Curtain Call

by John Holbo on April 29, 2009

Great posts today. Welcome to our guests. But here’s something light, in case you need a break. Found photo, found on Flickr:


Larger version here.



notsneaky 04.29.09 at 2:51 am

Ummm, I don’t get it. Russian(ish) kids dressed up for a school play or something (maybe something a bit more serious). How different from any other kids dressed up for any other school play except maybe a bit more care with the costumes?


Righteous Bubba 04.29.09 at 3:04 am

All of portraiture demolished in a single comment.


John Holbo 04.29.09 at 3:08 am


notsneaky, when you are tired of Russian(ish) kids dressed up for a school play or something (maybe something a bit more serious) you are tired of life. Or at least of old Polaroid color-quality.


notsneaky 04.29.09 at 3:30 am

Eh, seen those done in person, so it’s no different than seeing American kids in a school play dressed up in Minutemen costumes or British kids dressed up in … … … Guy Fawkes mustaches or … … … … New Model Army uniforms or whatever it is they dress up British kids in in their school plays (honestly, I’m at a loss here). Dude, I think this is like, called exoticizing “the Other” or something.

Bubba, you’re right, that’s actuallya really nice composition and quite good photo for a Polaroid. Though the costumes and background curtain actually make it.

“-ish” because it could be Ukrainian or Belorussian or some other FSU republic. Thought my immediate reaction was “something to do with Peter the Great”.


Delicious Pundit 04.29.09 at 4:17 am

Please say that this blog plans to use photographs the way Free Darko does.


John Holbo 04.29.09 at 5:34 am

By the by, I don’t assume the kids are actually Russian. One thing I like about the picture is the likelihood that they are a trio of kids from Petaluma or Peoria, in 1979, who have, weirdly, succeeded in looking so Russian. I dunno.


joel hanes 04.29.09 at 5:45 am

If you like this found snapshot, you may like the found snapshots at MangoFalls

I quote from the “about MangoFalls” page :

The History of MangoFalls – Abridged Version

About 10 years ago while living in Oregon, I came across an old Nikon rangefinder in a seaside junk shop. The metal body was battered and the lens looked like a coke bottle that had been dragged down 5 miles of asphalt. The camera had been dead a long time. I was about to set it down when I noticed that there was a roll of film inside. I slowly rewound the film, popped the door, and was rewarded with a pristine roll of Kodachrome. I asked the guy at the counter how much he wanted for it. “Gimme a quarter” he replied. I paid the man and drove home with the mystery roll. And then I forgot about it for 2 years. The roll of film came back into view after we one again sold most of what we owned, tossed the dogs into the Jeep, and moved back to Maine. One day I was unpacking some clothes and found the solitary roll of film waiting at the bottom of the box. I sent it off for processing….about a year later.

Two weeks later the box of slides showed up at the post office. The weight of the package was disappointing. Without even opening the container it was apparent that most if not all of the roll was not even worth of being mounted. The 5 or so images that were in slide mounts were simply amazing. I had no idea where the film had been shot. I had not even the slightest idea who the people in the photos were. I really knew nothing but was just floored by the color saturation that kodachrome had retained after all the years of sitting in that old Nikon. From that point forward I made an effort to look inside old cameras whenever we would stop in antique stores and Sunday flea markets. All it took was this one image from that first roll of film.


notsneaky 04.29.09 at 6:09 am

Hmmm, yes, they could be Peoriaish, which brings up those issues of “authenticity” that Daniel’s so into. I still say that middle kid’s supposed to be Peter the Great though.


John Holbo 04.29.09 at 6:17 am

He is at least Peter the Swell.


notsneaky 04.29.09 at 6:33 am

See, you’re trying to be funny, but I think he looks cool. You’re insulting some culture vaguely related to mine… yeah, ok, they all look swell.


mossy 04.29.09 at 6:48 am

Could be Snegurochka (on the right) with her dad (Grandfather Frost) and mom (Beautiful Spring). But definitely pre-Petrine (despite the lad’s dashing Peter-the-Great-like moustache). The Ostrovsky play of Snegurochka is standard school fare — we put it on in college, and I have a photo of myself trying to look like an innocent Russian maiden — so it could be a US school Russian class (with a good budget!) or somewhere in the FSU. Cute kids staying in character.


Daniel 04.29.09 at 6:59 am

whatever it is they dress up British kids in in their school plays

Mary, Joseph and the Three Wise Men. We don’t have state-mandated atheism over here.


gordon 04.29.09 at 8:43 am

I’m still convinced it’s a photo of Barak, Michelle and Hilary.


John Holbo 04.29.09 at 9:11 am

I think it was a performance of some or other Nabokov short story, adapted for the stage.


novakant 04.29.09 at 9:41 am

“Snegurochka” is my favourite Russian word*, reminds me of New Year’s Day in St. Petersburg in the early 90s.

*to be honest, I only know about 20 Russian words


Matt 04.29.09 at 11:26 am

It need not have been taken on a Polaroid (though it might have been, depending on when it was taken.) My wife’s Zenit camera often takes photos with that sort of color, especially if the developing is done in Russia.


joel hanes 04.29.09 at 7:12 pm

“Snegurochka” is my favourite Russian word

I’m partial to zhenschini and yagoditsui myself.
Among the languages in which I’ve dabbled, Russian is the most fun to pronounce.


notsneaky 04.29.09 at 7:24 pm

Yeah it’s probably Snegurochka (Sniezynka) – the mustache threw me off.
Russian and Spanish are the best languages for poetry, no contest.
(This is why even Majakowski reads good in Russian)

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