Category Archives: Food and Drink

Tuesday Foodblogging

Everything doesn’t suck.

So in 2004, some Eagle Corn seeds were sent to Nebraska. “The Pawnee had grown this corn here for 600 years, and they’d been trying to save it since they were forced to Oklahoma in the 1870s. Now we were trying one last time to see if it would grow here again,” O’Brien says.

The first crop didn’t take, but the next year, the last 25 seeds were sent in a desperate effort to keep the Eagle Corn from extinction. That time, O’Brien watched in astonishment. “It was just amazing—I’ve never seen plants just burst from the land like they did; they jumped out of the ground.”

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Fever

The Grand Jatte Hibernators by Max Ernst.

We’ve put Carnival in the books and my repentance comes in the form of a cold. Mercifully, it’s not the flu, but I’m still going to keep it extra snappy since I might get the vapors at any moment.

There was sad news for New Orleanians Thursday night. Arthur Robinson, better known as Mr. Okra died at the age of 75. I’ll let Advocate food writer Ian McNulty tell you a bit about him:

For decades, Arthur “Mr. Okra” Robinson provided one of the distinctive sounds of a city famous for its music, but he didn’t play the trumpet or the piano.

He was a roving produce vendor, traveling the neighborhood streets in a heavily-customized pickup truck and using a loudspeaker to sing the praises of his oranges and bananas, his avocados and, of course, his okra.

<SNIP>

The young and old alike knew Robinson as Mr. Okra, and he was a frequent sight across many different neighborhoods. In his trade, he was a link back to a different era in New Orleans when everything from ice to charcoal was sold door to door. For Robinson, the job was actually part of a family tradition, one he picked up from his father, the late Nathan Robinson.

It was a pleasure to hear Mr. Okra’s voice echo through my neighborhood. I couldn’t always catch up to him, but when I did I enjoyed chatting with him and squeezing the odd piece of fruit. He will be missed.

Since I have one, I selected Fever as this week’s theme song. We have two versions for your entertainment: Peggy Lee and the Neville Brothers.

I have very little gas in the tank right now, so that’s it for this week. I’ll be back with a full-blown Odds & Sods next Saturday. Let’s finish up with one of my favorite bat memes from 2017: the Spitting Images Genesis puppets.

 

 

Tuesday Foodblogging

By and large, Kick prefers her father.

It’s not all that surprising. He is warm, patient and personable whereas I am prickly and exacting (look, if there’s a saving grace to living inside my head it is that I know the territory intimately). He is also around a hell of a lot more than I am, since I started a demanding job last year. His days with Kick lend themselves to routine, whereas she and I are feast or famine: An all-Mama weekend at the nearby nature center versus the regular “pop into Dad’s home office any old time to say hi.” Kick prefers the latter.

In certain things, however, I am her chosen partner in crime. Books? Oh, yes. Fantastic feats of daring from great heights? I’m her girl. And food? We may not look anything alike but damned if she doesn’t eat like me. Salty, spicy, sour — she’s all over it. When she was two she demanded an egg roll and I handed one over thinking sure, this’ll work, toddler + cabbage. She horfed it down and ate half of mine. Pickles with Tabasco sauce? WHY NOT. We diverge on olives but she agrees with me that mushrooms are the devil.

Two months ago I put a plate of shrimp in front of her. Her father does not like shrimp and therefore we rarely ate them all together; he was out of town and I was taking full advantage. She was in a picky, persnickety place so I didn’t have hopes. She ate one, considered the experience, and then hoovered up the rest of the plate so fast I was frightened for her windpipe.

Since then she’s been my “scrimp” buddy and I deliberately plan recipes so that we might outnumber Mr. A the shrimp-hater, who just eats some chicken on the side.

A.

Kevin McCarthy: Candyass Candyman

In 2015, I wrote a funny post about how House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy blew his chance to replace Speaker Boner. It had a classic title if I do say so myself and I do, Untrustable in Hungria: The Kevin McCarthy Story. McCarthy has trouble with the language, which may be one reason Trump likes him; that and his obsequious toadying:

President Trump and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) were alone in the presidential suite on Air Force One, flying east toward Washington in early October, when the president reached for a handful of Starbursts, the square-shaped candy fruit chews.

But instead of unwrapping all the treats, the president was careful to pluck out and eat two flavors: cherry and strawberry, McCarthy noticed.

“We’re there, having a little dessert, and he offers me some,” McCarthy recalled in an interview. “Just the red and the pink. A bit later, a couple of his aides saw me with those colors and told me, ‘Those are the president’s favorites.’ ”

Days later, the No. 2 Republican in the House — known for his relentless cultivation of political alliances — bought a plentiful supply of Starbursts and asked a staffer to sort through the pile, placing only those two flavors in a jar. McCarthy made sure his name was on the side of the gift, which was delivered to a grinning Trump, according to a White House official.

First, Starbursts are nasty. I thought only small kids and teenagers ate that sticky and nasty shit. It makes sense that the arrested adolescent president* would like them. Ick. What is it with Republicans and nasty artificial fruit flavored candy? Reagan was a jelly bean freak. Now it’s the Insult Comedian and Starburst. One would think that a man with orange hair would favor that flavor instead of pink and red. Is it a subliminal message that he’s a pinko? His pal Vladdy used to be a red, after all.

Second, having a staffer sort Starbursts is an example of your tax dollars at work in the  Trump era. Admittedly, it beats the hell out of taking away health care from millions of Americans, but it still sucks. Plus it’s icky and sticky. Perhaps the staffer in question will quit and write an expose: I sorted Starburst  for Trump. I guess Kev didn’t know you could buy the red kind separately…

Kevin McCarthy is a dolt and  a world-class sycophant. His head is so far up Trump’s ass that the president* calls him “my Kevin.” That’s as sickly sweet as Trump’s favorite treat.

Writing this post has given me dueling earworms from an unlikely pair: Sammy Davis Jr. and the Grateful Dead and they’ll get the last word. We’ll go with the hit first:

Shithead Says Shithole

Today on President’s* say the darndest things:

President Donald Trump on Thursday asked lawmakers why the United States allows people to immigrate “from shithole countries” like Haiti and African countries, the Washington Post reported.

The Washington Post reported, citing two unnamed sources briefed on Trump’s meeting with lawmakers, that Trump asked, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

According to the report, Trump made the remark in reference to Haiti and African countries, and then suggested the United States should allow more immigrants from countries like Norway instead. Trump met with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Wednesday.

The MSM is having the vapors right now over having to say shithole. That’s half the fun of this latest flow of rascist diarrhea from the Insult Comedian. We already knew that he hates people of color and thinks African is full of cannibals like in cheesy old B-movies. All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.

Past potty-mouthed presidents had the good sense not to curse in big meetings, and their staffs were loyal and did not leak stories wherein presidents used what the failing NYT would call “off-color language.” We didn’t know what a foul mouth Tricky Dick had until the White House Tapes were full of expletives deleted to my unexpurgated delight. Truman and LBJ were known to swear like sailors too. It’s not the language, it’s the unvarnished bigotry.

As to the Norwegian  comments.  (ICYMI, I’m half-Norwegian: my darling mother was one of them very white white people.) Has Trump ever had Norwegian food? Lutefisk and Pickled Herring should be banned from the country. Ack. Barf.

I think it’s time to have a cuisine test: only immigrants from countries with good food can be admitted. It’s one way to keep Nigel Farage from immigrating.

It’s just another day in Trumpworld where Shitheads say shit like shithole everyday.

Quote Of The Week: Trump Wine Edition

I like wine but Dr. A is the wine drinker in the family. I’m more of a beer, bourbon, and whisky kinda guy. Neither of us is an oenophile although I like the word. Words that begin with O are often funny even the medical ones: try saying osteopathic five times without giggling. End of marginally relevant opening paragraph.

Donald Trump is a teetotaler, which makes it odd that he bought a winery in Charlottesville. It was really a chance to swallow prime real estate in Albemarle County on the cheap. Believe me. Number two idiot son, Eric, runs the place.

This week’s quote comes from food writer Corby Kummer who explored the world of Trump wines in the company of an oenophile:

What about the 2015 Trump Meritage, a blend of red grapes that are “sourced,” meaning trucked in from the West Coast. The label calls it “American red wine”; it sells for $30 on the Web site. My guest tasted the Meritage: “Welch’s grape jelly with alcohol. A terrible, fumy, alcoholic nose. If I served you that on an airline you’d be mad.” (A buyer at a well-known Washington wine shop I later asked to evaluate the wines—he once sold Trump vodka, produced from 2005 to 2011, because he liked it—took one sip of the Meritage, wanted no more, and said, “Grocery-store wine.”) My guest went on, “They’re lying about the alcohol on the label.” He knew this, he explained, by a strange method of marching his two front fingers down his chest after he swallowed, saying that when he could feel the alcohol down to his belly button he knew it was 14 percent alcohol, which is what the label said. But this wine pushed his fingers below the belt. He knew the Meritage was 15 percent—and a 1 percent variance, oddly, is permitted on labels. “This’ll rip you,” he said.

Party on, Trumpy.

I bold-faced the best bit but the paragraph was too good to omit.  This oenophile knows his shit as well as his shitty wines. I’d be pissed if I paid good money for wine best suited for drinking out of a paper bag under an overpass. Trump swill wines, of course, aren’t as cheap as chips: they retail from $18 to $54. It’s what happens when a greedy teetotaler owns a winery.

I cheated a bit and posted a picture of the 2012 Meritage. Why? Because I have no idea what the hell a Monticello red wine is other than a marketing ploy to capitalize on Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson fetish. Jefferson was not a teetotaler and he never wore a dead nutria atop his head like the Insult Comedian.

What happens when a greedy teetotaler owns a winery? Welch’s grape jelly with alcohol.

Since Trump wines should be poured out, not consumed, I’ll give Eric Burdon and War the last word:

 

The False Choice

Ugh, stop it: 

Even by the loose standards of the hospitality business, where rowdy drinking sessions after shifts and playful sexual banter are part of the culture, employees described Mr. Friedman’s restaurants as unusually sexualized and coercive.

Ten women said that Mr. Friedman, 56, had subjected them to unwanted sexual advances: groping them in public, demanding sex or making text requests for nude pictures or group sex. Many others also said that working for him required tolerating daily kisses and touches, pulling all-night shifts at private parties that included public sex and nudity, and enduring catcalls and gropes from guests who are Mr. Friedman’s friends.

Look.

I have worked lots of places in my life. Most of them environments where people were under stress. Most of them “unconventional” workplaces. Most of them glorified foxholes where everybody was filthy and exhausted and boundaries got blurred and we all spent too much fucking time together convincing ourselves we were under siege.

Newsrooms. Kitchens. Tiny nonprofits where literal disease outbreaks were taking place and the ceiling was literally falling in. Larger nonprofits where the hours were beyond scary and there was a new crisis every three days.

At those places, under those circumstances, people said things that would not pass muster at a white-shoe law firm. People slept with each other, broke up and got their drama all over everything. People were mean sometimes and dumb sometimes and people got overly invested in things they didn’t have standing in which to invest.

And at no time, in any of those places, did anyone take out his dick.

Not for nothing but men pretending not to know when they are being creepy is the oldest dodge on earth. Women, you see, can actually tell the difference between an off-color joke and “show me your tits, I want to come all over them.” A few people will react to the former but absolutely nobody wants to be told the latter in a meeting about quarterly returns.

“Loose standards” doesn’t cover A RAPE ROOM in the back.

We are setting up a thing where the only two possible workplace environments are “terrible sterile Intertrode cubicle hell” versus “constant drunken orgy of dubious consent,” and since no one on the planet wants the former it’s assumed they’ll cheerfully accept the latter. It’s a lot harder to reject the premise entirely and say there is also “being a fucking grown-up and not bullying or touching anyone don’t wanna be touched” as an option.

I know that seems like crazytalk but there are “loose standards” and then there are “rape standards” and maybe we can just keep the loose part.

A.

Tuesday Foodblogging

I love sweet potato fries and kept fucking them up in the oven until I found this recipe. I made them for Thanksgiving and even Kick, who will not suffer a sweet potato to remain in her presence, gobbled them right up. They actually crunched.

Tangentially related: I cannot abide a thick, mushy french fry. I know people love those big fat steak fry things and I don’t get you, steak fry people. It’s a baked potato, basically, so why not just eat that? I like a baked potato but I do not like a large baked-potato-basically thing masquerading as a french fry on a menu. Give me the thin ones, and make them super crunchy, and call the steak fries something else besides fries.

A.

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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