Our Russian friend disappeared | Mann Overboard

Posted 3/25/22

We’ve read a lot lately about Russia being a closed country with tight media control.

This brings up a personal brush with close-mouth-comrade Soviet censorship.

Back in the early …

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Our Russian friend disappeared | Mann Overboard


Bill Mann

We’ve read a lot lately about Russia being a closed country with tight media control.

This brings up a personal brush with close-mouth-comrade Soviet censorship.

Back in the early ’70s, we met a trade official with the Soviet consulate in Montreal. A friendly guy named Anatoly. (Last name withheld).  Anatoly’s wife and kids were back in Russia (being held for security? Who knows?). I could tell he missed his family, so we invited him over for dinner.

He was glad to have the company. After a pleasant dinner, we learned Anatoly had never seen … bubble gum! He was delighted when we offered him some. But the bubble would soon pop.

A few weeks later, the first so-called Hockey Summit between Canada and Russia was played in Montreal.
This was a big deal. It was the first set of games to be played between the two great hockey nations, and it was the first time Russia’s fake Olympic amateurs — who were really pros — would face top National Hockey League players.

I was a sportswriter then, and was sent down to the Canadiens’ home rink, the Montreal Forum, to do an advance story on the upcoming series. I’d briefly met Justin’s father, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, backstage.

I saw the famous likes of Bobby Orr and star Russian goaltender Vladislav Tretiak skate around in practice.

Then I spotted Anatoly, sitting in the stands with his Russian comrades.

I said, “You look happy, Anatoly,” and he replied, “It’s a thrill to see all the world’s best players in one place.”

I used that completely innocuous quote in my advance piece for the Montreal Gazette.  After the article appeared with that quote, I never heard from Anatoly again, despite my numerous attempts to reach him. He had disappeared. I’d been ghosted.

One Russian told me flatly that his totally harmless quote hadn’t been cleared by his Soviet superiors.
Lesson learned. And a budding friendship lost.

Later on I also learned that in the Brezhnev era, all Russian ships that came to Canada had the audio on their onboard televisions removed. Wouldn’t want the Soviet sailors to hear all those McDonald’s and Canadian Tire commercials!

— All of us who’ve been posting our daily Wordle on social media will probably be embarrassed by it and stop pretty soon, don’t you imagine?

— As a member of our local Ferry Advisory Commission I’d like to offer this travel advisory: Don’t expect two-boat service to resume this summer, just like last summer.

— Speaking of which, I spotted this hostile bumper sticker here at our dock: “Skip the Ferry Line. Stay in Seattle.”

But that was nowhere near as unwelcoming as this one I spotted on a car in Tucson: “So Many Snowbirds. So Little Freezer Space.”

— Lifeguards: Good news! The Mountain View Pool’s continuing and frustrating lifeguard shortage may soon be a thing of the past. The YMCA recently graduated a lifeguard class of six — and all were seniors!

— NPR personality Michael Krasny sends this: “Every woman’s dream is: That a man will take her in his arms, throw her into bed — and clean the house while she sleeps.”

— New Yorker humorist Andy Borowitz coins this headline: “Trump Offers to Help Russia File For Bankruptcy.”

— Anyone else fed up with local and national newscasts leading with the cost of gas during the Ukraine assault? Has any reporter dared to suggest to many of these motorists they interview that they stop buying gas guzzlers? I’m amazed when I pull in to fill up here, and the previous purchase is often over $60. Sad that equating pain at the pump is supposedly as newsworthy as Ukranians’ pain from bombardment.

— CBS’ Charles Osgood notes that when Carnegie Hall was remodeling, it employed Isaac Stern as its acoustic consultant. Osgood: “They left no tone un-Sterned.”

(PT columnist Bill Mann likes hearing from you readers out there. He really does. Newsmann9@gmail.com)


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