Category Archives: Odds & Sods

Saturday Odds & Sods: Promised Land

Marbotikin Dulda by Frank Stella.

We seem to have hit peak pollen this week in New Orleans. Achoo. As a result, I awaken each day with watery eyes and a runny nose. Achoo. It’s most unpleasant as is my daily sinus headache. The good news is that we’re supposed to have some rain to wash away the sticky yellow stuff. The bad news is that it won’t happen until later today when we have plans to attend a festival not far from Adrastos World HQ. Oh well, that’s what umbrellas are for.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or watching teevee with the Insult Comedian, you know that Chuck Berry died at the age of 90.  This week’s theme song, Promised Land, is my favorite Chuck Berry tune. I was introduced to it at the first Grateful Dead show I ever attended. It was a helluva opening number.

I have three versions for your entertainment: Berry’s original, the Band’s rollicking piano driven take from Moondog Matinee, and the Dead live in the Nutmeg State. It’s time to jet to the promised land, y’all.

I remain mystified as to why Chuck wanted to get out of Louisiana and go to Houston town. There’s no accounting for taste. Let’s ponder that as I insert the break, but not where the moon don’t shine.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Disturbance At The Heron House

Elijah and the Ravens by Ralph Chessé, 1945.

Winter played a fleeting return engagement in New Orleans this week. Unlike the Mid-March blizzard in the Northeast, it wasn’t anything to write home about but we ran the heater and shivered a bit. I’m not a fan of the new practice of naming winter storms even if the first one is named after a famous theatrical character, STELLA. Unless, that is, it’s named for the Hunter-Garcia ballad Stella Blue. The mere thought of a blizzard makes me blue so that could be it.

It may have been chilly of late but Spring allergy season is upon us with a vengeance. I have a mild case of red-eye but I’m used to that. A worse pestilence is this year’s flea crop. We haven’t had a hard freeze for several years so the nasty little buggers are dining on Oscar and Della Street. All we can do is treat the house, medicate the cats, and hope for the best. The idea of putting a flea collar on Della is particularly unappealing. She’s been known to draw blood so I’ll pass. Chomp.

This week’s theme song comes from R.E.M.’s classic 1987 Document album; more on the album anon. It’s my favorite record in their catalog and Disturbance At The Heron House is the kat’s meow. The lyrics were inspired by George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which is another reason I like it so much.

Here are two versions. The original studio track and one from R.E.M.’s appearance on MTV Unplugged. The second video has Radio Song as lagniappe.

The “followers of chaos out of control” indeed. In fact, they can follow me to the other side after the break. I hope it’s sufficiently chaotic.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Top Of The Pops

Swing Landscape by Stuart Davis.

Swing Landscape by Stuart Davis.

It’s time for the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day parade later today. This year’s route is so long that it should be renamed the Uptown/Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day. We’re fleeing to our friends Greg and Christy’s annual shindig, which puts the bang in shebang or some such shit. And I know the parade isn’t happening on the day itself. This is New Orleans, we do things our own way. Y’all should know that by now. There will, however, be drinking involved. We’re not that bloody different: walk me out in the Tullamore morning dew…

The big local story is that the Fifth Circuit has lifted an injunction against removing the white surpremacist monuments. They’ll be gone pecans soon enough. The erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer has been relatively silent this time around. He’s too busy fluffing Trump on Twitter to get worked up about it. For now. I guess that makes him a fluffer nutter. I hereby apologize to others out there who love marshmallow fluff, which recently celebrated a somewhat sticky centennial.

This week’s theme songs qualify as benign earworms. My mind keeps drifting back in their direction, which is why I’m taking you to the top, top, Top of the Pops.

We’re going in reverse chronological order with the 1991 Smithereens tune first. The video was filmed in Atlantic City. I looked for Chalky White but didn’t see him.

This week we’re back in same title, different song territory with the Kinks who were the band that most influenced the Reens. I’ve always preferred this loose live version of Top of the Pops to the more buttoned down studio track:

Now that I’ve rocked your world, it’s time to insert the break. This post grew like Cat’s Claw vines on an abandoned shotgun double so one is in order. See you on the other side.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Sick Day

The Grande Jatte Hibernators by Max Ernst

The Grande Jatte Hibernators by Max Ernst

I needed to rest my sore legs and feet after standing so much during Carnival but catching the stomach flu was not how I intended to do it. I’ll skip the details but suffice it to say that this is the longest I’ve sat up since Tuesday. I’m still afraid of eating so I’ll eat my words instead.

This week’s theme song, Sick Day by Fountains Of Wayne, was a no-brainer. A very good thing since my little gray cells aren’t firing on all cylinders as of yet:

I do have a few links to share this week, which is why I rose from my sick-bed. Also, I’m bored: sleeping all day like Oscar and Della isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, y’all.

Tweet Of The Week: I like signs. I like HuffPost senior politics editor Sam Stein. I like anti-Trump signs posted by Sam Stein:

Most people don’t have strong views about punctuation but I do; as does the author of our next piece. I’d give him a piece of advice except that I agree with him.

Satan’s Punctuation: I am on the record as being anti-exclamation point. The only good thing I can say about the Insult Comedian is that his overuse of them has led to a backlash against Satan’s punctuation. BBC Culture has an outstanding piece by Philip Cowell wherein he discusses the pernicious EP.

Along the same lines, legendary lizard lady Liprap made sure I saw this tweet by Houston Chronicle sportswriter Stephanie Stradley:

She’s a woman after my own heart. I seem to like Stephanies even if I never dated one. Of course, it’s been years since I dated at all. I guess I’m dating myself…

Let’s move on from Stephanies to one of my media crushes, Julia. Julia Ioffe:

Rootless Cosmopolitans: The State Department is in deep shit under the Trump-Bannon regime. They’re committed to “burning it down” thereby dumbing it down, which could lead to military options being first on the list as opposed to last. We saw that movie during the Bush-Cheney years and it didn’t end well. The brilliant and beautiful Julia Ioffe has the details at the Atlantic. 

Am I still allowed to issue such a compliment? I don’t want the people who attacked Steve Martin for making a similar comment about Carrie Fisher coming after me. Actually, I don’t give a shit: they’re trolls who attacked someone who knew her IRL and not just as Princess Leia. Fuck them and the tweet they rode in on.

Speaking of entitled people who want to burn it down:

The Feud: I originally planned to give up Susan Sarandon for Lent but I’m not Catholic so I won’t. Besides, the thought of her as Bette Davis and Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford is impossible to pass up. Sarandon’s status as an unrepentant Buster-n-Steiner means that I’ll have to root for Joan Crawford in the upcoming FX show and I’ve always been pro-Bette. But I am a Clint Eastwood fan despite his abominable politics. Now where did I put that empty chair?

That brings me to the point such as it is. In anticipation of the teevee show, Vulture reposted a fine 2016 article by Angelica Jade Bastien about the storied Davis-Crawford feud.

That concludes this edition of sick blogging. I hope I didn’t embarrass myself any more than I do every Saturday. Admittedly, that’s a low bar in an era when the president* is praised for not whipping out his tiny member and pounding it on the podium while addressing Congress.

Thanks to the Trump-Bannon regime’s version of white nationalism, anti-Semitism is fashionable in certain quarters. As a form of rebuttal or rebuke, I’m giving three famous Jews the last word. Zeppo also attended:

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Lundi Gras Odds & Sods

I decided to emerge from the Carnival bubble today just to mess with y’all. Our run of hosting came to an end yesterday. It’s fun but I’m always glad when it’s over. We have two more days until we repent our Carnival sins on Ash Wednesday. I’m an agnostic but my legs are already repenting all the standing and walking I did this  year. And there’s more to come. Ouch. Pass the Ibuprofen.

Obviously, we were not impacted by the accident Saturday night at the Endymion parade. That’s the *other* parade route and we take the night off. I also hate that fucking parade: the riders tend to be suburban yahoos who snub small black chirren in favor of blond bimbos. It’s the “show your tits” parade. I like tits as much as the next guy but that parade is tacky and tawdry.

We had an enormous party on Muses Thursday. Muses is an all woman krewe who had a Dr. Seuss theme in 2017. Their signature throw is decorated shoes. One of my quirkier Muses friends, Jen K, made a shoe just for me. Remember Ken Bone? He’s the dorky dude who asked a question during the town hall Clinton-Trump debate and briefly became an internet sensation. Here is the Ken Bone shoe, Jen threw to me. Thanks, sweetie:

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In a visual pun worthy of this feature, Jen replaced the heel with a plastic bone:

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Another highlight of Carnival for me was a book signing on the Uptown parade route before the Tucks parade. There’s a rolling group in that parade: the Laissez Boys. They parade in pimped out motorized recliners whilst wearing smoking jackets. I am not making this up.

I have some friends in the group and decided to get one of them, Michael Tisserand, to sign my copy of his latest book, Krazy. It’s the story of George Herriman the creator of Krazy Kat. He was from New Orleans and was a black creole who passed as white. It’s the next book in my hopper so to speak.

Michael is an online friend so we surprised him with the help of my friend Paul aka Q. He was as thrilled as I was, “I’ve done a lot of things in this chair but never a book signing.”

Later on twitter he said this:

Here are a few pictures of the event taken by Dr. A:

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The only thing that came close to the Krazy book signing last weekend was the mishigas at the end of the Oscars. There’s a first time for everything. I hope it’s the last time for that sort of fuckup and of Jimmy Kimmel as host. Flying donuts? Mean tweets? Jimmy should get on the tour bus with Gary from Chicago.

Back to the bubble. Proteus and Orpheus await.

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Forecast (Calls For Pain)

Rockwell

The Problem We All Face by Norman Rockwell.

We’re back on the weather roller coaster in New Orleans. One day it’s unseasonably warm, the next it’s colder than average. It’s almost as crazy as the Current Occupant of the White House. Did you see that insane press conference by the least racist and anti-Semitic person ever? In response to the crazy, I tweeted this:

I hope all the Busters and Steiners are happy right now. They insisted that there was no difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They were wrong. She’s sane.

Did y’all see the cartoon that was based on the Norman Rockwell painting that’s this week’s featured image? Here it is on the Tweeter Tube. I refuse to upload it:

That’s right, folks, Cartoonist Glenn (Not The Real) McCoy compared billionaire dilettante Betsy DeVos to NOLA’s own Ruby Bridges That’s preposterous and typical of the whiny titty babies on the Right in 2017.

Btw, BuzzFeed: You got something wrong.

On Sunday, the Belleville News-Democrat published this cartoon by Glenn McCoy. It appears to equate Betsy DeVos, Trump’s controversial pick for secretary of education, with Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend an all-white school in the South.

Ruby Bridges *was* the first black student to attend an all-white elementary school in New Orleans in 1960. She was not the first overall: that honor belonged to the Little Rock Nine in 1957. The last I heard New Orleans was in the South. Y’all should spend less time cutting and pasting tweets and more time on research.

This week’s theme song fits both my mood and the temper of the times. The Forecast (Calls For Pain) comes from Robert Cray’s brilliant 1990 album Midnight Stroll:

It’s time to take a midnight stroll to the break. The forecast is for more mirth than pain on the other side.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Night Parade

Spank Squad

Krewe of Spank float, 2015.

It’s the most wonderful day of the year, for me at least. Krewe du Vieux rolls at 6:30. That’s why the full-blown madness that is Saturday Odds & Sods has been dialed back this week. I’m too busy Krewe of Spanking, y’all.

I do, however, have a theme song: Night Parade from Robbie Robertson’s Storyville album. We march not far from where the red light district was located. It’s long gone. Time for some music. Hit it, Robbie:

I may not have a Saturday post extravaganza this week but I do have an Insult Comedian meme courtesy of my Spank krewe mate David M:

Trump Spank

That’s it for now. I’ll be back next week with a post that has more meat on the bone.

Riddler Meme

Saturday Odds & Sods: Trouble In Mind

Woodruff Underground RR

The Underground Railroad by Hale Woodruff, 1942.

Another week, another mural as the featured image. Hale Woodruff is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice. If you don’t recognize Trump’s Frederick Douglass quote, I have failed as a blogger.

It has been a Krewe of Spank-centric week at Adrastos World HQ. We’ve been helping with the float, buying costume bits, and even went to a pizza-n-shirt-iron-on party. Bet you’ve never done that. We also drank beer. Bet you’ve done that.

This week’s theme song was selected with our politically chaotic moment in mind. I am mindful of the fact that Trouble In Mind was written in 1924 by jazz pianist Richard Jones. It has been recorded oodles of time by oodles of artists. I have selected worthy versions by Big Bill Broonzy, Nina Simone, and the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the post only without the dirt or the band. That’s right, this post will be unbroken…

Emmett Till: Every social movement requires a spark. For the Civil Rights movement, the spark was provided by the lynching of Emmett Till in 1955. In fact, Jesse Jackson describes a conversation with Rosa Parks that confirms the importance of Emmett Till:

“I asked Miss Rosa Parks [in 1988] why didn’t she go to the back of the bus, given the threat that she could be hurt, pushed off the bus, and run over, because three other ladies did get up. She said she thought about going to the back of the bus. But then she thought about Emmett Till and she couldn’t do it.”

There’s a new book about the murder of Emmett Till wherein author Timothy Tyson got the woman who was allegedly the target of unwanted attention by Till to admit that nothing much really happened. Vanity Fair’s Sheila Weller has the details.

It’s abundantly clear that the Current Occupant has no knowledge of the Civil Rights movement or how important it is to many of us. It didn’t involve him directly so it’s off his radar screen. I suspect Trump and his dreadful, racist daddy regarded the movement as a nuisance. It made it harder for them to discriminate against black folks in their apartment buildings in the outer boroughs, after all. So it goes.

We go from the crime that inspired the Civil Rights movement to a look at how Hollywood is taking on the  Insult Comedian.

The New Culture War: We tend to think of Pats Buchanan and Robertson when we think about the culture war. Buchanan’s 1992 GOP convention speech scared the living shit out of middle-American and was a factor in Poppy Bush’s defeat. Thanks, Pat.

The culture war used to be a right-wing thing. It no longer is. The Guardian’s Stuart Jeffries takes a look at how Hollywood and others on the left are standing up to the Insult Comedian. My favorite bit involves the divine Julia Louis-Dreyfus:

At last Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild awards in Hollywood, barely anyone who got to the stage failed to denounce Donald Trump’s immigrant ban. Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, for instance, accepting her award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series with her portrayal of a (with all due respect) venal and useless president, said: “I am the daughter of an immigrant. My father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France, and I am an American patriot … I love this country. I am horrified by its blemishes. This immigrant ban is a blemish, and it is un-American.”

Her speech came from the heart and was clearly not written by Selina Meyer’s staff. They would have found a way to fuck it up and elect Hugh Laurie President…

There’s already a backlash over comments like Julia’s and Meryl Streep’s but, frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. The rank hypocrisy on the right about celebrities in politics is breathtaking. The GOP elected an actor President, sent Gopher from The Love Boat and Sonny Bono to Congress, and now they complain about free speech from Julia and Meryl. As the Cowardly Lion would surely say, DA NOIVE.  I fed Siri that sentence and she had a nervous breakdown. It was most amusing.

Speaking of the culture wars, our next segment takes a look at cursing. Hmm, I wonder if we still have a fuck quota at First Draft.

Fucking Around: There’s a motherfucking good review at the New York Review of Books by Joan Acocella of two bloody buggery bollocky books about swearing. You should read the fucker. Fuckin’ A.

Speaking of people who got fucked over, here’s a look back at Grateful Dead’s 1970 arrest in New Orleans. They did not return to the Crescent City until 1988.

Busted Down On Bourbon Street: The Grateful Dead were “set up like a bowling pin” in New Orleans on January 31, 1970. The city fathers were terrified that hippies would overrun the city and interfere with their drinking. They simply could not have that.

There’s a fun look back at Live For Live Music.com. I can say fun because nothing much came of the bust except for semi-lurid headlines and this mug shot of a certain lead guitar player:

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Notice that Jerry had the good sense to smile, not glower in his mugshot. Never let the bastards see you sweat.

I obviously have to post a version of Truckin’ at this juncture. This is a good ‘un complete with tight musicianship and sloppy vocals, both trademarks of the good old Grateful Dead:

Let’s move on to a sporadic Odds & Sods feature:

Separated At Birth? I added a question mark because I’m not 100% sure this works but it cracked me up when I saw it on the Tweeter Tube.

Instead of being leery of the idea, Leary responded without so much as a leer:

Just imagine it: Denis Leary in The Bowling Green Massacre. He really needs to wear Kellyanne Liar’s inauguration day outfit:

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Let’s move from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Saturday Classic: I posted the Queen of Soul earlier, it’s time to listen to the King of Soul, Otis Redding. Note that the album begins with Ole Man Trouble. It has nothing to do with the Insult Comedian but we do have more than our share of trouble right now.

That’s it for this week. We’ll be back with more hijinks and shenanigans next week. Who better to have the last word than three Jokers? Heath, Jack, and Cesar beat the hell out of the joker in the White House. Figuratively, not literally.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: End Of The Line

Rivera

Man at the Crossroads by Diego Rivera.

The image you see above began life as a joke at a rich man’s expense. Nelson Rockefeller commissioned the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera to do a fresco at Rockefeller Center. Big mistake: Rivera was not only a lefty, he was a Communist. If you take a closer look at the image you can see Lenin, Trotsky, and Karl Marx among the figures. The future Governor of New York was not amused and had the mural destroyed. Mercifully for art lovers, Rivera had a friend take pictures of the Rocky mocking work. He later did a second version in Mexico City. Take that, Rocky. There’s a lesson in this story for our times even if Rocky’s politics weren’t as odious as those of the Insult Comedian.

This January is a time for sad songs. End Of The Line is a rock torch song. It was written by Bryan Ferry for Roxy Music’s brilliant 1975 album Siren. I listened to Siren obsessively during the bleakest time of my life and it helped me get through it. Thanks, Roxy.

We begin with the studio version; sung by Ferry as if his heart was ripped out of his chest. It’s followed by a swell but less overtly emotional 1993 cover by Concrete Blonde:

I’ve also been known to sing End Of The Line under my breath when taking the bus or streetcar downtown to Canal Street, which is the you know what. I don’t think I’ve been caught in the act but ya never know. I suppose this is as good time as any to insert the break thingamabob. See you on the other side.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: 21st Century Schizoid Man

Hell by William Blake

Dante’s Hell by William Blake.

The weather is New Orleans has been as schizoid as our national politics. If only the latter was ephemeral as the weather. It’s been foggy, damp, and unseasonably warm. I know that may sound good to the ice people out there but I could use some consistency. I loathe running the AC in January but had to break down and do so because the house was so damn damp. So it goes.

As much I hate to do this, I’m going to keep this post as brief as the Insult Comedian’s attention span. Here’s why: I usually write the Saturday post on Friday and I decided to attend one of the New Orleans marches against the incoming maladministration. I hope that everyone who marches this weekend will engage in practical politics during the Insult Comedian’s misrule. I’m reminded of Barney Frank’s aphorism: liberals protest, conservatives vote. The time has come for us to do both. I’ll write about the local festivities on Monday.

The good news for Odds & Sods irregulars is that I *have* selected a theme song and it’s a doozy. The lyrics of 21st Century Schizoid Man were written by Pete Sinfield and the music by the members of King Crimson Mach One: Robert Fripp, Greg Lake, Ian McDonald, and Michael Giles. It’s a dark and gloomy prog-rock anthem that’s just as relevant today as when it was first recorded in 1969. The lyrics certainly are:

Cat’s foot iron claw
Neuro-surgeons scream for more
At paranoia’s poison door
Twenty first century schizoid man

Blood rack barbed wire
Politicians’ funeral pyre
Innocents raped with napalm fire
Twenty first century schizoid man

Death seed blind man’s greed
Poets’ starving children bleed
Nothing he’s got he really needs
Twenty first century schizoid man

We begin with the original version from In The Court Of The Crimson King. Its classic screaming man cover was featured in an early edition of Album Cover Art Wednesday:

Let’s move on to a live version from King Crimson Mach 3. It’s my favorite KC band: John Wetton bass and vocals, David Cross on violin, Bill Bruford on percussion alongside founding member/band leader Robert Fripp on lead guitar.

Greg Lake sang lead on the original studio recording and trotted it out from time-to-time onstage with ELP:

I had one recurring segment prepared and since it features one of the other founders of prog, I thought it was best to leave in it. I don’t want Roger Waters going off on me, after all.

Saturday Classic: Pink Floyd did a one-off reunion of its classic line-up in 2005. David Gilmour and Roger Waters briefly buried the hatchet before resuming their feud.

That’s it for this week. Now that the lunatic is on the White House grass, I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon. Below is a reminder of better times. I already miss Uncle Joe.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Dream It’s Over

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Everything Is Topsy Turvy by Goya.

It’s been a gloomy week in New Orleans and across America. The reality of who and what the next President is has started sinking in. It’s no longer an abstract concept: a man who is as erratic as New Orleans winter weather is about to be in charge of the IRS, military, FBI, and other law enforcement agencies. The intelligence community is in open-not covert-revolt, which is astonishing given that a Republican administration is coming to power. Spooks usually love GOPers. We are well and truly through the looking glass.

Goya was right: everything *is* topsy turvy. I find myself in agreement about the Insult Comedian with dissident neo-cons such as Max Boot. I have even praised a piece Boot wrote for the NYT wondering if Trump was a modern Manchurian Candidate. I’d rather give Max the Boot, but in a crisis you take your allies where you find them. They keep popping up in the oddest places.

As you can tell, I’m not in the mood for a full-blown Odds & Sods extravaganza. I’ve been battling a cold all week while still writing some pretty good stuff. I plan to keep this post terser than a Hemingway sentence. I may even grown a beard, but please don’t call me Papa or hold me to the short sentence thing.

This week’s theme song comes from the great Neil Finn and Crowded House. Don’t Dream It’s Over has a world-weary, anthemic quality that suits my mood as does the opening stanza:

There is freedom within, there is freedom without
Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
There’s a battle ahead, many battles are lost
But you’ll never see the end of the road
While you’re traveling with me

We begin with the original Crowdies video that helped the song become a world wide smash as opposed to Letterman’s production company, World Wide Pants:

Crowded House is one of the bands that had a “farewell” concert before the inevitable regrouping a mere 10 years later. The setting was dramatic: the Sydney Opera House. It was also the late Paul Hester’s last waltz with the band. I still miss his zany and madcap antics as well as his stellar drumming.

Don’t Dream It’s Over has been covered quite a few times; even on the teevee show, Glee. That was a nice pay-day for Neil but I prefer Diana Krall’s take on the song. Cue string section:

That’s it for this week. If you’re like me, you feel a bit lost as the news of Russian spying rushes by. That feeling, plus Athenae’s great Hemingway post, has me pondering the Lost Generation of the 1920’s That’s why I’m giving Hemingway and his frenemy Scott Fitzgerald the last word.

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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:

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Saturday Odds & Sods: All About Christmas Eve

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It’s that time of the year again and I have a mild case of blogging burn-out. It’s time to recharge my batteries by doing a picture essay Odds & Sods featuring some Victorian holiday oddities found online by Dr. A. Hence the image above, which could be retitled Merry Frogmas.

Next up is a particularly disturbing image featuring walking ersters. Why they’re walking is beyond me:

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It’s time for more frogmas greetings:

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Since I’m punning on the title of the great 1950 film All About Eve, I’ll give its distinguished cast the last word:

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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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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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Saturday Odds & Sods: Broken Arrow

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Right and Left by Winslow Homer, 1909.

I’m black and blue from pinching myself to prove that the Insult Comedian’s electoral college victory really happened. It’s a real life nightmare but at least we had our first cold front of the season. My colleagues in Chicago and Madison would call it mildly chilly but it’s cold by New Orleans standards. Cold enough to plug-in the space heaters and turn on the central. I’m not crazy about the smell of burning dust on the vents but it ends fairly quickly. The cats, of course, love bathing in the rays of the space heaters.

We’ve all been so focused on the electoral disaster that not enough attention has been paid to the South Dakota pipeline controversy. I plead guilty myself but I stand with the Standing Rock Sioux. If you’re like me and feel the need to be educated on the dispute, here’s a link to a FAQ about the situation.

It’s a much better way to spend your time than thinking about the December 10th Gret Stet Senate run-off. Here’s my position on the Neely-Foghorn Leghorn race in two tweets:

I forgot about two earlier ones, so make that four tweets:

Let’s move on to this week theme song. Make that theme songs as they’re two different tunes with the same title. The first Broken Arrow comes from Robbie Robertson’s eponymous first solo album. The second is a Neil Young/Buffalo Springfield numbah that shows how influential Sgt. Pepper was even with roots rockers.

We’ll put the broken arrow back in the quiver when we get the chance but it’s time for our first segment. Hint: it has something to do with a songwriter of Native-American heritage.

Robbie Robertson’s Testimony: The former Band guitarist has long been one of rock music’s best storytellers. He recently published his memoirs, Testimony. He sat down with Esquire’s Jeff Slate to discuss the book, Bob Dylan, the 40th Anniversary of The Last Waltz and his often rocky relationship with his former band mates of whom only keyboard wizard Garth Hudson still survives.

As a writer, I found this passage of particular interest:

Did you find similarities in the way you write music and the way you wrote the book?

Yeah, I think for me the voice is quite similar. The process is extremely different and writing this book was maybe the hardest thing I’ve ever done. This isn’t just slamming down a bunch of words. This is writing a book! The detail! Writing songs is where we’re giving you an impression of a story. When you’re writing a book, you’re writing the story. There’s no skipping over stuff like you can in a song. It’s an art to be able to boil things down, and convey things with a sound and a mood. I love both things, but now, after writing this, I have the fever and I’m gonna write the next volume to it. In fact, it might be a trilogy!

I’m looking forward to reading the book. I wonder how deep Robbie goes into his issues with Levon Helm. I hope he clears the air, but since the major problem was money I have my doubts. I regret they never worked things out but as John Lennon said: “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

Before moving on, here’s one of Robbie’s lesser known masterpieces.

In the interview, Robbie mentioned working on music for the new Scorsese film, let’s move on to a story from tomorrow’s NYT Magazine.

The Passion of Martin Scorsese: It turns out that Marty’s passion project has been to bring The Silence, a novel about Catholic missionaries in Japan by Shusako Endo, to the big screen. It may sound like an odd project to those of you who think of Scorsese as a guy who makes gangster films but religion has always played a role in his films. It sounds like an interesting project. Paul Elie has the details.

I’m keeping it brief this holiday weekend so let’s dive into our next piece, which is about Scorsese’s fellow Italian-American filmmaker, Francis Ford Coppola. I’ll let the NYT’s link icon thing herald the next segment:

I’ve seen The Godfather more times than I care to admit. Actually, I lost count long ago. The first two installments are close to perfect, and 3 would have been much better if Winona Ryder had played Michael Corleone’s doomed daughter. Winona’s fall from grace happened right before shooting and Sofia Coppola stepped in. It’s a pity, there’s much to like about the movie but, let’s just say, Sofia is a better director than actress.

Coppola sat down with Timesman Jacob Bernstein to talk about his Godfather book. Here’s a slice of the pie:

When was the last time you watched “The Godfather”?

Oh, I don’t know, years ago. For me, the memory of “The Godfather” brings great unhappiness. That movie took 60 days, and it was miserable, not to mention the months after of jockeying over the cut. So my reaction is usually of panic and nausea, but that has nothing to do with how it is for the audience.

Something I liked about reading your book was finding out how methodical you were. There’s a presumption that all great art is the result of a boundless imagination. This book shows that it’s a slog.

It was insecurity. I was so young. I was hired because I was young. A lot of important directors turned it down. Elia Kazan turned it down. Costa-Gavras turned it down, a whole bunch of important directors. So the philosophy was, let’s get someone young, who could presumably be pushed around. Also, I was Italian-American, and that was good, because it meant if the studio got flak they could simply say, “But it was an Italian-American director.”

It’s a pity that Coppola has been the Orson Welles of his generation instead of thriving like Scorsese. If you asked me back in the day who would have been more successful, my money would have been on Coppola. Sorry, Marty. It’s another thing I’ve been wrong about. Francis is a helluva winemaker though.

I’ve already done a list of my favorite Scorsese movies, so we’ll try something different. My ten favorite supporting characters in The Godfather trilogy in no particular order. I’ve excluded the males in the Corleone family from consideration. Sorry, Fredo.

  1. Talia Shire as Connie Corleone Rizzi.
  2. Abe Vigoda as Tessio.
  3. Richard Castellano as Clemenza
  4. Michael Gazzo as Frankie Pentangeli in 2.
  5. Lee Strasberg Hyman Roth in 2.
  6. Eli Wallach as Don Altobello in 3.
  7. GD Spradlin as Senator Geary in 2
  8. Richard Conte as Don Barzini.
  9. Sterling Hayden as Capt. McCluskey.
  10. Gastone Moschin as Fanucci in 2.

One flaw of the Godfather movies is the paucity of interesting female characters. David Chase did better in that regard in The Sopranos. Come on down, Janis Soprano and Dr. Melfi.

It’s time to make an offer you can’t refuse, and move on to our final segment.

Saturday Classic: I usually post albums in this space but I had never seen this half-hour Kinks set before. It’s Kinktastic, especially the Kick horns who have nothing to do with Athenae’s kiddo as far as I know.

That’s it for this week. I’ll give the greatest Gret Stet populists of them all the last word:

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Saturday Odds & Sods: God’s Comic

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Glass Tears by Man Ray, 1932.

Facebook killed me off earlier this week. I even got a death notice from them but neglected to take a screen shot. I was not alone in receiving a premature memorial page notice from the Zuckerdudes. Facebook even whacked blog pun consultant James Karst:

Karst is dead.

I’m pleased to report that, unlike the late Johnny Winter, Karst is still alive and well:

I’ve heard several explanations as to what went wrong but there’s one I like. And I’m sticking to it even if it’s debunked as de bunk. Consider it my Ford factory relocation moment. Here it is: It may have been concocted by trolls who wanted to metaphorically liquidate people whose content they dislike. I wear their scorn as a badge of honor even if I have long believed that “we don’t need no stinking badges.” That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, y’all. Facebook and fake news go together like Lennon and McCartney before Yoko and Linda or Rodgers and Hart before Hammerstein. Oscar, Oscar, Oscar.

This week’s theme song is an obvious choice: God’s Comic by Elvis Costello. It’s written from the perspective of a dead guy. This may make EC the Nostraelvis of rock and roll since it was written for the Spike album in 1989 long before Facebook existed. Or is that Nostradeclan? I cannot for the life or death of me keep that straight. First the song followed by a few  lyrics:

EC is a notoriously wordy songwriter so there are a lot of lyrics.  Here’s the first verse followed by the chorus :

I wish you’d known me when I was alive, I was a funny feller
The crowd would hoot and holler for more
I wore a drunk’s red nose for applause
Oh yes I was a comical priest
“With a joke for the flock and a hand up your fleece”
Drooling the drink and the lipstick and greasepaint
Down the cardboard front of my dirty dog-collar

Now I’m dead, now I’m dead, now I’m dead,
Now I’m dead, now I’m dead
And I’m going on to meet my reward
I was scared, I was scared, I was scared, I was scared
He might of never heard God’s Comic

On that mordantly morbid note, it’s time for the break. We should move expeditiously before Facebook kills me off again and I go on to meet my reward.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: They Can’t Take That Away From Me

Allegory by Ben Shahn.

Allegory by Ben Shahn, 1948.

I’m not feeling funny ha-ha this week so I’m keeping this short. And I mean it this time. I wish I could say we were like Buster Keaton in Steamboat Bill Jr. where the building collapses around him but he emerges unscathed:

Given the names that are being floated for Cyclone Donald’s future misadministration, we’re in for a bumpy ride. PBJ? Newt? Rudy? Reince? Bannon? Palin? Oy just oy.

This week’s theme song is They Can’t Take That Away From Me. It’s one of George Gershwin’s loveliest melodies and one of Ira Gershwin’s most poignant lyrics. I selected it an antidote to the electoral college victory of the vulgar and crass Insult Comedian. In short, I’m trying to ward off the crass with some class.

It’s a foolproof Gershwin song, so there are many fabulous versions to choose from. I limited myself to three. We begin with (who else?) Frank Sinatra. The song became even more associated with Sinatra after Bill Zehme’s wonderful 1997 book, The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin’. Frank recorded several variations but my favorite is this torchy rendition, arranged by Nelson Riddle:

The Gershwins wrote They Can’t Take Away From Me for the 1937 Astaire-Rogers musical Shall We Dance. I prefer the way it was done as the closing number in Fred and Ginger’s last film together, The Barkleys of Broadway:

Who has more class than Sinatra or Astaire? Our next artists certainly equal those two gents in savoir faire. There’s a segment later about Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. I’ll let their singing speak for them right now.

Speaking of class, ain’t nothing classier than the band on Ella and Louis: Oscar Peterson, Buddy Rich, Ray Brown, and Herb Ellis. I’ll have more on the 60th anniversary of that classic LP directly.

Time to get arty but hopefully not farty:

Ben Shahn’s Allegory: Ben Shahn was a lefty artist/activist who lived a long and interesting life. I originally thought I’d use one of his WPA murals as the featured image, but Allegory is a more interesting painting:

Allegory represents an immense, red, lionlike chimera, shown in profile, its great head turned toward the viewer and surrounded with flames. The beast is lean and hungry — Shahn is careful to delineate his ribs, so we know that he (his gender is also clearly indicated) is hungry, and he seems like an imaginary lion in a Chinese opera, or like a strange composite animal in a painting by the great Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo.

Although it is smaller than a large dog in the painting itself, we realize just how huge the animal is in illusion when we see a pile of tiny dead bodies with white limbs and faces placed below its haunches, or a miniature forest in front of it.

Shahn himself tells us that the beast — he never quite identifies its species — is the embodiment of fire and that the entire painting emerged from a series of illustrations he made for the August 1948 issue of Harper’s magazine. The illustrations were commissioned to accompany an article on what was called “The Hickman Fire” written by the distinguished journalist John Bartlow Martin.

It’s a relief to discuss an allegorical beast instead of the real one stalking the country. It’s time for a few words about two national treasures: Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

The 60th Anniversary of Ella and Louis: I’m referring to the first of three albums the dynamic jazz duo recorded for Verve Records. We all know something about the artists but the man who brought them together, Norman Granz, is less well known to the general public. Tom Maxwell has the details at Longreads.com.

Saturday Classic: I had thought that I’d previously posted Ella and Louis in this segment. It turns out I was wrong. That’s been happening a bit too much for my taste of late. I would have re-posted it in any event. This album is the best anti-crass serum imaginable.

That’s if for this week. I should be back in full-blown horrid punster mode next time around. I’ll also revive my regular Album Cover and Pulp Fiction features after a one-week hiatus.

It’s time to get back to what passes for normal here at First Draft. We need to be able to laugh through the horror as well as raging against the dying of the light. It’s what FDR would want us to do, after all.

FDR Meme