This is the week Mother Nature flicked the celestial switch to turn on the steam bath that is summer in New Orleans. It hit 90 degrees for the first time in 2019. The cats slowed down, and your humble blogger started sweating like Bogie in the greenhouse scene in The Big Sleep. This sort of heat is why people in more sensible countries such as Spain and Greece take siestas. Did I just call the Greeks sensible? There’s a first time for everything.
The big local story was the death of writer, raconteur, and local character Ronnie Virgets at the age of 77. His prose style was unique as was his voice, which landed him on local teevee and radio. Ronnie was a man about town so I ran into him from time-to-time over the years. The last time was at the Krewe du Vieux captain’s dinner. Ronnie was our king in 1996. I told him how much I missed his Razoo column in the Gambit. His reply: “I ran out of shit to say.” It was said with a wink so I didn’t believe it for a second. Our mutual friend, Clancy DuBos, wrote a lovely tribute to Ronnie in which he compared him to both Damon Runyon and Jimmy Breslin. Yeah, you right, Clancy. They broke the mold when they made Ronnie Virgets.
Motown May continues with this week’s theme song. I Want You Back was written in 1969 by “The Corporation” aka Berry Gordy, Freddie Perren, Alphonso Mizell, and Deke Richards. The song was originally intended for Gladys Knight & the Pips but ended up being the Jackson 5’s first hit. Let me address the monster in the room: Michael Jackson did monstrous things as an adult but he was an abused child in 1969. Besides, my favorite thing about I Want You back is the production, especially the guitar riff that propels the song.
We have two versions for your entertainment. The Jackson 5 original and a cool cover by Graham Parker:
I hope you’ll still want me back after we jump to the break. If you don’t, who can blame you?
My Louisiana Tunes piece for the Bayou Brief was such a big hit that I decided to plug it again by posting the #5 song on the list. This time, the original complete with Jew’s Harp:
“A drunkard’s dream if I ever did see one” is one of the great lyrics. It’s right up there with “that voodoo that you do well.”
Lets begin our second act by moving from the Gret Stet of Louisiana to Elizabethan England. Admittedly, an odd transition but it’s mine all mine.
Stratford Man Or Woman? I’ve long been skeptical that William Shakespeare aka the Stratford Man was the Bard. For one thing, his daughter was illiterate. For another, there were no books in the Stratford Man’s house. No books in the home of the learned author of Hamlet and The Merchant Of Venice?
While I’m a skeptic, I’ve never had a particular candidate. That’s why I’m so fascinated by Elizabeth Winkler’s Atlantic article: Was Shakespeare A Woman? Her candidate is Emilia Bassano. It seems plausible to me.
Let’s shed our codpieces and awkward Elizabethan collars and head to Los Angeles in the swinging Sixties. But first an oddball song from Michael Doucet and Richard Thompson:
Mansonmania: Charles Manson, his “family” and their horrible crimes have always interested me. Call it an appalled fascination. Manson’s horrific crimes captured the nation’s attention. Dr. A’s grandmother was convinced that Manson would escape prison, travel across the country, and come after the young Dr. A. I am not making this up. I’m glad she was wrong.
With Quentin Tarantino’s take on Manson headed to a theatre near you, there’s been another explosion of Mansonmania. It’s exemplified by this week’s obligatory Vulture article: A Pop Culture Guide To Charles Manson. It was written and compiled by Laura Elizabeth Wollett and she did a bang up job summarizing books, movies, teevee shows, and podcasts about Bloody Charlie and his cult.
One of my favorite bits of Mansonania is the teevee series Aquarius with David Duchovny, which is currently streaming on Netflix. Here’s how I described it in this space in 2015:
This week’s theme song [Everybody’s Been Burned] implanted itself in my head by way of the new NBC drama Aquarius. It’s more like a gritty FX or HBO show than network fare. Plus, it’s being rolled out in its entirety On Demand as well as on broadcast, which shows the impact Netflix is having on the teevee universe. I’m convinced that Aquarius was pitched as follows: Philip Marlowe meets Charlie Manson. It’s particularly fun to watch David Duchovny cast against type as a hardass and hawkish LAPD detective.
That concludes this edition of Self Quotation Theatre. Should I give myself a pat on the back?
Let’s move from a relatively minor mass murderer to one of the deadliest people to ever walk the Earth, Adolph Hitler.
Documentary Of The Week: Speaking of appalled fascination, I’m interested in what makes people tick, even genocidal monsters like Hitler. My motto is: Know thy enemy. There’s an interesting little French documentary, The Pact, about the Anglo-American side of the Hitler family. If you hate sub-titles, not to worry: it’s been dubbed into English without damaging it.
The Pact tells the story of what Ron Rosenbaum called The Hitler Family Film Noir in his classic book, Explaining Hitler. William Patrick Hitler was the dictator’s nephew. He was an audacious chap who grew up in the UK but moved to Germany to cash in on Uncle Adolph. He appears to have blackmailed his uncle, which led to a falling out but his life was spared.
William Patrick moved to America in 1939 and hit the lecture circuit. When war came, he enlisted in the Navy, which was a propaganda coup for the Allies.
After the war, William Patrick shed the name Hitler like a particularly disgusting pupa. Who could blame him? The family changed its name to Stuart-Houston and promptly vanished from the limelight. The Pact takes a look at what happened to the American branch of the Hitler family. No spoilers from me, y’all.
The Pact is currently streaming on Netflix. I give it 3 stars and an Adrastos grade of B.
It’s time to leave mass murderers and their creepy kin behind and begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.
Separated At Birth: After all that ugliness, it’s time to bring some beauty into our lives. I was also tired of featuring dudes in this segment.
This week’s pairing is super model/Project Runway host, Karlie Kloss and Kanye West’s little friend, Taylor Swift.
I’ve watched every season of Project Runway and Project Runway All Stars. I’m digging the new group, especially when the tall, willowy Karlie stands next to Christian Soriano, who is your basic short Italianate man. I do miss Tim Gunn but Heidi Klum, not so much.
I missed the Norman Lear nostalgia fest the other night but it inspired me to bring you the following classic All In The Family routine.
Saturday GIF Horse: The time Sammy kissed Archie resulted in one of the most sustained belly laughs in teevee history. This is the silent GIFF-y version.
The look on Archie’s face when he realizes he’s been kissed by a Jewish black guy is priceless.
Weekly Vintage Music Video: I’ve had Randy Newman on my mind because of my Louisiana Tunes listicle. His songs were the top of the pops. This swell video captures Newman’s love of another place, Los Angeles, California. The song is played at LA sports events to this very day. I guess I have to forgive Randy for it being played at Dodger Stadium. Oh well, nobody’s perfect.
Let’s shut the joint down with some more music.
Saturday Classic: This is an audio-only Japanese bootleg recorded at shows on the Melt (Peter Gabriel 3) tour in France and the good old USA. It features PG’s former Genesis bandmates, Mike Rutherford and Steve Hackett on several tracks.
That’s it for this week. Dr. A and I binge watched Season 3 of Sneaky Pete and enjoyed it, yea verily, especially Peter Gerety’s brilliant performance as Otto Bernhardt the nicest bail bondsmen in history. The cast of that swell Amazon show get the last word: