Ad space

From a book I’ve just read, about a couple of Americans who spent a year in Moscow and Leningrad as part of a student exchange programme in 1978:

“I realize now, looking back, that for at least my first month in Moscow I was filled with an unconscious and devastating disappointment. Hardly realizing it, as I walked around the city, I was looking for the constant sensory distractions I was accustomed to in America. Like many other my age, I grew up reading billboards and singing advertising jingles; my idea of beauty was shaped – perniciously, I think – by the models with painted eyes and pounds of shining hair whose beauty was accessible on every television set and street corner. In Moscow I found none of this easy stimulation – only the rarer, more demanding pleasures of nature and architecture: rain on the gold domes inside the Kremlin; yellow leaves stuck to a wet pavement; a decayed stone grotesque on the peeling front of a mansion in the Arbat; a face in a subway crowd.”

Of course post-Communist Moscow is now plastered with just as much advertising as any western metropolis. If you want an ad-free environment these days you have to go to Sao Paulo (photos here).