Monday, January 11, 2016

Climateer Line of the Day: That Time David Bowie Traveled The Length of the Trans-Siberian Before Vladivostok Was Open To Foreigners Edition

Flashback to 1973, the cold war was thawing a bit but still very chilly:
"The musician clearly stood out against the background 
of conservatively dressed Soviet citizens..."
Ya think?
“They say he was wearing a silver cloak, red trousers and his hair was of some kind of radical colour…..”
Here's the story from Russia Insider:

David Bowie: The Most Mysterious Passenger of the World's Longest Railway
In 1973, Ziggy came to the Soviet Union and travelled along the Trans-Siberian Railway from Vladivostok to Moscow Trans-Siberian Railway, which links Moscow and Vladivostok, is the longest railway in the world. It stretches for more than 9,000 kilometres. A lot of stories, films and legends are connected with the “Transsib” – that is the way people refer to it in Russia.

Vladivostok, Far East
Gossip about Bowie’s trip to Vladivostok was quite common, but it seemed too fantastic to be true – as the naval city of Vladivostok was closed to foreigners until 1992. “This is quite an old legend. Sometimes they said that Bowie and Iggy Pop street raced together in Vladivostok and even illegally crossed the Soviet-Chinese border,” says historian Sergey Kornilov, member of the Russian Geographical Society. For a long time it seemed that this myth would be thought of in the same way that the monument in the central square of Vladivostok is rumoured to be dedicated to the first album of Pink Floyd – The Piper by the Gates of Dawn (in fact, the monument depicts a Red Partisan with a combat trumpet in his hand).

However, Ruslan Vakulik, a journalist from Vladivostok, found confirmations of the legend – evidence, published by the UPI reporter Robert Musel, who had accompanied Bowie on that trip to the USSR and Bowie’s letters to Cherry Vanilla, his press manager. These documents prove that the musician travelled by train across Russia in the spring of 1973. There are photos of David at Red Square in Moscow, which had long been considered fakes.
In 1973, the relations between the Soviet Union and the United States got somewhat warmer. A year later, Vladivostok housed the famous meeting between the Soviet and American leaders Leonid Brezhnev and Gerald Ford. Perhaps, at that time, the procedure for foreigners visiting the USSR became a bit more liberal than it used to be. Bowie was touring in Japan, and then in Yokohama he boarded the ship “Felix Dzerzhinsky”, named after the founder of the Soviet Secret Police. On board, Bowie gave a small concert for the passengers and soon reached Nakhodka, a port near Vladivostok.
Nakhodka had never been a closed city and therefore performed some of the “capital’s functions” in the region – international events were often held in Nakhodka. This place was visited by the famous Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl and other prominent foreign guests. They say Bowie suffered from aerophobia, which explains his choice to travel by ship and then by train. However, the place where he got onto the Vladivostok-Moscow Train is still unknown.

Nakhodka is located far from the Trans-Siberian Railway, which is why the musician had to either travel first to Vladivostok, or any other station. “I think Bowie was within the city limits of Vladivostok, as he got onto the train either at the railway station in Vladivostok, or at the suburban station Ugolnaya,” suggests Sergey Kornilov. “They say he was wearing a silver cloak, red trousers and his hair was of some kind of radical colour…..”

The musician clearly stood out against the background of conservatively dressed Soviet citizens, even if it was a port city. However, we have not been able to find documentary evidence of Bowie’s stay in Vladivostok. Some locals still think this whole story is a hoax....MORE
With David Bowie's Passing, "A short history of the Bowie Bond" (and some other stuff)