by Jim Harris
The events described as happening in Sochi are true.
Vladimir Putin wanted the Olympic games to be a showcase of modern Russia’s arrival on the global stage. So how’d that go?
Well, let’s see; fog, humidity, slushy slopes, feral dogs, terrorists’ threats, Ukrainian athletes leaving the games to join protests against their pro-Russian president, and last but not least, that incident involving the Russian girl-group “Pussy Riot.” They’re that punk band that wears colorful ski masks while protesting all things Putin. Several of them just got out of prison after serving almost two years for “hooliganism.” During the Olympics, they showed up in Sochi and were about to launch into their newest song, “Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland,” when a group of large, uniformed men suddenly appeared, and beat the crap out of them. End of show.
Now, I watched a lot of Olympic coverage this time around, since I bruised my ribs sledding down Tommy’s Hill last week (yes, I’m really that stupid), and I had to rest even more than my usual eight hours a day. Sadly, though, my wife was not even slightly interested in watching it with me. I think she’s just sick of winter in general. Still, I tried to get her interested.
“Hey, Hon, come here, the luge competition is about to begin!”
“Wow, guess what, curling is next!”
“Call me when something exciting happens that doesn’t involve ice or snow,” she replied.
So, okay, perfect. When the Pussy Riot rumble began, I figured that qualified.
“With bullwhips. They’re attacking defenseless women.”
“That’s nice. Let me know when the Spanish Inquisition arrives.”
I guess I can’t blame her for not believing me. I wouldn’t believe me either if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. It’s so 16th-century. According to the Russian state-run news agency Ria Novosti, “More than 400 Cossacks served as volunteer security officials at the Olympics.”
Although they were once known as proud warriors, talented horsemen and damn good dancers, they are today characterized by some as little more than skinheads in fur hats. Attempts to reach Cossack headquarters for comment were unsuccessful, since they don’t use telephones, but when one of them was asked by a TV reporter what he thought of Pussy Riot’s new song, (“Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland”), he said he “hated the lyrics but liked the beat.”
When I went to sleep that night, with those disturbing images still in my head, I dreamed that Cossacks broke into my house and accused me of “fraternizing with hooligans” (which is apparently much worse than fraternizing with Cossacks). I couldn’t understand how they were able to get into the U.S. and nab me without anyone noticing. It was like the raid on bin Laden, except that they didn’t kill me.
Instead, I was whisked off to Moscow and sentenced to a year in prison. The guards there, who all inexplicably looked like Howdy Doody, taunted and bullied me unmercifully. The only food I got was borscht and pickled fish heads. I spent the entire year on the can. It was very frustrating, to say the least. When I woke up the next morning and realized that it was all just a dream, I ran out into the street, screaming like Jimmy Stewart when he returned to Bedford Falls in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
“I love you, America! I love all you wonderful overfed, oversexed, overwrought bastards. I love you, too, streetlights, cobblestones, trashcans, stop signs…” After running for about 10 minutes, I ran out of things to love, but I figured I had made my point. No police came. I was just another nut on the street, expressing my latest opinion. So thank you, Pussy Riot, for being insanely brave, and thank YOU, Mr. Putin, for teaching me to love the motherland. There’s no place like home.