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Home The Feuilleton of MilSan and MikWag Corn-pone News Network II

Corn-pone News Network II

Corn-pone News Network II

 

You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I'll tell you what his 'pinions is."
Mark Twain, Corn-pone Opinions (1900)

 

Will the reader please cast his eye over the following transcript, and see if he can discover anything harmful in it?

And now, for the last look:  Russian Rap reportedly has a new hero. It’s the unassuming man in the gray sweater right there in the front row. Yup, that’s President Putin. This man who proudly touts his education on the streets of St. Petersburg was nominated for the first annual Russian Street Awards honoring the best in Russian hip hop. The award now came for this performance that you are looking at. But it was not his dance styling the Russian people were impressed with nor was it his rhyming skills. It was what he had to say about hip pop. "Street rap may be a little rough," Putin said, "but it contains social meaning."  He went on “graffiti becomes a real elegant art, break dance is something special.” Even after all those efforts at being hip, President Putin didn’t get the prize. Sorry, Mr. President

[Fareed Zakaria, GPS April 25, 2010 transcriptvideo (57 seconds)]


I heard these lines while watching a clip on CNN.com one Sunday morning a little while ago. They took instant and entire possession of me. All through breakfast they went hipping and hopping through my brain; and when, at last, I rolled up my napkin, I could not tell whether I had eaten anything or not. That Sunday I had my plans all carefully laid out—I was working on another feuilleton. Set fingers on the keyboard, hit the keys, but all I could get it to type was, "President Putin didn’t get the prize." I fought hard for an hour, but it was useless. My head kept spinning around under the idiotic burden of my ravings, "Hip-hop, rap… and snap…President Putin didn't get the prize" and so on and so on, without peace or respite. The day was ruined. I gave up and drifted downtown and presently discovered that my feet were keeping time to a relentless hip-hop.

 

Street culture is special, hip hop is rough

Corn-pone melodies enrapture the tough

Russians are rapping—rap’s on the rise

Yet President Putin did not get the prize

 

When I could stand it no longer I altered my step.  But it did no good; those rhymes accommodated themselves to the new step and went on harassing me just as before. I returned home, and suffered all the afternoon; jingled all through the evening; went to bed and rolled, tossed, and jingled right along, the same as ever.  By sunrise I was out of my mind, and everybody marveled and was distressed at the idiotic burden of my rappings:

Whatever. Ya hear me, bro?  Pop! Pop! Hip-Hop! We dunt need TV. Smack that! Y’know wut a’mean! President Putin did not get the prize! I am a mad head in da room, for sur, yo gotta get it yo. You know what Im sayin’. It’s off the chain, yo. It’s off the chain. Aightttt, I was trapped. No chillin. Smack that! On my end, President Putin did not get the prize. Life ain’t longer koo, yo.

My head twurked the rap, and moshed and popped those lines all throughout the day. I went hyphy and it was not phat. President Putin! President Putin!  Y’know wut a’mean!  I feel you creepin’, I can see it from my shadow. I wished he’d fizzle away.  The lines kept merking me. I was out o’ my mind. I hallucinated freestyle clapping and kept on rappin’--"President Putin did not get the prize."

Two days later, I woke up, a wiling-out rapper, and went forth to meet with a whoadie, the J-MikWag, for a progulka. He stared at me, but asked no questions. We walked. MikWag talked, talked, talked like Jay-Z. I said nothing; I heard nothin’. At the end of a mile, MikWag said, "MilTwain, are you sick? I never saw you dummin’ like this, so skell and worn and haggard. Say something, do!"

Drearily, without enthusiasm, I said:

 

Street culture is special, hip hop is rough

Corn-pone melodies enrapture the tough

Russians are rapping—rap’s on the rise

Yet President Putin did not get the prize

MikWag whoadie eyed me blankly, looked perplexed, said:

"I do not think I get your drift, MilTwain. Wuddup, sista?  There does not seem to be any relevancy in what you have said, certainly nothing sad; and yet--maybe it was the way you said the words--I never heard anything that sounded so pathetic. Yet, MilTwain, there is something about these lines that is haunting. They lock and pop and rap and hop and make you want to sing hip-hop. But they are wrong, aren’t they? " Medvedev’s the President. Putin’s the Prime Minister.

I sighed wearily, nodded; and murmured again:

"Russians are rapping—rap’s on the rise

Yet President Putin did not get the prize"

I rapped them over. Then MikWag rapped them. He made one little mistake, which I corrected. The next time and the next he got them right. Now a great burden seemed to tumble from my shoulders. The torturing hip-hopping lines departed out of my brain, and a grateful sense of rest and peace descended upon me. Now I was sane enough to reason and put my words together.

As my rapping malady subsided, another set in. When a man’s complacency is interrupted by a few fathoms of bottom protruding through his keel, there is a natural instinct to backpaddle through his memories for a spell.  Some men will hang onto whatever is still sticking out of the water, others will make a priority of getting to dry land first.  In any event, my spirits were down in the mud again.   I thought I knew this journalism business, but how did President Putin sneak past an army of script writers, producers and assistants onto FZ’s teleprompter?   And why did FZ read it three times? What a curiosity! How could it be that FZ, the Harvard educated man, editor, and according to Esquire, “the most influential analyst of his generation,” not possibly see this Putin sneaking up on him out of the corner of his eye and quick as a flash appoint him Prime Minister?

It seemed almost too impossible to be true. My perplexity flowed on a bit, bumped into a log, got caught up in a vortex, and flushed straight down to the following implausibility….

 

New York. CNN headquarters. April 2010.

Captain Fareed R. Zakaria is in the studio, showboating along. His eyes sparkle with animation and a smile undimmed by the flickering ratings at CNN plays upon his lips.

His paddlewheeler “The GPS” is churning its way upstream, steady as she goes, belching the usual white smoke. Easy water, not much current. Looks like nothin’s gonna interrupt the weekly milk run. Just one last flat stretch before tying up for the night—50 seconds more and it’s done. He swings his bare feet up onto the anchor’s desk, gets out his pipe, and sets himself to dreaming about fresh-baked huckleberry pie and other comforts awaiting him at home. The control booth begins the count down for "The Last Look,” the closing segment:

“Five, four, three, two, you, Fareed.”

-- And now, for the last look: Russian Rap reportedly has a new hero. It’s the unassuming man in the gray sweater…

Captain Zakaria’s ears prick up. Something like “Mark Twain!” is ringing in his head. He spots the danger: President Putin floating towards him on the teleprompter. “Uh oh! SOS! Putin ain’t de President, he de Prime Minister. Stop de teleprompter, for chrissakes! No, keep’t cool, man. C’mon. C’mon ahead on‘t! Oh-oh, noooo, … I feelin’ pale. Ain’t gonna go! Can’t do nothin’ now! Whata boner! How hadn’t we ketched it! Shall I git ‘m? Change it? No time. What to do? Go to de all-savin’ commercial? Too late. Run o’er it! Folk won’t notice. Who know what’a fella Putin is, who cares dat Putin ain’t de President, but de Prime Minister? Folk can’t tell dem apart anyway. Yea, yea. Jus’ read it as de teleprompter says. Run him o’er and get away! What ‘f he comes up again? ‘mpossible. No time. Go for ‘t, Fareed, jus’ do it! C’mon ahead on it! You gotta do it! Tell’em dat de devil made you do it.

…It’s the unassuming man in the gray sweater right there in the front row. Yup, that’s President Putin…

Oosh, thank God! He gone. Oh, great Caesar’s ghost of inf’nite mercy, thank you! Wait, what if’n he come back again? What if dis President Putin return? If’n he return, we’ll stop de teleprompter. No, we ain’t gonna stop’t. Say dat it was intentional? Apologize? For what? That Putin came up with a new euphemism for the position of emperor? Appeasement ain’t gonna lead us anywheres. A joke? Pull out some kinda joke? How do my hair look? No, humor ain’t gonna help. I betcha Putin don’t unnerstand no humor. KGB might put somethin into my pie! Plus, we serious guys, why try to be funny ‘bout things dat ain’t dat funny in de least? De fellas at Comedy Central own de rights o‘er it. So, no humor. Acknowledge the mistake? We are a reliable source, ain’t we? We ain’t supposed to feed dem corn-pone ‘pinion. Maybe some kin' a trick shot...y'know, like give 'em a wink and richochet da word 'President' off de rapping story into 'Prezdent' and bounce him into rapper 'Grand Master PrezPut.' Am I smiling enough? O, brothas, please, please – wake up, mind de teleprompter, get back on course, sink Putin ‘Da President. O help me, Moses!

…This man who proudly touts his education on the streets of St. Petersburg, was nominated for the first annual Russian Street Awards honoring the best in Russian hip pop. The award now came for this performance that you are looking at…

Whadda relief! Thank you, Moses!

…But it was not the dance styling the Russian people were impressed with nor was it his rhyming skills. It was what he had to say about hip pop. “Street rap may be a little rough,” Putin said, “but it contains social meaning.” He went on “graffiti becomes a real elegant art, break dance is something special.”…

Uh oh! Here come dat President Putin again, and he in a speedboat with his shirt off and there are two of him. Oh, tick-tick-tick, President Putin cloned himself. OH MY GOD! President Putins, get out of de way! I ain’t expecting nothin’ else from you. What can a body do? Correct or not correct? If I correct the mistake, folk gonna notice da first boner. If I skip it and ain’t correct, what the chances anybody notice? It ain’t gonna make no difference. Ah, what the heck! I’m gonna stay cool and just keep doin’ me. Here we go…

--Even after all those efforts at being hip, President Putin didn’t get the prize. Sorry, Mr. President.

 

Why did MilTwain write this article?  It was for a worthy, even noble purpose.  It was to warn you, the audience of Corn-pone News Network, if you should come across this video segment (it still decorates the website of CNN), to avoid it as you would a pestilence.

 

N.B.  Vlad is not short for ‘Vladimir.’  A friend of President Putin would call him ‘Vova.’

GPS is not broadcast live.  Why they didn’t reshoot this clip, we do not know.

The Russian media covered this MTV event on November 15th, 2009.  Whether the KGB backdated all reports from Russia, we also do not know.

[Source:  Mark Twain's short story “A Literary Nightmare," 1876]