Saturday Odds & Sods: Chimes Of Freedom

Shadows with Landscapes by David Hockney.

It’s still cold in New Orleans. Not Chicago cold or Boston cold but plenty cold by our standards. Hence yesterday’s space heater catblogging image. Claire Trevor is no fool. I wish the same could be said for Perry Mason but he’s a sweet boy.

I haven’t been involved with my Krewe du Vieux sub-krewe for the last two years because of COVID. I’m back in the game.

I’ve done a lot of public speaking and presenting over the years but not since the lockdown. I pitched a theme idea at this week’s Spank meeting, but my delivery was choppy and halting. I am so out of practice. I cannot reveal the idea if I did, I’d have to kill you.

Bob Dylan wrote this week’s theme song for his 1964 album Another Side Of Bob Dylan. I’m already on the record as not liking his singing voice, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I think The Byrds cut the definitive version the next year. So it goes.

I selected Chimes Of Freedom as something of a follow-up to The Underestimated President.  We have three versions for your listening pleasure: the Dylan original, The Byrds, and Bruce Springsteen.

Before moving on to our second act in earnest, let’s chime in with another freedom song:

Since we’re chiming in, here’s a song by King Oliver with a young Louis Armstrong along for the ride:

We begin our second act with a book excerpt. Y’all should know by now how much I like book excerpts. They’re free.

Justice Douglas & The Blister Brigade: Former Tulane historian Douglas Brinkley has written a book about environmental activism: Silent Spring Revolution. The Vanity Fair excerpt focuses on one of my judicial heroes: Justice William O. Douglas.

I disagree with the title of the excerpt: Supreme Court Activism Didn’t Start With The Far Right. Meet The Liberal Maverick William O. Douglas.

Douglas was an avid outdoorsman, environmentalist, and conservationist. He did not regard his activism as political in nature. It was about saving the planet. It’s a far cry from the Thomases and Sam the Sham Alito. One of the leading conservationists of his or any other time was a Republican, Teddy Roosevelt.

The segment title refers to Douglas’ eventually successful efforts to save the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal from being turned into a highway. He invited some journalists to hike the trail with him. They had opposed the project, but Douglas changed their minds. They were the Blister Brigade.

The last word of the segment is dedicated to Bill Douglas:

Monuments To The Unthinkable: Clint Smith has written extensively on the subject of shameful American monuments. He decided it was time to see how Germany has memorialized its own great shame, the Holocaust. The result is the cover story in December’s issue of The Atlantic.

I’ve never been to Germany, so I learned a great deal from Smith’s trip down atrocity lane. Of particular interest to me are the small monuments known as Stolperstein, which literally means stumbling stones. They’re brass plaques or paving stones marking places where Holocaust victims used to live.

Smith is originally from my city, so he thought of it upon encountering the Stolpersteins:

I imagined New Orleans, my hometown, once the busiest slave market in the country, and how entire streets would be covered in brass stones—whole neighborhoods paved with reminders of what had happened. New Orleans is, today, at a very different place in its reckoning with the past; it has only recently been focused on removing its homages to enslavers. Over the past few years, the statues of Confederate leaders I grew up seeing have been removed from their pedestals, and streets named after slaveholders have been renamed for local Black artists and intellectuals. My own middle school has a new name as well. As I looked at the stumbling stones beneath me in Berlin, I wondered if there might be a future for them on the streets I rode my bike on growing up.

Smith visits larger memorials, but the stumbling stones are what stick with him because they’re so personal. I concur.

The last word of our second act goes to Leonard Cohen with a song inspired by the Shoah:

We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.

Separated At Birth Casting Edition: I’m a sucker for Peter Morgan’s The Crown. We binged the current season last week. The most interesting royal was Princess Margaret who counted among her friends, Gore Vidal. I am not making this up.

I give you the Margarets: Vanessa Kirby, Helena Bonham Carter, and Lesley Manville.

The Movie List: This time, a member of a great British acting dynasty, Vanessa Redgrave. She’s had a long career spiked by political controversy but she’s a genuinely great actress with a commanding stage presence.

My Top Ten Favorite Vanessa Redgrave Movies

  1. Julia
  2. Howard’s End
  3. Blow-Up
  4. Mary Queen Of Scots
  5. Murder On The Orient Express
  6. The Gathering Storm
  7. The Bostonians
  8. A Quiet Place In The Country
  9. Agatha
  10. The Ballad Of The Sad Cafe

This John Lennon song is about his wayward mum, but I think of it every time I see the name Julia:

Let’s lighten things up.

Best Of Letterman Meets The Best Of Johnny: It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship even if Johnny’s support wasn’t enough to get Dave the Tonight Show gig.

I still have Princess Margaret on my mind. If The Crown is to be believed, she was a helluva dancer.

Saturday GIF Horse: Here’s Helena Bonham Carter dancing with LBJ at the White House and with a beau in the MTV era.

We should do just that. Let’s Dance:

That had a Texas touch as well: Stevie Ray Vaughan on lead guitar.

Tweets Of The Week: In which John Nichols of the Nation substitutes Not Gonna Be for I Told You So. Either way, it’s a thing of beauty.

One more from little old me:

Let’s close down this virtual honky tonk with some music chatter.

Saturday Closer: Since this week’s Sunday Dozen features the music of Stephen Stills, we conclude with my diminutive countryman Bob Costas interviewing Stills in 1991.

That’s all for this week. The last word goes to Princess Margaret and The Beatles.

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