Perhaps I should have used Zachary Richard’s Snake Bite Love as our theme song while we were Festing In Place but I couldn’t let go of using Can’t Let Go last week. Besides, it’s never too late for a Zack Attack.
We have two versions of Snake Bite Love for your listening pleasure: the 1992 studio original and a 2009 live version from a Jazz Fest set I attended.
One more snake song before we slither to the break:
Ouch that hurt. Time to turn the virtual page.
Before we begin our second act, another serpentine interlude:
We begin our second act in earnest by setting the Wayback Machine to 1918.
Oy Such Plague Songs: I can’t remember which of my friends shared a swell piece by Shalom Goldman about Yiddish Plague songs but I’m glad they did. You may have noticed that I’m preternaturally fond of using Yiddish phrases. A friend whose Twitter handle is the Bear Jieux maintains that I use more Yiddish than he does. I do my best to put the Oy in Goy.
Goldman’s piece grabs readers from the git-go:
In the rich Yiddish vocabulary of catastrophes, plagues, and epidemics, one vivid phrase descriptive of death caused by widespread disease stands out: “Menshen-fresser.” That is to say that an epidemic is a “human-eater.” Perhaps “human-devourer” would be a better translation: Note the use of the Yiddish word fressen—to eat greedily ; rather than essen—to eat normally.
I have a new catch phrase. It sounds a bit like motherfucker: Menshen-fresser. I shouldn’t be happy about this but I am.
I couldn’t find any Yiddish plague songs online so a number from the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars will have to do:
Oy such a cover.
My Bayou Brief publisher Lamar White Jr’s magisterial Godfather Trilogy resumes with part two. Hyman Roth is nowhere to be found…
Carlos Marcello and the Making of a Mafia Myth: Writing about the mob can be a hit or myth proposition but Lamar nails it even if that pun mythed the mark. At least it was mirthful as opposed to a menschen-fresser. Get thee to the Bayou Brief.
There don’t appear to be any songs about Carlos Marcello so this Smithereens tune about another mob boss will have to do:
I, for one, am glad that John Gotti was never freed. Even Pat DiNizio wasn’t always right.
Let’s take a macabre trip to the so-called City That Forgot To Hate.
Documentary Of The Week: HBO’s Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children is a 5-part didactic true crime documentary. The filmmaker’s goal is to convince viewers that Wayne Williams is an innocent man. I’m not buying it BUT I think it’s possible that there was more than one killer. Law enforcement clearly dropped the ball by ending the investigation before all the cases were cracked. Damn Georgia crackers.
The Atlanta case shows the perils of what one might call a “benign coverup.” The authorities were eager to avoid a racial conflagration because of possible Klan involvement, but they ended the investigation prematurely and left too many lingering questions. Sound familiar? The Warren Commission Report was also a “benign coverup.” It left so many loose threads that who killed JFK remains murky. Benign coverups tend to metastasize and become malignant.
Here’s the trailer:
The best parts of Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children involve its look at the booster culture of the city. Atlanta was on the move in the early Eighties and the child slayings were bad for business.
Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children can be found on HBO OD and HBO GO. I give it 3 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B.
The last word of our second act goes to Little Feat:
We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.
Separated At Birth, Reboot Edition: This is a pairing I came up with myself and first posted on 8/11/2018. Ted Williams and Robert Ryan were a political odd couple. Teddy Ballgame was an ardent conservative except on baseball integration. Robert Ryan was one of the leading Hollywood liberals of his day. He marched with Martin Luther King before it was fashionable in show biz circles.
The reason for the reboot will become obvious in a nano-second or a blink of the eye whichever takes longer.
The Classic Movie List: Robert Ryan had a fascinating career. He was handsome enough to be a leading man but was a character actor for much of his acting life. Apparently, the hiss-provoking villains he played took an emotional toll on him, especially when he played a racist character opposite his buddy, Harry Belafonte, in Odds Against Tomorrow.
My Top Ten Favorite Robert Ryan Movies:
- The Wild Bunch
- The Set-Up
- Act Of Violence
- Bad Day At Black Rock
- House Of Bamboo
- Odds Against Tomorrow
- The Naked Spur
- Billy Budd
- The Dirty Dozen
There was fierce competition for the tenth slot, but I picked The Dirty Dozen because Saturday Odds & Sods favorite Maybe Cousin Telly was in the cast:
Are you ready for a Robert Ryan movie poster collage?
We move from a poster collage to a man whose poster I had on my bedroom wall as a kid.
Saturday GIF Horse: I nearly had a stroke when I saw that the 89-year-old Willie Mays was trending on Twitter. I feared the worst, but it was my childhood hero’s birthday. Hence this GIF.
Weekly Vintage Music Video: Point counterpoint with Rick Astley and Nick Lowe. The winner is the Abominable Showman in a first-round knockout: “Do you remember Rick Astley? He had a big fat hit, it was ghastly.”
Let’s close things down with some music, New Orleans style.
Saturday Classic: I wrote quite a bit about the Neville Brothers in my last 13th Ward Rambler column for the Bayou Brief. By the late Eighties, my hometown heroes had hit the big time, They were included in the 1986 A Conspiracy of Hope tour along with such liberal luminaries as Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Peter Gabriel, and The Police.
Here’s the Neville’s set from the last stop on that tour at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. I recall watching it on VH1. It was 13 years before we moved to Faubourg Neville:
That’s it for this week. The last word goes to Roberts Mitchum, Ryan, and Young in Crossfire. That’s the movie that typecast one of the nicest people in Hollywood, Robert Ryan, as a psychotic villain. Oh, what a villain he was.