Letters from Uzbekistan: Sex Tourism

Dear PresidentTrump,

First, old business. We have photos of the subjects your representative mentioned at every border in the country and have closed all taxi access pizza parlors. (Note to RH: parlors is ok here?).

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Quickly on to new business, and happily so. Our offer has expanded ten-fold since the false revelations regarding a practice that has already been, we would like to think, brought to its highest level of artistry in our country, what we call the ‘Gulna Torrent’. Historically the art has had many names.

We have also taken your advice and expanded the range of our offer so that we now have the utterly (Rh: absolutely?) exclusive (Presidential Primo, Corporate Cameo, Diplomat Dip) all the way down to the, as your man said to me in private, which I am sure is on the tapes, the ‘freestreet’. Our Pigalle!

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We have also revised our slogan to a more globally, yet nationally appropriate verse. As I explained to your man, Uzbekistan is geographically endorheic, which means that what flows in never flows out. So try this: What Spurts (RH: drips? seems, you know, weak. Maybe you can think of something else?) in Uzbekistan Stays in Uzbekistan!

Mr. Mirzyoyez looks forward to your visit, which can be arranged to coincide with that of any other state leader!

Best,

Arslan Levantinov, Minister of Tourism

(Note: I received this letter just a few days ago and have yet to get to the changes. RH)

 

 

 

UZBEKISTAN LETTERS: PUTIN PRANKS TRUMP

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Funny Guys, Report from the Inner Circles of the Moscow/Tashkent Axis

Uzbekistan Letters: Putin Pranks Trump

It came as no surprise when Shavkat Mirziyoyev ‘was named’ successor to Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan, and, in fact, in the few months since his succession there have been few surprises. His first foreign visit was more in the nature of a weekend trip—to Vladimir Putin’s dacha outside Moscow—than an actual state visit, and in the meantime he has been slowly resuscitating his friends who fell afoul of the favors of Karimov, though not to worry, experts predict that the prison population will be steadied once his grip on power is thoroughly secured and he feels comfortable imprisoning his own enemies and competitors.

What did come as a surprise was not that his first state visit was again to Moscow, but rather the timing of it, as he and Mr. Putin behaved like old drinking buddies, drinking (reportedly) liter after liter of vodka as the last days of the United States presidential election wound down and on November 8 the great event took place, Donald J. Trump becoming the president-elect of the ‘leader of the free world’, as the two leaders repeatedly referred to the post, giggling all the while.

Though Mr. Mirziyoyev speaks more than passable Engish, his choice of co-chief foreign advisor, the successful travel minister, Arslan Levantinov, suggests an acute interest in affairs West, and it was Mr. Levantinov who was present during the congratulatory phone call Mr. Trump received from Mr. Putin. The following account is nearly word for word, as recalled from a phone call I received from my friend Arslan the very same night, after the two dignitaries finally passed out.

So it went more or less like this. Putin calls Tump, Shavkat, like a little kid jerking on a leash keeps pulling at Putin’s sleeve, ‘Let me talk to him, let me talk to him…’ until, just as the call makes it through, Putin says, fuck it, and gives Mirziyoyev the phone.

SM: Mr. Trump.

DT: Wonderful. Big, thank you, Vladimir, Mr. Putin.

SM: So you recognize me—my…my voice, sir. Mr. President, if it is not too early to refer to your highness as such.

DT: I hear you loud and clear. You know my vodka—yes, president. You know my vodka, you told me—

SM: Yes, we are all drinking to your victory, sir. We are drinking vodka.

DT: That’s—We are, Mar—We, my kids and their—all of us here. We raise a glass to you as well, Mr. Putin. You know how much you have meant to us all.

SM: Yes, yes, we know that we are to look forward on a new epoxy [whispers), epoch of relations between not only our countries as such, as such, we—Donald?

DT: Yes, Vladimir.

SM: Still there?

DT: Yes, I am here, and let me tell you it is big, big here, a big thing—

SM: About the new epoch

DT: We certainly have.

SM: First thing, Donald—I believe first name basis is best, as such…

DT: Vladimir.

SM: Donald, warming relations, as such, you are aware that out best ally to the, what direction…Same direction for you and me as well, Donald. First thing, and please do not linger over false reports. Donald, I would like you to give special—

DT: I’m sorry, Vladimir, hard to…yes honey, tell them I’m on the phone—

SM: all due respect as such I know you are on the phone as it is to me on the phone you are with, Mr—

DT: …talking to Ivanka and her mother. Sorry, yes, Vladimir—

SM: It is I who am sorry, as we here are so happy it is perhaps too much vodka as such that has been consumed.

DT: Well, Vladimir, then I would like to thank you for the call. We will do big things together—

SM: I’m not done, Donald. I was speaking of our ally to the south, east, or you know down and away. The gallant, as such, the reputable nation, our number one ally as of, Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan Donald. Can you remember that?

DT: Write this down, kid. How do you spell that, Vladimir?

DT,SM: U-Z-B-E-K-I-S-T-A-N.

DT: Like Koranistan. Right.

SM: Kor—Yes, as such, the same only with different beginning ending in stan. Donald?

DT: Vlad?

SM: Much trade between our–your countries is possible. Big trade. Wonderful. Huge things.

DT: That’s my—

SM: Democrats of your good country have mixed us, I mean Uz–you know, our friends, Uzbekistan, with a different stan, probably Turkmenistan or your Koranistan. Bad things have been said and some restrictions of trade as such have been—

DT: I am the boss now, Vladimir. Any friend of yours is a friend of mine.

‘So by now Vladimir Putin is purple with laughter, suppressed laughter and just in time he slaps the phone away from Mr. Mirziyoyev so Donald Trump does not hear him blurt out with a sort of affecting triumphant humor: I pissed my pants, Shavvy!’

Letter to Arslan of Uzbekistan

 

 

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Dear Arslan,

 

Well you’re certainly in a pickle, aren’t you? Of course I will respect your wishes to refrain from publishing your missive…your massive missive, if I may. But some of it will be…elicitable from this response, of course. And you’re right, the day filled with its minutefull hours is quite long, especially given the ticking seconds of those old fashioned clocks that clutter the whorehouses of Tashkent as well as, apparently, your government offices, while history moves like a hurricane. In this case Hurricane Islam. How could you be prepared? Good question, yet you are prepared. By a series of accidents, sure, but prepared nonetheless. And please do not use the word extraction again, for that is from the movies, and I have no such powers. I am what you rapidly figured me to be—a relative nobody with a particular interest in your country and in you. I have no special powers but to reach virtually every country in the world with the good news of the thriving sex industry in your country. In the last week, word has reached, aside from the usual US, Canada, and Slovenia, Indonesia, Sweden, Chile, Venezuela (yes, finally some inroads in the lower half of that hemisphere!), India, UK, Australia, Poland, Uzbekistan of course (sorry my statistics don’t have breakdown by region or city), United Arab Emirates, Switzerland!, Nigeria, Bahrain, Italy, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Russia, Germany, Turkey, Finland, Saudi, France, Norway, South Korea, Oman, Greece, Croatia, Tunisia, Vietnam, Somalia!, that mysterious European Union(?) (probably Luxembourg—rich, corrupt, and horny—moyen indeed ladies!), Kuwait, Spain—All in one week, Arslan. Do you think they visit my page for my comments on dictators? Only you my friend, only you. They are grasping at…forget the metaphor. They come for the sex that you and yours provide. They don’t give a rat’s anal about boiling: take any burger of the Lux and tell him she’s yours for 200 shekels but tomorrow she boils and you’ve got yourself a deal.

Your position, I mean to say, is unassailable. No shake up is going to shake you up. No, Karimov’s touch was no golden wand, but the golden wands of the tourists are indeed tapping your noggin. Your position is secure. And I will do whatever I can to secure it, write whoever, open my books: you will see, Arlsan, there is no doubt: they come for the sex. Yes, a very few come for the literature, particularly the Vietnamese, bless their memories and intransigence. But the rest come for you and your Open City, your ten thousand Uzbeki Anna Magnanis.

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So don’t fear. As for the rest, THE question. No Hague for Karimov, but as you imply, what sort of Hague, what sort of lonely cells, without Kissinger, Bush, Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, Bolton (I’m actually not sure what he is guilty of besides that moustache), Wolfowitz, Powell, Clinton, Cheney, Cheney and Cheney, Obama, and…you get the idea. You got the idea. And besides, had it turned out differently, were this another world (silly flash: Condi Karimov!), they would have mocked him in the game room even though he could beat them all at chess, and even though he would have been able to teach them bridge. Or not. Tall order. Cheney maybe, but a born cheater. Powell? None too bright. Clinton? Yes. But you need a fourth. Obama. Wouldn’t be able to keep his mouth shut. Kissinger? Couldn’t teach him war and he’d throw the cards first time he lost at uno. Yes, the world would be better off if only…And we may still hope, though my friends ridicule me for my unflagging (entendre double) attempts to get Henry on a plane for the lowlands. But the Boiler is now in a better place, and let us leave it at that, shall we?

All my love and support, dear Arslan (Levantinov! Long die the ich!),

Your friend in bad times and good if they arrive,

Rick

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I like this photo because to me it depicts his slow fall…

 

For most Uzbeks, it does not matter whether the president is alive or dead

For most Uzbeks, it does not matter whether the president is alive or dead

article from the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/01/for-most-uzbeks-it-doesnt-matter-whether-the-president-is-alive-or-dead

 

Just when I was drawing up a response to a threatening letter from Mr. Karimov, word reached me that he is probably dying or dead. This is alarming news for two reasons: first, it means V. Putin, a more formidable foe, is my correspondent if I wish to continue the back and forth; and B) it means the chance to boil Islam Karimov alive has likely been forever missed.

I’m too distraught to go on, as you might imagine, but for those who share my distress there is this thought: Henry Kissinger is still alive, and there is some chance he might be lured to Uzbekistan for a speaking engagement if a photo of Miss Uzbekistan 2013 is on the cover of the card.

 

Rick

Letters from Uzbekistan: Islam Karimov writes me a personal note

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Dear Rick,

So far we have been indulgent and patient in regard to your blog’s focus on the lies (my behaviour) and truths (sex is cheap, safe and plentiful here, particularly in Tashkent, and one other town I will not do you the personal favor of revealing unless you visit me in private [consider this an invitation]) regarding the righteous and mighty nation of Uzbekistan of which I am Premier. I like to say ‘Premier’. Yes, Ricky, we have been quite indulgent, but keep up the slander, mention me in relation to my daughter just one more time, and you are likely to find yourself in hot water.

I expect no apologies, for people like you tend to extend such at the instant it has become too late. So here is what I suggest. Merely print THIS on your blog. I did not have anal sex with my daughter. I categorically deny having anal sex with my daughter (which is not to say that anal sex is unavailable in my country, and cheap) and I do not appreciate your adding that libelous passage to the fine letter written by my esteemed Minister of Tourism, Mr. Arslan Levantinovich.

I am sure I need not explain to you that my reach is long and my justice swiftly begun and slow to come to its fit and natural end.

Yours, and perhaps one day in a way you might find unpleasantly, let us say warm,

 

Islam Karimov

Premier (I really like saying ‘Premier’) of the final nation of Uzbekistan

Letters From Uzbekistan: Tashkent Nights

 

 

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Dear Rick,

Thank you so very much for all you have done for me and my agency and the nation that owns it. Since your efforts to promote our country we have received evidence of increased interest (and actual investment) in visiting our country, particularly Tashkent. A total of 19 European nations have shown interest/booked flights and hotels, including one secret one that goes by the moniker »E. U.« Isn’t that strange. (Here’s another odd one: We had a group from Puerto Rico fly in and they were listed separately in the computer from the United States yet carried United States passports. I guess you can imagine how long they were clearing customs…) 18 Asian/Middle Eastern nations showed increased interest and actual investment as well, even within Uzbekistan. We had five caravans from Karakalpakstan alone in April and the first half of May! None going the other way, but I attribute that to the season. Australian visits are up nearly 50% over last year, and we received our first governmental delegation of ‘Kiwis’, I hope it i sall right to call them. In a big city, of course, there will be some problems and perhaps over time we will be sufficiently savvy in tourist matters that we will never put the Kiwis with the Indonesians again. I know Geography about as well as the next person on a flight were I on a flight, but I never realized they shared an island with Indonesia! And apparently unhappily. Wait—oh, my assistant, L., points out that the Puerto Ricans actually never did clear customs and were sent on the first flight back. I have so many questions for you, Rick, and let that be one of them, if you could shed light on that. But primarily I write to thank you, tell you how well the work is going, how happy my superiors are with me, and finally to ask you to allow me to withdraw my permission to be in your novel or any novel you may write. And please do not ‘fictionalize’ me. I ask this as your friend, knowing I could never stop you no matter how many favors our Montenegrin guests come to owe me (astonishing how much like Russians these people are, and I mean that they share the finest qualitites!).

Of course, things may change,

And until then, or before then even, I will remain

Yours,

Arslan Levantinovich

P.S. If you post this on your blog, please consider ‘Tashkent Nights’ and if you could use the attached photo we would much appreciate the gesture.49105-tashkent-nightlife-tours

Streets of Old Izola: Smrekarjeva

  1. Hinko Smrekar Street

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Hinko Smrekar’s Ode to the World War, or Harp of Death

On the other hand, artists were celebrated by Slovenes – dead artists even so to this day. Before Slovenia began using the euro, their currency was the tolar, which included a religious author (he wrote the first two books printed in Slovene and looked a great deal like Vincent Price), a natural historian and author, two painters, an architect, a composer, a poet, and a writer of fiction. That’s a lot of money, leaving out only a mathematician, who was worth fifty tolars. Hinko Smrekar was a poor and unlucky artist born in 1883 in Ljubljana, where he was also shot dead, in 1942 by the occupying Germans. His work is quite varied, largely because he had difficulty earning money for his artworks, so he illustrated books, and was even the first Slovene to decorate tarok cards (tarok is a popular card game with regional variations that may or may not be a corruption of bridge combined with tarot created by drunken Hungarian soldiers on an orgiastic night in a Romanian gypsy town). The image above is Mars, one of many of the world’s gods of war, ‘On his head he has a crown of knives; he is sitting on a bag of money and is singing and playing to crippled human figures. A skeleton (war hero), bearing a laurel wreath, has climbed onto the crosspiece of the harp (coffin): “He is depicted, playing – on the instrument of human passion = a starved skeleton, wrapped in the desire for glory, which is getting an echo from the coffin. The skeleton is decorated with pendants of various awards from holy and secular authorities. A great mass of people are gathered around the monstrous instrument – they are literally crammed in like matchsticks, human money worshippers who are staring, devotedly bowing, sighing from starvation, all engrossed and following the money monster’s every move. They are staring at it with feverish greed in a nervous throb, staring and staring into the sinister cauldron of voices from the coffin and its cadaverously hollow echoes.” (Elko Justin, “Hinko Smrekar in his pictures”, Tovarish, 1948, no. 41) [from Damir Globočnik, writing in: http://www.livesjournal.eu/library/lives6/damgl6/reflection6.htm]

This is a man who deserved a great street and indeed got one.

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Smrekar seen from Kristan Sq.                                             Arches and recesses by day

For some time, Smrekarjeva, Hinko Smrekar Street, was my favorite in Izola, and for the simplest of reasons: for the first few years of living in Izola I had no regular place to visit within the old town beyond Ljubljana Street, Manzioli Square, and the beach, which I usually reached by walking along the shore. When I did venture further in, it was usually at night while walking the dogs, random walks in darker lanes, some of surprising length, like Hinko’s street. And I never knew precisely where I was and so never knew where I would emerge, and though the possibility were decidedly undramatic, such as Manzioli Square and Kristan Square, each of these had several streets entering them, and I never recognized where I was before actually entering into the square. As for Smrekar’s Street in particular, there was also the combinaton of the curving street and the irregularity of the buildings that at night made me feel I was negotiating a cubist painting, the buildings closing and opening at the eaves, sudden open spaces revealing ultimately closed spaces or lanes that took me into entirely lost zones. One left turn is still Smrekar Street, opens onto By The Doors Street, yet turn out in its continuation to remain Smrekar Street. One wrong turn and you may be stuck at night in Courtyard Street, seeking in vain that slice between buildings that is the shortcut to Koper Street, yet in the dark of night seems to shift from one corner to another, more elusive as one’s panic rises. Worse, the connection to Courtyard is a two or three meter stretch of street with no name, no entrances, an indefinable space where all I have ever seen is a garbage wagon and various large pieces of refuse piled around it.

20151027_140305.jpgGrowing sinister as the sun slides toward the horizon

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Innocent by day    

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The middle length of Smrekar     20151027_140519.jpg

Down Alma Vivode, a concrete onion dome.

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A stylish lintel

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Behold

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The requisite ornamentation of days gone by: on the left un-retouched, on the right recently painted. Note the free mixture of stlyes, even to the point of faux columns.

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A final stretch of Smrekar                                    Smrekar ends where the van is parked