Saturday Odds & Sods: When The Spell Is Broken

Master of Magic

Sideshow banner by Fred G. Johnson

This is the second Richard Thompson song I’ve used as the Saturday post’s theme song. RT’s gloomy elegance fits my cranky, irascible mood at this moment in time. There are many spells that need breaking here in New Orleans. One that has been broken is our string of consecutive days of over 90 degrees. It ended last weekend at 48, which is the third most in recorded history. I’m contemplating taking credit for it since I mentioned it in this space last Saturday.

The other spell that needs breaking is the hold that the events of 2005-2010 have on my community, but I’ll go into that in more detail on Monday. I feel like Michael Corleone in Godfather 3 much of the time and I don’t even have to deal with the director’s miscast daughter. That’s right, I keep getting dragged back into the Katrinaversary. Trust me, I wish it didn’t happen since I’ve lived it every day since 2005 but it does. Fuck a duck.  Enough crankiness.

On with the theme song. When The Spell Is Broken first appeared on the 1985 album, Across A Crowded Room. It’s a song best heard live, so I’m posting a 1999 version with the RT Band as well as a 2011 solo acoustic rendition by the man himself. Finally, Bonnie Raitt’s cover from the 1994 RT tribute album Beat The Retreat.

More spellbinding breakage after the break.

I’m actually not quite through flailing the malakas of the post-K era. The first piece is about former President George W. Bush disappearing from public view during the early stages of campaign 2016. Unfortunately, he’s materializing in New Orleans on August, 28. It will be a limited appearance and won’t be a repeat of his Jackson Square extravaganza in 2005. But talk about an unwelcome guest. I think Shawn Colvin had the right idea:

Texas Napoleon Returns To His Waterloo: This news really set me off yesterday. It reminded me of the vortex of suck wherein the Bush White House played politics with our recovery. They put Karl Rove in charge of recovery issues, which meant that Turdblossom worked overtime to blame Gov. Kathleen Blanco for every Katrina/Flood related fuck-up instead of the ones she *was* to blame for. This is, in turn, led to the collapse of the Democratic party at the statewide level. Heckuva job, Turdblossom. Enough venting. I will, however, dedicate Harry Nilsson’s Fuck You song to W:

Back to the article at TPM Cafe by Aurin Squire who sounds like a mid-level medieval vassal of some kind. The Bushes are obviously NOT his suzerains. One point Mr. Squire makes is that Jeb’s mind numbingly dull campaign is interfering with the GOP’s effort to erase W’s fingerprints on their party:

This upcoming election marks the latest great GOP purge of history. The disappearing Dubya isn’t a coincidence. It’s part of a larger trend of former Republican presidential candidates being faded to black by the party whose mascot, ironically, is the elephant, an animal known for memory and longevity. In contrast to this systematic erasure, the Democrats trots out its winners and losers every four years. We still hear from Jesse Jackson, Al Gore and Bill Clinton—and John Kerry, of course, is a key part of the Obama administration. It’s presumed that when President Obama finishes his last day in office, he will also be a public figure working both internationally and within the party.

I don’t entirely agree with his point about the Democrats. We are customarily very hard on losing candidates such as Michael Dukakis, Fritz Mondale, and George McGovern. I think Squire confuses convention speeches with campaigning during the rest of the cycle. Nobody was out stumping with the Duke in 1992 or McGovern in 1976. Also, Al Gore isn’t a loser. He won the 2000 election before the Supremes handed the election to Bush. I still hold a grudge over that one.

The rest of Squire’s points are well-taken, and how can I be too hard on someone who shares a last name with one of my favorite musicians, the late Chris Squire. Speaking of whom, there was a bizarre tribute shirt floating around the internet a few weeks back. It seems to have vanished but it made it look as if the prog-rock deity was a dead gangsta rapper or some such shit. I guess the Yes legal team was all over it like a cheap  suit t-shirt.

Speaking of spells that need breaking, let’s move on to the encrusted myths of the Lost Cause and Radical Reconstruction, which, alas, was insufficiently radical to survive the Tilden-Hayes electoral fiasco in 1876.

Eric Foner On Reconstruction: There’s a lefty magazine out there called Jacobin. Who knew? Not me, but I don’t get around much any more. Now that they’ve lopped off the royal heads, they’ve conducted a wide-ranging interview with historian Eric Foner. Dr. Foner’s brilliant 1988 book, Reconstruction, remains my go to source about that turbulent period in our history. And Eric doesn’t Foner it in during this interview either:

The main thing is that people know next to nothing about Reconstruction. And what they do know is just not correct. I mean, just basic myths. People say, “They gave the right to vote to blacks but they disenfranchised all the whites.” Well, that’s completely untrue, they did not disenfranchise all whites. But people think that’s a known fact.

What percentage were actually disenfranchised?

A tiny percent. The people disenfranchised were people who held during office before the Civil War. Nobody knows how many that was. It might have been 8,000, 10,000, nobody knows, but it was not all whites. Your average Confederate veteran was not disenfranchised.

Oh, and the idea that all the blacks in office were illiterate and ignorant, also a total myth — we could go on about this but the point is, there are still a lot of misconceptions. I’m hoping that with the 150th anniversary of Reconstruction coming up there will be a little more interest.

The interview seems to have been conducted prior to the whole Confederate monument mishigas, but I think I know where Eric Foner stands on that issue even if I’m too lazy to google it.

Let’s move on to a story in the Guardian about an Erik with a K. That’s Kramer, the retired NFL QB who tried to take his own life this week after years of severe depression.

Erik Kramer shows NFL would rather tilt at Deflategate than confront true shame: Other than using the dread suffix gate (I prefer Ballghazi but only Keith Olbermann is with me on that) Les Carpenter’s title nails Roger Goodell’s endless hypocrisy. Only Goodell thinks that Tom Brady’s balls are more important than retired footballer’s problems with physical and mental health issues, which were, more likely than not, caused by their NFL careers. Kramer survived but the next retired player who attempts suicide may not be so lucky.

The whole Ballghazi thing is surreal. The NFL is suing one of its biggest stars over a minor infraction of the rules. If Brady’s balls were over-inflated it had no effect on the game at issue: the Patriots beat the Colts 48-7. Gimme a break. Never forget the Krewe of Spank’s list of Goodell dos and don’ts:

Don't Feed The Goodell

That ends the serious portion of this week’s Saturday post, so let’s change the tone with this summery Cars classic:

Now that we’ve seen Ric Ocasek walk on water, the spell is finally broken. Perhaps that explains how he, like Tom Brady, married a super model. I have no idea if Ric ever overinflated his balls. Btw, I’ll never understand the whole Billy Joel-Christie Brinkley thing since he’s a candidate for the malakatude hall of fame as well as a toad…

Speaking of rock stars:

The Least Historically Accurate Music Biopics Ever Made: Vulture’s Keith Phipps looks into this pressing issue. Okay, it’s not pressing, but I’m fond of messed up biopics. Phipps looks at 7 such flicks and concludes that the least accurate with a score of 12% is Ken Russell’s Listzomania. It’s no shocker since it made no pretext whatsoever of being historically accurate. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very entertaining either, although the notion of Roger Daltrey as Franz Listz always made me laugh. Of course, it’s not a comedy.

74287169

Sorry for bringing up a great star’s flop but since it was just a side-gig for Roger, he didn’t take the fall. And nobody forgot that he *was* a golden God at Woodstock:

On to an altogether more successful rock star film:

Documentary Of The Week: I saw Who Is Harry Nilsson? the other evening on Netflix. It’s a fabulous portrait of one of the quirkiest pop stars ever. Harry careened from oddball project to oddball project and ended up with a fascinating body of work. The film nails the contradictions of this wild and crazy guy with the voice of an angel. I give this an Adrastos grade of A, 4 stars, and a big Ebertian thumbs up.

Saturday Standards: This week’s selection is something of a hybrid. At the peak of his commercial success in 1973, Harry Nilsson decided to record an album of standards. His close friend and producer Richard Perry tried to talk him out of it, but I told you Nilsson was quirky so he did it anyway.

This type of album has become quite fashionable but, like Linda Ronstadt, Harry did it right and hired Gordon Jenkins as his arranger. Jenkins is best known for his string heavy arrangements for artists such as Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. Without further ado, it’s time for A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night:

Now that I’ve posted an album by a rock star singing standards, here’s one by a Jazz great singing rock classics. It’s not as bad as it sounds, but it doesn’t work as well as the Nilsson record:

That’s it for now. Next week I’ll be hiding under the bed and avoiding Katrinaversary overkill. Hopefully, we’ll get back to what Gamaliel called normalcy when it’s over.

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