We already knew about the economic crisis, the mass unemployment, the riots. But this summer we saw the tensions and turmoil of a nation erupt in a single act of startling violence on a morning television program. Within days, it was beamed around the world. Chris Heath uncovers the truth of what happened in that TV studio, a cautionary tale not just for the future of Greece but for the rest of us, too.
They’ve become global heroes and foils to the macho rule of Vladimir Putin. But not even a two-year prison term can keep Russia’s celebrated punk band muzzled. Michael Idov smuggled a few questions into the grrrls’ gulag. Judging by their answers, the riot is just getting warmed up.
GQ: Does it bug you as feminists that your global popularity is at least partly based on the fact that you turned out to be, well, easy on the eyes?
Nadya: I humbly hope that our attractiveness performs a subversive function. First of all, because without “us” in balaclavas, jumping all over Red Square with guitars, there is no “us” smiling sweetly in the courtroom. You can’t get the latter without the former. Second, because this attractiveness destroys the idiotic stereotype, still extant in Russia, that a feminist is an ugly-ass frustrated harridan. This stereotype is so puke-making that I will deign to be sweet for a little bit in order to destroy it. Though every time I open my mouth, the sweetness goes out the window anyway.
GQ: This is perhaps an insensitive question, but what’s more useful for the progressive movement in Russia right now: Pussy Riot at large or Pussy Riot in jail?
Nadya: We will know the answer only after the next wave of protests. I would love to see that, even imprisoned, we can still be useful and inspiring. In any case, I’m happy I got two years. For every person with a functioning brain, this verdict is so dumb and cruel that it removes any lingering illusions about Putin’s system. It’s a verdict on the system.
Masha: At large, of course. That’s why the authorities don’t want to let us out. But we still have things to say, and we still want to say them. And even locked up, we’re not doing too bad of a job.
“We couldn’t even imagine that the authorities would be so dumb that they would actually legitimize our influence by arresting us. Sure, they tried to intimidate us constantly. But unlike Putin, we’re not chickenshit.”
Photographer Mark Peterson (NYTimesMag, EW, New York) will be down in tropically stormy Tampa all week for GQ, shooting only with his iPhone. Day one cameos include Matt Lauer, Geraldo Riviera, Tropical Storm Isaac and God. Plus those two shots up there. Click here to see daily recaps over at GQ.com, or (and?) here to follow the photos as Mark posts them on our @GQpolitics twitter feed, or (and) go right to the source by following us on Instagram: @GQpolitics.
A blond man in a black outfit is climbing the hill. He is not hurrying. At the top of the hill, he turns left, toward the field where the kids have staked their tents. Last night, when low clouds curtained the moon and stars, those tents glowed red and blue and yellow from the lamps lit inside, and Adrian marveled at how pretty they were. Like Chinese lanterns, he thought. Now he’s stepping around them, walking backward parallel to and ten meters off of the path. The man appears to be dressed in a police commando’s uniform: black trousers over what seems to be a black wet suit, a vest with many stuffed pockets and the word politi on the right breast, a backpack. He also is carrying two guns—a rifle with an elaborate sight and a bayonet affixed to the muzzle and, in his right hand, a pistol. Adrian stoops into a half-crouch. He now suspects that he should, in fact, be afraid. But why would a policeman shoot people? This must be a prank, he tells himself.
—From GQ correspondent Sean Flynn’s account of the massacre at a summer camp on the Norwegian island of Utoya, when a right-wing terrorist murdered dozens of people, mostly teenagers, in a single, terrible afternoon
These are hard times for birthers. The moment seems to have passed, the “evidence” rejected. But salvation awaits! David Maraniss’s exhaustive biography, Barack Obama: The Story, stretching from before his birth to the start of his political career, is out this month—and sure to inspire a new wave of conspiracy theories about our Kenyan Muslim commie in chief. GQ contributor Yoni Brenner puts on his tinfoil hat to predict the paranoias to come. Two new theories below. Click here for the rest.
“Other women—previous girlfriends, later girlfriends and wives—would say that [Barack Obama’s father] had an intense sexual magnetism that seemed irresistible.”
SEXERS: Far from coincidental, Obama senior’s Intense Sexual Magnetism, or ISM, was obtained by Kenyan revolutionaries through the Soviets, who undermined British rule with a program of long walks and mind-blowing sex.
“When the birth notice appeared in the Star-Bulletin…the parents were identified as Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama and their home address was listed as 6085 Kalanianaole Highway.”
KALERS: Although Kalanianaole appears to be an innocent street name, it is also an anagram for “Anal Kale-onia”— a bizarre colonic treatment soon to become mandatory under Obamacare.
Wash Post on Young Mitt Romney At Prep School
Today’s other big politics story, from the excellent (and occasional GQ contributor) Jason Horowitz at The Washington Post. The dumb crap you do in high school doesn’t, and almost always shouldn’t, matter in a presidential election. Especially when it was a half century ago. All the same… Wow.
Mitt Romney returned from a three-week spring break in 1965 to resume his studies as a high school senior at the prestigious Cranbrook School. Back on the handsome campus, studded with Tudor brick buildings and manicured fields, he spotted something he thought did not belong at a school where the boys wore ties and carried briefcases. John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.
“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenaged son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled.
From GQ contributor Michael Finkel’s gripping account of George Wright, America’s most elusive fugitive, who ran for forty years after escaping from prison and then successfully pulling off the most brazen hijacking in history:
The Delta ramp supervisor at the time, in charge of loading and unloading baggage, was Buster Cooper. He was 27 years old, in the operations center, listening to the radio chatter. The FBI was trying to persuade Wright to release the passengers. Then, says Cooper, he heard a statement over the radio that will forever be seared into his memory. It was Wright speaking from the cockpit.
“If you don’t bring us the money,” Wright said, “we’re going to throw some motherfucking heads out the motherfucking door.”
“Everybody in operations,” says Cooper, “went, ‘Whoa, this is getting serious.’ ” The First National Bank of Miami was contacted, and soon the money was on its way.
The bills, fifties and hundreds, were placed in “a cheap-ass suitcase” plucked from customer service, recalls Cooper. The black case, with a Delta Air Lines luggage tag, bulged at the sides.
There was discussion in the cockpit about how, exactly, the handoff would occur. Wright was worried about an ambush. “I want that man to come out here nude,” he told May.
“Be reasonable,” said May. News of the hijacking had spread, and dozens of people were rubbernecking just beyond the airport’s chain-link fence.
The plane’s copilot, Darl Henderson, had an idea: “What about a skintight bathing suit?”
Wright agreed. So a Delta employee ran over to the men’s store in the airport and purchased two swimsuits, with dark vertical stripes and a thick white waistband.
Cooper changed into the suit. An FBI agent named Bob Mills did the same. Then Cooper drove the mobile stairway out to the plane. He stopped twenty feet away. They’d promised to arrive unarmed, but in fact Mills kept a six-shot revolver on the seat.
“If I had my way,” says Mills in Melvin & Jean, “I would’ve shot them. Because I didn’t think they deserved to live.”
He didn’t get his way. Wright shouted instructions through the partially opened side window of the cockpit—the only way for him to communicate with Cooper and Mills. He made each of them walk away from the truck, barefoot and shirtless, then turn around to verify they were unarmed.
Mills dragged the suitcase to the base of the plane. One of the flight attendants opened a door and tossed out a length of red vinyl “escape tape.” Mills tied it to the suitcase. The attendants hauled it up and handed the million dollars over to the hijackers.
[Photo illustration by John Ritter]