Saturday Odds & Sods: All Shook Up

March by Grant Wood.

The monuments aftershocks continue here in New Orleans. I went to a friend’s kid’s birthday party and was warned to skip the subject because there were some rabid Lost Causers invited. They went there, I did not. I asked for a gold star but did not get one. I considered pitching a fit but thought better of it.

While we’re on the subject of the late monuments, I have two articles to recommend, nay, commend. First, Adrastos acquaintances Campbell Robertson and Katy Reckdahl collaborated on a story connecting the monuments and family histories. Second, the local public radio station, WWNO, has a piece about a proposed monument to Oscar Dunn a former slave who was Gret Stet Lt. Governor during Reconstruction. The monument was never built. Dunn, however, is worthy of one. That’s where I’d like this process to go: Civil Rights figures. It’s what makes sense if we were striking a blow against white supremacy and the Confederacy.

I saw this week’s bucolic featured image on the Antiques Roadshow. I used it because I like the austere lines of the print by the austere Iowan, Grant Wood. Austere seems to be the word of the day. Besides, Dr. A won tickets to the Roadshow when it comes to New Orleans this July. I want them to know we’re coming.

I was horrified to learn from the Guardian that Elvis Presley’s spell is waning with the kids today. If they think of him at all, they think of bloated Elvis from the end of his life or the notorious body in the box picture.

As his peer Fats Domino would surely say, Ain’t That A Shame. Elvis brought rock-and-roll to the masses and was its first King, Besides, what will NOLA’s own Rolling Elvi do if the Elvis mystique is diminished?

Rolling Elvi, Muses Parade, 2011. Photo by Dr. A.

This week’s theme song, All Shook Up, was written by Otis Blackwell and recorded by Elvis in 1957. According to his biographer Peter Guralnick, the reason Elvis received a writing credit is that he came up with the title.

First up is Blackwell’s rendition followed by Elvis’ studio version and then the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart belting it out.

I don’t know about you but I’m, uh, all shook up, which is why we’ll take a break at this point.

We begin our second act with a story by Atlantic staff writer Graeme Wood. He had the dubious distinction of going to high school with neo-Nazi punchee, Richard Spencer.

His Kampf: Wood and Spencer attended a private, all-boys school in Dallas, St Mark’s School of Texas. There was nothing remarkable or even all that interesting about the young Spencer. He became a monster later. The author describes how they reconnected in 2007. Their last meeting was right before the Trump inaugural. It did not end well. Graeme Wood has the details at the

Speaking of monsters, Roger Ailes died recently. My old friend Mike Shapiro had this response to the sexual predator’s demise: “They say speak only good of the dead. Roger Ailes is dead. Good.”

Roger and Me: New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman published a book about Ailes in 2014. Ailes refused to co-operate or be interviewed by the author. He discouraged others from talking to Sherman but they did anyway. Sherman’s sources helped him break some of the stories that ended the Ailes regime at Fox News.

After Ailes went straight to hell, Sherman wrote about their weird non-relationship:

Ailes and I developed a strange and intense connection. Indeed, my sources at Fox said he thought about me as much as I thought about him. Meetings were derailed by rants about “Sherman” and “that fucking book.” On weekends, he phoned friends to vent about me. Ailes fired executives he thought were my sources. He told colleagues that I was being paid personally by George Soros to bring him down. It was an absurd conspiracy theory. While on book leave, I was a fellow at the nonpartisan foundation New America, which received a minuscule amount of funding from a Soros charity.


I also felt overwhelmed as I thought about the enormity of what I had taken on. Writing about Ailes had taken a personal and professional toll on me. It was difficult to talk to many people about the downright crazy things I found out about him — and the downright crazy things Ailes was doing to me. When I did, few believed me.

Now everyone does. Ailes was a world-class shit. Now he’s dead. Good.

Let’s set the dial on the Wayback Machine to 1956.

The 1956 Failed Veep Nomination Blues: Against the advice of his father, Jack Kennedy tried to secure the Democratic nomination for Vice-President in 1956. Adlai Stevenson had thrown it open to the convention because of his distaste for the runner-up, Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver. He was best known for his showboat investigations of the mob and for wearing this on the campaign trail:

No, Kefauver didn’t wear an issue of Time Magazine as a chapeau. He wore a coonskin cap a la Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier. Kefauver was also a notorious drunk who was  loathed by his Senate colleagues for his crudity and overall malakatude.

Kennedy campaigned assiduously at the convention and was lucky enough to lose. Joe Kennedy was opposed because he knew Stevenson was doomed and that a Catholic on the ticket might be blamed. Instead, Stevenson was saddled with Kefauver and they lost to Eisenhower-Nixon.

You’re probably wondering why I’m on about this. Here’s why: there’s a new JFK book out by veteran Boston Globers Thomas Oliphant and Curtis Wilkie. The title says it all, The Road to Camelot: Inside JFK’s Five-Year Campaign. The authors dug deep into the archives at the Kennedy Library and unearthed some tasty new morsels about the first modern campaign for the Presidency. Politico Magazine has an excerpt from the book about-you guessed it-the 1956 Convention. It was the last time anything important was decided on the convention floor.

It’s time for a recurring, stolen feature.

Separated At Birth: As I browsed the web in search of images to filch, I came upon this one of  the eminent Welsh actor Jonathan Pryce and Pope Frank.

The comparison is particularly cool given Pryce’s stint as the unhinged Holy Sparrow in a certain teevee drama. Pope Frank, of course, is perhaps the sanest Pontiff ever, but the two men do resemble one another.

Speaking of Pope Frank and Game of Thrones:

Tweets Of The Week: The first tweet comes from Democratic operative Lis Smith and shows what the Pope really thinks of the Insult Comedian:

I know that others posted this picture but I liked her de facto caption the best. Besides, us Democrats need to stick together. It’s tough out there.

I love the body language in the picture. The Pope seems to like the president* about as much as Melania does. Please pass the potica.

Next up members of the Game of Thrones team lay Trumpy low:

Joffrey may be the *only* leader more inept than the Insult Comedian. In the end, incompetence will be Trump’s undoing. People voted for a businessman as President because they thought he’d run the government in a crisp, efficient way. Instead, they got the shitshow that is this administration*. In Trump’s own words, they’re a bunch of “evil losers.”

Let’s conclude the festivities with some music.

Saturday Classic: In many ways, the original Jeff Beck Group were the prototype for Led Zeppelin. The leader was a guitar wizard who used to play with The Yardbirds and the lead singer was a raspy voiced Brit with distinctive hair. The sound is also similar: a melding of hard rock and urban blues. Btw, the Jeff Beck Group’s bassist was a guy better known as a guitar player: Ron Wood.

Truth is the debut album of the original lineup and its best. All Shook Up is on their second and final record, Beck-Ola. They were short-lived but mighty. Get ready for some blooze rock at its finest.

That’s it for this week. I’ll let the King have the last bat-word.

3 thoughts on “Saturday Odds & Sods: All Shook Up

  1. Two thoughts: First, my feeling is the kerfuffle over the removal of the monuments will die down in the next 12 months. Without constant stoking, the “outrage” will burn itself out.

    Second, on cultural appropriation. There have been complaints for years about Elvis Presley stealing black musical culture and popularizing it among white people. These complaints extend to other cultures and other features (clothing, food, etc.), and I sort-of understand where they’re coming from. My continuing musing on this subject is, at what point does an artist paying respect or doing an homage to another culture become appropriation? Is there a bright line? Or does any “borrowing” constitute theft? If the artist acknowledges that he or she is riffing on another culture, does that make it better, even all right? I don’t know.

    1. While there *is* some cultural appropriation, use of the term is out of control. There are those who think that *eating*, say, Thai or Chinese food is cultural appropriation. In a word: stupid. As to music, borrowing is inevitable unless you’re the original Carter Family who lived in the hills in isolation from mainstream culture. Music is in the air and everyone borrows from everyone else.

  2. I, for one, have zero problem with having a statue of Jeff Davis.

    Just as long as he’s wearing a dress, and crushed under the foot of WT Sherman.

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