Now Be Thankful

Adrastos’ late mother in her Chicago heyday.

The holidays are hard for me. I like Thanksgiving’s gluttonous aspects but it’s still hard for me. It’s when I think of my mother who died 16 yeas ago. My mother was the sort of person who took in strays for the holidays. We’d have up to 20 people around the table; some of whom were friends of friends of friends. Mom believed that everyone should have a home cooked meal on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many of our guests for Christmas dinner were, in fact, Jewish. No Chinese food for her Jewish friends.

Mom spent the day before Thanksgiving and the day of cooking away. She was a perfectionist when it came to entertaining: no holiday buffets for her. We had to gather around the table and it had to have a starched white table-cloth. There were no paper plates or people eating whilst milling about: fine china, silver, and crystal were mandatory for the holidays. She was informal the rest of the year but holidays were state occasions when, as my father was wont to say, we put on the dog.

When I got old enough, one of my jobs was to set the table. I made sure that Mom had final approval: she wanted everything just so. I recall feeling triumphant one Thanksgiving: I’d set the table perfectly on the first try. There were usually changes but not that year. I was inordinately proud of myself but she admonished me not to get too cocky. It was the Midwestern Norwegian Lutheran in her coming out. She left the bragging to my dad. It’s what Greeks do, y’all. Not me, of course, other Greeks…

I also helped make a fresh cranberry/orange sauce from the recipe on the back of the Ocean Spray bag. We had a venerable hand-cranked grinder that had to be attached to the kitchen table. We spread newspaper around it because it was messy. There was a bucket at my feet to catch the bitter red cranberry drippings. Mom was not sentimental about her kitchen gadgets: she bought a food processor the first time she saw one. I was away from home and past the cranberry grinding, table setting phase of my life by then.

My favorite part of the traditional turkey dinner was the stuffing. I looked forward to it every year. It was loaded with herbs as well as pine nuts and chestnuts. We didn’t exactly roast them on an open fire but I helped shell the bastards. They were uncooperative, downright surly, actually. When I was really young, I was convinced they were alive but my no-nonsense mother disabused me of that notion. She informed me that I’d seen the Wizard of Oz one too many times. As usual, she was right.

Unfortunately, there was often conflict at the dinner table during the holidays. I’m the youngest of three by thirteen years. My sisters were off living life and I was raised more like an only child. I admit to liking it that way. My oldest sister thrives on drama and conflict. There was always one big row per holiday, which drove my poor mother crazy. She was always the woman in the middle. When she died, so did our nuclear family for reasons too complex to go into. The good news is that holidays are more tranquil but I miss the glue of my family.

Thanksgivings in Louisiana had a familiar feel when I moved here. It’s all about the food, y’all.  I married into an old Louisiana family and learned some new traditions. What’s not to love about oyster dressing? I still missed my mom’s stuffing. It was a part of me.

My first wife was a petite, feisty, beautiful, and brilliant spitfire. She took the idea of being a redhead seriously: she had a temper to match my own. Her mother took me in as one of her own but made it clear that when we moved to Baton Rouge, we’d have to tie the knot. Unfortunately, my wife’s family tree was a witches brew of genetic maladies and she died of cancer during what should have been her final year at LSU Law School.

She passed away a week before Thanksgiving so the holidays were rough sledding for me until I met and fell in love with the tall, feisty, beautiful, and brilliant woman known to you as Dr. A. The good news is that Dr. A and my mother-in-law instantly hit it off and she was admitted to the Louisiana family post-haste. It was Dr. A who started calling our Louisiana family the outlaws and the nickname stuck.

We spent many holidays with the outlaws in Red Stick over the years and are about to do so again. My mother-in-law has left the comfortable house that she shared with her late second husband Eddie to whom I pay tribute every Memorial Day. She’s 96 now and lives at St. James Place, which is a somewhat posh retirement community. We’ll be eating in the dining room but it’s still pretty darn homey: we’ve gotten to know many of the residents over the last decade. I am lucky that Dr. A and mother-in-law #1  get on so well. She is also a howling liberal (to use her own phrase) so there will be no Trump-driven conflict.

In recent years, we’ve expanded our Thanksgiving plans exponentially to what amounts to a triple-header. We have lunch in Red Stick, then it’s back to New Orleans for dinner with our friends Jennifer and Will and finally, unless we’re too wiped out, a nightcap with our de facto family: Cait, Dave, and the child army. It’s a sticky end to a long day and now I’m committed. I hope Dr. A won’t be too vexed with me but I fear the wrath of Cait as well as retribution from the child army of darkness.

I sat down to write a brief, nostalgic food-centric post and ended up explaining my tangled family tree. So it goes. I never hide the fact that I was a widower at a young age but I only tell people when asked how I came to the Gret Stet of Louisiana from California. It’s a long and painful story but I’m fortunate to have married well twice.

Family by choice are the best family of all but I still miss my mother. She could dance on my last nerve, but I miss our long conversations and teasing her about her crazy dog Brutus.

Mothers are powerful. They have the ability to make you revert to childhood. I know that many of your mothers get on your nerves. It’s what they do. Shrug it off and remember that they won’t always be with you. Around the holidays is when I miss my mom and Dr. A misses her charming, beautiful, and eccentric mother. Mother-in-law #2, however, was not a good cook and expected us to consume the radishes she’d lovingly cut. I hate radishes but her company was the best.

Happy Thanksgiving.

The last word goes to Fairport Convention with the gorgeous Richard Thompson song that gave this post its title:

Here’s another one from the songwriter. It’s a day for gluttony, after all:

Pulp Fiction Thursday will return next week.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Home Cookin’

I did a search for albums with food-inspired covers. That’s how I stumbled into Home Cookin’. Jimmy Smith was the master of the Hammond organ; one of my favorite instruments. He also apparently liked diner food; as do I. Although food from 1959 would be a mite stale now.

If you’re ready for some tasty organ licks (not the lewd kind) here’s the whole damn album via the YouTube playlist format:

Poison in the Water

When I was in college I became friends with a much older man who was in a position of authority where he could snap his fingers and give me a job. I’d gone to him with a project in which he saw value and promised to see through. We had meetings in his office. He took me to lunch a bunch of times. Talked to me like I was people, told me jokes, laughed at mine.

Because I’m an arrogant asshole it never occurred to me that I wasn’t on his level. I thought I had every right to be his peer. And a lifetime of not being considered pretty led me to think that men couldn’t be interested in my body anyway.

He never tried anything. Never moved too close or talked too soft, never touched me but to shake my hand. Never so much as opened a door for me.

But as he promised over and over to find me a job in his department, his assistant, who he kept asking me to talk to, kept steering me away. That job’s been filled. I don’t think that will work out. Let me talk to him about what’s really suitable for you. We don’t have anything there. I’m not sure this is going to pan out. 

I thought she was just being a jerk. I needed a job, after all, and I believed people kept their promises. He wants me hired, so get over yourself and do what your boss wants.

Now I wonder. I wonder if she was protecting me.

Like I said, he never treated me as anything less than an equal. I thought he liked me. Like as a person.

I wonder how he would have treated me if I worked for him.

If I owed him something.

Thinking like this might be deeply unfair to a good person trying to help out a broke college student in whom he saw something promising. Thinking like this might be maligning, in retrospect, a friend.

Thinking like this might save the next young woman who sincerely believes a septuagenarian authority figure respects her mind.

I hate that this is the calculus. I hate that this is the math we all do in our heads. It’s not fair to us, in our working weeks, and it’s not fair to the relationships we try to nurture and the networking we try to do and the things we’re taught from day one are essential to our professional lives. It’s not fair to women. It’s not fair to men. It makes me angry and it makes me sad.

Grow the fuck up, everyone.

A.

Who Teaches

A while back I asked some family members and white childhood friends who they remember as the first person of authority — a person whose opinions they were expected to respect even if they didn’t agree — who wasn’t white, in their lives.

Very few remembered anyone at all.

I grew up in a fairly segregated town and went to Catholic schools. All my elementary school teachers were white. In high school I had one black teacher and one Hispanic teacher. In college (state school) I had two professors of color, though there were more professors of color teaching, mostly in ethnic studies courses, who I didn’t encounter. It wasn’t until 10 years ago that I had non-white, non-male bosses. Mr. A started working for a woman of color for the first time two years ago.

An under-covered aspect of the Obama freakout (and then the Clinton freakout afterward) was the idea that a lot of white people living segregated lives — the only black people they ever saw were on TV, probably playing football — had to confront the idea of a black person having authority over them. Blah blah, I know, the president works for us, but there was a huge swell of rage at “having” to listen to a black man. They’d never “had” to do that before, and damn if it didn’t piss them off.

Segregation of AUTHORITY matters as much as segregation of housing, jobs, amenities and everything else. It matters tremendously to children of color: 

Gershenson, Hart, Lindsay, and Papageorge demonstrate that if a black male student has at least one black teacher in the third, fourth, or fifth grade, he is significantly less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to aspire to attend a four-year college (as proxied by taking a college entrance exam). They find that these effects are especially pronounced for economically disadvantaged black male students. For instance, they find that a disadvantaged black male’s exposure to at least one black teacher in elementary school reduces his probability of dropping out of high school by nearly 40 percent. This estimated effect is not just statistically significant, but also highly educationally relevant.

We are long overdue for so many corrections in this country, and this is the last one coming for myself and my fellow white folk: That people who don’t look like us have something to teach us, and that we should shut up and learn.

A.

New Orleans Politics: The Bonfire Of The Vanities

New Orleans made a helluva lot of history during the 2017 election cycle. Most notably, we elected our first woman mayor, LaToya Cantrell who won in a landslide over her hapless opponent, Desiree Charbonnet. We also elected our first Hispanic councilmember in the primary, Helena Moreno, and our first Asian councilmember, Cyndi Nguyen on Saturday. I’ll talk about the council races and explain the post title in a bit. All good things come to those who wait or some such shit. Despite stealing Tom Wolfe’s book title, I have no plan to wear a white suit any time soon. It’s fall, y’all.

Cantrell is not well known outside Orleans Parish, so this oopsie was posted by the AP  after the race was called:

That is, of course, a picture of her vanquished foe, Desiree Charbonnet. Oopsie redux.

I got a few things right about the election. I predicted a Cantrell landslide, which hardly makes me the second coming of Karnak:

Did anyone know that Karnak was into Jeopardy? I wonder what the answer was and how he predicted my bloggerhood. We’ll never know. Inserted because I miss Johnny.

Back to shit I got right and wrong. I was wrong about Charbonnet not getting white conservative votes but right about how unimportant that would be. The Steve Scalise flyer hurt her in most of this deep blue city. Repeat after me: there are very few white conservative voters left in Orleans Parish. I was also right about the 2 council races on the ballot but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Other people have done some excellent analyses of the mayoral election so I don’t have to. I’d rather tell a few jokes:

Clancy DuBos on Da Winnas and Loozas.

Lamar White Jr. on the new paradigm in New Orleans politics.

Jeff Adelson on the Cantrell coalition and how it was built.

Back to me. Team Charbonnet ran a traditional top-down consultant driven campaign. They spent more money than Team Cantrell but not wisely: over $450K on consultants. Cantrell assembled the Obama coalition locally and ran a bottom-up campaign. In short, Cantrell out organized her well-heeled opponent. Perhaps the MSM will stop obsessing about fundraising in the future and take this song off their karaoke menus:

I was more engaged in the council races during the run-off. There was a major upset by the aforementioned Cyndi Nguyen in district E. The incumbent Jame Gray is, to be blunt, a crook. He was Dollar Bill Jefferson’s law partner back in the day and is one of the few Dollar Bill associates still active in politics.  Here’s why I call him a crook: Gray’s law license was suspended by the Louisiana Bar Association for misusing client funds and he’s currently under investigation for the same offense. That’s something the Saul Goodmans of the world do. I’m not shy about calling a shyster a shyster.

Nguyen is a community activist who ran a bottom-up campaign and defeated an African-American incumbent in a district that’s over 80% black. Gray didn’t deliver for the poorest district in the city and he’s out. It’s a Nguyen-Win situation, which is why she defeated her Pho with 59% of the vote. I promise to stop making puns on Vietnamese food but some Pho would be swell right now.  It’s a cold Monday in New Orleans, y’all. And, yes, I know it’s pronounced fuh. Just tryin’ to make trouble fuh ya after Cindi’s win. Somebody make me stop.

The race in which I was most engaged was district B where I live, natch. It was won by my candidate, Jay Banks, by a mere 133 votes. Banks will be the first Zulu King to serve on the council since the late Roy Glapion who was honored posthumously by the krewe. This is a Zulu heavy district y’all: our former councilman Jim Singleton was the Captain for many years. Enough Mardi Gras nostalgia.

I mentioned Jay Banks first so you wouldn’t think I was *just* opposed to his obnoxious opponent, Seth Bloom. I’ve written about Bloom here, there,and everywhere. Here’s how I described my run-in with Bloom on social media:

I had several run-ins with Bloom and his annoying supporters on twitter as well. It’s all over but the whining. Bloom has demanded a recount, which will take place tomorrow. It’s unlikely to succeed. A challenge against Kristin Palmer in district C went nowhere and she won by 22 fewer votes than Banks. I think those two should form the “landslide” caucus when they join the council.

I’m on the verge of letting the cat out of the bag and/or spilling the beans about the post title. Seth Bloom was the yard sign king in this election cycle. They were everywhere, especially the big ones with a vanity head shot of the candidate. My friend Ryne Hancock even asked Bloom to explain all the signs on abandoned buildings in Central City:

Central City is an overwhelmingly black neighborhood and Bloom was a terrible cross-over candidate. He got 9% of black votes whereas Jay Banks got 27% of white voters including this somewhat swarthy Greek-American.

It’s time for the big post title reveal:

FYI: Bonfires are a holiday tradition in the Gret Stet of Louisiana so all I was doing was urging the Bloomites  (Bloomers?) to get in the seasonal spirit.

I asked for help on the tweeter tube:

I got several submissions via direct message. The best one came from someone who wanted their name kept out of it:

I particularly like the eyebrows. I’m not sure if the submitter was the defacer but I sure hope so. The good news is that Seth Bloom will not be de face of my city council district.

A final campaign note. Last week’s malaka, Rob Maness aka Col. Mayonnaise, lost his legislative race. I was wrong about that one. It’s a pity. I thought it would be entertaining to have him throwing bombs in the lege. The guy who beat him is a bog standard conservative Republican so he’ll vote the Mayonnaise line but it won’t be half as fun.

The last word goes to Col. Mayonnaise. I wonder if he said it to his opponent?

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – EJECT! EJECT! EJECT! edition

I….just….can’t, people.

I….just….

 

I_cant_even_tumblr

I honestly tried. I cruised Freeperville to try to find something that wasn’t crowing-over-Al-Franken and had to shut it off after 3 minutes.

So instead, I penned this:

On Senator Al Franken and the accusations…

So-called conservatives are running around on social media hooting like howler monkeys. They’re not concerned with harassment issues, or they wouldn’t have condoned Donnie Darko’s “grab them by the pussy”.

It’s just locker room stuff, after all. Or tour-bus stuff.
Or something.

Leaving alone the FOX news connection and the interesting fact that her “bombshell” was spoken of by the Stone people before it was spoken of by her – that aside, the whole thing reeks of right-wing hypocrisy.

If Trump had been accused of this behaviour, it would have been dismissed as boyish hi-jinks. Hell, if Trump had even been over to the Middle East and Afghanistan a tour to raise troop morale (instead of dodging the draft so he could sit safely over here and enrich himself), they’d be calling him a selfless hero for even considering going.

Trump’s supporters aren’t really concerned about women being harassed because, after all, they all have it coming. They ALL have it coming.

Just ask them. Let’s start with Newt Gingrich and work our way down to Mark Foley.

(Or maybe start with David Vitter and work our way up to Ken Calvert)

All I’m really seeing now is a bunch of hooting and gibbering because they think they finally, at long last, got one on the scoreboard.

Thanks for listening. I’ll try it again next week.

Tagged ,

Bulbs

Kick and I read books about gardening. We lived in a condo the first three and a half years of her life, but we read books about planting seeds, about training vines to twist and grow upwards, about roots reaching deep for water and branches arching overhead. When we moved to a house last August, I ordered bulbs from a catalog.

Blue hyacinths, because my grandmother loved them. Purple tulips for my mother. Crocuses, so we would know when winter was over by their green shoots pushing upward. Kick and I talked about them over breakfast, how we’d pick the flowers and put them in vases all over the house so it would smell like springtime.

When the package came in the mail, I looked at the label and discovered that what was delivered wasn’t what I’d ordered.

No blue hyacinths. No purple tulips. No crocuses.

Instead I had been sent a box of red, white and blue flowers called a “patriotic garden.” All sales are final, said the customer service rep. It was only $12, and the nights were getting colder.

I could send them back, but then I might not have anything to put in the ground.

The brilliant Brit Bennett wrote this recently, about the world we live in now: 

Last November on election night, I boarded a cross-country plane from my hometown, Los Angeles, to Boston. Up in the air, I disappeared inside two novels on my iPad, happy to be free of all distractions. That is my favorite thing about air travel: For a few hours, at least, you can exist outside of time.

When I landed, I turned on my phone and discovered that while I was floating through the sky, the country had entered a new reality. I rode to my hotel, stepped into my room, and called my mother. It was late in Massachusetts, maybe one in the morning. I felt childish for making the call, as if my mother could fix anything. But I was lonely and distraught, and besides, hadn’t she lived through worse times than this new presidency could possibly bring?

“I thought it would be better for you,” she said softly. I felt foolish for having thought the same. The street outside was dark and quiet. I stared out the window, realizing I had no idea where I was.

The house we moved into in August was built in 1934, renovated extensively last year — a new second floor, a total gut job on the inside. In the front and back yards, the flower beds are filled with stones and chunks of brick, pockets of sand and blobs of discarded cement. The builders took out the fireplace and left large limestone slabs where I imagined tomato plants and herb plots. We moved in too late for a summer garden or an early harvest, so bulbs would have to do.

The spade clinked against the rocks as I dug.

The frost was thick that morning and it had dissolved into a miserable cold rain. It was my only free day for the next five weeks, with daylight precious, so now or never. When the rain abated for half an hour, I dashed outside.

I put my hands into the soil. I pushed the bulbs down.

I am not good at hope, nor built for optimism, and the last year has not helped. The last two, really; a minor downward spiral started in 2015 with a friend breakup that was entirely my fault and continued with the unavoidable separations from a job I once loved and an organization to which I’d devoted more than 15 years of my life. One person I loved was dying, and a hero was dead. By the time Trump’s election came around I was deeply numb.

People keep asking me about things for next year, or even the year after, and I could not think: How to look that far ahead, when every day things seem to be getting worse? What fresh hell, we joke, but every single one of us knows that each fresh hell is one of our lives. Health care, media, war, violence, and overlaying it all the sense that none of our problems are solvable anymore.

I roll my eyes at my own despair: I am going to be fine. I am white, a citizen, living in a city, with a job and a spouse and a healthy child. The roof over my head is brand new and in no danger of caving in, whatever may be buried in the ground beneath my feet.

Still, planting seems like a reckless act. Waving a flag to the world: Look at this hole in the ground, look who thinks we’ll all be here in April.

I covered the bulbs with the soil, with the brick, with the rocks and sand, and patted down the earth. Not hyacinths, but red and white and purple-blue tulips. That’s what the package promised, anyway. I once ordered some flowers for my mother for her birthday, or maybe it was Mother’s Day. Purple ranunculus, beautiful in the photograph, but when the flowers came up they were reedy, orange and red, not what she expected at all.

Who knows what will come up in the spring?

A.

Starbuck Speak

You listen: 

 “In this business as a woman I was trained to always keep my mouth shut. I was trained that a woman speaks up she’s a bitch and she’s difficult, if a guy does it he’s strong.”

Sackhoff shared her insider’s experience of having been told numerous times to never open her mouth or have an opinion. “I have fought back against it, but I’ve done it terrified,” she said bluntly, “I can’t tell you how many times I was told by my team, ‘Katee don’t be difficult.’ I think we have to face the reality of what the world and business we’re in looks like.”

 

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Land Of Confusion

From The Dictatorship Of Porfirio Diaz To The Revolution- The People In Arms by David Alfaro Siqueiros, 1957-1965.

It’s election day in New Orleans. We’re about to make history and elect our first woman mayor. I wish I were more excited about it but as I said Thursday, the campaign has been anything but elevating. I’m more engaged in my District City Council race, which pits Mr. Nice Guy (Jay Banks) against an entitled jerk. The race has gotten heated in the last week as the jerk (Seth Bloom, not Steve Martin) has gotten nervous that he’s going to lose. I sure hope he does. I’ve been feuding with him and his supporters online since they think it’s a good idea to fight with voters. Where they got that idea, I’ll never know. Schmucks.

In addition to being King Zulu 2016, another thing Jay Banks has going for him is the crucial child army endorsement:

Lagniappe, the Benevolent Dictator, the Gladowling.

With that much cuteness on his side how can he lose? They’re also his neighbors so Jay can harness the powers of the army of darkness at will. Btw, their mother nicknamed them that, not me. It fits: I’ve seen all of them in meltdown mode. If you live in District B, get out and vote for Jay Banks or they’re coming after you. It won’t be deadly, just loud and sticky.

A quick note on the featured image. It’s a section of a Siqueiros mural depicting the Mexican Revolution. In it, we see the dictator Porfirio Diaz who ruled the country for over 30 years. One of my guilty movie pleasures is the 1939 Warner Brothers “bio-pic” Juarez in which nice Jewish boys Paul Muni and John Garfield play Juarez and Diaz respectively. Oy, just oy. It’s a hoot but terrible history as you can see from the trailer:

This week’s theme song is a genuine rock classic. The video for Land Of Confusion is a mini-movie and one of the best of its kind. The use of the Spitting Image puppets is genius. The live version comes from a 2007 reunion tour which shows that Phil Collins has turned into his Spitting Image puppet.

Now that I’ve confused everyone, let’s jump to the break.

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We have no good way to talk about this and we never have

We have no good way to talk about this and we never have.

As a good friend and feminist scholar told me when the Weinstein scandal broke, “This isn’t about sex. It’s about power. That’s why we can’t talk about it.”

And yet it is the sex that draws the attention as we discuss the imbalance of power, so the two remain inextricably linked, creating problems as we continue to have these revelations of misconduct come to light.

The latest name added to the list of groping, rubbing, jerking, fondling, grabbing and forcing is Sen. Al Franken. Leeann Tweeden came forth on Thursday with allegations of Franken groping and sexually abusing her during a USO stint. Photographic evidence and Franken’s own apology clearly supported those charges of misconduct, leading to some of the most awkward public arguments on a subject like this since Todd Akin introduced us all to the concept of “legitimate rape.”

To clarify and codify the general issue, we should consider two questions and their unequivocal answers:

Were all of the victims of Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Donald Trump, Roy Moore, Louis C.K., Al Franken and others diminished and violated by people of power?

Yes.

Have we, as a society and in many cases individuals, for too long engaged in victim blaming and illegitimate parsing of disgusting behavior like this?

Yes.

Taking these two answers as clear and definitive, we now lock this discussion into an awkward position for people who will have to answer for these actions and the people who support them.

The questions will come in droves:

“Is what Moore or Franken did rape or sexual assault or sexual misconduct or what?”

“Does the “law and order” morality of Moore make it somehow worse than what Weinstein or Franken did because, hey, they’re liberal hedonists anyway?”

“Is it worse what Spacey did to young boys or what Moore did to young girls?”

“Should Franken be forced out for one incident while Moore’s accusers are multiplying like tribbles?”

What so many people are awkwardly groping for is some sort of “sex crime conversion chart” in which one boob-grab equals two ass-pats or one photo equals three teen accusers and one signed yearbook or something. We have finally started coming to the necessary conclusion that shitty behavior is shitty behavior, but people with myriad agendas want to create a hierarchy out of these behaviors, as if hierarchy itself weren’t the reason these messes exist in the first place.

It doesn’t work that way because it’s not about sex. It’s about power.

The only demarcation reasonable people could draw is the one between adults and children. There’s a reason you can peruse 10,000 nude photos of people age 18 and older without a legal problem, but your ass will be in the joint if you own one such image of someone under that age. Society and law have dictated a bright line for most conduct involving children and to cross that line is to engage in the unforgivable.

To that end, and only that end, could a few of these acts be viewed as somehow worse than some of the others. Regardless, each and every case involved a man with power over someone he perceived as lesser and he used that to his advantage to demean and diminish that person.

Why can’t we see this? For two simple reasons:

  1. We are seeing a wide swath of accusations that range from things that “everybody” could agree are horrible and evil to well… what? If the Al Franken “grope” photo is as bad as Roy Moore trying to bone the “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret” demographic, how many men might have to look really hard at themselves? That time they got handsy at the company party? That time they catcalled a co-worker? That time they tried to “impress” the intern? How much of that happened and how does it feel to be lumped in with the Roy Moores, Anthony Weiners, Louis C.K.s and Harvey Weinsteins? The “I would never do something that despicable” becomes, “Actually you already did.”
  2. To see it, we have to talk about it and we have no good way to talk about this and we never have.

NOLA Politics: I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You

The rascal in question is the New Orleans mayoral run-off election, which will be held this Saturday. It’s been a nasty, dispiriting race with both sides flinging shit like zoo chimps. Primary  frontrunner LaToya Cantrell has held and expanded her lead despite the city credit card misuse allegation that I went into in detail at the Bayou Brief.  The issue was subsequently diffused by the release of credit card records of other councilmembers showing that Cantrell’s use was on the high-end but not an outlier.

One reason for Cantrell’s expanding lead is the abysmal campaign run by her opponent, Desiree Charbonnet. Team Charbonnet has flooded the city with flop sweat this week. They keep throwing shit up against the wall and very little has stuck. They even falsely claimed that re-elected Councilmembers Jason Williams and Jared Brossett endorsed their effort. I know lying is in fashion but this was a clumsy and easily refutable lie.  It’s the internet age, y’all. These things spread faster than they did 20 years ago.

Another endorsement (real this time) reflects Chabonnet’s futile attempt to win over white conservative voters:

It’s a shitty picture but it makes the point. Here’s how I described Charbonnet’s honky quest in a Bayou Brief column that focuses on her political relationship with the white, conservative District Attorney Leon Canizarro aka Canny: 

Canny’s heavy-handed intervention has confirmed Cantrell supporters’ opinion that Charbonnet is a terrible person who is guilty, if of nothing else, of being a machine politician. I think that Charbonnet’s attempt to woo white conservative voters is doomed to fail. The Charbonnet brand means “corruption” to people in Lakeview and the Garden District. They didn’t support her in the primary and they’re unlikely to do so in the run-off.

And Steve Scalise represents suburban Metry and parts of the Northshore. His support means even less than Canny’s. Canny is at least a New Orleanian.

What Team Charbonnet refuses to understand is that there are fewer white conservative voters than before Katrina. It’s a top-heavy campaign as described by Deep Blog who blames the mess on one of Charbonnet’s campaign consultants:

It’s all on Bill Schultz. He always uses a cannon when the situation calls for a cap gun. Can’t help himself. And Bunny & Ike. Her campaign literally had more money than they knew how to spend intelligently. So they proceeded to spend it very unintelligently on consultants. All chiefs, yet no one really in charge.

They’ve been running a pre-Katrina campaign in a digital world. It’s one of the main reasons they’re about to lose. Bigly. I originally thought there would be a 10 point spread but it looks as if it will be Cantrell by 15 to 20 points. It’s the worst run New Orleans mayoral campaign since the one Dollar Bill Jefferson ran in 2002 for Richard Pennington. I go into more detail in another Bayou Brief column.

One thing that I hope will never change are the scurrilous flyers that are mailed out in the last two weeks of every citywide election campaign. This year PACs have done the candidates dirty work. For more details on that point and much more, check out this week’s Gambit cover story by Clancy DuBos.

I’d like to thank my friend Alex McKenzie for the flyer photos that follow. I may owe him some pho for the photos.

First off is a downright vicious anti-Charbonnet flyer. I didn’t get this one and I’m annoyed by the omission, y’all. It seems like bias against my racially mixed 13th Ward neighborhood or some such shit.

Team Charbonnet has its own PAC attack dogs. I got the next flyer. I guess they realized that I’m “just another white boy with the disco blues.” As far as I know, Fee Waybill isn’t on the ballot Saturday. End of Tubes references. Here’s an edited version of the anti-Cantrell flyer:

Straight Out Of Compton? There you have it, ladies and germs: supporters of an African-American candidate have sent out a blatantly racist attack flyer.

This flyer could only appeal to a racist white Trump voter whose family has been here for generations and hates all transplants. That’s a shrinking part of electorate. Trump only got 15% of the vote in Orleans Parish and those people all hate the Charbonnets. This was money wasted but at least I got a blog post out of it.

I remain a clothes pin Cantrell voter. I’m hoping she will modify her position on short term rentals but she’s likely to win big and feel she has a mandate. Humility has not been a strong suit of her candidacy.

I am thrilled the election will be over soon. We can all wash the mud off our clothes and celebrate Thanksgiving without any political ads polluting the air waves.

Let’s circle back to the post title. I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You aka You Rascal You was written by Sam Thread in 1929. It’s associated with the greatest person ever born in New Orleans: Louis Armstrong. I’ll give Satchmo the last word as we dance on the grave of the 2017 mayoral election:

Louie Gohmert’s Brain Scan

Reunion week continues at First Draft. Our old “friend” Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert Piles is spinning conspiracy theories this week. It doesn’t matter that the Uranium One mishigas has been debunked by Snopes and even by Fox Newser Shep Smith. Gohmert Piles and his ilk want a special prosecutor and they want one now. The president* is threatening to hold his breath until he turns blue.  It’s what wannabe dictators do.

Louie Gohmert Piles was so upset by the mockery he’s received outside the right-wing bubble that he went in for a brain scan. Here’s the feverish result:

That is, of course, not a brain scan; one must have a brain to be scanned, and Gohmert Piles has an empty space inside his head. Instead, it’s a flowchart he presented before the House Judiciary Committee. Your tax dollars at work.

Contemplating the stupidest member of Congress always gives me a stupid earworm of one of the stupidest rock songs of all-time. Here’s a quirky-n-off-kilter version from Cajun music titan, Michael Doucet of Beausoleil fame:

It’s lagniappe time. My nickname for the nasty dumbass Congressman is inspired by the lovable dumbass teevee character, Gomer Pyle who was the only Marine never deployed to Vietnam. Semper Fi, y’all.

Here’s Looking Down On You

Puck_cover2_600

If you’re going all out to create a New Gilded Age, why not recreate contemporary media and make a cover photo?

Anyway, that’s Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, his wife Cruella, and what looks like the hired help touching vulgar cash (poor people’s cash at that, i.e., singles) for what’s probably the first time in a VERY long while (Mrs. Mnuchin has thoughtfully insulated/protected herself with leather gloves).

It takes work to make Mitt Romney seem like a man of the people…

I dunno, maybe they’re displaying what we non-one percenters might receive from the proposed tax cut, assuming we’re not one of the lucky ones who’ll get to “put more skin in the game.” Gee, almost enough to fill the gas tank once or twice.

Or maybe profound tone-deafness is also a disease of affluence.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Smuggled Atom Bomb

Now that’s a hot babe on the cover. In fact, she’s a bombshell.

Malaka Of The Week: Rob Maness aka Col. Mayonnaise

It’s time to visit an old “friend” who I wrote about in 2014 and 2015. Rob Maness ran for the US Senate in both 2014 and 2016 as the wingnuttiest wingnut in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. He’s a retired military man with a punworthy name, so I dubbed him Col. Mayonnaise without anyone egging me on to do so. I hear that Mean Mr. Mustard was irked with me but I avoided any dire condiment consequences.

Maness did well in 2014: finishing a respectable third to Mary Landrieu and  Bill Cassidy. His candidacy laid an egg in 2016 and he’s now running as the Trumpiest Trumper who ever Trumped for a Louisiana State House seat in ruby-red St. Tammany Parish.

Col. Mayonnaise has a talk radio show and pitched a fit whilst on the air. And that is why Rob Maness is malaka of the week.

Here’s an account in the Advocate of  Col. Mayonnaise’s Trump-type toddler tantrum:

Maness had been jovial moments earlier as he and the caller discussed Roy Moore, who is running for an open U.S. Senate seat in Alabama. Maness had just finished criticizing Republican leaders for working against Moore, who has been accused of sexual misconduct with multiple teenagers in the late 1970s.

But his tone changed abruptly when the caller, who identified himself as “Flaming Liberal,” said that even Cruz had asked Moore to step down. “If you’re to the right of Ted Cruz, you’re an extremist,” he said.

“Whoa, you just called me an extremist, brother,” said Maness, a retired Air Force colonel who went on to outline his military background, including top-secret clearances.

“I’ve done everything this country has ever asked me to do. How dare you call me an extremist,” he said. “I’m the most investigated, stable man that the country could have ever given the keys to nuclear weapons to, so you can blow me! You can blow me and get out of here if you’re gonna talk like that and call me an extremist.”

The caller, David Bellinger, a former New Orleans resident who described himself as a frequent talk radio caller, returned fire, saying “Go screw your ma, a-hole,” several times before Maness asked his producer to cut the caller off.

They should have cut the host off as well. I think he needs more time at the firing range so he won’t lash out at callers or voters for that matter.

As far as I’m concerned, anyone who still supports Judge Pervert is by definition an extremist.  Like Mean Mr. Mustard, Roy Moore is a dirty old man. Col. Mayonnaise better watch out or he might get banned from a mall for having a potty mouth.

Unfortunately, in the Trump era saying “blow me” on the radio is neither disqualifying nor damaging. Col. Mayonnaise appeals to the angry white men out there. In fact, he’s one of them. But Colonels do not have the “keys to nuclear weapons” and Malaka Maness should know that. Another angry white man without maness has the keys, which is frightening enough. That’s why the Senate held hearings on that very issue yesterday. One result could be a Keep the Football Away From Trump bill. It’s time to intercept the Insult Comedian before he starts lobbing bombs at Little Rocket Man.

Col. Mayonnaise ran first in the primary and is favored to win the special election. Northshore voters seem to like their Cheetos dipped in mayonnaise. The malaka without maness may still blow it if the voters decide he’s soft on perverts. And that is why Rob Maness is malaka of the week.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Swing From Paris

I have a soft spot for both gypsy jazz and early album cover art. This 1953 LP scratches both itches as it were.

Note that the image on this video is a variation on the cover above:

The Myth of a Reckoning

I don’t think I find anything as exhausting as I find the constant expectation that Republican voters will realize who and what they are, who and what they vote for, and awake in horror from what is presumed to be a fever-fog to come back to reality.

Trump’s election was gonna do it, hold a mirror up to these decaying segregationists and show them what they are now. They’d recoil, and correct, and behave themselves forthwith, swinging back to the center like the grown-ups we know they secretly are.

Yeah.

That’s happened.

And now Roy Moore is going to be the thing that does it.

If they elect a pedophile, and they seat a pedophile, then oh then we’ll be able to show the world what they’re really like. Never mind that nominating a pedophile should have been the last straw. Never mind that nominating and then electing and then seating an accused rapist as president should have been enough. Roy Moore is gonna be the final nail in the GOP coffin!

Tell it to the zombies smashing coffee makers on YouTube because Sean Hannity told them to. Tell it to the zombies booing football teams they’ve loved since childhood because Pence flounced out of a stadium. Tell it to the zombies gleefully chittering lies all day about Malia Obama being questioned by the FBI.

We all thought BUSH was so bad the GOP couldn’t nominate someone lower and then Sarah Palin came strutting across the stage.

What if the reckoning doesn’t come? What if there is no tipping point? What if they elect Roy Moore and seat Roy Moore and he votes for tax cuts and confirms Trump’s judiciary picks like all the other unsuitable motherfuckers currently fucking mothers up and down the aisles of the U.S. Senate every single day? What then? What’s the next thing that’ll cause this great imaginary self-reflection? What’s the next rung down on this bottomless ladder?

Don’t say they can’t get worse than this. Don’t cheer each act of destruction as getting us closer to some kind of apotheosis. You have no idea how far down this goes.

A.

Art Isn’t Worth It

This drives me into the same kind of rage I feel when people talk about how writers write because they’re depressed, because dark and twisty equals talented, because misery is so so so productive. Maybe YOURS is. My mental illness generally takes the form of either lying in bed catatonic or hyperventilating in my car on the way to wherever I need to be while my brain screams that I am worthless and no one will miss me if I just go away. Not the best environment for creative work.

It gives me the same tweak as did the “but we’ll get some really bitchin’ music out of this” sentiment after Trump’s election, as if the lives of mostly poor people of color are acceptable sacrifices for already wealthy musicians to write a banger protest song or a powerful poem. Is it … like … not possible to put your shoulder into your work without people dying as material?

Is it remotely within the realm of possibility that people create in the darkness not because the darkness is so awesome but because they’re creators and they work no matter their conditions and we don’t KNOW what they would have created in the light?

Stop romanticizing untreated mental illness. Stop rationalizing shitty behavior. Stop justifying terribleness by pointing to the very meagre coping mechanisms people have developed as some kind of … just fucking stop it. No song is worth this. No book is worth this. No poem is worth this. No art is worth perpetuating misery you can stop.

A.