Category Archives: Art

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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Saturday Odds & Sods: In The Midnight Hour

Max Schreck as Nosferatu.

It’s been chilly the last few days in New Orleans; not Vermont or Minnesota chilly but it will do. Of course, we were subjected to a helluva storm before things cooled off. Cool air hitting muggy air tends to do that. The light show accompanying the storm would have been spectacular if it wasn’t so scary. I jumped a few time in response, but we didn’t lose power. It had to happen.

This week’s theme song was written by Wilson Pickett and Steve Cropper in 1965. It became a monster hit on both the R&B and pop charts shortly thereafter. It remains a classic as well as perfect for this feature, which goes live every Saturday at midnight.

We have three versions of In The Midnight Hour for your listening pleasure: the Pickett original as well as covers by The Jam and Roxy Music.

Now we’ve that waited til the midnight hour, let’s jump to the break. I suspect more music awaits us on the other side. Go ahead and jump.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Art For Art’s Sake

Ambiguous Figures by Max Ernst.

There are rumors of a cold front later this morning. It’s really a cool front but cold front is the technical term and I’m a stickler for something or other. I’m just looking forward to not running the air-conditioner.

We’ve been talking Carnival in New Orleans. We all want it to happen but it’s unclear when it will be safe to cavort in the streets with strangers. Perhaps we should consult with Laurence Olivier’s character in Marathon Man:

Is It Safe Dustin Hoffman GIF by Top 100 Movie Quotes of All Time - Find & Share on GIPHY

Beats the hell outta me, Larry.

The City is allowing the annual Halloween parade for tourists to roll. It’s called the Krewe of Boo and this year it’s going to serve as an experiment into public gatherings. Contact tracing will be involved. If things go well, the chances of Carnival 2022 happening increase. If not, stay tuned.

This week’s theme song was written by Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart for 10cc’s 1975 album, How Dare You. That’s what Dustin Hoffman should have said to Olivier.

Here’s Art For Art’s Sake, money for God’s sake:

Graham Gouldman trivia time. He also wrote this wildly successful Hollies hit:

Let’s pick up our umbrellas and jump to the break.

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: Gallery

I’m on the record as a Vincent Price fan. I posted a top ten list of his movies last fall.

One of Price’s greatest attributes as an actor was his beautiful speaking voice. He put that voice to good use on this album that featured his great passion: art.

I couldn’t unearth any clips from this album, so here’s Price introducing Sherlock Holmes on PBS’ Mystery series:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Thru and Thru

Target by Jasper Johns.

It’s fall in most places, but summer is tenacious in New Orleans. We had our annual autumnal tease last weekend. It was a good thing because Dr. A and I masked up and went to an outdoor wedding last Saturday. It was an interesting mixture of cultures: the groom was Egyptian-American, the bride from Monroe in North Louisiana. As a guest the important thing was that the food was good and there was an open bar.

I haven’t mentioned my head injury since the destapling. It’s healing so well that I barely have a scar. Oh well, what the hell.

This week’s theme song was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards for the Rolling Stones’ 1994 album Voodoo Lounge. It’s pure Keith; one of his best songs. David Chase certainly thinks so: it was featured in the season-2 finale of The Sopranos.

We have 3 versions of Thru and Thru for your listening pleasure: the studio original, the Stones live, and The Sopranos edit.

Sopranos aficionados will recall that that was the hallucinatory episode in which Big Pussy not only met his maker, but appeared to Tony as a talking fish.

Speaking of fishy songs:

Now that we’re through with fish, let’s jump to the break.

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We Don’t Need Another Hero

Marvel's Avengers

 

A couple of weeks ago I changed my cell phone plan which these days means I get access to more of the interconnected corporate hegemony being put out into the cultural zeitgeist these days. In this case I now have access to Disney Plus, or Disney + as the branding bros would have it.

I really couldn’t have cared less about getting Disney + as I am beyond the age of having children who would watch cartoons and not yet to the point of having grandkids who would. But since Disney has been buying up intellectual property as if they couldn’t possibly come up with something themselves (and yes that is a dig at how Disney has treated their creative “partners”) having the network has given me a chance to take a gander at the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that I’ve heard so much about.

I have a special fondness for Marvel comic books. Back in the day when a 25 cent weekly allowance was enough for two comics and three pieces of penny candy, I bucked the trends and fanboyed for Marvel over D.C. Comics. Frankly I didn’t understand why my friends didn’t favor The Fantastic Four over Superman or Spiderman over Batman. I mean, we lived in New York, the Marvel characters protected New York, why would you favor some guy from another planet who lived in a made up city called Metropolis over someone protecting YOU in the very real city where you lived? And really, this guy puts on a pair of glasses and nobody recognizes him? At least Iron Man had a metal helmet covering his entire head so of course you couldn’t know it was Tony Stark.

But times passes and my magazine reading advanced from comic books to Mad Magazine to the National Lampoon and then out into adulthood. Yeah, I went to see Christopher Reeve as Superman and Michael Keaton as Batman, but those were one off experiences that were not repeated for the numerous sequels. By the time of the reimagining of Batman by Christopher Nolan, superhero movies were out of my flightpath. In fact I became that guy who went to see Cosmopolis at some Hellplaza 64 screen monstrosity and complained to the management that the walls are so thin I could hear the cheering for The Dark Knight Rises.

Damn kids.

Thus I have not seen in their entirety any of the twenty-five or so movies that have made zillions of dollars and have audiences salivating for more. I don’t know Chris Evans from Chris Pine. I’ve been told they are both captains, but of what I can’t remember. Scrolling through the list of Marvel films available on the network I get lost trying to remember if Loki is a villain, a hero, a god, a spaceman, or just whatever the hell he really is. Apparently there are multiple universes in which there are multiple Spidermen, women, dogs, cats, and taxi cab drivers. And there are guardians of the galaxy and one of them is the shoeshine guy from Parks and Rec?

And to think one of the reasons my childhood friends didn’t like the Marvel comics was that they were too complex.

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Book Review: My Father When Young

This Tisserand tome was my birthday present from Dr. A. Thanks, babe.

Michael Tisserand is the author of The Kingdom Of Zydeco, Sugarcane Alley, and Krazy: George Herriman In Black and White as well as a charter member of the NOLA Twitter Pun Community. He’s better known at First Draft as the Parade Route Book Signer. I might as well share the historic Twitter exchange:

Sometimes Twitter can be fun.

Michael’s latest book is a collaboration with his late father Jerry Tisserand. An alternate title for My Father When Young could be What I Did During The Lockdown.

After his father’s funeral in 2008, Michael brought a bunch of boxes home to New Orleans, which he didn’t open until the pandemic. One box contained a treasure trove of slides:

“I pulled a few slides at random and held them to the light. Then a few more. At first, I didn’t understand what I was seeing. Then I realized: the photos had been taken by someone I never knew—my father when young.”

Michael had no idea that Jerry’s hobby had been photography. Tisserand the Elder stopped snapping pictures when he became a family man. Not only was Jerry a photography buff, he had an uncanny eye for a compelling image.

I recall when Michael first started posting his father’s pictures on his Facebook feed. I believe my initial reaction was: Damn, these are good. Others encouraged him to do something special with his father’s treasure trove. A book was born.

The most startling revelation to the son was that the father had visited New Orleans during Carnival 1959. Jerry’s pictures of the French Quarter on that long ago Mardi Gras day document a lost world. He also inadvertently stumbled into members of one of the first gay carnival krewes, Yuga. Jerry’s pictures of gay Mardi Gras don’t judge, they document. That’s the essence of good street photography.

The book is divided into three parts. The first, Taking Leave features pictures taken when Jerry was in the Army and stationed in Europe. My favorite European snapshot was taken in Barcelona and is called Children and Pigeons. Its centerpiece is a toddler dressed in a white church dress. I hate pigeons but I love this picture.

The second part of My Father When Young documents Jerry Tisserand’s return home to Evansville Indiana, which he called E-Town. I have conjoined favorites: pictures called Lighter and Smoke. They depict some Hoosier ladies lighting up cigars. I’m not a fan of cigar smoke but I am a fan of these images. They remind me of this Cole Porter song:

Anything Goes fits the third part of My Father When Young as well. I mentioned Jerry Tisserand’s Mardi Gras trip earlier. It’s the grand finale of the book in a segment named for a Professor Longhair song: Go To The Mardi Gras.

My favorite Mardi Gras photo is called Searching For A Zulu Coconut. In part, because it shows how much smaller Zulu’s floats were in 1959. The guy begging for what remains Zulu’s signature throw isn’t stretching or jumping, he’s hoping to be handed a prized coconut. I like smaller-scale Carnival. It’s one reason I’m in Krewe du Vieux.

My Father When Young is a work of love. Michael’s introduction tells the story of the father he knew and the gifted photographer he discovered. That makes Michael a lucky man. I’ve had friends who learned less salubrious things when they went through their parents’ possessions. Instead, Michael learned that, for a brief moment, his father was the Robert Frank of E-Town.

I mentioned that My Father When Young was a birthday present from Dr. A. That led to another exchange with the author:

He also threatened to make me recreate the book cover when it’s re-autographed. I couldn’t do a headstand when I was young and thin let alone now. Never gonna happen, my friend.

It’s time to grade Michael’s lockdown homework. I give My Father When Young 4 stars and an Adrastos Grade of A. Well done, sir.

You’re probably expecting the last word to go to Ringo Starr with George Harrison’s Photograph. I like to keep my readers off balance, so the last word goes to Gary Louris with the opening track of his new album, Jump For Joy. Its alternate title could be: What I Did During The Lockdown. Well done, sir.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Wouldn’t It Be Nice

The Great Wave by Hokusai.

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:

Now that we’ve made nice let’s jump to the break,

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Hamburger Midnight

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

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.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Let Go The Coat

The Concert by Johannes Vermeer.

July has been wet, wet, wet in New Orleans. As long as it’s not flood-level precipitation I don’t mind it. It keeps the heat down. That’s summer in the Crescent City: too hot, hot, hot or too wet, wet, wet. My needle seems stuck, stuck, stuck…

Pete Townshend wrote this week’s theme song for the Who’s 1981 album Face Dances. It’s a criminally underrated record that I’ve loved since the first time I gave it a spin. It was the soundtrack of my life in the year I moved from San Francisco to Washington DC.

Don’t Let The Go was inspired by Townshend’s guru Meher Baba who urged his followers to “hang fast to the hem of my robe.”

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: the studio original, Townshend’s demo, and the Who live on German teevee.

Don’t let go the coat as we jump to the break.

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A Postcard From Ashland Oregon

Ashland Oregon Postcard

Greetings from balmy Ashland Oregon where the temps today will stretch all the way to the mid 70’s and the cloud cover will, well, cover the sky most of the day.

It’s an interesting change from Sonoma where the temps will hit the hundreds while we’re away. Ah, too bad. Along the drive it was astounding to see the change in topography as we sped north, from the arid brown of the Golden State to the lush green forests of the Beaver State. No jokes please, we’re woke around here.

This is our first stop as we wind our way through the PacNorWest ™. Five hours from home, it’s one of the longer drives we’ll be making. That’s a good thing as the wife (Cruella) was just about done with my bad jokes and choice of music. Apparently Gregorian chanting isn’t her thing. Go figure.

Ashland is of course home to the world famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Since 1935 the Festival has presented a variety of plays both Shakespearian and modern in their five performance spaces. The most famous of the theaters is the Elizabethan outdoor stage, a model of Will’s own Globe theater. Fortunately the modern audience all get seats, no groundlings allowed. The season runs from early March to early November.

Of course COVID hit the Festival hard, cancelling the entire 2020 season and forcing a drastic cut down of the 2021 season. Usually 10-12 shows are done per season, this year there will only be two, a new musical called FANNIE about the life of civil rights pioneer Fannie Lou Hamer which will be presented in the outdoor theater starting July 1 (too late for this trip) and IT’S CHRISTMAS, CAROL a gender bending take on the Dicken’s classic opening in late November.

Actually the real reason we come to Ashland is to eat at this place:

Omar's Restaurant Ashland Oregon

This is Omar’s Steakhouse and with neon like that you just know it’s going to be good. And it has been for the last 75 years. A dry martini, a fine steak, some Dragonfly Tempranillo  wine, what more does a man need? A good story to go with? It’s got that too. Seems the man who started it was named Omer and that’s what the sign was supposed to say, but Noodnick Nate the Neon Man screwed up and old Omer didn’t want to offend so he just went with it.

We on the other hand just go with the mouth watering steaks and coma inducing desserts. This is old school eating. Bring your second stomach and be prepared to fill it.

steak at Omars

Coupe Denmark Sundae

Ashland is also home to Southern Oregon University, where “artsy” children are sent by their parents who have compromised in order to at least get them to go to college and not head up to Portland to live out their coffee house and poetry dreams. That and the fact you have a Shakespeare Disney World right next door might lead you to the conclusion the town is just a tad liberal. You would be correct. But it’s a small island of blue in a sea of Southern Oregon red.

The larger city nearby, Medford, for many years has been the home of Harry and David, the gift packaged fruit kings of the world. If you’ve ever opened your door to find a gift from your Aunt Gertrude containing fruits and nuts lovingly arranged in a reusable, if you use those sorts of things, gift basket it was probably from Harry and David. They are a huge company with 8000 employees but most of that is farmed out labor. They were purchased a few years ago by 1-800-Flowers and in the midst of the pandemic closed down all their stores, laid off all the store employees and went completely online. Complaints are up, mostly about the quality of the fruit and the customer service. The company’s response? Teach your Aunt Gertrude how to use a computer.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Carry On

Albino Sword Swallower At A Carnival by Diane Arbus.

The featured image is a photograph by Diane Arbus who was an extremely interesting and deeply weird photographer. Her motto was: “Take pictures of what you fear.” Words to live by.

I’d amend that to say: Deal with what you fear. I’m trying to do that in my own life. I’ve long had a fear of heights and a bridge phobia, which has intensified as I’ve aged. The bridge phobia is particularly unfortunate as I’ve always lived in places where bridges are a fact of life. I just white-knuckle it and muddle through. What else can I do?

My phobias also explain why I’m taking it slow in regard to the COVID after times. I may be fully vaccinated but many are nor. It’s why I’m proceeding with caution. I did, however, eat in a restaurant on our anniversary. A small triumph for trying times. Oh well, what the hell.

Before moving on to our theme song, some Diane Arbus trivia. She was married to actor Allan Arbus who is best known as army shrink Sidney Freedman on MASH. Allan was also a close friend of Montgomery Clift. The late Patricia Bosworth wrote excellent biographies of both Monty Clift and Diane Arbus. If you like tragic tales of talented people who died too young, they should be up your alley.

Stephen Stills wrote this week’s theme song for CSNY’s 1970 album Deja Vu. As the opening track, it gets things off to a rousing start and remains a staple of his set lists. I’d say CSN’s set lists but Crosby’s malakatude has made a reunion impossible. Imagine pissing off the most mild-mannered of rock stars, Graham Nash.

We have two versions of Carry On for your listening pleasure:  the studio original and a raucous live version featuring shouty, off-key vocals and sensational guitar playing by Stills and Young.

Ready to visit Disambiguation City?  JJ Cale wrote and recorded *his* Carry On in 1981:

Now that we’ve had deja vu and worn shades, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: She Said She Said

The Therapist by Rene Magritte.

We finally had our first day with a high of 90 degrees. As someone who lives in a semi-tropical climate, I prefer Fahrenheit to Celsius: 30 degrees Celsius does not sound as hot as it gets in New Orleans. It’s where ice people go to melt.

Surrealism and the Beatles go together like peas and carrots hence the featured image by Rene Magritte. He’s my other go-to Surrealist. I hope Max Ernst doesn’t mind.

She Said She Said has an opening stanza worthy of Surrealist poet Paul Eluard:

 She said “I know what it’s like to be dead I know what it is to be sad.”
And she’s making me feel like I’ve never been born.

This week’s theme song is credited to Lennon and McCartney but it’s all John. Once again, it’s from 1966’s Revolver album, which has a suitably surreal cover by the German artist/bassist Klaus Voormann.

The session at which She Said She Said was recorded was a sign of trouble in Beatle World. Macca didn’t like the arrangement and didn’t play on the track. George Harrison played bass. Yeah, yeah, yeah or is that no, no, no?

We have three versions of She Said She Said for your listening pleasure: the Beatles original, Gov’t Mule, and The Black Keys:

Now that we all feel like we’ve never been born, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Getting Better

Chez Tortoni by Edouard Manet.

The weather remains the leading topic of conversation in New Orleans. A tornado ripped through the city causing property damage but no serious injuries.  It took place a mere two miles from Adrastos World HQ ,but I slept through it. I seem to be turning into a cat.

First Draft contributor Ryne Hancock came over to record his podcast with yours truly as his guest.

Beatles month continues with this week’s theme song. It was written by Lennon and McCartney for 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. It’s mostly a Macca song but has a mordant aside written by John: “It can’t get no worse.”

We have four versions of Getting Better for your listening pleasure: the Beatles original, Cheap Trick, Peter Frampton & the Bee Gees, and Gomez.

Feeling better? Let’s jump to the break before it gets much worse.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Pictures Of Matchstick Men

Main Press by LS Lowry.

The weather has been horrendous in New Orleans this week. We’ve had high winds, thunderstorms, and torrential rain. One day it looked as if we were having a tropical system out of season. I hate thunderstorms, they’re like heavy metal. I hate heavy metal.

It’s been so bad that we’ve had to work around the weather for fear of street flooding. Dr. A went to work preposterously early yesterday because she was administering an exam. I was so grateful that the garbage men closed the bin lid that I went on the porch and thanked them.

This week’s theme song was written by Francis Rossi for Status Quo’s 1968 album Picturesque Matchstickable Messages from the Status Quo. How’s that for a long ass title? It was to be the band’s only major hit single in the US&A.

The song was inspired by the paintings of Mancunian artist LS Lowry. He pretended to be an unsophisticated artist but had serious chops as a painter. Lowry also excelled at myth creation often telling wildly contradictory stories. His painting Main Press is this week’s featured image.

There’s some dispute as to whether Lowry should be called a Mancunian artist since he lived in nearby Salford. But I like saying Mancunian so I’m sticking with it. FYI, a Mancunian is someone who hails from Manchester, England, mate.  Who the hell wants to be a Salfordian or is that Salfordite?

We have three versions of Pictures Of Matchstick Men for your listening pleasure: the studio original, Status Quo live, and a 1989 cover by Camper Van Beethoven, which was a hit in the US&A.

We’re not finished with matchstick men, here’s a 2018 song written and recorded by Mark Knopfler:

Now that we’ve pondered matchstick men in music and art, let’s strike quickly and jump to the break.

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Things Are Looking Up

I made a Magritte joke this morning in my album cover art post. This time it’s a sight gag: the featured image is a Magritte painting called The Therapist, which is, in turn, a joke on the surrealist movement’s passion for psychologically provocative images. And some think Francophones have no sense of humor.

The lockdown phase of the pandemic began a year ago. It’s been tough. We’ve all despaired and been distressed. Things began to improve with the presidential election. There was a major setback with the Dipshit Insurrection, but things got better after the inauguration.

In my last 13th Ward Rambler column for the Bayou Brief I declared February to be the 14th Month Of 2020. That’s NOT how I feel about March 2021. It feels like a new era has begun. In the immortal words of the Brothers Gershwin, Things Are Looking Up.

The first verse of that song says it all:

If I should suddenly start to sing
Or stand on my head or do anything
Don’t think that I’ve lost my senses
It’s just that my happiness finally commences
The long long years of dull despair
Are vanishing into thin air
And it suddenly seems that I’ve
Become the luckiest man alive

Congress is on the verge of passing the most important piece of progressive legislation since the ACA in 2010. I would argue that it’s even more important because it was done without giving an inch to Republican “moderates” who sought to water it down. The MSM is obsessed with that point but they’re wrong. History will see that as a footnote and a minor one indeed. In the immortal words of Joey B. Shark, “This is a big fucking deal.”

I’m hoping that the COVID relief bill is a sign that Democrats have got their mojo back. The dual Reagan landslides in 1980 and 1984 were traumatic. They were really based on Reagan’s persona and extraordinary communication skills, but Democrats care about policy, so they convinced themselves it was about the prose of governing, not the poetry of campaigning. Are we still allowed to quote Mario Cuomo despite his jerk son’s malakatude?

Ronald Reagan was fundamentally a salesman. He gave his party the gift of messaging; something they still excel at, which can’t always be said for Democrats. Our mojo may be back, but our branding remains shaky. Repeat after me: The label on the package is just as important as the contents.

And now for a brief musical interlude:

In other optimistic news, things are looking up on the COVID front. It helps to have an administration that believes in government.  Team Trump dropped the ball on handling the pandemic, but Team Biden has recovered the fumble and done a helluva job at getting the vaccines out there.

The several states are ramping up their vaccination efforts thanks to the administration’s hard work on distributing the vaccine and ensuring adequate supplies. The Merck-Johnson & Johnson agreement is another big fucking deal. It shouldn’t be smercked at…

On the personal front, I got my first haircut in a year last weekend. Not much grows on top but the back gets bushy and curly. Who the hell wants this guy on the back of their head:

I don’t have that shocking contraption on my head. It was the weirdest GIF I could find so I went there. Poor Curly. I bet it was Moe’s fault.

Back to the real world. I’m getting vaccinated at the Morial Convention Center on Saturday. I qualified under the Gret Stet’s phase-2 guidelines since I’m old and overweight. Not long after I made my appointment, the governor loosened the requirements since the vaccine is flowing like wine. I’m not sure what that means, but it’s better than spilling it:

Now that there’s adequate supply, the several states should jab anything that moves. It should be like Word War II era draft boards who inducted anyone that could stand up even if Mr. Potter rejected Slacker George Bailey.

We need to vaccinate 75% of the population before things can get back to Gamalian normalcy. We’re finally on our way but there will likely be speed bumps ahead. Shorter Adrastos: DON’T SPIKE THE BALL.

One more quote from Ira Gershwin:

Bitter was my cup
But no more shall I be the mourner
For I’ve certainly turned the corner
Oh, things are looking up

The last word goes to dueling divas: Billie was a bit subdued whereas Ella was exuberant. I’m somewhere in between.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Do You Feel Like We Do

Cocktails by Archibald Motley.

The cold weather is gone for now. We haven’t run the heater for a few days. Yay. I shudder to think what our next utility bill will be, but it won’t be like the budget-busters in unregulated Texas; at least I hope not. Freedom, man.

I’m feeling cautiously optimistic on the COVID front. But some people are already getting carried away. That’s been the pattern and it’s a lethal one. I’m keeping my guard up even after I get vaccinated, which should be in the next few weeks. Let’s be careful out there.

The featured image is by Archibald Motley who was a Jazz Age modernist active during the Harlem Renaissance. The image is of well-dressed Black ladies having cocktails. I’d call them flappers but that could cause a flap, Jack…

This week’s theme song was written by Peter Frampton for his 1973 semi-solo, semi-band album Frampton’s Camel. It’s the ultimate rock hangover song.

An edited version of a live version from the monster hit album, Frampton Comes Alive later became a hit single. How’s that for a version diversion? I hope it was diverting.

We have two versions (there’s that word again) of Do You Feel Like We Do for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a 2000 live performance.

We’ll have more about Peter Frampton after the break. We might as well go now.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Get Up, Stand Up

Poster by Ben Shahn

I’m not alone in heaving a sigh of relief over the Impeached Insult Comedian’s imminent defeat. The extended election season made it difficult to do a typical Odds & Sods post. So, I’m going to do something different and post this week’s theme song at the end of the post.

Unlike the current occupant, I’m passionate about the right to vote. I agree with Joey B Shark that the “right to vote is sacred.” There have been a series of struggles over that precious and fundamental right. The 14th Amendment granted the right to vote to all males over 21. The goal was to enfranchise the freed slaves. The Southern states had a different idea. It was called Jim Crow.

Women were not enfranchised nationally until the 19th Amendment. They helped elect Warren Gamaliel Harding in 1920 but nobody’s perfect.

Black citizens were not fully enfranchised until the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The arc of history may bend towards justice, but it does so slowly.

The featured image is a poster from the 1944 campaign by the legendary lefty artist Ben Shahn. It was commissioned by the CIO, which was more militant before merging with the AFL in 1956.

The CIO were key players in the Roosevelt coalition. CIO leader Sidney Hillman was so influential that FDR allegedly told his people to “Clear it with Sidney” or that’s what their opponents said. Hillman was Jewish so that led to anti-Semitic attacks from the GOP:

Hillman’s nose was not that large. Anyone surprised? The same thing happened to Jon Ossoff this year. The more things change the more they remain the same.

The comparison of the New Deal to “foreign isms” was particularly odious. Negative politics are as American as apple pie. This pie had a worm in it.

Finally, this week’s theme song is an anthem of defiance written in 1973 by Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. Don’t give up the fight.

We have three versions of Get Up, Stand Up for your listening pleasure: the Wailers original, Peter Tosh, and a live version from the Amnesty International Conspiracy Of Hope tour.

That’s it for this week. The last word goes to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris:

 

George Wallace Called Him Mousey Tongue

The special Senate election in Georgia is getting nasty and weird. Doug Collins, seen above next to George Wallace, is attacking Kelly Loeffler over the Warhol that was spotted at her palatial crib:

George Wallace called him Mousey Tongue. How about you, Dougie?

Rich people have Warhols, Dougie. If your man President* Pennywise had any taste, he might own one himself. He did, however, consort with Andy and a polo pony:

I betcha thought I was making that up. It reminds me of a classic Ed Norton moment from The Honeymooners:

Polopopnies? Sounds like my ancestral region, the Peloponnesus.

My mother loved that Honeymooners routine. In fact, she added Poloponies to the name of the infamous Brutus the beagle chihuahua mix. Not my favorite dog: I caught Brutus peeing on the cover of my copy of Tupelo Honey by Van Morrison. It’s a pity that Van wasn’t there to admonish the dog who renamed that fine album Tupeelo Honey. Now I need some of this:

It’s funny to watch Collins and Loeffler try to be the Trumpiest Trumper in Trumpistan when the Impeached Insult Comedian is increasingly unpopular with other GOPers. Does that make them Throwback Trumpers?

If David Pecker still ran The Enquirer, he’d want to know. Enquiring minds and all that shit.

I don’t know about you but I’m rooting for this guy:

For some reason, Georgia has adopted the Louisiana open primary system. Who copies the Gret Stet in politics? Food, yes; politics no.

I refuse to call it a jungle primary because of connotations that George Wallace and Doug Collins would surely get.

2020, man.

The last word goes to Van Morrison:

 

Not Everything Sucks

People are still making art, public art: 

A new grant program in central Wisconsin will employ artists to paint murals in rural parts of Portage County. It’s inspired by New Deal-era employment programs, and designed to help put artists who’ve been affected by the pandemic back to work.

“Paint the County” is a new project by the nonprofit CREATE Portage County. They’ve identified five sites for the murals so far, and have opened applications for artists interested in creating them. Over the next year or so, CREATE will use grant funding of between $50,000 and $100,000 to pay the selected artists to create the murals, said Executive Director Greg Wright. The funding comes from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and Arts Wisconsin, with state money through Wisconsin’s “We’re All In” COVID-19 relief funds. It’s intended to help support artists, and also to create work that will be meaningful to small towns in the area.

“Part of this for us is trying to figure out how to use the arts to give people hope and excitement during this time,” Wright said.

You can donate to the nonprofit supporting the project here.

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