Putin Knows Shit: Dubya, Lilliput, Reginald!


I’m such a pussy. Wednesday, the agony of a ten-hour drive from Pittsburgh to Providence, scored with poor judgement by Sun Kil Moon and other recent Pitchfork darlings, and coupled to a late night Freud cramfest got me off set me off. “Damn, I could use a beer.” Once finished - I yanked on some shoes, and aimed my feet barwise. But, a final browse online stopped me cold. A Venezuelan friend of mine, whom I’ll call JC in deference to both his privacy and safety, posted to a forum:

I came over to say bye. My country is in ruins, colleagues, friends, people whom I went to school with are being attacked by groups armed by the government and also the military. All constitutional rights have been forfeited. I fear for my life. Phone lines, electricity and internet are down over in San Cristobal, shouldn’t be long before they’re down here as well. Thanks for all the music.

Ahem. Remind me. What the fuck, exactly, had I done to earn a beer?

I took my shoes off, and did the little I could to connect JC with empowered Americans who might help. The Dude, as always, led the charge for good. Last check: JC’s fine, waiting on that inevitable loss of power.

Chief among JC’s many misfortunes is timing: not much’s been broadcast of this conflict and its foreign political nuances - and why should it? Ready-made arch Russia plays host to the Olympics right now, and coevally champions the other side of our faddish gay-acceptance agenda. Stir in a little Ukraine, and CNN’s serving up rank borscht for the masses. Maybe add an Arab sprig of Syrian garnish if you want. Remember when Putin edged Obama last-second to win gold, by assembling that kangaroo panel of chemical weapons’ inspectors? Yeah. Those scores are now under review.

Please, forget that Maduro’s got at least as much Stalin in him as Putin does, or that Venezuelan students protesting attempted rape now find themselves on the cruel end of government arms. Or even that a young celebrity national was shot in the head and died hours later at the tragic age of twenty-two. Gracie Gold got fourth, okay? And those Sochi hotels are cardboard port-o-potties filled with wolves. THEY CHEATED US, THOSE WHITE HETERONORMATIVE ROOSKIE BASTARDS.

Really, it’s a farce built on a bad pun: these Winter Games are the Cold War staged in high-def miniature.

Accordingly, I’d be remiss in my duties as an American journalist if I didn’t couch an article on, uh, derivative South American politics in Reagan-era platitudes we all can understand. Lucky for me and for you, the only famous Russians (kinda sorta maybe) on our side released the year’s best song the same night as JC’s wrenching farewell. Pussy Riot’s Путин научит тебя любить Родину (or “Putin Will Teach You How To Love The Motherland”) depicts the remarkably well-edited footage of Nadya Tolokno leading a half-dozen balaclava feminists whipped and arrested at an Olympic protest of their own collusion. Clocking in at 2:12 (plus a false harp intro that ends abruptly and hilariously), this gold contender is as pissed off as “God Save The Queen,” as pop-rooted as early Clash, and as catchy as [pick something by Ramones]. Remember, it’s never a bad idea to boast half as many chords as members. This is classic punk staged for a post-Cold War world.

Attempts to find a great or good-enough translation have been frustrated. So, I’m left here believing Nadya’s flawless hook says “Putin knows shit: Dubya, Lilliput, Reginald!” While the phrase has as much sociopolitical flair as a transliteration could ask for, I’m happy it means nothing to me. Let it stand unintelligible for a moment, because this is quite a moment we have. Russia sure needs its pussy riot, but so does Ukraine, and Syria, and, not nearly least of all, Venezuela. If the words mean nothing to them either, hope Pussy Riot’s spirit and fight say everything instead.

The Dude, in his seemingly endless wisdom, rattled me yesterday. He called Pussy Riot “the only band that matters.” He’s right, of course - despite just five or six (perfect) songs to their credit. How didn’t I notice?

But here’s to the day when they don’t need to be.