It was politics Thursday here at Adrastos World HQ. In addition to Comeypalooza, Oscar and I watched the British election returns. It’s always great fun to see the BBC’s venerable David Dimbleby at work in what are the wee hours in the UK. He gets a bit punchy whereas the young uns are falling out. I dig their graphics, especially the virtual House of Commons. It’s uncommonly cool.
The Tories ran a dreadful campaign and fell short of a majority in the House of Commons. The Maybot has vowed to soldier on with help from the Ulster Unionists but Tory knives are sharpening after her big gamble flopped. I’m not a huge Jeremy Corbyn fan BUT the man is a good campaigner and Labour made impressive gains. If the Maybot attempts to stay indefinitely there may be another election sooner than the British people would like. Stay tuned.
We return to our regularly scheduled Saturday programming.
The topic of who wrote this week’s theme song is the subject of considerable debate. One Way Out has been credited to both Elmore James and Sonny Boy Williamson. I haven’t the foggiest idea who the real songwriter is but it’s a helluva tune. There was even a 1965 variation by GL Crockett called It’s A Man Down There.
I’m not getting involved in the authorship fracas other than posting multiple versions of this blues classic. In fact, I’m staying out of the Sonny Boy/Elmore thicket altogether by posting the Allman Brothers Band, Crockett, and a rendition by John Hiatt from a Gregg Allman tribute. We begin with the version that I first heard on the radio longer ago than I care to admit. There ain’t nothing better than live Allman Brothers:
There’s only way out here at First Draft as well. I’ll show you the exit after the break.
I don’t know about you but that whole One Way Out mess has me almost fed up with the blues:
Now that I’ve exhausted that subject, it’s time for our first segment. It involves setting the dial on the Wayback Machine to the end of the Civil War. That’s right, I cannot quite escape the whole monuments mishigas.
A Revisionist Look At Robert E. Lee: I hesitate to use the word revisionist because I believe that the Lee portrayed by Adam Serwer in the Atlantic is the real deal. Lee was a mean sumbitch who *looked* kindly with his white hair and beard. Holy Potemkin niceness, Batman.
Lee’s heavy hand on the Arlington plantation, Pryor writes, nearly led to a slave revolt, in part because the enslaved had been expected to be freed upon their previous master’s death, and Lee had engaged in a dubious legal interpretation of his will in order to keep them as his property, one that lasted until a Virginia court forced him to free them.
When two of his slaves escaped and were recaptured, Lee either beat them himself or ordered the overseer to “lay it on well.” Wesley Norris, one of the slaves who was whipped, recalled that “not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine, which was done.”
So much for nice Bobby Lee who hated slavery and wanted the nation to reconcile after the war. The Lee myth is a lie.
We turn from the morally corrupt to the financially corrupt. I got an earful about the massive Brazilian corruption scandal from one of Dr. A’s colleagues and her husband a few weeks ago. I became hooked on the story upon realizing Brazilian politicians are Trump-like in their clownish avarice. It gave me Gret Stet shaped goosebumps as well.
Brazil Nuttiness: The sweeping investigation into corruption at the highest level has an odd code name: Operation Car Wash. It brings this to mind:
The code name, of course, means they plan to clean house. For a deep dive into the story, get thee to the Guardian where Jonathan Watts has the details. I wonder if he’s any relation to this bloke?
Speaking of rock bands who were around in the Sixties, there’s a six-part Grateful Dead documentary streaming at Amazon.
Long Strange Trip is a semi-official biography of the Dead. It’s neither a warts and all portrait nor a wartless look at the band. The balance is struck in favor of telling the story of the Dead’s musical adventures as opposed to their business dealings. On balance, it’s the right note. While I would have liked hearing about their relationship with Mickey Hart’s father (Lenny who briefly managed the band and robbed them blind) I, too, am more interested in the music as well as the fans. It would have been nice, however, if there were more women interviewed. The film has an aura of extreme dudeness. Is that a word? If it isn’t, I blame Fensterstock. Btw, she’s the one who coined the term pun community.
My favorite episode is the fifth: Deadheads. It features an appearance by Senator Al Franken who spends quite a bit of time discussing different versions of Althea and which one he prefers. This one is the winner:
It’s a pity that lyricist Robert Hunter hates being interviewed. It’s one reason that his importance to the band is underrated. Hunter is a fabulous lyricist. I cannot blame him for not wanting to discuss the words themselves. Each Grateful Dead original has a different meaning to different people. It’s part of the magic of the Dead. But I’d still like to hear Hunter’s insight into the band’s history since he was present at the creation.
This is *my* favorite Hunter lyric. Is it the best? Beats the hell outta me but I like it:
One thing that stuck me as sad in the movie was Garcia’s reluctance to speak onstage. The reason is even sadder: some people think of him as a shaman/God figure. We lost a lot of snappy stage patter as a result. Jerry was a funny and articulate guy behind the bushy hair and beard.
I haven’t said anything thus far about the Frankenstein framing device used by the filmmakers. It’s brilliant. Jerry Garcia was a major Frankenstein film buff and the documentary takes advantage of his buffery. Who among us doesn’t like seeing Dr. Praetorius and the Blind Hermit? Jerry’s Frankenstein fandom led to a shout out in another of my favorite Hunter lyrics:
I liked Long Strange Trip. There are things it brushed over but it tells the basic story of the Dead and tells it well. I give it 3 1/2 stars, an Adrastos Grade of B+ and a rockin’ Ebertian thumbs up.
It’s time to go from the sublime to the deeply ridiculous.
Separated At Birth: Donald Trump is a total dumbass but does not look like one. The same cannot be said of his horrible sons. When I saw this pairing, I did a minor spit take. I’m just glad I prefer Coke Zero to Coke Classic…
I almost feel sorry about lumping Beavis and Butthead with the Trump spawn. Beavis had a sweetness to him. Butthead was a pure-D dipshit but was still nicer than Trump’s thieving chirren. Eric, in particular, looks astonishingly dumb, which could explain the whole charitable money laundering thing. It’s easy to visualize him as the Gret Cornholio, especially after the Democrats aren’t human beings comment.
I may have to start calling Eric Trump, the Not So Great Cornholio. I can easily imagine him posing thusly in front of a Nixon portrait:
The Not So Great Cornholio it is then. It’s always good to add another nickname to my Trump family repertoire along with the Insult Comedian and Slumlord Jared.
Let’s travel to New Zealand. Rex Tillerson visited and received a rather hostile reception. He didn’t commit any major gaffes such as saying he feared a Maori face tattooing. Pity really. That would have been some interesting tea from the Tillerson instead of the boilerplate shit he puts out there.
Tweet Of The Week: The protests were all about Trump’s climate change malakatude. The bird is clearly not endangered in Kiwi-land as it was flipped at Tillerson with some frequency.
The tweet comes from Craig Kapitan of the Express News, New Zealand.
Dig that crazy GIF, y’all. This *could* have been the Saturday GIF but I’m sticking with intentional comedy for that feature. It took the week off; something about a trip to the beach.
Saturday Classic: Grateful Dead studio albums were notoriously spotty. 1987’s In The Dark was an attempt to do it right. It worked. It was a smash hit complete with a bona fide hit single with ab fab Hunter lyrics, Touch Of Grey.
Since I’m feeling expansive, here’s an expanded version from 2004:
That’s it for this eventful week. I suspect you’re dead tired of the Grateful Dead by now. I’ll violate the first rule of holes and keep digging with this closing bat-meme.