It’s been another weird week in New Orleans. The weather has been yo-yo-ing to and fro. We reluctantly ran the AC on a particularly steamy day and we’re back to the heater right now. The kitties, of course, prefer the latter. So it goes.
There was a lethal shooting last weekend on Bourbon Street. It doesn’t happen that often but when it does the media, city government, and tourism establishment lose their collective minds. This time there are suggestions of metal detectors and limited access. That’s typical NOLA think: propose something that would be simultaneously costly and unenforceable. We live in a country and a state with an armed population and when you add booze and crowds to the mix, violence is not surprising. It’s difficult to prevent an asshole with a concealed weapon from discharging it. That may sound cold and harsh but “to live in this town, you must be tough, tough, tough, tough.” Thus spake Jagger and Richards. She-doo-be.
The mendacity theme here at First Draft continues with this week’s theme songs. That’s right, my obsession with different songs with the same title continues. We begin with Todd Rundgren’s 2004 tune Liar. It’s followed in quick succession by Queen, the Sex Pistols, Argent, and, of all people, Three Dog Night who covered the Argent tune.
I had no idea there were so many songs with liar in the title and that’s the truth. There will be more prevarication after the break, but first I need to find that lying sack of shit that we’ve heard so much about over the years.
We begin with some of the better recent articles about Trump’s status as the lyingest liar who ever lied.
How To Deal With Trumpian Mendacity: The Insult Comedian lies constantly, nay, exuberantly. He lies when the truth is in his self-interest. He lies to get out of scrapes. He lies to make himself look good. He lies to distract attention from his innate corruption.
Some of the brighter minds among the punditry have attempted to bring order to Trump’s disorderly conduct:
James Fallows of The Atlantic: How to Deal with the Lies of Donald Trump: Guidlines for the Media.
Michael Tomasky of The Daily Beast: The People Chose Hillary Clinton. Now We Need To Stop Donald Trump From Trashing Our Democracy.
It seems that Trumpian mendacity breeds long titles as well as chaos.
Ned Resnikoff of Think Progress: Trump’s lies have a purpose. They are an assault on democracy.
Just in case your pants aren’t on fire, here’s one more by my main man:
Jamelle Bouie of Slate: The Truth about Donald Trump’s Lies.
I’m sure there are many more worthy articles on Trump’s brazen mendacity but these four will suffice for now. I do, however, wonder if the junior Senator from Minnesota is considering adding a chapter to this book:
A Movie Movie: Allied is the new World War II romantic spy thriller directed by Robert Zemeckis. It’s written by Steven Knight who is the man behind the great British teevee crime drama, Peaky Blinders. Cue meme picture:
The plot has more twists than a mountain road and I don’t want to spoil anything. The IMDB summary will just have to do:
In 1942, an intelligence officer in North Africa encounters a female French Resistance fighter on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. When they reunite in London, their relationship is tested by the pressures of war.
The movie could just as easily been called Betrayal or A Bodyguard of Lies. There’s the L word again. I loved the movie and its great cast, especially Marion Cotillard and Brad Pitt.I’m not usually a big Brad Pitt fan but I enjoyed his performance as Max Vatan, strong and silent Canadian spy. He had an Alan Ladd thing going on that I found most appealing. I almost chanted, “Shane, don’t go, Shane” as the closing credits rolled but I did not. Instead, I kept a stiff upper lip ala Jared Harris’ character, Frank Heslop. I feel a musical interlude coming on:
Allied has gotten meh ratings on Rotten Tomatoes but frankly my dear I don’t give a damn. I give it 3 1/2 stars, an Adrastos Grade of B+ and a rollicking Ebertian thumbs up.
I plan to watch Allied again when it hits cable or the streaming services. It will be fun to look for the clues; one of which involves the distinguished character actor Anton Lesser. I ain’t talking about it but it has nothing to do with Game of Thrones, Wolf Hall, The Hour, or Endeavour other than the fact that Lesser plays a major part in all of them. I should endeavour to pun to a lesser extent. After all, Thomas More is less. End of epic pun riff.
Let’s move from the big screen to the small screen with an intimate drama set in the piney woods of Georgia.
Rectify On My Mind: The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum is one of the best teevee writers on the planet. That’s why she recently won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism. Additionally, she’s one of the wittiest and most interesting people on twitter. If you don’t follow her, click here and do so now.
Anyway, Ms. Nussbaum wrote an appreciation of one of my favorite teevee shows, Rectify. She called it a quiet marvel and I think that’s a quietly marvelous way to describe it. It’s the story of Daniel Holden who was unjustly convicted of rape and murder. I’ll let Emily explicate further:
When Daniel was in his late teens, he was convicted of the rape and murder of his sixteen-year-old girlfriend, Hanna. He served nineteen years, most of them in solitary confinement. The crime itself was a foggy, ambiguous incident that involved psychedelic drugs; two boys testified against him, and, under pressure, Daniel confessed. DNA cleared him of the rape but not of the murder, so plenty of locals—and, at times, Daniel himself—suspect that he did it, because he was found cradling Hanna’s naked corpse, which he’d decorated with flowers. But Daniel’s younger sister, Amantha (Abigail Spencer), never lost faith in his innocence, and she’s been sleeping with the liberal Jewish lawyer she lobbied to work on his behalf—the big-city Reuben to her Norma Rae. Everyone involved wants clarity, now that Amantha’s faith has paid off.
No one gets it. The murder case is reopened and leads down alarming paths. Few people want to face the uglier facts, including the knowledge that Daniel was raped in prison, multiple times. While he was on death row, his father died and his mother remarried, so he has two new stepbrothers, Ted, Jr., and Jared, who is still in his teens. [Blogger’s note: Jared is actually Daniel’s half brother.] In some ways, Daniel is himself an adolescent, prone to self-indulgent, self-destructive whims. In isolated Paulie, Georgia, he’s a distinctly odd figure, a socially awkward autodidact who meditated and read obsessively in his cell. He speaks in an off-kilter, whispery style, making even sympathetic neighbors uncomfortable. His mannered intellectualism marks him as an outsider, queer in several senses, as much as any suspicions of criminal guilt do.
Emily Nussbaum is a helluva writer and Rectify is a helluva show. Its fourth and final season is currently airing on Sundance and Seasons 1-3 are streaming on Netflix.
In other teevee news, Dr. A and I have been captivated by another show about a dysfunctional Southern family, Netflix’s Bloodline. It’s produced by the Kessler brothers, the same people behind the fine Glenn Close-Rose Byrne lawyer show Damages.
Bloodline is set in South Florida and is essentially the story of a prodigal son who returns home and nearly destroys his family. Danny Rayburn is one black sheep who deserves the label. As I said repeatedly throughout the season: Fuck you, Danny. Bloodline reminds me of the work of Florida crime fiction master John D. MacDonald. High praise indeed.
We just finished Season-1 of Bloodline, so no spoilers please. Damages is also streaming on Netflix and you might want to start there since the storytelling techniques are purt near identical. It’s called style and the Kessler brothers have it.
Time to move on from Southern Gothic neo-noir to a bit of comedy.
Separated At Birth: This week’s image hit my Facebook feed via a friend in the UK, Neill Bayley. It, in turn, came from a friend of a friend of a friend, Tez Hardwick. It requires a bit of exposition. You may recognize the chaps on the top: Donald Trump and former UKIP leader and Brexiteer Nigel Farage. The blokes on the bottom are the late British ventriloquist Ray Alan and his dummy, Lord Charles.
Many Brits on Facebook objected to the Farage-Lord Charles comparison. They maintained that Lord Charles was infinitely more intelligent and engaging than the Brexiteering Dummy. He certainly wreaked less havoc. Besides, he resembles Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter Wimsey. I’ve always thought wearing a monocle must be painful. That’s probably why so many Prussian aristocrats wore them. Monocles and Dueling Scars sounds like a teevee drama set in the age of Bismarck. Somebody Otto make it…
Via the magic of the YouTube, here’s a sample of Ray Alan’s work:
Now that we’ve dummied up, let’s give the joint some class if that’s at all possible.
Saturday Classic: I thought of this brilliant 1976 album while playing The Last Waltz in the car as we drove to Red Stick for Thanksgiving. The CD, not the DVD. I’m not a small child who needs constant entertainment. Dr. A may demur as to that point but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Anyway, Joni Mitchell played Coyote at that legendary show, it’s the opening track of Hejira. It’s one of her best efforts. Another standout tune is her ode to the bluesman Walter Furry Lewis: Furry Sings The Blues. Enjoy.
That’s it for this week. Since the theme song theme thing is Liar, there are two of them in the closing meme thing below. One is a shameless liar and the other has been known to tell the truth on occasion. Mike Huckabee claimed that Willard ate crow. I did not know it was on the menu at Jean-Georges. Holy Michelin star, Batman.