I’ve been complaining about the heat in this space all summer, which seems to be endless and not in a Beach Boys kinda way. It’s been more of a sweating safari than a surfing one here in New Orleans. We’ve been smashing daily records and even hit the pages of the Bezos Post:
During one of the country’s hottest summers, New Orleans quietly set a mind-boggling record. On 43 nights, the temperature did not drop below 80 degrees in New Orleans, according to the Louisiana state climatologist.
It blows the previous record out of the water — 13 nights in 2010. It’s also incredible considering in an average summer, New Orleans has just 2.1 nights at or above 80 degrees.
This record should be getting much more attention than it has been.
It’s been on my mind, yo. I’ve been bitching about it relentlessly. I guess the Insult Comedian would say it was all a Chinese plot and make a joke about chopsticks or tunneling to China a la Bugs Bunny. That’s right, it’s climate change and in the immortal words of Van the Man, it’s really, really, really, real.
The other big local story was a demonstration last Saturday that vowed to pull down the statue of General/President Jackson from the square named for him. I knew it wasn’t going to happen when I remembered that veteran activist Malcolm Suber was the group’s organizer. I’ve been acquainted with Malcolm for years and the word that comes to mind is: gadfly. He’s quite a talker, y’all. Unfortunately, Malcolm’s gadflyness attracted a certain Senate candidate:
I’m opposed to removing the Jackson statue despite my intense dislike of the man. I have a simple test when it comes to the monuments issue: what was the original purpose/intent of the statue? The Lee and Davis statues were erected to celebrate the Confederacy (aka treason) and white supremacy (aka racism) whereas Jackson’s honors him for the Battle of New Orleans not for being a hot-tempered, slave-owning motherfucker. Additionally, Jackson Square is part of the fabric of the community as opposed to the aforementioned statues.
Let’s get back to the blistering, blazing heat, which is showing signs of abating at last. It’s about fucking time, it’s October 1st, y’all. This week’s theme song is Cole Porter’s Too Darn Hot. It was written for his fabulously shrewish musical Kiss Me Kate. We begin with a clip from the 1953 MGM film starring Ann Miller and Howard Keel. Then we have versions by Jazz greats Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torme. I could not choose between Ella and Mel so I opted for maximum Porter:
Finally, please give it up for the Velvet Fog. Jeez, I sound like Harry Anderson’s character on Night Court:
Now that we’ve conclusively established that it’s too darn hot, it’s time to drink some water and rehydrate. I don’t want anyone fainting after the break, after all.
Welcome back my friends to the post that never ends. It’s time to Begin The Beguine, which is, of course, another Cole Porter numbah. You know what that means:
That was Sheryl Crow from the 2004 bio-pic De-Lovely starring Kevin Kline as Cole Porter. That movie told us much more than we needed to know about Cole’s sex life whereas in Night and Day from 1946, Cary Grant played him as a strapping Hoosier heterosexual. Something in the middle might have been nice.
It’s cronyism time. The estimable James Karst has written another excellent New Orleans history piece for the Zombie Picayune. This time around, it’s about an infamous ballplayer’s time in the Crescent City.
Shoeless Joe In NOLA: Joe Jackson played for the New Orleans Pelicans in 1910. The Pels were then members of the Southern Association, a league which breathed its last in 1961. The cause of death was refusal to desegregate.
New Orleans was Jackson’s last “minor league” stop before going to the show in Cleveland. I put minor league in quotes because that was the era of the free minors, many of the teams and leagues were *almost* of big league caliber. In fact, the Pacific Coast League consisted mostly of cities now in the majors including San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Seattle. End of brief PCL history lesson. But first a picture of a PCL star with one of the best baseball names of all-time, Jigger Statz.
Arnold John Jigger Statz played well for the Chicago Cubs and the Brooklyn Robins but he preferred working at home in Southern California with the Los Angeles Angels. I guess his jigger was fuller there or something. He did have pretty darn good major league statz though…
We know him as Shoeless Joe now, and the national press sometimes used the nickname even then. But locally he was “the Carolina confection” or some variation on the theme (“the caramel kid,” “the candy kid,” etc.), on account of his sweet swing and effortless skills in the outfield. He was being summoned to the big leagues to play for the Cleveland Naps, and his legend only grew there.
Jackson had scalded the ball all season long for the Pelicans, winning the batting title and forcing local sports reporters to dig deep for new expressions of hyperbole to describe his heroics. “That Carolina confection, Joey Jackson, continues on the job as leading larruper in the Southern League,” wrote The Daily Picayune on Aug. 7. “When the sweat gleams on the forehead and the spheroid is in play, then there’s class to Jackson’s jolting — there is joy in Joey’s way,” the paper wrote a week later.
There are many different accounts about how Jackson got his nickname. According to longtime Pelicans owner Alexander Heinemann, the “Shoeless” sobriquet was not inaccurate. Heinemann described reading to Jackson the menus at local restaurants, as well as newspaper accounts of Jackson’s games. And he described a player averse to wearing shoes.
“Like most of the ball players, Jackson lived in a neighborhood rooming house,” Heinemann wrote in his memoirs. “The people were extremely refined, but Joe stuck to his name and repeatedly came into the parlor without his shoes. He just simply would not wear shoes. The lady of the house appealed to me, and I had to buy bedroom slippers for the ‘Shoeless’ one to wear.”
You say Heinemann, I say Hineyman. Before we call the whole thing off, I bet he was the butt of many jokes…
If it was anywhere near as hot in 1910 as it is 106 years later, who can blame Jackson for shunning being shod? Try repeating that seven times in a row. Betcha can’t do it. Just think, they lived without air conditioning in 1906. I wonder if Joe doused himself in cologne to ward off the BO. One would hope so, otherwise he’d have been Stinky Shoeless Joe and that ain’t fitting…
I provoked a minor dustup on Karst’s Facebook page over Jackson’s status as one of the Black Sox: the 8 players who threw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds and were banned for life. Karst described Jackson as the “greatest baseball player to ever come through New Orleans. (Sorry, Will Clark and Mel Ott.)”
I pointed out that Mel Ott played his heart out and never threw a game in his life as well as hitting 511 homers. Besides, he was a Giant (as was Will the Thrill) and one of the greatest players in our storied history. This exchange followed:
Adrastos: Ott was the second best position player in Giants history. I embrace the NY Giants too.Karst: The best being McCovey?Adrastos: D’oh: Mays by a mile. Stretch was his sidekick until the late Sixties.Karst: I was setting you up for a “wrong Willie” quip, although I do think Willie the Elder is underrated today.
My only excuse for blowing that straight line is that it was Sunday morning and I was clearly under-caffeinated. Back to the dustup over the World Series fix. I may be a Ty Cobb revisionist but I’m not a Black Sox revisionist. One of Karst’s friends is and out of fairness, here’s a link to a pro-Jackson piece she provided.
I’m not buying it, y’all. It’s true that, in addition to being an illiterate dumbass, Jackson was a follower, not a leader. It’s also true that ChiSox owner Charles Old Comiskey Park was a cheap bastard BUT there *was* a conspiracy and Jackson was part of it. Even if he was a dumbass, he had enough sense to lie about his involvement. I direct you to a piece by baseball historian and statz maven Bill James. Big Bill is on my side without the need to jigger anything. Nuff said.
While we’re on the subject of Willie jokes, it’s time for a musical interlude:
There’s enough phallic innuendo in that video to satisfy someone named Johnson. It’s time to innuendo this section and go to the movies.
Documentary Of The Week: Dr. A and I went to two movies last weekend. I cannot remember the last time we did that. We went to the newish art house in Mid-City, which means I had a beer during the movie. Woot. The Broad Theatre is named for the street it’s on as opposed to the beer I consumed:
The beer is named for the 7th Street wharf, which is across Tchoupitoulas Street from the brewery. Uh oh, this is veering perilously close to product placement. Not to worry: I sold out for free. Cheers.
That brings me to the documentary of the week: Ron Howard’s film about the Beatles touring days, Eight Days A Week. Appropriately enough for a film about the Fab Four, it’s, well, fabulous. There’s footage I’ve never seen and their Shea Stadium gig is presented at the end of the film. It’s fun to see the Beatles overcome the screaming teenyboppers and play quite well even if they cannot hear themselves. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Here’s the trailer:
I give Eight Days A Week 3 1/2 stars, an Adrastos grade of B+ and a rockin’ Ebertian thumbs up. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
See You On The Radio: I’ve been an avid viewer of CBS Sunday Morning since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Did you ever wonder what happened to that grasshopper? I bet the poor bastard got stepped on or eaten by a cat. Della Street would eat a grasshopper, then puke it up directly. Oops, I guess that was oversharing. I’d apologize except that I’m not sorry.
The show has had only two hosts since its debut in 1979, two guys named Charles: Kuralt and Osgood. Charlie Osgood has been hosting since 1994.He retired after last Sunday’s show. Who among us doesn’t love Charlie for his silky melodic voice, bow ties, and poetic doggerel? Here are a couple of videos from his last broadcast:
CBS has decided to break precedent and have a host who is not named Charles. Jane Pauley will be Osgood’s successor but she has not commented as to whether she’ll wear a bow tie. Of course, a character created by her husband, Gary Trudeau, often wore an Osgoodian cravat:
Saturday Standards: I had so much fun writing the Jimmy Rushing post that I went YouTubing and found a marvelous 1956 compilation featuring the Count Basie Orchestra’s bluesiest work from 1939 to 1950. I don’t usually post compilations in this spot but LPs did not exist in that era so let’s enjoy some Blues by Basie:
That’s it for this week. Our closing meme is a post-debate picture of HRC and the Insult Comedian. I cannot imagine why she looks happier than he does. #sarcasm