Music, Olympics

Winter Games 2014: Rock & Roll Russia

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina

What’s so Punk Rock about wearing pastel colors? If you’re Pussy Riot, a lot more than putting a hundred safety pins in your Sears leather biker jacket and hanging out in parking lots. Fresh out of prison, Pussy Riot weren’t going to let the Sochi games go by without a fight. They just absorbed a solid asswhipping for their somewhat vague cause, which is at least as credible and righteous as making a Broadway musical based on your concept album, right?

It’s one thing to be a Rocker if you’re just breaking a few cultural mores and risking old people’s disapproval of your hairdo, quite another if you’re facing physical risk. I won’t pretend to know exactly what the hell they’re talking about, but I’m glad they’re at it. If the government of your country wants to beat the hell out of you and throw you in jail for playing music, you’re doing it right.

It’s interesting sociologically how Punk Rock, which you might feel began the first time a Neanderthal clubbed a Cro-Magnon, or with the Ramones or the Sex Pistols, depending on what you think of the New York Dolls and Iggy Pop, would eventually become Pussy Riot’s “Punk Prayer.” A favorite idiom of mine is “You don’t name the baby when you’re fucking,” which is to say it makes little difference what you call any genre of music. However, it’s undeniable that Punk is a real thing and, at least in some parts of the planet, it can still stir shit up.

Even back when “Punk” meant “man who will have sex with other men in prison,” Rock & Roll was moving and shaking the establishment (, man). Beatles fans risked their necks to get a hold of 45s, or at least bootleg record grooves cut unto X-ray sheets.

From Wikipedia:

“In the former USSR, records were commonly homemade using discarded medical x-rays. These records, which were usually made under the nation’s samizdat movement, were nicknamed “Bones” or “Ribs”, were usually inscribed with illegal copies of popular music banned by the government. They also became a popular means of distribution among Soviet punk bands; in addition to the high cost and low availability of vinyl, punk music was politically suppressed, and publishing outlets were limited.”

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This fascinating documentary lays it out for you, and highlights the role music has played in getting Russia to at least the point they’re at now. Just imagine- without the Beatles, we could’ve never had David Hasselhoff!

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