Go East, Young Man
Do you ever feel like the world is just too tiny and civilized these days?
It's all so globalized and homogenized--every kid on earth has a profile on MySpace, every country has its Lonely Planet guide, everywhere you've been someone's been before you and started a blog about it. Where has the rugged and unexplored gone? Where has the perilous heart of darkness disappeared to, that place where cowboys and adventurers could expect to find the unexpected and possibly never come back?
Well, good news! There's still one last redoubt of bizarroid life, a few crazy outposts where surreal shit happens, where dictators rule like in a bad Cold War sketch, where gory medieval deaths happen randomly, where justice comes out of a book co-authored by Le Carre and Kafka...remember that gargantuan rusty mystery called the USSR? Well, even fifteen years later, it's still waaaaaaay wack.
To wit: Yesterday, in Uzbekistan, a court ordered a 27-year-old woman who was distributing copies of a political caricature to receive "treatment" because she is "mentally ill." Yelena's light daily diet of powerful psychotropic drugs begins today. Undoubtely she'll feel better afterwards. A few former Soviet republics away, in Kyrgyzstan, a member of parliament and his two bodyguards were killed by inmates in a prison, which he'd been investigating because of its poor living conditions. It did not apear that the inmates had any demands, they just took them hostage and then killed them--as one does in the Wild East.
The best news of all? There are dozens of these republics, cowboy. Go east.