat jocks slamming into each other in the soccer and volleyball games that went on all day.

It no longer seemed strange that the Chechens hadn't targeted this festival, with its high-profile American targets. Of course they'd avoid provoking the bosses. Of course they'd stick to Russian kids without relatives in DC.

It was probably a blood-sugar crash, but we weren't finding the sights so interesting any more. Soccer balls were flying everywhere, and the dyevs were flitting around desperately, and the dumb expat jocks were ignoring them, giving 110 per cent on the field. High school without end, amen. We left with hardly any delay.

On the way back we took a wrong turn somehow and walked for hours through the forest park, until we found a road by the noise of a huge kennel. There must've been at least a hundred dogs in there, screaming desperately, and nobody around. There are few things more harrowing than a kennel full of dogs begging for your help. You can't do a thing about it, but it's still your fault.

It was dog territory, the park, with shirtless rebyata strolling with their pit bulls.

Then we came across a sight which made us really happy in a way I'm not able to explain very well: a pack of four stray dogs sprawled in lordly abandon under a birch tree. Three of the strays were lying around the birch, with the fourth, the leader, sprawled on his own a couple of meters away. They heard us, but didn't so much as twitch an ear. They owned that patch of ground and they knew it. They might get run over or shot tomorrow, but for now, they ruled the place, even asleep.

I've seen other packs of feral dogs sleeping the same way around Moscow. Feral dogs seem to go nocturnal; they sleep days and hunt nights. They're aggressive by night too--they'll jump you. You can't get soppy about them. But it does you good to see them lolling there, sleeping in a pack, like they're not afraid of anything. It all but washed the Republican booth out of my head.

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