Tweets Of The Day: Texas Napoleon Returns To His Waterloo

One of the most annoying, aggravating, and irksome things about this year’s Katrinaversary is, of course, George W Bush returning to the scene of the crime. He’s about as popular here as a dead refrigerator full of rancid, rotting crab, shrimp, and crawfish. Maggots have a higher approval rating in Orleans Parish than Bush.

Two NOLA Twitteratti rather neatly summed up my un-resilient reaction to the news of Bush visiting this upcoming Friday.

I can never get enough of John Fogerty’s post-K rant and roll song, Long Dark Night, so I’ll give him the last word:

Brownie’s in the outhouse
Katrina on the line
Government’s a disaster
But Georgie, he says it’s fine

Come on,
Lord you’d better run
Be a long dark night
Before this thing is done

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Wake Of The Flood

I usually post this feature at the stroke of midnight but I want the stench from the Hurricane Katrina Snowglobe post to have faded away. Let’s have a nooner instead. Uh oh, that was a bit Ashley Madison of me…

I’ve already posted a Grateful Dead LP cover but this one fits the theme of the week. Wake Of The Flood was the first Dead album released on their own label. It was plagued with returns and production problems. The cover by Rick Griffin, however, is swell:

Wake of the Flood

The music is pretty darn good too, especially the sublime Eyes of the World:

Quote Of The Day: Ken Burns Edition

I suspect y’all have heard about Ken Burns’ appearance on Face The Nation and his stirring comments about the cause of the Civil War. But it can’t be repeated often enough as far as I’m concerned:

You know, we’ve grown up as country with a lot of powerful symbols of the Civil War in popular culture that would be ‘Birth of a Nation,’ D.W. Griffiths’ classic, and ‘Gone with the Wind,’ of course,” And in that, it postulates, among other things, both films, that the Ku Klux Klan, which is a homegrown terrorist organization, was actually a heroic force in the story of the Civil War. So it’s no wonder that Americans have permitted themselves to be sold a bill of goods about what happened, oh, it’s about states’ rights, it’s about nullification, it’s about differences between cultural and political and economic forces that shaped the North and the South…

But we also notice that race is always there. Always there. When Thomas Jefferson says all men are created equal, he owns a couple hundred human beings and he doesn’t see the contradiction or the hypocrisy and doesn’t free anybody in his lifetime and sets in motion an American narrative that is bedeviled by a question of race. And we struggle with it. We try to ignore it. We pretend, with the election of Barack Obama, that we’re in some post-racial society,” he continued. “And what we have seen is a kind of reaction to this. The birther movement, of which Donald Trump is one of the authors of, is another politer way of saying the N word. It’s just more sophisticated and a little bit more clever. He’s ‘other,’ he’s different. What’s actually ‘other’ and different about him? It turns out it’s the same old thing. It’s the color of his skin.”

What the hell does this Yankee know about it? So what if he made the definitive documentary about that conflict. Some peckerwood in a racist t-shirt knows better…

Burns’ remarks almost make me forgive him for the whole “Wynton Marsalis saved Jazz” thing in another film. I’m still tetchy, however, about the Yankees-BoSox centric approach of his baseball documentary.

Enough already. I came to praise Ken Burns, not bury him. Well done, sir.

Killer Kitsch: The Hurricane Katrina Snowglobe

I was premature in saying that I wasn’t going to write anything else about Katrina 10 malakatude. I learned about this after posting on Monday. It *almost* makes the resilience tours look less tacky. Almost.

What’s an American “celebration” without a crappy, tasteless souvenir to put on the mantle?

Malakatude

Killer Kitsch Triptych.

That’s right, ladies and germs, for a mere 45 bucks you can have your very own Hurricane Katrina Snowglobe. The houses come in 4 colors and the scariest thing of all is that the order page at the web site says that the yellow house is sold out. That’s right, people are actually buying this tacky thing.

I am gobsmacked that this disgusting bit of killer kitsch is selling. It reflects the death of common decency as well as common sense. Who celebrates a disaster that killed an estimated 1,800 human beings? Some guy named Brad Maltby, consider him the de facto malaka of the week. I have no idea whether he’s a hipster trendhopper, disaster tourist, or long time resident with no taste but really dude? Making money off a tragedy? E is for exploitation. T is for tacky.

Malaka Maltby is clearly clueless. The next passage is a quote from the web site and follows an insipid “poem” by his stepfather:

Look closely, you’ll notice the blue tarp on the roof that FEMA gave out. Almost every house had one on it.

There is a red X, that EVERY house was marked with when it’s doors were smashed in and searched. There was a code that marked who entered, when, how and how many bodies were found.

Of course there is a water line, a still very visible scar of the times.

And finally the debris in the dirty water that filled all the flooded houses, about 200,000 in New Orleans alone.

The sparkles represent the strangeness of it all and the good things that would come out of it all in the future for so many people.

The target audience for this shitglobe is obviously NOT people who experienced the storm and subsequent flood. In addition to not knowing the difference between it’s and its, the explanation gets a lot of things wrong, then closes on an eerily Panglossian note about the wonders that came out of the storm.

It sounds as if Malaka Maltby didn’t experience the stench that permeated the city after the flood waters receded. It was stinky, not sparkly. If the snowglobe were even vaguely realistic, it would depict floating, bloated bodies and smell like sewage and rotting seafood. Mmm, rancid shrimp.

I blame Mayor Landrieu and the boosterazzi for this horrid bit of killer kitsch. They have set a triumphalist, celebratory tone for what should be a solemn occasion. Are they celebrating fewer poors? Repeat after me: an estimated 1,800 people died and 200,000+ houses flooded. It was bloody, costly, wet, and smelly, not sparkly.

Back to bad “poetry” theatre:

This globe is a tribute for the world to see,
A remembrance of what once used to be.
The help I received for this project a rarity.
So much I’m donating some profits to charity.
And lastly, thank the good Lord above
For giving us back the N’awlins, the city we LOVE!

The cutesy spelling of New Orleans is an indication that these idiots are, more likely than not, post-K transplants. Only the late, great broadcaster Frank Davis could get away with that. But I suspect that Frank would have taken a dim view of this loathsome bit of killer kitsch.

It doesn’t matter whether the seller’s claim that he’s donating some of the profits to charity is true or not. There’s no excuse for disaster profiteering even if it’s ten years after the storm. Malaka Maltby and everyone who purchased this appalling bit of killer kitsch should be ashamed of themselves. What’s next? A 9/11 snowglobe complete with rubble and flying corpses?

If you’d like to leave some nasty comments about this disgusting bit of killer kitsch, feel free to post on their Facebook wall. I somehow doubt if they’ll get that either. Repeat after me: Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood were stinky, not sparkly.

Creeps like Malaka Maltby and Mitch Landrieu inspired my friend Laura Bergerol to create this image. I’ll give her the last word:

K10 FU resilience w copyright

Redesigned by Laura Bergerol.

In Which We Fight Over A Composer’s Body

Russia wants Rachmaninoff back: 

Despite considering himself “the most Russian of Russians,” writes Mary Jane Ayers, Rachmaninoff watched his bourgeois way of life evaporate during the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. That year, he fled to Sweden and later the United States, where he worked as an acclaimed concert pianist. Though the composer mourned his country for the rest of his life, he never returned.

Russia’s culture minister, Vladimir Medinsky, recently called on the United States to repatriate the composer’s remains in what the BBC calls “a lavish mausoleum” on his old country estate. But the move appears to be less about a composer’s final resting place and more about tense Russian-American relations. The BBC quotes Medinsky as claiming that Americans have neglected the composer’s grave while attempting to “shamelessly privatize” his name, and the AFP notes that the minister accuses the United States of presenting Rachmaninoff as “an American composer of Russian origin.”

A.

Degrees as Pre-Reqs

Welcome back to school, kids! 

The problem seems to be rooted in two main factors: More federal money appears to have just resulted in schools scrambling to find ways to take and spend it, but not in ways that make the education more affordable. We’ve also made having a degree a prerequisite for any kind of decent-paying job.

Don’t get me wrong, there are highly specialized positions that should absolutely require certain standards of education — but we as a society place far too much stock in whether someone simply has a piece of paper as opposed to whether that person has the skills, experience or ability to learn necessary for a particular job. College isn’t for everyone. We need to do a better job of presenting all options to students, and then creating a world in which those decisions are valued and rewarded.

I sent not one but three interns back to school this week, including one at the very beginning of her college career. Since I am now officially in the eyes of the Kids Today an old person, I have a bunch of hoary advice I make them listen to on their way out the door and most of it has to do with being a young woman at the beginning of your white-collar work life. Stuff like, “If you can’t run a mile in the shoes don’t wear them to work” and “You are young and talented and pretty all at once, so at some point an old dude will insinuate you are sleeping with your boss. The thing to remember is that guy is full of shit and is threatened by you, and saying that stuff is his way of signaling that you don’t need to listen to him at all.”

Today, though, I said, “Screw your grades. Nobody cares. I mean, pass your classes. Get your degree because it’s like a box they check. But don’t flip out about every test. You know what people care about? What you’ve DONE. People want to know what you’ve accomplished, not how many As you got.”

In my life I’ve applied for dozens of jobs and interviewed for many of them and honest to God, in my 20 years in what we euphemistically term “the workforce” ONE PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYER, one, has asked me for my GPA. And that was like three years ago. I had to look it up.

It’s not even that college isn’t for everyone, it’s that college isn’t for everyTHING. We’ve made a college degree some kind of universal signifier of acceptability, and then put that signifier out of reach of a lot of people. Whereas if we’re honest about what employers need versus what students should pay for, we can reduce a lot of unnecessary debt burden, and make life easier on people who are just starting out and have enough to deal with already.

A.

 

Katrinaversary Blues: Of Resilience Tours, Carpetbloggers & Disaster Tourists

Root Beer Blues, 2005.

Root Beer Blues, 2005. Photo by Dr. A

The hype behind the 10th anniversary of Katrina and the subsequent flood reminds me of a flock of turkey buzzards circling the city in search of carrion. I, for one, have no desire to be roadkill and plan to hide under the bed on Saturday 8/29. There are too many people with too many agendas who have seized that day, transforming it into a metaphor. All most of us have ever wanted is to get back to what passes for normality in New Orleans. I’d even take Gamaliel-style “normalcy” once I stop cringing…

After the water receded, there was a second inundation of people flooding into the city. Some were do-gooders, some were hipsters seeking the next trend, still others were here to make a buck. Very few of them understood the essence of New Orleans and what makes the city and its inhabitants tick. Many of them, especially on social media, have come up with an orthodoxy of what it means to be a New Orleanian. That has come to be known as copping a NOLAier than thou attitude, a swell phrase that was coined by Karen Dalton Beninato.  Some of the NOLAier than thou set seem to have spent way too much time watching Treme. Instead of a Cabaret, life is apparently a second line, old chum.

I mention the NOLAier than thou crowd because they, the local media, the boosterazzi, and the Landrieu administration seem to be the only New Orleanians who are intent on commemorating the Katrinaversary. The Mayor and other boosters are plugging the new, improved New Orleans, as opposed to the old and lousy version, I guess. Others think the City has gone to hell in a designer handbag since the storm. I’m somewhere in the middle BUT the fact that the Katrinaversary has its own logo and slogan is either deeply silly or obscene. I’m not quite sure which.

Katrina 10 logo

That’s what happens when your city is turned over to Yuppie gentrifiers, flacks, developers, and urban planners. Style long ago overtook substance in our recovery. City Hall is planning “resilience” tours by land, sea, and air. Hand to God, I am not making this up. I’m not sure who will take them except for the odd disaster tourist or carpetblogger. Welcome to Dizneylandrieu. Here’s what some internet smart ass had to say about it on Twitter:

Now that I’ve robustly mocked the resilience tours, I must admit that we’ve come a long way from the flooded neighborhoods and rotting refrigerators of 2005.

Cajun Tomb, 2005.

Cajun Tomb, 2005. Photo by Dr. A.

I have a recurring dream about walking the streets when they were lined with dead fridges full of rotting food, surrounded by swarms of maggots. The stench was overwhelming. The mere thought of it still churns my stomach and I do not have a delicate digestive system. What I have is another Richard Thompson earworm:

I am dreading the influx of disaster tourists who will surely be showing up in town this week. Some of them will be sincerely motivated and others will be of the “I volunteered once with Habitat for Humanity after Katrina so I know what it was like” variety. No, you don’t. You don’t know what it’s like to be barred from your home for 6 weeks and have to sneak in like Dr. A and I did. You don’t know what it’s like to have a bad case of survivor’s guilt because you didn’t fare as badly as other people in town. You don’t know what it’s like to have to re-tell your “Katrina story” over and over again. You don’t know what it’s like to be having dinner and have do-gooders burst in to save your pets because you didn’t, or couldn’t, wash the marks off your front door. Actually, neither do I but it happened to some friends of mine. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase putting on the dog…

The aftermath of the storm was a very painful period in the lives of New Orleanians. We’ve lived it day-in and day-out for 10 years at varying levels of intensity. That’s why I’m not enthusiastic about rehashing those days regardless of whether it’s done by resilience tour types or the krewe of “we’ve gone to hell in a designer handbag.” I wish they’d all piss off and leave me alone. I’m not the only one who feels this way.

People have been in a very tetchy mood here all month. It’s made worse by all the disaster tourist journalists and carpetbloggers popping into town, taking our temperature, and putting their own spin on our story. That makes it their story, not ours. Once again, we live it every day, they’re just drive-by Katrina experts. Go bug somebody else and leave us alone.

The vile mood has spread to social media, especially NOLA Twitter. There have been a series of ugly flame wars where people question other people’s right to say anything about the storm. A woman of my online acquaintance was called an opportunist, ho, and, even worse, a newbie arriviste by some misogynist creep. Wrong. Her family came here with Bienville, as we like to say about the fine old families of New Orleans, and she rode out the storm at Tulane Hospital with a sick relative. I don’t understand the impulse to put people down when you don’t know jack shit about them. Unless, that is, they’re running for office because that’s what I do. Of course, that’s kicking up. There’s a lot of kicking down going on right now. Those folks should be kicked in the balls and serenaded by the late Harry Nilsson:

Shorter Adrastos. I will do my damnedest to stop thinking about the impending visit of the Texas Napoleon to his Waterloo and all the activities that will draw disaster tourists, carpetbloggers,  looky-loos, and NOLAier than thou wannabes to town. I may have to stop mainlining Social Media so I won’t spend the week in a state of constant aggravation. This will, hopefully, be my last word on Katrina 10. I plan to skip the resilience tours as well even though the flyover sounds kind of cool.

I originally planned to use this Winwood-Capaldi classic in the post title, but I didn’t want anyone to think I’m opposed to the NOLA smoking ban. It’s only smoke-free air but I like it. Put that in your pipe and smoke it:

 

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – conservative slap-fight edition

OK guys – back in the saddle again.

I did expect that the crowded Republican field would result in a lot of desperate mud-slinging, but I had no idea the shouts for attention would get so bad. Let’s start of with a bit of Anne-archy from The House Of Dead Breitbart, shall we?

Meltdown Day 2: Rick Wilson Asks Ann Coulter If Donald Trump ‘Pays More for Anal’
Breitbart.com ^ | 18 Aug 2015 | John Nolte

Posted on ‎8‎/‎18‎/‎2015‎ ‎2‎:‎45‎:‎51‎ ‎PM by Rockitz

Tuesday afternoon, Rick Wilson, a top Republican consultant who sometimes appears on CNN as an analyst, sent a tweet to conservative author and columnist Ann Coulter asking if Donald Trump pays her extra for anal sex. “Does Trump pay you more for anal?” Wilson tweeted.

Apparently Wilson was responding to Coulter tweeting out a Breitbart News article from Monday detailing his bizarre decision to politicize a rape threat Wilson claims was made against his daughter.

….

Friday on CNN, Wilson attacked 25% of the Republican base as “low information voters.” Just two days later he publicly politicized the rape threat against his daughter. Twenty-four hours after that he’s publicly accusing Coulter of being a prostitute.

********************************

Jeb sure has a great mouthpiece in Rick Wilson. What a loser. How does this guy ever work again after this?
1 posted on 8‎/‎18‎/‎2015‎ ‎2‎:‎45‎:‎51‎ ‎PM by Rockitz
Now, bear in mind – the Freeperati consider Anne Coulter a RINO turncoat and a self-promoting Maher-dater.  Just to put these reactions into perspective…
To: Rockitz

That’s really shocking. I doubted his rape threat, now I’m convinced he’s lying. He has a filthy mind.

4 posted on 8‎/‎18‎/‎2015‎ ‎2‎:‎48‎:‎07‎ ‎PM by miss marmelstein (Richard the Third: I’d like to drive away not only the Turks (moslims) but all my foes.”)

Well, at least he’s not a “moslim”.
To: Sarah Barracuda

Rick Wilson. Animate fecal matter. Hope Ann laughs it off and considers the source.

7 posted on 8‎/‎18‎/‎2015‎ ‎2‎:‎49‎:‎20‎ ‎PM by BigEdLB (They need to target the ‘Ministry of Virtue’ which has nothing to do with virtue.)

Well, well, well.
I see that sucking up to The Darnold paid some dividends, after all. Two months ago, every Coulter post looked like this:
To: Beave Meister

A woman that promoted Flip Flopping like John Kerry and Mitt Romney, Arch Liberal, really has no business talking about leftists destroying America unless as an insider to the process.

2 posted on 5‎/‎25‎/‎2015‎ ‎9‎:‎13‎:‎59‎ ‎PM by Norm Lenhart

To: Beave Meister

What RINO will she be endorsing this time for POTUS so we will have another Rat POTUS?

…and so on.

Now, all her sins have been forgiven, as she has kissed the hem of The Darnold’s robe.

To: Rockitz

Just another reason why I’m glad I’m no longer a Republican.

9 posted on 8‎/‎18‎/‎2015‎ ‎2‎:‎50‎:‎25‎ ‎PM by jmaroneps37 (Conservatism is truth. Liberalism is lies.)

May your tribe increase.
To: Jan_Sobieski

I see it too. Erick Erickson’s B***H move was what opened my eyes. I always got that skeez vibe off the guy, then he pulls that stunt. It’s very homo to need attention that much.

32 posted on ‎8‎/‎18‎/‎2015‎ ‎3‎:‎04‎:‎14‎ ‎PM by The Toll

(insert obligatory Freud pic here)
To: Responsibility2nd

Just remember the “Breitbart” websites are NOT LIKE ANYTHING Andrew Breitbart would be running. Once Andrew passed, they do no high quality investigative reporting like Andrew did.

93 posted on 8‎/‎18‎/‎2015‎ ‎4‎:‎06‎:‎56‎ ‎PM by seekthetruth (I still want a Commander In Chief who honors and supports our Military!)

30d4a-6a00d8341c5ced53ef011570c85bad970b-pi
.
To: Rockitz

Sounds like Wilson wants to be anally violated. Perhaps, even, by going to one of those Washington, D.C. S&M madams and having her wear one of those contraptions to do him. Heck, Wilson secretly wishes (or does) to drop trou in a bath house and bend over to pick up the soap. His foul “tweets” are subconscious declarations of his own perversity.

97 posted on 8‎/‎18‎/‎2015‎ ‎4‎:‎13‎:‎43‎ ‎PM by Thumper1960 (A modern so-called “Conservative” is a shadow of a wisp of a vertebrate human being.)

Followed immediately by:
To: Rockitz

Liberals always think about sex. Everything is related to sex. They only have primal impulses and never any high cognitive thoughts. This is an eGOP representative who no doubt claims Trump is “hurting the brand” while he utterly destroys it.

98 posted on ‎8‎/‎18‎/‎2015‎ ‎4‎:‎16‎:‎40‎ ‎PM by CodeToad (If it weren’t for physics and law enforcement I’d be unstoppable!)

Hard to top that sequence of posts, but I’ll try – after the anal violation….

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Black Wealth Matters

I grew up in a fairly segregated town, not much different from the way a lot of white kids grow up, and recently I asked my mother if she had grown up knowing any black doctors, or lawyers, or teachers. Did my father ever have an African-American boss or even a peer?

 

She couldn’t think of any. Me neither. I had one black teacher, for algebra, in high school, and one Hispanic teacher. Those were my only experiences of authority of color until I got to college (and even then, those were thin on the ground).

We knew black people, of course, neighbors and other parents at school, but no one who would challenge the idea of a powerful voice always being a white voice. It’s very different from how Kick will grow up; two of my bosses are black and many of her teachers likely will be as well, and there are more examples of leaders in all fields who are of different backgrounds in a larger city (even a segregated one). There is much, much more of a black middle and upper class here and now.

The idea of a diversity of wealth and class as well as race didn’t occur to my sheltered self until much later in my life, after I’d been a lot more places and seen a lot more things. And media treatment of “the black perspective” as one monolithic viewpoint didn’t help.

So I’m glad to see somebody, even if it’s Politico, asking how people of color in power view the ongoing police violence against unarmed black men:

By contrast, the Black Lives Matter movement is “coming from black folks at the margins,” one of its co-founders, Patrisse Cullors, told a crowd of several hundred gathered at the elegant Harbor View Hotel, which looks out on Edgartown’s quaint lighthouse.

“We’re a generation that wore baggy pants and sagged them,” said Cullors, 31, visiting the Vineyard for the first time.

For some, the inadequacy of the respectability approach has become clear in recent years.

“We as black people were kind of lulled,” said Bithiah Carter, president of New England Blacks in Philanthropy, which seeks to increase the leverage of black donors. “We were lulled into thinking, I moved to the suburbs, I put my kids in good schools, I climbed my corporate ladder, I’m now making $200,000 a year. I’m a good Negro.”

But after Trayvon Martin was killed, it became clear that even well-to-do black children could face discrimination – or worse — because of the color of their skin. “You just found out you really didn’t matter,” said Carter, in her late 40s, speaking at a forum organized by Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree in Oak Bluffs.

Others dismissed the idea that this was some sort of new discovery, even for the affluent.

“I don’t think any of us feel we are at a place where we think, ‘Oh, that wouldn’t happen,’” said Michael Weekes, 62, CEO of the Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers.

“That’s a great equalizer. No matter how rich you are as an African American, you’re still vulnerable,” said Alan Jenkins, 52, executive director of the Opportunity Agenda, which co-hosted the forum with Cullors.

A.

Own What You Want

Wow, what would it look like if we all just took responsibility? 

Huffington Post Editorial Director Danny Shea took to the MSNBC program to defend the site’s decision to relegate coverage of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign to the entertainment section.

“For me, the fundamental issue is that we’re not passive observers here in the Trump show, we have a role to play and nobody can deny that his poll numbers are fueled by non-stop media coverage which you wouldn’t give him if he weren’t a celebrity,” Shea said. “You’re not giving Bernie Sanders the wall-to-wall coverage because he’s not taking you on his helicopter for people to just go for joyrides above the Iowa State Fair.”

Cover whatever you want to cover. Have ten web sites devoted to Donald Trump or have no coverage of him whatsoever. But stop pretending you are powerless. It’s embarrassing.

A.

Last of the Dambusters

Rest easy now: 

On the night of May 16, 1943, a squadron of bombers set out from Britain to conduct strikes against heavily fortified dams in the Ruhr Valley of Germany, using bombs that bounced on the water before exploding. Of the 133 crew members who started the mission, only 77 returned.

The last surviving pilot of those who came back was John Leslie Munro, who died Tuesday at 96 in Auckland, New Zealand.

A lot of these guys have lived into their 90s. The one friend I have left who served in WWII is 96. This group of folks is going nowhere until they are damn good and ready.

In an interview with the BBC on the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters mission, Mr. Munro said he had not been afraid. “I approached most operations with a thought: ‘If I’m going to cop it, so be it,’ ” he said.

Wouldn’t you live forever if you made it out of there, too?

A.

Sunday Morning Video: Stevie Ray Vaughan Live At Montreaux

Here’s Stevie Ray and Double Trouble live in 1985:

Saturday Odds & Sods: When The Spell Is Broken

Master of Magic

Sideshow banner by Fred G. Johnson

This is the second Richard Thompson song I’ve used as the Saturday post’s theme song. RT’s gloomy elegance fits my cranky, irascible mood at this moment in time. There are many spells that need breaking here in New Orleans. One that has been broken is our string of consecutive days of over 90 degrees. It ended last weekend at 48, which is the third most in recorded history. I’m contemplating taking credit for it since I mentioned it in this space last Saturday.

The other spell that needs breaking is the hold that the events of 2005-2010 have on my community, but I’ll go into that in more detail on Monday. I feel like Michael Corleone in Godfather 3 much of the time and I don’t even have to deal with the director’s miscast daughter. That’s right, I keep getting dragged back into the Katrinaversary. Trust me, I wish it didn’t happen since I’ve lived it every day since 2005 but it does. Fuck a duck.  Enough crankiness.

On with the theme song. When The Spell Is Broken first appeared on the 1985 album, Across A Crowded Room. It’s a song best heard live, so I’m posting a 1999 version with the RT Band as well as a 2011 solo acoustic rendition by the man himself. Finally, Bonnie Raitt’s cover from the 1994 RT tribute album Beat The Retreat.

More spellbinding breakage after the break.

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Internet to Alpha Phi: It’s horrible when you portray yourselves the way you want

Nothing seems to draw more outrage these days than people being whoever they are and showing others their least-positive side. Donald Trump’s “blood feud” with Megyn Kelly, Jared Fogle’s proclivity for children and Josh Duggar’s general hypocrisy when it comes to “family values.” All of these guys are scummy assholes who deserve whatever is coming to them. For Duggar and Fogle, it’s likely going to be an unpleasant prison experience.

For Trump, it’s probably going to be a runaway sprint to the Republican nomination for president.

Trump has always been a sexist blowhard. He’s the physical embodiment of the sexist line about dating women: “When they hit 40, you trade them in for 2 20s.” John Oliver’s line about him was spot on when he said that it’s weird to have a beauty pageant overseen by one of the ugliest souls out there.

Beauty, sexism and Trump converged elsewhere this week, thanks to a sorority in Alabama. The Internet caught fire after a columnist at AL.com called a sorority’s recruitment video “worse for women than Donald Trump.” The University of Alabama’s Alpha Phi sorority produced a 5-minute video that showcased the general whiteness, blondeness and fluffiness that their members personified. The video included young women in white dresses and bikinis bouncing around the campus like the pre-nude parts of a Cinemax “After Dark” series. A lot of soft light, blowing glitter and generally vapid crap took place over soft music and promises of “sisterhood.”

Columnist A.L. Bailey called the video “unempowering” and argued that the video “lacks substance but boasts bodies.”

And more:

The Alpha Phi house, grandiose and imposing, claims to sleep 72 young women. That’s 72 women who surely must be worth more than their appearances and who can ask themselves if the messages they’re sending are the best and most accurate depictions of who they are.

That’s 72 women who will potentially launch careers on the merit of their education and work among men who were once the frat brothers watching their video.

And that’s 72 women who will want to be taken seriously rather than be called bimbos by those male coworkers.

That’s 72 women who could be a united front for empowerment, not poster children for detrimental stereotypes and clichés.

During filming, did any of them stop to think about what they’d be selling? Did they think they were selling a respectable set of sorority chapter ideals? Did they think they were selling the kind of sisterhood that looks out for all women? Or were they focused on having the hottest video in the popularity contest that is sorority recruitment? Were they satisfied with being perceived as selling a gorgeous party-girl, cookie-cutter commodity? Were they satisfied with being the commodity?

Most importantly, did they realize they are a group of young women blessed with potential who are selling themselves, and each other, short?

The biggest thing that troubles me with this approach (other than the overuse of rhetorical questions), is that the author essentially paints these women as the vapid Buffy chicks they are told not to typify. The author argues that the women who made this thing (which by the way has a production quality that rivals Lucasfilms), never stopped to think “properly” about how they would look and what other people might say about them. They are at the same time accused of undermining feminism and being “stupid girls” about their recruitment approach.

The same philosophy that says women should be who they want, dress how they want and act in whichever way they see fit is being used here to admonish these women for being, dressing and acting in the way they wanted to. The line about how they will “work among men who were once the frat brothers watching their video” is eerily reminiscent of the “don’t dress so provocatively” admonition to women fearing sexual assault.

Just like free speech is about opening up all the lanes and letting people drive as they see fit, rights advocates shouldn’t push for one myopic view of a group to be replaced by their own myopic view. Just because it isn’t what you want, it doesn’t follow that it shouldn’t be out there. I’d tell you to watch the video and see for yourself, but the sorority pulled the video after the uproar.

And it killed its Twitter feed.

And its Tumblr page. And its Facebook page.

And gutted its website.

So even though the opponents of this group’s video didn’t want the image out there of these women as sex toys and bikini bodies, they apparently had no problem slut shaming them into silence.

Friday Catblogging: Temptation Eyes

I cannot get enough of Dr. A’s pictures of Della Street with devil eyes. Here are two more:

IMG_4101IMG_4102

Now that I’ve shared what bad housekeepers we are, here’s the earworm Della’s devil eyes gave me:

The Fog Of History: Today On Bad Historical Analogy Theatre

I am gobsmacked that this piece was written by a professional historian:

Just as President Lyndon Johnson, whom everyone expected to run for re-election, symbolized the Democratic establishment then, Hillary Clinton does now. While Johnson controlled the party apparatus (which in 1968 still chose most of the delegates), Clinton has locked up most of the Democratic donors. Both of them, too, have already lost a nomination battle to a younger, more attractive candidate: LBJ to JFK in 1960, and Clinton to Barack Obama in 2008. And both have serious vulnerabilities that pundits initially underestimated: the Vietnam War for Johnson, and the ongoing email scandal for Clinton.

This comparison of the email scandal to the Vietnam War may be the silliest thing I’ve read in quite some time, and in 2015 that’s saying a lot. We know for sure that 58,000+ Americans died in that conflict and there were between 700,000 and 1.3 million deaths total, both military and civilian. In contrast, 4 Americans died in the 2012 Benghazi attack and as far as we know nobody was killed by reading one of Hillary’s emails. The oddest thing about that passage is that its author, David Kaiser, is NOT a wingnut. He is, however, wrong, wrong, wrong.

LBJ had a firm grip on at least 90% of the Democratic apparatus at a time when it meant a lot. That’s why the 1968 nominee was his Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, not an anti-Johnson candidate. There’s no comparable organizational structure now: all the former FLOTUS, Senator, and Secretary of State has are endorsements. The days of the big city bosses and Southern Bourbon caudillos are long gone. Plus, LBJ was the sitting President who won in a landslide in 1964, as opposed to a primary season runner-up. Johnson could have bullied and forced his way to the nomination, Hillary cannot.

Kaiser goes on to find other analogues. Bernie Sanders is Eugene McCarthy. This one isn’t as quite as ludicrous: both were back bench Senators running to promote a cause important to them. McCarthy’s cause, however, was life and death: to end the slaughter in Vietnam and bring our troops home.

Joe Biden is Hubert Humphrey in Kaiserworld. As human beings it’s a pretty good one. Hubert was as warm, gregarious and occasionally as gaffe prone as Joey the Shark. I’ve made that analogy myself in the past. Both were distinguished liberals well-qualified to be President. Both men even had substantial blots on otherwise stellar progressive records: HHH and the Vietnam War, and Biden his advocacy and/or sponsorship of some of the terrible anti-crime bills passed in the 1980’s and ’90’s. (I’ll leave yet another discussion about whether Biden and other Democrats should be forgiven for voting for the Iraq War resolution for another day. Just remember: George McGovern, Mark Hatfield, and Frank Church were among those who voted for the Tonkin Gulf resolution in 1964. Only 2 members of Congress voted no.)

The fundamental difference between Biden and Humphrey is that the former might run against the front-runner whereas LBJ would have cut HHH’s nuts off if he’d even considered such a thing. Another enormous difference is that Biden is a powerful Veep along the lines of Hubert’s protege, Fritz Mondale whereas Johnson kept Humphrey’s testicles in a jar on the mantle if you catch my drift.

Finally, Kaiser compares Senator/Professor Warren to Robert Kennedy. Warren *is* deservedly popular on the Left of the party BUT doesn’t have the prestige of the brother of the martyred President. People at the time viewed him as a stand-in for JFK and there were millions of voters prepared to support the heir to “Camelot.” Additionally, RFK was mistrusted by some on the Left because of his days as a McCarthyite fellow traveler and all the temporizing he did on Civil Rights as Attorney General.

The image of “ruthless” Bobby is something that has been lost in the fog of history. It would have, however, helped him pry loose delegates from the big city bosses in 1968. Many of the bosses were Irish and devoted to the Kennedy family. Some, like Mayor Daley, were even closet doves because their blue-collar constituents were doing most of the fighting and dying in Southeast Asia.

It’s weird that someone who lived through the Vietnam period, Kaiser was born in 1947, would get so much so very wrong. The nascent 2015 Democratic primary season is nothing like the 1968 race in spite of a few superficial similarities. The Democratic Party was ripped to shreds by Vietnam in 1968 and went on to lose 5 of 6 Presidential elections. We’re at a different point in history right now: the existential threat to America is not the Vietnam War as a hot blooded surrogate for the Cold War, it’s the possibility of a Republican President moving a big bag of crazy into the White House. That gives Democrats incentive to unite behind an eventual nominee and take on the Republicans; something that did not happen in 1968. I somehow doubt that Bernie Sanders would go into a 37-year political pout like Eugene McCarthy who even endorsed Ronald Reagan in 1980.

That concludes this edition of Bad Historical Analogy Theatre.

Ted’s Gambit

From Album 5

So, Tailgunner Ted, according to the Daily Beast, is looking to revive his otherwise moribund campaign by … well, call it whatever: hooking up to The Donald’s juice, stealing his thunder (or fire) … or just thoroughly kissing his ass. Take your pick. It’s unlikely to help all that much. Cruz was, is, and always will be an erratic and uncontrollable monster.

Meanwhile, Matt Taibbi has his thoughts on the clown-car-train-wreck that is the Repug nominating process (it’s still worrisome as all hell that whoever emerges from this mother-of-all-slag-heaps stands at least some chance of sitting in the Oval Office with a briefcase full of launch codes)…anyway, after reading, I’m thinking…damn: Ship-of-Fools-meets-Looney -Tunes-meets-butter-sculpture-then-deep-fried-Beavis-and-Butthead…on a stick.

Chili fritos look nutritious and well-balanced in comparison.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Cult Shaming

Perhaps I should be ashamed of being a member of the pulp fiction cult but I’m not.

emberEB921EmberEB928

Tweets Of The Day: Insult Comedian Edition

As hard as I try, I cannot seem to kick my Trump addiction. I’m not sure if it’s the hair, the delivery or the pure, unabashed malakatude. In his quest to become the first  insult comedian elected President, the Donald continues to feud with all comers in a completely un-Presidential manner. Yesterday, he called creepy GOP pollster Frank Luntz a “clown” and a “low class slob. I somehow can’t imagine Washington, Lincoln, or even Chet Arthur feuding with a media puke and calling them a slob. Andrew Jackson, yes, but we’ll save that for another day or never.

On to the Trump inspired tweets. First, the Insult Comedian compared himself to Batman whilst flying chirren about in his helicopter. Btw, LBJ made the first political use of a helicopter during his 1948 race for the Senate. All his opponent had was a horse. In any event, here’s my pick for the funniest #BatTrump tweet:

Trump also inspired a sci-fi themed tweet from a user who is wearing a Philadelphia Phillies cap in his avatar. I never though I’d quote a Phillies fan. I may have to boo myself:

The misspelling and missing apostrophe are indications that the guy is indeed a Phillies fan, but it’s still pretty darn funny.

Repeat after me: Donald Trump will not be the first insult comedian elected President.

 

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