Weekend Question Thread

Most memorable thing you’ve seen at a rock concert?

Saw Neil Young in concert several times, and Bob Dylan (who is almost impossible to understand, even more so than usual), and a very, very, very undergraduate-drunk Dave Grohl, but probably the most indelible thing to me is Leonard Cohen, a few years back. I was in the very back row of the very last section but I felt like I was on stage with him:


Scott Walker’s new jobs plan: Buy more ad time

(Sorry I was late on this. Flight didn’t get back until late yesterday and I owed my lovely wife an actual dinner with drinks. — Doc)

Apparently his good deeds and great movement of Wisconsin in a positive direction has led him to an insurmountable lead in the polling of… uh… Wait… We’re fucking tied?

Walker’s answer to everything has always been, when he’s in trouble, throw cash and obfuscation at it. According to a Washington Post article today, he has moved into the Oliver Twist realm in dealing with the Republican Governors Association By asking “Please, sir, more…” Despite the deep pockets of donors like the Koch brothers, Walker claims he’s being outspent in advertising by Democrat Mary Burke to the tune of about $500,000. The Walker campaign is now asking for an additional $1 million from the group to slather on more ads, probably like this gem.

If you live in Wisconsin, near Wisconsin or have a sense of Wisconsin, you’ve seen that ad at some point. The ads out here remind me of the Richard Pryor movie, “Brewster’s Millions,” where to spend $30 million in 30 days, Pryor runs for mayor of New York. One character in the movie notes that he’s on every channel all day. He even bought airtime in all 50 states in case New Yorkers were on vacation. If this thing was really about “getting out our message” (codespeak for bludgeoning people to death with the same commercial until we all give up), he should be winning in a landslide, because, trust me on this, he’s gotten that message out.

However, it’s NOT that we didn’t hear him or we didn’t understand him. It’s that we DISAGREE with him. Unlike the governor with the Homer-Simpson-sized brain, most of us are capable of doing all three things at the same time. I’m just stunned more people AREN’T disagreeing with him, as I noted last week.

The funniest part of this whole article is the suspicion noted by some that Chris Christie is deliberately underfunding Walker, as both men have eyes on the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. If true, it shows how truly shallow politics are. If not true, it shows how truly shallow politics are. In either case, it’s funny as hell.

Think about it for a minute: The Republicans are desperate to prop up Scott Walker so he can win a race by even the slimmest of margins against a political neophyte so he can carry their banner into battle on the national stage? That’s like spending all your money on fine-tuning your jalopy’s stereo system so that you’re totally ready to take a cross-country drive.

I’m still pondering a “Band on the Run” approach to life these days, but watching Walker squirm is making these last few days of hope really fun.

David Brooks Thinks We Have an Emotional Recession

You make me FEEL LIKE I’ve been locked out of PARADISE: 

During the Cold War era, Western economies delivered broad and growing prosperity for the middle class. This nurtured a general faith in political institutions and culminated in the democratic triumphalism of the 1990s.

So begins David Brooks, who apparently slept through Watergate, and NAFTA for that matter. Democratic triumphalism? Trust in political institutions?

Seriously, did Maureen give him some of her devil weed?

If you are not earning enough money so you can feel respected, and live without desperate stress, you will begin to lose confidence and élan.

Also teeth. You will begin to lose your teeth.
And that is what’s happening today. The labor force participation rate is at its lowest in decades. Millions are in part-time or low-wage jobs that don’t come close to fulfilling their capacities. Millions more are in dysfunctional or unhealthy workplaces, but they don’t feel they can leave because they don’t think there are other jobs out there that pay the same amount.

The country is palpably in the middle of some sort of emotional recession.
God damn it, this is an actual recession, not an emotional one. People are living in boxes and getting food from the food pantry, but hey, let’s talk some more about their fucking feelings and how today’s politicians are not entertaining David Brooks.
It is precisely at this moment that leaders are called upon leap past the current moment and to point the way to the sun-drenched path ahead. You may disagree with every policy they ever uttered, but Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher leapt beyond the stagnant mood of the late 1970s.
They leapt beyond the stagnant mood. People were still goddamn broke, but hey, it played better on TV. The speeches were more inspiring. The bunting was freshly laundered.
These are the important things to consider in an emotional recession.
If you get outside the partisan boxes, there’s a completely obvious agenda to create more middle-class, satisfying jobs. The federal government should borrow money at current interest rates to build infrastructure, including better bus networks so workers can get to distant jobs. The fact that the federal government has not passed major infrastructure legislation is mind-boggling, considering how much support there is from both parties.
It’s not so mind-boggling when you realize the vast majority of Republicans are bugfuck insane, and would vote against a resolution approving of peanut butter if Obama was photographed eating some Skippy.
Other shifts are more fundamental, but should be the signature themes of the next political era. First, the government should reduce its generosity to people who are not working but increase its support for people who are. That means reducing health benefits for the affluent elderly. But it means, as Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute recommends, increasing wage subsidies when employers hire the long-term unemployed and issuing relocation subsidies so people in high unemployment areas can move.
Yes, nothing says “step outside partisan boxes” like boilerplate from the American Enterprise Institute, advocating cutting benefits for old people and the poor while shoveling money at business owners.
Second, the tax code could do a lot more to encourage work and investment. Ideally, we’d move to a progressive consumption tax. But at least we could have the sort of tax reform that Senators Marco Rubio and Mike Lee have suggested, which would simplify the code while subsidizing middle-class families.
Yeah. If we would just listen to Republicans, we could step outside our partisan boxes!
Third, the immigration system should turn into a talent recruiting system, a relentless effort to get the world’s most gifted and driven people to move to our shores.
Give them the SATs while their boats docked at Ellis Island. If they don’t pass, chuck them overboard.
This isn’t rocket science.
Certainly not for the immigrants we pre-selected based on their intelligence or possibly the circumference of their skulls.
Vast majorities support every idea I’ve mentioned here. It just takes a relentless focus on job creation, bold political leadership and a country willing to be shaken out of its fear.
Right. If we’d all just stop being so afraid of poverty just because we’re on the brink of eviction, we’d see that it’s so easy to fix years and years of shitting downstream and denying people raises and letting their towns crumble.

Tweet Of The Day: Gun Totin’ PBJ Edition

Bobby Jindal may be one of the most unpopular Governors in the country but he knows how to pander to the gun nutterazi:

Little “Bobby” looks ridiculous in that picture but not as ridiculous as the caption. And that monogrammed windbreaker is from hunger. In the end, his campaign will only amount to a Magical Misery Tour:

2008 Magical Misery Tour

Since the Krewe of Spank met last night, I could not resist the Krewe du Vieux reference. It was the mother krewe’s theme in 2008. I suggested Spank do a political freak show theme this year with PBJ and Bitter Vitter as conjoined twins but the group went in another direction. I don’t think either of those pukes can sing like the Tattler twins…

Tweet via Stephanie Grace.

Friday Catblogging: Beauty Rest

When you’re as gorgeous as Della and Oscar, you can never get enough beauty rest:


Friday Ferretblogging: Winter Edition

Bucky’s getting his winter fur on, and his winter pudge, and his winter napping:



AHS Freak Show Thread: Curfews Are For Poor People


Halloween comes a week early on Freak Show. Not to worry, Murchak gave us Edward Mordrake Pt. 1, so Halloween will last for two bloody weeks. It’s not unlike life in the French Quarter in between building collapses.

The post title comes from the mouth of Dandy Mott. He’s ready to go out and terrorize trick or treaters but Jupiter is under curfew. He initially satisfies himself with refusing to dress up as Howdy Doody and threatening to murder the family’s spunky housekeeper, Dora. One of the high points of a relatively subdued episode was when Patti LaBelle crowed (if that’s the right word) like Woody Woodpecker. Undignified but funny, much like the entire series.

More about Edward Mordrake Pt. 1 after the break.

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Knuckling Under: Media Edition Part the Two Thousandth

Sun-Times yanks political reporter off his beat after story unfavorable to Republican governor candidate gets published. Reporter says I’M OUT BITCHES: 

Yet, on the first day back, I was advised I shouldn’t have a byline on a LeapSource-related story “right out of the gate” even though it was a legitimate follow-up to our initial story. While later relenting and offering me a contributing byline after I protested, the newspaper had failed an important test: It was not permitting me to do my job the way I had been doing it for almost two decades.

Was all this retaliation for breaking an important news story that had the blessing of the paper’s editor and publisher, the company’s lawyer and our NBC5 partners?

Does part of the answer lie in what Kirk told me – that you couldn’t understand why the LeapSource story was even in the paper?

Days later, the newspaper reversed its three-year, no-endorsement policy and unequivocally embraced the very campaign that had unleashed what Sun-Times management had declared a defamatory attack on me.

Well, of course they did. And what an endorsement:

Then there is Bruce Rauner. In him, we see everything the current occupant of the Governor’s Mansion is not — a smart businessman, skilled executive and born leader beholden to nobody but those of us smart enough to vote him into office. We see that rare candidate who has but one agenda, to get Illinois roaring again for the sake of us all.

I’m sexually aroused. I don’t know about you.

I mean, he’s such a fine piece of upstanding man-meat that he went after a reporter’s wife:

But what does not come with the territory is a campaign sending to my boss an opposition-research hit piece–rife with errors–about my wife, Ann Liston. The campaign falsely claimed she was working with a PAC to defeat Rauner and demanded a disclaimer be attached to our story that would have been untrue. It was a last-ditch act of intimidation.

But don’t let that stop you, institutional voice of Chicago, from bowing down before Bruce Rauner and describing how tender and caring a lover he is.

Maybe this one last capitulation will do it. Maybe this will finally be the thing that convinces Republicans that the press is well and truly on their side, and they’ll stop calling for the violent deaths of reporters everywhere. Maybe they’ll stop treating you like vermin, calling you animals, telling you to fuck yourselves, joking about your kidnappings and rapes, if you just prostrate yourselves One. More. Time.

Maybe sacrificing just one more reporter, one more critical voice, will do it. You never know.


Shorter Chris Christie

From Album 5

It’s not the votes that count, it’s who counts the votes.

Steve Benen:

I’m not sure which is worse: the prospect of Christie making these remarks without thinking them through or Christie making these remarks because he’s already thought this through.


Pulp Fiction Thursday: Howard Hunt

All of this talk about Watergate has me thinking of E. Howard Hunt: White House plumber, Watergate conspirator, CIA agent, Bay Of Pigs handler and hack novelist. Hunt wrote dozens of pulpy paperbacks under his own name and a variety of pen names, most notably Robert Dietrich. Here are a few books from the man I call the master of disaster:

Bimini Run, 1952howard-hunt-the-violent-ones


Who among us has forgotten the immortal Steve Bentley? Everyone? I’m not surprised at all. Actually, those spy potboilers were Hunt’s most successful tomes. He had to use a pseudonym because he was a spook and so was Steve Bentley. Bentley, however, was a slick right wing spy and Hunt earned the nickname I bestowed on him long ago, the master of disaster. I wish I could claim that inspired this John Hiatt song but it did not:

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Odds & Sods: Dogs, Ducks and Populist Balladeer Edition

the-who odds--sods

It’s time once again for my newish semi-regular feature. Let’s climb aboard the magic omnibus for another magical misery tour of what’s going on in this crazy world.

Gone To The Dogs: I have an admission to make. While I enjoy Stewart and Colbert, I’m not a regular viewer. The main reason is that I don’t want to steal shtick from them. I want to make my own bad jokes about politics. I respect them, it’s *hard* to do what they do, even with a full-blown staff, on a daily basis. I was one of the least shocked people in America when Colbert took the CBS Late Night gig. It’s hard to stay in character for that long and not feel burnt out. Besides, they backed a Brink’s truck up to his house…

Now that I’ve said that, let’s turn to John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight. It has many of the virtues of the aforementioned shows and the advantage of being on once a week, which means they can edit out some unfunny bits. He can also say fuck without being fucking bleeped. Fuck yeah.

That was a long way of introducing Oliver’s absolutely brilliant casting of dogs as Supreme Court Justices. Since the Supremes refuse to allow teevee cameras into their stuffily sacred precinct, all we ever hear are audio clips. And it took almost a century after radio came into being for that to happen.

Anyway, Oliver offered footage to any news organzation who wanted to use dogs playing judges and lawyers to spice up their SCOTUS coverage:

Rachel Maddow said that she’d “totally use it” if she were the Goddess of NBC News. I totally hope that she totally uses it on her own show. Totally.

More oddities and sodities after the break.

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Parting the Red Sea

Uterus-not-havers, buckle up, cuz we talkin’ ’bout menstruation today.

My first period happened when I was 11. Every roughly 20-26 days after that, I got to bleed for another 8. The first two nights I didn’t get to sleep because they did not make feminine hygiene products that could deal with the amount of blood I lost. My cramps were so bad that my choices were “knock self out with Excedrin” or “be screaming in pain” and I’m not actually exaggerating this time.

I mention this because if there happened to be a math test on day 1 of “that special time” when I was “not at my best” because my “vagina was bleeding”? I was completely and totally screwed. Roughly once a month I was physically incapable of being a functional member of society, not because of any sort of social taboo or “moon hut” or whatever, but because my body was attempting self-seppuku. I was actually ecstatic when my period showed up on a weekend because while it completely ruined my weekend, at least I wasn’t missing obligations.

When I was 21 I found out that the birth control pill could be used to at least help regulate that sort of thing and might even make things a little less awful. When I finally got around to telling my parents that I was on the pill, it was in the context of being out shopping on day 1 of my period and my mother stopped and stared at me with her mouth open like “holy shit you can move?!” Last summer I got a hormonal IUD implanted and I haven’t had a period since – and I have never felt so much like an actual, functional member of society. This is what half of society feels like all the time, with no interruptions to their concentration or having to think about crap did that tampon just blow out and I need to get to the bathroom to check but I have to finish out this meeting because it’s important and nope there go my favorite work khakis and my pride.

We’re so squeamish as a society about menstruation, we’re fighting to get contraceptives removed from obligate insurance coverage because SLUTS, but the unfortunate side effect of that is not just that people with uteruses who like having sex with people with penises might occasionally be “punished” with unwanted babies but also that we’re Keeping Women In Their Places because they can’t afford to choose when and if Aunt Flo shows up or what force she shows up with. And that’s some bullshit right there.

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: How Will The Wolf Survive?

We saw Los Lobos at the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival last Saturday. They were spectacular as always. I was too busy bopping to the music to take any snaps of them playing whilst the streetcar rolled behind them. It was an inopportune moment for a photo-op. So it goes.

Los Lobos is on a 40th anniversary tour so they played large chunks of their stellar 1984 debut album How Will The Wolf Survive? It put them on the map  and even finished #30 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s top 100 albums of the 1980’s.

The album’s art design was done by Kav Deluxe, who sounds like a really fancy car and the cover illustration was by Elizabeth Brady.

Wolf cover
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Working Mothers and the Promotion Thereof

The Stir lists the “10 Hardest Moments for Working Mothers.”

Not among them: Realizing that when you subtract childcare from your salary you make less than minimum wage. And then realizing that even at minimum wage you still need the money too much to quit.

I’m not saying the female CEO with kids doesn’t have problems, but for fuck’s sake, I’m just about done pretending every working mother is at an office and her biggest issue is angst over missing the school play. Poor women, poor mothers, have always worked, and always missed school plays or first words, because they were busy making sure their children had trivial things like enough to eat. Their hardest moments were along the lines of writing the rent check and they weren’t spending their lunch hours fucking around reading The Stir.

Lady-shaming middle-class and upper-class professional women is not okay, but neither is ignoring the fact that lots of women work not out of a desire to fulfill themselves but out of a powerful need to put a roof over their and their children’s heads. Not all women have a partner, not all women’s partners are able to work, and not all women need the same benefits from their employers.


Death Without a Theme Song

I carry Kick on my left hip. She’s in this phase where she wants to be held, all the time, and if I want to get anything done at all, I have to do it one-handed while bouncing her, and I’m right-handed. So I carry her on my left hip.

Four days ago my lower back started complaining. This isn’t unusual, though it’s generally not bad enough to make me throw up. Iced it, heat-padded it, and shoved some of my leftover C-section painkillers in my face. No relief.

(There are very good evolutionary reasons to have children when you are 19 and could eat Tupperware and lift hay bales and be just fine in the morning, turns out. I’m not saying that’s when you’re mentally prepped, but damn, my 19-year-old body would have aced this shit.)

Three days ago the pain migrated around to my left side and got worse. More ice, more painkillers, begging Kick to learn to walk early, hot baths. Saturday night brandy was applied with some success, but by Sunday morning I wound up in Urgent Care.

And the first question I was asked was if I had traveled to West Africa in the past three weeks.

I am not faulting the nurses here. The one who asked me this was rolling her eyes and she knew this was stupid and a waste of time, and said over the past week at least three crackpots, inspired by CNN, showed up in full Hazmat gear. Two of them had the flu. One, she thought, was just bored.

That’s a great use of our overstressed, understaffed hospitals’ time and energy: 

The economic costs of epidemics are often out of proportion to their death toll. The outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 is estimated to have caused over $50 billion-worth of damage to the global economy, despite infecting only about 8,000 people and causing fewer than 800 deaths. That is because panic and confusion can be as disruptive as the disease itself. Studies of past outbreaks have shown that lethal diseases that lack a cure tend to provoke overreactions. This is true even if the risk of transmission is low, as is the case with Ebola.

Poverty will kill more people this week than Ebola. Preventable cancers, malnutrition, gun violence, will kill more people in a single night than Ebola will in the lifetime of the world. It’s getting colder outside, and that cold will kill more people in one neighborhood of one city than Ebola will worldwide.

Those people’s deaths aren’t fodder for morning news segments and they’re not the subject of talk shows and nobody but nobody is demanding the president do anything to protect them. Nobody will politicize their tragedy, nobody will make money watching them die or garner ratings by shaming the health care workers who will try to help them, and therefore there is nothing to write a catchy chyron about.

I don’t have Ebola. I have an inflamed sacroiliac joint, like an 80-year-old, and should learn to do stuff with my left hand so as to vary the pressure on my hips and back. Mr. A gets to hold the baby a lot more for a few days, I get some muscle relaxers and a lecture about “taking it easy,” and we all go back to business as usual.


You Say Tsar, I Say Kaiser

Kaiser Wilhelm II. und Zar Nikolaus II.

If you’re like me, you remember one of the silliest and most vapid bits of wingnut anti-Obama tomfoolery from 2009. It was engaged in by people who were not fools named Tom, merely fools, but that’s another story. Enough beating about the bush: it was the right’s obsession with all the so-called “tsars” appointed in various areas by President Obama.  I prefer the British spelling to the Americanized czar because it’s closer to the cryillic. I don’t want to offend any dudes named Cyril out there. End of deeply silly linguistic discussion.

Most Gopers beat the drums about the so-called tsarist plague, it was almost as if Rasputin brought his filthy beard and BO-plenty cassock into the White House when the Obamas moved in. Not that most wingnuts know exactly who or what a tsar was. They just know it’s furrin; therefore bad to the bone.

Our old pal Senator Walnuts was among those baying at the moon, demanding no mo tsars in 2009.That was then, this is now:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Sunday called for President Obama to nominate an Ebola “czar” to coordinate the administration’s response to the deadly virus.

“I’d like to know who’s in charge,” McCain said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The senator’s appearance followed news from Dallas early Sunday that a second Ebola patient had been identified – a healthcare worker who treated Thomas Eric Duncan, the first U.S. Ebola patient, who died last week.

McCain said his constituents in Arizona are “not comforted” and “need more reassurance.”

In the past, McCain had been critical of Obama’s use of so-called “czars” to name lead officials on particular matters. In 2009, McCain tweeted that Obama had “more czars than the Romanovs — who ruled Russia for 3 centuries.”

Not only did Walnuts reverse himself and call for an Ebola tsar, he did so in his happy place: on a Sunday show. I’m glad to know that this fake “crisis” is more important than having someone in charge of, say, saving the American automobile industry with a so-called car tsar. Hmm, I wonder if the Prez asked Ric Ocasek or Elliot Easton to take that job. They were just what we needed.

When the President did appoint an Ebola co-ordinator, former Gore and Biden aide, Ron Klain, the Republicans attacked the pick. How could they attack someone who was played by Kevin Fucking Spacey in the HBO movie, Recount? Next thing you know, they’ll attack Ed Harris who played McCain in the HBO movie, Game Change. The WaPo’s Dana Milbank pointed out the absurdity of this sitch on the Tweeter Tube:

Back to the post title. I have long disliked the term tsar, so when C Ray Nagin appointed Ed Blakely to be NOLA’s unrecovery co-ordinator, I proposed that he be called the Katrina Kaiser. My idea was brilliant: it’s alliterative and K is the funniest letter in the alphabet. My suggestion fell on deaf ears and Blakely was called the Katrina tsar.

Here’s my helpful suggestion to Republicans: use the term KAISER, so you won’t be called out and ridiculed for suddenly favoring TSARS. I am not usually in the business of helping GOPers, but I have a dog in this hunt and it’s one in a silly pointed Kraut helmet. Think about it, y’all. It’s a win-win sitch for me: they either take my sage advice or ignore it and I can mock them for doing so.

Finally, this bit of tomfoolery was inspired, not by Tom and Jerry or Tom Seaver, but by Rachel Maddow. Rachel has a habit of using the phrase “common wisdom” instead of the more, uh, common, “conventional wisdom.” This used to drive me nuts until I finally realized that she’s like me with tsar and kaiser: she prefers common to conventional and is trying to drive the term in that direction. That puts me in good company, at least I hope so. I can’t sing like Paul Rodgers, so I can’t be Bad Company…

Btw, I refuse to capitalize tsar or kaiser because I think royalty is stupid. Hell, the Greeks had a German king, what kind of sense did that make? It did mean that Greece had good beer earlier than some other countries, but otherwise it’s dumber than the Maine school board who gave a teacher 21 days off because they’d been in Dallas. I swear I am not making this up, I heard about it from my boy Lex. I guess they read too much Stephen King.

You say tsar, I say kaiser. Let’s call the whole thing off. Instead of Gershwin, I’ll play the earworm I caught at the end of a particularly punny passage in this post:

Boardwalk Empire Thread: Friendless Child


Nucky Thompson starts the penultimate episode of Boardwalk Empire fighting a gang war that he has no chance of winning. It’s hard being a fictional gangster up against real world criminals who live long and prosper. Nucky’s empire once looked sold and substantial, but it’s being swept away like sand by someone much more ruthless than he’s ever been: Charlie Lucky Luciano.

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Ignorant Racist Fucknutted Assholes Credit Kids for Their Racist Ignorant Fucknut Assholery

It’s all about THE CHILDREN: 

“I don’t feel comfortable sending my daughter to school with people who could be infected with ebola.”

“Really concerns me. I don’t want to keep my boy out of school.”

“Tell us when we come into the door. Don’t smile in my face and have a secret like that.”

“Anybody from that area should just stay there until all this stuff is resolved. There’s nobody affected here; let’s just keep it that way.”

“I think for another couple weeks. I don’t think it would hurt, I mean you have a lot of children that are involved, so I don’t think it would hurt.”

“That area.”

Please kill me.

I don’t feel comfortable sending MY kid to school with a bunch of people who are this fucking dumb. I don’t feel comfortable sending MY kid to school if yours is being raised by somebody who thinks Rwanda and Liberia are the same country because Africa, never mind the two billion sources of information on everything to do with Ebola being available right now. I don’t feel comfortable exposing MY child to the highly contagious disease known as middle-class white smug horseshit, which is fucking airborne, and EVERYWHERE.

Once and for all the marbles, do not cloak your own chickenshittedness in concern for your kids. They don’t deserve to bear the burden of justifying your opinions, your racism, your compassionless shrugging off of your goddamn obligation to live like a grownup. They don’t need this kind of “concern,” they don’t want it, and it is not their job to be your reason for being a fucking asshole.

OWN YOUR SHIT. You want to run fraidy-cat style from every black person you see and act all relieved that now you can call it some kind of public health initiative instead of your usual “furriners is weird, Ethel” mental shorthand? You just do that, and leave your kids out of it. They’re going to have plenty to overcome as it is, being raised by you.


Paragraph Of The Day: Rick Bragg Edition

One of the South’s best prose stylists, Rick Bragg, has written a biography of the crazy rock and roll legend, Jerry Lee Lewis. There’s an excerpt in the Guardian and this paragraph is pure gold:

“There was rockabilly. There was Elvis. But there was no pure rock’n’roll before Jerry Lee Lewis kicked in the door,” says Jerry Lee Lewis. Some historians may debate that, but there was no one like him, just the same; even the ones who claimed to be first, who claimed to be progenitors, borrowed it from some ghost who vanished in the haze of a delta field or behind the fences of a prison farm. People who played with him across the years say he can conjure a thousand songs and play each one seven ways. He can make your high-heel sneakers shake the floorboards, or lift you over the rainbow, or kneel with you at the old rugged cross. He can holler “Hold on, I’m comin’” or leave you at the house of blue lights. Or he can just be still, his legend, the legend of rock’n’roll, already cut into history in sharper letters than the story of his life. Sam Phillips of Sun Records, a man who snagged lightning four or five times, called him “the most talented man I ever worked with, black or white… one of the most talented human beings to walk God’s earth.”

Jerry Lee is as modest as ever. I, for one, am glad that the old reprobate didn’t shoot Rick Bragg. The mere thought leaves me:


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