Spring has sprung in New Orleans at last after a brief cold snap. I should say cool snap because the lows were in the mid-forties but that’s chilly for us in March. We ran the AC one day and the heater two days later as we rode on the NOLA weather rollercoaster. So it goes.
The Fox network was in town on Palm Sunday. They filmed a half-assed modern musical version of the Passion Play complete with crappy recent pop songs. I didn’t go downtown to gawk and have only watched thirty minutes of The Passion, but it’s a stinker. It did, however, attract something of a sideshow as the procession weaved through the streets of the Quarter. Anyone shocked? I thought not. Here’s how Advocate music writer Keith Spera described one heckler/riffer who lacked the wit of Tom Servo or Croooow:
Dr. A and I were recently the youngest people at a dinner party in Baton Rouge. It was thrilling to be at the kids table as it were. It was a gathering of people who were mostly over 75 among whom was a Louisiana legend, Victor Bussie. Mr. Bussie, who is now 90, was the head of the AFL-CIO in the Gret Stet for 41 years and he remains proudly, defiantly, and adamantly liberal. His wife, Fran, was there as well. Ms. Bussie was one of the first women in the South to call herself a feminist. I dropped the name of my friend, NOLA political pundit Clancy DuBos and she said: “You can tell Clancy that he’s still a young whippersnapper as far as I’m concerned.” Ah, the joys of hanging out with the elderly…
Mr. Bussie told some very juicy stories about everyone from Earl Long to Edwin Edwards to Mary Landrieu most of which are off the record. I asked him why he hasn’t written his memoirs and he said, “Well, if I did that I’d have to tell the truth and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.” Mr. Bussie is a class act and a very kind man.
Back to the post title, someone asked Mr. Bussie if he was as liberal as ever, after affirming that he was, he said: “Liberal. That’s the most beautiful word in the language.”
Fran went on to tell me that she’d printed the piece out and recently looked at it. To say that I was flattered is an understatement. End of humblebrag.
Now that I’m sore from patting myself on the back, let’s move on to a tale of espionage against the Confederacy that happened right under Jeff Davis’ nose:
The Black Spies In A Confederate White House is a fine piece at the Daily Beast by Christopher Dickey. I nearly called this segment Spy In The House Of Hate as a pun on the song title below but thought better of it:
Notice how I had it both ways? It’s something I’m good at. Must stop humblebragging…
Back to espionage. One of the most interesting tidbits of the Dickey article is how defeatist Davis and his wife Varina were as early as 1862:
The servants knew. The Confederate White House in Richmond, Virginia, was not a happy home. The coachman had heard Varina Davis, the first lady of the South, wondering aloud if the rebellion her husband led had any prayer of success. It was, he heard her say, “about played out.” Less than a year into the war, she had all but given up hope. And the president himself, Jefferson Davis, gaunt and sere, was under tremendous strain, disheartened and querulous, complaining constantly about the lack of popular support for him and his policies.
Remember Rawnsley’s new rule of politics? If you’re whingeing, you’re losing. It fits here. Of course, Davis was (not was) a champion whinger his entire life, which is another argument in favor of tearing down that statue of him here in New Orleans. His innate whininess was probably why he was in drag when captured by Federal Troops.
Damn. he was an ugly woman. An alternate title for that print could be Defrocked Rebel President Caught In Frock.
We move on from his incompetency in drag to an article about the stuff that dreams are made of:
The Mystery Of The Maltese Falcon: John Huston’s film of Dashiell Hammet’s book was one of the first classic movies I saw on the big screen and it remains one of my all-time favorites. But this segment is NOT about the exploits of Sam Spade and Caspar Gutman but about the object itself.
Vanity Fair’s Hollywood issue was pretty darn awesome this year and the stand-out piece was by Bryan Burrough about one of the most iconic Hollywood props of all-you guessed it-the black bird, the stuff that dreams are made of. There seem to be a veritable flotilla of falcons out there; some that were clearly onscreen and others that might not have been. It’s enough to make the Fat Man and Joel Cairo leave Istanbul and head for Los Angeles to look for the real dingus. Click here for the details.
We leave the world of movie memorabilia for a piece by the noted film historian Neal Gabler wherein he tells us who the Insult Comedian reminds him of:
Donald Trump Meets The Joker: As longtime readers know, I don’t believe in making Hitler and/or Nazi analogies. It’s usually the sign of lazy thinking and historical ignorance. Why do you think the teabaggers are so fond of comparing President Obama to Hitler? It’s weak tea, y’all.
I’ve been more inclined to compare Trump to Mussolini or my main man (in the ironic Ali G sense of the term) Silvio Berlusconi. The Insult Comedian certainly shares Silvio’s exuberant sexism as do his henchmen. Back to Neal Gabler who concludes a fascinating disquisition on pop-culture and the movies with these three ‘graphs:
And when Trump poses as the strongman who can solve any problem and defeat any foe through the force of his personality, he fits the mold of the superhero for whom politics is a messy obstacle. This is the authoritarian appeal that analysts have found in Trump: He will get things done. He’ll build a wall. He’ll deport undocumented immigrants. He’ll destroy ISIS. He’ll tell China where to get off. That’s not a political platform. It’s the plot of a Marvel movie.
Authoritarian populism, one part Superman, one part Groucho, sounds like an oxymoron, and it is. It also happens to be an attractive substitute for people who loathe politics, which is why traditional politicians have an impossible time navigating them the way Trump, a non-politician, has. You hear people say they don’t want another politician. You don’t hear them voice the corollary: They want someone out of a movie — someone supra-political.
That’s Trump. But here’s the problem with reconfiguring our politics as a movie in which characters actually make things happen. Sometimes you get Batman. Sometimes, though, you get the Joker.
The Insult Comedian is definitely the Joker. He has the bad hair and pallor of Heath Ledger’s Joker who you’ll see at the end of the post. He’s also blustery and full of bad ideas much like the comic book Joker. He is, however, nothing like *this* Joker:
Saturday Classic: You’ll be shocked to learn that this week’s classic album is Jethro Tull’s Minstrel In The Gallery. I do sarcasm as well as humblebraggadocio…
This album was my soundtrack for an extended stay in London. I played it every day for at least a month. That’s still my method for albums that I *really* like to Dr. A’s occasional chagrin. I still have my well-worn UK vinyl copy of Minstrel boxed up in my closet.
Minstrel In The Gallery is an urban album written before Ian Anderson pissed off to the country. That was not a bad thing because it led to two more classic Tull LPs: Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses. Both focused on the bucolic glories of the English countryside. I’m more familiar with the gritty urban environs of Baker Street Muse. Enough chatter, time for some music:
That’s it for this week. I’m uncertain if there’s anything to humblebrag about in this post but if there is, you’ll hear directly. Meanwhile back in the year one, here’s our closing Bat-meme: