#15 | August 28 - September 10, 1997  smlogo.gif


In This Issue
Feature Story


Who's there?

A locally famous incident inspired this issue's Knock-Knock. Apparently, a well-known eXpat tried sending a message through a certain paging company, only to be denied on the grounds that the operator had the right to refuse anything she deemed to be "offensive." Even though the word in question-"tag"-is hardly the stuff wars are started over, the customer was not allowed to include "tag" in his message, leading to a huge eXpat scandal the likes of which Moscow hasn't seen since, well, Robert Kelly joined a new pager company.

So we here at the eXile, in a moment of extreme boredom, thought we'd get to the bottom of this "inappropriate language" business and find out just what in the heck you can and can't get away with on Moscow's airwaves.
After all, this is a question of free speech, of human rights... and base, childish instincts. Sadly, we found you can get away with just about anything, which really annoyed us. So we did what all bored people do when they're annoyed: we decided to torture the weak-in this instance, the underpaid, overhassled pager operators-by dictating to them messages that were sometimes vulgar, sometimes rude, sometimes absurd, and sometimes... well, about seven minutes long.

At first, we thought we'd have to be a bit subtle about swearing, so we dug up our old yearbook pranks and went to work.

Operator: Multicom paging operator seventy-four.
eXile: Can I use the word "fuck"?
Operator: Can I use the word fuck... and who is this message going to?
eXile: No, it's a question. Can I say "fuck" on a message?
Operator: Okay, if it's not a problem with the other person.
eXile: I think it is, but that's not my problem.
Operator: What is the message?
eXile: [gives message and pager number] Can you please repeat that?
Operator: Mister, uh, Vice.
eXile: No, that's Weiss with a "W."
Operator: Mister Weiss. Please mow my box at the soonest possible moment, and I promise I will give you a helmet scrub like you've never known.
eXile: See, I didn't say "fuck."
Operator: Thank you.

H'm, not exactly a challenging operator. At this rate, we'll never be free speech martyrs. Well, let's turn up the heat a notch.

Operator: Radio Page operator number two.
eXile: Hi, I want to send a message but... well, can I say "fuck"?
Operator: Yes, go ahead.
eXile: Uh, I can?
Operator: I'm sorry, who are you sending this to?
eXile [gives account number]: Here is my message. Mister Bass. I am waiting for you in the hotel. I have the whips, the chains, and the small Burmese child that you asked for. Please hurry-the child will not last long. And, uh... fuck. I want to say fuck.
Operator: Signature "fuck"?
eXile: Yes. Signature "fuck."
Operator: The message has been sent. Thank you for using Radiopage.

Now we were truly angry, so we thought we'd really "fuck" with the operators for being so liberal.

Operator: Moscom Paging, operator number fourteen.
eXile: [gives number] Here's the message: I left the bag with all the money and jewels at the foot of the Lenin Statue at Oktyabrskaya Square. It's a black Moschino bag. Please hurry, there's $50,000 dollars there and I'm worried someone might steal it. Manfred.
Operator: Is that all?
eXile: Yes, that's all.

We expected that the message would never be sent, and that operator 14 would suddenly "excuse himself" for the bathroom, only to catch the fastest cab to Oktyabrskaya. Just to check, we sent a similar message to ourselves, expecting that we'd never see it. Well, we were wrong. The message came within seconds. Jeez, these operators must really love their jobs! They'd rather take phone calls and send messages than swipe a bag o' easy dough! Well, since they love it so much...

Operator: Moscom Paging, operator 52.
eXile: I have sort of a long message, but it's important that you get it all. Is that all right?
Operator: Yes.
eXile: You have enough space for this? It'll take a second.
Operator: Go ahead.
eXile: Here's the message: Well I've been up to Paris and I slept in a park. Went down to Barcelona, someone broke in my car. And I'll search the world over, for my angel in black. Yeah I'll search the world over for my Eurotrash girl. Took the train down to Athens...[six minutes later...] Got a tattoo in Berlin.
Operator: Got a too-tah?
eXile: No, that's "tattoo."
Operator [sighs]: Too-tah.
eXile: Yeah, that's fine. I'm almost done. I'll continue: Got a tattoo in Berlin, and a case of the crabs. A rose and a dagger in the palm of my hand. And I'll search the world over for my angel in black. Yeah I'll search the world over for my Eurotrash girl. Signed, Sam Weiss.
Operator: Vice?
eXile: No, Weiss, with a "W."
Operator [sighs]: I see. Weiss.
eXile: Now, could you repeat that back to me?

Oh yes, there was no joy in Moscompagingville that night, but plenty of joy at the eXile. We thought that perhaps using an old Cracker song was a bit too high-brow, too "alternative"-and, compared to some of the real 70s dirthead classics, TOO DAMN SHORT. So we reached for the best indulgent rock songs that have no end, and came up with the chinese-water-torture equivalent of pager-terrorism.

Operator: Infom Excom operator 23.
eXile: For number [...]. My message is as follows: There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold and she's buying a stairway to heaven. Period. When she gets there she knows, that the stars are all close, with a word she can get what she came for. Oo-oo-oo, oo-oo-oo-oo-oo and she's buying a stairway to heaven. [eleven minutes later] And she's buying a stairway to heaven.
Operator: Is that all?
eXile: Oh no. If you don't mind, here's the second part of my message: If I leave here tomorrow would you still remember me? Cuz I'm as free as a bird now... [eight minutes later] So, can you repeat that back to me?
Operator: Yes, I will try. There is a lady whose shirt all the killers and goes and she is buying a stairway to heaven. Okay?
eXile: No, it's not okay. Let's start from the beginning.

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