A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from September 20, 2010
Absurdistan

Entry in progress—B.P.


“banana republic”

Wikipedia: Absurdistan
Absurdistan is a term sometimes used to satirically describe a country in which absurdity is the norm, especially in its public authorities and government. The expression was originally used by Eastern bloc dissidents to refer to parts (or all) of the Soviet Union and its satellite states. Today, the term is most often reserved for Russia and states formerly in the Soviet sphere of influence which have retained Soviet-style authoritarian governments, such as Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, or Belarus.

The first printed use of the word, in any language, can be found in the German monthly edition Politische Studien: Monatshefte der Hochschule für politische Wissenschaften, München, veröffentlicht vom Isar-Verlag. (1971) : “... erkennen wir, dass wir uns hier in Absurdistan bewegen.” (Political Studies Monthly of the University for political Studies, Munich, published by Isar-Verlag (1971) (free translation): ... we recognize, that we are here venturing on Absurdistan territory.) Later, in Czech (Ab:surdistán), the term was often used by the dissident and later president Václav Havel. This seems to indicate that use of the term began during perestroika. The first recorded printed use of the term in English was in Spectator in an article on August 26, 1989, about Czechoslovakia (Czechoslovakians have taken to calling their country “Absurdistan” because everyday life there has long resembled the “Theatre of the Absurd”.) On September 18, 1989, there was an article in The Nation (New York) called Prague Summer of ‘89: Journey to Absurdistan. On August 30, 1990, The New York Times used it in an article about the Soviet Union.

Other uses
After its original reference to countries like Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and others ending in -stan in ironical use for the collapsing Eastern bloc, the term was extended to other countries. The term has been used in several titles of movies, books, and articles:

. The German comic book Abenteuer in Absurdistan mit Micky Maus (Germany 1993, volume 189 of the comic series “Walt Disneys Lustiges Taschenbuch).
. Welcome to Absurdistan: Ukraine, the Soviet Disunion and the West by Lubomyr Luciuc, 1994 (ISBN 096941255X).
. The song “Absurdistan” by Blind Passengers (both single and video, 1995).
. “Absurdistan” is a song by German darkwave/gothic rock band Goethes Erben, from their 1997 single Sitz der Gnade. The title is often capitalized as “AbsurdISTan” to indicate a wordplay on “Absurd ist an”, roughly translating to “The absurd is on”.
. Hazám, Abszurdisztán (Absurdistan, my Home) is a book by Lajos Grendel, Bratislava, 1998 (ISBN 807149206X).
. Geboren in Absurdistan, 1999 Austrian movie.
. The album Absurdistan by Romanian artist Ada Milea (2002)
. Absurdistan by Eric Campbell, 2005, an account of the author’s experiences as an Australian Broadcasting Corporation foreign correspondent, including a detailed account of the death of his cameraman and his injury as a result of a car bomb during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
. Absurdistan, a 2006 satirical novel by Gary Shteyngart set in a fictional former Soviet republic.
. Absurdistan, a 2008 film directed by Veit Helmer.
. Absurdistan National Anthem (song) by Brett Hardesty, a Baltimore music teacher.

Google Books
Holidays in Hell
By P. J. O’Rourke
New York, NY: Vintage Books
1989, ©1988
Pg. 253:
And, for a very large number of them that will soon be indeed, because they’re dying like flies out there in Upper Revolta and Absurdistan.

Google Books
Spring in Winter:
The 1989 revolutions

By Gwyn Prins
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press
1990
Pg. 14:
Eastern Europe has been called by some, I think appropriately, “Absurdistan”, and it is true that these countries have a long history of absurdities, which makes them difficult for foreigners to understand.

New York (NY) Times
Sununu Tutors the Kremlin’s Staff
By FRANCIS X. CLINES, Special to The New York Times
Published: August 30, 1990
MOSCOW, Aug. 29— The Kremlin moved ever closer in spirit to the White House today as President Bush’s chief of staff worked within on the Soviet ‘’paper flow,’’ and a tent city of disgruntled citizens maintained its encampment in a park just across the way.
(...)
‘Capital of Absurdistan’
The visible routine of their lives, from the old lady who walks her dog outside her plastic tent to the family glimpsed getting dressed in their cramped enclosure, only heightens the human wonder suggested by the striped domes and swirls of nearby St. Basil’s Cathedral.

‘’This is the capital of Absurdistan,’’ an approaching Muscovite said as he took the tent city in stride.

New York (NY) Times
Police in Moscow Raze A Shantytown at 2 A.M.
By BILL KELLER, Special to The New York Times
MOSCOW, Dec. 30— Moscow police bulldozers early this morning razed a protesters’ shantytown across from the Kremlin gates that since the summer had been a squalid symbol of this society’s new freedom and frustrations.
(...)
A Muscovite who stood watching the early-morning ablutions of the campers in the shadow of St. Basil’s striped domes last summer dubbed the encampment “the capital of Absurdistan.”
Published: December 31, 1990

Wall Street Journal
September 20, 2010, 10:38 AM ET
Recession Ended in June 2009
By Phil Izzo
(...)
COMMENTS
11:11 am September 20, 2010
R B Quinn wrote:
Where? In Absurdistan?

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Monday, September 20, 2010 • Permalink