Russians Wickedly Affirm their Russianness while Plotting Our Destruction

It is sometimes not only advisable, but necessary, to avert one’s attention from the ugly violation of forms in the political arena — from the frowning formlessness of doctrinaire fanaticism — so as to take in things actually beautiful and therefore supremely real.  “Smuglyanka Moldavanka” (“Smiling Moldavian Girl”) is a soldier-song from World War Two that has become something like a folksong because it is actually beautiful and therefore supremely real.  Now “flash mobs” are a consequence of our burgeoning communications technology and can manifest themselves obnoxiously in crowds of what in journalese are invariably called “youths.”  They can also approximate to the spontaneity of art, which happens to be the result in the video-clip above.

Below, also purely for enjoyment, is another Russian “flash-mob,” this one singing the well-known song “Kalinka” (“Little Red Berry” — not a reference to Barack Hussein Obama), originally composed for a Russian Vaudeville in the 1860s.  Watch what happens when store security shows up – and be prepared to smile, like the Moldavian brunette.  Notice that little red berries are conspicuously on sale in the middle of the produce section.

24 thoughts on “Russians Wickedly Affirm their Russianness while Plotting Our Destruction

    • It’s Trump’s plan, no doubt, to mandate by executive order that we all dance the hopak twice a day, at six in the morning and again at eight in the evening. The music will be broadcast by NPR. The FBI and the IRS together will randomly monitor whether we’re really dancing or not — and whether we change our underwear daily. At last we will know whether Chuck Schumer (a) dances the hopak and (b) changes his underwear daily.

      • P.S. Approximating the spontaneity of art obviously requires great commitment and lots and lots of attentive rehearsal!

        P.P.S. “Smuglyanka Moldavanka” might also be rendered in English as “Snuggly Moldavian Girl” or “Cuddleworthy Moldavian Girl.”

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  2. How pathetic the lack of ethnic and cultural diversity in those videos! Apparently the Russians are not yet aware that she is their “greatest strength.”

    • Yes, why aren’t they singing “La cucaracha”? I’m fairly certain that Title IX requires them to sing “I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It”! Where are the Diversity Police when you need them?

      Now, speaking of form, in both video clips there are attention-worthy details. In the “Smuglyanka Moldavanka” video, for example, the performers are not dressed in formal attire, but they are dressed decorously, and especially in the case of the young women, with attention to color. All are well-coiffed. They sing boldly and loudly (which takes guts), and they dance, although the basic moves are simple ones, with aplomb. The heavy girl (you wouldn’t call her “fat”) carries her weight with grace. The customers in the store are for the most part also neatly dressed. The store itself has a remarkably ordered appearance. In the “Kalinka” video, once the performance gets going, and just after the security guard tries to quash the moment, several customers join in the performance. We see, for example, the pretty girl in the blue denim short-shorts and denim jacket dancing with a girl of seven or eight, who knows the moves. Other non-performers who know the song, sing it. Americans for the most part know no songs. I have recently incorporated into my classroom practice, no matter the course, to teach songs to the students, setting aside the last twenty minutes of class every few days to do so.

      • “I have recently incorporated into my classroom practice, no matter the course, to teach songs to the students, setting aside the last twenty minutes of class every few days to do so.”

        I’m relieved that you didn’t do that way back when I was your student; I would have been petrified!

      • Dear Dr. Bertonneau:

        Yes, none of those details escaped my attention. The contrast between those stores and your typical American Wal Mart or IGA for example are … striking. These performances were altogether delightfully amusing! I noticed the pretty girl wearing the short shorts and didn’t care much for her attire, but hey!: where were the tattoos and gawd awful piercings, the green and orange hair, the butches and the bitches and so on?

      • You’re right, Dr. Bertonneau, Americans know no songs in common. It was not ever thus. I love this scene from Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night,” as the passengers on a long-haul bus sing one of those songs that everyone once knew:

      • What do you mean Americans don’t know any songs in common!?!

        C’mon, everybody: Ninety-nine bottles of beeer on the wall, ninety-nine bottles of beeeer . . .

        Seriously though – it does look a bit well rehearsed, they all have amazing voices, the production quality is very professional. Still, I enjoy that far more than the American style flash mobs. There is just something more authentic about these – maybe because they reflect an actual shared culture rather than a banal, on the spot manufactured product that is American culture of late.

  3. Alan: The ambiance at Cow Mash University in the English Department was not really conducive to song, nor was I, in my probationary years of college teaching, ready to sing. I have grown bolder as I have grown older. My style might best be captured in an Italian phrase: Da cantare male ma con gusto! (English translation: “Yes — but I sing loudly!”)

  4. Terry: The petite brunette looks like one of the California-girls of my Californian youth. You will forgive me, I hope, for granting her license to let us in on her striking youthful beauty. She is, as you might say, Kallistically Formidable, a true ideal lady-denizen of the now-extinct state of Kallophormia, my tragic home and native land.

    • One of my close cousins once (30 years ago now) remarked to me about how strikingly beautiful my wife was at the time. We were at a family reunion at the lake, and she was dressed in a bikini (that *I* picked out for her). Some years later one of my daughters decided that she would accentuate her natural beauty by the wearing of short shorts and such. Both instances were unacceptable to me and I was forced to reassess my own motives for participating in the former, and allowing the latter to germinate without my knowledge. Lord forgive me for being stupid!

      • I can appreciate that. Beautiful young ladies are, well, beautiful young ladies. I have several (good genes I guess, I don’t know) in my immediate family. I hate to see them “whorify” themselves though.

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  6. Terry: Perhaps I could share with you a story about my wife and me. It happened, not thirty years ago, when we were just married, but only within weeks. I was sitting in my “study,” listening to Shostakovich’s Eighth Symphony, glancing occasionally into a volume of Akhmatova’s poetry, while also sipping from an excellent bottle of Sonoma-County Zinfandel rescued from the sinking, several years past, of Kallophormia, my tragic home and native land. My wife entered the room and said to me, “Joe” — that’s our son, Joseph Augustine Felix — “is bringing his girlfriend to dinner.” I asked, “Is that the girlfriend of his whom I’ve met, or is it a new girlfriend, whom I haven’t met yet?” My wife said, “It’s a new girlfriend whom you haven’t met yet.” I paused reflectively, both to attend to a poignant harmonic shift in the Eighth Symphony’s passacaglia and to palette carefully my latest sip of Zinfandel, so as to extract from it the utmost flavor, whereupon I responded to my wife with the following: “Well, gee, I’d better put on my pants.” Sincerely, TFB

    P.S. My genes are all faded — and some are acid washed and torn.

  7. Not quite the same as the flash mobs but this video of choruses in four Russian cities singing Glory to Great Russia, the concluding chorus from Glinka’s Ivan Susanin (A Life for the Tsar) seems to me to have a certain similar feel, in many respects.

    • You might want to get to know Sergei Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil or his choral symphony on poems by E. A. Poe, The Bells.

      On language: I’m fairly certain — although these things increasingly elude memory — that I squeezed through two terms of Russian at UCLA in the early 1970s with generous C-‘s from the instructor.

  8. Funkyphd: My great-aunts and great-uncles on my mother’s side all knew how to bang out chords on the piano and sing songs that the family at large knew — or learned by imitation — how to sing. By the time I was ten I knew the words, at least, to “Shine on, Harvest Moon,” “By the Beautiful Sea,” “Meet me in St. Louis, Louis,” and numerous others of the same kind. They weren’t folk songs, but they were common-property parlor-songs, so to speak. We also sang songs in school — “My Grandfather’s Clock” and the like. (This was back in Kallophormia, my tragic home and native land, in the 1960s.) One of the best discussions of the loss of songs is Roger Scruton’s in his chapter “Youfanasia” in The Intelligent Person’s Guide to Modern Culture. Among the trenchant points that Scruton makes in that chapter is that modern commercial — so-called popular — music is not only not meant to be sung; it is never actually sung in any meaningful sense. It is simply “produced” by technicians in a “studio,” with minimal cooperation by the musicians including the singer, in such a way as maximally and crudely to dazzle the ears of its consumers, who invariably audit the track at maximum volume. This is why, when the pop-singer du jour makes a public appearance, he or she lip-syncs to a pre-recorded track.


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