I’m thinking globally, not locally this week so I’m kicking things off on a celebratory note. We all need verification that not everything sucks. Today’s good news is that the Insult Comedian’s damn fool military parade has been cancelled. The Pentagon initially delayed it until next year, then the president* got all pouty and cancelled it outright. It’s those mean old local politicians who thwarted his will. Poor baby. Give him his binky and he’ll be okay. Sad.
We’ve all had Aretha on our mind since her passing. I had to do some restructuring of this post as a result. How could I possibly NOT have another Aretha tune as this week’s theme song? Hence Chain Of Fools. The song was commissioned by Atlantic Records honcho Jerry Wexler for Otis Redding. Once he heard songwriter Don Covay’s demo, Wexler realized it was perfect for Aretha. Yeah you right, Jerry.
We have two versions of Chain Of Fools for your listening pleasure: Aretha’s original and a 2004 cover by the late Joe Cocker:
Grab on to the chain, chain, chain, chain of fools while we jump to the break.
We begin our second act with a 2016 profile of the Queen of Soul.
David Remnick On Aretha: I’d almost forgotten about this gem until it was recommended by someone on the tweeter tube. Aretha disliked being interviewed but New Yorker editor David Remnick beautifully captured her sass, spunk, and soul. Good job, sir.
Here’s another Aretha song for the road:
FYI, our friends at Longreads.com have assembled a list of 12 must-read Aretha articles.
Ed Bradley On Aretha: Here’s a 1990 piece the late, great Ed Bradley did about Aretha for 60 Minutes:
I miss both of those giants. It’s time to go from the sublime to the genuinely ridiculous.
Meet The Conways: The White House has trotted out the dread Kellyanne Conway to rebut the dread Omarosa. The results have been, well, dreadful.
It’s been a trying week for Conway. She’s been fuming over a WaPo story about her marriage to DC power lawyer George Conway. Conway has gone rogue: he’s now an ardent anti-Trumper and devotes his twitter feed to tormenting Trumpberius.
Here’s the money quote from Ben Terris’ piece:
In Washington, changes in allegiance are nothing new, nor is the art of redirecting any criticism that might follow. Trump loyalists have not changed the fundamental rules of the city — the weapon of shame remains most powerful in the hands of the shameless — but they have redefined the boundaries of play. Some people seem uncomfortable with that, but not Kellyanne. Here’s a conversation from a few days after our walk:
Me: You told me you found [George’s tweets] disrespectful.
Kellyanne: It is disrespectful, it’s a violation of basic decency, certaiinly, if not marital vows . . . as “a person familiar with their relationship.”
Me: No, we’re on the record here. You can’t say after the fact “as someone familiar.”
Kellyanne: I told you everything about his tweets was off the record.
Me: No, that’s not true. That never happened.
Kellyanne: Well, people do see it this way. People do see it that way, I don’t say I do, but people see it that way.
Me: But I’m saying we never discussed everything
In case you’re wondering, the Conway’s marriage wasn’t always politically mixed: they met while George was an anti-Clinton lawyer involved in the pursuit of the president’s penis. He’s also the one who introduced her to the Insult Comedian much to his current regret.
Let’s move on from the conservative Bickersons and see what the world’s tallest magician, Penn Jillette, is up to.
Uh Oh, It’s Magic: Vulture’s David Marchese conducts an extensive and exhaustive interview with the loquacious half of Penn & Teller. They cover everything from the state of magic to Penn’s revised libertarianism, to the existence of the infamous Celebrity Apprentice N-word tapes:
Does Mark Burnett have tapes of President TrumpOmarosa Manigault Newman has backed the claim that there is a tape of Trump using the N-word on Celebrity Apprentice. Not to be confused with the Access Hollywood tape, the alleged pee tape, the tapes Omarosa made in the White House, or the tapes Michael Cohen made of Trump. saying damaging things during Celebrity Apprentice?
Yeah, I was in the room.
You’ve heard him say …
Can you tell me what you’ve heard him say?
No. If Donald Trump had not become president, I would tell you all the stories. But the stakes are now high and I am an unreliable narrator. What I do, as much as anything, is I’m a storyteller. And storytellers are liars. So I can emotionally tell you things that happened racially, sexually, and that showed stupidity and lack of compassion when I was in the room with Donald Trump and I guarantee you that I will get details wrong. I would not feel comfortable talking about what I felt I saw in that room — because when I was on that show I was sleeping four to five hours a night. I was uncomfortable. “Stress” is the wrong word, but I was not at my best. Then at the end of a day, they put you in a room and they bring out a guy [Trump] who has no power whatsoever and he’s capricious and petty and …
… he’s an asshole with cotton candy piss hair as Penn said back in 2012.
This segment gave me a benign earworm. Are you ready to see Ric Ocasek walk on water?
Since the Eighties are back in style, it’s high time for a Cars revival. One might even say that It’s Just What I Needed:
Regular feature alert:
The Weekly GV: This week we quote Gore Vidal on Paul Ryan’s heroine, Ayn Rand:
“Ayn Rand’s ‘philosophy’ is nearly perfect in its immorality, which makes the size of her audience all the more ominous and symptomatic as we enter a curious new phase in our society…. To justify and extol human greed and egotism is to my mind not only immoral, but evil.”
― Gore Vidal
“Miss Rand now tells us that what we have thought was right is really wrong. The lesson should have read: One for one and none for all.”
― Gore Vidal
This is something for the Zombie-eyed Granny Starver to contemplate as he moves into the next phase of his life. The odds of Ryan’s re-emerging as the GOP’s savior diminish with each day he remains silent about their lunatic president*. The future belongs to the courageous.
Saturday GIF Horse: The passing of Aretha has put the 1960’s on my radar screen. As a kid, I loved the pitching dominated baseball of that era. When I watch modern baseball games, I’m struck by the uniformity of pitching motions, which has taken much of the color out of the game.
Two of the greatest pitchers of the Sixties had wildly eccentric and tricky motions. Giants hall-of-famer Juan Marichal’s nickname was the Dominican Dandy. He had twelve dandy pitches that he threw at various angles depending on who was at the plate. He was best known for his high leg kick, which made the batter feel as if he was hitting with a foot in his face.
Cardinals hall-of-famer Bob Gibson also had an intense motion accompanied by his trademark glower. Nobody gave better dirty looks than Gibby.
It’s time to close the festivities down with some early Aretha.
Saturday Classic: Aretha’s first major label was Columbia Records. They didn’t quite know what to do with her. The suits saw her as the next Sarah Vaugan, Billie Holiday, or Ella Fitzgerald. That was hardly a dire fate but didn’t capture the essence of Aretha. The Aretha we know and love came into her own when she moved to Atlantic Records.
1961’s Aretha with the Ray Bryant Combo was her second album for Columbia. It’s a damn good record even if it sounds nothing like her later soul-gospel stylings. Btw, Spike Lee’s father, Bill, plays bass on most of the album.
That’s it for this week. Since I cannot get enough of THE HAT, Aretha gets the last word:
The Queen of Soul is dead, long live the Queen of Soul.