Saturday Odds & Sods: The Tears Of A Clown

Circus Sideshow by Georges Seurat.

The big local news of the week was a non-event that I alluded to yesterday: Tropical Storm Gordon. I was reasonably confident it wouldn’t pay us a visit. For whatever reason, storms in the Gulf tend to jog to the east as they approach New Orleans. I’m much more concerned when the early bullseye is to our west than on us.

The new Mayor’s team surprised me with a calm reaction to Gordon:

Mitch Landrieu was prone to overdramatize storm threats by dressing in combat-like gear and declaring unnecessary curfews. Team Cantrell played it cool. If they can transfer this mojo to other city issues, I might be less critical. I’m not holding my breath because I don’t feel like turning blue. It’s a bad look for me.

A depressing local story took place across Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville. A synagogue was defaced with anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi graffiti. Anti-Semitism is fashionable on the alt-right and, in some quarters, the hard left. In the UK, Jeremy Corbyn has damaged Labour’s reputation as an anti-racist party with remarks such as the ones described by the Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone:

He mentions an impassioned speech made at a meeting in parliament about the history of Palestine that was “dutifully recorded by the thankfully silent Zionists who were in the audience” (audience members he presumably knew nothing about). So far so bad. But it gets worse. He goes on to say that these unnamed Zionists in the audience “clearly have two problems. One is they don’t want to study history, and secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony either … So I think they needed two lessons, which we can perhaps help them with.”

This is classic anti-Semitism as it treats British Jews as the unassimilated OTHER. It was too much for Jewish Labourite Josh Glancy who stated categorically in the New York Times that he wouldn’t vote Labour again until Corbyn is ousted as leader. He describes Corbyn’s views as follows:

I’d always thought that if Mr. Corbyn was ever nailed down on this issue, he’d be spouting the anti-Semitism of the international left: Shadowy Zionist lobbyists. Omnipotent Rothschilds. Benjamin Netanyahu glorying in the slaughter of innocent children.

Instead we got something much closer to home. This was the anti-Semitism of Virginia Woolf and Agatha Christie. It was T.S. Eliot’s “lustreless” Bleistein puffing on his cigar and Roald Dahl insisting that “there is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity.” The comments were more redolent of the genteel Shropshire manor house where Mr. Corbyn was raised than the anticapitalist resistance movements where he forged his reputation.

Ouch. Labour’s anti-Semitism controversy has derailed efforts to oust the inept and incoherent Tory government of Theresa May. It’s a vivid illustration of how the far left and far right can converge. It’s happened before: the dread Oswald Mosley was a Labour MP before forming the British Union of Fascists.

A final note before moving on. I am staunchly anti-Netanyahu: his government’s moves against Israeli-Arabs are repugnant and amount to imposing an Apartheid regime in Israel. Having said that, anti-Netanyahu-ism shouldn’t morph into anti-Semitism. Many Jews in both the UK and the US are opposed to the current Israeli government. But even those who support it, should not be othered in their own country. Genteel bigotry is just as bad as synagogue desecrating bigotry. Now that I think of it, it’s worse: the genteel bigots should know better.

It’s time for me to dismount my sopabox and move on to this week’s theme song. The Tears Of A Clown is one of my all-time favorite records. It was written by Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, and Hank Cosby for the Miracles in 1970.  It’s one of the songs that made me into the music geek that I am today. It’s on Smokey with Pagliacci as an unindicted co-conspirator.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. The original Miracles single and Smokey with Daryl Hall on the latter’s teevee show.

Now that we’ve wept the tears of a clown, it’s time to dry off, then jump to the break.

After all that talk about anti-Semitism, I feel like clowning around with some tunes from Graham Parker. the Kinks, and Elvis Costello:

When Declan MacManus says Clowntime is Over, I’m inclined to listen. Rudy Giuliani, of course, is too busy bloviating to listen to anyone.

Trump’s Clown: The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin takes a long look at the life and times of former New York Mayor and current Trump mouthpiece, Rudy Giuliani. Toobin concludes that nobody should be surprised by the operatic OTT performance by Giuliani. It’s who he’s always been. The other day he declared that his client would never take questions from Team Mueller about obstruction of justice. That’s tantamount to taking the Fifth Amendment. We’ll see how long they stick to that position. Trump’s Clown is apt to pirouette any time now.

I cannot resist borrowing Barry Blitt’s illustration for the piece. Hey, I’m a subscriber, not one of its twitter editors:

Let’s leave the Big Apple Big Mouth and do a deep dive into the world of professional football. There is no Deep State Throat content involved. I promise.

The Big Game: Mark Leibovich has a new book out about the 21st century Lords of Misrule aka the NFL owners. He seems to be sprinkling excerpts everywhere like pixie dust. I like his writing and am interested in the subject so here we go:

Vanity Fair: Trump Kaepernick and the NFL Culture War.

Slate: The Tom Brady Blues.

NYT Magazine: Trump & The NFL Owners.

I’m not sure how Leibovich pulled off this trifecta but it’s quite an accomplishment. The poor bastard even had to listen to Trump brag about palling around with Tom Brady. Here’s a quote that needs to be posted to be believed:

Donny and Tommy golfed together a bunch of times over the years. Trump would call Brady after his games, and, sometimes, if the call came in when Brady was driving home from the stadium, he would put Trump on the speakerphone for the other passengers to hear—because it’s such a kick to have the actual voice of Donald Trump coming over the phone; and it was for Trump, too, to have Brady’s on the line (also on the speaker). This is one of these mutually fetishistic dances that the Very Famous engage in. What’s the use of having shiny friends if you can’t show them off? During one of our encounters amid the campaign, Trump showed me the Patriots helmet and autographed Brady football next to his desk at Trump Tower. He kept bringing up Deflategate, which he also called a “witch hunt” and seemed more interested in discussing than many of the policy issues that were coming up in the campaign. “It’s so ridiculous what they’re doing to him,” Trump said of Brady, mentioning again that he had just spoken to Tom. “He said: ‘Mr. Trump’—he calls me Mr. Trump, which he shouldn’t, because we play golf all the time. Anyway, he says: ‘Mr. Trump—Donald.’ He doesn’t even know what the fuck to call me. It’s the craziest thing. He’s a friend of mine. A really good friend of mine.”

Brady quite sensibly declined comment on this bit of Trumpian exuberance.

Let’s cleanse our pallet with a circus related selection from XTC wherein Andy Partridge resigns as clown. Can you blame him?

It’s time to get down and dirty with some of our regular features. Let’s start by elevating the tone with a quote from Gore Vidal.

The Weekly GV:

As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you liberate a city by destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests. Gore Vidal, The Decline and Fall of the American Empire 1992.

GV passed away in 2012 but these words still ring true. To say that Trump has debased the language is like saying he’s a fucking moron: it’s almost too obvious to say aloud.

It’s time for our favorite stolen feature.

Separated At Birth:

I’m feeling lazy so I’m posting a scan of the cover of Spy Magazine’s second SAB collection:

Anyone old enough to remember the Queen of Mean, Leona Helmsley? I think this paring with Jack Nicholson as the Joker is most amusing. Btw, Leona and her husband were cronies of Trump. Assholes of a feather flock together or some such shit.

Saturday GIF Horse: Are you ready for the Festrunk brothers? I’m not sure if I am but, ready or not, here they are.

I know some of you are colulorophobic. That’s fancy way of saying you’re afraid of clowns. I’m concerned that all the clown references have given you the blues. As a means of disspelling your blues, let’s play one of the best blues rock albums of all-time.

Saturday Classic:  Guitar hero Robin Trower spent 5 years with the proto-prog band Procol Harum. He left because he wanted to take center stage with his own power trio featuring the marvelous James Dewar on bass and vocals. Twice Removed From Yesterday is their first album. Here it is in its entirety:

That’s it for this week. It’s time for Twisty the Clown to play a return engagement:

Clowntime is well and truly over. Believe me.