Saturday Odds & Sods: These Foolish Things

Full title: Music in the Tuileries Gardens Artist: Edouard Manet Date made: 1862 Source: Contact: Copyright (C) The National Gallery, London
Music in the Tuileries Gardens by Edouard Manet via The National Gallery, London

It’s primary day here in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. I don’t expect surprises on either side unless Ted Cruz uses his proximity as a creep from Texas to beat the creep from New York. There aren’t enough white lefties for Bernie Sanders to do better here than in other Southern states as pointed out in this tweet:

After a closer examination, I spotted one African-American guy holding the R sign. I guess you can add Bernie Sanders to the list of things white people like.

I used the Manet painting as the featured image so I could tell a cat story. Really. While a college student, I named a black cat after the artist. I don’t recall why but I did. I’m one of those demented cat people who likes talking to my kitties. My shtick with Manet was to play comparative artists. I’d ask her, “who do you like better, Picasso or Manet?” The answer was invariably “Manet.” Admittedly, I supplied the answer but what cat wouldn’t prefer themselves to Miro, Magritte, or even Monet? End of crazy cat person story.

This week’s theme song was written in 1935 by the English songwriting team of Jack Strachey and Eric Maschwitz. Oddly enough, I discovered this wonderfully wistful tune as the title track and closing number of a 1973 album by Bryan Ferry. I’m posting that version along with a killer 1936 rendition by Billie Holiday with the Teddy Wilson Orchestra.

Here’s hoping these foolish things do indeed remind me of you, you, and make me feel like you do. We’ll learn if that’s the case after the break.

Speaking of things white people like, there was an idiotic article last week about the flow of people from Brooklyn to New Orleans at something called

Hipster Douchebaggery, Brooklyn Diaspora Edition: I tried manfully to stop using the word hipster. I even wrote a post  in 2014 declaring my intention to do so. Alas, my feet are made of linguistic clay: the word is both amorphous and spot on. In the end, I was unable to kick my hipster habit as it made it harder to kick hipsters. It’s also fun to say it aloud. Y’all must be hip to the fact that I like to ster things up…

In a breathlessly stupid piece, some guy named Issac Anderson talks to some hipsters who have hippity-hopped to New Orleans from Brooklyn. The whole thing is unintentionally funny but one quote stands out for its utter dipshittery:

The psychological terror of street life in New York may, however, be countered by the threat of random acts of physical violence in New Orleans, a town with a long tradition of street justice rooted in Napoleonic Code.

Where do I start? We’ve *never* had the Napoleonic Code other than in Streetcar Named Desire and Tennessee got it wrong. Louisiana has a French-influenced Civil Law system BUT it has NOTHING to do with criminal law. I’d like this Anderson bozo to meet Professor A.N. Yiannopoulos aka Yippy and have him explain the Civil Code. I took a class from Yippy at Tulane Law School; since I was his “countryman” I was asked to volunteer with some frequency. Siccing Yippy on a clueless hipster douchebag is *my* form of street justice. Trust me, the people who are into street justice have never heard of the Napoleonic Code.

I originally planned to do a whole post about this stupid article but decided it wasn’t worth it. We leave the silly billy Brooklyn “emigres” and move on to one of only a handful of female members of the legendary Algonquin Round Table:

Dorothy Parker 1932
Dorothy Parker in 1932.

Dorothy Parker: I’ve had her on my mind because of Jenner Jason Leigh’s supporting actress nomination. Ms. Leigh, of course, played Dorothy on the big screen in Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle in 1994. It was a bravura performance for which JJL won the National Film Critics award for best actress but didn’t get an Oscar nod. I believe that’s called a snub in the more strident corridors of the media. I give Allen Rudolph’s film 3 1/2 stars, an Adrastos grade of B+ and a big ole Ebertian thumbs up.

Anyway, there’s a marvelous article at Slate by Karina Longworth about Dorothy’s time in Hollywood. The piece is largely on the Dot. There’s even a podcast for those who like such things. Longworth posts some interesting stuff about Parker’s days as a Hollywood lefty:

Parker didn’t work in Hollywood during much of the war. She was not subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947, but she attended the hearings anyway, in support of the unfriendly 19. But she stayed off the blacklist through the 1940s.

And then in April 1951, the doorbell rang, and Parker answered, and she immediately clocked the two men in suits standing on her doorstep as FBI agents. They started asking questions. Was so-and-so a friend of hers? Did she know that so-and-so was a Communist? What about such-and-such? Did she ever see such and such at a Communist Party meeting? Parker knew better than to incriminate her friends, or herself, and apparently so did her dog, who started barking the moment the Feds crossed the threshold and didn’t stop throughout the whole interrogation. When asked point-blank if she had conspired to overthrow the government, Parker responded, “Listen, I can’t even get my dog to stay down. Do I look to you like someone who could overthrow the government?”

She was also probably too loaded to overthrow the guvmint. Like many of us, Dorothy liked to drink. In her case, a bit too much. It was the curse of writers of her generation, alas.

Let’s move on from the Roaring Twenties and Golden Age of Hollywood, and get down and dirty with the man behind TMZ, Harvey Levin, but first a musical interlude:

The High Priest Of Sleaze: Gossip makes the world go round: everybody loves it even if they won’t admit to it. I admit to consuming my share of it as well as trash teevee, sad but true. (I wonder if should blame Obama? It’s what my former Governor would do.) That’s one reason I ended up reading a piece in the New Yorker by Nicholas Schmidle, The Digital Dirt. I’m glad I did. It’s a helluva profile.

To be fair to TMZ, they’ve broken some big news including two of the biggest sports stories of recent years, the Ray Rice and Donald Sterling stories:

But for some the significance of the Sterling and Rice stories called for a reassessment. In 2014, Adweek named Levin the digital editor of the year, noting, “Whatever topic your co-workers are talking about around the water-cooler, they probably read it first at TMZ.” The television journalist Jane Velez-Mitchell, who is a friend of Levin’s, told me, “Harvey’s a truth-teller—he has exposed things that people want to keep secret.” Sports Business Daily wrote, “Like it or not, the effect that TMZ’s coverage had with its Ray Rice and Donald Sterling stories was Watergate-esque.” And after Ben Bradlee, the former editor of the Washington Post, died, in late 2014, Deadline Hollywood praised TMZ’s “game-changing” work, and asked of Levin, “Is he the next gen Ben Bradlee, or just the face of the new incarnation of the National Enquirer?”

He may be both. I didn’t know that Levin had a legal *and* hard news background before he became a gossip maven. Ya learn something new every day. Check out the article, it’s better than fair to Schmidling…

We move from a discussion of internet gossip journalism to the old school British tabloid variety:


Documentary Of The Week: The great documentarian Errol Morris has tackled many weighty topics, but in 2010 released a movie about a juicy sex scandal, Tabloid. It’s the story of beauty queen Joyce McKinney and the Mormon man she loved, and later abducted when he went on his mission to England. (If you’re abroad and see a white guy in a white short-sleeved shirt with a black clip-on tie, run for the woods. It’s usually a LDSer in his missionary position.) It’s one of the all-time great tabloid stories and Morris had a ball with it. It beats the hell out of dealing with Rummy. Of course, Rummy didn’t sue Morris but Joyce did. So it goes.

Here’s the trailer:

I don’t know about you but I’ve never met either a manacled or monocled Mormon. I have, however, encountered a few manic ones. Willard Mittbot Romney comes immediately to mind.

Enough robot talk. Tabloid is available at Netflix and I give it 3 1/2 stars, an Adrastos grade of B+ and a Roeperian thumbs up. If you don’t remember him, Richard Roeper was the guy who had the thankless task of replacing Gene Siskel after his passing.

Saturday Classic:  It’s time to circle back to Bryan Ferry and his  great 1987 album, Bete Noire. This album had two-count ’em two-great guitarists sitting in: David Gilmour and Johnny Marr. I think it’s Ferry’s best and most fully realized solo album. Shorter Adrastos: it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it even if Don’t Stop The Dance isn’t on it.

Here’s the video for the opening track, Limbo:

Kiss and Tell was the only single released in the US, hitting #31 without a bullet:

That’s it for this week. We’ll be back with more tomfoolery that may or may not remind me of you, or you of me for that matter. Here’s a reminder that four bat villains are better than one:

1966 Villains meme