Happy Bastille Day. I’m not planning on storming anything, it’s too damn hot for that. I *am* spending some time in the heat by attending San Fermin New Orleans. It’s our zany version of the running of the bulls in which the bulls are rollergirls with plastic bats. I’m not running, I’m drinking mimosas, eating donuts, and hanging out with Dr. A, our friend Cait, the child army, and whoever else shows up. It’s a sweaty, fun, and deeply silly time.
I predicted that the president* would make an ass of himself in the UK and he has done so. He gave an inflammatory interview to the Murdoch owned Sun wherein he praised Boris Johnson, criticized Theresa May, bashed immigrants, and wished people would call the country England again. He apparently re-annexed Ireland while he was at it. The next day, he denied attacking May and called The Sun “fake news” even though it’s owned by his pal Rupert. It was just another day in Trump World.
The featured image is one of my favorite photographs from the New Orleans Museum of Art’s Lee Friedlander in Louisiana exhibit. The New York based photographer has a passion for New Orleans, which is on display at NOMA until August 12th.
This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson for Pour Down Like Silver the third album he and then wife Linda recorded together. We have three versions for your listening pleasure. The original version followed by covers by the Neville Brothers and Bonnie Raitt. RT plays on the latter recording.
Now that we’re feeling a bit on the dim side, let’s brighten things up by jumping to the break.
I’m not through with Dimming Of The Day. I recently discovered a new (to me) live version by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. No mellotrons were injured in the filming of this clip.
We begin our second act with a series of political/historical pieces. Serious times call for serious measures. I promise to shift tones, but let’s start with the existential threat of Russian interference in our, and the UK’s, elections. Brexit may have also been made in Russia.
The Trumpchurian Candidate: Everybody’s talking about Jonathan Chait’s provocative New York Magazine cover story, which posits that Trump may have been a Russian asset as early as 1987. It’s a solid piece of political detective work that’s plausible enough for our old “buddy” Glenn Greenwald to denounce. Glenny is deeply invested in the notion that there was no Russian interference in 2016 or if there was, it’s our own fault. I suspect that his real issue with this notion is that it makes his friend Julian Assange look bad. Can’t have that. #sarcasm
Madeline Albright & Andrew Rawnsley On La Vida Fascisti: The former Secretary of State has taken her book tour to the UK. She was in and out before Trumpy arrived. Holy Fortuitous Timing, Batman.
The book is entitled Fascism: A Warning. She knows about totalitarian dictatorships from personal experience. Her family first fled Czechoslovakia when the Nazis invaded and re-fled when the Communists overthrew the country’s democratically elected government in 1948. I’m sure Greenwald considers her a hysterical red baiter. Oy, such malakatude.
Albright sat for an interview with one of Britain’s smartest and savviest political journalists Andrew Rawnsley of the Observer/Guardian. I’m looking forward to his Sunday column, which is bound to be about the Zombie Prime Minister’s Trumptastic week.
I suggest to her that the book struggles to offer a satisfactory definition of fascism. “Defining fascism is difficult,” she responds. “First of all, I don’t think fascism is an ideology. I think it is a method, it’s a system.”
It is in his methods that Trump can be compared with, if not precisely likened to, the dictators of the 1930s. Fascists are typically masters of political theatre. They feed on and inflame grievances by setting “the people” against their “enemies”. Fascists tell their supporters that there are simple fixes for complex problems. They present as national saviours and conflate themselves with the state. They seek to subvert, discredit and eliminate liberal institutions. She reminds us that they have often ascended to power through the ballot box and then undermined democracy from within. She is especially fond of a Mussolini quote about “plucking a chicken feather by feather” so that people will not notice the loss of their freedoms until it is too late.
Trump is one nasty motherplucker in my book and Albright’s as well. We also agree that communism and fascism are two sides of the same dictatorial coin. That’s why I’m concerned about the “neo-Marxists” out there who claim they can do it better. Yeah, right.
Ron Rosenbaum’s Afterword To An Updated Edition Of Explaining Hitler: I’ve written about Ron Rosenbaum several times before. He’s one of the best practitioners of the New Journalism this side of Tom Wolfe or Gay Talese. I revisit his book Explaining Hitler time and time again. What’s not to love about a book with a chapter titled The Hitler Family Film Noir?
Rosenbaum recently tweeted a link to the 2013 afterword to his masterpiece, which was published by the LA Review of Books.
If you don’t follow Ron Rosenbaum on twitter, it’s time to rectify your error. He recently passed along this terrific photo montage:
I’m well-known as a connoisseur of fakes, imposters, and con artists. Our next segment involves someone who was duped into a musical scam.
The Counterfeit Queen Of Soul: Vickie née Mary Jane Jones has a spectacular voice. As a young woman in the 1960’s, she sounded eerily like another church lady turned soul singer, Aretha Franklin. Aretha was Vickie’s hero and musical role model. I guess she made her feel like a Natural Woman.
A James Brown impersonator named Lavell Hardy spotted Jones and took her on tour with him. The was one detail he omitted: he expected her to be a counterfeit Aretha and forced her to do so. I am not making this up.
You’re probably wondering why I wrote about Trump, British politics, and Boris Johnson instead of local matters before the jump. The next two segments explain why.
Tabloid Headline Of The Week: Speaking of the Fake News Sun, the Fleet Street based tabloid had a bit of sport with the timing of Boris Johnson’s resignation. It happened when the country was getting revved up over their team’s performance in the World Cup.
England eventually lost, which may foreshadow a defeat for Bozza in his inevitable leadership challenge to the Zombie Prime Minister.
It’s time for everyone’s favorite stolen segment.
Separated At Birth: Bad Hair Edition My old pal Mike Shapiro recently called Boris Johnson Trump’s doppleganger. He has a point: they both have bad hair and even worse attitudes. Bozza is superficially cleverer but recent events have lowered his political IQ quite precipitously.
Saturday GIF Horse: I wrote about the Invasion of the Federalist Society Body Snatchers last Monday. It’s only fitting to post GIFs from the movies in reverse chronological order. I’m not sure how fitting it really is but in the immortal words of Bob Marley, “who the cap fit, let them wear it.”
Let’s close this show out with one of my all-time favorite albums.
Saturday Classic: Louis Armstrong meets Oscar Peterson was the first CD I ever purchased. I still prefer CDs to vinyl even though the latter is trendy. I’m immune to trendiness. And I’m too freaking lazy to turn over records. Besides, my LPs reside deep in my closet. I’m kind of scared to check them out after all these years.
That’s it for now. This has been a bad week for America and our allies. Below is a bat meme version of the infamous image from the G-7 summit. Note Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s body language. He was the first world leader to try sucking up to the Insult Comedian. It hasn’t gone as planned.