What Gary Shteyngart Learned From Watching a Week of Russian TV

Gary Shteyngart, The New York Times Magazine:

You might be wondering why I left my home and family and started watching Russian drag-queen parodies. I am the subject of an experiment. For the next week, I will subsist almost entirely on a diet of state-controlled Russian television, piped in from three Apple laptops onto three 55-inch Samsung monitors in a room at the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan. (If I have to imbibe the TV diet of the common Russian man, I will at least live in the style of one of his overlords.) Two of the monitors are perched directly in front of my bed, with just enough space for a room-service cart to squeeze in, and the third hangs from a wall to my right. The setup looks like the trading floor of a very small hedge fund or the mission control of a poor nation’s space program. But I will not be monitoring an astronaut’s progress through the void. In a sense, I am the one leaving the planet behind.

I will stay put in my 600-square-foot luxury cage, except for a few reprieves, and will watch TV during all my waking hours. I can entertain visitors, as long as the machines stay on. Each morning I will be allowed a walk to the New York Health & Racquet Club on West 56th Street for a long swim. Vladimir Putin reportedly takes a two-hour swim every morning to clear his head and plot the affairs of state. Without annexing Connecticut or trying to defend a collapsing currency, I will be just like him, minus the famous nude torso on horseback.

Kudos to The New York Times Magazine for coming out swinging with their new design. Between the Knausgaard piece and the above piece, they hooked me back into my digital subscription. Also, all the David Carr reading I was doing made me feel a bit guilty.