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End of The eXile Era

Published: June 24, 2008 (Issue # 1384)




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So farewell, The eXile. An era has ended, and we shall not see its like again. After over a decade of delivering caustic comment, childish pranks and more information than we perhaps wanted and needed to know about the editors sex lives and drug habits, Moscows original alternative expat newspaper is finally being shut down. Four inspectors from the Federal Service for Mass Media, Telecommunications and the Protection of Cultural Heritage recently visited The eXiles offices, wanting to know about Eduard Limonov, a long-time contributor to the newspaper whose radical National Bolsheviks form the last remnants of Russias real opposition. The inspectors were investigating whether the newspaper violated Article 4 of the Law on Mass Media, which bans media outlets from promoting extremism, pornography or narcotics. The writing was on the wall.

Is the paper guilty? Hell yes at least by the puritanical standards of Prime Minister Vladimir Putins Russia. The eXile was a biweekly dish of political gossip (often surprisingly incisive), grim reports from the countrys underbelly and amphetamine-fueled vitriol against Middle America. It was also heavily laced with pornography, satirical graphics and outrageous club reviews penned by a series of fictional correspondents. This was the paper that created the Death Porn column, a compendium of the weeks most gruesome crimes illustrated with police photos. Its most recent issue hailed the early arrival of snapper season, complete with photos of naked provincial girls taken from the Dyevscovery Channel.

In one of their most famous pranks, the editors made a cream pie mixed with horse sperm and threw it in the face of New York Times bureau chief Michael Wines. The journalistic offenses Wines had committed are long forgotten, but the memory of the pictures of him licking cream off his fingers lingers on. Former editor Matt Taibbi, posing as a sports promoter, once persuaded Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to sign up as a motivational coach for the New York Jets. And, in the later, darker years, The eXile chronicled Mark Ames epic odyssey to celebrate the papers ninth anniversary by sleeping with nine whores in nine hours, armed with a pocketful of Viagra, $450 in expenses and a digital camera. (For the record, he failed.)

But The eXiles mission was more than just to shock. It ran Yasha Levines 2007 piece on working as a gypsy cab driver on Moscows nighttime streets as powerful a piece of city reporting as Ive read anywhere. In addition, Taibbis report from the distant mines of Vorkuta in the aftermath of the 1998 crisis delivered a level of detail and raw empathy that no mainstream reporter had matched. And an antic experiment to hire prostitutes to come and spend an hour writing short fictional stories in The eXile offices instead of their usual work printed in the paper under the headline Whore-R-Stories actually produced deeply moving, pathetic little tales of provincial despair.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Jan. 30 through Wednesday, Feb. 4



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of Repulsion at 7 p.m. and Rosemarys Baby at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy The Tenant, the cult comedy The Fearless Vampire Killers and Cul-de-sac among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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