They’re The Economy, Stupid

It’s fashionable to describe public universities as money-sucks that educate the elite and prop up liberalism, but they also, you know, CREATE JOBS: 

Trump’s cuts would affect all research universities, but not equally. The problem is more pronounced at public universities than private ones, and especially at public institutions in the Midwest, which have historically conducted some of the nation’s most important research. These schools are desperately needed to diversify economies that rely disproportionately on manufacturing and agriculture and lack the wealthy private institutions that fuel the knowledge industries found in Silicon Valley or along Boston’s 128/I-95 corridor. Yet many flagship Midwestern research universities are being weakened by deep state budget cuts. Threats to pensions (in Illinois) and tenure (in Wisconsin) portend an exodus of faculty and their all-important research funding, and have already resulted in a frenzy of poaching by better-funded and higher-paying private institutions, industry, and international competitors.

This story focuses on the economic benefits of research at public universities, but I’d like us to think about the custodians at Your State U. The receptionists. The food service workers. The hundreds of thousands of people who have to work in order for hundreds of thousands to learn. Those are JOBS. Steady jobs, in some cases even still union jobs, that pay if not well then at least consistently, and let people earn money to spend in grocery stores and gas stations and bars.

You can’t tell me they’re not important to the life of a place. All we focus on anymore is the cost of public things, and we never talk about the benefits. Oooh, that pension is expensive! Yes, but it’s keeping a person in his home so he can take care of that home and mow the lawn and buy soap and cereal and go to church and subscribe to the local paper and do all the stuff we say we want people to do, that people did back in the Good Old Days When America Was Great.

So maybe some of the cities currently competing to suck Jeff Bezos off could consider putting those billions into public education. Maybe instead of building a stadium for a billionaire or throwing money at a big-box retail store that doesn’t need it, these communities could show a little financial appreciation for the places that actually do give back to someone other than the Walton family. After all, these places create jobs, no? And isn’t that what we’re all about at the moment?

A.

Sunday Morning Video: VH1 Does Tom Petty

I’m still mildly obsessed with Tom Petty. Here are two VH1 programs featuring TP.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Lover Of The Bayou

Photograph by CC Lockwood.

Fall has fallen. We finally had a week of temptingly temperate temperatures. Unfortunately, it’s oak pollen season, which means I’ve been wheezier than Weezer or Isabel Sanford who played Louise (Weezy) Jefferson on the electronic teevee machine back in the day. Where have you gone George Jefferson? Achoo.

It’s the week after the primary election and the Mayoral  run-off campaign is mostly bubbling under the surface. There was some horrible news involving third-place finisher Michael Bagneris. His daughter, Mia, was hit by a drunk driver while exiting her car after attending her father’s election eve soiree. Since New Orleans is the world’s largest small town, we have several friends in common. Her injuries were severe but it appears that she’ll make it. It’s going to be a long recovery. Best wishes to the Bagneris family. Drunk drivers are the worst.

This week’s theme song was written by Roger McGuinn and Jacques Levy. It has an interesting history. I’ll let the Wikpedia entry for the Byrds album (Untitled) fill you in:

For most of 1969, The Byrds’ leader and guitarist, Roger McGuinn, had been developing a country rock stage production of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt with former psychologist and Broadway impresario Jacques Levy.[16] The musical was to be titled Gene Tryp, an anagram of the title of Ibsen’s play, and would loosely follow the storyline of Peer Gynt with some modifications to transpose the action from Norway to south-west America during the mid-19th century.[5] The musical was intended as a prelude to even loftier plans of McGuinn’s to produce a science-fiction film, tentatively titled Ecology 70 and starring former Byrd Gram Parsons (no relation to Gene) and ex-member of The Mamas & the PapasMichelle Phillips, as a pair of intergalactic flower children.[12] Ultimately, Gene Tryp was abandoned and a handful of the songs that McGuinn and Levy had written for the project would instead see release on (Untitled) and its follow-up, Byrdmaniax.[4]

I told you it was a long story. We have two versions for your enjoyment, the original live Byrds version and a cover by Mudcrutch, which was Tom Petty’s original band brought back to life in 2008. Holy reanimation, Batman.

That concludes our trip to the bayou or does it? You’ll find out after we jump to the break.

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A Slice of Time

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It was a fortuitous tweak of timing that landed us at Francisco’s restaurant Saturday night: A baseball card show that had me in Milwaukee. A phone call my mom got from an old friend. Another restaurant with a wait time that we all knew my father wouldn’t tolerate.

The place had changed names over the years, but for us it would always be Francisco’s.

And this might have been the last night we ever got to see it.

Mom and Dad used to go there when they were first dating in the 1960s. It was about the width of a hospital hallway in those days. Booths lined one wall and tables seemed to randomly spring up wherever space would allow. The kitchen in the back could be seen from the street, with swinging old-west barroom doors separating the patrons from the prep staff.

As we pulled up last week, Dad pointed to a spot on the corner of Oklahoma and KK, noting, “When your mother and I would come here way back, this was always our parking spot.”

We pulled around the corner this time and parked a bit down the street. The dull awning and spackled-over brick just a few yards from where the car came to rest.

The large wooden door led into a vestibule I’d entered hundreds of times before: A group photo of some long-gone collection of black and white figures at some event I never knew, a few fliers for events or services, a small note tacked here or there. Random elements I took more seriously this time.

The second door led to the main room. To the left was the “original” part of the restaurant while the right contained a larger bar and seating area. Somewhere during my lifetime, they bought out whatever business was on the corner and opened up this newer, bigger part of the restaurant. A neon sign proclaiming pizza, pasta and drinks faced outward from the picture window onto the street where people waited for the 51 and 15 buses.

I’d been coming here since before I could remember. Friday nights were the day my folks decided they deserved a break, so they would eat out. Francisco’s and its pizza was a staple of our restaurant rotation. It was a dimly lit restaurant that had the charm of a single waitress who knew your name and jukebox that always seemed to call to me but was never played. It was the first time I’d ever heard of  “Pink Floyd” because the label on the box told me they had a song called “Run Like Hell.” At age 6, hell was pretty serious stuff.

Today, that whole side of the restaurant was dark. No one would be serving food there. The sign that usually told people to wait for the hostess to seat them noted simply: “Limited menu. Pizza, Italian Sausage Sandwiches.”

The bar was where the “action” was, to use the term loosely. About six people were in there and we knew four of them. I was the youngest person in there by at least 15 years.

We weren’t there so much for the food or the company as we were to remember something special.

Francisco’s had closed in February when the owner, Franny, had a massive stroke. Nobody knew if he was going to make it or what would happen to the restaurant. His wife and longtime waitress, Kathy, stayed by his side and kept him going through it all. He recovered well enough to use a wheel chair and maybe be around some friends, so tonight she opened up the restaurant for a “look-see” at what was possible.

“She always loved you to death,” Dad always told me. “Even when you made a mess with all your crackers and you were loud, she loved you.”

I remembered her as being somewhat of a mother figure and somewhat of “Flo” from the old TV show “Alice.” In my mind, she was always about 35, dressed comfortably and doting on us, me in particular.

Tonight, she was noticeably older to me. Haggard. Rushed. Distracted. It took her three trips around the bar to get us a drink order, even as the only other people in the place had been well served and two guys at the end were watching “Jeopardy!” on an old tube TV.

I leaned on the old brass bar rail, which had been unpolished for quite some time. A slight scent of must and stale air lingered, reminding me the place had been closed for more than half a year.

Finally, she came back for a food order. Dad took charge:

“Large pizza. Cheese, Sausage, Mushrooms, Onions.”

For as long as I could remember, that was our pizza order.

Cheese, Sausage, Mushrooms, Onions.

On an extremely rare occasion, we deviated from that. Once in Mexico we had pizza with pineapple before that really became a thing. When I was old enough to get a vote on food, I occasionally bargained to get black olives tossed into the mix.

Aside from that, it was always Cheese, Sausage, Mushrooms, Onions.

Kathy wrote it down and strode slowly toward the kitchen as she sidestepped something we couldn’t make out in the left corner of the bar.

It was Franny, sitting quietly in his wheelchair, watching “Jeopardy!” with the two guys we didn’t know.

Eventually, he rolled toward us, using a single foot to power his glide in our direction. He didn’t seem to recognize us, even though my father would make regular walks from our house to his bar for a beer on a weeknight when they were often the only two guys in the whole place. He mumbled politely to people who were praising him for how good he looked and expressing thanks that the place had opened on this one day. Nobody was sure if this was the start of something more regular or a last hurrah for the place. Even with no real parking to speak of, the building was at a prime location. It would likely draw interested suitors if they couldn’t keep it going. Still, the restaurant had been life: He owned and operated it, Kathy waitressed for it.

What else was there?

A few people wandered in and out. One was a representative of the arch bishop, who had been invited via the same basic phone call my mother got: Franny is opening up on Saturday. You should come down. The source of the call was Kathy’s brother, Bob, who had become close friends with my mom through her work at church.

A few mixed drinks dotted the bar as the smell of food began to fill the room. “Jeopardy!” had given way to “Wheel of Fortune” as we chatted with some folks, occasionally glancing at the TV to see if we could solve the puzzle. Franny had wheeled away and disappeared once again.

Kathy arrived with the pizza and placed it in front of us at the bar.

Cheese, Sausage, Mushrooms, Onions.

A fresh beer for dad. A Diet Coke refill for me.

The steaming thin-crust delicacy disappeared one square at a time. The outer edges were cracker-like in their wonderful crunch, the inner pieces were softer and contained heavier toppings.

Usually when we got one of these, we had about three or four pieces left. Today, even though we were really full, we kept eating. Maybe we wouldn’t get this again and besides, it never tasted quite this good.

Kathy swung by, handing out pizzas to the two people at the bar who had been waiting. One of them disappeared with the bagged pie while the other decided, after some deliberation, to order another drink and eat it there. We chatted with this lady, a local lawyer who helped my dad settle my grandmother’s estate, about various things she was doing now in retirement. Poetry, some work, being a Grammy (not a grandma, mind you. She told us she’s not old enough to be a grandmother. My mother, a “nana” by her own choosing of nomenclature, nodded in agreement.).

The woman also reminded me I was the person who told her Trump would never win.

I grimaced and turned back to my last two bites.

Kathy came by to pick up the battered metal pizza tray.

“This was delicious,” I told her. “Thank you so much for this.”

She looked at me and said without a smile, “Some things in life don’t change.”

Friday Catblogging: Solo Artist

People continue to ask how Della Street is doing since her beloved big brother died. She remains confused but she’s decided sitting in my lap is not a bad thing to do. It took ten years but better late than never. Besides, Oscar was usually on my lap so she started sitting on Dr. A about a year ago.  .

Della is not sure she likes being a solo artist after ten years in Oscar’s band, but we need to give it a bit more time before we get another cat. People keep trying to give us kittens but we’re resolute. For now.

Here’s an old photo of Della in a basket:

Quote Of The Day: Movie Monsters Edition

I’m not talking about scary clowns, vampires, or reanimated monsters, I’m talking about monsters who make the movies.  One of the best things I’ve read about the Harvey Weinstein scandal, or as I call it Shitstorm Harvey, was written by Lindy West for the failing NYT:

It is unclear what possessed Woody Allen, of all people, to comment on the accusations of sexual predation against Harvey Weinstein, when he could have just not said anything, not expressed sympathy for an alleged serial rapist, not accused long-silenced women who said they were sexually assaulted of contributing to “a witch hunt atmosphere” and not felt compelled to issue a pouty follow-up statement in which he didn’t apologize but, in fact, reiterated how “sad” he feels for Weinstein because Weinstein is “sick.”

I’m kidding! It’s totally clear why Allen would issue such a statement — why he wouldn’t hesitate to include the astonishing confession that “no one ever came to me or told me horror stories with any real seriousness,” implying that people did tell him about Weinstein but he, with that odd omniscience native to the very rich, deemed them insufficiently serious. It’s also totally clear why Allen felt untouchable enough to add that even if he had believed the “horror stories,” he wouldn’t have been interested, let alone concerned, because he is a serious man busy making serious man-art. He said people wouldn’t bother coming to him anyway, because, as he described it: “You’re not interested in it. You are interested in making your movie.” (That last bit is fair, actually. If I’d been sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein, literally my last instinct would be to go to Woody Allen for help.)

It’s clear because the cultural malfunction that allows Allen to feel comfortable issuing that statement is the same malfunction that gave us Allen and Weinstein in the first place: the smothering, delusional, galactic entitlement of powerful men.

We already knew that monsters can make great films. Roman Polanski has. Woody Allen has. Harvey Weinstein has. I can still watch Woody Allen’s old movies with *some* enjoyment but I’ll never like them quite as much as I once did. For 25 years, Allen was my favorite film director even though hints of his perviness showed up in movies such as Manhattan. I think he’s made one good film in the 21st Century. At this point it doesn’t matter, his name has quite deservedly been dragged through the mud and I’m inclined to think that a guilty conscience has something to do with his artistic decline. I would hope that a man with his talent would have a conscience but it’s hard to tell as he natters on about witch hunts. STFU, Woody.

As to Harvey Weinstein, he’s a disgusting pig who was widely known as an asshole’s asshole before the shit hit the fan. It’s quite fitting that Ronan Farrow wrote one of the Shitstorm Harvey  exposes. He’s allegedly Woody Allen’s bio-son but, damn, he looks like Mia Farrow’s ex-husband Frank Sinatra. I’d rather have Frank in my gene pool than Woody any day.

The #metoo discussion that has popped up online in the wake of  Shitstorm Harvey has been moving and seems to be leading to a more open discussion of sexual harassment and assault. It seems that most women of my acquaintance have, at the very least, been subjected to unwanted groping.  It’s a sad commentary on the world and it’s been going on long before any of us were around. I hope that the open dialogue sparked by this will lead to improved behavior on the part of many men. I have no illusions that all men will pay attention but if there are fewer Woodys and Harveys out there, the world will be a better place.

My parents were conservative in many ways but my brilliant and accomplished mother was an instinctive feminist.  As a successful professional woman, she taught me by example that women could do anything and should be treated with respect. My father was sexist in some ways BUT he taught me to keep my hands to myself and treat women with respect and old-fashioned courtesy or as he liked to say, “be a gentleman, not a bum.” Bums groped, gentlemen did not.

The Jayhawks get the last word with a song that bids adieu to monsters of all types:

Rare Good News

It’s been a helluva week with a fresh outrage from the Insult Comedian each and every day. I think the dumb bastard confuses outrage with vitamins. I don’t usually take the news personally but I’m feeling as bruised as a peach that fell off the back of the truck and landed on the highway with a splat. That’s right, a splat.

One antidote to the  daily crazy is good news. It comes from Jackson, Mississippi of all places:

A predominately black public school in Mississippi named after Confederate President Jefferson Davis will be stripped of that moniker next year and replaced with that of another president whose character students, parents and teachers have said is more fitting — Barack Obama.

Davis Magnet IB PTA President Janelle Jefferson announced at the Jackson School Board meeting Tuesday evening that school stakeholders voted on Oct. 5 to rename the school Barack Obama Magnet IB.

“Jefferson Davis, although infamous in his own right, would probably not be too happy about a diverse school promoting the education of the very individuals he fought to keep enslaved being named after him,” she told the board.

Womp, womp. I know a burn when I see one and that was a good one. I guess One isn’t the loneliest number, after all.

Despite the school’s demographics, I’m sure the Lost Causers will be screaming bloody murder over a school being renamed for the uppitiest black dude of all but tough shit. Whining and complaining is what they do best. Fuck them sideways.

And yes this story has given me the obvious earworm. Hey, Johnny and June were liberals and the latter was an unbruised peach. Unsplat.

And yeah, I know, the song may have been about Jackson, Tennessee but don’t harsh my good news buzz, man.

That it all.

American Gothic Toxic

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Somewhere a basket is shy at least two deplorables.

Turns out Trump is … pretty much exactly what we thought he’d be: pathological, narcissistic, toxic … poison

Every morning’s check of headlines brings another another punch to the gut. Yes, that is what his base wanted — for him do to their ideological opponents what they cannot. And to restore what they consider the natural order: them at the top of the social pecking order. Vicariously, if not in any real sense…

Your daily dose of outrage has been the business model of conservative talk radio for decades. Now it is the governing style of the Executive Branch.

Except what the sitting president’s base feeds on is toxic. Something the saner among us eschew for our own mental health. Now, short of going off the grid or retreating to monasteries, it is there every day.

It’s hardly out of character for President Trump. He thanks people for great turnouts at refugee relief centers. He asks people who’ve lost everything whether they’re having a good time.

President Trump is poison. Everything around him gets damaged and degraded. It’s not any one thing. It’s everything. It’s hard to evaluate the dynamics of this call out of the context of waiting ten days, lying about his predecessors, creating this hideous spectacle with John Kelly’s son. Was the family prepped for something off because of the preceding three days? Probably. Was Trump angry about all the criticism? Probably so. It’s a perfect storm. And it all builds out of one man, Donald Trump.

Forget about all the “limited, local” “faster, better, cheaper,” “efficiency of the free market” nonsense. Movement conservatism is, at its root, a lot like Trump himself…petty, vicious, poisonous, toxic, and more than just a little racist. The distilled essence.

And we’re not even one year in…damn.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Dunwich Horror

All Hallows Eve approaches, which means it’s time for an H.P. Lovecraft cover:

Your President* Speaks: The Boy Still Ain’t Right

Donald Trump’s big mouth and tiny tweeting thumbs have had a busy week.  He revisited one of his golden oldies yesterday: saying horrible things to a gold star family. It evokes memories of  his attacks on the Khan family last year. That should have disqualified him in the minds of the voters but it did not.

The president’s* latest monstrous comments come on the heels of his “Obama didn’t call” lie and attempt to drag General Kelly into the shitstorm, not in role as Chief of Staff but as a gold star father. As I said at the top of the post, it’s been a busy week. You’ve all heard about the latest atrocity but it bears repeating:

President Donald Trump, who unleashed controversy this week when he said that his predecessors, including President Obama, did not personally call families of fallen soldiers, a statement refuted by Obama officials, called Johnson’s pregnant widow Tuesday afternoon. His call, at 4:45 p.m., came just before Johnson’s body arrived at MIA.

Trump told his widow, who was in a car heading to the airport with her family and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens, that “he knew what he signed up for … but when it happens it hurts anyway,” according to Wilson, who heard the call on speakerphone in the car.

In a word: monstrous. It’s another self-inflicted wound from a man with no empathy. He *could* have  admitted that the “he knew what he signed up for” bit was callous and that he wished he’d used more sensitive language.  This president* is incapable of admitting error so here’s what the First Asshole tweeted this morning:

The Insult Comedian’s claim of proof proves only one thing: the story is true and he’s trying to lie his way out of a tight spot. He’s done this before on a wide array of clusterfucks, shitstorms, gaffes, controversies, whatever you choose to call them. It’s what happens when you bring his WWE/New York tabloid style to the national stage. Shut your big bazoo, you stupid motherfucker.

The good news is that his tactic of using the NFL protests controversy as a diversion has become less effective over time. I think Dave Zirin nailed it this morning:

Anyone with a lick of sense has known for quite some time that Donald Trump is the worst person ever to live in the White House. He’s also the most self-destructive, arrogant, and stupid person ever elected Oval One. He makes Gamaliel look like a genius and Andrews Jackson and Johnson look like nice guys. Trump is so arrogant that he thinks the first rule of holes (when you’re in one, stop digging) does not apply to him. He’s wrong. You cannot be the “patriot in chief” while simultaneously hurting gold star families. It’s monstrous.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Electric Music for the Mind and Body

I wrote about Country Joe McDonald last Saturday so it’s only right to discuss his band’s 1967 album, Electric Music for the Mind and Body. The band’s name combined McDonald’s nickname with that of Barry (The Fish) Melton: Country Joe and the Fish. I did not know until researching this LP that co-leader Barry Melton has been a public defender in Mendocino County in California for many years. I guess he can usually tell when something’s fishy.

Here’s the hippie dippy front cover, which designed by Jules Halfant. Groovy. man.

Here’s the back cover.

The whole damn LP is available on YouTube. It’s pretty darn good, especially Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine, which was a track that got lots of FM airplay.

 

An Apology for the Truth

Fucking fuck Politico and their fucking bullshit priorities: 

Obama aides lash out after Trump claims past presidents didn’t call fallen soldiers’ families

Sure. Obama aides are “lashing out.” That’s what’s notable here. Their “strong response.” An expletive, even! Not what Trump said, which for the record was this:

“So the traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls,” Trump alleged. “A lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it.”

But it’s Obama’s aides, who no doubt had to watch or listen or assist while he made those calls on the phone and in person, whose words come up for auditing.

Say what you like about Obama — I have no doubt drone-bombed Pakistani schoolchildren would say many things — but he cared about American lives and believed in adhering to the rules of civilized society. Perhaps to a fault.

With Trump, yet again we see journalism unable to handle a sociopath being a sociopath when he does it behind a nice white mask in a nice blue suit. The president said it, behind the presidential seal, so how can he be a monster? How can the words be what the words were, a self-aggrandizing and cruel attempt to run down the man in office before him, regardless of the cost to others. No, better to make this about what Obama’s aides said in response, lest the actual breathtakingly awful facts intrude.

Schmucks.

A.

I Swear to God We Need You Here

Okay, I’m done with it, Internet.

I’m done yelling at people for promoting their books or celebrating their anniversaries while the world burns.

I’m done telling people to speak up against the regime, against supremacy, against powerlessness, and then shitting on how they do it.

I’m done auditing the marches and critiquing the protests and I’m done judging us for taking a break.

I am done. There is a pool of water in my basement and Kick’s on a sleep strike and writer’s block, turns out, is just what happens when you look at your deadlines and your calendar and cannot FATHOM why you said yes so much. The entire world is on fucking fire and I can’t get angry at how you’re surviving anymore. I don’t have the energy.

Should we all be wearing suits and ties to the marches instead of pussy hats? Should we go to a different protest every night or all make one big protest or are protests over or I don’t give a fuck anymore. Should you post “me too” to identify sexual harassment or assault, or refuse to post “me too” because nobody deserves your story? I turned off Twitter on Friday because it seemed like something I could do and I’m not sorry. You shouldn’t be sorry, either, if you stuck around. Is there a right way to do this? I don’t care anymore. I only care that you are doing this.

None of us, none of us who are in this fight, should be sorry for how we’re fighting. 

It’s redundant, anyway, to be constantly proclaiming this or that action is insufficient. All actions are insufficient. HAVE YOU SEEN THIS SHIT TODAY? (You don’t even have to know what shit I’m referring to; it’s a day ending in Y so there is some truly outrageous bullshit going down for somebody.) Nothing any of us can do is enough, nor will it ever be enough.

I heard all this bellyaching and bitching in Wisconsin after Act 10, that the protests backfired, that truckers should have gone on strike, that a recall was a bad idea, that fighting for public unions was dumb, that people should have done this that or the other thing and all any of that Wednesday Morning Campaign Managing did was piss off people who put their goddamn bodies on the line. We can argue strategy just like we do after every single loss but can we please stop the carping and the throwing ourselves on the ground all THIS IS BETTER THAN A PROTEST? There’s never gonna be a perfect way to do this.

I went out Saturday night in the torrential rain to listen to music in a tiny dark bar with about 50 other people, every last one yelling along with the last line of this song:

Most of the time I am just breathless with admiration at anyone who can be that alive, right now especially.

You should dance if that’s how you fight back. You should sing if that’s how you fight back. You should march if that’s how you fight back. You should write if that’s how you fight back. You should get up every day and go to work and try to be a decent human being if that’s how you fight back, and you should be angry and joyous and celebratory and mournful. You should check out occasionally. You should never check out. You should feel yourself a part of the life in this godforsaken place whether you’re shouting from the rooftops or whispering in the dark. You should sing to your gods with whatever voice you have. You should use your silences to speak. You should never be silent.

The only thing that’s enough is if everybody is enough. I’m done being angry with people for being alive in this, however they have to be alive. Know that nothing is wasted. Know you’re enough.

A.

Quick & Dirty Thoughts About The NOLA Primary Election

It was an eventful weekend at Adrastos World HQ. The LSU Tigers came back from a 20-0 deficit to the Other Tigers of Auburn to win 27-23.  Auburn has still not won at Tiger Stadium in the 21st Century. The Saints won a wild and wacky home game against the Detroit Lions. It resembled a rugby match at times but a win is a win is win.

The most important event, of course, was the New Orleans primary election. For the majority of you who don’t live in New Orleans and need some context, here’s a link to my page at the Bayou Brief. I need to pitch something there soon but the Oscar crisis and its aftermath left me lower energy than Jeb Bush. Believe me.

The headline is that two African-American women will be competing in the run-off and one of them will become the first woman mayor in the city’s history. LaToya Cantrell and Desiree Charbonnet combined for 69% of the vote. It was expected to be a close three-way struggle but Cantrell led by 9%; the other major candidate Michael Bagneris (also African-American) won among white voters but finished out of the money with 18%. Bags pandered to wealthy local Lost Causers by criticizing the removal process, calling for a referendum on future controversies, then declining to say how he would vote. Oy just oy. To be fair, none of the candidates wanted to go there but he gave the worst answer by far.

A quick note about also-ran and recent malaka of the week, Frank Scurlock.  My friend and Bayou Brief publisher Lamar White Jr. crunched the numbers and informed us that Scurlock spent more per vote than any candidate in Gret Stet history, $926 per vote. He received 385 votes. He said he’d stimulate the economy and he kept that promise.

The run-off campaign should be more interesting than the primary. The two contenders are fairly close on the issues but have contrasting styles and backgrounds. The front-runner, Councilmember LaToya Cantrell, is a transplant who made her bones as a post-Katrina/Federal Flood activist. She’s a little rough around the edges but in a good way: it makes her interesting and somewhat unpredictable. She has a bit of a potty mouth, which is something we at First Draft fucking like. And she’s been known to call a motherfucker a motherfucker. There are many of those in local politics. Fuck, yeah.

As to Desiree Charbonnet, it’s become a truism to say that she’s the establishment candidate. As you know, I hate to echo the Conventional Wisdom, but in this case the truism is true.  She raised the most money and gained the most endorsements, which is a two-edged sword. On the sharp side, she has the support of Congressman Cedric Richmond; on the dull side, District Attorney Leon Cannizzarro who is unpopular in many circles because of his office’s habit of coercing witnesses to testify. Canny has the demeanor of an irritable undertaker so seeing him next to the chipper candidate on election eve was most amusing. Smile, Canny, smile.

Back to  Charbonnet. She’s a polished speaker and the camera loves her. Those should be advantages but her poorly run campaign hasn’t taken advantage of her talent. They’ve given her dubious advice about how to deal with criticism as I pointed out in a post called The Empty Podium Ad. I’ve had a series of run-ins with her supporters online. They seem to regard her as the Creole messiah or some such shit. That’s another contrast with her opponent: Charbonnet comes from an old Creole family who have been in New Orleans forever. One of her cousins implied on election eve that differences between locals and transplants that would be a theme of her run-off effort. Of course, she has so many relatives that this guy may not be in the loop. In any event, it’s a rotten idea.

LaToya Cantrell ran first for several reasons: an Obama-style GOTV effort, and negative ads run by Charbonnet’s detractors. It’s unclear how resonant those attacks will be in the run-off but Cantrell benefited from them and the back-and-forth between Charbonnet and third place finisher Michael Bagneris. Charbonnet may have made it difficult for Bags to endorse her because of the nature of her attacks on him, especially comments in the final televised debate implying that he cheated on his wife: “he has a lovely wife who has stood by him.” I know how to read between the lines, y’all.

The open question is who, if anyone, incumbent Mayor Mitch Landrieu will endorse. Despite taking a well-deserved beating over drainage issues, his approval rating remains in the mid to high 50’s. He’s neither politically nor personally close to either candidate so he might be wise to stay out of the fray. I asked around yesterday and the consensus is that the Mayor is unlikely to endorse soon. I think his best course is to praise both candidates, the history they’re about to make, and stay out. Mitch can read the election results and they favor Cantrell. They’ve had a prickly and contentious relationship but she’s the front-runner until proven otherwise.

I didn’t support any of the leading candidates in the primary. I leaned towards Cantrell but have reservations about her position on short-term rentals. I also had a friend and krewe mate, Ed Bruski, who ran as an outsider candidate so I was one of 450 people who voted to give New Orleans a Bruski. In the run-off, the choice is clear. Cantrell is my council member  and she has been responsive to her constituents, which means she’ll listen to the voters. As to Charbonnet, she’s the latest in a long line of machine politicians to run as a reformer or, as she is fond of saying, an innovator. I don’t have a problem with machine politicians but I prefer they be honest about it. My rule of thumb in Louisiana politics is that when someone calls themselves a reformer, check your wallet. C Ray Nagin ran as a reformer, after all.

It looks as if  my post title is a misnomer. It was dirty but not quick. Hell, it could have been longer but I decided to skip the Councilmanic races. That would have been far too manic. I guess that means I should give the Bangles the last word:

 

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – “Playing the Trump Tard” edition

Lordy, lordy, lordy –  will The Darnold EVER quit providing me with material?

Making fun of the right-wing nutjobs who populate Free Republic has always been easy, but these days, the limbo bar of stupidity has gotten about an inch off the ground. Also, they’re starting to run out of “conservatives” to throw under the bus.

Example?

Limbaugh: Trump’s comments on NFL ‘starting to make me nervous’
The Hill ^ | October 11, 2017

Posted on 10/12/2017, 4:36:29 AM by SMGFan

Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh on Wednesday voiced concerns about President Trump’s comments on NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, saying Trump should not have the power to dictate who can kneel during the anthem.

“There’s a part of this story that’s starting to make me nervous, and it’s this: I am very uncomfortable with the president of the United States being able to dictate the behavior and power of anybody. That’s not where this should be coming from,” Limbaugh said on his show. Limbaugh said he believed Trump’s motives were “pure,” but he argued that the president’s actions were unhelpful in the broader debate on players kneeling.

“Trump is continually tweeting — I know what he’s doing, and I understand why he’s doing it, and his motives are pure; don’t misunderstand. But I don’t think that it is useful or helpful for any employee anywhere to be forced to do something because the government says they must,” he continued.

“We don’t want the president being able to demand anybody that he’s unhappy with behave in a way he requires,” Limbaugh added.

1 posted on 10/12/2017, 4:36:29 AM by SMGFan
And Freeperati limbo – how LOW can you GO?
To: SMGFan

 

Ah so Rush is bothered by talking. Interesting turn of events.

2 posted on 10/12/2017, 4:41:56 AM by mad_as_he$$(Not my circus. Not my monkeys.)

Love your sig line.
To: SMGFan

 

stfu Rush, you are past your sell by date

21 posted on 10/12/2017, 5:25:27 AM by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)

Ah – I remember when using the word “damn” on FR would get you banned without warning, with the statement “that kind of language is for DUmmies and lefties”. Now Shut The Fuck Up is acceptable.  Groovy!
To: SMGFan

 

Is it finally time to panic now that O’bunghole’s message of “America Sucks” has taken root in El Gordo de Oxycontino’s beloved NFL? /s

30 posted on 10/12/2017, 5:37:25 AM by Electric Graffiti (Obama voters killed America. Treat them accordingly.)

NoTrueScotsmanMelGibson
To: SMGFan

 

It’s called the bully pulpit. He used it effectively and it was his right.

62 posted on 10/12/2017, 6:46:18 AM by miss marmelstein

Teddy Roosevelt coined that term when his use of the word “bully” meant “superb” or “wonderful”.
Of course, “bully” has a new meaning now, doesn’t it?
  1. a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.
    synonyms: persecutor, oppressor, tyrant, tormentor, intimidator;

    tough guy, thug, ruffian, strong-arm;
    cyberbully
    “the school bully”
verb
verb: bully; 3rd person present: bullies; past tense: bullied; past participle: bullied; gerund or present participle: bullying
  1. 1.
    use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants.
    “a local man was bullied into helping them”

More bullyshit below the fold…

 

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They Won’t Even Hear It

Keep letting this shit happen and it doesn’t matter what the Democratic message is or who we nominate: 

I worry that as we focus on Russian bots on Twitter influencing elections, we’re ignoring a bigger threat to democracy and the political process right here at home: the proposed merger of Sinclair Broadcast Group with Tribune Media Company. I have learned, sometimes the hard way, that in politics, little things can become big things. The unexpected can become the undoing before you know it, and truth trails behind. In 2000, it didn’t matter Al Gore never actually said that he invented the internet. People came to believe he did. It became a character distorting meme. Impressions are created at a digital pace in politics, often when you’re busy fighting the daily fires of rapid response and feeding the beast of today’s message and tomorrow’s news cycle.

So just think what a Sinclair takeover of local television news could do to the American political process. Democratic voters know not to take anything they see on Fox News without a giant grain of salt. But imagine what happens if your local news broadcasts are hijacked by partisan messages, even subtle acts of political sabotage. It would be handing Donald Trump the ultimate weapon of mass distortion, and with it the power to help choose Democratic nominees and mortally wound electable candidates before they even get out of the gate.

I’m not bashing the idea of partisan media (blogger, mock thyself) but once upon a time we had MORE media, period. You had your local party newsletter but you also had a couple of local papers and the radio station and nobody felt like they had to chase whatever came out of the wingnut puke funnel.

Traditional nonpartisan news should never have let Fox in the door. Maybe it would have happened anyway, with the amount of money being thrown around, but I can’t help thinking legitimizing Fox, going on the defensive, bending over backwards to display some kind of false-equivalence-masquerading objectivity and give Republicans’ hurt fee-fees every consideration hastened the decline. As did stupidity, laziness and greed.

Now we have academic panels on Facebook and fake news that are just as dumb as the academic panels on blogger ethics and Who Is A Real Journalist On the Internet, and it’s monumentally frustrating because we’re still looking at the wrong things. Where is the MONEY? Where does it come from? Where does it go? And most of all, who benefits?

You look at who’s benefitted from the consolidation and right-wing purchasing sprees of the past 20 years — it ain’t the public and it sure as shit isn’t liberals. It’s Republicans, and the farthest right of the Republicans at that, to the detriment of public understanding, civil discourse, and even Republican voters themselves. That should be a bigger story than Russian Twitter bots, or somebody saying fuck online.

A.

None of It Matters

Are we done psychoanalyzing him yet? 

Trump also received acclaim for his recent criticism of NFL players who have knelt during the national anthem to protest what they see as racial injustice in the country. He got another standing ovation when he proclaimed that “we respect our great American flag.”

Bill Bennett, a conservative radio host and former secretary of education under Ronald Reagan, followed Trump and suggested that many of the NFL players were kneeling because they “don’t know any better” and don’t know enough about the country’s history and reverence for the flag.

How’s the “Your Racist Asshole Relative” Administration going so far? How y’all feel? I mean, we’re about to go to war with the ENTIRE axis of evil all at once, everybody’s health care just got fucked, Congress can’t find its ass with both hands, Puerto Rico still has no electricity and I kid you not, Headass Neon Chicken forgot the U.S. Virgin Islands are in the U.S., but is everybody happy with the Fox News comments section? Because that seems to be the only consistent through-line in this presidency.

A.

Sunday Morning Video: Dire Straits Live In London

Dire Straits weekend continues with this 1985 show from the Brothers In Arms tour:

Saturday Odds & Sods: So Far Away

Speciality Drawing by George Herriman, 1936.

It’s election day in New Orleans. It’s time to winnow down the lackluster mayoral field from 3 major contenders to a face off in the run-off in this off-year election. I hope that wasn’t off-putting. Only a mug would try to predict who will be in the run-off with the so-called big three clustered so tightly in the polls. As Dan Rather would surely say at this point: it’s tighter than a tick. Besides, I threw away my crystal ball after it cracked on 11/9/2016.

One more note on the New Orleans municipal election. I did a podcast about it with my friend Ryne Hancock yesterday. Here’s a LINK.

The featured image is a 1936 drawing by the great George Herriman. In hopes of uncovering a title, I asked Herriman biographer Michael Tisserand. It is, in fact, untitled. It was executed by the artist for a fan named Morris Weiss. It’s unclear if he was a Morris dancer. Btw, if you haven’t read Michael’s book Krazy, pick up a copy. It’s one of the best biographies I’ve read in years. He’s funny on twitter too. Believe me.

This week’s theme song was used in the penultimate episode of AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, which is one of the most underrated teevee shows ever. There’s only one more episode left in the series but the first three seasons are streaming on Netflix. Check it out and tell them Adrastos sent you; not that they’ll give a shit but it will be good for my self-esteem.

So Far Away is my favorite Dire Straits song. I’m a big fan of wistful lyrics and Mark Knopfler’s guitar playing. This song obviously has both. I’m throwing in a partially acoustic live version as lagniappe.

 Since we’re so far away from one another, let’s bridge the gap by jumping to the break. I hope that made more sense to you than to me. Adrastos thy name is confusion.

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Friday Guest Catblogging: The Siamese & The Torti

My old pal Loki recently added a Torti kitten named Gremlin to his feline menagerie. She’s the tiny one in the pictures with her big brother Puck who is a mighty Siamese cat. He looks nothing like either Rex Harrison or Yul Brynner.

Gremlin seems to think Puck is a horse in the first shot. Puck it.