Category Archives: Nature is Scary

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.

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Feels Like Rain

Rain, Steam, and Speed by JMW Turner, 1844.

Rain, Steam, and Speed by JMW Turner, 1844.

Tis the season for New Orleanians to freak out over the tropics. Social media is *great* after a disaster but it’s a disaster as storms line up in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s what happens at the end of every August, y’all. It’s too early to freak out about storms that may or may not pay us a visit. Here’s what I said on the Tweeter Tube the other day:

It doesn’t matter if a storm is named if it has your name on it. Look at what happened in the Baton Rouge area: that was an unnamed storm and it wreaked havoc.  My advice to people who are new to the hurricane zone is to prepare but take a deep breath and relax. Freaking out never helped anybody even if Freak Out is the title of the first Mothers album:

End of obligatory Zappa reference.

It’s been a hyper-allergenic week here in New Orleans. I’m not sure if the wind has blown allergens our way from the Gret Stet flood, but I’ve felt like warmed over shit all week. Sinus headaches are no fun, y’all; neither is being dizzy because your sini are clogged. I prefer them to be as dry as the Sinai. I have a tell-tale allergy related red spot on my right cheekbone. It’s usually dime-sized, this week it’s like a Kennedy half-dollar. Instead of day drinking like a proper New Orleanian, I’ve been day benadryling. Enough whining, wheezing, and whinging, Let’s move on to our theme song.

It’s been raining a lot so this week’s theme song is one of John Hiatt’s finest, Feels Like Rain. It’s so well crafted and constructed that it’s been covered by a wide variety of singers. I also like it because of the Lake Pontchartrain reference.

We have three versions for your enjoyment. First, the songwriter’s original version from his classic Slow Turning album. Buddy Guy loves the song so much that he made it the title track of a 1993 album. Finally, Aaron Neville crooning Feels Like Rain with the Neville Brothers to a crowd that included Dr. A and little old me.

Aaron sure can sing, y’all. There’s more to come after the break. I’m not sure if it qualifies as a full English breakfast but it’s all I got.

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Gret Stet Flood Notes

Baton Rouge debris photograph by Carolyn Scofield.

Baton Rouge debris. Photograph by Carolyn Scofield.

First, I’d like to thank everyone who has donated to Gret Stet flood relief causes, either via this First Draft link or elsewhere. Dr. A and I gave money to the Denham Springs Animal Shelter. They exceeded their target and received matching funds from the Petco Foundation. I checked out them rather carefully since it was a gofundme appeal. Two friends who are active in animal rescue causes vouched for them. I mention this because the scamsters are using online flim-flammery to rip people off. Please be careful who you give to, especially if it’s a gofundme thing. At some point, we’ll be posting more links but I want to be sure that they’re reputable first. Besides, recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.

President Obama visited the Red Stick area yesterday. He shrugged off the critics and gave a nuts and bolts speech about how FEMA is not the same organization that it was in 2005. The people who hate him continue to carp and complain but that’s not helping anyone. Anybody who confuses Craig Fugate with Heckuva Job Brownie is an ignoramus.

POTUS stressed the importance of Congressional action to supplement FEMA’s emergency assistance. Unfortunately, three members of the Louisiana House delegation voted against Sandy Relief: Steve Scalise, John Fleming, and Baton Rouge’s very own Bill Cassidy who is now an empty suit in the Senate. And Fleming is running for Bitter Vitter’s seat. The good news is that New Jersey and New York Democrats believe in guvmint and will vote for Gret Stet flood relief according to Rep. Bill Pascrell:

“They don’t get it until they get hit on the side of the head themselves by a two-by-four and everything’s supposed to stop. All of a sudden it’s, ‘This is different; this is oranges and apples,’ ” said U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, a Democrat from Paterson, New Jersey.

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Pascrell, who said he’s going to do “everything as a congressman I can to help the people of Louisiana,” said he wished that state’s delegation had taken a similar approach when it was his state that needed assistance.

“Not one dime is going to be delayed to the Baton Rouge area or to Louisiana. I can’t say the same thing about 2013. Money was delayed,” he said. “We had to fight from the beginning for the dollars. While that’s not going to color my response, I’m not going to forget it. I don’t forget. There’s always a day of reckoning. That’s Jersey style.”

Messsage received loud and clear. In 2013, conservative ideology trumped disaster relief. The errant Louisiana pols deserve to be reminded of their hypocrisy before we move on.

In other Gret Stet flood related news, it remains unclear if or what Donald Trump donated to flood relief. He seems to have lied about the 18-wheeler he claimed to have brought with him to the flood zone. He *may* have donated money to a right-wing church favored by “family values” creep, Tony Perkins. As is so often the case with the Insult Comedian, the truth is elusive. But we all know that the truth is not his middle name:

There’s been much talk of the exploits of the ‘Cajun Navy.’ I put the term in quotes because it’s an informal group of people with boats who help during disasters. As my friend and post-K blogger comrade in arms Troy Gilbert put it on the Tweeter Tube:

Troy ought to know: he’s one of this informal group, which is most impressive to this landlubber. There have been several scams involving the ‘Cajun Navy,’ so beware, take care.

There’s a legislator who wants to regulate the activities of these public-spirited citizens:

Republican State Senator Jonathan “J.P.” Perry of the Vermilion-Lafayette area said he is working on legislation that could require training, certificates and a permit to allow these Good Samaritans to get past law enforcement into devastated areas.

In a radio interview on News Talk 96.5 KPEL in Lafayette, Sen. Perry said it comes down to two main points for law enforcement officials.

“At the end of the day, there are going to be two things that are going to be the hurdle when you approach it from the state’s standpoint,” Sen. Perry said. “Liability is going to be number one for them. They don’t want the liability of going out to rescue them and then not being able to find them, and secondly, there’s a cost.”

Perry continues by saying the liability issue could be solved by something like a waiver that boaters sign prior to a natural disaster.

Clouarte and other members of the ‘Cajun Navy’ said they do not understand the regulations.

“How can you regulate people helping people? That doesn’t make sense to me,” Clouarte said.

I’m not quite sure what I think of this very lawyerly idea. Regulating the ‘Cajun Navy’ is like to trying to regulate the wind. It’s amorphous and spontaneous. I don’t think people should be discouraged from helping one another but a waiver of some sort *might* be a good idea. One person’s Good Samaritan is another person’s officious intermeddler. That’s one of my favorite Tort law terms: it’s legalese for buttinski.

Finally, I’m having horrible allergy problems so I’m unable to do much in the way of hands-on volunteer work; all I can do right now is donate money and write about the Gret Stet flood of 2016. But many of my friends have pitched in and helped people in the flood zone. I’d like to give a brief shout out to Brett, David, Jonathan, Julia, Troy, and Desier. I know I’m forgetting someone; inflamed sinuses impair my little gray cells.

Below is a picture of my friends Carolyn and Kyle who have been house gutting with the United Saints Recovery Project who *are* a reputable group.

Photograph by Kyle Melancon.

Masked house gutters. Photograph by Kyle Melancon.

New Orleanians are used to masking, after all. Since volunteering in the Gret Stet heat can be funky, I’ll give the last word to Sylvester Stewart and his combo:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Here Comes The Flood

NOAA info via the Advocate.

It’s been an exhausting few weeks in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. Everyone I’ve heard from in the flood zone is okay but thousands of people are not. I’m proud that many of my friends are helping. We take care of our own here in Louisiana but we need all the help we can get. If you haven’t already done so please click on this link to see a few ways you can help. Your reward is a musical interlude from the Boss:

Springsteen mentions New Orleans in the song. Here’s how our brothers and sisters in Acadiana would put it: On prend soin des nôtres.

As you can see from the featured image,  a phenomenal amount of rain was dumped on the flood zone in a short period of time. Making matters worse, it sat there for days on end; longer than the chart indicates. This storm has been described as “like a hurricane in infancy” by the Gret Stet’s climatologist. It was an angry and bitter infant that left vast destruction in its path. It will take years for people to recover from the flood. The good news there are only 13 reported fatalities thus far BUT there will be deaths from natural causes related to the flood. Elderly people dropped like flies in post-K New Orleans. Let’s hope it’s not as bad this time around.

This week’s theme song is something of a no-brainer, which is a good thing since it’s so hot that one could fry an egg on top of my head if I were insane enough to spend an extended period outside. Here Comes The Flood debuted on Peter Gabriel’s first album after leaving Genesis. We have three versions: the original, a live solo rendition, and a version recorded with Robert Fripp in 2006. Btw, the King Crimson leader played on the first PG album and toured with him. I saw the Winterland show and Fripp sat on a stool in the shadows the entire time. Guitar heroes are rarely that shy.

This week’s edition is about keeping it snappy. Saying that makes me feel like I should don a zoot suit and snap some suspenders. Shorter Adrastos, we’re dispensing with the break and links to long-form articles.

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We begin with two pieces by Baton Rouge residents, one white, one black. They’re united in believing that the racial tensions that exploded before the Gret Stet flood of 2016 must be addressed:

Will The Great Flood Sink Baton Rouge Or Inspire Its Rebirth? by Robert Mann.

The Flood Brings Us Together. Let’s Not Forget The Divides by Raymond Jetson.

The Insult Comedian Cometh: Donald Trump and his Hoosier stooge Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire staged a photo-op in Baton Rouge Friday. The Governor urged them to stay away unless they planned to volunteer or donate but Trump knows bestYou gotta love John Bel Edwards, y’all. When Bobby Jindal was Governor, every crisis was about him, he lived for photo-ops. John Bel just wants to get shit done.

Trump has a rather checkered history with the Gret Stet of Louisiana. He made a big deal out of building Trump Tower, New Orleans to help the post-K recovery. I reminded him of this on Twitter:

The location of the never built “tower” is downtown at the corner of Poydras and Camp Streets. As an old friend and post-K blogger comrade in arms pointed out:

Now that we’ve mocked Donald Trump’s malakatude for the gazillionth time, let’s pay some nice people a virtual visit.

Video Clip Of The Week: I mentioned Gret Stet Governor John Bel Edwards’ appearance on the Rachel Maddow Show in an update to my Heckuva Job, Advocate post. Here it is:

Since they’re still “trying to wash us away,”let’s move on to an album that has one of the greatest songs ever written about the Gret Stet of Louisiana.

Saturday Classic:  The album is Good Old Boys by Randy Newman. The song is, of course, Louisiana 1927. There are two other Louisiana-centric tunes on the record: Kingfish and a cover of Huey Long’s theme song, Every Man A King.

It’s one of my all-time favorite albums; featuring the daring satire of Rednecks who still “don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground,” since they’re voting for Trump. The record packs quite a wallop some 42 years later.

That’s it for this week. Hopefully, it will dry out in Red Stick and elsewhere in South Louisiana fairly soon. If only the hot air emanating from Trump’s mouth could expedite matters. Speaking of Insult Comedians, our closing meme features one of the greatest  ever,  Jack E. Leonard:

Jack E meme

Heckuva Job, Advocate

The “we’re all in this together” spirit still permeates South Louisiana BUT there are a few cracks in the wall of solidarity. Is that a thing? I hope not but I just said it. I’ve been hearing some muttering on social media from people who neither like President Obama nor wish him well. I had a few choice words about this on ye olde tweeter tube yesterday:

There’s also been some grumbling about national press coverage of the Gret Stet Flood of 2016. I, too, would like to see more BUT in 2005, we got wall-to-wall cable, network, and print coverage and it didn’t make a difference. The most important thing is the flow of money and help. In 2005, FEMA was run by  Heckuva Job Brownie who was the third disaster to strike the Gulf Coast. In 2016, it’s run by Craig Fugate and has not been subjected to the sort of criticism it received during the Bush Administration. In short, FEMA has been fixed. It’s now a professional organization like it was during the first Clinton administration. It’s what happens when a President who believes in government is in office.

Today the most banal criticism of all reared its damn fool head in an editorial in the Advocate demanding a Presidential visit:

Last week, as torrential rains brought death, destruction and misery to Louisiana, the president continued his vacation at Martha’s Vineyard, a playground for the posh and well-connected.

We’ve seen this story before in Louisiana, and we don’t deserve a sequel. In 2005, a fly-over by a vacationing President George W. Bush became a symbol of official neglect for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The current president was among those making political hay out of Bush’s aloofness.

Sometimes, presidential visits can get in the way of emergency response, doing more harm than good. But we don’t see that as a factor now that flood waters are subsiding, even if at an agonizing pace. It’s past time for the president to pay a personal visit, showing his solidarity with suffering Americans.

That’s still the case. Presidential visits complicate *everything* and interfere with relief efforts. If the Advocate editorial board deigned to read their own reporting, they would know that emergency response efforts are ongoing. This is all about an ultra conservative Obama hating editor seeing a chance to take a shot at him. The prime suspect is former Picayune and current Advocate editor Peter Kovacs who went on CNN to toot his own horn. On the behalf of Peters everywhere, I’d like to apologize for his malakatude.

The problem in 2005 was not insufficient Presidential visitation, it was the way the Bush administration played games with disaster relief. They did not want to take the blame for levee failures so they scapegoated then Gret Stet Governor Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat. Karl Rove spearheaded that successful smear campaign, which helped to make Blanco a one-term Governor. That, in turn, made Congressional Republicans balk over disaster relief for Louisiana. The tone set by Bush and his minions was the problem. None of that is happening in 2016. The Feds are just getting revved up and I’m sure President Obama will visit when things settle down in the flood zone. That is not the case as I write this even if the Advocate editorial board thinks so. They’re flat-out wrong.

This is just speculation but there’s also the possibility that Governor John Bel Edwards does not want POTUS here at this point in time. He’s a Democrat who has maintained a polite political distance from President Obama. It’s partially up to him if and when the President visits the disaster zone. A trip at this point would be purely symbolic and symbolism is cheap; what matters is results. The jury is still out but it’s bound to be better than 2005.

The Advocate should be ashamed of itself for printing this editorial. We’re facing a different disaster with a different set of facts from 2005. The feds *caused* much of the damage in 2005, that is not the case in 2016. There’s another difference: the Bush administration did not take disaster relief or the role of government in it seriously. The Obama administration does.

Here’s the deal. The Advocate’s news reporters are doing great work covering the flood. It’s a pity that the editorial page chose to play games with disaster relief. Shame on Mr. Kovacs and whoever else worked on or approved the editorial. Disasters are non-political events and the response to them should be too.

Heckuva job, Advocate.

8/19 UPDATE: Governor John Bel Edwards was interviewed by Rachel Maddow last night. Here’s what he had to say about a Presidential visit at this point in time:

“It is a major ordeal, they free up the interstate for him,” Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Thursday. “We have to take hundreds of local first responders, police officers, sheriffs, deputies and state troopers to provide security for that type of visit.”

“I would just as soon have those people engaged in the response rather than trying to secure the president,” Bel Edwards continued. “So I’d ask him to wait, if he would, another couple weeks.”

Repeat after me: Heckuva job, Advocate.

The Joke’s Over, and It Was On Us All Along

If you haven’t read Adrastos from yesterday, go do that now. 

I’ll wait.

It’s hard to see one’s alma mater flooded. It’s apparently not too bad, but it’s a symbol of what a tough few days it’s been in South Louisiana. Anyone who lived in New Orleans in August, 2005 is having flashbacks right now. I certainly am.

Every time I write about meeting NOLA after the flood I write about the silence. Cities aren’t silent, or they shouldn’t be; they’re swift and clattering and alive, even in the middle of the night. Especially then. Even in the thin light of a late winter dawn, cities demand you wake up and pay attention. People talk about cities having a pulse and it’s not pointless poeticism; the rail lines hum even when the trains are miles away. Cities are only silent when something’s wrong.

I remember talking with someone over at the Crack Den in the comments, when the storm hit and it seemed like everyone was paralyzed, when it seemed like we could airlift food and money to countries thousands of miles away but couldn’t save drowning Americans in our own country. I remember saying I was nostalgic for simple government competence, for the nonpartisan response to disaster that assumed people were worth saving full stop. I remember saying, I miss George H.W. Bush.

“Hell,” a friend responded. “Right now I’d take Nixon.”

There are real things the president, the government we like to mock so much, has to do.

We’ve been alternately horrified and amused and then horrified again by the ongoing pile-up of various cars on the Trump Train, by the car that’s on fire and the car full of chickens that have gone rabid and the car emitting fart noises at national questions of immigration and security. Everyone has been joking and clowning but people need help right now. Who do you want in charge?

Do you want a short-sighted anger bear with undiagnosed ADD who’s willing to suck white power’s dick for a few more minutes on TV?

Or do you want a flawed, fundamentally competent person with whom you disagree on issues of varying importance to you and others, who you can at least count on not to let THE ENTIRE WORLD FUCKING DROWN?

Because those are your choices and this isn’t abstract. It isn’t stupid chyron-friendly words like “extreme vetting” and “secret e-mail” and it isn’t made-up Republican controversies like Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi. It’s, part of the country’s burning. What do you do?

Hillary, for all her flaws, would get a hose.

Trump would make s’mores and light his shirt on fire, dump a bottle of vodka on himself to try to put it out, and blame the interns on Twitter for the whole thing.

So we can jaw on all day about “both sides” and how Elizabeth Warren calling Trump a douchemook is the same as Paul Manafort taking money from Russia, about Bill Clinton’s non-stop pussy riot and Melania’s immigration status.

Or we can put in place somebody who’ll be ready when the floods roll back. That’s the choice we’re making. In the midst of all the sound and fury we should listen to the silence.

A.

High Water Blues

I sat down at my desk thinking I’d write something about Trump’s ridiculous “extreme vetting” proposal. It gave the MSM a boner and delusions of the pivot they’re convinced will come. Then I saw this picture of flooding on the LSU campus:

floods-640x411

Photograph via AP.

It’s hard to see one’s alma mater flooded. It’s apparently not too bad, but it’s a symbol of what a tough few days it’s been in South Louisiana. Anyone who lived in New Orleans in August, 2005 is having flashbacks right now. I certainly am.

The whole thing has given me a mild case of PTSD. The picture reminded me of the time I lost my shit in a hospital in Dallas in September, 2005. My cousin’s wife had just had a baby and I learned of the suicide of a cop friend from the teevee in the room. I lost my shit, religion whatever you want to call it. I’m perhaps the least emotional Greek you’ll ever meet but I wept bitter tears that day. My cousin swept me up and out to lunch. I regained my composure but I’ll never forget learning of Paul’s death on the teevee. It’s not how ordinary people are supposed to learn of the passing of a friend; not a close friend but we were all one then. The people in the flood zone need to have the same feeling about one another. That’s the best way to pull through and survive this disaster.

The flooding has triggered memories of Dr. A and my friend Michel who was dying of cancer when the storm hit and ended up in Dallas:

After a week in Shreveport, we moved to my cousin’s house near Dallas. Dr. A kept trying to get Michel; one day she got an answer. It was the first time she’d gotten through to anyone from home on their cell phone. It turned out to be a bittersweet moment. The phone was answered by Michel’s girlfriend, Georgeanne. She, too, was in Dallas at a relative’s house. Michel’s mother Miss Evelyn, who is in her mid-Seventies but looks twenty years younger, was with her. We learned that Michel was still alive but fading fast. He’d landed in an hospice in North Dallas.

We fought the crosstown Dallas traffic and found the hospice. Dr. A was relieved to see that it was a clean and well-maintained facility. We had to do some fast talking to find Michel’s room. It was made trickier by the fact that his real first name was Michael. We told them that he had been evacuated from New Orleans and had lung cancer. One of the staff said: “Oh, you must mean that incredibly nice black fellow who came in a few days ago.” When we got to his room, we found Michel dead. He was still warm. We had just missed him.

That’s happening to people in other parts of South Louisiana as I write this. It’s the disruption and chaos of a catastrophe. It’s hard to say how bad the Gret Stet flood of 2016 will be. It doesn’t matter: nature has tossed South Louisiana in the air like a jigsaw puzzle. It’s up to the people in the flood zone to pick up the pieces. Louisiana is full of people with great virtues and outsized flaws. One of our virtues is that we’re tough and know how to recover from the High Water Blues. Repeat after me: there’s a Jayhawks song for every occasion:

How To Help South Louisiana

South Louisiana is having one of the worst floods in its history.  Our readers are well-known for opening their hearts and wallets to help people in need. Here are a few ways you can help the victims of the Gret Stet flood of 2016.

Second Harvest Food Bank.

United Way of Southeast Louisiana Flood Relief.

Finally, Denham Springs is one of the hardest hit communities. Here’s a link to a gofundme to support the Denham Springs Aminal Shelter.

Thanks in advance for helping. Our readers rock as well as rule.

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.

Continue reading

Odds & Sods: I Don’t Like Mondays Redux

It’s been a busy few days in the world of news so I thought I’d go Odds & Sods on your asses of a Monday. In short, I want to mouth off about several subjects at once. Let’s see if I can pull it off. I’m reusing a post title so I added a redux. It’s part of my reductive method as a blogger.

The Adrastos Convention Method: I never watch gavel-to-gavel or wall-to-wall coverage of the Republican Convention. I prefer to read about it as opposed to watching anything more than clips. I already know what those crazy fuckers think and since I’m not running a campaign, I don’t need to hear them or the media bloviate. I might have made an exception for Tim Tebow but somebody lied about his speaking at the RNC, so I won’t have the pleasure of hissing the former Florida and failed NFL QB. His name popped up on the schedule and he denied agreeing to speak. Oops. It’s an example of how poorly organized Trump’s convention appears to be.

It just occurred to me that the last time I could, but didn’t, watch the Republican Convention was 2004. We evacuated up North to Bossier City for Hurricane Gustav, which hit Red Stick but not New Orleans in 2008. Then Mayor Nagin had a public meltdown when ordering the evacuation. Many were sympathetic and wrote it off to PTSD. I was not. It was malakatude pure and simple. I did, however, have fun with the Teutonic name of the storm: I was concerned that sour kraut and beer might rain down on the city…

In 2012, we stayed for Hurricane Issac. It was a category-1 storm so we thought it was no big whoop. It wasn’t but we lost power for nearly a week. I posted here a few times during Issac, but I missed the whole Clint Eastwood talking to the empty chair thing. Speaking of poor convention organization, the robotic Romneyites should have known better. It was as if Clint was channeling the crazy John Huston-like character he played in White Hunter, Black Heart.

Let’s move on to the Trump-Pence roll out.

That’s The Ticket: Why anyone was surprised that the Insult Comedian humiliated Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire at the ticket roll-out event is beyond me. It’s what he does: endless bragging and rambling non-sequiturs. I got a big kick out of them playing You Cant Always Get What You Want as Trump entered. Surreal but typical.

Everything Trump does revolves around what TPM’s Josh Marshall calls his “domination politics.” Trump feels the need to be in control of every situation and bend everyone to his will. Look at Chris Christie and N Leroy Gingrich who have been reduced to coat-holding courtiers, and Newt was a hero of the American Right in the 1990’s. How the mighty have fallen. Mike Pence is a penny ante minor league wingnut compared to Newt and Governor Asshole.

There will lots more shit for Pence to eat over the next few months. I hope he knows his place. He might want to watch a few episodes of The Apprentice to understand what he’s in for. He could be the next Gary Busey or Meatloaf…

Turkey Coup Fail: I spent some time on Friday tweeting about the Turkish coup, which ever so briefly looked like it might succeed. Unfortunately for them, the coup plotters went old school: tanks in the streets and seizure of state television and radio. It was not enough in the age of the internets.

All the original reports about the whereabouts of President Erdogan were wrong. He was said to be in the air and beseeching Chancellor Merkel for refuge in Germany. Wrong. Call it the fog of Twitter. The coup plotters failed putsch 101: detain the head of state. It won’t guarantee success-Gorby was arrested in the failed KGB coup back in the USSR-but it would have given them a fighting chance instead of what happened: a farce more reminiscent of Duck Soup than a proper, improper golpe de estado. I like the Spanish term: Latin Americans know how to throw a proper coup or at least they used to…

The real question is whether it was a genuine coup or an elected autocrat’s Reichstag fire? It beats the hell out of me, but it’s possible that Erdogan concocted the whole farce. The best thing I read while the coup was collapsing was an interview with Turkey scholar Jenny White in Slate.

The other big story of the weekend took place in Baton Rouge, which is usually a boring place except for the state guvmint and LSU football.

The Fog of Red Stick: Speaking of premature and inaccurate reporting, stories about yesterday’s BR police shooting take the cake. The shooter has been described as a Black Nationalist, a right-wing extremist, new age cultist, and a common criminal. All we know for sure is that conclusion jumping has become the national pastime. I prefer baseball.

Ever since I wrote my wee Sermonette last night, I’ve had-appropriately enough-a Police song in my head. It fits my pessimistic/hopeful mood quite well. Instead of posting the Boomtown Rats again, I’ll give Sting, Andy, and Stewart the last word. Eat your heart out, Bob Geldof: