Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Sponge Blues. (Mochalkin Blues)

Jamie Olsen posted in The Flaxen Wave about Chukovsky’s children’s classic “Moydodyr” (had Chukovsky ever had anything non-classic?) with a parallel analysis of Timur Kibirov’s parody. It’s illuminating and fun, and I highly recommend the analysis.

Here, a small and — hopefully — amusing point on the meaning of the word мочалка (mochalka - a scrubber, a loofah or luffa, or a sponge). In Russian it has long had a slang meaning, i.e. a girl who wants fun and is not much interested in anything else.

Don’t ask me to explain the etymology. I’ll just say that a traditional Russian ‘mochalka’ is a mop of stringy thin strips of the underlay of lime-tree bark used to scrub yourself clean in a steam-house, a banya.

In Sergei Soloviev’s 1980s cult film “ASSA” there is a song “Mochalkin Blues”, which plays on exactly that meaning of the word. 

The illustration above is a 'footnote' from "ASSA" explaining the meaning of 'mochalka'. Here’s a video from the film with Sergei 'Afrika' Bugayev singing:

Later on, the young ‘mochalka’ falls for the young singer nicknamed Afrika.  


Jamie Olson said...

Great stuff! I'll have to add this to my list of movies to watch. The "footnotes" are interesting. Do they appear after every scene?

Alexander Anichkin said...

No, but they appear several times through the film, creating a comic effect, in a Brechtian sort of way.
Afrika was a central figure in the 80s rock and counter-culture. And the legendary Victor Tsoi appears at the end of the film.
The villain of the piece Krymov (at the table) is played by Stanislav Govorukhin who is now a Duma deputy and a leading supporter of Putin.

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