Category Archives: New Orleans

Stormy Monday Blues

26 years ago New Orleans had rainfall of Biblical proportions. The rain came on May 8, 1995 and the extent of the damage was unclear until May 10, 1995. It had rained up to 27 inches in some parts of the city and surrounding parishes. It was a fucking mess.

Unfortunately, street flooding has become commonplace since then. We’ve never had water in our house since we live on high ground, but we lost a car to flood waters a few years ago.

Every time there’s heavy rain, New Orleanians live in fear of flooding. It happened again in the wee hours today:

I’m writing this during a break in the rain, but more is expected later. We’re all sick of it. My birthday in 2017 was the occasion of another flood caused by extreme rainfall and an antiquated water system. President Biden took a tour of the plant last week and has mentioned it several times subsequently. I hope that’s a good sign. This has got to stop.

I don’t believe in the Noah myth since it calls for more suspension of disbelief than I’m capable of. There are times, however, that building a jumbo ark like John Huston did in his misbegotten 1966 film The Bible seems appealing. I think Nick Lowe had the right idea as well:

In other news, there’s a lot of chatter about how to proceed in the After Times of the pandemic. This sign sums up my attitude:

After 14 months of internal tedium and external malakatude, I’m still not ready to return to normal. I’m fully vaccinated but I’m mistrustful of others who are not.

I handled the pandemic and lockdown better than most, but I feel like wrapping myself in caution tape right now. My life experience has made me cautious but not fearful in dangerous situations beyond my control. I’m sure I’ll get over it but at my own pace.

I’m not judging those who are running towards normality, I’m just not there yet. The virus and its variants are still out there. There are still outbreaks and the quest for herd immunity seems stalled because there are still many out there who think it was all a hoax; some of whom are visiting New Orleans, which is why I have no plans to visit the French Quarter any time soon.

The world has always been a dangerous place. I’m engaged in risk management. A new study has estimated that more than 900,000 Americans have died during the pandemic. Given the Trump regime’s attempts to fiddle with the books, I’m inclined to believe the new figure. Another reason for caution.

Finally, Dr. A and I been driving back and forth to Baton Rouge once a week to visit Louise aka Mother-In-Law #1. She’s not doing well at all. She’s 99 years old and slowly fading away. She’s bedridden and having vision problems on top of everything else. It may sound callous, but I hope she lets go soon. As her late husband Eddie was wont to say, “Getting old is not for sissies.”

The post title refers not to the T-Bone Walker song whose full title is Call It Stormy Monday But Tuesday’s Just As Bad, but to an earlier song written by Earl Hines, Billy Eckstine, and Bob Crowder. I definitely have the Stormy Monday Blues. The last word goes to Billy Eckstine and Count Basie:

 

Bayou Brief: Déjà Vu All Over Again

There was a runoff election held to fill Cedric Richmond’s seat in Congress last Saturday. It was a nasty campaign and I’m glad it’s over.  I got tried of seeing negative ads on my Scrabble app. Is nothing sacred?

It did, however, evoke memories of the first wave of elections after Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood in 2006. Both candidates in Saturday’s election challenged Congressman Dollar Bill Jefferson that year and lost. It gave me the feeling that I’d been there before.

For the details, get thee to Bayou Brief where John Fogerty gets the last word.

The last word here goes to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young:

Another day, another David Crosby song. We have all been here before.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Something To Talk About

Cocktails by Archibald Motley.

We’ve had some unseasonably cool weather this week in New Orleans. It’s been a relief after last week’s constant rain. We’ve even had some sun, which was initially disorienting but I’m down with it.

It’s special election run-off day in the Louisiana-Second. An ugly and mendacious campaign was waged by the runner-up in the primary, State Senator Karen Carter Peterson. She wants a promotion after a disastrous tenure as state party chair and missing 85% of state senate votes last year. Talk about failing upward.  I also happen to think that comparing another Democrat to Donald Trump is punching below the belt. I look forward to voting against her and for Troy Carter.

This week’s theme song was written in 1990 by Canadian singer-songwriter Shirley Elkhard and recorded by Bonnie Raitt for her 1991 album, Luck Of The Draw. It was a big hit for the Bonster. It was later used in the Julia Roberts-Dennis Quaid movie of the same title in 1995.

We have two versions of Something To Talk About for your listening pleasure: the Bonnie Raitt original and a 2016 version by Blood Sweat & Tears frontman David Clayton Thomas.

Was that bloody, sweaty, and teary enough for you lot? While we’re still wet, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Pictures Of Matchstick Men

Main Press by LS Lowry.

The weather has been horrendous in New Orleans this week. We’ve had high winds, thunderstorms, and torrential rain. One day it looked as if we were having a tropical system out of season. I hate thunderstorms, they’re like heavy metal. I hate heavy metal.

It’s been so bad that we’ve had to work around the weather for fear of street flooding. Dr. A went to work preposterously early yesterday because she was administering an exam. I was so grateful that the garbage men closed the bin lid that I went on the porch and thanked them.

This week’s theme song was written by Francis Rossi for Status Quo’s 1968 album Picturesque Matchstickable Messages from the Status Quo. How’s that for a long ass title? It was to be the band’s only major hit single in the US&A.

The song was inspired by the paintings of Mancunian artist LS Lowry. He pretended to be an unsophisticated artist but had serious chops as a painter. Lowry also excelled at myth creation often telling wildly contradictory stories. His painting Main Press is this week’s featured image.

There’s some dispute as to whether Lowry should be called a Mancunian artist since he lived in nearby Salford. But I like saying Mancunian so I’m sticking with it. FYI, a Mancunian is someone who hails from Manchester, England, mate.  Who the hell wants to be a Salfordian or is that Salfordite?

We have three versions of Pictures Of Matchstick Men for your listening pleasure: the studio original, Status Quo live, and a 1989 cover by Camper Van Beethoven, which was a hit in the US&A.

We’re not finished with matchstick men, here’s a 2018 song written and recorded by Mark Knopfler:

Now that we’ve pondered matchstick men in music and art, let’s strike quickly and jump to the break.

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The Thinning Blue Line

I paid another extended visit to the Derek Chauvin trial yesterday. I wanted to see Minneapolis police Chief Medaria Arradondo’s testimony. I was not disappointed.

The Chief’s demeanor goes against all the cop stereotypes. He’s a calm and soft-spoken man who thinks before speaking as opposed to the blustery cops we’re more familiar with from both real life and fiction. These qualities made him a devastating witness for the prosecution. I was tempted to make a Marlene Dietrich or Tyrone Power joke but decided to skip it; more or less.

The Chief made it clear that Chauvin’s actions on that fateful May evening violated departmental policy:

“To continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back — that in no way, shape or form is anything that is by policy,” said the chief, Medaria Arradondo. “It is not part of our training. And it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.”

It’s extraordinarily rare for a police chief to testify against one of their officers but it’s not the first time for Arradondo:

 In 2017, he became its first Black chief after his predecessor was forced out in the wake of a police shooting: Another officer, Mohamed Noor, was accused of murder in the fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk, who had called the police to report what she thought was a sexual assault of a woman in an alley behind her home.

In one of the few previous instances of a police chief testifying for the prosecution against an officer, Chief Arradondo took the stand in that case as well; Mr. Noor was ultimately convicted of third-degree murder.

The Chief kept his cool while under cross-examination by pesky, annoying defense attorney Eric Nelson. He has a nasty habit of ending every question with either “right” or “agreed.” He laid several rhetorical traps for the Chief who declined to take the bait.

Given the weakness of the defense’s case, Nelson kept posing hypothetical questions to muddy the waters. Arradondo listened carefully and thought before replying as well as asking Nelson to repeat his questions. Nelson is a wordy lawyer who often trips himself up because he’s in love with his own voice. It’s an occupational hazard.

The Chief has a long record of independence: he sued his own department for racial discrimination and served as the head of internal affairs; not a post that’s guaranteed to win friends among old school coppers.

Arradando was the third senior police officer to testify against Chauvin. His former supervisor and the head of the department’s homicide bureau chimed in earlier. The thin blue line may not be vanishing in Minneapolis but it’s eroding.

One thing I’m not going to do is to predict a verdict. That’s a sucker’s game. I do, however, think that the Chief’s testimony reduced the chances of an outright acquittal as has the defendant’s demeanor. He rarely makes eye contact with the jury instead scribbling notes even when nothing is happening in the courtroom. Chauvin is lucky he’s required to wear a mask: I have a hunch he’s scowling under it. He’s such a cold fish that the visitor’s seat behind the defense table has been empty every day. I’d feel sorry for another defendant but not this guy.

Back to possible outcomes. It will take more than one holdout to hang this jury. It’s difficult for a lone juror to resist peer pressure and refuse to compromise. That’s why Henry Fonda was cast in Twelve Angry Men. It was plausible that the guy who played Young Mr. Lincoln, Tom Joad, Wyatt Earp, and Mr. Roberts would stand on principle and buck the majority. There are few Henry Fondas in real life. It always comes back to John Ford movies with me, doesn’t it?

I’m cautiously optimistic about the trial. My only quibble with the prosecution is they’re using too many lawyers: five by my reckoning. That gives Nelson the chance to play David to the prosecution’s Goliath. Nobody roots for Goliath. But given the complexity of the evidence, it’s understandable. Besides, Nelson is *not* a likeable lawyer so this is a push.

The blue line may be thinning in Minneapolis but whether or not it will happen elsewhere is a different story. If a department has a reform minded chief, it can happen, but we’ve ridden the reform rollercoaster several times in New Orleans. We had a reform chief in Richard Pennington from 1994-2002. NOPD suffered a relapse of “old school” policing after the storm and federal flood so pronounced that a consent decree was imposed by the Feds in 2013. It requires not only strong leadership but eternal vigilance. And you know what they say about that.

A final note about Chief Arradando’s surname. It’s similar to that of longtime WWL-TV weatherman Carl Arredondo.  Carl, too, is a calm man who radiates knowledge and authority. He was my go-to guy during hurricane season: when he looked grim on the Friday before Katrina hit, I knew we were in for it. He had to retire in 2019 because he’s going blind. I wish him well. The same goes for Chief Arradando. Hopefully, he won’t reap the whirlwind after this trial concludes.

The last word goes to Roxy Music:

Soak The Fat Boys & Spread It Out Thin

Hack Looks Askance At Hick Schtick.

Repeat after me: Soak The Fat Boys & Spread It Out Thin.

Thus spake Willie Stark in Robert Rossen’s brilliant film adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s All The King’s Men. The line was adapted from advice Willie’s fixer Jack Burden gave him in the book after Willie delivered a dull speech:

“Just tell ’em you’re gonna soak the fat boys and forget the rest of the tax stuff…Willie, make ’em cry, make ’em laugh, make ’em mad, even mad at you. Stir them up and they’ll love it and come back for more, but, for heaven’s sakes, don’t try to improve their minds.”

I realize that sounds like something that pardoned felon Steve Bannon would have said to the Impeached Insult Comedian, but it’s sound advice for any politician even an honest one like Joe Biden. It certainly fits the time we live in:

Quite literally, the super-rich got richer, and the poor got poorer during the pandemic.

Repeat after me: Soak The Fat Boys & Spread It Out Thin.

One way to do this is to enact the Biden administration’s increase in corporate taxes. Another more satisfying way is to enact the Wealth Tax proposed by Senator Professor Elizabeth Warren. It will make the fat boys squeal like the pigs they are.

But will the Emperor of the Senate Joe Manchin support such a surtax? He’s from one of the poorest states in the Union but raising taxes became heresy for Blue Dogs after Mondale was blown out in the 1984 election and reinforced by the Gingrich wave election in 1994.

in 1984, Fritz Mondale made it a point of honesty in his acceptance speech:

‘Mr. Reagan will raise taxes and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.’

When I searched for the exact quote, it turned up articles warning Democrats not to raise taxes. All were written before the boom, bust, and boom of the pandemic.

Income inequality began its rise in the Reagan era, and exploded last year. Since the right no longer has an appealing salesman like Ronald Reagan, that makes it time to:

Biden’s infrastructure bill *should* be enormously popular. We can all cite crumbling infrastructure in our states and communities. In New Orleans, the greatest infrastructure need involves our water system. The vast majority of the pipes are over 100 years old. They burst with alarming regularity, which leads to frequent boil water orders. The city needs federal money to replace the system. It will take many years, but we need to get going as soon as possible.

I, for one, am relieved that Mitch McConnell has declared his entire caucus against the American Jobs Act. That means there will be no bad faith negotiations with Republicans as Leader Schumer plans to use the filibuster proof reconciliation process again. As with the COVID relief plan, I consider McConnell’s move to be cynical: GOPers will pop up to support projects if the bill passes.

It’s up to Democrats to find middle ground between AOC and the Man of La Manchin. It may sound hard but it’s easier than getting libertarian creeps like Aqua Buddha to agree to a spending proposal that’s guaranteed to attack income equality while improving roads, bridges, and the like across the country. It’s ironic that the original proponent of internal improvements, Henry Clay, hailed from Kentucky given the Turtle and Aqua Buddha’s posturing but he was a Whig, they’re Trumpified Republicans.

The Republican attack on the COVID relief plan was muted because they knew their states would benefit. I expect the same dynamic to play out here. Besides, the faux populism of Trump has seeded the ground for more government spending. Infrastructure week may have been a running joke under Trump, but President Biden hopes to make every week infrastructure week.

Willie Stark was famously based on Huey P. Long who was a blowhard with authoritarian tendencies, but he was big on infrastructure before it was called that. He talked a lot of rubbish, but delivered massive projects throughout the Gret Stet of Louisiana.

Joe Biden seems an unlikely heir to Long but the mere fact that he’s regarded as a moderate helped pass the first huge spending bill and will help pass the next spending bill if the Man of La Manchin allows it. He should follow the example of former West Virginia Senators such as Jennings, Byrd, and Rockefeller and take the money and run.

Make it so, Joe, make it so.

Soak the fat boys by passing a wealth surtax and/or corporate tax hikes, then spread it out thin by passing the American Jobs act.

The last word goes to the Steve Miller Band:

 

Your American Healthcare System At Work

As a rule, I never use this forum to complain about something that happened to me in real life. Since it’s vaccination day here at First Draft, I’m breaking that rule. As I like to say, there’s an exception to every rule.

I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the Morial Convention Center on March 13. It’s where the local hospital chain LCMC has been vaccinating people. My first visit went well, and I suspect my second one will too. There was, however, some weirdness last night and this morning.

I’ve been patiently waiting for my second jab, which was originally scheduled for the afternoon of Saturday April 3. I missed a call from LCMC who left a voice mail informing me that my appointment had to be rescheduled.

No reason was given but I suspect it had something to do with Easter weekend. New Orleans is a very Catholic town, and they might have had a problem with volunteers or something. I don’t know since communication is not the medical behemoth’s strong suit.

I returned the call in a matter of minutes last night only to learn that they were closed. Fair enough: it was after 6:30 PM.

The message gave me two options: April 1 and April 6. I prefer the former. I’m tired of waiting for my second jab. I want to get this over with.

I called early this morning and was informed that April 1 was unavailable. I asked why and was told “I only make the appointments.”

I pointed out that LCMC was accepting walk-ins at the Convention Center and that some vaccine had been wasted. Again, I was told “I only make the appointments.”

She might as well have said, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

I reluctantly accepted the later appointment, but I was fuming. I hate things that make no sense, and this was as arbitrary as it gets. I arrived 20 minutes early for my first jab and was taken immediately because they had the space.

Instead of getting mad, I decided to get even by calling back. I got a different operator who actually listened. It turned out that there *were* appointments on April 1, so I rescheduled after giving the second operator a piece of my mind. I did so without raising my voice.

The operators both sounded local so the first one should have gotten it. LCMC insisted that I move my appointment. All I wanted was some flexibility. I understood that it would have to be a specific date because I need a second dose of Pfizer, but they needed to work with me.

Operator #1 acted as if I was trying to reschedule a normal doctor’s appointment. The Convention Center is serving as a mass vaccination site: there’s built-in flexibility. I understand hating one’s job but taking it out on someone who just wants to be vaccinated during the pandemic is ridiculous. Oy, just oy.

There are two lessons to be learned from this incident:

  • The squeaky wheel gets oiled.
  • Our healthcare system needs change.

I know my experience with disembodied voices at the end of a telephone line is not unusual. To be told that I had to delay my second jab was too much. I’m glad I’m fought back but I shouldn’t have had to. Oh well, what the hell.

Let’s close on a lighter note and give the last word to ELO:

Bayou Brief: March Musings, Not Madness

My latest column for the Bayou Brief is online. It’s full of spiteful goodness.

Here’s the tagline: “13th Ward Ramblings about the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board, the Second District Congressional race, and the Shame of LSU.”

Did someone say shame? Cue the music for a double dose:

Ryne Hancock: Hope Is A Winding Road, But It Comes Eventually

My friend Ryne had a bad year even by 2020 standards. He’s feeling and doing much better now as you can tell from his latest post.

Hope Is A Winding Road, But It Comes Eventually by Ryne Hancock

Apart from my biking to deliver food, last spring wasn’t filled with festivals and social bike rides.

It didn’t include trivia nights at Tracey’s, open mics around the city, late nights at Igor’s, or being behind a mic at a radio station.

My socialization last spring was limited to the customers I had with my day job as well as the dumbass neighbors I had in my complex. The more time went on and the amount of tragedy piled up on my plate, the less hopeful I felt about the remainder of the year.

In a four-week span, from the time New Orleans went on lockdown to mid-April, I lost five relatives, all to this dreaded disease, including one of my favorite uncles, who had an encyclopedic knowledge of baseball.

“He just went in the hospital and didn’t come out,” my aunt told me on the phone.

To make matters worse, instead of being able to fully communicate how I felt with my friends or find refuge in being at the WTUL studios, I had to deal with the people in my complex. The day my uncle was buried, I went off on one of my neighbors when we discussed the former occupant of the White House’s handling of the pandemic.

“What do you want him to do?” my neighbor asked me.

“Give a damn,” I replied.

“But we’re getting stimulus checks,” my neighbor retorted.

“I don’t want to hear any more about that. I’ve lost five relatives in a month’s time and the last thing I want to hear is something about a damn stimulus check.”

Safe to say I didn’t interact much afterwards with my neighbors. There was the occasional dart game here and there, but whatever joy I wanted to find in those games got snuffed away because people either got too rowdy or someone had a fight, which in turn made me feel even more isolated from my neighbors as the year progressed.

To make matters worse, one of my neighbors assumed that I was on meds for whatever reason, which made me retreat even more. A lot of times when I would return home from work, I’d just go inside and fall asleep, something that I would do when I lived in Memphis.

That was my life mostly for almost a year.

The day before Biden got inaugurated, some leftist dude said that nothing was going to change with him in office.

“Have you not seen the last four years?” I asked him.

For the first time in a year there’s actual hope. Instead of doom and gloom posts, you’re seeing people talk about plans for their summer and vaccine selfies.

You know, hopeful things.

Think about what would have happened if that orange dolt were still in office.

I guarantee you we wouldn’t be discussing hopeful things.

 

 

Sitting In Half Vaccinated Limbo

In spite of the side effects, getting the first jab was exciting but my guard remains up. A friend let his down last month and spent 20 days in the COVID ward. Fortunately, he’s slowly but surely recovering but has some lingering brain fog. I regard him as a reverse role model as I feel impatient after a year in exile. Get well soon, mon frere.

Sitting in half vaccinated limbo isn’t easy but it beats the hell out of the alternative. Let’s cue our first musical interlude:

We did something social last weekend. It was outdoors on Bayou St. John with some close friends. I’ve posted about Half Pagan before, it was their vernal equinox show. I called it Half Vaccinated meets Half Pagan.

I heckled them at points and even sang high harmonies from the semi-comfort of a camp chair. The chair was appropriate because these are folks we see a lot of during Carnival. We hadn’t seen any of them since Thoth Sunday in 2020.

I’m a bit impatient for my second jab but for maximum efficacy the Pfizer vaccine requires a 3-week interval. I’m down with that. I want the damn thing to work, after all. I’ve got April 4th circled on every calendar as the day of my release from absolute exile, but my guard remains up.

Our second musical interlude is another Tormato tune:

This is advertised as a potpourri post, so I need some categories. I don’t want to dishonor the memory of the late, great Alex Trebek.

Headline Of The Week: It comes from Talking Points Memo:

Trump Wax Statue Put In Museum Storage After It Kept Getting Punched.

It took place at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in San Antonio thereby proving that there are many fine people in Texas. That reminds me of another song that could be described as a waxing earworm:

That concludes the Punch & Trumpy segment of this post.

The Curious Case of the Biden Republicans: Pollster Stan Greenburg is the guy who coined the term Reagan Democrats. He sees the same thing happening in reverse. He recently sat for an extended interview with Politico Magazine’s Zack Stanton.

Check it out. It improved my mood. It could have the same effect on you too.

Border Blues: The MSM is in search of a new crisis. One would think they’d be satiated by the Trump years but they’re back to playing gotcha with the current administration.

Border issues between the United States and Mexico have been going on since the 1830’s. They were exacerbated by the Trump regime and continue as the Team Biden tries to clean up that mess. It’s what happens when a poor country and a rich one share a long border. There will always be border issues.

Perhaps we should look for a new scapegoat: how about this guy?

Asian Spring: Showtime Circus performer Alex Wagner has written a fine piece for the Atlantic about the current wave of anti-Asian bigotry as seen the through the eyes of her own family’s experiences. I love it when writers weave together the personal and political. It’s the goal of much of what we do here at First Draft.

Finally, keep your guard up. We all have COVID fatigue, but the virus does not care. Florida appears ripe for another spike as Spring Breakers hit the beaches. College kids think that they’re invulnerable but they’re not. There are some on Bourbon Street as well. That’s why I’m sitting here in half vaccinated limbo.

The last word goes to the Neville Brothers and Bryan Ferry:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: On The Silent Wings Of Freedom

Photograph by Stanley Kubrick.

A bird got into our house while I was taking a jab nap. Claire Trevor was determined to get the poor wee house sparrow. I tried grabbling CT to close her in somewhere to no avail. I yelled at the cat to keep her away from the open door as the bird hopped from ceiling fan to ceiling fan. It finally flew out the front door. That’s as adventurous as it gets at Adrastos World HQ these days.

Mother-in-Law #1 is 99-years-old and in bad shape at her assisted living joint in Baton Rouge. The good news is that we’ve been able to visit her twice including yesterday. Her body is failing but her mind is still sharp. I’m not sure how long she’ll last but it’s a relief to be able to visit after not having seen her for 14 months because of the pandemic.

I’m voting later today in the special election called to fill Cedric Richmond’s congressional seat. I’m as underwhelmed by the choices on offer as I was by Cedric. The leading candidates are two hacks from New Orleans and a young firebrand from Baton Rouge. Since I do not want to be represented in Congress by someone from Red Stick, I’m voting for the hack I’m acquainted with, State Senator and former City Councilman Troy Carter. I loathe the other hack whose name shall not cross my lips.

This week’s theme song was written by Jon Anderson and Chris Squire for Yes’ 1978 album, Tormato. Yes are known for their great album covers. This is not one of them. The music is still pretty darn good.

We have two versions of On The Silent Wings Of Freedom for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a 2006 live instrumental version.

Follow the flying fingers of Chris Squire and jump to the break. No finger jokes this week. Pinky swear.

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Jab Talking

I’m half-vaccinated. They were dispensing the two-dose Pfizer vaccine at the Morial Convention Center here in New Orleans. The P is silent in Pfizer but I insist on pronouncing it just to be annoying. Puh-fizer has a ring to it, doesn’t it?

I also insist on calling a shot a jab as they do in woody old England. Does that make me as annoying as Bertie Wooster? A question for the ages.

The needle was larger than the one wielded above by Richard Widmark in Panic In The Streets, but the woman who stuck me was skilled. It didn’t hurt. I’m glad it wasn’t another early Widmark character, Tommy Udo in Kiss Of Death or this might have happened:

Yeah, I know, there were no stairs involved. What’s a little artistic license among friends?

Trivia time: It was the same hall that the Antique Roadshow used when they were in town. That was when I learned that my vintage autographed Giants baseballs were stamped, not signed. I was mildly crushed since Carl Hubbell himself gave them to me. Oh well, what the hell.

My left arm is a bit sore post-jab. I’ve also had some mild side effects including lethargy and dizziness.

Speaking of dizzy, let’s move from film noir to bubblegum with this musical interlude:

I’m not sure that the world needed a 6:31 remix of Dizzy but who am I to argue with DJ Disco Cat and Bubblegum Purrfection. I am a cat person, after all.

I am, of course, making light of the vaccination process because I want everyone to relax and get jabbed as soon as possible. It’s what I do, making light, not jabbing.

I am, however, a bit nervous about the After Times and you may be too. That’s why I commend to your attention a WaPo piece by Dr. Lucy McBride: I’ve been yearning for an end to the pandemic. Now that it’s here, I’m a little afraid.

McBride captures the anxieties and apprehension many of us feel. I have them too I just hide them with a flurry of jokes and musical interludes.

Finally, I wrote this about my vaccination appointment in Saturday Odds & Sods:

I’m a bit nervous and uncertain as to which vaccine I’ll be getting. I’m fine with any of them. The one-shot J&J variant has considerable appeal because I hate needles. Here’s hoping I get jabbed by someone with a light touch. Just don’t give me a smiley faced Band-Aid. I hope that’s not too much to ask.

They did fine with the vaccine, the jabbing, and the Band-Aid, but they gave everyone smiley face masks. I hate anything with a smiley face. It’s off-brand. A friend of mine said that he tried wearing it upside down, but it fell off. Oh well, what the hell.

Anyway, y’all get jabbed ASAP. If you’re still not eligible, signup pronto. It’s important. Try watching some knockabout comedy before and after like I did. Did I just propose myself as a role model? A scary thought indeed.

The last word goes to the Bee Gees. Just substitute jab for jive and Bob’s your uncle:

Shouldn’t that be Barry, Robin, or Maurice is your uncle? And why do the Brits pronounce Maurice, Morris? Another question for the ages.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Mean To Me

My Brother Imitating Scherzo by Andre Kertesz

The cold weather is back but it’s not as bad as last month’s hard freeze. As I watch things unfold in Jackson, MS, I realize how lucky New Orleans was. Our water infrastructure is just as ancient and with a more prolonged freeze it could have been us. We dodged a bullet this time. Our luck is bound to run out at some point. Our pipes are old, old, old.

I posted a version of Mean To Me when I wrote about Neera Tanden before her nomination was pulled. I stand by what I wrote then, but I should have added that, in some ways, she was a surrogate for those on the far left and right who hate Hillary Clinton.

As far as Joe Manchin is concerned, I’m beginning to think he likes being the key vote in the Senate and was flexing his muscles on the Tanden nomination. I guess Tanden had a blind date with the Man of La Manchin, not destiny. So it goes.

Neil Finn wrote this week’s theme song in 1986 for Crowded House’s eponymous debut album. It’s the first track on the record and is a frequent set opener when the band plays live.

We have two versions of Mean To Me for your listening pleasure: the original promo video and a 1988 live version.

It’s time for a visit to disambiguation city with a 1929 song of the same title. We have a double dose of Ella Fitzgerald. First with the Nelson Riddle orchestra followed by a more intimate recording with Oscar Peterson:

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Oscar Peterson? That goes for Ella Fitzgerald as well.

On that upbeat note, let’s jump to the break. And I mean it this time.

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Bayou Brief: The 14th Month Of 2020

I took a break from my other home on the internet, Bayou Brief. The hiatus is over: the 13th Ward Rambler is ready to rumble.

In my return column, I ponder Carnivals past and present and take aim at New Orleans tourism honcho, Stephen Perry. It’s called 14th Month Of 2020 because it feels like it. Make it stop.

I’m not sure if I’m on fire but the Neville Brothers certainly were at this 1987 show:

Have I mentioned lately how much I miss Art Neville?

Gret Stet Sycophant

There are those in the Gret Stet of Louisiana who somehow think Steve Scalise is capable of changing his stripes. Remember when he was gravely wounded in the Congressional baseball team shooting? Some folks in South Louisiana hoped that he would modify his position on gun control. He, of course, did not.

You’re probably asking yourself why do some people kid themselves about this mook? Here’s a bullet list:

  • He’s “nice” in social situations.
  • He’s friends with Cedric Richmond.
  • Having him in a leadership position is “good for Louisiana.”

The latter point is an editorial page standby. It’s a relic of the days when we had Congresscritters who brought home the boudin/bacon for the Gret Stet. Those days ended in 2014 with Mary Landrieu’s defeat.

All Steve Scalise cares about is ideological purity and keeping on the good side of the Impeached Insult Comedian:

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) on Sunday made clear that he stands by former President Trump as he took great pains to deflect from Trump’s incitement of the mob behind the deadly Capitol insurrection last month.

Scalise claimed on ABC News that he just simply “ended” up at Mar-a-Lago last week to do “some fundraising” in Florida.

“I was in Florida doing some fundraising throughout a number of parts of Florida, ended up at Mar-a-Lago and the president reached out and we visited,” Scalise said. “I hadn’t seen him since he had left the White House and it was actually good to catch up with him. I noticed he was a lot more relaxed than his four years in the White House.”

After saying that his conversation with Trump in Florida was “more about how he’s doing now and what he’s planning on doing and how his family is doing,” Scalise was pressed on comments by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who blamed Trump for inciting the mob behind the deadly Capitol insurrection hours after the attack last month — only to later backtrack on his rebuke of the former president’s actions.

Holding fast to his loyalty to the former president, Scalise said that there was “a lot of blame to go around.”

“At the end of the day, the people who stormed the Capitol on January 6th, it was a disgrace and they need to be held accountable,” Scalise said.

Scalise asked after Trump’s family during his Mar-a-Doorn visit. See, I told you he was “nice.” And he didn’t blame Nancy Pelosi for the mob violence. How “nice” is that?

He also continued to dodge the notion that Joe Biden won the election:

“Once the electors are counted, yes, he’s the legitimate president,” Scalise said. “But if you’re going to ignore the fact that there were states that did not follow their own state legislatively set laws, that’s the issue at heart, that millions of people still are not happy with and don’t want to see happen again.”

Aww, he cares about people’s feelings. How “nice” is that?

Steve Scalise is smart, not nice.

He’s smart enough to sand off the rougher edges of his repellant ideology in polite company. That’s “nice”?

He’s smart enough not to take a dump on the living room carpet in broad daylight like the Kaiser of Chaos. That’s “nice”?

He’s smart enough to brag about being a more respectable David Duke then deny saying it for years. That’s “nice”?

The good news is that many people in the Gret Stet of Louisiana don’t buy Steve Scalise’s “nice” act. The bad news is that there aren’t enough to vote him out of office. My condolences to the folks in New Orleans who are stuck with him as their Congressman. He ain’t going nowhere. How “nice” is that?

The last word goes to the Steve Scalise butt-plug that made its First Draft debut in July 2015.

Ashen Wednesday

The weirdest and coldest Mardi Gras Day of my lifetime ended with a whimper not a bang. There were rolling power outages in New Orleans last night, but we were spared. We seem to have good power karma: as you may recall, we didn’t lose power during Hurricane Zeta. Perhaps the whole Greek alphabet thing worked in my favor or the ghost of Maybe Cousin Telly has some pull with the power gods. Whatever it is, I’ll take it.

There was a minor icepocalypse this morning on the elevated highways in downtown New Orleans. We only had a mild freeze last night, but my people don’t know how to drive on ice and neither do I. It was that kind of morning in the Big Freezy. We are not ice people but we’re competent during hurricane season. I dare people in Frostbite Falls Minnesota to handle our summer climate.

It was too cold for me yesterday but Dr. A went out for a few hours to check out house floats and such. She brought me home a Moon Pie from our friends Bob and Julie’s joint. They did not float their house, but they had a beloved parade throw to pass out. Moon Pies are usually part of our Carnival diet then we don’t eat them for another year. I wish I could say that I gave them up for lent but that would be a fib. My motto is neither a lenter nor borrower be…

I should compensate for that groaner with some music from the North Country:

There’s a genuine winter apocalypse happening down Texas way. Their privatized electrical grid has had a meltdown leading to widespread outages throughout the Lone Star state. I don’t approve of those on social media who say that Texas had it coming. I’m with President Biden who declared miles and miles of Texas a disaster area. I know what it’s like to be neglected by national politicians. It happened to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood. National disasters shouldn’t be wished on anyone even if Greg Abbot is one of the Trumpiest Trumpers out there.

A brief musical interlude before our next segment:

In any crisis, Republican politicians have gotta lie. Some Texas pols are blaming their problems on windmills. What is it with windmills and wingnuts? Windmills are harmless. The Dutch have been using them for centuries. Who’s more harmless than the Dutch or Dusty Springfield for that matter?

In other lying GOPers news, the stupidest man in the United States senate, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, is spinning fractured fairy tales about the Dipshit Insurrection:

But Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Monday argued that it’s wrong to describe the group as “armed” and accused Democrats of “selectively” editing videos to exaggerate the threat posed by a mob that came within feet of Vice President Mike Pence and other elected officials.

“This didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me,” Johnson said on WISN. “When you hear the word ‘armed,’ don’t you think of firearms? Here’s the questions I would have liked to ask: How many firearms were confiscated? How many shots were fired?”

Johnson added, “If that was a planned armed insurrection, man, you had really a bunch of idiots.”

It takes one to know one, Senator. That’s why I call it the Dipshit Insurrection.

That’s it for this random and discursive potpourri post. The last word goes to John Lee Hooker with some blues for an ashen Wednesday:

Happy Mardi Gras

It’s been the weirdest Carnival ever. It’s been cancelled for war and police strikes but never because of disease; hopefully for the first and last time.

As much as I hate overuse of the R-word, New Orleanians are resilient people. We survived Katrina and the Federal Flood; we can survive the pandemic. We may be down but we’re never out.

In response to parade cancellations, a new phenomenon has spread across the metro area, house floats. That’s right, some enterprising locals have transformed their houses into floats. Some are simple, others are elaborate. Some are homemade, others were done by local artists thrown out of work because of the pandemic. Many New Orleans artists make their living from Jazz Fest and Carnival. Some have turned to house floating if that’s the right word. Beats the hell outta house painting.

The featured image comes from a house on State Street Uptown. It’s a take on the Seurat masterpiece Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte. It features local Carnival characters instead of long dead French people.

I’ve been sidelined with a recurring malady but Dr. A has been out and about looking at the house floats. The picture at the top is hers.

While I want Carnival to return to normal next year, I hope house float mania was not just a one-year craze. It took Carnival off the parade route and into the neighborhoods. Let’s do it again.

Augmenting the weirdness, it’s going to be the coldest Mardi Gras day since 1989. I hate the cold, so I plan to hunker down and wait for warmer weather. Claire Trevor is happy because the space heater will be roaring. So it goes.

The last word goes to Dr. John with a Mardi Gras Indian anthem:

Wait Until Next Year.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Trick Bag

Skeletons Fighting Over A Pickled Herring by James Ensor.

This should be Carnival’s biggest weekend. I’ll miss our pre-Tucks peregrinations on Saturday and company on Thoth Sunday. Wait until next year.

The impeachment trial ate my week, so I’ll keep this short. It’s what usually happens the Saturday before Fat Tuesday in any event. So it goes.

This week’s theme song was written by NOLA’s own Earl King in 1962. It’s tricky, it’s baggy, it’s early, it’s kingy.

We have four versions of Trick Bag for your listening pleasure: the Earl King original, the Meters, Johnny Winter, and Robert Palmer.

Now that we’ve pulled some tricks out of the bag, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Dirty Boulevard

Elevated Columbus Avenue, New York by Gifford Beal.

Lou Reed wrote this week’s theme song for his 1989 album, New York. I’m on the record as thinking Reed was a better musician than a human being. New York is a good example of this dichotomy. It’s one of his best albums complete with catchy songs and razor-sharp insights.

We have two versions of Dirty Boulevard for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a live version with David Bowie.

The spelling of boulevard in listings of the song is erratic. Sometimes it’s spelled out, other times it’s abbreviated. That concludes this abbreviated comment on abbreviation.

Let’s try and clean up before jumping to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Circle Back

Blue Night by Edward Hopper.

Today is supposed to be the Krewe du Vieux parade. It was cancelled because of the pandemic. The timing was good for me: last year was the worst Carnival season I’ve had since coming to New Orleans in 1987. I wrote about some aspects it in a piece called The Cursed Carnival?

Shorter Adrastos: I needed a year off from Carnival so I’m not as unhappy with the situation as most people are. Some of the Krewe du Vieux sub-krewes including Spank are presenting art installations instead of marching. Since I wasn’t feeling it, I did not participate. So it goes.

John Hiatt wrote this week’s theme song for his 2003 album Beneath This Gruff Exterior. It’s one of his fatherhood songs as it describes taking his daughter to college. It also rocks much harder than the cradle ever should.

We have two versions of Circle Back for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a live version. Both feature Sonny Landreth and the Goners.

I mentioned Hiatt’s fatherhood songs. Here are two more:

Now that we’ve rocked the cradle, let’s jump to the break before we get too dizzy.

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