Having been doing it for almost 3 years now, I must admit that running a magazine is a difficult task. Regardless of whether it is online, print, or both, what you quickly come to realize is that there is hardly any money to be made from it – unless you come across some cultured oligarch who is willing to back you. You have to create and organise articles, manage promotion and advertising, and edit for hours, all while angry men living in their mother’s basement tell you about how shit you are. And then you do it again the next day. Although it is hard work, the painful reality is that certain things have to be said. With that desire to create something, the thought of allowing certain things unsaid and unaddressed is far worse than all these struggles. With this in mind, we felt that it is necessary to pay respect to some of our favourite sites based in the post-socialist region that you should – if you haven’t yet – be following.
We’ve selected a mix of interesting and informative press outlets, who deal with a range of different subjects, from art to football to music. The key link that connects all of them is that they are leading their respected conversations and, through their passion, helping inspire us constantly.
Few countries have been subjected to as much shit writing about them as Georgia has. Articles and blog posts typically written by Americans that have spent less than six months in the country, and subsequently decide that they’ll start teaching Georgians about Georgia, it is a dire state of affairs. However, Danarti is a Tbilisi-based Georgian/English zine that offers a refreshingly critical perspective of a diverse array of issues, from the legacy of the 1990’s in Georgia to architecture in Tbilisi. Actually, this summer we named one of their team members as one of our favourite people in Tbilisi, so you can tell how much we love Danarti. They recently released their newest addition this December, which certainly was their best yet.
Easterndaze are really the only site you need to follow in terms of finding experimental music in Central and Eastern Europe. At times based out of Prague, Easterndaze releases their own content while also sharing a wide range of material from Hungary, Ukraine and the Balkans. Whereas the majority of platforms in this particular genre look to cover artists in the region that perform in English or fit into more Anglo-American styles, these guys do a great job in showcasing the cutting edge of local talent. They also run their own experimental musical label called Babavan, which currently has 19 releases to its name. They kindly contributed a list for us last summer of 5 quality Hungarian artists, which you should check out.
These guys have been a major inspiration for Post Pravda. As the Western media continually spouts the “Last Dictatorship in Europe” clichés about Belarus, 34 mag continues to produce thoughtful content that showcases the civil society that is alive and well in the country. Their magazine covers a diverse array of material relating culture, politics and travel, with a great focus on dealing with really practical issues. This aspect was no more evident than during the protests last year in Belarus when they produced a wonderful guide covering what to do in case you were detained by the police. Beyond that, they produce easily the best travel guides for someone actually looking to get beyond a superficial understanding of Minsk and other Belarusian cities. An essential read for anyone interested in youth culture in the region, they have been really wonderful friends to us in sharing resources and giving us a lot of constructive guidance. The majority of their work is in Belarusian or Russian but if you’re smart then you’ll just Google translate it.
Some might say that the greatest artists to come from Eastern Europe are the likes of Kandinsky or Rodchenko, but as fanatics of the beautiful game, we’re more predisposed towards Georgi Kinkladze or Hristo Stoichkov. Although the current generation of footballers in the former socialist world have not made as much of an international impact as past masters, the quality of football remains pretty decent and the stories behind the scenes certainly interesting. Futbolgrad is one of the most comprehensive sites – encompassing an online magazine and regular podcast – focusing on the weird, wonderful, and still somewhat enigmatic, world of Eastern European football. Covering a diverse array of contemporary football-related issues in the region, Futbolgrad also boasts plenty of quality retrospective work related to the Soviet era. With a considerable team of talented writers, they’re an absolute must for your football reading.