Category Archives: Food and Drink

Now Be Thankful

Adrastos’ late mother in her Chicago heyday.

The holidays are hard for me. I like Thanksgiving’s gluttonous aspects but it’s still hard for me. It’s when I think of my mother who died 16 yeas ago. My mother was the sort of person who took in strays for the holidays. We’d have up to 20 people around the table; some of whom were friends of friends of friends. Mom believed that everyone should have a home cooked meal on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many of our guests for Christmas dinner were, in fact, Jewish. No Chinese food for her Jewish friends.

Mom spent the day before Thanksgiving and the day of cooking away. She was a perfectionist when it came to entertaining: no holiday buffets for her. We had to gather around the table and it had to have a starched white table-cloth. There were no paper plates or people eating whilst milling about: fine china, silver, and crystal were mandatory for the holidays. She was informal the rest of the year but holidays were state occasions when, as my father was wont to say, we put on the dog.

When I got old enough, one of my jobs was to set the table. I made sure that Mom had final approval: she wanted everything just so. I recall feeling triumphant one Thanksgiving: I’d set the table perfectly on the first try. There were usually changes but not that year. I was inordinately proud of myself but she admonished me not to get too cocky. It was the Midwestern Norwegian Lutheran in her coming out. She left the bragging to my dad. It’s what Greeks do, y’all. Not me, of course, other Greeks…

I also helped make a fresh cranberry/orange sauce from the recipe on the back of the Ocean Spray bag. We had a venerable hand-cranked grinder that had to be attached to the kitchen table. We spread newspaper around it because it was messy. There was a bucket at my feet to catch the bitter red cranberry drippings. Mom was not sentimental about her kitchen gadgets: she bought a food processor the first time she saw one. I was away from home and past the cranberry grinding, table setting phase of my life by then.

My favorite part of the traditional turkey dinner was the stuffing. I looked forward to it every year. It was loaded with herbs as well as pine nuts and chestnuts. We didn’t exactly roast them on an open fire but I helped shell the bastards. They were uncooperative, downright surly, actually. When I was really young, I was convinced they were alive but my no-nonsense mother disabused me of that notion. She informed me that I’d seen the Wizard of Oz one too many times. As usual, she was right.

Unfortunately, there was often conflict at the dinner table during the holidays. I’m the youngest of three by thirteen years. My sisters were off living life and I was raised more like an only child. I admit to liking it that way. My oldest sister thrives on drama and conflict. There was always one big row per holiday, which drove my poor mother crazy. She was always the woman in the middle. When she died, so did our nuclear family for reasons too complex to go into. The good news is that holidays are more tranquil but I miss the glue of my family.

Thanksgivings in Louisiana had a familiar feel when I moved here. It’s all about the food, y’all.  I married into an old Louisiana family and learned some new traditions. What’s not to love about oyster dressing? I still missed my mom’s stuffing. It was a part of me.

My first wife was a petite, feisty, beautiful, and brilliant spitfire. She took the idea of being a redhead seriously: she had a temper to match my own. Her mother took me in as one of her own but made it clear that when we moved to Baton Rouge, we’d have to tie the knot. Unfortunately, my wife’s family tree was a witches brew of genetic maladies and she died of cancer during what should have been her final year at LSU Law School.

She passed away a week before Thanksgiving so the holidays were rough sledding for me until I met and fell in love with the tall, feisty, beautiful, and brilliant woman known to you as Dr. A. The good news is that Dr. A and my mother-in-law instantly hit it off and she was admitted to the Louisiana family post-haste. It was Dr. A who started calling our Louisiana family the outlaws and the nickname stuck.

We spent many holidays with the outlaws in Red Stick over the years and are about to do so again. My mother-in-law has left the comfortable house that she shared with her late second husband Eddie to whom I pay tribute every Memorial Day. She’s 96 now and lives at St. James Place, which is a somewhat posh retirement community. We’ll be eating in the dining room but it’s still pretty darn homey: we’ve gotten to know many of the residents over the last decade. I am lucky that Dr. A and mother-in-law #1  get on so well. She is also a howling liberal (to use her own phrase) so there will be no Trump-driven conflict.

In recent years, we’ve expanded our Thanksgiving plans exponentially to what amounts to a triple-header. We have lunch in Red Stick, then it’s back to New Orleans for dinner with our friends Jennifer and Will and finally, unless we’re too wiped out, a nightcap with our de facto family: Cait, Dave, and the child army. It’s a sticky end to a long day and now I’m committed. I hope Dr. A won’t be too vexed with me but I fear the wrath of Cait as well as retribution from the child army of darkness.

I sat down to write a brief, nostalgic food-centric post and ended up explaining my tangled family tree. So it goes. I never hide the fact that I was a widower at a young age but I only tell people when asked how I came to the Gret Stet of Louisiana from California. It’s a long and painful story but I’m fortunate to have married well twice.

Family by choice are the best family of all but I still miss my mother. She could dance on my last nerve, but I miss our long conversations and teasing her about her crazy dog Brutus.

Mothers are powerful. They have the ability to make you revert to childhood. I know that many of your mothers get on your nerves. It’s what they do. Shrug it off and remember that they won’t always be with you. Around the holidays is when I miss my mom and Dr. A misses her charming, beautiful, and eccentric mother. Mother-in-law #2, however, was not a good cook and expected us to consume the radishes she’d lovingly cut. I hate radishes but her company was the best.

Happy Thanksgiving.

The last word goes to Fairport Convention with the gorgeous Richard Thompson song that gave this post its title:

Here’s another one from the songwriter. It’s a day for gluttony, after all:

Pulp Fiction Thursday will return next week.

Putting The Dope In Papadopoulos

The first time I wrote about my disgraced countryman, I gave y’all a pronounciation tutorial: DOUGH, NOT DOP. A reader comment improved this lesson in linguistics. Repeat after me: DOPE, NOT DOP. That’s right, Georgie puts the dope in Papadopoulos.

In case you’re wondering about the featured image, allow me to indulge in some self-quotation from the same post:

… the most popular mass market cookies in Greece during the dictatorship were made by the Papadopoulous bakery. Greeks who disliked the junta were prone to say in a loud voice “I don’t like Papadopoulous” before lowering their voice and whispering “biscota” aka biscuits aka cookies.

They’re still around and even sold on Amazon. I wonder if one can buy a used Greek dictator named George Papadopoulos there? Probably not, as far as I know Jeff Bezos isn’t a resurrection man who traffics in corpses. He’s no Boris Karloff, y’all:

Now that I’ve made an old horror movie reference, let’s return to the horrors of George Papadopoulos: Incompetent Con Man.

There’s a fabulous piece at TPM by Tierney Sneed about Georgie’s whereabouts during the 2016 campaign and the early days of the misadministration. Georgie flitted hither and yon. He was here, there, and everywhere but on the campaign trail. It’s unclear what he accomplished but he was a busy boy.

Georgie spent a good deal of time schmoozing Greek politicians and Greek-Americans. He told them what they wanted to hear: that he had Trump’s ear and that Cyrpus and other issues of Hellenic import were, uh, important to the Insult Comedian. In short, Georgie is a flim flam man whose main interest is power, not money. Now he has neither.

The Papadopoulos biscuit people bake a wide range of products. I think Georgie might be in need of these as he contemplates testifying and being cross-examined by defense lawyers:

Just remember, Georgie, if you lie on the witness stand, no cookie for you.

Tuesday Foodblogging

I used to think I couldn’t make bread. Then I got this book. Bread and pasta are the best things to make because everyone assumes they’re really hard and you must be some kind of genius if you make them from scratch, when if you have the right recipe they’re so, so easy.

(It’s not really five minutes a day, and you have to babysit it a bit in the oven, but overall it’s much easier than most bread recipes.)

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Goodbye Pork Pie Hat

Swing Landscape by Stuart Davis.

We finally had a chilly day this week. New Orleanians tend to overdress when it cools off so there were many coats, sweaters, and scarves about town. This cold-ish snap is another example of how extreme the weather has been this year: the first cold weather doesn’t usually arrive until around Thanksgiving. I am opposed to turning on the central heat until November but dragged out the space heaters. It warmed up yesterday, but it’s going to be cold today. We’re back on the autumnal weather yo-yo. So it goes.

The big local story is the precipitous fall of celebrity chef John Besh. Picayune restaurant critic Brett Anderson spent 8 months investigating charges of sexual harassment in Besh’s empire. The story landed last weekend and Besh has resigned from his company and lost two casino based locations. I’d heard that he was a hound and a creep but hadn’t heard how systematic the problem was. The timing couldn’t have been worse for Besh since it followed the Weinstein revelations.  I am trying out a new word to describe the outing of sexual harassers: Beshed. It probably won’t catch on but if it does, you heard it here first.

Another big local news story popped up as I was Oddsing and Sodsing. It’s a flap involving  mayoral frontrunner LaToya Cantrell, her use of city credit cards, and the heavy-handed intervention of District Attorney Leon Cannizzarro who is supporting her opponent. So much for that campaign being dull. It’s New Orleans politics in all its seedy glory but I’m going to save it for the Bayou Brief. I’ll let y’all know when my column drops. I’m uncertain if it will be Ionic, Doric, or Corinthian. Corinthian leather?

Now that I’ve incited the wrath of Khan, let’s move on to this week’s theme song. It was composed by Charles Mingus in honor of his friend the great jazz sax player, Lester (Prez) Young.

Here are three versions for your enjoyment. First, Charlie’s original instrumental followed by Joni Mitchell who added lyrics for her Mingus album in 1979. Finally, a guitar driven version by Jeff Beck from his Wired album:

Now that we’ve tipped our pork pie hat to the great Lester Young, it’s time to say goodbye and jump to the break or something like that. Sometimes I even confuse myself.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Spirit In The Dark

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

It’s full-bore summer in New Orleans. We’ve had our share of heat advisories this week. All one can do is drink buckets of water, keep out of the sun, and stay in an air conditioned space. It’s a good thing that I’m essentially an indoorsman. It’s too bloody hot to be all outdoorsy and shit.

I usually write about matters personal and local in the Saturday post intro, prologue or whatever the hell this is. But I cannot resist taking a swipe at the idiot president* over his recycling the “Black Jack Pershing pig’s blood on bullets to ward off Muslims” story. First, unlike the Insult Comedian, Black Jack Pershing was an intelligent man who never said or did such a thing. Second, who the hell, with the possible exception of Frank Gaffney, believes this crapola in 2017? Only a very superstitious moron, that’s who. Third, there *is* a New Orleans connection. There’s a General Pershing Street not far from Adrastos World HQ. Some of the streets in my neighborhood were named after Napoleon I’s battles: Cadiz, Bordeaux, Milan, and Marengo to name a few. General Pershing was originally Berlin Street but was renamed while the country was in throes of anti-German hysteria during the Great War. We go through times like that periodically. We’re in one of them now thanks to the Kaiser of Chaos. So it goes.

As to the featured image, I usually steer clear of using an artist’s best known work but how could I resist Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks for this nocturnally named post? Like Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops, I Can’t Help Myself.

This week’s theme song was written by Aretha Franklin for her 1970 album of the same name. It’s perhaps the best song the Queen of Soul ever wrote. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: Aretha’s original and a duet with Ray Charles from her fabulous 1971 album, Aretha Live at Fillmore West.

It’s hard to top the Genius and the Queen of Soul, y’all. I won’t even try. Well, maybe after the break.

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First Draft Potpourri: Bayou Briefing

It’s been a difficult week. Everyone I know is upset about the Charlottesville neo-Nazi riot. It’s taken a lot out of me because I know and love the place as I said on Monday. That’s why it’s time to lighten things up a bit. It may not work but comic relief is my middle name. I guess I should’ve capitalized the phrase in that case.

The post is NOT called Bayou Briefing because it’s all stories of the Gret Stet. It’s because the Bayou Brief has published my first column. Holy shameless plug, Batman.

It’s called The Fog of New Orleans Mayoral Race History and they even let me tell some jokes. Unlike some other Bayou Briefers, I wasn’t Born on the Bayou but neither was John Fogerty for that matter:

We’ll keep it in the Gret Stet of Louisiana for now.

Tweet Of The Week: Former Louisiana Governor and federal inmate Edwin Edwards’ 90th birthday soiree was held on August 12th; his actual DOB is 8-7-1927. I’m envious: there was no flooding like there was on my birthday a week earlier. Oh well, I guess us Leos have to stick together. Holy Grandfalloon, Batman.

The big shebang took place in Red Stick and EWE did his Cajun Shecky shtick as you can see from this tweet by the AP’s Melinda Deslatte:

Edwin Edwards, of course, opened a can of whoop ass on Trump’s buddy David Dukkke in 1991. He may have been a crook but he was our crook.

We’ll keep it down South, but first a marginally relevant musical selection:

Actually, I posted that because Dr. A and I usually drive through Birmingham on our way home from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Fast.

My Kind Of Cover-Up: Democratic Birmingham, Alabama Mayor William Bell was tired of looking at a Confederate monument across from City Hall. He had a novel solution:

Bell covered up the monument to Confederate veterans, first with tarps and then with wooden walls erected by city workers overnight Tuesday. Bell told reporters earlier in the day that his immediate goal was to temporarily cover the monument “until such time that we can tell the full story of slavery, the full story of what the Confederacy really meant.”

“What the Confederacy represented was the maintaining of individuals as being less than human, of promoting a supremacy doctrine that is no longer valid, and wasn’t valid then,” he added.

I guess you can tell that Mayor Bell is black. He’s being sued by the  Lost CauserAlabama AG for violating a new state law that protects Confederate shit. It’s thrilling that this is happening in the city where Bull Connor sicced police dogs on civil rights protesters.

It looks as if Birmingham is finally living up to the chorus of the Randy Newman song:

I still don’t think it’s “the greatest city in Alabam,” my money is on Mobile since they have Carnival, but Mayor Bell not only rules, he rocks. Speaking of those who do neither:

Your Twit President* Tweets: I hadn’t planned to do this segment but when I checked TPM that plan went out the window alongside the running joke in my Bayou Brief column.

The Lost Causer In Chief announced his candidacy to be the second president of the Confederate States of America in a “beautiful” tweet storm this morning:

That’s why I added Lost Causer In Chief to my panoply of Trump nicknames.

The whole “they’re trying to change history” thing drives me batshit crazy; almost as crazy as Trump. There are no monuments to Hitler in Germany or Austria. They haven’t forgotten that history, dipshit. I wish we could make like Mayor Bell and cover up Trump’s big bazoo.

How’s that whole disciplining the president* thing going, General Kelly? Not very well from the looks of it.

It’s time to cheese it across the pond for our final segment.

Finest Festival In The District: There was a different kind of Rumble in Brighton recently. Over cheese. I am not making this up:

A festival celebrating cheese is facing serious backlash for running out of it, something the weekend-long event’s organizers apparently didn’t “anticipate” a “demand for.” This Fyre Festival–level fiasco was held in the English city of Brighton and, it’s also worth noting, had sold out beforehand. It’s part of a traveling festival series literally called the Cheese Fest, where people pay £3 to £6 in advance to supposedly enjoy a drool-worthy afternoon filled with endless raclette wheels, halloumi fries, grilled cheeses, and the “most amazing mac and cheese in the world.”

The complaints started pouring in immediately on Saturday — too few stalls, outrageous lines, woefully underprepared vendors, not enough bathrooms. Very soon, the eponymous food ran out entirely. Some visitors noted they didn’t get so much as a sample-size morsel. As the afternoon stretched on, visitors kept coming, spawning more awful feedback, and organizers allegedly stooped to removing negative comments from the event’s Facebook page.

No cheese at the Cheese Festival? It’s too bad that organizers didn’t have Brie Larson or Adrastos crush Alison Brie there to distract attention.  It’s a pity that there are no chicks named Cheddar…

The Brighton cheese rumble reminds me of one of my favorite Python sketches:

Cleese: It’s not much of a cheese shop, is it?

Palin: Finest in the district sir!

Cleese: (annoyed) Explain the logic underlying that conclusion, please.

Palin: Well, it’s so clean, sir!

Cleese: It’s certainly uncontaminated by cheese.

The last word goes to John Cleese and Michael Palin to the strains of bouzouki music. I am uncertain as to whether there was a bouzouki at the  Brighton cheese rumble. One would hope so since there was no cheese. Finest festival in the district, sir.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Touch Of Gray

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère  by Edouard Manet, 1882.

It’s my birthday today. We’re planning a relatively quiet day with dinner at one of the great restaurants in New Orleans, Brigtsen’s. It’s located in an Uptown cottage, not far from the river. The service is great and the food is even better.

A note on the featured image. I’m such a Manet fan that I named a black female cat Manet. She was long-lived and lovable. We had a game that we played together wherein we compared artists. I’d ask “who do you like better, Picasso or Manet?” The answer was always the same: “Manet.” She lived to be twenty, dying in 2005 not long before Katrina. I’m glad she missed the upheaval and disruption of our nomadic evacuation. It’s hard to be a grande dame when you’re on the move.

It’s sad how few pictures we have of our pre-digital camera era cats. This is a good shot of Manet in her Dowager Empress period:

Holy lagniappe catblogging, Batman.

August 1st was the 75th anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s birth. I miss Jerry, which is why the Garcia-Hunter tune, Touch of Gray, is this week’s theme song. It was the Dead’s only genuine hit single, which is remarkable given their longevity and popularity.

We have two touches of gray for your listening pleasure: the  VH1 pop up video of their skeletony promo video and a live version from 7/4/1989 in Buffalo. Notice Jerry and keyboard player Brent Mydland touching their own gray hair before launching into the song. Oh well, a touch of gray, kind of suits you anyway. Literal but still swell. Brent died in 199o. I’ve often said that being the keyboard player in the Dead was much like being the drummer in Spinal Tap. I don’t believe in jinxes but this one has a kernel of truth.

Oh yeah, both videos were posted by someone who spelled gray with an E. So it goes.

Now that I’ve made y’all feel old and decrepit, let’s limp to the break.

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The Fly On The White House Wall

I have a dream: of a time when political news slows to a crawl in the dog days of summer. Instead, the Kaiser of Chaos (I’m testing a new Trump nickname) lops off another head on a Friday afternoon and the world goes mad. It’s too hot for this shit, y’all. But this is the new normal; make that abnormal.

The Friday news dump involved Trump’s dumping his chief of staff Reince Priebus. One usually wants to be the proverbial fly on the wall, but I’m less certain after learning about one of Reince’s weirder duties. It conjures up images of the 1958 movie, The Fly:

At one point, during a meeting in the Oval Office, a fly began buzzing overhead, distracting the president. As the fly continued to circle, Trump summoned his chief of staff and tasked him with killing the insect, according to someone familiar with the incident. (The West Wing has a regular fly problem.)

I guess I should have called Reince’s ouster a fumigation with Anthony Scaramucci as Tom (The Bug Man) Delay or Dale Gribble.  Did anyone see this van enter the White House grounds last week?

It’s always a white van. Of course, Dale called it a Bugabago but a white van is a white van is a white van. I realize that I’m comparing the super-New Yorker Mooch to two Texans but when you need a wingnut exterminator, you should not Delay in calling Dale…

That was an odd segue even for me. Let’s get this train back on the track. There are two accounts of Priebus’ ouster that floated my boat. (I *should* apologize for the mixed transportation metaphors but I won’t.)  TPM’s Allegra Kirkland (my new favorite name) compiled Reince’s ongoing humiliations since becoming a Trump dignity wraith last year. I savored this waltz down memory lane:

“People assume oh, are you – you must be miserable. You’ve got a horrible job. But I don’t see it that way,” Priebus said in an April 2016 interview with CNN. “I’m not pouring Bailey’s in my cereal, I’m not sitting here trying to find a Johnnie Walker.”

Exactly what someone considering pouring Bailey’s in his cereal might say.

Bailey’s on Cheerios might be a fabulous breakfast combination on Mardi Gras morning. I realize Omar Little would insist on Honey Nut Cheerios but that would be sickly sweet. Besides, he’s fictional, yo:

So much for getting this train back on track; that GIF may have even sunk the boat. Perhaps an automotive GIF will save the day:

The second primo Priebus piece comes from New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi. Her article won the weekend because of this headline, Why the ‘Mooch’ Whacked Reince Priebus. Answer: it was a contract hit. The Insult Comedian made him do it.

One swell thing about Nuzzi’s piece is her list of insulting nicknames for the defenestrated chief-of-staff:

In and out of the White House, Priebus was referred to by all manner of derogatory nicknames centered on the male anatomy, like Rancid Penis, Reince Penis, The Penis, and Little Penis.

Team Trump *is* full of dickheads, pricks, and self cocksuckers, after all. The mild-mannered Priebus was destined to be a phall guy…

The derogatory nicknames make me wonder why Priebus goes by the nickname Reince. That’s right, it’s not his given name as we learn from this 2016 Politico puff piece:

The Chairman has no problem acknowledging he has a unique name that can be difficult to pronounce at first. Here’s a simple trick: Reince rhymes with “pints.”

As it turns out, Reince is actually a nickname for his full name, Reinhold, which has been passed down in his family for years. “It’s what happens when a Greek and a German get married,” Priebus joked.

“My life is very much like My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” 

Dude, if that were the case, you’d be like one of my male relatives and be nicknamed Chris, Nick, Con, Lou, or Pete. Reinhold is a terrible name but Reince is even worse. It’s one reason Charlie Pierce has long called you “obvious anagram Reince Priebus.” Why didn’t you become Butch, Buddy, or even Spanky? It might have spared you some of the penis jokes, except for the last one. One might even say that his fellow Republicans have Priebus envy…

Back to the fly on the White House wall imagery. I selected the double feature poster at the top of the post for a  specific reason: flies are like Trump dignity wraiths. Reince isn’t the first to be swatted and he won’t be the last. The problem in the White House is the psychopath who won the electoral college last fall and enjoys pulling the wings off flies. If General Kelly means business, he would ban the president* from tweeting and not let Scaramucci take the oath of office. That’s right, he’s not even formally on the public payroll yet and he’s already purged Priebus. The Mooch is bulletproof until he upstages the Insult Comedian. Then *his* wings will be pulled off. So it goes.

It doesn’t matter if the new chief of staff is a Marine General, this will happen again and again as long as the Kaiser of Chaos demeans John Adams’ White House with his presence.

The last word goes to Jeff Goldblum as The Fly in David Cronenberg’s 1986 version:

Yeah, I know there were no words but I am a creature of  habit.

Time to swat a fly. Thwack. Splat.

Malaka Of The Week: David Brooks

I am an anomaly among veteran liberal political bloggers. I have never written about David Brooks. The man known as Bobo has long been one of Athenae’s favorite targets. I almost called him her whipping boy but I have sworn off bondage jokes after an incident involving this Zappa song:

In any event, Brooks has written a column so silly that even I have taken notice. And that is why David Brooks is malaka of the week.

I’m late to the whole sammich column debate, but suffice it to say that one of the things Bobo thinks is wrong with America are foreign ingredients:

Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.

We are well and truly through the looking glass. Malaka Bobo thinks that Italian meats that have been eaten for years by his swarthier countrymen are an indicator of decline. Really, Bobo? Trump is president* Mitch McConnell is trying to destroy Medicaid and prosciutto is the problem?

If David Brooks weren’t such a white boy, he’d know that many Americans, including the working class types he’s suddenly so solicitous of, have been eating ethnic foods for years. Sure, yuppies are into it but so is the average Italian Giovanni in Jersey, not to mention Cajun oil rig roughnecks and their demon boudin. Somebody should bop Bobo in the bean with a baguette and knock some sense into him.

The best thing I’ve seen about the sammich mishigas was a meaty post by Charlie Pierce who has been mocking Bobo for years:

Moral Hazard, the Irish setter owned for photo op purposes by New York Times columnist David Brooks, stood dripping and shivering in my foyer. I half-filled his dog bowl with Jameson and he took it down in several big gulps.

 “I had to get out,” he said. “It was starting to get crazy down there. Master’s off the rails and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. He walks around, day and night, mumbling to himself, saying weird stuff about community and prosciutto. People are starting to wonder. Douthat, the former houseboy, jumps into closets now when he sees him coming and Stephens, the new one, hides behind the sofa. Nobody wants to listen to 15 minutes on how Edmund Burke’s Reflections warned us against radicalism and balsamic vinegar. I mean, OK, hear it once and it’s interesting but around the third time, you want to talk about hockey.”
I’ll be doggone if I can top that but I’m glad to hear that Malaka Bobo has a commoner as a pal. It could explain why he’s so down to earth and in touch with white working class Trump voters. #sarcasm. I hope Breakfast for Bobo involves strictly American ingredients although I suspect we’d have to gritsplain a Southern breakfast to this pompous fool who thinks that croissants and cappuccino are ruining the country. And that is why David Brooks is malaka of the week.

The last word goes to the late Warren Zevon who knew a good thing when he tasted it unlike that silly billy Bobo.

UPDATE: It turns out that I wrote about David Brooks in 2014: Bobo’s Weed Screed. It was strictly a one off deal. Oh well, nobody’s perfect.

Saturday Odds & Sods: You Never Can Tell

It’s been a long week in New Orleans. It’s been wet, steamy, and crimey. Is that a word? The spell-checker wanted to change it to criminy. The local media have been in full freak out mode over a mugging/beatdown in the Quarter, which means we’ve had to see the video of the attack 444 times. They caught the muggers who appear to be Katrina kids left to their own devices after the storm. It’s a sad story all the way around. Criminy.

This week’s featured image is a photograph of the spectacular Babylon set built for D.W. Griffith’s 1916 epic Intolerance, which I mentioned the other day in my post about racist vandalism in Mississippi. The statues and other adornments were made of plaster and executed by artisans imported from Italy. Team Trump would want to deport them instead of celebrating their artistry. Unfortunately, the set was torn down but its glory is preserved in pictures and on film.

This week’s theme song was written by Chuck Berry. It’s a tune of many names. It’s also known as C’est La Vie or the Teenage Wedding Song. Berry’s original version turned up in Pulp Fiction as the soundtrack for the dancing scene between the two Ts: Travolta and Thurman.

Next up are two spirited renditions. The first comes from Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings. I stumbled into it whilst mocking the anti-Beatle diatribe of the Other Bill Wyman in this space not long ago. I had to, uh, Get Back at him.

The second version was requested of Bruce Springsteen at a 2013 show. It’s fun to watch the E Street Band work through it. Call it inside rock and roll:

Now that we’ve seen Uma dance and Bruce wing it, let’s go to the break. See you on the other side.

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First Draft Potpourri For $400, Alex

Remember when we had the odd slow news weekend? That’s become a rarity in the era of the Insult Comedian and the failed Republican Congress. The scandals and bad legislation keep flying at us like Russian malware attacks. Hence this recurring feature. I’m not planning to restrict First Draft Potpourri to just one day. I prefer to be like the Scarlet Pimpernel:

They seek him here, they seek him there.

Those Frenchies seek him everywhere, that damned elusive pimpernel.

Frenchies? I guess that’s not too bad as ethnic slurs go. Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan stepped in a pile of guinea doo-doo by referring to “Dago Red” wine in an interview that consisted of slamming the Italian-American leader of his caucus, Nancy D’Alessandro Pelosi. Ryan subsequently apologized for using what he claimed was the local lingo in his part of Ohio. Attaboy, Timmy. I wonder if you’ve been called the other M word recently; Malaka. Probably not.

Many New Orleans eateries used to carry an item called the “wop salad.” I took the pulse of my community and found only one place in the metro area that still calls it that. It’s Rocky and Carlo’s in Chalmette. It’s in St. Bernard Parish which once had a councilman named Joey DiFatta. That’s apropos of nothing but I miss him. It’s doubtful that the Chalmatians feel the same way.

Let’s get back to Nancy Smash, she’s become the anti-pinup girl for GOP fundraisers and mad men. It’s no surprise: they’re particularly fond of slamming powerful women. I was, however, gobsmacked that some of the simpler folk on twitter think this is a new move. Wingnuts have always had a target or three in Congress: Ted Kennedy was their main whipping boy for many years. He was librul and came from a den of inquity/librul city, Boston. Nancy Smash, of course, represents San Francisco, but she remains at heart the daughter of  former Baltimore Mayor Tommy D’Alessandro. She takes the best of machine politics and mashes it up with progressive positions on the issues. She has her critics, but I say bring it on, Berners. If you can get the votes, you win. That is if you know how to count votes. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Speaking of vote counting, the drama over the Senate health care reform* bill is coming down to a head count. I’m neither as optimistic nor pessimistic as some pro-ACA observers. There are four GOPers who want a worse bill. I think they’re posturing: it’s what Ted Cruz and Aqua Buddha do. The so-called moderates are staging a “woe is me” pantomime but they tend to fold like a drunk with a pair of deuces. Besides, Chinless Mitch will not bring a bill to the floor that he doesn’t have 50 votes + Mike Pence. McConnell is a totally reprehensible human being but the fucker can count. There is, however, an outside possibility that he wants to lose the vote and blame it on the president*.

Time for an account of one of my favorite non-obscene LBJ stories. It involves  a conversation he had with Hubert Humphrey when they served together in the Senate. LBJ looked at HHH and said: “The problem with you liberals Hubert is that you cain’t count. That’s why you cain’t get shit done. Learn to count.” The no-account HHH learned his lesson and applied it when he was lead Senator on the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

I’ve heard rumbling about Jane and Bernie Sanders’ financial dealings for quite some time. Nothing seemed to come of it until recently. It turns out the feds are looking into issues surrounding her tenure as President of Bennington College. I have no idea if there’s anything to it but they’ve lawyered up; hiring Dollar Bill Jefferson’s mouthpiece, Larry Cassidy who also defended Scooter Libby. He lost those cases but has a good reputation. Stay tuned.

The Insult Comedian continues to tweet like a demented moron. It’s annoying as hell but it’s proof positive that he doesn’t know anything about the first rule of holes: if you’re in one, stop digging. He’s also denounced former President Obama for using the word mean. The Darnold seems to think he owns the word. I wonder if he’s coming after Crowded House next?

That concludes this edition of First Draft Potpourri. I’ll be stirring the pot again some time soon. I am relentless.

First Draft Potpourri For $500, Alex

The mind reels over how much is going on in the world. The breaking news is flying so thick and fast that it’s hard to keep up without going mad. Hence this experiment with some quick segments, one-liners, and tweets.

Blighty Blighted? We begin with the British election in which the Tories screwed up and Labour did better than expected. The former are not dead yet and Labour should stop acting like they won. The current leadership has proven they’re good campaigners, now they need to prove they’re an effective parliamentary opposition and government-in-waiting.

My favorite image about the late UK campaign came from a tweet from a German cartoonist. I saw it in the Guardian, which is where all good things come from:

There were a whole lotta froms in that segment. Of course, Fromm *is* a German surname…

Tweet Of The Day: Our old “pal” Roger Stone is hawking tee-shirts to fund his next Nixon tattoo:

Takes one to know one, Rog.

Speaking of Twitter oddities. Twitter offered to translate my Comeypalooza post tweet from the original Lithuanian. Hell, I don’t even speak Latvian let alone Lithuanian…

Poor Ivanka: The First Daughter was on Fox & Fucking Friends this morning and got all whiny. She claimed to be gobsmacked by the “viciousness” of Washington. This from a woman whose horrid father was birther-in-chief and whose criminal father-in-law hired a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law and mailed the tape to his sister. Now that’s vicious, as is this Lou Reed song:

Qatar Reminder: My NOLA blogger buddy and Spank krewe mate, Noladishu tweeted a reminder of Qatari post-K support for New Orleans.

He would indeed. I don’t want the Ashley-geist vexed with me so I thought I should share this Noladishu dish. It also allows me to make the following Qatari puns:

My Qatar Wants To Kill Your Mama.

Perfectly Good Qatar.

On behalf of the pun community, I’d like to thank Noladishu for the straight line. It’s what friends are for; my friends at least. My late friend Perfesser Morris would have approved too, he liked puns as much as he hated ennui:

Watergate Junkie Fix Time: The great Ron Rosenbaum shared a NYT article wondering how Tricky’s takedown would be covered in 2017:

When will they ask the eternal question: what did the Insult Comedian know and when did he lie about it? What is everything and constantly, Alex. Believe me.

The Obituary Cafe: You’ve all heard of the passing of Adam West at the age of 88. His campy but deadpan “Bright Knight” take on Batman was an important part of my childhood. I realize that people take comic book movies seriously now but they involve grown-ups in tights fighting cackling villains. What’s campier than that?

George Segal as Pops in The Goldbergs is on Team Bright Knight:

Finally, did anyone know that the guy who first put pineapple on pizza was Greek-Canadian? I did not until the other day. The Greek in question, Sam Panopoulos died recently at 83. I’ve always been opposed to pineapple on pizza and I don’t recall my father’s position on it. But he was always proud of Greeks who made it and an obituary in the Guardian is making it.

As far as I’m concerned pineapple on pizza is only a misdemeanor and Sam sounded like a great guy otherwise. But I’m not claiming cousinage even if Lou might have. I’m almost as prickly about pineapple on pizza as the Icelandic President.

That concludes this edition of First Draft Potpourri. Pass the pizza, skip the pineapple.

The Americans Thread: Tuan Gone

Family matters dominate the latest episode, IHOP. Philip is obliged to contemplate his real son as well as two fake sons. It’s hard being a spy sometimes. Even worse, Philip’s resolve continues to be shakier than a Jello salad at a Midwestern church supper.

Another main theme of the episode is how overextended the Jennings are between travel agenting, spying, and parenting. In the immortal words of Johnny Mercer: Something’s gotta give. Something’s gotta give. Something’s gotta give.

On that cheerful note, it’s time for our spoiler break. But first, one of the songs I’ve been substituting Tuan for gone in. It’s a weird hobby, but it’s mine all mine:

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Into The Great Wide Open

The Millinery Shop by Edgar Degas.

It’s the first weekend of Jazz Fest. Absent free tickets, we’re not attending this year. We will, however, be going to our top secret location just outside the Fairgrounds to hear Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I’d be heartbroken if we didn’t do that. I hope that the weather will co-operate. There’s a chance of severe thunderstorms tomorrow. So it goes.

Hats are popular at Jazz Fest. That’s one reason I posted the Degas painting as the featured image. Another is that Degas spent time in the Crescent City visiting his Creole family; some of whom identified as black and others as white, much like the Herriman-Chasse clan I recently discussed in this space. It’s why gumbo is used so often as a metaphor to describe the natives. I’m equally inclined to compare New Orleans to a crazy quilt. The creator of Krazy Kat was born here, after all.

In other local news, the Saints have signed 32-year-old running back Adrian Peterson. His age is not my problem with the signing: it’s his status as a child beater. I wrote about it 3 years ago: Adrian Peterson Did Not Spank His Son, He Beat Him. So much for all of Sean Payton’s blather about bringing in players with “character.” This one has or had a “whooping room” in his Houston area house full of belts, switches, and the like.

This week’s theme song comes from the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album of the same name. Into The Great Wide Open is best known for its swell video and “rebel without a clue” chorus. The latter surely applies to the current occupant of the White House. The deplorables among his supporters are a rabble without a clue.

While we’re on the subject of Tom Petty, here’s a sleeper track from that very album:

I’m fond of that song because it reminds me of one of the main drags of my native Peninsula: El Camino Real. That’s the king’s highway in Spanish.  It spans several Bay Area counties and was where teenage me used to cruise. We didn’t have the internet to occupy us so we drove about aimlessly. One of my cronies always called it the Elk. That’s a bit too gamey or clubby for my taste. It must be time for the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Fate’s Right Hand

Reply To Red by Yves Tanguy.

Spring is prime time for crawfish boils or as the natives say, berls. We’ve been to two in the last three weeks. The first one involved some of the usual suspects and nothing unusual happened other than a five-year-old girl pointing at the sacks of live crawfish and asking, “When will they be dead?” That’s a sassy Louisiana child, y’all. It’s one reason why her mama nicknamed her the Benevolent Dictator. I’m not so sure about the first bit though…

Something quite eventful happened last weekend at the second shebang. The berl was thrown (not by Milton Berle or Burl Ives) by one of Dr. A’s first year medical students. He’s an older student who was a helicopter pilot in the Army and is still a reservist. That’s one reason he lives at Jackson Barracks near Arabi, Louisiana. That’s right, it was an Arabi spring crawfish berl…

When I first heard our host’s name, I remarked that it was the same name as the man who sold us our house after renovating it in 2000. It’s a fairly common name so we agreed it was unlikely that her student was a Junior. Guess what? It’s a small fucking world after all. Our host’s father had indeed renovated Adrastos World HQ and Dr. A’s student had worked on the project. The latter was somewhat freaked out by the string of coincidences but I told him not to sweat it because it made him de facto teacher’s pet. Besides, the man knows how to boil crawfish. It’s an indispensable skill as far as I’m concerned.

This week’s theme song is the title track of Rodney Crowell’s 2003 album, Fate’s Right Hand. It seems that one of his daughters didn’t care for the song at the time. Somewhere in my archives I have a circa 2004 Crowell concert at which he introduced Fate’s Right Hand  more or less as follows:

“My daughter hates this song. She told me it’s undignified for me to talk about poontang and the narrator of the song having a pole in his pants. I told her that I’m a country singer and her mother and grandfather are both country singers. We’re not dignified people.  She reminded me that Grandpa Johnny was the most dignified person she knew. I couldn’t argue that point so I changed the subject.”

Fate’s Right Hand is a list song. The most famous list song I can think of is Irving Berlin’s You’re The Top. Another list song classic is REM’s It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine.) I don’t feel like listing list songs so here’s Fate’s Right Hand:

Rodney is fond of list songs. He wrote one about greedy yuppies for his 2005 album, The Outsider complete with the refrain: give it to me, give it to me. I will comply:

Give it to me, give it to me. You may not be as demanding as the coked-out greed head in the song but let’s take a break anyway. Give it to me, give it to me.

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Middle Eastern Burritos and Other Immigration/Food Discussions

At dinner the other night we were trying to figure out if any other country had AS diverse an experience of food cultures as America. Did Europe have as many Mexican restaurants? Did South American countries have Czech food?

Nobody at the table had traveled enough to say definitively, but this Eater article gets to some of the issues raised in the food industry by a sustained anti-immigrant campaign on the part of government. 

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Forecast (Calls For Pain)

Rockwell

The Problem We All Face by Norman Rockwell.

We’re back on the weather roller coaster in New Orleans. One day it’s unseasonably warm, the next it’s colder than average. It’s almost as crazy as the Current Occupant of the White House. Did you see that insane press conference by the least racist and anti-Semitic person ever? In response to the crazy, I tweeted this:

I hope all the Busters and Steiners are happy right now. They insisted that there was no difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They were wrong. She’s sane.

Did y’all see the cartoon that was based on the Norman Rockwell painting that’s this week’s featured image? Here it is on the Tweeter Tube. I refuse to upload it:

That’s right, folks, Cartoonist Glenn (Not The Real) McCoy compared billionaire dilettante Betsy DeVos to NOLA’s own Ruby Bridges That’s preposterous and typical of the whiny titty babies on the Right in 2017.

Btw, BuzzFeed: You got something wrong.

On Sunday, the Belleville News-Democrat published this cartoon by Glenn McCoy. It appears to equate Betsy DeVos, Trump’s controversial pick for secretary of education, with Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend an all-white school in the South.

Ruby Bridges *was* the first black student to attend an all-white elementary school in New Orleans in 1960. She was not the first overall: that honor belonged to the Little Rock Nine in 1957. The last I heard New Orleans was in the South. Y’all should spend less time cutting and pasting tweets and more time on research.

This week’s theme song fits both my mood and the temper of the times. The Forecast (Calls For Pain) comes from Robert Cray’s brilliant 1990 album Midnight Stroll:

It’s time to take a midnight stroll to the break. The forecast is for more mirth than pain on the other side.

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Tweet Of The Day: Food Fight

Food was important in my family. My mother was a phenomenal cook and fed us well. She made sure that her youngest (me) knew how to cook since his father could only boil water in the science oven. She learned to cook all the Greek family recipes from my Yia Yia and added a few twists of her own; mostly involving cheese and Norwegian baked goods.

Food is important in Greek culture as well. I recall my aunt asking my cousin to defrost a moussaka for my father’s wake. Said cousin said: “Which one? There are three. Heaven forbid we run out of food in this family.” That’s why I fit in so well in New Orleans. I quickly realized how food obsessed they were here and said, “These are my people.” It was my Brigham (This is the Place) Young moment only without the plural wives and autocratic tendencies.

I included that long preamble to point out that I understand the importance of food. I don’t, however, squeal when someone knocks an eatery I like, not even one owned by a relative. That brings me to the Insult Comedian’s latest early morning rant:

You probably already knew that Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter has been feuding with Trump for decades. He’s the one who first dubbed Trump a “short-fingered vulgarian.” That’s not it, this whole mishigas is about a bad VF review by Tina Nguyen: Trump Grill Could Be The Worst Restaurant In America. Here’s a tasting menu of Ms. Nguyen’s piece:

The allure of Trump’s restaurant, like the candidate, is that it seems like a cheap version of rich. The inconsistent menus—literally, my menu was missing dishes that I found on my dining partners’—were chock-full of steakhouse classics doused with unnecessarily high-end ingredients. The dumplings, for instance, come with soy sauce topped with truffle oil, and the crostini is served with both hummus and ricotta, two exotic ingredients that should still never be combined. The menu itself would like to impress diners with how important it is, randomly capitalizing fancy words like “Prosciutto” and “Julienned” (and, strangely, ”House Salad”).

<SNIP>

Perhaps Trump’s veneer of a steakhouse is too obviously a veneer, meant for the hoodied masses to visit once and never return. (There are already an infinite number of articles about how Trump’s mass-produced products are meant to impress a hollow sense of wealth.) And prior to his victory, it seemed as if the world of Fifth Avenue power brokers agreed: the lobby was perpetually empty, the Grill(e) mostly frequented with Trump Tower residents and locals looking for a convenient power lunch, if any of the bigger, better power-lunch spots nearby were full. But later, when I read previous reviews of the Trump Grill before he became a presidential front-runner, I was shocked to discover that the food back then was bland, mediocre, and as Eater’s Robert Sietsema once wrote, “for timid people with digestive problems.” In other words, it was a culinary marvel lightyears beyond the rich-man slop we ate at the Trump Grill weeks after the election. (And indeed, it was slop: as soon as I got home, I brushed my teeth twice and curled up in bed until the nausea passed.)

The food critics I’ve known have cast-iron stomachs so it takes a lot to induce nausea. She actually kinda sorta liked the Taco Salad that inspired this racist tweet and rare Trumpian smile on Cinco de Mayo:

Back to the attack tweet. Yes, Virginia, Donald Trump is this thin-skinned.

Ms. Nguyen’s takedown of Trumpe Grille is the most scathing restaurant review I’ve read since the NYT’s Pete Wells took a dump on the dread Guy Fieri’s tourist trap back in 2012. Now that I think of it, Trump and Fieri have some things in common: bad hair and incessant shouting. There’s even a series of Trump-Fieri mashup pictures floating about the interweb. This one in text form is my fave rave:

Trump-Fieri

Thanks, Hell Demon, whoever the hell  you are. I hope that Flavor Town is safe for now. That begs the bigger (beggar?) question: is anywhere in America safe from the Insult Comedian’s incessant whining? It’s not as if he cooks the food at Trump Grill. I bet he can’t even boil water in the science oven.

I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know but Trump is a classic bully. I’m old school when it comes to dealing with bullies: you stand up to them and fight back. A sensitivity seminar isn’t going to help with the likes of Donald Trump. The best defense is mockery of any Trump branded item, which is guaranteed to inspire a whiny tweet. Mr. Tough Guy is actually the whiner-in-chief as well as a bigger Weiner than Anthony…

Finally, I’d like to thank for the Insult Comedian for giving me something to write about. I’ve been sick so it’s been one and done for me this week. What would I do without you, Donnie baby? I’d love to find out. Life without Mr. Big Man sounds most appealing: