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.
Boris Johnson governing style is getting Trumpier and Trumpier by the day. He mishandled the pandemic, made the Brexit mess even messier, and allows headlines to change his mind on a daily basis. There’s never a plan, he just wings it. Sound familiar?
Unlike Trump, Johnson won an election fair and square but he’s pissing away that advantage as I write this.
One thing that Boris has always had in common with the Kaiser of Chaos is weird and silly hair.
Johnson’s hair, always ridiculous, now seems to have reached animal rescue stage. The PM resembles one of those old English sheepdogs that charities put on sad-music fundraising adverts, with a voice saying: “When Boris came to us, his coat was so matted he was effectively blind … ” Or maybe he’s the star of an 80-minute Netflix movie in which the sheepdog somehow becomes president, and we end up learning a lot – if not about politics or ourselves, then definitely about the Netflix commissioning process.
Boris spends much of his time feuding with former aides. His former right hand man, Dominic Cummings, is now a sworn enemy of the man he made PM.
Dominic Cummings has laid bare the “surreal” chaos in Downing Street in March last year as the government grappled with the Covid pandemic, portraying the prime minister as obsessed with the media and making constant U-turns, “like a shopping trolley smashing from one side of the aisle to the other”.
During an extraordinary evidence session to MPs at Westminster on Wednesday, Boris Johnson’s former chief aide targeted the prime minister for personal criticism, accusing him of being “unfit for the job”.
He claimed that Johnson regretted the first lockdown and held out against imposing later restrictions, despite the advice of many people inside Downing Street, and that overall, “tens of thousands of people died who didn’t need to die”.
Cummings told MPs the prime minister had repeatedly said in respect of the first lockdown, “I should have been the mayor of Jaws and kept the beaches open,” and confirmed reports that in October, Johnson said he would see “bodies pile high” rather than order a third lockdown.
Imagine wanting to be like Mayor Vaughn in Jaws who thwarted the efforts of Chief Brody to protect the town from sharks. Does Boris realize that Murray Hamilton who played the Jaws mayor was cuckolded by Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate? Playing the movie analogy game is tricky.
Dominic Cummings is a professional asshole, but I wish more of Trump’s former aides would feud with him publicly. They prefer to be quoted without attribution like John Kelly. Better a brave asshole than a cowardly one
The last word goes to Split Enz with a song about sharks, not hair:
I’ve only seen bits and pieces of THE INTERVIEW because I cannot abide Oprah. I am, however, a notorious Anglophile with mixed feelings about the Battenberg/Windsor clan. They make for good costume movie and teevee dramas as well as fodder for the British tabloids. I’m even enough of a Peter Morgan fan to wonder if The Crown will cover the same territory as his earlier drama The Queen. Otherwise, I have no stake in the British monarchy.
The presentism of much of the MSM coverage of the face-off between Meghan-n-Harry and “the Firm” cracks me up. The British royals are like inbred cockroaches or Keith Richards, they’ve weathered many past storms and they’re still standing. If they could survive being a family with a German name at the outset of the Great War they can survive a rerun of the Diana drama.
It’s not a carbon copy of the Diana mishigas since Meghan-n-Harry have run away to Beverly Hills together. Hopefully, nobody will die as a result of this but the threat to the monarchy is the same. They’re still standing.
It’s obvious that Meghan is either naive and didn’t do her homework about her Prince or that she fibbed to Oprah when she said she never googled Harry. That’s how she missed this:
Yes, he was young and stupid but racism in his family shouldn’t shock anyone let alone its newest member. It’s like marrying into the Trump family and being shocked to learn that Donald is an Impeached Insult Comedian with a dead nutria pelt atop his head.
She told Oprah that she had never even Googled her future husband’s name—a remark that united the viewing world in hilarity, time zone by time zone. It was an assertion that strained credulity, but it was necessary to her contention that she’d had no idea that the Windsors had not, as we now say, “done the work” when it came to exploring their own racial biases. Had she herself done some work by punching her beloved’s name into a search engine, she would have understood that she was not marrying the most racially conscious person on the planet. She would have seen pictures of him dressed as a Nazi at a costume party (his great-granduncle—briefly Edward VIII—had palled around with Adolf Hitler) and a videotape of him introducing a fellow cadet as “our little Paki friend.” The Palace said that “Prince Harry used the term without any malice and as a nickname about a highly popular member of his platoon.” But the palace had no good explanation for why Harry introduced another cadet in the video by saying, “It’s Dan the Man. Fuck me, you look like a raghead.”
I believe that people can change and now that Harry has a multi-racial kid, I’m sure he’s left his wicked, racist ways behind. But once again, Meghan shouldn’t be shocked by any of this. It’s like joining my family and being surprised that you don’t say the word malaka in the company of the older generation. They’re all gone now but my Aunt Mary would have boxed my ears if I said the M word in her presence.
You’re probably wondering when I’m getting to The Curious Case Of The Tea Party Royalists. The time is now.
American right-wingers never get the American Revolution right. They bang on about the Boston Tea Party and even wear silly tri-corner hats in public, but they never get the “taxation without representation” thing right. They always overlook the “without representation” bit.
In the early days of the American Revolution, many patriots would have found having American MPs at Whitehall acceptable. If mad King George had given in and listened to the likes of Edmund Burke, we might be a warmer version of Canada right now.
But I’ve been struck by the recent efflorescence of pro-monarchism on the American right, something that seems to flow in this particular case downstream from hostility to Meghan Markle, but is yet part of something larger. In the midst of the Markle drama, Trump immigration czar Stephen Miller hopped on to Twitter to defend the monarchy as a symbol of national service and praise the royals he met during President Trump’s state visit as “unfailingly gracious and deeply committed to preserving the traditions and heritage of the UK.” (emphasis added). A week later The National Review published An American Defense of Britain’s Constitutional Monarchy.
Some of this defense is merely situational. Markle, who is young and black, has been cast into the morality tale of ‘cancel culture’, with the royals allegedly on the receiving end of being canceled. So Republicans, as enemies of all this cancel culture, have rushed to the Royals’ defense. But again, it’s bit more than that. Miller name checks the telling catch phrases of white nationalism with references to ‘tradition and heritage’. National Review similarly explains that “modern liberalism” wants to “tear down everything the monarchy represents: tradition, authority, virtue, duty, love of country, and biblical religion.”
There was a similar outbreak of weird pro-royalism in the early years of the Regan administration. Reagan took office in the same year the Charles and Diana drama began with a smashing royal wedding. It was one of the first major events that CNN covered wall-to-wall and in those days they were the only cable news game in town.
I recall many conservatives saying that Reagan would have made a great constitutional monarch. That’s a point I never argued because he was a master of the ceremonial aspects of the presidency. You know, the stuff that the Kaiser of Chaos disdained. I recall saying that I might have voted for Ronnie for head of state but never for head of government. Our presidency encompasses both roles, which always seems to baffle the genuine conservatives of 1981 and the fake conservatives 40 years later. So it goes.
Don’t worry I haven’t changed sides, the words “cancel culture” rarely pass my lips and never in the sense that, say, Donnie Junior uses them. I’m exercising my right to be a contrarian who finds both Meghan-n-Harry and the Tea Party Royalists to be equally silly. Perhaps it’s the Monty Python fan in me. Oh well, what the hell.
The last word goes to Oscar Peterson and Nelson Riddle:
One more from my favorite Canadian:
Have I mentioned lately how much I love Oscar Peterson?
It’s been a long time since I wrote a malaka of the week post. The last of approximately 250 was on May 29, 2019. It’s not that there’s less malakatude in the world. If anything, there’s a surfeit of malakatude. Many posts started off as MOTW but then a clever title occurred to me. I’ve decided to resist the temptation to name this post after the album above and stick to my guns. And that is why Van Morrison is malaka of the week.
I’ve been listening to Van Morrison for most of my life. He’s a brilliant singer-songwriter but I’ve always known that he was an asshole, creep, and malaka. I made the mistake of being a “stage door Johnny” after a Morrison show when I was a young whippersnapper because my date wanted to meet him. He was awful. He refused to sign autographs or engage in any way with anyone. His drunken mantra was, “I don’t sign fucking autographs so piss off.” That’s an exact quote. It was seared into my brain as it was directed at my date. She blew smoke in his face in response.
Despite that and seeing erratic concert performances, I still like his music. How can I give up Tupelo Honey just because its creator is a sourpuss?
Somewhere in my archives, I have a Van the Man bootleg called I Don’t Play Those Fucking Songs Any More. It consists of Van cussing out his fans from the stage. Asked to play Brown Eyed Girl Van’s response was, “What is this? Your fucking wedding? Piss off, wanker.”
I need to search for it. It’s somewhere in my home office, which is beyond cluttered. I am not a clean desk guy. Anyone surprised?
Van Morrison accuses the U.K. government of “taking our freedom” in three new songs bashing the worldwide lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
In “No More Lockdown,” the most on-the-nose of the three tracks, Morrison plainly lays out his thoughts: “No more lockdown/No more government overreach/No more fascist bullies/Disturbing our peace/No more taking of our freedom/And our God-given rights/Pretending it’s for our safety/When it’s really to enslave.”
In another song, according to the BBC, Morrison references a widely shared Facebook post of a screenshot from the U.K. government’s website, stating that “Covid-19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious disease (HCID) in the U.K.” While it is true that Covid-19 currently does not meet the criteria for an HCID in the U.K., it is still highly infectious the world over, with a possibility of a second national lockdown in the U.K. on the horizon, according to the BBC.
The reason that the British government is downplaying the pandemic is because of Trumpy Prime Minister and past malaka of the week, Boris Johnson. Now that the Labour Party has a credible leader, Boris is under immense pressure to take it more seriously. He has a hard time with serious.
He accuses Morrison of “a smear on all those involved in the public health response to a virus that has taken lives on a massive scale. His words will give great comfort to the conspiracy theorists – the tin foil hat brigade who crusade against masks and vaccines and think this is all a huge global plot to remove freedoms.”
“He’s chosen to attack attempts to protect the old and vulnerable in our society. It’s all bizarre and irresponsible. I only hope no one takes him seriously. He’s no guru, no teacher,” the last line a reference to Morrison’s 1986 album No Guru, No Method, No Teacher.
Van Morrison turned 75 not long before he began attacking “Fascist bullies” who want him to wear a mask. This is, of course, hypocrisy worthy of Lindsey Graham or Mitch McConnell. And that is why Van Morrison is malaka of the week.
The last word goes to (who else?) Van Morrison with an ironically titled song from the No Guru, No Method, No Teacher album:
I’ve been meaning to write about the “return” of big-time American sports. I’ve been a skeptic and a critic. They claim to have plans and safety protocols, but they seem to be winging it. It’s the current national style, after all. Of course, using President* Pennywise as a role model strikes me as injudicious at best, disastrous at worst.
I thought that baseball was the sport that *might* be able to do it since social distancing is built into the game. Unfortunately, baseball is run by greedy idiots who only care about money. Sounds mighty Trumpy to me, y’all. And I’m talking about the owners *and* the players. I’ve wished a pox on both their houses for years, but I never meant it literally.
We were given a job to do if we wanted our games back, a very simple job, and we couldn’t do it. Instead we did wings and sheetcake. “You are what your record says you are,” Bill Parcells said. It’s an axiom in sports: Your results speak for themselves. The scoreboard says more than a dozen major league baseball players are sick after just five days of play, and the only record this country is leading in is the number of deaths.
If there is one thing sports teaches, it’s that just wanting to win is not enough. You have to do the work, or you’re going to fail and maybe even embarrass yourself. You can’t cheat the grind, or you’ll lose every time. In this case, the work was easy. Wear a mask. Stay home unless it’s a real emergency. It’s not exactly running wind sprints up hills. Americans still didn’t do it.
Itching to get out, pale and restless, lethal in our boredom and urge to self-gratify, we’ve been unable to sit the hell down and stay there. Instead we’ve club-crawled and dined until swollen on lemon pepper chicken rub and store-bought icing.
Jenkins’ words of wisdom apply across the board to every industry and walk of life. They didn’t do the hard work of shutting down tight for a few months while a concrete national plan was devised to deal with the pandemic. Germany did it. France did it. New Zealand did it. Even Italy did it after a rocky start. Italians are every bit as individualistic as Americans. They stared COVID-19 in the face, didn’t like what they saw, and locked things down tight. Now they’re returning to normal.
The United States didn’t do the work. Neither did Brazil or the United Kingdom. It’s no coincidence that both countries have Trump-like leaders. Both Bolsonaro and Boris have tested positive whereas Trump is tested constantly because, while he claims the virus will disappear like magic, this is one time that he doesn’t believe his own lies.
Another country that has done a good job coping with the pandemic is Ireland. They’ve even gone through an election stalemate that resulted in a coalition of the two major parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. As you might imagine, the UK’s inept response has resulted in some mockery from the Irish including the Guardian’s Seamus O’Reilly with this instant classic zinger:
“Ireland is not outflanking a competent, longstanding neighbour. She just has the pleasure of being compared with the gurning claptrapocracy next door.”
Claptrapocracy is my new favorite word. It’s something that Boris’ Britain and Trump’s America have in common.
Ireland did the work. Great Britain and America did not.
So, let me speak to those Republicans cowering in closets and hiding under stairs in Washington and the state capitals, muttering prayers that Trump might somehow calm the flames that threaten to consume them.
Run away. Close your eyes and duck your heads and sprint as fast as you can away from Trump. Claim amnesia. Say you’ve been hiking the Appalachian Trail. Blame your spirit spouse — whatever. A fury is building in Middle America that has nothing to do with Russia or impeachment or “Access Hollywood.” It’s rising among people who managed to look past all of that to find something they liked about the president. And now he’s repaying them with a stubby middle finger in their faces.
These folks don’t get daily covid-19 tests with results in 15 minutes. Their every contact is not screened and scanned. They live in the real world, a place Trump looks down on from his jets. They understand that covid-19 is not a joke.
The only joke, and a very bad one indeed, is the Current Occupant.
I realize the hands in the Max Ernst image above should be gloved but they won’t be shopping at a grocery store near you so why should you care?
I almost called this post Monday, Monday but that’s boring so I decided to quote the lyrics, then post the tune:
I wonder if anyone made bathtub gin in that tub during Prohibition? A bootlegger may have peed in that terlet. I’ve always preferred the terlet version of the cover. It’s the one I posted on Wednesday October, 24, 2018. Actually, I posted a double dose. We’d be in trouble without terlets. Who the hell wants to pee on a tree?
Must Read: The WaPo nailed the Impeached Insult Comedian and his corrupt cohort to the wall in Sunday’s paper. A quick interlude: are they a corrupt cohort or coterie of crooks?
Here’s my favorite quote because it’s so clueless and selfish:
“There’s a little bit of a God complex,” one senior administration official said of the [doctors] group. “They’re all about science, science, science, which is good, but sometimes there’s a little bit less of a consideration of politics when maybe there should be.”
Scientists gotta science, doctors gotta doctor. I guess all President* Pennywise wants from the docs is some Good Lovin‘:
In case you don’t know the lyrics, here’s a sample:
I was feelin’ so bad,
I asked my family doctor just what I had,
I said, “Doctor, Doctor
Mr. M.D., Doctor
Now can you tell me, tell me, tell me,
What’s ailin’ me?”
You could even morph that “tell me” into “Fauci, Fauci, Fauci.” You could. I would never do such a thing.
Reformed Boris? British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who I”ve compared to Basil Fawlty, is out of the ICU and back at work after his brush with death. And I thought he was pale *before* becoming a coronavirus survivor.
Boris gave an interview to The Murdoch Sun in which he came close to declaring Thatcherism dead. He had nothing but glowing things to say about the National Health Service, which has been cut ruthlessly by the Tories. I’ll believe his near deathbed conversion when he fully funds the NHS.
Thatcherism and Reaganism were born at the same time. They should die together as well. I’ll give them credit for one thing: Maggie and Ronnie sure could dance.
Signs & Memes: We begin this segment with a picture taken in New Orleans by one of my most faithful readers, Paul McMahon:
The next anti-Kaiser Of Chaos image was stolen by off the internet by film writer Bill Arceneaux and I’m stealing it from him:
Blast From The Past is not only the title of the next segment, it’s the title of my upcoming Bayou Brief column, which looks at Jazz Festing In Place and the early release of former New Orleans Mayor C Ray Nagin.
Where was I? Oh yeah, watch one of the greatest Giants of all hit a titanic tater in the 1969 All-Star Game off the wonderfully nicknamed A’s pitcher Blue Moon Odom
Stretch was such a ferocious hitter that he made hurlers hurl in the Wayne’s World meaning of the word.
Guess what time it is:
While you were in the lobby, I hope you saw the poster:
Sam Fuller’s House of Bamboo: I had heard of this 1955 film but had no idea how good it is. I was shocked to learn that it was shot in Cinemascope and produced by a major studio. I’m used to Fuller’s films being shot in gritty black and white and on a low budget. Once I recovered, I enjoyed the movie.
House Of Bamboo was the first American film shot in Tokyo after we bombed the shit out of it. The city is as important a character as Roberts Ryan and Stack. It’s one of Stack’s best performances and nothing like his most famous role, Eliot Ness. He’s a smart ass and a bad ass as well. I’m not assing off about that either.
Here’s the trailer:
House Of Bamboo can be viewed on TCM On Demand, on their app, and it will air on TCM on May 13th I loved it and give it high marks indeed: 4 stars, an Adrastos Grade of A, and two big thumbs up.
Unsurprisingly, Living In A Ghost Town is about the pandemic. I guess you figured that out by its presence in this feature. D’oh.
The video features eerie footage of empty streets and tube stations in London. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world and its never this quiet; a scene replicated throughout the world. It’s just as imperative there as in the US&A. The Tory government of Boris Johnson engaged in the same sort of magical thinking as that of President* Pennywise. Boris, however, never advocated ingesting or injecting cleaning fluids. There’s stupid and there’s supremely stupid. The Kaiser of Chaos takes the cake.
As the lyrics of the song put it, “Life was so beautiful, then we all got locked down.”
Without further ado, ladies and germs, The Rolling Stones:
Here’s some musical lagniappe from Richard Thompson with The Sights and Sounds Of London Town. No, it’s not Saturday, it just feels like it. Warning: there are only sounds, not sights.
Fear is almost as contagious as the virus. It’s everywhere on social media, which is why I’m rationing my use. I’m also tired of listening to know-nothing amateur epidemiologists who think they know it all. Access to the internet doesn’t make you a scientist, it makes you someone with too much time on their hands. Oops. That’s all of us right now.
The old NOLA Bloggers email list has been resurrected. I’ll explain why in a moment but a comment there gave rise to this post title. Cliff Harris asked if there would be a Rising Tide Social Distance Conference, Karen Gadbois replied that it should be called Rising Anxiety. I have no interest in a conference reboot, but I like the phrase Rising Anxiety, so I stole it.
Back In The Saddle: The OG NOLA bloggers are rising from a protracted slumber. After Maitri the Magnificent announced the return of her VatulBlog, George Loki Williams asked aloud if he should revive Humid City. In response, I quoted this passage from my recent Bayou Brief column Love In The Time Of Coronavirus:
I started blogging a few months after the levees broke. I didn’t expect to still be writing on the internet 15 years later, but I found my voice. I’m glad that I’m still at it: It’s therapeutic and reduces my anxiety level during this unprecedented crisis. I’d hate to be reduced to venting on social media like some other OG NOLA bloggers. I wish more of them would resume writing. Consider that an invitation, y’all. If you do, I’ll spread the word hither and yon.
I’m a man of my word. Loki announced the comeback at Zuckerville:
Good luck, y’all. Not sure about that whole blame thing but it gives me an excuse to post this Del Amitri song:
The Fantastic Florida Flim Flam: Trumper Governor Ron DeSantis followed the lead of his hero President* Pennywise and announced his state “borders” were closed to cars from New Orleans. Too many people took this illegal, unenforceable, and unconstitutional order seriously. It’s a clumsy attempt to divert attention from this:
This picture is from 3pm today.
You can see exactly where Duval County ends and St. John’s County begins.
All beaches in Duval are closed, while St. John’s only blocked parking at the beach.
The flap is based on a “blame New Orleans for having Mardi Gras” controversy that raged online. I’ll let my friends Stephanie Grace and Clancy DuBos shoot it down. I prefer to save my ammo for higher hanging fruit.
I do, however, agree with the parade route book signer and Herriman biographer:
Blame China, blame the Democrats, blame Obama, blame the media, but be wary for when you blame New Orleans you disturb the spirit of Ashley Morris. pic.twitter.com/qrMKD0jjCD
The Tweet Heard Round The World: Athenae’s boyfriend John Kerry is obviously not planning to run for office again:
Breaking news: Congressman Massie has tested positive for being an asshole. He must be quarantined to prevent the spread of his massive stupidity. He's given new meaning to the term #Masshole. (Finally, something the president and I can agree on!) https://t.co/N1CNLPsZjc
Bored Boris: The British Prime Minister’s anti-pandemic efforts were just as feeble and late as those of the Impeached Insult Comedian. Adding insult to the injury he inflicted on his country, Bozza is afflicted with the 21st Century plague. Karma is a bitch.
I hadn’t planned to write about the oafish PM until I got a text from my good friend and Spank krewe mate, Greg Hackenberg: “If you aren’t working on a post about Boris Johnson that does not include Peter Gabriel’s I Have The Touch, I’m not sure I know you anymore.”
You still know me, Greg:
Shake those hands, shake those hands…
Finally, Project Novel will begin in earnest at 3 PM today. There’s enough interest in my legal murder mystery, Tongue In The Mail, for me to proceed. I’ll be posting two chapters at a time on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It even has its own category, Project Novel: TITM.
Pondering Boris Johnson’s bad karma gave me an instant earworm. The last word goes to Warren Zevon and John Lennon with another song that’s much better than Imagine:
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.
One of my odder hobbies was the focus of my attention last night, the 2019 British general election. The result was depressingly predictable: the Tories won again. They’ve been in power 67 of 101 years since the Liberals blew themselves up with the feud between Asquith and Lloyd George. They moved into third party status and Labour became the other big party. Neither the Lib Dems nor Labour had a good night.
A good night was had by Boris Johnson who ran a vague, substance free campaign with a specific simplistic slogan: “Get Brexit Done.” The result of Johnson’s English nationalism is likely to be a disunited kingdom: the Scottish National Party won big in their bailiwick as well. Hence the featured image of the Scottish Saltire and the Union Jack. If Brexit gets done, the SNP wants out of the union. Stay tuned.
Nobody does election coverage better than the BBC. Their set looked like a cross between a spaceship and a medieval castle. Their graphics are whimsically informative. And it’s always good to see our old pal the Swing-O-Meter, which began life as a low-tech spinning wheel thingamabob. It’s now haute high tech: green screen all the way. I prefer the 1964 model:
I also prefer the result in 1964 when Harold Wilson led Labour back to power after 13 years in the wilderness. Labour spends so much time in the wilderness that they must be expert campers. They’ve lost 4 straight elections and will spend a minimum of 14 years in the wilderness this time around.
Social media was full of Americans projecting our politics on the British election. It has no meaning for us given the core issues of the campaign: Brexit and the awfulness of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The real lesson of the election is this: do not run a candidate with negatives ranging anywhere from -40 to -61. Many Labourites knew they had a problem but a previous attempt to oust Corbyn failed miserably and they were stuck with him. The Tories are much better at defenestration. Chop.
The response of the Corbynistas to defeat was unintentionally hilarious. Like ideologues everywhere, they came up with a party line and stuck to it. They swore that their policies were popular, but Brexit did them in. There’s a kernel of truth in the Brexit part: they lost many Northern seats that were pro-remain. There’s a huge BUT coming, their dear leader had negatives ranging anywhere from -40 to -61.
Corbyn announced what he hopes will be a slow-motion exit from the Labour leadership. I’m not sure that he’ll be able to hang on that long. Stay tuned.
It was a relief to focus on the dysfunctional politics of another country for one night. I watched bits and pieces of the Judiciary committee’s mark-up hearing. I got a headache listening to Matt Gaetz who looks and sounds like the preppie villain in a slasher movie set on a college campus.
We’re cursed to live in interesting times. We don’t need to make them even more interesting by believing that the British election results will determine our own in 2020. Boris Johnson is terrible but he’s not Donald Trump terrible. Trump and congressional Republicans are the ones with high negatives.
In addition to high negatives, Trump has some other similarities to Jeremy Corbyn. Both men are surrounded by sycophants who tell them what they want to hear. They’re incurious and reject facts that displease them. Neither Corbyn nor Trump is capable of admitting error, that quality killed Labour’s chances in 2019. Self-image is important to both Trump and Corbyn: they don’t see themselves as the rest of the world sees them. The major difference is ideological. Corbyn believes in something whereas Trump only believes in himself. Believe me.
Finally, one thing I love about election nights, UK style is how late things go on. It’s impossible not to sound punchy at 4 AM. The Brits are good at muddling through, which is a good quality to emulate. It’s what I’m doing right now.
The last word goes to the Kinks. It’s not a political song but it rocks. We all need to rock more.
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.
I’ve been so focused on our own political nightmare that I haven’t written recently about Great Britain’s very own clusterfuck, Brexit. It’s the crisis that won’t end. It’s currently in the hands of a thoroughly unscrupulous and mendacious Tory Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. He has weird hair as well but you knew that already.
John Crace is the Guardian’s parliamentary sketch writer and one of the UK’s leading political satirists. His nickname for the Current Occupant of 10 Downing Street, the Incredible Sulk, is a classic.
Westminster is often accused of operating in its own bubble. If only all of its MPs were always that honourable. For the prime minister’s statement on his latest Brexit proposals, the sparsely attended government benches appeared to exist entirely in a vacuum. Both actual and moral. Deprived of oxygen and any contingent sense of reality, the Tories hallucinated a parallel future. One in which the party had reunited behind an impossible dream. Where the past was not so much another country, as another planet.
At the cabinet meeting in the morning, Boris Johnson had promised colleagues he would be a model of “gelatinous emollience” towards everyone, including Labour MPs and the EU27. And he was as good as his word. There was no talk of surrender and traitors, no childish tantrums, just lavish displays of courtesy. Except Boris just can’t do sincerity. His whole act is based on a lack of moderation and the time to worry is when he’s being nice. That’s when you know he’s lying. Even more than usual.
At least their asshole leader is capable of synthetic warmth. President* Pennywise radiates misplaced rage and menace. He should take acting lessons from Bozza.
The last word goes to the Who-Fakers with a Boris The Spider parody posted when the Incredible Sulk became Prime Minister:
Thus spake a cheeky Labour MP after Boris Johnson’s fledgling government went down to a major defeat in the House of Commons *and* lost their majority because of 21 defections from the Tory caucus. The “unknown” MP turned out to be veteran lefty and Commons heckler Dennis Skinner. That was my guess and, until proven otherwise, I was right. Hell, Skinner was known to heckle Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, which is one reason that he’s always been a backbencher.
The chaos in parliament continues today. Johnson wants new elections BUT needs the support of 2/3 of the Commons to go to the people. The Labour Party quite rightly refuses to support a snap election UNTIL the bill barring a No-Deal Brexit passes. The opposition has the hammer because of the 21 Tory rebels.
Among the rebels are two former Chancellors of the Exchequer: Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond. It’s very unusual for such eminent MPs to rebel and be denied the party whip. That’s a fancy way of saying that they were kicked out of the party they both served with such distinction. It’s something we’ll never see in the U.S. where the GOP has become the Party of Trump. Republicans don’t rebel because it’s in the national interest. They cringe and cower at the feet of the Insult Comedian. I wonder when Trump will disown Boris as a loser.
Since the situation is so fluid, I’m posting this before more shit hits the fan.
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.
The Brexit party leader was laudatory about the Queen – “an amazing, awe-inspiring woman, we’re bloody lucky to have her” – but abused her son, grandson and mother.
“When it comes to her son, when it comes to Charlie Boy and climate change, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Her mother, Her Royal Highness the Queen’s mother was a slightly overweight, chain-smoking gin drinker who lived to 101 years old. All I can say is Charlie Boy is now in his 70s … may the Queen live a very, very long time.”
I remember when British right-wingers were royalists. Additionally, the Queen Mum has been dead for seventeen years so one would think the Insult Comedian UK would let her rest in peace. Shorter Adrastos: Stay mum about the dead Queen Mum.
Farage also indulged in a bit of sexism and racism by going after Meghan Markle and her prince:
“Terrifying! Here was Harry, here he was this young, brave, boisterous, all male, getting into trouble, turning up at stag parties inappropriately dressed, drinking too much and causing all sorts of mayhem. And then, a brave British officer who did his bit in Afghanistan. He was the most popular royal of a younger generation that we’ve seen for 100 years.
“And then he met Meghan Markle, and it’s fallen off a cliff. We’ve been told in the last week that Meghan and Harry will only have two children … and we’re all completely ignoring, the real problem the Earth faces, and that is the fact the population of the globe is exploding but no one dares talk about it, no one dares deal with it, and whether Prince Harry has two kids is irrelevant given there are now 2.6 billion Chinese and Indians on this Earth.”
Remember the good old days when Harry did shit like this?
According to the Farage barrage, Harry’s soul has been hijacked by his harridan wife who has succeeded in “pussy whipping” him. And making matters worse to the bigoted Farage, she’s a woman of color and an actress to boot. Scary, scary, scary. The only trick he missed was using the Empire era slur, WOG. I guess that proves that Nigel doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. Now where have I heard that before?
I posted this Farage barrage as a reminder that other country’s politics have also gone to hell in an increasingly overcrowded handbag. And Nigel is only UK clown number two: Boris Johnson is prime minister. Bigotry is as big in Blighty as at the White House. Oy just oy.
As an antidote to Nigel’s awfulness, the last word goes to the Kinks:
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.
John Crace is the Guardian’s politics sketch writer and one of the funniest men in the U,K. Crace is the bloke who popularized the Maybot nickname for the soon-to-be former Prime Minister, Theresa May. Speaking of funny Brits, the cartoon above is by the brilliant Steve Bell. I’m inordinately fond of his depiction of the Insult Comedian as a terlet.
Once May had finished and offered the president a handshake, Trump took centre stage. But even he could barely raise a pulse. His mind was elsewhere – reliving the Disney fairytale of meeting the Queen and thinking ahead to more important engagements later that afternoon. Who wouldn’t want the wellness spa experience of Pierce Morgan crawling up their ass? Sycophantic colonic irrigation – and he barely made it through his script, time and again stumbling over words. English is the president’s second language. Bollocks being the first.
There was time for some trademark bluster. He and May were probably the biggest business leaders in the entire world. Make that the universe. The US-UK relationship was the greatest alliance ever seen. But even then, his words came with a certain fatigue. As if he was merely going through the motions of being polite, unsure of why the man who made a point of never getting involved with stone cold losers had found himself on a platform with one.
In a word: nasty.
The last word goes to the Beatles with a song from the Beatles For Sale album:
The Insult Comedian is in woody old England. He’s already insulted London Mayor Sadiq Khan, endorsed Boris Johnson, and praised Nigel Farage. Trump is a fan of Brexit, which he regards as linked to his own election. His ambassador to the UK is New York Jets (talk about “stone cold losers”) owner, Woody Johnson, who raised a ruckus Sunday by stating that *every* part of the British economy would be on the table in trade talks with the Trump regime including the National Health Service. The NHS is a cow so sacred that it was exempt from the Thatcherite privatization mania of the 1980’s. The Tories, however, may be stupid and/or desperate enough to go for it thereby pulling Labour’s chestnuts out of the fire. Stay tuned.
The reason I went on about Trump’s unstately state visit is that we have a new British import to the former colonies: milkshaking. It made its British debut with Limey wingnuts, Tommy Robinson and Nigel Farage and popped up in the land of Key Lime pie yesterday:
The milkshaker was Amanda Leigh Kondrat’yev who ran against Gaetz in 2016. (Gaetz can be seen in the featured image hitchhiking with Trumpberius.) Conservative media is disgusted and I’m amused. The burning question is what flavor to use whilst milkshaking. If I were so inclined, I’d opt for something that would stain: strawberry or chocolate. The likes of Gaetz are a major stain on the body politic, after all.
The kids tell me there’s a song called Milkshake but I prefer to ride into the sunset with the earworm I came in on:
The British Liberal Democrats have had an eventful decade. In 2010, they held the balance in a hung parliament and went into coalition with the Tories. In 2015, they suffered a catastrophic defeat: going from 23% of the vote and 57 seats to 7.9% and 8 seats. It was a fitting punishment for a center-left party who were the junior partners in the Posh Boys austerity government. Lib Dem leader and Deputy PM Nick Clegg lost his seat in 2017, then cashed in and became an executive with Facebook. Failing upward is not just an American thing.
In the snap election of 2017, the Lib Dems had a mild uptick in seats for a total of 12 but their share of the vote declined to 7.4%. Most observers expected the overtly pro-EU/Remain party to do better that time around.
Things are finally looking up for the Lib Dems. They did well in the recent local elections and hope to do better still in the upcoming European parliament election. They’ve gone all in with a mildly vulgar slogan:
Bollocks is a testicular euphemism and who can blame the Brits for being testy? Brexit is eating their country alive in the same way that Trumpsim is eating ours. One could even talk about the Dispirit of 2016 in both nations. It gives a whole new meaning to the term “special relationship.”
The Lib Dems did not invent the Bollocks To Brexit slogan. It’s been around for awhile. There’s even an anti-Brexit bus that’s toured the country complete with a Boris Johnson look alike:
The “it’s not a done deal” sub-slogan applies to Trumpism as well. Here’s hoping that both countries can reverse the Dispirit of 2016 and throw the dipshits out of office.
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.