I’ve been having wild dreams lately. I actually dreamt about writing The Truman Myth. The opening line came to me in my sleep: “I was present at the creation of the Truman myth.”
Present At The Creation was the title of Truman’s Secretary of State and unlikely friend Dean Acheson’s memoir. It’s not quite as fanciful as Miller-McCullough Man but it comes close.
It’s been crazy hot this week. I’ve been huddling under ceiling fans with the AC roaring and I’m still sweating. Oh well, what the hell.
I realize that the featured image has become something of a cliche since it appears on tchotchkes and such. Don’t blame the Hokusai guy for that or me for using it. It fits the Beach Boys like a glove.
This week’s theme song was written by Brian Wilson, Tony Asher, and Mike Love for the Beach Boys finest album Pet Sounds. Even professional asshole Mike Love did something right from time-to-time.
We have two versions of Wouldn’t It Be Nice for your listening pleasure: the studio original, the Beach Boys at Live Aid, and Alex Chilton.
Nice was my mother’s favorite word. She used it to praise people, places, and things. She liked this nice song as well:
A note about the featured image. Louis Armstrong was the first to record this week’s song, but Oscar Peterson did not record it. I used the picture because of my Louis-Oscar love. Besides, it’s a stunning image.
The full title of this week’s song is (What Did I Do To Be So) Black and Blue. It was written in 1929 by Fats Waller, Harry Brooks, and Andy Razar for the Broadway musical Hot Chocolates.
Black and Blue is a rare “race song” from the jovial Waller. It still packs a punch to this day.
We begin with an instrumental version from the tunesmith.
Louis Armstrong was the first to record Black and Blue. I prefer the 1955 version from Satch Plays Fats. It’s one of the great man’s finest albums. It will show up as tomorrow’s Saturday Classic.
Back in May I wrote: There won’t be any Q Party votes for any Democratic proposal. Ever. I’m here to say that I was wrong. On Wednesday night, 17 GOP senators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, voted for cloture on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. I did not see that coming back in May. But I know what happened. On Tuesday night, the Trump-backed candidate in a Texas primary for a US House seat lost. And some Senate Republicans realized Donald Trump isn’t the kingmaker they all thought he was and decided the party needed actual accomplishments prior to the … Continue reading The More You Know #2
Just in case you have been living under a rock the past week, Simone Biles, preeminent women’s gymnast, considered by many the gymnastics GOAT (that’s Greatest Of All Time) withdrew from the 2020(1) Olympic competition because of mental health issues. Like everything else these days, it quickly became a political issue. Liberals cheered her decision as a matter of personal sacrifice in the face of truly difficult circumstances. Conservatives jeered her as unpatriotic and unwilling to do whatever is necessary for the USA to chant “USA USA USA”. Unwilling to do whatever is necessary for the USA to win. Of … Continue reading Simone Biles All American
Gateway To The West Gothic WMDs have come full circle. Wingers embrace biological weapons as a tactic in their never ending culture war The St. Louis County Council moved to end the county’s new mask mandate Tuesday, throwing the order into legal limbo. After hearing dozens of people rail against the mandate and County Executive Sam Page, council members voted 5-2 to end the order and rebuke Page for failing to consult them before issuing it, which they say was required under a new state law. “Too many American men and women have given the last full measure of … Continue reading On Second Thought, Don’t Meet Me In St. Louis
On Thursday, a woman undergoing breast cancer treatment at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, was sprayed with bear mace, physically assaulted, and verbally abused outside a cancer treatment center in West Hollywood, Los Angeles by far-right activists who were angry … Continue reading Sit Down And Mask Up
Nick Drake was a shooting star who brightened the musical horizon for a few years before his tragic death in 1974 at the age of 26. Pink Moon was released two years before Drake died and was his final album. The album cover is by neo-surrealist artist Michael Trevithick. Here’s the gatefold: Here’s the whole damn album: Continue reading Album Cover Art Wednesday: Pink Moon
I was present at the creation of the Truman myth. It came in response to Watergate. The straightforward 33rd president was seen as an antidote to the slippery and crooked Richard Nixon.
The Truman myth began in earnest after the man’s death on the day after Christmas in 1972. The bible, as it were, of the myth was published the next year: Plain Speaking by Merle Miller. This oral biography grew out of a failed teevee project. The interview tapes had more or less sat in a closet for a decade before hitting the best seller list and staying there for months on end.
My mother liked to give me books for my birthday. Plain Speaking was my birthday book in 1973. It was enormously entertaining, so I devoured it. Even then I understood that Merle Miller’s Harry Truman was an embellished version of the real man.
I come from a long line of storytellers. My father’s business colleagues insisted that he was scrupulously honest. I believed them but I also knew he liked to embellish his stories to make them funnier and more interesting. I recognized the same traits in Merle Miller’s Harry Truman.
Plain Speaking Harry Truman was the hero of every story, especially in his dealings with enemies such as Gen. Douglas MacArthur. He was an erudite auto-didactic expert on world history and geography. He was loyal to a fault to the man who made his political career, Kansas City political boss and convicted felon, Tom Pendergast. Truman’s defensive refrain about Boss Pendergast was, “He never asked me to do a dishonest thing.”
It was hard not to be entertained by the sassy and feisty former president as he cussed out his enemies. His favorite word to describe Gen. MacArthur and others was counterfeit. Teenage me knew that nobody was *that* courageous in the face of their opponents. Merle Miller’s Harry Truman always sounded like the stuff we say to ourselves *after* an argument. You know, I shoulda said this that or the other.
The Truman myth went on the road with James Whitmore’s one-man show Give ‘Em Hell, Harry. I saw it and liked it. Like Plain Speaking it was enormously entertaining and provided the role of a lifetime for a journeyman actor such as Whitmore. The stories were embellished, but that’s entertainment.
The Truman myth was set in stone in 1992 by David McCullough’s Pulitzer prize-winning biography, Truman. McCullough is one of our finest non-fiction writers and he buffed and shined the Truman myth until it sparkled. He did comment on some of the less savory aspects of his subject’s political career, but they were outweighed by tales of the mythic Truman. What’s not to love about the story of the 1948 campaign? It’s when Truman became the patron saint of underdogs.
I know that there are many other Truman books, but Miller and McCullough are the mythmakers. One could even call the mythic Truman Miller-McCullough Man.
Now that I’ve taken some of the shine off the Truman myth, on balance I think he was a good president. He accomplished some major things such as the Marshall Plan and made a start on treating black folks as full citizens. He just wasn’t David McCullough or Merle Miller’s Harry Truman. He was a mere mortal.
That brings me to the reason for this post. Law professor and Lawyers, Guns, and Money blogger Paul Campos has published a bombshell piece in New York Magazine: The Truman Show.
I’m a sucker for a good “caper” movie. Give me protagonists with shady pasts who devise brilliant schemes to make themselves and their buddies rich and man that is just good old fashioned entertainment. This movie, ASSAULT ON A QUEEN, is a 1966…well…at best okay addition to the caper cannon. Sinatra just kinda walks through it, the plan has you wondering why they do things the way they do, never explains away nagging incongruities, and the two best acting performances are supplied by supporting characters (Franciosa and Conte). But in terms of audacious plans it’s hard to beat raising a sunken submarine, retrofitting it, and making it your get away vehicle for robbing an ocean liner at sea.
I’m sure by this point you’re probably thinking “okay where’s he going with this”. Patience. Just like a good caper movie you need all the backstory.
The film’s ocean liner is a real ship, the RMS Queen Mary. When used for the filming it was in it’s next to last year as a seafaring vessel. Soon after the filming was completed Cunard/White Star sold the Queen Mary to the City of Long Beach in southern California where it has been permanently moored for the past 54 years. It has functioned as a hotel, convention center, and general tourist attraction for all that time.
The city had leased the ship to a management company who agreed to run the facility and keep it in good shape. “Just send us the check each month” seemed to be the municipal attitude. But Grande Dames, especially those of the ocean going variety, need constant maintenance and upkeep. Constant maintenance and upkeep costs a lot of money. For as long as tourists paid their way onboard to see how the other half once traveled or conventioneers thought it was a hoot to stay on a ship instead of a Sheraton things were fine. For the last year and a half though the tourists haven’t been coming. Neither were the checks. And an independent inspection of the ship’s condition showed that it needed over a hundred million dollars just to get it back to a state that would keep it afloat for the next 25 years. It would be close to half a billion dollars to retrofit it to last another hundred years.
The management company, when informed of the repairs needed, basically said “New phone, who dis?” and declared bankruptcy, leaving the City of Long Beach holding the proverbial bag and forcing the city council to debate what to do with the ship. By the end of the debate I’m sure most of the council members were wondering why in hell their predecessors had come up with this cockamamie scheme.
Option 1: Renovate and preserve the Queen Mary for 100 years
It’s estimated that preserving the Queen Mary until 2120 could cost taxpayers between $200 million and $500 million. Extensive repairs and upgrades would need to take place on a dry dock and could take several years to complete.
Option 2: Renovate and preserve the Queen Mary for 25 years
Experts say short-term preservation could cut immediate costs to the taxpayer. Marine engineering firm Moffatt & Nichol says taxpayers will fork out $150 million and $175 million to keep the boat viable as a tourist attraction until the late 2040s.
Option 3: Dismantle and/or sink the boat
It is estimated that either sinking or dismantling the boat could cost upwards of $105 million because metal from the 81,000 ton vessel would have to be transported to a scrap facility or moved further out into the ocean
First of all it’s a ship, not a boat. A ship can carry a boat. A boat can never carry a ship. End of naval semantics lesson.
Poor Freepers – hit from every side by indictments, failure to overturn vote counts, truly shitty attendance for the MGS and Matt Gaetz mobile shitshow, and the Delta variant killing off their base (with their help) like the Orkin man gassing a roach nest.
At least they still have Hannity.
SEAN HANNITY: ” … I believe in science. I believe in the science of vaccination” twitter ^ | July 19 | Sahil Kkapur
SEAN HANNITY: “Please take Covid seriously. I can’t say it enough. Enough people have died. We don’t need any more death. Research like crazy. Talk to your doctor… I believe in science. I believe in the science of vaccination.”
What he’s saying: Hannity said earlier this year he was “beginning to have doubts” about whether he would take a vaccine.
But on Monday night, he told “Hannity” viewers, “I believe in science, I believe in the science of vaccination.” “I can’t say it enough. Enough people have died. We don’t need any more deaths,” Hannity said. Of note: Fox New hosts Steve Doocy and Bill Hemmer also urged people on Monday to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, the Hill notes.
You know, people – I’m obviously fascinated with the GOP’s destruction of their own voting base – old white people, of course. Do they realize that by spreading the anti-vaxxer tropes, they’re killing their own voters? Is this intentional? Is there someone at the top (no, not The Darnold, someone who actually runs things) who is a Democratic Party plant? A double agent whose mission is to put the Dems back in power permanently? It’s a legitimate question, and I can’t come up with a lot of answers for “why are they so intent in killing their own voters?” Do … Continue reading Today on Tommy T’s Random Ruminations – Leaping Lemmings edition
Dr. A is more disciplined that I am. She’d been on a rather stringent diet until she came home craving a burger but not at midnight. We ordered delivery from Shake Shack in the broad daylight. I’m not sure if the Nighthawks are eating hamburgers but I wouldn’t be surprised.
This week’s theme song was written by Lowell George and Roy Estrada in 1970 for Little Feat’s eponymous debut album. It’s a long-time favorite of mine; one that I used to request when I saw the band live. They ignored my pleas. And I wrote such a lovely tribute to Paul Barrerre in 2019. Oh well, what the hell.
We have three versions of Hamburger Midnight for your listening pleasure: the studio original, a 1973 live version, and a 2014 live version with guest vocalist Vince Herman.
Little Feat’s first single was Hamburger Midnight/Strawberry Flats. Here’s the B-Side:
Now that I’ve made you flat-out peckish, let’s jump to the break.
My new favorite TV show is called Kevin Can F*%K Himself. If you don’t know, the premise of the show is that that main character, Allison, lives in two different television realities. In the brightly lit multi-camera sitcom world she is the perpetually put upon wife of the titular man child character. Think Leah Remini in The King Of Queens. In the other darker single camera world she is a woman on the edge of a nervous, potentially homicidal, breakdown ready to do anything to escape the hell that her husband has made of her life. Think Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad. The combination of the two is a phenomenal deconstruction of both styles. I’m particularly drawn to the point it makes about how situations perceived as benign one way are tragic in another.
Which brings me to vaccines. In particular, the COVID 19 vaccine.
Let me just begin by saying that if you are a Kevin or a Karen who still hasn’t gotten the vaccine, you can go f*#k yourself. I don’t want to hear your excuses. I don’t want to hear about how the FDA hasn’t fully approved it (this is an emergency dickwad and it was approved for emergency use so f**k you use it). I don’t want to hear about how you HEARD it might mess with your DNA (no more than that six pack of Coors before dinner every night does and probably a lot less). I don’t want to hear about how you’re just being cautious and once the science comes in you’ll decide from there (like you care about science or could even read a scientific report let alone understand it). And if you say but people who have been vaccinated have still tested positive for COVID I swear I will punch your lights out. Learn what that really means. If you want this pandemic to be over there is only one way for that to happen and it’s for everyone to get the vaccine.
So f*^k you if you haven’t gotten it.
We had it beat. We were starting to reopen, to get back to normal, to come out on the other side. All you had to do was get the jab, once for J&J, twice for the others. The first day I was eligible I made an appointment to get it. More importantly the wife (Cruella) made an appointment to get it as well. Put a pin in that point, we’ll come back to it after the jump.
On June 15 California declared that anyone who was vaccinated could go without a mask, not have to observe social distancing, and in general get back to life as we knew it. Last week many counties in California were forced to reintroduce those precautions because the Delta variant, which it has been shown the vaccine protects against, has spiked here and across the country. Who’s getting sick? Not those of us vaccinated. Only those who are not. In other words, those of us who did what we were asked to do, what we were pleaded with to do, now have to go back to Pandemic Days because little Karen Kouldn’t Kare with her degree in epidemiology from the University of Fox News has to be kept alive and well.
I’ll do it, cause I’m just that kind of community minded person, but Karen can go f##k herself.
My husband and I finally began watching “Ted Lasso” last month. For some reason he became enamored of the word “wanker” and used it delightedly all the time. Because of household osmosis, now I am using it, too. Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, is a tiresome wanker. He really, Really, REALLY wants to be Speaker of the House, and until that day comes he is determined to try to outsmart Nancy Pelosi. He gets very few opportunities of course, but you can’t say he doesn’t make the most of them when they come along. For example, he’s been stringing … Continue reading Clowntime Is Over
You can always count on the Cult of the Savvy to echo the talking points of their GOP/Winger sources Normal is whatever the GOP decides is normal…and that’s been the case for, shit, as long as I’ve been politically sentient (which was/is an ongoing process). And the political press reliably fans the flames. Hillary’s emails? Massive hissy fit. Drowning of a city thanks to shoddily constructed floodwalls? Riot at the United States Capitol following a fake* allegation of a rigged election? Not the time to point fingers or assess/assign blame. It’s at the point where the GOP shit storm creates … Continue reading Not With A Bang, But A Twitter [Thread]