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.
Faking The Blues: In 2013, there was much excitement in the blues community over a newly discovered picture of Robert Johnson. If real, it would have been only the third known photograph of the King of the Delta Blues. It turns out to have been shabbily authenticated by the Johnson estate for financial reasons. Go figure.
A group of blues historians have denounced the picture as a fake and are engaged in a war of words with those who maintain it’s real. The Guardian has the details.
One could call this The Case of the Unsteady Rollin’ Man but who would do such a thing?
That pun was an excuse to post my earworm du jour: Eric Clapton’s version of the Robert Johnson tune, Steady Rollin’ Man. I feel like I made a deal with the devil or some such shit.
Bridge Over Troubled Garfunkel: Paul Simon is one of the greatest songwriters of all-time. He’s also a world class creep, asshole, and malaka. Just ask Steve Berlin of Los Lobos. Nobody knows Simon better than his high school pal and former second banana, Art Garfunkel.
Musical sidekicks have an annoying habit of turning on their leader before the inevitable reunion tour. It’s happened again. Garfunkel unloaded on Simon during an interview in London with the Telegraph. It revealed more about Artie than Paul. He’s still royally pissed off about their breakup when they were on “top of the world, ma.” As much as I hate to be fair to Paul, it *did* happen when his second banana had peeled off to Europe to play Nately in Catch-22. It also inspired this song:
By Reason of Insanity : Speaking of egomaniacs, our next article is about Congressman Dan Sickles and how his counsel got him off with an insanity defense in 1859. Sickles shot a guy he suspected of bonking his wife. This was the first successful use of the insanity defense in the US and A. Sickles went on to be a Civil War hero and an intimate of the Lincolns. I first encountered this charming rogue in Gore Vidal’s Lincoln. He could have taught Tom Brady a thing or three about turning adversity into triumph. Check out Alexis Coe’s account of the Sickles trial.
Tomorrowland: There’s a thin line between creative genius and megalomania. Walt Disney walked that line rather deftly until his death in 1966. Inspired by the George Clooney movie or the Mad Men episode, Esquire’s Matt Patches has a swell article about the utopian city Disney intended to build on the land where EPCOT Center stands today: Inside Walt Disney’s Ambitious, Failed Attempt to Build the City of Tomorrow. Like most stories set in Florida, it involves real estate chicanery. Anyone shocked? I thought not.
I would remiss in my obligation to the pun community if I failed to make a Clarence Carter joke at this point. Matt Patches, I’m depending on you, son:
Ken Levine: It’s time for my weekly “who you should read” recommendation. Ken Levine is a comedy writer, teevee director, former deejay, and baseball announcer. His blog discusses all of the above and more. Who among us doesn’t like stories about MASH, Cheers, Frasier, and Wings? Ken is also a funny and graceful writer, so check out By Ken Levine.
Saturday Classic: I’m bending my rules this week by posting a non-standards album. It’s part and parcel of living in the Gret Stet of Louisiana, we’re rule benders from way back. Besides, they’re my rules and I’ll break them if I wanna, even though I already posted a tune from this week’s choice.
I remember being disappointed the first time I played Eric Clapton’s 461 Ocean Boulevard. It was his first new release since Layla, which was much more intense both lyrically and musically. But the more I listened to it, the more I liked it. In short, it’s a grower. It’s now my second favorite EC album after you know what. Sit down and have a listen: