Thursday, October 25, 2012

That Old Chesnut: Molotov Cocktail

If you are like me, then you are not always down with the 411 on improvised incendiary devices, much less whether or not people say things like "down with the 411." Like, only recently did I accidentally learn that Molotov was a person (probably watching some Nazi or Soviet documentary porn on one of the History channels or the Military Channel with Isaac, because he's into that sort of thing). I think I always assumed that Molotov cocktails were named after a place or, like, a political movement or something. But Molotov is (was) a guy, so let's talk about who the hell he is and why there is a delicious-sounding weapon-thingy named after him.
Do not drink this champagne! Or rather, drink the champagne first so that it doesn't go to waste, then use the bottles for  enhancing your riot. Photo via.
Vyacheslav Molotov (1890-1986) was a big-time Soviet politician. He has an extensive Wikipedia page if you care to know all about him, but I did skim enough to find out that he took his name from the Russian word molot, which means "hammer." Unsuprisingly, as one of Josef Stalin's proteges, he was kind of a douche! More wiki-culled information: he participated in the Bolshevik Revolution in a not-actually-fighting kind of way and with Stalin's help, climbed the Party's bureaucratic ranks. Also, supposedly he once announced that he was going to take a thirteen-minute nap and woke up after precisely thirteen minutes. That's kind of badass. He did important government thingies under Stalin like hanging out with Hitler at least once:

As we all know, that friendship didn't really turn out all that good for the Russians. But Molotov did make sure there were some lines about peace in the State Anthem of the USSR. So, that was nice of him. Apparently after WWII, his wife (who was Jewish and a childhood classmate of Golda Meir) got accused of treason, arrested, and sent off to prison and years of exile until Stalin died. Because Stalin didn't trust her. OBVS. Also after Stalin's death, Molotov became more and more irrelevant in a Khrushchev-led state. And there were some conflicts and awkward situations and basically he got shoved out of the government (via an ambassadorship to Mongolia*) and then the state pretended he'd never existed for awhile by purging records. Lucky for our man Molotov, Khrushchev didn't like to purge actual people as much as Molotov's boyfriend Stalin did. However, Molotov never stopped loving Stalin, even after that whole arresting his wife thing and then he died and everybody else was like, "That guy was a bit much, right?"

BUT ANYWAY, we have the wry Finns to thank for the phrase "Molotov cocktail." So came the Winter War** of 1939-40, where the Soviets were like, "Hey girl (Finland), we're kind of super-paranoid about people attacking Leningrad, so we'd just like to use your land as an extended buffer zone. THAAAANKS." And Finnish people were like, "Are you fucking kidding me, Stalin?" And even though they were super-outnumbered, the Finns could handle the cold and the rough terrain better than the Soviets (with ski/reindeer battalions!), so they were able to hold off the Soviets and got to keep most of their land in the process. But during the extended battle, apparently Molotov claimed ON THE RADIO that they weren't actually bombing the Finns, they were dropping baskets of food for them. And so then the Finns were like, "Thanks for the Molotov bread baskets, bro." And then they created what came to be known as Molotov cocktails to "go with" all that nice Soviet bread, which they liked to use on Soviet tanks.

So now you know! Also, consult this anarchist website for cocktail-making instructions. Mix well!

*When we were kids, my mom used to threaten to send us to "outer Mongolia" if we were bad. It is unlikely she was making an intra-Communist Party tension reference.
**My work filter won't let me access this Wikipedia page because of guns apparently, so pardon me if I miss some of the finer details in my summary. Whoever is in charge of web filters at my workplace clearly needs to talk to this guy.

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