History was made 50 years ago today when Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon. It was controversial among some at the time for being a waste of money and has become the subject of wackadoo conspiracy theories. I watched the moon landing unfold and I thought it was magnificent; even better than Star Trek or 2001. The truth is not only stranger than fiction, it can be much better. I still think the heyday of the space program is way cool or perhaps even wicked awesome.
This week’s featured image is a painting by the late Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean. It’s based on a picture taken by Buzz Aldrin of Neil Armstrong; hence the epic title. I thought it was high time to give it, uh, new Life.
There are a wide variety of moon songs to choose from. For this week’s theme song, I went with one that’s lunar landing specific. Moon Rocks was written by David Bryne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, and Tina Weymouth for Talking Heads monster hit 1983 album, Speaking In Tongues.
Now that we’ve done a bit of space walking, let’s cut the tether and float to the break.
Before beginning our second act, here’s a moony classic:
Texas Monthly Space Issue: Mission Control is in Houston so the Texas Monthly is celebrating Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary with a space issue. I’ll let their tweet serve as the link:
The Texanist column tries to answer the age-old question as to whether Florida or Texas has been more important to the space program. I think it’s a tie. Here’s what Texanist David Courtney thinks:
The fact is, both Texas’ and Florida’s contributions have been in service of the same goal. Were the Space Coast and Space City to engage in an actual butt-kicking contest, the Texanist would be forced to eventually pull them apart, dust them off, call a draw, remind them that they are kin, make them shake hands, and then buy them a few beers so they could laugh it all off. (And he would refrain from mentioning that Florida has birthed fewer than half the number of astronauts that Texas has—fewer than Massachusetts, even.)
Florida Man might not agree, which brings me to our next segment, a WaPo think piece about the Florida Man memes that so many of us enjoy. A Florida Man think piece? Who knew?
Florida Man Blues: The WaPo’s Logan Hill poses the eternal question: Is it okay to laugh at Florida Man? In most cases, yes. But he does make a decent case that some of it is kicking down. You can make up your own mind. Click here for the details.
Before moving on, here’s another moon song. Do you detect a theme? Even Florida Man might and he’s not the brightest bulb in the plastic Flamingo lamp.
Our third segment is a swell piece from New Orleans music writer Alison Fensterstock. If there was such a thing as the First Draft Hall of Fame, she would be a member as she coined the immortal phrase “pun community.” I get verklempt just thinking about it.
Love In The Time Of Britney: Along with her sisters, New Orleans’ own Connee Boswell was a big star back in the day. But she wasn’t as big as a more recent Gret Stet singer, Britney Spears; as far as I know, Connee never a had museum display dedicated to her. La Fensterstock takes us on a trip to Kentwood, Louisiana, Britney’s home town.
Alison also tells the story of Keith Collins, the Englishman whose collection comprises the bulk of the Britney display. It’s infinitely more interesting than Britney’s story; her tumultuous marriage to K-Fed notwithstanding,
Did it scare anyone that I remembered the nickname of Britney’s ex-husband? It scared me shitless. Self-quoting may rock but self-scaring does not.
No moon songs this time, just two radically different versions of one of Britney’s hits:
Are you ready for story time with Adrastos? I certainly hope so, you have no choice.
Random Moon Landing Story: This first appeared in my recap of the midseason finale of Season 7 of Mad Men:
I was acquainted with baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry when I was a kid. He was a product of the San Francisco Giants organization before being traded so then owner Horace Stoneham could have a drinking buddy. I am not making this up. It was also one of the worst trades of the 1970’s.
Anyway, Mr. Perry was a great pitcher but a horrible hitter, which led to this oft told story. One version of the story is that his former manager, Alvin Dark, not a man known for his wit, made a prediction in 1964 that man would land on the moon before Gaylord hit his first homer. In alternate versions, Perry was the source of the original joke. Snopes.com has a good piece on the story and its origin. One thing we know for sure is that Gaylord Perry hit his first major league home run on July 20, 1969 just hours before the moon landing. It’s a pity that there are no Giants fans on Mad Men to share the story, but that’s what I’m here for. If it’s not true, it should be.
Btw, I tried to find a picture of Gaylord Perry swinging a bat but could not find any, which is probably a good thing. His lifetime batting average was .131, and he only hit 5 more dingers in his career. I was surprised it was that many.
Holy epic self quotation, Batman.
We begin our third act with a new regular feature, which has nothing whatsoever to do with comic books.
The Weekly DC: When I was a tadpole, I’d feign insomnia so I could watch The Dick Cavett Show with my mom. I think she was on to me but was impressed that I was a fan of the erudite host at such a tender age.
I went down a Dick Cavett rabbit hole on YouTube whilst hunkering down for Barry. Voila, a new regular feature was born.
Our first clip is one of the most famous moments on Cavett’s ABC show: the time Lester Maddox walked off because DC refused to apologize for calling him a bigot.
The Maddox moment was memorialized in the Randy Newman song Rednecks:
Dick is, of course, a Protestant from Nebraska but Newman was telling the story from a Southern redneck’s perspective so DC became a “smart ass New York Jew.” Oy just oy.
Let’s continue with our favorite stolen feature.
Separated At Birth: These astronauts were literally separated at birth.
I realize posting that picture of Mark and Scott Kelly was cheating. But what’s a bit of non-pecuniary cheating betwin friends?
Mark Kelly is running as a Democrat for the Arizona Senate seat held by Martha McSalley. She was appointed to John McCain’s old seat after losing to Kristen Synema in 2018. Good luck, Captain.
Pondering the Kelly twins gave me a space age earworm:
We stay in space with our next segment.
Saturday GIF Horse: Giphy is chock full of animated GIFs featuring Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin cavorting on the moon in 1969. This is one of them:
Weekly Vintage Music Video: This entry is a no-brainer. It features three blond guys who were really big in the Eighties.
Let’s close things down with some more music.
Saturday Classic: We paid a visit to Texas earlier in the post. Ain’t nothing more Texan than Doug Sahm, y’all. Here’s a 1973 live show on KSAN in San Francisco.
That’s it for this week. The last word goes to the Apollo 11 astronauts: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin.