The weird weather continues in New Orleans. We seem to have skipped fall and gone straight to winter. One day we ran the AC, the next the heater. As you saw yesterday, the cats are happy. They love blankets and space heaters. I could do without either. I hate the cold; a stance befitting someone who has lived most of their life in California and Louisiana.
The other down side of cold weather NOLA-style is that public places crank up the heat. I strolled to the grocery store the other day dressed for the great outdoors, I returned a sweaty mess since I had to walk fast to avoid the Valence Street rooster. I’m not a fan of chickens and this one is on the aggressive side. I’d rather eat them than dodge them.
This week’s theme song was written by Tony Banks in 1976 for Genesis’ last pure prog album, Wind & Wuthering. Afterglow is a drop dead gorgeous song that closes the album as well as an era. It’s the last Genesis album featuring lead guitar player Steve Hackett who was missed almost as much by the band’s fans as Peter Gabriel.
We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the Genesis original followed by the Classic Rock String Quartet.
Now that we’re afterglowing, let’s jump to the break. I promise a soft landing.
Dr. A and I are going to see roots rock demigods Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore this evening. Here’s one of my faves from their new-ish album:
We begin our second act with a fascinating look inside the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.
Dueling Popes: I’m not Catholic but I live in one of the most Catholic cities in the country. I also find Vatican political intrigues to be intriguing. One might even say I’m intrigued by the intriguers or that I’m curious about the curia.
The current dispute pits retired Pope Benedict against Pope Frank. Clerical conservatives are making life hard for the people’s pope and Herr Ratzinger is the unseen hand behind them. John Cornwell has the details at Vanity Fair.
Let’s leave Vatican City behind and take a final look at the centennial of the war that did not end all wars.
The Great War Redux: I’ve been known to bitch about the tweeter tube. It does have its redeeming characteristics. Among them is the #100yearsago hashtag deployed by Patrick Chovanec to relive the Great War day by day. It has made that conflict’s grizzly progress come alive for this history buff.
Chovanec was written a piece for the New York Review of Books about this experience. Here are the opening and closing paragraphs:
Four years ago, I went to war. Like many of the people whose stories I followed in my daily “live-tweets” on World War I, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. What began as an impulsive decision to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand’s death at the hands of a Serbian assassin, in June 1914, snowballed into a blood-soaked odyssey that took me—figuratively and literally—from the rolling hills of northern France, to the desert wastes of Arabia, to the rocky crags of the Italian Alps, to the steel turret of a rebel cruiser moored within range of the czar’s Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. And like the men and women who actually lived through it, now that the Great War is ending I find myself asking what, if anything, I’ve learned from it all.
In the Great War itself, over 16 million people died, including almost 7 million civilians. The US got off relatively lightly, with 117,465 people killed, just 0.13 percent of its population. In Serbia, somewhere between 17 percent and 28 percent of the country’s population was killed. But even numbers like these leave little concrete impression on our minds. Some of the most touching parts of my experience live-tweeting were the times when people would tweet back to me about a grandfather or great-uncle who fought and died in the war, and is forever twenty-four-years old in some field in France, or Turkey, or Italy, or at sea. For most people, that absence is what defined the war: someone left and never came home. The world that they shaped, by their presence and their absence, is the one that we live in, whether we realize it or not. And we, like them, can only grope our way forward, day by day, into an unknown future.
It’s been a helluva ride. Thanks for the memories, sir.
Let’s move on to an interview with a man who posed many answers about the Great War over the last 34 years. Who is Alex Trebek, Alex?
Alex’s Final Jeopardy: I’m old enough to remember Jeopardy’s original host, Art Fleming. He was your basic game show host. Alex Trebek has always been something of an enigma and I mean that in a good way. He made the game and the contestants the focus of the show, not himself.
Alex sent shock waves through the Jeopardy fan base when he announced his retirement. It’s the first time he’s been the center of attention since he shaved his mustache.
Alex recently sat for an extensive interview with Vulture’s David Marchese. My favorite bit was this exchange:
When you say you want the contestants to be all they can be, does that ever extend to trying to influence them to bet big on Daily Doubles? It sometimes seems as if you do. And you can also seem disappointed when contestants wager conservatively.
I have been disappointed when contestants made conservative wagers because they don’t realize the obvious. And that is, if a clue is in the second box from the top, it’s going to be easier than a clue at the bottom of the category. So if you’ve landed on what should be an easier Daily Double clue, why not take a chance? But I try not to influence contestants’ wagers. I do joke about it. You’ll hear me say things like, “You made it a true Daily Double in the first round when you only had a $1,000. Now that you’ve got $13,000, I’m sure you’ll want to make it another true Daily Double.” But I’m not seriously suggesting they make that wager.
Thanks for the memories, sir. I guess I should post Bob Hope’s theme song at this point:
Well, that really dated me. Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I never followed Hope on the vaudeville circuit. I was too busy making bathtub gin or some such shit.
It’s regular features time. They don’t all appear every week: Separated at Birth wanted extra time to cook their Thanksgiving repast. I deferred to their wishes. I feared having this thrown in my face:
The Weekly GV: Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer were peers. Both came to fame as young World War II novelists. The two men feuded for many years. The feud peaked during this appearance on the Dick Cavett Show:
The sensible woman was New Yorker writer Janet Flanner. Mailer was such an asshole that the feud became three against one. Twenty years down the road, Vidal and Mailer buried the hatchet and not in one another. Cavett is the only one of the combatants still with us, alas.
Let’s move on from feuding war novelists to dancing Munsters.
Saturday GIF Horse: Are you ready to rock Herman Munster style?
I bet the walls were shaking. Herman was a big boy.
Weekly Benign Earworm: I’m not sure where this one came from but it’s a great country rock song that accompanied me when I was dodging that pesky rooster:
Poco was a band that everyone expected to break through to superstar status. It never quite happened. They became best known for losing bassists Randy Meisner and Timothy B. Schmit to the Eagles.
Let’s close this joint down with some “roots rock reggae, dis a reggae music.”
Saturday Classic: Rastaman Vibration was the first reggae album I ever heard. I was instantly smitten. It has some of Bob Marley’s best songs. Enjoy.
That’s it for this week. Since I picked Afterglow as the theme song, I suppose I should give equal time to Peter Gabriel era Genesis. Genesis fans tend to sectarian warfare. I’m among those who like both eras. It’s a controversial stance but it’s mine, all mine. But I’m not a fan of Phil Collins’ solo work. What the fuck is a Sussudio?
PG in his flower costume gets the last word.