Category Archives: Diary

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Calling

Tales from Topographic Oceans by Roger Dean.

Summer colds are the worst. I’ve been laid low by one. Achoo. My nose looks as if it belongs to Rudolph and I sound like Froggy in The Little Rascals. Shorter Adrastos: I’m going to keep this introduction concise lest writing it winds me. Hopefully, the rest of the post will make sense: I’m blogging hurt. Make that wheezy. Jeez, that sounds like an episode of The Jeffersons.

This week’s theme song is the stirring album opener from 1994’s Talk by Yes. Like many other fans, I call the Trevor Rabin-era band, Yes West. They moved their base of operation to Southern California in the 1980’s, and had a different sound than classic Yes; pop-prog as opposed to pure prog. Hence Yes West. The Calling was written by Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Chris Squire and it rocks like crazy.

We have two versions for your entertainment. First, a video featuring a goofy cosmic introduction by Jon Anderson. Second, a live version from the Talk tour that commences with an instrumental Perpetual Change.

While we’re on the subject of Yes, the featured image is Roger Dean’s cover of Tales from Topographic Oceans without the lettering.

Now that I’ve gone all art rocky on your asses, let’s jump to the break.

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Judge Ellis Is Not Sui Generis

The MSM is gobsmacked by TS Ellis, the judge in the Manafort case. The political reporters among them are convinced that he’s one-of-a-kind and that federal judges are Olympian figures who don’t say things like this:

“I am a Caesar in my own Rome,” he said at one point, discussing why he refused to allow defendants to plead no contest instead of guilty. “It’s a pretty small Rome,” he added.

What Judges like Ellis do is bring the Socratic Method to the courtroom. He just happens to be a bit stricter and considerably funnier than most judges. He’s not sui generis. The courts are loaded with tinpot dictators who run the show with an iron fist.

The Ellis coverage reminds me of a close encounter I had with one of my sterner law professors. I’ll call him Professor Hardass. He was tyrannical in class. He expected students to be perfectly prepared and beyond punctual. If you were unprepared and couldn’t bluff your way through it, he asked you to leave in a theatrical manner. If you were late, the door was locked and woe betide to anyone who knocked. The one time I saw someone attempt this, they were rewarded with a withering glare and wagging finger.

Having said that, Professor Hardass was a great teacher. He made the material come alive. His classes were never dull. I had him for Criminal Law as a 1L, he focused on two crimes: burglary and RICO. To this day, I’m fairly knowledgeable about both subjects. The latter comes in handy in the age of Trump since the administration* is an ongoing RICO violation.

As a 2L, I threw caution to the wind and took another class from Professor Hardass. This time, we were assigned a paper. I turned it in to his secretary who placed it on his surprisingly cluttered desk. Guys like Professor Hardass are usually clean desk types. It turned out to be a clue as to who he really was.

When grades were posted, I received an incomplete. I knocked on Professor Hardass’ door and entered the lion’s den. He was seated at his desk with a stack of papers in front of him. He looked at me balefully over the top of his horn-rimmed reading glasses as I’d seen him do dozens of time in class. I told him I *had* turned in the paper on time.

To my great surprise, the facade vanished. He smiled at me and said: “Let me check. As you can see I keep an untidy office.

He found my paper amidst the clutter and began apologizing profusely for his mistake. I must have looked shocked because he looked at me with a smile and said: “That’s right, we’ve never met outside of class before. I play a character in class. I’m the jerkiest judge one could ever encounter: rigid, dictatorial, and hostile. I want my students prepared for the real world.”

He offered me a cup of coffee, read my paper on the spot, and gave me an A. Professor Hardass turned out to be a helluva nice guy.

I’m not sure whether or not Judge Ellis is a nice guy away from court but I know he’s not sui generis. There are dozens of Judge Ellis’ out there and some of them are just trying to move their dockets along and keep the lawyers in front of them on their toes. They don’t call his circuit the rocket docket for nothing.

Not Everything Sucks: Hey Luc At Me Now

Since so much bad shit happens on the tweeter tube, I reckoned I should share some rare good news about everyone’s favorite French Star Fleet Captain with a Yorkshire accent:

Jean-Luc Picard has been on hiatus so long that I’ve been unable to pun on his name during my time as a blogger. It’s one of many reasons I’m tickled about the return. The name seems to inspire me to break out in punny show tune memes:

It’s more like the Stern Luc Of Love. It’s what authority figures do, y’all.

The next one is more menacing. It’s when Picard was assimilated and became Locutus of Borg.

At this point, we’ve gone from make it so to make him stop. The last word goes to David Byrne who was also born in Scotland but was never assimilated as far as I know:

GOP SOP

It’s human nature to want to think the best of people. Hell, even I give *most* people the benefit of the doubt, and I was first called a curmudgeon in my teens. But I don’t think this presumption should be extended to Republican politicians and anyone with the last name Trump.

Since the president* is on “holiday” at his golf club in Jersey, he’s had an itchy twitter finger. He’s made several admissions against legal interest and also slammed two high-profile African-American gents:

I thought the Kaiser of Chaos never watched “fake news” CNN. Guess he’s lying about that. Go figure.

The occasion for LeBron’s interview was the opening of a school for at risk kids in his hometown of Akron, Ohio that the hoops legend is funding. An act of generosity equivalent to his style as a “make everyone look good” basketball player. LeBron made a few mildly critical remarks about the Insult Comedian. I’m sure you’ve heard the details so I’ll skip them. It wasn’t as strong as this earlier LeBronism:

U Bum. How short and sweet it is.

The reasons, such as they are, behind Trump’s tweet are multi-faceted: projection of his own intellectual inferiority on to others and, most importantly, racist red meat for his idiot base. Trump has a habit of calling black people “dumb” or “low IQ” when, in fact, he’s the dumbass. It’s all a part of his pandering to the worst instincts in white America while dog howling (the whistle has been traded in for a larger model) his own bigotry.

The most interesting thing about the LeBron affair was the press and social media reaction to Melania Trump’s reaction. Melania’s people issued a statement that mildly praised LeBron:

“It looks like LeBron James is working to do good things on behalf of our next generation and just as she always has, the First Lady encourages everyone to have an open dialogue about issues facing children today.”

In a spurt of the sort of human generosity I alluded to at the top of post, people gushed praise of FLOTUS* including those who should know better. This is the same reaction that greets many of Ivanka Trump’s mild disagreements with her monstrous father when, in fact, she’s Agrippina to his Tiberius. (I guess that makes Junior, Nero.) Here’s how my pal Dakinikat put it in a post about the Sam Bee flap a few months back:

 I’d like to remind y’all that vaginas are deep and warm and Ivanka Trump is neither so I suggest we think of a better set of words to describe KKKremlin Caligula’s daughter than “feckless cunt”.  We could adopt Demoness reincarnation of Diva August or good ol’ Aunt Livia to keep it all in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Historically, Livia was the mother of Tiberius and if you know anything about Roman history of the time, you’ll know he was as perverted and evil as the rest of them. Remember, Rome was still supposed to be a Republic at the time but that dreadful set of ghouls–including the fiddling Nero–ruined nearly everything within a few generations.  We could give her a nick name based on Agrippina but that would be a weirder sexual dynamic than I’m prepared to put through my mind.  However, I am praying for a few good men with lean and hungry looks to end our Trumpvian nightmare.

I know that was a long-ass quote but I think good writing should be rewarded.

Back to the post title: it’s SOP (standard operating procedure) in the GOP for female relatives of a leader to soften their image. It’s been going on for years, most notably in the Bush family, as Slate’s Christina Cauterucci explains in a wonderfully titled piece, Make-Believe Mutiny:

In 2001, Laura Bush famously departed from her husband’s stance on abortion by saying she thought Roe v. Wade should stand. The first lady was contradicting her president spouse on an issue of great import, and at the time, I thought it was a gutsy move that could have a positive impact on GOP abortion politics.

<SNIP>

And before Laura, Barbara Bush criticized the GOP during George H.W. Bush’s second presidential campaign for enshrining a “fundamental individual right to life” for “the unborn child” in its party platform. The strategy neatly aligns with the right-wing model of a heterosexual partnership: The big tough man makes big tough decisions from a place of rational judgment and patriarchal authority, while the woman respectfully registers a slightly different opinion, borne of feminine emotion. He is free to take or leave her suggestion, which carries no meaningful weight or influence. If he does modify his stance to lean towards hers, he can claim that his hypermasculine immunity to empathy—a quality Republicans fetishize in their leaders—blinded him to the nuances of an issue that needed a female touch.

This is particularly important when the Republican president* is an asshole of epic proportions like Donald Trump. It’s well-nigh impossible to humanize Trumpberius but they’ll continue trying. The media and public should be leery of this because it’s just spin. In fact, it’s the only slightly skillful spin to come out of the Trump administration. So everyone should treat it as what it is: disinformation calculated to distract and divert attention from the evil incompetence of the Insult Comedian and his team of sycophants.

So, the next time Melania or Ivanka slightly deviates from the Trump line, just remember: it’s GOP SOP.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Riders On The Storm

Rain, Steam, and Speed by JMW Turner.

There will be no tin cup rattling today since we reached our goal Friday. I’d like to thank everyone who supported what we do here at First Draft. I suppose I should thank Al Capone for helping out but what does a dead wise guy care? Btw, I neglected to state that Stephen Graham in Boardwalk Empire is my favorite reel Capone.

The big story in New Orleans is the ongoing clusterfuck involving the Sewerage and Water Board. A year from tomorrow, there was major street flooding in Mid-City. I hate hearing about the August 5th flood since it’s my birthday but what can ya do? The people whose homes, businesses, and cars flooded hate it even more.

The latest mess involves billing. The lunkheads at SWB have computerized the way they bill customers. In theory, it’s a fine idea, but in practice they failed to adequately train the meter readers in the new system. The result has been crazy large bills that customers have refused to pay. The SWB vowed to crack down on what our new Mayor called “bad actors” by cutting off their water.  They backed down the other day when it became clear that some of the “bad actors” were poor people with $5,000 bills *and* that they could only disconnect 50 customers a day. TFC: This Fucking City. Stay tuned.

I selected this week’s theme song after it popped up in the last episode of Sharp Objects. That show seems to be a love/hate proposition for viewers. I’m on the love side for the music, atmospherics, and acting, especially the divine Amy Adams.

Riders On The Storm was written by the Doors for their last full-blown LP, L.A. Woman. Jim Morrison’s lyrics are moody and expressionistic even for him. We have two versions for your consideration: the original studio track and a live version by 21st Century Doors, a band featuring Doors keyboard player Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robbie Krieger. I wish they hadn’t hired a Morrison lookalike as their singer: it’s creepy.

A quick story about Jim Morrison. My sister-in-law’s mother-in-law went to high school with Morrison. She remembers him as a nice boy. I bet you’ve never heard that anywhere else.

It’s time to break on through to the other side and jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Sweet Dreams

Any Eye For A View by Paul Fleet.

I vowed not to complain about the heat this week. It’s always hot in New Orleans in July, after all. Besides, much of the world is having a heat wave so we’re not alone. Suffice it to say that even people who like warm weather are complaining about it. I’m trying my best to be stoical in the face of it all. I’m not sure if I’ll succeed in this but who the hell wants to hear a grown man whine about the humidity?

A big local story was the anointment of Zach Strief as the new play-by-play announcer of the New Orleans Saints. He has huge shoes to fill: Jim Henderson was to the Saints and their fans what Vin Scully was to the Dodgers. I’m skeptical that the inexperienced Strief is up to the job: he’s a recently retired Saints offensive lineman, and while he’s a bright, articulate guy, he’s unqualified to be a play-by-announcer.  Of course, this is the age of the unqualified.

Our theme songs this week are variations on a dreamy themey. Patsy Cline’s Sweet Dreams was written by Don Gibson who recorded it 8 years before Patsy. Her version is the one we remember. Sweet Dreams was also the title of the fabulous Jessica Lange starring 1985 bio-pic.

Yes’ Sweet Dreams comes from their second album, Time and a Word. They were still finding their way in the musical world at that point.

Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) was a monster hit for the Eurythmics in 1983. There was an epidemic of teenage girls who cut their hair very short because they wanted to be Annie Lennox. Who could blame them?

That concludes this foray to Disambiguation City. It’s time to awaken from your dreams, sweet or otherwise, and jump to the break.

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: Led Zeppelin

I’ve never been much of a Led Zeppelin fan. Their music is pretty good but I’ve never cared for the vibe surrounding them. It’s rooted in my memories of their infamous 1973 gig at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. In a sign of bad taste, their fans booed the Tubes off the stage, and their crew and manager assaulted some of Bill Graham’s staff backstage; one of whom was the older brother of a friend of mine. Ugh.

I’ve had them on my mind because of the skillful use of their music in the HBO mini-series Sharp Objects. Besides, what’s not to love about the cover of their debut album?

Another reason I don’t care for Led Zeppelin was the heavy-handed way they dealt with this brilliant parody by the San Francisco band, Little Roger and the Goosebumps:

Here’s the album via the YouTube playlist format. It’s probably my favorite of their records for its lack of pretension and mystical mumbo jumbo.

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Best Is Yet To Come

Shattered Color by Lee Krasner.

It’s been a long and difficult week for Americans who haven’t imbibed the MAGA Kool-Aid. I already wrote about it on Thursday and Monday so we’re going to keep this introduction snappy and mercifully brief. I wonder if the Insult Comedian would call that a double positive?

This week’s theme song is upbeat and positive in response to all the gloomy shit going on in the world. The Best Is Yet To Come was written for Tony Bennett in 1959 by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Count Basie, and Chaka Khan. That’s right, Chaka Khan. She can sing anything, y’all.

This is the second time I’ve used The Best Is Yet To Come as a post title. The first was after President Obama’s re-election in 2012. It’s time for him to eschew the non-political Jimmy Carter post-presidential model, make like Harry Truman and hit the stump this fall. His party and country need him. Give ’em hell, Barack.

I’m not sure where the tree of life is right now, but I long to “pick me a plum.” I’ll figure out how to do so after the break.

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Tweet Of The Day: PBJ Meets Mariia Butina

I keep waiting for former Gret Stet Goober Bobby Jindal aka PBJ to re-surface as a member of the Trump administration. I believe he’s already grovelled his way out of trouble for calling the Insult Comedian names when PBJ was a presidential candidate. PBJ is an expert brown noser when need be. It’s part of his kiss up, kick down persona.

Thanks to Shannon Watts, PBJ is back in the news after the indictment of Russian agent/NRA fan girl Mariia Butina. FYI, I conferred with a Russian speaker of my acquaintance and was informed that Butina is a 2-i Maria. You’re not seeing double, it’s spelled Mariia. That reminds me of the fine Louisiana name Couvillion. There are two-i and one-i Couvillions. My main man Eddie was a two-i Couvillion. The ayes apparently have it.

Ms. Watts is a pro-gun control/anti-NRA activist with 245K twitter followers. This week she posted a series of pictures of the Russian redhead with well-known wingnuts including the man who sacrificed the Gret Stet’s economy on the altar of his futile national ambitions.

One of the ginger influence peddler’s specialities is posing for pictures with defeated GOP presidential candidates. Here’s one with former Senator Man Dog Sex:

Rick Santorum is still a colossal dick as well as a Russian dupe.

Here’s Doc’s buddy Scott Walker with the gun nut femme fatale:

Finally, it’s the Grand Vizier of gun nuttery’s turn in the Butina barrel.

I’d like to thank Shannon Watts for posting this treasure trove of tweets. Keep up the good work.

I suspect PBJ may even be grateful for the attention. Unlike, Mariia Butina, he can’t even get arrested.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Dimming Of The Day

New Orleans Window by Lee Friedlander.

Happy Bastille Day. I’m not planning on storming anything, it’s too damn hot for that. I *am* spending some time in the heat by attending San Fermin New Orleans. It’s our zany version of the running of the bulls in which the bulls are rollergirls with plastic bats. I’m not running, I’m drinking mimosas, eating donuts, and hanging out with Dr. A, our friend Cait, the child army, and whoever else shows up. It’s a sweaty, fun, and deeply silly time.

I predicted that the president* would make an ass of himself in the UK and he has done so. He gave an inflammatory interview to the Murdoch owned Sun wherein he praised Boris Johnson, criticized Theresa May, bashed immigrants, and wished people would call the country England again. He apparently re-annexed Ireland while he was at it. The next day, he denied attacking May and called The Sun “fake news” even though it’s owned by his pal Rupert. It was just another day in Trump World.

The featured image is one of my favorite photographs from the New Orleans Museum of Art’s Lee Friedlander in Louisiana exhibit. The New York based photographer has a passion for New Orleans, which is on display at NOMA until August 12th.

This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson for Pour Down Like Silver the third album he and then wife Linda recorded together. We have three versions for your listening pleasure. The original version followed by covers by the Neville Brothers and Bonnie Raitt. RT plays on the latter recording.

Now that we’re feeling a bit on the dim side,  let’s brighten things up by jumping to the break.

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‘Live faithfully, fight bravely, and die laughing.’

My ‘hood had been setting off fireworks for like two weeks straight. I raised Kick the first three years of her life across the alley from a crack house, so she was used to loud random bangs and yelling and the occasional 3 a.m. garbage-dump-recliner inferno. Not to mention the night somebody turned said crack house into a drive-thru with his Buick. It gave her an extravagant tolerance for noise. When she’s asleep you can set off a hundred M80s and she won’t even stir.

This was our first 4th in the new house, though, and it was intense.

Last year we were out of town visiting friends for the holiday; the two years before that we declined to keep her up late enough to see the fireworks. This time we crowded into the car and joined the throngs of people at the high school’s football stadium to watch them up close with her.

She was tired. She hadn’t napped. I was tired. I hadn’t napped. I was overheated and Mr. A knew he’d wind up carrying Kick most of the way home on his sore shoulders and neither one of us is crazy about sweaty, unruly crowds. We’d been in a sweaty, unruly crowd that morning at the local parade and were sunburnt. Everyone had been drinking since 9 a.m. so the stadium was rowdy.

The ‘hood’s Facebook groups had been muttering resentfully for several days, as they do before Halloween, about people from “outside our community” coming into “our” neighborhoods and watching “our” fireworks. As if your view is diminished by someone else watching the same thing. As if anyone owns the sky.

The people behind us were from the next town over, asked polite questions about if we did this every year and how long the display would last. Some kids were smoking weed on the stairs. I hadn’t brought enough water nor any cleverly concealed alcohol. Kick shared her animal crackers and she and the stranger behind us debated whether the one she picked out for him was a squirrel, a skunk, or a cat. A few rain drops fell and the tarps went over the field of unlit pyrotechnics.

When the police chief stepped forward with a microphone and said the words “severe weather,” everyone groaned. But then the tarps were lifted off, and a procedure we’ll just call HURRY UP SET THEM ALL OFF NOW BOB DO IT BEFORE IT PISSES DOWN began.

I saw a lot of tweets yesterday excoriating people for celebrating the 4th of July this year, when children are in cages and the courts seem hopeless and November feels too far away, when all legitimate outcomes for our words and work seem lost to us. I saw a lot of this:

And so the anthems play and the flags wave and the bottle rockets ascend and the M-80’s go off—and Fascism quietly enters in the side door while everyone is distracted by the spectacle.

This is the paradox Americans find ourselves in. Our essential liberties have never been more at risk, our national sovereignty never more tenuous, our elemental freedoms never more assailed—and yet the patriotic fervor at the top and in its flag-waving rank-and-file has never been greater.

Yes, the ship is going down quickly but the music is still playing to convince them all we’re still the Land of the Free, and they are dancing wildly into the abyss, waving flags.

I know why everybody felt that way but it’s just not possible, cats and kittens, to live without light. They made art in the trenches in France, carved shotgun shells and missile casings into vases and crosses and lamps. They celebrated Christmas at Bastogne.

Those in bondage sang songs of freedom. Bondage has never once been an argument against singing.

We hold our ideals up because of their defilement, not in spite of them. We hold our promises up not to distract from our deaths but to defy them. We celebrate what we should be, not what we are.

We celebrate all our birthdays, after all, at the beginning of that new year’s life, not the end.

When the local fireworks started, the crowd screamed like we’d just won the World, Stanley and America’s Cups all at once. Sousa marches blared from the speakers. And my tiny, angry, sweaty, exhausted kid turned her face to the sky. 

That morning we’d walked in the parade with a local Democratic group, carrying signs that said things like NO HUMAN BEING IS ILLEGAL and ROE V WADE IS THE LAW OF THE LAND and IMMIGRANTS MAKE AMERICA GREAT. Even in the white, wealthy parts of town, people waved and cheered.

Kick colored our sign, that read on one side ALL ARE WELCOME and on the other THERE ARE NO STRANGERS HERE. She helped me carry it. She eagerly collected candy and high-fives and dragged one of her baby-friends off the curb to march along with us.

It was our family’s fourth political action in the past two weeks. It was a two-mile route and it was hot and she was dog-tired.

But as the first explosions bathed her face in light, she lifted both hands over her head and shouted for joy.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Get Together

Flying Eyeball by Rick Griffin.

To say that New Orleans is a football town is a grotesque understatement. Between the Saints and LSU Tigers, gridiron love runs deep in the Crescent City. But last Monday, local sports fans were talking about the NBA Pelicans. Our local hoopsters lost 2 players to free agency: Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus (Boogie) Cousins. The latter Boogied to the Warriors and the surly Rondo signed with the Lakers. I was one of the few  local hoops fans to take this in stride. Rondo was a team leader last year after 12 years as a locker room cancer and occasional gay basher. Boogie Cousins had a torn ACL, which is an injury that usually diminishes big men when they return. I had a torn ACL myself. It ended my unpromising career as a little leaguer. So it goes.

In other local news, new Mayor LaToya Cantrell continues her incomprehensible PR campaign:

I still haven’t the foggiest notion as to what “being intentional” means. Of course, I may just be unintentionally dim. I had an intentionally amusing twitter exchange inspired by the Mayor’s tweet. Two of my twitter friends evoked the image of Matt Foley, Chris Farley’s failed motivational speaker, culminating in this tweet from my old pal Liprap:

This week’s theme song is a bona fide hippie anthem. Get Together was written by Dino Valenti who is best known as lead singer for Quicksilver Messenger Service. Valenti was a man of many names: he was born Chester Powers and also wrote songs as Jesse Orris Farrow.

We have three versions of Get Together for your listening pleasure. First, the Youngbloods, a band so hippie dippy that their keyboard player was nicknamed Banana, followed by the pre-Grace Slick Jefferson Airplane, and a recent live version by Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

In case you’re wondering, the featured image is by Rick Griffin who was one of the legendary Sixties rock poster artists. The image itself was originally on a poster for a Youngbloods show at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco.

Now that we’ve discussed the Flying Eyeball, let’s make like Evel Knievel and jump to the break.

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Hey Baby, It’s The Fourth Of July

Two Flags by Jasper Johns.

It’s time for my 9th annual Fourth of July post. It seems like a good day to suggest that people take a mental health day away from political news. There’s so much going on that we all need to take a break to avoid burnout. In the intense days right after Katrina and the Federal Flood. I saw people lose their shit because they were so focused on dealing with the disaster. So, do whatever floats your boat today and put the news on hold. It will still be there tomorrow. You can’t resist, if you’re burned out.

I usually post Dave Alvin, the Dead, and Bruce Springsteen but Neil Young joined the Americana fray last year with a video celebrating the resistance.

Happy Birthday ‘Merica.

Album Cover Art Wednesday will return next week. It needed a mental health day too.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Lonely Holiday

Rye Beach by William Glackens.

Summer in New Orleans is typically one long heat advisory but this week has been one of the hottest I can remember. It’s August hot. It’s so hot that new kitty Paul Drake isn’t trying to bolt out the front door whenever it opens. It’s so hot that the air smacks you in the face like a wet barber shop towel. I’m almost tempted to try frying eggs on the sidewalk but I don’t believe in wasting food. In short, it’s fucking hot.

I haven’t been as prolific as usual blogging-wise the last few weeks. I’ve made the mistake of taking the news too personally. It’s bad for both the psyche and satire. It’s been hard not to: the news has been so unrelentingly bleak of late. It makes it hard to be a glass half full person. It’s looking bone dry. That’s why I’m going to keep this post on the snappy side. In addition to my proverbial glass being bone dry, my funny bone is banged up. The good news is that it’s bruised, not broken. And writing Odds & Sods is always therapeutic.

This week’s theme song was written and recorded by Old 97’s for their 1999 album, Fight Songs. That was when this Dallas based alt-country power pop combo came on my radar screen. Lonely Holiday is a very sad song, which is appropriate given the events of the last few weeks. Only a sad song will do.

Get ready to rock with the original studio track as well as a lively live version:

Now that Rhett Miller has serenaded us with a sad song, it’s time to jump to the break.

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Civility Is Overrated

Anyone with a pulse should recognize that we’re going through another IOKIYAR moment. Republicans and their allies in the MSM as well as some spineless liberal pundits are lecturing us about manners and civility. It’s particularly rich when the party in power is led by the crudest and rudest president* since Andrew Johnson. We’re being told that manners are for Democrats and that it’s RUDER for Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be refused service in an eatery than for the Trump regime to imprison children. Once again: IOKIYAR.

I, for one, refuse to be lectured by the followers of a president* who sucks up to dictators while attacking our friends and allies. The rationale for tariffs against the best neighbor in the world, Canada, is national security. Justin Trudeau is a threat to our national security? Imagine if Barack Obama had insulted Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper in this manner when they were both in office. The outrage on the right would have exceeded Tan Suitgate. Once again: IOKIYAR.

The Insult Comedian’s persistent racism has inspired his supporters to go after religious, ethnic, and racial minorities. It’s become commonplace to hear of insults being thrown at people of color but when Maxine Waters attacks Donald Trump that’s out-of-bounds incivility. Once again: IOKIYAR.

Some intrepid soul on twitter dug up an article detailing how Paul Ryan celebrated a baker who refused to serve Joe Biden during the 2012 election.  The same Paul Ryan is lecturing us about civility. All hail the Miss Manners of Wisconsin. Once again: IOKIYAR.

Then there’s former Nixon and Reagan aide David Gergen who I thought had been put out to pasture long ago,

Since rampant both-siderism has broken out, I have an example from each side back then. On the right, Bull Connor sicced dogs on children protesting for civil rights in Birmingham, Alabama. On the left, a favorite chant of anti-war protesters was: “Hey, hey, LBJ. How many kids did you kill today?”

Sounds like incivility to me, but what do I know? I didn’t write dog-whistle laden speeches for Tricky Dick, which somehow makes Gergen an expert on civility.

I am in favor of civility in the abstract. I used to be able to discuss politics with conservative friends and relations without drawing blood. That started eroding when Bush the younger was president and ground to a full-stop when those folks wouldn’t admit racism was a factor in Obama derangement syndrome on the right.

There’s been plenty of incivility from the right in my lifetime. Those of us who opposed the Iraq War were accused of siding with terrorists and opposing the troops. The same bunch wants us to be civil in the face of children being torn apart from their parents; a policy that even Laura Bush finds rude. As they say across the pond, BOLLOCKS.

The MSM, Republicans, and their fellow travelers among the liberal punditocracy are using the word civility as a wet blanket to smother dissent. Genuine civility is based on mutual respect as opposed to unilateral verbal disarmament.

I think Amanda Marcotte summed it up nicely on the tweeter tube:

Civility is overrated. I’ll take honesty over hypocritical “niceness” any day.

Repeat after me: IOKIYAR.

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Day I Get Home

Fantastic Landscape (Volcano Erupting) by David Alfaro Siquerios.

Our visit to Virginia was a quickie. One of the highlights came on the return trip when we met longtime First Draft readers Lex and Carroll Alexander for lunch. We rendezvoused at Stamey’s in Greensboro, NC and ate the food of their people: barbecue. The meal included perhaps the best peach cobbler I’ve ever had. A good time was had by all but I’m afraid Carroll and I did most of the talking. She has family roots in the Gret Stet of Louisiana and I was eager to untangle them. Nosy might be a better word, but it’s always fun to learn someone has Momus/Comus/Proteus old line krewe types in the family. You never know what happens when you give someone’s family tree a shake. All sorts of oddities are likely to fall out.

On a weird note, I got into a twitter slagging match last week with a Gret Stet legislator’s wife. My crime was criticizing her hubby’s voting record. She was not amused and he contacted me by DM. “Perfection” is a terrible burden and they don’t carry it well. #sarcasm. I wound up inviting them to a “block party” so the fight would end. I’m not sure why they think fighting with citizens is a good move but they do.  I’m not the first person to have this experience and won’t be the last. Weird, weird, weird.

This week’s theme song wedged itself in my head on our trip home. The title is a minor misnomer  as we got home last Sunday. The very Beatlesque The Day I Get Home was written by Difford and Tilbrook for 1991’s Play album. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the original studio recording and a swell live performance.

Now that we’ve trekked home, it’s time to jump to the break without crash landing. Knock on wood or some such superstitious shit.

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Hostages To Misfortune

Every time we think Trumpism cannot get worse, they exceed our already low expectations. The family separation policy makes sucking up to dictators and fighting with allies look positively tame. Angela Merkel is a tough woman who can take care of herself. Children torn from their parents cannot. Let the children go, Mr. Trump.

Team Trump’s chaotic messaging has made matters even worse. The very white lady at Homeland Security cannot keep her story straight, Jeff Bo is quoting the Bible, and the president* started blaming Democrats the minute the story blew up in the administration’s face. Democrats are supposed to repeal a non-existent law so the kids can go free and/or be deported. It’s the clusterfuck of clusterfucks. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.

What’s really going on is a hostage crisis. Team Trump are the kidnappers. They’re making unreasonable demands: FUND THE WALL or else. The hostages are children torn from their parents and placed in cages, cells whatever you want to call them. What’s important is that this outrage stop. Pronto.

Trump has no problem using immigrant children as hostages. There’s a long history in this country of demonizing non-white children as Rebecca Onion pointed out at Slate:

Like so many cruelties that have intensified under Trumpism, the idea that only white American children are truly “innocent” and worthy of protection isn’t his invention—it’s just subtext, made text. As historian Tera Hunter wrote in the New York Times, “child-snatching” has a long history in the United States. Black parents in slavery and Native American parents facing white colonialism had children sold, killed, or put into boarding schools and re-educated out of their culture. “Nits make lice,” Col. John Chivington is supposed to have said before the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado in 1864, when his soldiers killed a group of Cheyenne and Arapaho, women, children, and all. Part of the rationale for these atrocities was that these children are not really children, in the way white people understand it—those families were not really families, and those people were not really people.

It’s horrifying that Trump *is* capable of saying something as deplorable (there’s that word again) as “nits make lice.” In this instance, it’s probably good that his ignorance of history is as profound as his malice for everyone who does not look like him. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen such raw, naked, overt racism in the White House. It should curdle the blood of all decent Americans. It was too much for Laura Bush. Let the children go, Mr. Trump.

Adding to the horror of the situation is that the New Yorker is reporting that the government does not have a plan or protocol to reunite the families they’ve torn apart.  They think of them as pawns in this president’s* game of low brow chess with Congress. It’s because the families consist of “nits and lice” as far as the Trump regime is concerned. They do not give a damn.

I thought of Francis Bacon’s words when I sat down to write this post:

He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.

There’s no fortune to be made in this situation. Donald Trump’s goal is to wreak as much havoc and destruction as possible while he’s in office. They say that misery loves company and the Insult Comedian is one miserable, angry son-of-a-bitch. His election made us all hostages to misfortune.

We should resist in whatever way available and, more importantly, get out and vote this November. Only a Democratic Congress can reign in this cruel, racist, and evil government. I’m tired of being a hostage to misfortune.

The last word goes to the good people at the New York Daily News. A tabloid headline speaks louder than a thousand words;

Saturday Odds & Sods: Life On The Road

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

Dr. A and I are on the road today after a whirlwind trip to Virginia for our nephew Ryan’s high school graduation. His graduation ceremony was a bit *too* exciting as there was a threatening phone call that led to the hall being cleared. It turned out to be a crank call, but in 2018 one has to take these things seriously. So much for my plan to embarrass the nephew. So it goes.

This post is a place holder but I do have a theme song: Life On The Road from the 1977 Kinks album, Sleepwalker. It’s the opening track of that record and it rocks like crazy:

The closing track of the album has the word life in the title as well. It’s the story of a guy who tries to commit suicide on an impulse but decides to live instead. A subject that’s both timely and timeless.

How about one more Kinks tune for the road.

That’s it for this week’s weak edition of Saturday Odds & Sods. I wrote this before hitting the road so I’m using a two-year old picture of the nephews doing what they call the Twin Towers. Kids today.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Saturday Sun

Cafetiere et Carafe by Jean Dubuffet.

It feels like August outside as I write this with the ceiling fan whirring up above my head. It’s time to dispense with the weather report lest I sound whinier than I am. And I’m pretty damn whiny even though, unlike Della and Paul, I don’t have a fur coat to contend with. Paul Drake deals with his by shedding copiously. Della Street rages against the elements in her own way. She is one mouthy cat, y’all.

I may have cats on my mind but the rest of the city is obsessed with rats in a French Quarter eatery. There’s a viral video and everything. Oh wait, there’s always a viral video in 2018. As someone who worked in the Quarter for many years, the thought of rats near the Big Muddy is not shocking. I’m not planning to go to that restaurant but even good places with clean kitchens have the odd rat. Repeat after me: to live in this town you must be tough, tough, tough, tough. She-doo-be.

The new Mayor is “being intentional” by launching a PR campaign dubbing New Orleans the City of Yes. In the immortal words of movie mogul Sam Goldwyn, include me out, unless it involves the veteran prog rock band. I’m still trying to figure out what the hell “being intentional” means. So it goes.

When I started this regular feature in 2015, I used songs about Saturday as theme songs for the first few weeks. Saturday Sun is one I somehow missed but I’ve had Neil Finn on my mind and in my ear of late. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the promo video and a live performance on the BBC.

Now that we’ve basked in the Saturday Sun, it’s time to put on some sun screen and jump to the break.

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Anthony Bourdain & Tee Eva Perry, R.I.P.

Depression is a horrible thing. From the outside, Anthony Bourdain was on the top of the world with a job he loved and more adventures on the horizon. The hoary aphorism “never judge a book by its cover” rings true today: Anthony Bourdain committed suicide at the age of 61 in France.

His body was discovered by his friend, the world-class chef, Eric Ripert who Tony called the Ripper. I call him Tony not because I ever met him in person but because of his style. It was intimate and confidential thereby living up to the title of his first book, Kitchen Confidential.  Most of his viewers feel as if they’ve lost a friend. A friend of mine who’s in the restaurant business described him as her Pope. The loss is shocking and deep. It was a helluva thing to wake up to this morning. Imagine being in the Ripper’s shoes. Mon dieu.

Bourdain took us many places in the world to which we’re unlikely to travel. Despite his renegade/bad boy image, Bourdain treated other cultures with the sensitivity and respect that they deserve. He always looked like he was having a great time but looks can be deceptive His demons finally caught up with him. He will be missed.

I never ran into Anthony Bourdain, but Tee Eva Perry was a New Orleans legend who I met on many occasions. She was an amazing character: baker, back-up singer to brother-in-law Ernie K-Doe, and a baby doll on Mardi Gras day. She died this week at the age of 83.

Everyone called her Tee for auntie so when she opened up her first place on Magazine Street she called it Tee-Eva’s. It was an eclectic hole-in-the-wall located around the corner from Adrastos World HQ:

I’m not a snow ball guy but I loved her pies and pralines. After Katrina, she relocated to a bigger location on Magazine but I’ll always have a special feeling for the original space. It was as charming and eccentric as Tee Eva herself.

I hate to use a term out of the dictionary of journalistic clichés, but Tee Eva Perry was a New Orleans original. She will be missed.

UPDATE: it turns out that Bourdain ate Tee Eva’s jambalya on an episode of his first teev show A Cook’s Tour. I haven’t seen that series but it’s on Amazon so I will soon.