Saturday Odds & Sods: Too Late To Turn Back Now

Parade by Jacob Lawrence

It was Katrinaversary week along the Gulf Coast. I wrote about that on the day itself. Nuff said. In related news, former Nagin henchman Greg Meffert aka Muppet crawled out from whatever stone he’s been hiding under since testifying against C Ray. He has a new book out, which I will be reviewing for the Bayou Brief next week. It’s bound to be unintentional comedy gold.

This week’s theme song, Too Late To Turn Back Now, was written by Eddie Cornelius. It was a monster hit in 1972 hitting #2 on the Billboard charts. It’s featured in the new Spike Lee joint; more about that later.

We have 2 versions for your listening pleasure. The original hit song by the Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose and a reggae-fied cover by the Chi-Lites.

It’s too late to turn back now, which is why we’re jumping to the break. Make that falling…

While we’re on the subject of the Cornelius family, here’s their other big hit:

We begin our second act on a solemn note.

The Francisco Franco Falangist Blues: Spain has been in turmoil for the last few years. The Catalan independence movement led to extreme actions by a right-wing government as well as that government’s eventual fall in favor of a center-left coalition led by Socialist prime minister Pedro Sanchez.

The new PM has decided to address the nation’s bloody Falangist past by exhuming and removing the late dictator Francisco Franco’s remains from El Valle. It is described thusly by Omar G. Encarnacion in a fine piece in the New York Review of Books:

Franco’s resting place, El Valle de los Caídos (or the Valley of the Fallen), on the outskirts of Madrid, is Spain’s grandest public monument, completed in 1959 to mark the twentieth anniversary of the end of the civil war. It features the world’s tallest memorial cross and an underground basilica consecrated by Pope John XXIII in 1960, which is one of the largest in all Christendom. A grand esplanade offers a view of the majestic Sierra de Guadarrama mountains.

Franco’s mausoleum is located in the basilica’s main crypt. The small community of Benedictine monks that has made El Valle its home offers daily prayers for Franco’s soul. Sunday mass includes a boys’ choir singing Gregorian chants. Every November 20, on the anniversary of his death, hundreds of Franco sympathizers make a pilgrimage to the monument to pay tribute to “El Caudillo” and the legacy of his Falangist regime.

Spain has never directly addressed the bloody early Franco era; opting instead to forget. That apple cart has now been knocked over. It will be fascinating to watch this play out. The Franco family is not taking this, uh, lying down.

Omar G. Encarnacion has the details at the NYRB.

In addition to being laid to rest at a public monument, Franco was on his deathbed for months, which led to a running joke on SNL’s Weekend Update:

Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.

Since this is a political blog, it’s time for our mandatory (when I feel like it) Saturday political story. Everyone in the country is sick and tired of pundits who cover politics as if they were a sporting event. One of them is Buzzfeed honcho Ben Smith who used to be one of the foremost practitioners of horse race political coverage when he was at Politico.

Giddy Up: Ben Smith is a reformed sinner. His latest piece at Buzzfeed is a mea culpa of sorts as you can tell from the title: I Helped Create Insider Political Journalism. Now It’s Time For It To Go Away.

Smith is convinced that his former oeuvre is one reason the punditocracy got the rise of Trumpism, and its next of kin white nationalism, so spectacularly wrong.

Traditional political journalists were the last people to notice in 2016 that the world had changed. Candidate Donald Trump took advantage of a stubborn refusal to recognize the power of right-wing ideology and celebrity politics and politically motivated hacking. His campaign made a mockery of political reporters who thought they were — in the old sports metaphor — the referees, blowing their whistles ineffectually as he marched past.

As the institutions of journalism gear up for another presidential campaign, we face an audience that isn’t just bored by tactical, amoral, insidery, and mostly male-dominated political reporting: Americans of all political stripes now actually hate it, and the sports metaphors that used to be a great way to go viral are now the quickest path to a Twitter ratio. The game changer, the horse race, the Hail Mary — apt, perhaps, for the party politics of the 1990s and 2000s — are painfully inadequate for the movement politics of a new era, with higher stakes, higher passions, and far wider interest.

Smith also believes that era died along with the career of the dread Mark Halperin. I do not miss it. The stakes are too high when we have a president* with contempt for the media as well as his own supporters as Jonathan Chait so vividly pointed out in a piece wherein he called Donald Trump a “coastal snob.” That was a label stuck to Democrats such as Michael Dukakis, John Kerry, and Barack Obama among others. Repeat after me: revenge is a dish best served cold.

End of lagniappe reference to a lagniappe article. Do you know what time it is?

A minor correction. We’re going to the movies, not the lobby. I could, however, use some Snowcaps right about now.

BlacKkKLansman: I promised to review this two weeks ago in this space. Better late than never. I kind of struggle with how to pronounce the title. I suspect I’m only person who thinks of Baseball Hall of Famer Kiki Cuyler when contemplating it.

Hazen Shirley Cuyler stuttered rather badly hence the nickname. Like many folks with a speech impediment, he had a gorgeous stammer-free singing voice. Besides, what guy wants to be called Hazen Shirley? End of epic digression.

Spike Lee’s new joint is the best thing he’s done in eons. It’s the perfect match-up of director and material. You all know what it’s about, right? If not, here’s the trailer:

There have been some complaints that Spike plays fast and loose with the historical record. In this case, I don’t give a shit. It’s a minor episode that makes a major point: white supremacy has become socially acceptable in some circles thanks to its ally in the White House. Fuck you sideways, Donald.

Boots Riley who directed the overrated summer hit Sorry To Bother You has been dogging Spike over the fact that there are *some* good cops depicted in the movie. It’s called nuance, dude. When Spike’s films have nuance, such as Do The Right Thing, he’s at the top of his game; when they don’t, you have Jungle Fever. I’ll take a nuanced Spike Lee joint any day.

The acting is excellent and the use of music is, as usual, spectacular. Hence the post theme song. I’d already used Ball of Confusion as a post-11/8/2016 post title.That’s what the world is today. Hey, hey. Let me hear ya, let me hear ya.

The more I think about BlacKkKLansman, the more I like it. I give it 4 stars, an Adrastos Grade of A- and a big thumbs up. Up where, I’ll never know.

While we’re on the subject of the new Spike Lee movie, it’s time for our favorite stolen feature.

Separated At Birth: I was intrigued when I heard that Topher Grace, who played nice Eric Forman on That 70’s Show, was cast to play David Duke in Spike’s new joint. He nailed the performance as well as the look.

I wonder what Red Forman would say about this?

Now that I’ve shown you a picture of David Dukkke before his nose job, it’s time for our weekly dose of acerbic wit from the late, great Gore Vidal.

The Weekly GV: Something that not everyone knows about the Master is that he’s related to Al Gore and Jimmy Carter on his mother’s side of the family, the Gores. In short, GV knew from Southern families.

“Southerners make good novelists: they have so many stories because they have so much family.”
― Gore Vidal

Tell me about it.

Benign Earworm Of The Week: The Things We Do For Love was recorded not long after after 10cc split in half with Godley and Creme becoming a duo and Gouldman and Stewart carrying on as 10cc. I was initially gobsmacked by the lyrical simplicity of The Things We Do For Love: 10cc were known for their super clever lyrics. It didn’t take long for me to fall for this insidiously catchy melody. It’s like “walking in the rain and the snow,” after all.

Speaking of clever lyrics, this is the only song about soup, other than the odd ode to gumbo, that I’m aware of. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Holy indifferent lip syncing, Batman.

Saturday GIF Horse: One of my favorite scenes in BlacKkKlansman was when Ron Stallworth and his super groovy girlfriend, Patrice, discussed the comparative merits of Richard Roundtree in Shaft versus Ron O’Neal in Super Fly. She opted for Roundtree, “never a pimp,” she said. Wise choice.

I wasn’t able to find any good GIFs from those two blaxploitation classics so these two from Blacula with William Marshall will simply have to do.

Speaking of blaxploitation movies:

Saturday Classic: Curtis Mayfield’s soundtrack for Super Fly was one of the biggest hits of 1972. It contains some of his finest songs and that’s saying something.

That’s it for this week. They celebrated Aretha’s life in Detroit yesterday, so she gets the last word. Besides, I can never get enough of THE HAT.