Category Archives: R.I.P.

My Tears Fell Like Rain: Antoine Fats Domino, R.I.P.

One of the founders of rock and roll breathed his last yesterday: Antoine Dominique Domino Jr. better known as Fats died at the age of 89. Fats was an unlikely rock star in many ways. He was shy and retiring; preferring to stay at home in New Orleans instead of hitting the oldies circuit like his peers. But as a singer, songwriter, and pianist Fats was peerless.

The news hit hard and fast in Fats’ home town. A crowd gathered outside his former home on Caffin Avenue in the Lower 9th Ward to celebrate the man and his music.

Natural disasters do not respect music legends so Chez Domino flooded in 2005. Fats was missing for a few days and the world feared that he’d drowned in the storm. He survived and resurfaced as a guest at then LSU QB JaMarcus Russell’s place in Baton Rouge. I’m not sure why that detail has stuck with me all these years but it has. So it goes.

Since Fats Domino was the personification of  New Orleans music, there has been a lot of excellent local coverage of the great man’s passing. Here’s a sample:

Tom Piazza in the Paris Review.

Keith Spera in the Advocate.

Jarvis DeBerry in the Picayune.

Amanda Mester at Offbeat.com.

Dominic Massa at WWL-TV.com.

One of the more unusual tributes was posted on social media by New Orleans writer Michael Tisserand:

So much for the good old days.

Antoine Fats Domino lived a long and productive life. It was always comforting knowing that he was still with us. He will be missed.

Tom Petty, R.I.P.

Benmont Tench, Mike Campbell, and Tom Petty at Jazz Fest 2017.

I rarely take celebrity deaths very hard and almost never personally. Tom Petty’s passing at the age of 66 is an exception to the rule. In part, because of the lengthy confusion as to whether he was alive or dead and, more obviously, because we’d made the difficult decision to put Oscar to sleep that morning. And because TP’s music has been a part of the fabric of my life for longer than I care to admit. Did I really say “fabric of my life?” Somebody call the cliché police.

The first time I heard Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was when American Girl came on my car radio. I was convinced it was a new Roger McGuinn song, which given my Byrds fixation is high praise indeed. It was a blast of fresh air in the disco era, especially since I was not much on punk rock either. It was something new and old wrapped together.

I avidly followed the twists and turns of TP’s recording career. Despite playing with the same musicians, each album sounded different from its predecessors. Petty’s knack for melody and deceptively complex lyrics kept his sound fresh over the years. I have most of his albums and there’s not a stinker in the bunch; even lesser Petty is better than the rest.

I also admired Petty’s willingness to stand up for himself and other musicians against the record labels. The people who ran the music industry were mostly a pack of thieves and TP refused to let them push him around or rip-off his fans. He lived the lyrics of I Won’t Back Down: “You can stand me up at the gates of hell but I won’t back down.”

As a band leader, TP brought out the best in the Heartbreakers. They went from being a band who played their songs note-for-note from the records to skilled improvisers. It helps when you work with the likes of Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench for 40 years.

Condolences to all the Heartbreakers and the Petty family. TP was a grandfather, y’all. Put that in your hookah and smoke it. Then don’t come around here no more…

The terrible coincidence of Tom Petty and Oscar dying on the same day is something for me to hold on to:

We could all do worse than that. Not bad company for a big-eyed cat from New Orleans.

After seeing TP and the Heartbreakers last April, I burned a CD of my favorites.  It’s structured like a short live set. Here’s The Portable Tom Petty as a YouTubular playlist:

Album Cover Art Wednesday will return next week.

Oscar, R.I.P.

It’s a terrible morning everywhere because of the horrendous mass shooting in Las Vegas and the ongoing tragedy in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Closer to home it’s an extra sad day: we had to put Oscar to sleep after a prolonged illness. His legs simply stopped functioning yesterday although he tried putting a brave face on it for his humans.

We’ve been going to the same vet for 30 years and we’ve been through this with four cats. We trust his judgment and when he told us that the best Oscar could hope for was a few good days, we knew it was time to say goodbye. It would have been selfish for us to keep him around. A long goodbye was not in the cards. When elderly cats go, they go fast.

I kept my social media friends apprised of Oscar’s situation and those who had never met him IRL said the same thing: “I felt like I knew him.” He was a sweet, lovable, and gregarious kitty who brought a lot of joy into everyone’s lives. Della Street is confused that we came home without her big brother. Oscar left a giant hole in the hearts of his family, Dr. A, Della and me.

I posted my favorite picture of the Big O at the top of the post. This week’s catblogging will be an extended tribute to Oscar and his giant cartoon-like eyes.

I’m not superstitious but it began pouring as we drove home from the vet so I quoted an old blues song to Dr. A. I’ll give it and Eric Clapton the last word:

First Draft Potpourri: Belabored Labor Day Edition

It’s been a long, hot holiday weekend in New Orleans but not as hot as in my native Bay Area where San Francisco had the hottest day in recorded history, topping out at 106 fucking degrees. It’s not supposed to be hotter in San Francisco than New Orleans in September. Climate change? What climate change?

The heat is one reason I changed my mind about joining Dr. A and our fellow Spanksters in the Decadence parade. My only regret is not seeing the expressions on the faces of the BYU fans who were in town to lose to my LSU Tigers. Decadence is a gay, not a Mormon, thing.

My main reason for bagging the parade is that I’m feeling rundown from a month of dealing with Oscar’s issues.  I don’t need to add heatstroke to the list of *my* issues. It seems almost silly to be this wrapped up in caring for an ailing pet but it’s how I’m wired. I come by it honestly: the only reason my mother didn’t have a massive menagerie is that Lou put strict limits on the number of pets in the house. One could even call it a critter quota. Okay, it’s time for me to stop all of my sobbing and move on.

The national media’s insistence on being upbeat about progress in Houston drives me nuts. The people who were flooded are about to face the reality of what they’ve lost. They’re throwing things out and eventually gutting their flooded houses. It’s going to be a long, slow road back, especially for those without the resources to rebuild quickly. The poor always take in the neck, alas.

The Jolly Insult Comedian: Donald Trump justifiably took a lot of heat for his inability to show empathy on his first Harvey related trip. He went to Houston and Lake Charles, LA and tried to show empathy but he cannot even fake it. You can tell he’s faced very little genuine adversity in life because he just doesn’t get it. He tried but wound up making small talk as tiny as his hands. By way of illustration, here are two tweets from Mark Knoller of CBS News:

I guess jolly platitudes are better than talking about your margin in Texas but only marginally. At least he and Melania didn’t wear those damn caps again. I thought that her FLOTUS hat was even tackier than his. I hope it wasn’t the millinery equivalent of a name tag. She’s not the only one who has a hard time believing she’s FLOTUS.

I did not, however,  join in the twitter mockery over Melania’s stilettos earlier in the week. It was classic tweeter tube dispshittery: focusing on the trivial, going for the cheapest laugh possible.

Speaking of shoes, I got a kick out of this picture from the Gret Stet leg of the trip:

The sign is swell BUT the t-shirt worn by the teenybopper is downright weird. It features the slogan of the Civil Rights movement and an image of Trump. Trump shall overcome what? His disastrous first 226 days in office? The country will have to overcome the way he’s hollowed out the EPA and State Department. Heckuva job, Donald. (Instant Update: Take a look at the comment by Alger below. The shirt says We Shall Overcomb. My eyesight sucks. But the paragraph is too good to cut.)

Joy Reid posed an interesting question on her teevee show on Sunday morning. Why does the media keep expecting Trump to act like a normal president? In a word: history. One of the founding myths of the republic is that presidents grow in office. It doesn’t matter that many have shrunk in office, it’s the myth. Trump is who and what he is. There will be neither growth nor a pivot. Believe me.

Let’s pivot to a loss suffered by rock music fans everywhere.

Walter Becker, RIP: Some sad news came our way on Sunday morning. Steely Dan co-founder  Walter Becker died at the age of 67. Becker was the quiet one of the songwriting team of Becker and Fagen. He let his music speak for itself.

Social media was abuzz about Becker’s passing. Here’s a wee sampler. First, from his old friend and partner in crime, Donald Fagen.

I shared a few thoughts of my own about Becker’s role in Steely Dan:

Finally, a cartoon in the style of Charles Schulz:

I recently assembled a Portable Steely Dan CD, which includes hits as well as lesser known album tracks. My tribute to Becker is to reproduce it here via the magic of the YouTube playlist format. There will be the odd commercial but what can I tell ya? Becker and Fagen are odd guys.

I was one of the lucky people who saw Steely Dan before they got off the road to focus on recording. That was how artists made money in the Seventies. That’s certainly changed. Steely Dan opened for Yes who were touring in support of Fragile. It was a Bill Graham bill made in music geek heaven. I saw Steely Dan several times after they reunited, most memorably at Jazz Fest in 2007.

One of the best loved lines in any Steely Dan songs is an odd one. Anyone surprised? I thought not. It comes from Kid Charlemagne: “Is there gas in the car? Yes, there’s gas in the car.” It looks like that mythic car finally ran out of gas for Walter Becker. He will be missed.

I just realized I wrote a Labor Day post without reference to the holiday itself. It’s supposed to be about working men and women, not grilled meat. It’s also about New Deal style Democratic politics as you can see from this sample of 2016’s Labor Day post showing Jack Kennedy speaking at a 1960 rally organized by the UAW in Detroit:

Happy Labor Day whether you’re laboring or not.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Touch Of Gray

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère  by Edouard Manet, 1882.

It’s my birthday today. We’re planning a relatively quiet day with dinner at one of the great restaurants in New Orleans, Brigtsen’s. It’s located in an Uptown cottage, not far from the river. The service is great and the food is even better.

A note on the featured image. I’m such a Manet fan that I named a black female cat Manet. She was long-lived and lovable. We had a game that we played together wherein we compared artists. I’d ask “who do you like better, Picasso or Manet?” The answer was always the same: “Manet.” She lived to be twenty, dying in 2005 not long before Katrina. I’m glad she missed the upheaval and disruption of our nomadic evacuation. It’s hard to be a grande dame when you’re on the move.

It’s sad how few pictures we have of our pre-digital camera era cats. This is a good shot of Manet in her Dowager Empress period:

Holy lagniappe catblogging, Batman.

August 1st was the 75th anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s birth. I miss Jerry, which is why the Garcia-Hunter tune, Touch of Gray, is this week’s theme song. It was the Dead’s only genuine hit single, which is remarkable given their longevity and popularity.

We have two touches of gray for your listening pleasure: the  VH1 pop up video of their skeletony promo video and a live version from 7/4/1989 in Buffalo. Notice Jerry and keyboard player Brent Mydland touching their own gray hair before launching into the song. Oh well, a touch of gray, kind of suits you anyway. Literal but still swell. Brent died in 199o. I’ve often said that being the keyboard player in the Dead was much like being the drummer in Spinal Tap. I don’t believe in jinxes but this one has a kernel of truth.

Oh yeah, both videos were posted by someone who spelled gray with an E. So it goes.

Now that I’ve made y’all feel old and decrepit, let’s limp to the break.

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First Draft Potpourri For $500, Alex

The mind reels over how much is going on in the world. The breaking news is flying so thick and fast that it’s hard to keep up without going mad. Hence this experiment with some quick segments, one-liners, and tweets.

Blighty Blighted? We begin with the British election in which the Tories screwed up and Labour did better than expected. The former are not dead yet and Labour should stop acting like they won. The current leadership has proven they’re good campaigners, now they need to prove they’re an effective parliamentary opposition and government-in-waiting.

My favorite image about the late UK campaign came from a tweet from a German cartoonist. I saw it in the Guardian, which is where all good things come from:

There were a whole lotta froms in that segment. Of course, Fromm *is* a German surname…

Tweet Of The Day: Our old “pal” Roger Stone is hawking tee-shirts to fund his next Nixon tattoo:

Takes one to know one, Rog.

Speaking of Twitter oddities. Twitter offered to translate my Comeypalooza post tweet from the original Lithuanian. Hell, I don’t even speak Latvian let alone Lithuanian…

Poor Ivanka: The First Daughter was on Fox & Fucking Friends this morning and got all whiny. She claimed to be gobsmacked by the “viciousness” of Washington. This from a woman whose horrid father was birther-in-chief and whose criminal father-in-law hired a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law and mailed the tape to his sister. Now that’s vicious, as is this Lou Reed song:

Qatar Reminder: My NOLA blogger buddy and Spank krewe mate, Noladishu tweeted a reminder of Qatari post-K support for New Orleans.

He would indeed. I don’t want the Ashley-geist vexed with me so I thought I should share this Noladishu dish. It also allows me to make the following Qatari puns:

My Qatar Wants To Kill Your Mama.

Perfectly Good Qatar.

On behalf of the pun community, I’d like to thank Noladishu for the straight line. It’s what friends are for; my friends at least. My late friend Perfesser Morris would have approved too, he liked puns as much as he hated ennui:

Watergate Junkie Fix Time: The great Ron Rosenbaum shared a NYT article wondering how Tricky’s takedown would be covered in 2017:

When will they ask the eternal question: what did the Insult Comedian know and when did he lie about it? What is everything and constantly, Alex. Believe me.

The Obituary Cafe: You’ve all heard of the passing of Adam West at the age of 88. His campy but deadpan “Bright Knight” take on Batman was an important part of my childhood. I realize that people take comic book movies seriously now but they involve grown-ups in tights fighting cackling villains. What’s campier than that?

George Segal as Pops in The Goldbergs is on Team Bright Knight:

Finally, did anyone know that the guy who first put pineapple on pizza was Greek-Canadian? I did not until the other day. The Greek in question, Sam Panopoulos died recently at 83. I’ve always been opposed to pineapple on pizza and I don’t recall my father’s position on it. But he was always proud of Greeks who made it and an obituary in the Guardian is making it.

As far as I’m concerned pineapple on pizza is only a misdemeanor and Sam sounded like a great guy otherwise. But I’m not claiming cousinage even if Lou might have. I’m almost as prickly about pineapple on pizza as the Icelandic President.

That concludes this edition of First Draft Potpourri. Pass the pizza, skip the pineapple.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Eight Miles High

A New Frontier by Alan Bean.

It’s been a wet week in New Orleans. The rain, however, hasn’t stopped the Lost Causers from sitting hillbilly shiva. They’re down to the dead enders as I pointed out in this tweet last week:

One of the banners was a Trump for President flag. Now that’s one I’d consider burning…

Speaking of the Insult Comedian, he made news on Thursday. As usual, it was the bad kind. Bowing out of the Paris Climate Accord will be reversible when we have a sane and asterisk free president again. His “reasoning” was the bigger problem with this move. First, Trump wanted a “win,” he promised his supporters constant winning. Instead there’s been constant losing. He’s abandoned most of  his other promises, so he kept this one. The Russia scandal makes keeping the MAGA maggots happy paramount. Second, his baby man feelings were hurt by the mean old Europeans. They didn’t kiss his ass. The Darnold doesn’t like that. He was pouting over Merkel’s speech and Macron’s handshake victory so he lashed out and did something stupid and short-sighted.  This president* has made petulance the centerpiece of what passes for his foreign policy. Trump’s Razor remains in effect.

This week’s theme song was inspired by the featured painting by Apollo astronaut, Alan Bean. Eight Miles High was written by Gene Clark, Roger McGuinn, and David Crosby for the Byrds 5th Dimension album. I have three very different versions for your enjoyment. First, the Byrds original followed by spirited covers from Roxy Music and Husker Du.

Now that we’ve flown Eight Miles High, we’ll touch down after the break.

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Sunday Morning Video: Gregg Allman, R.I.P.

Gregg Allman died yesterday at the age of 69.  There’s no better way to pay tribute to one of the pioneers of Southern rock than posting the Allman Brothers Band’s 40th Anniversary show.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Be That Way

Mon Oiseau (My Bird) by Orville Bullman.

The bastards did it. Bastards is too polite a word: the fuckers did it. I’m referring to the vote to strip healthcare away from 24+ million Americans. It’s going to complicate things for people with employer based plans as well. And the House passed it without proper vetting, public hearings, or even reading a bill that’s a procedural and substantive atrocity. In the past, the Senate has been where bad and/or controversial legislation goes to die BUT it won’t happen without public pressure. Pick up the phone and call your Senator to either support a no vote or excoriate them for a potential yes vote.

We return to our regularly scheduled Odds & Sods programming with this week’s theme song. Don’t Be That Way was composed by Benny Goodman and Edgar Sampson as an instrumental for Benny’s big band. Mitchell Parrish’s lyrics were written later. The first version is by Benny Goodman and his Orchestra. The second is by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. I somehow missed marking the centennial of Ella’s birth on April, 25th. Oh well, nobody’s perfect.

It’s hard to top Ella and Louis, so we’ll go to the break and regroup.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Into The Great Wide Open

The Millinery Shop by Edgar Degas.

It’s the first weekend of Jazz Fest. Absent free tickets, we’re not attending this year. We will, however, be going to our top secret location just outside the Fairgrounds to hear Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I’d be heartbroken if we didn’t do that. I hope that the weather will co-operate. There’s a chance of severe thunderstorms tomorrow. So it goes.

Hats are popular at Jazz Fest. That’s one reason I posted the Degas painting as the featured image. Another is that Degas spent time in the Crescent City visiting his Creole family; some of whom identified as black and others as white, much like the Herriman-Chasse clan I recently discussed in this space. It’s why gumbo is used so often as a metaphor to describe the natives. I’m equally inclined to compare New Orleans to a crazy quilt. The creator of Krazy Kat was born here, after all.

In other local news, the Saints have signed 32-year-old running back Adrian Peterson. His age is not my problem with the signing: it’s his status as a child beater. I wrote about it 3 years ago: Adrian Peterson Did Not Spank His Son, He Beat Him. So much for all of Sean Payton’s blather about bringing in players with “character.” This one has or had a “whooping room” in his Houston area house full of belts, switches, and the like.

This week’s theme song comes from the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album of the same name. Into The Great Wide Open is best known for its swell video and “rebel without a clue” chorus. The latter surely applies to the current occupant of the White House. The deplorables among his supporters are a rabble without a clue.

While we’re on the subject of Tom Petty, here’s a sleeper track from that very album:

I’m fond of that song because it reminds me of one of the main drags of my native Peninsula: El Camino Real. That’s the king’s highway in Spanish.  It spans several Bay Area counties and was where teenage me used to cruise. We didn’t have the internet to occupy us so we drove about aimlessly. One of my cronies always called it the Elk. That’s a bit too gamey or clubby for my taste. It must be time for the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding

Banjo and Glasses by Juan Gris.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. I’m not religious but I was raised Greek Orthodox. This year Greek Easter is the same day as what my most pious relative calls “American Easter.” My memories of Easter revolve around food: leg of lamb was always the main course at our house. I may not celebrate the holiday but I wish those of you who do well.

In Easter related news, it looks as if Team Trump is screwing up the annual White House Easter egg roll. It’s typically an East Wing thing but Melania lives in Manhattan and nobody else seems to be in charge. Holy symbolic ineptitude, Batman. I hear Harvey and Bugs Bunny are organizing a protest…

This week’s theme song is Nick Lowe’s best known and loved song, (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding. Nick himself is not madly in love with his most famous song:

“Everyone seems to know it. But it’s never been a hit, a hit song so to speak, on the charts,” says Lowe, reflecting on the song’s legacy. “It is really strange — and I don’t want to sound too, kinda, ‘wet’ — ‘cause when I hear it, it doesn’t really sort of sound like my song any more. I don’t feel hugely possessive about it.”

<SNIP>

“The song had a rather humorous birth,” he says. “It was written, initially, from the point of view of an old hippie who was still sticking to his guns and seeing his kind of followers all suddenly wearing pointy-toed shoes and drinking cocktails. … It’s like they had come to their senses, rediscovered alcohol and cocaine. … They were rather embarrassed that they’d ever been hippies … and thought the hippie thing rather funny.

“And he’s saying to them: ‘Well, you all think I’m an idiot. You’re sniggering now. But all I’m saying — and you can’t argue with this — is what’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?’”

I’m presenting three versions for your amusement. First, the 1974 original recorded with the pub-rock band, Brinsley Schwarz. Then the Elvis Costello rendition that put the tune on the map; it was produced by Nick. Finally, the way I like it best: a solo acoustic version by the songwriter himself.

One thing that *is* funny about Nick Lowe is that his hair is still awesome. I should hate him for that but I’m trying to be a bigger man. I am, however, fuming over the injustice of it all right now. It’s best to insert a break at this point while I take a deep breath.

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Remember the 32

I was working the newsroom this week, when my wife sent me a photo with the caption, “Who are these people?” It turned out to be a “Save the Date” card from two of my former students who found love while finishing off their degrees here.

The editor in chief of the paper poked her head over my shoulder and asked what was up.

“I just got a Save the Date card from Ashley and Isaac,” I explained.

She had a blank stare on her face.

“You were here when Isaac was the managing editor, weren’t you?”

Again, a total blank stare. It was at that point it dawned on me that although the kid I was speaking with was 22 and ready to graduate, even she wasn’t old enough to remember a kid who was practically running the newsroom two years earlier.

I often joke that I have “grad-nesia,” an illness that blurs the lines among generations of students to the point where I swear someone just graduated last year while they’ve actually been out of school for half a decade. The truth, however, is a bit more complicated, in that the institutional memory of college institutions is tiny at best. “Back in the day,” for most of my staff was about 18 months ago. “A long time ago,” was two years.

Something that happened 10 years ago? It has the same social relevance of the Tea Pot Dome Scandal or the Bull Moose Party. Even if that event shook the entire nation to its core.

Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre. Student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 students and faculty on campus while wounding another 17 over a three-hour time period before ending his own life. Even in that time of nascent social media, the pure insanity of the event exploded through digital channels and traditional media in a way that kept everyone in the country linked into the devastation.

I had a personal interest in that shooting, as I was pretty close with the general manager of the student newspaper out there. I also knew the editorial adviser. Our student media listserv was flying with questions and concerns for those folks. Both of them were named “Kelly” (one guy, one gal) which led to some “which one?” questions as we all tried to reach them. I finally got a hold of female Kelly and she told me she was safe, things were crazy and her staff was working, so she was probably going to be off the grid for quite some time. At that point, I was able to breathe again.

As my staff watched from safety 1,000 miles away, none of us knew what to do. Our EIC suggested we send pizza, so we did. It was a typical college-kid move, but we weren’t the only ones to think, “Hey, maybe they’re hungry.” Professional and collegiate news staffs from all over the country did similar things to the point where the staff of the Collegian had to ask, “Hey, guys, we appreciate this, but could you stop now?”

The student paper did some incredible work over that amount of time, including obituaries for each of the 32 victims of the shootings. I remember watching male Kelly give a speech on this less than a year later at a journalism convention. He explained that most of his staff was comprised of cub reporters and non-journalism folk. The university didn’t have a journalism feeder program, so this was truly an extra-curricular endeavor for most of them. If the newsroom he had was anything like some of the ones I’ve worked with, you had a handful of kids who had a passion for journalism, a group of folks who were told at one point they were good writers so they showed up to write and a bunch of students who came for the access to sporting events and concerts and to write columns about what they thought was important.

None of them was ready for this. Nor should they have been.

The thing that I remember most about Kelly’s speech was that he talked about gathering his staff and explaining how the newspaper was going to handle the situation on obituaries. The first question a kid raised is the most obvious one: “Nobody is going to want to talk to us. How are we supposed to do this?”

Kelly’s answer is one I use to this day: You might be right. People might not want to talk to you, but you don’t have the right to take that choice away from them. You approach them respectfully and you offer them the chance to speak. If they decline, you express gratitude and you leave. But don’t take away their chance because you’re afraid.

In the end, those obituaries were stocked with sources and stories that captured the essence of 32 people who never made it past April 16, 2007 and propelled the paper to a Pacemaker Award and national prominence.

I have to admit that 10 years have put this story to the back of my mind as well. The year after the Virginia Tech shooting, the Northern Illinois Shooting happened and that one struck a little closer to home. I had interviewed there for a job at one point and many years before, my grandfather had been in the police department in DeKalb, the city surrounding the university. After that, we seemed to be stockpiling shootings and disasters to the point that “Virginia Tech” became less of a euphemism than it once had been.

I also have to admit, it’s easy for things on a university campus to wash away quickly. My first year in Indiana, we had a student get shot and killed by a cop. The name of Michael McKinney was everywhere for more than a year. We covered that story from the shooting through the civil suit and there wasn’t a student alive on that campus who didn’t know that story.

Fast forward to the fifth-year anniversary of the shooting and I told my editor we needed to do the anniversary story on the McKinney shooting.

I got the same blank look my EIC gave me just this week: “Who?”

As far as most schools are concerned, the short-attention-span theater is a blessing in disguise. When horrific things happen in some cities and towns, family members still live there and those moments of pain become imbued in the fabric of the society. Events of agony live on from generation to generation. In the case of colleges, four years can wash away pretty much everyone in the student base who knew what happened. The memories fade to rumor and history.

In the case of the Virginia Tech Shooting, the students there are refusing to let the memory of those 32 people go unnoticed this year. Several cadets are asking that the new residence hall be named for Matthew LaPorte, a sophomore ROTC member who gave is own life to save countless others when the shooter broke through LaPorte’s classroom barricade. The staff of the newspaper published a special edition titled “We Remember 32,” which is complete with a set of 32 stories of the 32 people who died that day. An online version is available here as well.

It’s hard to remember and easy to forget.

But some things need, even if painful, need to be commemorated.

Sunday Morning Video: A Tribute To Don Rickles

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard that comedy legend Don Rickles died at the age of 90. Rickles was a genuine insult comedian with a rapid fire Borscht Belt delivery. I saw Mr. Warmth live once in Vegas, baby. He even called me a hockey puck. It was an honor.

Here are a few clips in tribute to a man with a face made for radio. We begin with an appearance on Dick Cavett’s ABC Show:

Rickles was at his best with Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show:

In this clip Rickles drops in on Frank and Johnny:

Rickles always made me laugh even when he was the voice of Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story. He will be missed.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Roll With It

Composition VIII by Vasily Kandinsky.

It’s April Fool’s Day. I’m not planning to prank y’all but if I were I wouldn’t tell you. I like to keep my readers off-balance with this offbeat and off-kilter feature. I hope the previous sentence wasn’t off-putting.

We’re going to a kid’s birthday party/crawfish berl today. That’s boil to you auslanders. It’s young Harper’s second birthday and she’s already out of fucks to give. She actually reminds me of Della the cat. That’s how she is. Of course, the toddler will stop being a cat whereas Della Street is defiantly feline for life. It’s a good thing that she’ll never learn how to speak: she’d never shut up.

We’re back in same title, different song country with this week’s theme songs. I hope y’all can Roll With It, baby. We begin with Steve Winwood’s tribute to Stax-Volt soul music followed by Oasis and *their* song Roll With It.

I’m keeping it relatively light this time around. It’s going to be heavy on the magic and light on the Nazis and such. Of course, *that* could be the April Fool’s joke. You’ll find out after the break.

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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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Album Cover Art Wednesday: Three By Asia

It’s time for a final tribute to the late John Wetton. His band, Asia, is famous for its cover art and swell logos. All but one of the covers I’m posting today were by Roger Dean who is also known for his work with Yes.

Let’s begin at the beginning with the band’s 1982 smash hit eponymous debut album:

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Next up is Asia’s second LP, Alpha. It was the debut of the eyes logo, which has been a constant motif for the band over the years:

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Here’s a cover from a 2004 album without John Wetton in the band or artwork by Roger Dean. It’s a goddamn photograph, y’all:

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Here’s an appropriate hit song from Alpha:

Finally, a live duet on the same song with John and Geoff Downes:

Friday Guest Catblogging: John Wetton & A Torti Named Peggy

The late John Wetton was a die hard cat person. Like Dr. A, he had a particular passion for tortoise shell cats aka tortis. Here’s what he said about Peggy the torti on twitter: “an angelic, frighteningly loyal,half-wild cat with a heart of feline gold.”

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This week’s post is a gynormous excuse to post John’s ode to a Florentine black cat:

An Extraordinary Life: John Wetton, R.I.P.

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Yesterday got off to a rough start when I learned that John Wetton had died at the age of 67. He was a towering figure on the prog-rock scene because of his time with King Crimson as well as his role in founding two prog supergroups U.K. and Asia. I reconnected with John’s music last year when I bought the three albums recorded by the original Asia after regrouping in 2008. I’m not sure whether Phoenix, Omega, or XXX are my favorite of the group. They’re all that good. FYI, XXX involves neither Mexican beer nor porn: it marked Asia’s 30th anniversary. There is, however, this song about a backstabbing xxx-friend:

In addition to his virtuosity on bass, John was a fabulous singer, and wrote many great songs, especially with his partner-in-crime, Geoff Downes. Geoff posted a moving tribute to his dear friend and closest musical colleague on Facebook.

John Wetton wrote his own epitaph five years ago.

John’s Asia bandmate Carl Palmer chimed in as well:

Bassists and drummers have a special relationship and the Wetton-Palmer team was one of the best. It’s been a brutal chronological year for Carl: he’s the sole survivor of ELP and now this. Condolences, Carl.

Since we’re celebrating John Wetton’s music, let’s continue with the tune that inspired the post title:

There will be more Wettonian music after the break. I’m trying not to eat the whole front page of the blog. Doc might sic the Fuck You Nation on me, after all.

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Sunday Morning Video: The Curse Of The Petrie People

Our tribute to Mary Tyler Moore continues with this episode of her first classic sitcom:

Mary Tyler Moore, R.I.P.

This morning I made fun of the word “iconic.” It’s overused but it actually applies to the great Mary Tyler Moore who died today at the age of 80. It’s hard to believe she was that old: she’ll always be the gorgeous Laura Petrie and the spunky Mary Richards to me.

MTM was the star of two ground breaking sitcoms as well as my first crush. I grew up watching re-runs of the Dick Van Dyke Show and the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Who among us will ever forget how she tossed her hat in the air at the beginning of her classic eponymous teevee show?

I searched the interwebs for my favorite episodes of MTM’s two great series. I was only able to find a clip of Coast to Coast Loudmouth but it’s streaming on Netflix. Mary’s character let it slip on live teevee that Alan Brady (Carl Reiner) was as bald as a cueball.  Furious hilarity ensued. Here’s her apology to Alan and his boys:

I was surprised that full episodes of her 1970’s show are on YouTube. I’m not sure how long this will last but Chuckles Bites The Dust is one of the funniest 25 minutes in teevee history. See Mary lose it at the funeral of Chuckles the clown:

Mary Moore lived a long and productive life. She will be missed. But we’ll always have this indelible image seared on our collective consciousness:

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