Nyet nyet Soviet jewellery

I was hanging out in the lobby of the Metropol Hotel (rooms from 7450 Rubles) in downtown Moscow yesterday. This is a fairly grand hotel, located right next to Red Square. It was built in 1901 at the very beginning of the rein of Czar Nicolas the 2nd. I am not purveying this information in a bid for self aggrandizement, but rather to set the scene for the unlikely events I witnessed while minding my own business.

At first I was alone in a configuration of several chairs flanking a coffee table near the lobby bar. Then two rather bulky bald black men sat down adjacent to me. Between the two of them there was roughly 10 pounds of gold on display in the form of knuckle duster rings (and they were at least in the 98th percentile of knuckle size), watches the size of the average clock tower, and several chains and medallions. They were not, however, Mr. T. wannabes. Their suits looked expensive, for starters.

As luck would happen – this being Russia and all – they did not presume that I spoke English. Either that or they were not worried about eaves droppers since they proceeded to discuss at length the status of a recent lawsuit (not good) and the prospects of being able to make their upcoming payroll deadline (also not good). Just as I was slotting them into the category of business men with shady dealings with Russian kleptocrats, they were joined by a younger and much less bulky companion who upped the bling factor considerably. If he wasn’t a hip hop star of some note he was a pretty good imitation. His pants were saved from pooling around his ankles by a large gold belt buckle in the form of a stretched out letter H. Subsequent research revealed that this was in fact a Hermes belt buckle, which although not as expensive as the diamond and gold one that just sold at Christie’s auction house for $20,000, is still way beyond my belt budget. He also had a huge gold necklace and pendant that could easily have been used successfully in hand-to-hand combat. Aside from the requisite gold rings, he was otherwise unadorned except for the extensive tattoos on his arms and presumably elsewhere. That’s when I revised my job description for the original two men to body guards who also did double duty as business managers.

Then there was a larger kerfuffle and a considerable entourage surrounding a weird looking man (complete with what appeared to be a video documentary team) swept into the general vicinity of my rapper and his homies. He was wearing a jean jacket embellished with a painting of himself on the back and the words “Only in America” spelled out in diamonds (or diamond-looking objects, although you can’t blame me for thinking the former rather than the latter). He was also brandishing several flags in one hand (Russian, American, and who knows what else) and a cigar in the other. If you are smarter than me you would have figured out who this was without resorting to Google gymnastics.

Turns out it was Don King . I have subsequently learned several things about Don King from Mr. Google.

1. He has been investigated for ties with organized crime. I am therefore moving my body guard pigeons from the ‘rob from the poor to feed the rich’ hole to the more shady realm of consorting with the Russian mafia.

2. He has been on the wrong end of a bazillion litigation cases involving boxers including Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis. This explains the lawsuit discussions and the dwindling coffers that may cause the entourage to seek other employment.

3. He managed the Jackson’s 1984 Victory tour. This indicates his music promotion career has not kept up with his boxing endeavours, which leaves me at a loss to connect the dots with my rap star. However, if all of life’s mysteries were revealed what would there be to look forward to?

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