Recently, I’ve been running across photos of Vladimir Mayakovsky on my Tumblr dashboard all the time. I’d never heard of the guy, so more than anything I was struck by his goddamn look. You’ll see this one around a lot, but it’s the immaculate suit and shaved head and the “CRUSH YOU” expression that’s fucking amazing to me. I’ve been pretty into Russian literature for the last couple years, on and off, so I took a look at what he actually did (other than stand around and look awesome).
I probably won’t ever be a huge fan of the guy’s writing, honestly. Just because I’m not often able to appreciate written poetry all that well (this may have something to do with my aforementioned problem with symbolism), and if you add the issue of translated poetry… well I just don’t know if I’d get much out of it. But that doesn’t need to stop me from appreciating Mayakovsky the figure, who was summed up very nicely yesterday in this piece about him on HiLoBrow. He sounds like he would’ve been a real fun guy to see live.
That said, there’s one piece of his work I can appreciate whole-heartedly. This picture to the left gave me a deep, yearning desire for a pair of good dress boots, and then I ran across Mayakovsky in another footwear-related capacity.
You may have heard that we had a crazy storm here in New York this week, and finding myself without boots I went and bought old-fashioned overshoes, or galoshes, which could protect my shoes. (I actually got these, which were nicely-reviewed on Put This On if you’re into that sort of thing.) Curious about the strange word “galoshes,” (it’s originally French) I looked up on the Wikipedia page for galoshes and found these:
The above are Soviet advertisements for galoshes, and also propaganda, and also strangely grim, threatening, and poetic because these were written by Vladimir Mayakovsky. “Europe is bound to sit and weep!” That’s incredible.