Category Archives: Food and Drink

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. 

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

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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”).

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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:

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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:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Broken Arrow

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Right and Left by Winslow Homer, 1909.

I’m black and blue from pinching myself to prove that the Insult Comedian’s electoral college victory really happened. It’s a real life nightmare but at least we had our first cold front of the season. My colleagues in Chicago and Madison would call it mildly chilly but it’s cold by New Orleans standards. Cold enough to plug-in the space heaters and turn on the central. I’m not crazy about the smell of burning dust on the vents but it ends fairly quickly. The cats, of course, love bathing in the rays of the space heaters.

We’ve all been so focused on the electoral disaster that not enough attention has been paid to the South Dakota pipeline controversy. I plead guilty myself but I stand with the Standing Rock Sioux. If you’re like me and feel the need to be educated on the dispute, here’s a link to a FAQ about the situation.

It’s a much better way to spend your time than thinking about the December 10th Gret Stet Senate run-off. Here’s my position on the Neely-Foghorn Leghorn race in two tweets:

I forgot about two earlier ones, so make that four tweets:

Let’s move on to this week theme song. Make that theme songs as they’re two different tunes with the same title. The first Broken Arrow comes from Robbie Robertson’s eponymous first solo album. The second is a Neil Young/Buffalo Springfield numbah that shows how influential Sgt. Pepper was even with roots rockers.

We’ll put the broken arrow back in the quiver when we get the chance but it’s time for our first segment. Hint: it has something to do with a songwriter of Native-American heritage.

Robbie Robertson’s Testimony: The former Band guitarist has long been one of rock music’s best storytellers. He recently published his memoirs, Testimony. He sat down with Esquire’s Jeff Slate to discuss the book, Bob Dylan, the 40th Anniversary of The Last Waltz and his often rocky relationship with his former band mates of whom only keyboard wizard Garth Hudson still survives.

As a writer, I found this passage of particular interest:

Did you find similarities in the way you write music and the way you wrote the book?

Yeah, I think for me the voice is quite similar. The process is extremely different and writing this book was maybe the hardest thing I’ve ever done. This isn’t just slamming down a bunch of words. This is writing a book! The detail! Writing songs is where we’re giving you an impression of a story. When you’re writing a book, you’re writing the story. There’s no skipping over stuff like you can in a song. It’s an art to be able to boil things down, and convey things with a sound and a mood. I love both things, but now, after writing this, I have the fever and I’m gonna write the next volume to it. In fact, it might be a trilogy!

I’m looking forward to reading the book. I wonder how deep Robbie goes into his issues with Levon Helm. I hope he clears the air, but since the major problem was money I have my doubts. I regret they never worked things out but as John Lennon said: “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

Before moving on, here’s one of Robbie’s lesser known masterpieces.

In the interview, Robbie mentioned working on music for the new Scorsese film, let’s move on to a story from tomorrow’s NYT Magazine.

The Passion of Martin Scorsese: It turns out that Marty’s passion project has been to bring The Silence, a novel about Catholic missionaries in Japan by Shusako Endo, to the big screen. It may sound like an odd project to those of you who think of Scorsese as a guy who makes gangster films but religion has always played a role in his films. It sounds like an interesting project. Paul Elie has the details.

I’m keeping it brief this holiday weekend so let’s dive into our next piece, which is about Scorsese’s fellow Italian-American filmmaker, Francis Ford Coppola. I’ll let the NYT’s link icon thing herald the next segment:

I’ve seen The Godfather more times than I care to admit. Actually, I lost count long ago. The first two installments are close to perfect, and 3 would have been much better if Winona Ryder had played Michael Corleone’s doomed daughter. Winona’s fall from grace happened right before shooting and Sofia Coppola stepped in. It’s a pity, there’s much to like about the movie but, let’s just say, Sofia is a better director than actress.

Coppola sat down with Timesman Jacob Bernstein to talk about his Godfather book. Here’s a slice of the pie:

When was the last time you watched “The Godfather”?

Oh, I don’t know, years ago. For me, the memory of “The Godfather” brings great unhappiness. That movie took 60 days, and it was miserable, not to mention the months after of jockeying over the cut. So my reaction is usually of panic and nausea, but that has nothing to do with how it is for the audience.

Something I liked about reading your book was finding out how methodical you were. There’s a presumption that all great art is the result of a boundless imagination. This book shows that it’s a slog.

It was insecurity. I was so young. I was hired because I was young. A lot of important directors turned it down. Elia Kazan turned it down. Costa-Gavras turned it down, a whole bunch of important directors. So the philosophy was, let’s get someone young, who could presumably be pushed around. Also, I was Italian-American, and that was good, because it meant if the studio got flak they could simply say, “But it was an Italian-American director.”

It’s a pity that Coppola has been the Orson Welles of his generation instead of thriving like Scorsese. If you asked me back in the day who would have been more successful, my money would have been on Coppola. Sorry, Marty. It’s another thing I’ve been wrong about. Francis is a helluva winemaker though.

I’ve already done a list of my favorite Scorsese movies, so we’ll try something different. My ten favorite supporting characters in The Godfather trilogy in no particular order. I’ve excluded the males in the Corleone family from consideration. Sorry, Fredo.

  1. Talia Shire as Connie Corleone Rizzi.
  2. Abe Vigoda as Tessio.
  3. Richard Castellano as Clemenza
  4. Michael Gazzo as Frankie Pentangeli in 2.
  5. Lee Strasberg Hyman Roth in 2.
  6. Eli Wallach as Don Altobello in 3.
  7. GD Spradlin as Senator Geary in 2
  8. Richard Conte as Don Barzini.
  9. Sterling Hayden as Capt. McCluskey.
  10. Gastone Moschin as Fanucci in 2.

One flaw of the Godfather movies is the paucity of interesting female characters. David Chase did better in that regard in The Sopranos. Come on down, Janis Soprano and Dr. Melfi.

It’s time to make an offer you can’t refuse, and move on to our final segment.

Saturday Classic: I usually post albums in this space but I had never seen this half-hour Kinks set before. It’s Kinktastic, especially the Kick horns who have nothing to do with Athenae’s kiddo as far as I know.

That’s it for this week. I’ll give the greatest Gret Stet populists of them all the last word:

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Tweet Of The Day: Pho Neo-Nazi Edition

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One reason I’m a faithful TPM reader is that I learn new things there, even those I’d prefer NOT to learn. Today for example, I read about the so-called Alt-Right meeting at Washington City this weekend. It was the first time I’d ever heard of Tila Tequila who is a singer and reality show type. She’s a N-list celebrity: N is for neo-Nazi. More shockingly, her real name is Thien Thanh Thi Nguyen. That’s right, a Vietnamese-American neo-Nazi. Hence the pho in the title. That delicious soup/stew is pronounced fuh. The tweet below made me want to say pho you to Tila:

I wonder if Richard Spencer has made her an honorary Aryan yet. I seem to recall Ribbentrop and Hitler doing racial backflips when they formed an alliance with Japan. Btw, Ms. Tila: Japan was one of the imperial powers that occupied your homeland. So much for Vietnamese nationalism.

There’s a large, lively Vietnamese community in New Orleans East. They tend to be conservative Catholics: the accidental former GOP Congressman Joseph Cao is a good example of their politics. Conservative but not nutty. I don’t think there are many white nationalist neo-Nazis among them. The mind reels at the thought, y’all.

Apparently, Tila Tequila has been an ardent Hitler fan for some time according to her wikipedia entry

In December 2013, Nguyen caused controversy by posting an article on her website titled “Why I Sympathize with Hitler: Part I”, although she stated that her views on Hitler were not derived from antisemitism on her part, nor any feelings toward Jewish people. Nguyen stated:

For those of you who focus on the victims of war well that is just part of war. What do you think war is about? People DIE in wars that is why I am against wars. It brought me to tears because I used to think all of those horrible things about him [Hitler] until I learned the truth about the war and what Hitler truly did and he was not a bad person as they have painted him out to be. Here is a man who was not a coward, stood up for his country in a DESPERATE TIME OF NEED (unlike all of our cowardly leaders), and yet not only did he try his best to help his country and people get out of what was a time of depression, economic collapse, high unemployment, amongst many other things.[61]

Honorary white person, neo-Nazi, and amateur historian. Tila is quite a piece of work. She also attacked the right-wing journalist Ben Shapiro after he quit Breitbart in protest of its Trumpiness:

…on May 6, 2016, Nguyen tweeted that Jewish-American political commentator Ben Shapiro should “be gassed and sent back to Israel” and later posted that “There are only two things in this world, for which I would gladly sacrifice my own life; the destruction of all Jews and preservation of the white race” and “You know what will help Asians earn respect? An Asian version of Adolf Hitler… I want that person to be me; I want to save the world from this Zionist disease.”[65]

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This is what the country is up against now that Trump won the electoral college and the B3 Brownshirts plan to make the West Wing part of the even Whiter House.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders wants to take over a party he does not belong to and oblige it to “abandon identity politics.” The Independent Senator from one of the least diverse states in the country remains convinced that the Trumpenproletariat did not vote for him out of prejudice. I remain convinced that he is wrong, and that to follow his line is to abandon support for those female, black, brown, and Asian working class folks who voted for Hillary Clinton. We need to stand up to bigotry, not make excuses for it. Vive les Maquis.

As for Tila Tequila, I’m glad she’s changed her name from the Vietnamese equivalent of Smith. I’m sorry that she’s a self-loathing Vietnamese-American who thinks that white nationalists will accept her people. Does she really believe Trumper xenophobia does not include Asians? It’s hard to tell whether it’s naivete or delusion but both are in oversupply in 2016.

Finally, I’d like to apologize for the pho pun. Sometimes I cannot help myself. I am, however, not sorry enough to remove it. I plan to eat more pho in penance for the pho you pun.

Saturday Odds & Sods: God’s Comic

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Glass Tears by Man Ray, 1932.

Facebook killed me off earlier this week. I even got a death notice from them but neglected to take a screen shot. I was not alone in receiving a premature memorial page notice from the Zuckerdudes. Facebook even whacked blog pun consultant James Karst:

Karst is dead.

I’m pleased to report that, unlike the late Johnny Winter, Karst is still alive and well:

I’ve heard several explanations as to what went wrong but there’s one I like. And I’m sticking to it even if it’s debunked as de bunk. Consider it my Ford factory relocation moment. Here it is: It may have been concocted by trolls who wanted to metaphorically liquidate people whose content they dislike. I wear their scorn as a badge of honor even if I have long believed that “we don’t need no stinking badges.” That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, y’all. Facebook and fake news go together like Lennon and McCartney before Yoko and Linda or Rodgers and Hart before Hammerstein. Oscar, Oscar, Oscar.

This week’s theme song is an obvious choice: God’s Comic by Elvis Costello. It’s written from the perspective of a dead guy. This may make EC the Nostraelvis of rock and roll since it was written for the Spike album in 1989 long before Facebook existed. Or is that Nostradeclan? I cannot for the life or death of me keep that straight. First the song followed by a few  lyrics:

EC is a notoriously wordy songwriter so there are a lot of lyrics.  Here’s the first verse followed by the chorus :

I wish you’d known me when I was alive, I was a funny feller
The crowd would hoot and holler for more
I wore a drunk’s red nose for applause
Oh yes I was a comical priest
“With a joke for the flock and a hand up your fleece”
Drooling the drink and the lipstick and greasepaint
Down the cardboard front of my dirty dog-collar

Now I’m dead, now I’m dead, now I’m dead,
Now I’m dead, now I’m dead
And I’m going on to meet my reward
I was scared, I was scared, I was scared, I was scared
He might of never heard God’s Comic

On that mordantly morbid note, it’s time for the break. We should move expeditiously before Facebook kills me off again and I go on to meet my reward.

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: Food Glorious Food

In addition to plugging our Food Pantry Fund, I wanted to lighten things up. What better way than presenting some foodcentric album covers? They’re largely from lesser known artists so if you want some spaghetti axe Axl or Slash.

Soup’s on.

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It’s time for the full-English Brahms Breakfast:

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Are you ready for a Manny Albam album?

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It’s time to move from the savory to the sweet: Sickeningly sweet.

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What dessert doesn’t taste better with Whipped Cream?

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For those of you who don’t believe that’s a real song, here it is:

Now that we’ve gorged ourselves on Dancing Little Tramps, it’s time to give back. Please consider donating to our Food Pantry Fund. It’s what Oliver Twist would want:

 

300 families helped: Food Pantry Fund

THANK YOU ALL! This is a message from the St. Hyacinth Pantry’s director to everyone who donated:

I want to thank you and all of your generous friends for their overwhelming support. With the money already raised, we can provide emergency food for over 300 families this month, which is especially important during this very busy holiday period, our busiest time of the year. Separately, if anyone is in the Milwaukee area, and would like to visit the Pantry to see our facility or see us in action, please feel free to contact me.

Respectfully submitted – Steve Pollock, Acting Director, St. Hyacinth’s Food Pantry

300 families. That’s something, guys. Great job.

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Stay Classy, Senator Kirk

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Screenshot via Daily Kos.

Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk is staring defeat in the eye. Everyone knows he’s going to lose his seat to Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth. Instead of leaving office with some dignity, Kirk aimed a low blow at his opponent’s ancestry during a debate last night.

It started when Ms. Duckworth discussed her family’s service to our country:

“My family has served this nation in uniform going back to the Revolution. I’m a daughter of the American Revolution. I’ve bled for this nation. But I still want to be there in the Senate when the drums of war sound, because people are quick to sound the drums of war and I want to be there to say this is what it costs and this is what you’re asking us to do.”

Once she finished her answer, Kirk responded, “I forgot that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.”

For the record, Duckworth’s mother is a Thai immigrant and her late father served in the U.S. Marine Corps and he’s the one with ancestry going back to the Revolution.

I think Kirk should be boiled in fish sauce, then slathered with Thai curry paste, and served at a DAR banquet. Fuck you, Senator. Whatever happened to going out in style? Oh well, at least he didn’t try playing wheelchair-to-wheelchair bumper car with his opponent. I suspect she’d win at that too: she’s a bona fide war hero whereas Kirk lied about his military record hence the featured image at the top of the post. That sort of lie harshes your karma, man.

The bad karma will catch up with Mark Kirk on election day. No curry for you, Senator. I seem to have curry on my mind this week. Speaking of karma, I wish there was a George Harrison tune that was as perfect for this post as My Sweet Lord was for Hare Donald. This Warren Zevon song will have to do:

 

Tweet Of The Day: Anarchy In Milwaukee County Edition

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Is this what Sheriff Clarke has in mind?

Remember when Donald Trump told us he was the law and order candidate? It was, of course, another lie. He should have said he was the lawless and disorder candidate. His supporters have an anarchic streak to say the least. One of the few high-profile African-American Trumpers is the wack-a-doodle sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, David A. Clarke Jr. The A seems to stand for arsonist:

Nice to see that the guy who runs the jails in Wisconsin’s most populous county’s hobby is inciting social media riots. Sheriff Clarke is enjoying his time in the spotlight:

His fans are gathering tiki torches to storm the castle? Is this some sort of Hawaiian or Polynesian uprising? Does that mean that Victor Frankenstein is holed up at Trader Vic’s? Does Trader Vic’s even exist any more? The original tiki bar and restaurant seems to only exist abroad according to Wikipedia, which is a real shame. I met the original Trader Vic when I was a kid. He was a friend of a friend of my father’s. I remain convinced that he created the Mai Tai; sorry, Beachcomber Don. I think Trumpers like Sheriff David Asshole Clarke should drink a few Mai Tais and catch the island vibe. That concludes this brief Adrastos-Zelig story except, that is, for this musical interlude:

Back to Sheriff Wingnut. It turns out that the lawless man in a tin foil cowboy hat is a blogger.

Clarke’s hernia inducing post is an incoherent rant that makes it rather worrisome that he’s a jailer. He’s just nutty enough to try to “lock her up” in his own jail. Here’s a sample of his unhinged writing:

When I tweeted the above image, I meant it. I wasn’t speaking in code. It’s time to run those corrupt politicians out of Washington DC and back to whatever crevices they crawled from. It’s time to put Mrs. Bill Clinton behind bars, where she belongs. And it’s time that the DOJ learns what the “J” stands for in their name.

Of course, that’s not what the “Democratic operatives with bylines” understood when they saw my tweet. They immediately reported that I was trying to “incite violence” — and unbecoming habit for a law enforcement official.  They were so desperate to make something of it, they contacted the NRA and probably the Trump campaign to get them to disavow me.)

Uh, yeah, that’s exactly what it sounds like. What do the voices in your head tell you, Sheriff Clarke? Something like this:

I’ve done nothing in 38 years of law enforcement to make any person believe that I incite violence, unless you believe that the right of self-defense which I advocate for, is inciting violence which this same media accused me of doing several years ago. Yet here goes the liberal, tolerant media giving liberals a pass while making plastering headlines across America that a black man’s conservative political rhetoric is actually violent.

<SNIP>

That is who my tweet was directed at. I encourage them to join me in pushing back against the corruption that has infected our institutions of government. I took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States, not the pretended legislation of federal bureaucracies that have no law making authority under the Constitution. That Constitution is being shredded with the aid of Big Media as I write. I guess that makes me old school. Fine. I haven’t forgotten that I report to the people, not Big Media.

Yes, like the Founding Fathers knew and had the courage to say, it is pitchfork and torches time in America.

I feel a liberal hernia coming on, y’all.

The most alarming thing about Clarke’s rant is that it makes no fucking sense whatsoever. The “pretended legislation” of federal bureaucracies? What the hell does that even mean? Does it have something to do with this doo-wop classic?

That makes about as much sense as Clarke’s tirade about hernias, pitchforks, and torches. Oh my.

The country seems to be divided between two camps right now: those who want to “burn it down” and those who want to build on the step-by-step incremental progress that is the stuff of democracy. The “burn it down” group is largely right-wing but I know a few lefties with an anarchic streak who think it would be a good idea. Why? I’ll never know. Slow and steady wins the race in a democratic society. The pace may be painful, especially in a fast-moving digital world but it beats the hell out of political arson.

David Clarke is a Joe Arpaio wannabe. It’s a good thing his extreme views will make it difficult for him to be elected to higher office. It is, however, scary that this tin foil hat wearing paranoid holds a responsible position. It is even more distressing that a black “conservative” is advocating mob action. I hope the voters of Milwaukee County  will take him out at the next election; not with pitchforks and torches but with votes.

I feel one more tiki torch tune coming on. Speaking of pretenders, I’ll give Jackson Browne and David Lindley the last word:

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Winding Stream

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The Hailstorm by Thomas Hart Benton, 1940.

It’s been a scorching hot and depressing week in New Orleans. The Alton Sterling case is too close to home for comfort. The reaction from some white Gret Steters has been dispiriting while not altogether surprising. Apparently, it’s okay for a white dude to pack heat but not a black dude. The distinction eludes me. Additionally, the events in St. Paul and Dallas have cast a bloody pall over the week. I don’t usually let the news affect my mood but these events have. If you missed it, please read Doc’s post No Lives Matter. It sums my mood up quite well.

The good news is that I wrote most of this post before the appalling police shootings in Dallas. The combination of that city’s name and the word sniper has some bad juju for many of us. The post was already rather somber, so let’s get back to what passes for normality at First Draft.

The heat has been oppressive even by NOLA standards. When you step outside, it hits you in the face like a damp washcloth. It’s August level heat and humidity, and my body hasn’t even adjusted to the high 80’s let alone the mid-to-upper 90’s. There’s a huge difference between the two. When it’s 95 here the “feels like temperature” goes as high as 105-110, which is like Phoenix, AZ only wet, wet, wet. Dare I make a Wet Willie joke? Nah, I’ll skip it since it could get obscene and I’m not in the mood.

We spent some time outside last Saturday at a one-year-old’s birthday party. I found a shady, comparatively breezy spot, and in the feline manner staked it out as my own. My friends pointed out that cats seek out sunbeams but I hissed and declined to move.  The birthday girl is named Luna and one of the Spanksters made a piñata that looked like the image from Georges Melies’ landmark 1902 flick A Trip To The Moon:

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Piñata by Lara Desmond.

It was decided that it was too beautiful to be smashed to smithereens, so it’s now hanging on a wall at Luna’s folks crib. As Mad Men’s Weird Glenn would put it, Nice digs. Have I mentioned lately how much I miss Mad Men?

This week’s theme song is something of a bucolic antidote to my urban angst. It was written by AP Carter and has been recorded by oodles of artists. It’s also the title of a recent documentary about the Carter Family but more about that anon. The first version is by the original Carter Family: AP, Sara, and Maybelle. The second version features Carlene Carter, June Carter Cash, and a grand total of four generations of Carters:

Old-time Country music can be so comforting, in between tales of drunken depravity; of course, the Carters weren’t in to that sort of thing. They were traditionalists in the best sense of the word. On that note, it’s traditional for us to go to the break at this point.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: The Day I Get Home

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Economy of Grace by Kehinde Wiley.

It was a long ass road trip, y’all. Our first destination was Richmond, VA to attend our nephew Zachary’s high school graduation. He goes to a small public school for super smart-n-independent kids. There were 42 graduates, which meant that each of them got to say something. They even introduced the entire staff including the custodian. It’s a racially mixed class so, naturally, the black parents were loud and raucous whereas most of the white folks were polite and quiet. Boring. I tried to make up for that by whooping it up but I could not come close to the African-American mother who shouted out “Don’t you cry, baby girl” when her daughter approached the podium. It did not work. Profuse tears were shed.

Another highlight of the trip was seeing the Kehinde Wiley exhibit at the Virginia Museum of the Fine Arts. It’s entitled A New Republic and offers a fresh take on the masters by a talented black artist. If it comes to or near your town, check it out. Don’t tell them I sent you, they won’t give a shit.

We attended the Wiley exhibit the day after a horrible storm front blew through Richmond causing 150K power outages and general havoc. I’m not sure if General Havoc sided with the Union or the Confederacy. We had to drive through it but, much like the Rain Man, Dr. A is an excellent driver. Things were so hinky in Richmond that the museum alarm went off as I was looking at the VMFA’s fine collection of George Bellows’ work. It started bellowing so we exited, it had nothing to do with brexit. I’ll probably write something about that for Monday. I’m too pooped to mock Cameron, Corbyn, Farage, and Bozza right now. Note: the Johnson blond straw ‘do is real as you can see from this picture with his father:

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Photo via the Guardian.

Let’s move on to this week’s theme song. Thursday was actually the day I got home but what’s a bit of artistic license among friends? Artistic licentiousness is an altogether different matter. A musical highlight of the road trip was blasting a bootleg of a 1993 Squeeze show as we barreled through Birmingham, which according to Randy Newman is the greatest city in Alabam. Me, I prefer Mobile or the town in Alabama where the tusks are looser. The rim shot belong to Groucho Marx, not me, y’all.

Where the hell was I? Oh yeah, this week’s theme song. It’s The Day I Get Home by Difford and Tilbrook from the Play album. We have two versions for your listening pleasure; including one from the phenomenal 1993 Some Fantastic Place tour with Pete Thomas on drums and Paul Carrack on keys and vox:

After the break, I’ll post a few more trip tales as well as another homey/homely tune. Gotta stretch my legs, it was a long road trip.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Dirty Old Town

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New York 1910 by George Bellows.

It’s been a rather wild and wicked week in New Orleans. Make that Wicked. I became the last American to see that hit musical and enjoyed it; yea verily. I never thought I’d root for the wicked witch but I did. The music was excellent and the instrumental flourishes reminded me of Duke period Genesis; not a bad thing at all.

In other NOLA news, the city wants to tax anything that looms over sidewalks including stoops and galleries. That’s a fancy word for balconies and many of the ones in the Quarter have been there and untaxed since the early 19th Century. It’s another money grab by City Hall and strikes me as a stoopid idea. The term “grandfather clause” should apply to this situation since the offending objects have been there even longer than the Landrieus. The Mayor should turn his attention to the air bnbs that his administration has allowed to pop up like toadstools after a summer rain. The whole topic makes me feel like the Stoop Crone on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt…

Now that I’ve made an obscure pop culture reference for the first time (I lie like Trump) it’s time to move on to this week’s theme song. Ewan MacColl wrote Dirty Old Town in 1949. It’s about MacColl’s hometown Salford, Greater Manchester in the UK but has been recorded by a wide variety of artists, especially the Irish. We begin with MacColl’s version followed by the Pogues:

There’s *another* fine song of the same title by David Bryne. Bryne’s Dirty Old Town was written and recorded for his 1989 Rei Momo album:

Let’s shake the dirt off and move to the break. But first a word on dirt from Robert Penn Warren:

“Dirt’s a funny thing,’ the Boss said. ‘Come to think of it, there ain’t a thing but dirt on this green God’s globe except what’s under water, and that’s dirt too. It’s dirt makes the grass grow. A diamond ain’t a thing in the world but a piece of dirt that got awful hot. And God-a-Mighty picked up a handful of dirt and blew on it and made you and me and George Washington and mankind blessed in faculty and apprehension. It all depends on what you do with the dirt. That right?”

Willie Stark in All The King’s Men was inspired by Huey Long. Warren wrote the novel when he was on the faculty at LSU and it remains one of the best books ever written about the Gret Stet of Louisiana. Let’s turn over another shovelful of dirt and go to the break.

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The Fog Of Historical Pictures: Soak It To Me?

After there was a riot at the Insult Comedian’s gig in San Jose, CA last week, I tried to find some good pictures of a melee at a Nixon rally in San Jose when it was a hick town in 1970. The ones online aren’t any good so I dropped the idea despite having a fine title: Stoned In San Jose. Pity really.

While doing some research for a segment on Presidential boozing for the next Saturday Odd & Sods post, I stumbled into this picture of Tricky Dick in 1979:

Nixon-Grich

One thing Nixon and I agreed on was baseball. Above is the former President getting a beer bath from California Angels 2B Bobby Grich after the Angles clinched their first AL West title in 1979. Grich was one of my favorite non-Giants from that era: a player with a meh batting average, a high OPB, and off the hook defensive skills. Naturally, Grich was underrated; much like one of my favorite Giants of the same period, 3B Darrell Evans. Don’t get me started about Darrell Evans, y’all. The best baseball player nobody ever heard of.

It’s baseball card time:

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Jeez, I seem to be turning into Doc; only without the whole Cleveland Cavs fan thing.

It’s always funny to see Nixon *trying* to act like a regular guy and the Grich Bud bath picture is one of the best examples I’ve seen. The post title, of course, was inspired by Tricky’s appearance on Laugh In during the 1968 campaign:

While, we’re on the subject of beer, let’s give the Clancy Brothers the last word:

Saturday Odds & Sods: They All Laughed

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Painting by Piet Mondrian.

It’s been a wet May thus far in New Orleans. Jazz Fest was a muddy mess. The day we went turned out to be the driest of the second weekend. I wonder if the Mud Brothers returned to slip and slide in the slop?

In other news, the Formosan termite swarms returned to town. It’s a spectacular sight but not if you’re caught out in it. It’s like the locust scene in The Good Earth but doesn’t last very long. Somehow Adrastos World Headquarters was spared the worst. I have a theory about that:

Actually, I should give credit where it’s really due:

Enough Termite talk. Time to bug out and move on to this week’s theme song. They All Laughed was written by the brothers Gershwin for the 1937 Astaire-Rogers movie musical Shall We Dance. It became one of Fred’s signature tunes. My favorite Astaire version is a 1953 small group jazz version with the great Oscar Peterson on piano:

Next up on the Gershwin hit parade are Ella and Louis with Oscar Peterson on piano. Detect a pattern? It’s followed by a swinging big band version from Der Bingle:

Finally, it would be unforgivable if I didn’t let Fred and Ginger dance in an art deco nightclub for you this Saturday morning:

Now that we’ve all laughed, it’s time for the break. See you on the other side.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Splendid Isolation

Father Mississippi by Walter Anderson.

Father Mississippi by Walter Inglis Anderson.

It’s been a relatively quiet week in New Orleans. There’s a new gentrification controversy involving changes to an Uptown green space known as the Fly. I’m for the status quo but I’ve decided to keep my fly zipped on this issue. I hereby apologize to everyone for that joke.

Meanwhile in Baton Rouge, the budgetary sky is falling. 8 years of Jindalnomics have left the state in such dire straits that not even Mark Knopfler could fix things. Once again, I need to apologize for that joke, which means I have to take the walk of life in atonement:

The new Governor gave a sort of chicken little speech about the state’s financial woes, which doesn’t seem to have moved many votes in the lege thus far. John Bel Edwards did, however, imply that if there were more budget cuts to higher education, the LSU Tigers might not play football next fall. Now that’s a serious threat here in the Gret Stet of Louisiana: No Leonard Fucking Fournette? Only time will tell if that helps, but the lege is loath to raise taxes on our 1%, which consists mostly of oil tycoons and people named Benson who own sports franchises. I have no idea what’s going to happen but it won’t be pretty. Neither was PBJ now that I think of it…

PBJ Spanked

This week’s theme song was, in part, inspired by the artist who painted the featured image. Walter Inglis Anderson was born in New Orleans but did much of his painting in nearby Ocean Springs, MS. Anderson was plagued with mental health issues and in 1965 rode out a hurricane with his own form of Splendid Isolation:

In 1965, months before his death, he rode through Hurricane Betsy on his beloved Horn Island, tethering his little skiff to his waist, climbing at night to the highest dune, wanting to feel the storm first hand. The water rose to his chest.

“Never has there been a more respectable hurricane,” he wrote, “provided with all the portents, predictions, omens, etc. The awful sunrise — no one could fail to take a warning from it — the hovering black spirit bird, the man of war, just one, comme il faut.”

Warren Zevon also lived life on the edge, but even the most extreme story told about him isn’t as wild as the tale of Walter Anderson and Hurricane Betsy. We grow our eccentrics larger than life here in New Orleans, y’all.

Splendid Isolation is one of my favorite WZ tunes; so much so that I’m posting three radically different versions. We begin with the piano driven studio version from the Tranverse City album:

Next up is a version with David Sanborn and the house band from the, uh, splendid but short-lived teevee show Night Music:

Finally, a live acoustic romp featuring Zevon’s fellow rock eccentric Neil Young:

Instead of putting tin foil on the windows like the character in the song, we’ll pull up our socks and muddle through after the break.

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Wishbone Ash Wednesday

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I cannot believe I blew the chance to use that pun with the ACAW feature. Better late than never. I’m still recovering from the long Carnival season. My feet are sore, my legs are stiff, and I ate way too much king cake. There was so much king cake around the house that Dr. A made a very yummy king cake bread pudding yesterday.

I’m a bit behind on the political news but the Granite State primaries went as expected. Any time there’s a New England Democrat on the ballot, they win in New Hampshire; even Mainer Ed Muskie in 1972. That’s right, McGovern didn’t win in NH, he exceeded expectations. On the GOP side, it could be Goodbye Rubio Tuesday all over again as Marcodroid Rubiobot laid an egg after being eviscerated by Governor Asshole at the last debate.

Wishbone Ash is, of course, a venerable British band who never quite achieved the success they deserved here in the good old US&A. This punny title is unlikely to help their cause but there are actually two-count ’em two-tenuous links between them and Carnival. First, the title of the song below evokes king cake if you’re inclined to whimsy. Second, it comes from an album entitled Argus, which is the big Fat Tuesday parade in suburban Metry.

It’s probably time for me to atone for this post title but we all know I’ll pun again. It’s what I do. Besides, I’m not Catholic and the only thing I’m giving up for Lent is Carnival. I considered amputating my aching legs but some friends talked me out of it. Why? I’ve always wanted to use the old Vaudeville line: Cut off my legs and call me Shorty.

That is all.

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Hey Pocky Way

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Rex parade some time in the 1960’s.

Carnival may be a marathon, not a sprint, but I’m feeling winded after our annual Muses open house, which was a bit too open for my taste this year. Additionally, the crowds on the parade route are getting rowdier and more aggressive even on our relatively civilized corner. Even the best parade throws such as a Muses decorated shoe are just junk on Ash Wednesday. So it goes.

I hate to do this but this week’s Odds & Sods is going to be characterized by brevity. I’ve been having back problems, which led one of my friends to prescribe a cure: a fifth of Jameson’s. I only had some of it but I’m a bit the worse for wear anyway. I’m not even sure I feel like punning right now. I suspect you’re uncertain whether to be scared or relieved at this point…

I may be crapping out this week but there *is* a theme song. It’s one of the great Carnival anthems, Hey Pocky Way. It’s rooted in the traditions of the Mardi Gras Indians, with which Art Neville of the Meters and Neville Brothers is intimately familiar. His  beloved Uncle George Landry was Big Chief Jolly of the Wild Tchoupitoulas.

The song was written by the original Meters and began life as Hey Pocky A-Way:

I’m not sure why the A was dropped by the Nevilles since they’re definitely A students when it comes to music:

Finally, a live version from the good old Grateful Dead with keyboard wiz Brent Mydland on lead vocals. The Dead started performing the song after touring with the Neville Brothers:

That’s it for this truncated edition of Saturday Odds & Sods. Time to eat some party leftovers including some homemade chicken curry courtesy of one of Dr. A’s colleagues. In the meantime, don’t forget to:

Egghead

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: From The Cradle To The Grave

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Krewe of Comus float, 1916.

I had an epiphany on Wednesday and realized that it was Twelfth Night. Mardi Gras day comes ridiculously early this year, which means that Krewe du Vieux rolls on January 23rd. We’re shitting bricks trying to get ready for that early parade date. I’ve spent a lot of time inhaling paint fumes, swallowing sawdust, and, most importantly, drinking beer in anticipation of the big day. The Krewe of Spank specializes in hyper-local satire and this year’s theme is sufficiently obscure. Only New Orleanians will get this one. I don’t mind: I’ve got a forum for national satire right here.

We just put 2015 in the grave and now it’s time to slap the 2016 baby and see if it’s alive. Metaphorically, not literally as the Veep would surely say. Speaking of babies, we’re knee-deep in King Cake season and whoever gets the little plastic baby Jesus has to buy the next King Cake. Fuck that shit. I am a seasoned King Cake baby liar. I blame my disorder on this creepy mascot our NBA team unleashes on its unsuspecting fans every Carnival season:

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Seeing double with King Cake Baby and Pierre the Pelican.

Have I ever mentioned how much I loathe and despise mascots? I hate them almost as much as I hate Vodka, which is only suitable for drunken Mensheviks. No wonder Lenin had them all liquidated. Speaking of horrendous, there’s actually a vile-tasting King Cake Vodka on the market:

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I *almost* wrote about this week’s theme song earlier but wound up riffing on King Cake babies  and Vodka instead. From The Cradle To The Grave is the title track of the brand spanking new Squeeze album. The video below features age-morphing, which is much better than the lame and insipid  Krewe of Morpheus, which is best known for its EMPTY FLOAT.

Now that I’ve thoroughly confused you with that hyper-local Carnival joke, let’s play another Squeeze song before the break:

A totally ridiculous video for a great song. More ridiculous nonsense after the break.

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Fog Of Historical Pictures: Huey Long Behind The Bar

I stumbled into this picture whilst hanging out with Mr. Google. I’ve never seen it before and the folks who posted it said it was Huey in the 1940’s. Oops: he was gunned down in 1935.

My hunch is that it *may* be the Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans BUT that’s just a guess. My partner in defogging history, James Karst, thinks it “could be a bar in NYC, a city to which Long imported the Sazerac bartender to teach those Yankee heathens how to make a proper gin fizz.”

Whatever the case, it’s a good picture to post 3 days before NYE.

Huey bar