A Living Legend

by Joshua Foust on 4/5/2011 · 2 comments

“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.


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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on Registan.net.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 2 comments }

Nathan April 5, 2011 at 12:05 pm

One can only wonder where Charlie Sheen comes down on the legacy of Gorbachev.

Don Anderson April 5, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Oh my God….Please pass Miriam Elder my regards. Well written, and Oh My God S u r r e a l….Ted Turner, Anka and ….?

Back to non complex Afghans, this is one I will not be able to explain to anyone at all. Thanks Joshua

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