Category Archives: Nature is Scary

Malaka of The Week: Florida Man Ryon Edwards

Hurricane Irma is still chugging along but the threat from its powerful winds has diminished. There’s always malakatude associated with hurricanes including the reporters who insist on standing outdoors and getting blown about. Apparently, they want to be the next Dan Rather but there’s more to Dan than hurricane tomfoolery. At a lower level, there are people like Florida Man Ryon Edwards who did the most Florida Man thing ever and created a Facebook event to greet the storm: Shoot At Hurricane Irma. And that is why Florida Man Ryon Edwards is malaka of the week.

Malaka Florida Man claims that the Facebook page is cracker humor aimed at outraging city slickers. (My words, not his. I’m funnier.) The story, however, has changed several times. In its first phase it was a “shoot the hurricane because you’ll be bored” event. It *is* true that riding out a storm is alternately tedious and terrifying but I don’t get the entertainment value of shooting in the air, especially since the bullet could be blown back in one’s damn fool face.

Hurricane shooting is a bastard first cousin of shooting guns to celebrate New Year’s. That’s a problem in many parts of the country even in my ostensibly sophisticated home state of California. There was also the time that a guy was killed in New Orleans on New Year’s by a “celebratory” gunshot. So much for harmlessly firing into the air for fun.

The other problem with Malaka Florida Man’s feeble firearms folly is that there are stupid and humorless people who took it literally. That led to some wasted time at the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office north of Tampa:

The bros behind the Shoot at Hurricane Irma page are enjoying their fifteen minutes of fame right now. They had a good laugh over something that isn’t funny. I haven’t laughed at shotgun humor since the days of Elmer Fudd being outwitted by Bugs and Daffy. Gunshots aren’t funny, these Florida Men look as idiotic as Edward G. Robinson as Johnny Rocco in John Huston’s Key Largo:

Don’t be like Johnny Rocco. Don’t be a Florida Man either, it could be deadly. And that is why Florida Man Ryon Edwards is malaka of the week.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy

From Rock Dreams by Guy Peellaert.

We’re in the throes of our annual autumnal tease in New Orleans. Summer isn’t over yet but the lower humidity is a sign that the end is nigh. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to enjoy it since I’ve had a bug that left me woozy and congested all week. So it goes.

I’ve got nothing to complain about since Hurricane Irma is going to Florida. I always feel faintly ghoulish at this time of year. It’s not that I *want* a storm to hit Florida or Texas, I just don’t want one to visit Southeast Louisiana. I have friends in South Florida and my thoughts are with them whether they’re evacuating or hunkering. Be careful out there, y’all.

A quick note about the featured image. It comes from a 1973 coffee table book with art by Guy Peellaert and text by Nik Cohn. I chose it because it’s Hopperish: Edward, not Dennis. Rock Dreams was quite the rage when I was a young rock fan; so much so that somebody stole the book from me not long after I moved out of my parents house. Another Rock Dreams image will turn up later but not the one with the Rolling Stones as SS officers. Oy just oy.

We’re back in almost identical title/different song territory this week. Ray Davies and the Kinks and Paul Rodgers and Bad Company offer their own takes as to what a rock ‘n’ roll fantasy is. I love both songs but if I have to choose, my money is on Ray. Sorry, Paul.

The Kinks got there first so we begin with A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy from 1977’s Misfits album:

Bad Company’s less morose Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy comes from 1979’s Desolation Angels.

If you’re thinking that this week’s focus is music, you get a cookie. I’m not sure what kind but probably one with lots of nuts because Odds & Sods is a nutty feature. We’ll go from nuts to soup after the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Stormy Weather

The Gulf Stream by Winslow Homer.

First, thank you for making our Houston Food Bank fundraiser such a rousing success. We raised more than $3,100. Our readers and friends are the best even if Della Street is trying to hog the credit. Let’s say thanks with a cat meme:

It’s been a difficult week. I don’t have the all-out Saturday Odds & Sods spirit so I’m going to do something a bit different. I feel like a pitcher who gave it his all in his last start but has no stuff in his next outing. In short, I have that ennui that the late Ashley Morris warned us about:

One reason for my ennui is Hurricane Harvey. Everyone who lives in New Orleans long enough has ties to Houston. Plus, the people of Houston helped us in innumerable ways after and during Katrina and the federal flood as my friend Clancy DuBos pointed out in the Gambit Tabloid. It’s dispiriting to see people evacuated from their homes by helicopter and boat. It makes me queasy and gives me a sinking feeling. Pun intended; it always is. I’m not sure if one should call it PTSD or survivor’s guilt but I got it bad and that ain’t good.

The other thing on my mind is Oscar’s health. There has been a recent influx of street cats in our neighborhood, which has resulted in Oscar marking his territory inside the house. Marking is, of course, a polite term for peeing. The good news is that he only marks in one place and on towels we’ve provided. We took him to the vet last week and none of our worst case scenarios materialized. It’s all in his pretty big-eyed head. So, our vet gave him what we like to call kitty Prozac.

The jury is still out as to whether the  kitty Prozac will work because Della freaked out for the first five days after Oscar returned home from 2 hours at the vet; something that had never happened with our past cats. Catblogging fans know that Oscar and Della are besties. In fact, our running joke is that she’s Oscar’s cat. The good news is that she’s back to normal. The bad news is that we’re starting from square one with Oscar and his meds. Hopefully, we can teach this old cat some new tricks. It would be nice not to feel like a combination geriatric cat nurse and laundryman. In short, I am worn the fuck out by the situation. Thanks for listening, y’all.

This week’s theme song is a no-brainer, a good thing since my little gray cells are frazzled. Stormy Weather was written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler in 1933.  Here are versions by two of my favorite divas.

This week’s edition eschews links to long form articles and if you think I’m eschewing up, what can I tell you? It’s going to be a bit more like a First Draft Potpourri post only without the smelly stuff. Btw, potpourri is one of those words I cannot spell without thinking about it. I guess that makes me a piss pourri poor excuse for a writer…

Holy Freudian Slip, Batman: A certain president* neglected to use his spell checker whilst tweeting. I reckoned he might delete it so I took a screen shot:

Trump *is* a heel who thinks that healing Texas will be fast and easy. It will not and cannot be. Recovery is a long slog. In fact, help will be needed in Southeast Texas long after the teevee cameras are gone and Trump is removed from office. Believe me.

In other Insult Comedian news, he “pledged” a million bucks to Harvey relief efforts. I hope he actually pays: he pledged 2 million bucks to Superstorm Sandy relief and never paid up.

I suspect the relief agencies will be singing this song as they wait and wait and wait for Trump’s check:

Silly Bare Naked Canadians.

Tweets Of The Week: They both come from First Drafters or is that Draftees? I’m not quite sure which.

Scout appears to have streamlined her twitter account so the picture is gone with the wind. It’s a photo of a woman holding a sign saying Our Fate Is Your Fate, which became the title of the First Draft anthology.

The next tweet comes from lil’ ole me on a windy day in New Orleans:

Let’s play some music before shutting things down.

Saturday Classic: The Band by The Band sounds like it should be a debut album. It’s their second record. Hardcore fans call it The Brown Album. Boring title notwithstanding, it’s a great album.

I hope everyone has a labor free Labor Day weekend. Even though I hate the heat, I will be marching (sweating is more like it) with the Krewe of Spank in the Southern Decadence parade tomorrow. There may even be some biblebangers protesting since it’s a gay thing. They’ll leave me alone, I’ll be wielding my Spank paddle. In fact, we’ll have a bunch of them. Thwack.

That’s it for this week. I’ll give Oscar the last word with a re-meming of the fundraiser picture. I hope the dear boy is feeling better soon.

When people are devastated, we shouldn’t care if Ted Cruz was an asshole

As the stories of neighbors helping neighbors begin to recede like Harvey’s floodwaters, the rush of stories on which politician is being an asshole is heading full steam toward us. Most of the stories are about the downside of humanity, in which people find ways to remind us that basic, common human decency isn’t common or basic for some people.

While some reporters are trying to help people figure out where damage is or where their loved ones are, you have this asshole tweeting a fake shark photo and this ABC reporter ratting out “looters” to the cops and bragging about it on social media.

While some companies are pitching in with water and supplies, you have insurance agencies trying to figure out what “isn’t covered” and people perpetuating scams on hurricane victims and those hoping to help them.

And while you have some politicians who are trying to figure out how to get these people help, you have people like these assholes, who voted against packages that helped victims of Superstorm Sandy, already trying to “reframe” their votes as to not look hypocritical.

Looking for the basic humanity and honest decency in most politicians is like digging through a pile of dog shit to find a diamond earring you think the dog swallowed: That’s a lot of shit to go through for something that might not be there and even if it is, it’s probably tainted in some way. In that regard, calling out Ted Cruz and his Texas brethren of Sandy “no votes” is a pointless task.

Even more, I wouldn’t care if Texas had elected three demons and the anti-Christ to congress at this point: People are suffering and we should help them. It’s the right thing to do. Why don’t more people who decide where money goes think like this? Is it that they are so myopic about politics that they can only see things in a “win/lose” context that strengthens or weakens an affiliation to a nebulous ideology?

When I pulled over to the side of the road to help a guy with a flat tire, I didn’t ask, “Now wait a minute… Did you vote for Scott Walker? If so, I’m punching a hole in another tire and setting your trunk on fire.” No. He needed help. That’s what he got from me, as best as I could.

I know some of the kids in my classes voted for people who fucked me out of raises and benefits and undercut my mother’s union. Would the world be better off if I refused to help those kids improve their writing or said they couldn’t come to office hours for career guidance? No. The kid needs help, the kid gets help. It’s how things work.

One of the many things I like about this blog is that we don’t agree about everything or all the time. We can be different, but we recognize basic humanity. When A put out the Batsignal for Houston, we chipped in what we could.

Even more, I have no idea who will get that money, nor do I care. Will it help a racist old lady who refers to our 44th president as “that colored boy?” Will it provide an “unearned benefit” to a guy who flew a Stars and Bars flag over his house and kept all his money in Jack Daniel’s Elvis decanters? Will it “give away” something to people who showed up at rallies for Cruz or Trump and chanted, “Build that Wall!” and “Lock her UP!”

I have no goddamned idea and neither do you. All we know is that somebody is getting a warm meal, a change of underwear, a dry blanket, a safe bed and a dozen other things they wouldn’t have otherwise. That’s important.

When people are hurting, they last thing they need is a lecture about how they should have thought about that shit when they voted for Ted Cruz. They don’t need to hear shit about how, “If you Texans are so tough, what do you need our help for?” They don’t need snide shit about attaching a lawnmower engine to their belt buckle and just boating out of there on that. They need to hear, “Hi, we’re here to help.”

And maybe after all this, the people who got that help will be better able to help the next group of people who desperately need it.

Then & Now: Katrina & Harvey

People who know me well, know that I don’t care for poetry. One exception to this rather malleable rule is TS Eliot. I’ve been thinking of The Wasteland the last few days while watching events in Houston unfold. Eliot wrote “April is the cruelest month.” August is the cruelest month in the Gulf South.

I put it less elegantly but more succinctly on FB:

I’ve been pondering some of the differences between my storm, Katrina and Hurricane Harvey. (For the pedants out there, I’m lumping the federal flood  in with Katrina.) There weren’t a plethora of social media outlets in 2005. We had to rely on message boards, emails, phone calls,and smoke signals to get the message out.  Eventually, we got in touch with a guy in our neighborhood who told us that our house hadn’t flooded but that our neighbor’s tree was leaning on it. It turned out not to be a big deal. The tree was too weak to total the back of Adrastos World HQ. So it goes.

In 2017, social media is, on balance, a plus. I already know how my friends in Houston, Galveston, and Corpus Christi fared during the storm. They’ve been lucky so far. So far. If their luck holds, they’ll have to deal with the survivor’s guilt I’ve had since Katrina. It beats the hell out of being homeless or drowning.

Social media, however, is a double-edged sword. There are Trumpers informing us that the Kaiser of Chaos is doing a better job with Harvey than Obama did with Katrina. No fucking comment. Then there are some wayward lefties who remain convinced that red state residents are less worthy than those in blue states. This is, of course, rubbish as our old friend Jude pointed out on da twittahs:

There are also some folks who think that the “Cajun Navy” is a para-military group bent on mayhem and other assorted bad deeds. Why? Many of those guys voted for Trump and have some retrograde views. I don’t know about you but if somebody saves me from drowning, I’m not asking who they voted for. I had a surreal argument about whether members of the original Cajun Navy shot and killed people after Katrina. There’s no evidence that they shot anyone. I was asked to prove a negative: that they did not do so. I declined the invitation.  I guess this person would have been opposed to the demon private boats that did most of the evacuating at Dunkirk.

In fact, the Cajun Navy group that set off those people has been repudiated by other “units.” They claimed to have been robbed and were unmasked as scamsters. I told you so. I love saying that, y’all. The people I argued with still don’t get it. Schmucks.

Here’s the deal: help can come from the unlikeliest sources. People with crappy politics can help people too. We never had these arguments before 2005 and it’s outrageous how many people to my left sound like Republicans circa 2005. I’ll let it go now but first something from my friend Troy Gilbert who was part of the *original* Cajun Navy:

Anyone who thinks that’s sinister should put down the smart phone and take a break from social media. In a perfect world, it would be best for federal, state, and local authorities to take care of all relief and rescue operations. We don’t live in such a world and it’s getting more imperfect all the time. I guess I didn’t let it go. I will now.

One thing Harvey survivors will have to get used to is telling their hurricane story over and over again. Dr. A and I have done it many times over the years and it gets old but it’s usually asked out of curiosity and empathy. It’s what happens when you’re a part of a historic event. Anyway, prepare to expound, y’all. You might be able to get some free meals out of it if you play your cards right. My old friends Maitri and Domingo may have to charge double. They’re Katrina *and* Harvey survivors. Sadly, they’re not alone in this.

I bitched about twitter earlier. It’s only fair to share something positive even if it’s self-serving. It’s from a complete stranger:

I expect I’ll have more to say about Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. I wanted to keep this personal so I skipped discussing the Insult Comedian’s embarrassing Texas sojourn. I think there’s a Your President* Speaks post in my future.

Last word time. This has been my personal theme song for the last few days:

Houston: No Good Options

Hurricane Rita evacuation clusterfuck, 2005.  

I mentioned yesterday that an attempt to evacuate the sprawling Houston area for Hurricane Rita in 2005 resulted in an epic clusterfuck as you can see in the photo above.  Here’s how it was described by the Houston Chronicle:

“In the Houston area, the muddled flight from the city killed almost as many people as Rita did. An estimated 2.5 million people hit the road ahead of the storm’s arrival, creating some of the most insane gridlock in U.S. history. More than 100 evacuees died in the exodus. Drivers waited in traffic for 20-plus hours, and heat stroke impaired or killed dozens. Fights broke out on the highway. A bus carrying nursing home evacuees caught fire, and 24 died.”

This is why Texas Governor Greg Abbot and all the armchair evacuators on social media and the MSM are dead wrong. The state of Texas has declined to stage evacuation drills, devise an adequate contraflow scheme, or do anything that other jurisdictions-even the Gret Stet of Louisiana-do to facilitate evacuations. Texas conservatives hate guvmint even when it would help them personally. I guess the Texas GOP’s motto should be: Drown Free.

Any Houstonian who remembered the Rita clusterfuck would have declined to evacaute. The only way a mandatory evacuation would have worked is if it were ordered on Monday August 21. People simply would not have left then and many could not afford to do so. That’s something the armchair evacuators do not care about. They specialize in judging others while sitting high and dry in their Lazy-Boys, smart phone in hand.

I’ve evacuated twice for Hurricanes. It’s a miserable experience. I understand why people chose to hunker down. I have close friends in the Houston area and my stomach is in knots right now. Thus far none of them have had to boat out of their houses but it’s still raining in H-Town. What a fucking mess.

Hurricane Harvey is an unprecedented event. The rainfall totals are frightening. There were no good options available. It was going to be a clusterfuck no matter what. Backseat driving is always annoying. I suggest the armchair evacuators STFU and figure out how they can help after the waters recede.

Finally, Trump should stay away and not disrupt relief and rescue operations. He lives in an orange bubble and vaguely remembers that Bush got in deep shit over his response to Katrina. Trump should forget the photo-ops and give the people of Texas maximum federal resources and support. Go when the crisis subsides. The world does not revolve around Trump. He just thinks it does.

Since we’ve all got the Hurricane Harvey blues, the last word goes to Texas native Lightnin’ Hopkins with a song about endless rain you know where:

It’s The Water, Not The Wind

There’s a cookie-cutter aspect to teevee Hurricane coverage. They’re fixated on what category a storm is. It’s human nature to grab on to something tangible (in this case, a number) when confronting something inherently irrational such as a major storm system. Most of the damage Harvey has done has been *after* its category was reduced; it’s a tropical storm as of this writing. The wind is scary and produces spectacular pictures but it’s the water that does most of the damage.

Everyone who lived through Katrina and the subsequent federal flood is experiencing PTSD right now, especially since the 12th anniversary is a mere 2 days away. The images coming out of Houston are heartbreaking and depressingly familiar to those of us from the New Orleans metro area. We’re also hearing some of the same criticisms of those who live in Houston and elsewhere on the Texas Gulf Coast. Houston tried mandatory evacuations in 2005 and 2008. They were clusterfucks. What was called for this time around was an evacuation of low-lying and flood-prone areas. It would have had to start as early as Monday or Tuesday. It’s very hard to get people to do that. Additionally, many low-income people cannot afford the cost of evacuating for that long. There’s no easy or good way to handle a system as wet and dangerous as Harvey. Nature is always more powerful than human beings.

We’re seeing some tut-tutting on social media about the hypocrisy of Texas Senators Cruz and Cornyn right now. Let’s stipulate that they’re hypocrites and assholes. They’ve both been malaka of the week and I call them by nasty names: Senator Cornhole and Tailgunner Ted. That’s irrelevant. People are suffering and need help. It doesn’t matter who represents them or whether it’s a blue or red state. People on the left shouldn’t sound like right-wingers circa 2005. I firmly believe that you become what you hate. It reminds me of a line from Justified wherein Raylan Givens said: “If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.” Don’t be that asshole.

Finally, the fact that this deluge is happening in Houston makes it doubly horrible. The people of Houston opened their hearts to people fleeing the floodwaters in Southeast Louisiana in 2005. Some of those Louisianians never left Houston and now many of them have experienced flooding again, It’s called a double whammy and it’s never been crueler than it is right now.

We’re trying to figure out how First Draft can help the people of Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast. We’ll have an announcement sometime in the next few days. Ain’t nobody getting into Harvey zone until the rain relents. It’s the water, not the wind.

The last word goes to Houston native Rodney Crowell with his hurricane song, Telephone Road:

 

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: This Summer

Windmills on the Hill by Francoise Gilot.

Prologue/Forward: I wrote this post and timed it for publication before Hurricane Harvey made full landfall. It will be onshore as you read this. It’s gonna be a wet sumbitch. Best of luck to all my friends and readers in the impacted area whether you evacuated or hunkered down. Our thoughts are with you.

Enough sincere shit, it’s time for the main event:

The tropics are becoming more active as August nears an end. It’s unfortunate because the drainage system in New Orleans is still fucked up. I don’t usually get overly nervous when I hear about a new tropical system in the Caribbean, but this year is different. The odds of Adrastos World HQ flooding are slim. As to the rest of the city, that’s not the case. Hopefully, the City will get its shit together but competence is not a hallmark of government in the Crescent City. It’s time for an Adrastos nursery rhyme: Harvey stay away, don’t come again another day.

Have I complained about storm names this year? It’s high time.  The latest storm is Harvey, which is a funny name, not a scary one. Hurricane Harvey reminds me of Harvey the invisible rabbit, Harvey Korman, and this former major league baseball player, coach, and manager:

Admittedly, the chaw is a bit scary, but Harvey Kuenn was famous for being nice and for being the only batting champion traded for a home run champion, Rocky Colavito. Enough about the boys of summer since only Doc and I give a shit about Harvey Kuenn. I would, however, never knock the Rock…

Summer may be winding down where you live but September is often as hot as August in my sultry neck of the woods. We usually get a tease of fall weather but it rarely lasts long before the heat and humidity settle back in until October. That’s life in the Big Easy. Speaking of which, there’s a swell cover story in the Gambit Tabloid about post-Katrina life here: Is New Orleans worth it?  It’s, uh, worth a glance. It proves that old adage: the more things change the more they remain the same. So it goes.

Speaking of summer, it occurred to me this week that my favorite rock songwriting team, Difford and Tilbrook, have written a passel of tunes about summer. This week’s first theme song,  This Summer, begins with a classic line: “Brain engages mouth, mouth expresses thoughts.” That’s how it works in my experience.

I hope you noticed that the late Keith Wilkerson looks like Huntz Hall in this video. He’s the bloke in the blue ball cap. Not only was Keith was more likely to be an East Side Kid than a Bowery Boy, neither Difford nor Tillbrook resemble Leo Gorcey. End of obscure lowbrow comedy reference. I have a million of them…

Happy Days is a song of more recent vintage. It’s about getting out of London on holiday. As a non-resident, London is one of my favorite places to go on vacation. I would propose a house swap but who the hell wants to come to New Orleans in August?

Our final Squeezey ode to summer was one of the band’s first hits and evokes the beach on a warm summer day:

Now that we’ve gone behind the chalet and pulled mussels from the shell, it’s time to insert the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: I Can’t Stand The Rain

Landscape in the Rain by Vincent Van Gogh.

It was the week from hell in New Orleans. There turned out to be much more human error involved in the flood I wrote about Monday. It has led to an orgy of recrimination and paranoia. The bottom line is that the city’s pumping system is in poor shape at the peak of hurricane season. It makes me glad to live in the so-called sliver by the river but it still bites the big one.

Mayor Landrieu has been re-enacting my Russell Long meme:

Comparisons to Katrina and the Federal Flood remain overwrought but things should not have gotten as bad as they did. It was also my birthday and in the future the August 5th flash flood will join the list of local flood dates. Heckuva job, Mitch. Btw, your fantasies of a presidential bid are underwater, both literally and figuratively.

This week’s theme song was an easy choice since I live in a city with marginally functional drainage as of this writing. I Can’t Stand The Rain was written by Ann Peebles, Don Bryant, and Bernie Miller. It was a big hit in 1973 and could be the theme song not only of this post but of the city of New Orleans in the summer of 2017. Heckuva job, Mitch.

Here are two versions of this superb song: the Ann Peebles original and a live version from the great Paul Rodgers. Rodgers recorded the song in Memphis for his Royal Sessions album. It was one of my birthday albums. It’s a good ‘un.

I’m feeling terse and not particularly funny as I write this on Friday morning. I’ve been on the receiving end of some extraordinarily bad customer service this week and I’m still fuming as you can see from this tweet:

The post was already assembled so I’ll play hurt as it were. We’ll see how that works out after the break. At least I’m not concussed…

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Anything Goes

Grandmother Moorhead’s Aromatic Kitchen by Leonora Carrington, 1975.

It was a weird week in New Orleans. It was oddly quiet as everyone hunkered down for a storm that had minimal impact in the city. I spent a lot of time with Oscar and Della. I’m glad to report that they’re fine. They’re used to hanging around the house and sleeping incessantly. Nobody does it better, not even Bond.

I spent some time this week calling the offices of my Republican Senators about the abominable health care bill. I’m not sure what good it will do. Both of them know deep down that it’s bad legislation that will damage a poor state like Louisiana. I expect them to vote aye anyway: neither has the backbone to stand up to Chinless Mitch and the Trumper hordes. Repeat after me: I hope I’m wrong about this.

This week’s theme song reflects the climate of our national politics: “In olden days, a crooked Oval One was looked on as something shocking. Now heaven knows, anything goes. ” Cole Porter was one smart Hoosier Yalie. Boola boola, y’all.

We have two versions of Anything Goes for your enjoyment: the inevitable Sinatra as well as Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. I’m gaga for Gaga even without the meat suit.

Now that we’ve established that:

The world has gone mad today
And good’s bad today,
And black’s white today,
And day’s night today…

It’s time to insert the break and meet on the other side. It’s what Cole would have wanted.

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Cindy Incidentally

Some of our readers have reached out to ask how we’re faring with Tropical Storm Cindy. Thus far, very well indeed: Della Street remains defiant. We still have power but since the storm is lurking offshore, I thought I better post before we lose it. My friends who *always* lose power when it rains, have lost it but not their shit. Sorry, y’all.

I woke up this morning and wondered if  it was all over but the teevee shouting. Instead, it’s the lull before the next band of rain comes our way. It is not, however, anything comparable to past systems and most of us are using it as a dress rehearsal. Weather Channel danger guy Jim Cantore will just have to be disappointed. He’s reduced to hanging out with the Mayor:

I’d like to point out that Mayor Mitch seems not to know that one runs away from Cantore. What a poser.

The current storm names, Brett and Cindy, sound like high school prom royalty to me. Not scary at all. At least it’s not Cindy with an I. Of course, then we could crack jokes about the eye of this wet but relatively minor storm.

First Draft pun consultant James Karst summed up the local reaction to Cindy last night on the tweeter tube:

The chair recognizes the Faces for the last word:

Saturday Odds & Sods: One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)

Struggle For Existence by Clifford Odets.

The unseasonably cool weather continued through the middle of this week in New Orleans. Summer’s cauldron is finally upon us, but this May has a chance to be one of the coolest on record. The coolish weather has thus far kept the Formosan termite swarms in check in my neighborhood. I have another theory: that the new and very bright street lights on Napoleon Avenue are attracting the swarms and keeping them away from Adrastos World HQ. It’s  just a theory but if I’m right it will be a less swarmy and pestiferous year.

Here’s last year’s termite theory in Tweet form:

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

Let’s get back to where we once belonged, 2017.

I’m burnt out on Lost Cause Fest. I’m glad that the Lee statue came down in broad daylight yesterday. At 16 feet tall, it was too big to be removed at night. I’m just glad it’s over. I haven’t gone to spectate at any of the removal spectacles; mostly because it’s slow, arduous, and somewhat boring. Lost Cause Fest involves statues but it doesn’t rock. This front page headline does:

Photo by Milo’s human.

This week’s featured image is a 1947 painting by Clifford Odets. Until I saw last Monday’s  Antiques Roadshow, I had no idea that the playwright/screenwriter was a gifted painter. I guess that’s why they call PBS educational television.

This week’s theme song was written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer for a 1943 Fred Astaire movie, The Sky’s The Limit.  One For My Baby (And One More For The Road) is the torch song’s torch song or is that the saloon song’s saloon song? I am easily confused but you already knew that. If I were pretentious, I’d tell you that I curated three versions of the song but I’m neither a curate nor a cure-all…

We begin with Fred Astaire singing to an indifferent bartender named Joe followed by fabulous versions by Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday. Frank called it a saloon song whereas Billie torched it up, y’all. There will be more about torches anon.

Now that Joe has set ’em up, let’s go to the break. It’s not a spoiler break as with The Americans recaps, it’s more of a length break. I do tend to go on.

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Even the Bald Eagles Have Fucking Had It with Trump

They’ve declared war on us: 

We’re used to seeing our national bird as a valiant hero in nature documentaries plucking salmon from pristine streams, on the back of every dollar bill in our wallets, or on pretty much every federal seal — from the NSA and the CIA to the office of the president. But in Dutch, especially in winter when it’s harder for them to catch fish, you can see eagles for what they really are: hardy, scrappy scavengers.

Turns out that when you live with a federal symbol up close and personal, day in and day out, it’s a little harder to think of them as majestic. Bald eagles show up in the local police blotter alongside reports of drunk fishermen passing out in the wrong bunk or taking off in someone else’s forklift.

My first morning in Dutch I went down to KUCB, the local TV and radio station, to ask people for their eagle stories. Before I’d gone off the air I was getting calls and texts. One man drove straight over to the station in his snowplow to catch me before I’d left the parking lot. Everyone in town has an eagle story, usually more than one.

Sixteen-year-old Ethan Iszler was walking back to school eating a piece of pepperoni pizza when an eagle came, seemingly from nowhere, and stole it right out of his hand.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Let The Four Winds Blow

The Man In The Blue Hat by Fernand Léger.

The French Quarter Festival is this weekend. It used to be a favorite of mine but has gotten more crowded and touristy as the years have gone by. Bigger is not always better but that’s the mentality that drives events in New Orleans in 2017. So it goes.

Allergy season continues apace, exacerbated by the wind. There’s flying pollen in the air. The good news is that I haven’t seen any Buckmoth Caterpillars blowing in the wind. They’re nasty little buggers that will sting the hell out of you given half a chance. In fact, a friend of mine was cutting her grass and learned that even if you cut a Buckmoth, they can still sting you. It’s another reason to avoid yard work. Nature is dirty and stingy.

This week’s windy theme song was written by Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew. It was first recorded in 1957 by R&B legend Roy Brown who had his sole cross over hit with Let The Four Winds Blow. The Fat Man cut his version in 1961. We’ll go in chronological order.

Windiness is nothing new for this feature. Neither is a pounding piano or honking sax.

It’s baseball season, which means hope springs eternal for last year’s also-rans. My Giants lost on opening day but star pitcher Madison Bumgarner hit two homers. Pitchers rarely do that in the NL and never in the AL because of the accursed DH rule.

The Insult Comedian dodged throwing out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals home opener. I guess he was afraid the boos would drown out any cheers. All Presidents receive both at sporting events. Still, it would have been amusing to see Trump in action. He once claimed to be the best high school ballplayer in New York. It’s another whopper: Hall of Famers Jim Palmer and Rod Carew played high school ball at the same time. Sorry, Donald.

Speaking of putting on a show:

Baseball & Vaudeville: There’s a swell article at the Atlantic about how sports and show business intermingled in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Playing baseball was not a lucrative profession back then so some players took to the stage. One of them was New York Giants outfielder Turkey Mike Donlin who brought his manager, John McGraw along for the ride:

I also learned that there’s a vaudeville archive at the University of Arizona. I wonder if they have any gag props?

Elizabeth Yuko has the details in her appropriately entitled article, When Baseball Players Were Vaudeville Stars.

Let’s move on to a more serious segment. April 6th marked the 100th Anniversary of United States entry into the Great War.

The Forgotten War: The Korean conflict is often called that but-thanks to M*A*S*H in particular-it’s still more remembered in America than World War I. The Great War was an important event in world history but, in show business terms, World War II had better villains and bigger explosions. There are so many books and films about that conflict that it won’t be forgotten.

There are two articles about America and the Great War that I’d like to bring to your attention:

The short answer is that Americans have short memories when it comes to our own history. It’s one reason the Insult Comedian is watching teevee at the White House instead of Trump Tower.

Hopefully, a new American Experience documentary will revive interest in the forgotten war. It premiers on April 1oth.

Also forgotten are some Hollywood movies produced at the end of the Hoover administration. In the face of a passive laissez-faire Presidency, some Americans wanted a strong man and the movies reflected that desire.

The Dictator Craze: As part of an outstanding series about Fascism, Slate published an excerpt from a book by Thomas Doherty. The piece deals with Hollywood’s brief fascination with authoritarian jerks, When Fascist Heroes Took Over The Movies. The best of these movies was:

The Power and the Glory (1933) embodied the hankering for a superman in title, sentiment, and central character. Directed by William K. Howard from a screenplay by Preston Sturges, the film is often considered a precursor to Citizen Kane (1941) because of its pioneering use of voice-over narration. The Power and the Glory resurrects the deceased and unmourned railroad tycoon Tom Garner (Spencer Tracy) for a meditation of the price of greatness. Personally flawed but professionally flawless, Garner rises Horatio Alger–fashion from pauper to plutocrat.

Hollywood’s Fascist flirtation faded with the election of Franklin Roosevelt and the revival of what his cousin TR called a more “muscular government.” The reason FDR is atop my President’s list is that he saved the country from dictatorship. He would be appalled by Donald Trump but also confident that we can move past this disaster.

Speaking of Fascism and the movies, there’s an interesting piece about a Nazi era movie star in the Guardian:

The Nazi Marilyn Monroe: Hitler and Goebbels wanted Marlene Dietrich to be the Nazi’s pin-up. Marlene wanted nothing to with their murderous regime and remained in splendid exile in Hollywood. They had to make do with Kristina Söderbaum who was more of a blond bombshell than a blond venus like Dietrich.

Here’s how Karen Liebreich describes her encounter with Söderbaum:

We drove to Horw, near Lucerne, to interview Söderbaum, star of many films, most of them directed by her husband, Veit Harlan. These included Jud Süß, widely regarded as the most antisemitic film ever, and the ridiculous epic Kolberg, about the Napoleonic siege of the Prussian city. Söderbaum was so often drowned in her films that she became known as the Reichswasserleiche, the official State Water Corpse.

<SNIP>

Söderbaum claimed Joseph Goebbels, head of Nazi propaganda, didn’t much like her. His taste – apart from his wife, Magda – ran to dark-haired actresses. “He told me I was not sexy but erotic,” said Söderbaum. Still, she added, “terribly many people fell in love with me. But whether that made me a sex symbol or not, I don’t know.” For her part, she found that: “Goebbels had very nice eyes but,” she added with a laugh, “he was a devil!” She said Adolf Hitler, on the other hand, was always very pleasant to her – and Harlan would often remark on his amazing eyes. She was not unimpressed by Hitler’s eyes herself.

Söderbaum could be described as the archetypical feminists’ nightmare. A beautiful woman, a very convincing actress, totally obedient and devoted to her forceful husband, she told me she had lived “in a gilded cage” and “went everywhere in a limo”. But I saw no signs of curiosity about life beyond the bars. In her autobiography, she seemed surprised by the postwar hostility towards Harlan, astonished that their children were taunted as Nazis at school in Sweden.

In a word: clueless. If she were around today, she might have been one of the Insult Comedian’s wives.

Documentary Of The Week: Söderbaum’s director/husband Veit Harlan is the subject of a 2008 documentary, Harlan-In The Shadow Of Jew Suss. He, too, was baffled by the controversy his work stirred up and maintained that Goebbels made him do Jew Suss. There’s nothing to support his story.

The film features extensive interviews with members of Harlan’s family; most of whom take a dim view of his movies. An interesting filmic footnote: Harlan’s niece Christiane was married to Stanley Kubrick for 41 years until his death in 1999.

It’s trailer time:

Harlan-In The Shadow Of Jew Suss is currently streaming at Amazon Prime. I give it 3 stars, an Adrastos Grade of B, and an Ebertian thumbs-up.

This has been a somewhat sombre edition of Odds & Sods so it’s time to lighten things up before we go.

Tweet Of The Week: This tweet proves that even ladies in fur coats dislike the Trumps:

I wonder if she cranked up this Stones song whilst sipping her vino:

That’s it for this week. The last word goes to silent film superstar Buster Keaton in an image from his 1927 comedy College:

 

Malaka Of The Week: William Happer

An eminent physicist who’s on the faculty at Princeton is openly campaigning to become the Insult Comedian’s science adviser. He has an impressive curriculum vitae and is certainly qualified for the position. There’s a rub: he’s a climate change denier. And that is why William Happer is malaka of the week.

Dr. Hapless Happer gave an interview to the Guardian wherein he shared his views on those of us who believe in climate change:

“There’s a whole area of climate so-called science that is really more like a cult,” Happer told the Guardian. “It’s like Hare Krishna or something like that. They’re glassy-eyed and they chant. It will potentially harm the image of all science.”

Are they Moonies, Scientologists, or Hairy Fishnuts, Dr. Hapless Happer? They’re all inclined to be glassy-eyed and the first cult is pro-GOP. Scientologists are down with Trumpism because they believe greed is good and selfishness is where it’s at.

Dr. Malaka also supports the gag order imposed by the morons at the Brown House:

Happer also supports a controversial crackdown on the freedom of federal agency scientists to speak out about their findings, arguing that mixed messages on issues such as whether butter or margarine is healthier, have led to people disregarding all public health information.

“So many people are fed up of listening to the government lie to them about margarine and climate change that when something is actually true and beneficial they don’t listen,” he said, citing childhood vaccines as an example. “The government should have a reputation of being completely reliable about facts – real facts.”

Real facts, Dr, Malaka? Do you mean the facts as spoken by your dear leader? I wonder if you understand the Faustian bargain you’re entering into. Trump listens to no one and insists on unconditional subservience. Are you ready to lick Bannon’s jackboots and be humiliated by the president*? That’s what the job entails.

Dr. Malaka derides scientists who believe in climate change as members of a cult. He’s about to join a cult where staffers are required to clap every time the dear leader speaks and retweet his increasingly incoherent rants. The hapless Happer might end up on the streets banging a tambourine and selling MAGA caps as punishment for displeasing Trump or Bormann Bannon. The only one who’s drinking Kool-Aid is Dr. Malaka. It’s Trumper Kool-Aid.

Happer doubtless thinks he’ll be an important and influential man if he becomes Trump’s science guy. Wrong. He’ll be just another one of the Insult Comedian’s dignity wraiths who will skedaddle back to a cold welcome at Princeton when he quits or is fired. Dr. Malaka is not only a climate change denier, he’s a world-class naif. And that is why William Happer is malaka of the week.

 

 

 

Thanks, Y’all

I’d like to thank everyone who donated to VAYLA’s New Orleans East Tornado Relief fund. They’ve exceeded their original goal and have raised nearly $20K.

Here’s another chance to give:

What would a post like this be without some musical gratitude?

Stanton Moore is a New Orleans musician so I decided to let the exclamation point slide.

New Orleans East Tornado Relief

A record-setting tornado ripped through New Orleans East on February 7th. Mercifully, there were no fatalities, but there’s a lot of damage. Our readers have always been generous and I’m asking you to help again. It’s an excellent way to ward off the Trumper blues, after all.

A progressive New Orleans East based community group, VAYLA (Vietnamese-American Young Leaders Association) is raising money to help their neighbors in their time of need. I’m donating and I hope you will too. Thanks in advance.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Liar

It’s been another weird week in New Orleans. The weather has been yo-yo-ing to and fro. We reluctantly ran the AC on a particularly steamy day and we’re back to the heater right now. The kitties, of course, prefer the latter. So it goes.

There was a lethal shooting last weekend on Bourbon Street. It doesn’t happen that often but when it does the media, city government, and tourism establishment lose their collective minds. This time there are suggestions of metal detectors and limited access. That’s typical NOLA think: propose something that would be simultaneously costly and unenforceable. We live in a country and a state with an armed population and when you add booze and crowds to the mix, violence is not surprising. It’s difficult to prevent an asshole with a concealed weapon from discharging it. That may sound cold and harsh but “to live in this town, you must be tough, tough, tough, tough.” Thus spake Jagger and Richards. She-doo-be.

The mendacity theme here at First Draft continues with this week’s theme songs. That’s right, my obsession with different songs with the same title continues. We begin with Todd Rundgren’s 2004 tune Liar. It’s followed in quick succession by Queen, the Sex Pistols, Argent, and, of all people, Three Dog Night who covered the Argent tune.

I had no idea there were so many songs with liar in the title and that’s the truth. There will be more prevarication after the break, but first I need to find that lying sack of shit that we’ve heard so much about over the years.

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Malaka Of The Week: Tropical Storm Malakas

I don’t usually make fun of tropical systems but this one has an unusual name to say the least. I thought it was joke the first time someone shared the story with me on the book of faces but it’s the real deal. Here’s hoping it’s not guilty of any major malakatude.

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UPDATE: It has been upgraded to a typhoon. Oy, such malakatude.