The Messenger Boy by Childe Hassam.
To say that it’s been a crazy week at Adrastos World HQ is an understatement. It’s been crazy even for New Orleans but in a dull as opposed to a lively way. Multiple hard freezes have made a mess of our water system. Our water pressure is lower than the Insult Comedian’s IQ and we’re under a multi-day boil water advisory because of all the broken pipes in the city. I am stoical in the face of this mishigas since our pipes did not burst but it’s a major pain in the keister, booty, butt, hinder, or whatever you call your ass.
Our houses are not built for this weather. My Jazz Age era house is raised on piers and our pipes are under the house, semi-exposed. It helps the house breathe during our usual severe weather season: the summertime. There’s no way to winterize a semi-tropical burg like New Orleans. And even if we threw billions, that we don’t have, at the problem, it wouldn’t work. We haven’t had a hard freeze since 2015, snow since 2008, and multiple hard freezes since 1995 and 1989. We *do* need to upgrade our drainage and basic water infrastructure but it’s summer that really matters, not the winter. Geography is destiny and we’re destined to have more hot weather than cold. Okay, I’ll dismount my soap box now and play some music.
This week’s theme song is the Hank Williams classic Cold Cold Heart. Why? Because I’m fucking cold, that’s why. I have three versions for your listening pleasure: one from the songwriter as well as renditions by Nat King Cole and Aretha Franklin.
I love Nat’s interpretation. It truly melts my cold cold heart, especially when he plays the Hammond B-3. As the Beatles once allegedly said: “Turn me on, dead man.”
As it’s been hard for me to maintain any writerly rhythm, I’m going to keep it relatively snappy this week. Btw, rhythm is one of those words I am incapable of spelling without consulting Mr. Google or Otto Correct. I’ve let down Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Chris Squire and the rest of Yes West. Sorry, chaps.
I’m only linking to one article today but it’s a must read for Peanuts fans. I’ll let the Failing NYT icon thingamabob serve as the segment header.
That’s right, it’s been 50 years since Franklin joined the Peanuts gang as a supporting player. Sparky Schulz was reluctant to add a black character because he didn’t want to be accused of tokenism. Then a reader changed his mind:
Mr. Schulz wrote back to Ms. Glickman within two weeks, but only to tell her he couldn’t fulfill her request. He and his fellow white cartoonists, he said, were “afraid that it would look like we were patronizing our Negro friends.” Undaunted, Ms. Glickman sent another note, asking if she could share his letter with black acquaintances. Mr. Schulz assented, though he again expressed reluctance to introduce a black character into “Peanuts.”
Ms. Glickman wasted little time in enlisting her friend Kenneth C. Kelly, a black father of two, who told Mr. Schulz, essentially, to get over his anxiety.
“An accusation of being patronizing would be a small price to pay for the positive results that would accrue!” he wrote. Mr. Kelly suggested that Mr. Schulz begin with a “supernumerary” black character, a de facto extra, who “would quietly and unobtrusively set the stage for a principal character at a later date.” This cautious approach would serve the dual purpose of not burdening Mr. Schulz and “Peanuts” with the duty of making a Major Social Statement and presenting friendship between black and white children as utterly normal.
I halfway expect the Bigot-in-Chief to denounce the Franklinversary as a plot to deprive the blond pianist Schroeder of precious Peanuts panels. Oops, I forgot that he’s the least racist person you’ll ever meet and doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. As if one could find any bones amidst the blubber.
There hasn’t been much to do this week as the city has shutdown because of icy roads but we’ve done some major teevee watching including a smashing Amazon series. Sounds all jungley and shit but it’s not.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a series created by Amy Sherman-Palladino who is the woman behind Gilmore Girls. I have been told repeatedly over the years that I’d love that show but have yet to view it. I do, however, love Sherman-Palladino’s latest effort.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is set in the late 1950’s and tells the story of Miriam (Midge) Maisel an upper-middle class Jewish housewife who is an aspiring stand-up comedian. A show with the word marvelous in the title had better be good since they’ve provided their own straight line. As Johnny Mercer might say at this point, it’s too marvelous for words, but words are all I got so I’ll keep writing. The show is a winner.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is full of wacky situations and zany characters. It’s chock-full-o-Sheckys. I kept waiting for Buddy Sorrell to show up and insult every bald guy in sight.
The main reason I tuned in is the presence in the cast of Tony Shalhoub as Midge’s eccentric father, Abe Weissman. I know what you’re thinking: he always plays quirky characters. Adrian Monk makes Abe look like Ward Cleaver. Not really but hyperbole is the name of my game.
The writing and acting are superb. It’s a star making role for Rachel Brosnahan as the preternaturally sassy Midge. Alex Bornstein as Midge’s androgynous manager Susie is also a stand out. She reminds me of the writer Fran Lebowitz and is almost as funny.
It’s trailer time:
As I watched The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I kept thinking of Barry Levinson’s great 1990 film Avalon. It’s set in a similar cultural milieu and also stars Kevin Pollack. That’s high praise indeed: Avalon is on my top twenty favorite movies list. Remember: Never cut the turkey without me.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is streaming on Amazon. I give it 4 stars, an Adrastos Grade of A- and a big thumbs up. It has a chance to become a classic.
Saturday GIF Horse: I mentioned my love of Tony Shalhoub’s work. His best known character is the OCD teevee detective Adrian Monk. Here he is tidying things up.
Checkmate? Speaking of Chess Records.
Saturday Classic: The freaky winter weather has given me the blues. Hence this 1963 LP by the great blues harmonicat, Marion Walter Jacobs aka Little Walter.
That’s it for this week. I guess one could say that I came, I thawed, and I conquered. I’m not exactly sure what or how I conquered but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. The last word goes to Abe Weissman and his kooky daughter, Midge Maisel.