Ukraine Open Thread: Join the Zelensky Fan Club!

He had most of us at “satirical comedian playing the Ukrainian President actually does become Ukrainian President.” LIFE IMITATING ART in a way it should more often. I’d say I’m a little LATE to the worldwide Zelensky Fan Club, except I’m not really, I’ve just been too busy with local stuff to write this. But the internets and social medias are already littered with tributes like this from my friend George in Grand Rapids:

44 now, and the Jewish grandson of Holocaust victims, Volodymyr (shall I call him Volod?) grew up in Ukraine speaking Russian, soon learned Ukrainian and English, and got a law degree, before deciding to pursue comedy and acting. He started a production company named Kvartal 95, which produces films, cartoons, and TV shows including Servant of the People (2015-19), in which he played a trash-talking teacher who somehow becomes Ukrainian President. Well, I wanna see some of that, don’t you? First by way of introduction:

And here’s the whole series, with subtitles. (Watch at least the opening five minutes!)

Servant of the People became so popular that the Ukrainian people decided they DID want that character to be their President, and Volod rose to the occasion, winning 73% in 2019 against incumbent Russian stooge & Trump fave Petro Porochenko. The platform of Volod and his allies is, to begin with, anti-Establishment and anti-corruption – hey, no wonder the Orange Juice Blog identifies with him! But still, you’d be wrong to guess he is simplistically anti-Russian; in fact at several points he spoke out against Ukrainian efforts to ban Russian artists from Ukraine, and has been, like a Ukrainian Lincoln, a proponent of unity between the Ukrainian-speaking and Russian-speaking parts of his nation.

Most of us Americans first became aware of this guy in late 2019 when our Rotting Yam of a President attempted to extort him. Knowing Ukraine was highly dependent on our military aid because of the constant aggressions of Putin’s Russia, Trump called Volod and assured him the arms were coming, “BUT… I need you to do something for me.” And that was for Volod to announce that Trump’s expected rival Joe Biden, and Biden’s son Hunter, were UNDER INVESTIGATION for corruption in Ukraine.

Of course Trump didn’t even care if there was any truth to the Biden allegations (truth means nothing to people like Trump and Putin), or even if there was really an investigation, he just wanted to be able to constantly TELL AMERICAN VOTERS THAT BIDEN WAS UNDER INVESTIGATION. And of course his implication to Volod was that any military aid would be dependent on that phony announcement. Volod no doubt felt like telling Trump to fuck off, but his nation really needed the aid, so he meekly protested that he didn’t want to be involved in a foreign election. Trump’s extortion failed, Ukraine got the aid, the story got out quickly somehow, and it led to Trump’s first impeachment. (But of course a vast majority of Republican whore Senators found Trump’s behavior acceptable and Presidential, so fuck all of those assholes.)

The Current Clusterfuck.

Mesbah Islam has been sharing this video, which does not excuse anything Putin has done, but explains in great clear detail the interlocking web of reasons Putin feels he needs to control Ukraine. It’s well worth your time!

Charlie Chaplin becomes George Washington.

Now everybody is admiring how the onetime satirical comedian is once again rising to his nation’s occasion as a wartime leader, refusing to leave Ukraine or hide even when he is most certainly Putin’s number one target. His response to Biden’s and Erdogan’s offers to swoop him away to safety, “I don’t need a ride, I need more ammunition” ranks up there with our own “Give me liberty or give me death,” and “I regret that I have only one life to give for my country.” And in our dreams we imagine living in a heroic underdog country whose government instructs us: “Stay home, and make Molotov cocktails.”

Probably and especially, us smartass satirical intellectual types identify more than most with Zelensky – because we think that maybe in the right circumstances we could be as heroic as him. And in general, the brave lopsided resistance of the Ukrainian people to the tyrant Putin strikes a chord within the American Revolutionary buried inside each of us. Or me anyway.

AND biggest of all, Ukraine and Zelensky are on the front lines of the biggest battle of our times – between DEMOCRACY and AUTOCRACY. I’ve heard Ukrainians on TV recently saying, “Yes, he is a great man, but he is also just a typical Ukrainian.” Leaders like Putin, Xi, and Trump, the last thing they want to see in their back yards is successful honest democracy, and when we fight against corruption and anti-democratic forces here in the States, against the bulk of the Republican Party, we are fighting on the same side as Zelensky and Ukraine. No wonder rightwing extremists here cheer for Putin!

Here’s a piece of music I played and recorded in honor of the Ukrainian struggle. Mussorgsky’s piano suite “Pictures at an Exhibition” ends with a glorious piece called “The Great Gates of Kiev.” But then I realized that musically it sounds best coming after “The Hut of Baba Yaga,” a piece inspired by a scary Russian witch who lived in a hut built on chicken legs. So I played part of that too. Also because Baba Yaga reminds me of Vladimir Putin, and the hut built on chicken legs reminds me of the Russian economy which he is bringing to its knees. Oh by the way, before I forget to say it: FUCK PUTIN AND TRUMP, and anybody who resembles them. And UKRAINE WILL BE FREE AGAIN!

This is your open thread unless Greg makes a different one. Either way it’s your Ukraine thread.

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.