Saturday Odds & Sods: Walking On A Wire

Gas Station by Edward Hopper.

Edward Hopper is associated with scenes of urban isolation and alienation. As you can see, the same thing applies to his rural scenes. That gas station isn’t hopping, which is par for the course for Hopper.

The Gret Stet of Louisiana is making progress with the pandemic. The curve is flattening slightly BUT there’s a big problem with racial disparity among the afflicted. Twice as many black folks have died of COVID-19 related illnesses as white folks. Terrible is an accurate but still inadequate word to capture the horror of this discrepancy. If I believed in using emojis here, I’d insert a sad face BUT:

This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson in 1981 for the final Richard and Linda Thompson duo effort, Shoot Out The Lights.

Walking On A Wire is one of the ultimate breakup songs. It’s some serious shit, y’all. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a recent solo acoustic version by the songwriter.

I’m still feeling wiry. Time for some Leonard Cohen as channeled by Aaron Neville.

I’m a bit wired from all that walking on a wire. Keep your balance as we jump to the break.

Here’s a semi-random RT song to kick off our second act:

Note that there was no wire involved in that song. Just lots of walking.

We begin our second act in earnest with a pandemic related story.

Restaurant Blues: Slate’s Christina Cauterucci filed a heartbreaking story about Thamee Restaurant in the District of Columbia. They tried mightily to stay open for takeout and delivery but were unable to make it work. Here’s hoping they get a second chance when this phase of the pandemic is over.

We have a house full of books, so I’ve been catching up on my reading. I even read a recent Pulitzer Prize winner.

Education Of An Idealist by Samantha Power: In most memoirs the author is the hero in every situation, but Power presents a warts and all version of a fascinating life. Even her childhood is interesting, and I rarely say that about any memoir.

Power went from human rights advocate and journalist to Obama foreign policy insider. There were a series of bumps in the road, but Sam Power conquers them all. That’s right, we’re on a first name basis.

My favorite story in the book is from her days as UN Ambassador. She was on the phone at home, not lavishing attention on her then 5-year-old son Declan. He did not suffer in silence: “It’s always Putin, Putin, Putin. When will it be Declan, Declan, Declan?”

Yeah you right, kiddo.

I give The Education of an Idealist an Adrastos Grade of A-. It got a  grade bump for evoking the title of one of the finest American memoirs, The Education Of Henry Adams.

Pondering the United Nations has given me a Utopian earworm:

While the rest of you have been watching that fakakta Tiger thing, I’ve been watching more substantive Netflix fare.

Who Killed Malcolm X? takes a thoughtful look at *who* really killed Malcolm X without resort to conspiracy theories or other wackadoodle notions.

This 6-part documentary series does an excellent job of putting Malcolm’s life in historical perspective; featuring classic film clips as well as interviews with people close to Malcolm.

Here’s the trailer:

Who Killed Malcolm X? is streaming at Netflix. I give it 3 1/2 stars, an Adrastos Grade of B+ and a skinny Siskelian thumbs up. Gene was big on documentaries. He would have liked this one.

James Brown was more of a Booker T Washington “pull yourselves up by the bootstraps” kinda guy, but the next song still makes me think of Malcolm.

If you don’t believe that the King of Soul was a conservative here’s a 1968 Nixon campaign poster as proof:

It’s hard to see but JB and Wilt Chamberlain are the back of the poster. Back of the bus? Celtics great Bill Russell thought so. He went extra hard at Wilt during the 1968-69 season. It paid off as Russell’s Celtics beat Wilt’s Lakers in the finals. In those days, the Celtics always beat the Lakers in the finals. It took the Magic/Kareem/Worthy Lakers to break that spell.

It seems that I miss sports. Guilty as charged. It’s time to move on.

We begin our third act with our newest regular feature.

The Weekly Heller: This is perhaps the most quoted quote from Catch-22.

The ultimate Sixties paranoia song is For What It’s Worth. Here are CSN with Tom Petty at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame performing that Stephen Stills classic:

Now that we’ve seen what’s going down, it’s time for our favorite stolen feature.

Separated At Birth: My old friend Mike Shapiro thought I missed something when I paired former Naval person Thomas Modly and  Eraserhead the other day. He suggested that an evil Josh Lyman be added to the mix. I agree. Here’s a SAB tryptic with Bradley Whitford added.

Someday I may tell the tale of the Two Mike Shapiros. They never met but the confluence is still as interesting as hell.

The Movie List: Speaking of the Showtime Lakers, it’s time for a list featuring one of their most dedicated fans.

My Top Ten Favorite Jack Nicholson Movies

  1.   Chinatown
  2.   One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
  3.   The Last Detail
  4.   Prizzi’s Honor
  5.   About Schmidt
  6.   Carnal Knowledge
  7.   Five Easy Pieces
  8.   The Shining
  9.   The Departed
  10.   As Good As It Gets

That was a toughie. I made it easier on myself by restricting it to films in which Jack was one of the leads. Jack had supporting roles in three other great films: Reds, Terms Of Endearment, and Broadcast News.  Jack is third billed in The Departed meets but it’s his last great film and the only one he made with Marty. So, it’s gotta be on the list.

It’s Jack Nicholson poster collage time:

Uh oh, I spy some poster decapitation. Oh well, I’m too lazy to do it over. Blame it on the lockdown.

The last word of the segment goes to The Byrds with a song from a movie that didn’t make the cut.

I’ve always thought Easy Rider was overrated. Jack and the stuff filmed in New Orleans were the best things about it.

We move from the big screen to the small screen.

Saturday GIF Horse: I have a half baked confession. I like the Food Network’s competition shows. One of my faves is Buddy vs. Duff in which the Jersey Cake Boss faces off with Balmer’s Ace Of Cakes. Duff is the bald dude.

The flour is really flying, y’all.

Damn, now I want some cake. Rumor has it that I like Crowded House. Here’s their zany-n-madcap cake song:

Neil and Tim Finn in one place. All is well with the world.

Weekly Vintage Music Video: This is one of my favorite videos from MTV’s heyday. The chick singer is pretty good too.

Let’s wrap things up with a more recent classic.

Saturday Instant Classic: I missed seeing Richard Thompson’s Facebook Live pandemic show. Fortunately, it’s on the YouTube:

That’s it for this week. The last word goes to Edward Hopper circa 1938:

5 thoughts on “Saturday Odds & Sods: Walking On A Wire

  1. Power and Hillary’s team, and post Hillary, the Obama’s team, were and are neo conservative. Actively encouraging the disasters that were Libya, Syria and Ukraine. Actively encouraging what became in Central and South America a huge swing to the right, again. And don’t get me started on Saudi Arabia which for 70 years has worked to build a Muslim world that defies every possible American ideal and belief.

    It’s difficult to fathom how this history can be seen as good or benign or a noble effort. Except I suppose the NY Times telling us it was day after week after month.

    Indirectly but in exactly in the same vein, Madeleine Albright is often trotted out as an exemplar of Democratic Party foreign policy credibility.

    While Leslie asked the hard question if she didn’t mix happily with Albright at cocktail parties afterwords is unimaginable.

    1. He’s a gear freak. You’re right, he’s mostly a Strat guy.

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