Category Archives: New Orleans

Saturday Odds & Sods: Fever

The Grand Jatte Hibernators by Max Ernst.

We’ve put Carnival in the books and my repentance comes in the form of a cold. Mercifully, it’s not the flu, but I’m still going to keep it extra snappy since I might get the vapors at any moment.

There was sad news for New Orleanians Thursday night. Arthur Robinson, better known as Mr. Okra died at the age of 75. I’ll let Advocate food writer Ian McNulty tell you a bit about him:

For decades, Arthur “Mr. Okra” Robinson provided one of the distinctive sounds of a city famous for its music, but he didn’t play the trumpet or the piano.

He was a roving produce vendor, traveling the neighborhood streets in a heavily-customized pickup truck and using a loudspeaker to sing the praises of his oranges and bananas, his avocados and, of course, his okra.

<SNIP>

The young and old alike knew Robinson as Mr. Okra, and he was a frequent sight across many different neighborhoods. In his trade, he was a link back to a different era in New Orleans when everything from ice to charcoal was sold door to door. For Robinson, the job was actually part of a family tradition, one he picked up from his father, the late Nathan Robinson.

It was a pleasure to hear Mr. Okra’s voice echo through my neighborhood. I couldn’t always catch up to him, but when I did I enjoyed chatting with him and squeezing the odd piece of fruit. He will be missed.

Since I have one, I selected Fever as this week’s theme song. We have two versions for your entertainment: Peggy Lee and the Neville Brothers.

I have very little gas in the tank right now, so that’s it for this week. I’ll be back with a full-blown Odds & Sods next Saturday. Let’s finish up with one of my favorite bat memes from 2017: the Spitting Images Genesis puppets.

 

 

Happy Mardi Gras

Dr. A and I are on the disabled list this year. She has a bad cold and I have a gimpy leg; nothing serious or permanent. We were the krewe of the couch and watched parade coverage on WWL-TV. The krewe of kitties named for Perry Mason characters approved.

The fact that Mardi Gras day coincides with the Ice People Olympics means that it’s time to revive a classic moment from the 2014 Krewe du Vieux parade. It’s the Drips and Discharges Skating Dick.

To quote an old proverb, it ain’t over until the dick skates. Did I say old? I meant odd.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Box Of Rain

It’s been a somewhat stressful Carnival season thus far. The reason has been the weather: it’s been chilly and wet. The skies opened and poured down rain on the all female Krewe of Nyx on Wednesday night. We braved the elements and watched large chunks of the parade because we have friends in it and wanted to show our support. We can also run home and change clothes if we’re soaked. Props to the ladies who rode and survived the deluge of 2018.

Our annual Muses open house was a roaring success as was the parade itself, which took place on a dry Thursday evening. Half of New Orleans seems to come to Adrastos World HQ every year and 2018 was no exception. We had a record number of children including the legendary child army. New kitty Paul Drake came out to meet company but eventually got spooked by a close encounter with Lagniappe who is the craziest, cutest, and funniest 2+ year old I’ve ever met. Believe me.

Muses is another all-chick krewe who are famous for their shoe throws and marvelous themes. This year’s theme, Muses Night at the Museum, was their best yet. They riffed on masterpieces by artists such as Seurat, Magritte, Matisse, and Hopper and gave them a satirical twist. It was brilliant thematically and beautifully executed. My years in Krewe du Vieux have made me something of a parade critic but I have no criticism of this parade. It was stone cold brilliant. Four stars all the way, y’all.

Muses has a swell slide/show photo gallery of their floats at their Facebook page. Take a peek you’ll enjoy it, even this one:

Here’s the counterpart to that float. It’s as wistful as hell:

I know what you’re thinking: another Grateful Dead tune as the theme song? It’s actually tied to Carnival by analogy. We live inside what is referred to as the parade box. On parade days, except for Mardi Gras day itself, our movements are constricted by the parades. We even have parking wars.  This forecast for the rest of the weekend is a shit ton of rain. Hence Box Of Rain:

I have just two articles to suggest this week, so we’ll forego the break and usual segment format. I’m not sure if it’s innovative or lazy; probably the latter since hosting a party of 100+ people is hard work. I feel as if I was run over by a float.

Dr. A wanted to see the Super Bowl half time show even though we only watched snippets of the game. She was disappointed by it as was Vulture’s Brian Moylan who was inspired to write a list ranking Super Bowl half time shows from worst to best. Moylan is something of an Irish Shecky who is known for his hilarious recaps of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills aka Rich Ladies Doing Things. I particularly enjoy how he rags on one of the husbands. He once called this chap a pustule with legs. Now that’s entertainment.

It’s Black History Month everywhere except the Trump White House. The Failing New York Times published a list of must-see movies:

It’s a great list. I’ve only seen half of the films listed so I have some catching up to do. I am pleased that they like Devil With A Blue Dress as much as I do.

That’s it for this week’s limited edition of Saturday Odds & Sods. I can’t assure you that it will grow in value but it’s mercifully short. That’s something, innit?

The last word goes to the Krewe of Muses:

Everybody Loves A Parade

Carnival swings into high gear this evening. We live inside the parade box, which is even more intense at the beginning of the route where Adrastos World HQ is located. A highlight of every parade are the military marching bands, especially the Marines in their gorgeous dress blues.

Everybody loves a parade including the Current Occupant:

President Trump’s vision of soldiers marching and tanks rolling down the boulevards of Washington is moving closer to reality in the Pentagon and White House, where officials say they have begun to plan a grand military parade later this year showcasing the might of America’s armed forces.

Trump has long mused publicly and privately about wanting such a parade, but a Jan. 18 meeting between Trump and top generals in the Pentagon’s tank — a room reserved for top-secret discussions — marked a tipping point, according to two officials briefed on the planning.

Surrounded by the military’s highest-ranking officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Trump’s seemingly abstract desire for a parade was suddenly heard as a presidential directive, the officials said.

“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” said a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the planning discussions are supposed to remain confidential. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.”

Everybody loves a parade including Third World tyrants and the Banana Republican who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue at the moment. I wonder if the Kaiser of Chaos plans to repair the streets that are damaged. Not that he’s thought that far ahead: he’s a tween who wants what Macron has. But that sort of parade *is* a tradition in France, not in America. It’s not a parade to celebrate the military but to celebrate Trump’s ego and prove that his dick is bigger than the handsome young French president’s.

In many parts of the world, tanks in the streets means that there’s a coup d’etat in progress. I heard stories of Athens, Greece in 1967 from my de facto Uncle Lou who was stationed there with NCIS when the colonels overthrew the duly elected government. (A quick personal story. Lou is the reason I cannot watch NCIS: New Orleans despite being a Scott Bakula fan. In his many years of service, he never drew his weapon. He would have considered it a failure to do so. Real NCIS agents are investigators, not action heroes.)

The building on the right is parliament at Syntagma Square. That’s constitution square for anyone keeping score. The score that day was colonels ten, democracy zero.

The Greeks have learned their lesson about tanks in the street. It’s what happens when democracy fails and authoritarianism prevails. Is that what we want to see in our nation’s capital? A parade staged to gratify a vainglorious despot wannabe? No fucking way.

Trump recently called Democrats “un-American” for not applauding him during his desultory state of the union speech. What’s un-American is staging a military parade when we’re not celebrating the end of a war. It’s an act of egomania conceived by an insecure man who is called Cadet Bone Spurs by a real war hero, Senator Tammy Duckworth. Believe me.

America should be secure in the knowledge that our military is second to none. We don’t need tanks in the streets to gratify an Insult Comedian with a dead nutria atop his head.

Everybody loves a parade.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Wild Magnolias

The Wild Magnolias are first and foremost a Mardi Gras Indian tribe. They’re also active when it’s not Carnival with live performances and the odd recording. This week I’m featuring the covers of their first two albums, which were released in 1974 and 1975.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Night and Day

The Night Cafe by Vincent Van Gogh.

Carnival kicks into full swing this weekend. We’re about to have parades and company up the wazoo. I remain uncertain as to what the wazoo is but I think it’s first cousin to the ying-yang or the place where the moon don’t shine.

One downside of Carnival are the creeps who try to appropriate the public green as their own private space. We call them the Krewe of Chad or Chads for short. For the first time in years, the city decided to enforce the existing ordinances against ladders, couches and such being left on the sidewalks and neutral grounds. The Chads were outraged. They’re always either outraged or entitled hence the 2016 Krewe of Spank theme, Clash of the Entitled.

You may recall the mishigas over the Forever Lee Circle beads.  In a fit of hashtag activism, someone decided to do something about it:

Since we have both night and day parades, I picked a classic for this week’s theme song, Night and Day. It doesn’t get more classic than Cole Porter, y’all. We have two versions for your listening pleasure, Ella Fitzgerald  followed by a swell 1995 version by the Temptations.

Now that we’ve heard the boom, boom of the tom-toms, let’s jump to the break. See you on the other side.

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Lost Cause Festers Do Mardi Gras

Photograph via SPLC.

In the past, Carnival has united New Orleans. The first season after Katrina and the Federal Flood was both memorable and moving. Some outsiders criticized us for throwing a massive street party after a disaster but it’s what we do in the Crescent City. In 2018, divisiveness is in the air, driven by our old “pals” the Lost Causers.

A guy named Charles Marsala and his group Save NOLA Heritage (not to be confused with the tasty veal dish) are selling the “Forever Lee Circle” beads you see at the top of the post. They’ve set up a Facebook page to help hawk their divisive wares and mock their critics. Hawk-n-mock sounds vaguely Trumpian.  Since the only thing the Insult Comedian and I have in common is a fondness for nicknaming people, this Lost Causer will hereinafter be called Spoiled Veal Marsala.

Marsala spoke to WWL-TV the other day:

Marsala is a part of Save Nola Heritage, a group that wants to educate and demand more transparency from the city about what it does with public art, such as monuments.

“We spent the money from the bead sales, we put banners on the monument itself. Robert E. Lee’s birthday was about two weeks ago,” he said.

Marsala said the beads are not meant to be racist in any way. He wants them to serve as a reminder that Lee Circle still needs attention.

Spoiled Veal Marsala’s group is NOT about transparency. It’s about nostalgia for the Confederacy, Jim Crow, slavery, and white supremacy. Instead of banners, they should adorn the empty pedestals with nooses to “honor” the lynchings that used to be depressingly common in the Deep South.

Carnival throws in New Orleans have been traditionally non-commercial and relatively apolitical. Some parading krewes have already asked their members not to throw any of the Lee Circle Forever beads. I suspect they’ll turn up when some of the more retrograde krewes roll: I omit the names to protect the guilty.

Another weird feature of the Forever Lee Circle Facebook page is a cartoon of the three deposed statue dudes, Davis, Beauregard, and Lee, riding a float. They’re throwing books labelled history. I though the Lost Causers were about saving their view of history, not throwing it away.

It’s a pity that they don’t depict Jeff Davis in drag.

It’s no coincidence that Southern Lost Cause Festers have risen again with a white nationalist talking terlet in the White House. The Trumpers have signaled that bigotry, intolerance, and hatred are back in fashion. There are “good people on both sides,” according to the president*. Wrong again, Donny, baby. There’s the right side and the all-white side.

I said this about our Spank-a-Mole box earlier today:

Spank-a-Mole is a game of endurance wherein you beat the mole into submission. That’s what the anti-Trump resistance has to do: keep spanking the ugly orange mole.

That goes double for such enduring pests as racism, xenophobia, sexism, and religious bigotry. They have to beaten into submission. Every time we think we have the hate moles on the run, they pop up again. People of good will hoped that the election of our first black president would be the death knell of overt racism in the country. Our optimism was premature: haters keep popping up.

I’ve been pleased by the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the beads as well as to a fundraiser held at the Mid City Lane Rock ‘n’ Bowl to raise money for local Lost Cause Festers. I hope touring acts will avoid playing that venue as its owner is an ardent Trumper and supporter of Save NOLA Heritage. Just say no to bigots.

The last word goes to John Boutte with his interpretation of Neil Young’s Southern Man:

 

Spanktuary City

Photograph by David Aguiar.

The forecast was dire for last Saturday’s Krewe du Vieux parade. I am the Krewe of Spank’s voice of weather doom but I was wrong. It poured off and on until 3:30 PM, then the front moved on leaving us with slightly slippery streets and a dry parade.

The sub-krewe of Spank’s theme this year was Spanktuary City. I’ll let a neutral observer, my boy Kevin Allman of the Gambit Tabloid, describe it for you:

Krewe of SPANK, which always mounts ambitious floats and even more ambitious themes, paid tribute to the pushme-pullyu over New Orleans’ status as a sanctuary city with the theme “SPANK-tuary City” and a float with an elaborate, moving whack-a-mole game.

Time to edit the editor. There’s no hyphen in Spanktuary, dude. It’s our pun and we’ll decide how to punctuate the sucker. Besides, we’ve used that moniker for our annual parade route party since its inception. Additionally, it’s Spank-a-Mole as you can see in these pictures taken by Dr. A:

Spank-a-Mole is a game of endurance wherein you beat the mole into submission. That’s what the anti-Trump resistance has to do: keep spanking the ugly orange mole. I understand the SOTU was an endurance test as well. I skipped it. 80 minutes of an Insult Comedian with a dead nutria atop his head? No thanks.

It’s time for some non-Spanky pictures involving members of Drips and Discharges. They mocked pervy NOLA celebrity chef John Besh. This headpiece won the parade:

My buddy Brother Bob Bolin is also in Drips. Here he is slumming it with me:

Here’s a close up of Bob’s sign:

A reminder: Krewe du Vieux is a homemade parade. All the work was done by the talented members of the various sub-krewes. That’s what makes it so distinctive and great. The satire is pretty darn good as well

A quick shout-out to my fellow Spankster and Deadhead David Martin for turning me on to the marvelous parade route photo by David Aguiar. Thanks, man. To read more about the parade take a closer look at Kevin’s instant analysis.

Finally, this year members of the Krewe of Spank costumed as Lady Liberty with blue togas. We looked like an inebriated gang as we marched. I’m not sure if we were the Jets or the Sharks. We *were* the first Blue Wave of 2018:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: In Between Tears

1973’s In Between Tears was something of a comeback album for Irma Thomas. She had not recorded a new album in seven years; then she met Jerry Swamp Dogg Williams. The result was one of her best records.

The album art is stunning. It was designed and executed by George Reeder Jr. It was his only album cover, which is a pity. In fact, I could find nothing else about him on the internets.

The cover is worthy of the Soul Queen of New Orleans.

The back cover is just as striking.

The full album is not available on the YouTube, here are some selected tracks.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Smack Dab In The Middle

Tonight is the Krewe du Vieux parade. This last week has been fraught for a variety of reasons, especially the weather. Marching several miles in the driving rain has little appeal to me.  I suspect that the overall theme of Bienville’s Wet Dream was tempting fate. That’s why I’m keeping this snappy.

We do have a theme song. Why Smack Dab In The Middle? I originally thought the Krewe of Spank would be in the middle of the parade. I was wrong. Woe is me, bop.

It’s still a great song. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: Joe Williams with the Count Basie Orchestra and Ry Cooder live with the Chicken Skin Band.

I have one article to share with you. Local writer and Tulane professor Richard Campanella is our king this year. Rich has written a piece for the Zombie Picayune that offers a virtual tour of the route.  I hope he has some suitably regal rain gear so he can stay drier than Buster:

That’s it for this abbreviated edition of Saturday Odds & Sods. The last word goes to the two-legged Paul Drake and Della Street. Their four-legged compatriots will have to wait.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Cold Cold Heart

The Messenger Boy by Childe Hassam.

To say that it’s been a crazy week at Adrastos World HQ is an understatement. It’s been crazy even for New Orleans but in a dull as opposed to a lively way. Multiple hard freezes have made a mess of our water system. Our water pressure is lower than the Insult Comedian’s IQ and we’re under a multi-day boil water advisory because of all the broken pipes in the city. I am stoical in the face of this mishigas since our pipes did not burst but it’s a major pain in the keister, booty, butt, hinder, or whatever you call your ass.

Our houses are not built for this weather. My Jazz Age era house is raised on piers and our pipes are under the house, semi-exposed.  It helps the house breathe during our usual severe weather season: the summertime. There’s no way to winterize a semi-tropical burg like New Orleans. And even if we threw billions, that we don’t have, at the problem, it wouldn’t work. We haven’t had a hard freeze since 2015, snow since 2008, and multiple hard freezes since 1995 and 1989. We *do* need to upgrade our drainage and basic water infrastructure but it’s summer that really matters, not the winter. Geography is destiny and we’re destined to have more hot weather than cold. Okay, I’ll dismount my soap box now and play some music.

This week’s theme song is the Hank Williams classic Cold Cold Heart. Why? Because I’m fucking cold, that’s why. I have three versions for your listening pleasure: one from the songwriter as well as renditions by Nat King Cole and Aretha Franklin.

I love Nat’s interpretation. It truly melts my cold cold heart, especially when he plays the Hammond B-3. As the Beatles once allegedly said: “Turn me on, dead man.”

As it’s been hard for me to maintain any writerly rhythm, I’m going to keep it relatively snappy this week. Btw, rhythm is one of those words I am incapable of spelling without consulting  Mr. Google or Otto Correct. I’ve let down Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Chris Squire and the rest of Yes West. Sorry, chaps.

I’m only linking to one article today but it’s a must read for Peanuts fans. I’ll let the Failing NYT icon thingamabob serve as the segment header.

That’s right, it’s been 50 years since Franklin joined the Peanuts gang as a supporting player. Sparky Schulz was reluctant to add a black character because he didn’t want to be accused of tokenism. Then a reader changed his mind:

Mr. Schulz wrote back to Ms. Glickman within two weeks, but only to tell her he couldn’t fulfill her request. He and his fellow white cartoonists, he said, were “afraid that it would look like we were patronizing our Negro friends.” Undaunted, Ms. Glickman sent another note, asking if she could share his letter with black acquaintances. Mr. Schulz assented, though he again expressed reluctance to introduce a black character into “Peanuts.”

Ms. Glickman wasted little time in enlisting her friend Kenneth C. Kelly, a black father of two, who told Mr. Schulz, essentially, to get over his anxiety.

“An accusation of being patronizing would be a small price to pay for the positive results that would accrue!” he wrote. Mr. Kelly suggested that Mr. Schulz begin with a “supernumerary” black character, a de facto extra, who “would quietly and unobtrusively set the stage for a principal character at a later date.” This cautious approach would serve the dual purpose of not burdening Mr. Schulz and “Peanuts” with the duty of making a Major Social Statement and presenting friendship between black and white children as utterly normal.

I halfway expect the Bigot-in-Chief to denounce the Franklinversary as a plot to deprive the blond pianist Schroeder of precious Peanuts panels. Oops, I forgot that he’s the least racist person you’ll ever meet and doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. As if one could find any bones amidst the blubber.

There hasn’t been much to do this week as the city has shutdown because of icy roads but we’ve done some major teevee watching including a smashing Amazon series. Sounds all jungley and shit but it’s not.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a series created by Amy Sherman-Palladino who is the woman behind Gilmore Girls. I have been told repeatedly over the years that I’d love that show but have yet to view it. I do, however, love Sherman-Palladino’s latest effort.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is set in the late 1950’s and tells the story of Miriam (Midge) Maisel an upper-middle class Jewish housewife who is an aspiring stand-up comedian. A show with the word marvelous in the title had better be good since they’ve provided their own straight line. As Johnny Mercer might say at this point, it’s too marvelous for words, but words are all I got so I’ll keep writing. The show is a winner.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is full of wacky situations and zany characters. It’s chock-full-o-Sheckys. I kept waiting for Buddy Sorrell to show up and insult every bald guy in sight.

The main reason I tuned in is the presence in the cast of Tony Shalhoub as Midge’s eccentric father, Abe Weissman. I know what you’re thinking: he always plays quirky characters. Adrian Monk makes Abe look like Ward Cleaver. Not really but hyperbole is the name of my game.

The writing and acting are superb. It’s a star making role for Rachel Brosnahan as the preternaturally sassy Midge. Alex Bornstein as Midge’s androgynous manager Susie is also a stand out. She reminds me of the writer Fran Lebowitz and is almost as funny.

It’s trailer time:

As I watched The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,  I kept thinking of Barry Levinson’s great 1990 film Avalon. It’s set in a similar cultural milieu and also stars Kevin Pollack. That’s high praise indeed: Avalon is on my top twenty favorite movies list. Remember: Never cut the turkey without me.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is streaming on Amazon. I give it 4 stars, an Adrastos Grade of A- and a big thumbs up. It has a chance to become a classic.

Saturday GIF Horse: I mentioned my love of Tony Shalhoub’s work. His best known character is the OCD teevee detective Adrian Monk. Here he is tidying things up.

Checkmate? Speaking of Chess Records.

Saturday Classic: The freaky winter weather has given me the blues. Hence this 1963 LP by the great blues harmonicat, Marion Walter Jacobs aka Little Walter.

That’s it for this week. I guess one could say that I came, I thawed, and I conquered. I’m not exactly sure what or how I conquered but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. The last word goes to Abe Weissman and his kooky daughter, Midge Maisel.

 

 

NOLA Snow Day

It’s 20 degrees as I write this. It wasn’t exactly a blizzard but we had snow last night. My front stairs are treacherously icy and I’m too comfortable in my study to take a picture of them. The smallest room in the house is the warmest by far. Yay, warmth.

New Orleans is cut off right now as most of the bridges and elevated highways are closed. I kind of like it when we’re an island. It keeps the riff raff out except for those who are already here. I’m more raffish than riffish myself…

Here’s a spectacular de facto ice sculpture picture from the news director of WWL-TV:

The local media once again has a raging snow boner. I should trademark the phrase, but only a bonehead wants a t-shirt or cap with Snow Boner on it.

One positive of the extreme (by New Orleans standards) cold is that new kitty, Paul Drake, joined us in the bedroom last night in order to worship the space heater. Della Street was a bit grumpy about it but it’s too cold to chase him so all she did was hiss. It’s slow progress but progress nonetheless.

I realize that the hardcore ice people out there are rolling their eyes but it’s cold here, y’all. I never said I could live through a Wisconsin winter: I’d wind up like the Donner Party only without the cannibalism. My late mother grew up on a farm in rural Wisconsin and she *hated* the snow and ice and was thrilled to live in California. She was too nice to gloat about the winter weather to her relatives in Cheeseland but every time it snowed back home she’d smile and say: “Don’t miss it at all.”

That concludes this brief meteorological foray. Repeat after me: wintry mix.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Eyes Of The World

Train Smoke by Edvard Munch.

It’s going to be another cold weekend in New Orleans. Yesterday’s high temperature was at midnight, and it steadily declined thereby requiring me to layer up; beats the hell out of lawyering up. I’m not sure if I looked more like a seven-layer burrito, a wedding cake, or the Michelin Man. It was a dress rehearsal for today’s den day. The Den of Muses is a warehouse and it holds the cold. Holy Raymond Brrrrrr, Batman.

The big local news is that the Saints won their first playoff game and are playing in the frozen North against the Minnesota Vikings. I’m glad it’s in a domed stadium for two reasons. First, many New Orleanians are attending the game and we’re not used to the arctic cold. Second, a domed stadium is the Saints natural habitat: Drew Brees is one of the greatest indoor athletes ever. Hmm, that sounds naughty but you know what I mean. I hope all the Packers fans out there are rooting for my guys.

I chose a lesser known painting by the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch because it’s bloody cold and I mocked Norwegian food on Thursday. The post title is one of my better efforts so it bears repeating: Shithead Says Shithole.

Munch’s most famous painting is, of course, The Scream. When Dr. A was writing her doctoral dissertation, she had a blow up doll of The Scream dude in her office as a stress reliever. She passed it on to our friend Dr. Bonster so she could do likewise. I’m not sure what happened to the blow-up screamster. Perhaps it ended up in the office of Richard Belzer who played Detective John Munch on Homicide and Law & Order SUV. I’ve always wondered what kind of SUV it is: a Ford Exploder? Yeah, I know it’s SVU but it’s a pun I’ve been making for years and you know how I am.

January in my house means the music of the Grateful Dead. I’ve been indoctrinating young Paul Drake in the ways of the Deadhead and he seems down with it. This week’s theme song was written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter in 1974 and became a fixture on the band’s, and its spin-offs, set list. First up is the studio version from Wake of the Flood followed by an epic 1990 live version with Branford Marsalis on saxophone. I could call it When Homies Collide but I won’t. Oops, guess I just did. Never mind.

Now that we’ve awakened to discover the new day or some such shit, let’s jump to the break. We better make it snappy after that awkward paraphrase of Robert Hunter’s lyrics.

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Twelfth Night Odds & Sods: Iko Iko

1912 Twelfth Night Revelers Invitation.

It’s the first day of Carnival. In New Orleans, the Epiphany means we can consume king cake and hang our krewe flags outside the house. A reminder of mine:

Our cold snap continued all week, which meant dripping faucets to prevent bursting pipes and huddling around space heaters inside our drafty houses. It’s nothing compared to the winter hurricane hitting other parts of the country but neither our people nor our houses are built for freezing weather. Anyone who wants to mock me as soft should try living through a New Orleans summer. I double dog dare you.

Since it’s Twelfth Night, we have a seasonal classic as our theme song. The Dr. John version features Mac performing with Ringo’s All-Starr Band featuring three members of The Band and Joe Fucking Walsh among others.

The big story of the week was Michael Woolff’s “fly on the wall” account of life in the Orange House. I wrongly thought Reince swatted all the flies when he was head lackey.

Crying Woolff: Like Doc, I have reservations about the Wolff book. He’s an unreliable narrator as well as a raging, gaping asshole. His method is akin to that of Merle Miller whose book of Harry Truman interviews, Plain Speaking, was a monster hit in the 1970’s. Miller let Truman speak his piece and didn’t fact check the former president’s most egregious whoppers.

There’s an interesting piece by James Warren about Wolff’s method at Vanity Fair’s Hive that has people buzzing. Warren’s conclusion is that Trump and the creep with the extra f in his name deserve one another. “They’re like conjoined twins tied at the ego.”

In the end, Woolf confirms many things we already knew about Trump’s West Wing: it’s loaded with knaves, morons, and buffoons.

Steve Bannon’s current problems can be traced to a fatal inability to STFU as you can see in a piece  by Gabriel Sherman at the same publication. One of the interesting things we learn is that Sloppy Steve’s nickname for the hardcore MAGA Maggots is “Hobbits.” Btw, I think Sloppy Steve is one of the Insult Comedian’s better derogatory nicknames.

Before we move on, a musical interlude from Todd Rundgren:

Let’s transition from the West Wing to the Old West.

Godless is a revisionist Western mini-series produced by Netflix. It stars Jeff Daniels as Frank Griffin a half brilliant half crazy outlaw/preacher. He’s a complicated character who informs us throughout the series that “I’ve seen my death and this isn’t it” even when he expires in the final episode. Uh oh, the spoiler police will be all over me now. I don’t care: Frank Griffin is your basic doomed outlaw.

Godless centers around the town of LaBelle, New Mexico whose population is 95% women because of a mining disaster that killed almost all the men.

The cast is outstanding and includes Scoot McNairy of Halt and Catch Fire and Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery. The only thing her character Alice Fletcher has in common with Lady Mary is a love of horses and a bad attitude.

Here’s the trailer:

Godless is streaming at Netflix. I give it 3 1/2 stars, an Adrastos Grade of B+ and an exuberant thumbs up.

Tweet Of The Week: This one comes from lil’ ole me. The current Veep and former Veeps Fritz Mondale and Joe Biden met up this week when the two formers attended the swearing-ins of baby Senators Doug Jones and Tina Smith. Selina Meyer was not there. Of course, she’s fictional, which could explain her absence. It would fun to see Julia dance like Elaine on the Senate floor but it was not to be.

Saturday GIF Horse: I had an Epiphany this Twelfth Night and decided to post two Carnival related GIFs. Apologies for the exclamation points in the second one.

Let’s shut this party down with some music.

Saturday Classic: For a fleeting moment, Mac Rebbenack was a rock star with hit singles. This 1973 album, In The Right Place, contains both of them.

That’s it for this week. Since I mentioned Selina Meyer, I’ll give the last word to her and her “crack” staff; make that crack me up.

Happy New Year From The Big Freezy

No, I did not give Tommy T his cold. That was an exercise in blame shifting. I prefer shape shifting myself. It’s not my fault even if I do have a mild version of the crud. It’s cruddy but I’ll survive, just like the country will survive the misrule of the Insult Comedian.

I’m on the record as hating New Years Eve. I also hate the cold weather. It was 26 degrees when I awoke this morning and it’s still below freezing as I write this. It’s going to be colder than a polar bear’s ass all week as you can see from this image stolen from WWL-TV.com:

That may not sound like much to those of you in the frozen North but our houses are built to deal with the heat, not the cold. My house is about 100 years old with high ceilings and it’s raised to allow air circulation during the summer. We have a lot of summer here. As a result, we’re ill-equipped and downright whiny when it’s this cold. Our hardwood floors are as cold as a Foreigner song but they keep us cooler during the summer, which is our severe weather season. So it goes.

It’s frigid and sunny right now which means this tweet is in effect:

The best thing about the new year is that Carnival commences in five days with Tweflth Night, which means I am finally allowed to fly my Spank freak flag at Adrastos World HQ:

Today I plan to huddle on the couch with the space heater cranked and watch my LSU Tigers play Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl. Using mascot logic, we’ll win: a Fighting Tiger should be able to maul and eat the Fighting Irish. I hope it doesn’t lead to either indigestion or a second-hand hangover but ya never know.  It’s time for Notre Dame to lose one for the Gipper.

Here’s hoping that 2018 is a better year than 2017. The rotten weather means it’s a good time to read about last year this year in the Best Of Adrastos 2017.

Let’s close on an optimistic note. The last word goes to Bryan Ferry singing a Bob Dylan classic:

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Black Wings Has My Angel

I originally selected this book because of the awesome tag line. It turns out to be a highly regarded novel written by a guy with ties to New Orleans. Ya learn something new every day.

Headline Of The Day: The Power of the Butt

I’ve been feuding with the Times-Picayune/NOLA.com since the great purge of 2012. I doubt that they’ve noticed but I’ve enjoyed deriding them as the Zombie-Picayune since they “moved their focus to digital” and began “robustly” firing people left and right.

This year there was a Christmas miracle as the Zombie-Picayune published a front page that I can get behind:

That’s right, Saints Cornerback Marshon Lattimore intercepted a pass thrown by Matt Ryan of the hated Falcons with his butt. It’s been described as a “butterception” and a “butt pick” among other things. The consensus has settled on butt pick, which the former Ohio State Buckeye doesn’t like but the internet hath spoken and butt pick it is.

The butt pick helped clinch (clench?) the Saints win over the Dirty Birds. The team has snapped three years of monotonous mediocrity, and looks like a “contender and not a bum.” I like to work in an On The Waterfront reference wherever possible. I’m not sure if “Jesus (Breesus?) is on the docks,” but New Orleanians are hoping for another Super Bowl appearance. Who am I kidding? We want to win it all, y’all.

The great butt pick of 2017 reminded me of a classic Dana Carvey bit on SNL:

That’s Carvey as the late, great George Michael who went on and on about his awesome ass and the power of the butt.

The last word goes to my late countryman George Michael and the video that inspired Carvey’s bootylicious reverie:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Merry Christmas Eve Eve

The Big News by Rene Magritte.

It’s been cloudy, damp, warm, and foggy in New Orleans this week. It’s the sort of weather that makes you want to grunt gutterally. I’m not quite sure what that means but I found myself saying ugh a lot of late.

The Krewe of Spank finally has a theme for the upcoming Krewe du Vieux parade. It’s going to be hard to get it done in time for January 26th. We’ll just have to have a Tim Gunn moment and:

My friends Cait and Dave had their annual Chrismukkah retro party last Saturday. It was a howling success and I paid the price the next day. There were tasty retro dishes, which all seemed to be stoner food, even the ones once shared at a Midwestern church supper. There was also a modest bonfire in the backyard. I sat by it for a while and wound up smelling like a campfire.

While I’m posting my own tweets, here’s one with some First Draft content:

We made the big-time, y’all. Actually, we get more hits when Crooks & Liars includes us in Mike’s Blog Roundup. Of course, someone might use Roundup on my original post since it was called Drinking Weed Killer With John Neely Kennedy.

There’s obviously no theme song this week, so I’ll post some holiday fare from The Smithereens and Cyndi Lauper.

I’m not in the mood to write about the news of the day, so all I got for you are some regular features. My little gray cells need respite from the blizzard of bad news.

Separated At Birth: In our continuing attempt to humanize Team Trump, I give you Beavis and Kellyanne Conway.

I should apologize to Beavis for comparing him to the genuinely awful Conway. Even if he’s a toon, he’s a much better person. Funnier too: the Great Cornholio was a stitch.

Conway threatened to sue over this image when it popped up last February. It seems to have never happened. Another day, another lie.

Speaking of classic Christmas movies; we weren’t? Let’s do it anyway.

Saturday GIF Horse: Dr. A and I watched Christmas In Connecticut on TCM last night. It’s time for a lazy self-quote of what I said about it in my Christmas movie post:

It’s a farce in Christmas film drag featuring Barbara Stanwyck trying to con her publisher Sydney Greenstreet. What’s not to love about a film that includes SZ Sakall in the cast? There’s apparently a remake of this 1942 classic, which I’ve never seen. I hate remakes, especially when the justification is that the original is in black and white.

Stanwyck’s character claims to be the ultimate homemaker but she cannot cook. In this week’s GIF horse, SZ (Cuddles) Sakall teaches her how to flip a flapjack.

She does not get the hang of it just as he cannot get the hang of how to say “hunky dory.” Instead he says “hunky dunky” in his cute Hungarian accent. Btw, Cuddles was a nickname the studio hung on the poor bastard. Apparently, all was not hunky dunky at Warner Brothers.

Are you ready to rock?

Saturday Classic: Brian Setzer has carved a niche for himself as a tattooed Christmas rocker. Nobody does it better or rocks it harder.

Dig That Crazy Christmas was released in 2005 and was Setzer’s second holiday opus.

That’s it for this week. I hope everyone has a happy holiday or muddles through. Remember: the key to a happy yuletide is spiked eggnog or your favorite adult beverage. I’ll give the last word on this Christmas Eve Eve to the cast of All About Eve. Who else?

Saturday Odds& Sods: Blues Before and After

Lucky Dare-Devils by Reginald Marsh.

I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster all week.  I was on top of the world, ma, with Doug Jones’ win and then on the bottom with Pat DiNizio’s passing. I prefer to be somewhere between those two extremes: it’s exhausting y’all.

They shot a Dixie Beer commercial in my neighborhood yesterday. I hate film crews. There’s always some officious twerp with a clipboard yelling at people. I had to deal with clipboard guys in my past life as a Jackson Square business owner. I learned that if you gave them an inch they’d take a country mile even if you were in the city.

One time a clipboard guy wanted to plug into my shop electricity.  No way: the wiring in the Upper Pontalba was dodgy and one could blow a fuse merely by plugging a space heater in the wrong outlet. When in doubt, demand compensation. That usually runs them off but on one memorable occasion they bribed me. It’s the Louisiana way, y’all.

FYI, Dixie Beer was purchased recently by local plutocrats/Saints owners/GOP donors Tom and Gayle Benson. Every time old Tom farts, the local media wets itself. I yawn in disinterest myself although the family fight over his empire was quite entertaining.

We’re staying in New Jersey this week with our featured image and theme song. The featured image is a painting by Reginald Marsh who grew up in Jersey and the theme song comes from the Smithereens. Anyone shocked by the latter? I thought not.

I hope that y’all don’t get the blues before and after the break because it’s time to jump. Skip the Dixie Beer: it’s swill.

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Only A Memory: Pat DiNizio, R.I.P.

The Smithereens: Pat DiNizio, Jim Babjak, Mike Mesaros, Dennis Diken.

I typically take celebrity deaths in stride. This one is different and not just because Pat DiNizio disliked being called a celebrity. As far as Pat was concerned, he was a regular guy who was lucky enough to have lived his dream singing his songs and playing with his best friends, The Smithereens. Pat’s luck finally ran out at the age of 62. He was never too old to rock and roll but he was too young to die.

I first heard the Smithereens on MTV back when they played videos and were where the cool kids hung out. I never gave a shit about being cool but I enjoyed the music and Behind The Wall Of Sleep blew me away. It’s a perfect rock song with some of Pat’s best lyrics:

“Well, she held a bass guitar and she was playing in a band. And she stood just like Bill Wyman. Now I am her biggest fan.”

Rock and roll genius pure and simple.

The Smithereens were one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen. It was why I kept going back for more. Their live sets were as fun as their lyrics were thoughtful. At the center of it all was Pat and his supple and marvelously expressive voice.

Pat and his bandmates prided themselves on being regular guys who enjoyed engaging with their fans. The first time I saw the Reens, I talked to them after the show. They were so warm and friendly that I asked if they were really from Jersey. Pat’s reply: “Fuckin’ A, we’re from fuckin’ Jersey.” It’s hard not to like a guy like that.

Pat had a place in New Orleans at one point during a fallow period for the Reens. He and I frequented the same bakery/coffee shop in the Quarter, La Marquise. It was catty-corner from Jackson Square. (La Marquise ain’t dere no more, alas.) We spoke a few times but I have the New Orleanian’s reticence about bothering well-known people when they want to be ordinary. I wish I’d tried a bit harder. Oh well, it’s Only A Memory:

One of the most interesting of Pat’s many side projects were the house concerts. That’s right, you could hire him to come and play a solo acoustic show in your living room. The late Ashley Morris and I kept talking about doing one either in his backyard or my living room. We never got around to it before Ashley died. This is one of the tunes we wanted Pat to play:

Pat’s voice and his songs always had a dash of sadness amidst the exuberant and flashy playing by the Smithereens. That’s why their music has resonated with me for all these years. Additionally, one can say without a trace of irony that they were a band of brothers as you can see from this statement from Dennis the drummer:

One reason that I’m gutted by this news is that the Reens were my peers. We grew up on opposite ends of the country listening to the same British rock music: the Beatles, Stones, Who, and the Kinks. The Beatle influence is obvious but the way the Smithereens carried themselves was more like the Kinks: regular guy rockers with a chip on their shoulders. Here’s a clip wherein Pat tells a funny story about the first time he heard a Beatles classic:

The thing I admired most about Pat and his bandmates is how they stayed together and stuck it out in good times and bad. A  2004 piece in the Failing New York Times tells the story of a rough gig as an opening act:

Their first major gig was opening for ZZ Top at William and Mary College in Virginia on July 4, 1986. As Mr. DiNizio tells it, the audience was 25,000 strong and drunk with anticipation. Problem was, they were anticipating Ted Nugent, who had canceled. Upon taking the stage, the Smithereens were pelted with insults, shoes, batteries, underwear and gallons of cheap beer for the better part of an hour.

“I was completely soaked from head to toe,” Mr. DiNizio said. “But we had the will and experience not to leave that stage. That was the strength of the band. That’s been the credo of the band. You never give up. You never give up.”

Pat never gave up. He just ran out of time. Something Reens lead guitarist Jimmy Babjak said in that same article rings true on this sad week:

“We have the same mentality as the old blues singers. You do what you do, until you die with a guitar in your hands.”

And nobody did it better than Pat DiNizio. I’ll give him the last word with an appropriately titled song from the band’s last studio album:

Long live rock, be it dead or alive.