Today is my birthday, so I'm going to take a free pass with this week's post--I didn't do any research other than what was already in my bookmarks.
Back in 1991, the Russian avant-garde musician Sergey Kuryokhin (1954-1996) went on Russian television with his theory that Lenin was a mushroom. A phenomenal pianist with great 80s hair, Kuryokhin was the first to record for the English free jazz label Leo Records, now a powerhouse in promoting European improvised music. His Ways of Freedom (1981) and Some Combinations of Fingers and Passion (1991) are classics, and his wife currently organizes the Sergey Kuryokhin International Festival in St. Petersburg as a way to keep his legacy alive. Additionally, he led the music/performance collective Orkestra Pop-Mekanika and played keyboards for the rock group Aquarium. But many remember Kuryokhin simply for his rare wit, which is on display in this "5th Wheel" TV segment. Over the course of 15 minutes, he presents his original research into the question of Lenin's mushroomness, drawing on Mexican cave paintings, Carlos Castaneda and the science of mycology to prove his point. Apparently a significant amount of viewers swallowed his words without batting an eye. The following writeup is taken from an article in Prime Time Russia, and the video should please anyone with a taste for the absurd. I surmise that in 1991, Soviet citizens probably needed something to laugh about anyhow.
According to Kuryokhin, this was the top secret behind the 1917 Bolshevik revolution led by Lenin.
“I have indisputable evidence that the October Revolution was the brainchild of people who’d been taking hallucinating mushrooms for years, and in the long run, mushrooms replaced their personalities, and they turned into mushrooms,” Kuryokhin said.
“Lenin was a mushroom. Moreover, he was not only a mushroom, but also a radio-wave. His armored-car, the famous ‘bronevik,' served as a spawn while Lenin was a fly agaric.”
Sergey Kuryokhin’s show, co-hosted by film critic Sergey Sholokhov, received mixed reactions. A number of people believed every word of it, and spread it to others.
Within a short period of time, “Lenin is a mushroom” became the most-talked about topic of the day, and Kuryokhin was hailed as one of the first creators of “media viruses” in the Russian media.
Many agree that Kuryokhin made it up in order to prove that almost anything, no matter how absurd or surreal it looks or sounds, can be 'proved,' especially on live TV.
Paradoxically enough, shortly before his sudden death in 1996, Kuryokhin, who never tired of surprising his fans and friends, entered the National Bolshevik Party of Eduard Limonov.