Category Archives: Diary

Waiting For The Spank Electrician

I need a mental health break from writing about the bottomless pit of Trump scandals until next week. Hell, the country needs a mental health break from thinking about them. That’s why I decided to do a bit of storytelling. The world needs more tall tales even if they’re about short people in small houses. No hobbits were harmed in the writing of this post.

The post title is inspired by the comedy album Waiting For The Electrician Or Someone Like Him. It was the debut album by hippie Dadaists, The Firesign Theatre. The album cover is above and if you click on this link, you can hear the whole damn thing. It’s electrifying.

At long last we begin our story:

We had electrical problems a few weeks ago. One of my Spank krewe mates is a crack electrician so he came over to solve the problem, which turned out not to be as bad as feared. While I waited for him, I began a tweet with the line “Waiting for the Spank electrician.” One of my faithful readers and twitter pals, Al Dunn, said it was the line of the day that day. I decided to see if lightning would strike again at First Draft.

While the Spank electrician worked on our circuit breaker box, I regaled him with stories of our former across the street neighbor, the Polish Electrician. I’ll call him PE for short, which works because the Spank electrician goes by TS. I’m also acronym-ing him because the story I’m telling is strictly from memory, so I changed the names to protect the innocent, not me. I am rarely, if ever, innocent.

We moved into our house in the 13th Ward in August of 2000. In that pre-gentrification era, one encountered the neighbors almost immediately. One of the first neighbors we met was PE’s charming wife Miss V (hereinafter MV) followed in short order by her equally charming husband, PE.

The couple lived across the street in the smallest house on the block. It was a perfect fit because they’re both petite people. As Dr. A liked to say it was “a sweet little house just right for sweet little people.”

They’re both immigrants: MV is Mexican and PE is Polish. They mostly spoke to one another so their mutual accent in English was a mélange of Mexican and Polish. It was simultaneously endearing and hilarious. I’m uncertain whether I should call their patois Mexi-Pole or Pole-Mex. Probably the former, the latter sounds too much like poleaxe. Mexi-Pole it is.

PE’s New Orleans origin story is an interesting one.  It happened during the Cold War. He was then a sailor, hey. He was in port, jumped ship, and defected. In those days, we encouraged skilled workers to come to America and defect from Communist countries. It was long before Tucker Carlson bragged about rooting for Russia. Nobody rooted for Russia then, especially not Poles. Lech Walesa weeps.

PE moved into one side of a double occupied by Polish sailors. The other side was essentially a crack house. It was converted into a single-family home at the end of the previous century. We live there now, unaccompanied by Polish sailors or crack dealers. As recently as 2010, we received mail for one of the crackheads, usually overdue bills or parking tickets. We tried returning them to sender, but they kept bouncing back to us, so we gave up. It’s what I get for taking advice from an Elvis song.

PE could fix anything. In addition to being a skilled electrician, he was a licensed HVAC tech. It was great having a neighbor who would come over at a moment’s notice to help and at family rates no less. It’s hard not to miss a neighbor like that.

A few years after Katrina and the Federal Flood, PE and MV moved. It was a sad day on our block. I miss chatting with them in their Mexi-Pole accents. It was always an adventure. They left behind a legacy of kindness and neighborliness as well as a good story. It was time to share it with my readers.

I gave myself a pair of earworms as I wrote this so the last word goes to Yes and Bob Weir:

Bayou Brief: Now Be Thankful

My annual Thanksgiving post, Now Be Thankful, has migrated to the Bayou Brief. I’ve tweaked it and added a tribute to a family friend, former Congresswoman Cathy Long. This version essentially tells my Louisiana origin story. I use that term loosely since I am neither super nor a hero.

The last word goes to Fairport Convention:

 

Rex Meets The Greek Pretender

Elite New Orleans loses its head over royalty, fake and otherwise. That’s why a big deal was made about a recent charity soiree at Antoine’s:

Greek royalty was welcomed to New Orleans Saturday by New Orleans Carnival royalty during an elegant dinner at Antoine’s restaurant.

Prince Pavlos and Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece were greeted with a proclamation by the reigning Rex, King of Carnival, Robert S. Boh, during the dinner, hosted by John and Dathel Georges.

The Greek monarchs were visiting to commemorate the 1953 visit of King Pavlos and Queen Frederika, Prince Pavlos’ grandparents, to New Orleans. The dinner also served as a benefit for the Prince’s Trust, which helps needy children in Greece.

A monarch is one who either reigns or rules. The Greek royals do neither. The proper term for Pavlos is pretender. The Greek royal family have not reigned since 1967 when the pretender’s father, Constantine, connived with the Colonels in a coup against the legally elected government. Constantine’s attempt at a counter-coup failed and he was sent into exile.

This Greek-American is a small r republican when it comes to my ancestral homeland. It’s in the blood: I’m distantly related to President Eleftherios Venizelos who was instrumental in abolishing the monarchy in 1924. It returned in 1935 as the hand maiden of military dictatorship. I will, however, give them credit for not collaborating when the Nazis conquered Greece. They went into exile instead. They’re good at going into exile.

The monarchy was formally abolished by referendum after the fall of  the junta in 1974. Even most Greek conservatives excoriated the royals at that time. Deposed King Constantine was in exile until 2013. The chances of a restoration are slim and none.

I originally planned to write a funny piece mocking two fake royals: Rex and the Greek pretender. When I reminded myself of the bloody anti-democratic history of the Greek monarchy that became impossible. I’m glad that money was raised for a good cause but pumping up the ego of the Greek pretender in the press is creepy.

The host of the event was vending machine and media mogul John Georges. He’s the sort of Greek-American who still calls Istanbul, Constantinople. He seems to fancy himself local royalty when he’s merely a rich guy with a media megaphone. I wonder if he’s hoping to become a fake count or phony duke some day that will never come.

I’ll take the honest fake royalty (if such a thing is possible) of Rex over the pretensions of a pretender any day. Besides, the family name is Glucksberg. Does that sound Greek to you?

The last word goes to Jackson Browne:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Behind The Wall Of Sleep

Sleeping Girl by Pablo Picasso.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the impeachment hearings ate my week. It wasn’t a snack, it was a tasting menu of scandal, malakatude, and heroism. Democrats have found their mojo: I was proud of their performance in the face of Republican shouting and conspiracy theorizing. That was down to Chairman Schiff  who refused to take any shit from committee GOPers. I’m less confident of the performance of Judiciary Chairman Nadler but the ball will soon be in his court. Stay tuned.

This week’s theme song was written by the late, great Pat DiNizio in 1986 for The Smithereens debut album, Especially For You. The band had been kicking around New Jersey for years before hitting the big time with this great rock song.

We have two versions of Behind The Wall Of Sleep for your listening pleasure: the original video and a 21st Century live version.

There’s a Black Sabbath song with the same title but metal is not my thing so I’ll pass.

Now that we’ve caught up on our sleep, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Still Learning How To Fly

Der Vogelmensch by Max Ernst.

It’s been colder than hell in New Orleans this week. It’s not Wisconsin cold but it’s fucking cold. We had some electrical issues that one of my Spank krewe mates fixed. It’s good to know “people who need people” I understand they “are the luckiest people in the world.” I cannot believe I just went there. In order to salvage my cool cred, here’s some Oscar Peterson:

It’s election day in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. I’m cautiously optimistic that Blue Dog Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards will be re-elected. I hope the voters will remember that Coach O wants them to vote for the Governor. Geaux, Tigers. Geaux, Team Blue.

This week’s theme song was written in 2003 by Rodney Crowell. It’s the opening track of his Fate’s Right Hand album and features one of his finest couplets: “Life’s been good, I guess. My ragged old heart’s been blessed.”

We have two versions of Still Learning How To Fly for your listening pleasure. The original with a full band and a live acoustic rendition.

While we’re in mid flight, how about a song with a similar title by an equally great artist?

It’s time to land. See you on the other side of the break.

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Bayou Brief: Ode To Coach O

My latest column at the Bayou Brief is online. In which I tell my Tiger fan origin story and discuss the ultimate underdog, Ed Orgeron.

I’m literally waiting for the electrician so I’m not sure if I’ll post again today. That’s why I’ve decided to share today’s earworm. It’s winter music from the North Country:

I know what you’re thinking: isn’t that a Dixie Chicks song? True dat but it was co-written by Gary Louris.

Language

Before I became an internet pundit, I occasionally wrote letters to the editor. I had a few published but was always annoyed with the end results. I gave it up when the Picayune so twisted my meaning on a long-forgotten subject that a conservative friend asked if I’d defected to his side. He was disappointed to learn that I had not jumped ship.

That was a long way of saying that I’m quoting a letter to the editor by 33 prominent writers. In this case, the meaning is clear. They want the New York Times and their MSM colleagues to use different language to describe the Trump scandals:

Please stop using the Latin phrase “quid pro quo” regarding the impeachment inquiry. Most people don’t understand what it means, and in any case it doesn’t refer only to a crime. Asking for a favor is not a criminal act; we frequently demand things from foreign countries before giving them aid, like asking them to improve their human rights record.

That is not a crime; the crime is President Trump’s demand for something that will benefit him personally. But using this neutral phrase — which means simply “this for that” — as synonymous with criminality is confusing to the public. It makes the case more complicated, more open to question and more difficult to plead.

Please use words that refer only to criminal behavior here. Use “bribery” or “extortion” to describe Mr. Trump’s demand to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, making it very clear that this is a crime. The more we hear words that carry moral imputations, the more we understand the criminal nature of the act.

As you know, I rarely, if ever, make moral arguments. In this instance, the strongest argument is for clarity. The Trump-Zelensky call reeks of extortion and attempts to bribe the latter with money already allocated to his government by Congress. It’s also called wire fraud. Those are all words that people understand. Latin is for legal eagles and Catholic clerics. It does not soar with the vox populi, I mean, general public.

Words matter. Language is important, especially in this age of obfuscation, truthiness, and newspeak. George Orwell summed it up best 73 years ago in his classic essay, Politics and the English Language. Here are a few pertinent passages. I’m snipping some specific examples to boil Orwell’s argument down to its essence.

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. <SNIP> Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.

<SNIP>

The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics’. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.

News reporters should keep it simple and leave the lofty language and exaggerated metaphors to the pundits. Above all else, skip the Latin and call a bribe a bribe and extortion extortion. Enough with the quid pro quos.

The last word goes to Kiwi rock demigod Dave Dobbyn:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Mystery Train

Train In The Snow by Claude Monet.

I had a head cold this week so I’m going to keep this introduction terse and, uh, heady. If nothing else, I want to prove that I’m capable of brevity. I gave the world a straight line when I called my bi-weekly Bayou Brief column, 13th Ward Rambler. As Captain Beefheart would surely say at this point, Woe-Is-Uh-Me-Bop.

This week’s theme song was written by bluesman Junior Parker in 1953. He cribbed some lyrics from the Carter Family’s Worried Man Blues, which, in turn, borrowed from an old Celtic folk song. That’s American music in a nutshell, y’all.  In 1973, Robbie Robertson added some lyrics to The Band’s version of this classic locomotive tune.

We have three versions of Mystery Train for your listening pleasure: Junior Parker, Elvis Presley, and The Band.

In case you were worried, man, here’s the Carter Family with some hillbilly lagniappe:

Now that I’ve worried you half to death, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: All That You Dream

Drawing for Dante’s Divine Comedy by William Blake.

The weather has been wacked out this week in New Orleans. The temperature dropped 40 degrees in 24 hours. Mother Nature decided to skip fall and move on to winter. That means I’m looking for my winter clothes and turning on the heater early this year. That usually happens after Thanksgiving. Mother Nature is a card.

The response on social media to my Paul Barrere tribute has warmed my icy blue heart. Paul deserved no less. This week’s theme song was written by Paul and Billy Payne for Little Feat’s 1975 release, The Last Record Album.

We have three versions of All That You Dream for your listening pleasure: the Little Feat original with Lowell George on lead vox, a 2010 live version with Paul singing lead, and a 1978 cover by Linda Ronstadt.

It’s time to awaken from our collective dream and jump to the break.

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Gret Stet Goober Race Update

I’ve haven’t written much about the Louisiana Governor’s race here for a couple of reasons. First, my Gret Stet ramblings are on display at the Bayou Brief nowadays. Second, the race is depressing for a variety of reasons that I’ll describe below.

In 2015, I was enthusiastic about the candidacy of Blue Dog Democrat John Bel Edwards. Why? He was running against David Vitter who, while good for the satire biz, scared the shit out of me as a potential Gret Stet Goober. When Edwards won, he became a dragon slayer. I am still grateful for that.

Edwards’ record as Governor has been fairly good. He undid some of the damage done by Bobby Jindal to state government with Medicaid expansion being his greatest accomplishment.

As he approached re-election, Edwards has moved steadily to the right capped off by the horrible abortion bill he signed in May. Here’s what I said earlier this month about Edwards and reproductive rights at the Bayou Brief:

I voted for Edwards in 2015 knowing that he was anti-choice. If he was a no-exceptions right to lifer then, I did not want to know: he was the anti-Vitter. I assumed that such a basically decent man would have the same position as former Governor Blanco and other Blue Dogs. I was wrong. These are darker times and the so-called pro-life right believes they can realize their dream of reversing Roe in one fell swoop. Their dream is my nightmare.

In 2019, I am strictly a clothespin voter in the Governor’s race. Team Edwards is so terrified of Louisiana Trumpers that they’ve taken the Democratic base for granted.  That hurt them in the primary: African American voter turnout was low. If they can’t fix that, Louisiana is in a fix.

The fix is Republican candidate Eddie Rispone. His platform consists of three words: Trump, Trump, Trump. He’s an ignorant rich dude who recites the same buzz words repeatedly: conservative, businessman, outsider, and his greatest hit, Trump, Trumpity, Trump.

Rispone is an insider posing as an outsider and a know-nothing posing as a know-it-all. In last night’s debate, he could not explain WHY he wants a constitutional convention. If elected, he will be the most ignorant Governor since singer-actor Jimmie Davis who is best known for buying and slapping his name on the song You Are My Sunshine as well as his staunch defense of segregation in the early Sixties.

The power behind Rispone is contractor Lane Grigsby who my Bayou Brief colleague Sue Lincoln dubbed The Great Grigsby. His goal seems to be to Trumpify, Kochify, and re-Jindalize state government. Rispone is his dim and sporadically genial front man.

Dr. A declined to watch last night’s Edwards-Rispone debate live and, as usual, she was right. I watched it later and found it depressing. The moderators sucked as did the candidates. It was Rispone’s only run-off debate and his performance was dismal. It was the battle of the unprepared vs. the overprepared, Governor Edwards who came off as a smug dick. It scares me that I like former Governor Mike Foster more than either of these bozos. And I never voted for the man that Clancy DuBos dubbed Governor Warbucks.

Eddie Rispone was so bad in the debate that he reminded me why I’m voting for Edwards. Both candidates suck but Rispone sucks harder. His best bet is to nationalize the race by making it about the Insult Comedian. The Governor’s best bet is to keep it local by making it about PBJ. It boils down to Trump vs. Jindal. Is it any wonder that I’m bummed out about this race?

Voting for the lesser of two evils is the adult thing to do but it’s not a helluva lot of fun. I’ll be glad when it’s over.

The last word goes to Wilco with a song that I’ll be singing on November 16th:

 

Paul Barrere, R.I.P.

1984 album cover.

Little Feat guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Paul Barrere has died at the age of 71. Paul was not a founding member of Little Feat but joined in 1972 and brought his passion for New Orleans music to the band. He thrived as co-lead guitarist first with  Lowell George who died in 1979 and later Fred Tackett.

When Little Feat reformed, Paul was the co-leader of the reborn band. I saw their comeback show on the Riverboat President in New Orleans. Both the boat and the band were rocking so hard that I thought we’d sink.

I met Paul several times over the years. He was just as good a person as a musician. Our longest encounter was when I went to Tipitina’s to be an extra in Little Feat’s Things Happen video. We later became Facebook friends and traded the odd message. He was even known to read First Draft and comment to me on occasion. I was honored.

The last time I heard from Paul, he thanked me for placing his song Rad Gumbo at #8 on my Louisiana Tunes list for the Bayou Brief.

Paul Barrere was a nice man and a great musician. He will be sorely missed.

The best tribute to any musician is to play their music. We’ll start off with the aforementioned Things Happen. It’s an audio only track since the video is not online:

Hunting for that video made me hungry:

Next up is Little Feat’s first single after they regrouped:

This tune was written by Paul and keyboard player Bill Payne. It comes from the Dixie Chicken album and features Lowell George on lead vocals:

As a self-confessed weather obsessive, how I can resist posting Texas Twister? Besides, the best Feat is live Feat:

Finally, the Paul and Fred Acoustic duo. Fred Tackett is the fella with a full head of hair:

Sunday Catblogging: Our Heroine

Last week I wrote that post about what a bitch Ada was and how she never shuts up about anything ever, so I basically deserve what happened yesterday.

It had been raining all day so Kick and Mr. A and I took advantage of being forced indoors to clean out closets and prep the house for an onslaught of holiday visitors and figure out where the mates to all our gloves had gone over the summer. The cats get profoundly, comically offended when we clean, as if us moving things is a personal affront to them and they were very, very close to the dust bunnies we just cavalierly hoovered up.

Which is why it took me a while to figure out something was up with Ada. She was yowling. Not her usual “hey, pay attention and pet me” yowling. She was YOWLING. “Hey IDIOTS something is WRONG here” and so I spent a good 60 minutes roaming the house with her at my heels. Was her brother trapped in the bedroom? Had she shoved her mouse under a closed door? Had a critter gotten in somehow? What was happening?

Finally I went down into the basement to see if her food bowl was empty again somehow and the moment I stepped off the bottom step onto the floor … squish.

Our basement had flooded before after a torrential downpour, but the rain yesterday wasn’t anything like that. And this wasn’t really a flood, just a damp-ish spot near one wall. Mr. A and I checked the perimeter of the rest of the basement. Nothing. Just this one spot, and Ada looming above it, meowing her best “YO MORONS WHAT DO YOU THINK I’VE BEEN TRYING TO TELL YOU” indignancy.

We couldn’t figure out if the water was coming in or up. It didn’t appear to be spreading, so we went outside, walked the perimeter and discovered a whole-ass swimming pool’s worth of filthy rainwater that was backing up because its normal route out was clogged with leaves and roots and dirt. Mr. A and I got flashlights and shovels and a bucket and started digging and bailing, and pretty soon, all was well.

We might have to replace a small spot of carpet pad, but thanks to Ada, that was it. Our heroine, still not ready to stop saying I TOLD YOU SO:

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A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Things We Said Today

Circus Sideshow by Georges Seurat.

Fall has finally fallen, fuck yeah. The AC is switched off since it has been in the low to mid 70’s all week. Autumn is a short season in New Orleans so we have to enjoy it while it lasts. I even wore a sweatshirt the other day. Not a big deal where many of you live but after the hottest September on record, I am giddy

In honor of the season, I’m growing a beard for the first time in several years. But if it gets too itchy, I’ll shave it off. Perhaps I should try some hipster beard oil or some such shit. I draw the line at a man bun; not that I have enough hair to have one but if I did, I wouldn’t.

The big local story continues to be the Hard Rock Hotel collapse. They imploded the cranes last Sunday, which made things less bad. We’ll take less bad, y’all.  I’m hoping that City Hall will learn a lesson from this mess and stop letting developers run over them in the future. Real estate developers are the worst.

This week’s theme song is credited to Lennon & McCartney but it’s more Macca than John. It’s one of my favorite early Beatles songs, yeah, yeah, yeah. Or as Paul would say, WOOOOO.

We have three versions of Things We Said Today for your listening pleasure: the Beatles original, Dwight Yoakam’s 1997 cover, and a more recent version by New Orleans singer, Debbie Davis.

It’s time to stop talking and jump to the break.

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Talking Turkey

The fog of scandal is thick and spreading. While it’s true that all roads lead to Russia, there’s at least a back road leading to Turkey. Trump loves autocrats and the Turkish model of government has long been elected autocracy. Erdogan is not the first Turkish strongman and he won’t be the last. It’s why Turkey has always been an odd member of NATO and cannot get into the EU: they have democratic forms but autocratic norms.

As a Greek American, I was raised to be skeptical of Turkish intentions. That upbringing has come in handy since the advent of the Trump regime. I’ve learned that many Americans are unaware of the back story of the Turkish Republic: the Armenian genocide and ethnic cleansing of Anatolian Greeks took place in the era of national hero Kamal Ataturk.

Ataturk was the first president of post-Ottoman Turkey and Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hero and role model. Admiration for a murderous predecessor is something Erdogan and Trump have in common: Ataturk and Andrew Jackson are peas in a bloody pod.

Donald Trump’s business ties to Turkey lurk in the background of this self-created crisis or is that self-inflicted wound? It’s both. It’s time to revisit Kurt Eichenwald’s classic 2016 Newsweek story about the impact of Trump’s business dealings on US national security:

Trump already has financial conflicts in much of the Islamic world, a problem made worse by his anti-Muslim rhetoric and his impulsive decisions during this campaign. One of his most troubling entanglements is in Turkey. In 2008, the Trump Organization struck a branding deal with the Dogan Group, named for its owners, one of the most politically influential families in Turkey. Trump and Dogan first agreed that the Turkish company would pay a fee to put the Trump name on two towers in Istanbul.

When the complex opened in 2012, Trump attended the ribbon-cutting and declared his interest in more collaborations with Turkish businesses and in making significant investments there. In a sign of the political clout of the Dogan family, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Trump and even presided over the opening ceremonies for the Trump-branded property.

Dogan’s subsequent falling out with Erdogan may well have given the latter leverage over President* Pennywise. That’s unclear but what *is* clear is that this is a glaring conflict of interest. Trump has been mighty solicitous of the Turkish president even parroting Erdogan’s talking points about the Kurds as “terrorists” and “no angels.” Neither Erdogan nor Trump are angels either.

Trump’s henchman Rudy Giuliani followed in the footsteps of Mike Flynn and lobbied the president* to eject Muslim cleric and Erdogan foe, Fethullah Gulen, which is one of the Turkish regime’s top foreign policy objectives. In case you’re wondering why, Gulen is a former Erdogan ally who provided much of the intellectual heft in the early days of the ruling Justice and Development Party. Few feuds are bitterer than those between former friends. It’s another reason the US should not expel Gulen: we shouldn’t help a foreign leader in a personal vendetta.

I wonder if Trump either knows or cares that Erdogan’s party origins are Islamist. That’s right: the anti-Muslim xenophobe is in bed with an Islamist leader. All the Insult Comedian cares about are his personal relationships with foreign leaders even if his friendship with Erdogan makes him a hypocrite. Trump is used to accusations of hypocrisy: his record is full of contradictions, after all.

I also wonder if Trump knows or cares about Turkey’s ambitions to become a nuclear power. The United States used to oppose nuclear proliferation but if you flatter the Current Occupant that can change. Just ask the Communist dictator with the bad haircut: he’s been playing this president* with his “beautiful” letters.

If the Kaiser of Chaos had any knowledge of, or interest in, history, he’d know that Erdogan is a “bad hombre.” Hell, even if he read his briefing papers or listened to his military advisers, he’d understand that Turkish intentions in Northern Syria are malign. They want to drive the Kurds out of that area, which constitutes ethnic cleansing. The Turks and their Sunni Muslim allies are not above genocide either.

The horrible thing is that this crisis all started with a phone call and a green light. Trump’s latest self-inflicted wound is getting people killed. All the denials and fake cease fires in the world won’t wash the blood off Trump’s hands.

I wrote this first thing Monday morning, but I need a shot of whiskey. Some musical Wild Turkey will have to do:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Begin The Beguine

Masks by Emil Nolde.

It’s been a long week in New Orleans. The collapsed Hard Rock Hotel sits there like a dagger pointed at our municipal throat. That’s led to concerns about damage to the beautifully restored Saenger Theatre across the street and other historic buildings.

There’s also been some serious conclusion jumping and finger pointing. It reminds me that *all* Americans love to jail people, liberals and conservatives just want to jail different people. TFC. What’s that spell? This Fucking City.  I’ve created a Fish Cheer for 21st Century New Orleans.

In addition to my acronymic exploits, I have a new catchphrase via the Insult Comedian: “They have a lot of sand over there; a lot of sand.” Believe me.

Cole Porter wrote this week’s theme song in 1935 whilst taking a Pacific cruise. It debuted in the Broadway musical, Jubilee.

We have two versions of Begin The Beguine for your listening pleasure: Artie Shaw and his orchestra, and Sheryl Crow from the 2004 Porter bio-pic, De-Lovely.

A quick note about bio-pics. Cary Grant played Cole Porter as a manly heterosexual in the 1946 movie, Night and Day. In 2004, Kevin Kline played Porter as what he was: a gay man in  a “lavender cover-up” marriage with a woman. There was no sex in the first movie, way too much in the second. Neither movie did a good job depicting Porter as a genius songwriter. That’s why we remember Cole, not who he slept with.

Let’s jump to the break whistling, You’re The Top. That’s bound to guarantee a smooth landing unless we land on the Tower of Pisa. In that case, we’ll just have to lean into it…

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Dwight & Me

People who don’t read First Draft are always surprised that I like country music. I am emphatically a city boy, one might even call me urban or urbane. The second U-word is a value judgment so I’ll pass on that.

I don’t like all forms of country music but I like the real deal for the songwriting and singing. That’s why I like Dwight Yoakam who I saw live for the first time last night.

I’m notoriously stingy when it comes to concert ticket prices so I hadn’t planned to attend. I’d entered a contest but did not win freebies. On the day of the show, I received an email from the Fillmore informing me that two free tickets awaited at will-call. I was so skeptical that I called the box office for confirmation. Apparently, they were papering the hall because it wasn’t sold-out but it was my lucky day.

As someone who grew up in the Bay Area attending Bill Graham Presents shows, the name Fillmore is tinged with magic. I was too young to go to the Fillmore West but more or less grew up at Winterland, its successor concert hall.

I loved the venue. It would be a great place for a certain carnival krewe to hold its ball: hint, hint, hint. The Fillmore is spacious, well-ventilated, and attractive despite being attached to Harrah’s Casino. We did not gamble before or after. I didn’t want to press my luck.

I had high expectations but they were exceeded. Dwight Yoakam’s set was great. Dwight and his crack band played for two hours at a breakneck pace barely stopping for a second. It’s probably why Dwight’s sidemen are all younger than the star. They’re great musicians and rocked like crazy. It goes without saying that Dwight is one of the greatest singers to have ever walked the planet, with or without cowboy boots.

It was a night for doppelgangers. Dr. A spotted a guy who resembled Gret Stet goober candidate Eddie Rispone. Mercifully, it was not him. A guy who was a dead ringer for our pal the Bear Jieux danced with Dr. A as the band played Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down. Initially, she thought it was him but it was not: the doppelganger was equally hairy but too short.

You’re probably wondering about the post title, Dwight & Me. We had tickets to see him in Biloxi in September of 2005. The show was hurricaned out and we were in exile in Dallas in any event. It was a long time coming but I finally saw Dwight Yoakam. It was well-worth the wait.

I wrote about last night because I needed a respite from all crazy in the news. A post called Talking Turkey can wait until Monday. That crisis will still be there.

The last word goes to (who else?) Dwight Yoakam with his set closer and encore:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Something’s Gotta Give

Piazza d’Italia by Giorgio di Chirico.

It’s election day in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. As I stated in my last Bayou Brief column, I plan to affix a clothespin and vote for Governor John Bel Edwards. Here’s hoping that we don’t have a run-off with more visits from the Trumps and Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire. They’ve held events in small-ish venues but there have still been empty seats. A good slogan for Pence’s next event would be: Empty Seats For An Empty Suit.

We’re having our first cool front of the year. Fall hasn’t exactly fallen but we’ll take what we can get. The only seasons you can depend on in New Orleans are summer and carnival. I forgot football season: LSU and Florida are squaring off tonight in Red Stick. Here’s hoping the Tigers feast on Gator.

I have a new motto: Surreal times call for Surrealist art. This week’s featured image is by the Italian Surrealist, Giorgio di Chirico who was originally a Futurist. That gives me an excuse to quote Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto: “Oh, maternal ditch.”

If you expect me to explain that quote, you’re out of luck. I’m feeling cryptic like a proper Surrealist if there is such a thing. There were more than a few improper Surrealists if you catch my drift.

The title of this week’s theme song aptly describes our current national situation: Something’s Gotta Give. It was written by Johnny Mercer in 1955 for the Fred Astaire movie, Daddy Long Legs.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Fred Astaire from the movie, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Lets make like Daddy Long Legs and crawl to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: You Win Again

The Sources of Country Music by Thomas Hart Benton.

It was the hottest September in recorded history here in New Orleans. It’s still fucking hot: we had record highs the first four days of October. I complained about it in the Bayou Brief the other day so I thought I should here as well. We’re allegedly getting some relief next week but I’ll believe it when I see it.

We went to an event at the fancy new-ish Picvocate/Gambit HQ to see local pundits and Adrastos friends Clancy Dubos and Stephanie Grace. I considered heckling but Dr. A wouldn’t hear of it. They talked local and statewide elections. I’m still having a hard time deciding who to support for State Rep since there are 4444 candidates running in our district.

They only took questions via Twitter so I was unable to do my Eddie Rispone impression on the live stream: “Hi, I’m Eddie Rispone. I’m a conservative outsider and Trump supporter.” It’s their loss, y’all.

For the non-Louisianans out there here’s one of Rispone’s ads:

Moderator and Paul Drake fan Kevin Allman moved the questions to the Tweeter Tube because he did not want to have long-winded questions. A wise choice since I was in the audience. To placate me, he asked one of my tweeted questions and Clancy dropped my name so I guess I’ll survive.

Here’s the video of the live stream:

This week’s theme song was written by Hank Williams in 1952. We have two versions of You Win Again for your listening pleasure.: Hank’s original followed by the Grateful Dead. I discovered this and many other classic country song because of them. Thanks, Jerry

Let’s pay a visit to Disambiguation City and meet up with singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter. Her You Win Again was written and recorded in 1990:

Guess what? There’s also a 1987 Bee Gees song with the same title:

Now that we’re three-time winners, let’s jump to the break again and again and again.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Long Black Veil

The Bird, The Cage & The Forest by Max Ernst.

This is the first time since the infancy of this feature that I’ve used the same featured image two weeks in a row. It captures my mood.

We’re attending a memorial service this morning for Gligamesh Homan who died in a horrible accident last week. He was the son of some old friends and was in his freshman year at LSU. I’ll have more about Gil in our second act. Suffice it to say that there’s an open  wound in my circle of friends right now.

I’m not feeling very expansive today so I’m going to keep this week’s outing relatively brief.

This week’s theme song was written in 1959 by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin for Lefty Frizzell. It’s become a staple of the country music repertoire and has been recorded countless times.

We have three versions of Long Black Veil for your listening pleasure: Lefty Frizzell, Gillian Welch, and the Chieftains with Mick Jagger on lead vocals.

Try not to trip over your long black veil as we jump to the break.

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Not Everything Sucks: Springsteen At 70

Athenae and I disagree about the Beatles but we’re in complete agreement about Bruce Springsteen. The Boss turned 70 today but Bruce don’t crack. He looks and, more importantly, sounds great.

It’s time for me to tell my Springsteen fan origin story. I hate hype so I was put off when this happened:

After the media hypefest abated, I heard and liked some of Bruce’s music but didn’t buy any of his albums. In retrospect, that strikes me as odd, especially since I wasn’t fond of either of the dominant musical trends of that era: punk and disco.

In December of 1978, my old friend Russell Cole called and told me he had an extra ticket to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at our favorite venue: San Francisco’s Winterland. The ticket was a mere $7.00 but I’ve always liked free stuff so I accepted with alacrity. Besides, Russ was good company and he drove. Win-win. Thanks for inviting me, man. I’m still grateful after all these years.

I had no idea that I was about to have a life-changing musical experience and learn how to chant BRUUUUUUUUCE. This concert on December 15, 1978 is the stuff of legend and I was lucky enough to be there. I don’t even mind admitting to my dotage. Hey, I still get around without a cane or walker and have more hair than Russ; not much but more.

From the opening chords of Badlands, I was hooked. It made me a Springsteen fan for life much like the kid in the recent movie Blinded By The Light. I guess I should grade it now: 3 1/2 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B+ It’s a reminder of how much fun movies can be and how important music is.

The set was broadcast on Jive 95: KSAN-FM and is widely considered one of the greatest rock concerts of all-time. Here’s the set list in all its glory:

First Set:

  1. Badlands
  2. Streets of Fire
  3. Spirit in the Night
  4. Darkness on the Edge of Town
  5. Factory
  6. The Promised Land
  7. Prove It All Night
  8. Racing in the Street
  9. Thunder Road
  10. Jungleland

Second Set:

  1. The Ties That Bind
  2. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
  3. The Fever
  4. Fire
  5. Candy’s Room
  6. Because the Night
  7. Point Blank
  8. Mona / Preacher’s Daughter / She’s The One / I Get Mad
  9. Backstreets
  10. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)

Encore:

  1. Born to Run
  2. Detroit Medley
  3. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
  4. Raise Your Hand   
  5. Quarter to Three

The show was widely bootlegged. I had it on cassette at some point but lost it in one of my cross-country moves. Thanks to the internet I can give the Boss the last word. Happy Birthday, Bruce. Thanks for all the pleasure you’ve given the world over the years.