[...] Usually when we rode in Roman's car, he played American rap and rock music on tape cassettes that you might find in the 99¢ bin at an American flea market. He sometimes talked to me about the music he played. One afternoon as we were bouncing and zooming in his little car on a Vladivostok street broken to pieces by ice and thaws, he put on a cassette by Kid Rock. I would not have recognized the artist, but Roman told me who it was. "I love Kid Rock's music," he said, "but I don't know what his words mean."
I listened for a while to the song. "Well, here he's saying that he wants money in order to make his life better," I explained.
"Oh, I understand," Roman said. Then, "Kid Rock is a scandalist, yes?"
"Yes, I think so. He was married to Pamela Anderson, of Baywatch."
"Ah, yes. I know Baywatch. Pamela Anderson—she is also a scandalist, I think."
Just then the car hit a big bump and all of us ricocheted off the ceiling. Roman said, "Oh, these roads!"
"Dorogi, i duraki" (roads, and idiots), I said. (This is a famous saying, attributed to Gogol, who once noted that in Russia the two biggest problems were the roads, and idiots.)
Roman laughed. "Yes," he said. "And they never repair either one."
(ian frazier, from travels in siberia)