Saturday Odds & Sods: After The Fire

Keith Haring
Artwork by Keith Haring.

It’s election day in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. Rachel Maddow likes to call our Saturday elections weird but I think the proper word is sensible. In theory, it should boost turnout and my philosophy on voting is the more the merrier. It’s another reason I’d make a lousy Republican.

There were a lot of folks urging me to vote early this year. I prefer to stroll 4 blocks and vote at Xavier Prep on Magazine Street. I like the morning walk, plus I enjoy seeing the same poll workers every election day. After Katrina, the polling places were consolidated, which makes good sense but removed a certain element of NOLA quirkiness. For example, I got a kick out of voting in a neighbors raised basement when we lived on Pine Street in the Carrollton district. It was a mom-n-pop polling place, which made it fun to vote there.

I originally wrote a paragraph about my call on the Gret Stet Goober race for this post. I moved it to yesterday’s post, which gives me an opportunity to quote myself:

Speaking of Andrew the T, he’s conducting a Goober election results pool. I finished second or thereabouts in the primary pool. We’re asked to pick vote totals for the candidates as well as a turnout guesstimate. The prize is bragging rights and y’all know what a braggart I am. Here’s my entry, Edwards 52 Vitter 48. Turnout 43%. Here’s hoping I’m right. If Diaper Dave wins he’ll be pissed and we’ll be in a world of hurt. He’ll fling dirty diapers at us like an adolescent zoo chimp. Splat.

This week’s theme song is inspired by last Saturday’s horrific attack in Paris. Pete Townshend wrote it for the Who to play at Live Aid but it wasn’t ready for the show. It’s about what happens *after* a crisis is addressed, in that case, famine in West Africa. Pete’s conclusion is that “the fire still burns.”

We have two versions of After The Fire. The first is the songwriter himself from the 1986 Deep End Live concert video with a stellar band featuring Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour on lead guitar.

Since Pete wrote the song for Roger to sing, he gave him first crack at recording it. I prefer Pete’s rendition. Roger’s studio recording has too much synth and drum machine for my taste. The vocal is good though. No surprise; Roger could still belt it out in 1985.

There will more Odds & Sods after the break and I suspect the break still burns…

We begin with the song I *nearly* used as the post title but the title is too damn long:

I hate to agree with Sting, but the title, When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What’s Still Around, aptly sums up my attitude. There’s always something horrible going on in the world. If you’re waiting for it to be perfect, you might as well crawl back under the covers, pull them over your head and hide.

That was something of a false start so let’s move on to our first piece, which features a genuine odd couple: Bill Simmons and President Barack Obama.

The Sports Guy Meets POTUS: It’s been an eventful year for Bill Simmons. He left ESPN and they subsequently shuttered his long-form sports and pop culture web site Grantland. I’m still vexed by that: Grantland stories frequently popped up in this space. Fuck you, ESPN.

Simmons landed on his sneakers with an HBO deal and recently interviewed President Obama for GQ. He’s coming up in the world from Isiah Fucking Thomas.

Since the press is inclined to play trivial pursuit there’s been a lot snickering about the Game of Thrones passage. It appears that POTUS doesn’t recall Tyrion Lannister’s name. There are so damn many characters on GOT that I only know half of them myself. I’m no Athenae. I do know the whiny patricidal drunken midget’s name though. He’s Tyrion, the Terror of Tiny Town.

Time for a visual digression:


To hell with Tyrion, I’m more interested in this exchange about Obama’s favorite anti-him conspiracy theory as well as a riff on the JFK assassination:

What’s the most entertaining conspiracy theory you ever read about yourself?
That military exercises we were doing in Texas were designed to begin martial law so that I could usurp the Constitution and stay in power longer. Anybody who thinks I could get away with telling Michelle I’m going to be president any longer than eight years does not know my wife.

Have you ever said, “Give me the JFK-assassination files, I want to read them. Give me all the secret stuff”?

I gotta tell you, it’s a little disappointing. People always ask me about Roswell and the aliens and UFOs, and it turns out the stuff going on that’s top secret isn’t nearly as exciting as you expect. In this day and age, it’s not as top secret as you’d think.

Somewhere out there, Mulder and Scully are bummed out. Meanwhile, Alex Jones is concocting some wacked out conspiracy theory involving basketball, UFOs, and Billy Corgan’s shiny rock star head.

It’s no secret that we’re about to move from the world of politics to the art world:

The Duke Of Wellington Heist: Who among us doesn’t like a good heist story? Salon presents a ripping art theft yarn by Noah Charney:

The heist was daring, the ransom negotiations bizarre, and the trial surreal—part Monty Python, part Perry Mason, part Ally McBeal, and yet critical to legal history. The only successful theft ever from London’s National Gallery took place on August 21, 1961, when a brazen thief stole Goya’s 1812 “Portrait of the Duke of Wellington.” Someone had somehow snuck into the National Gallery through an unlocked men’s room window, evaded security guards and made off with a painting which had just been saved from sale to an American tycoon by the British government. The newly saved portrait of the English war hero went on display at the National Gallery in London on August 3—less than three weeks later, it was stolen.

 The press had a field day, and the theft infected the popular imagination. In the first James Bond film, filmed soon after the crime, you can see a copy of the missing Goya portrait decorating Dr. No’s villainous hideout.

 The trial was a hoot. The defendant, Kempton Bunton was a portly man who resembled the great comic actor Robert Morley. He stole the Goya in bizarre protest against pensioners having to pay the BBC license fee. Scratching your head? It doesn’t make any sense to me either. That’s life in Woody Old England in the Swinging Sixties for you.

Bunton was a classic English eccentric who only spent 3 months in prison because of a loophole in the law, which was subsequently changed. I’m not sure what beef Bunton had with Wellington but he certainly had a punworthy name. I believe Bunton is something that one hangs on one’s house . It’s also a play in baseball. Like Earl Weaver,  I hate that kind of Bunton…

Now that I’ve made a series of atrocious puns, it’s probably time to escape to the great outdoors. I’m not much of an outdoorsman. I hate camping, which I call dirt sleeping much to the chagrin of my friend Christy who’s an avid camper. I came by my disdain for dirt sleeping honestly via my father. He slept on the ground for the better part of 3 years during World War II. He swore that he’d never do it again and passed the torch on to me. It’s my patriotic and filial duty to mock camping. The camp fire still burns…

After that epic story of why I’m an indoorsman, you’ll be surprised to learn that our next article comes from Outside Magazine. I may not be a dirt sleeper but I am a film buff, which leads us to a genuinely astonishing tale of film archaeology.

The DeMille Dig: Cecil B. DeMille was one of the founders of the film industry. He was also a world class autocrat who made cheesy historical epics that look ridiculous to modern audiences. Trust me, there were filmgoers at the time who realized that his films were ludicrous too.

In 1923, DeMille made his *first* version of The Ten Commandments. He had ambitious and very expensive sets built north of L.A. Film industry lore held that the DeMille’s City of the Pharoahs had been destroyed, but that turns out not to be the case. David Ferry has the story:

Thirty-three years ago, Peter Brosnan heard a story that seemed too crazy to be true: buried somewhere along California’s rugged Central Coast, beneath acres of sand dunes, lay the remains of a lost city. According to his friend at New York University’s film school, the remains of a massive Egyptian temple, a dozen plaster sphinxes, eight mammoth lions, and four 40-ton statues of Ramses II were all supposedly entombed in the sands 150 some-odd miles north of Los Angeles.

“It was an absolutely cockamamie story,” Brosnan says. “I thought he was nuts.” The ruins weren’t authentic Egyptian ones, of course. They were the 60-year-old remains of a massive Hollywood set—the biggest, most expensive one ever built at the time. The faux Egyptian scenery had played the role of the City of the Pharaoh in one of Hollywood’s first true epics, Cecil B DeMille’s 1923 film The Ten Commandments. The set had required more than 1,500 carpenters to build and used over 25,000 pounds of nails. The production nearly ruined DeMille and his studio. When the shoot wrapped, the tempestuous director supposedly strapped dynamite to the structures and razed the whole set, burying it in the sands near Guadalupe, California, to ensure no rival director could benefit from his vision.

Bullshit, Brosnan thought. But then his buddy pointed him to a line in DeMille’s posthumously published autobiography. “If 1,000 years from now archaeologists happen to dig beneath the sands of Guadalupe,” the director teased, “I hope they will not rush into print with the amazing news that Egyptian civilization…extended all the way to the Pacific Coast.”

Brosnan’s attempts to excavate DeMille’s sets did not go smoothly. To learn more, you’ll have to read the story. I’m the director and I’m in charge. Uh oh, I seem to be channeling Cecil:

DeMille disproves the notion that “we’re all working for the Pharoah.”

Since I quoted the Richard Thompson song Pharoah in the caption above, I should bloody well post it:

Sorry for going all Cecil B. DeMented on your asses. That’s the name of one of John Waters’ lesser films but the title is great, much better than the movie itself. We’ll move on to an infinitely better film.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo is one of my favorite movies. Its reputation has grown over the years as film buffs have come to the realization that it’s not only one of Hitch’s creepiest thrillers, it’s one of his most personal. Now that’s creepy, y’all.

Vertigo Through Kim Novak’s Eyes: Not Ms. Novak herself, but her character Judy Barton who is tormented by Jimmy Stewart playing the weirdest role in his career. It was a Hitchcockian master stroke to cast the extremely likable Stewart as the crazy and twisted Scottie Ferguson. Most analysis of the film has focused on Scottie’s similarities to Hitchcock. Lauren Wilford has flipped that on its head and analyzed the film through its leading lady’s eyes. It’s a helluva read. It almost made me want to wander the streets of San Francisco in a suit just like Scottie. I refuse to jump into the bay. That’s tantamount to camping in my book…

Before we move on, here’s a lobby card featuring Ms. Novak doing double duty:

Vertgio Lobby card

I got so dizzy from my bout with Vertigo that I decided to keep it snappy and move on to the end of this week’s post. I hope everyone’s heart can stand the strain. I don’t want anyone to have a Redd Foxx moment:

Saturday Classic: Since we’re stuck in the ’80’s this week with the Keith Haring cover art and Police song, it’s time to post Pete Townshend’s 1980 album Empty Glass. It starts off rocking hard with an ode to the Sex Pistols, Rough Boys, and never lets up:

That’s it for this week. We may take a wee holiday break next Saturday Odds & Sodswise but since I’m a wise ass I may still surprise you. Speaking of wiseasses:

Riddler Meme

One thought on “Saturday Odds & Sods: After The Fire

  1. OMG that Daltrey video! That is pure distillation of 80s right there. The hair, the pants, the shoulder-dance moves. Ugh! I didn’t think he had it in him to look so unattractive ever in his life. Cringingly, I realize that I probably thought it was really hot at the time.

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