Summer colds are the worst. I have one so I’m keeping this introduction brief. This time I mean it.
This week’s theme song, Wooden Ships, was written in 1968 by David Crosby, Paul Kantner, and Stephen Stills. There are two original versions of this song but I’m posting the Crosby, Stills & Nash one first because it was released in May of 1969 whereas Jefferson Airplane’s version came out that November.
Now that we’ve fled planet Earth, let’s jump into the void, I mean, jump to the break. I’m not sure if Kantner, Crosby, and Stills provided parachutes. They were hippies so I have my doubts. I’ll guess we’ll find out on the other side.
We begin our second act with a sad story about how “disruptive” tech companies have disrupted one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It used to be one of the most livable as well. Harvey Milk weeps. So do I.
Whither San Francisco: I grew up on the Peninsula 25 miles south of what we always called The City. Not just any city, but THE CITY. It started to become a very expensive place to live in the 1980’s. It’s gotten even pricier since Big Tech moved in at the urging of the late Mayor Ed Lee. Lee’s intentions were good: he hoped that it would bring jobs and prosperity but the move backfired and led to San Francisco becoming a whiter and less diverse place than the town I lived in many years ago.
Another sad thing for me is that I knew Ed Lee. He was the nephew of close friends and business associates of my father. They were good people but had a fatal flaw: they were real estate developers who believed that growth was inherently a good thing. We’ve learned otherwise. Now San Francisco is a canary in the coal mine of 21st Century gentrification. New Orleans and other cities are slowly but surely going in the same direction. Heaven help us.
Karen Heller has her take on the state of The City in the WaPo: How San Francisco Broke America’s Heart
My friend Joan is a San Francisco patriot and gave Heller hell on social media:
“Another good piece in rebuttal to the Washington Post story slamming SF. City has problems exacerbated by tech, high prices and displacement for sure. And they need to be addressed. But it also has many of the high points it has always had, and plenty of people with the mind and soul to keep it that way.”
Now that we’re all bummed out and/or confused, we’ll see if Tony Bennett can make us feel a bit better:
That didn’t quite work. Let’s take a sentimental Journey with Steve Perry, Neal Schon, and company:
I just admitted to liking a song from the Journey catalog. I can handle the scorn of the cool kids. I’m too damn old to give a shit if my cool card gets revoked.
It’s time to go literary on your asses with two writerly articles or is that articles about writers? It could go either way, y’all.
Furious Hours: I originally planned to review Casey Cep’s book about Harper Lee’s lost true crime tome at greater length. Then I came down with this damn cold. It’s a helluva read and Ms. Cep spins a helluva yarn about Harper Lee, Truman Capote, Rev. Willie Maxwell, and Big Tom Radney, Mister Alabama Democrat. It’s well worth your attention. I give it a sold Adrastos grade of B+. Cep is an exceptional prose stylist: pun intended, it always is.
Casey Cep recently sat for an extended interview with Adam Morgan of Longreads. It’s well worth your time. It’s a helluva lot breezier than the Mueller report. Shorter too.
I learned about Furious Hours from a piece on CBS Sunday Morning:
Thanks to Rita Braver for that marvelous story. I’m feeling, uh, braver already.
Let’s move on to an article about one of the modern masters of crime fiction.
Come On & Get Happy With James Ellroy: That’s right, I just gave a peppy title to a segment about the cynical, dark, and sardonic author of LA Confidential, The Black Dahlia, and American Tabloid. It seems that Ellroy has found happiness at the age of 71 in Denver, Colorado, not his native Los Angeles. I guess he left his demons in the city of angels or some such shit.
Leo Robson tells Ellroy’s story at 1843.magazine.com, which is an appendage of The Economist. I prefer that word to subsidiary. It’s more corporeal than corporate.
It’s time for a much-needed cheerful musical interlude:
Documentary Of The Week: Film directors are natural born storytellers, which is why the makers of De Palma were wise to let Brian tell his story in his own words. If you’re like me and enjoy Brian De Palma’s movies, you’ll dig this 2015 documentary. One thing I did not know is that De Palma was offered and declined Flashdance. It’s hard to imagine a worse combination of director and material than that.
Here’s the trailer:
De Palma is currently streaming on Netflix. I give it 3 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B.
We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.
Separated At Birth: It’s time to take a trip to Flavor Town and meet up with Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar. I’m not sure how well it works pictorially but both men are mouthy douchebags so it certainly works on that level.
While we’re on the subject of the Mouth that Bored, I cannot resist linking to Pete Wells’ legendary takedown of Fieri’s now defunct Times Square eatery. I preferred Times Square when it was grungy, funky, and sleazy.
Tweet Of The Week: Dumpster fire memes are ubiquitous on social media. Gambit Weekly editor and Adrastos crony Kevin Allman posted pictures of the ultimate NOLA dumpster fire complete with some snappy patter.
The best part about this is that it's a dumpster, on fire, parked in a no-parking fire exit. pic.twitter.com/1HQacGaZ89
— Kevin Allman (@KevinAllman) May 28, 2019
Saturday GIF Horse: It’s time to circle back to our sci-fi theme with one of the most famous scenes in Star Trek history:
I hope you didn’t find that GIF overly tribblesome…
Weekly Vintage Music Video: Brian De Palma not only made a series of classic thrillers, he directed some noteworthy music videos in MTV’s heyday. This is one of them:
Now that we’re relaxed, let’s shut things down with some more music.
Saturday Classic: Paul Kantner was a cantankerous visionary, political radical, and sci-fi buff. One result was this brilliant 1970 album, Blows Against The Empire. Let’s take a trip on the Starship and “go ride the music.”
That’s it for this week. The last word goes to some greats of Sixties San Francisco: Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, Jerry Garcia, Bill Graham, and on the wall, Frank Zappa. Yeah, he was from Southern California but we’ll claim him. Why the hell not?