Category Archives: Art

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Forecast (Calls For Pain)

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The Problem We All Face by Norman Rockwell.

We’re back on the weather roller coaster in New Orleans. One day it’s unseasonably warm, the next it’s colder than average. It’s almost as crazy as the Current Occupant of the White House. Did you see that insane press conference by the least racist and anti-Semitic person ever? In response to the crazy, I tweeted this:

I hope all the Busters and Steiners are happy right now. They insisted that there was no difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They were wrong. She’s sane.

Did y’all see the cartoon that was based on the Norman Rockwell painting that’s this week’s featured image? Here it is on the Tweeter Tube. I refuse to upload it:

That’s right, folks, Cartoonist Glenn (Not The Real) McCoy compared billionaire dilettante Betsy DeVos to NOLA’s own Ruby Bridges That’s preposterous and typical of the whiny titty babies on the Right in 2017.

Btw, BuzzFeed: You got something wrong.

On Sunday, the Belleville News-Democrat published this cartoon by Glenn McCoy. It appears to equate Betsy DeVos, Trump’s controversial pick for secretary of education, with Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend an all-white school in the South.

Ruby Bridges *was* the first black student to attend an all-white elementary school in New Orleans in 1960. She was not the first overall: that honor belonged to the Little Rock Nine in 1957. The last I heard New Orleans was in the South. Y’all should spend less time cutting and pasting tweets and more time on research.

This week’s theme song fits both my mood and the temper of the times. The Forecast (Calls For Pain) comes from Robert Cray’s brilliant 1990 album Midnight Stroll:

It’s time to take a midnight stroll to the break. The forecast is for more mirth than pain on the other side.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Trouble In Mind

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The Underground Railroad by Hale Woodruff, 1942.

Another week, another mural as the featured image. Hale Woodruff is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice. If you don’t recognize Trump’s Frederick Douglass quote, I have failed as a blogger.

It has been a Krewe of Spank-centric week at Adrastos World HQ. We’ve been helping with the float, buying costume bits, and even went to a pizza-n-shirt-iron-on party. Bet you’ve never done that. We also drank beer. Bet you’ve done that.

This week’s theme song was selected with our politically chaotic moment in mind. I am mindful of the fact that Trouble In Mind was written in 1924 by jazz pianist Richard Jones. It has been recorded oodles of time by oodles of artists. I have selected worthy versions by Big Bill Broonzy, Nina Simone, and the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the post only without the dirt or the band. That’s right, this post will be unbroken…

Emmett Till: Every social movement requires a spark. For the Civil Rights movement, the spark was provided by the lynching of Emmett Till in 1955. In fact, Jesse Jackson describes a conversation with Rosa Parks that confirms the importance of Emmett Till:

“I asked Miss Rosa Parks [in 1988] why didn’t she go to the back of the bus, given the threat that she could be hurt, pushed off the bus, and run over, because three other ladies did get up. She said she thought about going to the back of the bus. But then she thought about Emmett Till and she couldn’t do it.”

There’s a new book about the murder of Emmett Till wherein author Timothy Tyson got the woman who was allegedly the target of unwanted attention by Till to admit that nothing much really happened. Vanity Fair’s Sheila Weller has the details.

It’s abundantly clear that the Current Occupant has no knowledge of the Civil Rights movement or how important it is to many of us. It didn’t involve him directly so it’s off his radar screen. I suspect Trump and his dreadful, racist daddy regarded the movement as a nuisance. It made it harder for them to discriminate against black folks in their apartment buildings in the outer boroughs, after all. So it goes.

We go from the crime that inspired the Civil Rights movement to a look at how Hollywood is taking on the  Insult Comedian.

The New Culture War: We tend to think of Pats Buchanan and Robertson when we think about the culture war. Buchanan’s 1992 GOP convention speech scared the living shit out of middle-American and was a factor in Poppy Bush’s defeat. Thanks, Pat.

The culture war used to be a right-wing thing. It no longer is. The Guardian’s Stuart Jeffries takes a look at how Hollywood and others on the left are standing up to the Insult Comedian. My favorite bit involves the divine Julia Louis-Dreyfus:

At last Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild awards in Hollywood, barely anyone who got to the stage failed to denounce Donald Trump’s immigrant ban. Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, for instance, accepting her award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series with her portrayal of a (with all due respect) venal and useless president, said: “I am the daughter of an immigrant. My father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France, and I am an American patriot … I love this country. I am horrified by its blemishes. This immigrant ban is a blemish, and it is un-American.”

Her speech came from the heart and was clearly not written by Selina Meyer’s staff. They would have found a way to fuck it up and elect Hugh Laurie President…

There’s already a backlash over comments like Julia’s and Meryl Streep’s but, frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. The rank hypocrisy on the right about celebrities in politics is breathtaking. The GOP elected an actor President, sent Gopher from The Love Boat and Sonny Bono to Congress, and now they complain about free speech from Julia and Meryl. As the Cowardly Lion would surely say, DA NOIVE.  I fed Siri that sentence and she had a nervous breakdown. It was most amusing.

Speaking of the culture wars, our next segment takes a look at cursing. Hmm, I wonder if we still have a fuck quota at First Draft.

Fucking Around: There’s a motherfucking good review at the New York Review of Books by Joan Acocella of two bloody buggery bollocky books about swearing. You should read the fucker. Fuckin’ A.

Speaking of people who got fucked over, here’s a look back at Grateful Dead’s 1970 arrest in New Orleans. They did not return to the Crescent City until 1988.

Busted Down On Bourbon Street: The Grateful Dead were “set up like a bowling pin” in New Orleans on January 31, 1970. The city fathers were terrified that hippies would overrun the city and interfere with their drinking. They simply could not have that.

There’s a fun look back at Live For Live Music.com. I can say fun because nothing much came of the bust except for semi-lurid headlines and this mug shot of a certain lead guitar player:

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Notice that Jerry had the good sense to smile, not glower in his mugshot. Never let the bastards see you sweat.

I obviously have to post a version of Truckin’ at this juncture. This is a good ‘un complete with tight musicianship and sloppy vocals, both trademarks of the good old Grateful Dead:

Let’s move on to a sporadic Odds & Sods feature:

Separated At Birth? I added a question mark because I’m not 100% sure this works but it cracked me up when I saw it on the Tweeter Tube.

Instead of being leery of the idea, Leary responded without so much as a leer:

Just imagine it: Denis Leary in The Bowling Green Massacre. He really needs to wear Kellyanne Liar’s inauguration day outfit:

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Let’s move from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Saturday Classic: I posted the Queen of Soul earlier, it’s time to listen to the King of Soul, Otis Redding. Note that the album begins with Ole Man Trouble. It has nothing to do with the Insult Comedian but we do have more than our share of trouble right now.

That’s it for this week. We’ll be back with more hijinks and shenanigans next week. Who better to have the last word than three Jokers? Heath, Jack, and Cesar beat the hell out of the joker in the White House. Figuratively, not literally.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: End Of The Line

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Man at the Crossroads by Diego Rivera.

The image you see above began life as a joke at a rich man’s expense. Nelson Rockefeller commissioned the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera to do a fresco at Rockefeller Center. Big mistake: Rivera was not only a lefty, he was a Communist. If you take a closer look at the image you can see Lenin, Trotsky, and Karl Marx among the figures. The future Governor of New York was not amused and had the mural destroyed. Mercifully for art lovers, Rivera had a friend take pictures of the Rocky mocking work. He later did a second version in Mexico City. Take that, Rocky. There’s a lesson in this story for our times even if Rocky’s politics weren’t as odious as those of the Insult Comedian.

This January is a time for sad songs. End Of The Line is a rock torch song. It was written by Bryan Ferry for Roxy Music’s brilliant 1975 album Siren. I listened to Siren obsessively during the bleakest time of my life and it helped me get through it. Thanks, Roxy.

We begin with the studio version; sung by Ferry as if his heart was ripped out of his chest. It’s followed by a swell but less overtly emotional 1993 cover by Concrete Blonde:

I’ve also been known to sing End Of The Line under my breath when taking the bus or streetcar downtown to Canal Street, which is the you know what. I don’t think I’ve been caught in the act but ya never know. I suppose this is as good time as any to insert the break thingamabob. See you on the other side.

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: Ben Shahn

Ben Shahn was one of the most interesting American artists of the 20th Century. He was a true Renaissance man: painter, photographer, muralist, printmaker, educator, writer, and lefty political activist. He also had a lively sideline as an album cover artist, mostly in the 1950’s.

Here’s a sampler of Shahn’s album cover art:

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Saturday Odds & Sods: The Best Of Adrastos 2016

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Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

It’s time to take a look back at 2016. It may be an exercise in egotism but it’s mine, all mine. Last year’s best of Adrastos was a top thirty list, this year we have a plus-one. Sounds like a dinner party, doesn’t it? It’s time to belly-up to the buffet…

2016 was a good year for satire, but a terrible year for the country. And I was a better pundit than prognosticator. So it goes.

Here’s this year’s crop of posts in chronological order:

January 7, 2016: The Fog Of History: The Wallace Factor.

January 16, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: Black Tie White Noise.

February 27, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: All The Things You Are.

March 28, 2016: The Fog Of Historical Pictures: Grace Coolidge’s Pet Raccoon.

March 28, 2016: Charles Foster Kane Meets Donald Trump.

March 31, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: John Milkovich (Not Malkovich)

April, 18, 2016: Oy, Such A Mentor

April 21, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: Jeff Weaver.

May 7, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: They All Laughed.

May 18, 2016: Speaking In Dudebromides.

June 3, 2016: Trump Violates The First Rule Of Litigation.

June 13, 2016: Still Comfortably Numb Revisited.

June 29, 2016: A Fatal Lack Of Cunning & Guile.

July 11, 2016: Jill Stein: Crunchy Granola Machiavelli.

July 29, 2016 DNC Wrap Up Finale: She Won’t Stay Throwed.

August 18, 2016: Heckuva Job, Advocate.

August 18, 2016: The Insult Comedian’s Not For Turning.

August 22, 2016: Every Flim-Flam Man Needs A Sucker.

September 8, 2016: Is Trump Really Running For Grand Nagus?

September 17, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: Birdland.

October 4, 2016: Instant Analysis: The Debate As Altman Film.

October 6, 2016: Absence Of Malice.

October 10, 2016: Breitbart-Bannon-Bossie Man.  Bloggers Note: This post was included by Batocchio in the Jon Swift Roundup 2016. 

October 17, 2016: Moe’s Wife Blames Larry.

November 2, 2016: Out Of Control FBI Playing By The Clinton Rules.

November 10, 2016: Sitting Political Shiva.

November 11, 2016: Confessions Of A Keyboard Maquis.

November 16, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: New Orleans Baby Cakes.

November 17, 2016: The Most Dangerous Game. 

December 1, 2016: Louisiana Politics: A Terrible Candidate For Terrible Times.

December 12, 2016: Hayes/Smith: Only Victims.

That’s it for 2016. It’s been a tough year but we’re still alive and kicking. I’ll give the last word to two guys we’re really going to miss:

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Saturday Odds & Sods: All About Christmas Eve

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It’s that time of the year again and I have a mild case of blogging burn-out. It’s time to recharge my batteries by doing a picture essay Odds & Sods featuring some Victorian holiday oddities found online by Dr. A. Hence the image above, which could be retitled Merry Frogmas.

Next up is a particularly disturbing image featuring walking ersters. Why they’re walking is beyond me:

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It’s time for more frogmas greetings:

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Since I’m punning on the title of the great 1950 film All About Eve, I’ll give its distinguished cast the last word:

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The Fog Of Historical Pictures: Santa Goes To War

I’ve always been interested in World War II posters. Propaganda had style in those days and never wore a red baseball cap. It did, on occasion, wear a Santa hat.

Santa was often put to work selling war bonds, not to be confused with the right-wing actor and blowhard Ward Bond:

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Our British allies put Father Christmas to work for the cause as well:

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Next up is an oddball image that might amuse the Insult Comedian and his pal Putin. I’m not sure what Tovarich Stalin thought of the Russian St. Nick but at least he had a red star:

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Finally, an example of how the Mad Men of the day enlisted Santa’s help in the crucial effort to sell socks during war-time. I’m not sure which of the enemy leaders is saying “sock it to me.”

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Boogie Woogie Santa Claus was first recorded in 1947 but it fits the spirit of the post so we’ll give Brian Setzer the last word:

Saturday Odds & Sods: End Of The World

 

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Sideshow banner by Snap Wyatt.

We’re riding a weather roller coaster here in New Orleans. I hate roller coasters and prefer consistent weather as long as it’s vaguely wintery be it Johnny or Edgar…

I’m still fighting a cold so this will be on the short side. I know, famous last words and all that shit.

I’m not feeling apocalyptic but many people are. I cannot blame them. It’s hard to be a glass half-full person right now and this week’s theme song reflects that. End Of The World was written by John Wetton and Geoff Downes for Asia’s 2010 Omega album. The melody is a bit too gorgeous for a truly apocalyptic feel but that’s what they do.

While we’re ending the world, we might as well give a certain REM tune with a very long title a spin:

If you’re feeling apocalyptic now, you might want to be patient. It’s bound to take longer than expected. Everything does.

Don’t worry. We’ll still be waiting after the break. The world isn’t going anywhere for the time being.

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: Liar

The Jesus Lizard’s kind of noise rock is not my cup of tea. I do, however, dig this cover by painter Malcolm Bucknall. The painting is called Allegory of Death and the album is Liar.

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All I have to say about the music is leapin’ Jesus Lizards. I’m not sure what that means but it has a nice Little Orphan Annie feel to it. It beats the hell out of listening to Jesus Jones.

Saturday Odds & Sods: They Can’t Take That Away From Me

Allegory by Ben Shahn.

Allegory by Ben Shahn, 1948.

I’m not feeling funny ha-ha this week so I’m keeping this short. And I mean it this time. I wish I could say we were like Buster Keaton in Steamboat Bill Jr. where the building collapses around him but he emerges unscathed:

Given the names that are being floated for Cyclone Donald’s future misadministration, we’re in for a bumpy ride. PBJ? Newt? Rudy? Reince? Bannon? Palin? Oy just oy.

This week’s theme song is They Can’t Take That Away From Me. It’s one of George Gershwin’s loveliest melodies and one of Ira Gershwin’s most poignant lyrics. I selected it an antidote to the electoral college victory of the vulgar and crass Insult Comedian. In short, I’m trying to ward off the crass with some class.

It’s a foolproof Gershwin song, so there are many fabulous versions to choose from. I limited myself to three. We begin with (who else?) Frank Sinatra. The song became even more associated with Sinatra after Bill Zehme’s wonderful 1997 book, The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin’. Frank recorded several variations but my favorite is this torchy rendition, arranged by Nelson Riddle:

The Gershwins wrote They Can’t Take Away From Me for the 1937 Astaire-Rogers musical Shall We Dance. I prefer the way it was done as the closing number in Fred and Ginger’s last film together, The Barkleys of Broadway:

Who has more class than Sinatra or Astaire? Our next artists certainly equal those two gents in savoir faire. There’s a segment later about Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. I’ll let their singing speak for them right now.

Speaking of class, ain’t nothing classier than the band on Ella and Louis: Oscar Peterson, Buddy Rich, Ray Brown, and Herb Ellis. I’ll have more on the 60th anniversary of that classic LP directly.

Time to get arty but hopefully not farty:

Ben Shahn’s Allegory: Ben Shahn was a lefty artist/activist who lived a long and interesting life. I originally thought I’d use one of his WPA murals as the featured image, but Allegory is a more interesting painting:

Allegory represents an immense, red, lionlike chimera, shown in profile, its great head turned toward the viewer and surrounded with flames. The beast is lean and hungry — Shahn is careful to delineate his ribs, so we know that he (his gender is also clearly indicated) is hungry, and he seems like an imaginary lion in a Chinese opera, or like a strange composite animal in a painting by the great Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo.

Although it is smaller than a large dog in the painting itself, we realize just how huge the animal is in illusion when we see a pile of tiny dead bodies with white limbs and faces placed below its haunches, or a miniature forest in front of it.

Shahn himself tells us that the beast — he never quite identifies its species — is the embodiment of fire and that the entire painting emerged from a series of illustrations he made for the August 1948 issue of Harper’s magazine. The illustrations were commissioned to accompany an article on what was called “The Hickman Fire” written by the distinguished journalist John Bartlow Martin.

It’s a relief to discuss an allegorical beast instead of the real one stalking the country. It’s time for a few words about two national treasures: Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

The 60th Anniversary of Ella and Louis: I’m referring to the first of three albums the dynamic jazz duo recorded for Verve Records. We all know something about the artists but the man who brought them together, Norman Granz, is less well known to the general public. Tom Maxwell has the details at Longreads.com.

Saturday Classic: I had thought that I’d previously posted Ella and Louis in this segment. It turns out I was wrong. That’s been happening a bit too much for my taste of late. I would have re-posted it in any event. This album is the best anti-crass serum imaginable.

That’s if for this week. I should be back in full-blown horrid punster mode next time around. I’ll also revive my regular Album Cover and Pulp Fiction features after a one-week hiatus.

It’s time to get back to what passes for normal here at First Draft. We need to be able to laugh through the horror as well as raging against the dying of the light. It’s what FDR would want us to do, after all.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Just My Imagination

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The Legend of John Brown #19 by Jacob Lawrence.

I decided not to whinge about the heat to open the post this week. Why? We’ve had our first genuine cool front of the fall, that’s why. I was tempted to dance in the streets but that would be undignified even for me. I only dance in the streets during Carnival.

This week’s theme song was inspired by last week’s successful fundraiser. Posting the Temptations show and Oscar begging made me want to hear some more sweet, sweet soul music. Ain’t nothing sweeter than hearing Eddie Kendricks croon Just My Imagination (Running Away From Me.) It was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong who specialized in funkier tunes than this lilting soul waltz. They nailed it: Just My Imagination went to number-1 on both the pop and R&B charts.

We begin with the Temptations’ glorious studio version produced by Norman Whitfield:

The Rolling Stones covered Just My Imagination on the 1978 album Some Girls. I’m terribly fond of the live version they did during their 1981 tour, which I saw at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Here’s a backstage view of the Stones live in the swing state of Arizona:

You may have noticed that I didn’t use the entire title in the post header. There’s method to my madness for a change. There’s also a swell Cranberries song of the same title. Let’s give it a spin:

That video gave me butterflies: Irish butterflies. It’s time to regress from a butterfly to a larval caterpillar. Trust me, I know that’s impossible but I wrote myself into a corner. Guess it’s time to give y’all a break by going to the break.

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: Stanley Mouse

Stanley Mouse was one of the Fillmore artists grinding out what they thought was ephemera in the 1960’s. Mouse was born Stanley George Miller and is still alive and making art today at the age of 75. In partnership with Alton Kelley, he created some of the best early Grateful Dead LP covers.

I’m going to focus on his solo work. The album covers were mostly done for Bay Area artists and the lettering is as important as the imagery. It’s time for a Stanley Mouse sampler.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Feels Like Rain

Rain, Steam, and Speed by JMW Turner, 1844.

Rain, Steam, and Speed by JMW Turner, 1844.

Tis the season for New Orleanians to freak out over the tropics. Social media is *great* after a disaster but it’s a disaster as storms line up in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s what happens at the end of every August, y’all. It’s too early to freak out about storms that may or may not pay us a visit. Here’s what I said on the Tweeter Tube the other day:

It doesn’t matter if a storm is named if it has your name on it. Look at what happened in the Baton Rouge area: that was an unnamed storm and it wreaked havoc.  My advice to people who are new to the hurricane zone is to prepare but take a deep breath and relax. Freaking out never helped anybody even if Freak Out is the title of the first Mothers album:

End of obligatory Zappa reference.

It’s been a hyper-allergenic week here in New Orleans. I’m not sure if the wind has blown allergens our way from the Gret Stet flood, but I’ve felt like warmed over shit all week. Sinus headaches are no fun, y’all; neither is being dizzy because your sini are clogged. I prefer them to be as dry as the Sinai. I have a tell-tale allergy related red spot on my right cheekbone. It’s usually dime-sized, this week it’s like a Kennedy half-dollar. Instead of day drinking like a proper New Orleanian, I’ve been day benadryling. Enough whining, wheezing, and whinging, Let’s move on to our theme song.

It’s been raining a lot so this week’s theme song is one of John Hiatt’s finest, Feels Like Rain. It’s so well crafted and constructed that it’s been covered by a wide variety of singers. I also like it because of the Lake Pontchartrain reference.

We have three versions for your enjoyment. First, the songwriter’s original version from his classic Slow Turning album. Buddy Guy loves the song so much that he made it the title track of a 1993 album. Finally, Aaron Neville crooning Feels Like Rain with the Neville Brothers to a crowd that included Dr. A and little old me.

Aaron sure can sing, y’all. There’s more to come after the break. I’m not sure if it qualifies as a full English breakfast but it’s all I got.

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: Francis X. Pavy

Francis X. Pavy is an artist from Lafayette, Louisiana. He’s done some fine album covers for Gret Stet musicians. Here’s a sampler of his work:

From 1988, Michael Doucet & Cajun Brew by Michael Doucet:

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From 1990, Women in the Room by Zachary Richard:

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From 2015, Two Universes by Feufollet:

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Poison Love

Texas Bluebonnets by Porfirio Salinas.

Texas Bluebonnets by Porfirio Salinas.

It’s been a wet week in the Gret Stet of Louisiana complete with flooding in outlying parishes and Red Stick. A low front has stuck around for days, keeping it damp, rainy, and cloudy. I like the cloudy bit: it keeps the temperatures down. It’s bloody hard to wake up when it looks like midnight outside. The cats are constantly confused by that but they’re usually confused about something. Just give them a box and they’re happy.

The big story in New Orleans is the City Planning Commission’s vote on short-term rentals. It was a partial albeit temporary victory for those of us opposed to unregulated STRs. Hmm, that sounds like STDs; an apt analogy as they’re nearly as contagious. The CPC voted to ban full-home STRs but opened the floodgates for other forms. The City Council has the power to override the vote. Nothing is ever permanent in New Orleans politics. It’s one reason I’m less involved than I used to be. When one pounds one’s head against the wall long enough, you draw blood. I’m tired of bleeding, y’all.

This week’s theme song is a country classic. The choice is partially inspired by the Porfirio Salinas painting that’s our featured image this time around. Btw, Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson collected their fellow Texan Salinas’ work. And the first version I ever heard of Poison Love was by uber-Texas artist Doug Sahm. It’s a venerable song, but let’s start with Doug’s 1973 version followed by bluegrass great Bill Monroe.

Time to slip in a live rendition by Allison Krauss and Dobro deity Jerry Douglas:

I’ll have more poison pen love after the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Wish You Were Here

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Street In The Twilight by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

First, a prologue. There’s been another horrendous terrorist attack in a beautiful place in a country that’s our oldest friend: Nice, France. The French Counsel General, Grégor Trumel, made the following remarks at a Bastille Day event at the New Orleans Museum of Art:

“I think more than ever we should stick to our values together — French people, American people,” he said, citing the national motto of France to hearty applause. “The words ‘liberté, égalité and fraternité’ are stronger than ever.”

Trumel led the crowd in a moment of silence and later, a rendition of the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise.” But before that, Trumel thanked supporters for attending the reception and reminded gatherers that France is not just a country, but an ideal.

“Perhaps for 5 seconds, 3 seconds, we thought that we could cancel the reception, but no — never,” he said. “Never. Never. It would be a victory for our enemies, and we should not compromise with violence, terror and horror.”

In the spirit advocated by Monsieur Trumel, let’s resume our regularly scheduled programming:

It’s been a less stressful week here in New Orleans. The weather remains blisteringly hot but we’ve had the odd bit of rain to cool things down and the tropics are quiet for the moment. Plus, the news from Red Stick may not be good but it’s not as bad as last week at this time. It will simply have to do.

I watched Hillary-Berniepalooza this week. It went fairly well. Bernie was scowling at the beginning but, eventually, warmed to his task. It had the hardcore Dudebros squealing like stuck pigs, which warmed the cockles of my heart whatever the hell those are. Watching it, I realized that if I were casting an actor to play Bernie it wouldn’t be Larry David (who can only play himself) but Walter Matthau circa Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys:

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You’ll have to see the movie or play to get the running “enter” gag. Y’all should see it anyway. Have I mentioned lately how much I love Neil Simon? The man knew his way around a joke. His work has become somewhat overlooked. It’s a crime, I tell ya.

Let’s move on to this week’s theme song. I’ve picked two repeat artists, Nick Lowe and Pink Floyd, with different songs with the same title. Nick’s song features the great Paul Carrack on second lead vocal and is pretty darn chipper. The more famous Pink Floyd tune is wistful but awesome nonetheless.

Now that I’ve alternatively pepped you up and gloomed you out, it’s time for the abominable showman to take a bow and go to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: The Winding Stream

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The Hailstorm by Thomas Hart Benton, 1940.

It’s been a scorching hot and depressing week in New Orleans. The Alton Sterling case is too close to home for comfort. The reaction from some white Gret Steters has been dispiriting while not altogether surprising. Apparently, it’s okay for a white dude to pack heat but not a black dude. The distinction eludes me. Additionally, the events in St. Paul and Dallas have cast a bloody pall over the week. I don’t usually let the news affect my mood but these events have. If you missed it, please read Doc’s post No Lives Matter. It sums my mood up quite well.

The good news is that I wrote most of this post before the appalling police shootings in Dallas. The combination of that city’s name and the word sniper has some bad juju for many of us. The post was already rather somber, so let’s get back to what passes for normality at First Draft.

The heat has been oppressive even by NOLA standards. When you step outside, it hits you in the face like a damp washcloth. It’s August level heat and humidity, and my body hasn’t even adjusted to the high 80’s let alone the mid-to-upper 90’s. There’s a huge difference between the two. When it’s 95 here the “feels like temperature” goes as high as 105-110, which is like Phoenix, AZ only wet, wet, wet. Dare I make a Wet Willie joke? Nah, I’ll skip it since it could get obscene and I’m not in the mood.

We spent some time outside last Saturday at a one-year-old’s birthday party. I found a shady, comparatively breezy spot, and in the feline manner staked it out as my own. My friends pointed out that cats seek out sunbeams but I hissed and declined to move.  The birthday girl is named Luna and one of the Spanksters made a piñata that looked like the image from Georges Melies’ landmark 1902 flick A Trip To The Moon:

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Piñata by Lara Desmond.

It was decided that it was too beautiful to be smashed to smithereens, so it’s now hanging on a wall at Luna’s folks crib. As Mad Men’s Weird Glenn would put it, Nice digs. Have I mentioned lately how much I miss Mad Men?

This week’s theme song is something of a bucolic antidote to my urban angst. It was written by AP Carter and has been recorded by oodles of artists. It’s also the title of a recent documentary about the Carter Family but more about that anon. The first version is by the original Carter Family: AP, Sara, and Maybelle. The second version features Carlene Carter, June Carter Cash, and a grand total of four generations of Carters:

Old-time Country music can be so comforting, in between tales of drunken depravity; of course, the Carters weren’t in to that sort of thing. They were traditionalists in the best sense of the word. On that note, it’s traditional for us to go to the break at this point.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: The Day I Get Home

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Economy of Grace by Kehinde Wiley.

It was a long ass road trip, y’all. Our first destination was Richmond, VA to attend our nephew Zachary’s high school graduation. He goes to a small public school for super smart-n-independent kids. There were 42 graduates, which meant that each of them got to say something. They even introduced the entire staff including the custodian. It’s a racially mixed class so, naturally, the black parents were loud and raucous whereas most of the white folks were polite and quiet. Boring. I tried to make up for that by whooping it up but I could not come close to the African-American mother who shouted out “Don’t you cry, baby girl” when her daughter approached the podium. It did not work. Profuse tears were shed.

Another highlight of the trip was seeing the Kehinde Wiley exhibit at the Virginia Museum of the Fine Arts. It’s entitled A New Republic and offers a fresh take on the masters by a talented black artist. If it comes to or near your town, check it out. Don’t tell them I sent you, they won’t give a shit.

We attended the Wiley exhibit the day after a horrible storm front blew through Richmond causing 150K power outages and general havoc. I’m not sure if General Havoc sided with the Union or the Confederacy. We had to drive through it but, much like the Rain Man, Dr. A is an excellent driver. Things were so hinky in Richmond that the museum alarm went off as I was looking at the VMFA’s fine collection of George Bellows’ work. It started bellowing so we exited, it had nothing to do with brexit. I’ll probably write something about that for Monday. I’m too pooped to mock Cameron, Corbyn, Farage, and Bozza right now. Note: the Johnson blond straw ‘do is real as you can see from this picture with his father:

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Photo via the Guardian.

Let’s move on to this week’s theme song. Thursday was actually the day I got home but what’s a bit of artistic license among friends? Artistic licentiousness is an altogether different matter. A musical highlight of the road trip was blasting a bootleg of a 1993 Squeeze show as we barreled through Birmingham, which according to Randy Newman is the greatest city in Alabam. Me, I prefer Mobile or the town in Alabama where the tusks are looser. The rim shot belong to Groucho Marx, not me, y’all.

Where the hell was I? Oh yeah, this week’s theme song. It’s The Day I Get Home by Difford and Tilbrook from the Play album. We have two versions for your listening pleasure; including one from the phenomenal 1993 Some Fantastic Place tour with Pete Thomas on drums and Paul Carrack on keys and vox:

After the break, I’ll post a few more trip tales as well as another homey/homely tune. Gotta stretch my legs, it was a long road trip.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Rave On

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Melic Meeting (Spread) by Robert Rauschenberg, 1979. Via NOMA.org

It’s been a long, hot week in New Orleans. My head cold lingered but finally faded. The termite swarms have abated but it’s hotter than hell. And the heat leads to short tempers; when the hotheads have guns, it brings a murder wave. I hate it but it happens every Memorial Day weekend. Eventually, things will calm down but despite all the talk, murder remains the hardest crime to deter. It’s often spontaneous and ego-driven. I hate to sound fatalistic but as long as the wider culture resorts to violence to solve its problems this will keep happening. So it goes.

How was that for a cheerful way to start your Saturday morning? Let’s talk about the Robert Rauschenberg artwork that’s this week’s featured image. It’s part of the permanent collection at the New Orleans Museum of Art in gorgeous City Park. I always spend more than a few minutes studying it and pick up on something new every time.  I hope you’re feeling better but in case you’re not, here’s a pre-theme song tune to cheer you up:

Thanks Carlos and Greg Rolie. The world may have stopped tilting on its Abraxas after that rousing song.

Now that I’ve thoroughly confused you, it’s time rave about this week’s theme song. Rave On was recorded by rock pioneer Buddy Holly in 1958 and is one of the few hits he didn’t write himself. Bad me. I decided to use it-sans explanation point-because of the second version below.

While we’re on the subject of raving, here’s some Van Morrison:

Now that we’ve raved on about poets and crazy feelings, I’ll have some Words of Love for you after the break.

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Morley Safer, R.I.P.

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Morley Safer, 1931-2016.

I grew up watching Morley Safer. I never met the man but I’ve always called him by his first name. In short,  he was my favorite 60 Minute Man. I loved his raspy/silky voice, perfect diction, and elegant prose. I missed seeing him during my boycott of his program because of the whole Lara Logan mishigas. To their credit, Morley and Steve Kroft tried to get her lying ass fired, but they lost the battle. It was typical of Morley who was a street fighter despite his gentlemanly demeanor. Morley Safer died earlier today at the age of 84 after being retired for what seemed like 60 seconds.

I just read Doug Brinkley’s fine biography of Walter Cronkite. Morley played a supporting role in the book from the mid-Sixties on as one of Cronkite’s friends and proteges at CBS News. Cronkite defended Morley’s reporting from Vietnam and instead of getting fired for-in LBJ’s memorable words-“shitting on the American flag,” Morley became a star after joining 60 Minutes. I’m going to play some of Morley’s greatest hits in tribute to a great reporter and even better writer. With Morley it was all in the words.

We begin with Morley discussing a prank he played on his frenemy Mike Wallace:

Some of Morley’s best stories were set in the art world. Here are two of my favorites. The first is an ode to the great Edward Hopper, and the second story is a profile of the world-class forger David Stein:

One more clip. Here’s an interview with Morley about his legendary Cam Ne story, which showed American soldiers torching huts in a Vietnamese village:

I’m glad that I saw the 60 Minutes tribute to Morley last Sunday night. I suspended my boycott just for him amd I’m glad I did. He will be missed.