Saturday Odds & Sods: Deportee (Plane Crash At Los Gatos)

Roots by Frida Kahlo

I’ve been following the horrific events at the US-Mexico border. After a few weeks of relative quiet on the caravan front, the Insult Comedian has ramped up the war of words in this fake crisis. He added a new weapon to his usual arsenal of hot air and bullshit: tear gas. Trump claimed that it was “very safe tear gas” but there’s no such thing, especially since they tear gassed babies. Exposure to tear gas has detrimental effects on childhood development. It’s some nasty shit. I was exposed to tear gas in the Paris Metro many years ago. I don’t recall what the protest was about, but I recall feeling woozy, raspy, and weepy for hours after being tear gassed. I guess it wasn’t the “very safe” kind that Trump is so proud of. #sarcasm

Trump’s ridiculous claim that tear gas is “very safe” reminds me of an encounter with one of my Greek Greek relatives. I called him Theo (Uncle) Panos but he was married to my father’s  cousin. He was a proud and boisterous man who had a small business making and selling taverna-type chairs in the Monastiriki district in old Athens. He believed that everything Greek was the best. It was one reason he and Lou got on so well. I’ll never forget dining al fresco one evening with Panos and his family. There were flies swarming and  I kept shooing them away. Panos laughed and said, “Don’t worry. In Greece, the flies are clean and very safe.”

This week’s theme song was written in 1948 by Woody Guthrie and Martin Hoffman in protest of the racist treatment of Mexican nationals who perished in a plane crash in Los Gatos, California. 32 people died: 4 Americans and 28 Mexican migrant workers who were being deported to Mexico. The media of the day listed the names of the dead Yanquis but referred to the Mexicans solely as deportees.

Sometimes the “crash” in the title is replaced with “wreck” but the song remains the same. Deportee (Plane Crash at Los Gatos) is one of the great protest songs and has been recorded many times over the last 70 years.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Woody Guthrie, Dave Alvin & Jimmie Gilmore, and Nancy Griffith.

Now that we’ve been deported, it’s time to jump to the break. We’ll try not to crash-land but I make no guarantees. Now where the hell did I put my parachute?

Before I crash and burn and wreck everything, a quick word from the late Tom Petty:

We begin our second act by paying a visit to one of our worst presidents, Andrew Johnson, who followed in office one of our best presidents, Abraham Lincoln. History has a funny way of repeating itself. That’s funny weird, not funny ha ha.

The Taming Of A President: I mock Politico proper a lot but I like Politico Magazine, which is less focused on “winning the day.” Pieces like the next one are one reason why.

It’s book excerpt time. I’m on the record as favoring those since I like free stuff. The excerpt in question comes from David Priess’ new book, which has an inspirational title, How to Get Rid of a President.

Priess relates how Congress, Ulysses Grant, and Edwin Stanton combined to reign in a drunken, racist, and out of control Oval One. Johnson was impeached by the House, but not convicted by the Senate. They still built a figurative wall around Johnson. I don’t believe they asked Mexico to fund it. Either Juarez or Maximillian would have rejected the proposal out of hand.

I cannot resist quoting the beginning of the article. It’s a total winner. Believe me.

The president of the United States was both a racist and a very difficult man to get along with.

He routinely called blacks inferior. He bluntly stated that no matter how much progress they made, they must remain so. He openly called critics disloyal, even treasonous. He liberally threw insults like candy during public speeches. He rudely ignored answers he didn’t like. He regularly put other people into positions they didn’t want to be in, then blamed them when things went sour. His own bodyguard later called him “destined to conflict,” a man who “found it impossible to conciliate or temporize.”

Just imagine if this bigoted boozy bozo had twitter. Oy, just oy.

Let’s move on to an inspirational piece involving serial killer John Wayne Gacy. That’s right, I said inspirational: it involves the woman who helped nail the homicidal clown.

Star Witness: Kim Byers-Lund worked with John Wayne Gacy’s final victim, Rob Piest. She saw their public interraction and reported her friend missing. She provided the cops with a vital piece of physical evidence: Gacy’s drug store receipt.This ultimately led to Gacy’s arrest and the grisly revelations contained in his basement. As I’ve said before: nothing good ever happens in a basement.

Kim Byers-Lund’s daughter, Courtney Lund O’Neill, has written a fine piece about her mother for Harper’s Bazaar. The interview portion is particularly interesting. One might even call it a lundmark…

Sorry for that groaner but I felt the need to lighten things up after all that talk of homicidal clowns and basements.

Noisy Eateries: I have shitty hearing. I blame it on too many Who and Grateful Dead concerts as a tadpole, which were even louder than the Saints-Falcons game:

That’s why I tell people I have rock and roll hearing. In public places, I often have a hard time distinguishing voices, which is why I find myself nodding and smiling a lot in loud bars or eateries.

That brings me to Kate Wagner’s fabulous piece at the Atlantic that poses the immortal question, How Restaurants Got So Loud. It’s down to design and changing times. It turns out that old school opulent eateries are quieter than modern streamlined ones. Wagner’s sub-title sums it up neatly: “Fashionable minimalism replaced plush opulence. That’s a recipe for commotion.”

Speaking of Commotion, lets end our second act with some CCR:

Hope you could hear that. I think it gave credence to my bad hearing shtick. If you’re still listening, it’s time for some regular features.

The Weekly GV: Gore Vidal was both of his time and prescient. He was a devout atheist, so I won’t call him a prophet even if he wrote a book called Messiah.

This quote dates from the Vietnam era but is applicable to the lying liars of the Trump regime.

“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.”

It’s time for our favorite stolen feature.

Separated At Birth: I feel like Cliff Clavin right now. He was known to bring vegetables to Cheers and claim they looked like famous people. They rarely did but this one purchased by Herriman biographer and parade route book signer, Michael Tisserand, does:

I’m so choked up that I need some sofa time. Of course, I’ll have to kick Andy Capp off the couch first. It won’t be easy: the nasty blighter is usually as drunk as a skunk.

I realize that this segment should have been called Separated at Growth but what can I tell ya?

Tweets Of The Week: My friend Cait knows more about sports than anyone I know except her former sportswriter husband Dave. That’s the long and the short of it. If you know them, you get the joke. For the unitiated: he’s tall, she’s short. There, I said it.

The two combined for some gridiron hilarity last Saturday.

For some reason the full tweet and picture didn’t show up when I took a final look at this post. I think Word Press is messing with me. I hate to blow a good punch line by making y’all click on the link, so here it is:

This was my reply:

I think the Trumps resided at 96 Assalley when they lived in Astoria-Queens.

What the hell kind of name is Connor Assalley? One that should have been changed post-haste.

Since I’m on the subject of my friend Cait, she got the thrill of a lifetime when a member of her all-time favorite band retweeted her son singing an REM song. This time you have to click on the link:

I posted that to be nice after calling her short.

Let’s visit Tiger Stadium and hang out with Coach O for a minute or three.

Saturday GIF Horse: LSU head football coach, Ed Orgeron, has a raspy unearthly sounding voice. It apparently makes him punch himself.

I was tempted to punch myself during LSU’s insane 7 overtime 74-72 loss* to Texas A&M. I put an asterisk on the word loss because the refs made two atrocious calls that handed the win to the sheep fuckers from College Station. If I sound bitter, it’s because I am.

Let’s circle back to Woody Guthrie.

Saturday Classic: I prefer not to use Greatest Hits albums in this segment but Woody cut many of his records in the pre-LP days. Besides, what are y’all going to do? Deport me?

That’s it for this week. I stumbled on the montage below at the and gave it a bat meme twist.

3 thoughts on “Saturday Odds & Sods: Deportee (Plane Crash At Los Gatos)

  1. My friend and I do “Deportee” for church gatherings from time to time, so I did some research on the song. Woody Guthrie was living in New York at the time of the crash, and unsurprisingly the coverage there was spotty. The Anglo flight crew were indeed named in the early coverage, but the passengers were not. Reporting from closer to the scene was better, naming all the people who had died in the crash. Guthrie’s pique at the early East Coast coverage (marked by the popular racism and chauvinism of the day) of the crash was the genesis for the song.

    The chorus is good sing-along stuff, but the verses really drive Woody’s point home. It’s a terrific song.

    1. Thanks for sharing. I did only minimal research. I suspect the coverage by the LA Times and the Hearst papers was similar to that of the east coast press.

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