Saturday Odds & Sods: This Summer

Windmills on the Hill by Francoise Gilot.

Prologue/Forward: I wrote this post and timed it for publication before Hurricane Harvey made full landfall. It will be onshore as you read this. It’s gonna be a wet sumbitch. Best of luck to all my friends and readers in the impacted area whether you evacuated or hunkered down. Our thoughts are with you.

Enough sincere shit, it’s time for the main event:

The tropics are becoming more active as August nears an end. It’s unfortunate because the drainage system in New Orleans is still fucked up. I don’t usually get overly nervous when I hear about a new tropical system in the Caribbean, but this year is different. The odds of Adrastos World HQ flooding are slim. As to the rest of the city, that’s not the case. Hopefully, the City will get its shit together but competence is not a hallmark of government in the Crescent City. It’s time for an Adrastos nursery rhyme: Harvey stay away, don’t come again another day.

Have I complained about storm names this year? It’s high time.  The latest storm is Harvey, which is a funny name, not a scary one. Hurricane Harvey reminds me of Harvey the invisible rabbit, Harvey Korman, and this former major league baseball player, coach, and manager:

Admittedly, the chaw is a bit scary, but Harvey Kuenn was famous for being nice and for being the only batting champion traded for a home run champion, Rocky Colavito. Enough about the boys of summer since only Doc and I give a shit about Harvey Kuenn. I would, however, never knock the Rock…

Summer may be winding down where you live but September is often as hot as August in my sultry neck of the woods. We usually get a tease of fall weather but it rarely lasts long before the heat and humidity settle back in until October. That’s life in the Big Easy. Speaking of which, there’s a swell cover story in the Gambit Tabloid about post-Katrina life here: Is New Orleans worth it?  It’s, uh, worth a glance. It proves that old adage: the more things change the more they remain the same. So it goes.

Speaking of summer, it occurred to me this week that my favorite rock songwriting team, Difford and Tilbrook, have written a passel of tunes about summer. This week’s first theme song,  This Summer, begins with a classic line: “Brain engages mouth, mouth expresses thoughts.” That’s how it works in my experience.

I hope you noticed that the late Keith Wilkerson looks like Huntz Hall in this video. He’s the bloke in the blue ball cap. Not only was Keith was more likely to be an East Side Kid than a Bowery Boy, neither Difford nor Tillbrook resemble Leo Gorcey. End of obscure lowbrow comedy reference. I have a million of them…

Happy Days is a song of more recent vintage. It’s about getting out of London on holiday. As a non-resident, London is one of my favorite places to go on vacation. I would propose a house swap but who the hell wants to come to New Orleans in August?

Our final Squeezey ode to summer was one of the band’s first hits and evokes the beach on a warm summer day:

Now that we’ve gone behind the chalet and pulled mussels from the shell, it’s time to insert the break.

We begin our second act with a serious piece before lapsing into some serious summer silliness. I’m hoping that tongue twister will catch on even if it’s no Peter Piper picked a pack of pickled peppers.

Heil and Farewell: My favorite link compiling site Longreads has branched out into original content. Matt Giles takes a look at the infamous German-American Bund rally in 1939 and the folks who protested said rally at the original Madison Square Garden. I understand they used to play quality basketball there at one point…

The rally was staged on George Washington’s birthday to make it appear to be as American as cherry pie from the tree Parson Weems claimed George chopped down. Instead, the rally was redolent of beer, pretzels, and sauerkraut, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Oh shit, I sound like George Fucking Costanza.

Inside the Garden, the thousands who had gathered heard dozens of speeches denouncing “International Jewry,” while at least 100,000 protesters organized by the Socialist Workers Party—equipped with anti-Nazi posters and banners that read “Give me a gas mask, I can’t stand the smell of the Nazis“—picketed, held back from storming the Garden by police mounted on horseback. One protester named Isidore Greenbaum did manage to slip into the Garden and rushed the stage at one point, only to be badly beaten by “Bund storm troopers” who “ripped [his clothing] to shreds.”

Nazis gotta Nazi. Brownshirts gotta kick ass. According to Dahlia Lithwick there were isolated beatdowns in Charlottesville after the white nationalists were supposed to have left town. I wonder who emboldened them? Could it be a man with a dead nutria atop his head?

The Night Aisha Harris Drove Dolly’s Dixie Stampede Down: When I saw the headline on Aisha Harris’ piece about some Dolly doings, my initial reaction was to cringe. I like Dolly Parton and wondered aloud why *everything* has to be politicized. Then I read the article and learned that I was totally wrong.  

Advertised as an “extraordinary dinner show … pitting North against South in a friendly and fun rivalry,” Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede is the Lost Cause of the Confederacy meets Cirque du Soleil. It’s a lily-white kitsch extravaganza that play-acts the Civil War but never once mentions slavery. Instead, it romanticizes the old South, with generous portions of both corn on the cob and Southern belles festooned in Christmas lights. At its sister staging in Branson, Missouri (the original is up the road from Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee), it’s put on at a venue that can only be described as resembling a plantation mansion. Also, everyone in the audience must pick a side.

It sounds like a combination of a minstrel show and Hee Haw. I’m glad Ms. Harris went to see it so we don’t have to. Check out the penultimate paragraph of the piece:

So while it may be a surprise to the fictional producers of Springtime for Hitler when it becomes a hit, it’s no surprise to me that Dolly Parton’s very real Dixie Stampede is a hit, too, and has been for almost 30 years. This is the same country where The Birth of a Nation was once the biggest box-office hit of all time and where Gone With the Wind still is. Dolly Parton is right about one thing: Dixie Stampede is as American as America gets.

It’s no surprise that this article gave me a benign earworm. We’ll go with Joan Baez’s version this time around:

Let’s move on to a story about one of the biggest editorial mistakes in sportswriting history.

Green Wave Donkey Dicks? I had forgotten all about this fiasco. Maybe it’s because the story was about soccer and I’m not big on what the Brits call the footie. Then, I had a “holy shit, I remember this” moment when I read Jeff Perlman’s piece at Deadspin. I’ll spare you endless quotations with the obvious exception of the errant passage about one of the Wave’s players:

“Dixon sucks donkey dicks and doesn’t wipe the shit off before practice. We like to keep him at the sweeper position so his sperm breath will stop people from penetrating to the goal. Speaking of penetrating, he prefers tall, red-headed guys. Told me to tell Kris he said ‘hello.’”

For the details, get thee to Deadspin.

And, no, I have no idea what a Green Wave is other than one of the lamest sports team names this side of the New Orleans Baby Cakes.

It’s story time, children. Please take a seat.

Adrastos/Zelig Story: The Envoy- I like to listen to Warren Zevon when I’m feeling cranky. Why? It proves that there was once someone crankier than me on the planet. It’s somehow comforting.

I was listening to A Quiet and Normal Life: The Best Of Warren Zevon. The album title is a misnomer: WZ’s life was neither quiet nor normal. When the next song came on, I took a stroll down memory lane:

The Envoy was inspired by Philip Habib an eminent career diplomat (we used to have those pre-Rex Tillerson) who was Undersecretary of State during the Carter years. He later became Reagan’s special envoy to the Middle East, which was when he came to the attention of Warren Zevon.

Here’s the Adrastos/Zelig part of the story. The Habibs had a home in the Bay Area and Marjorie Habib was one of my mother’s bridge playing cronies. Like my mom, Mrs. Habib was a shark at the bridge table but otherwise a warm and gregarious person. Mr. Habib was friendly but reserved as befitting his career. I tried pumping him for diplomatic gossip but he was the soul of discretion. We could use more of that in 2017.

Saturday Classic: It’s time to bring this Squeezecentric post to a conclusion. East Side Story is widely considered the best Squeeze album of their first iteration. It’s best known for one of the band’s biggest hits, Tempted and as one of two albums featuring Paul Carrack on keyboards and vocals. Enjoy.

That’s it for this week. Good luck to everyone on the Texas Gulf Coast. Since we’re in need of comic relief, I’ll give Dead End Kids/Bowery Boys Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall the last word.

2 thoughts on “Saturday Odds & Sods: This Summer

  1. Harvey Kuenn also ended up leading the Brewers to their only World Series (Lost 4-3 to the Cardinals) in 1982. He was a hell of a players’ manager, which is why he only lasted about two seasons. Sad to know he’s gone.

    1. A major omission. That was a great team and a classic WS. Power vs. Speed.

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