It’s been a tough week that got off to a bad start with the Notre-Dame fire. Instead of uniting people in solidarity, it led to petty bickering on social media as to which was worse, that fire or the church fires perpetrated by a racist in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. They’re equally terrible in their own way: there’s no need to weigh them on a scale of horror. Notre-Dame will be rebuilt and there’s an online fundraising effort afoot for the churches in Louisiana. Click here it you’d like to donate.
I nearly wrote a post about all the crazy hot takes on the tweeter tube until I realized that the last thing the world needed was my hot take on hot takes. Instead, here’s a funny story about flies. We’ve had some aggressive flies in the house this year: Paul Drake likes to chase them but rarely, if ever, catches them. His frantic efforts remind me of my father’s reaction to flies. Lou was obsessed with swatting and killing them. He was relentless. After years of observing him in action, I finally asked him why. It had to do with his service in the Pacific theatre in World War II. There were so many damn flies there that he hoped never to see them again once he was home. It made perfect sense so I stopped teasing him about his fly swatting exploits. It’s a good thing that he never lived in the Gret Stet of Louisiana.
Sorrowful times call for sad tunes. Pete Ham and Tom Evans wrote Without You for Badfinger’s 1970 No Dice album. The ultimate version of this song was recorded the next year by Harry Nillson who wrung every ounce of emotion out of the lyrics and melody. It was a monster hit: sitting atop of the US charts for 4 weeks.
It’s disambiguation time. This Without You was written by John Wetton and Steve Howe for Asia’s eponymous 1982 debut album. Holy power ballad, Batman.
Now that we’ve established our self-sufficiency, let’s jump to the break; either alone or together alone.
Before moving on, another sad song written by Pete Ham. It features the slide guitar stylings of George Harrison:
We begin our second act with a journey into American political history.
The Adams Chronicles was a PBS mini-series that aired in 1976. This segment hasn’t got anything to do with the series BUT I felt like giving it a shout-out. I’m big on shout-outs they make me wanna SHOUT:
I doubt that the Presidents Adams ever made like the Isley Brothers but the thought of them jumping for joy is most amusing. Brahmins neither shout nor jump for joy.
One of the enduring myths of American political life is that party politics are bad. John Adams was present at the creation of this myth. Neither Adams was a particularly good politician, which is why they both served only one term as Oval One. It’s hard to imagine either of them thriving on the stump or teevee. I can, however, visualize John Adams tweeting out cranky messages. I think Abigail would eventually take his phone away and have him drink some of cousin Sam’s beer to calm down.
Historian Sean Willenz has written a fascinating piece for the Atlantic about the Presidents Adams and their difficulties with party politics. It’s an essay/review of a book by LSU historians Nancy Isenberg and Andrew Burstein: The Presidents Adams Confront the Cult of Personality. The personalities in question are the men who defeated them: Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.
Willenz maintains that John Quincy adapted to political reality after becoming the only former president to serve in the House of Representatives:
Although never a conventional party man, Adams belatedly learned how to deploy his talents within the party framework. He stirred up both popular and congressional opinion as Old Man Eloquent in the House, and plotted strategy with radical abolitionists as well as his antislavery House allies to overturn the gag rule. They finally achieved success in 1844. By the time Adams collapsed and died at the Capitol, four years later, he had helped pave the way for what would eventually become the Republican Party, the first antislavery party in history. The greatest leader of that party would be an admirer of Adams—the one-term Whig congressman Abraham Lincoln, a skilled and unapologetic party politician who happened to be on the floor of the House at the moment Adams crumpled.
Willenz spends chunks of his essay discussing the Current Occupant. I’m inclined to agree with his analysis and disinclined to quote it. The Insult Comedian gets enough ink.
Son Of A Wiseguy: I’ve never linked to a piece in the Indianapolis Star before, but Zak Keefer’s piece, A Mobster In Our Midst was too good to ignore. It tells the story of John Franzese Jr. whose father was the under-boss of the Colombo mafia family. Junior joined “the life” but learned that he was not cut-out for it. He felt trapped and the only escape was to rat out Senior aka Sonny. The son ended up in Indianapolis via the witness protection program, the father in a federal prison.
The most dramatic moment in the piece is when Junior hears that his elderly father is dying in a nursing home and decides to visit Sonny. It went surprisingly well and Keefer’s account is surprisingly moving. It’s definitely Pulitzer worthy, y’all.
Journalism Movie Listomania: I’ve had movie lists on my mind after writing the Bayou Brief piece about movies set in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. This list comes from Poynter, not Vulture and author Tom Jones has the good sense to select only 25 movies and not write 6000 words about them unlike yours truly. The result is a great read that I’m inclined to agree with: I don’t see any significant omissions. His top two of All The President’s Men and Broadcast News are unassailable. Who among us didn’t empathize with Albert Brooks when this happened?
I’m proud of my restraint in not making any Tom Jones jokes. Between the movie with the late, great Albert Finney, and the singer it’s a fertile field that I opted not to plow. Of course, I just bragged about not doing so, which is its own form of joke. Oh well, it’s the age of braggadocio.
We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.
Separated At Birth: Speaking of theft, this image involves highway robbery in broad daylight. I pinched it from Herriman biographer and parade route book signer Michael Tisserand who appropriated it from Michael Feldman. The whole thing was goofy as are Mnuchin the Moocher and, uh, Goofy.
I’d pay a modest amount to see a picture of Mnuchin the Moocher with his tongue hanging out like that. The president* he serves is more like this version of Goofy:
Saturday GIF Horse: I love character actors. One thing I like about Game Of Thrones is how many good character actors are in the cast. My favorites are Iain Glenn as Jorah and Jerome Flynn as Bronn. These gifted actors have also been GIF’ed.
Jerome Flynn is such a good actor that even his shrugs are meaningful. It’s time to shrug off this segment and move on.
Weekly Vintage Music Video: I spent a fair amount of time in the last month pondering Bette Davis: two of her films made my Bayou Brief top 40 list. That, in turn, made me think of Kim Carnes and her monster hit song from 1981.
We move from Jezebel to Pigs On The Wing.
Saturday Classic: Pink Floyd became unlikely superstars in the 1970’s with a series of best-selling albums. Animals isn’t spoken of as often as the others but it’s just as good. I saw the tour and it was a spectacular spectacle. The music was pretty damn good too: “Ha ha, charade you are.”
That’s it for this week. The last word goes to Charles Laughton as Quasimodo and Maureen O’Hara as Esmeralda from the 1939 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.