Category Archives: Film

Life Imitates The Godfather: Paulie, Won’t See Him No More

Clemenza and Paulie Gatto in The Godfather

There’s something about the Manafort-Trump relationship that makes me think of gangster movies. Imagine that. During Manafort’s trial, the Insult Comedian rhapsodized about Al Capone as a stand-up guy, so naturally I wrote a post called Life Imitates The Untouchables: Scarface Paul Manafort?

I’ve tried to avoid Godfather references in order to stand out from the mobster movie analogy crowd. And I realize the Clemenza-Paulie Gatto analogy is imperfect because Paulie G was whacked for betraying his Don whereas Paulie M first betrayed, then stood by Don Donaldo Il Comico Insulto. I should apologize for that long sentence but it would break my momentum. I don’t mess around with either Jim or Big Mo. The Seventies references are really flying today.

Now that I’ve Godfathered the hell out of you, let’s turn our attention to the Manafort at hand. After weeks of quiet, the Manafort case has exploded. Team Mueller pulled out of its plea deal with Manafort because of his incessant lying. Imagine that. Then, it got messier when the Failing New York Times broke the story that Manafort’s lawyer has been briefing Trump’s lawyers about their discussions with Team Mueller. There *was* a co-operation agreement between Teams Manafort and Trump but such deals usually end with a plea bargain. This is sleazier than hell but may not be illegal. It may, however, be actionable by the relevant bar association. Stay tuned.

Making matters even stranger is that mob buster turned wartime consigliere Rudy Giuliani was the source for the bombshell NYT story. We’ve gone from Gatto to Gotti in a heartbeat, a lovebeat. It’s unclear if Rudy did this out of an inability to NOT brag about the contacts or because he’s a stupid twat who thinks this helps his client’s case. It does not. It makes Trump look guilty. But Team Trump agrees with Tricky Dick:

This gambit is classic Manafort. He’s an expert at playing both ends against the middle. It’s why he’s in the jam he’s in today. But at least Trumpy loves him again.

I agree with those who think Manafort is playing for a pardon. He’s also playing the long game. Even for Trump, it’s politically impossible to pardon Manafort before the 2020 election. In his more lucid moments, the artist formerly known as Mayor Combover has admitted that a Manafort pardon would be disastrous politically. Of course, his idiot client is quite capable of impulsively issuing one just to blow shit up. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.

There are many Manafortian theories out there. Former US Attorney, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, and MSNBC legal eagle, Harry Litman, has written a must read op-ed analyzing them. Unlike Litman, I believe that Manafort has a legitimate fear of being whacked by Russian spooks or wise guys in jail. It’s why he’s in solitary. It’s a plot line straight out of  The Americans.

The other Manafort news involves a story in the Guardian describing three meetings between him and albino devil Julian Assange. Many have discounted the story because of its sourcing. It *is* possible that the Guardian got played but the suspicion of the story strikes me as rank provincialism. The Guardian is one of the world’s great newspapers so its stories should be accorded the same respect as those in the NYT or WaPo. Besides, its sourcing is quite similar to many Woodstein Watergate stories. I also think the Steele Dossier implicitly supports the story. Stay tuned.

I’m used to making Watergate or Iran-Contra references about the DC scandal of the day. I am, however, unused to comparing our politics to gangster movies. What can I tell ya? I call them as I see them.

The last word goes to Corleone Caporegime Peter Clemenza:

Sorry for the last word fib, but I would be remiss in my duties as a mob movie maven if I didn’t post Clemenza’s lines after Paulie G met his maker:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Holiday

The Stillness Of Time by Salvador Dali

I originally thought I’d be able to write a full-blown Odds & Sods post this week. I was wrong. We spent Turkey Day pinballing from New Orleans to Baton Rouge and back again. Unlike Tommy, I’m not a deaf, dumb, and blind Pinball Wizard but I *am* stiff and sore from sitting in the car in heavy traffic and our pre and post Saints game hikes.

The Saintsgiving game was a bigger rout than the 31-17 final score indicates. The Saints-Falcons rivalry is intense but this isn’t the Dirty Birds’ year. It belongs to the New Orleans Saints. This is a special team: they’re fun to watch and have fun playing. The players are as likely to break out in random acts of dancing as the fans. This Saints team seems determined to put the fun back in the No Fun League.

The fans do their bit to support the team by getting LOUD. Check out the decibel level when the Falcons had the ball:

That’s Who concert loud, y’all. I kept waiting for them to play Long Live Rock There was the obligatory We Will Rock You sighting (sounding?) as well.

This week’s Saturday post may be truncated but we do have a theme song as well as a follow-up by the same artist. Ray Davies wrote Holiday for the klassic Kinks album Muswell Hillbillies. The follow-up comes from the Kinks underrated concept album, Soap Opera. Every time I hear Holiday Romance, I visualize Astaire and Rogers gliding across the dance floor.

That’s it for this abbreviated edition of Saturday Odds & Sods. I opened the post with a Salvador Dali painting. Let’s close things out with a picture of Dali and Alfred Hitchcock who are presumably discussing the dream sequence conceived by the artist for Spellbound.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Raven

I’m still contemplating my McRaven/Poe pun from Monday afternoon. It’s why this week’s album cover is the soundtrack of Roger Corman’s 1963 production called The Raven. It’s not an adaptation, it’s inspired by the Poe poem.

The Raven features Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, and Peter Lorre as mad scientists and a young Jack Nicholson in a supporting role. What’s not to love about that cast?

The soundtrack was composed and conducted by Les Baxter. We seem to have gone from nevermore to nevertheless.

 

Trump’s Raking, California’s Burning

There have been so many pinch me moments since Donald Trump became president*. The latest came with his bizarre response to the California wildfires. As always, this fucking moron thinks he knows everything when, in fact, he knows absolutely nothing. It’s always made worse by the refusal of anyone around him to tell him when he’s wrong, which is more often than not. The only Yes-men I’ve ever cared for were Anderson and Squire.

About the featured image. I felt it was important to translate it to the original Astoria-Queens dialect. If I could line up Joe Pesci for a reading, I would. My cousin Vinny knew a thing or two about da utes.

Back to Donald’s Excellent California Misadventure. Make sure you click on the embedded video in the tweet:

There’s just so much to unpack from Trump’s latest big bag of stupid. First, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said he NEVER said anything about raking to Trump. Second, Finland is a small-ish, cold, and wet country. California is vast and dry from an epic drought. My home state is inherently prone to wildfires and all the raking in the world will not end that. Additionally, most of the forests there are managed by the Federal, not state government. But when did the Insult Comedian ever let the facts get in the way of making him look stupid?

When did da president* from Noo Yawk become an expert in forestry? Has he ever even wielded a rake? Perhaps he’s thinking of the kind of rake described in this tweet:

I attempted to post that tweet at a rakish angle but it proved impossible. Unlike the Current Occupant, I know when I don’t know something, you know.

One of Trump’s few talents is his eerie ability to make everything about himself. In this instance, it’s a horrific talent: 76 people have died and over 1000 are missing as of this writing. The Camp fire is a bona fide tragedy that all the raking or Smokey Bear bashing in the world will not solve. Yes, I said Smokey Bear bashing:

I would loved to have been a fly on the wall when Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsome discussed the presidential visit.  I thought I saw Jerry grit his teeth when Trumpberius went on about raking. The temptation to put the business end of a rake where the moon don’t shine must have been overwhelming. I applaud the outgoing Governor for his restraint. It must have been hard for Jerry: he doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

Nero had his fiddle, Trump has his rake. Dave Alvin has the last word:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Afterglow

San Giorgio Maggiore At Dusk by Claude Monet

The weird weather continues in New Orleans. We seem to have skipped fall and gone straight to winter. One day we ran the AC, the next the heater. As you saw yesterday, the cats are happy. They love blankets and space heaters. I could do without either. I hate the cold; a stance befitting someone who has lived most of their life in California and Louisiana.

The other down side of cold weather NOLA-style is that public places crank up the heat. I strolled to the grocery store the other day dressed for the great outdoors, I returned a sweaty mess since I had to walk fast to avoid the Valence Street rooster. I’m not a fan of chickens and this one is on the aggressive side.  I’d rather eat them than dodge them.

This week’s theme song was written by Tony Banks in 1976 for Genesis’ last pure prog album, Wind & Wuthering. Afterglow is a drop dead gorgeous song that closes the album as well as an era. It’s the last Genesis album featuring lead guitar player Steve Hackett who was missed almost as much by the band’s fans as Peter Gabriel.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the Genesis original followed by the Classic Rock String Quartet.

Now that we’re afterglowing, let’s jump to the break. I promise a soft landing.

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Campaign Notes: Concessions & Patience

It seemed only fitting to begin this post with a visual pun. Who among us doesn’t like that kind of concession? There was, however, the time I ate way too many Milk Duds whilst seeing Boyz In The Hood, a great movie that left me with a great bellyache.

Where the hell was I? Oh yeah, the aftermath of the 2018 midterms. One lesson I’ve drawn from them is that candidates in close races should *never* concede early. His subsequently retracted concession has left Florida’s Andrew Gillum in an awkward position in his ongoing electoral dispute with Trump Mini-Me Ron DeSantis. Bill Nelson may be dull but he was wily enough to refuse to concede, which has left him in a stronger political position than the charismatic Tallahassee Mayor.

An obvious lesson of the midterms is that the Republicans are the party of voter fuckery and mendacious fraud claims. Democrats should be the “COUNT EVERY VOTE” party. That’s why early concessions are for the birds. What difference does it make if a candidate concedes on election night? Never forget how that came back to bite Al Gore in the ass. There were even recount tchotchkes:

Another lesson to be drawn from the midterms is that voters, pundits, and pols need to learn patience, which is extra-difficult in the age of instant gratification. We all want things to be clear when Kornacki is working the big board on election night. The way votes are cast and counted in 2018 requires us to take a deep breath and be patient. Krysten Sinema’s victory was not confirmed until nearly a week later, which resulted in the coolest concession of the cycle featuring  a dog named Boomer:

Martha could afford to be gracious. She’s widely expected to McSally forth and be appointed to replace Jon Kyl in the late John McCain’s Senate seat. I guess they couldn’t find another guy named John or Jon.

Back to the virtue of patience. I, too, was impatient in calling my election wrap up post, Split Decision. It was instead a slow motion blue wave. House Democrats are on target to gain 38-40 seats, which is the most the party has gained since the 1974 post-Watergate wave. The worst case scenario in the Senate is a loss of two instead of the feared 4-6. Democrats are on track to win the national popular vote by 7+ points, which tops 2006 as well as the GOP wave years of 1994 and 2010. Absent Gerrymandering and Republican election fuckery, it would have been a slow motion tsunami.

Unlike some observers, I am more interested in the progress of the incoming 116th Congress than in speculating about who will run for president in 2020. Unfortunately, the MSM is more interested in horse races than in the reform agenda already being offered by House Democrats.

After two very grim years, these are heady times for Democrats. My fingers are crossed that they won’t blow it with foolish rebellions against the leadership. We’re in a national crisis. This is no time to replace Nancy Smash with a rookie leader. Do House Democrats need to figure out a long-term leadership succession plan? Absolutely, but now is not the time. It’s time to take the battle to the Republicans, not form a circular firing squad.

As a concession to the beginning of the post, let’s all go to the lobby:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Running On Empty

Carnival Tryptich by Max Beckmann

It’s been an uneasy week in the Big Easy. There’s much outrage at the local utility company, Entergy, for hiring actors to attend City Council meetings. The company has made it worse by continuing to lie about it. It’s called Astroturfing, it’s not illegal it’s just sleazy. The more Entergy lies, the longer the story persists. Lying seems to be contagious in the age of Trump. Knock it off, y’all.

In other Gret Stet news, we’re voting on a constitutional amendment to end non-unanimous jury verdicts. Louisiana and Oregon are the only two states that have this system and we’re in a race for repeal. The odds are good that voters will end the practice next Tuesday: there’s broad bi-partisan support for the change. It’s good when the Gret Stet good guys win one. In fact, it’s great. Hopefully, that Tony the Tiger-ish sentiment will help LSU when they play Alabama tonight. Geaux Tigers.

This week’s theme song, Running On Empty, was written and recorded by Jackson Browne in 1977. It’s been used in two movies: Forrest Gump and gave Sidney Lumet’s great 1988 movie its title. We’ll have more about *that* Running On Empty after the jump.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. Both feature brilliant lap steel playing by the great David Lindley of whom I’ll have more to say at the end of the post. Holy previews, Batman.

We may be low on gas but there’s enough in the tank to jump to the break.

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Pulp Fiction Thursday: Devil In A Blue Dress

I was green with envy upon learning that Athenae had met the great crime fiction writer Walter Mosly. It inspired me to bend the rules of my pulp fiction universe and do a more recent book: 1991 in this instance. I love me some Easy Rawlins, y’all.

Mosley’s terrific tome was made into a swell movie starring Denzel Washington:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Season Of The Witch

The Witch of Endor by William Blake

We’ve finally had some cool weather in New Orleans. I considered devising some sort of ceremony for turning off the AC, but I kept it simple. Besides, I didn’t want to scare the cats.

It’s been a difficult week, which is why I plan to keep this post on the short and sweet side. Make that short and snarky. I don’t want to ruin my well-deserved reputation as a curmudgeon.

This week’s theme song, Season of the Witch, was written in 1966 by Donovan Leitch and Shawn Phillips. It has been covered a bazillion times, which gave me many versions to choose from. I like choice, it’s cherce as Spencer Tracy said in Pat and Mike.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: the Donovan original followed by a Richard Thompson cover that was recorded for the NBC show, Crossing Jordan. I recall watching the episode it appeared in and nearly falling off the couch in surprise at hearing RT on a network show. Finally, Lou Rawls brings some soul to the proceedings.

Now that we’ve gotten seasonal, it’s time to make like a witch, jump on a broomstick and fly to the break. I may not have magical powers but I have a broom.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: To Keep My Love Alive

The Doubtful Guest by Edward Gorey

The weird weather continues apace in New Orleans. Our fall tease lasted three whole days, followed by a warm-up and a mini-monsoon last Monday, Moday. No wonder John Phillips found that day untrustworthy. Dr. A drove us home  from a krewe meeting during the deluge and engaged in some nifty puddle avoidance. It’s not supposed to rain that much or that hard in October. Climate change? What climate change?

This week’s theme song was written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart in 1943 for a revival of their 1927 musical, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s CourtTo Keep My Love Alive is best described as a chipper murder ballad. Hart’s lyrics detail the manifold ways in which the protagonist bumped off her 15 husbands in order not to cheat on them. It was the last song Larry Hart wrote before his death later that year at the age of 48.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: Ella Fitzgerald from the Rodgers and Hart Songbook and the preternaturally perky Blossom Dearie.

My favorite stanza is the final one:

Sir Atherton indulged in fratricide,
He killed his dad and that was patricide
One night I stabbed him by my mattress-side
To keep my love alive.
Larry Hart’s love of puns and word play is one reason why I prefer him to Rodgers’ other writing partner.  Hammerstein could never have written those lyrics. I do, however, love his first name: Oscar.
Now that we’ve compared and contrasted Hart and Hammerstein, it’s time to jump to the break. Be careful which mattress-side you land on.

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Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Vanishing American

The Vanishing American was an atypical work for Zane Gray. He was best known as the author of cowboy oriented Western novels. But he always had a soft spot for Native Americans. Here’s how Goodreads describes this book:

 Considered one of Zane Grey’s best novels, The Vanishing American was originally published in serialized form in the Ladies Home Journal in 1922. It reveals Grey’s empathy for the Native American and his deep concern for the future survival of that culture.

It is the story of Nophaie, a young Navajo, who is picked up by a party of whites at the age of seven. White parents bring the child up as though he were their own, eventually sending him to a prestigious Eastern college where he distinguishes himself by his outstanding athletic skill. The Vanishing American is about Nophaie’s struggle to find a place in society. On a larger scale it is about all Native Americans and their future in America.

Without further adieu, here are two covers:

Baseball historian John Thorn wrote a piece about the book because the main character seems to be based on Jim Thorpe.

Finally, the two film versions of the novel treat it like your basic Zane Grey oater.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Late In The Evening

Father Mississippi by Walter Inglis Anderson.

It’s finally showing signs of cooling off in New Orleans even if it appears to be a cruel autumnal tease. The cool front helped keep Hurricane Michael away from us. It was a beast of a storm that battered the Florida panhandle and provoked PTSD flashbacks in the New Orleans area. Best wishes to everyone in the affected areas.

In more savory local news, Advocate food writer Ian McNulty wrote a piece about the surfeit of new restaurants in the city. Ian is worried that we’re losing the thread with so many eateries dependent on the tourist trade. New Orleans didn’t become a great food city with tourist traps but with restaurants serving locals. One Oceana Grill is enough. Just ask Gordon Ramsay:

You didn’t have to take that so personally, Chef Ramsay. Piss off out of my post.

This week’s theme song is appropriate because I usually post Saturday Odds & Sods at the stroke of midnight. Some of my regular readers look for it then. One would hope they’d have something better to do.

Paul Simon wrote Late In The Evening in 1980 for his One-Trick Pony album. Simon also wrote and acted in a movie of the same title, which sank without a trace. I always thought horses could swim…

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. The original hit single followed by a scorching hot live version from 1992’s Born At The Right Time tour.

I used a painting by New Orleans/Ocean Springs, MS artist Walter Anderson as the featured image because he famously tied himself to a tree during Hurricane Betsy. We grow them eccentric in these parts. If things had gone wrong, it would have given a whole new meaning to the term tie-dyed.  If that pun doesn’t make you want to jump to the break, nothing will.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Volunteers

Two Flags by Jasper Johns

It’s still stupidly hot in New Orleans; summer hot. And we had the third warmest September in recorded history. There are rumors of a cool front next weekend but the relentless heat is putting a damp damper on the local festival season. It typically starts the first weekend of October because that’s when it cools off. Not this year, apparently. Climate change? What climate change? End of weather related rant.

The Kavanaugh Mess ate my week, so let’s move on to this week’s theme song. Volunteers was written by Marty Balin and Paul Kantner. It was the title track of Jefferson Airplane’s classic 1969 album; you know, the one with the pb&j sammich gatefold. Volunteers has an interesting origin story: Marty was awakened by a truck one morning with Volunteers of America painted on the side. A protest song was born. Marty Balin died last Saturday at the age of 76. There’s an extended tribute to Marty at the end of the post.

We have two versions of Volunteers for your listening pleasure. The original studio track and a live version from Woodstock.

“Look what’s happening out in the streets. Got a revolution.”

Now that we’ve revolted in a revolting way, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Got To Get You Into My Life

Landscape Lumber No. 3 by David Hockney

It has been a difficult week. I was so exhausted from writing about the Kavanaugh mess that I briefly considered pulling the plug on this week’s extravaganza. I decided it was best to muddle through and provide a modicum of comic relief to my readers. That choice was made easier by the Flake Gambit, which at the very least kicks the can down the road a week. Besides, I like beer and cannot recall if I’ve ever been black-out drunk. Have you? Holy crap, I sound like Judge Bro.

This week’s theme song is credited to Lennon-McCartney but is Pure-D Macca. Got To Get You Into My Life first appeared on my favorite Beatles album, Revolver. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the Beatles and the equally fabulous cover by Earth Wind & Fire.

Now that we’ve had some Macca therapy, let’s meet on the other side of the jump.

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War Of The Gosars: “Stalin Would Be Proud”

In between obsessing about Rod Rosenstein’s unfiring and the Kavanaugh mess, I’ve continued to monitor the fight for the House of Representatives.

I love campaign ads; at least the first time I see them. The ad of the year ran in Arizona. It features the siblings of wingnut dentist/Congresscritter Paul Gosar. They are NOT supporting their brother’s re-election bid:

Ouch. Dr/Congressman/MAGA Maggot Gosar was not amused.

I’m not sure what’s Stalinist about affordable health care for rural Arizonans. At least Gosar  didn’t call for his siblings to be liquidated. Now that would be Stalinist.

The fact that Gosar is a dentist tickles my fancy. That’s why Steve Martin gets the last word:

Another Fine Kavanaugh Mess: The Big Bluff

Remember when Senate Republicans were in disarray on the Kavanaugh nomination? That was so Monday. They’ve moved on to the lie, deny, and misdirect phase of the nomination process.

Last night Lawrence O’Donnell scorched Chuck Grassley and Orrin Hatch for their blatant hypocrisy:

A quick summary: Grassley and Hatch demanded that the FBI re-open its background check into Clarence Thomas to investigate Anita Hill’s charges. The Bush White House ordered the FBI to proceed. It took only a few days. The notion that checking out the credibility of Dr, Blasey’s story is “not the FBI’s thing” is another lie from a GOP ruthlessly determined to win at all costs. It’s what they do. Remember Merrick Garland.

A look at the facts behind the Thomas-Hill mess shows that Dr. Blasey is being treated worse than Anita Hill before she appeared before the Judiciary Committee. It would be hard to top the lurid questions of Hatch and former Senators Specter and Simpson. I would hope that current GOPers would at least be able to pronounce Long Dong Silver correctly. In 1991, Hatch referred to that porn performer alternately as Long Don or John Silver. I guess he was thinking of this dude:

There’s an interesting profile of Christine Blasey Ford  in the Failing New York Times. She comes off as an impressive and accomplished woman. That is exactly why Senate Republicans are trying their damnedest to make it impossible for her to testify publicly. These are the same Senators behind the Merrick Garland mess, so their protestations of fairness and compassion ring hollow.

Senate GOPers do not want a FBI background checkup because they’re afraid Brett Kavanaugh will lie to the FBI, which is a crime; just ask Mike Flynn. Kavanaugh has already lied to the Senate, after all.

The mere fact that Dr. Blasey is willing to speak to the FBI enhances her credibility Besides, the only time people make up sexual assault allegations is when there’s something in it for them, and that’s still exceedingly rare. There’s nothing but heartache, humiliation, and harassment in this for Dr. Blasey.

On a human level, I understand why Christine Blasey Ford would not want to testify. I hope she does because the rushed GOP timeline/deadline is a big bluff. Here’s how Slate’s Jim Newell, who is one of the savviest observers of Congress, ended his piece this morning:

Republican leaders didn’t want Ford to testify in a public hearing in the first place, and they still don’t. Her credible testimony, with or without additional witnesses or background investigations, is the one and only fatal threat to Kavanaugh’s nomination. As one very prominent Republican said Wednesday morning, “if she shows up and makes a credible showing, that will be very interesting and we’ll have to make a decision.”

I would hate to be in Christine Blasey Ford’s shoes right now. Her attorney’s request for the FBI to look into the Kavanaugh mess is not only reasonable, but is in line with the Hill precedent. Public testimony will be painful BUT if she folds her hand, Kavanaugh will be confirmed. It’s unclear that the Republicans have a backup plan if she agrees to Grassley’s extortionate terms. It’s up to her. I hope she calls their big bluff.

That concludes another post chock-full-o-old movie references. I had hoped to post an image of Laurel and Hardy cutting neckties but could not find one. This will have to do:

Substitute Orrin Hatch or Chuck Grassley for Ollie and you get the idea.

Here’s hoping the last laugh will be on Senate Republicans:

UPDATE: Team Blasey Ford has called the GOP’s bluff. The fluidity index, if there is such a thing, on this story remains high.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Cape Fear

Hurricane Florence has me thinking of North Carolina. When I heard a reference to Cape Fear on teevee, I knew what to select for this feature.

John D. MacDonald was among the best hard-boiled crime fiction writers of his era. The book was originally titled The Executioners. It was renamed Cape Fear in Hollywood because that’s where the story’s climax takes place.  It’s one of the few times that movie people improved upon a book title. Subsequent editions of The Executioners all bore the title Cape Fear.

One of the few movie remakes that’s worth a damn is Martin Scorsese’s 1991 version of the original 1962 Peck-Mitchum film. Here’s the poster for Marty’s movie:

 

Not Everything Sucks: Cate Blanchett Edition

I’ve been madly in love with her since Veronica Guerin (if you’re thinking a lot about press freedom these days, go watch that NOW), but between this and Ocean’s 8 it’s become very special recently: 

Like you, I have heard the gut-wrenching accounts. Stories of grave torture, of women brutally violated, people who have had their loved ones killed before their eyes. Children who have seen their grandparents locked in houses that were set alight.

I am a mother, and I saw my children in the eyes of every single refugee child I met. I saw myself in every parent. How can any mother endure seeing her child thrown into a fire?

Their experiences will never leave me.

People will occasionally ask on Twitter for a list of celebrities who aren’t garbage and she’s always on mine.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Too Late To Turn Back Now

Parade by Jacob Lawrence

It was Katrinaversary week along the Gulf Coast. I wrote about that on the day itself. Nuff said. In related news, former Nagin henchman Greg Meffert aka Muppet crawled out from whatever stone he’s been hiding under since testifying against C Ray. He has a new book out, which I will be reviewing for the Bayou Brief next week. It’s bound to be unintentional comedy gold.

This week’s theme song, Too Late To Turn Back Now, was written by Eddie Cornelius. It was a monster hit in 1972 hitting #2 on the Billboard charts. It’s featured in the new Spike Lee joint; more about that later.

We have 2 versions for your listening pleasure. The original hit song by the Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose and a reggae-fied cover by the Chi-Lites.

It’s too late to turn back now, which is why we’re jumping to the break. Make that falling…

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First Draft Potpourri: Of Violence, Wise Guys & Peckerwoods

I have a dream that some day soon we will have a normal news cycle. Every time I step away from the computer and/or iPhone to focus on personal and/or local news, all hell breaks loose. (It also makes me type and/or twice in one sentence, which is lazy writing.) But that’s life in the Trump era where even a news junkie like me craves a respite of dullness from the dullards running the government.

That was a long-winded of way of introducing a potpourri post. It’s the only way I can keep up with the news of day since, unlike some other bloggers, I decline to do so on the tweeter tube. Truman Capote once said of Jack Kerouac: “That’s not writing, that’s typing.” When I see a 20 part thread, my response is: That’s not writing, that’s tweeting. It’s fine for short bursts but I prefer writing to typing and/or tweeting. Uh oh, another and/or. Next thing I’ll want to fire Bruce Ohr and/or someone else…

Violence: The Insult Comedian loves scaring the shit out of people. He did it the other night during an event with evangelical supporters. Trumpy claimed that violence will ensue if Democrats win the midterms. He’s projecting once again: his supporters are the ones apt to riot. Hell, Rudy’s already promised that as a response to attempts to remove the president* from office. Bullshit: most Trumpers can barely get off the couch to find the remote. Besides they only watch Fox News so why get up at all?

Speaking of Violence,  it’s time for a good old-fashioned punch-up, glam rock style. No guns allowed, just fists.

Unfortunately Trumpberius and company are apt to agree with Ian Hunter’s lyrics:

Violence, violence, it’s the only thing that’ll make you see sense.

Back to the couch and stay there, motherfuckers. It’s time for Michael F’s image from earlier this morning to play a repeat performance:

Life Imitates Billy Bathgate: Very little scares a white-collar criminal more than hearing that their accountant has made a deal with Federal prosecutors. And (but not or) Allen Weisselberg is not just a bookkeeper, he’s the Trump Organization’s CFO. He also happens to be one of the people running the company while the boss is ruining the country.

At first I wondered if Weisselberg would be the token Trump loyalist instead of a snitch and/or rat; there I go again with the and/ors. Then I read this:

Last month, the New York State Attorney General, Barbara Underwood, sued the Trump Foundation. Weisselberg had been deposed and showed a surprising willingness to give answers that put the President in an unflattering light. In January, 2016, during Trump’s Presidential campaign, his foundation made a series of donations to veterans-advocacy organizations in Iowa that were explicitly designed to gain support for his candidacy. Weisselberg filled out the checks. In his deposition, he volunteered that the Trump Foundation had no procedures in place to insure it followed the law and that Trump himself knew of and directed Weisselberg’s participation in the scheme to pay those Iowa veterans groups. Were Weisselberg eager to protect his longtime boss, he could have answered the questions far more narrowly. It was an early hint that Weisselberg, like Cohen, may not jeopardize his own freedom to defend Trump. News that Weisselberg had accepted immunity so that he could share potentially damaging information in the Cohen case provides more support for the view that Weisselberg is ready to share whatever information he has. And he has a lot.

It increasingly appears that Trump’s downfall will be his sleazy business tactics. Holy money laundering, Batman. Allen Weisselberg knows more than the Fixer or the Pecker notwithstanding the latter’s cache of Trump dirt. Why do you think the president* has been melting down even by his own standards?

You’re probably wondering why I titled this segment Life Imitates Billy Bathgate. Here’s why: EL Docotorow’s novel is based on the life and times of Dutch Schultz nee Arthur Flegenheimer. (I’d change my name too if it was Flegenheimer. Who wants a name that sounds like phlegm?) Dutch’s numbers wizard was a guy named Otto Berman who everybody called Abbadabba. Tom Dewey’s “racket busters” considered him the linchpin to unraveling Shultz’s rackets but Lucky Luciano whacked Abbadabba before prosecutors could flip him. End of arcane mob history lesson.

In Billy Bathgate, Abbadabba Berman was the most interesting character. He mentored the title character and protected him from Flegenheimer’s unphlegmatic wrath. The movie version was not as good as the book but the cast was excellent: Dustin Hoffman played Schultz, and Steven Hill played Abbadabba. Ironies abound as Steven Hill also played the Manhattan DA in Law & Order who shares a name with one of Trump’s pursuers, Adam Schiff. I am not making this up. I even posted about the Adams when the Kaiser of Chaos was a mere birther.

In the Trump Organization’s saga, Allen Weisselberg is Abbadabba Berman. And an Abbadabba trumps a Fixer or a Pecker any day.

It was harder than hell to find pictures of either numbers wizard. I skipped the picture of Abbadabba after he was whacked. Abbadabba-doo. You knew that was coming, right?

That concludes the wise guy part of the post, let’s move on to the peckerwoods.

The Senate Building Flap: It hasn’t been a great week for Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. His deal with Chinless Mitch to let his members go home and campaign has been roundly criticized.  But he did put some points on the board when he suggested that the Richard Russell Senate office building be renamed for John McCain.

The name change should have been easy: Russell, one of the most powerful Senators of his time, was an avowed racist and white supremacist. Unlike some of his fellow Southerners, Russell never became reconciled to Civil Rights. He was a Lost Causer til the bitter end.

It appeared that the name change would sail through until some Southern GOPers expressed concerns about it. The Turtle punted it to a “bipartisan gang.” It’s unclear if members of the Russian mafia and/or La Cosa Nostra will have any input. It’s a pity that the Fixer flipped because he’d know how to set it up…

Think about it: Southern Republicans were afraid of removing the name of a Southern Democrat from a building. They’re obviously scared of alienating their white nationalist base and/or the Racist-in-Chief. They’ve lost Pecker, so they can’t afford to lose the peckerwoods.

So much for all those GOPers who have bashed reformed segregationists like Robert Byrd, Russell Long and, yes. even Richard Russell’s protegé, Lyndon Johnson.

LBJ didn’t really “threaten” Russell. He presented him with a fait accompli that obliged him to serve on the Warren Commission.

It’s time for me to stop stirring the potpourri and writing and/ors. The last word goes to Randy Newman. Some Southern Republicans are still rednecks and/or peckerwoods who “don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.”