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In someone’s pocket?在某人的兜里?

中国日报网 2021-01-29 13:36


Reader question:

They say Trump is in Putin’s picket. What does it mean exactly?

My comments:

Or was, as it was the case in the not too distant past, when Trump, Donald Trump was the President of the United States.

That’s when Trump was often said or considered to be in Putin’s pocket. Vladimir Putin, that is, the Russian President.

So, what does it mean, exactly?

It means that they think Putin has Trump in control. Trump does Putin’s bidding, follows Putin’s orders and does what Putin wants him to do.


Well, don’t take it too literally. I mean, try to understand the phrase “in someone’s pocket” figuratively instead of literally.

Literally, if someone is in another person’s pocket, he’s like coins that man keeps in his pocket. One can spend one’s pocket money whatever way one wants to, so to be in someone’s pocket means to be at that someone’s mercy.

Originally, the pocket may be a real pocket or a bag of money someone, a businessman, for instance has in hand – to hand over to a politician in the form of bribery. If the politician accepts the money, he’s likely willing to formulate or help formulate policies that benefit the businessman. One hand washes the other, you know. That’s how society works. At least that’s how society works when it doesn’t work so well. Ideally, that sort of business-political collaboration should be weeded out.

Anyway, that’s what to be in someone’s pocket originally means. Metaphorically, it means to be under someone’s control, total control.

This phrase, in addition to the business and political world, is often used in the arena of sports. One player, for example, is often described as in another one’s pocket. Player A thinks, for example, he has Player B in his pocket.

That means Player A beats Player B all the time. Player A can run circles around Player B, so to speak and the latter can do nothing about it.

In other words, Player A dominates their competition.

Similarly, in our top example, when people say that Trump’s in Putin’s pocket, they mean to point out that Putin dominates their relationship. Putin’s in total control. Trump is, like, a puppet.

Or was, as all of this supposedly happened in the past, albeit not too distant past.

All right, no more ado. Let’s read a few media examples of someone in someone else’s pocket:

1. Beginning with the Progressive Era of US history (c. 1890–1920), writers have used the power of the pen and mass media to uncover the ills of society and call for reform. President Theodore Roosevelt coined the term “muckraker” to describe such reformers, a reference to John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress in which a rake is used to dig up muck and filth. The muckraking tradition has become part of investigative reporting and still has an impact to this day.

10. A Mad World And Its Inhabitants (1872)

Bloomingdale Asylum was a private hospital for the mentally ill in New York where Columbia University now stands. An exclusive institution for patients from well-to-do families, the peaceful, well-kept grounds belied the horrors going on inside.

As rumors of patient abuse circulated, Julius Chambers, one of the world’s first investigative journalists, determined to discover the truth by going undercover as a patient in Bloomingdale Asylum. To feign insanity, he deliberately cut down on food and gorged on stimulants like cigars and coffee, intending to abstain shortly before his assignment. He calculated that the sudden withdrawal would disrupt his nervous system and make his act more convincing. Chambers fooled the doctors who examined him, and he was immediately sent to Bloomingdale. With its population of about 200 patients, the hospital was staffed by only three doctors and 10 attendants, who largely ignored patients in distress or slapped them and left them to suffer alone in their squalid, prison-like cells. Chambers was admitted to the “manic wards” of unlighted padded cells, each measuring 2 meters (6 ft) by 3 meters (9 ft).Chambers described the experience in his expose:

No means was ever resorted to which proved so effectual in breaking the will, destroying hope, and inspiring madness as solitary confinement in a cell whose walls or ceiling were bare of a single object to direct the thoughts or the attention of the unhappy prisoner. The dungeons of feudal Germany, revolutionary France, or inquisitorial Spain, were no better calculated for these results than was the cell in which I found myself immured. Barely edible meals were served with dirty knives and forks. An attendant “fed the animals” (his words) in solitary. Patients had no contact with the outside world, not even through newspapers. Chambers couldn’t believe that wealthy patients were treated this way. After 10 days in hell, Chambers’s newspaper obtained his release. His expose, released in installments over two weeks, prompted New York Governor John Hoffman to launch an immediate investigation of Bloomingdale and other asylums. As a result, 12 sane patients were released, and the asylum was completely reformed.

In 1872, Chambers collected his experiences into a book, A Mad World and its Inhabitants. It ultimately changed the way government viewed “lunatics.”

9. Century Of Dishonor (1881)

In 1879, poet and author Helen Hunt Jackson heard a lecture by Native American Ponca Chief Standing Bear in Boston. Forced out of their small reservation in the Dakota Territory and into the Indian Territory in Oklahoma, Standing Bear’s tribe was poorly housed and prey to disease. President Rutherford B. Hayes ignored their plight—a death sentence for over 100 Ponca, including Standing Bear’s son. Deeply moved, Jackson was determined to use her literary gifts to awaken the American public to the mistreatment of Native Americans. Her subsequent research uncovered evidence of longstanding government mishandling of affairs, a policy that resulted in massacres and imprisonments of peaceful Native Americans.

Her articles prompted Secretary of the Interior Carl Schurz to claim in defense that the Native Americans, specifically the Poncas, were contented. A heated debate between Jackson and Schurz ensued, with Jackson describing Schurz as an “unprincipled liar” and “wicked, insincere and hypocritical.” Jackson’s revelations raised a public outcry and a Senate investigation of the Ponca controversy. The tribe was eventually allowed to live on the reservation of their choice and paid a $165,000 indemnity.

In 1881, Jackson published all her research into one work, A Century of Dishonor, “a shameful record of broken treaties and unfulfilled promises . . . of murder, outrage, robbery and wrongs” perpetrated by white settlers. At her own expense, she sent a copy to each Congressman, bound in blood red and embossed with Benjamin Franklin’s words, “Look upon your hands! They are stained by the blood of your relations.” Disappointingly, A Century of Dishonor met with a cold reception. Yet its long-range impact was profound. Books, magazines, and pamphlets on the problems of Native Americans began to increase. It influenced organizations like the Women’s National Indian Association, the Indian Rights Association, and the Lake Mohonk Conference of the Friends of the Indians to work for Native American rights. Later reformers would make their case by citing Jackson’s book. It was reprinted in 1965 and is used as a college textbook.


6. The Shame Of The Cities (1904)

In the late 19th century, American democracy had become the rule of city bosses dancing to the tune of big business. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was typical. Its municipal government issued bonds to the burgeoning railroads to help them develop the city. Soon the railroads got into politics, repudiated their debts and interest, and outbribed their rivals. The police force was in their pocket. The city boss ruled like a feudal lord. The citizens were not ignorant of this “ring” of misrule, but they were indifferent.

Lincoln Steffens, editor of McClure’s magazine, methodically untangled the web of interlocking business and political interests. He was as much interested in the “hows” of corruption as the “whys.” His disarming manner earned him interviews with the bosses themselves, and they were quite frank about their corruption. In 1904, his indictment came out as the series and later a book, The Shame of the Cities. Steffens summarized his findings: “I had learned that business was back of every party, gang, graft, crime, and ‘evil’ in our civilization. Every crook in politics was their man, every reformer of character and power was their enemy.”

It was the same story from New York to St. Louis. To make matters worse, Americans resorted to racial stereotypes to place the blame. In New York, it was the Catholic Irish. In St. Louis, the Germans. The cleanup of city governments as reform candidates were elected snowballed after the release of Steffen’s book. The old patronage system, in which jobs were handed out on the basis of party loyalty and not on competency, was replaced by the appointment of professional city managers. Electoral reforms dismantled the old political machine and returned power to the ordinary voter. The reforms improved governance but fell short of totally eliminating vested interests. Corruption, though perhaps not as brazen as it was in the Gilded Age, still plagues government to this day. Steffens himself became disillusioned with American democracy and the influence of capitalism on politics, which “makes good men do bad things.” Steffens embraced communism as the antidote. But by 1931, he was disenchanted with that as well.

- 10 Disturbing Exposes That Transformed Society, ListVerse.com, July 22, 2015.

2. Blues legend Robert Johnson has been mythologized as a backwoods loner, his talent the result of selling his soul to the devil. Wrong and wrong again, according to Johnson’s younger stepsister, who lives in Amherst, Mass. She tells his true story in Brother Robert: Growing Up with Robert Johnson, a memoir about growing up with her brother she published in June.

Her name is Annye Anderson, but unless you’re older than she is — and fat chance of that, as she’s 94 — you better call her Mrs. Anderson.

“People say, ‘Don’t you have a first name?’” Anderson says from the couch in her living room. “I say, ‘Yes, I do.’ And they wait for it. But I tell them, ‘Mrs. Anderson will do just fine.’”

Amherst is a long way from the Memphis of Mrs. Anderson’s childhood, where she grew up in an extended family of siblings, half-siblings and the guitar-playing older stepbrother she called Brother Robert.

“Brother Robert and I used to do the buck dance,” Anderson says. “Because you know he could move. People don’t know. He didn’t just sit and play like they showed him with that caricature.”

Anderson's childhood — back then she was Annie Spencer — was steeped in the tunes played by Johnson and others, along with all the popular songs they listened to together on the radio.

But before his mysterious death in 1938, Johnson’s “Baby Sis” only ever held one of his records in her hands. It was “Terraplane Blues,” his first release and only record to gain any popularity during his lifetime. After he died, his 29 recorded songs were quickly forgotten.

Anderson became a short order cook, a secretary at the pentagon, a teacher and school administrator. She moved to Washington, D.C. and, later, Massachusetts. In the ’60s, amidst the civil rights movement, she began to hear something familiar on the radio: her brother's songs.

“During the movement, people were playing his music everywhere and his riffs everywhere,” she says. “Sound familiar, but we didn’t know they were copying from — we didn’t know about Eric Clapton, and Led Zeppelin, and Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones.”

Music and culture critic Greil Marcus has been a fan of Robert Johnson for decades. Now he’s a fan of Anderson. Marcus praises her new book — and Johnson’s artistry — in the New York Review of Books.

“There is something in Robert Johnson’s music that goes beyond, goes above, that is harder, that is deeper, that burrows beneath in ways that other music doesn’t,” Marcus says.

The cover of Brother Robert shows the third known photograph of Johnson, never before seen by the public. Anderson and her older half-sister, who she called Sister Carrie, kept that photo close for decades, storing it in a box that originally held sewing machine oil.

Anderson’s story begins with her family’s roots in Hazlehurst, Miss. — including her first memory of Johnson in Memphis when he swept her up and carried her up a set of steps “like lightning” — and spans the decades after her brother’s death, when a mostly-white audience invented the story of Johnson selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads, a myth that was more racist caricature than anything having to do with his actual life.

“I’m not saying he was an angel,” Anderson says. “And I’m not saying what he didn’t and did do. Because I didn’t have him in my pocket. But people like to be on the dark side. And that’s what they paint. He’s brilliant on one side. And he’s dark on the other. And I deeply resent that.”

- ‘Brother Robert’ Reveals True Story Of Growing Up With Blues Legend Robert Johnson, NPR.org, December 29, 2020.

3. Footage of Ashley Cole dominating Cristiano Ronaldo during Manchester United vs Chelsea has emerged and he told the Portuguese superstar he was ‘in his pocket.’

Ronaldo regularly cites Cole as his toughest opponent and one game from 2006 proves exactly why.

The winger had begun to establish himself as one of the world’s hottest prospects in that period and had a prolific partnership with Wayne Rooney.

But he couldn’t get going at all on a cold November evening and a lot of that is down to Cole’s no-nonsense approach.

Every twist and turn Ronaldo tried, Cole matched with a firm tackle and it flustered his opponent.

Cameras even picked up on Cole making a gesture to his opponent, while saying: “You’re in my pocket!

The left-back told Chelsea TV in 2020: “I was so focused on that game. Even in the changing room I just felt different going into this game.

“My focus and concentration - mentally I was on it. I came to show him the line a lot because I kind of fancied my chances up against him with my pace.

“And a little bit of mentality actually, I think I got in his head a few times. He always wanted that extra trick.

“I gave him a strong tackle, maybe it was a foul or not, I don't know. And I felt at that time he didn’t want it no more.

“He’s kind of put his hand up and said, ‘I wanna go off.’ So I think it was a good time to say I had him in my pocket.

Ronaldo did go off in the 86th minute and was replaced by Darren Fletcher.

“I had so much respect for him,” Cole continued. “It was always a tough battle against not just Manchester United but against him.

“And to see what he’s gone on to do is testament to how good he actually was.”

‘I Had You In My Pocket!’ Prime Ashley Cole Once Dominated Cristiano Ronaldo In A Defensive Masterclass, SportBible.com, January 14, 2021.



About the author:


Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


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