Category Archives: Diary

Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Look Now

Dresden Street by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

I don’t usually go in for cross-cultural generalizations about the state of the world but for every rule, there’s an exception. And 2018 has been an exceptionally bad year. Hell meet hand basket.

The US, UK, and France have gone to political hell and back in 2018. Our main problem is obvious: a corrupt and deeply stupid president*. In Britain, they’re still paying the price for the Brexit referendum catastrophe, which has resulted in bad leadership in both of the “big parties” and political paralysis. In France, Emmanuel Macron compared himself to Charles DeGaulle once too often, now there are riots in the streets just like in DeGaulle’s day. In 1968, they waved red flags. In 2018, they wear yellow vests. There’s a good chance that Macron will be France’s third consecutive one-term president. Burning it down is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I wish I had solutions for these problems but I’m a pundit, not a prophet. I don’t even have a prophet and loss statement. I can hear them groaning all the way to Bunkie, so it’s time to move on.

This week’s theme song was written in 1969 by John Fogerty for CCR’s Willy and the Poor Boys album. The title has been shortened over time from Don’t Look Now (It Ain’t You or Me) by dropping the parenthetical aside. You may have noticed that I live for parenthetical asides but I can live with the deletion of this one. In fact, it’s a delightful deletion.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the Creedence original and a 2005 cover by my main man Dave Alvin.

Don’t Look Now is also the title of a fine film by director Nicolas Roeg who died last month. And don’t look now is excellent advice when one jumps to the break: every time I peek, I get dizzier than Tommy Fucking Roe.

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Friday Guest Catblogging: Why We Don’t Have A Christmas Tree

My friend Kyle’s cat, Little Buddy, is the scamp’s scamp, the imp’s imp. He’s always up to something: trouble is his middle name.

Little Buddy’s most recent antics are seasonal in nature. If there’s a Christmas tree in the house, a cat will mess with it. One of our past cats, Manet, was a plant eater/puker. She and her furry cohort also enjoyed messing with Christmas trees. We surrendered to their dominance years ago, which is a good thing since PD is so strong that he could knock a tree over just by scent marking it.

Kyle is a drummer, so he’s made of sterner (sillier?) stuff. He has a tree as well as the aforementioned cat named Little Buddy. The two collide in these pictures.

Pearl Harbor Day Of My Mind

I had a dream that will live in infamy. Not really but it took place on the Pearl Harbor Day of my mind. It centered around the classic movie, From Here To Eternity.

For some reason, I was hanging out in a bar with Ernest Borgnine, Frank Sinatra, and Monty Clift. Deborah Kerr and Donna Reed were nowhere in sight, alas. I think Deborah was off canoodling on the beach with Burt Lancaster.

The air raid sirens went off and Borgnine bopped Sinatra in the bean with a bottle. They were clearly in character as Fatso Judson and Angelo Maggio respectively.

I awakened with a start at that point and the dream was over. I felt vaguely disappointed that I didn’t make Borgnine laugh. He had a great laugh. So it goes.

One more thing. The post title is meant to evoke Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of my Mind. The beat (poetry) goes on.

On Ceremonies

I hadn’t planned to watch any of Poppypalooza. I tuned into see how Trump interacted with his predecessors. Protocol saved the former presidents from having to sit next to the Current Occupant. They appear to have taken his phone away from him for the duration so the crazy anti-Mueller tweets will just have to wait.

Back to the state funeral. I sat down and was hooked. I’m a sucker for pomp and ceremony and since I’m neither a Poppy Bush hater nor idolator,  I enjoyed the speeches, especially the funny bits. It’s gotten a bit noxious to hear the political media go on about Bush but these were his friends and family. They’re entitled to gush. It’s human nature.

I’m honestly surprised that Poppy outlived his wife of 70 years by 8 months. My parents were married for almost 60 years and my mom lasted for only 5 months after Lou’s passing.

I mention my father not because he was a Poppy Bush fan (he was) but because we once had an interesting conversation about ceremonies when Jimmy Carter was president.

Lou: Why has your man Carter dropped so many public ceremonies?

Me: He ran as a man of the people.

Lou: <snort> The people *love* ceremonies. Hell, even you love ceremonies.

Me: You’re right. He should bring some of them back.

Lou: <laughs> I’m right? Maybe we should call your mother at work and tell her you said that.

Me: Well, there’s a first time for everything.

We rarely agreed on much of anything, which brings me to my next point. I saw some lefty twitteratti hating on Joe Biden for saying nice things about Poppy Bush as a person. People who say shit like that have probably never worked in politics. Like everywhere else in life, personal relationships matter in politics. It’s okay if Joe liked Poppy as a person. He still opposed his policies and planned to run against him in 1988 until fate, in the person of a Neil Kinnock speech, intervened.

The weirdest Poppypalooza tweet of the day came from a former W flack who is *not* a nice person:

Uh, Ari, he was there. The star of the show, in fact. Ari has never been able to get his facts straight. Long before Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Ari was a liar for hire.

I didn’t say you had to like everyone in politics.

UPDATE: Fleischer is an Ari head. My man Walter Mondale was not there and Poppy was. It was his funeral, dude.

Neelyisms At The Bayou Brief

My latest column for the Bayou Brief is online. In case you’re wondering what a Neelyism is, here’s a nifty definition:

Neelyism (noun): a scripted aphorism made by chronic kibitzer and soundbite machine Sen. John Neely Kennedy.

I’ve never created a noun before. I’m as proud as Octodad before he was thrown out the house.

You may have heard that Neely isn’t running for Gret Stet Goober. I was already compiling Neelyisms but his withdrawal made it a hot topic. Thanks, Senator.

I’m hoping my noun creation will lead others to refer to the Senator as Neely. In politics, there’s only one John Kennedy, and his middle initial was F, not N.

The last word goes to this splendid image created by my publisher, Lamar White Jr,. and the fine folks at the Bayou Brief:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Deportee (Plane Crash At Los Gatos)

Roots by Frida Kahlo

I’ve been following the horrific events at the US-Mexico border. After a few weeks of relative quiet on the caravan front, the Insult Comedian has ramped up the war of words in this fake crisis. He added a new weapon to his usual arsenal of hot air and bullshit: tear gas. Trump claimed that it was “very safe tear gas” but there’s no such thing, especially since they tear gassed babies. Exposure to tear gas has detrimental effects on childhood development. It’s some nasty shit. I was exposed to tear gas in the Paris Metro many years ago. I don’t recall what the protest was about, but I recall feeling woozy, raspy, and weepy for hours after being tear gassed. I guess it wasn’t the “very safe” kind that Trump is so proud of. #sarcasm

Trump’s ridiculous claim that tear gas is “very safe” reminds me of an encounter with one of my Greek Greek relatives. I called him Theo (Uncle) Panos but he was married to my father’s  cousin. He was a proud and boisterous man who had a small business making and selling taverna-type chairs in the Monastiriki district in old Athens. He believed that everything Greek was the best. It was one reason he and Lou got on so well. I’ll never forget dining al fresco one evening with Panos and his family. There were flies swarming and  I kept shooing them away. Panos laughed and said, “Don’t worry. In Greece, the flies are clean and very safe.”

This week’s theme song was written in 1948 by Woody Guthrie and Martin Hoffman in protest of the racist treatment of Mexican nationals who perished in a plane crash in Los Gatos, California. 32 people died: 4 Americans and 28 Mexican migrant workers who were being deported to Mexico. The media of the day listed the names of the dead Yanquis but referred to the Mexicans solely as deportees.

Sometimes the “crash” in the title is replaced with “wreck” but the song remains the same. Deportee (Plane Crash at Los Gatos) is one of the great protest songs and has been recorded many times over the last 70 years.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Woody Guthrie, Dave Alvin & Jimmie Gilmore, and Nancy Griffith.

Now that we’ve been deported, it’s time to jump to the break. We’ll try not to crash-land but I make no guarantees. Now where the hell did I put my parachute?

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Holiday

The Stillness Of Time by Salvador Dali

I originally thought I’d be able to write a full-blown Odds & Sods post this week. I was wrong. We spent Turkey Day pinballing from New Orleans to Baton Rouge and back again. Unlike Tommy, I’m not a deaf, dumb, and blind Pinball Wizard but I *am* stiff and sore from sitting in the car in heavy traffic and our pre and post Saints game hikes.

The Saintsgiving game was a bigger rout than the 31-17 final score indicates. The Saints-Falcons rivalry is intense but this isn’t the Dirty Birds’ year. It belongs to the New Orleans Saints. This is a special team: they’re fun to watch and have fun playing. The players are as likely to break out in random acts of dancing as the fans. This Saints team seems determined to put the fun back in the No Fun League.

The fans do their bit to support the team by getting LOUD. Check out the decibel level when the Falcons had the ball:

That’s Who concert loud, y’all. I kept waiting for them to play Long Live Rock There was the obligatory We Will Rock You sighting (sounding?) as well.

This week’s Saturday post may be truncated but we do have a theme song as well as a follow-up by the same artist. Ray Davies wrote Holiday for the klassic Kinks album Muswell Hillbillies. The follow-up comes from the Kinks underrated concept album, Soap Opera. Every time I hear Holiday Romance, I visualize Astaire and Rogers gliding across the dance floor.

That’s it for this abbreviated edition of Saturday Odds & Sods. I opened the post with a Salvador Dali painting. Let’s close things out with a picture of Dali and Alfred Hitchcock who are presumably discussing the dream sequence conceived by the artist for Spellbound.

Now Be Thankful

Adrastos’ late mother in her Chicago heyday.

If you’re a regular reader, you know that I’m big on recurring features. It’s time for the second annual Thanksgiving tribute to my late mother. This year Dr. A and I will include the Super Dome in our holiday rounds, so it’s unclear if we’ll make all of our New Orleans stops but we’ll give it a shot. Go Saints.

That concludes this year’s introduction. On with the show, this it is:

The holidays are hard for me. I like Thanksgiving’s gluttonous aspects but it’s still hard for me. It’s when I think of my mother who died in 2001. My mother was the sort of person who took in strays for the holidays. We’d have up to 20 people around the table; some of whom were friends of friends of friends. Mom believed that everyone should have a home cooked meal on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many of our guests for Christmas dinner were, in fact, Jewish. No Chinese food for her Jewish friends.

Mom spent the day before Thanksgiving, and the day of, cooking away. She was a perfectionist when it came to entertaining: no holiday buffets for her. We had to gather around the table and it had to have a starched white table-cloth. There were no paper plates or people eating whilst milling about: fine china, silver, and crystal were mandatory for the holidays. She was informal the rest of the year but holidays were state occasions when, as my father was wont to say, we put on the dog.

When I got old enough, one of my jobs was to set the table. I made sure that Mom had final approval: she wanted everything just so. I recall feeling triumphant one Thanksgiving: I’d set the table perfectly on the first try. There were usually changes but not that year. I was inordinately proud of myself but she admonished me not to get too cocky. It was the Midwestern Norwegian Lutheran in her coming out. She left the bragging to my dad. It’s what Greeks do, y’all. Not me, of course, other Greeks…

I also helped make a fresh cranberry/orange sauce from the recipe on the back of the Ocean Spray bag. We had a venerable hand-cranked grinder that had to be attached to the kitchen table. We spread newspaper around it because it was messy. There was a bucket at my feet to catch the bitter red cranberry drippings. Mom was not sentimental about her kitchen gadgets: she bought a food processor the first time she saw one. I was away from home and past the cranberry grinding, table setting phase of my life by then.

My favorite part of the traditional turkey dinner was the stuffing. I looked forward to it every year. It was loaded with herbs as well as pine nuts and chestnuts. We didn’t exactly roast them on an open fire but I helped shell the bastards. They were uncooperative, downright surly, actually. When I was really young, I was convinced they were alive but my no-nonsense mother disabused me of that notion. She informed me that I’d seen the Wizard of Oz one too many times. As usual, she was right.

Unfortunately, there was often conflict at the dinner table during the holidays. I’m the youngest of three by thirteen years. My sisters were off living life and I was raised more like an only child. I admit to liking it that way. My oldest sister thrives on drama and conflict. There was always one big row per holiday, which drove my poor mother crazy. She was always the woman in the middle. When she died, so did our nuclear family for reasons too complex to go into. The good news is that holidays are more tranquil but I miss the glue of my family.

Thanksgivings in Louisiana had a familiar feel when I moved here. It’s all about the food, y’all.  I married into an old Louisiana family and learned some new traditions. What’s not to love about oyster dressing? I still missed my mom’s stuffing. It was a part of me.

My first wife was a petite, feisty, beautiful, and brilliant spitfire. She took the idea of being a redhead seriously: she had a temper to match my own. Her mother took me in as one of her own but made it clear that when we moved to Baton Rouge, we’d have to tie the knot. Unfortunately, my wife’s family tree was a witches brew of genetic maladies and she died of cancer during what should have been her final year at LSU Law School.

She passed away a week before Thanksgiving so the holidays were rough sledding for me until I met and fell in love with the tall, feisty, beautiful, and brilliant woman known to you as Dr. A. The good news is that Dr. A and my mother-in-law instantly hit it off and she was admitted to the Louisiana family post-haste. It was Dr. A who started calling our Louisiana family the outlaws and the nickname stuck.

We spent many holidays with the outlaws in Red Stick over the years and are about to do so again. My mother-in-law has left the comfortable house that she shared with her late second husband Eddie to whom I pay tribute every Memorial Day. She’s 96 now and lives at St. James Place, which is a somewhat posh retirement community. We’ll be eating in the dining room but it’s still pretty darn homey: we’ve gotten to know many of the residents over the last decade. I am lucky that Dr. A and mother-in-law #1  get on so well. She is also a howling liberal (to use her own phrase) so there will be no Trump-driven conflict.

In recent years, we’ve expanded our Thanksgiving plans exponentially to what amounts to a triple-header. We have lunch in Red Stick, then it’s back to New Orleans for dinner with our friends Jennifer and Will and finally, unless we’re too wiped out, a nightcap with our de facto family: Cait, Dave, and the child army. It’s a sticky end to a long day and now I’m committed. I hope Dr. A won’t be too vexed with me but I fear the wrath of Cait as well as retribution from the child army of darkness.

I sat down to write a brief, nostalgic food-centric post and ended up explaining my tangled family tree. So it goes. I never hide the fact that I was a widower at a young age but I only tell people when asked how I came to the Gret Stet of Louisiana from California. It’s a long and painful story but I’m fortunate to have married well twice.

Family by choice are the best family of all but I still miss my mother. She could dance on my last nerve, but I miss our long conversations and teasing her about her crazy dog Brutus.

Mothers are powerful. They have the ability to make you revert to childhood. I know that many of your mothers get on your nerves. It’s what they do. Shrug it off and remember that they won’t always be with you. Around the holidays is when I miss my mom and Dr. A misses her charming, beautiful, and eccentric mother. Mother-in-law #2, however, was not a good cook and expected us to consume the radishes she’d lovingly cut. I hate radishes but her company was the best.

Happy Thanksgiving.

The last word goes to Fairport Convention with the gorgeous Richard Thompson song that gave this post its title:

Here’s another one from the songwriter. It’s a day for gluttony, after all:

Pulp Fiction Thursday will return next week.

Decorum, Nevermorum

Chris Wallace conducted one of the best televised Trump interviews thus far. The clips I’ve seen reminded me of his late father Mike who was one of the best and toughest interviewers in teevee history. The son may work for Fox but this interview would have made his father proud.

Trump has a new favorite word: decorum. He’s been using it, like some people in the Gret Stet of Louisiana use hot sauce, on everything in sight. It’s unclear if he knows what it means since he continues to display a lack of decorum: the Adam Schitt tweet springs to mind. If that’s decorous, Beavis and Butthead are highbrows. They’re not. Believe me.

The most unsettling portion of the Wallace interview was this exchange about retired Admiral McRaven:

WALLACE: Bill McRaven, retired admiral, Navy SEAL, 37 years, former head of US Special Operations —

TRUMP: Hillary Clinton fan.

WALLACE: Special Operations —

TRUMP: Excuse me, Hillary Clinton fan.

WALLACE: Who led the operations, commanded the operations that took down Saddam Hussein and that killed Osama bin Laden, says that your sentiment is the greatest threat to democracy in his lifetime.

TRUMP: Okay, he’s a Hilary Clinton, uh, backer and an Obama backer and frankly —

WALLACE: He was a Navy SEAL 37 years —

TRUMP: Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that, wouldn’t it have been nice? You know, living — think of this — living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan, in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer. But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there. And we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year and they don’t tell him, they don’t tell him—

An incredulous Wallace then asks, “You’re not even going to give them credit for taking down bin Laden?” But by this point, Trump has pivoted to the separate question of whether American financial assistance to the government of Pakistan is a good idea.

This appears to be Trump’s sincere view: Any person or institution that would have the temerity to criticize him on any grounds is corrupt and incompetent and thus not worth listening to on any subject.

McRaven’s real “crime” in Trump’s eyes is that he rose to John Brennan’s defense after the former head spook’s security clearance was taken away.

Our readers know that I’m a liberal who has tremendous respect for the military. It’s rooted in a conversation I had with my father near the end of the Vietnam War. I was in the habit of ragging on servicemen at that point in time. Lou sat me down and said something like this:

“Son, I don’t like this war either. As far as I’m concerned you, either fight all out or you don’t fight at all. I was lucky enough to fight in a war I believed in, but if I hadn’t it wouldn’t have mattered. Those boys in Vietnam didn’t choose to go there. Save your harsh words for the politicians who got us into this mess, not the kids who are fighting there.”

I don’t recall the exact words but the sentiments have stuck with me. Admiral McRaven deserves the same respect my father urged me to have for our troops. He’s a brave and intelligent man who has served our country with distinction and honor. Donald Trump is a man with no honor whatsoever. He’s incapable of understanding people like McRaven or Robert Mueller. It’s one of the primary reasons he’s unfit to sit in the Oval Office and why he richly deserves the asterisk I’ve given his presidency.

It’s time to circle back to the post title. I suppose I shouldn’t use a punny title for a serious post but I cannot help myself. Y’all should know that by now.

I love, love, love Admiral McRaven’s surname, which evokes Poe’s classic poem. In my hands it comes out: Decorum, nevermorum.

I never claimed to be decorous or decorative for that matter. I could even be described as rotten to the decorum.

That is all.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Afterglow

San Giorgio Maggiore At Dusk by Claude Monet

The weird weather continues in New Orleans. We seem to have skipped fall and gone straight to winter. One day we ran the AC, the next the heater. As you saw yesterday, the cats are happy. They love blankets and space heaters. I could do without either. I hate the cold; a stance befitting someone who has lived most of their life in California and Louisiana.

The other down side of cold weather NOLA-style is that public places crank up the heat. I strolled to the grocery store the other day dressed for the great outdoors, I returned a sweaty mess since I had to walk fast to avoid the Valence Street rooster. I’m not a fan of chickens and this one is on the aggressive side.  I’d rather eat them than dodge them.

This week’s theme song was written by Tony Banks in 1976 for Genesis’ last pure prog album, Wind & Wuthering. Afterglow is a drop dead gorgeous song that closes the album as well as an era. It’s the last Genesis album featuring lead guitar player Steve Hackett who was missed almost as much by the band’s fans as Peter Gabriel.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the Genesis original followed by the Classic Rock String Quartet.

Now that we’re afterglowing, let’s jump to the break. I promise a soft landing.

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Florida’s Gotta Florida

It’s not over until it’s over in a Florida election. Election weirdness has been discovered in heavily Democratic Broward County where there were some 24K fewer ballots cast for the Senatorial candidates than Goober guys, Gillum and DeSantis. Oops.

This could be incompetence instead of Brian Kemp-style fuckery but that remains unclear. What is clear that we’re in for a good old fashioned political brawl ala the 2000 Gore-Bush recount battle. Will there be a second Brooks Brothers riot without Roger Stone to stage it?

Josh Marshall focused on the Governor Bat Boy factor:

Things are getting ugly fast in Florida. Rick Scott, clearly thinking he’s going to fall behind in the vote count and lose his campaign for Senate, is both filing lawsuits to stop the vote counting in South Florida and using his police powers as governor to do so. As in Georgia, having the candidate oversee the election has real shortcomings.

<SNIP>

Scott actually said this …

“Late Tuesday night our win was projected about 57,000 votes. By Wednesday morning that lead dropped to 38,000 votes. By Wednesday evening, it was around 30,000 votes. This morning, it was around 21,000. Now, it is 15,000,.”

And then this.

“Every Floridan should be concerned that their could be rampant fraud happening in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.”

It looks like I’m going to lose … ergo there must be ‘rampant fraud’ … ergo I’m ordering the state police to investigate the election administrators.

I should apologize for the long quote but the man nailed it. It’s too early for me to use a hammer even if I had a Hankering Aaron to do so.

Josh’s post is titled Getting Ugly Fast. Anything involving Rick Scott is de facto ugly:

Ain’t nothing like a Michael F image in the morning. It’s almost as good as a cuppa Tom Petty style Joe. Why TP? Gainesville, y’all, Gainesville. Dig the Florida Gator guitar wielded by Heartbreaker Mike Campbell in this clip from their 40th anniversary show in Gainesville:

Back to Florida election weirdness. I’m feeling as low energy as former Governor Jeb Bush, so I’ll post two tweets I fired off last night:

Bill Nelson has run statewide in Florida 6 times, winning 5 elections. He knows his shit, y’all. Mayor Gillum should follow suit and pronto.

Repeat after me: it’s feeling like 2000 in Florida.

Campaign Notes: The Homestretch

The reason I’ve always been optimistic about the midterms is that Americans like divided government. I prefer Democratic control of all the political branches but most Americans like checks and balances, especially with an unbalanced president*. The electorate appears poised to flip the House and I still think the Senate is in play. I’m confident of the former but tentative about the latter, which is strictly based on my gut instincts and what Poppy Bush called “The Big Mo,” which seems to be hanging out with Democrats right now.

I put absolutely no stock in generic Congressional polls. Reliance upon them strikes me as a fool’s game given the past decade of frenetic gerrymandering and red state voter fuckery. I remain a devotee of Tip O’Neill’s adage “all politics is local” as well as that of the late Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders owner Al Davis “just win baby.” I know Al has been dead for 9 years but my love-hate relationship with the old villain has ripened into affectionate remembrance.

I am also skeptical about reliance on early vote totals. I remain uncertain as to what impact they have on election day turnout. I prefer voting on election day: the same poll workers have staffed my polling place since at least 2008. Many of them are neighbors with whom I’ve had front porch/stoop conversations.

The early vote obsession is the contemporary equivalent of exit poll mania. I remember 2004 when the exit polls leaked and I thought John Kerry had won. It was much worse when we found out that he’d lost. The only good thing about that result is that we were spared having John Edwards as Veep. I am still convinced that Kerry’s own first choice, Dick Gephardt, might have made the difference in Midwestern swing states but that’s 14-year-old graveyard whistling.

Graveyard Whistling is the name of the most recent Old 97’s album. They’re originally from Dallas, Texas, which provides an awkward transition into a final look at Betomania.

I remain a Beto skeptic. I think he’s an excellent candidate who has run a good race but the idolatry on the part of some people is OTT. I’ve been a good boy and haven’t yelled at anyone who mentions Beto yard signs as proof that he’s going to win. Repeat after me: YARD SIGNS DON’T VOTE. That bit of virtual yelling felt good.

A side benefit of Betomania is that Texas Dems have a chance to flip some House seats including that of 11-term incumbent Pete Sessions in the Mixmaster metro area. That’s suburban Dallas to the uninitiated. Suburbia is fertile soil for Democrats in this cycle. Trump’s manners or lack thereof *do* matter to educated suburban voters, especially women. The gender gap will be something to behold tomorrow.

Until proven otherwise, Texas remains a white whale for Democrats. My skepticism is rooted in Team Beto’s reliance on young voters and Hispanic voters; groups that do not usually turn out in great numbers. Additionally, Hispanic voters are more conservative than many Democrats think they are. A substantial percentage of Hispanic men are inclined to raise the drawbridge to future immigrants. Sad but true.

I hope to be proven wrong about Texas. I think that it will eventually become a purple state and this election cycle has helped that along. Other than the 1964 LBJ landslide, my native California went Republican in every presidential election between 1952 and 1988. Now it’s a socialist hellhole according to Fox News. I wonder if the Foxers have ever called Jerry Brown a Blue Meanie?

I’ve also been avidly following the race in the Virginia 7th. It pits the aptly named teabagger Dave Brat against former CIA officer Abigail Spanberger. Dr. A and I have family and friends in that district and they’re hoping to have a Democratic Congresscritter.

Retired Republican Senator John Warner thinks Spanberger’s the best and Brat’s the wurst.  In addition to endorsing other Democrats, including the man who should be Veep, Tim Kaine, the former Armed Services committee chair and Navy Secretary has also denounced the Insult Comedian:

“It’s a very serious time for the country. I did not support Trump,” he said, and “I’m deeply troubled by the central issues. So much of my life has been devoted to the intelligence work and national security — and I’m just not comfortable with the way he’s handling these national security issues,” said Warner.

“He has no inner compass at all,” Warner said of Trump. “He’s put a tremendous divide in this country.”

I understand from a friend who used to work for Warner that he swears like a Marine when he discusses Trumpy behind closed doors.

John Warner is a patriot who believes in putting country before party. Unfortunately, there are few conservatives like him nowadays. Let’s hope that those who are vote Democratic to put a brake on an out of control president*.

I am excited about election day but will be glad when it’s over. I think the Democrats will gain anywhere from 25 to 50 seats in the House. The upside involves the hope that most of the close races will go our way. It’s what tends to happen when Big Mo has your back.

As to the Senate, I think we’ll do better than expected but fall short of a majority unless we run the table on the close races. John Ralston has convinced me that Dean Heller is going down in Nevada. Absent the return of the Bradley effect in Florida, I think Andrew Gillum will pull Senator Bill Nelson to victory. Btw, I think Gillum had the quote of the cycle, “I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I’m simply saying that the racists believe he’s a racist. ” Yeah you right, Mister Mayor.

I am also cautiously optimistic about Joe Donnelly in Hoosierland and Claire McCaskill in the Show Me State. I may be one of the few pundits who thinks Heidi Heitkamp could pull off another upset as she did in 2012:

The crazy Peach State Governor’s race seems headed to a run-off thereby keeping Georgia on my mind. Democrats are clearly gaining statehouses this cycle. I know Athenae will be pleased not to have Bruce Rauner to kick around anymore. Let’s all hope that First Draft alums Scout, Jude, and Doc will have a new Governor. It’s time to watch Scotty lose.

I understand why rank and file Democrats are nervous about tomorrow’s election. They’re still traumatized by 2016. Here’s the deal: I’m old enough to have lived through the White House wilderness years when we lost 5 of 6 presidential elections. It gave me thick political skin and a suspicion of political idolatry. I fell hard as a 14-year-old for George McGovern. That did not turn out well. The country preferred Nixon until it didn’t. A reminder from John Dean that the Kaiser of Chaos is worse than Tricky Dick:

While I’ve liked many candidates since 1972, I don’t fall in love with them. I prefer to keep a wary distance. I do, however, love my country, which is why I hope for a big turnout tomorrow and in all future elections.

It’s a cliché at this point, but this *is* the most important midterm election of our lifetime.  Its chance to vote for hope, not fear; the future, not the past; diversity, not bigotry. It’s time to give Fortunate Son Donald Trump and his enablers their comeuppance. Repeat after me: To Hell With The Trump Base.

Let’s end this omnibus homestretch post on an inspirational note with a Bruce Springsteen song that a certain valiant losing candidate used as his theme song in 2004.

The last word is a quote from one of my favorite movies:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Running On Empty

Carnival Tryptich by Max Beckmann

It’s been an uneasy week in the Big Easy. There’s much outrage at the local utility company, Entergy, for hiring actors to attend City Council meetings. The company has made it worse by continuing to lie about it. It’s called Astroturfing, it’s not illegal it’s just sleazy. The more Entergy lies, the longer the story persists. Lying seems to be contagious in the age of Trump. Knock it off, y’all.

In other Gret Stet news, we’re voting on a constitutional amendment to end non-unanimous jury verdicts. Louisiana and Oregon are the only two states that have this system and we’re in a race for repeal. The odds are good that voters will end the practice next Tuesday: there’s broad bi-partisan support for the change. It’s good when the Gret Stet good guys win one. In fact, it’s great. Hopefully, that Tony the Tiger-ish sentiment will help LSU when they play Alabama tonight. Geaux Tigers.

This week’s theme song, Running On Empty, was written and recorded by Jackson Browne in 1977. It’s been used in two movies: Forrest Gump and gave Sidney Lumet’s great 1988 movie its title. We’ll have more about *that* Running On Empty after the jump.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. Both feature brilliant lap steel playing by the great David Lindley of whom I’ll have more to say at the end of the post. Holy previews, Batman.

We may be low on gas but there’s enough in the tank to jump to the break.

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Willie McCovey, R.I.P.

Willie McCovey was one of my childhood heroes. His death at the age of 80 makes me feel old, old, old. I was too young to be gutted by the savage line drive he hit for the final out of the 1962 World Series but I’m crushed in retrospect. Charlie Brown was crushed at the time:

Willie McCovey was a tall and graceful man whose nickname was Stretch. Previous players had been called that, but it fit Willie Mac like a glove; a baseball glove.

I was a baseball nerd in my youth. I loved going to the ballpark early to watch batting practice. The main attraction was Willie McCovey. His swing was savage yet still elegant. One could almost feel the breeze stirred up by his mighty swing. Of course, that was at Candlestick Park where the wind was so ferocious that I once saw a small pitcher blown off the mound.

I was lucky enough to meet Stretch several times when he was still an active player. He was always gracious and friendly. It’s one of many reasons he belonged to San Francisco Giants fans in a way that his teammate Willie Mays never did. Mays remains the greatest all-around player I’ve ever seen but interacting with fans, especially kids, was not his forte. Willie Mac always had a smile on his face as well as the firmest handshake I’ve ever encountered. Crunch.

Stretch was one of those players who played in difficult circumstances. He played in a pitcher’s park in a pitcher’s era but still hit 521 career homers, led the league in homers 3 times, and was National League MVP in 1969. If he’d played in the 1990’s, he might have hit over 700 homers and made vast sums of money, but it never bothered him. Willie McCovey’s picture was in the dictionary next to Gentle Giant.

I learned patience and fortitude growing up a Giants fan. We were always in contention but always fell a bit short. I’ll never forget then Giants owner Horace Stoneham’s 1972-1974 fire sale when he traded Mays and McCovey. He was trying to keep the lights on and the liquor flowing. His liquor: Stoneham was rumored to have traded Gaylord Perry to Cleveland for Sudden Sam McDowell to have a drinking buddy. Perry went on to win 2 Cy Young Awards and 180 more games. McDowell  won 19 more games and drank his way out of baseball by 1975.

I attended Willie McCovey’s return to Candlestick as a San Diego Padre. He got a standing ovation and we all commented how terrible he looked in the Padres shit brown uniform of that era. Mercifully, Stretch returned to the Giants for the last four years of his career. Back where he belonged.

I also attended Stretch’s final home game. Willie’s knees were giving out and word got out that he planned to retire mid-season. It was Thursday July 7, 1980. They played the Cincinnati Reds.  I hopped on the bus and saw his last home game alone. I wasn’t really alone: I had 26,133 friends with whom to cheer Willie’s every move. It was a  big crowd for a Thursday afternoon game for a mediocre Giants team destined for fifth place. The Giants won 4-3 and Stretch knocked in a run. Everything he did merited a standing ovation. I was hoarse from hollering for my favorite player. Our favorite player.

There have been ballplayers with gaudier stats but Willie McCovey was one-of-a-kind. He was a genuinely modest superstar who lived a long life and was loved by the Giants fan base. The man even has a statue and a cove named for him at the Giants’ current ballpark. He will be missed but McCovey Cove is eternal as are my memories.

The last word (image?) goes to Willie McCovey’s hall of fame plaque:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Season Of The Witch

The Witch of Endor by William Blake

We’ve finally had some cool weather in New Orleans. I considered devising some sort of ceremony for turning off the AC, but I kept it simple. Besides, I didn’t want to scare the cats.

It’s been a difficult week, which is why I plan to keep this post on the short and sweet side. Make that short and snarky. I don’t want to ruin my well-deserved reputation as a curmudgeon.

This week’s theme song, Season of the Witch, was written in 1966 by Donovan Leitch and Shawn Phillips. It has been covered a bazillion times, which gave me many versions to choose from. I like choice, it’s cherce as Spencer Tracy said in Pat and Mike.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: the Donovan original followed by a Richard Thompson cover that was recorded for the NBC show, Crossing Jordan. I recall watching the episode it appeared in and nearly falling off the couch in surprise at hearing RT on a network show. Finally, Lou Rawls brings some soul to the proceedings.

Now that we’ve gotten seasonal, it’s time to make like a witch, jump on a broomstick and fly to the break. I may not have magical powers but I have a broom.

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From Bone Spurs To Bone Saws

The featured image is of a bone saw circa 1880. I doubt that Saudi thugs used an antique bone saw to torture and dismember Jamal Khashoggi, but the Saudi regime*is* a throwback dictatorship. By their standards, 1880 was modern until the advent of Crown Prince MBS aka Mister Bone Saw. The previous cooing over him as a reformer had my MBS detector going off constantly. In my experience, people who scream the loudest about reform are often crookeder than Lombard Street. That fits Mister Bone Saw like a  bloody designer glove.

The post title, of course, refers to the president* who infamously avoided the draft by claiming to be afflicted with bone spurs. I have my own Vietnam era double standard: I’m easy on those who didn’t want to go to Vietnam because they were opposed to that stupid and futile conflict. Donald Trump thought the war was swell but swells like him did not serve. That makes him a chicken hawk or as some call him: Cadet Bone Spurs.

The Kaiser of Chaos has come a long way from his schooldays. He’s gone from whining about bone spurs to serving as a flack for those who wield bone saws. He’s crawfishing a bit from his earlier talk of “rogue killers” but he remains a moral shrimp.

Trump is desperate to absolve MBS of any responsibility for the atrocious murder of a dissident journalist. As far as he’s concerned, arm sales even phantom ones are more important than political killings. He doesn’t mind bone saws as along there are bucks involved.

Cutting Mister Bone Saw slack has been Trump regime policy since the beginning. They have never once objected to the wholesale slaughter of Yemenis by the Saudis using American arms. A past Republican president said  “the business of American is business.” But I doubt that Coolidge had the “merchants of death” in mind when he said that. That’s what arms dealers were called after the slaughter of the Great War. It’s high time to revive the phrase.

There are many horrible things about the Kaiser of Chaos but among the worst is the fact that he’s a phony tough guy. The man loves to praise journalist beating thugs like Greg Gianforte but has a well-documented record of physical cowardice.

Fake tough guys are not unusual: John Wayne evaded the draft during World War II to focus on his career. At least he felt guilty over acting in war movies while members of his audience fought and died for our country. It led to Wayne’s overcompensating hawkishness during Vietnam. John Wayne may have been a fake tough guy but he was capable of shame. Trump’s picture is in the dictionary next to shameless.

Cadet Bone Spurs and Mister Bone Saw deserve one another. They’re corrupt liars who turn everything to shit. The “fistfight” explanation is as credible as the typical Trump speech. It’s beneath contempt and only a corrupt idiot would buy it. I think you know to whom I’m alluding.

Saudi Arabia has long had a detestable dictatorship but, in the past, their first option was to buy people off; then, they’d resort to brute force but discreetly and behind closed doors. It seems to be the other way around in 2018.The murder of Jamal Khashoggi was as indiscreet as it gets. Jared Kuhsner may not mind but I do.

Saturday Odds & Sods: To Keep My Love Alive

The Doubtful Guest by Edward Gorey

The weird weather continues apace in New Orleans. Our fall tease lasted three whole days, followed by a warm-up and a mini-monsoon last Monday, Moday. No wonder John Phillips found that day untrustworthy. Dr. A drove us home  from a krewe meeting during the deluge and engaged in some nifty puddle avoidance. It’s not supposed to rain that much or that hard in October. Climate change? What climate change?

This week’s theme song was written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart in 1943 for a revival of their 1927 musical, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s CourtTo Keep My Love Alive is best described as a chipper murder ballad. Hart’s lyrics detail the manifold ways in which the protagonist bumped off her 15 husbands in order not to cheat on them. It was the last song Larry Hart wrote before his death later that year at the age of 48.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: Ella Fitzgerald from the Rodgers and Hart Songbook and the preternaturally perky Blossom Dearie.

My favorite stanza is the final one:

Sir Atherton indulged in fratricide,
He killed his dad and that was patricide
One night I stabbed him by my mattress-side
To keep my love alive.
Larry Hart’s love of puns and word play is one reason why I prefer him to Rodgers’ other writing partner.  Hammerstein could never have written those lyrics. I do, however, love his first name: Oscar.
Now that we’ve compared and contrasted Hart and Hammerstein, it’s time to jump to the break. Be careful which mattress-side you land on.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Late In The Evening

Father Mississippi by Walter Inglis Anderson.

It’s finally showing signs of cooling off in New Orleans even if it appears to be a cruel autumnal tease. The cool front helped keep Hurricane Michael away from us. It was a beast of a storm that battered the Florida panhandle and provoked PTSD flashbacks in the New Orleans area. Best wishes to everyone in the affected areas.

In more savory local news, Advocate food writer Ian McNulty wrote a piece about the surfeit of new restaurants in the city. Ian is worried that we’re losing the thread with so many eateries dependent on the tourist trade. New Orleans didn’t become a great food city with tourist traps but with restaurants serving locals. One Oceana Grill is enough. Just ask Gordon Ramsay:

You didn’t have to take that so personally, Chef Ramsay. Piss off out of my post.

This week’s theme song is appropriate because I usually post Saturday Odds & Sods at the stroke of midnight. Some of my regular readers look for it then. One would hope they’d have something better to do.

Paul Simon wrote Late In The Evening in 1980 for his One-Trick Pony album. Simon also wrote and acted in a movie of the same title, which sank without a trace. I always thought horses could swim…

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. The original hit single followed by a scorching hot live version from 1992’s Born At The Right Time tour.

I used a painting by New Orleans/Ocean Springs, MS artist Walter Anderson as the featured image because he famously tied himself to a tree during Hurricane Betsy. We grow them eccentric in these parts. If things had gone wrong, it would have given a whole new meaning to the term tie-dyed.  If that pun doesn’t make you want to jump to the break, nothing will.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Volunteers

Two Flags by Jasper Johns

It’s still stupidly hot in New Orleans; summer hot. And we had the third warmest September in recorded history. There are rumors of a cool front next weekend but the relentless heat is putting a damp damper on the local festival season. It typically starts the first weekend of October because that’s when it cools off. Not this year, apparently. Climate change? What climate change? End of weather related rant.

The Kavanaugh Mess ate my week, so let’s move on to this week’s theme song. Volunteers was written by Marty Balin and Paul Kantner. It was the title track of Jefferson Airplane’s classic 1969 album; you know, the one with the pb&j sammich gatefold. Volunteers has an interesting origin story: Marty was awakened by a truck one morning with Volunteers of America painted on the side. A protest song was born. Marty Balin died last Saturday at the age of 76. There’s an extended tribute to Marty at the end of the post.

We have two versions of Volunteers for your listening pleasure. The original studio track and a live version from Woodstock.

“Look what’s happening out in the streets. Got a revolution.”

Now that we’ve revolted in a revolting way, let’s jump to the break.

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The Kavanaugh Mess: Red Red Whine & Prolific Pukers

The Kavanaugh Mess is hurtling towards a messy and unsatisfying conclusion regardless of which way the vote goes. There are contradictory reports as to how thorough the FBI’s background check reboot will be. There seem to be gaps in the investigation that make rumors of an early wrap-up unnerving. It is also possible that Kavanaugh and CBF will be the last people interviewed, which is how these things usually work. We shall see.

On the positive side, Vanity Fair’s Chris Smith reports that the FBI is determined to conduct a genuine investigation and that Director Chris Wray is just as likely to ask for an extension as to finish things up hastily. The attitude in the Bureau is reflected in the article’s title: The FBI Is Not Going To Be Donald Trump’s Patsy. Let’s hope so.

Charlie Pierce has an excellent piece about Kavanaugh’s background as a Republican ratfucker, Charlie’s conclusion lines up with my own: once a ratfucker, always a ratfucker.

 

That’s RF for Rat Fink but who among us can resist a well-executed cartoon?

I remain fascinated by how Republican men think that shouting = truth-telling. Brett Kavanaugh did a lot of the former and precious little of the latter last Thursday. The best analysis I’ve seen of his mendaciously shouty testimony is by Nathan J. Robinson at Current Affairs. He proves that, try as he might, Kav cannot hide his Lyin’ Eyes:

I know my affection for the Eagles is controversial in some circles but that’s a brilliant song, y’all. I may just raise my voice, Judge Bro style, if you disagree.

Speaking of music, I missed the UB40 money quote in the NYT piece about Kav’s college friend Chad Ludlington:

He said that the altercation happened after a UB40 concert on Sept. 25, when he and a group of people went to Demery’s and were drinking pints. At one point, they were sitting near a man who, they thought, resembled Ali Campbell, the lead singer of UB40.

“We’re trying to figure out if it’s him,” he said.

When the man noticed Mr. Ludington, Mr. Kavanaugh and the others looking at him, he objected and told them to stop it, adding an expletive, Mr. Ludington said.

Mr. Kavanaugh cursed, he said, and then “threw his beer at the guy.”

“The guy swung at Brett,” Mr. Ludington continued. At that point, Mr. Dudley “took his beer and smashed it into the head of the guy, who by now had Brett in an embrace. I then tried to pull Chris back, and a bunch of other guys tried to pull the other guy back. I don’t know what Brett was doing in the melee, but there was blood, there was glass, there was beer and there was some shouting, and the police showed up.”

This has led to much Red Red Whining about the unfairness of Kav’s barroom pugilism being the subject of public debate in 2018. The point is not that Judge Bro was a heavy drinker then, it’s that he’s lied about it under oath now. My hunch is that Kav thinks that if he confirms his boozy, boozy ways, more people will believe CBF’s story. That’s the problem with taking the categorical denial route.

FYI: UB40 has been engaged in an epic fight between the Campbell brothers over the band’s name. They might be willing to stage a re-enactment of this fight with Robin Campbell playing the part of Judge Bro. This song would clearly be involved:

Hmm, I wonder if Kav went after the man he thought was Ali Campbell because rumor has it that he likes beer, not wine?

Along the same lines, here’s a video the people at the Late Show with Stephen Colbert put together:

Back to Kavanaugh’s diminishing credibility. NBC News has reported that Kav knew about the New Yorker’s Debbie Ramirez story before it went public, and tried to organize a text message defense to the story. He told the committee that he didn’t know about the story until it was published. Once a ratfucker, always a ratfucker.

Remember Kav’s equivocation as to whether the character Bart O’Kavanaugh in Mark Judge’s book is based on him? The Failing New York Times has published a story that includes a 1983 letter that Judge Bro wrote and signed Bart. This Bro Epistle contains this memorable passage:

In a neatly written postscript, he added: Whoever arrived first at the condo should “warn the neighbors that we’re loud, obnoxious drunks with prolific pukers among us. Advise them to go about 30 miles…”

That’s a pistol of an epistle, y’all.

Finally, after several weeks of startling self-control by his standards, the Insult Comedian engaged in a bit of victim mocking last night in Elvis country:

This is disgusting even for this president*. It’s also harming, not helping, Kav’s kause as the undecided Senators have denounced these comments.

As if in a race to the bottom, Trump also implied that Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy has a drinking problem. Here’s hoping that Trump’s loose lips sink Kav’s ship.

There will surely be more developments over the course of the day. Stay tuned.

Repeat after me: Once a ratfucker, always a ratfucker.