Category Archives: Diary

Saturday Odds & Sods: Deeper Water

Gulf Stream by Winslow Homer.

Since we have something of a nautical-as opposed to naughty-theme I thought we’d dive right in without any dockside formalities. I won’t invite you into my stateroom because this might happen:

I would never take a cruise. The thought of doing so reminds me of the not so great Poop Cruise of 2013. Hell, I get seasick contemplating the Winslow Homer painting above.

Let’s move on to this week’s theme song. Singer-songwriter Paul Kelly is often called the Bob Dylan of Australia but he never broke through stateside. Kelly co-wrote Deeper Water in 1994 with Randy Jacobs of Was (Not Was) in case you was (not was) wondering.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. First, the 1995 studio version that was the title track of Kelly’s tenth album. Second, a 2013 live version from a show Kelly did with Neil Finn. For some reason it’s listed as Deep Water but it’s the same tune. Wow, that’s deep, man.

I hope we’re not in over our heads. Let’s mount the diving board and jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Boulevard Of Broken Dreams

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

I survived jury duty. I even got a diploma of sorts. I’m uncertain if it’s for good behavior; more like bored behavior. I was called upstairs for voir dire on the last day. I tweeted about it after graduation:

Canny is Leon Cannizzaro, Orleans Parish District Attorney. Here’s what I said about him in the Bayou Brief in 2017:

He’s a notoriously hardline, tough on crime District Attorney with the demeanor of an irritable undertaker and the strange uncharm of a grim Dickensian authority figure such as Mr. Murdstone. I had dealings with Canny when he was a criminal court judge and I was lawyering. He was arrogant, biased, rude, and dismissive. His success in electoral politics has always been a mystery to me but some people confuse assholery with strength. The Current Occupant of the White House is the best example I can think of. At least Canny has better hair.

Well, they asked for full disclosure…

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.

This week’s theme song was written in 1933 by Al Dubin and Harry Warren. It was featured in the 1934 movie Moulin Rouge and sung by blond bombshell Constance Bennett. Ooh la la.

We have three versions of this torchy torch song for your listening pleasure: Constance Bennett,Tony Bennett, and Diana Krall. Ooh la la.

Constance and Tony are not related. His real name is, of course, Anthony Benedetto.

It’s time for a trip to Disambiguation City with a song written for the 2004 American Idiot album by the boys in Green Day. Same title, different song. Ooh la la.

Now that I’ve shattered your dreams, let’s jump to the break. Ooh la la.

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Life Imitates The Godfather: Chris Cuomo Edition

I realize that I’m a day late on the Chris Cuomo kerfuffle but I had jury duty yesterday. They keep the juror lounge so cold that one could store a Semifreddo therein without it melting. It’s a frozen Italian delicacy, which the CNN host would be well-advised to to emulate. The dude needs to chill.

Let’s recap our story:

A video emerged on Monday night in which CNN anchor Chris Cuomo can be seen engaged in a tense confrontation with an unknown man and threatening to throw him down some stairs after the man called him “Fredo”.

In the video, reportedly taken in a bar on Long Island on Sunday, Cuomo is irate over a perceived insult from the man, an apparent reference to a character from the Godfather film. Cuomo suggests in the video it was meant as derogatory term for his Italian heritage, similar to the “N-word” for African Americans.

“Punk-ass bitches from the right call me Fredo,” Cuomo says. “My name is Chris Cuomo. I’m an anchor on CNN. Fredo is from The Godfather. He was a weak brother and they use it as an Italian aspersion.”

Cuomo is the son of former New York governor Mario Cuomo and brother of the state’s current governor Andrew Cuomo.

“I’ll fucking ruin your shit,” Cuomo says as the argument continues. “I’ll fucking throw you down these stairs.”

I’m obviously not a fan of Trumper assholes accosting people they dislike in public but Chris needs to make like a Semifreddo and chill. I plan to use that analogy until my plate is clean…

Calling someone a Fredo is an insult, not an ethnic slur. If this MAGA Maggot walked into a Knights of Columbus meeting and shouted “FREDO” the reaction would NOT be akin to walking into a Zulu meeting and shouting the N-word. I suspect that most of the KOC guys would be confused as opposed to outraged. They’d rather be called a Michael or Vito, after all. Repeat after me: Fredo is an insult, not an ethnic slur.

I’ll give Cuomo credit for sounding more like Sonny Corleone than Fredo:

I am glad, however, that he didn’t beat the MAGA Maggot down and bop him in the bean with a garbage can lid. Sonny would have thrown that worthless fucker down the fucking stairs so Cuomo showed *some* restraint.

In claiming that Fredo is an ethnic slur, not an insult, Cuomo amplified the story. He’s the one who made it about The Godfather, not some loudmouth Trumper asshole. It can’t be easy being Son of Mario and Brother of Andrew: Cuomo’s overreaction seems to reflect a measure of insecurity. A simple “fuck you, asshole” would have sufficed.

The Cuomos have long been hyper-sensitive about the fictional Corleone clan. Papa Mario refused to see the movie for many years because he believed it perpetuated lazy stereotypes about Italo-Americans. Others thought the movies glorified the Mafia. That shows the power of Puzo and Coppolla’s vision: it provoked people and made them think.

In other Life Imitates The Godfather news, we turn to the Roger Stone case:

Stone on Friday told a federal court that he opposed the request by prosecutors to play a clip from Godfather II at his trial, slated to start in November.

The clip was a pivotal scene in the movie in which a witness to Michael Corleone’s criminal conduct recants his testimony at a high-profile congressional hearing. The witness, Frank Pentangeli, backtracks on his testimony after he sees his brother and Corleone show up to watch the hearing.

Prosecutors say they want to play the clip to put in to context messages Stone allegedly sent radio host Randy Credico, who was subpoenaed to appear before Congress. Stone repeatedly referenced Pentangeli in the messages to Credico, according to prosecutors. Stone is charged with making false statements to Congress and witness tampering. He has pleaded not guilty.

Stone has claimed that he referenced Pentangeli because Credico does a good impression of him.

I’ve been known to do Michael Gazzo as Frank Pentangeli myself. It’s painful: not my impression but the voice is so raspy that it hurts to do it. Here’s the scene in question:

Frankie and Freddie were great pals, they’d both surely agree that the real Fredo on our current national scene is this guy:

The analogy breaks down because Don Vito Corleone was brilliant and Don Donaldo, IL Comico Insulto is a dumbass prone to descibing himself as a “very stable genius.” Like father, like son.

It’s easy to imagine Trump Junior saying this:

Repeat after me: Fredo is an insult, not an ethnic slur.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Meet On The Ledge

Rain, Steam, and Speed by JMW Turner.

It’s the final day of one of the greatest musical festivals in the world: Fairport’s Cropredy Convention. Dr. A and I attended the event’s 40th anniversary in 2007. We actually took a tour, which gave us insider access including a chance to hang out with the super-nice members of Fairport Convention: Dave Pegg, Simon Nicol, Ric Sanders, Chris Leslie, and Gerry Conway. Nancy Covey’s Festival Tours organizes tours for people who don’t like tours. It was the trip of a lifetime and we formed many friendships that still endure. End of travelogue.

This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson in 1968 for Fairport’s What We Did On Our Holidays album. Meet On The Ledge is a song about death that is somehow life-affirming. It’s often played at funerals and is typically the last song played at every Fairport Convention show. At Cropredy, a cast of thousands joins the band onstage for an epic sing-along.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: the Fairport original with Sandy Denny on lead vocals; a solo acoustic version by Richard Thompson, and Fairport and friends closing Cropredy in 2017 with Simon Nicol and Iain Matthews on lead vocals

Now that we’ve met on the ledge and seen all of our friends, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Washable Ink

Salome With The Head Of John The Baptist by Aubrey Beardsley.

My first day of jury duty was uneventful. We waited to be called for voir dire but the call never came and we were out of there by 11 AM. They’re trying fewer cases at Criminal District Court since the DA’s office stopped prosecuting possession of small amounts of weed. An odd but effective move by our old school tough-on-crime DA. Ironies abound.

This week’s theme song was written by a very young John Hiatt for his 1979 album Slug Line. It was so long ago that he had a full head of hair as well as a unibrow.

We have two versions of Washable Ink for your listening pleasure: the Hiatt original and a cover by the Neville Brothers.

Let’s check if this spilled ink is really washable. Color me skeptical: black, red, or blue.

Do they still call newspaper reporters ink-stained wretches? Probably not but it was swell slang.

Time to ink up and jump to the break. I’m not sure what ink up means in this context, but I’m always talking shit. Y’all should know that by now.

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A Salute To Jerry Garcia

Today would have been Jerry Garcia’s 77th birthday. I don’t believe in astrology. I do, however, get a kick out of sharing a sign with Jerry. Us Leos have to stick together, dead or alive.

The only fitting salute to Jerry is to post his music. We’ll do the Spotify playlist thing with 20 of Jerry’s best tunes; 19 of which have lyrics by Robert Hunter:

I Can’t Stand The Rain

I’m a slacker pundit. I’ve opted out of watching this week’s cattle call debates. I have better things to do with my time than watch no-hoper John Delaney engage in a shout fest with Bernie Sanders. Doesn’t Delaney know that nobody outshouts Bernie?

I guess I’m sorry that I missed Marianne Williamson say “yadda, yadda, yadda” but I can watch the clips. I actually apologized to my readers in advance of the first round and it applies to tonight as well:

Repeat after me: debates don’t matter, especially early ones. Kamala Harris had her moment, then it receded because it’s simply too early to matter. Besides, if debates really mattered, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton would have been elected Oval Ones. When it comes to debates, I’m a mattering nabob of negativism. Holy shit, I just paraphrased Spiro Agnew and William Safire.

In hyper-local news, I start jury duty tomorrow. It’s been a long time. The last time was during September 2001. That’s right: I was in the jury lounge at Tulane Avenue when the twin towers toppled. The pace at Criminal District Court slowed to a crawl. I recall participating in only one voir dire that month. I’m hoping this August will be slow as well but for less dramatic reasons.

The rains keep coming in New Orleans. It’s gotten to the point that street flooding is a commonplace event. It used to happen every so often but now it’s a monthly, even weekly event thereby proving that climate change is a hoax. #sarcasm.

Dr. A and I are officially afraid of the rain. Our car perished in a flash flood when she was on her way to work a few weeks ago. It was totaled by the insurance company and we bought a new used car with the money. I guess one could call it a re-owned vehicle or some such shit.

The big buzz in Gret Stet state politics is a teevee ad by a hitherto obscure Republican candidate who is always described by the Gret Stet MSM as a “major donor” so I’ll follow suit.

Major Donor Eddie Rispone has pledged his troth to the Insult Comedian:

It’s amazing what one can do with sound FX:  Major Donor Rispone’s head is so firmly lodged up the Trumpian rump that it should sound muffled. Instead, it’s as clear as an Acadian bell.

I must confess that I’m disappointed that Major Donor Rispone did not holler “lock her up” or” send them back.” But hope springs eternal since his campaign has bought $5 million worth of teevee time.

The other Republican challenger to the Other Governor Edwards (there’s only one Edwin) is Doctor/Congressman Ralph Abraham. He’s a weasel and a dull one to boot. Lamar White Jr. has devoted considerable energy to exposing Doc Abraham as a phony at the Bayou Brief.

Before continuing, a musical interlude featuring the Original Abraham who, now that I think of it, was something of an amateur surgeon:

A shirtless, tattooed Albino rock star is the stuff of GOP nightmares. Holy Culture War, Batman.

The one-two punch of Major Donor Rispone and Doc Abraham has had the result of adding to the Other Governor Edwards’ support among pro-choice Democrats. I declared myself a clothespin Edwards voter two months ago; as bad as he is on abortion rights, he’s much better than the competition on everything else. If Major Donor Rispone weren’t against gay marriage, he’d propose to Trumpberius. It seems to be true love.

It’s time to circle back to the post title. The last word goes to Ann Peebles, Tina Turner, and Paul Rodgers:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: River Of Life

Elegy For Moss Land by Clarence John Laughlin.

It’s been a noisy week at Adrastos World HQ. The utility company is doing some work on our block: they’ve dug holes and marked off spaces for new gas mains and meters. Here’s hoping they finish soon.

I’ve had the Neville Brothers on my mind since Art’s passing. But he did not write River Of Life; one of the most underrated songs in the Neville Brothers canon. It was written by Cyril Neville, Daryl Johnson, and Brian Stoltz for the band’s 1990 album, Brother’s Keeper.

Here are two versions of this week’s theme song. I dare you not to get up and rock:

Now that we’ve flowed with the river of life, let’s swim to the break. No drowning, please.

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Art Neville, R.I.P.

This is another tough one for me. The man we in New Orleans call Poppa Funk, Art Neville has died at the age of 81.

I was lucky enough to know Art; not well, he was more of a neighborhood acquaintance. We’re both proud residents of the 13th Ward in Uptown New Orleans. Our conversations mostly took place with him on his porch and me on the sidewalk. I wasn’t a stalker: Art lived a few blocks up Valence Street from Adrastos World HQ. Plus, I know one of his sons and several of his nieces and nephews. Repeat after me: New Orleans is the world’s largest small town. Condolences to everyone in the Neville family.

When I was neighborhood leader, I used to walk the neighborhood a lot. The first time I saw Art, I almost didn’t stop to chat. As a hardcore New Orleanian, I try to hide my inner fan boy. Fortunately, Art was a warm and friendly man who was always glad to talk when he wasn’t on the road with the Neville Brothers or the Meters.

Most of our conversations were relatively brief and fairly long ago, alas. We talked about neighborhood stuff, the weather, food, the Saints, and music; always music. I wasn’t even sure if he knew my name, but I knew his. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of reflected glory, 13th Ward style.

We had two particularly memorable conversations:

I told him that my first date with Dr. A ended up at Tipitina’s where we saw the Neville Brothers. Art smiled and said: “So, we helped you get the girl? That’s great, man.”

One day we talked about the late San Francisco concert promoter/music mogul, Bill Graham. Near the end of his life, Graham was on a largely successful mission to boost Art and his brothers and bring their music to the world. In fact, the first time I saw the Meters was when they opened for the Rolling Stones at a Bill Graham Presents show at the Oakland Coliseum.

I told Art about playing basketball (badly) against Graham at Winterland before a Grateful Dead concert. Graham had sharp elbows and an even sharper tongue. The game was on the honor system, so I called a foul on Bill when he poked me with an elbow. He protested: “The fuck you say.”

Even then, I was a smart ass: “You gonna throw me out of the arena?”

He smirked and said: “What kind of asshole you take me for? Your punishment is a fucking no-call. Ya dig, shit-head?”

After telling Art this story, he nodded and said, “Bill threw some sharp elbows for us too. Most creative cusser I ever met.”

I hadn’t seen Art for many years when I heard the sad but not unexpected news. I wish I had gotten to know him better but as John Lennon put it, “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

I suspect my encounters with Art Neville were infinitely more memorable to me than to him. He was an unpretentious music legend and a good listener. The perfect audience, the perfect neighbor.

Finally, a quote from Keith Spera’s tribute to Art in the Picvocate:

“It was peaceful,” said Kent Sorrell, Neville’s longtime manager. “He passed away at home with his adoring wife Lorraine by his side. He toured the world how many times, but he always came home to Valence Street.”

And that’s where we met. He will be missed by everyone who loved his music, especially those of us in his neighborhood, the 13th Ward. He always came home to Valence Street.

Here’s some music, Poppa Funk style:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Moon Rocks

This Image Should Have Been On The Cover Of Life Magazine by Alan Bean.

History was made 50 years ago today when Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon. It was controversial among some at the time for being a waste of money and has become the subject of wackadoo conspiracy theories. I watched the moon landing unfold and I thought it was magnificent; even better than Star Trek or 2001. The truth is not only stranger than fiction, it can be much better. I still think the heyday of the space program is way cool or perhaps even wicked awesome.

This week’s featured image is a painting by the late Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean. It’s based on a picture taken by Buzz Aldrin of Neil Armstrong; hence the epic title. I thought it was high time to give it, uh, new Life.

There are a wide variety of moon songs to choose from. For this week’s theme song, I went with one that’s lunar landing specific. Moon Rocks was written by David Bryne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, and Tina Weymouth for Talking Heads monster hit 1983 album, Speaking In Tongues.

Now that we’ve done a bit of space walking, let’s cut the tether and float to the break.

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Johnny Clegg, R.I.P.

Johnny Clegg and Nelson Mandela in 1997.

This news felt like a gut punch. The great South African singer-songwriter and anti-Apartheid activist, Johnny Clegg has died at the age of 66.

Dr. A and I have many of Clegg’s albums with both Juluka and Savuka. We saw him perform live on several occasions. Most memorably at Tipitina’s when he played New Orleans in support of his Heat, Dust and Dreams album. We spoke to him at the stage door. I don’t recall the contents of the conversation but I recall the warmth and kindness exuded by the artist. It’s a pity that it was pre-camera phone so we don’t have a picture with us to remember him by. But we have his music.

The best tribute to any musician is the music itself. Here are a few old favorites:

Finally, a song that Johnny Clegg wrote in tribute to his fallen friend and band mate, Dudu Zulu:

I hope his crossing is a smooth one.

I Come To Bury Barry, Not Praise Him 2

Barry was a non-event in New Orleans. We did not have a “big blow” like the storm in Key Largo, which is my favorite hurricane season movie. Hence the featured image.

Barry was such a nothing burger for us that we didn’t even watch Key Largo. When it came time to view a classic film, we went with Sunset Boulevard. Unlike our past cats, PD had never seen it. It was time to correct that oversight.

Speaking of Paul Drake, here’s some bonus catblogging:

What Barry was in New Orleans was boring. There were some major rain bands to our west and east but they bypassed us. We were lucky but anyone who follows the Euro forecasting Model had an inkling of what Barry would be like in the Crescent City. We had much more rain last Wednesday.

The only entertaining thing about Barry was the national media coverage. Any time a storm *may* hit New Orleans, they’re like a dog with a bone and fixate on us. It was the story of a lifetime for many in the MSM and they’re eager to repeat it. We are not.

My friends Kevin Allman and Lamar White Jr. both wrote pieces scolding the MSM. Thanks, y’all. My phone and social media feeds blew up on Friday and Saturday with people thinking we’d die if we didn’t evacuate. I informed them that we were bored instead of scared.

After Friday’s post, my contribution to the online dialogue was this tweet:

As to the second point, WDSU has a weatherperson who is famous for freaking out whenever there’s a storm in the Gulf. She’s obsessed with people having an ax handy just in case they’re stuck in the attic and have to chop their way out. Pondering her past antics led to another Shecky tweet:

It’s back to what passes for normal in New Orleans. I guess it’s time to catch up on the national news, which I skimmed over the weekend. To distract attention from the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, Trump was a racist asshole again. The MSM falls for it every time.

The last word goes to Roxy Music:

Yeah, I know, Neil Young wrote the song:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Other Side Of Summer

o-GUSTON-900

City Limits by Philip Guston.

I wrote the opening, now second, paragraph below before posting yesterday. I’m too stressed and/or lazy to change it. So it goes:

It’s been the week from hell in New Orleans. Our car flooded during Wednesday’s deluge and there’s a tropical system nearby. I’m writing this on Thursday: our internet is wonky so I want to have something in place in case it and/or the power goes out. I refuse to be buried by Barry.

I don’t have the full-blown Odds & Sods spirit BUT since I’d assembled a post,  I figured I’d put it out there for y’all to enjoy. I know our Saturday readership is devoted so I don’t want to let you down. Instead of our usual three acts, we have a first act followed by what would usually be our third act of regular features. Highly irregular but what can ya do?

Elvis Costello wrote The Other Side Of Summer for his 1991 album, Mighty Like A Rose. I used it the other day in the post about my Bayou Brief newspaper war piece. This time we have two versions: the video and EC live.

Now that we’ve seen the other side of summer for what it is, let’s jump to the break.

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I Come To Bury Barry, Not Praise Him

Legendary New Orleans weatherman and folk hero Nash Roberts in his prime.

I didn’t plan to write a pre-storm post but my phone and social media feeds have been blowing up. Thanks to everyone who reached out. If this post sucks, blame them, not me. Damn concerned friends and readers.

Barry is a disorganized mess of a system, which is having a hard time getting its shit together. But wherever it lands, it’s going to be wet and sloppy.

It’s almost a perfect metaphor for the Trump era, which is not reassuring but it’s a helluva one-liner. They can’t get their shit together either. At least Alex Acosta is quitting, which means I won’t get to use one of my punnier potential titles: The Acosta of Freedom.

Back to the lay of the land at Adrastos World HQ. We’re going to be fine: we live on high ground in what locals call the “sliver by the river.” It was a sketchy neighborhood when we moved here and now its full of yuppies since it didn’t flood in 2005. I’ll sing the gentrification blues another time.

There was a torrential downpour on Wednesday morning. Dr. A went into work and got caught in a flash flood. She works in an area that rarely has such high water. It did this time. The car is going to the shop today. Hopefully, it will pull through. We’re holding off on renting a car until Barry be gone. It will be one less thing to worry about.

The Wednesday flood is why so many New Orleanians are extra jittery about Barry. The trend seems to be favorable for us as of this writing. My hurricane ghoul is relieved that it *may not* be as bad as expected. I have friends who live in flood prone areas who are evacuating out of an abundance of caution. I wish them well. See y’all on the other side of this mess.

We’re hunkering down. We have enough food, water, bourbon, and PD supplies to make it through. We may lose power but there are worse things than sweat and boredom.

That concludes this brief update. There *will* be a Saturday Odds & Sods even if our power is out. My tropical system plan  includes a First Draft sub-plan.

The last word word goes to Barry White. It seemed only fair after quoting Shakespeare in the title:

Bayou Brief: The New Orleans Newspaper War

My latest piece for the Bayou Brief is a news analysis of the New Orleans newspaper war: Suddenly, This Summer. The title is a take on the Tennessee Williams/Gore Vidal movie set in Uptown New Orleans. It’s particularly apt as cannibalism was involved. FYI, Suddenly, Last Summer was number six on my Louisiana movie list.

The original title of the piece was The Other Side Of Summer: The End Of An Era but Dr. A suggested we steal from Tennessee and Gore and who am I to object?

The unused title was lifted from Elvis Costello. Even though it will be this week’s Odds & Sods theme song, I still want to give Declan Patrick MacManus the last word:

Did you dig that plug within the plug? I may be getting too meta for my own good but nobody will confuse me with Meta World Peace aka Ron Artest.

Summertime Blues

I usually bitch and moan about the heat on Saturdays. There’s an exception to every rule: the heat has been inescapable and oppressive the last few days. It’s been as hot as I can ever recall since I moved to New Orleans in the Eighties. Our air dish keeps the house nice and cool when it’s 90 but struggles in the heat of the day when it’s over 95. We’re forced to huddle in cooler/smaller enclaves such as the study and guest room when it’s this hot. Cower might be a better word than huddle. It’s too damn hot, y’all.

The heat has got me down but so has the news. It’s the summer of child abuse stories. Notorious super-perv Jeffrey Epstein has been arrested by the feds for assorted disgusting malefactions including child trafficking. He supposedly has bipartisan buddies: the feds should follow the facts and disregard who ends up in the bulls-eye. Let the chips fall, y’all.

A worse example of child abuse is the ongoing babies in cages scandal perpetrated by the Trump regime. The reason it’s worse is that cruelty is the point of this despicable exercise. The regime claims that it’s not that bad, that it’s all fake news, but it’s said with a wink by liars.

I’m not much on soccer but the victory of the American women in the World Cup was uplifting as was this chant:

One could call it beautiful noise for the beautiful game.

The last word goes to Eddie Cochran and the Who:

Saturday Odds & Sods: America

Subway Portrait by Walker Evans.

I spent a lot of time this week researching and writing a piece about the New Orleans newspaper war for the Bayou Brief. It will be dropping in the next few days. That’s why I’m keeping this introduction, well, brief.

This week’s theme song continues the patriotic theme of the week. The left should never have let the right hijack patriotism in the Sixties, which was when Paul Simon wrote America. 1968, the year from hell, to be precise. It was one of many stellar tracks on one of Simon & Garfunkel’s best albums, Bookends.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the S&G original and a brilliant 1971 cover by Yes. It features some of Steve Howe’s finest finger picking and that’s saying a lot.

Now that we’ve counted the cars on the New Jersey turnpike, we’ll jump to the break and bypass Saginaw even though Michigan is nice at this time of year.

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Hey Baby, It’s The Fourth Of July

Two Flags by Jasper Johns.

I’ve already taken a wack at Trumpalooza so I don’t need to repeat myself on that topic. I am, however, repeating myself with this 10th annual Independence Day post. It’s quite fitting: my mother used to call me Pete and Repeat when I talked too much. It was the only time she ever called me Pete. In our family my uncle was Pete and I was Peter. That concludes this edition of story time with Adrastos.

One more thing about the Current Occupant: don’t let that evil, stupid motherfucker ruin Independence Day. I’ve never let past piss-poor presidents ruin it and I’m not about to let an Insult Comedian with a dead nutria pelt atop his head spoil America’s birthday. It’s what he wants: don’t fall into his trap, y’all.

Anyway, I wrote the text below for last year’s post and it holds up quite well with a few minor alterations. Let’s do it again, do it again, do it again:

It’s time for my 10th 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.

Pulp Fiction Thursday will return next week. It needed a mental health day too.

The Dictator & The Dotard Do The DMZ

Original image by Greg Biermann.

I know I shouldn’t have been, but I was stunned by the MSM’s sycophantic coverage of Trump’s “historic trip” to the Korean DMZ. For the acronymically impaired, that’s demilitarized zone. While it’s true that Trump is the first American president to set foot on North Korean soil, it wasn’t much of a trip. The real history is that Trump walked anywhere. I guess the North Korean secret police didn’t let them bring a golf cart along so the president* was obliged to waddle across the border.

The MSM showed additional mass gullibility in accepting the notion that this happened on a moment’s notice after a tweet by the Insult Comedian. I concur with New York Magazine’s Chas Danner:

Trump later said that he was also willing to cross the border into North Korea. Pyongyang eventually responded that it was an “interesting” idea, but was waiting for an official proposal before agreeing. Within less than a day, the meeting was on. But while few people are as impulsive as Trump is, there are several holes in his spontaneity claim (apart from the fact that he rarely tells the truth, or the full truth, ever.)

First, the two leaders exchanged letters earlier this month. And the New York Times reported on Sunday that an unannounced visit to the DMZ was already part of the Trump team’s itinerary and that the president “had actually been musing out loud about [meeting with Kim] for days in advance.” He’s also been dreaming of a DMZ meet-up since last year.

Furthermore, there are doubts that the meeting could have possibly been organized by both countries on such a short timetable, as one expert commented to the Washington Post:

“Andrei Lankov, a professor at Kookmin University in Seoul, said it was inconceivable that the leaders of two powerful nations had arranged a meeting at such short notice, calling it a “show” designed to send a political message, without raising expectations about them making actual progress.”

Bravo’s Andy Cohen would be more skeptical of a Richards-Vanderpump reconciliation on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills than the MSM was of this publicity stunt. The reality teevee allusion was deliberate: Trump has deployed reality teevee tropes throughout his presidency. Not an original observation but an accurate one. Hell, Real Housewives Nene Leakes and Theresa Giudice were contestants on Trump’s crappy reality game show.

I’m old enough to recall the impact of Tricky Dick’s visit to China in an election year. That trip, however, accomplished something as opposed to the emptiness of this visit, which was shorter than Trump’s memory. Once again, the Dotard gave something of value to the Dictator without getting anything in return. Why not ask for the release of  foreign nationals held by the world’s last Stalinist regime? Why not ask the North Korean secret police not to assault his own press secretary?

In addition to the whopper about the “spontaneity” of the trip, Trump claimed that this “visit” was something his predecessor was desperate to do:

“President Obama wanted to meet, and Chairman Kim would not meet him,” the President said. “The Obama administration was begging for a meeting. They were begging for meetings constantly, and Chairman Kim would not meet with him.”

“Trump is lying,” tweeted Ben Rhodes, who served as Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications during the Obama administration. “I was there for all eight years. Obama never sought a meeting with Kim Jong Un. Foreign policy isn’t reality television it’s reality.”

We’re all used to Trump’s incessant and egregious lying but it isn’t as funny as it used to be now that he’s “palling around” with dictators. He also plans to run against Democrats in 2020 by denouncing them as “socialists.” The nerve: his little North Korean buddy is an old school communist. I remember when conservative American presidents denounced dictators, especially communist dictators. That’s another reason president* Trump gets an asterisk: he’s an illegitimate president* who thinks human rights are for suckers.

A closing note about the featured image. The Magic Mirror Maze was created by Greg Biermann from the hall of mirrors/fun house/crazy house scene in the Orson Welles classic The Lady From Shanghai. It has particular resonance for me as that scene was filmed at Playland at the Beach in San Francisco; a place that I frequented as a child with my parents. Playland closed in 1972; as we New Orleanians would say, “Ain’t dere no more.”

I used the image in a June post, The Fog Of History: Semantic Antics and brought it back because it’s perfect for this moment in history. These are crazy times and our political life is replete with fog, mirrors, and lies. As the Seventies British band Slade put it, Mama Weer All Crazy Now. They get the last word:

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Monkey Speaks His Mind

Woman and Monkeys by Henri Matisse.

The leading lights of New Orleans culture keep leaving us. This time it was Dave Bartholomew who died at the age of 100. He was best known for his collaboration with Fats Domino as his arranger, co-writer, producer, and band leader. Bartholomew was a formidable trumpeter in his own right. He was also one of the contenders for the title of father of rock and roll. If nothing else, he was present at the creation.

In her tribute to Bartholomew the fabulous New Orleans music writer Alison Fensterstock wrote about some of his solo recordings including this week’s theme song:

But the sides he did record for himself in the ’50s were masterful and diverse, from the clattering Caribbean rhythms of “Shrimp and Gumbo” to the goofy novelty “My Ding-A-Ling” (which Chuck Berry unearthed for a 1972 hit) to the singular grinding blues “The Monkey Speaks His Mind,” a strange fable that questions whether humans, with all their sin, are truly superior among the primates, and which showcases his bellowing, stentorian baritone.

This week’s theme song is best understood as a parable of the civil rights movement. Did that make Dave Bartholomew rock’s own George Orwell? Beats the hell outta me.

The Monkey Speaks His Mind was written and recorded by Dave Bartholomew in 1957. It’s been recorded by a variety of artists. We have three versions for your listening pleasure:

It’s time to stop monkeying around and brachiate to the break. There will be a banana for everyone willing to take the plunge.

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