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Straight Outta the Golden Gate

Hey, look!  It’s time to go back to the Ukraine, ain’t it?  Yep, sure is.  I’m not going to say much up here in the front ’cause I’m gonna do a lot of talking in the middle and that’ll give you enough to read as is.  So, when Annie asks, “That’s the Golden Gate?” you know Alex will have a reply–

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

“Yes.” Alex waved an arm at the immense structure. “The last Great Gate of Kiev. You can thank the Russians for this: they built it for the city’s fifteen-hundredth anniversary, though everyone then and now says it looks nothing like the original gate—” She shrugged as she lowered her voice. “I guess the only way we’d know what it really looks like is to get a witch out her and have them Postcog the area. It’s the only way we’d know for sure.”

“That’s true.” What Annie knew of Postcogntion was limited to what she’d already read at home and at school. She knew Deanna taught the basics of the skill though she’d heard her say once before that she wasn’t as skilled at seeing into the past as she was the future. Annie figured that, like Demonology an Necromancy, if a student showed promise with Postcognition Foundation personnel from outside the school came in to help develop their talent.
She tapped her friend lightly on the arm. “Let’s talk about this over lunch.”

Alex nodded. “Good idea. It’s down this way.”

 

Now for an annoying historical interlude:

What Alex says about the Golden Gate is true:  it was part of the city’s fortifications going back to at least before the 11th Century and perhaps a few centuries before that.  The truth is no one really knows because stuff like construction records were pretty sketchy at that time.  By the 1800’s the Golden Gate didn’t exist in much of anything but ruins, but in the early 1980’s the Soviet Union decided Kiev needed a nice present for their 1500th anniversary and rebuilt the Golden Gate in it’s present form.  Just about everyone who knows a little history say the current look is all wrong and at the time this gate went up various historians were telling the Russians this, but in 1982 one did not tell the Old Soviet Union “Nyet!”, it told you–often with a trip to a gulag in Siberia.

But the Golden Gate became world famous when it more or less became one of the moments of the suite Pictures at an Exhibition, written by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky in 1874.  The suite was composed in honor of Mussorgsky’s friend, artist Viktor Hartmann, who passed away in 1873 at the age of 39.  Mussorgsky imagined the suite as representing the feelings one would have as they walked through an art gallery viewing Hartmann’s work, and the musical movements were based upon certain paintings of Hartann’s–one of which was that of a gate designed as a monument for Tsar Alexander II.  That movement, the last of the suite, was The Great Gate of Kiev.  And that’s the gate in the image below:

Not the Golden Gate, but the real Great Gate.

Not the Golden Gate, but the real Great Gate.

Though Pictures at an Exhibition was originally written for the piano it didn’t take long for it to be adapted for the orchestra, and the version below, conducted by Maurice Ravel, is considered by many to be best interpretation of the suite.  Since we’re dealing with The Great Gate of Kiev here we’ll stick to that movement, which tends to bring down the house every time:

 

Now, the above piece actually starts out with the penultimate movement, Baba Yaga’s Hut on Hen’s Legs, and doesn’t get into The Great Gates of Kiev until around 3:20 in the video.  There’s a reasons for that…

Because my first exposure to Pictures at an Exhibition was only classical if you consider rock to be both classical and progressive.  Not long after I started driving–believe it or not I received my licence on 1 April, 1974, and the world has never been the same–a friend gave me an 8-track tap telling me, “This is some of the freak music you like to listen to,” which was a label I was given at the time–Listener of Freak Music–because out of nearly everyone in my school I was one of the few who listened to FM radio.  It was 1974, okay?  People were just not ready to break with Top 40 AM…

Anyway, I popped the tape in my player and drove around that night being amazed ’cause this was a recording of Pictures at an Exhibition as arranged by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and performed at the Newcastle City Hall in North East England on 26 March, 1971.  Not only did I become a fan of the group then, but it also made me go to the library and seek out the original source material and start getting introduced to actual classical music.

Pictures at an Exhibition has remained a favorite of mine all these years and I’ve even managed to hear it performed live by ELP on three different occasions.  The selection below, taken from their album of the performance, covers the same two movements as the classical piece above, which allows you to hear how three guys on keyboards, drums, and bass made this score their own.

Now that the music’s out of the way we can get to lunch, and wouldn’t you know it:  the girls aren’t going that far…

 

They quickly left the park and the enormous gate behind as they crossed the street. Alex, walking on Annie’s left, nodded her head towards the road. “That used to be moat in case you were wondering about the name.”

“I figured when I saw it was Yaroslaviv Val that it had something to do with fortifications, particularly with the gate here.” Annie glanced at the park. “I supposed the wall ran along the other side.”

“It didn’t surround the whole city, but there was a wall over there.” As they walked beyond the western boundaries of the park street took a slight dogleg to the right where Alex pointed to a set of stairs. “There’s the place: I told you it wasn’t far.”

Annie examined the name of the restaurant—Eurasia—as well as some of the placards advertising the wears. “They have sushi?”

“Sure. Yakatori and sashimi, too.” Alex looked down and away for a moment. “It’s not all that fancy, but the food’s good.”

Annie nodded. “That’s all that matters.”

A strange tone took hold in Alex’s voice. “If you’d rather—”

“Alex.” Annie turned toward the girl as she flashed a comforting smile. “I didn’t come here to be impressed: I came here to hang out with you. This is fine.” She nodded towards the entrance. “Let’s go inside.”

The Eurasia was styled much like a modern sushi restaurant. They found a small booth near the bar and given that the place had just opened and was nearly empty they were waited almost immediately. The girls order a combination of nigiri sushi and several rolls to start as well as hot tea for both.

Once they food arrived they began eating immediately. Annie found the food prepared nicely and to have a fantastic flavor. She swallowed her second smoked salmon roll and wiped her lips. “This is tasty.”

 

Did you really think Annie wouldn’t like sushi?  That’s not as surprising as Alex liking it, but then Alex seems to be full of surprises–the biggest one here being that she’s a little worried the fare won’t be to Annie’s liking.  Even though Annie and Kerry mentioned their luncheons in London, they probably never said where they were meeting and the rest of the Party of Six may have figured that when they were alone, The Lovey Dovey Couple liked them so fine dining.

Alex had no idea this is just a lateral move from a fast food joint in Russel Square.

Alex had no idea this is just a lateral move from a fast food joint in Russel Square.

And that’s the actual location when the girls are enjoying their sushi right now–

As they prepare to talk about stuff–and things…

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