Category Archives: Diary

Saturday Odds & Sods: Hold On

Sleeping Girl by Pablo Picasso.

The Odds & Sods spirit is evanescent. I don’t have it this week for a variety of reasons. Nothing serious but enough to make my week harder than need be. As I said in my Thanksgiving post, the holidays are hard for me. This too will pass.

I do, however, have a theme song despite my Saturday post ennui. Hold On was written by Trevor Rabin before he joined Yes. Jon Anderson and Chris Squire helped finish the song and received credit as co-writers. Some of the lyrics are pure Jon.

We have a companion song, Sam & Dave’s hit version of the Hayes/Porter tune:

That’s it for this terse version of Saturday Odds & Sods. The last word goes to the Marx Brothers. It may not be seasonal but it’s suitably silly on a day when comic relief is in order.

Sound Of Lies

“The sound of lies rings funny against the truth.”

Gary Louris, 1997.

When it’s cold, I think of the Jayhawks. They’re based in St. Paul, Minnesota and it doesn’t get much colder than that, y’all. It’s a cold, damp and dreary day in New Orleans but it’s comforting to know it’s colder elsewhere. Cold comfort but comfort, nonetheless.

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this. It’s a frequent phenomenon with my writing. I like to start in one place zigzag about and end up where I started. It’s probably why I like the first segment of Rachel Maddow’s show so much. She does the same thing but at a higher level. I’m just a punster with a small megaphone.

I’ve had Sound Of Lies in my head for several days, but I was inspired to write by a tweet from Matthew Miller who is a Democratic lawyer/MSNBC contributor who was Eric Holder’s spokesman.

The Big Lie is here to stay. Dealing with it seems to baffle the MSM who have a hard time calling a lie a lie. They are getting better at doing so, but the learning curve is particularly steep for the New York Times. It’s not called the Gray Lady for nothing. It’s always been a prim and proper paper. Gray Ladies prefer politer terms for the sort of bald-faced lying that’s in vogue in 2019.

I’m not naive. Politicians, even those I admire, have always lied; sometimes in a good cause, other times to save face. Politicians are human beings and people lie. I was a young political junkie when I heard Jimmy Carter claim that he would never tell a lie if elected president. It was simultaneously implausible and impossible. It helped sow the seeds of his defeat in 1980.

The difference between everyday lies and those told by Trump and his ilk is the degree and extent of their falsehoods. I realize President* Pennywise isn’t much of a reader but even he should know that parable of the boy who cried wolf. Like that boy, Trump has lied so relentlessly that it’s impossible to believe anything he says. Even some MAGA cultists admit that he lies but they don’t care. And I don’t care about them. Wooing them is one lost cause I’m unwilling to take on.

The only weapon against lies is the truth. It’s one reason I’m a bit of a scold when I see people on my side exaggerating and straying from the facts. I’ve stopped doing it on social media because it’s not worth the endless wrangling. A lie is a lie is a lie even if it’s told in a supposedly good cause,

Repeat after me: “The sound of lies rings funny against the truth.”

The last word goes to the Jayhawks:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Suspicious Minds

Charing Cross Bridge by Andre Derain.

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

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

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

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

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

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Talking Turley

I only watched bits and bobs of the Con Law seminar on the Hill yesterday. Watching Louie Gohmert Piles causes my blood pressure to spike and Gym Jordan gives me a headache, so I need to ration my exposure to them. I am, however, acquainted with the GOP’s witness, Jonathan Turley who, as far as I know, is not a Republican and didn’t vote for Trump in 2016. I was relieved to hear that.

Turley was for impeachment before he was against it. It was a repeat performance: He testified before the Judiciary committee during the Clinton impeachment inquiry as did Michael Gerhardt, I’m not sure why they missed Professor Karlan back then. Perhaps their premonitive powers told them she’d make a joke about a future president’s* then unborn child. The Barron flap was right up there with Barack Obama’s tan suit as a phony “scandal.” It was barren of genuine outrage, but everything is phony about the Trumps.

Back to Jonathan Turley. I knew him when he was a baby law professor at Tulane, and I was a student. He was among the friendlier and more approachable faculty members. I can’t say that I knew him well, but I socialized with him in groups because of the POPS program. When I was a 2L, Tulane Law instituted a community service requirement, that’s when Turley launched the Program for Older Prisoners.

The premise of POPS is that older prisoners have mellowed with age and are unlikely to commit crimes upon release. It’s pitched to conservative pols as a cost-saving measure and to liberals as a humanitarian policy. Law students were dispatched to prisons to interview candidates for the program, reports were prepared, and passed on to the authorities. It’s more involved than that but, as you’ll soon see, my personal experience with the process is limited.

I made two trips to Angola State Prison to meet with prisoner/candidates. I seem to have drawn the short end of the straw: both convicts were convicted rapists and pedophiles. One was a very muscular, heavily tattooed 65-year-old who was unrepentant about his perverted predilections. I asked him why he’d applied given his lack of remorse. He hadn’t a visitor in years and wanted someone to talk to. The other guy was a repentant perv, but a poor candidate for early release. Suffice it to say I didn’t recommend either of them. My skin crawls recalling the first guy whose name I’ve withheld to protect the guilty.

Turley was a surprisingly subtle choice for committee GOPers to make. His position is not that Trump is a good guy who should never be impeached but that Congress should wait for the courts to rule on the pending witness and document cases before proceeding. In the abstract, there’s some merit to this argument BUT given the Trump regime’s relentless stonewalling it’s a terrible idea in the real world. The reason for the expedited process is a genuine concern that Team Trump will stage an encore performance of 2016 in next year’s election. Two stolen 21st Century elections aren’t enough; they want to complete a trifecta in 2020.

Unlike the House Republicans who called him to testify, Jonathan Turley is neither a bad nor venal person but he’s wrong about the Trump impeachment inquiry. I would, however, be remiss if I didn’t link to Dana Milbank’s hilarious takedown of the Turley testimony in the WaPo. I can’t resist quoting Milbank quoting Turley:

“I get it: You are mad,” he testified. “The president is mad. My Democratic friends are mad. My Republican friends are mad. My wife is mad. My kids are mad. Even my dog seems mad — and Luna is a goldendoodle and they don’t get mad. So we’re all mad.”

Damn right we are! But nowhere in the Constitution does it state that a president shall not be impeached if people — or their dogs — are mad.

I’ll be doggone. Lawyers say the darndest things.

The last word goes to Aaron Neville and the Neville Brothers:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Time Won’t Let Me

Hummingbirds by Walter Inglis Anderson.

I hope everyone had a festive and gluttonous Thanksgiving. We had a double header: first in Red Stick with the surviving outlaw, then in the evening with our friends Will and Jennifer. Will is the King Cake Baron of New Orleans. I just wanted to prove that I don’t hate *all* royals, certainly not those that may involve royal icing. I’m not sure if that joke made any sense but when did that ever stop me?

This week’s theme song was written in 1966 by Tom King and Chad Kelly in 1965 for their band, The Outsiders. It was a big hit, reaching #5 on the Billboard charts.

We have three versions of Time Won’t Let Me for your listening pleasure: The Outsiders original, a 1981 version by Iggy Pop, and a 1994 version recorded by The Smithereens for use in the movie Timecop.

Time for another timely tune; hopefully time *will* let me post it:

Time’s a wasting for us to jump to the break.

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Waiting For The Spank Electrician

I need a mental health break from writing about the bottomless pit of Trump scandals until next week. Hell, the country needs a mental health break from thinking about them. That’s why I decided to do a bit of storytelling. The world needs more tall tales even if they’re about short people in small houses. No hobbits were harmed in the writing of this post.

The post title is inspired by the comedy album Waiting For The Electrician Or Someone Like Him. It was the debut album by hippie Dadaists, The Firesign Theatre. The album cover is above and if you click on this link, you can hear the whole damn thing. It’s electrifying.

At long last we begin our story:

We had electrical problems a few weeks ago. One of my Spank krewe mates is a crack electrician so he came over to solve the problem, which turned out not to be as bad as feared. While I waited for him, I began a tweet with the line “Waiting for the Spank electrician.” One of my faithful readers and twitter pals, Al Dunn, said it was the line of the day that day. I decided to see if lightning would strike again at First Draft.

While the Spank electrician worked on our circuit breaker box, I regaled him with stories of our former across the street neighbor, the Polish Electrician. I’ll call him PE for short, which works because the Spank electrician goes by TS. I’m also acronym-ing him because the story I’m telling is strictly from memory, so I changed the names to protect the innocent, not me. I am rarely, if ever, innocent.

We moved into our house in the 13th Ward in August of 2000. In that pre-gentrification era, one encountered the neighbors almost immediately. One of the first neighbors we met was PE’s charming wife Miss V (hereinafter MV) followed in short order by her equally charming husband, PE.

The couple lived across the street in the smallest house on the block. It was a perfect fit because they’re both petite people. As Dr. A liked to say it was “a sweet little house just right for sweet little people.”

They’re both immigrants: MV is Mexican and PE is Polish. They mostly spoke to one another so their mutual accent in English was a mélange of Mexican and Polish. It was simultaneously endearing and hilarious. I’m uncertain whether I should call their patois Mexi-Pole or Pole-Mex. Probably the former, the latter sounds too much like poleaxe. Mexi-Pole it is.

PE’s New Orleans origin story is an interesting one.  It happened during the Cold War. He was then a sailor, hey. He was in port, jumped ship, and defected. In those days, we encouraged skilled workers to come to America and defect from Communist countries. It was long before Tucker Carlson bragged about rooting for Russia. Nobody rooted for Russia then, especially not Poles. Lech Walesa weeps.

PE moved into one side of a double occupied by Polish sailors. The other side was essentially a crack house. It was converted into a single-family home at the end of the previous century. We live there now, unaccompanied by Polish sailors or crack dealers. As recently as 2010, we received mail for one of the crackheads, usually overdue bills or parking tickets. We tried returning them to sender, but they kept bouncing back to us, so we gave up. It’s what I get for taking advice from an Elvis song.

PE could fix anything. In addition to being a skilled electrician, he was a licensed HVAC tech. It was great having a neighbor who would come over at a moment’s notice to help and at family rates no less. It’s hard not to miss a neighbor like that.

A few years after Katrina and the Federal Flood, PE and MV moved. It was a sad day on our block. I miss chatting with them in their Mexi-Pole accents. It was always an adventure. They left behind a legacy of kindness and neighborliness as well as a good story. It was time to share it with my readers.

I gave myself a pair of earworms as I wrote this so the last word goes to Yes and Bob Weir:

Bayou Brief: Now Be Thankful

My annual Thanksgiving post, Now Be Thankful, has migrated to the Bayou Brief. I’ve tweaked it and added a tribute to a family friend, former Congresswoman Cathy Long. This version essentially tells my Louisiana origin story. I use that term loosely since I am neither super nor a hero.

The last word goes to Fairport Convention:

 

Rex Meets The Greek Pretender

Elite New Orleans loses its head over royalty, fake and otherwise. That’s why a big deal was made about a recent charity soiree at Antoine’s:

Greek royalty was welcomed to New Orleans Saturday by New Orleans Carnival royalty during an elegant dinner at Antoine’s restaurant.

Prince Pavlos and Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece were greeted with a proclamation by the reigning Rex, King of Carnival, Robert S. Boh, during the dinner, hosted by John and Dathel Georges.

The Greek monarchs were visiting to commemorate the 1953 visit of King Pavlos and Queen Frederika, Prince Pavlos’ grandparents, to New Orleans. The dinner also served as a benefit for the Prince’s Trust, which helps needy children in Greece.

A monarch is one who either reigns or rules. The Greek royals do neither. The proper term for Pavlos is pretender. The Greek royal family have not reigned since 1967 when the pretender’s father, Constantine, connived with the Colonels in a coup against the legally elected government. Constantine’s attempt at a counter-coup failed and he was sent into exile.

This Greek-American is a small r republican when it comes to my ancestral homeland. It’s in the blood: I’m distantly related to President Eleftherios Venizelos who was instrumental in abolishing the monarchy in 1924. It returned in 1935 as the hand maiden of military dictatorship. I will, however, give them credit for not collaborating when the Nazis conquered Greece. They went into exile instead. They’re good at going into exile.

The monarchy was formally abolished by referendum after the fall of  the junta in 1974. Even most Greek conservatives excoriated the royals at that time. Deposed King Constantine was in exile until 2013. The chances of a restoration are slim and none.

I originally planned to write a funny piece mocking two fake royals: Rex and the Greek pretender. When I reminded myself of the bloody anti-democratic history of the Greek monarchy that became impossible. I’m glad that money was raised for a good cause but pumping up the ego of the Greek pretender in the press is creepy.

The host of the event was vending machine and media mogul John Georges. He’s the sort of Greek-American who still calls Istanbul, Constantinople. He seems to fancy himself local royalty when he’s merely a rich guy with a media megaphone. I wonder if he’s hoping to become a fake count or phony duke some day that will never come.

I’ll take the honest fake royalty (if such a thing is possible) of Rex over the pretensions of a pretender any day. Besides, the family name is Glucksberg. Does that sound Greek to you?

The last word goes to Jackson Browne:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Behind The Wall Of Sleep

Sleeping Girl by Pablo Picasso.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the impeachment hearings ate my week. It wasn’t a snack, it was a tasting menu of scandal, malakatude, and heroism. Democrats have found their mojo: I was proud of their performance in the face of Republican shouting and conspiracy theorizing. That was down to Chairman Schiff  who refused to take any shit from committee GOPers. I’m less confident of the performance of Judiciary Chairman Nadler but the ball will soon be in his court. Stay tuned.

This week’s theme song was written by the late, great Pat DiNizio in 1986 for The Smithereens debut album, Especially For You. The band had been kicking around New Jersey for years before hitting the big time with this great rock song.

We have two versions of Behind The Wall Of Sleep for your listening pleasure: the original video and a 21st Century live version.

There’s a Black Sabbath song with the same title but metal is not my thing so I’ll pass.

Now that we’ve caught up on our sleep, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Still Learning How To Fly

Der Vogelmensch by Max Ernst.

It’s been colder than hell in New Orleans this week. It’s not Wisconsin cold but it’s fucking cold. We had some electrical issues that one of my Spank krewe mates fixed. It’s good to know “people who need people” I understand they “are the luckiest people in the world.” I cannot believe I just went there. In order to salvage my cool cred, here’s some Oscar Peterson:

It’s election day in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. I’m cautiously optimistic that Blue Dog Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards will be re-elected. I hope the voters will remember that Coach O wants them to vote for the Governor. Geaux, Tigers. Geaux, Team Blue.

This week’s theme song was written in 2003 by Rodney Crowell. It’s the opening track of his Fate’s Right Hand album and features one of his finest couplets: “Life’s been good, I guess. My ragged old heart’s been blessed.”

We have two versions of Still Learning How To Fly for your listening pleasure. The original with a full band and a live acoustic rendition.

While we’re in mid flight, how about a song with a similar title by an equally great artist?

It’s time to land. See you on the other side of the break.

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Bayou Brief: Ode To Coach O

My latest column at the Bayou Brief is online. In which I tell my Tiger fan origin story and discuss the ultimate underdog, Ed Orgeron.

I’m literally waiting for the electrician so I’m not sure if I’ll post again today. That’s why I’ve decided to share today’s earworm. It’s winter music from the North Country:

I know what you’re thinking: isn’t that a Dixie Chicks song? True dat but it was co-written by Gary Louris.

Language

Before I became an internet pundit, I occasionally wrote letters to the editor. I had a few published but was always annoyed with the end results. I gave it up when the Picayune so twisted my meaning on a long-forgotten subject that a conservative friend asked if I’d defected to his side. He was disappointed to learn that I had not jumped ship.

That was a long way of saying that I’m quoting a letter to the editor by 33 prominent writers. In this case, the meaning is clear. They want the New York Times and their MSM colleagues to use different language to describe the Trump scandals:

Please stop using the Latin phrase “quid pro quo” regarding the impeachment inquiry. Most people don’t understand what it means, and in any case it doesn’t refer only to a crime. Asking for a favor is not a criminal act; we frequently demand things from foreign countries before giving them aid, like asking them to improve their human rights record.

That is not a crime; the crime is President Trump’s demand for something that will benefit him personally. But using this neutral phrase — which means simply “this for that” — as synonymous with criminality is confusing to the public. It makes the case more complicated, more open to question and more difficult to plead.

Please use words that refer only to criminal behavior here. Use “bribery” or “extortion” to describe Mr. Trump’s demand to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, making it very clear that this is a crime. The more we hear words that carry moral imputations, the more we understand the criminal nature of the act.

As you know, I rarely, if ever, make moral arguments. In this instance, the strongest argument is for clarity. The Trump-Zelensky call reeks of extortion and attempts to bribe the latter with money already allocated to his government by Congress. It’s also called wire fraud. Those are all words that people understand. Latin is for legal eagles and Catholic clerics. It does not soar with the vox populi, I mean, general public.

Words matter. Language is important, especially in this age of obfuscation, truthiness, and newspeak. George Orwell summed it up best 73 years ago in his classic essay, Politics and the English Language. Here are a few pertinent passages. I’m snipping some specific examples to boil Orwell’s argument down to its essence.

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. <SNIP> Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.

<SNIP>

The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics’. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.

News reporters should keep it simple and leave the lofty language and exaggerated metaphors to the pundits. Above all else, skip the Latin and call a bribe a bribe and extortion extortion. Enough with the quid pro quos.

The last word goes to Kiwi rock demigod Dave Dobbyn:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Mystery Train

Train In The Snow by Claude Monet.

I had a head cold this week so I’m going to keep this introduction terse and, uh, heady. If nothing else, I want to prove that I’m capable of brevity. I gave the world a straight line when I called my bi-weekly Bayou Brief column, 13th Ward Rambler. As Captain Beefheart would surely say at this point, Woe-Is-Uh-Me-Bop.

This week’s theme song was written by bluesman Junior Parker in 1953. He cribbed some lyrics from the Carter Family’s Worried Man Blues, which, in turn, borrowed from an old Celtic folk song. That’s American music in a nutshell, y’all.  In 1973, Robbie Robertson added some lyrics to The Band’s version of this classic locomotive tune.

We have three versions of Mystery Train for your listening pleasure: Junior Parker, Elvis Presley, and The Band.

In case you were worried, man, here’s the Carter Family with some hillbilly lagniappe:

Now that I’ve worried you half to death, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: All That You Dream

Drawing for Dante’s Divine Comedy by William Blake.

The weather has been wacked out this week in New Orleans. The temperature dropped 40 degrees in 24 hours. Mother Nature decided to skip fall and move on to winter. That means I’m looking for my winter clothes and turning on the heater early this year. That usually happens after Thanksgiving. Mother Nature is a card.

The response on social media to my Paul Barrere tribute has warmed my icy blue heart. Paul deserved no less. This week’s theme song was written by Paul and Billy Payne for Little Feat’s 1975 release, The Last Record Album.

We have three versions of All That You Dream for your listening pleasure: the Little Feat original with Lowell George on lead vox, a 2010 live version with Paul singing lead, and a 1978 cover by Linda Ronstadt.

It’s time to awaken from our collective dream and jump to the break.

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Gret Stet Goober Race Update

I’ve haven’t written much about the Louisiana Governor’s race here for a couple of reasons. First, my Gret Stet ramblings are on display at the Bayou Brief nowadays. Second, the race is depressing for a variety of reasons that I’ll describe below.

In 2015, I was enthusiastic about the candidacy of Blue Dog Democrat John Bel Edwards. Why? He was running against David Vitter who, while good for the satire biz, scared the shit out of me as a potential Gret Stet Goober. When Edwards won, he became a dragon slayer. I am still grateful for that.

Edwards’ record as Governor has been fairly good. He undid some of the damage done by Bobby Jindal to state government with Medicaid expansion being his greatest accomplishment.

As he approached re-election, Edwards has moved steadily to the right capped off by the horrible abortion bill he signed in May. Here’s what I said earlier this month about Edwards and reproductive rights at the Bayou Brief:

I voted for Edwards in 2015 knowing that he was anti-choice. If he was a no-exceptions right to lifer then, I did not want to know: he was the anti-Vitter. I assumed that such a basically decent man would have the same position as former Governor Blanco and other Blue Dogs. I was wrong. These are darker times and the so-called pro-life right believes they can realize their dream of reversing Roe in one fell swoop. Their dream is my nightmare.

In 2019, I am strictly a clothespin voter in the Governor’s race. Team Edwards is so terrified of Louisiana Trumpers that they’ve taken the Democratic base for granted.  That hurt them in the primary: African American voter turnout was low. If they can’t fix that, Louisiana is in a fix.

The fix is Republican candidate Eddie Rispone. His platform consists of three words: Trump, Trump, Trump. He’s an ignorant rich dude who recites the same buzz words repeatedly: conservative, businessman, outsider, and his greatest hit, Trump, Trumpity, Trump.

Rispone is an insider posing as an outsider and a know-nothing posing as a know-it-all. In last night’s debate, he could not explain WHY he wants a constitutional convention. If elected, he will be the most ignorant Governor since singer-actor Jimmie Davis who is best known for buying and slapping his name on the song You Are My Sunshine as well as his staunch defense of segregation in the early Sixties.

The power behind Rispone is contractor Lane Grigsby who my Bayou Brief colleague Sue Lincoln dubbed The Great Grigsby. His goal seems to be to Trumpify, Kochify, and re-Jindalize state government. Rispone is his dim and sporadically genial front man.

Dr. A declined to watch last night’s Edwards-Rispone debate live and, as usual, she was right. I watched it later and found it depressing. The moderators sucked as did the candidates. It was Rispone’s only run-off debate and his performance was dismal. It was the battle of the unprepared vs. the overprepared, Governor Edwards who came off as a smug dick. It scares me that I like former Governor Mike Foster more than either of these bozos. And I never voted for the man that Clancy DuBos dubbed Governor Warbucks.

Eddie Rispone was so bad in the debate that he reminded me why I’m voting for Edwards. Both candidates suck but Rispone sucks harder. His best bet is to nationalize the race by making it about the Insult Comedian. The Governor’s best bet is to keep it local by making it about PBJ. It boils down to Trump vs. Jindal. Is it any wonder that I’m bummed out about this race?

Voting for the lesser of two evils is the adult thing to do but it’s not a helluva lot of fun. I’ll be glad when it’s over.

The last word goes to Wilco with a song that I’ll be singing on November 16th:

 

Paul Barrere, R.I.P.

1984 album cover.

Little Feat guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Paul Barrere has died at the age of 71. Paul was not a founding member of Little Feat but joined in 1972 and brought his passion for New Orleans music to the band. He thrived as co-lead guitarist first with  Lowell George who died in 1979 and later Fred Tackett.

When Little Feat reformed, Paul was the co-leader of the reborn band. I saw their comeback show on the Riverboat President in New Orleans. Both the boat and the band were rocking so hard that I thought we’d sink.

I met Paul several times over the years. He was just as good a person as a musician. Our longest encounter was when I went to Tipitina’s to be an extra in Little Feat’s Things Happen video. We later became Facebook friends and traded the odd message. He was even known to read First Draft and comment to me on occasion. I was honored.

The last time I heard from Paul, he thanked me for placing his song Rad Gumbo at #8 on my Louisiana Tunes list for the Bayou Brief.

Paul Barrere was a nice man and a great musician. He will be sorely missed.

The best tribute to any musician is to play their music. We’ll start off with the aforementioned Things Happen. It’s an audio only track since the video is not online:

Hunting for that video made me hungry:

Next up is Little Feat’s first single after they regrouped:

This tune was written by Paul and keyboard player Bill Payne. It comes from the Dixie Chicken album and features Lowell George on lead vocals:

As a self-confessed weather obsessive, how I can resist posting Texas Twister? Besides, the best Feat is live Feat:

Finally, the Paul and Fred Acoustic duo. Fred Tackett is the fella with a full head of hair:

Sunday Catblogging: Our Heroine

Last week I wrote that post about what a bitch Ada was and how she never shuts up about anything ever, so I basically deserve what happened yesterday.

It had been raining all day so Kick and Mr. A and I took advantage of being forced indoors to clean out closets and prep the house for an onslaught of holiday visitors and figure out where the mates to all our gloves had gone over the summer. The cats get profoundly, comically offended when we clean, as if us moving things is a personal affront to them and they were very, very close to the dust bunnies we just cavalierly hoovered up.

Which is why it took me a while to figure out something was up with Ada. She was yowling. Not her usual “hey, pay attention and pet me” yowling. She was YOWLING. “Hey IDIOTS something is WRONG here” and so I spent a good 60 minutes roaming the house with her at my heels. Was her brother trapped in the bedroom? Had she shoved her mouse under a closed door? Had a critter gotten in somehow? What was happening?

Finally I went down into the basement to see if her food bowl was empty again somehow and the moment I stepped off the bottom step onto the floor … squish.

Our basement had flooded before after a torrential downpour, but the rain yesterday wasn’t anything like that. And this wasn’t really a flood, just a damp-ish spot near one wall. Mr. A and I checked the perimeter of the rest of the basement. Nothing. Just this one spot, and Ada looming above it, meowing her best “YO MORONS WHAT DO YOU THINK I’VE BEEN TRYING TO TELL YOU” indignancy.

We couldn’t figure out if the water was coming in or up. It didn’t appear to be spreading, so we went outside, walked the perimeter and discovered a whole-ass swimming pool’s worth of filthy rainwater that was backing up because its normal route out was clogged with leaves and roots and dirt. Mr. A and I got flashlights and shovels and a bucket and started digging and bailing, and pretty soon, all was well.

We might have to replace a small spot of carpet pad, but thanks to Ada, that was it. Our heroine, still not ready to stop saying I TOLD YOU SO:

20191027_075830

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Things We Said Today

Circus Sideshow by Georges Seurat.

Fall has finally fallen, fuck yeah. The AC is switched off since it has been in the low to mid 70’s all week. Autumn is a short season in New Orleans so we have to enjoy it while it lasts. I even wore a sweatshirt the other day. Not a big deal where many of you live but after the hottest September on record, I am giddy

In honor of the season, I’m growing a beard for the first time in several years. But if it gets too itchy, I’ll shave it off. Perhaps I should try some hipster beard oil or some such shit. I draw the line at a man bun; not that I have enough hair to have one but if I did, I wouldn’t.

The big local story continues to be the Hard Rock Hotel collapse. They imploded the cranes last Sunday, which made things less bad. We’ll take less bad, y’all.  I’m hoping that City Hall will learn a lesson from this mess and stop letting developers run over them in the future. Real estate developers are the worst.

This week’s theme song is credited to Lennon & McCartney but it’s more Macca than John. It’s one of my favorite early Beatles songs, yeah, yeah, yeah. Or as Paul would say, WOOOOO.

We have three versions of Things We Said Today for your listening pleasure: the Beatles original, Dwight Yoakam’s 1997 cover, and a more recent version by New Orleans singer, Debbie Davis.

It’s time to stop talking and jump to the break.

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Talking Turkey

The fog of scandal is thick and spreading. While it’s true that all roads lead to Russia, there’s at least a back road leading to Turkey. Trump loves autocrats and the Turkish model of government has long been elected autocracy. Erdogan is not the first Turkish strongman and he won’t be the last. It’s why Turkey has always been an odd member of NATO and cannot get into the EU: they have democratic forms but autocratic norms.

As a Greek American, I was raised to be skeptical of Turkish intentions. That upbringing has come in handy since the advent of the Trump regime. I’ve learned that many Americans are unaware of the back story of the Turkish Republic: the Armenian genocide and ethnic cleansing of Anatolian Greeks took place in the era of national hero Kamal Ataturk.

Ataturk was the first president of post-Ottoman Turkey and Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hero and role model. Admiration for a murderous predecessor is something Erdogan and Trump have in common: Ataturk and Andrew Jackson are peas in a bloody pod.

Donald Trump’s business ties to Turkey lurk in the background of this self-created crisis or is that self-inflicted wound? It’s both. It’s time to revisit Kurt Eichenwald’s classic 2016 Newsweek story about the impact of Trump’s business dealings on US national security:

Trump already has financial conflicts in much of the Islamic world, a problem made worse by his anti-Muslim rhetoric and his impulsive decisions during this campaign. One of his most troubling entanglements is in Turkey. In 2008, the Trump Organization struck a branding deal with the Dogan Group, named for its owners, one of the most politically influential families in Turkey. Trump and Dogan first agreed that the Turkish company would pay a fee to put the Trump name on two towers in Istanbul.

When the complex opened in 2012, Trump attended the ribbon-cutting and declared his interest in more collaborations with Turkish businesses and in making significant investments there. In a sign of the political clout of the Dogan family, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Trump and even presided over the opening ceremonies for the Trump-branded property.

Dogan’s subsequent falling out with Erdogan may well have given the latter leverage over President* Pennywise. That’s unclear but what *is* clear is that this is a glaring conflict of interest. Trump has been mighty solicitous of the Turkish president even parroting Erdogan’s talking points about the Kurds as “terrorists” and “no angels.” Neither Erdogan nor Trump are angels either.

Trump’s henchman Rudy Giuliani followed in the footsteps of Mike Flynn and lobbied the president* to eject Muslim cleric and Erdogan foe, Fethullah Gulen, which is one of the Turkish regime’s top foreign policy objectives. In case you’re wondering why, Gulen is a former Erdogan ally who provided much of the intellectual heft in the early days of the ruling Justice and Development Party. Few feuds are bitterer than those between former friends. It’s another reason the US should not expel Gulen: we shouldn’t help a foreign leader in a personal vendetta.

I wonder if Trump either knows or cares that Erdogan’s party origins are Islamist. That’s right: the anti-Muslim xenophobe is in bed with an Islamist leader. All the Insult Comedian cares about are his personal relationships with foreign leaders even if his friendship with Erdogan makes him a hypocrite. Trump is used to accusations of hypocrisy: his record is full of contradictions, after all.

I also wonder if Trump knows or cares about Turkey’s ambitions to become a nuclear power. The United States used to oppose nuclear proliferation but if you flatter the Current Occupant that can change. Just ask the Communist dictator with the bad haircut: he’s been playing this president* with his “beautiful” letters.

If the Kaiser of Chaos had any knowledge of, or interest in, history, he’d know that Erdogan is a “bad hombre.” Hell, even if he read his briefing papers or listened to his military advisers, he’d understand that Turkish intentions in Northern Syria are malign. They want to drive the Kurds out of that area, which constitutes ethnic cleansing. The Turks and their Sunni Muslim allies are not above genocide either.

The horrible thing is that this crisis all started with a phone call and a green light. Trump’s latest self-inflicted wound is getting people killed. All the denials and fake cease fires in the world won’t wash the blood off Trump’s hands.

I wrote this first thing Monday morning, but I need a shot of whiskey. Some musical Wild Turkey will have to do:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Begin The Beguine

Masks by Emil Nolde.

It’s been a long week in New Orleans. The collapsed Hard Rock Hotel sits there like a dagger pointed at our municipal throat. That’s led to concerns about damage to the beautifully restored Saenger Theatre across the street and other historic buildings.

There’s also been some serious conclusion jumping and finger pointing. It reminds me that *all* Americans love to jail people, liberals and conservatives just want to jail different people. TFC. What’s that spell? This Fucking City.  I’ve created a Fish Cheer for 21st Century New Orleans.

In addition to my acronymic exploits, I have a new catchphrase via the Insult Comedian: “They have a lot of sand over there; a lot of sand.” Believe me.

Cole Porter wrote this week’s theme song in 1935 whilst taking a Pacific cruise. It debuted in the Broadway musical, Jubilee.

We have two versions of Begin The Beguine for your listening pleasure: Artie Shaw and his orchestra, and Sheryl Crow from the 2004 Porter bio-pic, De-Lovely.

A quick note about bio-pics. Cary Grant played Cole Porter as a manly heterosexual in the 1946 movie, Night and Day. In 2004, Kevin Kline played Porter as what he was: a gay man in  a “lavender cover-up” marriage with a woman. There was no sex in the first movie, way too much in the second. Neither movie did a good job depicting Porter as a genius songwriter. That’s why we remember Cole, not who he slept with.

Let’s jump to the break whistling, You’re The Top. That’s bound to guarantee a smooth landing unless we land on the Tower of Pisa. In that case, we’ll just have to lean into it…

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