Monthly Archives: May 2015

Where Souls Have Been Lost and the Walking Wounded Go: Game of Thrones Thread

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This is what comes after them, trampling their footprints. They play the game of thrones, and this is what is howling down upon them.

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Tell the Truth and Let People Get Pissed

This just in: Chickenshit language is for chickenshits: 

“The Park District declined to make CEO Michael Kelly available for an interview.”

The park district didn’t “decline” to “make Kelly available.” Kelly refused to answer questions about the involvement of the public, taxpayer-funded agency which he leads and from which he makes a comfortable living on the taxpayer dime. Let’s be clear.

[snip]

“Officials have previously said they honored so-called basic requests such as covering the cost for the NFL to rent the Auditorium Theatre, which is owned by Roosevelt University. Choose Chicago CEO Don Welsh said sponsors and donations will cover the cost, estimating that Choose Chicago needs to raise about $3 million to $4 million. Welsh was not made available for comment.”

Nobody was “made available” for comment! Everybody is in hiding!

That should be part of the lead:

“City and tourism officials refused Wednesday to answer questions about why the Chicago Park District, which just had its credit rating downgraded to junk, waived its $937,500 rental fee when it turned over a portion of Grant Park to the NFL, a $12 billion concern, for its draft last month.”

We do not say these things clearly anymore. We are afraid of being called biased, of being accused of taking a stand, and so we stand for nothing. We have no point of view, we have no stake in anything, we are passive observers of the status quo and to avoid being called on THAT, we will use this weasel language and nobody will know what anybody did.

Nobody will be mad, and nobody will do anything.

And if I read one more time that an unnamed spokesperson e-mailed a goddamn statement to somebody — GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE OFFICE! What is wrong with your stupid ass? Is it glued to the chair? If so, can an intern bring you some Goo Gone or something? And the fucking phone so that you can call a person and ask a question?

It’s fucking BULLSHIT. What are you doing here? What is the point? Did you get into journalism because you love listening to politicians lie to you and then reporting their lies in the most gentle way possible? Did you dream of the day when you, too, could soften your wording so as not to upset anybody? Was that your childhood ambition? And if not, exactly when are you planning on being brave?

We have a limited amount of time on this planet, and it’s too short to spend your life writing around calling somebody on their crap because … well … it just feels so confrontational and mean, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t we all just be lovely friends together? Maybe readers will draw their conclusions just by goddamn magic!

Fucking hell, I don’t know what is happening anymore.

A.

Sunday Morning Video: Matthew Weiner At The NYPL

I’ve written about Matthew Weiner’s May 2oth appearance at the New York Public Library after the Mad Men finale. We finally have video. I’m not sure why it’s divided into 2 parts, but it’s free so beggars can’t be choosers:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Last Fair Deal Gone Down

Fred G. Johnson- Cavalcades of Wonder. jpg

I’ve sidelined the Who in their football helmets in lieu of the sideshow banner by Fred G. Johnson you see above. And, no, it’s not the Republican primary field. It just resembles them.

Summer has come to the town formerly known as Debrisville. We’ve had a lot of tropical type rain and wind but nothing to compare to Houston. I have some good friends in H-Town and wish people on both sides of the spectrum would stop playing politics with natural disasters. I know they won’t but they should.

The other day I took a walk around my hood, and chatted with Mr. White who is, of course, black. Seems to always work out that way. He’s getting up there in years, I think he’s around 80. I’ve been talking to him for years but didn’t know his name until recently.

Our neighborhood is in its second wave of gentrification. The first wave brought folks like Dr. A and me who respected the customs and folkways of this once working class neighborhood. The latest wave is altogether different: there are some unfriendly people who bitch and moan about living near the parade route. The ones who are willing to chat are shocked when I say that’s one reason we moved here. It takes all kinds.

Back to my chat with Mr. White. He started off by saying: “Let me axe you somethin'”

“Sure, ” I said.

“What you call these young ‘uns with the scraggly beards and small hats? You know the ones who be ridin’ their bikes, wearin’ long sleeve shirts, and bow ties even when it’s hotter than hell. What you call them?”

“Hipsters, ” I replied.

“That’s right. Fuck them.”

So it goes.

This week’s theme song was written by the enigmatic blues legend Robert Johnson. We’ll start with a version by the man himself, followed by a version by a dude with one of the greatest stage names ever: Keb Mo who started life as Kevin Moore.

Given how laced with word play Last Fair Deal Gone Down is, I’m sure Johnson would have loved saying Keb Mo’s name as much as I do. More word play after the break.

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An educational “outing” for the Republicans in the State of Wisconsin

It’s tough living with a secret that could force people to look at you in a different way. Friends and colleagues give you that “I thought I KNEW YOU!” look as they ponder their new reality. Some will denounce you for being that which you vehemently opposed. Others will quickly scramble to defend you with false-front excuses or seek to help you find a way to “repent for your sin.” Knowing all of this, many people with these deep secrets do their best to keep them quiet or disclose them only in passing to a few trusted members of an inner-circle.

One of the harsher ways to break this cycle is when someone decides it’s time to “out” you. The person lays bear your darkest truth in a raw, unvarnished fashion to the world at large.

In some cases, the results are disastrous, as it was when 18-year-old Tarence Mitchell murdered his older gay lover, who threatened to out him when Mitchell tried to end their two-year relationship.

In other cases, it forces someone to deal with a horrible thing that eventually leads to progress and important outcomes, as was the case of Arthur Ashe. Ashe, a championship tennis player, feared that USA Today was about to “out” him based on his HIV status. Although he stated he didn’t like being forced into a corner on this issue, he later stated he was no longer forced to lie.

In many cases, though, it shatters the illusions that a hypocrite weaves for their own benefit, as was the case with “the Rev.” Ted Haggard. The notoriously anti-gay Haggard was outed by a gay prostitute, which led to other accusations of sexual “improprieties” from other men.

Outing is risky, today, as lawmakers in the state of Wisconsin take up the UW System budget, I felt compelled to try this last-ditch effort to try to stop the madness of Gov. Deadeyes’ $300 million cut.

Republicans own 63 seats in the 99-seat assembly, which guarantees they can pretty much drive home whatever anti-intellectual crap that it seems the Clevons of this state want. It’s easy for them to kick the UW system around because it makes for good applause lines for people who think college kids sleep until noon, party all day and smoke “the mary jane” all day. It’s even easier to kick those lazy, overpaid professors who never do anything of value, making the point of pursuing a degree pointless.

I dug through the list of biographies of every Republican state officeholder for their level of education, assuming erroneously that the reason this seems to be a party of anti-education was because none of them could hack it.

I was wrong. Way wrong.

Here’s what those hard-working, every-man Republicans DON’T want you to know:

They have UW degrees. Lots of them.

Of the 63 seats listed as being Republican controlled, 21 of them are occupied by people who earned degrees at UW System schools.

Lest we confuse the issue, this doesn’t count the Republicans who got degrees from out of state or those who “attended” one of the various UW branches for a year or two.

These are people with diplomas on their walls from UW schools who are not standing up against the idea of screwing over the very places from which they matriculated.

And lest you think that they got those “real degrees” that are supposed to give you “real world job experience,” consider this:

  • Eight of the 21 majored in political science, a field often derided with the line of “Why try? Go Poli Sci!”
  • One of those eight (Kathleen Bernier) got her degree as a returning student, thus demonstrating both her resolve to get the degree and the esteem in which she must have held it.
  • Four of the 21 completed their degrees at that liberal hell hole known as UW-Madison
  • History and philosophy, two degrees parents hear about and say “What the hell are you going to do with that?” claim one Republican each (Rob Hutton and Warren Petryk)

The rest of the list is below (majors in parentheses when available):

  • Scott Allen – UW-Milwaukee (political science)
  • Joan Ballweg – UW-Stevens Point (elementary education)
  • Kathleen Bernier UW-Eau Claire (political science)
  • Janel Brandtjen – UW-Milwaukee (business/finance/marketing)
  • Ed Brooks – UW-Madison (agricultural economics)
  • David Craig- UW-Milwaukee
  • Mary Czaja – UW-River Falls (finance)
  • Cody Horlacher – UW-Whitewater (business)
  • Rob Hutton – UW-Whitewater (history)
  • Andre Jacque – UW-Madison
  • Samantha Kerkman – UW-Whitewater (political science)
  • Mike Kuglitsch – UW-Whitewater (business)
  • Amy Loudenbeck – UW-Madison (political science/international relations)
  • Jim Ott – UW-Milwaukee (bachelor’s and master’s degrees)
  • Warren Petryk – UW-Eau Claire (philosophy)
  • Romaine Quinn – UW-Green Bay (political science)
  • David Steffen – UW-Madison (political science)
  • Gary Tauchen – UW River Falls (animal science)
  • Nancy VanderMeer – UW-Lacrosse (psychology)
  • Tyler Vorpagel – UW-Green Bay (public administration and political science)
  • Robin Vos – UW-Whitewater (political science)

When you look at the senate, things deserve even more attention:

Of the 33 seats, Republicans control 19 of them.

Of those 19 seats, 12 are occupied by holders of UW degrees.

How toxic would it be for Republican voters to know about this? It’s clear that for some people, it’s scary as hell.

Mary Lazich, the senate president, lists many of her accomplishments in her official state biography, but never once mentions that she not only graduated from UW-Milwaukee, but also that (gasp) her degree was in social work or that (double gasp) she graduated summa cum laude.

Tom Tiffany and Leah Vukmir also fail to mention their status as proud graduates of state institutions. In Vukmir’s case, she has a master’s degree in nursing from UW-Madison.

Below is the whole list of Republican UW grads in the senate

SENATE

  • Robert Cowles – UW-Green Bay
  • Alberta Darling – UW-Milwaukee (secondary education)
  • Scott Fitzgerald – UW-Oshkosh (journalism)
  • Mary Lazich – UW-Milwaukee (social work)
  • Howard Marklein – UW-Whitewater (accounting)
  • Steve Nass – UW-Whitewater (bachelor’s; master’s in school business management)
  • Luther Olsen – UW-Madison
  • Roger Roth – UW-Oshkosh
  • Duey Stroebel – UW-Madison (bachelor’s in business administration; master’s in real estate appraisal and investment analysis
  • Tom Tiffany UW River Falls (agricultural economics)
  • Leah Vukmir –UW Madison (master’s in nursing)

For many Republican voter, this would likely be some sort of a shock.

“But… but… but… We shot things together! We laughed at fart jokes! We talked about Jesus and how he called you to run for office! How can we trust you now?”

Relax, guys and gals, you can still dress in blaze orange with these nitwits and laugh when you fart in an elevator. Taste and moxie aren’t necessarily anathema to education.

However, this message is for those of you on the list above:

You need to stop denying who you are.

You aren’t people who “tried college once but found that it wasn’t for real Americans.” You graduated. You saw it all the way through.

You aren’t people who “don’t know better” like the people in some of these hinterland outposts of our state who once saw a black guy on TV. You went to those “inner-city hell holes” like UW-Milwaukee and those “liberal dens of debauchery” like UW-Madison.

You can’t tell stories about how you “worked flipping burgers” to pay your way through college (if you’ll admit to the college thing) without seeing that it was a hell of a lot cheaper/easier/supported when you went through than it is now.

What you can do and what you should do is stand up when others around you disparage the UW System, propose draconian budget cuts and generally beat up on your alma mater.

Tell the people in your own party, “I’m a UW graduate and I did pretty well in life because of it.”

It’s time to come out of the closet on this one.

Coach Hush Money

Did anyone see an indictment of former Speaker Denny Hastert coming? Does anyone even remember who he is? The answer to both questions is no.

Coach Speaker only became the figurehead (the real leader was the Bug Man, Tom Delay) of House Republicans because both Newt Gingrich and the Gret Stet’s own Bob Livingston had zipper problems. That was even more inconvenient for House GOPers back then because they were engaged in what Charlie Pierce calls “the pursuit of the President’s penis.”

The indictment is vague as to the why but we know the what: Hastert was being blackmailed and paid hush money to an unnamed party. We’re not sure why the seemingly boring and bland Hastert was thrust into an Erle Stanley Gardner plotline but it gives  me a pretext to dub him Coach Hush Money. It may have something to do with some #duggary when he was a high school wrestling coach or some sort of bribery scheme. We simply do not know at this point. The indictment quite literally came out of the blue. All shall be revealed eventually.

I decided to post about the Coach Hush Money story because I remember some of the stupid shit he said right after Hurricane Katrina:

It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city that’s 7 feet under sea level, House Speaker Dennis Hastert said of federal assistance for hurricane-devastated New Orleans.

“It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed,” the Illinois Republican said in an interview Wednesday with the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill.

<snip>

Hastert, in a transcript supplied by the suburban Chicago newspaper, said there was no question that New Orleans residents would rebuild their city, but noted that federal insurance and other federal aid were involved. “We ought to take a second look at it. But you know we build Los Angeles and San Francisco on top of earthquake fissures and they rebuild, too. Stubbornness.”

Asked whether it made sense to spend billions rebuilding a city that lies below sea level, he replied, “I don’t know. That doesn’t make sense to me.”

Hastert later crawfished on these comments but fuck him anyway.

It’s been a schadenfreude packed week, hasn’t it? It will be very interesting to see how this plays out. It looks as if Coach Hush Money is in deep shit and sinking fast. There’s no Perry Mason in real life to get him out of this mess although the Bug Man’s mouthpiece, Dick DeGuerin, is pretty good. He’s busy defending Robert Durst right now, but the man never met a headline he didn’t like.  Who would have thought Hastert was more likely to go to the slammer than Tom Delay?

Speaking of Out of the Blue, I’ll give Roxy Music the last word:

 

 

Friday Ferretblogging: Guest Ferret Edition

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This is Nebula, the fluffiest stuffykins in the whole wide world, and currently a resident at the Greater Chicago Ferret Association shelter, which AS IT SO HAPPENS is accepting donations for the care of homeless fuzzies who can no longer live with me because Claire would eat them if they came near her. Just look at this fat little stripy head trying to be vicious:

LEMME OUT I KEEL YOU. Then when you do open the cage door, she just about licks you to death.

A.

Friday Catblogging: Chameleon Headhunters

I missed all the excitement at my house the other day. That’s what I get for sleeping in. Oscar and Della Street cornered a chameleon. Their hunting instincts kicked in but they’re out of practice. When Dr. A realized it was a lizard and not a palmetto bug, she spared its life.

Here are the fearless headhunters in action. Actually, they only got its tail but I’m setting up the Herbie Hancock reference for the end of the post:

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Here’s the chameleon after Dr. A rescued it and placed the poor bastard on the porch:

Chameleon without Herbie Hancock

The other Chameleon in this post is the great fusion jazz/funk instrumental by Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters:

The Why Not Me Campaign

For those of who us who like strange and quirky campaigns, 2016 is shaping up to be a corker. Everybody is running for President. George Bloody Pataki has come out of retirement to run for the GOP nomination. Nobody was demanding a Pataki candidacy, but he looked at the field and said: “Why not me? I took out Mario Cuomo and served 3 terms as Governor in Albany.” He’s not the first former New York Governor to run for President, but he’s the only one to do so nearly 10 years after leaving office. He looked at the field and said: Why not me?

The Republicans have a *huge* field, all of whom looked at the competition and said: Why not me? My own Governor, Bobby Jindal, is on the pander warpath, trying desperately to be the wingnuttiest wingnut who ever ran for President. The problem for PBJ is that the space he’s trying to occupy: hawkish, social conservative, and barking mad is very crowded. He’s competing with 3 candidates, all of whom have more pizzazz and are much better communicators than he is: Cruz, Huckabee, and Santorum. PBJ looked at the field and said: Why nut me?

It’s easy to mock Senator Sweater Vest but, in addition to being a colossal dick, he’s an excellent stump speaker. He was also the runner-up in 2012. Remember: having gone around the track before doesn’t bother Republican voters one iota, it’s the Dems who like new and shiny candidates. Perhaps Pataki hopes people will confuse him with two-time GOP nominee and former four term New York Governor Tom Dewey. Of course, he lost twice but Pataki contemplated the Dewey paradigm and said: Why not me?

Speaking of kind of new and kind of shiny, an Independent Senator, Bernie Sanders, is running as a Democrat. (I’m one of the few people who harps on that whole registration thing but I prefer that Democratic candidates be registered as such. I’m a stickler for very few things but that’s one of them.) There are two schools of thought about Sanders and I belong to neither of them. One school views him with contempt as a rabble rousing no-hoper, the other school thinks he has an outside chance of knocking off Hillary Clinton. The adherents of the second school remind us that Hillary was the frontrunner in 2008 before being knocked off by the current Oval One. Of course, Obama was backed by a powerful group in the party: African-Americans. The progressives who support Bernie, but pine for Senator Professor Warren, won’t be enough to stop Hillary, but that’s not why Sanders is running. In his case, it’s all about ideas and the influence he hopes to have on the debate. That’s why the MSM punditocracy have contempt for him: they wouldn’t know an idea if it bit them in the ass. In essence, Sanders is the loyal or official opposition within the Democratic party. I wish that were my phrase but it’s Josh Marshall’s, which leads me to ask: Why him and not me?

Speaking of Governors who have been out of office for more than a decade, Jeb Bush looked at the GOP field, and at his father and brother and said: Why not me? As a campaigner, Jeb is more like Poppy than Dubya, which is one reason why he’s floundering. It reminds me of what Ann Richards said about Poppy Bush: he reminds every woman of their first husband. Jeb is dutiful. Jeb is dull. Jeb is going nowhere.

I could go on and on about this year’s field, but I’m trying to keep this under 5,000 words.  The GOP debates should be fun and very crowded. I love the various proposals to limit the number of candidates at each debate. Here’s mine:  I think they should put the candidates on a barge that has a weight limit and if they exceed it, the barge sinks. My sink or swim proposal is the first cousin of John Cassidy’s  Republican Survivor. I hope y’all noticed that I didn’t make the obvious Chris Christie joke about the barge thing. I, for one, am proud of myself for not channeling David Letterman when he called portly Dodger pitcher Terry Forster “a fat tub of goo.” Guess I forfeited the moral high ground with that reference but mocking the Dodgers is second nature to me…

I genuinely think that anyone except for Pataki or Jindal has at least a 10% chance of winning the why not me GOP primary campaign. Things are that quirky in the batshit crazy party. In fact, I’m one of the few people who thinks Ted Cruz could win it. He will, however, have to cancel his plans to have Jim Bob Duggar on the ticket…

Marco Rubio and Scott Walker have each had their time as the flavor of the month but one of them is an empty suit and the other is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers. You decide who is who. It could go either way. Just remember: Governors whose approval ratings at home are circling the bowl are unlikely to win their party’s nomination. They may well have looked at the field and said: Why not me? But the voters in Wisconsin, Louisiana, and New Jersey are likely to reply: You fucked us, that’s why not.

In the end, I think the sane party will hold the White House in 2016. It’s one thing to let the batshit crazy party run Congress but quite another to give them access to nuclear weapons.  They might decide to nuke Grenada in honor of St. Ronnie or nuke the West Bank to bring on armageddon.  To my New Orleans readers, I’m talking about the West Bank in the Middle East, not the one across the river that we call the Wank. I am adamantly opposed to nuking our West Bank, the fallout could drift across the river hit my neighborhood…

The Republican freak show is so entertaining that I’m *almost* tempted to change my registration and throw my Giants cap in the ring and run for President. Everybody’s doing it. Why not me? Oh, that’s right I’m a liberal Democrat, that’s why not.

Tweet Of The Day: Duggar Days Edition

The aroma of schadenfreude hangs heavy in the air after the Josh Duggar revelations. The only thing more satisfying than the exposure of this sanctimonious hypocrite would be seeing his predatory ass behind bars. That looks unlikely, but the scandal has damaged the Family Research Council and TLC. Who wants to sponsor the We Protect Pedophiles Hour, after all?

That brings us to the Tweet of the day. It’s rare that someone who calls themselves the fake anything on the Tweeter Tube is the real deal. Dan Savage is the exception to that rule. This Tweet is what the kids in the 1920’s called the cat’s meow:

I support Dan’s campaign to bring duggary into the language. It also sounds a bit like the Australian musical instrument, didgeridoo. That’s quite appropriate since paterfamilias Jim Bob Duggar is as well known for his windy pronouncements as for his enormous brood. Nobody will listen to him in the future. In short, he’s duggared and all he can do is play his duggarydoo.

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Walker: “Just A Cool Thing”

From Album 5

And hey, who’d disagree with hep cat Scott Walker’s definition of cool? Well…me. I think it’s pretty creepy:

Potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said in an interview on Friday that mandatory ultrasounds for women hoping to get an abortion was “just a cool thing.”

No. It’s not.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Dementia 13

B movie king Roger Corman gave many future star directors their first chance: Peter Bogdanovich, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, and today’s pulp purveyor, Francis Ford Coppola. That’s right, his first flick was entitled Dementia 13:

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More demented stuff after the break.

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Joke Line on Politics: ‘A Thought Experiment’

Nothing is real to these assholes. After declaring the ongoing Dumpster fire in the Republican primary “the best GOP field in years,” Joe Klein goes on to say:

Jeb Bush, son and brother of other Bushes, is the Republican default position–if not quite the favorite to win. He is conducting a major thought experiment. It involves the proposition that a conservative who is not suffering from red-meat poisoning can win the Republican nomination. Bush has had tough times in recent weeks, mangling answers to inevitable questions like whether he would have gone to war in Iraq, but I watched him handle all sorts of questions at a town-hall meeting in Dubuque, and he did so with intelligence, patience–in the case of one persistent questioner who seemed to believe that the Gates Foundation was intent on wrecking the American education system–and fluency, including casual humor.

First of all, Jeb Bush is “not suffering from red-meat poisoning,” as evidenced by his views on abortion:

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — “Choose Life,” two words carrying an emotionally charged message about abortion, will be on some Florida license plates under a bill signed Tuesday by Gov. Jeb Bush.

Gay marriage:

In Saturday’s interview, Bush also reiterated his opposition to marriage equality, saying that gay marriage is not a constitutional right and that “we need to be stalwart supporters of traditional marriage.”

Gun control:

In 2005, the governor signed into law another piece of NRA legislation on the topic of gun control. The bill was written by the NRA and expanded the rights of Floridians to use deadly force when threatened in public places. This proposal, known as the “stand your ground bill,” expanded the rights of people to use guns or other deadly force to defend themselves without 1st trying to escape even in places outside their homes. The law stipulated that a person “has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force.”

Obamacare: 

“We’ve created a monstrosity of consolidating power in Washington, D.C., suppressing wages, making it uncertain for investment. In fact, the greatest job suppressor in the so-called recovery that we’ve gone through is Obamacare. And I think replacing Obamacare with a market-oriented approach — that is, where local and state input starts to drive the policies away from this top-down system” is something the country ought to be doing, Bush said at the Iowa Ag Summit, a forum on agriculture issues that also drew several other would-be presidential hopefuls.

Boy, he sure is a contrarian!

Second of all, oh, God Almighty, you want to talk about why traditional media are losing ground, don’t talk about access journalism. Talk about “everything is imaginary and exists for my pondering and commentary” journalism, about this bullshit where the very real possibility that somebody batshit insane might be president is “a thought experiment.”

I suppose it is, to Joe Klein, who will have a job no matter who is elected. It’s an academic exercise, when you aren’t graduating college next year and hoping to have a job, or reporting for boot camp and wondering which Middle Eastern hellhole you’ll be deployed to after somebody decides those people look at us funny. It’s just an exercise in playacting when you won’t be subjected to a mandatory ultrasound to get a legal medical procedure, or called a whore for using birth control.

I’m not suggesting Joe Klein pretend to give a shit, by the way. That would be ridiculous. I’m suggesting that when you, Mr. Columnist, get to the point of complete solipsism, where everything around you exists just for you to play with it like a mental Lego bucket and nothing has any consequences and none of it’s real, we replace you with someone who has actual skin in the game of being alive right now.

If for no other reason than it would be enjoyable to read about this stuff like it matters.

A.

Burn Baby Burn: 13 Flag Funeral

Confederate battle flags were set ablaze or buried in 13 Southern states on Memorial Day. It was inspired, and loosely coordinated, by Florida artist John Sims:

Sims, 47, has been playing with Confederate flag imagery for about 15 years, creating works of art and installations in New York, Virginia and other states. In 2004, one of his installations in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, featured a Confederate flag hanging from a noose, eliciting angry calls to shut down the exhibition. Aside from the usual online chatter, Monday’s “burials” went off without a backlash.

The events, which were simultaneously streamed online Monday, consisted mainly of artists and locals discussing the flag’s symbolism. Images from the events were being uploaded Monday evening to thisFacebook page. Sims also collected the 13 artists reading their 13 Confederate flag eulogies into a video montage.

It happened here in New Orleans as well but there wasn’t any local media coverage. All I could find was this brief mention in the IBT article above:

In New Orleans, a group of locals burned the flag on a BBQ grill at the base of the Robert E. Lee monument, which towers over a popular intersection of the predominately African-American city.

That would be Lee Circle on St. Charles Avenue, which is a main thoroughfare and traffic artery. I’m not sure why they chose the word “popular” unless, that is, all they know about it is the streetcar line. Dizneylandrieu strikes again.

I took a look at the Facebook page and found this status update, which I’ll post despite the egregious usage of exclamation points:

I have two questions. First, did they dry rub the flag before grilling it or did they use sauce? Second, what happened to the S in New Orleans? One could call this the Case of the Missing S…

On a more serious note, I wish the organizers had done a better job getting the word out on social media. The Facebook page had a mere 136 likes before I added my own thumbs up, but searching for #13flagfuneral on Twitter was slightly more fruitful. Btw, most of the people who were vexed by the mini-bonfires cannot spell. Anyone suprised? I thought not.

One Tweet was from a friend of mine who thoughtfully posted a link to a video of the Lee Circle flag BBQ:

Here’s my take on this bit of political performance art. I think it’s a good thing. They did get quite a bit of MSM attention in other cities, largely because of the drama of a burning flag. In some places, they buried the stars and bars, which eliminates the chance of the fire spreading to unintended targets if it’s a windy day. It’s a uniquely appropriate form of protest because of the origins  of Memorial Day as described by Ben Railton at TPM Cafe:

…Memorial Day’s original meanings and narratives are significantly different from, and would add a great deal of complexity and power to, how we see them nowadays. The holiday was first known as Decoration Day, and (per thorough histories by scholars like David Blight) was originated in 1865 by a group of freed slaves in Charleston, South Carolina. The slaves visited a cemetery for Union soldiers on May 1st of that year and decorated their graves, a quiet but very sincere tribute to what those soldiers have given and what it had meant to the lives of these freedmen and women.

There you have it. Memorial Day is rooted in a holiday started by black folks, which is another reason to find veneration of the stars and bars obnoxious and the flag itself eminently burnable.

It’s astonishing to me that we’re still having an argument as to whether the stars and bars is a symbol of slavery, racism, treason, and oppression. The flag’s proponents argue that it’s a symbol of Southern pride and heritage. That may be true but it’s a symbol of the dark side of the South and its heritage of human bondage. That damnable flag was waved during the battle against desegregation and was a staple at lynchings. The oddest thing about the whole discussion is that it wasn’t even the *national* flag of the Confederacy. It’s a part of the myth of Robert E. Lee, reluctant traitor.

In the years after the Civil War, the losing side won the battle over how the war was characterized. Southern historians made the myth of the “lost cause” romantic as opposed to bigoted. The coming of the movies reinforced that, The Birth Of A Nation and Gone With The Wind are just 2 of the films that propagated the “moonlight and magnolias” view of the old South. The Klan were freedom fighters in both movies; apparently cross burning and murder were okay as long as they were done to protect white chicks.

Would I ban the stars and bars? Absolutely not, if I see it flying or bumperstickered on some lout’s truck, I know to avoid those people and places. It’s the yellow caution tape of flags. I do wish, however, that the states that still include it on their state flags (Mississippi and more subtly Alabama) would remove it.  Flags are meant to unite people, not divide them. Ain’t nothing more divisive than the stars and bars.

I hope the 13 Flag Funeral on the holiday formerly known as Decoration Day becomes an annual event. It reminds me of the Jazz Funeral we had in New Orleans on Inauguration day in 2005:

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Symbolism is a powerful thing. In other countries, they don’t understand our flag obsession. It eludes me from time-to-time as well but Old Glory is a symbol of all that unites us. The stars and bars is a symbol of all that divides us. I realize that I just repeated myself but it’s something that cannot be said often enough: ain’t nothing more divisive than the Confederate battle flag.

Burn baby burn.

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: Ellington Uptown

The title Ellington Uptown evokes style and class. The Duke had both to spare. This album has a confusing string of re-issues with different tracks and artwork. The first cover with Duke in the spotlight dates from the LP’s original American release in 1951. Try as I might I couldn’t unearth a date for the second cover although my hunch is that it’s a European and/or UK release of about the same vintage but it’s a guess. That’s *my* mood indigo, apparently.

Duke-Ellington-Uptown

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Here’s the original album in the playlist format:

So Much to Lose

Dear God, the inability to listen to yourself: 

“The world is a very scary place right now, especially for people of means; they feel cornered and threatened,” said Tom Gaffney, the president of Gaffco Ballistics, which has installed a number of safe rooms around New York City. “When you have so much to lose, and you can afford to, you put a premium on your safety.”

Safe rooms were popularized as “panic rooms” by the director David Fincher’s 2002 thriller of that name — one that the screenwriter David Koepp has admitted he made up because “safe room” did not carry quite the same drama at the box office.

“Panic Room” opens with the actress Jodie Foster touring a gorgeous brownstone on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where she notices an uneven wall and is ushered into a hidden vault of concrete, closed-circuit televisions and a bare toilet better suited to a prison, which the room, of course, becomes. A similarly bleak model has played a minor part in theBBC hit “The Honorable Woman,” where Maggie Gyllenhaal beds down in a bunker behind a hidden panel.

The reality of today’s safe rooms is far cozier, and, rather than behind fake bookcases or trap doors, they tend to hide in plain sight. If there are cinder blocks, they are covered by mahogany paneling or smooth plaster, sandwiched between steel plates and Kevlar sheets. Some people fortify bathrooms or closets, others reinforce entire bedroom suites.

You know what keeps people safer than anything in the world? MONEY. Lots of it. Enough money to buy food and assure shelter, enough money to see doctors when you’re sick, enough money to fix the car when it breaks down, enough money to take care of an emergency without draining your savings or going into punishing debt.

Enough money for education, for enrichment, for love. Enough money for whatever you need.

That’s what keeps people safe. This isn’t safety, it’s paranoia. The only person who needs this kind of security is the president and his bunker is probably less fancy, and even then. Pace Jerry Bruckheimer movies but you are far likely to be killed by a preventable illness or by poverty than by a terrorist mastermind who breaks into your concrete hidey hole.

And I’d wager those who can’t afford them feel far more in need of security than some rich asshole who’s convinced himself he’s oppressed because hippies on TV in his head are being mean.

A.

Only Forward: Game of Thrones Thread

Apologies for not getting this out yesterday or earlier — was on the road this weekend. Got home, put a cranky Kick to bed, and immediately got all caught up and DAMMIT SHOW:

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Memorial Day: Who I Remember

There’s nothing like a national holiday to make one feel ritualistic.This post was written in 2010 and is making its sixth annual appearance here at First Draft:

The veteran I’d like to remember on this solemn holiday is the late Sgt. Eddie Couvillion.

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My family tree is far too tangled and gnarly to describe here but suffice it to say that Eddie was my second father. He served in Europe during World War II, not in combat but in the Army Quartermaster Corps. In short, he was a supply Sergeant, one of those guys who won the war by keeping the troops fed, clothed and shod. Eddie was what was called in those days a scrounger; not unlike Milo Minderbinder in Catch-22 or James Garner’s character in The Great Escape. 

Eddie’s favorite military exploit was running an army approved bordello in France after hostilities ended. He always called it a cat house and bragged that it was the best little whorehouse in Europe. One can serve one’s country in manifold ways…

Eddie died 5 years ago and I still miss him. He was a remarkable man because he changed so much as he aged. When I met him, he was a hardcore Texas/Louisiana conservative with old South racial views and attitudes. At an age when many people close their minds, Eddie opened his and stopped thinking of black folks as a collective entity that he didn’t care for and started thinking of them as individuals. Eddie was a genuine Southern gentleman so he’d never done or said an unkind thing to anyone but confided to me that the only one he’d ever hurt by being prejudiced was himself. I was briefly speechless because we’d had more than a few rows over that very subject. Then he laughed, shook his head and said: “Aren’t you going to tell me how proud you are of me? You goddamn liberals are hard to satisfy.”

Actually, I’m easily satisfied. In 2004, Eddie had some astonishing news for me: he’d not only turned against the Iraq War but planned to vote for John Kerry because “Bush Junior is a lying weasel and a draft dodger.” That time he didn’t need to ask me if I was proud of him, it was written all over my face. It was the first and only time he ever voted for a Democrat for President.

I salute you, Sgt. Couvillion. I only wish that I could pour you a glass of bourbon on the rocks and we could raise our glasses in a Memorial Day toast.