Well, those people were wrong. We do stand for something. And now we can prove it. As of this issue, the eXile will act as the official media organ of the American Subtropical Liberation Army-the extremist American wing of the Subtropical Russian Party, a real movement with real members and a real platform.
Don't believe us? Call 290-23-30. That's the number of Vladimir Pribylosky, the leader of the Subtropical Russian Party and the head of the oft-quoted Panorama think tank. Last week, we contacted Pribylovsky-whose party advocates the introduction of a minimum temperature of 25 degrees celsius across the territory of Russia-and struck a deal.
"You cover the American land mass," he said. "Act as the radical activist wing."
Pribylovsky himself has experience as a radical, even if he isn't much of an activist. His party was formed in 1993, when he spotted, on his way to work, a gang of policemen beating someone up near the Krasnopresnenskaya Metro station. "I understood then that the root cause of everything was the temperature," he said. "People were getting violent because they were just too cold. I fugured, if we just had a more temperate climate, like Texas, we wouldn't have any of these problems."
So together with a few colleagues from Panorama, he formed a loose political group called the Subtropical Russian Party. Aside from the 25 degree minimum air temperature, he and his colleagues called for the reduction of the boiling point of water to 50 degrees celsius (with the aim of saving money on energy costs) and the sale of Gazprom to Iceland.
"Once it's warm here, we won't need Gazprom," he said. "Iceland can have it."
The party's one activist move was to gather once a year in Red Square to await the second coming of Matthias Rust, the German teenager who flew a Piper Cub into Moscow in 1987. Pribylovsky also tried to get himself onto the ballot to run for a seat in the Duma, but a technicality kept him off. Sergei Mavrodi eventually won that seat.
Due to a typo in the party charter, there is no mechanism for changing the leadership of the party. According to Pribylovsky, the leader of the party must therefore always be named Vladimir Pribylovsky, even if Pribylovsky himself dies.
On the other hand, the charter made it easy for anyone to join the party. In fact, according to the official rules of the party, anyone who considers himself a member of the Subtropical Russian Party is one. That person, according to the charter, has the right to inform the central committee of the party of his existence. He also may not. As a result, there is no accurate count of the party's members, although they are estimated to run in the thousands.
Anyone who is willing to pay for the cost of lamination may obtain a party ID card from Pribylovsky. The staff of the eXile will soon all own cards, and Pribylovsky is powerless to stop us. "Even if we wanted to, we couldn't keep you guys out," he said sadly, in last week's meeting. Despite his obvious discomfort at the prospect of a public marriage to the eXile, Pribylovsky-a tanned, burly man with an Asiatic face who wears jeans shorts to work-seemed intrigued by the prospect of Subtropical action abroad.
To date, the only significant Subtropical action outside of Moscow was undertaken by a rogue wing of the party in Volgograd, which recently claimed to have released pirhanas in the Volga river on behalf of the Subtropical movement. When the Moscow office responded by demanding that the Volgograd group feed the pirhanas on a regular basis, the group seceded and renamed themselves Banana. Nothing has been heard from them since.The decision to send an ultimatum to Alaska Senator Frank Murkowski was originally Pribylovsky's idea, although the spirit of the actual demands were our own. As individuals, the eXile staff members are steadfastly against the spread of Subtropical weather; we're hairy, sweaty people, and we hate the heat. However, we know a good thing when we see one, and Pribylovsky's politics are not only sound, but excellently conducive to harassing public officials.
The letter published here is only a beginning. Frank Murkowski will be hearing from us every week for the rest of his political life. We don't know him all that well, but he seems like a real tool. Somewhat coincidentally, the balding Republican recently wrote an op-ed piece entitled "Alaska: Are Bananas Taking Hold" in which he argued that environmentalists were now operating under a strategy summed up by the acronym BANANA-Build Absolutely Nothing, Anywhere Near Anybody."
Since the Subtropical Russian Party's slogan is "Bananas Should Grow in Banana Republics", and since Murkowski is representative of the most steadfastly anti-tropical state in the American union, we chose him as the next target of the full destructive power of the eXile. Should he fail to uphold our demands-and we can pretty much guarantee that he won't-there will be consequences. What will those be? Stay tuned to this space. It's gonna be a hot one, folks!
FROM: The American Subtropical Liberation Army
We are the American Subtropical Liberation Army, the extremist American wing of the Subtropical Russia Party, a group of climatic reform advocates based in Moscow, Russia. Specifically, the party advocates the adoption of a minimum temperature of 25 degrees celsius throughout the territory of Russia. It also advocates the reduction of the boiling point of water from 100 to 50 degrees celsius, with the aim of cutting down on energy costs.
Founded by Russian political scientist Vladimir Pribylovsky, the Subtropical Russia party has long been recognized as an up-and-coming force in Russian legislative politics; it already has two deputies in the Duma, Russia's parliament. Now, with our help, its message is spreading around the globe. You're to be the first beachhead in our international campaign.
As the more annoying of two Republican Senators from Alaska, the Subtropical Liberation Army considers you the primary obstacle to constructive climatic reform in the United States-and a perfect person to harass. In fact, until you accede to all of the demands listed below, you can count on meeting an avalanche of ambiguous and wildly undesirable publicity in every remaining week of your term. You may also risk untold hygienic discomforts by failing to take seriously our access to secret ex-Soviet offensive climatic technology. But more about that later. For now, this, sir, is our ultimatum to you:
b) Effect the detachment of Alaska from the territory of Canada, and attach it to the Hawaiian island of your choice. You must also introduce a bill on the floor of the Senate apologizing to Canada for having been attached to it for all those years.
d) Introduce in every piece of trade or foreign policy legislation an addendum calling for the Banana to be named America's national fruit.
e) Following every spoken motion on the floor of the Senate, you must make your own motion, in which you stand up and say, "Howd'ya like them apples!"
f) Preserve subtropical verissimilitude by exterminating all of Alaska's seals.
g) Rename all of Alaska's public schools, juvenile homes, correctional facilities, minor rivers and landfills after yourself, i.e. "The Frank Murkowski Correctional Facility", and so on. This should be done so thoroughly so as to make all scholastic sports scores unintelligible, i.e. "Frank Murkowski High 6, Frank Murkowski High 3," etc. Conversely, the Alaska Oil Pipeline should be renamed the Ted Stevens Memorial Oil Pipeline.
h) Grow your remaining hair long, so that it hangs exactly at shoulder length, and wash it no more than once every Martian year. Wear an old army jacket to work.
If you do not comply with these demands, the American Subtropical Liberation Army will be forced to take the following measures:
b) We will use secret ex-Soviet offensive climatic technology to saddle you with an individual-sized snow cloud that will follow you wherever you go and snow on you.
c) We will organize community advocate groups that will purchase land and develop high-rise condominimum complexes next to all of your residences. These condominimum complexes will be named "The Ted Stevens Gables". You have until July 1 to comply with these demands.
Submitted to you from Moscow, the heart of the American Subtropical Movement, on June 15, 1998,
Mark Ames, Chief of Ideology
Extensive research by the eXile has uncovered evidence of a storied journalistic tradition in the Winestock family. At first we thought the whole business of saying Solzhenitsyn lacks moral courage (see below) was a real novelty, but it turns out we were wrong. Winestocks throughout the ages have been pushing the edge of that envelope for centuries now:
1. "The teachings of Jesus Christ...lack the resonance to take hold among citizens of the Roman Empire. Christ's message of love and tolerance is way off the mark. What the people want these days are rituals and new forms of animal sacrifice."
2. "Napoleon hath no armie... (He) shalle not crosse the Rhone or see Italie. His military tackticks lacke boldnesse and innovatione. No pastrie shalle be named after him."
3. "The so-called Whitechapel murderer will not strike again...If he is not captured he will simply cease his efforts once he realizes the public is not interested in his crimes. Put another way, these incidents lack...the power to terrify."
4. "The Kaiser will never the Germanic Provinces unite. He the inclination to do so lacks."
5. "Hitler...lacks the will to solve the Jewish question."
Solzhenitsyn's Book is No Bestseller
Fasten your seatbelts and brace yourself for the following incredible piece of Moscow Times commentary, published on June 4:
Are you laughing yet? No? Go back and read it again. That's Geoff Winestock, the wiry little Australian interim editor of the Moscow Times, saying that Alexander Solzhenitsyn lacks moral courage.
Geoff Winestock earns in the high five-figures. He has a pleasant wood-paneled office which he reached mainly by skillfully demonstrating the absence of a personality over the course of about eight years of cautious business reporting. Developing a hangnail or being served a slightly overcooked hamburger would normally be enough to constitute a bad day for Winestock. In his editorial messages, he is consistently pro-status quo and pro-authority, and seldom takes a stand on anything at all.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn spent eight years in a concentration camp for having made a derogatory remark about Stalin. Shortly afterwards, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, which he miraculously survived. He then spent much of his adult life in open opposition to one of the most brutal governments in history, a government that, until he was exiled, had absolute control over virtually every aspect of his life and the lives of his family members. Somewhere in there, Solzhenitsyn's passionate, splenetic prose also won him a Nobel Prize for Literature.
Geoff Winestock telling a gulag survivor-and one whose voice first broke the mystique of Soviet communism- that he lacks moral courage? Are you all kidding me, or what?
God knows why, but the debunking of Solzhenitsyn has become one of the favorite pastimes of the Western press-and the Moscow Times in particular. Brownwyn McClaren's gloating June 4 "Not a Bestseller" article even went out of the way to point out that biographies of phocine pop queen Alla Pugacheva, seedy thug Alexander Korzhakov and even Queen Elizabeth II outsell books by Solzhenitsyn.
Well...no shit. And Sue Grafton would have outsold Tolstoy. Leave it to the Moscow Times to judge a writer by how much money he makes. After all, even if Solzhenitsyn hadn't become the windbag that he now is, he'd have had a tough time selling even a masterpiece to a country raised on violence, bad disco music and Brazilian soap operas.
But that's beside the point. The real question is, why is it necessary to debunk Solzhenitsyn? Where's the page 1 urgency? Why not just leave the guy alone? You almost get the sense that no matter how much lip service they pay now, people like Winestock have resented Solzhenitsyn's anti-establishment moralizing all along. Like they thought maybe he should have been quieter about being a martyr. These kinds of people tend to favor reform from the top down; they don't like Solzhenitsyn's way of doing things.
For what it's worth, Solzhenitsyn still is relevant, despite what Winestock thinks:
Um...actually, Geoff, it was Solzhenitsyn who first called the modern Russian state an oligarchy. He did it in June, 1994, when he first returned to Russia. That was about three years before you dared to use the word yourself. But then again, maybe he just didn't have the moral courage to wait the way you did...