It’s been a relatively uneventful week at Adrastos World HQ. My cold has gone; only to be replaced by allergies since we’ve gone from winter to late spring without skipping a beat. It’s hard to believe how damn cold it was just a few weeks ago when we’re slowly moving into air-dish season. The good news is that a cool front just arrived. It won’t last long but we can dream, dream, dream.
The Toulouse-Lautrec featured image was inspired by a local news story. Last month, some Bourbon Street dancers staged a protest after a police crackdown on strip clubs in the Quarter. They had a lot of support in the community because New Orleans has always had strip clubs and always will. We’ve also always had people who wanted to close or tightly restrict the clubs. The beat goes on.
I suppose I should apologize for using a Cole Porter song for the second time in a month. I decline to do so: Cole was the master. Love For Sale was my earworm when I wrote the Senator For Sale post last Monday. That’s why it’s the theme song. I hope you won’t give me a Cole shoulder for being repetitive…
We have two radically different versions of Porter’s Love For Sale. First, Anita O’Day’s torchy and sultry version recorded in 1959 with Billy May and his big band. Second, Miles Davis from Kind Of Blue featuring some of his best sidemen: Trane and Cannonball among others.
I should have mentioned the great Bill Evans but he didn’t have a colorful nickname. He was merely a brilliant pianist and arranger.
It’s title disambiguation time. That’s a big word but I bet the brainy members of Talking Heads know it:
Now that I’ve sold you love or some such shit, let’s jump to the break before you demand a refund.
The whole Toulouse-Lautrec exotic dancer thing gave me a raging earworm. Let’s get that out of the way before getting down to business.
Now that we’ve gotten too loose on Toulouse Street, let’s talk espionage.
The Spy Who Went Back Into The Cold: The final season of The Americans airs at the end of the month, which is one reason I have Russian espionage on my mind. I think you can guess the other reason.
There’s a fabulous story by Jason Fagone at the Washingtonian about the defection and redefection of KGB Colonel Vitaly Yurchenko. Yurchenko exposed several moles before having a change of heart and returning to Mother Russia. The KGB gave him a medal and let him live to keep up appearances.
One of Yurchenko’s early CIA handlers was the notorious mole, Aldrich Ames. There was a terrific mini-series about the Ames saga on ABC in 2014, The Assets. It co-stars the new Doctor Who, Jodi Whitaker, as the woman who nailed Ames. It’s currently streaming on Netflix. I give The Assets 3 1/2 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B+.
Now that I’ve done a mini-review, let’s roam to Rome.
Duce, Duce Redux: Fascism never really died out in Italy. It was in well-deserved disgrace for many years but retained its adherents. That’s largely due to the amorphous nature of Italian Fascism. Mussolini began his political career as a pacifistic socialist before morphing into a warmongering right-winger. Opportunism was his only ideology, which is why open neo-Fascism, as opposed to the sly winks and nods of Berlusconi, is making a comeback.
There’s a terrific story in the Guardian about CasaPound, which has served as something of an incubator for Italian neo-Fascism. That’s right, it’s named for the renegade American poet and Mussolini idolator, Ezra Pound. Tobias Jones has the details.
Now that we’ve tackled espionage and neo-Fascism, it’s time for some comic relief.
Martin Short is on a roll. I missed his show at the Saengar Theatre with Steve Martin because it took place during the heart of Krewe du Vieux prep but I heard it was side-splittingly funny. Short and Martin are doing a special for Netflix and I cannot wait to see it when it lands.
Vulture’s David Marchese sat down for an epic conversation with the funnyman. This is one of my favorite exchanges:
I was talking to a friend of mine about you and in sort of a casually dismissive way —
I hate this guy already. You, I like. But this guy I hate.
He said, “Martin Short is always on.” And he was suggesting that there was something inherently insincere about that quality. Do you understand skepticism about a performer who is seemingly always “on” in a high-energy way?
Your friend’s comment is a comment from someone who doesn’t understand show business. When you see me, you’re seeing me in a situation where I’m there to entertain. If you catch me energized and doing jokes with Johnny Carson and assume that’s also what I’m like at two in the morning — it’s like saying, “Boy, I bet that surgeon’s got a scalpel in his hand 24/7.”
As if always being on is a bad thing. Mel Brooks is always on in public. I don’t hear anyone complaining about that.
While we’re on the subject of Martin Short, one of his funniest characters is the clueless talk show host Jiminy Glick. Here’s an interview with the aforementioned Steve Martin:
Tweet Of The Week: Since this is a political blog, I suppose I should put some politics in the mix. Just call me a crazy mixed up kid.
Josh tweeted that out *before* the Insult Comedian had a tremendous meeting with an NRA lobbyist and his Veep. He’s back on board unless they put him in a room with Senator Feinstein again. Dianne is a *real* tough guy, Trump just plays one on the tweeter tube.
Speaking of tough guys.
Separated At Birth: One of my running jokes during Carnival 2018 was that I had Beetlejuice hair. I’m not the only one. Former US Attorney, teevee legal commentator, and hard ass New Orleans lawyer Harry Rosenberg *always* has Beetlejuice hair.
I’m just mild about this Harry but I have a story about him anyway. One of my law school classmates used to work at Rosenberg’s high-powered law firm, Phelps Dunbar. A picky prospective client met with my friend and some of the other lawyers at the firm. He wanted a certain kind of attorney: “Send me the biggest asshole at Phelps, Dunbar.” There was a consensus in the room that only Harry Rosenberg would do. Ever since then, Dr. A and I refer to him as the BAPD.
Saturday GIF Horse: I recently saw George Stevens’ great western Shane for the umpteenth time. It’s an art film in oater drag. It features a great movie star performance by Alan Ladd, and one of the baddest Western villains ever, Jack Palance as Jack Wilson; not to be confused with Mr. Wilson from Dennis The Menace who was more of a “get off my lawn” kinda guy. Jack Wilson was a stone cold killer.
What made hapless character actor Elisha Cook Jr. think he could best Jack Fucking Palance is beyond me. Cook *always* died in classic films and Palance could only perish at the hands of Alan Ladd’s Shane.
While we’re on the subject of Jack Palance here’s a GIF from when he won an Oscar for City Slickers. Who among us will ever forget his one-armed push up on live teevee at the age of 73?
It’s time to close things out with some music.
Saturday Classic: This duet album from Vaughan and Eckstine was my soundtrack for writing the White Girl, White Lies post. I did have to pause for the odd shiver up my spine when Sarah and Billy were harmonizing. Irving Berlin has never sounded so good, y’all.
That’s it for this week. Writing about the KGB defector got me thinking about The Americans. I’ll give Stan Beeman and Philip Jennings the last word. Little does Stan know that Philip’s real racket was espionage. I expect he’ll learn the truth this season. I cannot wait.