My latest 13th Ward Rambler column for Bayou Brief is a review of Robert Mann‘s swell new book, Bayous and Backrooms: My Life In Louisiana Politics. Here’s the whole damn tagline: “Is Bob Mann the Zelig or Forrest Gump of Louisiana politics? Find out in Peter Athas’ review of Mann’s memoirs.” Since I made the Forrest Gump reference, the last word goes to Jackson Browne with a song that was in the movie. Continue reading Bayou Brief: Backrooms and Bayous
The Lost Cause has long been a topic of interest here at First Draft. Shapiro wrote about it last Friday and it was a staple of my posting when the New Orleans monuments controversy was at its peak.
It’s back on my mind after watching CJ Hunt’s fine POV documentary, The Neutral Ground; so much so that I created a category for Lost Cause posts in case y’all feel like reading them. I had fun doing so last night. I’m not sure if that’s pathetic or egomaniacal. You decide.
CJ Hunt works for The Daily Show as a field producer. I haven’t seen much of his previous work but here’s his LinkedIn blurb:
Comedian and filmmaker living in NYC. He’s a field producer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He has been a staff writer for A&E’s Black and White, and a field producer for BET’s The Rundown with Robin Thede. CJ is a regular host of The Moth. Co-creator of Sunken City, an original series hailed as ‘the New Portlandia’ & featured on Indiewire’s list of web series that “could be the next ‘Broad City’.” CJ has rebranded the confederate flag for Jezebel, condensed the saga of school desegregation into a 3-page children’s book for FunnyOrDie, and created videos featured on Paper Magazine, Upworthy, Bustle, and Racialicious.
Hunt lived in New Orleans for a time, which inspired The Neutral Ground. His Daily Show background is evident in his approach to this material. There was a lot of absurdity surrounding the monuments controversy and a director who has done stand-up comedy is the right man for the job. He also does a good job as the film’s protagonist/presenter.
Watching The Neutral Ground reminded me of a funny story about the monuments flap. A friend, who has since died, was a howling liberal on every subject except the monuments. He belonged to one of those old New Orleans families who had been here since Bienville, the founder of the city. He got into a fight on my Facebook feed about monuments removal. The anti-monuments person called my late friend an “Uptown Garden District snob.”
His reply was classic, “Wrong. I’m a downtown Marigny snob.”
In either event, he was proud of being a snob.
Back to CJ Hunt’s documentary. Since I’m a New Orleanian, I’m going to focus on those aspects of the film although Hunt discusses monuments issues in the Commonwealth of Virginia. His side trip to Charlottesville during the infamous 2017 Lost Causer riot feels like a horror movie.
Hunt gets most things right about New Orleans, which is rare for a short-term resident. It shows that he did his homework. He even survived interviewing bombastic former mayor Mitch Landrieu and bombastic activist Malcolm Suber. I’m acquainted with Malcolm. He’s not one of my favorite people but he’s right on the monuments.
One of my favorite moments was when Hunt did the Civil War recreationist thing. He hung out with some hardcore Lost Causers one of whom is called Butterbean. I am not making this up. Initially, the bearded and bombastic Butterbean was impressed with Hunt’s open-mindedness, but his idea of reciprocity was going to Jazz Fest. Hunt didn’t tell Butterbean that his namesake isn’t served at the Fairgrounds.
I like Hunt’s serio-comic approach to the subject matter. It strikes the right tone. He also nailed the history of the white supremacy monuments in New Orleans and elsewhere.
My latest column for the Bayou Brief is online. It’s full of spiteful goodness. Here’s the tagline: “13th Ward Ramblings about the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board, the Second District Congressional race, and the Shame of LSU.” Did someone … Continue reading Bayou Brief: March Musings, Not Madness
The weather has been god awful in New Orleans most of the week. Cold, cloudy, and gloomy. It’s enough to make me mutter “Bah Humbug” under my breath as I write this. I also envy Claire Trevor her fur coat and ability to lie close to the space heater without catching on fire. One of our former cats, Window, singed her whiskers on an old-fashioned wall space heater in our old place on Pine Street. So it goes.
I’ve been listening to The Band a lot the last few weeks. Just call me a throwback music buff. Robbie Robertson wrote this week’s theme song for The Band’s 1975 album Northern Lights Southern Cross. The album remains overlooked and underrated; I’ve always liked it, especially this song. It’s a perfect album opener and a fine Odds & Sods theme song.
We have two versions of Forbidden Fruit for your listening pleasure: the studio original and the Band live in 1976.
Now that we’ve tasted the forbidden fruit and been banned from the garden of eden, we might as well jump to the break.
My latest column for the Bayou Brief is online. It’s my reflections on the upcoming election with a local emphasis. Here’s the tagline: 13th Ward ramblings on the 2020 election, Orleans Parish style. Sidney Torres is NOT on the ballot; he just acts like he is. In other news, Hurricane Zeta strengthened in the wee small hours of the morning. After half-a-dozen games of hurricane dodge ball it appears headed our way. I’m not sure how this will impact my blogging, but I expect to lose power as this is a wind event. Anything I’m able to schedule this morning … Continue reading Too Much Is On The Ballot/Hurricane Zeta Update
My Bayou Brief column is usually published every other Wednesday. That changed this week because of Hurricane Sally. I was concerned that many of our readers would lose power and internet connection. Instead, Sally decided to visit Alabama and Florida. … Continue reading Bayou Brief: Stuck On Stupid
The weather in New Orleans has been almost as crazy as President* Pennywise this week. We’ve had record heat as well as torrential rain that caused some street flooding. There were thunderclaps so loud that they interrupted PD’s beauty rest. Now that’s loud.
It’s also lizard season in the Crescent City. They’re everywhere. I have to look down as I descend our front stairs to avoid stomping on them. The cat is obsessed with capturing and tormenting lizards whenever they get inside. I’ve rescued several already this year. Leapin’ Lizards.
A new Jayhawks album dropped last week. XOXO is more of a collaborative effort than past records. It features songs and lead vocals by band members who are not named Gary Louris. Tim O’Reagan and Karen Grotberg’s lead vocals are a welcome addition to the Jayhawks’ musical arsenal.
This week’s theme song, This Forgotten Town, is the opening track on the new album. It was written by Gary Louris, Marc Perlman, and Tim O’Reagan. We have two versions for your listening pleasure:
This is not Gary’s first town tune. There’s also this unforgettable song from Smile.
My latest column for the Bayou Brief is online. The tagline is succinct and snappy: “The 13th Ward Rambler spins Fortuna’s Wheel, landing on Ignatius Reilly, Phase Two in NOLA, Slave Owner Statues, and the Nykvolution.” The Nykvolution refers to … Continue reading Bayou Brief: American Roulette
My latest column for the Bayou Brief is online. This time I use a Robert Johnson song title because I do more than my share of rambling. Anyone surprised? I thought not. The tagline is straightforward: “Peter Athas rambles on about protests, the pandemic, and Picvocate columnist Dan Fagan.” The column itself is NOT straightforward. I spend some time distinguishing Fagan with an A from Fagin with an I and Fagen with an E. The last two being the Dickens character and Steely Dan frontman. I suspect Fagan with an A might think of me as the nightfly in the … Continue reading Bayou Brief: Rambling On My Mind
Perhaps I should have used Zachary Richard’s Snake Bite Love as our theme song while we were Festing In Place but I couldn’t let go of using Can’t Let Golast week. Besides, it’s never too late for a Zack Attack.
We have two versions of Snake Bite Love for your listening pleasure: the 1992 studio original and a 2009 live version from a Jazz Fest set I attended.
One more snake song before we slither to the break:
My latest column for the Bayou Brief is online. There are a few more jokes in this pandemic edition, Hell Of A Spell. There’s also a helluva tagline if I do say so myself and I do: Peter Athas on … Continue reading Bayou Brief: Hell Of A Spell
I’m trying something different this month. I’m pairing the artwork of Edward Hopper with the music of Richard Thompson. Each Saturday in April will feature a different EH image and RT tune. I think they work well together.
My oak pollen allergy has been bonkers this year. We’ve hit a prolonged dry patch: no rain since some time in February. We tend towards extremes in New Orleans. It either rains too much or not at all. The happy medium is unknown in our forecasting annals.
The worst thing about this allergy season during the pandemic is that it’s hard for me to go outside at all. The last time I took a walk, I had a pollen related sneezing jag, which led some fellow strollers to glare at me as if I were Typhoid Mary. So it goes.
This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson for the Pour Down Like Silver album. I have a soft spot for that album: it was the first RT album I ever purchased but not until 10 years after its release. I was a late RT bloomer.
We have three versions of For Shame Of Doing Wrong for your listening pleasure: the Richard and Linda studio original, a poppy version produced by Gerry Rafferty, and a cover by RT’s former Fairport band mate, Sandy Denny.
Is it shameful that I like the poppy version from Rafferty’s Folly? Hell, I like the song below too. It was inescapable in 1978:
As I hang my head for shame of doing wrong, let’s jump to the break in a shameless manner.
It was a rough Carnival season. That’s why it’s the subject of my latest column for the Bayou Brief. It has fewer jokes than usual but it was a deadly serious season. Let’s close on a lighter with the original … Continue reading Bayou Brief: The Cursed Carnival?