Sunday, November 04, 2012

A Really Big Shoe

Superman gets emphatic at the UN:
This refers to a famous supposed incident when Nikita Kruschev, then ruler of the Soviet Union, supposedly banged his shoe on the desk in anger during a debate at the United Nations. This was, as several sources note, an iconic and comic moment, one that was commonly satirized during the 1960s. But according to the NY Times, it may have never (quite) happened:
Did he or didn't he? A KGB general remembered that Khrushchev banged the shoe rhythmically, "like a metronome." A UN staffer claimed Khrushchev didn't remove his shoe ("he couldn't have," she recalled, because the size of his stomach prevented him from reaching under the table), but it fell off when a journalist stepped on his heel. The staffer said she passed the shoe wrapped in a napkin to Khrushchev, after which he did indeed bang it. Viktor Sukhodrev, Khrushchev's brilliant interpreter, remembers that his boss pounded the UN desk so hard with his fists that his watch stopped, at which point, irritated by the fact that some "capitalist lackey" had in effect broken a good watch, Khrushchev took off his shoe and began banging. When I talked about Khrushchev to veterans of his era in Washington, one eyewitness confirmed the banging. But another eyewitness confirmed the nonbanging. A third, who said he'd been standing several feet behind the premier, insisted that the heel of the hand that held the shoe slammed the desk but that shoe never actually touched it.
So we may never know if Kruschev actually banged his shoe or not. Superman? Hey, it's there in living color.

1 comment:

Jacque Nodell said...

This makes me wonder how many seemingly bizarre things in comics (from the viewpoint of a reader today) can be chalked up to long-forgotten cultural references. Thanks for pointing this one out!