Category Archives: COVID-19

Close Up The Honky Tonks

I live in a city where bar culture is important. I stopped being a barfly because of smoke: Dr. A is allergic to it and I hated smelling like an ash tray every time I went to a bar. New Orleans finally banned smoking in 2015, but my  affinity for bars was diminished. But I understand the importance of a favorite watering hole for others.

I think that bars being open during the pandemic is madness, especially with the recent surge of COVID cases. One New Orleans dive bar owner agrees with me, Dave Clements of Snake and Jake’s:

“I’ve been telling everyone this since day one: I’d rather stay closed a month too long unnecessarily than open a day too early,” Clements said. “We’ve been through all this and of course I want to reopen, but trying to reopen even at 50%, I have no idea how we would do that.”

Clements, who was adding space to the Snakes and Jakes backyard on Monday to prepare for a time when he could reopen, said policing his clientele to abide by the governor’s restrictions might be too difficult, even if he could reopen.

“We’re not really known for our responsible behavior here, so I don’t know how much people who are drinking heavily are going to listen,” Clements said.

Wise choice. Wise man.

Let’s move on the music. Close Up The Honky Tonks was written by Red Simpson. It was first recorded by Buck Owens and his Buckeroos in 1964.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Buck’s original, the Flying Burrito Brothers with Gram Parsons, and Dwight Yoakam from Dwight Sings Buck complete with a video. Yeah, boy. Bow, howdy.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – What power! edition

Morning everyone – let’s get into our ISO suits (I wear mine all the time these days) and crack open some of the simmering barrels of Freep Power!

Video retweeted by Trump shows supporter yelling “white power”
Axios ^ | 6/28/20 | Axios

Posted on 6/28/2020, 10:21:37 AM by sam_whiskey

President Trump tweeted, “Thank you to the great people of The Villages” on Sunday morning in response to a video of protesters verbally clashing with Trump supporters — including one man who yelled “white power” while passing pissing in a golf cart.

FIFY.

**********************

I’m sure the senior citizen’s remark was toungue(sic) in cheek, but, Mr. President, if you’re going to retweet videos please WATCH the video first.
1 posted on 6/28/2020, 10:21:37 AM by sam_whiskey
What makes you think he didn’t?
.
So – he didn’t mean it?
To: sam_whiskey

 

So Black Power is just fine, but heaven forbid someone espouse White Power?

2 posted on 6/28/2020, 10:24:35 AM by bk1000 (Banned from Breitbart)

So he did mean it?
To: sam_whiskey

 

After watching the video I’m pretty sure the intent was to annoy the foul mouthed leftists, but you’re right, this is is the sort of unforced error that emboldens the Satanic left.

10 posted on 6/28/2020, 10:28:20 AM by allblues (God is neither a Republican nor a Democrat but Satan is definitely a Democrat)

Funny – I thought this was the kind of  unforced error  shit-stupid thing that emboldens his re-election staff to jump out of windows.
.
Now, where did I put that pentagram?
.
And WTF is keeping the tinfoil hat brigade??
To: sam_whiskey

 

This is very likely a Democrat Set-Up. The old guy in the golf cart, the Trump signs, the shouting of white power, the videographer and Twitter.

11 posted on 6/28/2020, 10:31:01 AM by Meatspace

SlimPickensCahoots
Much much more stupid after the white powder below…

Continue reading

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Solidarity and What It Gets Us

I’ve been thinking about this since reading this tweet:

That every movement turns on itself eventually, that every fire burns out, that nothing can be sustained forever, are I think things we all know. That you can’t stay in the middle of the war forever, or it wins. But Jesus, this, we barely tried. A month ago seems like a fever dream.

I used to go to a long-established gay bar in the town where I went to college (long enough ago that the people inside were more often closeted than out) and a few years back a Facebook group for it sprung up. People would post old photos: Does anyone know who all of these people are?

Yes, someone would answer, name twenty people, and then add that seventeen, eighteen, nineteen of them died. In 1981, in 1986, in 1992.

They were beautiful, in the pictures: Dancing, laughing, their arms around each other back when there were so few places they could be free. I tell people about that world now, about the gaping holes in it, about the quilted names that stretched the length of Washington, and it’s like I’m talking about Valley Forge, it’s that far away.

We have this idea of solidarity, of times in the past when “we” were all united: 9/11 being the one that gets my back up the most, the first Gulf War, when everyone tied yellow ribbons around the trees to show support for the troops. And every time something horrible happens there are these pronouncements: This is what will make us new.

We have this idea that we will come together, change for good, that something will just HAPPEN to MAKE us different, as if we don’t have to decide to be different every single day. As if World War II was over in a minute, one Victory Garden and an episode of Band of Brothers and it was all done. As if we didn’t turn on ourselves then, too.

It seems like it took less time. Like April was a moment ago, May a moment ago. We’re not going to be left with anything from this but photographs with holes in them.

A.

Throwing It All Away

Image by John Valentino.

If you’re like me you’re either saddened and/or outraged by the recent surge of COVID-19. Those of us who live in places where the state and local governments appeared to be on top of things were feeling a bit smug. Our optimism was premature. If anything, the latest wave is larger and scarier than the first one that struck back in March.

The whole debate over “reopening” has returned to bite us in the ass. I think we know who’s responsible for that:

Image by Michael F.

The grotesque incompetence of the Trump regime and its politicization of a public health emergency has led to these numbers: a record 53,000+ new cases yesterday and 130,000 Americans dead and counting.

One of the richest countries in the world has the worst outbreak. That’s down to horrendous leadership at the federal level and the way President* Pennywise has fobbed off responsibility onto state and local officials. The virus does not respect state lines or national borders. It’s an equal opportunity killer.

It never had to be this bad. One way things can be turned around is by wearing a mask in public. The flying monkeys of Trumpistan have turned this into a political issue. Freedom, man. Senator Aqua Buddha recently mocked Tony Fauci for being an expert. Freedom, man.

The featured image is by John Valentino one of the most talented members of Krewe du Vieux. He executed the image to accompany a June 26th Facebook post by one of our most eminent members, Dr. Jim Aiken who is an emergency medicine specialist at LSU Medical School and University Medical Center.

I tried to post the Facebook message here without success so here’s Dr. Jim’s message cut and pasted for your perusal:

As the leaders of an organization with a rich history of portraying, advancing and living the culture of New Orleans, I’m writing to ask you to join me in urging our members, families, friends and everyone the Krewe touches to do the right thing to reverse a frightening resurgence of new COVID cases in our community.

My appeal comes not from a concern whether we have a Marxist Gras (sic) next year, but from a deep concern over the threat this virus poses to the lives of those we love.
We lost Ronald Lewis and Ellis Marsalis to the virus among other musical icons. We have lost 1000 dead to the virus in Orleans and Jefferson Parish since we began tracking 4 months ago. And we have no cure, no scientifically proven medication that will significantly change mortality, and no vaccine available until the end of the year.
After an initial community behavior of wearing masks, social isolation and avoiding large groups that was encouraging, I am now stunned with the widespread irresponsibility that came from the Phase 2 opening. I still do not believe this stupidity is a true reflection of who we are, but it is obviously enough to push the pandemic case and hospitalizations “curves” upwards. Do not buy into the foolishness that this phenomenon is simply from more testing. Those of us in the emergency departments last week knew ahead from our increase in COVID related emergencies that these statistics would come to be what they are now.
The undisputed science from centuries of experience is that social distancing and masking is the mainstay of mitigating pandemics. The other irrefutable science now is that this virus has vicious characteristics in terms in how it spreads and how it kills. The irresponsible among us may not be the ones to suffer the consequences of their inactions. It will be the ones they associate later, the elderly, those with medical problems that led to an increase in a horrible death from the coronavirus.
We had such promise two weeks ago dealing with this calamity. The curves are now as they were back in early March, arching to the sky.
As I have said on TV, radio, print and anyone who will listen to me, it’s not what healthcare does in the hospitals, it’s what we all do everyday in our neighborhoods and gathering establishments that gives us a chance to see this through.
I’ll never forget an evening after Katrina when I first heard the sounds of live music from the streets. Krewe du Vieux was the first parade on the streets for the next Marci Gras (sic & sick). How we behave now with a sustained new normal mentality will directly determine when we can safely enjoy and celebrate our heritage that Krewe du Vieux exemplifies better than any other community entity. I ask the Krewe to play the active healing role we have in past in influencing our members and neighbors to live and behave safely. As Clancy DuBos said on TV tonight, “wear the damn masks”. I couldn’t have said that better.
With love and wishes for good health for you all,
King Dr Jim

I couldn’t have said it better myself, especially since I’m neither a doctor nor do I play one on social media. I am, however, proud to be a member of Krewe du Vieux.

It has been alternately maddening and disheartening to watch month’s worth of sacrifice squandered by the selfish and stupid. We should be in the same position as Germany, Spain, or Italy all of which were hard hit by the pandemic. Instead, we threw away our progress. Let’s not make the same mistake twice. Please stay home and if you must go out, wear a damn mask.

The last word goes to Genesis:

Bring It On Home To Me

The second wave of the pandemic appears poised to be even worse than the first. Too many people let down their guard and acted as if it was over. It was not. Please stay home as much as possible and wear a mask whenever you’re in public.

Sam Cooke wrote and recorded Bring It On Home To Me in 1962. It became a big hit on both the R&B and pop charts that summer.

Cooke adapted his song from a 1959 gospel/soul tune by Charles Brown:

Next up is one of my favorite John Hiatt songs featuring some of his finest lyrics.

Now that we’re done “mixing up drinks with mixed feelings,” a more recent song:

Between The Buttons is perhaps the Rolling Stones most underrated albums. And Please Go Home is one of the highlights of that 1967 album. It features some wicked guitar playing by the band’s original leader, Brian Jones.

Finally, if you take a walk, make sure you return home. Nat would insist:

‘As Leadership on Virus Fails’

Jesus Christ, we STILL can’t name the problem: 

Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Cases Soar Past 2.5 Million as Leadership on Virus Fails

With new cases of the coronavirus suddenly surging across multiple states that had low and manageable caseloads just months ago, confusion and anger is swirling among those who obeyed lockdowns and drastic social measures out of a sense of civic duty to help bring the U.S. outbreak under control.

Nationwide, cases have risen 65 percent over the past two weeks. On Friday, the country reported more than 45,000 new infections, its third consecutive day of record new cases, and a number of states have also been seeing record new levels. On Saturday, Florida, Nevada and South Carolina reported their highest one-day case totals. Before this week, the country’s largest daily total had been 36,738 on April 24.

REPUBLICAN politicians. REPUBLICAN leadership. Joe Biden is out here every single day being president, basically, only nobody’s paying attention because Trump shit some racist nonsense out his mouth again and we have to get all sixteen microphones in front of the shitpile.

I cannot with OUR LEADERS have failed us. The United States of Chicken Fried America has been in the blood-soaked hands of the GOP since 2010 and I don’t think we can give it another decade before we start noticing that. We can’t keep blaming “politicians” and “Congress” and “Washington” and “leadership” if we expect this to get any better at all.

We have a nationwide propaganda network, aided and abetted by nihilistic social media and amplified by the same kind of sociopathic broadcast screamers as inspired genocide a thousand times in history, telling people a million different wrong things all at once, and the money from all of those ventures flows to Republicans.

The NYT can just fuck off all the way into the fucking sea with this:

In recent weeks, some conservatives said they had an additional concern: After weeks of being told that going to church, attending funerals, and participating in protests was a willful, careless spurning of science, political leaders and some public health officials condoned — and even joined — the crowds protesting the killing of George Floyd.

WEARING MASKS, YOU STUPID MOTHERFUCKERS, OUTDOORS, NOT INSIDE THE PROSPERITY MEGA-STADIUM OF GAY-HATING, and what’s more, you know the difference, so spare me the fake angst from the fucking exterminators:

“It’s just a real social whiplash,” said Philip Campbell, vice president of a pest control company in Central Michigan, who took part in the first protests against the lockdown in Lansing in April from the cab of his truck. “Two weeks ago you can’t go out because you are going to kill grandma. Now it’s ‘you have an obligation to go out.’ It leaves me feeling that the science and the public health authorities have been politicized.”

Well goddamn, sparky, look at the big brain on you. Could it be that your president has no fucking clue and that the confusion stems from his explicit policy to not do anything that sounds like it might save a few Democrats along the way?

Two hundred thousand fucking people are going to die, and we’re going to act like there is no way any of this could have gone any other way. No clear leadership? WELL I WONDER WHOSE FUCKEN JOB IT WAS TO PROVIDE THAT, COULD IT HAVE BEEN THE PRESIDENT AND THE PARTY IN CHARGE? God damn, what party is that again? I hear its name so seldom I forget what it is.

The confusion you are describing is what happens when there is no national leadership. But maybe while your party was out there with long guns screaming about states’ rights you might have thought about times when we need to be a single country. One would have hoped a few wars would have drilled that into your thick heads but apparently if Japan bombed Pearl Harbor today we’d be having a national debate about how many liberals live in Hawaii and why can’t they pay for their own rebuilding, the lazy fucks.

The GOP has fragmented us day after day after fucking day, it’s been going on for decades now, because they saw a bunch of racists and said, I bet we can ride these stupid ponies all the way to the end of the rainbow. Now, of course, that national action is needed, and the national unity they jizz all over every 9/11 anniversary is actually needed, they’re more than willing to shove the few remaining members of the Greatest Generation in their graves so they can keep clowning on everybody who cares about anybody else.

I am so fucking done not talking honestly about what’s going on here. Obama didn’t unleash the coronavirus and Obama didn’t “divide” the nation by getting elected black and we are not “partisan” because some of us want to be alive and would love some kind of guidance from literally anyone as to how the best way to do that might be. This is what we actually need the federal government to do, people are saying help us,

“It’s all political” is a dumb shrug but it’s the exact dumb shrug with which we’ve been taught to greet every single thing that happens, and as per usual I’d like to reserve the fucking most of the blame for what happens when we act like this for the ones who taught us the words, the ones who cash in when we say them.

REPUBLICANS. God fucking damn it, Republicans.

A.

Bury Me In Willow

I’ve tried  not to be too morbid in this feature, but the worst case scenario of the pandemic is death. It’s a slow, painful, and undignified death. I saw a nurse on Maddow the other night and she said: “COVID-19 is a monster, not a disease.” I concur.

Here are some shocking numbers: the United States has 5% of the world’s population and 1/3 of all novel coronavirus cases. As of this writing, 123,000 and counting Americans have died. Difficult numbers, hard truths. Don’t be in that number: please wear a mask and be careful out there.

Now for the music. These songs are all ones that I’ve told Dr. A that I’d like played at my memorial service. Despite the first song, I’m not into the whole body in the box thing. I want to be cremated and have my ashes on the mantle alongside our deceased cats. Now, that was morbid.

When John Wetton wrote the first song in 2012, he was bouncing back from a bout with the cancer that eventually took his life in 2017:

Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook wrote the next song about the passing of the friend who introduced them. We owe her a debt of musical gratitude:

I always associate this Warren Zevon song with the sudden and shocking death of my friend Ashley Morris in 2008:

This beautiful Neil Finn song breaks me up at least every other time I hear it:

Robbie Robertson wrote Fallen Angel as a tribute to his fallen comrade Richard Manuel. He had a little help singing the song from fellow rock god, Peter Gabriel.

Finally, a song that I posted in my tribute to the late, great Johnny Clegg after his death last year. It was written after the passing of his close friend and bandmate Dudu Zulu:

These songs of mortality were merely the ones that popped into my head. There’s more where they came from. How’s that for morbid?

The Scandal Tornado

There were few genuine scandals during the Obama administration. There were plenty of attempts by morally and ethically bankrupt Republicans to conjure up scandals, but the record is clear: nobody on Team Obama was indicted let alone convicted.

In contrast, there’s a deluge of Team Trump scandals; so many that it’s hard to keep track. There’s the scandalous pandemic response, the babies in cages scandal, and the corrupt cronyism and nepotism that’s rampant in this administration. The Mustache of War has belatedly chimed in with a new scandal involving China. Tornadic activity swirls above the White House on a daily basis. It’s amazing that the roof is still on the building.

There are so many scandal tornadoes that it’s hard to keep track of them all. I continue to believe that the worst scandals involve William Herrmann Goering Barr and the Justice Department. There’s cronyism, corruption, and mendacity aplenty at the DOJ but until recently Barr maintained an air of competence in furtherance of his nefarious schemes. Until the botched firing of SDNY honcho Geoffrey Berman last weekend.

Initially, Barr claimed that Berman had resigned. He did no such thing. Then, Barr dragged the Impeached Insult Comedian into it and claimed he’d fired Berman. Trump disputed Barr’s lie with one of his own. In the end, they wound up with a less pliable replacement thereby proving that it truly is the Sovereign District of New York.

Another scandal tornado landed with the public statement of Aaron Zelinsky who was the lead prosecutor in the Roger Stone case:

“What I heard — repeatedly — was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the president.”

Anyone surprised? Roger Stone and corruption are synonymous. In fact, he’s a one-man scandal tornado. Zelinsky is testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee today. It should be interesting to see how GOPers handle it. We know that Gym Jordan will shout in defense of President* Pennywise. He has no conscience to wrestle with, after all.

The Kaiser of Chaos took his own personal scandal tornado to the pandemic plagued state of Arizona yesterday. One could even call him the White Tornado like in the old Ajax commercials:

Admittedly, that analogy is imperfect. President* Pennywise spreads dirt and destruction wherever he goes. Perhaps that makes him Pigpen’s evil twin:

The Impeached Insult Comedian was in Arizona to plug his stupid wall and oblige his supporters to sit in close proximity to one another. This time a smaller venue was chosen so it was not a repeat of the Tulsa Trainwreck other than the pandemic spreading possibility of this rally. In a church no less. I guess evangelicals expect the pandemic to bring on Armageddon. I have no idea why they’re giddy at that prospect, but they are. They and Trump deserve each other.

As long as Trump remains in office, the country will be on a permanent Scandal Tornado Watch. The only way to end that is to vote him out. Make it so, America, make it so.

The last word goes to ELO with a tornadic tune:

The Joke’s On Them

I had not originally planned to spike the ball over the Tulsa fiasco but it’s turning out to be a landmark in the decline and fall of the Trump cult.

I received a nearly hysterical fundraising email from Move On yesterday. It proclaimed that Trump *would* win if I didn’t give them money. The timing was bad after only 6,200 people attended what I will hereinafter refer to as the Tulsa Trainwreck. I feel a segment header coming on.

The Tulsa Trainwreck: The excuses are flying. This admission of failure made me chuckle. No, make that cackle:

Now, some White House officials said the campaign was being dishonest about what had gone wrong, and they conceded that many of the president’s older supporters had decided attending the rally was too risky amid coronavirus fears that Mr. Trump has repeatedly played down.

Dishonest? Ya think? Dishonesty is a given with these people. Delusional is more like it.

Team Trump also trotted out the “it’s just a joke” defense over this comment:

This time the joke’s on them.

The Tulsa Trainwreck is a signal that the vaunted Trump base is neither as dedicated nor as large as everyone claims it is. It’s also a signal that some of them are starting to realize that they’re being used and that President* Pennywise does not give a shit about them. Stay tuned.

Pirating Bolton: In my John Bolton Can Go Fuck Himself piece I urged people to post pirate copies on the internet. Apparently, I missed the fun this weekend as my wish came true. If anyone has a copy they’d like to share, please let me know.

It reminds me of the days of Pirate Radio:

Be Careful Out There: COVID-19 numbers are on the rise. Magical thinking seems to have seized the populace as reports of large gatherings became ubiquitous this weekend. New Orleans is particularly vulnerable as drive-in tourists from Texas, Mississippi, Alabama ,and Florida are showing up to party like there’s no pandemic. Playing American Roulette is for suckers.

This Twitter exchange sums up my feelings as this point:

We’re in the wack-a-mole stage of the pandemic, which is made worse by all the wishful thinking. At least we know who to blame:

Perry Who? I was excited about the Perry Mason reboot with Matthew Rhys in the title role. I even thought I might recap it. Then, I saw the first episode.

It was a trainwreck; there’s that word again. Other than the character names, it has nothing whatsoever to do with either the Erle Stanley Gardner books or the teevee series with Raymond Burr. I *expected* it to be different but not disconnected.

HBO’s Perry Who is a sleazy gumshoe living on his deceased parents’ farm outside Los Angeles. Worst of all, despite being played by a smart actor, he came off as a depressed dolt. Perry Mason was always the smartest guy in the room, not the most depressed.

If anything, Dr. A hated it more than I did. I’m willing to see if the series gets any better because it has such a stellar cast but whatever it is, it’s not Perry Mason. I’ll try and watch it as a period private eye show. Hopefully, future episodes will be better, they can’t get much worse.

Whoever thought that Perry Who should be a mediocre private eye, not a lawyer should have their head examined. Then there’s the matter of character age, Perry Who is a depressed Great War veteran in a series set in 1932. Matthew Rhys is 46 and Raymond Burr was 40 when cast as Perry Mason. In the books, Perry read for the law in his twenties. That makes sense. Perry Who as a 40-something gumshoe does not.

There was a lot of room left by the Gardner books and the Burr teevee series to do something interesting with the Perry Mason characters. The makers of Perry Who dropped the ball.

In the immortal words of the Men on Film of In Living Color fame:

That brings us back to the post title. The joke is a sick one and it’s not only on them, it’s on all of us.

The last word goes to Steve (not Steven) Miller:

 

 

 

Seminole Bingo

I had my first major masked foray outside Adrastos World HQ yesterday. I believe in masking during the pandemic but have a hard time finding one that fits me. I have a huge head, y’all. My noggin is purt near melon-sized as our rural brethren might say.

I’m in desperate need of new glasses so I masked up and went to Costco Optical. Our former local optical outlet was sold to a big corporation, so I decided to go to a big box operator I’m familiar with. It went okay other than my glasses repeatedly fogging up due to the mask. Holy heavy breathing, Batman. I took a cataract test that reminded me of Space Invaders. Yes. I’m that old.

Not all our potpourri segments involve Florida, but they all involve risky, opportunistic behavior. Hence this weekday theme song:

Carl Hiaasen co-wrote that song. It doesn’t get more Florida than that, y’all.

Classified Pizza? Remember when House GOPers stormed the SCIF during the House impeachment hearings? The ringleader was pinhead Florida Congressman, Matt Gaetz. Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, who was there describes their fratty-n-bratty revelry in a new book, which was excerpted at Vanity Fair:

At one point after coming back out from a meeting with Schiff, I returned to the smell of pizza, lots of pizza. The Republicans had brought dozens of boxes of pizza into the SCIF to feed themselves. I hadn’t eaten all day because I’d been dealing with the Republicans’ nonsense. I walked over to one of the boxes, reached across Jim Jordan, and grabbed a slice. I was not going to be physically confrontational. Maybe ten years before I would have been a little more in-your-face and tried to throw those guys out myself, just a goalkeeper clearing out the penalty box. But what would that have accomplished? I would like to think I’ve matured. But I certainly was going to eat their pizza.

There’s one flaw in Swallwell’s account. What kind of pizza? Specialty? Pepperoni? Cheese? Enquiring minds wanna know.

We stay in Florida with our next segment.

Saw It Off? Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is Trumpier than thou. He’s played wingnut ostrich during the pandemic allowing the state to remain as open as an open sore. His administration even fired its COVID-19 numbers person so they could cook the books.

Florida’s loosey-goosey approach to the pandemic has bitten them in the ass. One night in one Florida bar infected 16 patrons and 7 employees. And these are the sort of people flocking to New Orleans right now.

I think Bugs Bunny had the right idea:

I am, of course, joking. It would, however, have the salutary effect of sending Mar-a-Lago out to sea. Hey Bugs. could you please do it when the Kaiser of Chaos is in residence?

Before leaving Florida, an Elvis song:

Let’s move our twisted bingo game North, not to Alaska, but to Columbus, Ohio home of THE Ohio State University

Jugglers, Not Juggalos: There was mass confusion recently in Columbus.  The local constabulary were flummoxed when this bus arrived in town:

Instead of the unicorns of the left, the Antifa, the bus was populated by hippies who are into juggling and other circus-type tricks. The “weapons” were knives for cooking and axes to chop wood for a stove. It’s a good thing Ronald Reagan and Abe Lincoln aren’t around. They were both into using axes as well:

Make sure you read TPM’s Kate Riga’s hilarious account of this incident. Oh yeah, the jugglers got their bus and tools back and beat it out of town.

I wonder if they used to follow the Dead around in that bus. The local cops were often perturbed by Deadhead encampments. Speaking of the Dead and beating it:

Back to the punny segment title: Jugglers, Not Juggalos. I seem to have to confused Insane Clown Posse fans with the Boogaloo Boys who are the wingnuts who wear Hawaiian shirts to protests. As you can see from this tweet, an apology is in order:

Another word that sounds like Juggalo is Gigolo. That’s why the last word goes to my homey Louis Prima:

Songs For The Pandemic: Deal

I’ve been busy this morning painting myself in and out of corners for Wednesday’s 13th Ward Rambler column at the Bayou Brief. Shorter Adrastos: I’m all written out for the day.

One thing I write about is my concern over the premature spiking of the pandemic ball. People are acting like the crisis is over. They’re wrong. I’m not gambling with my life. Instead, I’m posting a few gambling songs as part of the Songs For The Pandemic series.

Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter was an avid user of poker analogies in his lyrics. We begin with two of his finest creations; both performed live on Halloween in 1980.

Dr. John’s contribution to the Deadicated album was a swell interpretation of Deal. It was made for Mac’s voice:

The great Dave Alvin covered Loser on his album of songs by California songwriters, West Of The West:

The Allman Brothers were on the skids in 1975 when they recorded the Win Lose or Draw album. They broke up for the first time not long after recording it. The title track is not about gambling per se, but its bleakness makes it a tune for our times:

Now that we’ve gone to prison with the Allman Brothers, let’s close on a more upbeat note with a gambling song written in 1950 by Frank Loesser for Guys and Dolls. It later became the property of the Chariman of the Board:

Amnesia

Gore Vidal liked to call our country The United States of Amnesia. The Master was referring to our national penchant to forget unpleasant things.

I have something more specific in mind: many people are acting as if the pandemic is over or was “fake news” to begin with. I’m still hunkering, but I keep seeing reports of clueless selfishness. I hope people will remove their unmasked heads from the sand before the second wave kicks our asses.

A reminder:  115,291 Americans have died as of this writing. This is some serious shit, y’all.

On to the music, we’ll move from literal amnesia to the figurative, even reckless, kind.

We begin with some fabulous blues rock from Austin Texas:

Next up, a tune from my old friends The Tubes. I must admit I forgot this one. Hopefully, it’s not because I’m a WPOD.

Ringo Starr gets in on the action with this 2003 song:

If 20% Amnesia is all you have, you’re doing pretty darn well during these confusing and confounding times:

Finally, a song from Richard Thompson’s Amnesia album. It aptly describes the maskless masses:

Still Can’t Trust That Day

Tropical Storm Cristobal was something of a non-event in New Orleans. Other parts of the broader Metro Area and Gulf South weren’t so lucky. We’re still experiencing the odd severe rain band but if this is our tropical system for the year, we’re lucky. Knock on wood.

An odd phenomenon of the social media era is people complaining about preparing for a storm then bitching about it not being severe. It’s what we want, y’all.  Is it my fault if you bought too much water and food you’ll only eat when the power is out? Talk about first world problems. Eat your Vienna Sausages and STFU.

A friend of mine made a more salient point on Facebook. Why can’t our brains process more than once thing at a time? Locally, we’ve gone from focusing on the pandemic to the protests and, briefly, to hurricane season. The MSM has this problem in spades: one major story at a time is all they can handle. The pandemic didn’t go anywhere. Our inability to multi-task is likely to lead to a second wave.

The Trump regime has largely abandoned the subject of the pandemic since it was a loser for them. They’re now fixated on LAW & ORDER. The big question for me is this: SVU; Criminal Intent; or the original Law & Order?

William Hermann Goering Barr faced the nation yesterday. It was a pitiful performance as he tried to argue that pepper spray and tear gas are not chemicals. It reminded me of a kid who discovers for the first time that a tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable. Barr is not a kid and ketchup is neither a vegetable nor a fruit.

There’s been much mockery of Willard Mittbot Romney for marching in the BLM protest yesterday. It doesn’t make him a hero, but I believe in coalition building so I’ll take allies wherever I find them. Besides, he earned some cred with me by voting to remove the Impeached Insult Comedian from office.

The Gray Lady seems to have recovered from losing its Cotton Pickin’ Mind after publishing a fascist op-ed from Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton. The opinion editor quit in the face of widespread unrest on the paper’s staff. Maybe the opinion page will abandon its recent obsession with trying to “challenge” the paper’s liberal readers. They should leave “owning the libs” to Fox News.

Finally, a few unfashionable thoughts about the latest craze: “Defund the Police.” In this instance, the details are, on the whole, good not devilish. Reducing the police’s involvement in things they’re bad at handling such as mental illness and domestic violence is a good idea. The label sucks. It implies that utopia will be the result of the George Floyd protests.

Violent crimes still need investigating; what is needed is to demilitarize the police and address racist violence by law enforcement. The overall idea behind “defund the police” is not a bad one but the presentation is terrible. It implies that “burning down” the system is a good idea. I had hoped that Trump’s “burning down” US foreign policy among other things would have disabused people of the notion that disruption and destruction are good ideas. Like Cory Booker, I prefer reform and rebuilding.

Repeat after me: Words Matter.

The last word goes to Stephen Stills with a song written in 1971 that’s still relevant today:

Blind Pig, Acorn

Hell has officially frozen over. I am writing for the first time in praise of the Turtle aka Mitch McConnell. He’s proven that there’s some truth in the hoary aphorism: “even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while.”

In this case, the blind pig is wearing a mask:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday made an extensive pitch for Americans to don face masks as a means to begin returning the country to normalcy while the coronavirus remains a threat.

“There’s no stigma attached to wearing a mask. There’s no stigma attached to staying six feet apart,” the Kentucky Republican said at an event back in his home state, referencing social distancing guidelines recommended to stem the transmission of the coronavirus.

<SNIP>

McConnell’s comments targeted at young people came after images of Americans partying over Memorial Day weekend flooded social media and drew rebukes from local health officials

“That’s not too much to ask of a younger person,” he said of wearing face coverings. “So to get through this next phase, as we ease back into normal, even if you’re in a low-risk category, do what we’re asking you to do for the good of others as we begin to move back to normal.”

Asked what lawmakers and federal officials can do to impart the benefits of wearing masks on fellow Americans, the majority leader said that he tries to set “a good example,” noting that there are photos of him “all over the place” wearing his mask and offering to put his back on and pose for more if necessary.

You know things are bad when President* Pennywise makes Moscow Mitch look good. The concept of setting a good example is utterly alien to Trump. It’s part of being an adult and a leader. He’s neither.

There’s also a cynical interpretation of the Turtle’s remarks. The most cynical man in American politics is slowly but surely putting some distance between himself and the Impeached Insult Comedian. McConnell can read both the tea leaves and the polls. The highly respected Cook Report believes that 9 senate seats are in play right now: 4 toss ups and 5 leaners. They’re are also 3 seats listed as likely GOP, which means they’re not out of reach if there’s a Democratic landslide. One of them is Kentucky, which should be solidly in the Republican camp.

The red wall is cracking. 5 more months of presidential* lunacy could see it crumble. Stay tuned.

American Carnage, 2020

Image by Michael F.

I’m tired of being angry. I’m tired of sleeping badly.  I’m tired of having bad dreams inspired by death, disease, and the relentless flow of bad news. Above all else, I’m tired of Donald Trump. In short, as Civil Rights hero Fannie Lou Hamer said in 1964,  I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I woke up way too early this morning pondering President* Pennywise’s inaugural address. At the time, it seemed to be a blast from the misbegotten past of the crack cocaine epidemic or a twisted fantasy spun by Bannon and Miller:

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

The real carnage began that day. I didn’t see the speech because I was attending the Jazz Funeral For Lady Liberty protest march in New Orleans. I found the American Carnage line to be bizarre considering the progress made on the economy during the Obama presidency. I didn’t realize that it foreshadowed the dark days of 2020.

Trump’s presidency has reeled from one disaster to another. We all dreaded a major crisis occurring on his watch but assumed it would be a war in the Middle East, which is what Republican presidents do. Instead, we have a pandemic that has already killed more Americans than the wars in Korea and Vietnam combined. The pandemic, in turn, has caused a Second Great Depression that will not be cured by “reopened” shopping malls, barber shops, and restaurants.

The Impeached Insult Comedian has ostentatiously refused to take any responsibility for this American Carnage. Instead, he views it as a disaster afflicting him. This just in from Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman:

As he headed into Memorial Day weekend, Donald Trump complained that he was COVID-19’s biggest victim. “He was just in a fucking rage,” said a person who spoke with Trump late last week. “He was saying, ‘This is so unfair to me! Everything was going great. We were cruising to reelection!” Even as the death toll neared 100,000 and unemployment ranks swelled to over 38 million, Trump couldn’t see the pandemic as anything other than something that had happened to him. “The problem is he has no empathy,” the adviser said. Trump complained that he should have been warned about the virus sooner. “The intelligence community let me down!” he said.

Blaming the so-called Deep State won’t wash the blood off his hands. The buck for this American Carnage stops at the Oval Office. Unfortunately, we’ve gone from Harry (The Buck Stops Here) Truman to Donald (This Is So Unfair To Me) Trump whose latest title is the Buckpasser-in-Chief. This American Carnage is on him.

Perhaps my wakeful thoughts of the American Carnage speech were inspired by watching Rachel Maddow last night. She focused on the pandemic’s frightening impact on nursing homes and meatpacking plants. The latter debacle shows that this is a Republican problem, not just a Trumper problem. The GOP’s deregulatory fervor has tied OSHA’S hands. They issued some timid guidelines at the start of the crisis and nothing since then. I should have said that Republican Koch suckers have amputated OSHA’s regulatory hands. This American Carnage is on them.

One reason I’ve long thought the Kaiser of Chaos would lose re-election is that many Americans are sick and tired of being sick and tired. This president* believes that people can’t get enough of him. He’s wrong. He’s overexposed. Unlike past presidents, he’s incapable of leaving the spotlight. It will be his undoing.

Nobody other than Trumper true believers want to hear him accuse Joe Scarborough of murder. This is just the latest example of Trump’s specialty of tormenting families who have lost loved ones. Add the name Klausutis to the list that includes Khan and Johnson. This is not just a Trumper problem, it’s a Republican problem. Remember Terry Schiavo? This American Carnage is on them.

Waking up angry isn’t good for the soul but at least I have one. President* Pennywise only cares about himself, not the nearly 100,000 people who have died as a result of his grotesque incompetence. He’s falling back on medical quackery  vicious attacks, and magical thinking to salvage his wrecked presidency. One more quote from Gabe Sherman’s piece:

But the biggest obstacle standing in the way of a Trump-campaign reset is the candidate. “Trump is doing it to himself by tweeting idiotic conspiracy theories about Joe Scarborough. Women are tired of this shit,” said another former West Wing official. An outside adviser agreed. “Trump can’t pivot to a different strategy,” the adviser told me. “He only knows one strategy—which is attack. It worked in 2016. But now it’s not what people are looking for.” The adviser told me that Trump’s New York friends are planning an intervention to get him to stop tweeting about the Morning Joe cohost.

And when he’s not feeling helpless or aggrieved, Trump continues to cling to magical thinking. “He lives in his own fucking world,” the outside adviser said. Trump recently told a friend that the Moderna vaccine is going to be ready in months.

Those of us who live in the real world think that another COVID-19 spike is coming because of the selfish Trumpian haste to “reopen.” The only thing they’re “reopening” is another death spiral. This American Carnage can only be stopped by voting Republicans out of office. This is on the American people. If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, throw the bums out. It’s time for them to go.

Since this post was partially inspired by a bad dream, the last word goes to Procol Harum and the original Nosferatu, Max Schreck.

If you thought that was insufficiently gloomy, here’s another song from the same album:

 

The Long Tail

One legacy, leading to another and another: 

The era of slavery was when white Americans determined that black Americans needed only the bare necessities, not enough to keep them optimally safe and healthy. It set in motion black people’s diminished access to healthy foods, safe working conditions, medical treatment and a host of other social inequities that negatively impact health.

This message is particularly important in a moment when African-Americans have experienced the highest rates of severe complications and death from the coronavirus and “obesity” has surfaced as an explanation. The cultural narrative that black people’s weight is a harbinger of disease and death has long served as a dangerous distraction from the real sources of inequality, and it’s happening again.

Reliable data are hard to come by, but available analyses show that on average, the rate of black fatalities is 2.4 times that of whites with Covid-19. In states including Michigan, Kansas and Wisconsin and in Washington, D.C., that ratio jumps to five to seven black people dying of Covid-19 complications for every one white death.

For YEARS I didn’t get a flu shot because my grandmother told us all about the one time she got one, and got sick for the one and only time in her entire life. I mean like I started getting the flu shot when I got pregnant, six and a half years ago. I was 38 years old, white and the daughter of a middle-class health professional, I went to college, I read books, I knew better, but: no flu shot for me, and even now, when I do get one, every year, somewhere in the back of my mind is my grandmother’s disappointment.

No voice is louder than that of family, ever, and yet we act like other people can just pick up and forget.

You can’t just walk away from what you created, ever. What stories did your grandparents tell? Mine talked about the Great Depression, about families with a dozen kids and no food, about orphanages and deprivation, making do and doing without. What the human body can survive is unbelievable. How hard we fight to stay alive, but that doesn’t mean any of it goes away. And we’re surprised there’s a retina burn on our history?

You’re staring straight into the sun now. What stories will the people most harmed by this tell their grandchildren, about deprivation, about want? About what they survived and what they had to do in order to do it, and who didn’t, and why? Those stories will determine the shape of their children’s worlds. It doesn’t even matter if they’re true, though I doubt anything is fiction anymore. I have no idea if my grandmother got sick from a flu shot; why would I look for proof? Her younger brother died of an infection today’s antibiotics would have cured in a week. Fear of want lurked beneath everything we did, though never for a day did we go without food.

There are aftershocks to every trauma; can you even begin to calculate what there might be, to something of this size?

A.

 

Memorial Day: Who I Remember

Memorial Day should be a solemn and somber holiday as we’re honoring those who served in the military during wartime, especially those who paid the ultimate price. The nature of this holiday is often honored in breach by those who crowd the beaches and parks. In ordinary times, that’s merely annoying. These are not ordinary times; in 2020, it’s infuriating.

Memorial Day 2020 is beyond somber, it’s downright grim. We’re approaching a macabre milestone: the 100,000 death from the novel coronavirus, which was memorably noted in Sunday’s New York Times. Two stories captured my attention this morning as I scanned the digital edition of the Gray Lady. The first is about how our monstrously mendacious president* went golfing this weekend as the country suffers from his misrule. He has yet to express sympathy for those who have lost loved ones to the pandemic; not even on his beloved Twitter. Mourner-in-Chief has long been part of the job description but he’s incapable of even paying lip service to the dead. In a word: monstrous. That’s why I call him President* Pennywise.

The second story is about the pandemic’s toll on Holyoke Home for Soldiers in Massachusetts.

Of the 210 veterans who were living in the facility in late March, 89 are now dead, 74 having tested positive for the virus. Almost three-quarters of the veterans inside were infected. It is one of the highest death tolls of any end-of-life facility in the country.

This is a gut punch of a story, reminding us of how hollow the nation’s commitment to our veterans often is. Meanwhile President* Pennywise golfs and tweets; oblivious to the grim milestone noted by the NYT. He is incapable of even feigning empathy with the survivors of those who have died due to his grotesque incompetence. It didn’t have to be this bad and the buck stops in the Oval Office. In a word: infuriating.

We return to our regularly scheduled annual programming, but I would have been remiss in not mentioning our current national tragedy on this most solemn of holidays:

There’s nothing like a national holiday to make one feel ritualistic.This post is making its eleventh annual appearance at First Draft. It was also published in our anthology, Our Fate Is Your Fate.

I realize it *should* be posted on Veterans Day since my remembered soldier survived the war BUT old habits are hard to break. Besides, I would face the wrath of both Athenae and Dr. A if I didn’t post it. So, here we go again:

The veteran I’d like to remember on this solemn holiday is the late Sgt. Eddie Couvillion.

Soldier Boy

My family tree is far too tangled and gnarly to describe here but suffice it to say that Eddie was my second father. He served in Europe during World War II, not in combat but in the Army Quartermaster Corps. In short, he was a supply Sergeant, one of those guys who won the war by keeping the troops fed, clad, and shod. Eddie was what was called in those days a scrounger; not unlike Milo Minderbinder in Catch-22 or James Garner’s character in The Great Escape. 

Eddie’s favorite military exploit was running an army approved bordello in France after hostilities ended. He always called it a cat house and bragged that it was the best little whorehouse in Europe. One can serve one’s country in manifold ways…

Eddie died 5 years ago [2005] and I still miss him. He was a remarkable man because he changed so much as he aged. When I met him, he was a hardcore Texas/Louisiana conservative with old South racial views and attitudes. At an age when many people close their minds, Eddie opened his and stopped thinking of black folks as a collective entity that he didn’t care for and started thinking of them as individuals. Eddie was a genuine Southern gentleman, so he’d never done or said an unkind thing to anyone and confided to me that the only one he’d ever hurt by being prejudiced was himself. I was briefly speechless because we’d had more than a few rows over that very subject. Then he laughed, shook his head and said: “Aren’t you going to tell me how proud you are of me? You goddamn liberals are hard to satisfy.”

Actually, I’m easily satisfied. In 2004, Eddie had some astonishing news for me: he’d not only turned against the Iraq War but planned to vote for John Kerry because “Bush Junior is a lying weasel and a draft dodger.” That time he didn’t need to ask me if I was proud of him, it was written all over my face. It was the first and only time he ever voted for a Democrat for President.

I salute you, Sgt. Couvillion. I only wish that I could pour you a glass of bourbon on the rocks and we could raise our glasses in a Memorial Day toast.

Selfishness

Yeah:

I mean, as much as anything would shut the NRA crowd up, maybe a message of WEAR A MASK SO A FOREIGNER DOES NOT GIVE YOUR WHITE DAUGHTERS THE PLAGUE would have helped. These hissyfits almost never make sense, though, so I’m hesitant to attribute the behavior of the president’s fanclub to actual things and not to, say, whatever propaganda they’re absorbing through who knows what kind of talk radio signals.

Look, I’m claustrophobic and wear glasses and a mask makes me HUGELY uncomfortable. The sight of crowds of people in masks tweaks something in me and it’s scary, and you know what?

MY FEELINGS DON’T MATTER AT ALL GOOD GOD.

Crowds of people in masks seem scary, and so the answer to that isn’t to not wear a mask, it’s to not vote for a headass sentient cheeto who mishandles a pandemic so badly that we need to wear masks in crowds instead of having a summer that looks like last summer.

If  I don’t want to wear a mask, or see crowds of people wearing masks, I can stay home, stay away from crowds, and not do things like go to stores or the farmer’s market. That’s how I can not be scared while also NOT POTENTIALLY SPEWING VIRUS ALL OVER PEOPLE OR TAKING IT IN THROUGH MY FACE. It’s really a dumb argument to have to make, which is the point of making us make it, which is to distract us from all the dead people.

This isn’t about freedom, it never is. And it’s not even about protecting ourselves, because if it was, we’d be protecting ourselves by voting out every member of the GOP forever until the end of time. That’s the only way to end this.

A.

Headline Of The Day: GOP Sycophancy Edition

I awoke this morning feeling unproductive. It may have had something to with the 32 ounces of frozen margarita I imbibed last night. To paraphrase an old beer ad: Great taste, not so great feeling. Whiskey and beer are my jam, not tequila.

Shorter Adrastos, I’m feeling unproductive this morning. Did I say that already?

I may rally before the Friday Cocktail Hour but Charlie Pierce has bailed me out with this headline:

Ron Desantis’s Devotion To Trump Makes Brian Kemp Look Like Adam Schiff.

Both Florida and Georgia have governors who won close races against African American opponents. Kemp was helped by some good old-fashioned voter suppression and his refusal to resign as Secretary of State during the campaign

Neither DeSantis nor Kemp would have won without Trump’s support. Hence their endless sycophancy. They’ve both fiddled with the books to minimize the impact of the pandemic in their states. So much for the latest iteration of the New South. To paraphrase, H.L. Mencken: it’s the Sahara of the Trumper Bozart.

This tweet from the peerless Mr. Pierce set NOLA Twitter ablaze but left me nonplussed:

Been there, done that with Buy Us Back, Chirac. Pick up the phone, Macron doesn’t have the same ring to it.

The last word goes to The Champs:

Bayou Brief: The Age Of Uncertainty

My latest column for the Bayou Brief went live at 11 AM yesterday. I’m trying to make the time and day, Wednesday, a bi-weekly thing. Regularity in regular features floats my boat. Oops, that sounded like a laxative commercial or some such shit. I should flush that paragraph, but I won’t. I don’t want to bring on another toilet paper apocalypse…

I had a lot of fun writing The Age Of Uncertainty. There’s even a vaguely amusing story about the writing process. I had a notion that I wanted to write about masks, reopening, and pandemic politics BUT I didn’t have a theme to tie everything together in a wordy bundle. The idea of stealing a Galbraith title came to me in a moment of wakefulness at 3 AM on Sunday morning. Sometimes insomnia can come in handy.

I spend some time in the column pondering the masking of America:

An important part of making phase-1 work is a willingness to wear a mask in public. I understand why people dislike masking. I have a size 8 head, which makes it difficult to find a mask that fits. Additionally, I’m almost as blind as a bloody bat and I’ve had a problem with my glasses fogging up while masked. It’s a pain but it’s imperative to protect others from your germs. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to keep my germs to myself and for you to do likewise. It’s one reason I’m staying in my Bat Cave for the time being.

It’s all part of being a grown-up. You gotta do what you need to do, not what you wanna do. What I wanna do is post a Graham Parker song with mask in the title: