I first heard about this a year ago. I bumped into Alderman Kalis at Newton North High School where we were both working with students who were helping us both with web sites we were working on. He told me that he was writing a memoir about the two and a half years he spent living in Russia, just after he graduated from college. My first impression was “oh a personal memoir with some travel stories” and then he started telling me the details.
Just after graduating from Tufts, he decided to travel to Europe. He headed for a month long trip to Leningrad. On a whim he decided to head to Moscow just in time to land smack in the middle of the unraveling of the entire Soviet Union. Once there, he took his camera and waded into the middle of it all posing as a photo-journalist. As Moscow began to unravel he ended up in the center of it all standing on top of a tank in Red Square, snapping photos in the midst of the unfolding chaos.
Rather than a few weeks abroad, he got sucked into the historic drama and stayed for two and half years. Much of the plot sounds like a Graham Greene novel – run in’s with the Soviet Mafia, run-ins with the Soviet Army, traveling to remote villages in the middle of nowhere.
Check out this excerpt to start to get the flavor of it all. Aside from the story, he came home with an archive of amazing photos since he was “working” as a fictional photo-journalist. Here’s a video montage that also includes an original song written by Mr. Kalis.
The release of his book couldn’t come at a better time. With Putin, Ukraine, Crimea and the just-finished Olympics all over the news in recent weeks, it’s clear that Dave Kalis’s book is telling the first chapter of a story that’s still unfolding today.
The next time I see the mild mannered Mr Kalis sitting in the Aldermanic Chambers taking up arcane details of the city budget, I’ll have a completely different view of the guy.