Category Archives: New Orleans

Saturday Odds & Sods: Born Under A Bad Sign

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Tollan, Aztec Legend by Marsden Hartley, 1933.

The only predictable thing about the weather in New Orleans to start the new year has been its unpredictability. It’s been warm and muggy, wet and damp, foggy and chilly. You name it, we’ve had it, except, that is, for snow. The last time it snowed here was in 2008. Thousands of pictures were taken of the St. Charles street car in the snow. It melted quickly and hasn’t happened since. So it goes.

It was Twelfth Night yesterday, which means that we can finally eat king cake, and, more importantly, hang our krewe flags on our houses. I’ve been wanting to fly the Spank flag for months but Dr. A wouldn’t hear of it until yesterday. So it goes.

Here’s the flag with Dennie the den of Muses cat:

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End of laginappe Carnival catblogging, make that reblogging. If you blog long enough you end up repeating yourself, repeating yourself, repeating yourself…

This week’s theme song, Born Under A Bad Sign, was written for blues great Albert King by Stax Records legends William Bell and Booker T. Jones. It seems to fit the mood of at least half the country as we contemplate the next administration. I’m not sure whether to feel cursed or resigned but I’m certain that the shit brought to the surface in 2016 will continue to stink. Shit’s a funny thing, no matter how you disguise it, it smells just as bad. So it goes.

We begin with a version King recorded in New Orleans in 1978, produced by Allen Toussaint:

We continue with an instrumental version by the man who wrote the music:

Finally, a swell 1993 rendition by the great Paul Rodgers:

Now that we’ve admitted to being down since we began to crawl, we’ll shoot for a rebirth (no, not the brass band or the pale ale) after the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: The Best Of Adrastos 2016

Nighthawks

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

It’s time to take a look back at 2016. It may be an exercise in egotism but it’s mine, all mine. Last year’s best of Adrastos was a top thirty list, this year we have a plus-one. Sounds like a dinner party, doesn’t it? It’s time to belly-up to the buffet…

2016 was a good year for satire, but a terrible year for the country. And I was a better pundit than prognosticator. So it goes.

Here’s this year’s crop of posts in chronological order:

January 7, 2016: The Fog Of History: The Wallace Factor.

January 16, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: Black Tie White Noise.

February 27, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: All The Things You Are.

March 28, 2016: The Fog Of Historical Pictures: Grace Coolidge’s Pet Raccoon.

March 28, 2016: Charles Foster Kane Meets Donald Trump.

March 31, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: John Milkovich (Not Malkovich)

April, 18, 2016: Oy, Such A Mentor

April 21, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: Jeff Weaver.

May 7, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: They All Laughed.

May 18, 2016: Speaking In Dudebromides.

June 3, 2016: Trump Violates The First Rule Of Litigation.

June 13, 2016: Still Comfortably Numb Revisited.

June 29, 2016: A Fatal Lack Of Cunning & Guile.

July 11, 2016: Jill Stein: Crunchy Granola Machiavelli.

July 29, 2016 DNC Wrap Up Finale: She Won’t Stay Throwed.

August 18, 2016: Heckuva Job, Advocate.

August 18, 2016: The Insult Comedian’s Not For Turning.

August 22, 2016: Every Flim-Flam Man Needs A Sucker.

September 8, 2016: Is Trump Really Running For Grand Nagus?

September 17, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: Birdland.

October 4, 2016: Instant Analysis: The Debate As Altman Film.

October 6, 2016: Absence Of Malice.

October 10, 2016: Breitbart-Bannon-Bossie Man.  Bloggers Note: This post was included by Batocchio in the Jon Swift Roundup 2016. 

October 17, 2016: Moe’s Wife Blames Larry.

November 2, 2016: Out Of Control FBI Playing By The Clinton Rules.

November 10, 2016: Sitting Political Shiva.

November 11, 2016: Confessions Of A Keyboard Maquis.

November 16, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: New Orleans Baby Cakes.

November 17, 2016: The Most Dangerous Game. 

December 1, 2016: Louisiana Politics: A Terrible Candidate For Terrible Times.

December 12, 2016: Hayes/Smith: Only Victims.

That’s it for 2016. It’s been a tough year but we’re still alive and kicking. I’ll give the last word to two guys we’re really going to miss:

obama-kerry-meme

 

 

Happy Boxing Day

I’m just home from Christmas in Red Stick. I’m wiped out so all I got for you are two pictures and a musical selection.

The Santa terlet photograph was snapped in tony Old Metry.

Santa Terlet

LIVING THE HIGH LIFE IN OLD METRY.

It’s time for some lagniappe catblogging;  a certain cat in a box:

Happy Boxing Day from Della Street.

HAPPY BOXING DAY FROM DELLA STREET.

Finally, a kinda sorta seasonal musical selection from Elvis Costello:

That’s it for now except for this: Happy Boxing Day.

Saturday Odds & Sods: End Of The World

 

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Sideshow banner by Snap Wyatt.

We’re riding a weather roller coaster here in New Orleans. I hate roller coasters and prefer consistent weather as long as it’s vaguely wintery be it Johnny or Edgar…

I’m still fighting a cold so this will be on the short side. I know, famous last words and all that shit.

I’m not feeling apocalyptic but many people are. I cannot blame them. It’s hard to be a glass half-full person right now and this week’s theme song reflects that. End Of The World was written by John Wetton and Geoff Downes for Asia’s 2010 Omega album. The melody is a bit too gorgeous for a truly apocalyptic feel but that’s what they do.

While we’re ending the world, we might as well give a certain REM tune with a very long title a spin:

If you’re feeling apocalyptic now, you might want to be patient. It’s bound to take longer than expected. Everything does.

Don’t worry. We’ll still be waiting after the break. The world isn’t going anywhere for the time being.

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Tweet Of The Day: Food Fight

Food was important in my family. My mother was a phenomenal cook and fed us well. She made sure that her youngest (me) knew how to cook since his father could only boil water in the science oven. She learned to cook all the Greek family recipes from my Yia Yia and added a few twists of her own; mostly involving cheese and Norwegian baked goods.

Food is important in Greek culture as well. I recall my aunt asking my cousin to defrost a moussaka for my father’s wake. Said cousin said: “Which one? There are three. Heaven forbid we run out of food in this family.” That’s why I fit in so well in New Orleans. I quickly realized how food obsessed they were here and said, “These are my people.” It was my Brigham (This is the Place) Young moment only without the plural wives and autocratic tendencies.

I included that long preamble to point out that I understand the importance of food. I don’t, however, squeal when someone knocks an eatery I like, not even one owned by a relative. That brings me to the Insult Comedian’s latest early morning rant:

You probably already knew that Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter has been feuding with Trump for decades. He’s the one who first dubbed Trump a “short-fingered vulgarian.” That’s not it, this whole mishigas is about a bad VF review by Tina Nguyen: Trump Grill Could Be The Worst Restaurant In America. Here’s a tasting menu of Ms. Nguyen’s piece:

The allure of Trump’s restaurant, like the candidate, is that it seems like a cheap version of rich. The inconsistent menus—literally, my menu was missing dishes that I found on my dining partners’—were chock-full of steakhouse classics doused with unnecessarily high-end ingredients. The dumplings, for instance, come with soy sauce topped with truffle oil, and the crostini is served with both hummus and ricotta, two exotic ingredients that should still never be combined. The menu itself would like to impress diners with how important it is, randomly capitalizing fancy words like “Prosciutto” and “Julienned” (and, strangely, ”House Salad”).

<SNIP>

Perhaps Trump’s veneer of a steakhouse is too obviously a veneer, meant for the hoodied masses to visit once and never return. (There are already an infinite number of articles about how Trump’s mass-produced products are meant to impress a hollow sense of wealth.) And prior to his victory, it seemed as if the world of Fifth Avenue power brokers agreed: the lobby was perpetually empty, the Grill(e) mostly frequented with Trump Tower residents and locals looking for a convenient power lunch, if any of the bigger, better power-lunch spots nearby were full. But later, when I read previous reviews of the Trump Grill before he became a presidential front-runner, I was shocked to discover that the food back then was bland, mediocre, and as Eater’s Robert Sietsema once wrote, “for timid people with digestive problems.” In other words, it was a culinary marvel lightyears beyond the rich-man slop we ate at the Trump Grill weeks after the election. (And indeed, it was slop: as soon as I got home, I brushed my teeth twice and curled up in bed until the nausea passed.)

The food critics I’ve known have cast-iron stomachs so it takes a lot to induce nausea. She actually kinda sorta liked the Taco Salad that inspired this racist tweet and rare Trumpian smile on Cinco de Mayo:

Back to the attack tweet. Yes, Virginia, Donald Trump is this thin-skinned.

Ms. Nguyen’s takedown of Trumpe Grille is the most scathing restaurant review I’ve read since the NYT’s Pete Wells took a dump on the dread Guy Fieri’s tourist trap back in 2012. Now that I think of it, Trump and Fieri have some things in common: bad hair and incessant shouting. There’s even a series of Trump-Fieri mashup pictures floating about the interweb. This one in text form is my fave rave:

Trump-Fieri

Thanks, Hell Demon, whoever the hell  you are. I hope that Flavor Town is safe for now. That begs the bigger (beggar?) question: is anywhere in America safe from the Insult Comedian’s incessant whining? It’s not as if he cooks the food at Trump Grill. I bet he can’t even boil water in the science oven.

I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know but Trump is a classic bully. I’m old school when it comes to dealing with bullies: you stand up to them and fight back. A sensitivity seminar isn’t going to help with the likes of Donald Trump. The best defense is mockery of any Trump branded item, which is guaranteed to inspire a whiny tweet. Mr. Tough Guy is actually the whiner-in-chief as well as a bigger Weiner than Anthony…

Finally, I’d like to thank for the Insult Comedian for giving me something to write about. I’ve been sick so it’s been one and done for me this week. What would I do without you, Donnie baby? I’d love to find out. Life without Mr. Big Man sounds most appealing:

 

Hayes/Smith: Only Victims

The most publicized criminal trial in New Orleans for at least 20 years ended with Cardell Hayes being found gulity of manslaughter. The whole mishigas was the result of a road rage encounter with former New Orleans Saints defensive captain Will Smith. Race was not an issue as both Hayes and Smith are African-American. Hayes was charged with second degree murder, so the reduced charge seems to be the result of a jury compromise. It means they were able to see through the smoke blown by both sides during the 7 day trial.

I’ve been sympathetic to Cardell Hayes. I have an elderly around the corner neighbor lady who knows him. She’s one of those people whose name I used to know but forgot. I’m now too embarrassed to ask since we’ve been chatting for 15 years. We had this conversation last week:

NL: You been following the Cardell thing?

A: Yes, m’am. What do you think about it?

NL: I been knowin’ Cardell and his people for 30 years. A nice man. What you call a gentle giant.

A:  What do you think happened?

NL: I believe Cardell. I think he scared that night. His auntie told me he broken up. Wishes he didn’t have that gun in his car. I liked it better when men settled their bullshit with their fists.

There it is in a nutshell. Despite being a very large man (6’6″ 300 lbs) Cardell Hayes had a gun. He got into it with another very large man with a gun in his glove box. No guns, no death. Cardell wasn’t cruising around looking for trouble. But he found it. Big time.

The crucial moment in this tragedy was when Will Smith’s car kissed bumpers with Cardell’s vehicle on Magazine Street. If Smith had gotten out the car, introduced himself, and inspected their bumpers, no road rage episode. There might not have even been a fight. Instead, Smith was driving shit-faced drunk and kept going. It was the prelude to this tragedy.

After Hayes caught up with Smith’s party, one of his cronies Richard Hernandez started screaming at Hayes and ripped his shirt off as if in a bad action movie. Another witness, former Saints star Pierre Thomas, said that in his neighborhood, when a guy rips his shirt off he’s ready to fight. Yeah, you right, Frenchy. It’s stupid in your hood and it was lethal in the Lower Garden District.

This is a tragic case. Nobody behaved particularly well at the scene with the exception of Raquel Smith who tried to defuse things. This was one situation where mentioning one’s celebrity status might have helped instead of coming off as pompous. Cardell Hayes did not know the identity of the large drunk screaming at him in the dark. He only learned that it was one of his favorite NFL players after the fact. He broke down in tears when he learned he had shot Will Smith. That’s the thing about football: the players aren’t always recognizable because of helmets and face masks. It helps them stay safe on the field, but it was perilous on that April night in New Orleans.

Speaking of bad behavior, the lawyers in this case traded barbs and insults from the moment John Fuller was hired to defend Cardell Hayes. Their petty bickering even came up during closing arguments. I’m appalled by this unprofessional behavior: nobody cares if they dislike one another. The trial isn’t about them, it’s about the defendant and his victim. Of course, the lead prosecutor is the Distric Attorney’s kid and Mr. Cannizzarro is not exactly warm and fuzzy. Like father, like daughter.

In the end, I think the jury reached a fair verdict. Second degree murder was an overcharge. What really happened out there remains murky but one thing is certain: if these men were not armed, Will Smith would be alive and Cardell Hayes would not be facing a long prison sentence. I hope that the Judge will be merciful. She has considerable discretion in sentencing since it’s manslaughter. I wish I could say that the Hayes/Smith tragedy will serve as a cautionary tale that it’s a terrible idea to go about armed but I know better. So it goes.

There were no winners in this case, only victims.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Dead Flowers

Chagall The Drunkard

The Drunkard by Marc Chagall.

It’s run-off election day here in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. I’ll be voting later today in the Colonel Corpone vs. Foghorn Leghorn Senate race. Cornpone has it sown up and I don’t like Foghorn but I said I’d vote for him, so I’ll have to select an appropriate clothespin. I would say I was voting for the lesser of two hicks but Foghorn sounds like he’s been studying the oeuvre of Jeff Foxworthy. My friend Charlotte says he reminds her of Boss Hogg. Hard to argue that point, y’all.

The local news has been dominated by road rage and the law. The one many of you have heard about is the trial of Cardell Hayes for killing former Saints defensive captain Will Smith. I wrote about it in this space not long ago. It’s a very close case with the defense arguing self-defense. The local media have been all over it like turkey buzzards on roadkill. In this Saints obsessed town that was predictable and why the Judge sequestered the jury. The case *may* go to the jury later this evening.

The other road rage incident involved former high school football sensation and NFL player Joe McKnight. He got into it with some creep named Ronald Gasser and McKnight was shot to death. There was a huge stink when Gasser wasn’t charged immediately: he’s white and McKnight was black. Gasser was charged with manslaughter earlier this week. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand held a ranty press conference, spending more time attacking Facebook trolls than discussing the crime. Normand hasn’t gone off like that in quite some time. It might have been calculated anger (more on that later) or he simply lost his shit.

This week’s theme song fits my somber mood. Dead Flowers was written when the Stones were hanging out with country-rock godfather Gram Parsons. It’s one of the best lyrics the Glimmer Twins have ever written. It’s limey country rock at its finest.

We begin with the original version from Sticky Fingers, followed by a live non-Stones version featuring Keith, Willie Nelson, and Ryan Adams to name a few luminaries.

I’m feeling relatively terse this week so I’m skipping the break and diving right in. I mentioned intentional ranting earlier. The master of tactical screaming was the late great rock impresario Bill Graham.

Bill Graham & The Art Of Tactical Screaming: I grew up attending Bill Graham’s shows in the Bay Area. They remain the best organized and operated rock concerts I’ve ever been to. One reason was the hands on nature of the producer. He was always visible both onstage and in the front of the house. You knew who was in charge. There was one time at a Dead show at Winterland that there was a flood in the men’s room. I ran into Bill in the hallway and informed him. He thanked me and went over there personally. I followed out of curiosity and watched him grab a plunger. Now that’s attention to detail.

My old friend Gus Mozart shared a link to an interview filmed in 1977. It’s called The Mechanics of a Show. It’s well worth watching if you’re a rock and roll history buff. It’s also available on the YouTube. Here’s the segment about yelling:

I saw Bill scream at people many times. He was almost always in the right. An aggressive New Yorker like Bill Graham scared the shit out of California hippies, so they tended to comply with his orders. Besides, it was Bill’s world and we were there as paying customers. He was the boss and the best.

The centerpiece of this week’s post are tributes to two men whose deaths were announced on Thursday. Other than fame they had nothing in common. One of them was 95 years old and lived a long and eventful life. The other died at 69 after a lengthy private battle with cancer.

John Glenn R.I.P. Hero is the most overused word in the English language. Very few acts are heroic and there are even fewer heroes. John Glenn was a genuine hero. It was a label that he modestly rejected but one that he earned over-and-over again.  Despite his advanced years, I was still deeply saddened to hear that he’d died at the age of 95.

All of the Mercury astronauts were brave men. They risked death every time they stepped into those tiny capsules. John Glenn made it look easy, but orbiting the earth was fraught with peril. People knew that and it was one reason they went nuts (in a good way) over Glenn.

Here’s what I posted on my Facebook feed:

John Glenn went on to a distinguished career as a four-term Democratic Senator from Ohio. The punditry briefly went nuts over his 1984 Presidential bid because it coincided with the release of Philip Kaufman’s brilliant film adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff. Glenn was played by Ed Harris. It was the role that put Harris on the map. Glenn’s campaign went nowhere. Charlie Pierce pointed out why at his joint:

when John Glenn was preparing to run for president, I sat down in a bar on Beacon Hill in Boston for a chat with one of his chief strategists. This fellow smacked my gob across the room when he said that the campaign was planning to “downplay the hero stuff.” My god, I thought. Without The Hero Stuff, Glenn was just a kind of boring old sod from Ohio. Without The Hero Stuff, he wasn’t the first American to orbit the Earth. He wasn’t the guy who spent the last of those orbits in a tiny spacecraft with a problem the gravity of which the folks on the ground could only guess. Without The Hero Stuff, he wasn’t…an astronaut.

John Glenn was a modest man. It was how the best men of his generation comported themselves. As a Senator, he was a workhorse, not a showhorse, which is the highest praise I can bestow on a politician. He was also the antitheses of the braggart who won the electoral college and is claiming a landslide. They don’t make them like Senator Glenn any more.

He had a good life and a good death surrounded by his family. Godspeed, John Glenn.

Here’s a piece by Charlie Osgood broadcast on the 49th anniversary of Glenn’s historic Friendship 7 mission:

Let’s move on from the loss of an American icon to the passing of one of the pioneers of British prog-rock.

Greg Lake R.I.P. He was the original lead singer/bassist of King Crimson as well as the L in ELP. Greg Lake died at the age of 69 after a long battle with cancer.

I saw ELP several times at their peak. They were loud, bombastic, and pretentious. I loved every second of it. Lake was the steady, solid one while flamboyant keyboard player Keith Emerson and flashy drummer Carl Palmer whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

Emerson preceded Lake in death earlier this year. E and L are gone but P rocks on as the drummer with Asia. Here’s what Carl had to said about Greg’s passing:

The best way to pay tribute to Greg Lake is, of course, to post some of his music. I have used the opening lyrics for Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2 more than once in lieu of an Odds & Sods summary: “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.” Greg Lake’s show has ended but the music never stops, corny but true.

Along with lyricist Pete Sinfield, Lake wrote one of the best rock Christmas songs, I Believe In Father Christmas. Here’s a live version from St. Bride’s Church in London with Ian Anderson and members of his band backing Lake up:

Ready for some live ELP? You have no choice:

I had hoped to post the original studio version of King Crimson’s 21st Century Schizoid Man but it eluded me. Another Lake-era King Crimson song will have to do.

“Confusion will be my epitaph.” Greg Lake will be missed.

That’s it for this week. May the Schwartz be with you:

yogurt-meme

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: New Orleans Baby Cakes

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The spirit of Boaty McBoatface is abroad in the land. Our local Triple-A baseball franchise has changed its name from the New Orleans Zephrys to the Baby Cakes. I am not making this up. And that is why the New Orleans Baby Cakes is/are malaka/malakas of the week.

I already feel sorry for the Miami Marlins minor leaguers who will have to wear this icky logo on their uniforms. It looks like something you’d put on a shirt for a kid’s T-Ball team. It’s bad enough playing in a farm system with a giant toddler like Jeffrey Loria at its apex;  just imagine a Latino player having to tell their Abuela they play for los pasteles de bebé or los tortas de bebé. Holy Gringos Locos, Batman. Of course, this is a country insane enough to hand the nuclear football to the Insult Comedian so nothing surprises me.

As a marketing ploy the renaming has been a great success and I’m probably playing into their hands by writing this. It’s made a minor league baseball team the center of local attention during football season. We should be talking about the bizarre ending to the Saints game on Sunday, instead we’re talking Baby Cakes. It’s way too early for King Cake, y’all.

This is what happens when you let people on the internet vote on a team name. New Orleans has been Boaty McBoatfaced. If they insist on keeping the new name, they should become the Metry Baby Cakes since they play in suburban Metairie. Jefferson Parish can add the name to its malakatude hall of shame alongside  Parish President Mike Yenni and Family Gras. People need to stop adding gras to everything: it means fat.

You’re probably wonder why the malakas who run the New Orleans minor league team picked this moronic name. I’ll let one of 44 people who likes it, Zombie Picayune art critic Doug MacCash explain:

It is an utterly indigenous allusion that relies on the knowledge of New Orleans Carnival customs. Who beyond the Louisiana borders could successfully deconstruct the meaning of a bat-swinging infant king surrounded by a purple, green and gold pastry ring? The symbolism is ours alone. Resolutely unique.

 Yet it is not a cliché.

Just the opposite. Until Tuesday it was certainly not in common use as a description of a King Cake. Again, the implication is entirely unique to our ball club. The name is an instant classic.

It’s a name that is immediately familiar. Too familiar, even. Baby Cakes sounds like a term of endearment in an old gangster movie. It’s a name with a wink, a name with a nod, a name with a knowing smile, baby. It’s a name that has happily sipped a hand grenade cocktail on Bourbon Street and lunged for a long strand of beads. It’s a name that could easily get into mischief if left to its own devices.

It’s so us.

Excuse me while I rummage for a barf bag. His highfalutin, pretentious language is a bit rich for this baseball fan. This is the name for a baseball team, not a bakery or a bar that serves sickly sweet drinks to soused students with fake IDs. In the immortal words of Bill the Cat:

Bill the Cat.

I think Oscar the Cat just coughed up a hairball in reaction to the name.

We also have cockroaches the size of manhole covers, why didn’t they consider the New Orleans Cockroaches or Palmetto Bugs? We also have termite swarms, so why not the New Orleans Termites? Because that would be stupid, that’s why. So is Baby Cakes. Oy, such malakatude.

I went on a bit of a tweetstorm after the announcement. Here’s a sample:

Forgive the missing comma, I wrote that on my phone. What can I tell ya?

A local sportscaster brought the derp on Twitter:

The PC police? What are you on about, man? The name is stupid, not politically incorrect whatever the hell that means. One can have a sense of humor and think this is a terrible idea. I may have to send these guys to stop the lions from yellin’ aloud:

My primary objection to the name is that it’s a gimmick dreamed up by people who seem to dislike the game they’re promoting. It’s like Fox Sports with their in-game interviews and Joe Buck, a twerp who has admitted to not liking baseball, speaking of which, here’s a message for Baby Cakes management:

Joe Buck Yourself.

The bright side of Stupid Namegate is that it has distracted me from the horrendous aftermath of the late election. It’s fun to kvetch about the Bad Idea police who labored mightily and gave birth to this dud. This is a misdemeanor, not a felony.

The General Manager of the New Orleans minor league team, Augusto Cookie Rojas, has a baseball marketing, not playing field background. I initially thought he might be related to the scrappy middle infielder best known for playing for the Phillies and Royals from 1962-1977, but he is not. Fun fact: the Real Cookie Rojas played all nine positions in the early days of his career. The Other Cookie Rojas is now known for giving a ball club the worst name ever. And that is why the New Orleans Baby Cakes is/are the malaka/malakas of the week.

Sitting Political Shiva

I started following the Israeli newspaper Haaretz’s Twitter feed during their last general election. As you may recall, the polls were wrong about that one too. An interesting link popped up on their feed:

I posted the tweet because Haaretz recently went behind a paywall with no free stories and Chrome’s incognito feature did not work. Oy, just oy.

I’m an agnostic who was raised Greek-Orthodox but most of my mother’s bridge playing and real estate cronies were Jewish, so I learned about sitting shiva as a child.  I remember going with her to Mrs. Rosenberg’s house when her husband died.  Mrs. Rosenberg was the Holocaust survivor I’ve written about before.  I didn’t even complain about going because Mrs. R and I had a mutual admiration society. She remains one of my heroes. She was also as funny as hell. I’m convinced that I learned the essence of black comedy from her. It’s the Shoah survivor’s ethos: nothing will ever be as bad as what they went through, in her case at Treblinka.

Just in case some of you don’t know what I’m talking about here’s a definition of shiva:

Shiva is the week long period of mourning following a loved one’s death. During this time, family members traditionally gather in one home to receive visitors. The word “shiva” means seven, signifying the seven day mourning period in which mourners are supposed to sit low to the ground.

When I saw the headline, I realized that I had metaphorically sat shiva all day Wednesday. For many of us, Hillary Clinton’s loss felt like a death in the family. If it doesn’t to you, please have some respect for those of us who are mourning. We’re sitting political shiva.

I spent the day trading messages with friends on social media and via text. One close friend works at an oil company and had to deal with triumphant Trumpers. He described the people of color at his firm as looking like they expected deportation or worse at any moment. I cannot blame them. Some of Dr. A’s med students came to her in tears yesterday. That gives me hope for the future of the medical profession.

I checked in with two dear friends in the afternoon. One of whom’s four-year old daughter was upset because the mean man beat the nice lady. It’s a pity that so many so-called grown ups couldn’t see what a child can and elected a goniff. That’s Yiddish for a thief, dishonest person, or scoundrel. That fits the Insult Comedian to a T.

After undergoing First Draft therapy by writing The Fearful Country and sitting virtual political shiva, Dr. A and I attended a Krewe meeting. Most of my Krewe mates looked as if they had slept precious little. I certainly did. Some of us had planned to suggest alternative election related themes but the Krewe wanted to develop a previously discussed theme. And that’s okay. The desire to move on from a trauma is understandable. The non-Krewe business conversation was about the election and how upset everyone was. The d word came up in the conversation: Devastated. The evening was a combination of sitting shiva and an Irish wake.

I sat next to my Spank protege who prefers to call me her Spank daddy. She converted to Judaism when she married. We talked about our mutual horror at how many forms of bigotry had been normalized by the Insult Comedian and his deplorable followers. The previously unspoken has been spoken. Loudly. Anti-Semitism has never left us but it’s back in its most virulent form since the 1940’s. An example of that is this:

That’s right, Kristallnacht took place on November 9-10 in 1938. America just elected a candidate who ran an anti-Semitic campaign. David Duke is celebrating with an exuberant, Heil, Trump. Yet another reason we’re sitting political shiva.

The mood on social media yesterday ranged from solemn to vengeful. The Trumpers were attacking perfect strangers for their supposed imperfections. One friend received hate messages from people who objected to a white chick being married to a black guy. This was deeply upsetting to me as they’re one of the sweetest couples I know. We’re also sitting shiva for the death of civility.

I had to deal with some vestigial Dudebros who wanted to say I told you so. I invited them to a “block party” but have no idea why they decided to crawl out of the woodwork. Actually, I do: everything has been normalized by the electoral college victory of the Insult Comedian. Btw, he’s attacked the electoral college in the past, now he loves it. Typical.

I think that the time for what ifs is down the road. I am skeptical that Sanders would have done better but I’m not certain about that. I do know that the stench of anti-Semitism was all over this election and a septuagenarian Jewish socialist would have felt it as well as incessant red baiting. Shorter Adrastos, I don’t know for sure and neither does anybody else. I am, however, not attacking individuals I disagree with on the internet. It’s called keyboard courage. Instead, I’m sitting political shiva.

My theory of what happened is a simple one. After a bruising primary campaign, Hillary Clinton had a great convention, won the debates, took a solid, steady lead and then came the first Comey letter. It depressed Democratic turnout and she lost the electoral vote but won the popular vote. The election was decided by James Comey, Rudy Giuliani, and the MSM’s sporadic attention to Trump’s scandals with an assist from Wikileaks, Russian intelligence, and the alt-right. Trump’s electoral vote victory has mainstreamed the latter. That’s another reason we’re sitting political shiva.

The Trumpers are already acting vengeful towards their enemies. The cartoon villain’s cartoon lackey, Omarosa, is openly discussing an enemies list. That’s right, a person who’s best known as a hiss-provoking reality show villain will have influence in the next administration. I wonder who will be Propaganda Minister: Bannon or Conway?

The awfulness of this election will endure for the next four years. Tolerance, mutual respect, and common decency were dealt a terrible, but not fatal, blow in 2016. Many of us are still reeling and that’s why we’re sitting political shiva. We need to grieve before we can move on.

The aftermath of this horrendous year and dreadful election result reminds me of what some New Orleanians did on Inauguration Day in 2005. We held a Jazz Funeral for Democracy to mourn Bush’s second term complete with brass bands and a horse-drawn bier. We did not know that disaster would come our way in a mere seven months. Here are two of Dr. A’s pictures of that march through downtown New Orleans:

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I hadn’t seen that Flickr photo album for years. The second picture made me smile. The gent in the top hat and tails is-not Fred Astaire-my old friend Bob Smith. He’s more likely to be seen in a kilt now but I know he’s grieving over what happened this week. We all mourn the passing of someone/something special in our own way: from jazz funerals to demonstrations to wakes to sitting shiva. Me, I’m sitting political shiva this week.

Back to the Jazz Funeral for Democracy. 2016 is one of the worst years in our nation’s history but so was 2005. Remember, we elected Barack Obama four years after Bush narrowly defeated John Kerry. We as a people should not have to go through this but we do. And that is why this gentile is sitting political shiva.

Rainy Day Voting

I voted 2016.

I am not now nor have I ever been a blue dog Democrat, but I did enjoy getting that sticker. I ran into several friends at my polling place one of whom proved that he’s a sane Republican:

Crazy Blogger:     “Did you cancel my vote?”

Sane Republican: “Not this time. Voted your way.”

So it goes.

I like voting on election day at my polling place at the former Xavier Prep on Magazine Street. It has changed names but, in the great New Orleans tradition, I refuse to acknowledge the new name. Why do I like it? The same poll workers are there every election; one of whom lives around the corner from me. Today I ran into one of the big muckety-mucks of Krewe du Vieux who shared some news that’s hush-hush, strictly confidential.

It’s a pleasant stroll to the polls but I’m still a bit wheezy from this stupid cold. I used my umbrella as a makeshift cane (Kaine?) on the way home. I did, however, beat the rain. It’s not expected to be as intense as yesterday, which broke a string of 41 consecutive rainless days.

You’ll be shocked to learn that I voted Clinton-Kaine. I also voted for the lesser of 24 evils for the Senate. That’s clearly not the Erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer.

I don’t have a lot to add until the polls close, I stand by my predictions.

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I hope to be proven wrong by those who are more optimistic. Hell, if not for the first Comey epistle, I might have rolled the dice and bet on the Peach State. Hopefully, it will be peachy keen in 2018 and 2o2o.

All I’ve got is some Rainy Day Voting Music even if it’s drier than a Baptist Church where you are. They’re not exactly political songs but we need a brief respite; even me.

Finally, one for all the states with weed referenda:

 

 

 

The Not So Great Gret Stet Senate Debate

Not so Gret Stet debate.

Terrible screenshot of a terrible debate.

First of all, congratulations to all the Cubs fans out there. Your manager, Joe Driving Me Maddon, nearly blew it by mishandling his pitching staff BUT his players saved his ass. I hope somebody takes the stupid goat curse behind the barn and puts it out of its misery. At least we won’t have to listen to the “if the AL team wins the World Series, the GOP wins the White House” crapola. I don’t believe in that shit: like Howlin’ Wolf, I Ain’t Superstitious.

The World Series was a nice palate cleanser after watching six terrible candidates in the worst televised debate I have ever sat through. Everything about it was terrible. It looked like a cable access show and the sound was tinny because the hall was empty. It wasn’t a debate, it was a clusterfuck thanks to the media group that produced it. I’ll leave ranting about Raycom to Lamar White and move on to the real reason the debate sucked the big one: the presence of Erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer, David Duke. And this is not the phony “mainstream conservative” Duke of 1989-1991, it’s the real neo-Nazi Duke.

Dukkke was included to liven up a deadly dull group of candidates. There was a lone poll showing him at 5.1%, which Raycom seized on to invite Duke who  treated the event like a mini-Beer Hall Putsch. The candidates who have a chance to make the run-off are all over 10% in all the polls but Raycom wanted Duke and it got him. Heil, ratings. He, of course, pitched a series of tantrums worthy of the candidate whose coattails he’s clinging to: Donald Trump. Maybe the debate sound was muffled by all the GOP heads wedged up the Insult Comedian’s ass. I almost made a fart lighting joke but thought better of it…

Moderator John Snell of WVUE-TV News in New Orleans had an impossible job. He did not rise to the occasion. I’ve seen Snell moderate many debates and he usually does an excellent job but he had an off-night. The time limits on the questions were absurdly short and the inclusion of a panel of reporters made the format even clunkier.

Then there was David Duke who denounced the moderator as “a typical media hack.” The man whose picture is in the dictionary next to “marginal, perennial candidate” was allowed to dominate the debate. He ranted, he raved, he raged when asked about “CNN Jews” and his federal fraud conviction. Yuppie Democrat Caroline Fayard likes to bring Dukkke up so she made the cluster even fuckier than need be.

Speaking of clusterfucky meltdowns, here’s Duke losing his shit:

At the end of the debate, Duke was still at his podium howling at the moon or communing with the spirit of Hitler. I’m not sure which.

The other candidates were as boring as usual. Here are a few quick comments about them. First, the Republicans:

Doctor/Congressman Charles Boustany: Nobody asked the dull doc about the Boudreaux Inn and sex workers, not even Duke. I guess they forgot that they’re running for the hooker seat. Boustany’s stock line was: “I’m a heart surgeon.” His politics, however, are heartless. I guess he performed surgery on himself….

Doctor/Congressman John Fleming: He’s a dumbass even for a teabagger. He kept saying he was a conservative as if he needed to remind himself of that fact. It’s easy to imagine him playing Lenny in a little theatre production of Of Mice and Men.

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If he loses the Senate race, Fleming seems to be angling for a slot on The Apprentice: he kept saying he’d fire the candidate below.

Gret Stet Treasurer John Neely Kennedy: He spent the debate spouting sound bites and corny one-liners. Neely deflected charges that he was an ex-liberal by hicking up his accent. He sounded as if his Rhodes Scholarship fell off a turnip truck. It’s depressing to watch an intelligent man feign idiocy in order to get elected. The funniest claim against him was that he used to have a picture of Earl Long in his office. I wonder if it was this one with Blaze Starr:

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And now for the Democrats who are neither as gret nor as colorful as Uncle Earl. The first one takes us from Sho-Bar to Sho-Nuff:

Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell: He always reminds me of Foghorn Leghorn: I say, I say, I say. He did get off a few decent lines and he even said Voldemort’s, I mean Hillary Clinton’s, name aloud when asked who he was supporting for President. Not exactly a profile in courage but what can you expect from the Foghorn Leghorn of Gret Stet politics? Not much, I say, I say, I say.

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Non-Career Politician Caroline Fayard: She remains the least terrible candidate even though she is pretty darn terrible. Fayard at least lives in the 21st Century and speaks in complete sentences but that’s the best I can say about her.

Btw, all these candidates love denouncing one another as “career politicians” and “insiders.” It’s all very George Wallace circa 1968. I kept expecting someone to talk about “bureaucrats who can’t park their bikes straight” or “pointy-headed intellectuals” like the Guvnor. Compared to the Insult Comedian, Wallace was George Bernard Shaw…

Since the not so great Gret Stet debate was held at Dillard University, there were protesters outside the empty, echoey hall. Pepper spray was involved. BuzzFeed’s Big John Stanton was with them and filed a story co-written by Claudia Koerner. Here’s an excerpt about the clusterfuck outside:

As Duke melted down inside, the scene outside deteriorated. Frustrated with protesters, police became increasingly aggressive. Within seconds, tactical batons began swinging while thick streams of pepper spray laid into the crowd. Protesters initially recoiled, but quickly rolled forward onto the ill prepared small group of police defending the door. Knotted up college students and middle aged police hit the ground and at least two officers unholstered their taser guns, struggling to find clear shots past their colleagues.

The scene became so chaotic, the small group of police began indiscriminately firing pepper spray, hitting protesters, journalists, and other police. Choking, both sides would fall back, regroup, and repeat.

Frustrated, protesters moved to another entrance to the building, seemingly ready to resume their battles with the police. But after leaders pleaded with crowd to not destroy the campus, both sides seemed to relax.

Thanks to Raycom for inviting David Duke, which turned the debate into a freak show both inside and out. Raycom’s CEO should be obliged to drink pepper spray as punishment for staging this farcical shitshow.

You say clusterfuck, I say freak show: Let’s call the whole thing off. Literally. Hmm, I wonder if David Duke thinks George and Ira Gershwin are good Jews or bad Jews.

It’s time for a closing palate cleanser from NOLA’s own Harry Connick Jr:

 

Boo From New Orleans

New Orleanians take Halloween seriously. Dr. A recently paid her annual pilgrimage to the Berger house at the corner of State Street and St. Charles Avenue. They’ve been doing it up right for years. And, no, they’re not Garden District Skeletons, they’re Uptown Skeletons.

Here are a few photos  for your virtual scrapbook:

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Now that I’ve decorated the blog for All Hallow’s Eve, it’s time for some music. Our annual Boo from Crowded House with Richard Thompson along for the ride.

Don’t worry, we have plenty of candy at Adrastos World HQ but if foot traffic is light, it’s mine all mine.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Just My Imagination

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The Legend of John Brown #19 by Jacob Lawrence.

I decided not to whinge about the heat to open the post this week. Why? We’ve had our first genuine cool front of the fall, that’s why. I was tempted to dance in the streets but that would be undignified even for me. I only dance in the streets during Carnival.

This week’s theme song was inspired by last week’s successful fundraiser. Posting the Temptations show and Oscar begging made me want to hear some more sweet, sweet soul music. Ain’t nothing sweeter than hearing Eddie Kendricks croon Just My Imagination (Running Away From Me.) It was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong who specialized in funkier tunes than this lilting soul waltz. They nailed it: Just My Imagination went to number-1 on both the pop and R&B charts.

We begin with the Temptations’ glorious studio version produced by Norman Whitfield:

The Rolling Stones covered Just My Imagination on the 1978 album Some Girls. I’m terribly fond of the live version they did during their 1981 tour, which I saw at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Here’s a backstage view of the Stones live in the swing state of Arizona:

You may have noticed that I didn’t use the entire title in the post header. There’s method to my madness for a change. There’s also a swell Cranberries song of the same title. Let’s give it a spin:

That video gave me butterflies: Irish butterflies. It’s time to regress from a butterfly to a larval caterpillar. Trust me, I know that’s impossible but I wrote myself into a corner. Guess it’s time to give y’all a break by going to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Blues In The Night

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Harlequin and Pierrot by Andre Derain, 1924.

Let’s get something out of the way. It’s still hotter than it should be in New Orleans. Fall has fallen with a thud as it may end up as the warmest October in recorded history. End of black market weather report.

In this week’s spirit of deja vu all over again (thanks, Yogi) I promised an update on beleaguered Jefferson Parish President, Mike Yenni. The sexting bastid is still in office after telling the public that it was “in my best interests” to stay. That inspired a scathing teevee commentary by the man with one of the best names in punditry, Clancy DuBos. The video won’t embed but the text rocks:

When Mike Yenni couldn’t avoid facing reporters yesterday, here’s what he said about his decision not to resign:

“It’s in my best interest to do what I was elected to do,” he said Monday.

Think about that statement, folks. He’s saying that his interests are more important than those of Jefferson Parish and its people. His interests.

This is a good time to remember the original Mike Yenni — the real Mike Yenni — and his father, Joe Yenni. They are revered because, as parish presidents, they always put the parish’s and the people’s interests ahead of their own.

This guy, who was born Mike Maunoir but changed his name to Yenni, now makes it clear through his actions and his words that he is not worthy of the Yenni name.

For the sake of the parish, he should resign.

Ouch. I think Yenni is hanging on in order to have something to trade with prosecutors if charges loom. A poll was taken showing that 79% of JP voters want his name changing ass gone. Double ouch. I wonder if there will be a Downfall video any time soon.

The only recourse Jeffersonians have is a recall election. It will be tough but a Metry lawyer, whose father used to be one of the bosses of that parish who was tried but acquitted of corruption charges in 1995, is pledging $100K of his own moolah. You cannot make this shit up, y’all.

That concludes this episode of “As Jefferson Parish Turns.” Cue the Hammond B-3 organ. No, not B3 that’s a different kettle of fish altogether.

My mama done tole me to move on to this week’s theme song. Blues In The Night was written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer as the title song of a mediocre 1941 movie. The tune has become a classic thanks to all the fabulous versions out there. We have three versions for your enjoyment today. Let’s kick it off with a jazzy rendition by Louis Armstrong and Oscar Peterson.

Here’s Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle’s torch song interpretation.

Finally, a 21st Century version from the late, great neo-chanteuse Amy Winehouse.

My Mama done tole me to go to the break before we send in the scary clowns.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Too Darn Hot

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Ram’s Head by Georgia O’Keeffe.

I’ve been complaining about the heat in this space all summer, which seems to be endless and not in a Beach Boys kinda way. It’s been more of a sweating safari than a surfing one here in New Orleans. We’ve been smashing daily records and even hit the pages of the Bezos Post:

During one of the country’s hottest summers, New Orleans quietly set a mind-boggling record. On 43 nights, the temperature did not drop below 80 degrees in New Orleans, according to the Louisiana state climatologist.

It blows the previous record out of the water — 13 nights in 2010. It’s also incredible considering in an average summer, New Orleans has just 2.1 nights at or above 80 degrees.

This record should be getting much more attention than it has been.

It’s been on my mind, yo. I’ve been bitching about it relentlessly. I guess the Insult Comedian would say it was all a Chinese plot and make a joke about chopsticks or tunneling to China a la Bugs Bunny. That’s right, it’s climate change and in the immortal words of Van the Man, it’s really, really, really, real.

The other big local story was a demonstration last Saturday that vowed to pull down the statue of General/President Jackson from the square named for him. I knew it wasn’t going to happen when I remembered that veteran activist Malcolm Suber was the group’s organizer. I’ve been acquainted with Malcolm for years and the word that comes to mind is: gadfly. He’s quite a talker, y’all. Unfortunately, Malcolm’s gadflyness attracted a certain Senate candidate:

I’m opposed to removing the Jackson statue despite my intense dislike of the man. I have a simple test when it comes to the monuments issue: what was the original purpose/intent of the statue? The Lee and Davis statues were erected to celebrate the Confederacy (aka treason) and white supremacy (aka racism) whereas Jackson’s honors him for the Battle of New Orleans not for being a hot-tempered, slave-owning motherfucker. Additionally, Jackson Square is part of the fabric of the community as opposed to the aforementioned statues.

Let’s get back to the blistering, blazing heat, which is showing signs of abating at last. It’s about fucking time, it’s October 1st, y’all.  This week’s theme song is Cole Porter’s Too Darn Hot. It was written for his fabulously shrewish musical Kiss Me Kate. We begin with a clip from the 1953 MGM film starring Ann Miller and Howard Keel. Then we have versions by Jazz greats Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torme. I could not choose between Ella and Mel so I opted for maximum Porter:

Finally, please give it up for the Velvet Fog. Jeez, I sound like Harry Anderson’s character on Night Court:

Now that we’ve conclusively established that it’s too darn hot, it’s time to drink some water and rehydrate. I don’t want anyone fainting after the break, after all.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Birdland

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Polinesia, the Sky by Henri Matisse.

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

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

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

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Thursday Night Music: Funkify Your Life

It’s been a long, weird, and stressful week. It’s time for some reassuring words to live by:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Showdown

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Three Musicians by Pablo Picasso, 1921

It’s been another “hot even for New Orleans” week. It was the second warmest August in recorded history; at least we weren’t number one. We dodged the Hermine bullet but apparently not everyone understands the gravity of even a lesser tropical system:

Florida is also where this charming chap resides:

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Holy Florida Man, Batman.

If you’re ever in Fort Lauderdale, you might want to give him a holla. I think the exclamation point was over the top but that’s just me. He looks like he mixed cigarettes, meth and Vodka. Ouch.

The college football season starts this weekend. My LSU Tigers are playing the Wisconsin Badgers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay later today. It should provide some diversion for all the flooded Tiger fans in South Louisiana. There’s even a comedic sub-plot: some LSU players are threatening to do the “Lambeau leap” after scoring. Les Miles has vetoed the idea and warned his players that they’ll be hitchhiking home if they try it. I’m seriously bummed about this. I was hoping Les would take the leap after our first score. Guess he’s channeling his inner Bo Schembechler this season. I prefer Goofy Les to Serious Les.

This week’s theme song selection started off simply but grew like bamboo. One of my earworms this week has been ELO’s hit song, Showdown. Just for the hell of it, I did a search on allmusic.com and learned that there are oodles of tunes with the same title.

I picked two Showdowns of a similar vintage to the ELO smash hit: one by the New York Dolls and the other by the Isley Brothers. Who among us does not love the flying fingers of Ernie Isley as well as his nifty headband?

Like the Isley Brothers’ Showdown, the Saturday post typically has two parts. We’ll part for the break and then resume the festivities such as they are.

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