May is a month for themes at First Draft. Yesterday, I declared it Cole Porter month at the Friday Cocktail Hour. Today, I declare May to be Beatles month since Tell Me Why was last week’s theme song. I do declare. Stop me before I turn into Scarlet O’Hara. I’d look lousy in a hoop skirt…
President Biden visited New Orleans as part of his infrastructure push. He toured the Sewerage & Water Board plant in the Pigeon Town neighborhood. Our water system has been in bad shape forever. They’ve tried muddling through with what we have but what we need is money, money, money. The presidential visit is a good sign that it may be forthcoming. John Neely Kennedy insists that water plants aren’t infrastructure. I insist that he’s an asshole who can still go fuck himself.
This week’s theme song was written by Lennon and McCartney in 1965. Once again, it’s essentially a Lennon song. We’ll get to Macca next week. It was featured on three Beatles albums, Rubber Soul in the UK, Yesterday and Today in the US, and on the Yellow Submarine soundtrack worldwide. That was exhausting. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
We have three versions of Nowhere Man for your listening pleasure: the Beatles original, Randy Travis, and Paul Westerberg.
If you’re feeling stuck in Nowhere Land, there’s an easy fix: jump to the break.
I know precious little about horse racing. I do, however, watch the Kentucky Derby every year. On several occasions, Dr. A and I watched at Jazz Fest. The Fairgrounds is predominantly a racetrack, after all.
Dead Flowers: I’ve named the segment about this bittersweet piece about the Kentucky Derby after the Stones song because it mentions the Derby. Besides, it’s a great song from a great album.
The WaPo’s Jerry Brewer grew up in Kentucky. His grandparents were among the few black folks who threw a party on Derby Day. The event has grown to have a different, more complicated meaning to Brewer. He has the details at the WaPo.
Here’s *that* song:
We move from Kentucky to nearby Ohio in our next segment.
The Kent State Pietà: May 4th was the 51st Anniversary of the Kent State shootings. A photograph taken by John Filo of Mary Ann Vecchio captured that moment forever. It also changed their lives forever.
There’s a fabulous piece in the WaPo Magazine by Patricia Montgomery about the burden Vecchio has carried all these years. It’s Pulitzer Prize worthy stuff, y’all.
Here’s the obligatory song:
The Book Report:
Bill James is best known as a baseball writer, historian, and analyst. He’s always had a lively interest in crime, pondering them, not committing them. In 2017, he turned his hand to true crime writing with the able assistance of his daughter, Rachel McCarthy James.
The Man From The Train describes the bloody handiwork of an itinerant axe murderer who was active in the Midwest from 1898-1912. These were particularly gruesome killings as whole families were slaughtered.
All of the murders took place in towns with railroad stations and James posits that that was the murderer’s means of access and escape. That works for me.
The James’ have come up with a plausible perpetrator of these horrible crimes. I, for one, buy it.
I’ve always admired Bill James as a writer, but this was the first book I was able to share with Dr. A. She liked it for both its prose style and rigorous logic,
I give the The Man From The Train 4 stars and an Adrastos Grade of A-.
The last word of our second act goes to Los Lobos:
We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.
Separated At Birth Casting Edition: Since it’s Cole Porter month Friday Cocktail Hour-wise, we’re featuring Cole and the actors who have portrayed him in the movies. I was too lazy to do a triptych so we’re going side-by-side.
First, Cole and Cary Grant from the 1946 movie Night and Day. That biopic hilariously portrayed Porter as a monogamous straight dude.
2004’s De-Lovely cast another super handsome and charming actor, Kevin Kline, as Porter. It went too far in the opposite direction. It was obsessed with Porter’s sex life, which was neither monogamous nor heterosexual.
The music for De-Lovely was better than the script. Here’s a backstage look at the title song as performed by Robbie Williams:
While we’re at it, here’s the delightful and delicious Ella Fitzgerald:
The Movie List: Director Don Siegel made unpretentious hard-edged movies. They were typically short, punchy, and to the point. The longest movie he ever made was 1 hours 56 minutes long. Siegel was also Clint Eastwood’s directorial muse.
This was a tough one to boil down, Siegel didn’t make any out-and-out stinkers. I started at 16, then winnowed the list down.
My Top Ten Favorite Don Siegel Movies
- The Killers
- Escape From Alcatraz
- The Lineup
- The Big Steal
- Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
- Two Mules For Sister Sara
- Charley Varrick
- The Shootist
- Dirty Harry
Don Siegel’s 1964 version of The Killers is one of the few remakes that I admire. He wrote a treatment for the original 1947 movie and hoped to direct. He had to wait 17 years to direct his own version. It’s just as good as the Robert Siodmak original and that’s saying a great deal. More importantly, it’s quite different. That’s why I admire it so much,
Siegel’s The Killers is also noteworthy for a fine performance by Ronald Reagan as the villain of the piece. It was the future Oval One’s last performance as an actor and one of his best. I wonder if Nancy was jealous of leading lady/femme fatale Angie Dickinson?
Here’s Eddie Mueller’s intro to a recent showing of The Killers on Noir Alley:
Saturday GIF Horse: And now for something completely different. Don Cornelius on Soul Train:
Here’s a legendary 1974 performance by Chaka Khan and Rufus on Soul Train:
Are you ready to hear something good about Lena Horne?
TCM Clip Of The Week: I love the bio-clips that TCM produces. This is an extra-special one about the great Lena Horne.
Saturday Soundie: Louis Jordan is one of the forefathers of rock and roll. Here he is doing the roll bit:
Let’s close down this virtual honky tonk with some more music.
Saturday Classic: Phil Collins is in the midst of another divorce so Genesis has regrouped to make a packet and bail him out again. This bootleg, however, is from the 1997 Calling All Stations tour with Ray Wilson on lead vox.
That’s all for this week. The last word goes to Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood on the set of Siegel’s last great film, Escape From Alcatraz.