Category Archives: Diary

Stormy Monday Blues

26 years ago New Orleans had rainfall of Biblical proportions. The rain came on May 8, 1995 and the extent of the damage was unclear until May 10, 1995. It had rained up to 27 inches in some parts of the city and surrounding parishes. It was a fucking mess.

Unfortunately, street flooding has become commonplace since then. We’ve never had water in our house since we live on high ground, but we lost a car to flood waters a few years ago.

Every time there’s heavy rain, New Orleanians live in fear of flooding. It happened again in the wee hours today:

I’m writing this during a break in the rain, but more is expected later. We’re all sick of it. My birthday in 2017 was the occasion of another flood caused by extreme rainfall and an antiquated water system. President Biden took a tour of the plant last week and has mentioned it several times subsequently. I hope that’s a good sign. This has got to stop.

I don’t believe in the Noah myth since it calls for more suspension of disbelief than I’m capable of. There are times, however, that building a jumbo ark like John Huston did in his misbegotten 1966 film The Bible seems appealing. I think Nick Lowe had the right idea as well:

In other news, there’s a lot of chatter about how to proceed in the After Times of the pandemic. This sign sums up my attitude:

After 14 months of internal tedium and external malakatude, I’m still not ready to return to normal. I’m fully vaccinated but I’m mistrustful of others who are not.

I handled the pandemic and lockdown better than most, but I feel like wrapping myself in caution tape right now. My life experience has made me cautious but not fearful in dangerous situations beyond my control. I’m sure I’ll get over it but at my own pace.

I’m not judging those who are running towards normality, I’m just not there yet. The virus and its variants are still out there. There are still outbreaks and the quest for herd immunity seems stalled because there are still many out there who think it was all a hoax; some of whom are visiting New Orleans, which is why I have no plans to visit the French Quarter any time soon.

The world has always been a dangerous place. I’m engaged in risk management. A new study has estimated that more than 900,000 Americans have died during the pandemic. Given the Trump regime’s attempts to fiddle with the books, I’m inclined to believe the new figure. Another reason for caution.

Finally, Dr. A and I been driving back and forth to Baton Rouge once a week to visit Louise aka Mother-In-Law #1. She’s not doing well at all. She’s 99 years old and slowly fading away. She’s bedridden and having vision problems on top of everything else. It may sound callous, but I hope she lets go soon. As her late husband Eddie was wont to say, “Getting old is not for sissies.”

The post title refers not to the T-Bone Walker song whose full title is Call It Stormy Monday But Tuesday’s Just As Bad, but to an earlier song written by Earl Hines, Billy Eckstine, and Bob Crowder. I definitely have the Stormy Monday Blues. The last word goes to Billy Eckstine and Count Basie:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Nowhere Man

May is a month for themes at First Draft. Yesterday, I declared it Cole Porter month at the Friday Cocktail Hour. Today, I declare May to be Beatles month since Tell Me Why was last week’s theme song. I do declare. Stop me before I turn into Scarlet O’Hara. I’d look lousy in a hoop skirt…

President Biden visited New Orleans as part of his infrastructure push. He toured the Sewerage & Water Board plant in the Pigeon Town neighborhood. Our water system has been in bad shape forever. They’ve tried muddling through with what we have but what we need is money, money, money. The presidential visit is a good sign that it may be forthcoming. John Neely Kennedy insists that water plants aren’t infrastructure. I insist that he’s an asshole who can still go fuck himself.

This week’s theme song was written by Lennon and McCartney in 1965. Once again, it’s essentially a Lennon song. We’ll get to Macca next week. It was featured on three Beatles albums, Rubber Soul in the UK, Yesterday and Today in the US, and on the Yellow Submarine soundtrack worldwide. That was exhausting. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We have three versions of Nowhere Man for your listening pleasure: the Beatles original, Randy Travis, and Paul Westerberg.

If you’re feeling stuck in Nowhere Land, there’s an easy fix: jump to the break.

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Ryne Hancock: Choose Joy, Not Temper Tantrums

Ryne in repose.

Imagine for one second, you’re at a long-anticipated party with friends. The drinks are flowing, the vibes are good, and the music is on point. Everyone is having a good time and forgetting the problems of the real world.

Midway through the party, a brave soul walks in. Dressed like one of those annoying hipsters in the Bywater area of New Orleans, they start to loudly complain about everything. And while everyone around them is trying to hold their tongue by not saying anything or even acknowledging their asinine concerns, a few people let their feelings be known to the said brave soul. In turn the brave soul goes home and goes on social media to comment on how mean the people at the party were to them.

In other words, they decide to play victim instead of looking in the mirror at their own behaviors. They become defensive and believe everyone is mean to them for no reason when in reality, their track record is there for everyone to see.

They don’t seem to have a sense of reality and expect everyone to be miserable like them.

Back in 2016, I was close to being a member of the Democratic Socialists of America chapter in New Orleans. I was of the impression that maybe going the typical corporate Democrat route, which is what Hillary Clinton represented to me, wasn’t the way we needed to go.

That was, until I saw the true colors of not only the DSA, but their lord and savior Bernie Sanders.

Anytime I have to squint hard and look for a person that looks like me in a group photo, your whole movement is trash and I automatically ignore everything that you have to say.

So, I dismissed them and became a Clinton supporter.

The same thing happened last year when I roundly criticized Bernie Sanders, going as far as writing on Facebook about how Bernie and the DSA had a black people problem, which got me a lot of hate mail from leftist loon jobs.

“You must be some Trump supporter,” was what someone wrote me in a message.

Another message from someone on Facebook went as far as accusing me of being anti-Semitic because I said Bernie Sanders was always full blown angry.

After a while, I realized that there was no point getting through to a bunch of spoiled trust fund kids that were stuck on stupid.

Fast forward to now, where those same spoiled brats in DSA and Rose Twitter are sharpening their knives and criticizing Joe Biden.

That’s not to say that Biden is exempt from criticism. He’s the president and he should be held accountable for what he does.

But when you sit on social media all day and complain about how everything in the world sucks and then get mad when people call you out on your shit, it makes me hard to feign any type of sympathy for you.

The reason why your lord and savior Bernie Sanders isn’t in office today is because of black people, the demographic that your corner of the twitterscape is afraid of. The demographic that you view as low-information and in need of a savior.

The reason why your podcasts and YouTube channels are dwindling in viewers and listeners is because you can’t find any joy whatsoever in anything. You can’t have a moment of brevity because it would make your grift useless. People don’t want to hear a person complain about how bad the world is all the time. They want brevity. They want joy.

You don’t seem to get that.

In closing, keep having your temper tantrums and irrelevant podcasts.

While you’re whining, I and the majority of this country gonna choose joy.

A Postcard From Menlo Park (CA)

Greetings From Facebook Jail

 

This week’s postcard is actually from several places.

It’s from Menlo Park. But it’s actually from East Menlo Park. To be more specific from the campus of Facebook in East Menlo Park.

More specifically it’s from the cyber location called Facebook Jail.

No, I’m not in jail, but in the last few weeks a couple of my friends have been placed there, so like in Monopoly, I’m just visiting. I get to pass Go and collect $200.

It’s the algorithms I tells ya, they rat you out before you can even finish the comment.

Take my friend Don. Nice guy. We used to write together. We even wrote a musical for him to star in.

He’s the blonde on the left. If you’re thinking to yourself I know that face it’s probably from one of his many commercials or appearances on Letterman. He semi-gave up the glamour of show business for the academic life a few years ago and now teaches creative writing at a college in Connecticut. Which makes his crime even more, what’s the creative writing term for it, ironic.

Why is he in Facebook Jail? Because he had the temerity to make the following comment as a reply to someone else’s post:

We have more stupid Americans than at any other point in my lifetime.

That’s it. That’s all. For making the rather obvious statement of fact/opinion that a huge swarth of the American public are stupid. If I’m not mistaken Tucker Carlson has built an entire career on the basis of that assumption. The Repugnicant party as well.

I can hear you now saying to yourself “self, what’s so bad about saying a great number of people are stupid? It’s not like he called a specific person a particular racial slur or maligned an entire group of people by saying all were stupid, he just said there are a lot of stupid people living in America.”

Well self here’s the answer. The algorithm Facebook uses to check for hate speech on it’s site considers the word “stupid” to be hate speech.  Why? Apparently because some people still use stupid as a derogatory synonym for mentally challenged, hence stupid in the context of other human beings is hate speech. Stupid in the context of The Bachelor is okay, though don’t call whoever is the bachelor on The Bachelor stupid even if he was mentally challenged enough to go on a reality dating show.

But stupid has other meanings in relation to humans.

  • “A benumbed or dazed state of mind” as in “I was rendered stupid for awhile after I fell off the ladder”.
  • “Tediously dull, especially due to lack of meaning or sense” as in “This party is stupid”.
  • “In a state of stupor” as in “I am stupid from staying up all night”.
  • “Annoying or irritating” as in “This recitation of all the meanings of stupid is stupid”

So Facebook, do I go to jail for saying “Man last night I was so stupid from going to that stupid party that I tripped on the curb, hit my head, and got stupid for so long that I was stupid to the guy who gave me a ride home”?

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Tell Me Why

Cuban Movie Theatre by Walker Evans.

Now that I’m fully vaccinated, things are slowly but surely getting back to normal at Adrastos World HQ. A close friend of mine paid an extended visit the other day. He’s an engineer so when he noticed that one of our front stairs was wonky, he insisted on fixing it. His motto is: “I fix shit.” Thanks, pally.

I’ve been listening to a lot of early Beatle. The music and lyrics may not be as sophisticated as their post-Revolver work, but the harmonies are to die for. They sang live in the studio back then and the blending of John and Paul’s voices is sublime. The best example of Beatly greatness I can think of is the fact that George Harrison was the third best singer in the band. And George was no slouch. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

There are many songs titled Tell Me Why. I picked three of them. The Beatles song is basically a John Lennon song and was written in 1964. The Beatles recording history is complex, the early US and UK albums were quite different. In the UK, it appeared on Hard Day’s Night and in the US on Something New. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Our second theme song was written by Neil Young in 1970. It was the opening track on the album that made him a star as a solo artist, After The Gold Rush.

Our third theme song was also written in 1970. Barry Gibb wrote *his* Tell Me Why for the family band’s 2 Years On album.

Now that I’ve told you why, let’s jump to the break.

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The Dingbat Right

ding·bat 
1. NORTH AMERICANAUSTRALIAN a stupid or eccentric person.
2. a typographical device other than a letter or numeral (such as an asterisk), used to signal divisions in text or to replace letters in a euphemistically presented vulgar word.

The Dingbat Right have always been with us but the sane among us rarely dealt with them. The internet gave them a platform and social media gave them a megaphone.  It’s done the same for me but on my good days I’m relatively sane. Hopefully, this is one of those days.

In my youth, the John Birch Society personified the Dingbat Right. They were against water fluoridation believing it to be an attempt by the Commies at mind control or some such shit. I’ve never been clear about that: coherence was not the Birchers strong suit. They were also convinced that General President Eisenhower was a dupe of the Communist conspiracy and that Chief Justice Warren was a card-carrying member of CPUSA instead of that currently extinct species: a liberal Republican.

The Birchers are still around but they don’t attract much notice: it’s crowded on the Dingbat Right. They had something of a renaissance during the Trump regime. Anyone surprised to hear that? I thought not.

There’s even a direct link between the John Birch Society and the proto-Trumper Tea Party movement. One of the JBS’s founding members was Fred Koch. You’ve probably heard of his sons, David and Charles. The Kochsuckers are everywhere.

Bob Dylan wrote a song about the Birchers:

There are too many members of the modern Dingbat Right to name them all. I wrote about Tucker the Fucker yesterday. His latest thing is whipping up the Dingbat rank and file to confront maskers:

In primetime on Monday night the Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed requiring children to wear masks outdoors was “child abuse”.

Carlson also said “the only people who wear masks outside are zealots and neurotics” and said seeing a vaccinated person wear a mask outdoors was like “watching a grown man expose himself in public”.

“Your response when you see children wearing masks as they play should be no different from your response to seeing someone beat a kid in Walmart,” he said.

“Call the police immediately, contact child protective services. Keep calling until someone arrives. What you’re looking at is abuse, it’s child abuse and you are morally obligated to attempt to prevent it.”

Tucker Carlson is the worst kind of Dingbat, a phony who whips the genuine Dingbats into a frenzy.  It’s in his job description: Fox News is the media HQ of Dingbat Right Nation.

Former Senator and current CNN talking head Rick Santorum is a lifelong member of the Dingbat Right:

And this guy won eleven primaries and caucuses in the 2012 GOP presidential race including, of all places, Oklahoma. Oy just oy.

The most sinister bits of dingbattery involve attempts to keep the election Big Lie alive. In Arizona, the lege authorized what amounts to a third or fourth audit of the 2020 presidential election. The company in charge has one of dingbattiest names I’ve ever heard: Cyber Ninjas. I am not making this up.

The Dingbat Right isn’t big on policy. They’re culture warriors at heart. They’ve somehow managed to top themselves with the Joe Biden Wants To Ban Beef mishigas. Regular Guy Joe is a burger grabber? Please. He’s warming up the grill for Independence Day as I write this.

TPM’s Kate Riga has a great piece about the origins of this nonsense. It all started in the British tabloid, The Daily Mail. The Dingbat Right is ascendant in the United Kingdom as well. They were behind Brexit and the big-haired buffoon who pushed it and later became Prime Minister. Come on down, Boris Johnson. Hmm, I wonder if Bozza has Mad Cow disease…

The only thing I like about the beef beef is that it makes me think of the moment in the 1984 Democratic campaign when Fritz Mondale asked Gary Hart, “Where’s the beef?”

That dig at Hart’s lack of policy specifics was based on a Wendy’s ad campaign that turned into a board game that nobody played:

I prefer this Simpsonian take on that fleeting campaign kerfuffle:

By 1987, that quip took on a whole new meaning but since this post is about the Dingbat Right, I’m not going there. Neither Mondale nor Hart were dingbats, after all.

That concludes this brief tour of Dingbat Right Nation. It made me think of All In The Family and Archie Bunker. Archie called his sweet but ditzy wife Edith a dingbat and his pompous pinko son-in-law Mike, a meathead. Archie defined meathead as “dead from the neck up.” That certainly describes the Dingbat Right. If only they’d stifle.

Tucker Rhymes With Fucker

I was busy following the Louisiana-Second Congressional runoff (I’ll be writing about it this week for Bayou Brief) so I completely missed the latest Tucker Carlson controversy:

I usually don’t hold people responsible for a tasteless remark they made in college or high school, but I’ll make an exception in Tucker Carlson’s case. He’s the same entitled, smirking bigot that he was then.

This is a man who recently advocated the vile, anti-Semitic replacement theory, then denied doing so. He’s a disingenuous dick who wouldn’t know the truth if he tripped over it. He is, however, an expert at tripping over his own dick.

I take the “Dan White Society” thing personally. It’s time to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen’s snappy putdown of J Danforth Quayle:

I knew Harvey Milk.

Harvey Milk was a friend of mine.

You’re no Harvey Milk, Tucker.

What’s next? The Twinkie defense?

I second this reply:

A reminder that Tucker rhymes with fucker.

The last word goes to Harry Nilsson:

Fuck you, Tucker.

Paul McMahon: And It All Ends With A Whimper, Not A Bang

The much ballyhooed final installment of PMac’s Big Adventure is online. If you missed the first two parts click here to read them.

Now that the PMacs have landed in Seville, I hope to hear more about their expatriate adventures. I think a periodic Letter From Seville is in order.

-Adrastos

And It All Ends With A Whimper, Not A Bang by Paul McMahon

When we last checked in on our heroes, it was shortly after their third Covid test in five days, and while they were holed up in the charming confines of the Hilton Dulles Inn. Will they make it to Seville before their 72-hour benchmark on their most recent Covid test expires? Will their already departed luggage be in Seville once/if they arrive? Will Ms. Pmac have grounds for justifiable homicide when the inevitable happens and she wrings the neck of our beloved hero? These, and more questions will be answered on the third installment of When the Yat Turns!

So, we depart the Dulles Inn and make it to the similarly named airport. The agent at the United desk takes one look at us, and proclaims, “You guys look tired as hell. What are your names, and I’ll look up your info while you sit over there”, as he points to a lounge area. Without any hesitation, we agree and sit our asses on the cushioned chairs while he reads over the narrative of Team Pmac. After about 20 minutes, he emerges with boarding passes in hand, and $40 in airport vouchers with a request that we use them for a much-deserved last drink on American soil. Ms. Pmac grabs the vouchers, looks at me and then retorts, “what about his drink?”

So, we (I mean she) get our throats sufficiently quenched, and head to the boarding gate for our flight to Frankfurt. Kinda feels like a high school reunion since we recognize several other faces from the 48 versus 72-hour Covid test debacle from the previous day. Not wanting to sit for two hours and face another bout of excruciating rejection, we decide to have our boarding documents prechecked at the gate and are even more euphoric when we are told that all is in order for our sojourn to Deutschland.

We arrive in Frankfurt, check on the status of our previously departed bags and are advised that all are found and will accompany us on the trip to Seville. We board the plane for the final leg of our odyssey and arrive in our new homeland at noon on Easter Sunday.

In keeping with the religious nature of the day, miraculously all of our bags are awaiting us in Seville. While we had braced ourselves for an elongated visit with the immigration authorities in Spain, we departed the plane, grabbed our bags, and proceeded to hail a taxi and in less than 20 minutes. So far, so good as expatriated Sevillians.

Now, one slightly overlooked aspect of this adventure is that we booked our apartment without ever having physically visited it. The intricacies of obtaining a Spanish visa include that you submit proof of a minimum, pre-paid, 6-month apartment lease. We spent hours scouring various internet-based listings before we settle on our new home, smack in the middle of the old town section, an area that we had visited and loved in the halcyon, pre-Covid days.

One thing that we failed to take into account was that many of the streets in our new neighborhood are inaccessible by today’s modern vehicles. Hell, they are inaccessible by yesterday’s older vehicles, since street widths are often no more than 3’, sidewalk included. The memories of those streets came flooding back when our cab driver announced that we were at the end of our journey but faced a seven-block walk with the familiar 4 pieces of luggage, dog in a carrier, guitar in a case and 4 carry on pieces.

Undaunted, we (I mean me) carry our freight several pieces at a time and block to block, until we reach our new home. And discover that the elevator in our new home can only fit one person, and one suitcase per trip.

Ms. Pmac readily volunteers to be on the receiving end of our newfound freight forwarding company, while I feed the bags on the ground floor. When I accompany the last bag on my maiden voyage to the apartment, it finally hits me. The front door to the apartment is open, so I can view the inside of our place and I’m met with the vision of my wife staring out onto the town square located three floors down. I quickly join her and share that same panoramic vista and am simply overcome with a sense of exhaustion and relief. It was a hell of a journey, one that neither of us could ever have predicted (and, maybe would have opted to stay state side if we could), but the pay off made it all so worthwhile. We are home, ladies and gentlemen.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Something To Talk About

Cocktails by Archibald Motley.

We’ve had some unseasonably cool weather this week in New Orleans. It’s been a relief after last week’s constant rain. We’ve even had some sun, which was initially disorienting but I’m down with it.

It’s special election run-off day in the Louisiana-Second. An ugly and mendacious campaign was waged by the runner-up in the primary, State Senator Karen Carter Peterson. She wants a promotion after a disastrous tenure as state party chair and missing 85% of state senate votes last year. Talk about failing upward.  I also happen to think that comparing another Democrat to Donald Trump is punching below the belt. I look forward to voting against her and for Troy Carter.

This week’s theme song was written in 1990 by Canadian singer-songwriter Shirley Elkhard and recorded by Bonnie Raitt for her 1991 album, Luck Of The Draw. It was a big hit for the Bonster. It was later used in the Julia Roberts-Dennis Quaid movie of the same title in 1995.

We have two versions of Something To Talk About for your listening pleasure: the Bonnie Raitt original and a 2016 version by Blood Sweat & Tears frontman David Clayton Thomas.

Was that bloody, sweaty, and teary enough for you lot? While we’re still wet, let’s jump to the break.

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Why Is Miss Universe Always From Earth?

A lot of us are feeling a lot of anticipation right now—for those who have not yet been jabbed it’s the anticipation of that jab and how your body will react to it (my first Moderna shot elicited a slight headache and the second some pretty bad fatigue and muscle aches for about 10 hours, but so worth it), the semi-jabbed anticipate the next jab, and the fully-jabbed anticipate returning to the larger world.

I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends, and resuming the things that bring me joy:  volunteering at a no-kill animal shelter, singing with my choir, doing Church Lady things with the St. Mary’s Guild at church, wandering Costco, seeing a movie in a theater, eating a hot meal I didn’t cook and having all the plates taken away for someone else to wash.

I am anticipating these things in the context of the awfulness of our current society:  the continued fallout of a violent insurrection, almost daily mass shootings, police officers STILL FORKING KILLING Black people. I’m an anxious person to begin with, and none of those things are balm for a worrywart like me.

But the thing I am anticipating the most right now is a fairly rare and quite delightful experience:  the return of Brood X, the largest and most populous periodic cicada emergence. I have been part of a Mid-Atlantic weather community for 15+ years and in addition to tracking spring storms, we are also tracking the emergence of these amazing insects. That’s the magnitude of this event.

I grew up in New England so I didn’t experience this surreal phenomenon until I moved to DC. In 2004 I lived in a prime neighborhood for cicadas with established tree-lined streets and a large wilderness park just a few blocks away. And even better, the small building I lived in had a giant Japanese maple tree right in front of my windows. As the nymphs came out of the ground to shed their skins, grow wings, and fly away I could see them on my window screens. The noise in my neighborhood was deafening and that tree was absolutely covered with cicadas.

Here’s the thing:  I am not a fan of bugs. I like pollinators, praying mantises, katydids, and I catch inside spiders and take them outside (or at least I did before we got our cat Rey because she is always at war with spiders and she always wins), but the rest of the insect world can go pound sand. I was excited to experience Brood X but I was also quietly terrified. All those bugs! In the air! On the ground! Would they hurt me (no)?

As it turns out, cicadas are harmless and bumbling. I would even say they are charming. You’ll see the newly emerged ones rocking upside down on the street. (I used to turn them right side up as I headed to my bus stop. I couldn’t help myself.) They are flying doofuses with no capability to hurt you. Our cats are absolutely obsessed with bugs, to the point that last summer the aforementioned Rey got stung by a potter’s wasp she was annoying and she continues to annoy them still, so I imagine they are going to go nuts in a few weeks.

One of the best things about Brood X is that there are different cicadas that emerge, each with its own song and each with specific mating calls. So while it is loud, it’s also a whole boatload of loud.  One of the cool songs is the “pharaoh” song:

Another group sings a frying pan/lawn sprinkler sound (I think this is a mating call) :

And my favorite sound, and the one that inspired the title of this post, is a high-pitched alien spaceship song—you’ll have to listen for it in the background, but once you hear it, you’ll know it:

It seems unusually early, as the cicadas didn’t emerge en masse in 2004 until May, but there are already reports of some early birds up and singing in the trees in the DC metro area. They will pay for their temporal mistake as they will be gobbled up by eager prey. In the meantime I watch for emergence holes in the yard and listen for first song of the swarm. I really can’t wait for it to begin.

The Chauvin Trial: Evidence Matters, Lawyering Matters

I made a mistake yesterday and spent too much time on Twitter before the verdict. The amateur lawyers and jurors were doing their thing, insisting that Derek Chauvin would be acquitted because that’s how it’s always gone. Each criminal case is different, a discrete and insular universe of its own. Precedents are for appellate courts; trial courts are all about verdicts. Each case stands alone.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison assembled a 21st Century dream team for the prosecution. They also had a dream case and the right jury to hear the case. Evidence matters. Lawyering matters. Voir dire matters. Everything came together for this conviction including some significant erosion of the thin blue line.

I’m not a fan of teevee cameras in the courtroom. The prosecution handled it well, acting as if they weren’t there. Eric Nelson (who can still suck it) played to the cameras and his own vanity. Lawyers tend to revel in detail and miss the big picture. Nelson kept making those mistakes and, more importantly, misread the jury. Jurors matter.

During his doomed closing argument, Nelson missed a chance to woo the jury. At the ninety-minute mark, he should have paused and said something like this, “Your honor, I’m going to need more time to make my case, but I see that it’s lunch time. I bet everyone in the court room is hungry. Why don’t we take a break and I’ll finish after lunch.”

Would it have helped his client? Given the evidence, no, but he should done it anyway as a signal to the jury that he cared about them, instead the judge was obliged to intervene.

I don’t know about you, but I get cranky when I’m really hungry. The focus of juror crankiness was Nelson who can still suck it. My idea of hell is his closing argument on a loop for eternity. Now, that’s damnation.

It’s another example of how the defense was focused on minutiae. Details matter but getting lost in them leads to three hour closing arguments that lead to disaster for a client. In this case, Chauvin had it coming.

I usually stick up for lawyers defending the indefensible. Everyone has the right to representation. This was a tough case but Nelson (who can still suck it) made everything worse with his showboating and verbosity. He was blowing smoke to get the jury to invoke reasonable doubt, but his case died of smoke inhalation, right? Apologies for the Nelsonism, they’re annoying, agreed? Nelson can still suck it.

It would not surprise me if the police union and the convicted defendant fired Nelson. Given the mountain of evidence, an appeal is unlikely to succeed in this case but the best ground is ineffective representation by counsel. Nelson was that bad.

A friend asked if I thought Nelson was throwing the case. Definitely not. Tanking a case can get you fired and even worse disbarred, especially in such a high-profile case. Cliche warning: He couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: not all lawyers are smart. I went to law school with some dumb people, but they were good test takers, so they made it through. That’s not unusual in a society where teachers teach to the test, not because they want to but because it’s required. Herd immunity is a good thing, but group think is not. Heed George Harrison’s advice and:

In fairness to Eric Nelson, if the prosecution had the dream case, he had the nightmare client. Derek Chauvin is as unlikeable a defendant as imaginable.

One reason Chauvin murdered George Floyd was stubborn pride. The crowd was urging him to get off Floyd’s neck and he wasn’t going to let them tell him how to do his job. He should have listened. I’m convinced that many problems could be solved if people just shut up and listened.

Chauvin’s face was blank as the verdict was read. He blinked but his visage was as emotionless as when he knelt on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. I try not to take pleasure in other people’s misfortune but watching him led away in handcuffs was a thing of beauty. His face remained expressionless and his eyes blank much like the character in this Kinks song:

Justice *was* achieved in the Chauvin case notwithstanding the desire of some to pull defeat from the jaws of victory. But like all criminal verdicts, it stands alone, it has no precedential value. One could even call it a legal island.

It’s a good start but few cases will have such perfect evidence and such good lawyering. It should, however, serve as a warning to rogue cops that things have changed, and that accountability is possible. Some of them, alas, will be slow learners.

In the end, people matter. The conviction was made possible by people like Darnella Frazier, Genevieve Hansen, Donald Williams, Charles McMillian, Courtney Ross, Chief Arradondo. Lt. Zimmerman, Doctors Tobin and Rich, and all the other witnesses who stood their ground and told the truth.

The truth matters.

Fritz Mondale, R.I.P.

Then Senator Walter Mondale throws out the first pitch at a Minnesota Twins game.

I was lucky enough to meet Walter Mondale in between national elections sometime in the early 1980’s. It was at some sort of Congressional function. I can’t remember if it was on or off the Hill, but I made a beeline for him and introduced myself.

Me:  Nice to meet you, Mr. Vice President.

WM: Former Vice President.

Me:  Mr. Mondale then…

WM: … just call me Fritz.

I did and I still do,

I knew that he loved the Minnesota Twins, so I mentioned meeting Jim (Mudcat) Grant who was one of the stars of the 1965 team that lost to Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers in the World Series.

WM: Great nickname. Great guy. Did you know that he was a heckuva singer and had a nightclub act called Mudcat and the Kittens?

Me:   I did not know that.

I lied to one of the most honest men in American public life because I didn’t want to slow his roll. I also skipped my stock line about the 1980 election: “I voted for Mondale for Vice President.”

Much to my surprise, we chatted for about ten minutes. He liked talking to young people. Believe or not I used to be young.

Fritz Mondale died yesterday at the age of 93. He was a modest man from a humble background who never forgot his roots or his commitment to the poor, minorities, and the elderly.

Mondale should be remembered for revolutionizing the Vice Presidency, not for his blow-out loss to Ronald Reagan. But that led to one of my favorite Fritz Mondale stories:

He liked telling that story. He said it kept him humble.

He conducted his 1984 presidential campaign with dignity and honor. He lost but he was true to himself and his beliefs. He also made history by picking Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate. It took 36 years for a woman to be elected Veep. The current Vice President Kamala Harris was among the last to speak with her predecessor. Fortuna’s Wheel keeps spinning.

I chuckled when I read that Mondale was selected by Carter because of his Washington experience. That’s only partially accurate: Carter was mistrusted by the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and organized labor. Fritz Mondale was their guy.

Fritz Mondale and his mentor and fellow Minnesotan Hubert Humphrey had many things in common. Mondale was appointed to fill HHH’s senate seat when the latter became Veep. Humphrey urged him to accept the Vice Presidency despite Hubert’s appalling treatment by Lyndon Johnson. They were both Democratic nominees for president and both lost. More importantly, they were good and decent people who helped steer the Democratic party “out of the shadow of states’ rights and …. into the bright sunshine of human rights” in Humphrey’s memorable phrase.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar won Twitter last night after her mentor’s passing:

Fritz Mondale lived a long and glorious life. Instead of mourning his death, we should celebrate his life and legacy as a heckuva nice guy and the greatest Vice President in American history. Along with Hubert Humphrey, he was the best president we never had.

The last word goes to Mudcat Grant at a memorial service for his teammate, Harmon Killebrew:

A Postcard From Hollywood

Greetings From Hollywood

I’ve been kinda serious the past few posts so I’ve decided in honor of 2021’s Oscar pageant this coming Sunday let’s have some fun. Here are some of my favorite Oscar trivia questions. Go ahead and Google the answer if you want, but I promise you it’s more fun to just play along. No points given, none taken away. By the way, I’m going to use the generic term “actor” to mean both male and female actors.

First of all, a basic question. How long does a film have to be to be considered a feature (as opposed to a short subject) by the Academy?

40 minutes. I don’t know who came up with that, but I’d sure as hell be POed if I paid twelve bucks to see a feature that only lasted 40 minutes. On the other hand, if THE ENGLISH PATIENT had only been 40 minutes I might have liked it better. By the way, the shortest run time for a movie that won Best Picture is 91 minutes, MARTY.

From shortest to longest. What movie nominated for Best Picture had the longest title?

If you said BIRDMAN (OR THE UNEXPECTED VIRTURE OF IGNORANCE) I’d give you half a point if we were keeping score. It’s the longest title for a movie that won Best Picture. But the longest title for a movie nominated goes to, of course how could you not get this, DR. STRANGELOVE OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB. Another Oscar fact about Strangelove, the man who played him, Peter Sellers, also played Group Captain Lionel Mandrake and President Merkin Muffly and thus is the only actor to be nominated for playing three roles in the same film.

Well then let’s get familial. What family has the most nominations for Oscars? I’m talking about a blood relationship, no married into the family, no in-laws, a direct blood relationship.

I know the impulse is to say the Fondas or the Hustons or the Coppolas, but the actual answer is the Newmans. And I ain’t talking about Paul. I’m talking about Alfred (45 nominations), his brothers Emil (1) and Lionel (11), his sons David (1) and Thomas (16) and his nephew Randy (22). That’s 96 nominations between them, all for musical scoring or original song.  To put that into perspective including this year there have only been 93 Academy Award ceremonies. In this most unprecedented of years it is almost unprecedented that no Newman scored a nomination this year.

Staying in the family, what two couples won acting Oscars while married to one another?

The first was Laurence Olivier and Vivian Leigh, he for HAMLET and she for, no not GONE WITH THE WIND (they weren’t married yet) but for A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. The second were those Newmans again! This time, yes, Paul for THE COLOR OF MONEY and Joanne Woodward for THE THREE FACES OF EVE. By the way, Vivian Leigh holds a distinction shared with Luise Rainer and Hilary Swank as the only actors to have a 1.000 Oscar batting average, two nominations, two wins. Sally Field used to be a fourth but she spiraled her average down to .667 by being nominated for Supporting Actress in LINCOLN and losing. But other than that how was the play Sally?

Speaking of multiples, who are the six actors to be nominated for playing the same character in two different movies?

Bing Crosby as Father O’Malley for GOING MY WAY and THE BELLS OF SAINT MARY’S, Al Pacino as Michael Corelone in THE GODFATHER and THE GODFATHER PART II, Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth I in ELIZABETH and ELIZABETH THE GOLDEN AGE, Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in ROCKY and CREED (bet that one you forgot about), Peter O’Toole as King Henry II in BECKET and THE LION IN WINTER and finally, holy crap it’s that Newman fellow again in THE HUSTLER and THE COLOR OF MONEY. Of the six the only winners were Newman for the sequel and Crosby for the original.

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Paul McMahon: Second Verse, Same As The First

If it’s Sunday, it must be part two of Pmac’s Big Adventure.  I *should* apologize to Paul for the cheesy Peter Noone/Herman featured image but sometimes I cannot help myself. This is one of those times. Hopefully, it won’t lead to High Noone…

-Adrastos

Second Verse, Same As The First by Paul McMahon

So, maybe I’m really Henry VIII?!?

Following Wednesday’s airport debacle, we awoke on Friday morning with an attitude of fuck the past and let’s move on to bigger and better things. I mean, the gods can only inflict so much punishment on a man not named Job, correct?!?

Get to the airport and arrive at the United check in counter with 4 pieces of luggage, dog in a carrier, guitar in a case and 4 carry on pieces. Start to place the luggage on the scale, and the clerk utters those ominous words, “oh, oh.” Yeah, my dear wife has overloaded both of her bags a good 10 lbs each beyond the maximum capacity set by United. So, much to the chagrin of the patrons queued behind us, my beloved opens up her two pieces and quickly starts to grab and throw various items into my much lighter pieces of Samsonite. After having exposed various items of lingerie to the huddled masses at Louis Armstrong International, the bags are now all sufficiently svelte, and we proceed to our boarding gate.

Our new itinerary has us heading west to go east, with our first stop in Houston before proceeding to DC, Frankfurt and finally to Casa de Pmac in Spain. The hour-long flight to Houston goes off without a hitch, hopefully a precursor to what we know will be a long day. Board our flight to DC and despite having been told that the three seated rows will all have an empty middle seat to help enforce Coronavirus standards, we discover that there is a pre-teen boy firmly ensconced in seat B. I politely ask the young man if he would like the window seat in order for my wife and I to sit together, to which I am met with a resounding, yet simple, “No.” Fair enough. My wife climbs over this seated young Einstein, puts the dog under the seat in front, while I wedge myself into seat A, and away we go on our 3-hour journey to DC.

Since I cannot engage in any banter with my spouse during this flight, I decide to take a nap, from which I am awakened by the sounds of whimpering. Fearing that it’s our dog, I open my eyes but quickly notice that it’s my junior row companion, who is quietly whimpering to himself, with the onset of some tears streaming down his cheek. Overcoming my initial thought of the little bastard had it coming, I inquire if there’s something wrong, and now discover that junior actually is capable of more than a one-word utterance. “I don’t feel good” is quickly followed by that all too familiar yack sound and the expulsion of vomit from the kid’s mouth, onto his lap, and my pant leg. Luckily, the stewardess quickly emerges, and pulls junior off to the bathroom, and drops a few packets of wet wipes in my lap and asks if I’ll assume the role of janitor and clean up the remains. I look over at my wife, and she is laughing uncontrollably. Yeah, empathy is not her strong suit.

So, junior re-emerges and, thankfully, the rest of the flight is uneventful. We land in DC, with only a little more than an hour before our flight across the pond starts to board. On the way to the new gate, we find a pet park, allow our pup to relieve himself, and then quickly find ourselves in line for the Frankfurt flight.

I want to write that the rest of our day was joy filled and ends with us entering our new digs in Seville. I want to, but I can’t. When we get to the gate agent, and present our papers for the flight, we are summarily dismissed and refused entry since our Covid tests, while within the 72-hour mandate imposed by the Spanish authorities, are now outside of the 48-hour limit that our German friends have adopted. Despite numerous pleas/threats to various officials, we still are not allowed on the flight (a fate shared by at least 20 other ticketed customers), and instead find ourselves at the United customer service stand.

So, I am composing this missive while sitting in room 176 at the Hilton Dulles airport, having taken yet another Covid test (to those still counting, that makes three tests in the past 5 days), and awaiting our new flight on Saturday evening to Frankfurt with a final connection to Seville. And, to add further levity to the situation, all of our luggage is now in Seville, which while it does relieve me of the Herculean task of carrying again the 4 pieces of luggage, it does leave me still wearing the pants that junior soiled.

“I’m Henery the 8th I am, Henery the 8th I am…..”

Saturday Odds & Sods: Pictures Of Matchstick Men

Main Press by LS Lowry.

The weather has been horrendous in New Orleans this week. We’ve had high winds, thunderstorms, and torrential rain. One day it looked as if we were having a tropical system out of season. I hate thunderstorms, they’re like heavy metal. I hate heavy metal.

It’s been so bad that we’ve had to work around the weather for fear of street flooding. Dr. A went to work preposterously early yesterday because she was administering an exam. I was so grateful that the garbage men closed the bin lid that I went on the porch and thanked them.

This week’s theme song was written by Francis Rossi for Status Quo’s 1968 album Picturesque Matchstickable Messages from the Status Quo. How’s that for a long ass title? It was to be the band’s only major hit single in the US&A.

The song was inspired by the paintings of Mancunian artist LS Lowry. He pretended to be an unsophisticated artist but had serious chops as a painter. Lowry also excelled at myth creation often telling wildly contradictory stories. His painting Main Press is this week’s featured image.

There’s some dispute as to whether Lowry should be called a Mancunian artist since he lived in nearby Salford. But I like saying Mancunian so I’m sticking with it. FYI, a Mancunian is someone who hails from Manchester, England, mate.  Who the hell wants to be a Salfordian or is that Salfordite?

We have three versions of Pictures Of Matchstick Men for your listening pleasure: the studio original, Status Quo live, and a 1989 cover by Camper Van Beethoven, which was a hit in the US&A.

We’re not finished with matchstick men, here’s a 2018 song written and recorded by Mark Knopfler:

Now that we’ve pondered matchstick men in music and art, let’s strike quickly and jump to the break.

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The Defense Rests

Who are these masked men? Eric Nelson and Derek Chauvin.

I originally didn’t plan to write about the defense mounted on behalf of Derek Chauvin by his pesky and annoying lawyer Eric Nelson. But I was asked several times to do so, and I’ve been known to take requests. I will not, however, play either Louie Louie or Whipping Post, which are my stock mock concert song requests. I once got Weather Report’s Joe Zawinul to play a few bars of the former and was mocked by Richard Thompson for requesting the latter.

I only watched bits and bobs of the defense presentation because Nelson annoys me so much. Besides, I have other things to do such as writing about my parents and the corrupt Gilroy cop. End of shameless plug for one of my better recent posts.

Nelson’s defense predictably consisted of throwing shit against the wall and seeing how much sticks. But the defense doesn’t have the burden of proof, in a case like this its job is to poke holes in the prosecution’s case. Nelson tried mightily but as far as I can tell failed. His experts simply weren’t as good as those of the prosecution. His use of force guy essentially paraphrased Tricky Dick:

Just substitute police for president and do for does and Bob’s your uncle.

Nelson’s medical expert Dr. David Fowler was no better. He’s the reflexively pro-police former chief medical examiner of Maryland. He’s currently being sued by the family of a 19-year-old black man killed by police. Fowler ruled Anton Black’s death to be accidental and caused by his heart problems and bipolar disorder. The facts of that case are strikingly similar to the Floyd case.

Dr. Fowler pulled a joker out of the deck and cited carbon monoxide poisoning as a factor in George Floyd’s death. That led to the prosecution calling lovable expert witness Dr. Martin Tobin to rebut Fowler’s claim. That was win-win for the prosecution: Fowler is a dick with a South African accent and Tobin is a nice guy with an Irish brogue. He reminds me of two Irish members of the John Ford stock company: Barry Fitzgerald and Arthur Shields.

The least surprising thing that happened yesterday was Chauvin’s decision to exercise his 5th Amendment right not to testify. The guy has 18 citizen complaints against him. If he testified, they would have come in. There was no way Nelson would advise him to take the stand. Nelson is a jerk, not an idiot. I stand by what I wrote on Tuesday.

The trial is on hiatus until Monday. The defense tried to throw Judge Peter Cahill for a loop by resting earlier than expected. The judge was not rattled by Nelson’s antics and stuck to the plan of closing arguments on Monday. He promised the jury the weekend off before being sequestered for deliberation. One of the least commented upon aspects of a judge’s life is jury management. This judge kept his word to his jury. He’s got a swell first name as well.

A few words about the teevee coverage. I mostly watched MSNBC and CSPAN, but I dallied with Court TV. I skipped CNN because of my Wolf Blitzer phobia. Mercifully, MSNBC let its regular hosts handle the coverage, which spared me from seeing New Jersey’s answer to Wolf Blitzer, Brian Williams.

Court TV is used to covering tabloidy trials and its coverage reflected that. This trial is significant in a way that the Casey Anthony trial never was. Their analysts and anchors were shockingly bad. One predicted that Chauvin *would* testify. Say what? Talk about pundit malpractice.

As to MSNBC, its reporters were in over their head and fell back on reporting on juror quirks. How can you read their reaction when they’re wearing masks? Oy just oy.

When MSNBC’s crack legal analysts such as Chuck Rosenberg, Joyce Vance, and David Henderson were on the air things were better. I could have done without some of the political/cultural analysts such as Professor Eddie Glaude who specialized in windy and negative pronouncements about the jury. Here’s the deal: even when juries get it wrong, they’re doing the best they can. It’s not easy being a juror in a high-profile case, you’re going to get criticized whichever way you come down.

The closing arguments should be interesting. Both sides will use them to remind the jury of what happened during the trial. The prosecution has the upper hand because it has a stronger case, but Nelson might be able to pester and annoy the panel into hanging.

Predicting outcomes in a jury trial is a sucker’s game. I don’t expect an acquittal, but a hung jury is a possibility.

Stay tuned.

The last word goes to the Allman Brothers Band:

Small Town Cops

The revelation that Army Lt. Caron Nazario was pepper sprayed last December by Windsor, Virginia police got me thinking of a scary encounter my family had with a small town cop many years ago.

Windsor is as small as it gets with a population of 1,902. Its police force had only five cops at the time of the traffic stop. The number is down one because Officer Pepper Spray was fired. The only reason that happened is that Lt. Nazario sued over what may well be business as usual for that police force.

When I was a kid, my father thought nothing of hopping into the family car to spend weekends with relatives in Salinas or Los Angeles. He grew up in the mountain West where distances are great, and people drive really fast. In fact, my Aunt Mary had a radar detector in her car when she was in her 80’s. That side of the family were fast drivers. Perhaps that explains my affinity for actor/race car drivers such as Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, and James Garner.

There was a notorious speed trap on Highway 101 in those days, Gilroy. It’s now part of the San Jose/Silicon Valley urban sprawl but back in the day, it was a very small town in the middle of nowhere or so it seemed to me as a kid.

We were pulled over by the Gilroy police at least five times over the years. Every time we approached that benighted little town, my mom would warn Lou to slow down. He waved her off every time convinced he could talk his way out of anything.

We were lucky. We only received two tickets. Lou’s charm offensive usually worked. On one occasion, it did not. Lou was nearly arrested and cuffed on the spot. We were stopped by a cop who was impervious to his charm and didn’t care that he was related to Los Angeles County Sheriff, Pete Pitchess. This was Gilroy whose only claim to fame was its garlic festival and status as a speed trap.

The officer was infuriated by Lou’s name dropping and ordered him to get out of the car. He complied but didn’t stop talking. Bad idea as all it did was make the cop angrier. He started to pull out his handcuffs, which was when my mother intervened.

She apologized to the officer and offered to accompany him to the station where we would gladly pay the fine on the spot. She added, “We’re just trying to get home so our son can go to school tomorrow.”

It worked. The wannabe brutal cop turned out to be corrupt and asked for a $100 bill to let us go. He insisted that mom drive saying, “You’re a nice lady, but your husband has a big mouth. He should learn to keep it shut.”

We hit the road home. Lou tried to get mom to pull over so he could drive. It was one of the few times I recall her yelling at him: “Shut up, Lou, just shut up.”

She was magnificent.

This is not a story either of my parents ever told as far as I know, a rare thing in my father’s case. I wasn’t sworn to silence but never wanted to embarrass them over something that could have easily gone terribly wrong.

Imagine if we’d been a black family. The story wouldn’t have concluded with a bribe and our departure. I hesitate to think how it would have ended but that was one angry small town cop who was ready to kick my father’s ass or worse. A nice black lady’s intervention wouldn’t have been treated so indulgently.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: There’s never any reason for the police to draw their weapons during a traffic stop. In Lt. Nazario’s case, it was allegedly over a temporary license tag. He wisely delayed pulling over until he was in a well-lit area. It could have been much, much worse.

Driving While Black should not be dangerous. If this can happen to a soldier in uniform, it can happen to anyone. I’m glad that Lt. Nazario had the presence of mind to record the incident on his phone camera. The small town cops expected him to be grateful that they didn’t arrest him. So much for supporting our troops.

I told my story about a traffic stop that nearly went sideways, not to equate Driving While Greek with Driving While Black. It’s an example of how police training does not work. A citizen should be able to speak freely with the police, not fear for their safety when pulled over. Not every encounter with the public is life threatening but police are trained to fear those they supposedly protect and serve, especially if they’re people of color. It has to stop.

Repeat after me: Retrain The Police.

A Postcard From the Other Side of the Pandemic

Coronavirus

Hi. You guys missing me yet?

April 13, 2022

It’s a warm sunny day here in Northern California, the kind of day when you sit out on the porch with a cool beverage in hand, some tunes on the phone, and just marvel at the wonders of nature.

Hard to believe just two years ago we were hunkered down, fearful of going out into a public place, fearful of coming in contact with anyone else, fearful of even breathing without a mask on. Fearful, fearful, fearful.

It was all about the fear. And making sure to wash your hands.

Not that today we are without fear. I don’t see anyone clamoring to get on board a cruise ship or travel to any of the countries where the now downgraded to an epidemic COVID-19 still lingers. Shaking hands still occurs, but fist bumps are the standard now. You still see folks walking around with masks on, but I think that’s just going to be normal for years to come, especially since the report came out about how regular flu, stomach flu, hell even the common cold all dropped precipitously when everyone, or at least most of us, were masked up.

I guess we’re all turning Japanese.

There have been adjustments to the “new normal” which is a phrase as obnoxious as any Madison Avenue ad slogan ever was. There is no “new normal” just as there is no “old normal”. There is just normal, the usual for the time. Yes, back before COVID it was not common to work from home or do most of your shopping via the internet or talk to relatives via Zoom, but many people did all of those things. Now more people do.

And it’s normal.

That initial surge of people going to movies, concerts, sporting events, the theater, has slowed down a bit. It was natural there would be a rush to be with others once the pandemic was declared under control. Humans are by nature a societal species, we need contact with others of our kind to survive. Now it’s even hard to remember those days when the lady in line ahead of you at the supermarket barked to stay six feet away even though between your cart and hers there had to be a least a seven foot buffer zone.

Speaking of which, remember running to buy up toilet paper? Everyone bought so much of it now stores can’t give it away.

Some things that were a product of those times are now standard.

People seemed to enjoy outdoor dining so the parklets created from parking spaces in front of restaurants have remained making even the most Midwest American city look like Paris in the 1920’s (sans stinky cigarettes).

Retail mall parking lots have been redesigned to accommodate the surge in drive up/pick up services most retailers are continuing to offer. I do think there will be some rethinking of that idea once those same retailers begin to notice the drop in per ticket revenue, a factor of fewer impulse purchases at the register.

Zoom is still going great guns but now faces competition from the advent of specialized video meeting apps, from RomperRoomz for kids to BrideNGroom for wedding planners to Bloom for gardening enthusiasts to GloomNDoom  for depressives.

Of course one of the biggest changes was the advent of the Live/Work office building. Challenged by companies bugging out of downtown skyscrapers because their work forces were happy to trade in long commutes for virtual meetings and being able to spend more time with their families, developers worked to remodel their buildings into hybrid apartment-office spaces. Office workers can now have an elevator commute to their jobs, if they even need to go into the office at all. In addition it seems like every building has one floor or more dedicated to rent by the hour conference rooms, an easy and economical way for far flung work forces to occasionally meet face to face.

That has lead to a decrease in traffic, especially in once highway jammed metropolitan locations like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. Not that anyone is complaining about the downturn in traffic accidents, air pollution, or noise but there is worry that this will lead to fewer auto sales, less gasoline consumption, and fewer auto insurance policies or in other words a possible hit to the economy. It hasn’t happened yet and there are still plenty of people driving cars but the signs are there.

One thing that happily went back to what it was before is school. Happily for parents that is. Also for kids if they want to be honest. After class activities have returned, sports, music, theater, and the feeling of community a school engenders will never be taken for granted again by any student who went through the pandemic. Not to say it’s completely the same. Virtual teaching brought about the end of absenteeism and truancy. No excuse to miss class is accepted since class can be beamed into your bedroom. And if you’re not signed on, you’re busted.

We still have the divide between those who took the precautions, believed the science, listened to the experts, etc. and those who didn’t. That rift is healing slowly but should be aided by the start of Trump’s criminal trial and, hopefully, conviction. Plus the benefits of the Biden rescue bill and infrastructure bill are now becoming so evident even the capitol insurrectionists still not in jail are having to admit they were wrong. Those combined with national polling that shows total disgust with Republican voter suppression laws has Democrats salivating over an increase in their congressional majorities this November.

It’s been a long two years that are unlikely to ever be forgotten by anyone who has lived through it. We mourn those we lost, but we look forward to the new world ahead. And we will remember that that world will have come from this one, good and bad.

Exene Cervenka, masked up even when it wasn’t fashionable.

Shapiro Out

 

 

Guest Post: Pmac’s Big Adventure, Part 1

I skipped the Sunday Morning Video today because we have something special for you.  Last December, I published a guest post by my friend Paul McMahon aka Paul McRambles: A Yat In Queen Isabella’s Court.

In that post, Paul described his plan to leave New Orleans and move to Seville, Spain. He is not, however, a barber or an opera singer.

Paul has finally gone and done it. This is the first part of a trilogy of sorts, which will grace First Draft on Sundays this month.

The first part is about Paul and Ms. Pmac’s struggle to cross the pond. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll yell at Delta. Whatever you do, don’t stay in Kenna, Brah.

-Adrastos Out. If it’s good enough for Shapiro, it’s good enough for me.

Pmac’s Big Adventure, Part 1 by Paul McMahon

So, its Thursday morning and instead of sitting on our balcony in Seville, I’m at a hotel in Kenner, La.

Back up the time machine, and here’s what has transpired over the past 48 hours.

Tuesday morning we go to a local pharmacy for a Covid test. Timing is crucial, since we need to show the authorities in Spain, a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival. Told results will be emailed before our flight on 4pm Wed.

On way back from the test, get a call from the company buying the now lone car we own, my wife’s 25-year-old Mazda. They are at our house now, ready to get it. Several hours early, but other than the trip to the airport, we only need one other trip, so why not (cue the violins from the Psycho shower scene).

Get home, car transaction complete. I call an Uber and go to the internet company provider’s office to turn in the box, back home and we’ll be off to the hotel for the night (no longer have a bed, so we opted to stay at a hotel next to the airport).

Call the Uber again, start to get our small dog into his carrier. Go to pick it up with him in it, and, the bottom of the carrier and the dog stay firmly on the ground, while I am holding the rest of the dry rotted carrier.

So, cancel the Uber, call the local pet supply place, and eureka, they have a carrier. Call another Uber and get to the store to discover that the employee was mistaken – no carrier there. Redirected (with another Uber) to a store across town that actually does have one. Grab it, another Uber ride back home, and then another Uber ride to the hotel with our 4 pieces of luggage, dog in a carrier, guitar in a case and 4 carry on pieces, for a restful night prior to departure.

Wednesday morning awaken to no news from the covid lab. Email them and am again assured results will be in prior to departure. Get to the airport with our 4 pieces of luggage, dog in a carrier, guitar in a case and 4 carry on pieces, go to check in and am told we actually can’t even board a plane without the results. So, we cool, our heels in the lobby of the airport. One hour later, the email hits. Open it and read that no test was performed because the tech who took our samples forgot to label the specimen container. Yeah, fuck me large.

So, back to the Delta (oh, and a double fuck you to Delta as you will shortly see) counter and the friendly attendant says no problem and gives us directions to a place that will do the test and provide results within 2 hours. She also advises that she will book us on the same flights tomorrow, at no extra cost. Our guardian angel (so we thought).

 

Grab our 4 pieces of luggage, dog in a carrier, guitar in a case and 4 carry on pieces and grab another Uber, to yet another hotel. Drop off the bags and the pup, and then yet another Uber to the testing company. Sure enough for $300 apiece, they will test and give results in 2 hours. And, 2 hours later, we have our written proof of being Covid free and Uber yet again to a hotel with thoughts of Seville dancing in our exhausted brains.

That night before turning off the lights we notice that we haven’t received an email confirming our new flights and log into the Delta web site. Nothing there either. Call Delta customer service, and after literally being on hold for 2.5 hours, am told that we missed our flights today (yeah, what a revelation) and that there are no other flights booked for us. And, while there are seats available for Thursday’s flight to Seville, it will cost us an extra $5k for that luxury. After an expletive filled fuck you fest of epic proportions, I was connected to the customer service supervisor, who despite not having been at the Delta counter earlier that day with us, advises that no Delta rep would have so booked us and that we were lying. Another fuck you rant ensues, with a full refund from Delta, and a promise that my sorry ass will never fill one of their seats again.

So, it’s now Thursday morning, we are still stateside, and still in a hotel room. We have a flight booked for Friday morning with United that should get us to Seville on Saturday, a scant 2 hours prior to the 72-hour expiration of our Covid test results. Yeah, it’s an adventure.

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: A Hard Day’s Night

My second jab side effects were worse than the first but only lasted for 3 days then vanished. It was weird to walk like a drunk when  stone cold sober, which is why I spent most of my time on the couch.

When did the furniture people start calling a couch a sofa? I can go either way, but sofa potato isn’t as evocative as couch potato. I wonder which one the man who couldn’t spell potatoes, J Danforth Quayle, uses. Ah, the small mysteries of life.

I’m still watching bits and bobs of the Chauvin trial. My dislike for defense lawyer, Eric Nelson grows daily. If I were devising a drinking game for the trial every time he says “right” “correct” “agree” you take a shot. A surefire way to get shit faced drunk, right?

Despite the album cover featured image, it’s Saturday, not Wednesday. I didn’t mean to confuse anyone; that was a lie, I take great joy in sowing confusion across the land instead of either sleeping like a log or working like a dog.

This week’s theme song was written by Lennon and McCartney in 1964 for the movie of the same title. It has always been one of my favorite Beatles tunes. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We have four versions of A Hard Day’s Night for your listening pleasure: the Fab Four, Perez Prado, the Smithereens, and Miss Peggy Lee.

Peggy Lee? Yes, Norma Engstrom herself. Paul McCartney was a big fan and gave her a song to record after seeing her perform in London in 1974.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Since that’s my favorite Beatley quote, here’s the song it comes from; in German too.

Ja, ja, ja.

Let’s jump to the break. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

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