June 02, 2016

Elton John Crocodile Rocks the Kremlin

Elton John Crocodile Rocks the Kremlin

Performances of the Week

1. Okay, he didn’t grace the Kremlin proper. But when President Putin’s long-awaited chat with Sir Elton John about LGBT rights was Sacrificed to the presidential schedule, it was still big news. After the singer got a prank call claiming to be Putin last year, the real president gave him a ring and promised a chat between Rocket Men. The Kremlin couldn’t squeeze him in this time, but don’t start singing Don’t Go Breaking My Heart just yet: Putin promises a rain check next time The Elton is Back.

2. The Eurovision Song Contest may be ancient history (well, two weeks back), but it lives on in hearts across Russia. Especially at a high school in Surgut, where students staged a lower-budget, but otherwise identical version of Sergei Lazarev’s pyrotechnically powerful performance. Was it an attempt to wow city officials visiting the school for a day, or a bid to be Russia’s pick for next year’s contest?


3. St. Petersburg’s Toponymy Commission has voted to dub an unnamed bridge the Kadyrov Crossing in honor of Chechnya’s former leader (that’s the current leader’s daddy). Some protests have popped up: first, because Kadyrov had no notable relationship with St. Petersburg’s history. Second, because of the Kadyrov clan’s “notorious” reputation. And third, because Commission members were allegedly pressured into the vote. But eventually it’ll all be water under the bridge.

Russian Cultural Literacy

Elton John’s agenda to talk with the Russian president himself may sound like a tall order for a Tiny Dancer. But Sir Elton’s Russian roots go back to 1979, when he became the first Western rock star to perform in the Soviet Union. That’s why Elton John has a long, beloved legacy in Russia – whether or not he gets a meeting with the president out of the deal.

In Odder News 

  • A vegan’s worst nightmare: a crowd bearing bacon. A meat attack in Tbilisi targeted vegan cafe-goers, and possibly a broader counterculture, too.
  • What could be a better concert venue than a Ukrainian iron and steelworks factory? Especially if the hit number is the Game of Thrones theme song.
  • Yet another racist marketing campaign featuring Obama. This time a Kazan car wash promises to “wash out all the black.” Yikes.

Quote of the Week

“It is more poetic and less dangerous”

—Cecilia Hendrikx, a creator of a new app featuring photos of rainbows (a symbol commonly associated with LGBT identity), on making political commentary without going to extreme measures like nailing body parts to the ground. Incidentally, performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky (famous for nailing his body parts to the ground as political commentary) has been nominated for the Russian Security Service (FSB) Prize for Literature and the Arts. This time, the “artwork” was setting the door of the FSB on fire. 

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