Communist Shop Windows


A collection of communist shop windows provides a reminder that there are worse problems than an excess of "hyperpalatable" food and consumer goods (Via BoingBoing).

get your own food!

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  1. The writer seems upset that we don’t live in this “simpler” world of communal juice glasses. The fuck is wrong with people?

    1. By that I mean Hlynsky, not KMW.

    2. I noticed that too when I went over to the link from BoingBoing. The pictures still hold the same meaning for us and the same lesson for others that Katherine points out, even if dipshit lefty types interpret it naively.

    3. Once upon a time in the Cold War we tempted global suicide over the content of our respective shop windows. Perhaps this is too simplistic. Dramatists called it a fight for freedom. But that seems like a line from a Disney trailer, too. As it happens, the East collapsed not because it was “evil” but because its own marketplace of ideas and things finally ran out of promise. For now at least… and for better or worse, Free Enterprise has proven itself one of the grandest freedom of all. Eastern windows are already filling with the Western simulacrum… a new utopia built out of flash and seduction. But the East Bloc windows I photographed were far from bankrupt. Yes, they were unpretentious, naive and seemed ironic. But they also contained an inventory of our most common human needs. That alone ought to have brought us together.

      I threw up a little in my mouth when I read this. People like this revolt me. They’ve had a good education, upper-middle-class upbringing, the freedom to travel, the option of spending their money on the things they want in the way they want – and yet they insist on looking at the Noble Savages of the Communist World and saying, “How fortunate they are. They’re lives are so simple and elegant.”

      I mean come on. “An inventory of our most common human needs – that alone ought to have brought us together”? Really?

      Just what everyone wants: lowest-common-denominator humanity.

      1. Damn. “THEIR lives are so simple and elegant” is what that should say.

      2. The players involved in placing a nation under communism are very rarily from the poor or working class.

    4. When I saw the pictures, I was also quite nostalgic. Those were my childhood days; I remember when my mom sent me shopping and I had to go to one store to buy vegetables, to one to buy pastries and yet to another to buy ham. Obviously, with the limited availability we never had to worry what kind of apples to buy or whether we wanted bread with nine grains or only seven. Those were the good old days when the sun was warmer, the snow was whiter and fluffier, and the night sky was full of stars…

      Then I caught myself. Had I been moved only by emotion, I would’ve liked to go back in time. Rationally, however, I understand that most of the pleasant stuff I remember was not a function of communism, but a function of me being a child. Rationally, I’m glad that time is gone for a while…

      (By the way, that rabbit picture is for a shop that purchases rabbit fur from farmers. Until this day it is a profitable commodity – we have a purchaser coming to my parents’ village once every two weeks or so to buy rabbit skins.)

    5. I once knew this holier-than-thou hippy type who had a communal sponge in his bathroom because he thought toilet paper was too bourgeois.

  2. Minimalism has its place.

  3. You know what? I want 1 million kinds of soda.

    1. My boss brought be back some Diet Birch Beer from a recent trip. Waiting for the right moment to crack it open.

      And they used to make(or maybe still do but I haven’t found any in a long time in the city) Dr. Brown’s Diet Cel-Ray. Celery flavored soda is better than you might think.

      Now if someone could make a decent Diet Grape Soda… Faygo is the only one I’ve found around here, but it tasted horrible and it turned my pee a distressing shade of green.

      1. And it’s named Faygo.

        1. Gayfo? Either way, perfect for NutraSweet.

          1. Do you click and whir like a regular projector?

            1. I hum like the electron microscope I’ve put you under.

              1. I hope it’s not the same one you have to use to masturbate, you micropenised reprobate.

                1. SF loves artificial sweeteners

                  1. How ever did you guess? 😉

                    1. Because you’re actually a fat teenage girl?

                    2. Completing all your fantasies? Are you a chubby chaser? It would make sense considering they can’t run away from you very fast…

      2. it turned my pee a distressing shade of green

        Bug, or feature?

        1. Bug. I’m a urine shade purist.

          But it was mostly the flavor. It basically tasted like it was dissolving the can.

          1. You drink your own pee?

        2. I’d call it a feature. I’d call my friends and have them come watch me pee if it came out green.

      3. My boss brought be back some Diet Birch Beer from a recent trip. Waiting for the right moment to crack it open.

        While your computer is booting at work in the morning.

        1. Nah, Diet Birch Beer is special. You got the lower the lights, maybe put on a little Curtis Mayfield. You got to take your time with Diet Birch Beer. You got to treat it right.

      4. Celery flavored soda is better than you might think.

        That still allows for a vast margin of crappiness.

        1. OK, how’s this… If you can get behind the idea that you are drinking a celery-flavored soda, you might be surprised at how refreshing it is.

          Katz’s Deli in 2000 was the last can I had. Alton Brown has a recipe for it in his celery episode, but I’ve never had much luck with homemade soda.

      5. Your celery flavor soda reminded me of Cynar – an artichoke flavored liquer.

        Shit is rank.

        1. That doesn’t sound good. But how else could you make a Choketini?

          1. Choketini? Is that what Episiarch does every time he beats off?

            1. No. He cries.

              At least that’s what fans of his YouTube channel say in the comments. I’m not watching that. Ew.

          2. Oh, from the Cynar wiki entry:

            Its distinct flavour is unmistakably bitter and strong, with an almost coppery aftertaste reminiscent of tarnished pennies.

            Now I don’t know about you, but I’m not familiar with the taste of tarnished copper.

            1. Oh, look it’s Mister “I’m too good to carry spare change around in my mouth.” Well, la-di-da. I guess you think we should all be in petticoats and white gloves too.

        2. Cynar is good. But you have to realize it’s supposed to be a digestivo.

          1. I prefer Fernet Branca.

        3. Cynar is an amazing cocktail ingredient in the hands of the right bartender. Goes fantastically well with quality American Rye, and, just to fan the fires, a dash or two of celery bitters.

    2. New Diet Mountain Dew Ultra-Violet is at least 75% less awful than regular Diet Mountain Dew.

      In case you were curious.

      1. What does it taste like? Or, perhaps, what is it supposed to taste like? UVA or UVB? ‘Cause fuck that UVB shit. I ain’t drinkin’ that again.

        1. Ultra-violet Dew for my little droogies.

        2. The can says “a Flash of … Mixed Berry Flavor”, so UVB I think.

          They really missed the boat by not putting World of Warcraft characters OR the word “eXtreme” on it anywhere.

          1. I hate Mixed Berry. I hate miscegenated soda concoctions.

            I think I tried the “cherry” Mt. Dew. It was fairly vile. (And I actually like Diet Mt. Dew.) The only mainstream Diet I can’t stand is Dr. Pepper. It tastes like spiced evil.

            I’ve been drinking a lot of orange Vitamin Water lately. It tastes a lot like the orange drink from grade school.

            1. Cherry Coke is acceptable.

              1. Ah, but that is only one flavor addition… would Cherry Banana Coke fare well on Roman tastebuds? Or would they stick with Garum Soda?

                1. Cherry plus Coke, dude. Two flavors. But I see your point. What’s your position on Limon?

                  Garum Coke–love it! The closest thing we have to that today is Worcestershire Coke, but it’s not quite the same. Fewer fish guts.

                  1. Limon. As long as they got married first, I don’t see a problem.

                    But really, I’ve never liked mixed berry. If you can’t pick them out, like 5-berry pie, the flavors just add up to less than the sum of their parts for me.

                    1. See, this is what sucks about this threaded comments business. By the time I remember this series of comments, you’ve been dead and buried for hours, dug up and necrophilized by Episiarch, who had to fly to your grave from Seattle.

                      Anyway, I think it depends. I don’t care much for willy nilly mixing of flavors, but some do work together in a complementary fashion. Like tomato and basil.

            2. Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper was good!

              1. And that’s like 26 flavors, minimum.

      2. How can you drink that?

      3. I picture Mt Dew Ultra-Violet as looking exactly like Nuka-Cola.

        1. Just watch out for the mirelurks that have been living on that stuff.

        2. Please don’t talk about Fallout 3 while I’m around. The kids lost the DVD.

      1. Now you know my pain.

        1. No, he me’d his. I didn’t have a link.

  4. Ahh, communist shops, where the express lane is only half a day long.

  5. Gosh darn it, why didn’t the West fall instead of the East? Oh the huge manatee!!!

  6. I LIVED in that mothafucka’. I used to go to the shop with my grandma, she had to buy a can of peas to get a kilo of tomatoes with it. You people wouldn’t understand…
    Yes, I’m drunk.

    1. I feel your pain.

      Please feel free to have 3 cc of turnip juice from the communal juice glass.

  7. Yes, but North Korea has largely eliminated its obesity problem.

    1. +1 hillarious

    2. And tasteless

      1. Discrimination on the basis of taste is bourgeois. North Korea has eliminated that too.

  8. One of the food windows is for “Fancy Cakes” in Kracow in 1990. One of the cakes is decorated with the letters IHS, which stands for “In hoc Signo” (With this Sign), a specific Catholic symbol. Maybe there was more to the fall of Bolshevism than mere lack of consumer goods.


    The stock Trotskyist explanation is that Stalin was responsible for everything that went wrong in European Communism. Of course the facts are that Lenin and Trotsky weren’t that different from Stalin, but Trotskyism is as much a religion as Christianity or Judaism and the facts don’t count for much in religion.

    OK, fess up guys…

  10. I bought Mexican Coca-Cola from Fresh Market for the whole family some weeks ago. Made from sugar. De-licious.

    To do the same under communism, I’d have to (1) be a member of the Party, (2) obtain a very difficult to get visa, (3) have a reason to go to Mexico that was satisfactory to mein government, (4) have some sort of income or access to cash, and (5) buy and drink the Coke while in Mexico, making sure no one was watching me too carefully (don’t want to be labeled as having bourgeois tendencies–what’s wrong with Commie-Cola, anyway?).

    1. We already have Commie Cola:


    2. I bought a flat of MexiCoke at Costco a month or so ago. SOOOOoooo goooood!

      Now they’re not carrying it anymore.

      The hunt is on!

      1. I saw some at Target recently. I can’t really taste the difference, personally, so it’s not worth the added cost to me.

  11. I’ve noticed that ever since we’ve got threaded comments, the frequency and size of parenthetical conversations about topics such as the size of Epi’s penis and the colour of SugarFree’s urine have increased manifold. I have therefore come to the conclusion that ProL was right.

    Adnotatiunculae bilicis delenda est!

    1. Unfortunately, it is not the threaded comments. Discussions of my urine and his penis have dropped precipitously since Epi moved to the Left Coast and dropped out the H&R Morning Show.

      1. I will give you one downside of the threads. It let’s LoneTard post at the top of the comments by reply to the first comment. His egoism is quite astounding. And that’s saying a lot coming from a beautiful supergenius awesomedude like me.

        1. I think you mean his “egotism is quite astounding”.

        2. I can’t abide this format. It’s a pain to track everything. I do, after all, have a day job.

          Adnotatiunculae bilicis delenda est.

  12. Adnotatiunculae bilicis delenda est, brother!

    1. While we’re at it, can I get a “Pactio Olisipiensis Censenda Est!“?

      1. Sure.

        Do we get a vote on that in the U.S.?

        1. And what if the sheeple vote “Ja”? You’ll be proper fucked then, won’t you?

          1. That raises an interesting question. Do the paranoid conspiracy-minded people in Europe ever claim that the EU is actually some American plot to control Europe?

            Actually, that’s a good idea.

            1. Well, considering that the Euroskeptic leadership (people like Daniel Hannan, Czech President Vaclav “Santa” Klaus and the UKIP) are generally pro-American, I’m not surprised that idea gets so little play.

              1. I’m somehow disappointed.

  13. I don’t want 1001 types of soda and I don’t care too much for crass commercialism. But I deal with that by not watching TV or going out too much. Other people seem to want these things. My preferences do not need to be forced on the rest of the world. Why are so many people incapable of understanding this?

    1. Zeb,

      I’ll fight for your right to only have one soda if you so chose for yourself, brother!

  14. Between 1986 and 1990, I made approximately 8,000 color, Hasselblad images on the streets of Communist Europe.

    So… Europe, then.

    1. What the fuck kind of narcissistic retard said “I made images” instead of “I took pictures”? You didn’t make those images, asshole. You just captured something that was already there.

      I’m not denying its artiness or anything, I just think that formulation betrays delusions of grandeur.

      1. Or perhaps ESL…..

      2. Not really to defend him, but as a result of the digital age and the near-death of chemical photography, a lot of photographer (and photograph archivists) use “image” so as to not have to specify process. Yes, it’s all “writing with light,” but photograph is increasing reserved for chemical prints.

        1. Okay, he captured the images. He absorbed the images. He caught the reflected light of the images. He tampered with the images. He manipulated the images.

          “Made” the images is crazy talk.

        2. The “image” I can live with, it’s the “I made an image” that sounds dweeby. Anyway, no way the guy took digital photos in 1990 with a Hasselblad.

      3. You know how we libertarians are going to win? When all the leftists finally complete the transition to their destined state of total solipsism. I made images, indeed.

  15. Haven’t read the article yet, but that rabbit in cross-hairs reminds me of the hunting part of that old Oregon Trail computer game.

    Now those were simpler times.

    1. Until you had to choose whether or not to ford that damn river.

      1. I always got typhoid fever. Goddamn meager rations.

        1. That game anger me so much I “made images” at my computer screen with my finger. Stupid river. A better game was TradeWars2000 on the WWIV BBS. I used to run a WWIV BBS with a friend of mine. Another freind of mine has a lifetime license (and yes they still honor it) for TW2K and we are in the process of getting a game started. Now THAT is nerddom.

          You jump into a black hole. Lose ship and turn.

          DAMN!!! I waited till midnight to play too!!!

          p.s. only the truely nerdy will get the last reference.

          1. Holy shit, I’m with you there. It was Trade Wars and the Arena. And MUDs, but let’s not go there.

            1. I guess I should be proud of the fact that I have no clue what the hell you guys are talking about.

              Yet I feel oddly out of the loop.

              1. It seems that Ska and I are of similar age. WWIV BBS was a “precursor” to the intertubes. It was a hosting prgogram you cold put on your computer and with a 2400 baud modem you were a geek god (I used my Apple IIsi for mine, my friend had an Amiga 4000). Trade Wars is a text game that was one of the first “MMO” games. Although “massive” is debateable.

                Ahhh, the good old days. 2400 baud

                1. I am familiar with lesser baud rates. My dad used to bring home a TI Silent 700 from work, which had a built-in acoustic coupler (look that one up, children) and operated at a blazing 1,200 baud. I played Star Trek and Colossal Cave and loved every minute of it.

                  1. Oh, and that’s no display! That’s thermal paper!

                    1. damn.

                    2. $10 for a roll of thermal paper, too.

  16. Boy, these are interesting photos. But the more I look at them, the more depressed I get.

  17. Paul,

    I’m just glad my wife is staying at home with the kids, because that way she can wait in the bread lines for the family.

  18. *head in hands*

    Good god, it’s all so 1984

  19. You! Paul! In Washington! Get your head out of your hands and do twenty jumping jacks, like a good citizen!

    1. PRO L, I would but I can’t find my favorite Barack Obama hoodie.

      1. Isn’t that racist?

        1. Or is it more racist to say it’s racist? If so, would that make me a metaracist?

          1. A heavy-metaracist… with umlauts and everything.

            1. M?taRacist.

              1. Incidentally, I used more special characters, but the Squirrel forbade it.

  20. Yes, they were unpretentious, naive and seemed ironic. But they also contained an inventory of our most common human needs. That alone ought to have on random days when notices were posted. Standing in line for these goods is what brought us together.

  21. Also, the fact that many of these “unpretentious, naive and ironic” store windows were decorated in a way as to deliberately conceal a lack of inventory seems to have sailed over this photographer’s head.

    1. Did you get the feeling the artist was trying to say something that could not be said safely in the angel with empty cornucopia window painting?

  22. “Communal juice glass, Moscow, 1990”

    …just plain nasty.

    Well, at least it looked fairly clean. Maybe before setting it back in the juice machine each user takes the time to use a little spit and their shirt tail to polish the glass so it’ll be clean for the next user.

  23. I can’t believe there was not a mention of Nuka-Cola here. WTF.

    Also: a simpler shop.

  24. Your comment appears to be spam. If it is not, a moderator will publish your comment later.

    What the fucking dick-shit is this, mods, you overused legless catamites? First I can’t use foreign letters, and now you call my Nuka-Cola jokes spam? I’m this close to walking out on you.

  25. These are depressing photos…but fascinating and informative at the same time.

  26. There is a benefit to having 1001 varieties of soda- it keeps the cost of your preferred brands down.

  27. Interesting that almost all of the people he took pictures of had some sort of wound (bandage on the head or hand, crutches). I have no idea what that symbolizes.

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