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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


View from the Top
Text Fred Flintstone

The Jetsons and the Flintstones met when child prodigy Elroy Jetson first broke the time barrier, and Bedrock hasn’t been the same since. Bedrock has pushed itself forward, but the resulting customs and institutions have become a curious mixture of past and future. Take the new Bedrock-City complex, which Fred had watched develop as he daily pedaled the Third Ring Road, first as an abyss dredged from the ground and then to emerge as a dozen or so glass towers, like a model of George Jetson’s Orbit-City in the midst of Bedrock. As the first towers rose into the sky, Fred was surprised to see offices on the lower floors lit and apparently occupied while the tower cranes above were still completing the upper stories.

Fred recently had a chance for a view from above when he went to help Mr. Slate set up a new office in one of the high-tech, glass towers. Fred arrived by metro to the Mezhdunarodnaya station, just two stops from Kievskaya. He traveled by metro since he had been warned that the complex has “virtually no parking, except for top management.” Like the rest of Bedrock, parking appears to be substantially missing from Bedrock-City planning — or maybe parking areas will manifest themselves in the very last buildings to be built. Parked cars line both sides the main roadway for a kilometer in either direction around the complex.

As Fred emerged from the glossy new metro station, he was startled to see that, even here, a pack of Bedrock dogs had found a home, snoozing curled up near the door. He picked his way along the maze of construction vehicles, temporary utility poles, and plastic and concrete barriers that line the 500 or so meters of walkway to the office. To the right lies a small community, appearing like so many shipping containers, stacked two and three high to house the workers (Tajiks, Turks, and other foreigners) who are building Bedrock-City. Buses along the road wait to take more workers to other such housing in other districts of Bedrock.

Once through the automatic entrance doors to the glass tower, this could be Orbit-City, or any city in the Jetsons’ world. There’s a Lensmaster, Respublika book store, Eon electronics mart, and other small, modern retailers. There’s even a Starbucks on the first floor, and the customers are actually smiling (in contrast with the passive, if not grim, faces in other Bedrock coffee shops). For these workers, it must be a joy and a privilege to work in such surroundings. Fred was surprised to see the Tajik worker sweeping up the cigarette butts along the streets outside, an effort at orderliness that was once unimaginable in Bedrock. But some things have yet to change – the young, bright female office workers still hike from the metro in four-inch heels, unlike in Orbit-City, where they wear sport shoes and change to heels at the office.

The streets change at nightfall, taken over by a different crowd as office workers give way to the foreign construction workers who wander the area aft er they finish their own workday. Entirely men, Fred wonders if they have their own nightspots in their gated community.

The view of Bedrock from above is spectacular, with the meandering river directly below, and the golden gleam of churches and other skyscrapers now rising up, dotting the skyline. This is a view that Bedrock residents have never had a chance to see before.

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