Category Archives: Language

I Wanna Rule The World

The Seventies English rock band 10cc were ahead of their time. For one thing, Lol Creme and Kevin Godley helped to develop the music video as an integral part of show business. For another, 10cc’s music and lyrics were quite visionary, especially I Wanna Rule The World. It imagines a wannabe dictator with the maturity and impulse control of a toddler. Sound familiar?

In the spirit of helpfulness for which I am known, I’d like to suggest I Wanna Rule The World as the official theme song for Team Trump’s foreign policy. If wars can have theme songs, why not a foreign policy of aggressive stupidity?

There are a helluva lot of lyrics, so we’ll begin with a Trump inspired video from last year. It’s chock-full-o-cartoons and other swell images.

Yeah, I know. They got the title slightly wrong. It’s okay by me: I paraphrased the lyrics in the Trump truck meme. So it goes.

I Wanna Rule The World is a very wordy song so, we’ll post the lyrics after the break.

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Sean Spicer’s Odyssey From Gum Spice To Malaprop Spice

I planned to call this post Gum Spice Is Gassed. No, not the kind of gas they used at the Holocaust Centers. I was referring to the fact that dignity wraith Sean Spicer appears to be used up and spit out like the Orbit gum he crams in his gob. He’s gassed. He’s done.

Gum Spice’s meltdown Tuesday was the worst since Presidents have had press secretaries dating back to 1929. He made Ron Ziegler look like JFK’s crack spokesdude, Pierre Salinger. You’ve all heard Spicer’s inanely incoherent contortions on Assad, Hitler, and chemical weapons. Subsequent explanations have only made matters worse.

The only way Spicer survives in his job is if Trump gets stubborn over the calls for his spokesman’s pinhead. The Insult Comedian likes to do his own firing, thank you yery much, or as he would say very, very, very, very, very, very much. I do wish he would vary his verys…

If you get a chance to see Rachel Maddow’s Tuesday segment on the Spicer incident, it’s must see teevee. It turns out that Gum Spice has a hard time speaking the language, which is odd given his chosen profession: political flack. He fucks up names: he keeps calling the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Trumbull. His name is Turnbull. T-U-R-N-B-U-L-L. I wonder if there are any flash cards left over at the White House from the Reagan years: they helped Ronnie, why not Seannie? Spicer also has an eerie inability to pronounce the name of the dictator he’s denouncing: Bashar al-Assad.

Since Spicer cannot pronounce, he should renounce his title as Press Secretary. End of Jesse Jackson/Johnnie Cochran moment. Public speaking *is* hard but that’s what he does for a living. Spicer needs a new First Draft nickname as well. I’ve been calling him Gum Spice in honor of his gum habit and my post about it, Sean Spicer Can Lie and Chew Gum at the Same Time. It turns out that I got the lying part right, but when it comes to speaking he’s hopeless. That’s why I am giving him an alternate First Draft nickname, Malaprop Spice. It may be the reason he gets shitcanned: the Insult Comedian is in charge of malaprops in this administration*, thank you very, very, very much.

Every time I think Team Trump cannot be more incompetent, they top themselves. That’s what happens when an entire administration* wings it. I may not be a prophet (with or without honor) but I wrote a piece about Trump in December, 2015 entitled Winging It With The Insult Comedian:

Trump’s tendency to spout off and utter unfiltered bullshit is the most alarming thing about his candidacy, not his ideology. The Insult Comedian has no ideology: the only thing he believes in is himself and the roar of the crowd. The last thing a country with the world’s largest military needs is a guy who wings it as the Oval One. Impulse control is a very important quality for any President to have. The Insult Comedian has none, he’s like the kid who eats all his Halloween candy in one sitting and wonders why he’s puking his guts out.

I stand by my prediction in that post that this would blow up in Trump’s face. I certainly was off in my timing but it’s happening as I write. Between lies and incompetence, the Trump administration* has no credibility left. The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman argues that Trump has had five Syria policies and counting in the last two weeks. He’s absolutely right. It’s what happens when you’re winging it with the Insult Comedian.

Back to Malaprop Spice, the artist formerly known as Gum Spice. I almost feel sorry for him right now. Almost. He’s a beaten man. He’s licked…all over.

Rumor has it that the Trumpers want to hire Reagan’s White House spokesman, Larry Speakes, to replace the man who has gummed up the works. Speakes had the best name ever for someone in his position. He was never formally White House press secretary because Jim Brady continued to hold that title after being shot. Besides, it was more fun to call him White House spokesman, Larry Speakes.

The problem is that spokesman Speakes died in 2014. Perhaps Bannon, Jared, Ivanka, Kellyanne, and Reince can have a seance and bring back spokesman Speakes. I have spoken.

Repeat after me: if you cannot pronounce, you must renounce.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Promised Land

Marbotikin Dulda by Frank Stella.

We seem to have hit peak pollen this week in New Orleans. Achoo. As a result, I awaken each day with watery eyes and a runny nose. Achoo. It’s most unpleasant as is my daily sinus headache. The good news is that we’re supposed to have some rain to wash away the sticky yellow stuff. The bad news is that it won’t happen until later today when we have plans to attend a festival not far from Adrastos World HQ. Oh well, that’s what umbrellas are for.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or watching teevee with the Insult Comedian, you know that Chuck Berry died at the age of 90.  This week’s theme song, Promised Land, is my favorite Chuck Berry tune. I was introduced to it at the first Grateful Dead show I ever attended. It was a helluva opening number.

I have three versions for your entertainment: Berry’s original, the Band’s rollicking piano driven take from Moondog Matinee, and the Dead live in the Nutmeg State. It’s time to jet to the promised land, y’all.

I remain mystified as to why Chuck wanted to get out of Louisiana and go to Houston town. There’s no accounting for taste. Let’s ponder that as I insert the break, but not where the moon don’t shine.

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Your President* Speaks: Trump Potpourri For $100, Alex

After a brief period of relative silence after his “Obama was mean to me” tweet, the Insult Comedian has been shooting his mouth off again.  We begin with this morning’s tweet storm via Parker Malloy:

It’s always good when someone else does the heavy-lifting by bringing Trump’s digital diarrhea together. We all know what he means by fake news: items he doesn’t like. If he doesn’t like them, they cannot be true. It’s the way his mind, such as it is, works when concocting a new word salad for the tweeter tube: add a few verys, too many exclamation points, and garnish with a dash of fake news.

A funnier recent tweet was his attack on Snoop Lion or is he Snoop Dogg again? I cannot keep up with Calvin Broadus’ stage names. I’m kind of surprised Trump doesn’t go on about Snoop’s fake names. There must be something sinister about not using the name Calvin. I bet British Intelligence is behind it or maybe the North Koreans. There’s bound to be a conspiracy. Bannon should get Roger Stone and Alex Jones on the Calvin conspiracy ASAP.

I, for one, wouldn’t have bothered to look at Snoop’s latest video prior to seeing this rant. It just makes Trump look small and petty, which is what he is. The news may be fake but Trump’s vindictiveness is not and I’m not lion about that…

Let’s turn away from the Tweeter Tube and move on to a quote from an interview the president* did with Tucker Carlson on Fox News. Carlson seems to have forsaken bow ties, which is a pity since I enjoyed calling him a bow-tie mothertucker.

“Well, you know, I love to read. Actually, I’m looking at a book, I’m reading a book, I’m trying to get started. Every time I do about a half a page, I get a phone call that there’s some emergency, this or that. But we’re going to see the home of Andrew Jackson today in Tennessee and I’m reading a book on Andrew Jackson. I love to read. I don’t get to read very much, Tucker, because I’m working very hard on lots of different things, including getting costs down. The costs of our country are out of control. But we have a lot of great things happening, we have a lot of tremendous things happening.” 

It’s nice that he interrupted his teevee watching to read about one of our craziest previous Presidents. Anyone think he’ll finish the book? I wonder which tome it is: Arthur Schlesinger? Jon Meacham? He said we was “looking” at it so maybe it’s this one:

It’s ironic that nice is one of the Insult Comedian’s favorite words. I guess it’s because it’s short and simple enough to be in what Philip Roth called Trump’s 77-word vocabulary. Roth not only reads books, he writes them without a ghost writer. Imagine that. See Donald read. Read, Donald, read.

Speaking of niceness, Trump continues to go back-and-forth on the subject of his predecessor. He’s gone from calling former President Obama “a bad and sick guy” to vouching for his niceness. Of course, that’s like calling Charlie Manson as a character witness. Here’s what the Insult Comedian said on Fox yesterday:

“He’s been very nice to me personally, but his people haven’t been nice,” Trump told Fox News’ Jesse Watters. “While he’s nice personally, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of nice things happening behind the scenes, and that’s unfortunate.”

This is a classic Trump formulation. He begins with a mild compliment and concludes with an insult. That’s why I call him the Insult Comedian.

Before the president* said that Obama was “very nice” he made a lame joke about him at his joint presser with German Chancellor Angela Merkel:

“As far as wiretapping, I guess, by this past administration, at least we have something in common perhaps.”

That’s a harmless jab by Trumpian standards, but it led to the dirtiest look ever given an Oval One by a visiting dignitary:

See Angela glare. Glare, Angela, glare.

That’s the opposite of a poker face. I cannot wait until Tracey Ullman give us her take on the Merkel-Trump confab. If you haven’t seen her Merkel, it’s to die for:

That concludes this edition of Your president* Speaks. I’d give you a reading assignment but I’m trying to keep costs down. Class dismissed.

Quotes Of The Day: Muslim Ban Edition

Things are not going well for the revised Trump Muslim travel ban. Two federal judges have ruled against it thus far. The opinion by Judge Derrick K. Watson in Hawaii was particularly scathing:

The illogic of the Government’s contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed. … It is undisputed, using the primary source upon which the Government itself relies, that these six countries have overwhelmingly Muslim populations that range from 90.7% to 99.8%. It would therefore be no paradigmatic leap to conclude that targeting these countries likewise targets Islam. Certainly, it would be inappropriate to conclude, as the Government does, that it does not.

It’s no surprise that Trumper bragging is one reason that the ban has lost in court. Ignoring Kellyanne Conway’s admonitions,  Judge Watson took the president’s* words literally in his ruling. Here are a few more choice excerpts:

The Government appropriately cautions that, in determining purpose, courts should not look into the ‘veiled psyche’ and ‘secret motives’ of government decision-makers and may not undertake a ‘judicial psychoanalysis of a drafter’s heart of hearts’.

The Government need not fear. The remarkable facts at issue here require no such impermissible inquiry.

For instance, there is nothing ‘veiled’ about this press release: ‘Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.’

Nor is there anything ‘secret’ about the Executive’s motive specific to the issuance of the Executive Order:

Rudolph Giuliani explained on television how the Executive Order came to be. He said: “When [Mr. Trump] first announced it, he said, ‘Muslim ban.’ He called me up. He said, ‘Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.’”

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In an interview on January 25, 2017, Mr. Trump discussed his plans to implement ‘extreme vetting’ of people seeking entry into the United States. He remarked: ‘[N]o, it’s not the Muslim ban. But it’s countries that have tremendous terror. . . . [I]t’s countries that people are going to come in and cause us tremendous problems.’ …

When signing the first Executive Order [No. 13,769], President Trump read the title, looked up, and said: ‘We all know what that means.’ President Trump said he was ‘establishing a new vetting measure to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America’, and that: ‘We don’t want them here.’

Words matter to thinking people like Judge Watson. In Philip Roth’s memorable phrase, the Insult Comedian may speak “jerkish” but his gibberish translated into English has gotten him into trouble. The Muslim ban word salad was overdressed and too vinegary even if the Brown House describes it as “watered down.”

I begin to wonder if they even care if the ban goes into effect: they’ve made their propaganda points and placated their feral, unneutered base. If they want it to happen, the Trump-Bannon regime would be well-advised to heed this message from our country’s past:

This is a preliminary victory but I, for one, am thrilled that Trumpian braggadocio sank this particular ship. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Trumper incompetence may yet save the Republic. Keep up the bad work, y’all.

UPDATE: Trump continues to shoot off his mouth:

“Remember this, I wasn’t thrilled that the lawyers all said, ‘Oh, let’s tailor it.’ This is a watered-down version of the first one,” he told the crowd. “This is a watered down version, and let me tell you something. I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.”

Trump vowed to defend his order.

“This ruling makes us look weak. Which by the way, we no longer are, believe me. Just look at our borders. We are going to fight this terrible rule,” he said at the rally.

Thanks, Donald.

The Fog Of History: George Orwell On Trumpist Autocracy

I’ve avoided discussing all the 1984 references people are making because I’m a genuine admirer of George Orwell, especially the collected essays.  As you can see from the Time cover above, the last wave of Orwell chic took place, well, in 1984 when the Reaganites and Thatcherites tried to claim him. It was a poor fit: Eric Blair was a man of the left who had slowly moved to the social democratic left as he observed what was going on in *his* world. He chose the title 1984 for his oft-cited, little understood novel by simply flipping the last two digits. The book was about Stalin’s Soviet Union, not some dystopian future state, and Animal Farm was about the false egalitarianism of Leninism. He was a political writer, not a sci-fi guy.

Having said that, there are some quotes from 1984 that are applicable to life in 21st Century ‘Merica. Plus, I had a lot of fun quoting Sam Clemens and Henry Mencken not long ago, so why not Eric Blair? Obviously, Orwell wasn’t writing about Trumpist autocracy but these quote work quite well by analogy. In fact, Trump puts the anal in analogy.

The first quote reminds me of Steve Bannon’s admiration of  Tailgunner Joe McCarthy:

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

I thought of the next quote when reading about how Obamacare repeal is about freedom. You know, the freedom to die without medical care:

“War is peace. Freedom is slavery.  Ignorance is strength.”

Orwell, of course, was a fan of  Britain’s NHS. He knew that good health is freedom.

We’ve heard a lot about newspeak but what the Trumpers specialize in is doublethink.

“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

I don’t know if the average Trumper understands the big words, but the concept is surely not alien to Spicy as he spews lies from his gum hole.

As a veteran of the Spanish Civil War-he fought alonsgide the far-left  POUM militia-Orwell even has advice for today’s resistance:

“Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”

Unconsciouness seems to be a Trumper trait; that and believing whatever nonsense comes out of their dear leader’s big bazoo.

In one of his essays, Orwell warned the world about how history was being twisted.

The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.

He specifically had Stalinist rewriting of history in mind. Did you know that everything good was invented by a Russian? Me neither, but that’s what they taught in schools in the USSR. It explains Putin’s national chauvinism rather well.

Finally, Orwell’s classic essay, Politics and the English Language, has been posted in its entirety online. Make sure you read it. Here’s how it concludes:

Since you don’t know what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism? One need not swallow such absurdities as this, but one ought to recognise that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end. If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one’s own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase — some jackboot, Achilles’ heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse — into the dustbin where it belongs.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Sick Day

The Grande Jatte Hibernators by Max Ernst

The Grande Jatte Hibernators by Max Ernst

I needed to rest my sore legs and feet after standing so much during Carnival but catching the stomach flu was not how I intended to do it. I’ll skip the details but suffice it to say that this is the longest I’ve sat up since Tuesday. I’m still afraid of eating so I’ll eat my words instead.

This week’s theme song, Sick Day by Fountains Of Wayne, was a no-brainer. A very good thing since my little gray cells aren’t firing on all cylinders as of yet:

I do have a few links to share this week, which is why I rose from my sick-bed. Also, I’m bored: sleeping all day like Oscar and Della isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, y’all.

Tweet Of The Week: I like signs. I like HuffPost senior politics editor Sam Stein. I like anti-Trump signs posted by Sam Stein:

Most people don’t have strong views about punctuation but I do; as does the author of our next piece. I’d give him a piece of advice except that I agree with him.

Satan’s Punctuation: I am on the record as being anti-exclamation point. The only good thing I can say about the Insult Comedian is that his overuse of them has led to a backlash against Satan’s punctuation. BBC Culture has an outstanding piece by Philip Cowell wherein he discusses the pernicious EP.

Along the same lines, legendary lizard lady Liprap made sure I saw this tweet by Houston Chronicle sportswriter Stephanie Stradley:

She’s a woman after my own heart. I seem to like Stephanies even if I never dated one. Of course, it’s been years since I dated at all. I guess I’m dating myself…

Let’s move on from Stephanies to one of my media crushes, Julia. Julia Ioffe:

Rootless Cosmopolitans: The State Department is in deep shit under the Trump-Bannon regime. They’re committed to “burning it down” thereby dumbing it down, which could lead to military options being first on the list as opposed to last. We saw that movie during the Bush-Cheney years and it didn’t end well. The brilliant and beautiful Julia Ioffe has the details at the Atlantic. 

Am I still allowed to issue such a compliment? I don’t want the people who attacked Steve Martin for making a similar comment about Carrie Fisher coming after me. Actually, I don’t give a shit: they’re trolls who attacked someone who knew her IRL and not just as Princess Leia. Fuck them and the tweet they rode in on.

Speaking of entitled people who want to burn it down:

The Feud: I originally planned to give up Susan Sarandon for Lent but I’m not Catholic so I won’t. Besides, the thought of her as Bette Davis and Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford is impossible to pass up. Sarandon’s status as an unrepentant Buster-n-Steiner means that I’ll have to root for Joan Crawford in the upcoming FX show and I’ve always been pro-Bette. But I am a Clint Eastwood fan despite his abominable politics. Now where did I put that empty chair?

That brings me to the point such as it is. In anticipation of the teevee show, Vulture reposted a fine 2016 article by Angelica Jade Bastien about the storied Davis-Crawford feud.

That concludes this edition of sick blogging. I hope I didn’t embarrass myself any more than I do every Saturday. Admittedly, that’s a low bar in an era when the president* is praised for not whipping out his tiny member and pounding it on the podium while addressing Congress.

Thanks to the Trump-Bannon regime’s version of white nationalism, anti-Semitism is fashionable in certain quarters. As a form of rebuttal or rebuke, I’m giving three famous Jews the last word. Zeppo also attended:

marx-bros-meme

 

Defending a Nazi Won’t Get You Into Free Speech Heaven

Angus Johnston, who you should be reading if you are not:

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Here’s why I’m not defending them.

I don’t care about them.

And I think most of the people who do, with the exception of true, TRUE civil libertarians like the fucking saints at the ACLU, are just showing off.

Here’s my problem with wanking all day on Twitter about if we should punch Nazis or not, if Milo should be allowed to yell incoherently and incite mobs to attack trans students on university campuses and whatever: I almost never see the “defend to the death your right to say it” absolutism being preached by anybody who’s not a straight white comfortable dude.

I would respect the argument that we should let Milo yell his yelling if that argument came from a trans student in actual physical danger from Milo’s idiot army. I would respect the argument that we shouldn’t punch Nazis if the argument came from someone who the Nazi thought was subhuman. If people who are gay, trans, Muslim, minority, poor, want to tell me that they will get in the street to support the right of total assholes to exhort others to exterminate them, then hand me a damn sign and show me where the pro-Nazi protest is.

What I will not listen to is one more person with zero skin in the game deploring the tone in the room.

Because that’s always what it comes down to, from the Internet Constitutional Lawyers who scold everyone else for applauding a protest that shut someone down. Some airy, detached examination of “the real issue” which is, naturally, the speaker’s making himself sound superior to those who get all uncouth and het up about their impending deaths in gas chambers.

It’s not that I don’t see the opportunity for academic debate, mind. Or for study. It’s that I don’t actually give a fuck right now about being scolded, not by people who are not in any kind of danger.

“Well, what would you say if it was YOUR campus homophobe protest that was being shut down, HUH? HUH!?” I would say the grown-ups are talking right now, hie your whitebread ass head to some sophomore college coffeehouse and see if the kids there will tolerate your snide shit because no one here cares.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Trouble In Mind

Woodruff Underground RR

The Underground Railroad by Hale Woodruff, 1942.

Another week, another mural as the featured image. Hale Woodruff is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice. If you don’t recognize Trump’s Frederick Douglass quote, I have failed as a blogger.

It has been a Krewe of Spank-centric week at Adrastos World HQ. We’ve been helping with the float, buying costume bits, and even went to a pizza-n-shirt-iron-on party. Bet you’ve never done that. We also drank beer. Bet you’ve done that.

This week’s theme song was selected with our politically chaotic moment in mind. I am mindful of the fact that Trouble In Mind was written in 1924 by jazz pianist Richard Jones. It has been recorded oodles of time by oodles of artists. I have selected worthy versions by Big Bill Broonzy, Nina Simone, and the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the post only without the dirt or the band. That’s right, this post will be unbroken…

Emmett Till: Every social movement requires a spark. For the Civil Rights movement, the spark was provided by the lynching of Emmett Till in 1955. In fact, Jesse Jackson describes a conversation with Rosa Parks that confirms the importance of Emmett Till:

“I asked Miss Rosa Parks [in 1988] why didn’t she go to the back of the bus, given the threat that she could be hurt, pushed off the bus, and run over, because three other ladies did get up. She said she thought about going to the back of the bus. But then she thought about Emmett Till and she couldn’t do it.”

There’s a new book about the murder of Emmett Till wherein author Timothy Tyson got the woman who was allegedly the target of unwanted attention by Till to admit that nothing much really happened. Vanity Fair’s Sheila Weller has the details.

It’s abundantly clear that the Current Occupant has no knowledge of the Civil Rights movement or how important it is to many of us. It didn’t involve him directly so it’s off his radar screen. I suspect Trump and his dreadful, racist daddy regarded the movement as a nuisance. It made it harder for them to discriminate against black folks in their apartment buildings in the outer boroughs, after all. So it goes.

We go from the crime that inspired the Civil Rights movement to a look at how Hollywood is taking on the  Insult Comedian.

The New Culture War: We tend to think of Pats Buchanan and Robertson when we think about the culture war. Buchanan’s 1992 GOP convention speech scared the living shit out of middle-American and was a factor in Poppy Bush’s defeat. Thanks, Pat.

The culture war used to be a right-wing thing. It no longer is. The Guardian’s Stuart Jeffries takes a look at how Hollywood and others on the left are standing up to the Insult Comedian. My favorite bit involves the divine Julia Louis-Dreyfus:

At last Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild awards in Hollywood, barely anyone who got to the stage failed to denounce Donald Trump’s immigrant ban. Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, for instance, accepting her award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series with her portrayal of a (with all due respect) venal and useless president, said: “I am the daughter of an immigrant. My father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France, and I am an American patriot … I love this country. I am horrified by its blemishes. This immigrant ban is a blemish, and it is un-American.”

Her speech came from the heart and was clearly not written by Selina Meyer’s staff. They would have found a way to fuck it up and elect Hugh Laurie President…

There’s already a backlash over comments like Julia’s and Meryl Streep’s but, frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. The rank hypocrisy on the right about celebrities in politics is breathtaking. The GOP elected an actor President, sent Gopher from The Love Boat and Sonny Bono to Congress, and now they complain about free speech from Julia and Meryl. As the Cowardly Lion would surely say, DA NOIVE.  I fed Siri that sentence and she had a nervous breakdown. It was most amusing.

Speaking of the culture wars, our next segment takes a look at cursing. Hmm, I wonder if we still have a fuck quota at First Draft.

Fucking Around: There’s a motherfucking good review at the New York Review of Books by Joan Acocella of two bloody buggery bollocky books about swearing. You should read the fucker. Fuckin’ A.

Speaking of people who got fucked over, here’s a look back at Grateful Dead’s 1970 arrest in New Orleans. They did not return to the Crescent City until 1988.

Busted Down On Bourbon Street: The Grateful Dead were “set up like a bowling pin” in New Orleans on January 31, 1970. The city fathers were terrified that hippies would overrun the city and interfere with their drinking. They simply could not have that.

There’s a fun look back at Live For Live Music.com. I can say fun because nothing much came of the bust except for semi-lurid headlines and this mug shot of a certain lead guitar player:

man_file_1055638_jerry-mugshot-1970

Notice that Jerry had the good sense to smile, not glower in his mugshot. Never let the bastards see you sweat.

I obviously have to post a version of Truckin’ at this juncture. This is a good ‘un complete with tight musicianship and sloppy vocals, both trademarks of the good old Grateful Dead:

Let’s move on to a sporadic Odds & Sods feature:

Separated At Birth? I added a question mark because I’m not 100% sure this works but it cracked me up when I saw it on the Tweeter Tube.

Instead of being leery of the idea, Leary responded without so much as a leer:

Just imagine it: Denis Leary in The Bowling Green Massacre. He really needs to wear Kellyanne Liar’s inauguration day outfit:

conway-meme

Let’s move from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Saturday Classic: I posted the Queen of Soul earlier, it’s time to listen to the King of Soul, Otis Redding. Note that the album begins with Ole Man Trouble. It has nothing to do with the Insult Comedian but we do have more than our share of trouble right now.

That’s it for this week. We’ll be back with more hijinks and shenanigans next week. Who better to have the last word than three Jokers? Heath, Jack, and Cesar beat the hell out of the joker in the White House. Figuratively, not literally.

jokers-memejpg

Philip Roth On Trumpism

Roth

There’s been a lot of chatter about dystopian novels of late. I cannot imagine why. I’ll save my take on 1984 for another time, but if you haven’t read Philip Roth’s 2004 novel The Plot Against America, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. In the book, Charles Lindbergh is nominated by the GOP in 1940 and defeats Franklin Roosevelt on a platform of  isolationism and appeasement with the help of Nazi Germany. In the real world, the Nazis were paying off prominent isolationist Senators who, despite the rhetoric, put America second and their wallets first. It all sounds painfully familiar, doesn’t it?

The 83-year-old Roth has retired from writing but shared his views about Trumpism via email with the New Yorker’s Judith Thurman. Below are some excerpts of their electronic epistolary exchange. Try saying that four times. Dare ya.

Roth wrote in the Times Book Review that “The Plot Against America” was not intended as a political roman à clef. Rather, he wanted to dramatize a series of what-ifs that never came to pass in America but were “somebody else’s reality”—i.e., that of the Jews of Europe. “All I do,” he wrote, “is to defatalize the past—if such a word exists—showing how it might have been different and might have happened here.”

Last week, Roth was asked, via e-mail, if it has happened here. He responded, “It is easier to comprehend the election of an imaginary President like Charles Lindbergh than an actual President like Donald Trump. Lindbergh, despite his Nazi sympathies and racist proclivities, was a great aviation hero who had displayed tremendous physical courage and aeronautical genius in crossing the Atlantic in 1927. He had character and he had substance and, along with Henry Ford, was, worldwide, the most famous American of his day. Trump is just a con artist. The relevant book about Trump’s American forebear is Herman Melville’s ‘The Confidence-Man,’ the darkly pessimistic, daringly inventive novel—Melville’s last—that could just as well have been called ‘The Art of the Scam.’ ”

It’s hard to argue that point. Trump has become the most successful flim-flam man in American history. In fact, his white nationalist regime has stolen our history and put it on a perilous path of putrid populism. I love the smell of alliteration in the morning.

Another quote from the great novelist:

“It isn’t Trump as a character, a human type—the real-estate type, the callow and callous killer capitalist—that outstrips the imagination. It is Trump as President of the United States.

“I was born in 1933,” he continued, “the year that F.D.R. was inaugurated. He was President until I was twelve years old. I’ve been a Roosevelt Democrat ever since. I found much that was alarming about being a citizen during the tenures of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. But, whatever I may have seen as their limitations of character or intellect, neither was anything like as humanly impoverished as Trump is: ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English.”

That’s a tremendous analysis of a very, very bad dude. Believe me.

I would love to hear Roth’s take on the brown eminence behind Trump, Steve Bannon. I’ve been shouting from the rooftops about Bannon since last summer. I’m glad people are finally taking notice of this sinister albeit rumpled figure. Trump is not only Putin’s useful idiot, he’s Bannon’s as well.

I’ll give Philip Roth the last word:

“My novel wasn’t written as a warning. I was just trying to imagine what it would have been like for a Jewish family like mine, in a Jewish community like Newark, had something even faintly like Nazi anti-Semitism befallen us in 1940, at the end of the most pointedly anti-Semitic decade in world history. I wanted to imagine how we would have fared, which meant I had first to invent an ominous American government that threatened us. As for how Trump threatens us, I would say that, like the anxious and fear-ridden families in my book, what is most terrifying is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe.”

 

Quote Of The Day: H.L. Mencken Edition

Mark my words, I had a lot of fun with last week’s Twain post so I decided to Menckenize First Draft. Henry Louis Mencken may not have created snark but he was one of its earliest masters. His politics were sort of a mishmash; one might call him a Jeffersonian libertarian conservative with a mean streak. He hated government. Actually, he hated everything except for beer.

Mencken would not be surprised by the advent of Donald Trump. He regarded most Americans as dolts and members of the booboise. He once memorably called the South: the Sahara of the Bozart, which is a swell pun on beaux arts. There is one quote, however, that stands out as being applicable to our troubled times:

As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

It’s hard to argue that point given that the Insult Comedian is about to begin his misrule. I know what you’re thinking, they elected a moron in 2000. But Bush was a genial moron whereas Trump is a moron who is proud of his assholery. There seems to be a pattern: morons lose the popular vote and eke out a win in the electoral college. So it goes.

Welcome to the New Gilded Age.

The Fog Of History: Mark Twain On The First Gilded Age

jb_gilded_subj_e

In 1873 Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner published a novel called The Gilded Age: A Tale Of Today. It was one of the few times Sam Clemens worked in a band and not as a solo artist. End of tortured musical analogy. The book was not merely a “tale of today,” like much of Twain’s best satire it remains applicable to *our* today.

The Gilded Age was not specifically about the political culture of the era, but the term has come to be associated with the excesses of the one-party pro-plutocratic Republican rule of the postbellum age. I believe that the-ugh-Trump Era will be a New Gilded Age with the Darnold as robber baron-in-chief. We’ve had other Gilded Ages, but I expect the next four years will be among the most corrupt in our history. The fish rots from head, after all, and nobody is rottener than the Insult Comedian. Imagine the stench when the nutria pelt atop his head begins to melt. It’s bound to smell like cotton candy piss.

Pondering the man I insist on calling Sam Clemens (we’re old literary friends and brothers in satire) resulted in a Google search for quotes that are applicable to both his time and our own. History *always* repeats, y’all.

Below are a few Twain nuggets that I have excavated from the recesses of the internet mine. I’m all about tortured analogies today and they’re mine all mine. I am, however, neither a miner nor a 49er and don’t have a daughter named Clementine…

If you think income inequality is a recent phenomenon, Sam begs to differ:

“The external glitter conceals a corrupt political core that reflects the growing gap between the very few rich and the very many poor.”

Twain was the greatest satirist of his time. He was as fond of food analogies as I am:

“The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.”

We’re inclined to think Trump is sui generis to our day and age.  But Sam knew the type only too well:

“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure. ”

“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”

The Insult Comedian is not only insulting, he’s an habitual, almost obsessive liar:

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

Trump, alas, doesn’t even try to keep his lies straight. He counts on the short-term memory of his followers. It’s what fake populist strong men do.

The next Twain bon mot illuminates the difficult position those of us in the resistance find ourselves in:

“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

Nobody likes to admit to getting conned. The country is littered with people who fell for Trumpian flim-flammery. Many are still sleepwalking. It’s going to be ugly when they wake up and realize they’ve been had. Bigly.

Finally, I believe that the best way to undermine this illegitimate mountebank is with ridicule. Who can forget how he attacked SNL after Alec Baldwin nailed his cotton candy piss hair to the wall. Sam is in accord:

“Only laughter can blow [a colossal humbug] to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

Ain’t no bigger humbug that the Insult Comedian. Believe me, he’s a tremendous gasbag.

Welcome to the New Gilded Age.

Vive les Maquis.

The Fog Of History: Taiwan On

time china-1time china-2

It turns out that the phone call from the President of Taiwan to the Insult Comedian was a deliberate-as opposed to accidental-fuck up. The Trumpers want to be disruptive and shake things up. That’s how they’d characterize it. I’d call it dick waving or undiplomatic diplomacy. One thing we’ve learned from this episode is that the Trumpers plan to export their penchant for impulsive, poorly thought-out gambits to the world scene. Heaven help us; make that son of heaven since we’re talking about China policy.

I’ve seen some on the right argue that United States China policy makes no sense. The whole “One China and Taiwan is part of it” has been policy since the Nixon to China days. It’s a way to finesse Taiwanese independence without unduly pissing off the Kleptocrats who run China in Communist drag. I agree that it makes no logical sense.

Here’s the deal: American China policy has never made sense. In the late 19th and early 20th Century, we posed as benevolent benefactors trying to “Christianize” China whilst exploiting the hell out of it. Then we mindlessly supported Chiang Kai-shek and his Kuomintang government until they fled the mainland to Taiwan in 1949. After the advent of “Red China,” we allowed the China Lobby personified by Time-Life’s Henry Luce, to control Chinese policy from 1949-1972. In that era, we pretended that Mao’s China did not exist and that tiny Taiwan was the true Republic of China. Repeat after me: American China policy has never made sense.

One reason that Tricky Dick was able to do the Nixon to China thing was that Henry Luce died in 1967. Luce’s parents were Presbyterian missionaries. He was born in China and lived there until he was 15 years old. Luce was the most important GOP press baron for decades. He was convinced that Chiang was the Chinese George Washington and that Mao was Satan. Neither was true but Luce dominated US China Policy for many years. He was also the dominant force in the Dewey-Eisenhower-Nixon internationalist Eastern establishment wing of the GOP. A wing that is well and truly extinct. Poppy Bush was its last gasp.

The current “One China” policy is a way to keep the peace between the PRC and Taiwan. In the late 1950’s hostilities nearly broke out. It was even a hot issue during the 1960 Presidential campaign: Nixon and Kennedy spent time discussing Quemoy and Matsu, which were flashpoints in the 1958 crisis.  I bet most of you have never heard of Quemoy and Matsu. Why? Because of the “One China” policy. It makes no sense but it’s kept the peace. That’s what really matters.

There’s a certain irony that a man who rarely makes sense about anything has allowed ambitious staffers to shake things up in an area of the world that’s relatively stable right now. The idiomatic expression “bull in a china shop” applies here;  both literally and figuratively.

  1. an awkward or clumsy person.
  2. an inconsiderate or tactless person.
  3. a troublemaker; dangerous person.

That’s Donald Trump in a wingnut shell. Stirring things up between China and Taiwan can only cause trouble. It will not lead to an American China policy that makes sense. It never has and likely never will. I’ll take polite fictions or diplomatic niceties over macho posturing any day.

Since I opened the post with Time Magazine covers featuring Chiang Kai-shek, I’ll let the post-Luce Time have the last word, uh, cover:

1101720306_400

 

He Who Sups With The Devil Should Have A Long Spoon

The expression may date from the late 14th Century, but it perfectly describes Willard Mittbot Romney’s dinner with the Insult Comedian, and the Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver’s creature Reince Priebus. It’s a pity that neither of the principals drink: I would have needed at least 2 stiff belts of Bourbon to cope with Trump and his lackey.

It will be interesting to see if this leads anywhere. The submission ritual seems to be underway:  Trump has gotten Romney to say vaguely nice things about him after this blistering March speech:

Donald Trump tells us that he is very, very smart. I’m afraid that when it comes to foreign policy he is very, very not smart.

I am far from the first to conclude that Donald Trump lacks the temperament of be president. After all, this is an individual who mocked a disabled reporter, who attributed a reporter’s questions to her menstrual cycle, who mocked a brilliant rival who happened to be a woman due to her appearance, who bragged about his marital affairs, and who laces his public speeches with vulgarity.

<SNIP>

Think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities, the bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade theatrics. We have long referred to him as “The Donald.” He is the only person in America to whom we have added an article before his name. It wasn’t because he had attributes we admired.

And now Willard is reconsidering Trump’s attributes. Pitiful but typical. It’s what happens when you sell your soul to that old devil called power.

tr-meme

I’m not sure if Willard still has a soul. I’ve been advised that bots don’t have souls but Mr. Data did. You say bot, I say android. Let’s call the whole thing off, but first some music:

 

 

That’s Why I Call Him The Insult Comedian: Charting The Insults

The New York Times has been making up for lost time in going after Donald Trump. They coddled him during the GOP primaries, then engaged in both-siderism at the start of the General Election before realizing this is not your ordinary Presidential candidate. Better late than never, y’all.

The fine folks at the NYT’s Upshot have compiled a comprehensive list of the 281 things, people, and places the Insult Comedian has insulted on the Tweeter Tube. Here’s a link to the dictionary of malakatude. There’s an accompanying article as well. What’s a soloist without an accomplished accompanist? What’s an insult dictionary without a dick? Trump is the guy who puts the dick in dictionary, after all. Believe me or be a sleepy-eyed dope with dog breath. Time for a musical interlude with Frank Zappa and the Mothers featuring Flo and Eddie:

I saw Tony Schwartz on AM Joy yesterday. He said that Trump has about a 200 word vocabulary and the dictionary of malakatude proved that he’s right. There are many recurring slurs and insults. Believe me.

Trump claims to be trying to woo Berners. Here’s the Bernie Sanders entry complete with links to the original tweet:

The Upshot’s Encyclopedia of Trump’s Twitter Insults reminds me of a book I had as a kid. I was book shopping with my mom one day. I was a yuuuge fan of the Borscht Belt comedians who appeared on teevee when I was young: Henny Youngman, Jack Carter, Fat Jack Leonard, Alan King, Don Rickles and, of course, my nicknamesake, Shecky Greene. I saw this book and had to have it:

2000 Insults

My mother acquiesced and that’s why they call me Shecky.

Tweet Of The Day: Don The Spawn’s Skittles Scandal

It was the tweet heard round the world on Monday. Don the Spawn aka the Insult Comedian Jr. aka Patrick Bateman aka Donald Trump Jr. shared another alt-right white supremacist meme:

Then our old buddy the Other Joe Walsh chimed in with a side-by-side tweet:

Imagine wanting the credit for this shit? Perhaps he was way Rocky Mountain high or something. Of course, the Real Joe Walsh gave up intoxicants 20 years ago.

The original meme involved poisonous M&M’S but you can pick your poison as it were. Plain or peanut? It has also been aimed at homegrown minorities, which is why the poisoned candy of choice morphed from M&M’S to Skittles. One could call it the Trayvon Martin effect. I call it sick. I agree with the makers of Skittles: “Skittles are candy. Refugees are people.”

Twitter first played a major political role during the 2012 campaign. It’s playing a yuuuuuge role this time around as the vehicle for alt-right white “nationalists” to mainstream their hate, which has been cynically picked up by Trump and his spawn. The Tweeter Tube is the ultimate echo chamber since all the media types use it to supplement their coverage. It’s an interesting, but occasionally nauseating, way to follow the freak show that is campaign 2016.

I don’t have to tell you that this is the ugliest national campaign in recent memory. The way Team Trump has mainstreamed  hate groups makes the 1988 mudbath look like a crawfish boil. It’s gotten to the point where even a political junkie like me cannot wait for the campaign to end. I’ve never felt that way before.

While we’re on the subject of Twitter, I did have a semi-clever  retort to Trump’s latest imbecilic overstatement:

“We’re going to rebuild our inner cities because our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape that they’ve ever been in before Ever, ever, ever.”

You may have noticed that I have kept the so-called “Jewish cowbell” around my Twitter handle. It’s known in alt-right circles as an echo. Here’s how it’s described at knowyourmeme.com:

(((Echo))) is a symbol used by anti-Semitic members of the alt-right to identify certain individuals as Jewish by surrounding their names with three parentheses on each side. The symbol became a subject of online discussions and media scrutiny in June 2016 after Google removed a browser extension that automatically highlights Jewish surnames in the style.

According to an article on the news site Mic,[1] the (((echo))) symbol originated in “Merchant Minute” segments on the podcast The Daily Shoah, launched by the right-wing political news blog The Right Stuff[12] in 2014. During the show, Jewish surnames would be played with a reverberating echo sound. On The Right Stuff’s lexicon page,[2] the word “Echoes” is listed along with the description “All Jewish surnames echo throughout history.”

Lovely stuff, no? The Daily Shoah? Oy, just oy.

I first surrounded my handle with the echoing cowbells in June after reading an article at Slate. I did it out of solidarity with my Jewish brothers and sisters who have to put up with this sort of shit. I’ve considered removing them because they look kind of clunky but after seeing a tweet from the Huff Post’s Sam Stein, they’re staying:

Who does things like that? I know the answer: Trump supporters. That’s why Hillary called them a basket of deplorables. It’s a label that has been embraced by many of these basket cases. They should be repudiated by all decent people. It’s even too much even for the likes of Poppy Bush to swallow.

Team Trump has a built-in response to the wave of  anti-Semitism their campaign has unleashed: Ivanka married a Jew and converted. It’s the classic bigot’s dodge “some of my best friends are…” But it doesn’t excuse the way they’ve brought hate groups out of the shadows and into the light with a nod, wink, and an echo.

UPDATE: Digby has a swell piece about Don the Spawn’s pattern of alt-right malakatude ar Salon.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Birdland

Matisse Birds

Polinesia, the Sky by Henri Matisse.

It’s been a  bloody and smoky week in New Orleans. Gang warfare seems to have erupted in Central City and there was a big ass fire in the Broadmoor neighborhood on Thursday. In short, it’s still hotter than hell here and tempers remain, well, short. We’re still waiting on our September cool front tease. It cannot come soon enough after a fucking hot summer.

This week’s theme song is an instrumental composed by Josef Zawinul for Weather Report’s 1977 album Heavy Weather, which was featured on Album Cover Art Wednesday in 2013. Birdland has become one of Weather Report’s most enduring songs. I’ve even heard it played by marching bands during Carnival. I suspect that’s because of the third version below by Buddy Rich. We start the Birdland festivities off with the original Weather Report version followed by a cover by country dobro wizard Jerry Douglas.

Now that I’ve convinced you this post is for the birds, it’s time for the break. I’ll see you when we land on the other side or as my homeys the Radiators would surely put it:

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Every Flim-Flam Man Needs A Sucker

Have y’all heard that the Trump campaign has rebooted and is reaching out to African-Americans? The MSM is so desperate to have a horse race to cover that they’re buying this horseshit. As I’ve said before, there is no New Trump, he just has a new set of advisers. One of whom, Kellyanne Conway, is a member of the club so the media is cutting her some slack. She’s supposedly the “nice” face of Team Trump even though she’s best known for working for Tailgunner Ted. The things the MSM will believe to whip some life into a race that’s largely decided; the only question that remains is the margin.

As to the “minority outreach” efforts they’re a sham as pointed out by Josh Marshall:

There’s a long history of Republican candidates making nominal ‘outreach’ to African-American voters not for the purpose of attracting African-American voters but to signal to moderate and/or educated white voters that they’re not racist. This isn’t always as cynical as it sounds. African-Americans are a strong Democratic constituency. On a generous read this can sometimes be non-racist candidates who know they have little shot at making inroads with African-American voters nonetheless wanting to signal to white supporters the non-racist nature of their candidacy. For present purposes, let’s simply stipulate that this is a well worn part of the Republican playbook with various shades of cynicism behind it. It’s a standard script, not difficult to execute.

Over the last week, this has been the new message from Trumpland, the fauxist sort of outreach to African-American voters. As with everything Trump, it’s of the most cartoonish variety, a tour of major urban centers where Trump picks an outlying all-white exurb and ‘appeals’ for African-American votes by railing at the post-apocalyptic urban hellholes in which he imagines they live their lives. For Trump, black life in America is living in a bombed out urban housing project circa 1977.

That’s why I call him the Insult Comedian, he pats you on the back with one hand and slaps you with the other. The MSM should recognize this sham for what it is: an attempt to convince college educated Republicans that he’s not a racist. It’s not genuine outreach. It’s a flim-flam much like the 49 seconds he spent handing out Play-Doh in the Gret Stet flood zone.

Sociopaths project their neuroses onto others. The Insult Comedian is a past master at projection. In addition to being insulting,  the line “what have you got to lose” applies to the whole misbegotten Trump campaign. The entire campaign boils down to throwing shit against the wall and hoping some of it sticks; much like the Breitbart Dude’s white nationalist web site.

It amazes me that the MSM continues to believe in the white whale of “the pivot” even after Trump himself said he’s not going to do that. Sure, he lies all the time but he may be telling the truth in that instance: anything can happen. The MSM are the ultimate mark for Trump’s con game: they’re so eager for a close race that they fall for it every time. They’re not just suckers but all-day, everyday suckers.

The key to understanding Trump is that he’s a real estate developer and they always have a bridge or oasis in the desert to sell you. Team Trump’s latest shell game has gotten the MSM to take their eye of the ball, which is the Breitbart Dude, not the supposedly likable Ms. Conway. To say that they’re gullible is an understatement. I have an oasis in the Sahara desert full of pink unicorns for sale if the MSM is interested. Sure, the oasis is a mirage and the unicorns are camels spray-painted pink with a plastic horn on their heads but if you get in on the ground floor, you can get a helluva deal. I think it might just work with some of the dimmer people at CNN or Politico.

About the post title. The consensus among people with a pulse (and Marco Rubio) is that Trump is a con man. As you know, I’m fond of arcane language and engage in sporadic attempts to revive certain words and phrases. That’s why I’m calling the Donald a Flim-Flam Man. The term flim-flam is defined by Merriam-Webster as:  deceptive nonsense or deception, fraud. There was even a 1967 movie called The Flim-Flam Man starring George C. Scott who was almost as big of an asshole in real life as Trump. That’s right, Scott was typecast in The Hustler and Patton.

Repeat after me: Every Flim-Flam Man needs a sucker.

Speaking of the Sahara, since the 1980’s seem to be in vogue right now, I’ll give the Police the last word:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Poison Love

Texas Bluebonnets by Porfirio Salinas.

Texas Bluebonnets by Porfirio Salinas.

It’s been a wet week in the Gret Stet of Louisiana complete with flooding in outlying parishes and Red Stick. A low front has stuck around for days, keeping it damp, rainy, and cloudy. I like the cloudy bit: it keeps the temperatures down. It’s bloody hard to wake up when it looks like midnight outside. The cats are constantly confused by that but they’re usually confused about something. Just give them a box and they’re happy.

The big story in New Orleans is the City Planning Commission’s vote on short-term rentals. It was a partial albeit temporary victory for those of us opposed to unregulated STRs. Hmm, that sounds like STDs; an apt analogy as they’re nearly as contagious. The CPC voted to ban full-home STRs but opened the floodgates for other forms. The City Council has the power to override the vote. Nothing is ever permanent in New Orleans politics. It’s one reason I’m less involved than I used to be. When one pounds one’s head against the wall long enough, you draw blood. I’m tired of bleeding, y’all.

This week’s theme song is a country classic. The choice is partially inspired by the Porfirio Salinas painting that’s our featured image this time around. Btw, Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson collected their fellow Texan Salinas’ work. And the first version I ever heard of Poison Love was by uber-Texas artist Doug Sahm. It’s a venerable song, but let’s start with Doug’s 1973 version followed by bluegrass great Bill Monroe.

Time to slip in a live rendition by Allison Krauss and Dobro deity Jerry Douglas:

I’ll have more poison pen love after the break.

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Thursday Night Music: Losing My Religion

Family by choice is the best kind of family as far as I’m concerned. Last Friday, we were at our friends Cait and Dave’s place to celebrate the third birthday of their son Nate. Nate’s father Dave is also a Leo. His birthday was yesterday. Happy Birthday to ya.

Cait is a zealous REM fan. I think she knows more about them than any of the members. She was playing some live REM stuff and one of the band’s biggest hits, Losing My Religion, became lodged in my consciousness where it remains. Btw, the song isn’t about Jesus, Buddha, Moses, or any of those Holy Joes. It’s a common phrase in the South. Here’s the top definition at the Urban Dictionary:

Southern term for losing one’s temper, “flying off the handle”, etc. Note that the R.E.M. song of this title has nothing to do with religion, despite the common misinterpretation of the phrase.

“I was close losing my religion with the kid wrecked the BMW.”
 My personal synonym is “losing my shit.” Enough with the linguistic gymnastics, time for some music: