It’s been a long week in New Orleans. I have two friends who were touched by tragedy. Sorry, y’all.
In a lesser disaster, the New Orleans Pelicans blew a 20 point lead in their first home playoff game in 4 years by ignoring one of the best players in the NBA, Anthony Davis, for the last 9 minutes of the game. I spent most of the game on Twitter ragging on Pelicans head coach Monty Williams who bears an eerie resemblance to former Mayor C Ray Nagin. In his case, I only want him him fired, not incarcerated.
It’s the first weekend of Jazzfest, and I’m not feeling it. It used to be an event thrown by locals to which the world was invited. In the post-K world, it’s just another way to lure tourists and it’s priced for them. The Who are playing tomorrow and I’m not interested since I saw them in their prime and the worst Who set I ever saw was outdoors. While we’re on the subject of classic rock, here’s this week’s theme song:
Enough kvetching. I have some reading assignments after the break. There will be no pop quiz, not even about Aladdin Sane, the Bowie album from whence our theme song comes.
You Say Sorbette, I Say Sorbay: There’s an interesting profile of CNN’s Don Lemon at GQ by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. It makes me think Lemon is a bit less of a maroon than I previously thought, even if he can’t pronounce sorbet to save his life. I did not know he was from the Gret Stet of Louisiana and respect his not giving a shit what people think of him. Interesting but not enough to revoke his Malaka of the Week card. And I still prefer lemonade, lemon curd ,and former ChiSox and Tigers OF Chet Lemon to Don Lemon:
From Burnouts To Slackers: When I was in high school, a burnout was a hardcore stoner. That was, apparently, not the case in the 1980’s according to a very interesting piece at TPM by Hayley Krischer: Before Billionaires Wore Hoodies: The Forgotten History of ’80’s Youth. It was all about the look and not giving a shit. Apathy was a big deal in Reagan’s America. I tried my best not to succumb to the apolitical cynicism common on the post-1980 landslide left but it wasn’t easy. On the whole, I’d rather listen to the Cars than talk about the Contras:
Speaking of ’80’s youth, Dr. A and I have belatedly discovered The Goldbergs, which is funnier than a ferret down the trousers. Big hair and big laughs…
Bill Withers: The Soul Man Who Walked Away: I didn’t realize that Bill Withers had retired from show business. I just assumed he was another star who had his moment, became a cult artist and kept on working. My favorite part of Andy Greene’s profile was this bit:
Withers was stunned when he learned he had been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. “I see it as an award of attrition,” he says. “What few songs I wrote during my brief career, there ain’t a genre that somebody didn’t record them in. I’m not a virtuoso, but I was able to write songs that people could identify with. I don’t think I’ve done bad for a guy from Slab Fork, West Virginia.”
What’s not to love about a guy from Slab Fork, West by gosh Virginny? The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a vexatious subject for me. I should give a damn but I don’t. I have no issue with Bill Withers but why him and not Yes, Cheap Trick, Jethro Tull, The Cars, ELO, Todd Rundgren, or Deep Purple? Here’s why: it’s Jann Wenner’s personal toy and if he doesn’t like an artist, they’re out. It’s as simple as that
Glad I got that off my chest. Read the piece, it’s swell even if it’s in Wenner’s magazine.
The Fog Of Filmic History: While doing some googling about Woman In Gold, I stumbled into a fascinating article about screenwriter Budd Schulberg and his post-war encounter with the dread but gifted German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl. Budd was tasked with putting together a film for the main Nuremberg trial and he brought Leni in, kicking and screaming, as a consultant.
Bruce Handy’s 2013 article Budd & Leni describes what happened when a Jewish, ex-Communist writer met Hitler’s favorite director. It’s fascinating stuff.
Budd Schulberg is best known as Elia Kazan’s collaborator on two of the director’s greatest films: On The Waterfront and A Face In The Crowd. That brings me to our last reading assignment. Yesterday was the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Turks. Peter Balakian wrote a piece for Salon about another one of Kazan’s best films: Elia Kazan and the Armenian Genocide: Remembering America, America. That’s right, the Kazan classic about which I had the aggravating argument with my father. So it goes.
The Saturday Standards: I bet you’ve leard a lot about Ella Fitzgerald’s Cole Porter and Gershwin songbook albums. They’re great and deserve all the adulation they receive. My personal favorite among the songbooks is Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Jerome Kern Songbook. Kern is best known for Show Boat but he wrote some of the more sophisticated music of his era. Ella and Nelson Riddle, once again, nail it. Let’s Begin: