Category Archives: Film

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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President* Pennywise

Image by Michael F.

We recently watched the 2017 movie IT, which is based on the Stephen King novel. I wasn’t terribly familiar with that terrible tale except for the sinister clown Pennywise. I loved the movie and realized that it was remade for two possible reasons: the popularity of Stranger Things and the rise of Trumpism.

Pennywise the evil clown (is there any other kind?) thrives on fear. He gets stronger the more he fearmongers. It’s what emboldens him to get out of the gutter and come into the open. The Insult Comedian never leaves the gutter BUT he too thrives on fear. That’s why I mock him: he feeds off our fear and recoils from our scorn. President* Pennywise is a pussy. He should grab himself.

I don’t see Trump as a figure of fun even though he’s funny. What he’s doing to the country is not funny but he cuts a ridiculous figure as he wreaks havoc. At the risk of sounding like a Reader’s Digest feature, laughter is the best medicine against Trumpism. Their dear leader has no sense of humor unless the joke is on his enemies. That’s why one should laugh at him, not cower, especially when the laughter is provoked by his latest outrageous statement. Remember the Maddow Doctrine:

Words to live by.

I seem to have missed the Insult Comedian’s exchange with California Governor Gavin Newsome during the 2018 campaign. Trump called Newsome a clown, here’s his tweeted response:

SNAP.

Courage is what the resistance to Trumpism requires. I know that many are still traumatized by the 2016 election BUT remember that Democrats won the mid-term popular vote by 9 points. And Trump is running on the same issues that flopped in that campaign.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Trump’s only path to electoral college victory is to destroy his opponent and resort to massive electoral fraud. He will not win the popular vote and has a narrow path to winning the electoral college, particularly with the economy circling the bowl. He’ll try and blame the Fed or Democrats but the voters blame the Current Occupant for economic woes. It couldn’t happen to a “nicer” guy.

Trump’s opponents need to take a deep breath and keep fighting. Remember: this guy and his cretinous followers thrive on your fear just like Pennywise. It’s up to us to look at the big picture and not be pennywise and pound foolish. Laugh at him, mock him, but don’t let him spook you. Victory belongs to the brave at heart. President* Pennywise can fuck off back to Trump Tower in 2021.

The last word goes to Elvis Costello and the Attractions:

 

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Wrecking Crew

Dr. A and I saw Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood last weekend. We both loved it. I thought it was his best movie since Jackie Brown.

Anyway, Sharon Tate is a character in the movie and went to the cinema to watch her own movie, The Wrecking Crew. Here’s a side-by-side image of Donald Hamilton’s book and the poster for the Dean Martin movie.

It’s trailer time:

The Wrecking Crew became the nickname of a group of elite LA studio musicians. They were celebrated in a documentary of that title in 2015:

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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Pulp Fiction Thursday: My Wicked, Wicked Ways

My Wicked, Wicked Ways is technically not fiction as it’s a memoir. But like most memoirs, it takes substantial liberties with the truth, which makes it faction but not factional. It’s definitely pulpy.

I chose Flynn’s memoirs because I’ve been watching some of his classic movies lately, I saw Dodge City for the first time the other day. A major omission as it’s the town-taming movie that Blazing Saddles parodies along with Destry Rides Again.

I guess that covers it. Here are the book covers.

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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Tweet Of The Day: Nihilistic Neelyism Edition

I wrote a piece for the Bayou Brief last year about Neelyisms, which are the cornpone sayings of the Junior Senator from the Gret Stet of Louisiana, John Neely Kennedy. He’s at it again.

Neely went on the Tucker Carlson Xenophobia Hour and called the Squad, “the four horsewomen of the apocalypse.” There was a follow-up tweet from this twit:

What the hell does the “directions on a shampoo bottle” thing even mean? Is he concussed or is it brain damage caused by his mindless defense of the Insult Comedian? Most Neelyisms make *some* sense, this one does not. He’s as crankily incoherent as Hopper in Stranger Things 3. It’s what comes of defending the indefensible.

As a silent film history buff, I got a kick out of the anachronistic reference to this classic movie, which was based on biblical lore:

I’m not sure many people got the reference but Mr. Google is there to provide guidance. I hope he led people to the 1921 original, not the 1962 remake, a film so bad that even the great Vincente Minnelli couldn’t rescue it. It was such a dog that it’s still barking. Holy shit, that sounded like Dog Hating Donald. Apologies.

It’s no revelation to think that Neely was actually referring to The Bible, but it’s more fun to riff on old movies than armageddon. That’s not my scene, y’all. Besides, if anyone is bringing on the apocalypse, it’s Neely and his president*, not AOC and the Squad.

The last word goes to the Clash:

 

 

To Sir, With Self-Love

Barack Obama is frequently compared to Sidney Poitier. They’re both dignified, self-possessed pioneers. I never expected to spin a Poitier movie title in a post about Donald Trump’s mendacity but I just did. The world works in mysterious ways, sir. Believe me.

Daniel Dale has been chronicling the Insult Comedian’s lies since he descended on that Trump Tower escalator and ripped into Mexican “rapists.” The lies, half-truths, and exaggerations have, if anything, escalated since that moment. Daniel Dale has been there for all of it; first at the Toronto Star and now at CNN, sir.

Dale’s systematic study of Trumpian mendacity turned up a word that is almost invariably a tell that the president* is lying. You guessed it; the word is SIR.

I’ve fact-checked every word Trump has uttered since his inauguration. I can tell you that if this President relays an anecdote in which he has someone referring to him as “sir,” then some major component of the anecdote is very likely to be wrong.

Lots of people do call Trump “sir,” of course. But the word seems to pop into his head more frequently when he is inventing or exaggerating a conversation than when he is faithfully relaying one. A “sir” is a flashing red light that he is speaking from his imagination rather than his memory.

In poker parlance, it’s a tell.

Yes sir, Mr. Dale, sir.

This is the most disturbing sir story by far, sir, because the stakes were so high, sir:

President Donald Trump told a dramatic story on Twitter last month.

Explaining how he decided to cancel a possible attack on Iran, he wrote, “We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it…”

This was all so Hollywood that I would have been skeptical regardless of Trump’s choice of words. Because he included one particular word, though, I was almost certain the story was inaccurate in some way.

<SNIP>

My “sir” suspicions didn’t betray me on Trump’s Iran tweet last month. Later in the day he posted it, CNN reported that a White House official said Trump was given a casualty estimate much earlier than “10 minutes before the strike.” reported that an administration official said the “150 people” figure was given to Trump by White House lawyers, not in a cinematic exchange with a general.

Yes sir, Mr. Dale, sir. That’s a Lulu of a whopper, sir. Lulu, of course, sang the theme song for the 1967 Sidney Poitier movie To Sir, With Love. Hence the post title: To Sir, With Self-Love.

Another major Trump tell is when he ends a sentence with “believe me.” It’s an indicator that what preceded it is untrue. Believe me, sir. Uh oh, I just shot my credibility to hell.

The last word goes to Lulu:

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: 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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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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When The Whip Comes Down

What the world needs now is comic relief. This news of the weird story comes from an unlikely place: The State Department.

A Trump administration official who’s in charge of protocol decisions on foreign soil resigned abruptly just before President Trump’s visit to Japan, Bloomberg News reported.

State Department Chief of Protocol Sean Lawler’s resignation comes amid accusations that he intimidated employees and carried a whip around the office, a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. The department’s inspector general may open a probe into the accusations, according to Bloomberg.

President Trump likely won’t bat an eye over the resignation. According to the people who spoke to Bloomberg, Trump doesn’t like Lawler and has “repeatedly asked why he still worked at the White House,” in Bloomberg’s words.

Lawler’s role is confirmed by the U.S. Senate and his responsibilities are considered  similar to those of an ambassador.

So, the protocol  honcho carried a whip around the office. I wonder if he wore bondage regalia or a cowboy outfit a la Lash LaRue?

Holy pulp fiction lagniappe, Batman.

This undiplomatic story gives an entirely meaning to the term Foggy Bottom. Ouch.

I whipped through a Ranker list of songs with whip in the title and decided to keep it in the Rolling Stones family:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Every Picture Tells A Story

The Sorrows Of The King by Henri Matisse.

It’s a solemn day in New Orleans: Dr. John’s memorial service and second line are later today. There was already an informal, impromptu second line but this is the real deal. Rest in peace, Mac. We’ll miss you.

The news has been relentlessly bleak of late, which is why I’ve turned my attention to the New Orleans Pelicans success in the recent NBA draft. Zion Williamson seems to be a real game changer. While I’m uncertain if he’ll be the next LeBron James, he may be the next Charles Barkley. We needed some good news after the way Anthony Davis pouted his way out of town. New Pels honcho, David Griffin, took the Lakers to the cleaners in trading away AD and seems to have drafted and traded wisely. This pre-draft tweet sums things up quite well:

Here’s hoping the Zion era doesn’t end like the Baron Davis, Chris Paul or Anthony Davis eras. That concludes the inside New Orleans basketball portion of the Saturday post.

I’m “I remember when Rod Stewart was a respected artist and critics darling” years old. This week’s theme song was the title track of Stewart’s 1971 commercial breakthrough album. Every Picture Tells A Story was written by Rod Stewart and Ron Wood. It’s the opening track of one of the best albums of the 1970’s. Unfortunately, Rod the Mod threw it all way artistically when he moved to Los Angeles and released the shitty “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” and other horrendous hits. I hope I didn’t give anyone an earworm.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the original and a live medley of Too Bad and Every Picture Tells A Story. The Faces are the backing band in both instances and, as always, they rock hard.

Now that you’ve got the picture, let’s hop into one of those prop planes and fly to the break. I’m reluctant to say jump because I don’t want to bail out on y’all.

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The Fog Of History: Semantic Antics

Choosing sides between Liz Cheney and Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez isn’t difficult. The latter called Trump’s migrant detention centers, concentration camps, and the former denounced this characterization. It’s a bit rich coming from a woman whose father is a torture fan but that’s life in the Trump era. It’s a theatre of the absurd more confusing than the crazy house/hall of mirrors scene in The Lady From Shanghai:

There’s a nightmare of the Trump regime’s creation at our Southern border. I’m glad it’s back in the spotlight but the semantic antics on the right are diverting attention onto their current bete noire: AOC. The implication is that calling a concentration camp what it actually is makes AOC some sort of Holocaust denier/minimizer; a David Irving with better dance moves. This is, of course, toxic nonsense.

Many scholars of the period have pointed out the difference between Nazi concentration camps and death camps. One could justly call the camps in which Japanese American citizens were unjustly detained concentration camps. This circular discussion reminds me of an absurd scene in another classic 1940’s film, To Be Or Not To Be:

The bottom line is that the United States government is holding migrants in camps wherein conditions are so appalling that they’ve resulted in 24 deaths. Adding horrifying insult to egregious injury is that children are being separated from their parents; in many instances permanently. That’s what matters, not what you call the camps. Words are important but people’s lives are infinitely more so.

Adding to the crazy house aspect of this debate is that babies are being locked in cages in the name of the rule of law. It’s beyond hypocritical coming from an administration that’s engaged in obstruction of justice on myriad fronts. It’s a small leap from myriad to the hall of mirrors in the crazy house.

Crazy House Mirror Maze

Image by Greg Biermann.

There are three articles about the Cheney-AOC debate that I highly recommend:

Dahlia Lithwick & Susan Mathews: The AOC-Liz Cheney “Concentration Camp” Fight Might Just Be A Distraction.

Andrea Pitzer:  How The Trump Administration’s Border Camps Fit Into The History Of Concentration Camps.

Eric Levtiz: With Trump’s Migrant Camps, The History We Should Fear Repeating Is Our Own.

Levitz issues a reminder about America’s inglorious history at our Southern border:

…progressives shouldn’t need to invoke the Holocaust to place migrant-detention centers in their proper context. The border separating the United States from lands dominated by nonwhite peoples has been a site of white-nationalist violence since the founding of our republic. America’s southern border is itself an artifact of a war of conquest that our government launched against Mexico — an invasion that Ulysses S. Grant called “one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation.” According to General Winfield Scott, commander of U.S. forces during that war, American troops committed atrocities against Mexican civilians so egregious they would “make Heaven weep, & every American, of Christian morals blush for his country. Murder, robbery, & rape on mothers & daughters, in the presence of the tied up males of the families, have been common along the Rio Grande.” In the decades that followed, Klansmen, citizen’s militias, and the uniformed officers of the Texas Rangers regularly lynched Latinos whom they regarded as invaders or threats to America’s racial order and purity. This is the history that Trumpism emerged from; these are the atrocities it threatens to repeat. Before Americans likened the violence at our borders to the Nazis, the Nazis likened their conquest of Eastern Europe to the violence at our frontiers.

History has a funny way of repeating itself although the results themselves are rarely funny ha-ha. We’re currently trapped in a crazy house hall of mirrors and blinded by the fog of history. All the semantic antics in the world will not change that; only the voters can. Make it so.

Pondering the wingnutty reaction to AOC has given me an earworm. The last word goes to Bryan Ferry:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Right Place, Wrong Time

Swing Landscape by Stuart Davis.

I finished this post before hearing the terrible news about Our Della Street. I usually apply another layer of polish before publishing but I wasn’t feeling it. If it’s disjointed, so be it. Apologies to our late night Odds & Sods readers, I wanted my Della tribute to be at the top until 8-ish. She would have insisted.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming:

A wee cool front hit New Orleans this week. It’s still hot but not as muggy. It’s nice to step outside without breaking into an insta-sweat. It’s a minor triumph but we’ll take what we can get. It will be gone just in time for the weekend. So it goes.

The big local story comes from St. Tammany Parish. It used to be country but morphed into white flight suburbia in the late 20th Century. It’s the most Republican parish in the Gret Stet and its residents are wont to lecture us depraved city folk about morals and crime. They should knock it off. Former St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain was arrested this week on rape and incest charges. He spent several nights in the jail he ran for 20 years. Schadenfreude thy name is Adrastos.

I still have the late Dr. John on my mind so this week’s theme song is his biggest hit: Right Place, Wrong Time. He wrote it for his 1973 album In The Right Place, which was something of a New Orleans musical summit meeting. It was produced by Allen Toussaint and The Meters were Mac’s backing band on the album.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the original studio recording and a 1996 teevee performance with Eric Clapton.

I’m desitively confused by this song. I actually called it Right Time, Wrong Place when discussing Our Mac with my barber the other day. Mac’s penchant for malaprops seems to be contagious even for a man of my edumaction. Let’s jump to the break before I get even more tongue twisted.

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Gangster Love

I’ve had a lot of fun during the Trump era comparing the Insult Comedian and his minions to a variety of gangster movies and teevee shows: from The Sopranos to The Untouchables to The Godfather. I’ve also written about Trump’s ties to the real Mafia in a post wherein I gave him his wise guy nickname, Don Donaldo, Il Comico Insulto.

It turns out that one of the most treacherous and blood-stained real life gangsters of all, Whitey Bulger, was an ardent Trump supporter. I’m not surprised: Tony Soprano and Paulie Walnuts dug W’s war on terror, after all.

NBC News got ahold of some prison era correspondence between Bulger and one of the jurors who convicted him. I am not making this up. Here are some Trump related passages:

In several handwritten letters shared with NBC News, Bulger expressed gushing praise for Trump, offering rave reviews of the president’s foreign policy and combative relationship with the media.

“Trump is tough and fights back instead of bowing down to pressure — and caving in to press!” Bulger wrote in August 2018. “U.S. agrees with him press attacking and his reaction increases his popularity — He has my vote so far.”

“History may show Trump was the man of the hour,” Bulger wrote in a different letter earlier that month. “Feel China respects him and hesitant to try to bully him.”

<SNIP>

The legendary gangster, who was beaten to death inside a West Virginia prison cell last fall, was an ardent Trump supporter and fan of conservative media figures such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, according to the letters shared with NBC News.

“I get some strange mail at times — a grandmother from Kansas — hates Trump wants him ‘impeached,'” Bulger wrote in one letter. “She assumes I hate him? Why Because I’m in prison?”

The missive goes on to reference the allegations that Trump paid off two women with whom he had extramarital affairs. The aging gangster wrote that he believed Trump was a changed man and would never, for instance, engage in a romantic encounter with an intern in the Oval Office.

“My bet is he’s happy with present wife and settled down,” Bulger says in the letter. “No way would he wind up in Oval Office with a Monica Lewinsky — That was a scandal! Same media that attacks Trump would cover up for Bill Clinton.”

Bulger also railed against former special counsel Robert Mueller. An assistant U.S. attorney in Boston in the 1980s, Mueller went on to lead the FBI at a time when it was grappling with a sensational scandal involving agents protecting mob leaders like Bulger.

“Sorry to hear Trump is being boxed in by so many,” Bulger wrote last August.

“Trump is experiencing what Mueller and company can orchestrate,” Bulger said in a different letter from September. “[Mueller] should observe biblical saying – ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.'”

I’m not sure why anyone should be surprised that Bulger *hated* the FBI with whom he co-operated for years, then pursued him until his capture in 2011. In his lamster days, he spent some time hiding out in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. I wondered if he pretended to be a Saints fan?

Like most modern gangsters, Whitey identified with the political right. The days of Democratic hoodlums like Frank Costello and Meyer Lansky are behind us and I’m fine with that. Why wouldn’t Whitey identify with his fellow gangster, Don Donaldo Il Comico Insulto? They had a lot in common even if one of them was a Red Sox fan and the other a Yankee rooter.

It’s a pity that Bulger didn’t live to see this year’s Red Sox visiting the White House controversy. It’s obvious he would have been down with the white boys who went and hard on manager Alex Cora and those who stayed away. They didn’t call him Whitey for nothing.

I have a sudden urge to re-watch, The Departed, Martin Scorsese’s fictionalized version of part of the Whitey Bulger story. What dude wouldn’t love having Jack Nicholson play him? I could have called this post Life Imitates The Departed but chose not to because Whitey Bulger’s story is an epic tale of murder, mayhem, and mendacity. Even Black Mass doesn’t quite do him justice. It was one of the last good movies Johnny Depp made. I reviewed it as part of a genuinely epic 2015 Odds & Sods post. End of self-plug.

Like Speaker Pelosi, I would be thrilled if the Current Occupant emulated his devoted follower, Whitey Bulger, and died in prison. It’s a possibility if he isn’t re-elected in 2020. Let’s make it so.

The last word goes to Stephen Stills with the song that inspired this post title:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Estimated Prophet

Le Cirque by Henri Matisse.

It was a difficult week in New Orleans. In addition to the passing of Dr. John, we lost Chef Leah Chase who died at the age of 96. Her family’s Creole eatery, Dooky Chase’s, has fed presidents, civil rights leaders, and freedom riders as well as the hoi polloi since 1941. A reminder: feeding an integrated group such as the freedom riders was against the law in the Jim Crow Era. Chef Leah did it anyway. After her death, Picayune columnist Jarvis DeBerry wrote a piece about Chef Leah’s role in the Civil Rights movement. She didn’t scare easily, not even when a bomb was thrown at her Orleans Avenue restaurant.

As she aged, Chef Leah was the smiling, welcoming face of this Treme institution but she never stopped cooking. In recent years, she was a sort of secular saint in our community; something most would find burdensome but she wore it lightly. She led a long and eventful life. She will be missed.

Last month in this space I mentioned the Krewe of Nyx’s hare-brained scheme to stage a summer parade. The city government has finally responded. Here’s how Gambit editor and Adrastos crony Kevin Allman characterized it on the tweeter tube:

This week’s theme song, Estimated Prophet, was written by Bob Weir and John Perry Barlow in 1976. It was tested onstage many times before it became the opening track on one of the Dead’s better studio albums, Terrapin Station.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the studio original, then a boss reggae cover by Burning Spear.

Now that we’ve visited the burning shore of California, let’s jump through a hoop of fire to the break. Hopefully, we won’t get scorched.

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