It’s been an eventful week in New Orleans. The city celebrated its 300th anniversary and inaugurated our first woman mayor. I expressed my reservations about Mayor LaToya Cantrell on ye olde tweeter tube:
The slogans included “We are woke” and “We will be intentional.” I’m uncertain if that’s intentional grounding or an intentional walk. I dislike the latter baseball tactic as much as exclamation points. I still wish the new mayor well. Her propensity to mangle the language is good for the satire business, and there’s no business like giving a politician the business. I believe in taking care of business, every day, every way.
This week’s theme song, In The Still Of The Night, was written by Cole Porter in 1937 for the MGM movie musical, Rosalie. It was first sung by Nelson Eddy who was in a shit ton of hokey costume movie operettas with Jeanette MacDonald. I am not a fan of the duo but I am a die-hard Cole Porter fan as evinced by the frequent appearance of his work as Odds & Sods theme songs. I considered counting them but I’m feeling as lazy as the president* today. Where did all my executive time go?
We have two versions of the Porter classic for your entertainment. First, the elegant jazz-pop baritone Billy Eckstine aka the Voice of God.
Second, the Neville Brothers featuring some gorgeous sax playing by Charles Neville. He was an acquaintance of mine. Charles died recently at the age of 79. He was a lovely man with a kind word for everyone he met.
It’s time for a journey to Disambiguation City. Fred Parris wrote *his* In The Still Of The Night for his doo-wop group The Five Satins in 1956.
Yeah, I know, Boyz II Men also had a hit with the Parrisian song but I’m not going there. Instead, let’s jump to the break. Now where the hell did I put my parachute?
We begin with an erudite piece about one of the most entertaining recent pop-culture controversies, the Kanye West affair. I *did* write about Kanye’s creepy man crush on the Insult Comedian in this space but hip-hop has never been my thing. Let’s hear from someone to whom it means a great deal.
Ta-Nehisi Coates On Kanye West: It’s always a pleasure to hear from Mr. Coates. This essay at his old Atlantic Weekly stomping grounds is about more than just Kanye and his gigantic ego. It’s a meditation about Coates’ own recent fame and Michael Jackson who, like Kanye, wanted what the author calls “white freedom.” He slyly calls the piece I’m Not Black, I’m Kanye, which evokes a certain former Hertz spokesman who also sought “white freedom.” Well played, sir.
Before moving on, here’s a song that was inescapable in the summer of 1982:
Let’s moonwalk to our next segment:
Freudian Noir: There’s a swell review/essay by Geoffrey O’Brien in the New York Review of Books of a book by the noted film scholar David Bordwell. Its title is quite a mouthful: Reinventing Hollywood: How 1940s Filmmakers Changed Movie Storytelling.
The book is a fascinating journey through one of Hollywood’s most creative periods. In addition to film noir chatter, there’s some interesting discussion of Joseph Mankiewicz’s ground breaking and Oscar-winning screenplays for two mainstream classics, A Letter to Three Wives and All About Eve. The latter, of course, is the movie that gave us this great catch phrase:
I briefly considered reinventing Saturday Odds & Sods by going on and on about the movies discussed in O’Brien’s piece but decided against it. I’ll settle for posting this poster for Jules Dassin’s 1950 film, Night and the City:
Now that the name Googie Withers has appeared on First Draft, let’s move on to our next segment.
Album Cover Art Saturday: Burton Silverman was paid $1,500 by then Jethro Tull manager Terry Ellis to do the album art for the band’s mega-hit album Aqualung. It turned out to be the best known artwork he ever did. Although his fee was the equivalent of 10K in 2018 dollars, he began to feel ripped off as his image popped up on t-shirts and assorted gee-gaws. His son, Robert Silverman, tells his story at The Outline.com. It’s a doozy, especially this passage:
The tale of how Chrysalis Records had done him wrong was turned into somewhat of a running family gag. Given the haggard figure he created, we mused that he might eventually embody his own artistic creation — a destitute, howling figure draped in rags and huddled in a darkened street corner. Buried within this bit of gallows humor lies a nagging truth: There’s a palpable sense of unease and frustration at seeing something he created become immensely popular — define his career, even — only to see his ownership of the work taken away, thanks in no small part to the persistent myths and outright falsehoods that have been told about the artistic inspiration for the cover.
Tull front man Ian Anderson doesn’t come off well in the story BUT he had nothing to do with the original injustice. It was early in his career as a rock star and he had neither approval of, nor input into, the covers of the band’s albums through 1971. Besides, I’ve already established that I can love the music of an artist who’s not exactly Mr. Nice Guy. David Byrne, come on down.
I guess you know what’s coming next:
Let’s stop “sitting on a park bench” and move on to our favorite stolen feature before our eyes get Cross Eyed, Mary.
Separated At Birth: The Steve Carrell-Alice Cooper pairing has been floating around the interwebs for quite some time. It’s a good one, especially the eyes and nose.
One reason I posted that image of Carrell and Vincent Furnier is because an Alice Cooper song has been in my head all bloody week. Out, damn tune, out.
Now that we’ve been in a car crash, it’s time for some comic relief.
Saturday GIF Horse: Flip Wilson was a big star when I was a tadpole. I loved his teevee variety show and the wide array of characters he played. Everyone loved Geraldine, even Muhammad Ali and David Frost.
As Geraldine would surely say at this point, “the devil made me do it. Woo.”
Saturday Classic: You may have already noticed that I’m a bit obsessed with *both* Ella Fitzgerald and Bill Basie. What’s not to love about this 1963 album featuring arrangements by the sublime Quincy Jones?
That’s it for this week. Watching the Kaiser of Chaos trash the Iran deal made me nostalgic for the two gentleman behind the pact. The last word goes to former President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State, John Kerry.