“For four hours on Wednesday night,” Miriam Elder writes, “Mikhail Gorbachev was referred to, alternately, as: God, Moses, The Man Who Set Rock and Roll Free, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s hero.”
What follows is a truly surreal account of the last Soviet Premier’s 80th birthdayᰬnot in Moscow, where one would think of celebrating a Russian head of state, but in London. The guest list included emcees Kevin Spacey and Sharon Stone (both renown for their expertise in and love of Russia, I guess?), and the 80s German band Scorpion, which apparently did not rock Gorbachev like a hurricane. The sheer inappropriateness of the event—lauds from Clinton, Sting, Bono, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with a weeping Ted Turner—seems to have not fazed any of the attendees at all.
“Let us meet again,” Elder quotes Gorbachev saying on Wednesday. “Not in this grand hall, but in a simple square in some village. My biggest happiness is speaking with people.” At the end of the night, she writes, he got into a limousine with a hot pink interior and drove away. It’s almost too perfect: the last of the Soviet leaders, reviled at home, beloved in the West, liberally wrapped in what could only be called Capitalist Excess(tm). I weep at the jokes available. Instead, here is the greatest music video ever made, featuring one Mikhail Gorbachev.