Saturday Odds & Sods: West L.A. Fadeaway

Fred MacMurray in Double Indemnity.

It’s peak Carnival in New Orleans, especially for those of us inside the parade box. My inner Carnival fan is slowly but surely returning but I’m not all the way back. It’s better than last year when I was a Mardi Gras Grinch. The best news of all is that my crowd anxiety seems to be lessening. Crowd anxiety sucks.

I’ve had the Grateful Dead and film noir on my mind this week. You’re probably asking yourselves: what’s unusual about that?

Those two Adrastos obsessions collide in the lyrics of West L.A. Fadeaway. They’re pure noir. The opening line is one of Robert Hunter’s finest lyrics: “Looking for a chateau, twenty-one rooms when one will do.”

Good stuff.

Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter wrote West L.A. Fadeaway for the 1987 album In The Dark. It’s a blues shuffle that tells the story of criminal doings in the homeland of film noir, Los Angeles. I dig the old school pronunciation that puts the angle into the city’s name.

We have three versions of West L.A. Fadeaway for your listening pleasure: the studio original, The Dead live in 1993 with my much-missed friend Vince Welnick, and Los Lobos.

We’re not finished fading away:

We begin our second act with a piece about the off field struggles of the Kansas City Chiefs’ first championship team.

Kansas City Blues: Missouri may have been a border state during the War of the Rebellion, but it’s a Southern state when it comes to race. Remember when Missouri was a swing state in presidential elections? It hasn’t been one since 2000. Harry Truman weeps.

Despite being owned by a right-wing oil man, the Chiefs were one of the most thoroughly integrated teams in professional football in the Sixties. There’s an outstanding opinion piece in the WaPo by Mark Dent about the housing struggles of Black Chiefs players including Mike Garrett.

Garrett won the Heisman Trophy while at USC and was the epitome of respectability. It didn’t matter. He was a Black man in a segregated city.

As an Oakland Raiders fan, I should have sports hated the Kansas City Chiefs, but I could not. There was something special about that team, its players, and coach Hank Stram. I enjoyed revisiting them. Thanks, Mr. Dent.

The last word of the segment goes to Oscar Peterson:

Have I told you lately how much I love Oscar Peterson?

Our next segment is about a terrific and terrifically quirky teevee show.

Poker Face was created by Rian Johnson of the Knives Out movies. It’s an astounding combination of The Fugitive, Columbo, and Justified.

It stars Natasha Lyonne as Charlie who is a lovable and raspy voiced human lie detector. She originally put her talents to use as an itinerant poker player but becomes an itinerant amateur detective.

Charlie is on the run with gangster Benjamin Bratt in pursuit. Thus far, she’s stayed safe and solved a variety of murders in the first episodes. She’s a serious weirdo magnet as well as a lovable weirdo. Her voice is why I think of Peter Falk as Lt. Columbo. It’s a whisky and cigarettes voice straight out of film noir.

One of my favorite episodes thus far is Rest In Metal. It features Adrastos crush Chloe Sevigny as a washed out and washed up rock star with one huge hit, Staplehead.

Here’s the trailer:

Grading Time: I give Poker Face 4 stars and an Adrastos Grade of A. Keep up the good work, y’all.

The last word of our second act goes to Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta DBA Lady Gaga:

We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.

Separated At Birth Twitter Edition: I don’t usually post images just to mock people but this one is too good to pass up.

I hereby apologizes to baboons everywhere. I hope I can make it up to you with this Mandrill tune:

The Movie List: I don’t like Sylvester Stallone, which is why this list is Rocky-free. Besides, I think Rocky was one of the worst best picture choices ever. It was better than All The President’s Men, Taxi Driver, Network, and Bound For Glory? Really?

The Boxing Movie Dozen

  1. Body and Soul
  2. Cinderella Man
  3. Raging Bull
  4. Million Dollar Baby
  5. City For Conquest
  6. Gentleman Jim
  7. The Fighter
  8. The Set-Up
  9. Champion
  10. The Boxer
  11. Fat City
  12. The Harder They Fall

The last word of the segment goes to Ben Folds, not Paul Simon. Sorry, shorty.

Best Of Letterman: I could have given Warren Zevon’s Boom Boom Mancini the last word of the previous segment. Instead, here’s his final appearance on Letterman.

Saturday GIF Horse: The Simpsons has never been a realistic teevee show. How could it be?

This GIF is particularly preposterous. You have to be born into the Krewe of Rex to be king of Mardi Gras. They have let a few guys who married into Rex be king. I don’t think Marge is a NOLA debutante.

Now it’s Paul Simon’s turn:

Celebrity Coffin Nail Corner: Kirk Douglas’ performance in Champion made him a movie star, anti-hero division. Like everyone else back then, he was a smoker.

This song by Johnny Bond and his Red River Valley Boys is dedicated to The Ragman’s Son. That’s the title of Kirk’s memoir. It’s a good ‘un.

Tweet Of The Week: One of my favorite members of Congress, Jamie Raskin, has been diagnosed with cancer. One my favorite rock stars and teevee gangsters gave him one of his signature doo rags to cover his chemo-bald head. Little Steven rocks.

Since Jamie mentioned I Am A Patriot, here it is:

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

Saturday Closer: The Tubes are the band I’ve seen the second most times. I was friends with several of their members, most notably their keyboard player, Vince Welnick who we saw earlier with The Dead. I always called him Vinnie. One of the biggest regrets of my life was losing touch with him for many years.

In 1978, The Tubes released one of the best official live albums ever.

That’s all for this week. The last word goes to Natasha Lyonne in Poker Face.