Dr. A is more disciplined that I am. She’d been on a rather stringent diet until she came home craving a burger but not at midnight. We ordered delivery from Shake Shack in the broad daylight. I’m not sure if the Nighthawks are eating hamburgers but I wouldn’t be surprised.
This week’s theme song was written by Lowell George and Roy Estrada in 1970 for Little Feat’s eponymous debut album. It’s a long-time favorite of mine; one that I used to request when I saw the band live. They ignored my pleas. And I wrote such a lovely tribute to Paul Barrerre in 2019. Oh well, what the hell.
We have three versions of Hamburger Midnight for your listening pleasure: the studio original, a 1973 live version, and a 2014 live version with guest vocalist Vince Herman.
Little Feat’s first single was Hamburger Midnight/Strawberry Flats. Here’s the B-Side:
Now that I’ve made you flat-out peckish, let’s jump to the break.
How dare Speaker Pelosi not allow Gym Jordan to wreck the investigation? KMac selected him to turn it into a shit show. Pelosi refused to play along.
The MSM was confused by Nancy Smash’s power move so much so that KMac walked into her trap by withdrawing from the Dipshit Insurrection Select Committee. That perfects their fuck-up in refusing to participate in a 1/6 Commission over which they’d have veto power over subpoenas. Now they have no representation, influence, or power. They won’t be on teevee when the hearings air either. It was a stupid move by a stupid man. Thanks, KMac.
When hundreds of angry Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 after being incited by the president, Rep. Liz Cheney was inside with other members of congress, including Rep. Jim Jordan.
Jordan — who had supported Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen — offered to help Cheney out of the aisle.
She wasn’t having it, according to a new book.
“That fucking guy Jim Jordan. That son of a bitch,” Cheney told Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley on the phone, detailing the siege, according to I Alone Can Fix It, by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker.
“While these maniacs are going through the place, I’m standing in the aisle and he said, ‘We need to get the ladies away from the aisle. Let me help you,’ ” recalled Cheney, then the House of Representatives’ No. 3 Republican, per the book. “I smacked his hand away and told him, ‘Get away from me. You fucking did this.’ ”
I undeleted the expletives. We still have a fuck quota at First Draft even without Athenae and Jude. Fuck, yeah.
One thing I respect about the Cheneys is that they’re good haters and even better grudge holders. Liz Cheney’s hate for that fucking guy Gym Jordan runs deep.
New Orleans has never been an easy place to live. That’s why I long ago dubbed it #TFC: This Fucking City. We have great local food and culture, but city government is from hunger. Our problems never seem to go away but instead morph into something else.
You’ve all heard about Katrina and the Federal Flood but in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, it was hard to live here because of crack cocaine fueled crime and blatant police corruption. The two elements collided tragically in the Len Davis case. Davis was an NOPD officer whose side hustle was as a drug kingpin. Nice work if you can get it. Davis was brought down after orchestrating a hit on an informant, Kim Groves.
1995 was the year New Orleans experienced an epic flood the likes of which used to only accompany tropical systems. At the time, we viewed it as a once-in-a-lifetime freak event. I’m nostalgic for those innocent days.
The summer of 2021 has been free of tropical systems thus far in New Orleans. It’s been, however, among the wettest on record. I’m not just talking about our classic weather summer pattern of rain every afternoon. I’m talking about torrential rain that floods the streets and seeps into houses and businesses. It happens far too often for comfort.
It’s gotten to the point that we don’t go anywhere without checking the weather. We lost a car in a flood a few years back and would prefer to avoid a repeat performance. Being this weather-aware is a grind, the daily grind referred to in the post title. #TFC
It’s obvious that climate change is the culprit in the rise of flood-level rainfall. It’s a global, not a local phenomenon. It’s happening in places you don’t think of as flood prone such as Germany.
Hopefully, federal funds are on the way to help us with our water-based infrastructure problems. Then we’ll have to worry about the city government’s propensity to piss money away and do sloppy construction work. A good example is what happened to FEMA money earmarked to renovate the Municipal Auditorium. See my last Bayou Brief column.
Some public works programs have backfired in #TFC. The French Quarter is high ground and rarely experienced street flooding until some street work was done in the 2010’s; at least I think that’s why it floods nowadays. It’s hard to get a straight answer out of City Hall. #TFC
We’re experiencing a new wave of COVID cases. The Delta variant is striking hard. The local vaccination rate is a bit north of 60% but the statewide rate is dismal. Plus we have drive-in tourists from hot spots such as Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. I did a meme thing about that earlier this year:
I’m expecting that that the city will go back to the future with some sensible mitigation measures such as mask requirements. The Cantrell administration has been surprisingly competent on COVID related issues. That’s gotten them into trouble with those who value money over human life. We have those too in #TFC.
Don’t get me wrong. This is not an Apocalypse NO post. I love New Orleans and more likely than not will die here. I prefer that that happen later rather than sooner. Get jabbed, mask up and stop spiking the ball, y’all. This is some serious shit.
Knowing that there’s no perfect place to live, I have a healthy love-hate relationship with #TFC. I appreciate its plusses and cope with its minuses. I even think the daily grind will eventually be less onerous; at least I hope so.
The last word goes to honorary New Orleanians Little Feat:
You’re not seeing double: I did write a Saturday Odds & Sods segment about Forget The Alamo. I’m doubling down and reviewing this terrific tome by Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson, and Jason Stanford; hereinafter BTS, not to be confused with BLT or BTO. They do, however, take care of business.
To some degree Forget The Alamo answers this question: what did the authors do during their COVID lockdown? They used the time productively by grinding away on this book. They knew it would be controversial and it is: the Alamoheads are up in arms over this latest revisionist history. The Alamo myth is important to Texans and Walt Disney, John Wayne, and Lyndon Johnson brought it to the whole damn country.
If they were more self-aware, the Alamoheads would agree with this quote from John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance:
I put the quote over a picture of the Alamo as an extra twist of the Bowie knife. Everything the Alamoheads believe about what happened in 1836 is a legend. It’s the Texas creation myth that BTS call the Heroic Anglo Narrative.
BTS do an excellent job deflating the Alamo myth. The Texian rebellion against Mexico was not about freedom but about slavery. Mexico had abolished slavery and wanted it gone from the province. Anyone surprised? Everything was about slavery before the War of the Rebellion settled the issue of human bondage but not of white supremacy. It’s still with us like a pernicious tumor that defies eradication.
Tejanos have long viewed the Alamo as a symbol of white supremacy. Their voices are finally being heard despite attempts by Texas Republicans to mute or gag them. Anyone surprised? The Texas GOP is on the wrong and most extreme side of every issue. That goes for their own history as illustrated by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick ordering the state museum to cancel a panel discussion of Forget The Alamo. I guess he forgot he was against cancel culture.
I referred to Forget The Alamo as revisionist history earlier. That’s not exactly so. It’s historiography, which is defined by Merriam-Webster as:
the writing of history based on the critical examination of sources, the selection of particulars from the authentic materials, and the synthesis of particulars into a narrative that will stand the test of critical methods
Historiography is my jam. I love the clash of ideas, facts, and myths. While I’m on the subject I have some historiographic recommendations: Explaining Hitler by Ron Rosenbaum and John Wayne’s America by Garry Wills.
Wills has made a career out of historiography. I wish BTS had relied on Wills’ take on John Wayne’s 1960 cinematic ode to the Alamo myth, which he coupled with the Cold War. Who knew that Santa Ana was a proto-Commie? I always thought he was a shameless opportunist whose redeeming characteristic was loathing slavery.
BTS do an excellent job of explaining the Alamo myth before demolishing it with a flurry of facts and satire. BTS are funny; another reason Forget The Alamo rocks.
It turns out that Genesis drummer turned pop star Phil Collins is a fanatical Alamohead and collector of Alamo artifacts. He’s also an easy mark for unscrupulous dealers peddling spurious objects including Jim Bowie’s “own” Bowie Knife, which appears to date from the 1970’s, not the 1830’s. Collins maintains that it’s genuine after spending $1.5 million on the knife. That makes Collins a walking drummer joke.
As you may have noticed, I loved Forget The Alamo, I give it an Adrastos Grade of A and 4 stars.
The last word goes to Phil Collins with a video that may explain why he’s such an easy mark for Alamo grifters.
July has been wet, wet, wet in New Orleans. As long as it’s not flood-level precipitation I don’t mind it. It keeps the heat down. That’s summer in the Crescent City: too hot, hot, hot or too wet, wet, wet. My needle seems stuck, stuck, stuck…
Pete Townshend wrote this week’s theme song for the Who’s 1981 album Face Dances. It’s a criminally underrated record that I’ve loved since the first time I gave it a spin. It was the soundtrack of my life in the year I moved from San Francisco to Washington DC.
Don’t Let The Go was inspired by Townshend’s guru Meher Baba who urged his followers to “hang fast to the hem of my robe.”
We have three versions for your listening pleasure: the studio original, Townshend’s demo, and the Who live on German teevee.
I’m debuting a new featured image meme today. I’ve used the above image with the Fog of Scandal, but the ultimate scandal of the Trump Regime deserves its own meme.
Books about the disastrous final year of the Impeached Insult Comedian’s reign of error are flying off the shelves. As my mother used to say, it was “uglier than boiled sin” in public and even worse in private. I asked Mom to explain this Midwesternism. She told me to try boiling sin to see what it looked like. It was a non-answer but a funny one, so I let it slide. I guess she had a feeling inside that she couldn’t explain:
Mom never did Roger’s mike toss or Pete’s windmill. I would have paid to see either…
Back to the Dipshit Insurrection. General Mark Milley is a central figure in I Alone Can Fix It by the WaPo’s Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. (The book should really be called I Alone Can Wreck It.) We’re going to focus on the General’s reaction to the Trump regime’s end game and my reaction to Milley’s reactions. Sounds reactive…
As he showed in responding to Matt Gaetz’s CRT question, Mark Milley is an erudite and well-read man. I was appalled when he joined the Kaiser of Chaos on his bible waving jaunt but pleased when he apologized. It takes a big man to take responsibility for their mistakes. Something Donald Trump has never done in his Lilliputian life.
… the general’s worries grew rapidly as the president plunged the nation into chaos following Election Day. Seven days later, Milley got a call from “an old friend” with an explicit warning that Trump and his allies were trying to “overturn the government.” Milley was confident that any attempts by Trump to hold on to power would be thwarted, because the military wouldn’t go along. “They may try, but they’re not going to fucking succeed,” he told aides. “You can’t do this without the military. You can’t do this without the CIA and the FBI. We’re the guys with guns.”
That is, of course, the classic definition of a coup. A definition I agree with. What happened on 1/6/2021 was a riotous insurrection. Whatever word you use, it was some serious shit that should never be forgotten.
I long ago discarded Godwin’s Law in discussing Trumpism. So too did General Milley.
…Milley was disturbed by the sight of Trump supporters rallying to his cause in November, calling them “Brownshirts in the streets.” Leonnig and Rucker wrote that Milley “believed Trump was stoking unrest, possibly in hopes of an excuse to invoke the Insurrection Act and call out the military.” The general likened the U.S. to Germany’s fragile Weimar Republic in the early 1930s. “This is a Reichstag moment,” he said, referring to the arson attack on Germany’s Parliament that Hitler used as a pretext to assume absolute power and destroy democracy.
And that was before the Dipshit Insurrection. The aftermath of 1/6 is where the Reichstag Fire analogy works best. They’re trying to whitewash the event and pretend that, in Trump’s recent phrase, “it was a love fest.” Oy just oy.
This was Milley’s reaction to the crowd watching Trump’s 1/6 screed:
“These guys are Nazis, they’re boogaloo boys, they’re Proud Boys. These are the same people we fought in World War II.”
I’ve said the same thing myself: my uncle died fighting Fascism. The shame of the thing and its follow-up are staggering. Of course, former President* Pennywise’s picture is in the dictionary next to shameless.
There’s been a controversy as to whether General Milley should have done more to counter Trump. I understand those who think he should have, at the very least, testified at the second impeachment trial or spoken out publicly. It’s a close call, but I think it’s more important to preserve the principle of civilian control of the military.
If Milley had spoken out, he would have had to resign. I’m glad a General who understood that Trump was “preaching the gospel of the Fuhrer” was in place. Unlike Trump, Milley has heard of the Nuremberg Principles and would have refused to obey illegal orders to involve the military in a coup.
As a young man. I heard stories from my Greek relatives of tanks rolling through the streets of Athens in 1967. Thanks to General Milley, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and other senior military commanders, it didn’t happen here. It was, however, a close call.
I chose a punny title for this post because Mark Milley was indeed run through the mill by the Trump regime. I’m glad someone who knows history and understands the nature of Fascism had a seat at the table during the bleak final days of the Trump administration. Besides, what’s not to love about a guy who told Stephen Miller to “shut the fuck up” during the BLM protest season?
The last word is inspired by a punny title I discarded, Walk A Milley In My Shoes. That’s why it goes to an unlikely trio: Joe South, Bryan Ferry, and Billy Eckstein.
Thanks to the Turtle, the United States Senate was a moribund body between 2015-2021. They cut taxes and tried to gut the ACA, but otherwise little of note was accomplished. That began to change when Democrats won a narrow majority and passed the American Rescue Plan via the reconciliation process. That was a surprisingly fast process, but the senate is back to its slow, slow ways.
I’ve criticized Bernie Sanders in this space before. It’s time to praise him. In his new role as Budget Committee chair, he did a masterful job of steering the human infrastructure bill through his committee. Senator Sanders didn’t get everything he wanted BUT the scaled back bill pleased committee progressives and moderates alike. It’s unclear what the Emperor of the Senate, Joe Manchin, thinks. The 50-50 split gives this guy too much power but that’s democracy in action.
Mercifully, the above bill can be passed via reconciliation, but that’s the majority’s last bite at that apple for now. Everything else is subject to the McConnell era filibuster and he’s vowed to obstruct, obstruct, obstruct. It’s uncertain if the bipartisan infrastructure bill will get the necessary ten Republicans vote. I’m expecting the rug to be pulled out from under it, but Democrats will get points from the broader public for the effort. Independents love bipartisanship.
Republican senators dislike both voting rights bills that have been proposed by Democrats. They’re expected to vote in a solid bloc against both measures. Times have changed. The last time the Voting Rights Act was renewed in 2006 the senate vote was unanimous. That’s right, Mitch McConnell voted for the VRA before it was gutted by Chief Justice Roberts.
All roads in 2021 lead to the filibuster. The amateur senators were up in the arms that President Biden didn’t mention it in his stirring speech about voting rights. They’re demanding that he demand its abolition as a sign of his sincerity. I, too, support abolition BUT it would have been an empty gesture for the president to do so. The votes aren’t there, and the situation calls for our old friend nuance.
The best we can hope for is filibuster reform. A carve-out for voting rights seems to have 48 votes as of this writing: we all know who the two holdouts are.
TPM’s head count shows that there are only 14 firm votes to nuke the filibuster with a ceiling of 24. That’s substantial progress from past years. Senators such as Dianne Feinstein, Jon Tester, and Angus King have moved into the reform column this year. Hell, current nuker Bernie Sanders was a reformer until recently.
The amateur senators want brave speeches and absolutist stands from Joe Biden. I think a six-term former senator knows more about the upper chamber than the Twitteratti. What’s called for right now is cunning and guile.
Biden and one of his closest allies, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, are playing the inside-outside game on voting rights. Biden is privately lobbying senators while Clyburn is speaking out publicly. This is the way politics is supposed to work.
I’m cautiously optimistic about things working out in the senate. I realize, however, that things could fall apart. Major legislation often appears to be doomed before it passes. That was the case with the ACA, among others. Stay tuned.
Whatever happens, it won’t happen overnight. Repeat after me: the senate is slow.
I have mixed emotions about Edwin Edwards who died yesterday at the age of 93. He dominated Louisiana politics for a quarter of a century. He served 2 consecutive terms as Governor followed by 2 non-consecutive terms for a total of 16 out of 24 years. He won 4 of 5 statewide elections the most important being 1991’s election from hell when he defeated David Dukkke. A victory for which I remain profoundly grateful, but I still have mixed emotions about the man and his political legacy.
Edwin Edwards was more than just a politician. He was a folk hero with a Cajun swagger. He charmed his way out of trouble. That’s how he got away with the shenanigans that eventually sent him to prison after 3 corruption trials.
By any standard, his first two terms were a success. I’m not going to repeat in detail what’s being said in the Gret Stet MSM about the 1974 constitution and his concern for the poor and elderly. I think that Edwards’ greatest accomplishment was being the first Louisiana governor to treat Black folks as full citizens. As a result, the African American community became his base through the trials and tribulations of his less successful third and fourth terms.
My first Gret Stetwide election as a Louisiana resident was 1983. The Edwards campaign was a well-oiled machine that year as he defeated Dave Treen a nice but dull man who was the first Republican governor since Reconstruction. Edwards had a lot of fun mocking Treen as a stiff. He later regretted being so snarky about Treen who supported efforts to commute his sentence in the 21st Century.
I voted for Edwards in 1983 and 1991, but not in 1987. His third term was something of a disaster. The oil bust led to cuts in state spending and higher education took the biggest hit. He spent a hefty chunk of that term on trial. He was not convicted but it left a cloud over him that led to his primary loss in 1987 to Buddy Roemer who also died this year. Edwin’s passing leaves the world’s youngest hasbeen, Bobby Jindal, as the only living former Gret Stet governor.
In defeat, Edwards proved his political genius. He declined to face a run-off against Roemer. This has been painted by many as a sign that he knew he’d lose. That’s true but his motivation was to kneecap Roemer politically by limiting his vote to 33%. It worked: in 1991 Roemer got 26% finishing third in the primary.
I’m often asked by out-of-state friends if Edwin Edwards was a liberal. He was by Gret Stet standards but not by national standards. His record on Civil Rights was good but he gave the oil, gas, and chemical companies free reign as long as they paid tribute in the form of higher taxes and campaign contributions. The same went for gambling interests. The latter led to his downfall.
Sinclair Lewis is back in fashion because of his parable of American fascism, It Can’t Happen Here. I’m not sure how many people have read the novel as opposed to posting pictures of the cover on social media. That’s more common than you might think. It’s gotten to the point where I ask errant social media commenters if they’ve read the post of mine they’re attacking. They usually have not.
I had a high school English teacher who was kin to Sinclair Lewis. I don’t recall the consanguinity, but her stock line was “Sinclair Lewis, not Upton Sinclair.”
People were just as easily confused in the 20th Century as they are now. I wish I could say that Twitter birthed mass stupidity, but its been with us forever. Hell, when I ran a Google search for Sinclair Lewis, Upton Sinclair’s name came up almost as often.
That brings me to another Sinclair Lewis novel Babbitt, which is a fine example of satire circa 1922. It was the story of a Midwestern real estate developer named George Babbitt. He was the epitome of vapid conformity and banal boosterism.
It’s every writer’s dream to coin a word or phrase that makes the dictionary. That happened with Babbitt, which is defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as:
“a person and especially a business or professional man who conforms unthinkingly to prevailing middle-class standards.”
A mini essay at Merriam-Webster.com adds this thought about Babbittry:
The values, attitudes, and mores associated with the American middle class in the 1920s can be summed up in the word Babbitry. It derives from the protagonist of Babbitt, a satirical novel by Sinclair Lewis published in 1922. George F. Babbitt epitomizes the unimaginative and self-important businessmen that Lewis found typical of the provincial cities and towns of America. Despite his evident prosperity and status, he remains vaguely dissatisfied with life and makes tentative attempts at rebellion; however, in the end, he finds his need for social acceptance greater than his desire for escape.
To a great extent that describes the conformism that is Trumpism. Trumpers tend to trumpet the cliches they’ve heard on Fox News, Newsmax, Breitbart, and other wingnutty web sites. Trumpism is a conformist creed that relies on talking points instead of independent thought hence the anti-intellectual attacks on science and education. Who among us isn’t tired of hearing about cancel culture?
The anti-intellectualism of Trumpism is nothing new. George Wallace was fond of attacking “damn pointy-headed intellectuals who can’t park their bicycle straight.”
The Impeached Insult Comedian was never that witty.
Since the recent death of a family member, I’ve had mortality on my mind. Hence this week’s theme song and an appropriately somber featured image by Edward Hopper.
Silent House is a song about grief and loss. It was a collaboration between Neil Finn and Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines, and Emily Robison of The Dixie Chicks. For more information about the song, click here.
The Dixie Chicks recorded Silent House first on their 2006 album Taking The Long Way. Crowded House cut their version for 2007’s Time Of Earth. Since I’m more of a Crowdie fan and prefer their version, we’ll start with it. Sorry, Chicks.
I hope everyone remembers the whole The Dixie Chicks controversy involving their opposition to the Bush-Cheney administration’s War in Iraq. In this Rodney Crowell song, the Yuppie neo-con narrator calls them out.
Now that we’ve heard Rodney sing “give it to me” repeatedly, let’s jump to the break.
Here we go again. The Kaiser of Chaos is back in the news for all the wrong reasons. It’s the only way he makes news, after all.
The Guardian scored an early copy of a book by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender. The source of the story is obviously John Kelly who is willing to tell the truth about his former boss privately but never publicly.
On a visit to Europe to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the first world war, Donald Trump insisted to his then chief of staff, John Kelly: “Well, Hitler did a lot of good things.”
But Bender says unnamed sources reported that Kelly “told the president that he was wrong, but Trump was undeterred”, emphasizing German economic recovery under Hitler during the 1930s.
“Kelly pushed back again,” Bender writes, “and argued that the German people would have been better off poor than subjected to the Nazi genocide.”
Bender adds that Kelly told Trump that even if his claim about the German economy under the Nazis after 1933 were true, “you cannot ever say anything supportive of Adolf Hitler. You just can’t.”
Unnamed sources? Only Kelly and Trump were in that room. I understand Bender not wanting to burn his sources, but John Kelly is a coward. I don’t usually say that about generals, but I’ll say it again: John Kelly is a coward. He’s retired from the military so he can speak freely about the Kaiser of Chaos. The same goes for General Mattis. At least he doesn’t leak stories, so he’s not quite as bad as Kelly but he’s guilty of the same moral cowardice.
The incident took place on the same European trip that Pennywise made the infamous suckers and losers remark. John Kelly heard all of this hateful shit but remains silent in public.
Repeat after me: John Kelly is a coward.
Here we go again. Nobody is surprised when Trump says something nice about Nazis. He’s done it before, and he’ll do it again. It’s probably something Donald heard his father Fred say. Before World War II, Hitler was popular among conservative German Americans because he “fixed” the German economy. Money is all that matters to Trumps past present and future.
“Everything you read, when he [Hitler] came in he was good,” the Reds owner said in an interview aired by ESPN last night. “They built tremendous highways and got all the factories going. He went nuts, he went berserk. I think his own generals tried to kill him, didn’t they? Everybody knows he was good at the beginning but he just went too far.”
Oy just oy.
Like Donald Trump, Marge Schott was German American.
Like Donald Trump, Marge Schott only cared about money.
Unlike Donald Trump, Marge Schott loved dogs, St. Bernards in particular. It was her redeeming characteristic. Donald Trump has none.
I have no doubt that Marge Schott would be an ardent Trumper if she were still alive. Praising Hitler wasn’t her only racist outburst. She called two of her star players Eric Davis and Dave Parker “million dollar n*****s.”
Schott wasn’t crazy about Jews or Asians either. I could go on and on, but I won’t.
Marge Schott was suspended by Major League Baseball several times for her bigoted comments and eventually run out of the game. I suspect contemporary “conservatives” would claim that she was a victim of cancel culture. Her wounds like those of the Impeached Insult Comedian were self-inflicted but the worst thing she could do was ruin a ball club, not a country.
About the featured image. I somehow missed the 2017 Stern cover and the Politico story about it when it ran in the wake of the Charlottesville mishigas. I remember the Sports Illustrated cover of Schott who was a heavy smoker as well as a bigot and poor excuse for a human being.
About the title. In addition to Schott and Trump, I kicked around several ideas. Then I thought of the old song Taking A Chance On Love, which begins with “Here I go again.”
Somehow Taking A Chance On Love became Taking A Schott At Trump.
It’s an odd inspiration for this punny post title but I’m an odd guy. Ironically, the song debuted in a musical about Black folks, Cabin In The Sky. I shudder to think what Donald and Marge would say about that.
Here I go again, the last word goes to Ella Fitzgerald:
The Lost Cause has long been a topic of interest here at First Draft. Shapiro wrote about it last Friday and it was a staple of my posting when the New Orleans monuments controversy was at its peak.
It’s back on my mind after watching CJ Hunt’s fine POV documentary, The Neutral Ground; so much so that I created a category for Lost Cause posts in case y’all feel like reading them. I had fun doing so last night. I’m not sure if that’s pathetic or egomaniacal. You decide.
CJ Hunt works for The Daily Show as a field producer. I haven’t seen much of his previous work but here’s his LinkedIn blurb:
Comedian and filmmaker living in NYC. He’s a field producer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He has been a staff writer for A&E’s Black and White, and a field producer for BET’s The Rundown with Robin Thede. CJ is a regular host of The Moth. Co-creator of Sunken City, an original series hailed as ‘the New Portlandia’ & featured on Indiewire’s list of web series that “could be the next ‘Broad City’.” CJ has rebranded the confederate flag for Jezebel, condensed the saga of school desegregation into a 3-page children’s book for FunnyOrDie, and created videos featured on Paper Magazine, Upworthy, Bustle, and Racialicious.
Hunt lived in New Orleans for a time, which inspired The Neutral Ground. His Daily Show background is evident in his approach to this material. There was a lot of absurdity surrounding the monuments controversy and a director who has done stand-up comedy is the right man for the job. He also does a good job as the film’s protagonist/presenter.
Watching The Neutral Ground reminded me of a funny story about the monuments flap. A friend, who has since died, was a howling liberal on every subject except the monuments. He belonged to one of those old New Orleans families who had been here since Bienville, the founder of the city. He got into a fight on my Facebook feed about monuments removal. The anti-monuments person called my late friend an “Uptown Garden District snob.”
His reply was classic, “Wrong. I’m a downtown Marigny snob.”
In either event, he was proud of being a snob.
Back to CJ Hunt’s documentary. Since I’m a New Orleanian, I’m going to focus on those aspects of the film although Hunt discusses monuments issues in the Commonwealth of Virginia. His side trip to Charlottesville during the infamous 2017 Lost Causer riot feels like a horror movie.
Hunt gets most things right about New Orleans, which is rare for a short-term resident. It shows that he did his homework. He even survived interviewing bombastic former mayor Mitch Landrieu and bombastic activist Malcolm Suber. I’m acquainted with Malcolm. He’s not one of my favorite people but he’s right on the monuments.
One of my favorite moments was when Hunt did the Civil War recreationist thing. He hung out with some hardcore Lost Causers one of whom is called Butterbean. I am not making this up. Initially, the bearded and bombastic Butterbean was impressed with Hunt’s open-mindedness, but his idea of reciprocity was going to Jazz Fest. Hunt didn’t tell Butterbean that his namesake isn’t served at the Fairgrounds.
I like Hunt’s serio-comic approach to the subject matter. It strikes the right tone. He also nailed the history of the white supremacy monuments in New Orleans and elsewhere.
I wanted to LOVE Summer Of Soul. The pre-release hype gave the impression that it was about the music rather than a cultural/political documentary. There are many documentaries about the 1960’s but what made Summer Of Soul intriguing was forty hours of unused footage from the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. I wish there had been more music and less chatter but, taken on its own terms, it’s a good documentary. It could have been a great one.
Don’t get me wrong: there’s still a lot of great music in Summer Of Soul. But there’s not much *uninterrupted* music. By my count, there were only two numbers without any commentary: one by BB King early on and another by Sly & The Family Stone near the end. Ironically, the Sly tune was Higher, which was also featured in Woodstock.
I’m about to be guilty of something that led to a recurring argument between Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert on their teevee show. Roger would often criticize Gene for reviewing the movie he wanted to see instead of the one that was made. I usually agreed with Ebert but I’m going to go Siskel on your asses in the next paragraph.
I think Summer Of Soul would have made a better 6 to 8 part docuseries. I watched it on Hulu, after all. There’s nothing wrong with the commentary; some of the talking heads are great, especially Billie Davis Jr, Marilyn McCoo, Mavis Staples, and Gladys Knight. I found it bizarre that those wonderful singers were talking *over* their own performances instead of before and after them.
As the movie progressed, I began flinching every time the voice overs returned. At one point I said, “Let Mavis and Mahalia sing.”
The main reason I thought Summer Of Soul would focus on the music is its director: Questlove who is a musician. But it’s his directorial debut and, oddly enough, he seemed not to have confidence in the power of the music to carry the movie.
There’s nothing wrong with the political content: I agreed with almost all of it, but much of it seemed to be a primer on Black pride/power politics for millennials. Questlove crams too much information into an hour and fifty-seven minutes. A different and longer format would have allowed both the talking heads and the performances more room.
“Quincy Jones taught me early,” the affable, chatty Questlove said. “I interviewed him for my podcast, and when he’s talking about the process of (making Michael Jackson’s) ‘Thriller,’ and the fact that they had to go through 281 songs before they decided, these are our final nine. And he’s like, the common denominator was you got goosebumps. There’s a moment in the song that really touches your soul.”
Quincy Jones has had a remarkable career. He’s the bridge between the Basie/Sinatra/King Cole generation of American popular music and the MTV generation. He produced everyone from Sarah Vaughan to Donna Summer. He knows from goosebumps.
I wish there had been more musical goosebumps in Summer Of Soul, but I still liked it. It’s full of good intentions and great music but it needed more uninterrupted great music.
I’m proud of myself for writing this review without a single drummer joke. I reserve those for my buddy, Kyle Melancon but I’m sure Questlove has heard them all. 🥁🥁🥁
One thing that puzzled me was calling it a Questlove Jawn. I consulted with Mr. Google who led me to the Urban Dictionary, which defines jawn as “Philly slang for a person, place, or thing.”
Mystery solved. Ahmir Khalib Thompson DBA Questlove is from Philadelphia. It’s his variation on the Spike Lee Joint theme.
Summer Of Soul is playing in theatres and streaming on Hulu. I give it 3 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B. I eagerly await the director’s cut: I want to see more of David Ruffin’s fur-collared jacket. Talk about hot fun in the summertime.
It’s been wickedly hot across the country. It’s been hotter in Portland and Seattle than in New Orleans; that’s some weird shit. We all have air-conditioning and most of my friends in the PNW do not. Imagine how hot Paco the Maine Coon mix was during the heat wave. It’s hard having a luxurious fur coat.
I’m sticking with a witchy/magical theme this week. How can I follow Witchcraft with a chirpy tune? I used a painting by proto-surrealist artist William Blake since Magritte and Ernst are overheated and didn’t feel up to it. I know, dead guys can’t suffer from heat stroke, but some humor was in order.
Chris Isaak wrote this week’s theme song in 1989 for his Heart Shaped World album, which established him as a major rock star. The video for Wicked Game established him as a major heartthrob. Some guys have all the luck.
We have three versions of Wicked Game for your listening pleasure: the sexy video, a 2006 live version, and Tom Ellis at the piano in Lucifer.
Dr. A and I watched the second half of season 5 of Lucifer this week. It had its ups and downs, but an emphatic up was Bloody Celestial Karaoke Jam in which the gang broke into song at the behest of God played by Dennis Haysbert. I was three years behind God at San Mateo High School. Go, Bearcats.
Here’s one of the songs featured in that thrilling episode of Lucifer:
Now that we’ve gone to hell and back, let’s jump to the break where more wickedness awaits.
As I luxuriated in the Indictment Thursday coverage I found myself asking: what does Mary Trump think? I reviewed her book last year for Bayou Brief. Too Much and Never Enough made me respect her judgment and her take on her kin folks.
RM: Allen Weisselberg is being charged for benefitting from that scheme. The indictment says, other executives also benefitted from that scheme. And now, we`ve got solid reporting that the investigation continues. That raises the prospect that further charges could be brought against his children.
MT: Yeah, it does. And I — again, I think they should be quite anxious right now. Donald, on the other hand, will expect the same kind and level of loyalty from them, as he expects from Allen. You know, as far as Donald`s concerned, they have what they have because of him. And they should be willing to take whatever hit they are going to take.
He doesn`t understand, I guess, how these things work. Prosecutors won`t stop at my cousins. They will be going for the bigger fish, which would be Donald, who`s been running this organization for over 30 years, now.
So I think he would be surprised to learn that I don`t believe my cousins would exert that kind of — exercise that kind of loyalty towards him because his relationship with them and their relationship with him is entirely transactional. So — and conditional, I should say.
So, they`re not going to risk anything for him, just as he wouldn`t risk anything for them. So, it could get really, really interesting as these things unfold, because there are so many more documents that New York prosecutors have at their disposal.
RM: So, you have more confidence that Allen Weisselberg would — wouldn`t cooperate, than you do that the president`s — former president`s children wouldn`t cooperate?
MT: Yeah. I think, as far as I understand it, and, you know, I`m not a lawyer. But it seems that, as — as serious as these charges are, they may not end up with jail time or any significant amount of jail time. And the downside of cooperating with prosecutors, for Allen Weisselberg might be larger than the downside of going to jail if it`s for a short enough period of time.
So, again, it`s going to be very interesting to see just the — the case that can be made. And the sentencing, if it comes to that, because I think that will factor in, for sure. But I`m much less sanguine about my cousins` loyalty to their father.
Sorry for the long quote, but I wanted everything to be put in context. Mary Trump might be wrong about her cousins but the mere possibility they *could* flip on former President* Pennywise is fascinating. We all have fickle and untrustworthy relatives, but this takes the cake.
Speaking of cake and relatives who work together, I feel a musical interlude coming on.
The current edition of Crowded House has three Finns. I don’t think Liam or Elroy would flip on papa Neil. Their Uncle Tim never did. There’s more Eighties music to come at the end of the post. It was the decade in which Donald Trump became famous, after all.
Now that we’ve had dessert, back to the main course: the Trumps. There have long been rumors of discord between the Two Donalds. Junior rebelled against his father after his mother was so publicly dumped. That’s one of the few good things I’ve ever heard about Junior.
Don Junior seems to think he can be the next John Quincy Adams or George W Bush: son of a president who becomes one himself. Adams set the bar high, but W lowered it considerably; making even grandson of a president Benjamin Harrison look good. Ratting out the Kaiser of Chaos would be bad for Junior politically, so I think he’ll stay on the sinking ship.
No, I’m not one of those re-enactors who take a perfectly good summer weekend and ruin it by dressing in wool suits and running around playing good guy vs. bad guy (and take your choice which side is which).
As a matter of fact I’m not terribly interested in battles fought on muddy fields or “gallantly” charging men storming up a hill that will never be forgotten till after the test. I learned all that in both high school and college American history classes.
I’m more interested in what is so lightly if ever taught at any level of American education, the politics of the Civil War. Oh yeah, plenty is talked about the politics of the pre Civil War era, the Missouri Compromise, the Dred Scott decision, the election of 1860, but so little is taught of what was going on politically during the fighting. Movies like LINCOLN and GANGS OF NEW YORK have highlighted the political machinations behind the passage of the 13th Amendment or what led to the New York City Draft Riots, but as a rule the American educational system has chucked out the political portion of the narrative or at least kicked it down the road to only those truly interested in an Masters or PhD in 19th Century American History.
It’s a shame, because if they taught the politics at least on the high school level then this whole cult of The Lost Cause would go up in smoke.
I get amused when some Southern boy clutching the Stars and Bars flag goes on about how “they” are trying to cancel his heritage. I want to ask him, which heritage are you speaking of? Can you trace your lineage back to plantation owners? Well then your heritage is one of the certainty of the righteous belief in the concept of one group of people holding as property another. Do you still believe that?
And if your heritage search gets you only to a white planter living a subsistence existence on a small farm you might be interested to know that most of those folks not only were against leaving the union, they were against slavery. They thought it was unfair they had to compete with giant factory farms who didn’t have the debit line on their balance sheets for wages.
In fact it is estimated that somewhere between 75 and 90 percent of the white male heads of households (i.e. those who could vote) in the slave states held no slaves. Unfortunately it’s also shown that somewhere between 75 and 90 percent of those states’ legislators were slave owners. To ensure themselves of that proportion they rigged elections, making it hard if not impossible for poor whites to vote (sound familiar?) and if they did vote just plain out chucking any ballot not in their favor. This is where poll taxes and literacy tests first came about. It’s also where the fine art of voter intimidation was perfected. Vote to stay in the Union and you might find yourself at the wrong end of the whipping post. Or the hanging tree.
Too bad there wasn’t a 19th Century equivalent of Stacey Abrams to help them out. So many of them, their sons, their brothers, and their friends could have been spared a horrible battlefield death.
It was a long night. I woke up at 3:30 and couldn’t find my iPhone, which I use as an alarm clock. I felt like an overage millennial zombie as I searched. I found it but the search made me wakeful. Oh well, I came up with the idea for Arriving UAP while tossing and turning.
I’m not feeling perky right now so I’m just going to throw some links at you and see what sticks. I worked the morning shift for Tommy T and those are big shoes to fill. I skipped the clown shoes jokes because he doesn’t wear them, he just writes about them.
Trump On Dipshit Insurrection Day: There’s a smashing excerpt from Michael Woolf’s upcoming book at nymag.com. It’s a blow-by-blow account of how the Impeached Insult Comedian spent Twelfth Night, 2021.
Trump spent the day wallowing in his delusions and Rudy was drunk off his ass. Most teetotalers I know are uncomfortable with drunkenness. I guess Pennywise thinks it makes them easier marks or some such shit.
This is my favorite passage:
But it was also a pretty good insight into Trump’s relationship to his army of supporters. The president often expressed puzzlement over who these people were with their low-rent “trailer camp” bearing and their “get-ups,” once joking that he should have invested in a chain of tattoo parlors and shaking his head about “the great unwashed.”
Yet they still admire the nasty son-of-a-bitch. Go figure.
Barr Bites Back: The former AG is trying to salvage his reputation. It’s unlikely to work but he sat down with anti-Trump conservative Jonathan Karl to discuss the White House meeting wherein he broke with Trump.
Barr, Levi, and Cipollone walked to the president’s personal dining room near the Oval Office. Trump was sitting at the table. Meadows was sitting next to him with his arms crossed; the White House adviser Eric Herschmann stood off to the side. The details of this meeting were described to me by several people present. One told me that Trump had “the eyes and mannerism of a madman.”
He went off on Barr.
“I think you’ve noticed I haven’t been talking to you much,” Trump said to him. “I’ve been leaving you alone.”
Barr later told others that the comment was reminiscent of a line in the movie Dr. Strangelove, in which the main character, Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper, says, “I do not avoid women, Mandrake, but I do deny them my essence.” Trump, Barr thought, was saying that he had been denying him his essence.
Trump brought up Barr’s AP interview.
“Did you say that?”
“Yes,” Barr responded.
“How the fuck could you do this to me? Why did you say it?”
“Because it’s true.”
The president, livid, responded by referring to himself in the third person: “You must hate Trump. You must hate Trump.”
I’ve always hated people who refer to themselves in the third person. It’s the sign of a weak disordered mind even when it’s true as it is here. Who among us doesn’t hate Trump? Adrastos does…
Javanka On The Run: The funniest story of last week came from the good people at Vanity Fair’s The Hive. It certainly had me buzzing.
Ivanka and Jared continue to be as deluded as her father. They seem to somehow think they can separate themselves from Papa Bear.
In a move right out of the same playbook they used during their time at the White House—wherein they would literally flee the scene any time Trump did something extra bad, and hope people would think they had nothing to do with it despite being senior advisers to the president, Jared and Ivanka are now reportedly trying to convince people who don’t know any better that they’ve all but cut ties with the 45th president over his erratic behavior and insistence that he won the 2020 election. Naturally, sources “familiar with the matter” have shared the couple’s alleged chilliness with Trump…
Their porridge must be spiked with some hallucinogens, y’all.
That’s it for this groggy edition of First Draft Potpourri. The last word goes to The Kinks:
You’ve probably noticed by now that I like themes that tie my posts together. This week’s theme is book and movie magic, music magic. and today Strange Magic. I even included Jeff Lynne’s interpretation of Bewitched in this week’s Friday Cocktail Hour. One could say that this week has been magically delicious, which is the untrue ad slogan for the disgusting cereal Lucky Charms.
This week’s theme song was written by Jeff Lynne in 1975 for ELO’s Face The Music album. As if by magic, the single and album were strangely successful.
We have three versions of Strange Magic for your listening pleasure: the studio original, ELO live, and a 2012 remake.
As if by magic, it’s time to jump to the break, strangely enough.
The right is at it again. Mindless support for the Impeached Insult Comedian has replaced everything that conservatives once believed in. That’s why I no longer call them conservatives, they’re radicals bent on strip-mining our democracy until it’s so enfeebled that it will cave in.
There was a House hearing the other day at which Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley testified. They were upstaged by suspected sex trafficker Matt Gaetz who used his time to bang on and on about Critical Race Theory.
… on the issue of critical race theory, et cetera, I’ll obviously have to get much smarter on whatever the theory is, but I do think it’s important actually for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read. And the United States Military Academy is university and it is important that we train and we understand. And I want to understand white rage and I’m white, and I want to understand it.
So what is it that causes thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? I want to find that out. I want to maintain an open mind here, and I do want to analyze it. It’s important that we understand that because our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and guardians, they come from the American people. So it is important that the leaders now and in the future do understand it.
I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a communist. So what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend? And I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, our general officers, our commissioned, non-commissioned officers of being quote woke or something else because we’re studying some theories that are out there.
Remember all the flag waving and strident admonitions to support the troops during the Bush-Cheney administration? The Trumpified right has turned on the military. It’s not the first time either: Joe McCarthy’s attacks on the Army proved to be his undoing. I wish I could say that Milley’s remarks would have the same effect that Joseph Welch’s shaming of McCarthy had, but they’re too far gone.
The anti-intellectualism of today’s right is so pronounced that a military man felt compelled to defend intellectual curiosity. Unlike suspected sex trafficker Matt Gaetz or suspected rapist Donald Trump, General Milley actually reads books. Does that make him a woke pansy?
It’s a short step from barring the teaching of CRT to banning and burning books. Is that the future Matt Gaetz and his ilk have in mind? It’s hard to tell because everything they do is for short-term effect, but raw meat eventually spoils. They would be wise to heed the words of a genuine conservative, General President Eisenhower:
Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book…