Category Archives: Diary

Don’t Touch Me There

I’m not sure what Duke, Lester Hodges, and the gang would think of today’s selection but I like it. It’s downright tubular, dude.

Don’t Touch Me There was written by Ron Nagle and Jane Dornacker and recorded by The Tubes for their 1976 album Young and Rich. I knew Jane. She was a funny chick who was also the leader of the SF rock band, Leila and the Snakes. I was not one of the Snakes…

The song was a staple of The Tubes live shows; typically sung by Fee Waybill and Re Styles as they canoodled on a motorcycle. It was often performed in a medley with Mondo Bondage with Fee and Re ripping off their outfits to reveal bondage gear below. Don’t try this at home or let the kiddies watch the second part.

We have two versions of Don’t Touch Me There: the studio original and a live version of the medley. The video on the latter is sketchy.

 

Tweet Of The Day: Fog Of History Edition

I’m sure you’ve heard Trump’s captive Surgeon General compare the pandemic to Pearl Harbor. Sounds good on the surface, right? A week which will live in infamy and all that shit. George Takei took the words right out of my mouth:

I was a history major with a minor in art history. I’ve been mocked for those
impractical choices. They’ve come in handy in my life as a pundit. History is almost invariably misused and misrepresented by those in power. In this case, the Surgeon General’s intention was to rally the complacent Trump base around the flag. Telling the truth about the pandemic from the start would have been a wiser strategy. But wisdom is antithetical to Trumpism.

The Trump regime’s response to this crisis has made Team Bush’s response to Katrina and the Federal Flood look masterful. BUT there *are* some similarities: they played politics too. Karl Rove was the tip of the White House spear as they blamed Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin for New Orleans’ plight. Meanwhile they favored Mississippi and then Governor Haley Barbour a former RNC Chairman and fat cat lobbyist. I’m not horsing around so I need not mention Brownie at great length.

There was a great deal of disaster capitalism in the months after Katrina. It’s happening now in the person of Slumlord Jared who is applying his King Midas in Reverse touch to the pandemic. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

I’d like to thank George Takei for being a stand-up guy and continually fighting the good fight. If only life imitated Star Trek. Starfleet would know how to handle this. Unfortunately, the executive branch is populated by nitwits, sycophants, and people who hate government. That’s a helluva way to run a railroad as it were. Heckuva job, GOP.

The last word goes to the Hollies with the unofficial anthem of the Trump regime. It works just as well for the Kaiser of Chaos as the Dauphin-in-law.

Saturday Odds & Sods: For Shame Of Doing Wrong

New York Movie by Edward Hopper.

I’m trying something different this month. I’m pairing the artwork of Edward Hopper with the music of Richard Thompson. Each Saturday in April will feature a different EH image and RT tune. I think they work well together.

My oak pollen allergy has been bonkers this year. We’ve hit a prolonged dry patch: no rain since some time in February. We tend towards extremes in New Orleans. It either rains too much or not at all. The happy medium is unknown in our forecasting annals.

The worst thing about this allergy season during the pandemic is that it’s hard for me to go outside at all. The last time I took a walk, I had a pollen related sneezing jag, which led some fellow strollers to glare at me as if I were Typhoid Mary. So it goes.

This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson for the Pour Down Like Silver album. I have a soft spot for that album: it was the first RT album I ever purchased but not until 10 years after its release. I was a late RT bloomer.

We have three versions of For Shame Of Doing Wrong for your listening pleasure: the Richard and Linda studio original, a poppy version produced by Gerry Rafferty, and a cover by RT’s former Fairport band mate, Sandy Denny.

Is it shameful that I like the poppy version from Rafferty’s Folly? Hell, I like the song below too. It was inescapable in 1978:

As I hang my head for shame of doing wrong, let’s jump to the break in a shameless manner.

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Together Alone

I had a quiet meltdown last night. I felt alternately despairing and furious over all the death in the news. Music lovers had a grim day with the passing of Adam Schlesinger and Ellis Marsalis. Mr. Marsalis was an institution in New Orleans. Because he died during the pandemic, there will be no jazz funeral or second line to commemorate the founder of a jazz dynasty. The death of a beloved and accomplished 85-year-old man should be bittersweet instead of bitter, bitter, bitter.

I’m self-reliant and don’t mind solitude. I’ve never been quite sure if I’m an introverted extrovert or an extroverted introvert but it’s increasingly apparent that self-isolation is atomizing and alienating. At times, it’s like being a character in one of Ayn Rand’s dreadful novels. We’re focused on ourselves and our own survival instead of the greater good. On the whole, I’d rather be a Dickens character; even one of the cheerful losers like Mr. Micawber. Unfortunately, the federal government is nominally run by a man who makes Mr. Murdstone look empathetic. Trump babbles on about 100-200K deaths as the best-case scenario. Such a thought is monstrous: they’re not numbers, they’re human beings. That’s why I call him President* Pennywise.

The nautical news is particularly disturbing. The story of the aircraft carrier carrying hundreds of sailors stricken with the virus is heartbreaking. There’s no room for social distancing on any naval vessel. They live on top of one another from the Captain to the lowliest squid. They signed up to possibly die for their country in wartime, not because of a president’s unfitness for the job. Mercifully the Navy has found a solution. Unlike their nominal commander-in-chief, they still have the American can-do spirit personified by the ship’s namesake, Theodore Roosevelt.

Things remain bleak off the Florida coast. The cruise ship rejected by Governor DeSantis evokes images of the tragic 1939 journey of MS St. Louis aka the Voyage of the Damned. That ship carried Jewish refugees from Nazi persecution. American refusal to allow it to dock was among the most shameful moments in our history, not one that should be repeated.

The cruise ship crisis cries out for a federal response, but we have a president* who is too busy lying to lead. Our ship of state is rudderless as the captain points the finger of blame. The finger is blood-stained, and we know who to point it at come November.

Between Project Novel and world events, I’ve had the music of Neil Finn and Crowded House on my mind of late. The 1993 song Together Alone haunts me because its title perfectly captures this moment in time. It’s hard to be simultaneously alone and in this together but that’s the situation we find ourselves in. We have no choice but to make it work.

I’ve been with two loved ones when they died. It’s painful for the living but comforting for the dying.  It’s almost an impossibility in this pandemic: COVID-19 requires that friends and families be separated because the risk of contagion is so high. The nature of the disease itself is atomizing and alienating, which is why these Neil Finn lyrics are so poignant:

Together alone
Shallow and deep
Holding our breath
Paying death no heed
I’m still your friend
When you are in need

A reminder that, notwithstanding the indignities of this pandemic, we need to stick together and be there for one another. Death may have no mercy, but it is a must for human beings as is empathy. I curse those who continue to make excuses for a president* whose fatal lack of empathy has made this situation infinitely worse than it should have been.

The last word goes to Crowded House:

Rising Anxiety

Fear is almost as contagious as the virus. It’s everywhere on social media, which is why I’m rationing my use. I’m also tired of listening to know-nothing amateur epidemiologists who think they know it all. Access to the internet doesn’t make you a scientist, it makes you someone with too much time on their hands. Oops. That’s all of us right now.

The old NOLA Bloggers email list has been resurrected. I’ll explain why in a moment but a comment there gave rise to this post title. Cliff Harris asked if there would be a Rising Tide Social Distance Conference, Karen Gadbois replied that it should be called Rising Anxiety. I have no interest in a conference reboot, but I like the phrase Rising Anxiety, so I stole it.

Back In The Saddle: The OG NOLA bloggers are rising from a protracted slumber. After Maitri the Magnificent announced the return of her VatulBlog, George Loki Williams asked aloud if he should revive Humid City. In response, I quoted this passage from my recent Bayou Brief column Love In The Time Of Coronavirus:

I started blogging a few months after the levees broke. I didn’t expect to still be writing on the internet 15 years later, but I found my voice. I’m glad that I’m still at it: It’s therapeutic and reduces my anxiety level during this unprecedented crisis. I’d hate to be reduced to venting on social media like some other OG NOLA bloggers. I wish more of them would resume writing. Consider that an invitation, y’all. If you do, I’ll spread the word hither and yon.

I’m a man of my word. Loki announced the comeback at Zuckerville:

Good luck, y’all. Not sure about that whole blame thing but it gives me an excuse to post this Del Amitri song:

The Fantastic Florida Flim Flam: Trumper Governor Ron DeSantis followed the lead of his hero President* Pennywise and announced his state “borders” were closed to cars from New Orleans. Too many people took this illegal, unenforceable, and unconstitutional order seriously. It’s a clumsy attempt to divert attention from this:

The flap is based on a “blame New Orleans for having Mardi Gras” controversy that raged online. I’ll let my friends Stephanie Grace and Clancy DuBos shoot it down. I prefer to save my ammo for higher hanging fruit.

I do, however, agree with the parade route book signer and Herriman biographer:

The Tweet Heard Round The World: Athenae’s boyfriend John Kerry is obviously not planning to run for office again:

I’ve always heard that Big John could be salty in private. Glad he’s shown off his “out of fucks to give” side in public.

That reminds me of a song. I know what you’re thinking: everything reminds me of a song.

Unimaginable: Gal Gadot and some other celebrities have collaborated on a quarantine version of John Lennon’s Imagine. I hate Imagine. It’s one of Lennon’s worst songs.

Here’s a better tune for these trying times:

Bored Boris: The British Prime Minister’s anti-pandemic efforts were just as feeble and late as those of the Impeached Insult Comedian. Adding insult to the injury he inflicted on his country, Bozza is afflicted with the 21st Century plague. Karma is a bitch.

I hadn’t planned to write about the oafish PM until I got a text from my good friend and Spank krewe mate, Greg Hackenberg: “If you aren’t working on a post about Boris Johnson that does not include Peter Gabriel’s I Have The Touch, I’m not sure I know you anymore.”

You still know me, Greg:

Shake those hands, shake those hands…

Finally, Project Novel will begin in earnest at 3 PM today. There’s enough interest in my legal murder mystery, Tongue In The Mail, for me to proceed. I’ll be posting two chapters at a time on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It even has its own category, Project Novel: TITM.

Pondering Boris Johnson’s bad karma gave me an instant earworm. The last word goes to Warren Zevon and John Lennon with another song that’s much better than Imagine:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Time To Kill

The Gross Clinic by Thomas Eakins.

This week’s featured image is one of the most famous American paintings of the 19th Century. I’ve posted it to honor all the medical professionals who are fighting the good fight against COVID-19 but who wear masks and gloves unlike Dr. Gross and his cohort. Thanks, y’all.

I prefer to keep this weekly feature light but it’s hard to do in these tough times. The second act is kind of heavy, but the jokes return in our third act. Laughs are precious right now when fear is abroad in the world and our government in the hands of an evil clown, President* Pennywise. Oy just oy.

At the risk of being a pest, a reminder to support Chef’s Brigade NOLA for all the reasons set forth in this post. Thanks again, y’all.

This week’s theme song was written by Robbie Robertson in 1970 for The Band’s third album Stage Fright. It’s a joyful tune with a somewhat dark lyrical subtext.

We have two versions of Time To Kill for your listening pleasure:  the Todd Rundgren produced studio original and a live version from the Summer Jam at Watkins Glen: a 1973 festival starring The Band, The Dead, and the Allman Brothers Band.

The title certainly resonates in our era:, we all have time to kill. One of my mottos as a blogger is: When in doubt, post a Kinks song:

Now that we’ve killed time, let’s jump to the break. It won’t kill you.

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An Experiment: Tongue In The Mail, Chapter 1

Times are weird so I thought I’d do something extra weird for First Draft. In the late 1990’s, I wrote a novel set during my time as a student at Tulane Law. It’s a murder mystery with a title taken from the opening lines of a Neil Finn song:

I spent years trying to sell it. I got some very nice rejection letters and took any editorial suggestions offered including a title change from the more generic Hearsay. Eventually, I let Tongue In The Mail rest on my computer. I haven’t looked at it in many years. In 2020, it qualifies as a historical mystery since it was set, in part, during the Edwards-Duke governor’s race from hell.

I tried not to do too much rewriting. I’m pleased that it still reads well. The style is *close* to my current writing style as Adrastos, but there are fewer puns. One major difference is the use of exclamation points, which I left in because some people speak in them. I guess that makes me a reformed exclamation point sinner. Some of you will have a field day with this. I welcome your scorn.

I’m not sure if I’ll keep the experiment going, so please let me know either here, on social media or via email if I should. I’m trying to entertain the masses, not indulge in an exercise of Trumpian egomania. In fact, I’m nervous as hell about posting this.

The first chapter is set at a wedding. I stole the idea from The Godfather. When in doubt, steal from the best. It’s heavy on exposition, the action revs up in chapter 2.

The characters are composites of people I knew at the time, not ripped from the headlines. The narrator, however, bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain blogger.

Our story begins after the break.

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21st Century Live Stream Funeral Blues

The other day on social media I posted a link to a WaPo article about the difficulties faced by families who lost loved ones  during the pandemic. It drew a raft of comments because I mentioned my favorite cousin. As First Draft readers know, she died last week.

Today was my cousin’s funeral; attendance was limited to 5 relatives and the people who performed the service. I’m not sure we would have been able to go in normal times, but these are not normal times.

My cousin was a movie buff and the one who introduced me to John Ford’s movies. That’s why the funeral scene from The Searchers is the featured image. Ford knew how to stage a 19th Century funeral in the 20th Century.

My cousin’s service was 21st Century all the way. It was live streamed by her church in Dallas. I nearly put live stream in quotes as the transmission was erratic until the last 10 minutes of the mass. At one point we tried streaming on 5 different devices: 2 iPhones, a laptop, desktop, and an iPad. The latter worked the best. Score one for Apple.

It was such a struggle that we started to laugh at the absurdity. I knew my cousin wouldn’t have minded. She was devout but she had an irreverent side: as a young woman, she acted with Nick Nolte at a community theatre in Phoenix, Arizona. Nolte was wild even then so a little laughter from her New Orleans kin wouldn’t have phased my cousin.

As I laughed, I thought of Chuckles Bites The Dust; the episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show wherein the station clown dies at the “hands” (trunk?) of an elephant while dressed in a peanut costume. The rest of the gang makes sick jokes about the death of Chuckles, but Mary Richards is made of sterner stuff. (The best joke came from snarky news writer Murray Slaughter: “Born in a trunk, died in one.”)  Instead, Mary laughed her ass off during the funeral service after the minister recited the Chuckles credo: “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down the pants.”

I know what those of you who know us IRL are thinking. You’re casting Dr. A as Mary and me as Lou Grant. Twenty years ago, I would have objected but I’ve grown into my Lou Grantness. I was always a curmudgeon but now I have Ed Asner’s hairline and paunch.

I don’t blame the church for my 21st Century live stream blues. It’s hard to imagine a more difficult place from which to transmit than a church. What can ya do?

Condolences to Chris, Xander, and Chloe. The good news is that they’d understand our finding the live stream fail funny. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Perhaps that’s why the iPad worked best.

John Ford’s funeral scenes typically used Let’s All Gather At The River as music. But I’d like to use an equally solemn river song. The last word goes to The Band who headlined the first concert I attended. My favorite cousin was the one who took me.

R.I.P. Tina, you will be missed.

Bayou Brief: Love In The Time Of Coronavirus

The title of my latest 13th Ward Rambler column for the Bayou Brief was inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love In The Time Of Coronavirus. I’m particularly fond of the tag line:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has Peter Athas thinking about Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood. We’ve gone from “heckuva job, Brownie” to “heckuva job, Trumpy.”

Since the column is, in part, an extended flashback to 2005, the last word goes to John Fogerty:

“Brownie’s in the outhouse
Katrina on the line
Government’s a disaster
But Georgie, he says it’s fine”

We’re All Milo Minderbinder Now

A brief update from the contagion belt. You may have seen this last night on The Rachel Maddow Show:

We’re sixth in the nation BUT we’re the lone non-New York state hotspot in the top 11 with Jefferson Parish chiming in at #15. Believe me, that’s not where we want to be. Apologies for using one of the Impeached Insult Comedian’s tells: believe me = I am lying like a cheap flea market rug.

My latest at the Bayou Brief will be published either today or tomorrow. It’s, in part, inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez but I prefer to keep it shrouded in mystery. Suffice it to say that every day feels surreal; like a chapter out of a magic realist novel.

Spring has sprung but we will not be sprung from our internal exile any time soon. Let President* Pennywise rant: I’m staying home, staying put, staying out of mischief. I will not be swayed, which reminds me of a song:

In case you were wondering about the post title. Dr. A went to three groceries and CVS to piece together our supply chain yesterday. Milo Minderbinder was the mess officer and master scrounger in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, which is one of the books that most impressed my young, impressionable self. If you’ve never read it, there’s no time like the present. It was magic realism before the term was coined.

Life is not a Cabaret old chum, it’s an extended Catch-22 situation. Here’s how the Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes Catch-22:

The original catch-22 was a governmental loophole involved in Joseph Heller’s satirical novel Catch-22. Heller’s novel follows the exploits of a bombardier in World War II, and in doing so shines a light on the relentless and circular bureaucracy of war and wartime governments. The term is introduced to describe the apparent loophole, or catch, that prevents a pilot from asking for a mental evaluation to determine if he’s fit to fly:

“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane, he had to fly them. If he flew them, he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to, he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.”

The second paragraph was Joseph Heller speaking. We’re all more or less in a Catch-22 situation in 2020. We’re all Yossarian. We’re all Major Major Major. We’re all Milo Minderbinder now; forever refighting the Toilet Paper Apocalypse. Heaven help us.

That concludes the inaugural edition of Life Imitates Catch-22.

The last word goes to Talking Heads; a song in which “heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.” Sounds a lot like social distancing to me, y’all.

The Day I Get Home

The post title is my feeble attempt to prove that irony isn’t dead, it’s just on lockdown. I awakened with a start yesterday with these lyrics in my head:

“The news is on, it isn’t good. I see the trees but not the wood.”

Those prescient words come from the 1991  Difford and Tilbrook song The Day I Get Home. Short-term thinking and failure to understand the big picture have characterized the entire Trump regime, particularly its pitiful response to this pandemic. We’ve all been worried about what would happen in a crisis and it’s as bad as feared.

Before moving on, here’s today’s theme song:

First, a hearty welcome back to Tommy T. I was up way too late last night and was relieved to see that Freeper madness had driven him to write. I’d give him a virtual slap on the back but social distancing, man; not to mention his back surgery. Get well, my friend. We need you.

Let’s stir the potpourri, if such a thing is possible.

Don’t Watch Trump’s Pressers Live: I’ve had a hard time watching President* Pennywise live for several years. He is incapable of telling the truth even when it’s imperative. There’s little information to be gleaned from watching a mentally ill man meltdown on live teevee. Read about it, watch the clips, but don’t watch it live. I agree with Rachel Maddow and Charlie Pierce who have urged the networks to pull the plug on the briefings. Things are scary enough without listening to the Impeached Insult Comedian brag.

Trump is beginning to remind me of former Venezuelan strong man Hugo Chavez who would commandeer hours of teevee time for his own amusement. This is not a comparison anyone should welcome. After a few days of trying to be normal, Trump is back to his old tricks of demonizing the media, dismissing expert advice, and telling the world how smart he is. If he were really that smart he’d STFU and get the fuck out of the way. Enough already.

Senator Aqua Buddha Can Go Fuck Himself: Rand Paul is the first Senator to test positive for the 21st Century plague. Since he’s a libertarian, he carried on with his normal routine; spreading the virus on Capitol Hill by going to the gym and swimming in the pool. Freedom, man.

Thanks to Aqua Buddha, Willard Mittbot Romney has been obliged to self-isolate. It’s a loss when one of the few sane Republican office holders will be out of action for 2 weeks. I never thought I’d say that. Pandemics have a way of altering the way you think.

I hope that Aqua Buddha’s illness will convince wingnuts that this is some serious shit, not a beer virus. Freedom, man.

Speaking of Freedom, man:

Of course, Richie’s notion of Freedom was radically different from that of Aqua Buddha who can go fuck himself. Freedom, man.

I got all riled up by that segment. Time to take a musical chill pill, Traffic-style:

Let’s all go to the lobby; six feet apart, of course.

Movie Corner: I’d always heard 1953’s Battle Circus derided as minor Bogart. We’re on kinda sorta lockdown so when it popped up on TCM, I recorded it. It was a pleasant surprise.

First some lobby cards:

Love In Hell? I like the Spanish language title too.

Battle Circus tells the story of a Korean War era MASH unit. Sound familiar? Bogie plays a grizzled, cynical, and horny surgeon who’s tired of the war and the pressures of surgery. Sound familiar? Dr. A and I are huge MASH fans so the comparisons were flying as we watched. Bogart as Hawkeye? It’s easy to imagine. Here’s looking at you, Hot Lips.

There’s also a beautiful blonde nurse played by June Allyson. She stole the movie. Bogie was in his prima donna phase at that point so he rarely allowed that to happen. Perhaps it was mutual respect shown by one Philip Marlowe to the spouse of another: Allyson was married to Dick Powell who played Marlowe in Murder, My Sweet. Allyson was stuck in thankless roles for most of her acting career: ingenue, wife, mother. It was good to see her have a meaty role for a change.

Battle Circus was a big budget film with two major movie stars. So, they had the co-operation of the Army and showed us *how* a Korean War era MASH unit “bugged out.” The scenes in which they took down and reassembled the tents were spectacular. They gave the movie its title too. The image of a MASH unit as a Battle Circus is a good one.

Here’s the trailer:

Battle Circus is still lurking on several TCM platforms and is available for rent on Amazon Prime. Much to my surprise, I give it 3 1/2 stars and an Adrastos grade of B+.

That’s it for today. Remember to stay home. Hunkering down and waiting for this thing to pass is all most of us can do right now. Repeat after me: Better Bored Than Dead.

The last word goes to Talking Heads:

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Gates Of Delirium

Cover of Relayer by Roger Dean.

It’s been a tough week in the Big Uneasy and everywhere else on planet for that matter. The good news is that Governor John Bel Edwards excels in a crisis. He’s a West Point graduate and he’s brought some military calm to the pandemic. Mayor Cantrell bowed to the inevitable and issued a stay home order for residents of Orleans Parish. She’s doing all the right things but remains verbose in doing them. Every time I see her on teevee, my inner speechwriter dies a little.

This week’s theme song was composed by Yes for 1974’s Relayer album. The lyrics are by Jon Anderson. It was inspired by Tolstoy’s War and Peace and has four movements:

The song describe a battle, with a prelude, a charge, a moment of victory, and a peace. “It’s not to explain war or denounce it really,” Anderson said. “It’s an emotional description with the slight feeling at the end of, ‘Do we have to go through this forever?”

We have two versions of The Gates Of Delirium for your listening pleasure. The studio original and a 2001 live version with a dadgum Dutch orchestra:

Now that we’re all a bit delirious, here’s a song from Neko Case, KD Lang, and Laura Veirs:

Since we’re at the gates of a delirious new era, let’s jump to the break and see what’s on the other side.

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My Brave Face

Mask by Jackson Pollock.

March 2020 has been the month from hell. It’s as if the Ides of March came and never left. I’ve already admitted how hard it is for this lifelong news junkie to follow the news. The bad news has been relentless. COVID-19 has gotten so bad that even the Impeached Insult Comedian finally admits that it’s not “fake news” cooked up to deny him a second term. But there will be backsliding. He cannot help himself.

On a personal level, things feel equally bleak. I usually try not to let things that I cannot control bother me. The pandemic has me jittery and rattled. I try to put a brave face on things but it’s hard not to feel numb and empty.

Here’s why I feel empty: My favorite cousin died at a hospice in Flower Mound, Texas on Monday. I’m glad we got to see her earlier this month. It was a whirlwind trip during which I caught the stomach bug I mentioned here. I did not mention my worry that it was COVID-19 caused from hanging out in a nursing home for the better part of two days.  It was not. But I had more than a few sleepless nights and remain jittery about exposing my immune system to any risks. Additionally, I have a normal body temperature that ranges from  99.5 to 100 on a hot day. That’s why I’m not going anywhere they might stick a thermometer in my mouth.

A few words about my late first cousin. She was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. She was more like a sister than a cousin. My parents are dead, and I’m estranged from my sisters so losing my cousin is like losing the last link to my nuclear family.

I’m one of the younger members of my generation of my extended Greek family. My cousin was 75 and finally lost a 25 year battle with cancer. Her son moved her to a facility closer to his home to make it easier to visit. Then came the nursing home lockdown. In her bleaker moments, my cousin said the only reason she wanted to live was to see her family. I believe she gave up because of the lockdown. Many elderly New Orleanians died in the first year after Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood. Like my cousin, they lost the will to live.

If you have elderly loved ones in assisted living or a nursing home, remember to stay in close touch even though you can’t visit. Human contact is important, if you can’t physically touch one another, you can talk on the phone. And I say that as someone who dislikes talking on the phone. My late cousin was okay with that, I’d speak briefly to her, then hand the phone to Dr. A. My cousin always said, “He’s just like Uncle Lou.” In that regard, I suppose I am.

I’m trying to keep a stiff upper lip and put the best possible face on things without being in denial. It’s not an easy balancing act.  I’m lucky because I’m married to a wonderful woman whose family nickname is “the representative of the world of science.” She’s good at keeping a cool head while the rest of the world is freaking out.

Finally, I try to maintain what Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello called My Brave Face.

Now that I’m alone again
I can’t stop breaking down again
The simplest things set me off again
And take me to that place
Where I can’t find my brave face.

It’s a breakup song but it works by analogy.

The last word goes to Macca:

Half Pagan: Coronavirus In New Orleans

The press of events, both personal and global, made me forget to include something in today’s NOLA-centric post.  Some of my more eccentric friends have an eccentric band called Half Pagan. Their performance schedule is equally eccentric; it’s Solstice oriented. I am not making this up. I told you they were eccentric, y’all.

Half Pagan have a new tune with timely lyrics. It’s called Coronavirus In New Orleans:

“It started in Wuhan with some bat bitten meat,
Traveled to Korea and down to Italy
So now it’s mutating and we’re all getting sneezy
COVID 19’s rollin’ to the Big Easy

Chorus
Stock up on bourbon, boil red beans
The coronavirus’s coming to New Orleans
Soap up your hands, and cover your sneeze
The coronavirus coming down to New Orleans

The shops are all out of health care supplies
If you can’t find a mask tape on a Hubig’s pie
Instead of hand sanitizer use some Zatarain’s
Wash out your mouth in Lake Pontchartrain

Chorus
Stock up on bourbon, vodka and Dixie
The coronavirus’s coming to the Big Easy
Cover your mouth and don’t touch your face
Best to not put your tongue on any surface

Seems like our city is going to hell
Got two bodies stuck in the Hard Rock Hotel
Broken pumps and beads are flooding our streets
Here comes another boil water advisory

Chorus
Gotta get on the phone and call Mayor Cantrell
Human feces is exploding French Quarter manholes
Our neighbors don’t live here, they’re Air B and B’s
Record high profits for da Entergy

Stock up on bourbon, hunker down with some pralines
Put a lime in your Corona to toast New Orleans
Soap up your hands, and cover your sneeze
The coronavirus coming down to our city, to the Big Easy, down the Mississippi, way down in New Orleans”

I’ve known the members of Half Pagan since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood. Back then, it was us against the world. It’s time for us to recapture the Spirit of ’05 as we hunker down and try to get through the COVID-19 clusterfuck.

Without further adieu, I give you Editor B, Dr. Homan, Kalypso Homan, and Mike Hogan collectively known as Half Pagan:

Let’s See Inaction

The New Orleans Toilet Paper Apocalypse is in its second week. Make that the national Toilet Paper Apocalypse (hereinafter TPA) as hoarding is in fashion. The TPA is also an indication that people remain poorly informed about the nature of COVID-19. Nobody’s going to shit themselves to death because of this virus. Scout’s honor. Scout Prime’s honor too.

NOLA Notes: There was some serious idiocy here last Saturday. Can idiocy ever be serious? That’s an existential question for another day.

Anyway, it was supposed to be the day of the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day parade so there was a de facto block party on the Magazine Street route despite the obvious health hazards involved.  Even a normal St. Paddy’s Day seems to lower IQs by at least 50 points, and normal came to a screeching halt last week.  NOPD were dispatched both there and to Bourbon Street where drunken idiocy reigned as well. Now’s the time to drink at home, y’all.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell held a presser yesterday. While she ranted about “irresponsible journalism,” she did not impose a curfew. It’s unclear as of this writing exactly what the Mayor was on about, but it seems to involve a reporter calling City Hall to ask about a rumor spreading on social media. The Mayor did not handle it well. The rumor mill will be working overtime as this crisis unfolds, and the best way to swat down rumors is by answering questions however ridiculous. We’re all a bit testy but it’s best for our elected leaders to keep their crankiness to themselves. Otherwise, the Mayor is doing all the right things thus far.

A note about language. The word irresponsible is in right now. In fact, it’s being overused. The word is inherently pedantic, patronizing, and other P words that will come to me later. I prefer to call the foolish white people who partied at an Irish bar, reckless and stupid. I know stupid is judgy, but it doesn’t sound as judgy as irresponsible, which reminds me of an old song:

If the Chairman of the Board were still with us, he’d call the Irish Channel revelers, “stupid bums” or something equally colorful. The man knew how to call a bum a bum.

Movie Notes: I’m watching too much teevee during this crisis so I’m putting on my film critic hat to recommend some movies to help you wile away the hours. Since old movies, especially in glorious black and white, are one of my passions, I’ll focus on movies released before 1970 except when I don’t. I am consistently inconsistent, after all. It’s part of my charm, such as it is.

Last night, Dr. A and I watched this 1950 movie:

We watched the TCM Noir Alley version. The host of Noir Alley, Eddie Mueller, essentially resurrected this undeservedly obscure 1950 movie. It’s a winner; filmed on the streets of San Francisco, featuring great lead performances by Anne Sheridan and Dennis O’Keefe and a stellar supporting turn by Robert Keith (father of Brian) as a quirky police inspector. Rembrandt the dog is doggone good as well. Arf.

I don’t want to give away too many plot details other than to say there’s a helluva twist near the end that I didn’t see coming. And I’m good at figuring out twists.

Woman On The Run is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. I give it 3 1/2 stars, an Adrastos Grade of B+ and an exuberant thumbs up. Check it out while it’s still “free” to prime customers.

I’m going to try and not just write about the COVID-19 crisis as it unwinds. But it’s all-consuming right now since it’s early days. I also need to stop calling all segments “notes.” That’s notably boring but so, too, is this crisis. I’m so bored that I have a motto for this pandemic:

BETTER BORED THAN DEAD.

It’s almost as good as STAY THE FUCK HOME.

A quick note about the post title; there’s that word again. It’s a play on the title of a Pete Townshend song, which was originally titled Nothing Is Everything (Let’s See Action). It contains this cool lyrical couplet: “Rumor has it, minds are open. Then rumors fill them up with lies.” Perhaps Mayor Cantrell should quote it the next time rumors are mentioned…

The Who’s version has always been called Let’s See Action, the Adrastos version is Let’s See Inaction. Inactive is the new in word for those of us who are hunkering down until the crisis eases. Beats the hell outta irresponsible…

Inaction is just for the citizenry: we want all levels of government to be active and responsible.

The last word goes to The Who live in 2000 with a sloppy but spirited rendition of Let’s See Action with guest rock star Eddie Vedder:

Let’s clean up that mess with the original studio version:

That is all.

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Game Pieces

The featured image is of Max von Sydow playing chess with Death in the Ingmar Bergman classic, The Seventh Seal. Von Sydow had a long acting career in America; often playing in horror movies. He died earlier this week at the age of 90. This is the first time I’ve ever started a Saturday post with an obit. I like to change things up.

The Seventh Seal is set during the Black Plague. It was an era with clueless and ignorant leaders; much like the US&A in 2020. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

This week’s theme song continues our board game theme. The Game Pieces was written by Chris Leslie and Nigel Stonier for Fairport Convention’s 1999 album, The Wood and the Wire. Here’s a woody and wiry live version:

I’m a lousy chess player but I know a good song about chess when I hear one. Just say Yes:

Now that we’ve established that we’re all good people, let’s take a straight and stronger course to the break.

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Bayou Brief: Ode To Elizabeth Warren & Other Strong Women

Warning: No COVID-19 content. Promise.  Instead, I write about Elizabeth Warren, Mary Landrieu, Lindy Boggs, and my late mother.

Ode is one of my favorite words. I’m quite partial to this song as well:

Keep Your (Safe) Distance

Last night, Dr. A and I made groceries for the first time store since the first New Orleans COVID-19 cases were announced. It’s been a week of firsts as well as worsts. It was like a preview of hurricane season but twice as frantic. One could even call it the TOILET PAPER APOCALYPSE. For some reason, people are convinced that if the world ends, there will be no TP. Locally, there’s always this:

Krewe of Tucks riders also throw plungers in case you overuse their terlet paper. Glug.

Okay, no more toilet humor. Promise. I’m not Mike Myers, after all. Or Friday the 13th’s Michael Myers for that matter. I seem to have misplaced my hockey mask…

In addition to Pulp Fiction Thursday, it was cancellation Thursday yesterday as most major sports leagues and events pulled the plug on 2020. I have some friends who are going to have withdrawal symptoms any time now. My suggestion: read a book or watch a sports movie. Bull Durham has been known to lift one’s spirits.

It’s time to slice this post into segments like an orange. Hopefully, nothing is overripe. It’s hard to keep up with events, y’all.

The Politics Of COVID-19: President* Pennywise’s Oval Office address laid an egg, bombed, and flopped. It led to mass confusion and the stock market tanking. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

One of my friends insists that Trump snorted coke before the speech. I don’t think so. He was too low energy for that; much like Jeb Bush during the 2016 GOP primary race. My hunch is that the Impeached Insult Comedian would test positive for the super crud. He’s been exposed to carriers at least twice. He should be tested and quarantined in a rubber room for his own safety and that of the country.

The COVID-19 clusterfuck is the most graphic illustration yet of the OTT incompetence of the Trump regime. They had no pandemic plan and were caught with their pants down. This criminal negligence is in stark contrast to the way Team Obama handled the Ebola Virus. It was contained in Africa and we helped impacted areas with our dollars and medical expertise. We still have the latter if only the White House would get out the way. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

Repeat after me: Incompetence Kills.

A Coronavirus Primer: A piece by Tomas Pueyo at Medium has been making the rounds on social media. It’s one of the things that convinced me to practice social distancing. If you haven’t read it, there’s no time like the present:

View at Medium.com

The image/link thing showed up when I previewed this post. If it doesn’t on your device, this link works.

Tweets Of The Day:  First, some historical perspective:

Boo to Philly in 1918. Hurrah to St. Louis in 1918.

Our second tweet comes from a beloved member of the First Draft family:

They must be people who have never lost anyone close to them. I watched someone die when I was 28 years old. I have a dark sense of humor, but I don’t make jokes about randos dying. Talk about bad karma.

I’m already on the record about this generational strife shit:

People have been asking me if I planned to write at length about the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock. The answer is no. Why? Too many people focus on things other than the music and mud. Too many get bogged down in generational politics; one of the dullest subjects on the planet. It’s dull because it’s cliche laden: not all Baby Boomers sold out, not all Gen-Xers are slackers, and not all Millennials are twitter obsessed airheads. More importantly, not all members of the greatest generation were all that great. I often thought that my late father’s motto could have been, “We won the war so we don’t have to listen.” That concludes my rant about generational stereotypes.

Another day, another self-quote.

Finally, the featured image with Richard Widmark and Paul Douglas comes from Elia Kazan’s classic contagion movie, Panic In The Streets, which was set in New Orleans. I have another one in the hopper but it’s for when things get even worse:

I have it on DVD, but this stone cold 4 star classic can be rented from Amazon Prime. Besides, we’re all going to have time on our hands as we try to get through this crisis.

The last word goes to Richard Thompson:

Knowledge Isn’t Always Power

When I was younger, I was easily flustered and had a temper to match. In Star Trek terms, I was something of a Klingon; only without the bellicosity, bad food, and rotten opera. I spent years trying to Vulcanize my temperament and have largely succeeded. I pride myself on being calm, rational, and never panicking. Better a Vulcan than a Klingon: I’m just glad that my ears aren’t pointed.

My resolve to stay calm has been sorely tested by the COVID-19 crisis. And not just by the insane reaction of a president* who thinks that ignoring the problem will make it go away. After an extended bout with a more conventional bug, the news has me jittery and on edge. My Vulcan resolve is shaken but I refuse to let it slip away.

Being well-informed is usually my armor against the crazy. The viral virus news has left me jittery and uneasy.  And the reaction of people who should know better has shaken me to the core. Denial is in, realism is out. There’s a fine line between underreacting to a problem and freaking out. It’s called the happy medium and we’re not achieving it as a society.

The first cases of coronavirus in New Orleans were announced yesterday. The city had a big weekend planned; full of large public gatherings including the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Parade. That parade is known for riders throwing veggies from their floats and walking groups of drunken men kissing women along the route. Mayor Cantrell quite wisely pulled the plug on this parade and other events. We’ll just have to buy our own cabbages.

The reaction to the Mayor’s decision flooded social media with a noxious gas of self-righteousness and downright stupidity. I’m not a fan of this Mayor but I am a fan of rational public health measures intended to limit the spread of this contagion. If it can be limited early, we have a chance to avoid becoming the Seattle of the South; something that in another context would be a good thing.

Watching the people in Washington state struggle to contain the epidemic is, to be blunt, unnerving. It’s a wealthy state with more competent state and local governments than we’re accustomed to in New Orleans, Louisiana. If it can hit them this hard, it can happen here. We need to learn from the mistakes of others, not repeat them. The virus doesn’t care that we survived Katrina and the Federal Flood and the daily hardships of living in TFC: This Fucking City. In Star Trek terms, it’s the Borg; only without the crazy rubberized outfits.

The only rational fears expressed yesterday on social media were about the impact of this public health crisis on service industry workers and the poor. Something must be done to help them on a state, local, and national level. Bailing out the oil companies and hoteliers simply won’t do. The latter strikes me as another slush fund for the Trump clan. Nice work if you can get it.

In the short run, I’m planning to hunker down and limit my social contacts. This virus is highly contagious, and I have no desire to be either an infector or infectee.

In the end, the post title is ironic. I still believe that information is power, but a surfeit of information presented hysterically is not. Beware, take care.

The last word goes to my main man, Mr. Spock:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Get Happy

Painting by Piet Mondrian.

My stomach bug was a persistent bugger. It slowly got better but I lived without coffee for four days; an experiment I’m not eager to repeat. It’s hard to be alert when you’re under-caffeinated, Coke Zero and tea don’t quite do it. The result was a groggy unprolific blogger. So it goes.

A quick note about the featured art and its influence on the Krewe of Spank. Our theme this year was NOLAOPOLY and our float was designed to be a rolling version of the game board. I suggested that the sides should look like a Mondrian painting. Our float captain, Greg, went for it with gusto.

I may not be able to paint or draw but I have a good eye. Besides, Di Stijl is always in style.

I decided to try and put some pep in my step with this week’s theme song. It was written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler in 1930 for a Ruth Etting movie, The Nine-Fifteen Revue. Etting was later played by Doris Day in the 1956 movie Love Me or Leave Me with Jimmy Cagney as her gangster husband.

We have two versions of Get Happy for your listening pleasure. The artists need no introduction but get one anyway: Judy Garland and Ella Fitzgerald.

Since we’re trying to get happy, it’s time for Keith Richards’ signature song:

Let’s join hands and happily jump to the break.

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