Fawlty Tory

To Quote: “Boris Johnson’s buffoonery contrasts with the courageous leadership of President Zelensky. To compare a referendum to women and children fleeing Putin’s bombs is an insult to every Ukrainian. He is no Churchill: he is Basil Fawlty.”
Some thoughts on Boris Johnson, Basil Fawlty, and clowns running governments. Continue reading Fawlty Tory

A Few From Afar

One of the best things about travel is you get a different perspective on what’s going on in the world.

You also get a different perspective on how the rest of the world sees Americans.

Keep in mind I’m on board a luxury cruise ship. This isn’t your seven day six night Carnival “fun ship” where it’s cheap to get on but expensive once on board. This is the kind of cruise for an older, wealthier clientele so of course it tends to skew conservative.

And then there is the flaming liberal, me, unafraid to voice an opinion and prepared by six years of vicious mudslinging to battle to the death on every issue.

Except I’m not. I am having insightful conversations with people of all political stripes that end more often with toasts to each others health than knives in each other’s backs.

Example: A self described “very right wing” British gentleman I met and had drinks with, (something becoming an oddity in itself in the US) was heard by me to utter “well at least you got rid of Trump” when the subject of politics came up.

That brought me up, as they say in the UK. “You didn’t like him?” I inquired. That lead to, gasp, a civilized discussion of politics and especially what it means to be conservative. He didn’t even fully approve of Boris Johnson but of course the British system means that while you may support and vote for the Conservative candidate in your constituency, sometimes one must have to gulp twice, smile through gritted teeth, and accept the leader of the party when he takes the office of Prime Minister.

Stiff upper lip and all that, don’t you know.

Meanwhile he was puzzled at how America could have fallen for, his words, “a carnival showman with no clear political agenda other than to stay in power”. I mentioned that not once but twice Trump didn’t win the election, but rather he won the Electoral College, another concept my friend from the UK was totally stumped by. I wanted to go into a history of that most peculiar institution, but more drinks arrived just then saving my breath and I’m pretty certain his sanity. We toasted each other, fist pumped, and moved on to other subjects.

Another example: A Canadian couple from British Columbia and I had a chat that swerved into the politics of Canada-US relations. Now these folks were more liberal than my UK friend, voted for Trudeau, and were totally aghast at what happened during the Trump years and in particular the way Trump had treated Trudeau. “He acted like our Prime Minister was a political novice who didn’t understand the complexities of foreign relations when in fact the opposite was true”. I pointed out that that was Trump’s modus operandi, to cleave his faults onto the other guy while proclaiming himself the “expert”.

“Well that’s certainly not the way to deal with others” they proclaimed, insinuating that type of behavior was more playground than political. Our conversation ended with smiles and fist bumps.

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What Country Friends Is This?

This sceptered isle

Shortages of, well, everything. Fuel, groceries, hope. The party in charge of the government shucking and jiving at it’s party conference, on the one hand singing karaoke and on the other blaming everyone but themselves for the country’s problems. Citizens incensed that even after election year promises not to raise taxes, taxes will indeed be raised. All as inflation rages, a pandemic endures, and no end is in sight for the misery.

Some third world s***hole nation?

No, this is England.

More specifically this is Boris Johnson’s England. The England of Brexit, the England of “You can’t tell us what to do Brussels”, the England that reveres it’s monarchy as the monarchy becomes more soap-operay and less relevant every day. This is the England that said “21st Century? Nah, thanks mate, we’ll stick with the 20th. Course it’d be better if it were the 19th”.

Rue Britannia.

A recent article in the no longer failing New York Times points out the disconnect the English public is experiencing with their Tory government. While the Tories spent a weekend partying at the party conference in ever so manly Manchester, the public was attempting to find food at the grocery stores and fuel for their cars. A shortage of lorry drivers (that’s truck drivers for all us US of A types) has the supply chain for many items ground to a halt. Why the shortage? Lots of them were older men who took the pandemic as a sign to retire. Meanwhile newer younger drivers were prevented from getting the proper licenses because the licensing offices were closed because of the pandemic.

Ah you say, so it’s all about COVID. Well, it’s a contributing factor, but a bigger reason is that 20% of the nearly 100,000 drivers needed to keep the English economy moving left the country when it voted to leave the European Union. Why? Because they were the so-called “wave of immigrants” who were keeping the English working man from having a good paying job according to the Brexiters. Hence those immigrant workers took the attitude that it was better to jump than be pushed and went over to the Continent for a surer paycheck, oops I meant pay cheque, and the better employment standards they were used to under the EU, standards that the English were proudly declaring they were going to do away with.

All products ultimately make it to your shelves via a motor vehicle. It’s the basic number one fact of the consumer society. And if there is no one to drive the motor vehicle, despite the best intentions of Waymo or their competitors, the shelves don’t get stocked. Same for the gasoline that your dino-mobile runs on. It doesn’t get to the pump without someone bringing it there first.

Thus England has lines down the block for petrol (gas) stations. Headlines in newspapers scream about “lines lasting days”.  That fabled English stiff upper lip gets more and more difficult to maintain when sitting in a queue just to get some petrol. Keep in mind also that just as petrol stations can’t get the black gold, Texas tea, neither can the public buses that ferry so much of the population. And when a modern country’s population can’t move about freely the economy of said nation starts to grind to a halt.

And what does the Prime Minister, the head of government, say to all of this?

Continue reading “What Country Friends Is This?”

Saturday Odds & Sods: Sail On, Sailor

Fishing Boats by Georges Braque.

My birthday was last Thursday. We celebrated by going to Brigtsen’s a great restaurant in Uptown New Orleans. It was my first time eating out with a mask mandate in place and only my third time in an eatery since the lockdown. It was kind of weird but so am I.

As a result of the weeklong festivities, this edition of Saturday Odds & Sods will be somewhat truncated. Pity that I’m not a show biz kid so I can’t make this pun: “born in a truncated.” I guess I just did…

Cubist artist Georges Braque may not be synonymous with summer, but the Beach Boys are. This week’s theme song was written by Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks and two dudes I’ve never heard of for the Beach Boys 1973 album Holland. It’s nautical yet somehow still naughty or some such shit.

We have three versions of Sail On, Sailor for your listening pleasure: the studio original, Ray Charles with the Beach Boys live, and Los Lobos from their new album of California songs, Native Sons.

Now that we’ve sailed the ocean blue but not in 1492, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Swinging On A Star

Tchoupitoulas Christmas House photograph by Dr A.

We’ve been on a weather yo-yo all month. There have been several days where the drop in temperature was so drastic that the high was at midnight. It’s not Wisconsin cold but it’s damp and humid, which exaggerates how chilly it feels. It’s fucking cold, y’all.

New Orleans is an old city with an aging infrastructure. It seems to have rebelled this week: we’ve had collapses, explosions, water main ruptures, and a literal shit storm. The citizenry are getting cranky and blaming the current Mayor for decades of neglect. It’s unfair but she makes it worse by speaking in jargon. Mayor Cantrell actually said that she was “leaning in and being intentional” to help solve our infrastructure woes. It would help if we understood what the hell she means.

This week’s theme song was written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke in 1944 for the Bing Crosby movie, Going My Way. It was one of the biggest hits of the year and won Oscars for best picture, actor, and supporting actor. Der Bingle was the show biz king that year.

We have three versions of Swinging On A Star for your listening pleasure: Bing Crosby, his frenemy, Frank Sinatra, and an R&B version by Big Dee Irwin and Little Eva.

I’m a bit dizzy from swinging on that star so let’s pause before jumping to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Suspicious Minds

Charing Cross Bridge by Andre Derain.

It’s Pearl Harbor Day. This Saturday might live in infamy for another reason: we’re attending a top-secret event in an undisclosed location this evening. I can’t tell you what it is but if you’re a member of a certain benign but bawdy organization, you know what I’m talking about. If not, you may be feeling thoroughly befuddled. So it goes.

Speaking of bombs, the 2019 British general election is heading into the homestretch. I haven’t written about it because it’s so depressing. The two big parties have terrible leaders neither of whom is fit to be Prime Minister but Corbyn is the lesser of two evils. Bozza the Bozo who currently holds the job has bad hair and an even worse slogan: “Get Brexit Done.” The pro-European Union Liberal Democrats shot themselves in the foot by declaring they could win the election when they currently have 20 seats. They’re still limping away from that absurd declaration. Making matters worse is that the Tories deserve to lose and there’s a good chance that they’ll win.

This week’s theme song was written and recorded by Mark James in 1968. His version bombed but Elvis Presley’s did not. It became the King’s’ biggest hit of the Sixties.

We have multiple versions of Suspicious Minds for your listening pleasure: Mark James, Elvis, Waylon Jennings & Jessi Colter, and a reggae version by the Heptones.

Now that you’re suspicious, let’s clear the air by jumping to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Lament For The Numb

Pandora’s Box by Rene Magritte.

It’s been a rough summer in New Orleans. I’m ready for it to end without another flash flood or tropical system. That remains to be seen but one thing is certain: the heat will persist until early October. I’m hoping  my ennui will not.

Thanks, Ashley. I needed that. FYYFF.

We’re staying Down Under with this week’s theme song. Kiwi rock deity Dave Dobbyn wrote  Lament For The Numb for the 1993 album of that name. But it applies equally to America circa 2019. We’re all numb from the antics of our idiot president*.

Here’s another Dave Dobbyn song. It has no deep social significance. I just like it:

Now that we’ve gotten numb and danced with the belle of the ball, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: River Of Life

Elegy For Moss Land by Clarence John Laughlin.

It’s been a noisy week at Adrastos World HQ. The utility company is doing some work on our block: they’ve dug holes and marked off spaces for new gas mains and meters. Here’s hoping they finish soon.

I’ve had the Neville Brothers on my mind since Art’s passing. But he did not write River Of Life; one of the most underrated songs in the Neville Brothers canon. It was written by Cyril Neville, Daryl Johnson, and Brian Stoltz for the band’s 1990 album, Brother’s Keeper.

Here are two versions of this week’s theme song. I dare you not to get up and rock:

Now that we’ve flowed with the river of life, let’s swim to the break. No drowning, please.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Hand Of Kindness

Still Life with Onions by Paul Cezanne

March is the cruelest month in New Orleans for allergy sufferers like me. The weather has been sunny and cool; perfect for outdoor activity. The rub is the oak pollen that can be found everywhere. It coats cars, sidewalks, and any surface it can light on. It makes me feel itchy and my nose run like a broken faucet. The most dramatic symptom involves my eyes, which resemble red gravy in sockets if such a thing is possible.

Enough bitching about my allergies. This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson and was the title track of his 1983 solo album. It was his first record after breaking up personally and professionally with Linda Thompson. It’s one of his finest albums featuring some of his best songs and that’s saying a lot.

We have two versions of Hand Of Kindness for your listening pleasure. The studio original and a live version from Cropredy circa beats the hell outta me.

Now that I’ve extended the hand of kindness, it’s time to jump to the break. Given the RT album cover, we may have to do so at the Chelsea Embankment. Splash.

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