On the Radar: Soviet X-Ray Records

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During the Cold War years, listening to “Western” music–especially those genres of “ill-repute” such as jazz and rock ‘n roll–could get a person sent to the Gulag. So people got creative and made bootleg records of this music on old x-rays, called “bones” or “ribs.” Because the quality was so poor, people called the experience of hearing them to be “listening through sound”–meaning sound with some faint music coming through. Watch a less-than-15-minute documentary on “X-Ray Audio” here:

 

Image source: X-Ray Audio

Check out the great X-Ray Audio Project website here.

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On the Radar: Louis Armstrong serenading his wife on the Giza Plateau, 1961

The “Silent Duel” Between Stalin and Doctor Zhivago

The “Silent Duel” Between Stalin and Doctor Zhivago

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Boris Pasternak, author of Doctor Zhivago. Source: Wikipedia.

The author of the famed novel-turned-film has a colorful and complex history with his home country. For all of his frequent brushes with the NKVD (Russian police, precursor to the KGB, and in charge of the USSR’s infamous labor camps), he was never once sent to the Gulag or even put on trial. His mistress once wrote: “I believe that between Stalin and Pasternak there was an incredible, silent duel.”* But in the beginning of his writing career, Pasternak wrote poems lauding the 1905 Revolution and party leaders. So how did he become a Soviet enemy, and why was he never “punished” by the government that disowned him? Continue reading