Saturday Odds & Sods: Better Days

Arboretum By Flashbulb by Stuart Davis.

Researching and writing about the lunatic fringe is exhausting. Any time I write a post with a picture of, say, the froggy Pepe Le Puke, I am followed on Twitter by alt-right types, the more hateful of whom I block. The rest I disappoint by being a liberal Clinton supporter. You’d think they’d notice the “echoes” around my handle and avoid me like the plague. It’s proof positive that some of these folks are dumbasses as is this GIF from the Daily Show:

The damn thing is animated elsewhere but static here; just like the dude in the Trump hat. He seems to have forgotten a Republican President named George W. Bush. If you note the back of his hat, he’s clearly one of Bill-O’s pinheads; either that or he stuffed socks in his cap. Perhaps he’s Beldar Conehead’s redneck brother. Nah, he doesn’t look French.

On a lighter note, the Krewe of Spank had our first meeting of the 2017 Carnival season. Yes, we actually plan in advance. Hard to believe, isn’t it? We have at least one promising theme idea but my lips are sealed with or without a kiss. Hush-hush.

We have a doubleheader for this week’s theme song, featuring two of my all-time favorite artists. We’re in the different songs with the same title zone once more. Let’s begin with Bruce Springsteen’s Better Days, which is the opening track of the Lucky Town album. It features one of Bruce’s best lyrics:

Well I took a piss at fortune’s sweet kiss
It’s like eatin’ caviar and dirt
It’s sad funny ending to find yourself pretending
A rich man in a poor man’s shirt

It’s hard to do much better than those lyrics but Gary Louris gives it a shot in *his* Better Days, which comes from the Jayhawks’ Smile album.

Now that I’ve finished bettering you up, let’s go to the break fast. Mmm, toast…

Before moving on to some substance, I better post a lagniappe tune for your betterment.

Speaking of “dealing with a memory that never forgets,” we begin with a solemn piece from the Undefeated about the wreckage left behind by Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky.

Penn State Doesn’t Get To Decide Joe Paterno’s Legacy: Penn State honored  its disgraced former football coach at a game last Saturday. That inspired a deeply moving piece by Mike Wise. I’m not going to spoil it by going into too much detail but it’s powerful stuff. Here’s the money ‘graph:

Leaders of men do not deserve to be commemorated if they cannot protect children. Taking the good parts of a man’s life and celebrating them – paying homage for all the character-building he did for his players – disrespects and demeans the boys who became men after they were abused by Sandusky, especially the ones whom Paterno knew about.

Let’s move on to the return of a prodigal progressive commentator.

The Closer:  No, I’m not talking about the Kyra Sedgwick cop show that’s morphed into Major Crimes. I’m talking Olbermann. Keith Olbermann. He’s doing a web series for, which evokes memories of his Countdown glory days. I feel a Springsteen song coming on:

Welcome back to the fight, Keith. Holy shit, I sound like Inspector Renault in Casablanca. Anyhoo, here’s a link to Keith’s YouTube thingamabob. There’s no need for the worst person in the world feature right now. We all know who that is. Pass the Skittles while we move on to a cheerful topic, the Boss aka BRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCE.

I really should not segue to the next section without a bit of music. Let’s get urban and go Out In The Street:

Looking Back With Bruce Springsteen: The Boss has published his memoirs. They’re entitled (what else?)Born To Run. Tramps like us and all that rot. The book has landed him on the cover of Vanity Fair complete with a flattering profile by David Kamp who does not camp it up or even go camping whilst chatting with Springsteen.

It’s interesting to learn that Bruce is not tired of performing Born To Run in the way that the Stones are tired of venerable hits like Satisfaction:

There is one song, though, whose place and inclusion are never in doubt: “Born to Run.” Springsteen always slots it in near the start of his encore set, the clutch of seven or eight songs that see out the night. “It’s still at the center of my work, that song,” he said. “When it comes up every night, within the show, it’s monumental.” By design, every concert, no matter what its shape, builds up to “Born to Run” as the climax, with the songs that follow serving as a decompression from its operatic intensity.

It is not uncommon for an artist to grow wary of a signature song—Robert Plant has referred to “Stairway to Heaven” as “that wedding song,” and Frank Sinatra called “Strangers in the Night” a “piece of shit”—but Springsteen has never tired of “Born to Run,” which he wrote at age 24 in a small rental cottage in West Long Branch, New Jersey. Expressly conceived as an important work, it took him six months to piece together all of its elements, from the twangy, Duane Eddy-inspired guitar figure with which it announces itself, to its “tramps like us” refrain, to its appropriations of imagery from the B movies that Springsteen adored as a kid, pulpy road pictures like Gun Crazy, with John Dall and Peggy Cummins.

“A good song gathers the years in,” Springsteen said. “It’s why you can sing it with such conviction 40 years after it’s been written. A good song takes on more meaning as the years pass by.”

Who among us has not riffed on the song’s lyrics? Even Christopher Moltisanti did so in the presence of  Silvio Dante Van Zandt no less:

In other Bruce news, Vulture’s Caryn Rose has rated all 314 Springsteen songs from worst to best. I think she would have been wise to remove Born To Run tunes from the rankings. It ended up dominating the top ten and as my old pal Mike Shapiro told me “masterpieces should stand alone.” I quite agree. All this talk about Born To Run makes me want to hear it:

I’m not going to try to come up with my own best Bruce songs list; instead, here are my Top Five Springsteen studio albums:

  1. Born To Run
  2. The Rising
  3. Darkness On The Edge Of Town
  4.  The River
  5.  Nebraska

Curtis Hanson, R.I.P. The man who made one of the best American films ever, L.A. Confidential has died at the age of 71. It was not Hanson’s only great film, Wonder Boys was almost as good, but Hanson was the one who was able to adapt James Ellroy’s complex novel for the big screen when many others had failed.

In the immortal words of Sid Hudgens, “Off the record. On the QT and very hush-hush.”

Since L.A. Confidential was a neo-noir classic, there’s only one Bruce tune that fits:

Actually, there are many but what’s a little hyperbole among friends? Meeting Across The River is another excellent example. I’ve always visualized Jimmy Cagney as the narrator who is urging his sidekick not to fuck things up this time around. Good help is hard to find even in the world of fictional crime.

Saturday Classic: My first Springsteen show was during the Darkness On The Edge Of Town tour. My friend Russ had an extra ticket and encouraged me to come along to Winterland. I hadn’t heard that much of Bruce’s work before then. I was blown away. I’m not the first one to say that about the live E Street Band experience and won’t be the last.

I was surprised to find the entire Darkness On The Edge album on the YouTube. I’m not sure how long it will last there but let’s take a trip to the Badlands:

That’s it for this week. We’re talking our closing meme to the mean streets of James Ellroy’s Los Angeles. It’s neither hush-hush nor strictly confidential but we’ll pretend that it is.


3 thoughts on “Saturday Odds & Sods: Better Days

  1. “I’ve always visualized Jimmy Cagney as the narrator who is urging his sidekick not to fuck things up this time around.”
    Nah, Steve Buscemi. Or would he be the friend?
    P.S. RIP Buckwheat Zydeco.

  2. “He seems to have forgotten a Republican President named George W. Bush….”

    Don’t know how they could have or should have done it, but…just letting Junior and Dick off the hook without so much as regular reminders of how everything they touched turned to the foulest smelling shit was/is a big mistake by the Democratic Party. Just to contrast, “Jimmy Carter” is still at least a GOP true believer/wingnut pejorative, and it’s coming on four decades…

    I wish they’d taken Molly Ivins’ advice and wrapped him around their neck…

  3. ” If you note the back of his hat, he’s clearly one of Bill-O’s pinheads; either that or he stuffed socks in his cap. Perhaps he’s Beldar Conehead’s redneck brother.”


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