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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

Sunday, Dec. 21


The Zenit St. Petersburg basketball team returns to the northern capital this evening for a matchup with Krasny Oktyabr, a Volgograd-based basketball club. Tickets for the game, which tips off at 6 p.m. this evening, can be purchased on the clubs website or at their arena, Sibur Arena, on Krestovsky island.


Satisfy your sugar cravings during Sweet New Year, an ongoing seasonal festival at the Raduga shopping center. Each weekend of December will welcome hungry visitors to taste hundreds of different kinds of desserts. Workshops are open to visitors and seasonal gifts can also be purchased for those rushing to finish their New Year shopping.



Monday, Dec. 22


Pick out the latest fashions as holiday gifts for loved ones or as early presents for yourself during the Christmas Design Sale at Kraft on Obvodny Kanal, starting on Dec. 20 and continuing through Dec. 27. Designer clothes will be on sale every day of the week or you can buy something more festive to decorate the home while sipping on hot coffee and perusing the various master classes.



Tuesday, Dec. 23


Meet Arctic explorers Fedor Konukhov and Viktor Simonov during SPIBAs and Capital Legal Services event Arctic Expedition this morning in the Mertens House business center at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. The meeting will discuss the explorers ongoing eco-social project and how companies can use the project as a unique marketing opportunity. Email office@spiba.ru by Dec. 22 if you wish to attend.



Wednesday, Dec. 24


The Anglican Church of St. Petersburg we will be holding a Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. led by Rev Wm. Shepley Curtis of the Episcopal Church. The service will be held at the Swedish Church at 1/3 Malaya Konyushennaya Ulitsa.



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