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Posted March 06, 2022

Sean Ring

By Sean Ring

Hug a Russian Today!

  • Russian soprano Anna Netrebko is out at New York City's Metropolitan Opera.
  • Valery Gergiev, the chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic, was fired.
  • I, for one, cant wait for the lawsuits thatll come later.

Its a rainy Monday here in Samar, as the rain tingles against the corrugated iron roof.

Im having a rustic blast here, relaxing in my parents-in-laws new wooden house that juts out over the mangrove forest.

Of course, its quieter than Cebu, a city much larger than Calbayog City.

But Im grateful for it all the same.

Theyve got mostly the same amenities here, so its not like Im hunting for food.

And the rain has cooled down the usually muggy March air.

Weve had fortunate timing.

Ill write more in-depth about my little sanctuary later this week.

But right now, my distance from the mess that is the Western world has afforded me a clarity Id not have gotten if I were already in Italy.

And judging by the dumpster fire that is LinkedIn, many of my professional colleagues certainly have no clarity at all.

Lincoln Center, the mid-1990s

Who doesnt love a bit of The Nutcracker at Christmas time?

Its a glorious piece of entertainment, and as American as apple pie.


Really, its a two-act Russian fairy ballet whose score, by one Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky, is famous the world over.

One Christmas season, my college sweetheart - the one who taught me how to read - and I headed to The City (as we called NYC back then) to grab dinner and drinks.

As I was newly 21 years of age, I could ditch my famous fake ID - Ill tell you about that one day - and go out for a drink unhindered.

So we did what every aspiring young couple would do.

We went out for a bit of culture.

I think she and I got front row seats from my mothers boss at the time.

I had never sat so close.

This will sound ridiculous, but the only thing I remember from that performance was the ballerinos crotch.

A ballerino is a male ballet dancer, and yes, I just looked that up.

Anyway, he was perhaps the fittest man Id ever seen.

And since my middle-class ass had no idea about ballet, I really thought his, well, member, was real.

Every time he did a pirouette, I ducked and dodged as if I were Eowyn avoiding the Witch King of Angmars mace!

Only years later did I realize he was wearing a codpiece, known commonly today as a dance belt.

My God, I felt much better.

Present Day Cancel Season

Now, am I a ballet expert?

Of course not.

Did that performance open my eyes in a way theyd never been opened before?

Not really.

It was a bunch of dancers doing their thing to impress my girlfriend so we could do our thing later.

And theres nothing wrong with that.

Its called entertainment for a reason.

It entertains. It doesnt have to be a life-altering experience.

But whats going on today violates all sense of reason and logic - not that theres much of that going around anyway.

To wit, Valery Gergiev, the chief conductor for the Munich Philharmonic, was fired for not denouncing Vladimir Putin, his longtime friend and fellow countryman, for his intervention in Ukraine.

Not because hes not selling tickets. Or that his performances are subpar.

A country thats been walking on eggshells for the last 80 years or so - and not without reason - has started to fire people for their political views or non-views.

Its not like Gergiev, who I had never heard of until a week ago, is cheering on the home team from Germany.

In February, Gergiev was lightly booed at La Scala - the famous Italian opera house.

Are you kidding me?


In fact, the mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala, who is also the president of the La Scala opera house, urged Gergiev to condemn Russias invasion, saying the collaboration will be over if he did not issue a statement.

No prizes for guessing that its over.

Again, for what?

Anna Netrebko, a famous soprano, has withdrawn from the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Heres what the general manager, Peter Gelb, said:

It is a great artistic loss for the Met and for opera. Anna is one of the greatest singers in Met history, but with Putin killing innocent victims in Ukraine, there was no way forward.

He also said:

We can no longer engage with artists or institutions that support Putin or are supported by him -- not until the invasion and killing has been stopped, order has been restored and restitutions have been made.

Lest you think Im going only one way here, the reverse cases are happening in Russia.

According to the Moscow Times, people are getting fired for signing anti-war petitions.

I didnt understand what to do next. How could I go to work like nothing had happened? How could I carry on living my life, Dolinina said.

The next day, she added her name to an anti-war petition one of dozens of open letters from different professional spheres addressing Putin and calling for him to back down. Dolinina signed one circulating among cultural and artistic professionals. Similar letters were signed by economists, teachers, doctors and a number of other groups in what has grown into a sizable show of opposition to the war.

On Monday, she was hauled into an early-morning meeting by her employers the MosKino cinema hall and given a choice. Make a public statement saying that your name was added by mistake, or quit. If she refused to go of her own accord, she said, her bosses threatened to make her dismissal very unpleasant.

Going Forward

Im going to enjoy reading about the lawsuits later.

And there will be some big ones.

Loss of earnings, damage to professional reputation heck, any ambulance chaser can have a field day with this stuff.

And if I were a diva, Id make them cry until they say, Uncle!

These people are guilty of nothing more than cozying up to their leader.

Imagine a couple of these alternative world headlines:

    • Hollywood cancels Tom Hanks for sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom while Clinton bombs Serbia.
    • Liam Gallagher was removed from the Oasis tour for supporting Tony Blair before Iraq War.
    • Jay-Z and Beyonce tours canceled for supporting Obama in the wake of the breaking of Libya.

Never happened, did they?

Because the only just wars are the ones the Anglosphere (with French help, in Libyas case) starts.

Wrap Up

This isnt going to end well, either financially or culturally.

As the week goes on, Ill build up to why I think this is just the warmup for worse things to come.

Not only are we cutting ourselves off at the knees economically, but were burning the same bridges well need to rebuild after the damage.

Lets face it: in a few news cycles, theyll be telling you how great it is to buy Russian oil and gas.

Just wait and see.

In the meantime, hug a Russian today. Its not their fault.

Until tomorrow.

All the best,


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