There’s a system forming in the Gulf, which has led to the inevitable widespread panic on social media. And I’m not talking about the jam band either. It’s a bit early for this but when did the weather care what I thought? I do wish people would stop Chicken Little-ing. That never makes anything better. Ya heard?
Dr. A and I celebrated our anniversary at one of our favorite local eateries, Gabrielle Restaurant. It’s a reboot of the beloved restaurant owned and operated by Greg and Mary Sonnier before Katrina. They revived it some 12 years after the original Mystery Street location flooded. The food is fabulous and the new space on Orleans Avenue is warm and inviting. Grace and I know Mary and her charming daughter (some would say clone) Gabie aka the girl for whom the joint is named. Put it at the top of your list the next time you’re looking for a great meal and fabulous service in New Orleans. Greg is one of the best chefs in the Gret Stet of Louisiana and that’s saying something. That concludes this brief commercial announcement. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.
This week’s theme song was written in 1960 by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman for Elvis Presley. It was the b-side of It’s Now Or Never but it also charted at number 32 in the US and number 2 in the UK. It was recorded at the same time as Elvis’ post-army comeback LP Elvis Is Back but was not included on the original album, a common practice in those days: you wanted the kids to buy both the 33 and 45. Colonel Parker knew how to shake down the suckers, y’all.
We have two versions of A Mess of Blues for your listening pleasure: the Elvis original and a 1995 cover from the great John Hiatt.
Now that we’ve messed around with the blues, let’s jump to the break.
We begin our second act with the obligatory political story,
Should I Stay Or Should I Go? Dahlia Lithwick poses that very question in a provocative piece at Slate about how decent people in the executive branch should approach working for an evil moron. She argues that *some* of the silent people in the executive branch may well save the republic. A good example is Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein. He has shown considerable guile and subtlety in fending off the Insult Comedian’s nuttier demands. I do, however, wonder if he’s drawn a line in the proverbial sand or intends to placate Trump for years on end. Trump is one of those people who fits the old adage: if you give him an inch, he’ll take a mile.
The American tradition has been the quiet exit as opposed to the noisy resignation. It wasn’t known until David Halberstam published The Best and the Brightest that former Deputy Secretary of State George Ball was a committed dove or that Robert McNamara had turned against the Vietnam War. A timely word from McNamara *might* have changed the course of history but he remained silent on the war until the 1990’s.
Anyway, read Dahlia’s piece, it’s typically thoughtful and well-written.
The last word of the segment goes to (who else?) the Clash:
Let’s set the Wayback Machine to the early 20th Century when Los Angeles was still a sleepy town. Then the film industry arrived and everything changed.
Go West, Young Art Form: Longreads.com has published an extended excerpt from Gary Krist’s latest book, The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination and the Invention of Los Angeles. Krist is one of the best writers of narrative non-fiction around. My personal favorite among his books is 2014’s Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans, which was reviewed in the WaPo by my friend Kevin Allman. It’s a small fucking world, after all. Not that Storyville had much to do with Disney’s take on New Orleans. Ooh la la.
The long titles notwithstanding, Krist is the opposite of writers who Gore Vidal derided as scholar squirrels. He knows how to pick and choose his material unlike your average academic historian aka the scholar squirrels. Nuts to them.
I’m a sucker for anything about the early days of the American film industry so this excerpt is right up my alley. The book also tells the story of a different type of illusionist, Sister Aimee McPherson the glamorous evangelist who had a massive following during the early days of radio.
I seem to have talked myself into buying the book. It was not a hard self-sell.
It’s time to rock.
Documentary Of The Week: When I heard there was a new Elvis documentary on HBO, I yawned. I waited to watch until it was On Demand. I was wrong to be dismissive, Elvis Presley: The Searcher is a fine addition to the Presley biographical canon.
I’m something of an Elvis buff but there were a lot of photos and film clips that I’d never seen before. More importantly, the film focuses on Elvis the musician, not the freak show that surrounded him in his later years. Most of the interviewees are musicians such as Tom Petty, Emmylou Harris, Robbie Robertson, and Bruce Springsteen or knowledgeable music writers like Warren Zanes.
Like the best musicians, Elvis was a sponge who absorbed influences from country to blues to R&B to swing and, above all, from gospel. Elvis loved him some gospel music, largely because it reminded him of his beloved mother Gladys. This innate eclecticism is what makes Elvis such a fascinating artist.
One thing the filmmakers nail is their take on Elvis’ movie career. Before his induction into the army, his films were pretty darn good. Hell, his part in King Creole was originally supposed to be played by James Dean. And it was directed by old Warner Brothers hand Michael Curtiz who won an Oscar for Casablanca and made many fine films in his day. After the army, Elvis films were disposable fluff aimed at his teenybopper fans. The problem was that some of these lame films bombed because the teenyboppers had become young adults. Oops.
Here’s the trailer:
I really enjoyed Elvis Presley: The Searcher. It’s available on HBO and its various platforms. I give it 3 1/2 stars, an Adrastos grade of B+ and a rockin’ thumbs up.
Scott & Bailey: I’m a big fan of British crime fiction. They do it better on teevee than us Yanks. I noticed recently that writer-producer Sally (Happy Valley) Wainwright was one of the people behind the ITV show Scott & Bailey. We checked it out and wound up binge watching the 33 episodes of this fine cop show in short order. I neglected, however, to bring in a short order cook to make us a short stack. That’s the long and short of it…
The Scott & Bailey of the title are police detectives in Manchester played by Lesley Sharp and Suranne Jones. They’re an odd couple working as murder police under the command of Gill Murray who is expertly played by Amelia Bullimore. That’s three strong, beautiful, and clever women for the price of one.
The acting is excellent. The crime stories are first-rate and the chick cops are hilarious. Additionally, I get to call them Mancunians. What’s not to love?
Here’s the season 1 trailer:
We saw Scott & Bailey streaming on Britbox via Amazon. It’s must see Mancunian teevee. I give it 3 1/2 stars, an Adrastos grade of B+ and a Mancunian thumbs up.
I cannot stop saying Mancunian. That can only mean one thing:
Let’s move on from my Groucho obsession and return to Woody Old England, eh wot.
Tweet Of The Week: I’m an Anglophile but not much of a royalist unless the script is written by Peter Morgan. I skipped the royal wedding but understand why people were so OTT about this one: it was blessed relief from the endless scandals in Washington City.
An astute twitter person noted that HRH wore LSU colors to the nuptials.
The mere fact that pimp and Queen Elizabeth appeared in the same sentence made this tweet a classic.
Saturday GIF Horse: Who among us hasn’t wanted to see the Crane brothers dance about Cafe Nervosa in trench coats?
Now that we’re sufficiently caffeinated, lest’s close things out with some music.
Saturday Classic: This 1966 album solidified Eric Clapton’s reputation as one of the best and most inventive guitarists in rock music. It’s called The Beano album by hardcore Clapton fans because EC is reading The Beano on the cover. It was a popular children’s comic book at that time. I don’t know if he shredded that issue or reserved his shredding for his axe.
That’s it for this week. The last word goes to the terrific threesome of Scott & Bailey: Janet, Gill, and Rachel. Rumor has it that they’re Mancunians.