This week has been a bottomless pit of stupid. We’ve seen an obscure county clerk treated as a hero by the Right and as a villain by the Left. She’s neither, she’s an outlier who’s best ignored. #MLKim my ass. We interrupt this rant with a message from Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys:
Back to the week in stupid. We’ve seen Ted Cruz and a Huckabee staffer have a physical confrontation at the Eye of the Tiger event in Palookaville, KY. Who knew that the guys in Survivor were litigious libruls? We’ve seen a man in a suit try to wrest a sign away from a Code Pink protester at a Dick Cheney event. Stay classy, neo-cons…
Speaking of empty suits, the dullest Greek in history, New Orleans Advocate owner John Georges, teased the media and Twitteratti with the possibility he might enter the Gret Stet Goober race. In the end, he didn’t run but a lot of bandwith was wasted on a boring rich guy who ran and lost for Governor in 2007, and Mayor of New Orleans in 2010. In that time span he’s been a Republican, Independent, and Democrat. Some decider; he can’t even make up his mind as to what he believes in, other than himself.
In New Orleans, we’ve seen Mayor Mitch Landrieu threatened with house arrest if he doesn’t settle an endless lawsuit with the Firefighters Union. This dispute seems to have been going on since the Louisiana Purchase. It may be time to resurrect Gen. Wilkinson or Gov. Claiborne to settle the issue. They’re long dead but still have more life than John Georges as well as better hair than Mitch Landrieu…
A friend asked me the other day why I haven’t done a Malaka of the Week post for a few weeks. It’s because there’s too bloody much malakatude to choose from. There’s a wealth of stupid, which brings me to this week’s theme song. It comes from Aimee Mann’s ab fab 1995 album I’m With Stupid. We’re all with stupid this week, y’all:
Okay now that I’ve vented, on with the Saturday post, which does involve some stupid but not this much:
Now that you’ve consumed some empty calories, join us after the break. Fast…
We begin with someone who is neither stupid nor crazy. Relieved? I know I am.
The Outsider: I’ve already admitted to my crush on Slate legal eagle Dahlia Lithwick. This week she has a fabulous piece about Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Despite all her accomplishments, Justice Sotomayor still considers herself an outsider. That’s a good thing, better still is the fact that it comes out in her jurisprudence. Clarence Thomas also considers himself an outsider but in his case it’s metastasized into reactionary bitterness. I’m not sure who’s the outlier outsider but I know who I prefer: the Puerto Rican chick from the Bronx.
And now for a musical interlude from a white dude from Houston, Texas:
The album of the same name was the primary soundtrack for our Katrina exile in Bossier City, Dallas, and Baton Rouge. It came out not long before the storm. We were definitely outsiders, especially in Texas, y’all.
Now that we’ve taken a wee stroll down memory lane, let’s talk about crime, British style.
The Selling Of The Krays: The Terrible Twins are everywhere. There’s a new movie, Legend, coming out starring Tom Hardy as both Ronnie and Reggie Kray. Since Hardy is one of the best young actors working today and I’m a crime movie buff-as you may have noticed-I’m interested in seeing it. The 1990 biopic The Krays with twins Martin and Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet fame was pretty good but I can never get enough gritty British crime drama. And now for a musical interlude from-you guessed it-Spandau Ballet. Now iz ze time on Saturday Odds & Sods vhen ve dance:
Back to those cray-cray Kray brothers. The Guardian has a terrific article by Duncan Campbell who ponders how two mediocre criminals were able to create their own legend. My conclusion is that they were publicity whores made for the tabloids:
In May 1968, Ronnie and Reggie Kray were arrested. Their Old Bailey trial the following year was, at 39 days, the longest murder trial in English legal history at that time; the press and public galleries were both packed. The twins denied everything, but the Blind Beggar barmaid, thereafter known as “Mrs X”, gave damning evidence and the renegade members of The Firm did the rest. Ronnie gave a spectacular but crazed performance in the witness box, name-dropping the boxing champions they knew and portraying himself as an innocent East End philanthropist. They were jailed for life and a minimum of 30 years by Mr Justice Melford Stevenson, who told them that “society has earned a rest from your activities.”
There was to be little rest from the twins, who continued to promote their image as England’s No 1 gangsters so diligently. And that remains the great enigma about the Krays: the fame they craved ensured that they would be a target for the police, and yet they staged their crimes where they would be guaranteed an audience; the men they believed were totally loyal were the ones who ensured their downfall. Once jailed, they devoted their considerable energies to their image as gangland stars, always open to visitors from outside. Their criminal empire may have been built on sand, but their name became a brand that retains its potency to this day for a nation both fascinated and repelled by the transgressive.
I would be remiss in my capacity as a member of the Silly Party and Pun Community if I failed to point out that Ronnie and Reggie Kray inspired Doug and Dinsdale Piranha:
There’s nothing like a bit of Ethel The Frog, to wash the stupid away, eh wot? I’ll take silly over stupid any day.
It’s story time again: I lived in a tri-plex with some roommates in the Sunset District of San Francisco when I was, uh, like the guy in My Back Pages: “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” End of rare Dylan quote.
The apartment was kind of a dump and we found ourselves in the middle of a running battle between a gay couple downstairs and some bros above us. The bros were loud and deeply stupid. We called one of them Mr. Truck because, well, he had a truck at a time when urban pickup trucks were much less common. Mr. Truck was loud, moronic, and monosyllabic. One day we awakened to him fighting with one of his roomies. All he said was, “PROBLEM. PROBLEM.” It felt as if we were in the middle of this cute pop tune of that era:
Here’s the point of the story. Surprised there’s a point? Me too. My then roommate James and I adopted a stray black cat who James insisted we name Spiny Norman after Dinsdale’s imaginary hedgehog friend. Kitty looked nothing like this:
Unlike Dinsdale, I never nailed Mr. Truck’s head to the floor, but I was tempted. After a year of putting up with the bros upstairs, things got really bad in the building. One of the bros had a brother on the police force, so they never responded to calls. We warned the landlord that the dudebros were unhinged and possibly violent but he just wanted his rent checks. I moved elsewhere with my girlfriend, leaving James and Spiny Norman behind. Not long after that, Mr. Truck died in a car wreck and his roommates trashed their place, even throwing a sofa through a window and on to the sidewalk below. The window was closed; they smashed it and every other window in their crib. I was too young to call the slumlord and say, “I told you so, asshole,” but wish that I had. End of this deeply stupid true crime story.
The episode with Mr. Truck sounds like something out of a Tarantino film, which brings me to our next segment:
Quentin Tarantino: The Complete Syllabus of His Influences and References is a comprehensive look by Larry Fitzmaurice at one of the most influential writer-directors of the last 25 years. Dr. A isn’t a big Tarantino fan but I like most of his films except for the Kill Bill flicks, which even Uma Thurman and David Carradine can’t save. How could I not like a writer who scatters obscure pop culture references throughout his work like a demented Johnny Appleseed?
The article may sound like a homework assignment, but it’s a helluva lot of fun. I’ll skip the pop quiz and list my 5 favorite Tarantino flicks instead:
- Pulp Fiction
- Jackie Brown
- Reservoir Dogs
- Inglorious Basterds
- True Romance. Tony Scott directed Tarantino’s script but it was my first visit to Quentinville. It’s a helluva ride, y’all,
I originally planned to post some political items, but don’t feel like it. I’m in more of a freak show, variety show, vaudeville mood right now, which brings me to the wild, wacky world of sports:
Goodell Kicked In The Ballghazi: The whole so-called “deflategate scandal” finally came crashing down on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Tom Brady’s suspension was lifted and all the Patriots worshiping Massholes rejoiced at his fine performance in the team’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener.
Nothing, however, is ever simple when it comes to Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. There’s an epic article at ESPN, From Spygate to Deflategate: Inside what split the NFL and the Patriots apart, that’s well worth a look.
One of the theories of the article is that the length of Tom Brady’s suspension was a way to make up for the NFL wussing out on the earlier gate: Spygate. If that’s so, the NFL should be ashamed of itself. Of course, the powers that be in the NFL are utterly shameless. It sounds like when the Academy Awards failed to select Jimmy Stewart as best actor in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and made up for it the next year by giving him the Oscar for The Philadelphia Story. A great movie but Cary Grant as CK Dexter Haven is the *real* male lead. (Btw, I originally wanted to rename Oscar for that character when he arrived at Adrastos World HQ in 2005, but he’s such an Oscar that I dropped it within a week.) Make ups never work and neither will the Ballghazi one. It’s time for Goodell to go or maybe even join the Go-Gos or at the very least wake me up before you go-go:
Documentary of the Week: It comes from HBO and is the story of the Meserve/Kunhardt family, five generations of Lincoln collectors and scholars. Living with Lincoln packs a lot of information into its 68 minutes but I was enthralled and captivated. I give it 4 stars, an Adrastos grade of A- and a rousing Ebertian thumbs up.
Here’s the trailer:
Saturday Standards: We’re going back to the roots of the segment this week. Peggy Lee was one of the torchiest torch singers of them all. Here’s her 1956 LP, Black Coffee:
That’s it for this week. I’m feeling less cranky and better prepared to go forth and deal with the stupid. Unfortunately, it’s unavoidable. So it goes.