It’s been a difficult week in New Orleans. Mayor Cantrell has, quite wisely, rolled back the “reopening” to what amounts to Phase 1.5. Here’s hoping that people get the message and stop acting as if we’re back to normal. Even Gamaliel wouldn’t find this normal and he lived through the last great pandemic. That’s great as in big, not good. Pandemics are never the latter.
I’m trying to bring some beauty to an ugly era with this week’s theme song. It was written by Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, and Bill Bruford for Yes’ 1971 Fragile album. It was the first track they rehearsed and recorded with Rick Wakeman.
We have two versions of Heart Of The Sunrise for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a 21st Century live version.
Before jumping to the break, another song from Fragile:
Damn, it was windy out there. Let’s regain our balance with couple of windy songs from the Seventies; a decade in which we appear to be trapped.
Let’s change gears and hasten to begin our second act in earnest.
Down and Out In London With Rick Wakeman: Rick Wakeman is a larger than life character: a prog rock Falstaff with all the appetites and flaws of that character. And Wakeman knows how to rock a cape, y’all.
There’s a fabulous Vanity Fair piece by David Kushner about the highs and lows of Wakeman’s life. The low point came after he hit the top with Yes and his first two solo projects. He spent everything he had trying to make a success of Journey To The Center Of The Earth, which was a money pit that bled him dry financially.
Wakeman even had a brief sojourn of what the Brits call “sleeping rough.” He slept on park benches because he was too embarrassed to bother his friends:
It didn’t take Wakeman long to get back on his feet. A year after he was sleeping on park benches, he hit the Top 40 with a concept album he wrote and recorded based on George Orwell’s novel 1984. Tim Rice wrote the lyrics, and vocals were provided by Jon Anderson. Wakeman went on to tour the world, release more than 50 records, and inspire another generation of admirers.
George Orwell also inspired the segment title as well as Rick Wakeman’s comeback. Here’s the title track of 1984:
Lets move from the mean streets of London to the even meaner streets of Los Angeles.
Michelle McNamara: There’s a fabulous true crime docu-series airing on HBO right now: I’ll Be Gone In The Dark. It tells the story of writer Michelle McNamara’s ultimately successful quest to expose the monster she dubbed The Golden State Killer. This obsession proved fatal as McNamara died of an accidental overdose before the book on which the series is based was finished.
McNamara’s husband Patton Oswalt and her co-writer Paul Haynes finished the book. It led to this creepy but still stirring HBO series:
Only two of six episodes have aired thus far but I give it a preliminary Adrastos grade of A-. It gets bonus points because Patton Oswalt provides much needed comic relief to his late wife’s grim story.
Michelle McNamara’s first piece about the case and her investigation thereof can be found at lamag.com. In The Footsteps Of A Killer still holds up even though we know whodunit: a vicious non-entity named Joseph D’Angelo who recently pled guilty to some of his crimes.
We need a palate cleanser after that segment so the last word of our second act goes to Dwight Yoakam:
We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.
Separated At Birth: I recently watched The Fall Of Eagles for the first time this century. It’s an excellent 1974 BBC drama about the demise of the Houses of Hapsburg, Romanov, and Hohenzollern.
One of the most interesting bits of casting is Patrick Stewart as Lenin.
Holy bald Bolshies, Batman.
Lenin is a far cry from Jean-Luc Picard. Who would topple a statue to Picard?
It’s time for more words of wisdom from the world’s tallest economist. I wish he were around to fry the Kaiser of Chaos alongside his diminutive colleague Robert Reich.
The Weekly Galbraith: Mordant is the word that best describes Ken Galbraith’s style. I try to be mordant myself, but the puns may undermine the mordancy. So it goes. I stand with the Pun Community.
Did he say Proof?
The Classic Movie List: My Summer of Sam Fuller continues with this list. I haven’t seen all his movies but when I do, I’ll update. Perhaps even next summer, Sam.
My Top Ten Favorite Samuel Fuller Movies:
- Underworld U.S.A.
- Pickup On South Street
- House Of Bamboo
- The Crimson Kimono
- Forty Guns
- Shock Corridor
- The Big Red One
- The Naked Kiss
- Hell and High Water
- The Steel Helmet
The last word of this Summer of Sam Fuller segment goes to The Jayhawks:
That tune really fits the Summer of 2020, doesn’t it?
Saturday GIF Horse: I still have North By Northwest on my mind. Hence this week’s entry.
Drink, Cary, drink.
Run, Cary, run.
Weekly Vintage Music Video: Sing, Linda and Aaron, sing,
Time to stop the see Dick and Jane run shit. Do they still teach that or is it not on the test? Perhaps that’s why the Impeached Insult Comedian wants to force the kiddies back to school despite not having the power to do so. Of course, he could pay someone to take the test for him…
Now that I’ve been testy, here’s a lagniappe Aaron Neville video; filmed in New Orleans, no less.
Let’s close up this virtual honky tonk with some more music.
Saturday Classic: Rick Wakeman’s first solo album was an artistic and commercial triumph. It was inspired by the BBC series and book of the same name. The Caped One often looks to literature for his inspiration. Here’s his first, uh, caper:
The last word goes to Rick Wakeman, his cape, and keyboard array.