Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dr Baraban

In a weird entanglement of reality and fiction, Grossman's short story "In the town of Berdichev" mentions in passing a certain Dr. Baraban.

Дети, -- говорила она, -- дети, разве вы не знаете, что это за несчастье, -- и она тискала и топила на своей груди самого маленького Тутера. -- Это такое горе, это такое несчастье, это такие хлопоты. Каждый день они хотят кушать, и не проходит недели, чтобы у этого не было сыпи, а у того лихорадки или нарыва. А доктор Барабан, дай ему бог здоровья, за каждый визит берет десять фунтов пеклеванной муки.

in my translation:
"Children," she said, "children, don't you know what kind of misfortune they are" and she squeezed and drowned in her bosom the smallest Tutter. "It is such sorrow, such misfortune, such troubles. Each day they want to eat, and a week doesn't pass, that this one doesn't have a rash, and that one a fever or an abscess. And Doctor Baraban, God give him health, takes ten pounds of fine flour for each visit."

And here is mention of the real Dr Baraban of Berdichev, in excerpts from Grossman's "Black Book" documenting the slaughter in Berdichev during WWII.

After that, people were led out in groups of 150 to be shot. They were formed into a paired column, and loaded on trucks. The men were taken first - about eight hundred persons - then the women and children. Some of those who had been imprisoned in the monastery looked upon death as a relief after their terrible beatings, torments, hunger, thirst, and four months of German brigandry. People joined this line of death without attempting to delay the moment of death even for a few hours.

One man pushed his way to the entrance and shouted: "Jews, let me go first ! Five minutes and everything will be over. What is there to be afraid of? " That day two thousand people were shot, among them Dr. Vurnarg, Dr. Baraban, Dr. Liberman, Dr. Blank ( a dentist ), and the family of Dr. Rubinstein (also a dentist). This execution took place outside of town, in the area of the colective farm, Sakulino. At this new execution, before the very pits, 150 of the best artisans and technicians were selected. They were taken to the camp at Lysaya Gora. Gradually the best artisans and technicians were brought to this camp from other areas. All together, there were about 500 people in the camp.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Comissar

Wound up watching the movie The Comissar on YouTube.

The thing is, I really wanted to like this movie. I so loved the short story it was based on, Grossman's "In the town of Berdichev". But I found the acting really stilted, and it just didn't have soul.

But to me, what's more interesting is the story of the making of the film - of how it was banned for decades, and how the man who made it essentially ruined his career.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Man in the Iron Mask

About three months ago I bought a small lucky bamboo plant at Home Depot and brought it home.

At first I kept it in the little plastic pot that the store planted it in. I watered it every day and kept it out of direct sunlight.

It did not thrive. I found out on the Internet that you need to water it with filtered water. So I began doing that.

Last night I transplanted it from the pot into a glass vase filled with pebbles. Apparently this is better...

I don't know why, even with four kids, I developed a strong need to take care of a living thing.

I feel like one of those prisoners who adopt a mouse in the cell and share their meager meals with the little creature...

Friday, September 02, 2011

Yeah - Boooh

The good news - the new film about Serge Gainsbourg is gonna play in Chicago.
The bad news - it will be playing one night only - Friday night.