Yalta European Strategy: From Bono to Pinchuk to Zakaria to Spaceships

One thing’s for sure, Ukrainian magnate Viktor Pinchuk never fails to disappoint.  Hosted once again in the grand Kyiv Arsenal Museum, this year’s Yalta European Strategy (or YES) meeting featured the usual defense hawks and conservative commentators (for a rundown of last year’s YES conference, featuring my extensive commentary on […]

Graffiti and Rebel Culture: A Personal Journey From Brooklyn to Berkeley to Caracas to the Former Soviet Union to Berlin and Back Again

For some time, I’ve been slightly ambivalent toward graffiti though the idealist in me has always believed that in the long-run, reclaiming the urban environment might encourage the rise of a more radical political consciousness.  As cities embrace gentrification and homogenization at an increasingly breakneck pace, the need to carve […]

El Mundo Donaldo: A Satire

Na Zdorovie!             OF COURSE there was COLLUSION!  It all goes back to my meeting with Vlad at his lavish St. Petersburg dacha.  From the first moment he flashed those baby blues, I felt the keen stirrings of sexual desire in my nether regions.  Who could resist a strapping beefcake […]

Venezuela in the Chávez Era: A Photo Essay

In 2006, in the midst of the Chávez era, I toured Caracas and the surrounding area.  At the time, the administration was touting its much-vaulted social programs or “missions.” In 2003, the government created “Misión Barrio Adentro” or “Inside the Neighborhood Mission,” a program to provide basic health care to […]

Politics and Counter-Culture: From Bushwick to Ridgewood

In many ways, Bushwick, Brooklyn resembles my recent trip to Berlin.  Getting off the L train at Jefferson Street, you can’t miss the dynamic youth scene, wall murals and graffiti in the area. Inside a courtyard, people drink hipster beer amidst more wall murals. Wall murals cover surrounding streets. Like […]

Berlin: Echoes of the Cold War

In East Berlin, I visited the Stasi museum. Across town, tourist flock to Checkpoint Charlie, a traditional boundary between east and west. Above Checkpoint Charlie, I spotted a pro-Ukrainian banner which echoes earlier Cold War tensions. But will the United States stand by Germany or even Ukraine for that matter […]

West Berlin: From Institutionalized Graffiti to Thai Park

In contrast to edgy East Berlin, developed West Berlin can seem much more predictable.  Urban Nation, a graffiti museum, seeks to capture the mystique of other neighborhoods without really succeeding, though a building facade manages to catch one’s attention. Further to the west, hipsters mingle with Asian food vendors at […]

Berlin: From Turkish Minarets to Treehouse to Neo-Ottoman Hipster Chic

In Berlin, Turkish immigrants live cheek by jowl alongside anarchists and political radicals.  In Kreuzberg, for example, a mosque lies just a stone’s throw away from the radical counter-culture. Not far from the minaret, I came across a curious tree house.  The structure originally belonged to Osman Kalin, a Turkish […]