Category Archives: Food and Drink

Saturday Odds & Sods: Hand Of Kindness

Still Life with Onions by Paul Cezanne

March is the cruelest month in New Orleans for allergy sufferers like me. The weather has been sunny and cool; perfect for outdoor activity. The rub is the oak pollen that can be found everywhere. It coats cars, sidewalks, and any surface it can light on. It makes me feel itchy and my nose run like a broken faucet. The most dramatic symptom involves my eyes, which resemble red gravy in sockets if such a thing is possible.

Enough bitching about my allergies. This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson and was the title track of his 1983 solo album. It was his first record after breaking up personally and professionally with Linda Thompson. It’s one of his finest albums featuring some of his best songs and that’s saying a lot.

We have two versions of Hand Of Kindness for your listening pleasure. The studio original and a live version from Cropredy circa beats the hell outta me.

Now that I’ve extended the hand of kindness, it’s time to jump to the break. Given the RT album cover, we may have to do so at the Chelsea Embankment. Splash.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Moon River

Swing Landscape by Stuart Davis

Carnival is about to kick into high gear and it looks as if it may be a wet season. There are few things worse than parading or watching in the rain. What was the old cliché? Oh yeah, don’t rain on my parade. I’m not a fan of being fenced in either.

This week’s theme song is a longtime favorite of mine. It was written in 1961 by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer for the classic movie Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Moon River has some of Mercer’s best, and most evocative, lyrics. I’m still waiting round the bend for my huckleberry friend but they haven’t shown up. So it goes.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure:  a jazzy interpretation by the great Sarah Vaughan and a swinging version by my homey Dr. John.

Now that we’re huckleberry friends, we won’t wait until the end to jump to the break.

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Dispiriting

Photograph via the Failing New York Times

I’m a whiskey drinker be it Bourbon, sour mash, rye. I’m not gonna lie: I like it all whether you spell it with an E or not. One could even consider this a mash note to distilleries, domestic and foreign: I’m fond of Irish, Scottish, and Canadian whiskies as well. I’ll take some more Tullamore, please.

That’s why I’m dispirited by the news that American distilleries are suffering from the Teetotaler-in-Chief’s “easy to win” trade war; hereinafter ETWTW. Last Friday, China joined the European Union in slapping stiff tariffs on American whiskey.

The Insult Comedian is too busy bloviating about his stupid wall to notice that the ETWTW is biting two red states in the butt: bigly. Big Whiskey is centered in Kentucky and Tennessee but the ETWTW is hurting craft distilleries as well.

This old-fashioned trade war is like a whiskey sour with too much lemon juice. Where the hell are Chinless Mitch and Aqua Buddha in all of this? The former is too busy handling the Kaiser of Chaos and the latter is too busy blowing him to make a stand for whiskey. They’ve truly missed the Maker’s Mark. As to the Tennessee delegation, Lamar Alexander is retiring and Marsha Blackburn is too busy importing Bachmannism to the Senate to stand up for Jack Daniel’s. Sinatra would be horrified:

One of the ironies of Tariff Man Trump’s ETWTW is that it’s hurting red state America the most. Ask a soybean farmer. Here’s a little known fact: soybeans are the biggest cash crop in the Gret Stet of Louisiana and those folks are getting hosed by the ETWTW with China. Believe me.

Enough soybean palaver, back to whiskey. Since puns are big among wineries, I think it’s past time for distillers to follow suit. Here’s my suggestion:

In addition to being a helluva pun, it’s a reference to the minimalist modernist Dutch art movement of the 1920’s, De Stijl, which means The Style in Kentucky and Tennessee, y’all. The image is Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie. It’s a winner, I tell ya.

The last word goes to the Dubliners:

How come nobody told me that there was a Thin Lizzy version of Whiskey In The Jar? I guess the boys were out of town that week:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Rainy Night In Georgia

Hummingbirds by Walter Inglis Anderson

The Super Bowl  will be played tomorrow in Atlanta, but ratings in New Orleans will be abysmal because of the infamous blown call. The game is being boycotted by most locals: Dr. A and I are going to two non-watching parties. I’m unsure if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will be burnt in effigy at either soiree. One of them is a birthday party so perhaps there will be a Goodell pinata. Probably not: my friends Clay and Candice have a small child and the sight of Goodell is traumatic to most New Orleanians.

New Orleans and Atlanta have a longstanding and intense rivalry. And not just in football. They’ve topped us economically but we have better food as well as charm up the proverbial wazoo. Saints fans are also disappointed not to be Super Bowling in Atlanta because they’re losing out on some trash talking opportunities. So it goes.

This week’s theme song was written in 1967 by Louisiana native Tony Joe White who died last fall at the age of 75. Rainy Night In Georgia is a song that proves the adage that the best songs are sad songs: “looks like it’s raining all over the world.”

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: the songwriter’s original, Brook Benton’s 1970 hit version, and a mournful 2013 interpretation by Boz Scaggs.

Let’s put away our umbrellas and jump to the break. We’ll try not to splash land.

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He Doesn’t Care Who He Hurts

The shutdown, and food stamp recipients: 

What’s left after that is an approximately $3 billion contingency reserve that’ll be dipped into to ensure benefits continue into February. What happens next—will the remainder of that reserve be used up to distribute money to these low-income households in March?—isn’t clear.

An expert in the field confirms to Delish there’s no precedent for a situation like that and that it’s only the Department of Agriculture and the administration who’d be able to answer that question. There is a world where if there is no appropriation for the programs, there is no program at all. Even after the government re-opens, if the law that re-opens it doesn’t include funding for SNAP, there would just not be any authority for the government to fulfill those benefits, though the source hesitates to say so.

If you have a local food pantry and have been holding off giving, now would be a good time. They’re going to be slammed from this with no help in sight. Trump doesn’t care about any of these people and he and McConnell are all too happy to sacrifice them if it means “winning” in this mess.

And while we’re here, JUST ONE MORE GODDAMN PERSON please write a column about how both sides need to come to an agreement. Democrats have offered approximately everything BUT a giant border wall in order to reopen the government, and since they now have the House, we OUGHT to be due a few hundred thousand words on how Republicans need to reach across the aisle and compromise but no, it’s all “this is happening because we are so partisan and divided” and “both sides” and just generally give me all the fucking breaks. It’s too stupid to believe, most days, where we are.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Drinking Again

Subway Portrait by Walker Evans

The weather roller coaster continues in New Orleans but nobody cares because the Saints are playing the Rams in the NFC championship game tomorrow. Our loud fans are bound to blow the roof off the Superdome and it’s going to be raucous everywhere in town. There’s some overconfidence among the fans but very little on the team itself. I still refuse to say Who Dat but I will say Geaux Saints.

In other local news, the Rolling Stones are playing Jazz Fest. I’ve seen the Stones 6 times, but I’m not shelling out $185 for their special day, which is especially expensive. I may just have to listen for free from my top-secret location nearby. Here’s my  only comment on the continuing gentrification of Jazz Fest:

This week’s theme song, Drinking Again, was written in 1962 by Johnny Mercer and Doris Tauber. We have versions by two of the greatest singers ever: Aretha Franklin and Francis Albert Sinatra. Bottoms up.

The song was reworked in 1968 by the Jeff Beck Group:

I hope you’re not too tipsy to jump to the break.

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Not Everything Sucks: Food Edition

Local tamales, bitches: 

BRIDGEPORT — For nearly 75 years, La Guadalupana’s tamales have been a fixture at South Side grocers and corner stores.

Now — thanks to a new contract with Walmart — the rest of the Chicago area is getting the chance to try out the Bridgeport-based company’s products.

La Guadalupana inked a deal in the summer to sell its products at 38 Walmart stores throughout Chicago and southern Wisconsin. It marks a major expansion for a company that has humble roots as a local, immigrant-owned bakery. The products arrived on Walmart shelves in time for the holidays.

“There’s a lot of pride,” said Alejandro Castro, third generation manager of La Guadalupana. “We’ve been able to stick to our roots, using the same recipes my grandparents started with.”

OM NOM NOM.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Because The Night

Twelfth Night Revelers Pageant Design by Charles Briton, 1871

Carnival is in its early stages but it’s beginning to eat my life. That may sound cannibalistic but I’ve always been fascinated by the Donner Party, so I’m down with cannibals. But I was never big on the band Fine Young Cannibals. I like music with more bite. All FYC ever did was was drive me crazy. Hmm, FYC sounds like KFC and you know what they say about chicken…

Last Sunday was Twelfth Night proper so Dr. A and I attended the launch party of a new business owned by our friends Will and Jennifer Samuels. It’s called the King Cake Hub and they sell a wide variety of King Cake from numerous local bakeries. And New Orleanians are obsessed with King Cake.

The King Cake Hub’s location has added to the local interest: the Mortuary at 4800 Canal Street. It used to be a genuine mortuary and is currently home to an elaborate haunted house every fall. If you don’t believe me, it’s picture time:

I knew Will before he became a King Cake impresario and was a pizza man; not to be confused with Frank Furillo of Hill Street Blues. I wish him well in his new venture. End of semi-shameless unpaid commercial plug.

Henceforth there shall be no more shilling. Isn’t “thou shall not shill” one of The Ten Commandments of Love?

This week’s theme song, Because The Night, has something of a checkered history:

The song was originally recorded by Bruce Springsteen during sessions for his Darkness on the Edge of Town album. He was not satisfied with the song and later declared he already knew he wasn’t going to finish it since it was “a[nother] love song”; the Patti Smith Group was working on Easter in the studio next door, with engineer/producer Jimmy Iovine working on both albums. Iovine gave Smith a tape of the song, she recast it, and it was included on Easter, becoming the first single released from that album.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Patti’s version, Bruce and the E Street live in 2012, and Bruce and Patti teaming up with U2.

WARNING: BONO ALERT.

If that Bono sighting doesn’t make you want to jump to the break, I don’t know what will. So, follow me, trail along.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Elf’s Lament

House on Tchoupitoulas Street by Dr. A

I was under the weather for several days, which means that this week’s outing will be somewhat truncated. I don’t have the full Odds & Sods spirit but I’m working on the Christmas spirit. It’s hard for someone inclined to root for Scrooge, the Grinch, and Mr. Potter but I’m giving it the old school try. I’m not quite sure which old school to apply to.

The featured image is a picture of a house a few blocks away from Adrastos World HQ. It’s always seasonally decorated by the elderly black lady who lives there with her son. During Carnival, they like to blast old school soul music. Good god, y’all.

This week’s theme song was written in 2004 by Ed Robertson for Barenaked for the Holidays. The studio version features a guest appearance by crooner Michael Bublé.  It’s unknown if Bublé brought bubbly to the session. The live version flat out rocks in an elvish way.

I’m still a bit enervated from my malady but let’s jump to the break anyway. Hopefully, that pesky Santa and his sleigh won’t be in the way. Neither Donner not Vixen likes me at all. I find Vixen vexatious so the feeling is mutual.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Deportee (Plane Crash At Los Gatos)

Roots by Frida Kahlo

I’ve been following the horrific events at the US-Mexico border. After a few weeks of relative quiet on the caravan front, the Insult Comedian has ramped up the war of words in this fake crisis. He added a new weapon to his usual arsenal of hot air and bullshit: tear gas. Trump claimed that it was “very safe tear gas” but there’s no such thing, especially since they tear gassed babies. Exposure to tear gas has detrimental effects on childhood development. It’s some nasty shit. I was exposed to tear gas in the Paris Metro many years ago. I don’t recall what the protest was about, but I recall feeling woozy, raspy, and weepy for hours after being tear gassed. I guess it wasn’t the “very safe” kind that Trump is so proud of. #sarcasm

Trump’s ridiculous claim that tear gas is “very safe” reminds me of an encounter with one of my Greek Greek relatives. I called him Theo (Uncle) Panos but he was married to my father’s  cousin. He was a proud and boisterous man who had a small business making and selling taverna-type chairs in the Monastiriki district in old Athens. He believed that everything Greek was the best. It was one reason he and Lou got on so well. I’ll never forget dining al fresco one evening with Panos and his family. There were flies swarming and  I kept shooing them away. Panos laughed and said, “Don’t worry. In Greece, the flies are clean and very safe.”

This week’s theme song was written in 1948 by Woody Guthrie and Martin Hoffman in protest of the racist treatment of Mexican nationals who perished in a plane crash in Los Gatos, California. 32 people died: 4 Americans and 28 Mexican migrant workers who were being deported to Mexico. The media of the day listed the names of the dead Yanquis but referred to the Mexicans solely as deportees.

Sometimes the “crash” in the title is replaced with “wreck” but the song remains the same. Deportee (Plane Crash at Los Gatos) is one of the great protest songs and has been recorded many times over the last 70 years.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Woody Guthrie, Dave Alvin & Jimmie Gilmore, and Nancy Griffith.

Now that we’ve been deported, it’s time to jump to the break. We’ll try not to crash-land but I make no guarantees. Now where the hell did I put my parachute?

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Late In The Evening

Father Mississippi by Walter Inglis Anderson.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Porcini Envy?

I’m a bit late to the mushroom dick dance. I had other things to do yesterday so I missed out on most of the zany twitter responses to this quote from Stormy Daniels’ book:

“He knows he has an unusual penis,” Daniels writes. “It has a huge mushroom head. Like a toadstool…

“I lay there, annoyed that I was getting fucked by a guy with Yeti pubes and a dick like the mushroom character in Mario Kart…

I guess a description of the First Dickhead’s dick was inevitable given the company he keeps. It’s also appropriately inappropriate that the Mario Kart character is named Toad. I’m not a gamer like my pal Dave Gladow so I had to google it along with “Yeti pubes.” Ugh. Stay classy, Stormy.

It’s hard to be witty when writing about the Insult Comedian’s not-so magical mushroom, but somehow my friend Chef James Cullen was able to pull it off:

Now there’s a man who knows from mushrooms. That tweet earned him bragging rights:

While I wish I had written that shroom poem, it did not give me porcini envy.

The last word goes to the Strawberry Alarm Clock, of all people:

I don’t know about you, but strawberries and mushrooms aren’t my idea of an ideal flavor profile. Of course, this tune comes from an album called Incense and Peppermints. That’s almost as disgusting as Stormy’s description of Trump’s game boy.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Get Together

Flying Eyeball by Rick Griffin.

To say that New Orleans is a football town is a grotesque understatement. Between the Saints and LSU Tigers, gridiron love runs deep in the Crescent City. But last Monday, local sports fans were talking about the NBA Pelicans. Our local hoopsters lost 2 players to free agency: Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus (Boogie) Cousins. The latter Boogied to the Warriors and the surly Rondo signed with the Lakers. I was one of the few  local hoops fans to take this in stride. Rondo was a team leader last year after 12 years as a locker room cancer and occasional gay basher. Boogie Cousins had a torn ACL, which is an injury that usually diminishes big men when they return. I had a torn ACL myself. It ended my unpromising career as a little leaguer. So it goes.

In other local news, new Mayor LaToya Cantrell continues her incomprehensible PR campaign:

I still haven’t the foggiest notion as to what “being intentional” means. Of course, I may just be unintentionally dim. I had an intentionally amusing twitter exchange inspired by the Mayor’s tweet. Two of my twitter friends evoked the image of Matt Foley, Chris Farley’s failed motivational speaker, culminating in this tweet from my old pal Liprap:

This week’s theme song is a bona fide hippie anthem. Get Together was written by Dino Valenti who is best known as lead singer for Quicksilver Messenger Service. Valenti was a man of many names: he was born Chester Powers and also wrote songs as Jesse Orris Farrow.

We have three versions of Get Together for your listening pleasure. First, the Youngbloods, a band so hippie dippy that their keyboard player was nicknamed Banana, followed by the pre-Grace Slick Jefferson Airplane, and a recent live version by Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

In case you’re wondering, the featured image is by Rick Griffin who was one of the legendary Sixties rock poster artists. The image itself was originally on a poster for a Youngbloods show at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco.

Now that we’ve discussed the Flying Eyeball, let’s make like Evel Knievel and jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: The Day I Get Home

Fantastic Landscape (Volcano Erupting) by David Alfaro Siquerios.

Our visit to Virginia was a quickie. One of the highlights came on the return trip when we met longtime First Draft readers Lex and Carroll Alexander for lunch. We rendezvoused at Stamey’s in Greensboro, NC and ate the food of their people: barbecue. The meal included perhaps the best peach cobbler I’ve ever had. A good time was had by all but I’m afraid Carroll and I did most of the talking. She has family roots in the Gret Stet of Louisiana and I was eager to untangle them. Nosy might be a better word, but it’s always fun to learn someone has Momus/Comus/Proteus old line krewe types in the family. You never know what happens when you give someone’s family tree a shake. All sorts of oddities are likely to fall out.

On a weird note, I got into a twitter slagging match last week with a Gret Stet legislator’s wife. My crime was criticizing her hubby’s voting record. She was not amused and he contacted me by DM. “Perfection” is a terrible burden and they don’t carry it well. #sarcasm. I wound up inviting them to a “block party” so the fight would end. I’m not sure why they think fighting with citizens is a good move but they do.  I’m not the first person to have this experience and won’t be the last. Weird, weird, weird.

This week’s theme song wedged itself in my head on our trip home. The title is a minor misnomer  as we got home last Sunday. The very Beatlesque The Day I Get Home was written by Difford and Tilbrook for 1991’s Play album. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the original studio recording and a swell live performance.

Now that we’ve trekked home, it’s time to jump to the break without crash landing. Knock on wood or some such superstitious shit.

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Anthony Bourdain & Tee Eva Perry, R.I.P.

Depression is a horrible thing. From the outside, Anthony Bourdain was on the top of the world with a job he loved and more adventures on the horizon. The hoary aphorism “never judge a book by its cover” rings true today: Anthony Bourdain committed suicide at the age of 61 in France.

His body was discovered by his friend, the world-class chef, Eric Ripert who Tony called the Ripper. I call him Tony not because I ever met him in person but because of his style. It was intimate and confidential thereby living up to the title of his first book, Kitchen Confidential.  Most of his viewers feel as if they’ve lost a friend. A friend of mine who’s in the restaurant business described him as her Pope. The loss is shocking and deep. It was a helluva thing to wake up to this morning. Imagine being in the Ripper’s shoes. Mon dieu.

Bourdain took us many places in the world to which we’re unlikely to travel. Despite his renegade/bad boy image, Bourdain treated other cultures with the sensitivity and respect that they deserve. He always looked like he was having a great time but looks can be deceptive His demons finally caught up with him. He will be missed.

I never ran into Anthony Bourdain, but Tee Eva Perry was a New Orleans legend who I met on many occasions. She was an amazing character: baker, back-up singer to brother-in-law Ernie K-Doe, and a baby doll on Mardi Gras day. She died this week at the age of 83.

Everyone called her Tee for auntie so when she opened up her first place on Magazine Street she called it Tee-Eva’s. It was an eclectic hole-in-the-wall located around the corner from Adrastos World HQ:

I’m not a snow ball guy but I loved her pies and pralines. After Katrina, she relocated to a bigger location on Magazine but I’ll always have a special feeling for the original space. It was as charming and eccentric as Tee Eva herself.

I hate to use a term out of the dictionary of journalistic clichés, but Tee Eva Perry was a New Orleans original. She will be missed.

UPDATE: it turns out that Bourdain ate Tee Eva’s jambalya on an episode of his first teev show A Cook’s Tour. I haven’t seen that series but it’s on Amazon so I will soon.

Burning Down The (White) House

Donald Trump, amateur historian, has struck again:

President Donald Trump reportedly justified the tariffs he placed on Canadian steel and aluminum by asking Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a phone call: “Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?”

CNN reported on the exchange, citing sources familiar with the call. The British burned down the White House in the War of 1812, when Canada was a British colony. CNN reported the President may have been joking, but the tariffs, justified on national security grounds by the Trump administration, have left Canadians furious.

“To the degree one can ever take what is said as a joke,” one source “on the call” told CNN, when asked if Trump meant the comment as a joke. “The impact on Canada and ultimately on workers in the U.S. won’t be a laughing matter.”

I guess we can be grateful that Trumpy didn’t go on about Dolly Madison pastries while tossing zingers at Trudeau the Younger in pursuit of his stupid trade war. He probably doesn’t know that James Madison was president in 1812 and that Dolly was a legend in her own right. The Insult Comedian will inevitably claim that he gave Madison his period nickname, Little Jemmy.

Only in the Trump era would the words Canada and trade war be found in the same sentence. Canada is the best damn neighbor in the world and Justin Trudeau is the most amiable of world leaders. Oy, just oy.

Since Trump makes all educated Americans feel like Charlie Brown, it’s time to pass the zingers:

Now that we’ve had an afternoon snack with Charlie Brown, Lucy, Sally, and Linus, it’s time to make like the Canadians:

Wait. Talking Heads aren’t Canadian? Who knew? Certainly not president* Trump.

Saturday Odds & Sods: A Mess Of Blues

The Star by Benny Andrews.

There’s a system forming in the Gulf, which has led to the inevitable widespread panic on social media. And I’m not talking about the jam band either. It’s a bit early for this but when did the weather care what I thought? I do wish people would stop Chicken Little-ing. That never makes anything better.  Ya heard?

Dr. A and I celebrated our anniversary at one of our favorite local eateries, Gabrielle Restaurant. It’s a reboot of the beloved restaurant owned and operated by Greg and Mary Sonnier before Katrina. They revived it some 12 years after the original Mystery Street location flooded. The food is fabulous and the new space on Orleans Avenue is warm and inviting. Grace and I know Mary and her charming daughter (some would say clone) Gabie aka the girl for whom the joint is named. Put it at the top of your list the next time you’re looking for a great meal and fabulous service in New Orleans. Greg is one of the best chefs in the Gret Stet of Louisiana and that’s saying something. That concludes this brief commercial announcement. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

This week’s theme song was written in 1960 by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman for Elvis Presley. It was the b-side of It’s Now Or Never but it also charted at number 32 in the US and number 2 in the UK. It was recorded at the same time as Elvis’ post-army comeback LP Elvis Is Back but was not included on the original album, a common practice in those days: you wanted the kids to buy both the 33 and 45. Colonel Parker knew how to shake down the suckers, y’all.

We have two versions of A Mess of Blues for your listening pleasure: the Elvis original and a 1995 cover from the great John Hiatt.

Now that we’ve messed around with the blues, let’s jump to the break.

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Not Everything Sucks, Farming Edition

At my ‘hood’s Farmer’s Market recently Kick and I spent half an hour talking bees with this organization, which manages hives all over the West Side of Chicago and makes delicious honey. I thought of that when I read this story: 

Brown formed a partnership with Boe Luther and Wallace Kirby, two gardeners from Ward 7 who started Hustlaz 2 Harvesters to offer people released from incarceration ways out of poverty into urban agriculture careers and other social enterprises. Brown, a certified master composter for the city, helped Luther and Kirby transform an empty lot into the Dix Street community garden as part of an urban agricultural initiative called Soilful City.

Only 1 in 10 Americans eats the daily recommendation of fruits and vegetables, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and people living in poverty have especially low rates of consumption of fresh produce. Access to healthy produce is difficult in low-income communities like Clay Terrace, because major chain supermarkets are reluctant to locate their stores there. Ward 7 has only one large grocery store, and that means the people who live there have a harder time obtaining more fruits and vegetables to help reduce cardiovascular risk.

Yet Brown, Luther, and Kirby believe the community can grow its way out of food scarcity through the Dix Street garden and similar projects. They say crops that were staples of their African ancestors’ diets hold an essential key to restoring the community’s health.

“It’s not just about vegetables—we’re building a new way to rebuild neighborhoods,” Brown says.

People are trying to save each other every damn day. Don’t forget that.

A.

Stupid Watergate Goes Postal

I try not to write about the same things as Athenae BUT a bloggers gotta do what a bloggers gotta do. Besides, I’m coming at the fake billionaire president* versus real billionaire publisher smackdown from a different angle, and this post title was too good to waste. I, too, am a grudge-holder but I’d prefer a Coke Zero button on my desk to a Diet Coke one any day. That may be a distinction without a difference but there you have it. Btw, I still don’t think my favorite soda pop tastes different now that it’s been rebranded as Coke Zero Sugar. It’s soda spin as far as I’m concerned: pop goes the marketing weasel.

In case I’ve confused you more than usual, I’m talking about the Insult Comedian’s harebrained scheme to screw Amazon by changing their postal rates. He and Melania seem to have a reverse Ricky and Lucy thing going on. He has the crazy ideas, she has the thick accent. It’s unknown if she ever sings Babalu.

Trumpy even called in the Postmaster General who tried to explain that she doesn’t have the power to unilaterally change rates or cancel contracts:

President Trump has personally pushed U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate the Postal Service charges Amazon.com and other firms to ship packages, according to three people familiar with their conversations, a dramatic move that probably would cost these companies billions of dollars.

Brennan has so far resisted Trump’s demand, explaining in multiple conversations occurring this year and last that these arrangements are bound by contracts and must be reviewed by a regulatory commission, the three people said. She has told the president that the Amazon relationship is beneficial for the Postal Service and gave him a set of slides that showed the variety of companies, in addition to Amazon, that also partner for deliveries.

This president* doesn’t do process. I suspect he recalls his father Fred talking about his dealings with the Post Office back when it was a patronage spigot under FDR’s man Jim Farley. That changed in the 1970’s. Trump is usually stuck in the Eighties so this is at least a slightly different form of malakatude. I imagine him straightening his weave and saying in his best Archie Bunker voice: “My foddah told me about dis here t’ing.”

Once again we’re in Stupid Watergate territory. Nixon infamously tried to use the IRS to screw his enemies. He had John Dean hand the enemies list to the IRS commissioner who proceeded to sit on it. Nixon was not a fucking moron so he acted through intermediaries instead of doing the dirty work himself. Trump is still worse than Nixon. He’s always been stupider.

I’m not sure where Trump fits on the George W. Bush bad president scale because he hasn’t started a war or crashed the economy yet. He has, however, politicized the Justice Department and CIA just like the president who many are trying to rehabilitate. Just say no to that, y’all, just say no.

The last word goes to Rachel Maddow with a brilliant segment from her May 18th show. Rachel may not call Trump’s latest fakakta idea Stupid Watergate, but she places it in the proper historical context.

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Up Above My Head

Trout and Reflected Tree by Neil Welliver.

The weather rollercoaster continues unabated in New Orleans. We’ve gone from air dish weather to heater weather and back again. One day of the French Quarter Fest was rained out, which resulted in wet tourists whining about the wash-out. It was a day I was glad to no longer be a shopkeeper. Dealing with drowned Quarter rats was never any fun.

One of Grace’s colleagues gave us fancy club seats to the Saenger Theatre’s Broadway series complete with free food and valet parking. Thanks, Ritu. We saw Rent, which I liked a lot. The best part of the evening was a bossy African-American woman usher who combined sternness and politeness.  One patron was confused about how they ordered the rows and the usher said, “You’re in row H. It’s the alphabet, m’am. It’s the alphabet.” Fuckin’ A.

You’re probably wondering why an agnostic is posting a gospel tune as this week’s theme song. It’s because Sister Rosetta Tharpe was an amazing singer, songwriter, and character.  Up Above My Head is also a real toe-tapper. What’s not to love about a church lady with an electric guitar? We have three versions: Sister Rosetta, Rhiannon Giddens, and the Jayhawks.

Now that we’re imbued with the spirit, let’s jump to the break.

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