Category Archives: Nature is Scary

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.

<SNIP>

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:

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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.

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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:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Parallel Lines

Hopper

Early Sunday Morning by Edward Hopper, 1930.

Other than the odd online brawl with Dudebro Nation, I had an uneventful week until Thursday night. I was about to work on this post when a spectacular and terrifying light show began. It was as intense as a thunderstorm can be without rising to the level of a hurricane. It did, however, show some signs of an eye and organization. Give me a blind, sloppy and disorganized storm any day. We didn’t lose power here at the Adrastos Virtual Cafe but I slept fitfully. Oscar cowered along with me whereas Della didn’t give a shit. As for Dr. A, her ability to sleep through storms that rattle the windows is unparalleled. This one, however, briefly stirred her to wakefulness.

A friend of mine recently asked why I hadn’t used a Todd Rundgren tune as the theme song for this feature. I had no coherent answer; not that anybody expects coherence from me. I told him that I was planning to do so some time in the near future. There’s no time like the present. Parallel Lines comes from the great 1989 album Nearly Human;  it’s my favorite Rundgrenian (ite?) ballad. I’m presenting two renditions beginning with the studio version followed by a teevee appearance with David Sanborn:

It’s lagniappe time. I could have sworn that I’d seen a version of Parallel Lines from Live From Daryl’s House but I cannot for the life of me find the bugger online. In lieu of that, here are two sons of Philly singing another tremendous Todd tune at his humble abode in Hawaii in 2011:

You’ll hear more about Daryl Hall anon. That’s a fancy way of saying later. La-de-da. Now that we’ve called in the Hall monitor, it’s time to munch on some Oates and move on to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Irish Heartbeat

St Patrick's Day In The Morning by Isaac Cruikshank.

St. Patrick’s Day In The Morning by Isaac Cruikshank.

It’s parade time again in New Orleans. Later today it’s the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day parade and, more importantly, my friends Greg and Christy’s annual party. It’s one of my favorite days of the year. I have been known to overindulge even though I have no Irish blood whatsoever. I am, however, quite proficient at blarney and bullshit. Dr. A is 1/4th Irish, so that will have to do.

One of the oddities of this parade is that they throw vegetables: carrots, cabbages, and onions. Christy insists that we catch enough to go with the corned beef brisket that we have for supper. It’s a grand time even if it looks nothing like the Cruikshank image above, except for the chap drinking from the bottle. It’s almost worthy of a John Ford movie only without the spanking. We save that for Krewe du Vieux:

Paddles

Paddles by Darrin Butler.

Note: I wrote this post before a big ass storm was due to arrive and dump buckets of rain on us. There’s a possibility that the parade will be cancelled and, even worse, I might lose power and internet access. Finishing the week’s post on Thursday seemed like the sensible thing to do even though I usually direct my feet to the silly side of the street.

Non-Breaking News: It’s Friday morning and we still haven’t lost power, but more rain is a comin’. We’ve even resorted to securing some store-bought as opposed to parade-caught cabbages. There’s a first time for everything. Back to the Saturday post:

The Gret Stet’s budget process continues to slog along as legislative GOPers blame the newly elected Democratic Governor for all our woes. Where have we seen this movie before? It is, alas, a lege full of pols that David Vitter helped elect so it’s only surprising as opposed to shocking. At least the Tigers will play football this fall. Hard times call for bread and circuses, after all. Where is Tiberius when you need him?

I try not to re-use artists when selecting theme songs for this feature. I’ve already used Saint Dominic’s Preview but it’s hard to beat Irish Heartbeat by Van the Man. It was the title track of his 1988 collaboration with the Chieftains and that’s where we begin this particular beguine:

Here’s a 2015 version with Mark Knopfler along for the ride:

Back in the day, Dr. A had a friend who was convinced that Knopfler’s band name was, in fact, his name. Our attempts to convince her otherwise were futile. Since she had a rather thick Puerto Rican accent, we started calling him Mr. Dire Estraits. I am not making this up and if I were, I wouldn’t tell you until *after* the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: All The Things You Are

Spectators

Spectators by Jim Flora.

We’re knee-deep in the El Nino season of 2015-16. I have a love-hate relationship with it: I love El Nino during hurricane season and hate it during the winter. The New Orleans metro area had a hellacious storm front last Tuesday. The city wasn’t impacted directly but there were nine confirmed tornadoes in the area that wreaked havoc in the outlying communities of Convent and LaPlace. It was like being an Okie for the day only without Jim Inhofe as your Senator. Of course, I have a whore monger and an empty suit as my Senators. so who am I to judge?

Before being uprooted for six weeks in 2005, the weather wasn’t a frequent topic of conversation in my house. For obvious reasons, I am now obsessed with the weather; so much so that I had twinges of PSTD when the wind was howling outside my door. Unlike Della and Oscar, I can’t hide under the bed when the weather sucks. I wouldn’t fit. Time for a brief meteorological musical interlude from the Brothers Finn:

I don’t really have a dog in the hunt in this year’s Oscar races. I suspect that wearing a beard and looking dirty and smelly will win Leonardo Decaprio his first Oscar. Handsome leading men have to ugly themselves up to be taken seriously viz George Clooney in Syriana. It’s a pity that Leo’s star turns in The Great Gatsby or The Aviator weren’t Oscarworthy but his duel with a bear in Revenant is. Of course, tangling with a bear did wonders for Daniel Boone’s career. Oh well, Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, and Paul Newman won their Oscars for the wrong movies too. It’s a funny old world, y’all.

This week’s theme song, All The Things You Are, was composed in 1939 by Jerome Kern and features lyrics by his Show Boat writing partner, Oscar Hammerstein. It was long a favorite of Jazz musicians because of its melodic and harmonic complexity. Here are four distinctive takes on the song from some Jazz greats:

Now that I’ve provided you with a Kernel of substance, it’s time for the break after which I plan to Hammerstein it up some more.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Splendid Isolation

Father Mississippi by Walter Anderson.

Father Mississippi by Walter Inglis Anderson.

It’s been a relatively quiet week in New Orleans. There’s a new gentrification controversy involving changes to an Uptown green space known as the Fly. I’m for the status quo but I’ve decided to keep my fly zipped on this issue. I hereby apologize to everyone for that joke.

Meanwhile in Baton Rouge, the budgetary sky is falling. 8 years of Jindalnomics have left the state in such dire straits that not even Mark Knopfler could fix things. Once again, I need to apologize for that joke, which means I have to take the walk of life in atonement:

The new Governor gave a sort of chicken little speech about the state’s financial woes, which doesn’t seem to have moved many votes in the lege thus far. John Bel Edwards did, however, imply that if there were more budget cuts to higher education, the LSU Tigers might not play football next fall. Now that’s a serious threat here in the Gret Stet of Louisiana: No Leonard Fucking Fournette? Only time will tell if that helps, but the lege is loath to raise taxes on our 1%, which consists mostly of oil tycoons and people named Benson who own sports franchises. I have no idea what’s going to happen but it won’t be pretty. Neither was PBJ now that I think of it…

PBJ Spanked

This week’s theme song was, in part, inspired by the artist who painted the featured image. Walter Inglis Anderson was born in New Orleans but did much of his painting in nearby Ocean Springs, MS. Anderson was plagued with mental health issues and in 1965 rode out a hurricane with his own form of Splendid Isolation:

In 1965, months before his death, he rode through Hurricane Betsy on his beloved Horn Island, tethering his little skiff to his waist, climbing at night to the highest dune, wanting to feel the storm first hand. The water rose to his chest.

“Never has there been a more respectable hurricane,” he wrote, “provided with all the portents, predictions, omens, etc. The awful sunrise — no one could fail to take a warning from it — the hovering black spirit bird, the man of war, just one, comme il faut.”

Warren Zevon also lived life on the edge, but even the most extreme story told about him isn’t as wild as the tale of Walter Anderson and Hurricane Betsy. We grow our eccentrics larger than life here in New Orleans, y’all.

Splendid Isolation is one of my favorite WZ tunes; so much so that I’m posting three radically different versions. We begin with the piano driven studio version from the Tranverse City album:

Next up is a version with David Sanborn and the house band from the, uh, splendid but short-lived teevee show Night Music:

Finally, a live acoustic romp featuring Zevon’s fellow rock eccentric Neil Young:

Instead of putting tin foil on the windows like the character in the song, we’ll pull up our socks and muddle through after the break.

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Malakas Of The Week: Moralistic Scolds

We’ve all encountered moralistic scolds. We see them at grocery stores talking down to checkers while making sure that people with food stamps aren’t buying lobster or caviar.  We see them being high maintenance at restaurants then stiffing the servers. They’re all over social media, telling people how to live; many of them specialize in being buzz kills who take all the pleasure out of life. You may be related to some by marriage and/or blood. The proverbial crazy uncle who watches Fox News all day is invariably a moralistic scold. They are ubiquitous and some of them are in the news this week.  That is why moralistic scolds are malakas of the week.

Many moralistic malakas aren’t in a position to damage others lives. They may want to tell us what to do but they can’t make us. Neener, neener, neener. The sanctimonious scolds who lecture about the evils of air-conditioning epitomize this genre of self-righteous malakatude. I’ll let Slate’s Daniel Engberger upraid them for us:

Anti-AC sentiment persists in spite of basic facts, and without convincing evidence. It relies instead on naked ideology and posture. To rail against the air conditioner is a way for cosmopolitans to claim their bona fides, and to place themselves in opposition to irresponsible, American excess. When they proudly say they’d rather use electric fans, they show their neighbors that they’re tasteful intellectuals—right-minded and upstanding. That is to say, they’re members of the brrr-geoisie.

They’re also victims of a blinding bias. The brrr-geoisie are thermal bigots: They put a moral value on the thermostat that doesn’t correspond to common sense. Heating, good; cooling, bad—that’s their moral calculus. Why discriminate among degrees? They have no cogent answer. It may be true that America is overcooled, but then again it’s also overheated. No one writes op-eds to make the latter point.

Brrr-geoise? I like that. This is a classic case of telling people how to live based on a faulty premise, junk science, and ideological posturing. I dare these moralistic malakas to live without AC during a New Orleans summer. Dr. A and I lived without air dish for 5 days after Hurricane Isaac blew though New Orleans in 2012. It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was downright stinky. You’ll have to pry my damp, sweaty hands off my thermostat before I give up my AC. Btw, I *never* put the thermostat lower than 75 degrees anyway. I’m not trying to refrigerate meat in my living room, after all.

There are two infinitely more important examples of moralistic malakatude in the news right now. We’ll get to those after the break.

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Happy National Pothole Day

You may have heard that potholes are a longstanding problem here in New Orleans. I suspect the rest of you lot have your share as well. A New Orleans group called Fix My Streets has declared today National Pothole Day. There’s already such a day in the United Kingdom, which is celebrated on January, 16. It’s bound to be a perennial holiday there after the re-election of the Tory austerity government. Repeat after me: Posh Boys = Potholes.

I know what you’re thinking: another man/woman made holiday. All holidays are created by someone and this beats the hell out of the ones that want you to reach for your wallet. This holiday asks the guvmint to reach into its pocket and spend our tax money on infrastructure.

What’s an ode to National Pothole Day without some pictures? We begin with one from my yellow blogger buddy Jeffrey who has become a Twitter legend as @skooks. Jeff’s pothole was there from July, 2010 to January, 2015.  This still life dates from March, 2011 and is called Pothole sofa:

5515058587_71b05dffca_z

Speaking of the Tweeter Tube, this is an amusing one:

Now that I’ve got you all riled up and ready to storm the barricades, it’s time to cool you down and give Nick Lowe the last word:

Mad Men Thread: Everything Must Go

mad-men-episode-711-don-hamm-935

This week’s recap is late because it was like a bloody Carpenters song in New Orleans yesterday. John Phillips was obviously right: Monday, Monday can’t trust that day. If I recall correctly, the color of Roger’s jacket was a hue unknown to nature, electric blue. I had the electric blues yesterday: power flickers and internet wonkiness so I threw in the towel and decided to write this today. Too much information? Perhaps, but what’s a bit of oversharing among friends?

As much as I hate to agree with the conventional wisdom on anything, in this case I do: Time & Life was by far and away the best episode of the Season 7 rump of Mad Men. Glad I don’t have to give it a rump roast. There were plot twists aplenty, and it evoked some of the best past episodes of the series including this image of Pete Campbell in a wee punch-up at a fancy school in Greenwich, CT:

mad-men-episode-711-pete-kartheiser-935

Remember in Season-5 when dweeby Brit Lane Pryce kicked Pete’s equally dweeby preppie ass? Jared Harris who played Lane directed this episode and I think he gave Vincent Kartheiser some pugilistic pointers. More random and discursive comments after the break or is that round? I promise to answer the bell.

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