I vowed not to complain about the heat this week. It’s always hot in New Orleans in July, after all. Besides, much of the world is having a heat wave so we’re not alone. Suffice it to say that even people who like warm weather are complaining about it. I’m trying my best to be stoical in the face of it all. I’m not sure if I’ll succeed in this but who the hell wants to hear a grown man whine about the humidity?
A big local story was the anointment of Zach Strief as the new play-by-play announcer of the New Orleans Saints. He has huge shoes to fill: Jim Henderson was to the Saints and their fans what Vin Scully was to the Dodgers. I’m skeptical that the inexperienced Strief is up to the job: he’s a recently retired Saints offensive lineman, and while he’s a bright, articulate guy, he’s unqualified to be a play-by-announcer. Of course, this is the age of the unqualified.
Our theme songs this week are variations on a dreamy themey. Patsy Cline’s Sweet Dreams was written by Don Gibson who recorded it 8 years before Patsy. Her version is the one we remember. Sweet Dreams was also the title of the fabulous Jessica Lange starring 1985 bio-pic.
Yes’ Sweet Dreams comes from their second album, Time and a Word. They were still finding their way in the musical world at that point.
Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) was a monster hit for the Eurythmics in 1983. There was an epidemic of teenage girls who cut their hair very short because they wanted to be Annie Lennox. Who could blame them?
That concludes this foray to Disambiguation City. It’s time to awaken from your dreams, sweet or otherwise, and jump to the break.
A quick note about the featured image. I ran a search for “surrealist painters dreams” and stumbled into Paul Fleet’s work. He’s a contemporary British surrealist artist. I love Any Eye For A View. It’s nice and beachy, which makes it seasonal. The eyes have it…
Since First Draft is ostensibly a political blog-even if we’re really into cats, music, and pulp fiction-let’s begin our second act with a profile of one of the leading contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
The Persistence of Senator/Professor Warren: Yeah, I know, I vowed not to write about 2020 until after the fall election. It seems to be a day for disavowals. Why? Rebecca Traister’s New York Magazine cover story about Elizabeth Warren is *that* good.
The only cavil I have about Senator/Professor Warren as my party’s nominee is her age: she’ll be 71 in 2020. BUT she has the energy of a toddler, the passion of a teenager, and the intellect of a Harvard law professor. That’s a formidable combination indeed. Additionally, she’s ready to take the fight to Donald Trump and is doing so every day. Nevertheless, she persisted.
I’m warming to the idea of a Warren-Booker ticket, which would not only double down on so-called identity politics, it would feature two of the best orators in the party. It’s a long way until 2020, so it’s time to stop sweet dreaming about a Trump free White House and move on.
It’s time for some inside baseball; make that inside blogging. My method for putting the Saturday post together is to search for interesting pieces that I’d like to share with my gentle readers (the rougher ones too) and then paste the links into the future post. For this week, I found two outstanding country music related pieces. I didn’t notice until writing day that they were by the same author, John Lingan, and excerpts from the same new book, Homeplace: A Southern Town, a Country Legend, and the Last Days of a Mountaintop Honky-Tonk. Oops.
Honky Tonk Man: In our first Linganian excerpt, we hear the story of Jim McCoy, the Blue Ridge Country King. McCoy was in his mid-eighties when he met the author. Joltin’ Jim ran his Troubadour Lounge and Park in Highland, Virginia until his death in 2016 at the age of 87.
It was in that capacity, in 1948, that he first met Patsy. He was 19 and she was three years younger. Jim offered local and touring acts the chance to play on-air for $2, but Patsy didn’t even have that. She auditioned for him in the hallway, an a cappella take on “San Antonio Rose,” and Jim immediately let her sing to the live mic, free of charge. This episode has since become a key component of Patsy lore — her creation myth in a sense. But more important, it inaugurated 15 years of intense friendship and musical affinity. Jim played guitar for Patsy on many early occasions, became lifelong friends with her second and final husband, Charlie Dick, and eventually served as a pallbearer at her funeral. Jim will tell you how sexy she was, but they were never romantically involved. His love for her was a deeper and purer thing.
I wasn’t able to find any good clips of Jim McCoy singing so this one will have to do:
John Lingan week continues with another excerpt from Homeland. This one focuses on the great Patsy Cline.
Miss Cline Was No Patsy: In this excerpt published by Slate, Lingan ponders What Patsy Cline Could Teach Today’s America. I suspect her advice would be to neither go Crazy nor fall to pieces. Cue two clips:
A quick note about Crazy. It was famously written by Willie Nelson. Here’s a forgotten detail: Ross Perot used it as his rally entrance song during his 1992 presidential campaign. Who says rich dudes with crewcuts have no sense of humor?
Let’s move on to a documentary that’s causing a buzz much like its subjects did in the early 1980’s.
Three Identical Strangers: This fabulous film tells the story of David Kellman, Bobby Shafran, and Eddy Galland, identical triplets who were separated by birth and adopted by different families. Tim Wardle’s new film tells their story in what amounts to three acts.
The first act is about the giddy days of discovery. The triplets went on every chat show in America and astonished people with their superficial similarities. Holy crap, they all smoke Marlboro’s. Phil Donahue and Tom Brokaw were impressed. I’m uncertain what the Marlboro Man or Joe Camel thought.
The second act describes how their American dream curdled and went sour.
The third act reveals that they were subjects of a bizarre nature/nurture experiment run by Dr. Peter Neubauer, a Holocaust survivor. It still involved what Bobby Shafran called some “Nazi shit.”
I don’t want to give away too much because I think everyone should see this remarkable film. It will get you thinking about nature versus nurture in your own family. I’m the youngest of three and I’m nothing like my older sisters personality-wise. I ran with a different pack.
Here’s the trailer:
Three Identical Strangers is killing it at the box office so you’ll have to leave the house to see it. I give it 4 stars, an Adrastos Grade of A- and a skinny Siskelian thumbs up. Gene was the documentary man, man.
It’s time for our favorite stolen feature, which has something in common with the preceding segment.
Separated At Birth: I saw this tweet on my buddy Lex’s timeline. I realized that something Rotten was going on and it behooved me to Kasich the joint:
I should apologize for that pun on the Ohio Governor’s name but why start now?
Are you ready for a new recurring feature? If not, tough toenails. Shit, now I sound like Frank Burns of MASH fame. The good news is that I have a stronger chin than Larry Linville. Better yet, I’m not as hairy as Jamie Farr and his permanent vicuna coat.
The Weekly GV: It’s no secret that my biggest literary influence is Gore Vidal. That’s why it’s only fitting and proper that I quote the proudly improper Master every Saturday.
“The United States was founded by the brightest people in the country — and we haven’t seen them since.”
That was never truer than in 2018.
Saturday GIF Horse: Bogie usually didn’t like to let them see him sweat but there’s an exception to every rule. It’s time to hang out with Philip Marlowe in Gen. Sternwood’s greenhouse.
The Big Sleep is one of my all-time favorite movies. Any time I’m feeling on the sweaty side, I make a joke about sweating like Bogie in the greenhouse scene. Now I’m sharing that slightly damp story with the world. Poor world.
Now that we’ve sweated with the oldies, let’s shut things down with an album that Patsy Cline would have surely loved.
Saturday Classic: George Jones was the greatest male country singer of his generation. He specialized in “tears in your beer” ballads and zany novelty numbers. This outstanding 1976 album captures both sides of George.
That’s it for now. Last week, I gave Gore Vidal and his cat the last word. This week it’s time for the idol of the Krewe of Cats Named For Perry Mason Characters: Raymond Burr. Here he is with his Siamese cat.