It’s time for another tribute to the late, great Johnny Clegg with this 1990 show at the Zenith Paris.
It’s time for another tribute to the late, great Johnny Clegg with this 1990 show at the Zenith Paris.
History was made 50 years ago today when Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon. It was controversial among some at the time for being a waste of money and has become the subject of wackadoo conspiracy theories. I watched the moon landing unfold and I thought it was magnificent; even better than Star Trek or 2001. The truth is not only stranger than fiction, it can be much better. I still think the heyday of the space program is way cool or perhaps even wicked awesome.
This week’s featured image is a painting by the late Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean. It’s based on a picture taken by Buzz Aldrin of Neil Armstrong; hence the epic title. I thought it was high time to give it, uh, new Life.
There are a wide variety of moon songs to choose from. For this week’s theme song, I went with one that’s lunar landing specific. Moon Rocks was written by David Bryne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, and Tina Weymouth for Talking Heads monster hit 1983 album, Speaking In Tongues.
Now that we’ve done a bit of space walking, let’s cut the tether and float to the break.
You’re not hallucinating. That is indeed a signed John Paul Stevens baseball card. It was created by David Mitchner who mailed it to Justice Stevens during the 2016 World Series. You know, the Cubs’ first championship since 1908. Justice Stevens returned the signed card and the rest is history. The photo of Stevens in Cubs gear dates from 2005 when he threw out the first pitch at a Cubs-Reds game in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.
You’re probably wondering why I paired Justice Stevens and pitcher/author Jim Bouton in a tribute. They’re both people I admired who died recently, that’s why. Besides, I’m notorious for my oddball combinations. Stevens and Bouton were both genial, kindly men who loved baseball. It’s time to uncouple this Odd Couple; one that’s almost worthy of the late Neil Simon.
Let’s take them in order of demise. We’ll use the time-honored Odds & Sods device of the New York Times link thingamabob as subject headers/dividers.
I failed to pay proper tribute to Jim Bouton last week because of the Wednesday flood and the approach of Whatever That Was Barry. He had a mediocre career highlighted by two fine seasons with the New York Yankees in 1963 and 1964. He blew out his arm in 1965 and by 1969 was trying to make a comeback as a knuckleball pitcher with the expansion Seattle Pilots. The Pilots lasted one year before being sold and moved to Milwaukee where they ditched the awful uniforms and became the Brewers.
1969 was the dividing line in Jim Bouton’s life. It was the year that he recorded the diary entries that would become the sensation that was Ball Four. Bouton was pilloried by the stuffy, ultra-conservative baseball establishment for admitting that ballplayers were human beings. Mickey Mantle drank and played hungover? A huge shocker in 1970 but no surprise to anyone who actually knew the Mick.
Along with Catch-22, Burr, and Breakfast of Champions, Ball Four was my favorite book of that era. Heller, Vidal, and Vonnegut were pretty lofty company for a washed-up pitcher to keep. But all four books were irreverent and hilarious; influences I try to put to good use as a writer.
Teen-age me was thrilled to learn that someone who played my favorite sport was an anti-war liberal with a wicked sense of humor. Ballplayers pretended to be apolitical paragons in those days. Bouton was a breath of fresh air.
One of the best tributes I’ve read to Bouton is by my friend Vince Filak. He focuses on Bouton’s unique voice and exceptional story-telling ability. It’s a helluva good read.
“A ballplayer spends a good piece of his life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.”
Let’s move on from a former Yankees/Pilots/Astros/Braves pitcher to a zealous Cubs fan.
John Paul Stevens always maintained that he was a conservative and that SCOTUS had moved so far to the right that he looked like a liberal in contrast. I think of Stevens as the sort of liberal Republican that is largely extinct in 2019.
He grew up in Chicago, which was a town dominated by a corrupt Democratic political machine. The natural thing for an independent minded lawyer was to become a liberal Republican in the tradition of fellow Supremes Charles Evans Hughes, Harlan Stone, and Earl Warren. Stevens’ appointment was by far and away the best thing that Jerry Ford did during his brief presidency.
As a Supreme, Stevens was an independent force with a fervent belief in the rule of law. I think Jeffrey Rosen best summed up Stevens’ credo as a judge:
In our conversation, three consistent themes in his jurisprudence emerged: his belief in the duty of the government to be neutral; the duty of judges to be transparent; and the need for judges to interpret the Constitution in light of the entire scope of its history, including the post–Civil War amendments, rather than stopping in the founding era.
Those are themes that all judges should aspire to but are sadly lacking among today’s conservative justices who are eager to gut precedents they dislike. That’s what John Paul Stevens meant when he called himself a conservative. He wanted to conserve what was best in the law and reform the worst.
Circling back to our baseball theme. As a young lawyer, Stevens was involved in Congressional hearings that addressed baseball’s anti-trust exemption. There’s a swell piece in the archives of the Atlantic about how Stevens changed baseball.
That concludes this odd couple tribute to two men I admired. Jim Bouton and John Paul Stevens made the world a better and livelier place. They will be missed.
It’s been a month since we lost Della Street. I miss her dirty looks and imperious bearing. The look on her face in this box picture says it all:
I wrote a piece for the Bayou Brief last year about Neelyisms, which are the cornpone sayings of the Junior Senator from the Gret Stet of Louisiana, John Neely Kennedy. He’s at it again.
Neely went on the Tucker Carlson Xenophobia Hour and called the Squad, “the four horsewomen of the apocalypse.” There was a follow-up tweet from this twit:
What the hell does the “directions on a shampoo bottle” thing even mean? Is he concussed or is it brain damage caused by his mindless defense of the Insult Comedian? Most Neelyisms make *some* sense, this one does not. He’s as crankily incoherent as Hopper in Stranger Things 3. It’s what comes of defending the indefensible.
As a silent film history buff, I got a kick out of the anachronistic reference to this classic movie, which was based on biblical lore:
I’m not sure many people got the reference but Mr. Google is there to provide guidance. I hope he led people to the 1921 original, not the 1962 remake, a film so bad that even the great Vincente Minnelli couldn’t rescue it. It was such a dog that it’s still barking. Holy shit, that sounded like Dog Hating Donald. Apologies.
It’s no revelation to think that Neely was actually referring to The Bible, but it’s more fun to riff on old movies than armageddon. That’s not my scene, y’all. Besides, if anyone is bringing on the apocalypse, it’s Neely and his president*, not AOC and the Squad.
The last word goes to the Clash:
To go along with the Happy Trails post, I searched for “western paperback covers” and stumbled into some early 20th Century dust jackets. Dane Coolidge was a California writer of genre fiction; mostly Westerns. His first two books featured covers by the great painter Maynard Dixon who got first billing in the post title because I’m very familiar with his work. The only Coolidge whose work I’m familiar with is Calvin and I’m not a fan.
Hidden Water was published in 1910 and The Texican in 1911. Sometimes it’s fun to fall down an internet rabbit hole.
I realize that I’m both preaching to the choir and stating the obvious with this post title. I think it’s important to be direct when writing about the depths of the Insult Comedian’s bigotry and the damage it has done to the country.
Vox’s German Lopez has assembled an impressive timeline of Trumpian public racism that stretches back to 1973. It’s an ugly but must-read piece. Anyone with a lick of sense has known from the beginning that Donald Trump is not only a criminal, he’s a racist.
What else was birtherism but a demand that Barack Obama show his “papers” to prove his citizenship? It didn’t need to be true or even partially true to have a malicious effect on the body politic. Hell, Trump wasn’t even the original birther but he was the most persistent.
I realize that Trump’s “go back” attack on the Squad was an attempt to divert attention from all the Trump scandals. It was imperative, however, to call him on his egregious racism. I wish he would “go back” to Trump Tower and leave the rest of us alone.
There were only 4 Republican House members plus Justin Amash who voted for the resolution condemning Trump’s latest racist tweet. I was surprised that there were any so this kinda, sorta counts as progress.
The GOP response was typified by Mitch McConnell, Steve Scalise, and Kevin McCarthy all of whom claimed Trump is not a racist and that they were nice to then President Obama. It’s all so typical and tiresome. Give it a rest, y’all. You own this guy and his overt racism.
The worst effect of having a racist, white nationalist president* is that it’s now socially acceptable in some quarters to make overtly racist comments in broad daylight. They’re following the president’s* bad example. I wish they would crawl back under the rock they oozed out from under BUT at least we know where we stand. The dog whistle has been replaced with a bullhorn.
Team Trump’s 2020 strategy has been obvious for months: defame, slander, and lie about their opponents to depress Democratic turnout. It’s their only hope of winning since they’ve been shrinking their base since the infamous “American carnage” inaugural rant. The good news is that Trump’s racist, xenophobic mid-term campaign did not work. The bad news is that we’re stuck with this asshole until January, 2021.
One good effect of Trump’s face-off with the Squad is that the MSM is starting to call a racist a racist. Trump’s reaction has been typically overstated:
That’s the Insult Comedian’s version of “some of my best friends are black.” Given his record of sexual assault, there may be one bone in his body that isn’t racist, if you catch my drift.
I may be preaching to the choir but repeat after me: Donald Trump is a racist.
The last word goes to Rodney Crowell:
This news felt like a gut punch. The great South African singer-songwriter and anti-Apartheid activist, Johnny Clegg has died at the age of 66.
Dr. A and I have many of Clegg’s albums with both Juluka and Savuka. We saw him perform live on several occasions. Most memorably at Tipitina’s when he played New Orleans in support of his Heat, Dust and Dreams album. We spoke to him at the stage door. I don’t recall the contents of the conversation but I recall the warmth and kindness exuded by the artist. It’s a pity that it was pre-camera phone so we don’t have a picture with us to remember him by. But we have his music.
The best tribute to any musician is the music itself. Here are a few old favorites:
Finally, a song that Johnny Clegg wrote in tribute to his fallen friend and band mate, Dudu Zulu:
I hope his crossing is a smooth one.
Barack Obama is frequently compared to Sidney Poitier. They’re both dignified, self-possessed pioneers. I never expected to spin a Poitier movie title in a post about Donald Trump’s mendacity but I just did. The world works in mysterious ways, sir. Believe me.
Daniel Dale has been chronicling the Insult Comedian’s lies since he descended on that Trump Tower escalator and ripped into Mexican “rapists.” The lies, half-truths, and exaggerations have, if anything, escalated since that moment. Daniel Dale has been there for all of it; first at the Toronto Star and now at CNN, sir.
Dale’s systematic study of Trumpian mendacity turned up a word that is almost invariably a tell that the president* is lying. You guessed it; the word is SIR.
I’ve fact-checked every word Trump has uttered since his inauguration. I can tell you that if this President relays an anecdote in which he has someone referring to him as “sir,” then some major component of the anecdote is very likely to be wrong.
Lots of people do call Trump “sir,” of course. But the word seems to pop into his head more frequently when he is inventing or exaggerating a conversation than when he is faithfully relaying one. A “sir” is a flashing red light that he is speaking from his imagination rather than his memory.
In poker parlance, it’s a tell.
Yes sir, Mr. Dale, sir.
This is the most disturbing sir story by far, sir, because the stakes were so high, sir:
President Donald Trump told a dramatic story on Twitter last month.
Explaining how he decided to cancel a possible attack on Iran, he wrote, “We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it…”
This was all so Hollywood that I would have been skeptical regardless of Trump’s choice of words. Because he included one particular word, though, I was almost certain the story was inaccurate in some way.
My “sir” suspicions didn’t betray me on Trump’s Iran tweet last month. Later in the day he posted it, CNN reported that a White House official said Trump was given a casualty estimate much earlier than “10 minutes before the strike.” reported that an administration official said the “150 people” figure was given to Trump by White House lawyers, not in a cinematic exchange with a general.
Yes sir, Mr. Dale, sir. That’s a Lulu of a whopper, sir. Lulu, of course, sang the theme song for the 1967 Sidney Poitier movie To Sir, With Love. Hence the post title: To Sir, With Self-Love.
Another major Trump tell is when he ends a sentence with “believe me.” It’s an indicator that what preceded it is untrue. Believe me, sir. Uh oh, I just shot my credibility to hell.
The last word goes to Lulu:
Gary Duncan, a founding member of Quicksilver Messenger Service, died at the age of 72 a few weeks ago. The San Francisco based Quicksilver were one of the original jam bands. Their influence has grown in the last twenty years. Quicksilver’s 1969 live album Happy Trails was one of the jammiest jam band albums of all.
The cover was something of an oddity at the time. It looks more like the cover of a book by Zane Grey or Holly Martins instead of an album by a psychedelic rock band. That’s why it’s so cool. The back cover is swell as well.
Here’s the whole damn album:
Before entering electoral politics, Ayanna Pressley was a senior aide to then Senator John Kerry. Big John rose to Pressley’s defense after the president* told her and three of her colleagues to “go back” to their shithole districts. I’m the one who said shithole this time, but he’s said it before and will say it again. Believe me.
The MSM called Trump’s original tweet, “racially charged.” Those of us in the reality based community called it racist. It was a successful attempt to distract attention from the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. It’s the only thing the Insult Comedian does well.
A quick note to my fellow Democrats; STFU and stop attacking one another. We’re the big tent party and we need a coalition to win elections. Moderates and Lefties need one another to take on the real enemy: THE PARTY OF TRUMP.
Barry was a non-event in New Orleans. We did not have a “big blow” like the storm in Key Largo, which is my favorite hurricane season movie. Hence the featured image.
Barry was such a nothing burger for us that we didn’t even watch Key Largo. When it came time to view a classic film, we went with Sunset Boulevard. Unlike our past cats, PD had never seen it. It was time to correct that oversight.
Speaking of Paul Drake, here’s some bonus catblogging:
What Barry was in New Orleans was boring. There were some major rain bands to our west and east but they bypassed us. We were lucky but anyone who follows the Euro forecasting Model had an inkling of what Barry would be like in the Crescent City. We had much more rain last Wednesday.
The only entertaining thing about Barry was the national media coverage. Any time a storm *may* hit New Orleans, they’re like a dog with a bone and fixate on us. It was the story of a lifetime for many in the MSM and they’re eager to repeat it. We are not.
My friends Kevin Allman and Lamar White Jr. both wrote pieces scolding the MSM. Thanks, y’all. My phone and social media feeds blew up on Friday and Saturday with people thinking we’d die if we didn’t evacuate. I informed them that we were bored instead of scared.
After Friday’s post, my contribution to the online dialogue was this tweet:
As to the second point, WDSU has a weatherperson who is famous for freaking out whenever there’s a storm in the Gulf. She’s obsessed with people having an ax handy just in case they’re stuck in the attic and have to chop their way out. Pondering her past antics led to another Shecky tweet:
It’s back to what passes for normal in New Orleans. I guess it’s time to catch up on the national news, which I skimmed over the weekend. To distract attention from the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, Trump was a racist asshole again. The MSM falls for it every time.
The last word goes to Roxy Music:
Yeah, I know, Neil Young wrote the song:
I wrote the opening, now second, paragraph below before posting yesterday. I’m too stressed and/or lazy to change it. So it goes:
It’s been the week from hell in New Orleans. Our car flooded during Wednesday’s deluge and there’s a tropical system nearby. I’m writing this on Thursday: our internet is wonky so I want to have something in place in case it and/or the power goes out. I refuse to be buried by Barry.
I don’t have the full-blown Odds & Sods spirit BUT since I’d assembled a post, I figured I’d put it out there for y’all to enjoy. I know our Saturday readership is devoted so I don’t want to let you down. Instead of our usual three acts, we have a first act followed by what would usually be our third act of regular features. Highly irregular but what can ya do?
Elvis Costello wrote The Other Side Of Summer for his 1991 album, Mighty Like A Rose. I used it the other day in the post about my Bayou Brief newspaper war piece. This time we have two versions: the video and EC live.
Now that we’ve seen the other side of summer for what it is, let’s jump to the break.
I didn’t plan to write a pre-storm post but my phone and social media feeds have been blowing up. Thanks to everyone who reached out. If this post sucks, blame them, not me. Damn concerned friends and readers.
Barry is a disorganized mess of a system, which is having a hard time getting its shit together. But wherever it lands, it’s going to be wet and sloppy.
It’s almost a perfect metaphor for the Trump era, which is not reassuring but it’s a helluva one-liner. They can’t get their shit together either. At least Alex Acosta is quitting, which means I won’t get to use one of my punnier potential titles: The Acosta of Freedom.
Back to the lay of the land at Adrastos World HQ. We’re going to be fine: we live on high ground in what locals call the “sliver by the river.” It was a sketchy neighborhood when we moved here and now its full of yuppies since it didn’t flood in 2005. I’ll sing the gentrification blues another time.
There was a torrential downpour on Wednesday morning. Dr. A went into work and got caught in a flash flood. She works in an area that rarely has such high water. It did this time. The car is going to the shop today. Hopefully, it will pull through. We’re holding off on renting a car until Barry be gone. It will be one less thing to worry about.
The Wednesday flood is why so many New Orleanians are extra jittery about Barry. The trend seems to be favorable for us as of this writing. My hurricane ghoul is relieved that it *may not* be as bad as expected. I have friends who live in flood prone areas who are evacuating out of an abundance of caution. I wish them well. See y’all on the other side of this mess.
We’re hunkering down. We have enough food, water, bourbon, and PD supplies to make it through. We may lose power but there are worse things than sweat and boredom.
That concludes this brief update. There *will* be a Saturday Odds & Sods even if our power is out. My tropical system plan includes a First Draft sub-plan.
The last word word goes to Barry White. It seemed only fair after quoting Shakespeare in the title:
Paul Drake had a serious flea problem until a vet friend of ours stopped by, gave him a anti-flea egg shot, and slathered his neck with a magic ointment. He’s feeling much better. As always, PD abides.
When Ross Perot died the other day there was a surge of hits on a post I wrote in 2015, Enough Already With The Perot-Trump Comparisons. Thanks, y’all.
I never voted for Ross Perot but he was much better person than Trump. Perot was a genuine self-made man who had “a very good brain.” Perot also knew his way around a folksy aphorism whereas Trump merely babbles and repeats himself; NO COLLUSION, NO COLLUSION, NO COLLUSION. Additionally, Perot gave freely of his time and money to a variety of good causes and we all know about the Insult Comedian’s stingy ways.
And in 1992 he became one of the most unlikely candidates ever to run for president. He had never held public office, and he seemed all wrong, like a cartoon character sprung to life: an elfin 5 feet 6 inches and 144 pounds, with a 1950s crew cut; a squeaky, nasal country-boy twang; and ears that stuck out like Alfred E. Neuman’s on a Mad magazine cover. Stiff-necked, cantankerous, impetuous, often sentimental, he was given to homespun epigrams: “If you see a snake, just kill it. Don’t appoint a committee on snakes.”
Timesman Robert D. McFadden also described Perot as a “wiry Texas gadfly.” I’m fond of gadflies. I’m one myself.
1992 was one of the most exciting elections of my lifetime. It had everything: sex scandals, a huge Democratic field, and an incumbent president who was good at governing but rotten at campaigning. Poppy Bush was challenged by wingnut gadfly Pat Buchanan whose insurgent campaign damaged the incumbent enough to doom his candidacy. Thanks, Pat.
And then there was Ross Perot. He entered the race on Larry King Live, exited the race during the Democratic Convention, then re-entered the race just in time to debate Bush and Clinton.
The featured image is of my favorite moment in the first debate: Bush checking his watch. Does anybody really know what time it is, does anybody really care?
Perot did well in 1992, winning 19% of the popular vote and his candidacy was the final blow to Poppy Bush’s chances.
Perot was quirky and idiosyncratic. The term eccentric billionaire seemed to have been coined for him. I’d like to thank him at this point for helping to elect the Clinton-Gore ticket thereby breaking the Democrats losing streak in presidential races. It was a helluva campaign y’all.
Perot’s third party candidacy in 1992 showed the utility of such an effort whereas his 1996 campaign showed its futility: he won only 8% of the popular vote and wasn’t invited to debate Clinton and Dole.
I used to do a wicked Ross Perot impression but I lost it after he left center stage. It typically involved the phrase “great sucking sound,” which he used to describe NAFTA but is equally applicable to the Trump Regime.
The last word goes to Patsy Cline with the song Team Perot played as he hit the stage to concede in 1992:
Mad Magazine recently announced it was ceasing publication of new material. It was the first humor magazine I ever read. It was the home of snotty adolescent humor when I was a snotty adolescent. I loved it but eventually moved on. It was, however, reassuring that it was still around. Who among is won’t miss Alfred E. Neuman?
Here are two classic covers from the 1960’s:
My latest piece for the Bayou Brief is a news analysis of the New Orleans newspaper war: Suddenly, This Summer. The title is a take on the Tennessee Williams/Gore Vidal movie set in Uptown New Orleans. It’s particularly apt as cannibalism was involved. FYI, Suddenly, Last Summer was number six on my Louisiana movie list.
The original title of the piece was The Other Side Of Summer: The End Of An Era but Dr. A suggested we steal from Tennessee and Gore and who am I to object?
The unused title was lifted from Elvis Costello. Even though it will be this week’s Odds & Sods theme song, I still want to give Declan Patrick MacManus the last word:
Did you dig that plug within the plug? I may be getting too meta for my own good but nobody will confuse me with Meta World Peace aka Ron Artest.
I whinged about the heatwave on Monday. I use the Britism whinged (whined to us Yanks) because that post led to this search: “album covers heat.” It turned up a 1978 album by the English rock band, Status Quo. I had no idea that they’d stuck around into the 21st Century, but they were always more popular in the UK than stateside.
The cover photo for If You Can’t Stand The Heat was taken by John Shaw whose work adorns 49 album covers including records by Adrastos favorites Wings and Jethro Tull:
I wonder if they thought about Harry Truman when they shot this cover. I did when I found it.
Here are the two singles from the album:
The Insult Comedian is messing about on twitter again. He retweeted a genuine picture of himself with then President Ronald Reagan that included a phony quote about the awesomeness of the Donald. Anyone surprised?
I have immigration on my mind because of the migrant detention/concentration camps on our border with Mexico. Additionally, Independence Day has evolved into a holiday on which we celebrate new citizens who have taken a test that the Current Occupant would surely fail. Every year at federal buildings across the country, the latest crop of new citizens is sworn in on the last business day before the Fourth of July. They take an oath to the constitution, not to the dear leader much as the Kaiser of Chaos might like that.
That brings me to the quote of the day. It comes from a man I never voted for but who looks better all the time thanks to the antics of the Current Occupant and his band of rogues and poltroons. That’s right, I’m about to quote the 40th president, Ronald Reagan.
Reagan was emphatically conservative BUT he was a business Republican from a border state, not a nativist like Trump. These remarks come from a ceremony on Reagan’s last day as Oval One at which he awarded the medal of freedom to former Senate Democratic leader and Ambassador to Japan, Mike Mansfield, and Republican Secretary of State, Treasury, and Labor, George Schultz.
And since this is the last speech that I will give as President, I think it’s fitting to leave one final thought, an observation about a country which I love. It was stated best in a letter I received not long ago. A man wrote me and said: “You can go to live in France, but you cannot become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Turkey or Japan, but you cannot become a German, a Turk, or a Japanese. But anyone, from any corner of the Earth, can come to live in America and become an American.”
Yes, the torch of Lady Liberty symbolizes our freedom and represents our heritage, the compact with our parents, our grandparents, and our ancestors. It is that lady who gives us our great and special place in the world. For it’s the great life force of each generation of new Americans that guarantees that America’s triumph shall continue unsurpassed into the next century and beyond. Other countries may seek to compete with us; but in one vital area, as a beacon of freedom and opportunity that draws the people of the world, no country on Earth comes close.
This, I believe, is one of the most important sources of America’s greatness. We lead the world because, unique among nations, we draw our people — our strength — from every country and every corner of the world. And by doing so we continuously renew and enrich our nation. While other countries cling to the stale past, here in America we breathe life into dreams. We create the future, and the world follows us into tomorrow. Thanks to each wave of new arrivals to this land of opportunity, we’re a nation forever young, forever bursting with energy and new ideas, and always on the cutting edge, always leading the world to the next frontier. This quality is vital to our future as a nation. If we ever closed the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost.
You know things are bad when I praise Ronald Reagan, but I believe in giving credit where credit is due. Reagan was president the last time the immigration laws were comprehensively updated. You know, the laws Trump calls a disgrace. The only disgrace is the current president* himself.