Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

Orestes by Willem de Kooning.

It’s been a weird week in New Orleans. I know, this is a weird place so why is that surprising? It’s not but I had a deeply strange encounter with a City Council candidate who I do not plan to vote for. Here’s how I described it at Zuckerville:

Seth Bloom is the candidate I mentioned last week in this space.  One of his opponents said this about him:

Having the temperament to work with the rest of the councilmembers is of the utmost importance – nothing passes the City Council without a minimum of four votes. Seth Bloom has habitually displayed a lack of self-restraint, professionalism, respect, and sincerity as he has campaigned for another public office. I am convinced that Seth Bloom is volatile, hostile, and vindictive – the residents of District B deserve better. The City of New Orleans deserves better.

BURN.

The good news is that his run-off opponent, Jay Banks, is qualified, famous for being nice, and was King Zulu in 2016. How you like dem coconuts, Bloomy?

Speaking of the 2017 New Orleans run-off election, my latest column on the increasingly bat shit crazy mayor’s race is up at the Bayou Brief: An Uncanny Mess.

I’ve been feeling a bit anti-social of late. That’s one reason I selected Don’t Get Around Much Anymore as this week’s theme song, but mostly because it’s a fucking great song. It was written in 1940 as an instrumental by Duke Ellington. The original title was Never No Lament:

Bob Russell’s lyrics were added two years later. I’m glad they changed the title: Never No Lament doesn’t sound like a hit to me.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure. First, the Ink Spots’ mega-hit version.  Second, the Duke and Louis Armstrong from what many call their genius sessions. Immodest but true. Finally, my favorite version. It was arranged by Billy May for the great Nat King Cole.

There’s nothing quite as good as jazz Nat even though lush string pop Nate is pretty swell as well. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s jump to the break.

We begin our second act with a story from an oddly named magazine.

Walt Disney & The Big Easy: When I first saw Garden & Gun Magazine, my initial reaction was WTF? It turns out to be more about Southern culture and folkways than gun nut cultists who bury their victims in the garden. A good example of that is an excerpt from a book by CJ Lotz about America’s favorite union-busting, self-freezing uncle, Walt Disney.

Disney *loved* New Orleans and famously opened a tribute to the French Quarter at Disneyland in 1966.  New Orleans Square was my first taste of the Big Easy as a kid. Little did I know then that I’d grow up to live in New Orleans and parody the Disneyfication of the city with the Krewe of Spank:

We’ll keep it down South with our next piece, which is also from a regional publication, the Oxford American Magazine, which is one of the best things to ever come out of Mississippi.

Honky-Tonk Man is a beautifully written piece by David Ramsey about his late father-in-law and their shared passion for the music of country singer Gary Stewart. Here’s a sample of Ramsey’s superb prose:

 When I started dating Grace, her father pulled her aside: “Why don’t you date an ol’ boy who hunts so we’ll have something to talk about?” I was a city boy, half-Jewish, liberal. And a writer, of all things. Strike four. Grace, who went off to college a devout Southern Baptist dreaming of being a missionary, had already changed more than enough even before she met me. After college, she moved to New Orleans and kept dodging questions about whether she had picked out a church yet. In a family where hardly anyone left home, she seemed terribly far away. At one point, she announced that she was a vegetarian. Her mother wept at the news. From then on, her father introduced her as follows: “This here is my daughter Grace. She doesn’t eat any meat at’all.”

Here’s a segment about Gary Stewart who I had forgotten about:

When Grace and I first started dating, we were driving somewhere and I put on Gary Stewart’s “Drinkin’ Thing,” and turned it up. This was typical. Stewart is one of those singers I return to again and again—a histrionic country crooner who had a string of hits in the mid-1970s until Nashville concluded he was too bleak, too weird, too rock & roll, too haywire. Too disturbing and too disturbed. Too much. He could be hammy—his sole number-one hit was titled “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles)”—but no one careened into barstool pathos quite like Stewart, with quite the appetite for resignation.

<SNIP>

Grace knew the song right away. “My dad,” she told me, “is obsessed with Gary Stewart.” Her father sang Stewart’s songs so often that it was hard for her not to feel like she was hearing her father when Stewart was playing.

I’ve always had a fondness for older men with crusty exteriors and mushy interiors. Eddie Couvillion, who I post about every Memorial Day, was one of them. Another was the late Jay McCreary the former LSU basketball coach who was the boss at my student job in LSU’s old gym. I worked in the equipment room, which mostly consisted of studying for classes and checking out belts to weight lifters. Coach Jay was a gruff-sounding guy but he was as sweet as cherry pie underneath. He knew that one of his main assistants was a lesbian but he loved her like a daughter. This was in the early 1980’s, y’all. This was one enlightened former jock.

Remember the swell 1986 hoops flick Hoosiers? Coach Jay was the real life coach of the overdog school who lost the big game. He went on to coach at LSU from 1957-1966. He returned as Press Maravich’s assistant when Pistol Pete joined the team. Coach Jay was the buffer between father and son. He was a helluva man.

That concludes this episode of Storytime with Adrastos. Let’s play those Gary Stewart tunes that David Ramsey mentioned in that excerpt from Honky-Tonk Man:

Let’s move on to a sports piece by our old pal Bill Simmons aka Simbro.

Bortles Rhymes With Chortles: I’m obsessed with names. I don’t believe the name one’s parents give one sets one’s destiny but a good, strong name is always an asset. Bill Simmons is convinced that the name may well make the NFL Quarterback:

All the tools … can’t put it together? Sounds like a confidence issue, right? And it’s been borne out by Bortles’s tenure in Jacksonville, where he’s become infamous for committing dumb turnovers at crucial times, then thriving in blowouts like Garbage Time Kurt Warner. The 2017 Jaguars neutered Bortles to retool around Leonard Fournette and a potentially superb defense, recasting their QB as “The Vice President of Handoffs” or “The Executive Director of Exceedingly Safe Play-Action Passes.” It’s hard to imagine them bringing Bortles back next year, barring a postseason miracle or Bortles changing his name to Hulk Bortles or Blake Hugecock.

Wasn’t Blake Hugecock a character in Boogie Nights? On that emphatically lowbrow note, let’s move on to one of our recurring features.

Saturday GIF Horse: I still miss Mad Men. I loved recapping that show. It’s time for some rather messy Mad Men nostalgia. Who among us will ever forget this grisly scene?

Pow, right in the kisser, Kinsey.

Weird Image Of The Week: I am famous for my loathing of man buns. That’s why I was stunned that Tommy T did not tag me when he posted this image elsewhere on the internet. I briefly considered stealing this without giving him credit but thought better of it. Us First Drafters (draftees?) have gotta stick together.

I do wonder, however, where the Man Po’ Boy is? I guess it would look too much like a Man Loaf. Btw, that joke was stolen from Chuck Taggart, which rhymes with braggart and Claggart among other things. I should probably stop before I make jokes about the cast of the 1962 film version of Billy Budd. I wouldn’t want anyone to put a Terence Stamp of approval on this post. Okay, I was Ryan about that. One more thing: it’s Chuck’s birthday. Have a good one.

Now that I’ve mocked douche knots, let’s close things out with some jazz.

Saturday Classic: Mose Allison was born on this day in 1927 and died four days after his birthday last year at the age of 89. Mose is best remembered as a singer-songwriter but he was also a great jazz pianist. Back Country Suite focuses on his skills as an ivory tickler as there are only a few vocals on the LP. It swings. It’s swell. More importantly, it’s commercial free. Enjoy.

It’s time to mosey on. I’ve been watching Bates Motel on Netflix. I resisted it for years but once I started, I was hooked. I’ll give the Normans the last word:

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