There will be no tin cup rattling today since we reached our goal Friday. I’d like to thank everyone who supported what we do here at First Draft. I suppose I should thank Al Capone for helping out but what does a dead wise guy care? Btw, I neglected to state that Stephen Graham in Boardwalk Empire is my favorite reel Capone.
The big story in New Orleans is the ongoing clusterfuck involving the Sewerage and Water Board. A year from tomorrow, there was major street flooding in Mid-City. I hate hearing about the August 5th flood since it’s my birthday but what can ya do? The people whose homes, businesses, and cars flooded hate it even more.
The latest mess involves billing. The lunkheads at SWB have computerized the way they bill customers. In theory, it’s a fine idea, but in practice they failed to adequately train the meter readers in the new system. The result has been crazy large bills that customers have refused to pay. The SWB vowed to crack down on what our new Mayor called “bad actors” by cutting off their water. They backed down the other day when it became clear that some of the “bad actors” were poor people with $5,000 bills *and* that they could only disconnect 50 customers a day. TFC: This Fucking City. Stay tuned.
I selected this week’s theme song after it popped up in the last episode of Sharp Objects. That show seems to be a love/hate proposition for viewers. I’m on the love side for the music, atmospherics, and acting, especially the divine Amy Adams.
Riders On The Storm was written by the Doors for their last full-blown LP, L.A. Woman. Jim Morrison’s lyrics are moody and expressionistic even for him. We have two versions for your consideration: the original studio track and a live version by 21st Century Doors, a band featuring Doors keyboard player Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robbie Krieger. I wish they hadn’t hired a Morrison lookalike as their singer: it’s creepy.
A quick story about Jim Morrison. My sister-in-law’s mother-in-law went to high school with Morrison. She remembers him as a nice boy. I bet you’ve never heard that anywhere else.
It’s time to break on through to the other side and jump to the break.
Since I alluded to one of The Doors best songs, I might as well post it:
That was literally Doors noir, but Ray Manzarek’s talent shines through.
We’re staying on the dark side with our first segment. Since the story comes from the Failing New York Times, I’ll let their link image thing serve as the segment title:
It’s a fascinating and tragic story in which the people in charge of the production do not come off well. The director’s attempt to squeeze out the stand-in resulted in suicide. An inglorious mess for such a glorious show.
I had no idea that a run of the play contract could last so long. The original production of Chicago was NOT a monster hit but the revival has been running since 1996. The pay was good and Mr. Loeffelholz needed the money. A sad story all-around.
Our next segment poses the eternal question:
Are We Not Men? We Are Devo: There’s a swell interview with Devo’s Mark Mothersburgh and Jerry Casale in Rolling Stone. The pair are promoting two new books about their highly influential band. Here’s an interesting bit about their somewhat convoluted devolution philosophy:
What was your version of devolution theory in a nutshell?
Casale: It was that we all devolved from a long line of cannibalistic apes. The unintended consequences of this cannibalism mutated them from primates to a hairless ape with a big brain and a big head that then developed a kind of consciousness and put them on a harmony with nature. And then they had to try to subjugate all of nature to justify their species. We thought, “You know what? That kind of explains everything.” If you take that even as a joke and apply it to your local town and your high school, it makes as much sense as anything.
I still don’t get it but they were a fabulous live band in their prime. Here’s my Devo origin story: My old friend Steve hectored me into going to see them at the Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco. He was heavily into punk rock and I was still in my hardcore prog-rock phase. He convinced me that Devo was the best of both worlds. He was right: the theatricality reminded me of a twisted combination of Gabriel era Genesis and our local heroes, The Tubes. The music was pretty darn good in its own right.
I’m pretty sure this was the show we saw:
The date is a bit hazy after all these years but I recall standing in line with cult rock guitarist Snakefinger. He was more congenial that his name indicates: he was neither snaky nor fingery. I was merely snarky.
Here’s an extended clip of Devo doing their thing on French teevee in 1978. Mais oui.
That almost gave me an uncontrollable urge to don a yellow jump suit and leap about like a spazz, but yellow is not my color. Mais non.
I’m not sure what, if anything, Mel Brooks thinks about Devo but I’m very glad the comedy master is still with us. Shorter Adrastos, the Mel Brooks obsession continues.
The Ageless Mel Brooks: There’s a fabulous piece at the Atlantic by veteran film critic David Denby with a title worthy of reproduction: Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man: Mel Brooks in his 90s. That quite a mouthful but Mel is legendarily mouthy as well as hilariously funny.
The nonagenarian comedy icon has rediscovered the joy of live, performance something he swore he’d never return to:
In the 1970s, he said he wouldn’t do stand-up in the future, since the last thing he wanted was to wind up, as he put it, “a white-belted, white-shoed, maroon-mohair-jacketed type” headlining in Las Vegas. This vision, I suspect, was always a warning to himself more than an actual possibility. In any case, he now speaks of his reborn enjoyment of performing onstage.
Please come to New Orleans. I promise to laugh like a deranged hyena if you do so. I refuse, however, to wear a white belt. Think it over.
That concludes the epistolary portion of the program. It’s time for something nobody expects:
Let’s move on to the second edition of our latest recurring segment.
The Weekly GV: Gore Vidal was both of his time and ahead of it. Apropos of nothing, he was also fond of striped dress shirts.
The more things change, the more they stay they same.
Saturday GIF Horse: Dr. A and I are in the habit of leaving the teevee tuned to TCM when we’re out and about. We want our cats to be educated about classic mewvies. Recently, we came home and Singin’ In The Rain was on, so we watched the last half of that screen classic. Hence the Gene Kelly-Donald O’Connor desk dance GIF.
I wonder if Francis the talking mule was jealous of Donald for cheating on him with Gene Kelly? Francis was voiced by Chill Wills, so the mule was probably chill about it.
Speaking of Francis, what the hell was a mule doing in the Navy?
Note that a very young Clint Eastwood is the sailor behind Donald O’Connor. It was 57 years before he started talking to chairs in public.
Benign Earworm Of The Week: Try as I might I cannot get Crowded House’s Nobody Wants To out of my head, so why not share?
Nobody Wants To was the opening track on the band’s 2007 comeback/return album, Time On Earth. Their output has been somewhat erratic since regrouping. Of course, Neil Finn set the singer-songwriter bar very high with a remarkable run of albums between 1987 and 1993. This song is as good as the tunes from that era “but nobody wants to talk about it.”
Let’s close things out with some sweet soul music.
Saturday Classic: Imagination was Gladys Knight & The Pips first album after leaving Motown. It’s one of the most cohesive records they ever did thanks to some amazing songs by Jim Weatherly including Midnight Train To Georgia.
That’s all, folks. The last word goes to Mel Brooks and Marty Feldman as Igor.