Saturday Odds & Sods: Tombstone Shadow

Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp.

It’s been a tough week in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. The July heat has metastasized into even more gun violence than usual here in New Orleans, and more spectacularly in Lafayette. The notion of a movie theatre shooting is unnerving for someone like me who has spent vast chunks of my life in the dark watching flickering images on the big screen.  We’ve learned that the shooter is not just another demented loner but a Confederate flag flying wingnut. Nice.

Another sad fact is that it is easier to get a gun in Louisiana than it is to vote. Any attempt to limit our egregiously stupid open carry law is doomed to fail no matter who is elected Governor in the fall. Anyone surprised? I thought not.

Speaking of Governors, PBJ was in the state for the first time in a month and skedaddled to Lafayette to take part in a “looking concerned” photo-op and press conference. He had nothing of substance to offer. Bob Mann said it best when he wrote that all Jindal had to offer were “hugs and shrugs.” In other PBJ news, his staff were able to convince gullible reporters at Politico and the Advocate that an INTERNAL POLL showing PBJ at 8% in Iowa is a surge. 8 fucking percent? Give me a break.

How was that for a cheery opening note for this week’s Saturday post? Don’t worry, the usual contingent of jokes and puns will be forthcoming. On to this week’s theme song, John Fogerty’s Tombstone Shadow. There *is* a connection between it and the iconic image of Henry Fonda in John Ford’s My Darling Clementine but we’ll get to that after the break. But first let’s rock with the original CCR studio version followed by a 2005 live version from John and his crack band. I opted out of the Creedence Clearwater Revisited rendition because it has all the vices of the original (the same mediocre rhythm section) and none of its virtues.

We’ll get oddsier and sodsier after the break if such a thing is possible.

Let’s start with another Earpian teaser:


The Dark Side Of Wyatt Earp: The real Wyatt Earp lived a long and colorful life after hanging up his badge but he was never quite able to escape the aforementioned Tombstone Shadow. “Every time I get some good news, there’s a shadow on my back.”

There’s a fascinating piece in the Guardian about a dust-up Earp got into whilst refereeing an 1896 championship fight in San Francisco:

History has made Earp an old west legend, riding shotgun through trouble with Bat Masterson and Doc Holiday. But in life he was the man who botched one of the biggest fights of his time. At the start of the 20th century, most people did not see Earp as a demigod of frontier justice, but rather as a dirty referee who fixed the heavyweight championship, running away before many in the crowd realized what had happened.

“Wyatt Earp got more notoriety around that boxing fight than he ever did with the gunfight,” said Scott Dyke, a Earp researcher.

In a modern world where Hollywood has turned Earp into a gun-toting marshal hunting bad guys, the story of how he came to officiate and then ruin the Tom Sharkey and Bob Fitzsimmons fight on 2 December 1896 is largely forgotten.

Read the whole story to learn that Wyatt Earp was nothing like Henry Fonda or Burt Lancaster’s noble takes on him. That’s right, the fix was in. It would make a helluva “boxing is corrupt” movie but it would wreck the Wyatt Earp myth.

Back to the reel Wyatt Earp. It is truly astonishing how many other fine actors  have portrayed this mythic character: Randolph Scott, Hugh O’Brian, James Garner, Kevin Costner, and Kurt Russell. The best of the Earp films artistically is-no surprise-My Darling Clementine and the most exciting is Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. I have a special place in my heart for the two times Garner played Wyatt Earp in Hour of the Gun and Sunset because he played him as a rascal. James Garner was good at rascality, y’all.

One more cinematic note. All this talk of early pugilism made me think of one of my favorite Errol Flynn movies:

Gentleman Jim

Gentleman Jim is wildly historically inaccurate but wildly charming. Speaking of charming, let’s move on to Lennon and Macca:

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah:  One of the highlights of my week was this article by Chris Molanphy at Slate, Without The Beatles: The three strange Lennon-McCartney hits that went to No. 1 without Lennon or McCartney-and what they tell us about the secret to recording a smash. How’s that for a longass title? I developed severe carpal tunnel issues while typing that. Ouch.

The Sixties hit in question was recorded by Peter and Gordon. It’s  a fair to middling Macca tune but it hit the charts when the Beatles were hotter than New Orleans in July. Just say Bob’s your uncle and yeah, yeah, yeah and it was at number one for a week:

To learn about the other 2 hits, you’ll have to read the article. But it’s not one of the really famous Beatles covers. While we’re at it, there’s a 2013 piece at Slate called The Songs The Beatles Gave Away. It’s well worth a look. Yeah, yeah, yeah or as they sing it below ja, ja, ja:

Oops, I misremembered it again. Yeah, yeah, yeah.


 Nancy Smashes Steny: Before Steve Kornacki became an MSNBC talking head and show host, he was an insightful political writer/reporter/pundit for Salon and Roll Call. He got off to a good start at MSNBC but has become more of a typical MSM-style horse race addled guy in the last year or so. I’m not sure if being in the kinda sorta big-time (biggish?) went to his head or if saw the looming shake-up at the cable network coming and mainstreamed himself. We’ll see how that plays out. Btw, my favorite rumor is that Keith Olbermann *may* be back with MSNBC. He *did* return to ESPN a second time so maybe pigs can fly twice.

Anyway, Steve wrote an “alumni” piece for Roll Call about the epic rivalry between senior House Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer. The article begins with a dispute over my former Congressman, Dollar Bill Jefferson:

It was a hot, humid night — as if there’s any other kind during a D.C. summer — and Nancy Pelosi wasn’t happy. On her to-do list was an item that, on paper, seemed like a light lift: Get rid of the guy in whose freezer the feds had just found $90,000 in cold, hard cash. This was a particularly pressing matter for Pelosi, who had already made a vow to “drain the swamp” of Republican corruption the centerpiece of her party’s effort to win back the House in the 2006 midterms.

And yet here she was, presiding at an emergency Democratic Caucus meeting and facing a rebellion. Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana wasn’t that popular or influential with his colleagues, and few doubted he was dirty. But to many Democrats, particularly Jefferson’s fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus, this was a test of procedural fairness. Jefferson had not yet been charged with any crime, so who was Pelosi to strip him of his prestigious Ways and Means seat — especially when there was no obvious precedent for such a move?

Nancy Smash got her way but without Hoyer’s help. I miss having Dollar Bill to kick around so I had to post that excerpt. New Orleans politics is much duller since the Jefferson machine went out of business. Speaking of Gret Stet chicanery, our next segment takes us up North to Shreveport:

The Curious Case Of The Caddo Parish Cad: There’s a helluva piece in the New Yorker by Rachel Aviv about Louisiana’s death sentence central, Caddo Parish. She focuses on one case in particular of a man accused of killing his child and on one prosecutor, Dale Cox, the man who puts the cad in Caddo. Cox was once opposed to capital punishment but is now a rabid proponent.  Cox was acting district attorney at the time the piece was researched, but his loose lips helped sink his ship and he dropped out of the race for a full-term as DA. Cox’s desire to “kill more people” is not uncommon among prosecutors but most of them know how to speak in code.

E.L. Doctorow, R.I.P. One of America’s finest novelists died earlier this week at the age of 84. I am particularly fond of 4 of his novels: The Book of Daniel, Ragtime, Billy Bathgate, and World’s Fair. I stumbled upon two articles that should be of interest to y’all. First, a 1986 interview Doctorow did with the Paris Review about the art of fiction. Second, a characteristically charming and well-written piece by the man himself for New York Magazine in 2013 about his childhood.

Saturday Classic: I’ve gone on so much about John Fogerty and CCR today that it’s only right to post one of their albums in this slot. I’m going to throw you a curveball by NOT posting the album that contains Tombstone Shadow. John is a baseball fan so I’m sure he won’t object. Let’s all take a trip to Bayou Country:

Here’s some lagniappe. John Fogerty’s last appearance on Letterman with a ferocious 3 song medley :