Author Archives: Peter Adrastos Athas

A Post About Nothing

I took the long weekend off from politics. It may damage my pundit cred but I’m like a car battery that needs recharging only without jumper cables. As you may have guessed, that’s the set up for an aimless and meandering potpourri post. Monday is often the day I feel aimless and meandering as opposed to manic. I do, however, like the Prince/Bangles song. But it doesn’t fit my mood this chilly morning. I initially called this post Blue Monday, but I believe in truth in advertising so A Post About Nothing it is.

I assume y’all get the Seinfeld reference, so I won’t belabor the point and tell an aimless and meandering story about a night at a Chinese restaurant. We did, however, try to eat at our favorite Chinese eatery way out in Kenna, Brah a few weeks back. But they had storm damage and were only serving takeout from a limited menu. We passed. We go there for the atmosphere. I’m lying: we go there for the Mongolian Beef.

We got a fancy new Samsung smart TV yesterday. Setting it up made me feel dumb. The physical set up was easy enough except when Claire Trevor decided to help. She’s one of those cats who gets into everything. Her tech skills are de minimus, so I shooed her away. It was easy since the TV came in a box within a bigger box. Every day is boxing day for Claire.

Setting up the new TV reminded me of the first time I set up a computer back in the tech stone age. I was intimidated but muddled through. I hate that printed manuals are no longer part of the deal. It’s a pain in the ass to have to use the E-manual on the TV or download a PDF. Holy shit, I sound like a Seinfeld character. Sorry about that. I’ll try and do better.

I’ve spent much of the pandemic being the guy who keeps saying: “It’s not over yet. Don’t spike the ball.” I would rather spike the ball, but the virus is tenacious and keeps bouncing back. Its latest iteration Omicron sounds extra-sinister. It sounds like a sci-fi or comic book villain sprung to viral life, The last thing I want to be is an extra in a comic book movie. There I go again, sounding like a Seinfeld character. It’s a Monday thing.

What political news I’ve seen was bleak. The Man of La Manchin and the Sinematic Senator are being deluged with contributions from GOP donors. We already knew that Unholy Joe was a corrupt piece of shit, but I’ve tended to think of Veda Pierce Sinema as a shallow narcissist desperate for attention. Of course, one can be a shallow narcissist and still be a corrupt piece of shit. Exhibit A is the Impeached Insult Comedian. That’s better, I sound like a cynical Curb Your Enthusiasm character instead of Jerry or George. I identify with Larry David’s shouty agent Jeff who also plays shouty dad Murray on The Goldbergs. I’m feeling shouty right now.

My favorite recent news story involves the Dipshit Insurrection. The headline at TPM almost says it all: Broadway Actor Who Plays Judas In ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ Charged With Storming Capitol Alongside Oath Keepers.

Actually, James Beeks d/b/a James T. Justis is a road show Judas or is that stock company Judas? Beats the hell outta me. I should ask my friend the Stage Mother. She knows from musicals.

It’s also ironic that the road show Judas stormed the Capitol with the Oath Keepers. If I remember my biblical movies correctly, Judas was the ultimate Oath Breaker. And they said that irony was dead.

Speaking of irony, the jailed Judas is a man of many monikers. He has a YouTube page under the name James ‘Delisco’ Beeks. Here he is auditioning for Judas:

Now that was something.

I’d like to conclude this post about nothing with a quote from the hit Billy Preston song Nothing From Nothing:

Nothing from nothing means nothing. You gotta have something, if you wanna be with me.

Obviously, the last word goes to the late Billy Preston and his spectacular Afro:

Sunday Morning Video: Tony Bennett Live In London

Tony Bennett recently retired from live performances. What a career. what a singer, what a mensch.

Here he is live in1991 at London’s Prince Edward Theatre.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Name Of The Game

Clown at a diner on Thanksgiving in Reno, Nevada by Thomas Hoepker.

The New Orleans weather yo-yo continues as temperatures rise and fall. Making matters worse is that it’s happening in the middle of the night. We’ve had more than a few days where the high or low was at the stroke of midnight. Oy, just oy.

The weird weather has led to some weird dreams. The most puzzling one involved staying with two friends who were married in my dream but don’t know one another IRL. They refused to change bathroom lightbulbs or allow me to do so. I am not a fan of showering in the dark. I did it after Hurricane Ida but didn’t like it. I have no idea what this dream means but it’s sufficiently weird to share.  Oh well, what the hell.

Our Thanksgiving was pleasant and low key. We didn’t get the turkey dinner at the drug store because such a thing is impossible in 2021. We had a quiet dinner at home then visited some friends we hadn’t seen since the lockdown. It was an exercise in Gamalian normalcy. Not bad for a guy who has developed a crowd phobia. It’s a far cry from the rock and roll infused days of my wayward youth.

This week’s theme song was written in 1972 by Pete Ham for Badfinger’s Straight Up album. It marked Ham’s emergence as a songwriting force to be reckoned with. Sadly, Pete Ham killed himself just three years later. It was a great loss.

We have two versions of Name Of The Game for your listening pleasure: the Badfinger original and a recent cover by Susanna Hoffs and Aimee Mann.

It’s time for another trip to disambiguation city. Bryan Ferry wrote The Name Of The Game for his 1987 album Bete Noire.

Now that we’ve pondered names and games, let’s jump to the break,

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For Once In My Life

As Shapiro said earlier, it’s DAT. And dat means I didn’t feel like writing anything other than my regular Friday features. Since it’s dat day, we can start drinking early. What’s a little day drinking among friends? If you’re a Who Dat you may have never stopped drinking after last night’s game in which the Buffalo Bills pantsed the New Orleans Saints. Ugh, just ugh.

On with the show, this is it.

For Once In My Life was written in 1965 by Ron Miller and Orlando Murden for Motown’s publishing company. It was conceived as a ballad but didn’t become a big hit until Stevie Wonder struck gold with an up tempo arrangement.

We begin with a singer who knows his way around a ballad, Anthony Benedetto d/b/a Tony Bennett:

Stevie Wonder took ownership of the song in 1968.

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Friday Catblogging: Black Friday Kitty

This post has nothing to do with shopping. It’s another picture of Claire Trevor in all her kitty femme fatale glory.

The last word goes to Steely Dan:

Now Be Thankful

Adrastos’ late mother in her Chicago heyday.

The holidays were hard for everyone last year because of the pandemic. Things are slowly but surely returning to Gamalian normalcy this year.

Thanksgiving 2021 will still be an odd one. We were hoping to return to our holiday norm and spend it in Baton Rouge with mother-in-law #1, but she died in June at the age of 99. The loss has hit me harder as the holidays approach. I miss her but she was ready to go after a long and glorious life.

That concludes this year’s introduction to my annual Thanksgiving post. On with the show this is it:

The holidays are hard for me. I like Thanksgiving’s gluttonous aspects but it’s still hard for me. It’s when I think of my mother who died in 2001. My mother was the sort of person who took in strays for the holidays. We’d have up to 20 people around the table; some of whom were friends of friends of friends. Mom believed that everyone should have a home cooked meal on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many of our guests for Christmas dinner were, in fact, Jewish. No Chinese food for her Jewish friends.

Mom spent the day before Thanksgiving, and the day of, cooking away. She was a perfectionist when it came to entertaining: no holiday buffets for her. We had to gather around the table and it had to have a starched white tablecloth. There were no paper plates or people eating whilst milling about: fine china, silver, and crystal were mandatory for the holidays. She was informal the rest of the year but holidays were state occasions when, as my father was wont to say, we put on the dog.

When I got old enough, one of my jobs was to set the table. I made sure that Mom had final approval: she wanted everything just so. I recall feeling triumphant one Thanksgiving: I’d set the table perfectly on the first try. There were usually changes but not that year. I was inordinately proud of myself but she admonished me not to get too cocky. It was the Midwestern Norwegian Lutheran in her coming out. She left the bragging to my dad. It’s what Greeks do, y’all. Not me, of course, other Greeks…

I also helped make a fresh cranberry/orange sauce from the recipe on the back of the Ocean Spray bag. We had a venerable hand-cranked grinder that had to be attached to the kitchen table. We spread newspaper around it because it was messy. There was a bucket at my feet to catch the bitter red cranberry drippings. Mom was not sentimental about her kitchen gadgets: she bought a food processor the first time she saw one. I was away from home and past the cranberry grinding, table setting phase of my life by then.

My favorite part of the traditional turkey dinner was the stuffing. I looked forward to it every year. It was loaded with herbs as well as pine nuts and chestnuts. We didn’t exactly roast them on an open fire but I helped shell the bastards. They were uncooperative, downright surly, actually. When I was really young, I was convinced they were alive but my no-nonsense mother disabused me of that notion. She informed me that I’d seen the Wizard of Oz one too many times. As usual, she was right.

Unfortunately, there was often conflict at the dinner table during the holidays. I’m the youngest of three by thirteen years. My sisters were off living life and I was raised more like an only child. I admit to liking it that way. My oldest sister thrives on drama and conflict. There was always one big row per holiday, which drove my poor mother crazy. She was always the woman in the middle. When she died, so did our nuclear family for reasons too complex to go into. The good news is that holidays are more tranquil but I miss the glue of my family.

Thanksgivings in Louisiana had a familiar feel when I moved here. It’s all about the food, y’all.  I married into an old Louisiana family and learned some new traditions. What’s not to love about oyster dressing? I still missed my mom’s stuffing. It was a part of me.

My first wife was a petite, feisty, beautiful, and brilliant spitfire. She took the idea of being a redhead seriously: she had a temper to match my own. Her mother took me in as one of her own but made it clear that when we moved to Baton Rouge, we’d have to tie the knot. Unfortunately, my wife’s family tree was a witches brew of genetic maladies and she died of cancer during what should have been her final year at LSU Law School.

She passed away a week before Thanksgiving so the holidays were rough sledding for me until I met and fell in love with the tall, feisty, beautiful, and brilliant woman known to you as Dr. A. The good news is that Dr. A and my mother-in-law instantly hit it off and she was admitted to the Louisiana family post-haste. It was Dr. A who started calling our Louisiana family the outlaws and the nickname stuck.

I sat down to write a brief, nostalgic food-centric post and ended up explaining my tangled family tree. So it goes. I never hide the fact that I was a widower at a young age but I only tell people when asked how I came to the Gret Stet of Louisiana from California. It’s a long and painful story but I’m fortunate to have married well twice.

I still miss my mother. She could dance on my last nerve, but I miss our long conversations and teasing her about her crazy dog Brutus.

Mothers are powerful. They have the ability to make you revert to childhood. I know that many of your mothers get on your nerves. It’s what they do. Shrug it off and remember that they won’t always be with you. Around the holidays is when I miss my mom and Dr. A misses her charming, beautiful, and eccentric mother. Mother-in-law #2, however, was not a good cook and expected us to consume the radishes she’d lovingly cut. I hate radishes but her company was the best.

Happy Thanksgiving.

The last word goes to Fairport Convention with the gorgeous Richard Thompson song that gave this post its title:

Here’s another one from the songwriter. It’s a day for gluttony, after all:

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Thursday Turkey Murders

It’s a day for ritual as well as gluttony. I’ll be publishing both my annual Thanksgiving posts this year. I’m determined to disprove the notion that liberals hate this holiday.

This book cover makes its fifth appearance here at First Draft.

Thursday Thanksgiving Murders

What’s Thanksgiving without some lagniappe. Here are Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg mashing potatoes:

Quote Of The Day: Charlottesville Nazi Trial Edition

I’m about to indulge in what the late, great Greg Peters called “lazy quoting of better writers.” Nobody does legal analysis better than Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick:

In no small part because the trial was not broadcast—listeners could instead dial in to a line capped at 500 participants—there was no platform to amplify and rebroadcast the Nazism that the defendants sought to display. To be sure, some of the white supremacists did their best to drum up publicity during the trial, appearing on each other’s podcasts and threatening to dox the witnesses, but for the most part, their racism as expressed in court was puerile and dumb (yawn-inducing references to Mein Kampf and dropping the N-word). While some of the defendants tried to liken themselves to Jesus Christ and other free speech martyrs, nobody will walk away from Sines v Kessler with the sense that the jury found them to be first amendment paragons. They were tagged, every one, as cut-rate Nazis, which renders them both unsympathetic, but more importantly, uninteresting.

Some of the most shocking days of the defendants’ antics at trial proved to be about as riveting as seventh period health class at a middle school. Even as they mounted a chaotic and undisciplined defense, they unerringly seemed to prioritize personal fame and branding over argument and analysis. In the end they achieved neither fame nor branding nor analysis. The message was ultimately both contained in the theater of public opinion, and condemned roundly by the jury. The jury saw them for what they were: sad little violent white men begging for relevance if nothing else. They failed even at that.

The Charlottesville Nazi civil case is an excellent argument for NOT televising trials. We were obliged to read about the uncivil antics of the defendants in this civil case instead of watching them. That led to muted coverage of the trial, which was a good thing. Who wants these cretins to have a forum for their bigotry and half-baked Nazi notions? Shock value is what televising the case would have provided. If you want shock value, watch Tucker Carlson.

I’m not always against televising trials, but prefer it be decided on a case-by-case basis. Cameras tend to evoke emotional responses both inside and outside the courtroom. They tend to inflate the importance of a given case. A recent example of this phenomenon was the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. It was a case with no precedential value in Wisconsin or anywhere else. The media coverage degenerated into another episode of Own The Libs Theatre. Unfortunately, the libs took the bait and made the case more significant than it should have been.

The featured image is of one of my legal heroes, Justice Robert Jackson as he gave the opening argument in the first Nuremberg Trial. That was a case about real Nazis, real war criminals, not the bargain basement Nazis who were found liable for damages in the Charlottesville civil case.

It remains astonishing to me that any American can style themselves a Nazi. We fought and won a war against the Nazis. The uncle I never knew died fighting them,

I have a theory as to why American losers are attracted to the biggest loser of all, Adolf Hitler. It’s all in the imagery. The Nazis were masters at staging epic, mock-heroic images. It’s all there in Triumph Of The Will, which was the apogee of Nazi propaganda at its most artistic. Goebbels, Riefenstahl, and Speer were masters of illusion and made that 1934 Nuremberg rally look like a lost part of Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

The Nazis gift for imagery is why the best way to learn about that horrible period in history is to read about it. The untutored viewer is apt to be sucked in by Nazi stagecraft despite all the images of the Holocaust out there. They’re so shocking as to be written off as fakes by your basic American Nazi even though the Nuremberg defendants believed them to be real. They were much smarter than modern American Nazis. Who isn’t?

I also think that the use of Nazi imagery by anti-Vaxxers and other wingnuts is part of their ongoing campaign to own the libs. What’s more outrageous than wearing a Yellow Star to protest COVID restrictions? Substance is meaningless to the pro-Trump extremist right, style is everything. Owning the libs is more important than the truth.

The last word goes to Robert Jackson with an argument for accountability and the rule of law:

The privilege of opening the first trial in history for crimes against the peace of the world imposes a grave responsibility. The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated. That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Food Glorious Food

It’s the holidays so I’m feeling lazy. Here’s a post that was first published in 2018, then on Thanksgiving Eve in 2020. The you know who alluded to is, of course, the Impeached Insult Comedian, that’s who:

These are dark days because of you know who doing you know what. It calls for comic relief that has bupkis to do with politics. I went in search of comic relief and found some goofy food oriented album covers at a “food culture” web site, Ateriet. That’s right, the food fight theme kinda sorta continues.

Initially, I thought the covers would feature yogurt or cheese since culture was involved. Instead they involve canned goods, Hawaiian food, and a space age weenie roast. Two of the covers are from obscure to me artists and the last one is one of the worst covers from a major band that I can think of. It flat-out sucks.

We begin with a soupy cover from the jazz pianist Roy Meriwether. I’m not sure why the table is set with a knife and fork. I don’t know about you, but I usually eat soup with a spoon. Perhaps jazz soup is different somehow.

The minute I saw the Gerhard Polt album, I nearly did a spit take. It turns out that Herr Polt is a well-known Bavarian satirist, which means that my reaction to the cover was appropriate. I almost made a joke about not knowing that there were German satirists but thought better  of it. What’s funnier than a head on a plate of food, after all?

Finally, Live It Up by CSN. What can I say about this cover? It looks like the Krewe of Spank’s dirty weiner drop game. I bet it was David Crosby’s idea: he’s full of them and it.

Gohmert Gone To Texas

I’m not sure what Louie Gohmert Piles is praying about in the featured image. If I were the praying sort, I’d pray for the people of Texas. Gohmert is going home to run for Texas Attorney General on an anti-corruption platform. I am not making this up:

“A priority will be election integrity so that every legal vote counts. Though our current AG has had two terms — it seems he really started working harder after so many of his most honorable and very top people in the AG’s office left, complaining of criminal conduct. If you allow me, I will not wait to be my busiest until after some bad press about legal improprieties. I’ll start boldly protecting your rights on day one,” Gohmert said, listing priorities like “unconstitutional mandates,” “parental consent,” immigration at the southern border and voting laws.

It *is* true that Ken Paxton’s picture is in the dictionary next to corrupt piece of shit, but Gohmert Piles is a staunch defender of Matt Gaetz and the Impeached Insult Comedian. It doesn’t get more corrupt than that. Oh well, we in the Gret Stet of Louisiana are used to “conservative reformers.” That was how David Vitter styled himself, after all. That’s right, Diaper Dave called himself a reformer. No wonder I’m leery of that label.

It’s also odd that Gohmert is giving up a safe congressional seat when there’s a good chance that the GOP will take control of the House next year. Perhaps he resents no longer being the craziest House Republican: Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert make him look *almost* sane. He’s still the stupidest member of the House although Louisiana’s Clay Higgins is in contention as well.

As to his nickname, Louie Gohmert Piles, Michael F, Tommy T, and I have been calling him that or just plain Gohmert Pyle for at least a decade. I added the s because he always looks constipated or some such shit. Now that Gomer Pyle USMC is in reruns on Me TV maybe the kids will get the joke.

Here’s an image Michael F did in 2011 of Louie with Speaker Boner as Sgt. Carter:

One thing I learned in researching this piece is that Gohmert has a normal-seeming family and three attractive daughters. His middle child, Caroline, is a singer-songwriter who performs under the name BELLSAINT. She emphatically disagrees with his politics and publicly chided Louie Louie  for his COVID denialism when he came down with the virus. In 2019, she wrote a song called Much Like My Father:

The song begins with these lines:

“Everybody loves you/But there’s poison in the water / You get away with everything / Much like my father.”

A note about the post title. Gone to Texas or GTT was a phrase in vogue with 19th Century Texas emigrees. They were often folks with something to hide. Hell, even Sam Houston had a checkered past before he did the GTT thing.

If Gohmert Piles is elected Texas Attorney General, he won’t even be the dumbest AG on the Gulf Coast. That honor goes to Louisiana’s Jeff Landry who is as dumb as a bag of hammers and just as obnoxious as Louie Louie. Oh baby, me gotta go.

The last word goes to Caroline Gohmert d/b/a BELLSAINT. WFNEO is an acronym for We Fucking Need Each Other. Other than her dim old dad, who would argue that point?

Malaka Of The Week: Lena Ruseva

Convicted felon Bernie Kerik with MAGA artist Lena Ruseva.

Little known fact about me:  I was an art history minor as an undergrad. I know what you’re thinking: how practical. It’s come in quite handy over the years.  I learned to tell the difference between good art and kitschy crap. All the MAGA art I’ve seen fits into the kitschy-n-crappy category. And that is why Lena Ruseva is malaka of the week.

I was blissfully ignorant of Ms. Ruseva’s existence until TPM’s Josh Kovensky wrote a piece about this exhibit:

Notice something odd about this MAGA art exhibit? There was an admission charge. Usually when an unknown artist has an exhibit, it’s not only free but a gallery sponsors it hoping to make money on sales.

Malaka Ruseva lives up to her Parallel Universe shtick by not posting the location on the event poster. It was eventually staged at the Metropolitan Republican Club. I neither know nor want to know its address.

The featured image features Bernie Kerik, Ruseva, and a painting that depicts Trump as Jehovah running Adam/Joe and Eve/Kamala out of paradise. Who knew that the White House was paradise? Harry Truman used to call it “the crown jewel in the federal prison system.”

Convicted felon and Giuliani lackey Bernie Kerik believes there’s a plot against Ruseva’s art:

He said that he came to support Ruseva because he believed that New York City’s art galleries had unfairly cancelled her. She “shouldn’t have gone to three or four different venues, she shouldn’t have been thrown out of different venues because of her opinions, because of her art,” Kerik told the crowd, according to a clip posted on YouTube.

Allow me to hazard a guess as to what really happened: She was “thrown out” because her art is rotten. I would say that Ruseva’s art is on the same level as those who paint velvet Elvi or dogs playing cards, but I don’t want to hurt their feelings. I don’t mind hurting Malaka Ruseva’s feelings since she’s either a demented Trumper or a con artist.

Kerik wasn’t the only Willard Hotel coup plotter at the Parallel Universe exhibit. Boris Epshteyn was there as well:

What is it with Russian emigres and former President* Pennywise? I realize that Russians like strong men, but Trump only plays one on television. In real life, he’s a pussy. He should grab himself.

Before boarding the Trump Crazy Train, Malaka Ruseva specialized in animals smoking cigars. I am not making this up. Here’s an example of what she calls her smoking beasts collection:

A fellow member of the lunatic fringe tweeted a compendium of Ruseva’s Trump collection:

She missed one of the weirdest Trump images:

Where’s the teevee and the smart phone? I don’t think the Kaiser of Chaos meditates. It takes focus and concentration, qualities he lacks.

Malaka Ruseva’s oeuvre isn’t without wit:

I bet that’s going to turn up on a few Trumper Christmas cards. It’s like Bad Santa all over again. I’d take Billy Bob Thornton over the Kaiser of Chaos any day.

If you’re like me and can’t get enough unintentional comedy. click here. I laughed, I cried, I nearly hurled.

Lena Ruseva fancies herself as a MAGA renaissance woman: painter, buxom blonde biker chick, interior designer, cigar aficionado. It’s unclear if her Trumpism is a marketing ploy or based on sincerely held beliefs. She’s clearly the maker of bad art celebrating a bad man with bad taste. And that is why Lena Ruseva is malaka of the week.

The last word goes to Asia:

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SMV: Stevie Wonder Glastonbury Live

In case you were wondering if I like Stevie Wonder, wonder no more. Here he is live in 2010 at the Glastonbury Festival:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Into The Lens

Noir et blanches by Man Ray.

New Orleans weather is as variable during the fall as it is unchanging in the summertime. It’s been cold and dry then warm and muggy, but I have not resorted to air-conditioning. So it goes.

The Orleans Parish runoff election is scheduled for December 11th. I’m supporting an old school NOLA pol in one race and a reformer who’s running against an old school NOLA pol in another. Sometimes I even confuse myself.

I voted to reelect Jay Banks as my district city councilmember. He ran first in the primary despite all the mud thrown at him by his “reformer” opponents. They lost me forever when I saw that they’d rented a billboard together to plug their primary candidacies. Collusion is a bad look.

In the Sheriff’s race, longtime incumbent Marlin Gusman just missed winning in the first round. He’s a terrible sheriff but an excellent politician. I’m voting for his opponent, Susan Hutson, but she looks like a long shot because of all the local political muscle massed against her.

Like many others on the left, Team Hutson seems to underestimate how conservative many older black people are. When I was a neighborhood leader, the most rabid people about crime were elderly black folks. They’re also comfortable with Gusman who is favored to stay in office despite all the outside money being spent on behalf of his opponent.

This week’s theme song was written by Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes in 1980. It began life with the title I Am A Camera and was intended for the Buggles second album. Then Horn and Downes joined Yes, and it became Into The Lens, the first track of side two of the Drama LP.

We have the song in both incarnations for your listening pleasure. I prefer the Yes version because of Howe’s guitar and Squire’s bass, but Downes excels on keyboard on both versions.

There’s an oddball link between our theme song and this week’s Friday Cocktail Hour. Cabaret was based on John Van Druten’s 1951 play I Am A Camera, which in turn was adapted from Christopher Isherwood’s 1939 novel Goodbye To Berlin. It doesn’t get much odder than that.

Before we nod off like Lee Miller in the May Ray featured image, let’s jump to the break.

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I’m something of a Cabaret obsessive. I’ve seen the Bob Fosse flick as many times as I’ve seen Casablanca, Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Notorious, or Sunset Boulevard. I’ve seen the play several times over the years and enjoyed it mightily. Hence this Friday Cocktail Hour selection.

The song Cabaret was written for the 1966 play Cabaret by John Kander and Fred Ebb. The song is the grand finale of both the play and movie based on it. It’s also a swell and swinging song in its own right.

We begin with Liza Minelli with her Oscar winning performance as Sally Bowles in the 1972 Fosse film:

Satchmo knew a great tune when he heard it:

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Owning The Commies With John Neely Kennedy

Thoughtful pose or nose pick? You decide.

John Neely Kennedy is the phoniest member of the United States Senate. The competition is stiff since Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are also members of that body. The man I call Neely has cultivated an image as a rube, not a Rubio. It’s a sham: he has degrees from Vanderbilt, University of Virginia law school, and Magdalen College. That’s Oxford, y’all.

Instead of deploying his intellect and erudition, Neely persists in sounding like a cross between Foghorn Leghorn and Mister Haney from Green Acres. He was once called the smartest man in Louisiana government, now he’s mocked as a peckerwood moron. His current style is an insult to voter’s intelligence as well as downright insulting.

I’m something of an expert in explaining and deciphering Neely for a national audience. A 2017 post I wrote about him Drinking Weed Killer With John Neely Kennedy was quoted in the Washington Post. Holy humblebrag, Batman.

I used to find his cornball aphorisms so amusing that I wrote an extended piece about his Neelyisms for Bayou Brief. The Neelyisms aren’t funny anymore.

Since becoming a senator, he’s sounded  more and more like a cornpone Insult Comedian. The Neelyisms used to have a scintilla of charm and wit, but they turned uglier than boiled sin during the Trump administration as the man himself might say.

I’ve seen Neely’s style wrongly compared to Andy Griffith. To extend that analogy, Neely has gone from sounding like Sheriff Andy Taylor to Lonesome Rhodes the hick fascist in A Face In The Crowd who said shit like this:

Rednecks, crackers, hillbillies, hausfraus, shut-ins, pea-pickers – everybody that’s got to jump when somebody else blows the whistle. They don’t know it yet, but they’re all gonna be ‘Fighters for Fuller’. They’re mine! I own ’em! They think like I do. Only they’re even more stupid than I am, so I gotta think for ’em.

Like that Lonesome Rhodes quote, Neely’s hick shtick drips with contempt for the people who sent him to Washington.

Neely’s brand as Gret Stet treasurer was as a straight-shooting skinflint who was willing to go toe-to-toe with Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Neely’s brand as a senator is that of a rabid partisan who spouts talking points crafted to own the libs. Yesterday, Neely decided it was time to own the commies. 

Senate Republicans suggested on Thursday that a Soviet-trained communist was about to take over a key office in the country’s banking regulation infrastructure.

President Biden nominated Cornell University law professor Saule Omarova to be comptroller of the currency in September. But at her Thursday confirmation hearing, Republican senators played on Omarova’s birth in the former Soviet Union to suggest that she was a Marxist sleeper agent.

“Have you resigned from the young communists?” Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) asked Omarova at the hearing.

Kennedy was referring to Omarova’s early years in the USSR. Born in what is now Kazakhstan, Omarova received the prestigious Lenin scholarship to study at Moscow State University. As a child, she was also a member of the komsomol, the communist youth — a common group to be involved in in the USSR.

It’s all red meat for opponents of Omarova’s candidacy on the Senate Finance Committee, which held a confirmation hearing on Thursday.

“Did you send them a letter resigning?” Kennedy asked, referring to Omarova’s komsomol membership.

Committee Chair Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) interrupted him, saying that Omarova had “renounced her Soviet citizenship.”

Kennedy pressed on with Omarova: “I don’t mean any disrespect — I don’t know whether to call you professor or comrade.”

Neely’s McCarthyite antics covered all the Trumper bases: xenophobia, sexism, racism, and red baiting.

It’s particularly depressing coming from a former Democrat who I voted for twice as state treasurer and in his first senate race when he ran as the most liberal Democrat in the field. I am not making this up.

His past political persona is one reason he poses as a rabid wingnut, he doesn’t want to be primaried from the right by someone like genuine peckerwood Clay Higgins. The other reason is that he’s a rank opportunist as well as a fake hick hack. How’s that for a tongue twister?

John Neely Kennedy spent his political life lusting after a senate seat. He finally achieved his ambition in 2016 on his third try. And what has he done? He became a troll whose only accomplishment is owning first the libs, now the commies. What a disgusting waste of a fine mind.

I wrote a post in 2020 called John Neely Kennedy Can Go Fuck Himself. The sentiment still applies as does the last word by Harry Nilsson:

Friday Catblogging: Red Letter Day

I suppose I shouldn’t encourage Claire Trevor to sit on top of our mini fridge but there she is. I only hope she didn’t break into the Community Espresso and Cream 12-pack. It might give her insomnia, which in cat terms means she’ll sleep 16 hours a day instead of 18.


The Grotesque Dr. Gosar: Censured & Stripped

I spend a lot of time thinking about what is and is not funny. Kicking up is funny, kicking down is not. I don’t think lethal as opposed to slapstick violence is funny. That’s why I was unmoved by House GOPers’ specious arguments on behalf of the Grotesque Dr. Gosar.

Speaking of grotesque, a collection of crazies spoke up for their fellow nutjob: Chip Roy, Louis Gohmert Piles. Gym Jordan, Clay Higgins, and Lauren Boebert to name a few. I only watched the second part of the debate so I’m not sure if Matt Gaetz took a break from lusting after jailbait or musing about hiring Kyle Rittenhouse as a clerk to speak. I am not making this up. Owning the libs is all that matters to them.

Nary a single House GOPer defended the Grotesque Dr. Gosar on the merits of the case. House Dems were essentially told to “lighten up, it’s a joke.” If so, it’s one in exceedingly poor taste.

Many House GOPers described the atrocious anime video as a stupid cartoon and something they would not have posted themselves. Republicans ran out of members willing to defend the Grotesque Dr. Gosar before the time allotted for debate expired. That’s what “reserving time” means. They were, however, willing to vote against censure. Schmucks.

The defenses offered reminded me of Republican senators like Lamar Alexander during the first Trump impeachment trial. It’s bad, but the penalty is too severe yadda, yadda, yadda. They’ve gone from defending a cartoon villain to minimizing the dangerous message sent by a cartoon.

KMac proved again that his leadership post is not based on his oratorical prowess. He gave a rambling speech that was pure whataboutism. His focus was on procedure, which is what you argue when the facts are against you. He made the Grotesque Dr. Gosar look like an innocent bystander to Democratic abuses of power: ““The Speaker is burning down the House on her way out the door,”

Are David Byrne, Tina Weymouth, Chris Franz, and Jerry Harrison aware of this?

The worst Republican speech was given by Colorado gun nut, Lauren Boebert, who spoke darkly of conspiracies. Of course, she did. She went after Ilhan Omar. Of course, she did. Here’s their point-counterpoint:

The best Democratic speeches were given by AOC, Steny Hoyer, and Jackie Speier who was a victim of political violence herself. Speier was wounded in the fatal attack on her mentor, Congressman Leo Ryan after leaving Jonestown. I knew Jackie long ago and have followed her career with great interest. She was the sponsor of the censure resolution. Well done, Jackie. Leo would be proud of you. FYI, Leo Ryan and my father were friends despite their political differences. It’s how America is supposed to work.

Majority Leader Hoyer tried to shame Republicans by invoking the name of former House GOP leader Robert Michel. I met him when I was a congressional aide. He was a warm and friendly man from Peoria Illinois. He retired from politics when Newt Gingrich began to set the tone for their caucus. It’s Newt’s and Donald’s party now. There’s no room for decent conservatives like Bob Michel anymore.

The only thing Republicans seem to believe in is owning the libs. How pathetic is that? They mouth platitudes about freedom, man but all they care about is owning the libs. It’s why they’ve fetishized AOC and the Squad. It makes one wonder if they believe they should literally own AOC and her cohort. Remember: they think the War of the Rebellion was about states rights, not slavery. Freedom, man.

The Grotesque Dr. Gosar’s speech was as awful as it was specious. He threw his staff under the proverbial bus and refused to accept any responsibility. If he had ever once apologized, he would not have been censured and stripped. He could not because it’s all about owning the libs.

We all know that the Grotesque Dr. Gosar cannot be shamed even after what should have been a public humiliation. Censure is rare: Gosar is only the 24th member to be censured. Republicans repeatedly claimed that a Democrat would not be censured by Speaker Pelosi. Another lie: the last member to be censured was Charlie Rangel in 2010 during Pelosi’s first stint as Speaker. I remember it well because it was so painful: Rangel was a well-liked and respected member before his downfall. The Grotesque Dr. Gosar is neither.

Let’s circle back to our dental theme. Sitting through speeches by Republican extremists is akin to root canal surgery, especially when Jacketless Jim Jordan is shouting into the microphone. Putz.

A final note on movie dentists and the featured image. I had forgotten that there was an “is it safe” Marathon Man poster. I remembered that Steve Matin as Dr. Frank Sangster knew how to wear his mask unlike the Grotesque Dr. Gosar. If you haven’t seen it, Novocaine is a swell 3 1/2 star black comedy. Shorter Adrastos: It doesn’t bite the big one.

Speaking of Novocaine, the last word goes to the Eels:

Pulp Fiction Thursday: On The Road

I’ve had beatniks on my mind, daddy-o. The ultimate beat era book was published in 1957: On The Road by Jack Kerouac.

It’s been republished many times over the years. Here’s a sampler, man:

The last cover features the real Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarity who were the author and Neal Cassady respectively. The latter became one of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranskters when beatniks morphed into hippies, man. Cool, daddy-o.

The last word goes to King Crimson with a song about Neal and Jack, man:

Quote Of The Day: Manly Man Josh Hawley Edition

I’ve been meaning to take a poke at Manly Man Josh Hawley’s attempt to open a new front in the culture war. The time is nigh:

“The left want to define traditional masculinity as toxic. They want to define the traditional masculine virtues … as a danger to society. Can we be surprised that after years of being told they are the problem, that their manhood is the problem, more and more men are withdrawing into the enclave of idleness and pornography and video games?”

There’s an enclave of idleness? I bet that’s where the Impeached Insult Comedian can be found when he’s not golfing, chasing porn stars, or shooting off his mouth.

Ironies abound in this pro-manhood salvo fired by a preppie who attended Stanford and Harvard Law.  Hawley is not exactly the spitting image of “traditional masculine virtues.”

I bet Hawley thinks John Wayne was like the characters he played onscreen instead of a careerist who dodged the draft and was afraid of horses. I am not making this up, but Hawley makes up a lot of stuff. He only fights with his mouth.

Hawley’s discussion of manly manhood reminds me of a piece that Tom Nichols wrote for the Atlantic last year, Donald Trump, the Most Unmanly President:

But since his first day as a presidential candidate, I have been baffled by one mystery in particular: Why do working-class white men—the most reliable component of Donald Trump’s base—support someone who is, by their own standards, the least masculine man ever to hold the modern presidency? The question is not whether Trump fails to meet some archaic or idealized version of masculinity. The president’s inability to measure up to Marcus Aurelius or Omar Bradley is not the issue. Rather, the question is why so many of Trump’s working-class white male voters refuse to hold Trump to their own standards of masculinity—why they support a man who behaves more like a little boy.

I am a son of the working class, and I know these cultural standards. The men I grew up with think of themselves as pretty tough guys, and most of them are. They are not the products of elite universities and cosmopolitan living. These are men whose fathers and grandfathers came from a culture that looks down upon lying, cheating, and bragging, especially about sex or courage.

The answer is that the Republican brand in 2021 is hypocrisy. They claim to be conservatives yet support or minimize the Dipshit Insurrection, which was the worst attack on our constitutional republic in history. They claim to revere the military yet support a man who defames the honored dead as suckers and losers. They’re radicals, not conservatives.

As to Josh Hawley’s manly man shtick, like everything else in history, it’s nothing new. Remember the ridiculous men’s movement of the 1990’s? It led to dudes gathering around fire pits and beating drums like fake Native Americans. Oy, just oy.

Real men treat others with respect.

Real men believe women can do anything men can do; usually better.

Real men don’t parade around with guns.

Real men don’t lie or brag about sex or courage.

Trumpers like Josh Hawley and his ilk are little boys pretending to be manly men. They make me sick.

The last word goes to Todd Rundgren:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Miraculous Mandarin

The Miraculous Mandarin was composed by Bela Bartok who conceived of it as “dance music.” In its earliest performances it was a pantomime or ballet. It was controversial as it involved “forbidden love” and violence. The Miraculous Mandarin was even banned in Germany in 1926. After that sucess de scandal it was mostly performed as a concert suite.

There are many recordings of The Miraculous Mandarin most of which have interesting covers. Here are three of them:

Here’s Zubin Mehta conducting the introduction to The Miraculous Mandarin in 2009: