Saturday Odds & Sods: Hey, Baby, It’s The Fourth Of July

Japser Johns flag

Flag by Jasper Johns. Remember it from my America Held Hostage series in 2013?

For the last few years I’ve been posting Dave Alvin’s tune Fourth Of July, and wishing America a happy birthday. I’m still going to do that, but I’ve gotten into this whole Saturday post thing lately and, to my surprise, some people look forward to it. There’s obviously a sucker born every minute and like one of my comedic heroes, WC Fields, I never give a sucker an even break. The proof is in the pudding poster lobby card:

WC_Fields_nevergive

That was a roundabout way of saying that I’m going to do a shorter Saturday Odds & Sods and let you get on with your holiday.  I’m spending part of mine watching the Dead’s Fare Thee Well show streamed on the internet. What’s more American than the good old Grateful Dead?

Now that we’ve done some flag waving, this week’s theme song is-you guessed it-Dave Alvin’s Fourth Of July. First, the man himself live on Austin City Limits. Second, X playing it live at Farm Aid on 7/4/86 with John Doe on lead vox and the songwriter on guitar.

More fireworks of the non-lethal variety after the break.

I promised brevity this week, so let’s get right to it.

The Paragraph On Slavery That Never Made It Into The Declaration Of Independence is an excellent piece with a longass title posted by Ben Railton at TPM Cafe.  Ben describes the deleted passage as follows:

Like so much in the American founding, these lines are at once progressive and racist, admitting the wrongs of slavery but describing the slaves themselves as “obtruding” upon and threatening the lives of the colonists. Not surprisingly, this complex, contradictory paragraph did not survive the Declaration’s communal revisions, and the final document makes no mention of slavery or African Americans.

That sums up Thomas Jefferson in a nutshell. For the missing graph, belly up to the bar at TPM Cafe. Have a beer on me. The subjects of the next section wouldn’t even buy you a cuppa joe. Cheap bastids…

Who’s The King Of The Mormons? As much as I hate to admit it, Politico Magazine has published some excellent long form pieces recently. The latest is an excerpt from a book about the rivalry between Willard Mittbot Romney and fellow LDS alpha male, Jon Huntsman. It’s written by Salt Lake Tribune reporters, Matt Canham and Thomas Burr, who know the difference between LSD and LDS. It’s a helluva good read. It almost made me want to slip into a pair of Mormon underwear and binge watch Big Love but I thought better of it…

Reading this article about these two Mountain state Machiavellis gave me an earworm; it’s an odd one. Midnight Oil are a left wing Australian band whose front man Peter Garrett was a Labor party MP and Cabinet Minister. That’s a far cry from Mormon Republicanism but who among us doesn’t want to be King of the Mormons Mountain?

Exposing The Unbuilt Montreal Expos Stadium: Three things I like baseball, architecture, and the Guardian collide in a story by Les Carpenter. He tells the sad story of architect, Eugenio Carelli, who designed what he thought would be the best ballpark ever built. The Montreal Expos blew town in 2004, and became the Washington Nationals who are best known for the racing Presidents. I always root for Taft but I don’t think he ever wins. I think TR keeps stabbing him in the back…

The dream of baseball’s return to Quebec has not died. Former Expos Outfielder Warren Cromartie has assembled an ownership group that hopes to bring baseball back to Montreal where it belongs. Cromartie has described Carelli’s design as “the coolest ballpark that never got built” so there’s hope it will finally be constructed if, say, the Devil Rays flee Tampa and ditch the shitty name and even shittier ballpark. While they’re at it, they should lobby to get Expos legend Tim Raines in the Hall of Fame.

Remembering Chris Squire, The Very Loud Beating Heart Of Yes:  Political pundit and prog rock historian Dave Weigel returned to his old stand at Slate with one of the best tributes to Chris Squire that I’ve read. Here’s how Dave ends his piece:

The last time I saw Squire or his band was on the Cruise to the Edge, a luxury trip from Florida to Mexico where Yes played three of the classic ’70s records in a row, every fuzzed note and solo and block chord. This was pure fan service. “It adds some excitement for the audience, in terms of knowing what the next track is, of knowing which track follows the other,” Squire told me cheerfully. “It’s a good concept.”

Onstage, Squire looked perfectly happy. But that was not the highlight of his cruise. Each night, the more musically-inclined passengers took over a lounge to play through hours-long setlists of progressive rock classics. On the second to last night they played “Gates of Delirium,” Yes’ longest and most melodically complex song, inspired by War and Peace and grounded by Squire’s bass lines. Squire and his family walked in on the performance, unannounced. He sat on a wraparound leather couch, daubing away tears as five fans played every note of a 22-minute Yes song. The bass was mixed very loud.

RIP, Chris. Here’s a 1975 live version of Gates, which is one of the few rock songs I’ve ever described as apocalyptic:

I cannot possibly top that for fireworks. Happy Birthday, America.

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