Summertime, when the living is sweaty. The NOLA heatwave continues and I’m not hearing much from those folks who claim they can live here without air-conditioning like in the good old days. The local good old days contingent is busy freaking out about the debate over Confederate monuments. They’re acting as if the plan is to replace Lee with Spoons Butler. I’m inclined to think that their brains are baked from overexposure to the blazing sun. In any event, the Lee statue’s life expectancy is even shorter than that of a pre-AC New Orleanian, which was 10 years below the national average. The heat goes on and so do I.
This week’s theme song comes from the fertile (febrile?) minds of David Byrne and Talking Heads at their peak. The refrain “take a look at these hands” embedded itself in my consciousness from the instant I first heard Remain In Light. The heat goes on and so do I is the refrain for this week’s post. I’m feeling a bit surrealistic so I should just say hello Dali and get on with the theme song already:
Guess I was born under punches myself or am I just punchy? We’ll try and figure that out after the break. Now where did I put my Surrealistic Pillow?
The Flag Days Of Summer: The raging discussion over the Confederate battle flag shows the power of symbols. It’s definitely not the most important issue around but it fits the old saying about opinions being like assholes, everybody has one. And every asshole has an opinion about the Confederacy, the stars and bars, and what the monuments to treason really mean. I guess using the T word was a dead giveaway as to my opinion…
The great Rick Perlstein of Nixonland and Invisible Bridge fame takes a dive into the right-wing psyche pool and is reminded of a carny game in a piece at Salon, Right-wing racist whack-a-mole: Confederate flag comes down, Donald Trump pops up. Perlstein has spent 16 years immersed in wingnutiana, and his knows his shit. Speaking of which, anyone want a Donald Trump butt-plug? A friend of mine is considering one of these for his mantle:
Steve Scalise really knows how to crack the whip. He’s been noticeably silent during the whole battle flag flap. I can’t imagine why…
One more note about the battle flag flap. I, for one, had completely forgotten that Tom Petty used the image during his Southern Accents tour and on this video:
I saw that tour so one would have thought that I’d remember that. Anyway, Petty apologized for this youthful indiscretion in an interview with Rolling Stone:
The Confederate flag was the wallpaper of the South when I was a kid growing up in Gainesville, Florida. I always knew it had to do with the Civil War, but the South had adopted it as its logo. I was pretty ignorant of what it actually meant. It was on a flagpole in front of the courthouse and I often saw it in Western movies. I just honestly didn’t give it much thought, though I should have.
In 1985, I released an album called Southern Accents. It began as a concept record about the South, but the concept part slipped away probably 70 percent or so into the album. I just let it go, but the Confederate flag became part of the marketing for the tour. I wish I had given it more thought. It was a downright stupid thing to do.
Read the whole interview, it’s good stuff. Meanwhile on the moronic side of the musicial street, Kid Rock told anti-rebel flag protestors to kiss his ass. No thank you, Mr. Rock or is that Mr. Kid? This drooling idiot was *clearly* born under punches…
Take a look at these hands, they’re sweaty. The heat goes on and so do I.
Speaking of people who don’t care for the stars and bars:
The Hard Truths Of Ta-Nehisi Coates is the title of an outstanding profile of the Atlantic blogger in New York Magazine by Benjamin Wallace-Wells. Coates is doing a book tour in support of his new tome Between the World and Me. It’s written in the form of a letter to his young son and is excerpted at the Atlantic. It’s getting rave reviews, which proves my contention that Ta-Nehisi is a real epistle. I hope he’ll forgive that pun and the fact that I called him a blogger. I’m pretty sure he’s not wearing a robe and pajamas whilst on tour…
Gaudi Night: This segment has bupkis to do with Lord Peter Wimsey. My name is Adrastos and I’m a punaholic as well as a pulpaholic:
Now where the hell was I? Oh yeah, there’s an excellent (not gaudy) essay about the great Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi at the New York Review of Books. I’m trying to reassert my highbrow street cred by linking to Martin Filler’s piece, which belies his last name as it’s not filler. Another day, another groaner. I seem to put the pun into born under punches. I don’t do it for myself, I do it for the pun community.
The centerpiece of Filler’s essay, and of Gaudi’s life’s work, is the architect’s still incomplete masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia. Gaudi’s style is best described as Art Nouveau meets prot0-surrealism. Barcelona lays claim to two great surrealist painters: Joan Miro and Salvador Dali. I’d heard of them when I visited Barcelona in the 1980’s, but I’d heard very little about Gaudi or the glories of Spanish food. I was blown away by both.
I’m quite fond of postcards, so thought I’d send y’all one:
Here’s the message:
I have no tips. It’s time for another segment.
Time to move from the divine to the profane:
Tricky Dick’s End Days: It wasn’t armageddon for the country in 1974, but it was for our most paranoid President, Richard Milhous Nixon. There’s a swell excerpt online from a new book by veteran NYT reporter, Tim Weiner: One Man Against The World: The Legacy of Richard Nixon. I think Nixon’s real legacy is as a guide for how NOT to be President. Tricky’s paranoid self-loathing consumed his Presidency. His malefactions overwhelm any positive aspects of his administration.
There’s a whiff of Nixon revisionism in the air. Astonishingly, some callow fatheads have looked at Nixon’s record and given him credit for the Clean Water Act and the founding of the EPA. Y’all google the name Gaylord Nelson before giving the Trickster any credit for laws he merely signed.
Always a canny judge of human nature, Martin Luther King saw through Nixon the first time he met him:
But Richard Nixon was never at peace. A darker spirit animated him — malevolent and violent, driven by anger and an insatiable appetite for revenge. At his worst he stood on the brink of madness. He thought the world was against him. He saw enemies everywhere. His greatness became an arrogant grandeur.
By experience deeply suspicious, by instinct incurably deceptive, he was branded by an indelible epithet: Tricky Dick. No less a man than Martin Luther King Jr. saw a glimpse of the monster beneath the veneer the first time they met, when King was the rising leader of the civil rights movement. “Nixon has a genius for convincing one that he is sincere,” King wrote in 1958. “If Richard Nixon is not sincere, he is the most dangerous man in America.”
Now that I’ve kicked Dick Nixon around some more, it’s time to move on to a sane President, James Garfield. He was, however, murdered by a madman:
The President and the Lunatic: I lead a sheltered existence here at Adrastos World HQ, so I had no idea if American Heritage Magazine had survived the great recession. I was delighted to learn that it had and to stumble on this fine piece of Garfieldiana by Bruce Watson at the AH web site. I grew up reading their illustrated history books. I recall an elaborately illustrated Bruce Catton Civil War book that made me forever a Union man. Piss off, Stonewall…
Garfield’s assassin, Charles Guiteau, was nuttier than a fruitcake and twice as indigestible. He snuffed out the life of one of the most qualified people ever elected Oval One. Garfield is only remembered as a guy who was briefly President and was murdered by a nutter. It’s really a pity, he might have been a highlight in the list of undistinguished pols who served between Grant and McKinley.
More recently, Garfield came in 8th on a list of our hottest Presidents. The listicle maker’s taste clearly ran to himbos since Franklin Pierce beat out JFK for the top slot. Adding insult to injury, JFK finished third behind dumbshit Franklin *and* James K. Polk. Really? James K. Polk? The only thing I like about him is the street named for him in San Francisco…
Speaking of handsome men who are sometimes empty suits:
A Dumb Job: I usually keep an eagle eye out for anything by Frank Rich, but somehow missed this story about 60 years of network news anchors. It was published in April in the wake of the Lyin’ Brian mishigas and posited that a news reader’s job is a silly one.
It *is* true that the nightly news casts aren’t remotely as influential as they were before the internet. It is also true that some of the current occupants (David Muir, come on down) are more Piercian than Kennedyesque if you catch my drift. I still think Rich is a bit hard on the job when you consider some of the past anchors: Cronkite, Brinkley, Chancellor, Rather, Jennings, and Brokaw. It was all downhill once the Rather-Jennings-Brokaw generation signed off the air.
It’s time for our kinda sorta weekly segment wherein I suggest some bloke wot’s stuff I think you should read. Sorry, I seem to be suffering from an acute overexposure to Poldark. I almost feel like mounting a horse and riding along the Cornish coast if I didn’t think I’d fall off and break my damn fool neck. The heat goes on and so do I.
Jamelle Bouie: He joined Slate just before Dave Weigel’s departure and slid nicely into Dave’s slot as a political blogger. Jamelle has been on fire this summer on a wide variety of subjects. He’s also very knowledgeable about social and political history and has never once asserted that Nixon was a liberal. That makes him beyond okay in my book. Here’s a link to his page at Slate.
Saturday Standards: This week’s classic album features urbane jazz-blues singer, Joe Williams, working with the Count Basie Orchestra. Bill Basie was a remarkable musician and band leader who adapted to changing times and kept on swingin’. Here’s an expanded edition of the 1956 classic Count Basie Swings, Joe Williams Sings:
The heat goes on but I’m done.