Saturday Odds & Sods: Dirty Old Town

New York 1910 by George Bellows.

It’s been a rather wild and wicked week in New Orleans. Make that Wicked. I became the last American to see that hit musical and enjoyed it; yea verily. I never thought I’d root for the wicked witch but I did. The music was excellent and the instrumental flourishes reminded me of Duke period Genesis; not a bad thing at all.

In other NOLA news, the city wants to tax anything that looms over sidewalks including stoops and galleries. That’s a fancy word for balconies and many of the ones in the Quarter have been there and untaxed since the early 19th Century. It’s another money grab by City Hall and strikes me as a stoopid idea. The term “grandfather clause” should apply to this situation since the offending objects have been there even longer than the Landrieus. The Mayor should turn his attention to the air bnbs that his administration has allowed to pop up like toadstools after a summer rain. The whole topic makes me feel like the Stoop Crone on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt…

Now that I’ve made an obscure pop culture reference for the first time (I lie like Trump) it’s time to move on to this week’s theme song. Ewan MacColl wrote Dirty Old Town in 1949. It’s about MacColl’s hometown Salford, Greater Manchester in the UK but has been recorded by a wide variety of artists, especially the Irish. We begin with MacColl’s version followed by the Pogues:

There’s *another* fine song of the same title by David Bryne. Bryne’s Dirty Old Town was written and recorded for his 1989 Rei Momo album:

Let’s shake the dirt off and move to the break. But first a word on dirt from Robert Penn Warren:

“Dirt’s a funny thing,’ the Boss said. ‘Come to think of it, there ain’t a thing but dirt on this green God’s globe except what’s under water, and that’s dirt too. It’s dirt makes the grass grow. A diamond ain’t a thing in the world but a piece of dirt that got awful hot. And God-a-Mighty picked up a handful of dirt and blew on it and made you and me and George Washington and mankind blessed in faculty and apprehension. It all depends on what you do with the dirt. That right?”

Willie Stark in All The King’s Men was inspired by Huey Long. Warren wrote the novel when he was on the faculty at LSU and it remains one of the best books ever written about the Gret Stet of Louisiana. Let’s turn over another shovelful of dirt and go to the break.

Since we’ve been digging in the dirt, it’s time for a musical interlude from Peter Gabriel:

I’m going to try something different this week and not do the whole link to long-form articles thing. It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to even if I look more like Al than Lesley Gore. Meanwhile, it’s time to raise a glass and say:

Party On, POTUS: Every once in a while a listicle appeals to me. The lists at are occasionally infuriating but more often than not entertaining. This one caught my fancy because it’s about booze, Every U.S. President’s Favorite Drink. It turns out that Tricky Dick wasn’t the only Oval One getting tipsy whilst in office. In contrast, Rutherford B. Hayes’ wife was a teetotaler, which was why they called her Lemonade Lucy. One would hope that some enterprising pols would have spiked the punch leading to drunken Ohioans cavorting, uh, drunkenly. Decorum was not a big deal in the Gilded Age.

Beer is one of my favorite beverages and it turns out that more than a few Oval Ones liked their suds. We all know that President Obama likes a cold brew from time-to-time. He’s even willing to drink in public, which pols rarely did back in the day. As you can see below, drinking beer is mandatory when one visits Germany.


It should surprise no one that the portly Grover Cleveland was fond of beer as described in the listicle:

Grover Cleveland had a strong preference toward beer — drank a lot of it and drank it almost exclusively.

According to Will-Weber, “[Cleveland] and a fellow politician once took a vow to hold themselves to four beers a day.”

Something tells us limiting oneself to four beers per day isn’t the healthiest way to live.

There are no pictures of President Cleveland drinking a brew but one President had a different sort of beer problem. Remember Jimmy Carter’s peanutty brother Billy? He had his own brand of beer. It was vile.


Let’s move on from President Grover Cleveland to baseball hall of famer and Presidential namesake, Grover Cleveland Alexander. The segment still involves booze:

Separated At Birth: Anyone out there remember the late, great Spy Magazine? Its American incarnation only existed from 1986-1998 but it was a terrific satirical rag one of whose founders was the current editor of Vanity Fair, Graydon Carter.

One of my favorite features was Separated at Birth; a photo essay that showed the resemblance between some well-known folks. Somewhere in my mighty book stacks I have this swell paperback:


That brings me to my somewhat feeble attempt to revive the genre. I found a picture showing the uncanny resemblance between pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander and the neo-surrealist film director, David Lynch:

Old Pete-David Lynch

Old Pete Alexander was a great pitcher and a wild, roaring drunk. Legend has it that he often pitched drunk or hungover. One thing I’m certain of is that he did not age well. He died at the age of 63 whereas Lynch is still alive and kicking at the age of 70. I’m not sure when that picture of Alexander was taken but the one of Lynch is recent.

Speaking of Presidents, Ronald Reagan played Grover Cleveland Alexander onscreen in The Winning Team. It was not historically accurate but how could an old drunk complain about being played by a handsome leading man or that his character got to canoodle with Doris Day?


Old Pete looked a bit less pickled in that pic. Speaking of the 1952 movie with the gorgeous  albeit super perky Doris Day:


We move on from a campy movie about a Presidential namesake to a Twitter legend who wants to take Bernie down:

Al Giordano: I stumbled into Al’s Twitter feed 4 or 5 months ago. He’s a witty, well-informed writer-activist. I guess they’d call him a hyphenate in Hollywood. I just call him a clever bastard. Al was one of the first people on the Left to become alarmed by the strident, smug and self-righteous rhetoric and antics of some Sanders supporters. It was from Al that I stole the term Dudebro to describe the worst of them. The term Dudebromides is mine, all mine with an assist from Dr. A.

Not long ago, Al decided that it was time for someone to challenge Sanders in his 2018 re-election bid. He drafted himself. Sanders has traditionally run on the Progressive party line with Democratic support. Al plans to challenge him as a Democrat.  Joy Ann Reid recently wrote a profile of Al for the Daily Beast:

So why would he do it? Because in Giordano’s view, and that of his social media supporters, Bernie is losing ugly and hurting Democrats’ chances of prevailing against Donald Trump in November.

“I mean, what haven’t they touched?” Giordano asks, peering at me via a 6-by-4 inch Skype window from his home in Mexico City. “What part of the Obama coalition have they not alienated? It’s like they want to erase the coalition.”

Giordano is referring not to Sanders himself, but to his most fervent online followers, who have blasted away at everyone from John Lewis to Delores Huerta to Elizabeth Warren, and most recently Barney Frank, for failing to support Bernie’s “political revolution,” or worse, for backing Hillary Clinton, who is loathed by a swath of the Sanders faithful. Giordano says he blames Sanders for the vituperative tendencies of his shock troops, and for failing to talk them down.

Bernie’s tone was better after his White House meeting with President Obama. But there are mixed signals from the conspiracy theory wing of Dudebro Nation, which is why I was glad that the President, Veep, and Senator-Professor Warren endorsed HRC in rapid fire succession. And I’m glad that Al is pressing on with his plans to out insurgent the insurgent incumbent in the Green Mountain State. Lots of I words in that sentence. It may be time to join the Three I-League

I was stupidly pleased when Al followed me back on Twitter after I mentioned living in the 13th Ward of New Orleans. We seem to have similar musical tastes. I have, in fact, suggested that, along with Senators Leahy and Franken, he should form a Deadhead Caucus if elected. Before the California primary Al frequently quoted the lyrics to the Weir-Barlow ode to my home state, Estimated Prophet:

California, preaching on the burning shore
California, I’ll be knocking on the golden door
Like an angel, standing in a shaft of light
Rising up to paradise, I know, I’m gonna shine

Let’s spin the song itself:

Nah, nah, nah, don’t worry about me, no. I am however worried about the fate of the Shelby family gang:

Peaky Blinders: Dr. A and I just finished watching season-3 of this fabulous BBC series on Netflix. The Peaky Blinders are  a gang from the dirty old town of Birmingham, England. The name is derived from the caps they wear wherein one can hide razor blades. That reminds me of a Peter Tosh song so I’ll indulge myself:

Like a stepping razor,  don’t you watch my size, I’m dangerous. That describes the Peaky Blinders to a tee.

Peaky Bliders is full of colorful characters and great acting by Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson, Tom Hardy, and season 1-2 super villain Sam Neill and season-3 hate object Paddy Considine. If you haven’t watched, check it out; each season consists of 6 action-packed episodes. If you liked Boardwalk Empire or The Sopranos, you’ll like what my favorite character, Arthur Shelby calls Peaky Fucking Blinders. I’ll give Arthur the last fucking word of this fucking segment, fuck you.

Peaky Blinders meme

Now that I’ve F-bombed you into submission, and gone Midlands gangster on your asses, let’s return to the 2016 Presidential campaign:

 Sloganeering:  The Sanders campaign/movement/whatever has a new slogan for their post primary efforts. Here we go:


In addition to sounding vaguely Trotskyite the word struggle troubles me. Here’s the phrase in German according to Herr Google:


The word kampf evokes the  title of the jailhouse memoirs of a certain genocidal madman. The reason it bothers me is that, while I think they’re ideological zealots,  I DO NOT think Sanders or anyone associated with him is a Nazi. I think Jeff Weaver aka Comic Book Guy should read more history and fewer comics:


Let’s move from the ridiculous to the sublime:

Saturday Standards: Oscar Peterson’s presence on an album is usually a guarantee of quality. Add Anita O’Day to the mix and you have a classic like Anita Sings the Most with the Oscar Peterson Quartet:

That’s it for this week. We’ll be road tripping to the Commonwealth of Virginia but I plan to check in here. I am a blogoholic, after all. It was a good week for Democrats and since I had the potent POTUS potables segment,it’s time for a political superhero Bat meme. It’s FDR with a proper gin martini, not a damn dirty vodka martini.

FDR Meme

One thought on “Saturday Odds & Sods: Dirty Old Town

  1. Cool on Al Giordano. I stumbled upon him somehow in late 2003. He had a blog called BigLeftOutside, and when not educating his readers on authentic journalism he was insisting that John Kerry would be the Democratic nominee, despite the smart money having written him off. Another expression of his I recall was beautiful losers, which was not a compliment.

    Kind of doubt he’ll make much of a challenger to Sanders, but I appreciate his clear-eyed view on things.

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