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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Expose

Ever since Mayor Luzhkov had fired the weather service, Pete Singer had felt better about living in Moscow. It was sunny; it stayed light late; and Pete, the underqualified and underpaid editor of a barely existent English-language Russian news magazine, was becoming famous. Lena made fun of him mercilessly, but it seemed to Pete he was beginning to detect an undercurrent of respect in her teasing. Truth be told, he was beginning to feel a newfound kind of respect for himself as well.

Politicians called him up to float ideas. Whenever he picked an issue, it turned relevant. Just last week he'd written an editorial about how inaccessible and full of himself the government press secretary was and how the job would be better done by a young professional journalist -- and, sure enough, the press secretary was sacked in favor of a 31-year-old hack (Pete had also noted in his story that it looked a little strange that the press secretary was a head taller than the prime minister, and he was pleased to see they picked someone shorter).

In addition -- and this was no small detail -- Pete had pneumatic mail. Lena said she'd only ever read about this in books, and Pete, quite frankly, had never heard of such a thing, but one day, the wall behind his chair opened up with a painfully creaky click and a cardboard half-pipe or something came out. It turned out to contain a manuscript, and the contraption turned out to be connected to several different offices. So now Pete printed out what he wrote for Progress and sent it off by pressing a button marked "typesetting." He felt tremendously important, efficiency be damned.

All in all, Pete felt like he was contributing. And he felt responsible, so he tried to give generously of his time and opinions, so even when some guy called him up from the Pravda and asked if he could follow him around for a couple of days, Pete had consented.

Now Lena walked into his office and placed a couple of sheets of paper on his desk (Lena had only used pneumatic mail once, to send him a dried tulip, the meaning of which he was still trying to decipher). "Your buddy's article," she announced. "I'll let you read it in private." She walked out.

"24 Hours in the Life of Moscow's Newest Journalism Sensation"

By Pyotr Pevtsov, Pravda staff

Many obstacles await the unprepared foreigner in the cruel streets of "new" Moscow. It only looks like a Western capital, but, as the democratic elite's favorite new wordsmith, Peter Singer, notes, there are still many things missing. Trash cans, for example. Where is a well-mannered little American to stuff his Snickers bar wrappers? Only in the pockets of his pink shorts [Pete, don't worry, he doesn't actually know you wear pink underwear; "pink shorts" is communist shorthand for young democrats -- Lena].

But it would be a mistake to assume this bespectacled young man with zits interspersed with freckles on his nose is concerned about spoiling the environment of his host city. No, he simply hasn't learned to tell his candy wrappers apart from our new denominated "candy wrappers" [he means Russian money -- L.], so he tried to pay for his Metro ticket with them, dumping the crinkled multi-colored paper in front of the cashier. And when the cashier refused to accept it, he found a new use for the wrappers: He is recycling them, along with his used paper handkerchiefs, as expert opinions for the "Russian" democrats.

But let us take a good look at this new expert. A failure in his native U.S.A., he came to Russia under cover of secrecy. Not coincidentally, the newspaper that employed this outstanding journalist shut down while he was on his way to Moscow, leaving him without any money even to travel back. A phone call to his parents in Boston revealed that they believe their son is writing a travel guide on the state of Florida; his mother, who described herself as a Jewess and a feminist, broke into a hysterical fit when the Pravda correspondent told her her son had turned into an adviser to the Russian "government." She also told our correspondent that her son had always had difficulties in life, including failing to be accepted to 25 out of the 40 colleges to which he applied. "I hope he doesn't get killed by the mafia," the woman whimpered, and our correspondent had to break the hard truth to her: "Your son is the mafia. Yes, ma'am."

Pete's feet were tingling and his eyeglasses steaming over with anxiety.

This was an unmitigated disaster. His mother was a wreck, his career was a wreck, and he was an utter idiot. Which is really the only way to explain what he did next: He took the sheets of paper, rolled them up, stuffed them into the weird little cardboard case and dispatched them, via pneumatic mail, to "typesetting."