Saturday Odds & Sods: Blues In The Night

Harlequin and Pierrot by Andre Derain, 1924.

Let’s get something out of the way. It’s still hotter than it should be in New Orleans. Fall has fallen with a thud as it may end up as the warmest October in recorded history. End of black market weather report.

In this week’s spirit of deja vu all over again (thanks, Yogi) I promised an update on beleaguered Jefferson Parish President, Mike Yenni. The sexting bastid is still in office after telling the public that it was “in my best interests” to stay. That inspired a scathing teevee commentary by the man with one of the best names in punditry, Clancy DuBos. The video won’t embed but the text rocks:

When Mike Yenni couldn’t avoid facing reporters yesterday, here’s what he said about his decision not to resign:

“It’s in my best interest to do what I was elected to do,” he said Monday.

Think about that statement, folks. He’s saying that his interests are more important than those of Jefferson Parish and its people. His interests.

This is a good time to remember the original Mike Yenni — the real Mike Yenni — and his father, Joe Yenni. They are revered because, as parish presidents, they always put the parish’s and the people’s interests ahead of their own.

This guy, who was born Mike Maunoir but changed his name to Yenni, now makes it clear through his actions and his words that he is not worthy of the Yenni name.

For the sake of the parish, he should resign.

Ouch. I think Yenni is hanging on in order to have something to trade with prosecutors if charges loom. A poll was taken showing that 79% of JP voters want his name changing ass gone. Double ouch. I wonder if there will be a Downfall video any time soon.

The only recourse Jeffersonians have is a recall election. It will be tough but a Metry lawyer, whose father used to be one of the bosses of that parish who was tried but acquitted of corruption charges in 1995, is pledging $100K of his own moolah. You cannot make this shit up, y’all.

That concludes this episode of “As Jefferson Parish Turns.” Cue the Hammond B-3 organ. No, not B3 that’s a different kettle of fish altogether.

My mama done tole me to move on to this week’s theme song. Blues In The Night was written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer as the title song of a mediocre 1941 movie. The tune has become a classic thanks to all the fabulous versions out there. We have three versions for your enjoyment today. Let’s kick it off with a jazzy rendition by Louis Armstrong and Oscar Peterson.

Here’s Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle’s torch song interpretation.

Finally, a 21st Century version from the late, great neo-chanteuse Amy Winehouse.

My Mama done tole me to go to the break before we send in the scary clowns.

Did I say send in the clowns? Calling Mr. Sondheim and Ms. Peters:

Now that we’ve gone from Blues In The Night to A Little Night Music, let’s stop clowning around and move on to our next segment.

Send In The (Scary) Clowns: If you’re like me, you’ve been gobsmacked by the scary/creepy clown hysteria that’s sweeping the nation. I get why people find clowns scary but I don’t get the extreme agita. One thing Tommy T and I have in common is an affection for the teevee show, Boston Legal. James Spader’s character, Alan Shore, had a bad case of coulrophobia: fear of clowns. I wonder if Alan ever heard this Graham Parker tune:

Back to the creepy clown scare or is that the scary clown creepiness?  In addition to the all the ridiculous sightings and overheated news stories, there are a couple of fine articles online that try to debunk this clownish bunk. Neither piece was written by pro footballer Jadevon Clowney. The first piece by Kali  Holloway at Alternet posits that it’s sort of a riot by our collective unconsciousness:

The only mystery here is how long the clown menace will continue to be a story before it fades from popular consciousness, like satanic ritual abuse, recovered memories and razor blade-stuffed apples before it. Imaginary clowns aren’t the cause of the mass anxiety we’re currently experiencing, they’re just the latest symptom and manifestation of it—and not for the first time, either. Scary clown sightings have trickled in from around the country since the early 1980s, when “stranger danger” first became the national concern that launched a thousand social panics. But the question remains, after 30-something years of clown sightings here and there, why the sudden peak in reports?

“I believe that the surge in phantom clown sightings in 2016 are a reflection of the fears and uncertainties in American society at the present time,” Robert Bartholomew, who writes about social delusions, fads and popular myths, told “I think they are part of a greater moral panic about the fear of strangers in an increasingly urban, impersonal and unpredictable world. Phantom clowns are essentially the bogeyman in a different cultural guise.”

That’s a fancy way of saying that people are scared and are seeing scary monsters like, say, a certain Presidential candidate who is one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen. Michael F concurs:


He’s actually scarier without the white face makeup. He might even try a bit of black face minstrelsy as a part of his “outreach” to black folks. I doubt if that will happen. It could lead to some resignations from some of the clowns on his staff. Nah, I was just joking. All you have to do is substitute Mr. Trump for Madam Barnum in this song:

The Insult Comedian might like that rewrite, he loves being Mistered and he’s surely a Barnum admirer. I bet Mr. Mister are among his favorite Eighties bands.

Back to scary clown articles. The second one I’d like to share with the class is an interview in the Guardian with the author of the book, Bad Clowns, Ben Radford. It turns out that creepy clown sightings are a global phenomenon. They’ve been spotted in Canada, Australia, and the UK. A British Creepy Clown was recorded riding a mobility scooter in Sheffield. I am not making this up. Someone else is.

Radford thinks he knows why this is happening:

“Clown panics”, as he calls them, have happened on and off since the 1980s. There was a minor outbreak in 2013, but not on the scale of what’s happening now. They proceed through copycat behaviour. And at a time when social and mainstream media are caught in a feedback loop of mutual amplification, they spread quickly.

“Clown panics”, as he calls them, have happened on and off since the 1980s. There was a minor outbreak in 2013, but not on the scale of what’s happening now. They proceed through copycat behaviour. And at a time when social and mainstream media are caught in a feedback loop of mutual amplification, they spread quickly.

“Why wouldn’t it go viral?” he asks of the most recent scare. “It’s unnerving and funny at the same time.”

But why are clowns scary? Radford says that sanitised, domesticated clowns like Bozo and Ronald McDonald obscure the fact that clowns have always been, at best, ambivalent figures.

“Darker, more sinister currents and threads go back to the earliest versions of the clown. The clown has always been an ambiguous character. Clowns were never really good, so it’s not really accurate to ask when clowns turned bad. They never claimed to be good.”

So, clowns are like Della the cat then? That makes sense, she’s simultaneously cute and creepy, especially when the devil eyes start flashing:

The Devil and Miss Della

We do things weirder here in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. In fact, we have an anti-masking law, which led to the arrest of  two teenage boys for wearing clown masks in Raceland in rural LaFourche Parish. The law originally targeted the Klu Klux Klan and other hate groups. It shows how even laws enacted for benign reasons can have pernicious effects. Sound like it’s time for the ACLU to mount a challenge.

We’ll close this segment with another clown song. You know the one I mean, Be A (Scary) Clown:

We’ve kept it fairly light thus far but there’s an outstanding true crime piece I’d like y’all to read. Time to issue the standard disclaimer:


The Who Dat Murder Case: The shooting of former Saints star Will Smith by Cardell Hayes was a tragic event for all concerned. It involved a series of misunderstandings made worse by the fact that the disputants were both large men with guns in their respective vehicles. Sean Flynn’s GQ profile paints a sympathetic portrait of Cardell Hayes. I do not believe he wanted to hurt anyone that night but he did. Read the article and decide for yourself.

My motto on the Saturday post is: when in doubt talk about the movies. That’s what we’re about to do.

Martin Scorsese’s Film School: Fast Company has an epic interview with the great director about the 85 movies he thinks all filmmakers should see. It’s a quirky and idiosyncratic list. I have seen all but four of them. which makes me a major movie nerd. I’m not telling you which ones they are. I like to keep youse off-balance.

While we’re on the subject of Scorsese, here are my Ten Favorite Scorsese Films in no particular order except the first three. I like having my cake and eating it too. Mmm, cake.

  1. Goodfellas
  2. Taxi Driver
  3. Raging Bull
  4. The King Of Comedy
  5.  Gangs Of New York
  6.  The Aviator
  7.  The Departed
  8.  Casino
  9.  Mean Streets
  10. The Age Of Innocence

My favorite non-fiction Marty movie is The Last Waltz. I have never seen The Wolf Of Wall Of Street and have little desire to do so. It’s the only Scorsese fictional feature I have not seen. If that makes me a sinner in the church of Marty, so be it. It’s a weight I’m willing to carry. Just ask Fanny and Crazy Chester:

It’s time to stop clowning around and post some music that’s guaranteed neither to scare nor creep you out. At least I hope not. Let’s set the dial on the wayback machine to 1970.

Saturday Classic: The first time I ever heard Yes was also the first time I ever heard Pink Floyd. It involved being in an altered state at the dumpy apartment of some sketchy friends. After playing Dark Side Of The Moon, my host put on The Yes Album and it was love at first hear:

That’s it for this week. No, not quite. First Draft’s annual fundraiser continues. If you enjoy reading Saturday Odds & Sods as much as I enjoy writing it, please help a brother out. I’m not in charge of money matters so CLICK HERE for more details.

I’ll let one of the creepiest clowns of all-time, Twisty from AHS: Freak Show, bid you a scary adieu. You say creepy, I say scary. Let’s call the whole thing off.


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