Category Archives: R.I.P.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Saturday Sun

Cafetiere et Carafe by Jean Dubuffet.

It feels like August outside as I write this with the ceiling fan whirring up above my head. It’s time to dispense with the weather report lest I sound whinier than I am. And I’m pretty damn whiny even though, unlike Della and Paul, I don’t have a fur coat to contend with. Paul Drake deals with his by shedding copiously. Della Street rages against the elements in her own way. She is one mouthy cat, y’all.

I may have cats on my mind but the rest of the city is obsessed with rats in a French Quarter eatery. There’s a viral video and everything. Oh wait, there’s always a viral video in 2018. As someone who worked in the Quarter for many years, the thought of rats near the Big Muddy is not shocking. I’m not planning to go to that restaurant but even good places with clean kitchens have the odd rat. Repeat after me: to live in this town you must be tough, tough, tough, tough. She-doo-be.

The new Mayor is “being intentional” by launching a PR campaign dubbing New Orleans the City of Yes. In the immortal words of movie mogul Sam Goldwyn, include me out, unless it involves the veteran prog rock band. I’m still trying to figure out what the hell “being intentional” means. So it goes.

When I started this regular feature in 2015, I used songs about Saturday as theme songs for the first few weeks. Saturday Sun is one I somehow missed but I’ve had Neil Finn on my mind and in my ear of late. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the promo video and a live performance on the BBC.

Now that we’ve basked in the Saturday Sun, it’s time to put on some sun screen and jump to the break.

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Anthony Bourdain & Tee Eva Perry, R.I.P.

Depression is a horrible thing. From the outside, Anthony Bourdain was on the top of the world with a job he loved and more adventures on the horizon. The hoary aphorism “never judge a book by its cover” rings true today: Anthony Bourdain committed suicide at the age of 61 in France.

His body was discovered by his friend, the world-class chef, Eric Ripert who Tony called the Ripper. I call him Tony not because I ever met him in person but because of his style. It was intimate and confidential thereby living up to the title of his first book, Kitchen Confidential.  Most of his viewers feel as if they’ve lost a friend. A friend of mine who’s in the restaurant business described him as her Pope. The loss is shocking and deep. It was a helluva thing to wake up to this morning. Imagine being in the Ripper’s shoes. Mon dieu.

Bourdain took us many places in the world to which we’re unlikely to travel. Despite his renegade/bad boy image, Bourdain treated other cultures with the sensitivity and respect that they deserve. He always looked like he was having a great time but looks can be deceptive His demons finally caught up with him. He will be missed.

I never ran into Anthony Bourdain, but Tee Eva Perry was a New Orleans legend who I met on many occasions. She was an amazing character: baker, back-up singer to brother-in-law Ernie K-Doe, and a baby doll on Mardi Gras day. She died this week at the age of 83.

Everyone called her Tee for auntie so when she opened up her first place on Magazine Street she called it Tee-Eva’s. It was an eclectic hole-in-the-wall located around the corner from Adrastos World HQ:

I’m not a snow ball guy but I loved her pies and pralines. After Katrina, she relocated to a bigger location on Magazine but I’ll always have a special feeling for the original space. It was as charming and eccentric as Tee Eva herself.

I hate to use a term out of the dictionary of journalistic clichés, but Tee Eva Perry was a New Orleans original. She will be missed.

UPDATE: it turns out that Bourdain ate Tee Eva’s jambalya on an episode of his first teev show A Cook’s Tour. I haven’t seen that series but it’s on Amazon so I will soon.

Saturday Odds & Sods: One Week

Asheville by Willem de Kooning

I’ve mentioned the celestial switch that heralds summer heat in New Orleans. It switched on this week. Yowza. We’ve had record heat almost every day, followed by torrential rain yesterday.  Yowza. We’ve even had the odd afternoon brown-out as the utility company struggles to keep up with demand or so they say. Entergy doesn’t have a lot of credibility after they astroturfed a meeting at which the city council voted on a new power plant for the company. In short, they padded the room with paid actors. They blamed a sub-contractor but nobody’s buying it.

In other local news, two of my friends, Will Samuels, and blog pun consultant, James Karst, had parts on the season finale of NCIS: New Orleans. In honor of their appearance on this fakakta show, we have pictures.

Will is the gent in the shades. He usually wears Hawaiian shirts so I almost didn’t recognize him.

They actually let Karst hold a prop gun. I gotta say he looks like a proper Feeb, skinny tie and all. He’s even in a scene with series regular CCH Pounder best known to me as Claudette on The Shield.

This week’s theme song, One Week, was a monster hit for Barenaked Ladies  in 1998. We have two versions for your consideration. The original video followed by a clip wherein the band reunited with former co-lead singer, Steven Page earlier this year. BNL performed a medley of One Week and If I Had A Million Dollars.

It’s time to count this week’s receipts while we jump to the break. They’re considerably less than a million dollars.

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Tom Wolfe, R.I.P.

Tom Wolfe died Monday. It was his 88th birthday. The reason Wolfe was such a great reporter and novelist was that he was an acute observer of people. He was not interested in people who were just like him. His interests lay in telling the stories of quirky people in wildly different walks of life in his uniquely zippy prose style. For example, he had little in common with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters but he preserved their spirit for the ages. This quote captures his spirit of literary adventure:

“To me, the great joy of writing is discovering. Most writers are told to write about what they know, but I still love the adventure of going out and reporting on things I don’t know about.”

Reading all the tributes reminded me of how Wolfe’s vivid and lively prose influenced me as a writer. There’s a major exception. I hate exclamation points and Wolfe oversalted his writing with them:

“People complain about my exclamation points, but I honestly think that’s the way people think. I don’t think people think in essays; it’s one exclamation point to another.”

Since his stuff had the right stuff, it was easy for me to forgive the wild punctuation. Wolfe not only delivered the goods, he always made me laugh. His book titles were as amusingly flamboyant as his punctuation: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid TestRadical Chic & Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers, From Bauhaus To Our House, and his fictional masterpiece, The Bonfire of the Vanities.

Wolfe’s politics listed to the center right but he was a satirist and iconoclast, not an ideologue. He was a natural-born contrarian, if there was a conventional wisdom on a subject, he mocked it. Even his clothing reflected his worldview:

But as an unabashed contrarian, he was almost as well known for his attire as his satire. He was instantly recognizable as he strolled down Madison Avenue — a tall, slender, blue-eyed, still boyish-looking man in his spotless three-piece vanilla bespoke suit, pinstriped silk shirt with a starched white high collar, bright handkerchief peeking from his breast pocket, watch on a fob, faux spats and white shoes. Once asked to describe his get-up, Mr. Wolfe replied brightly, “Neo-pretentious.”

Wolfe got his start as a magazine writer, primarily for New York Magazine. I first read The Right Stuff when it was serialized in Rolling Stone Magazine. I recall eagerly awaiting the arrival of each issue to get the straight poop on the Mercury astronauts. It made me feel like a throwback to the days of Trollope, Dickens, and Zola who published their major works in the same way. Speaking of Zola, here’s what Wolfe had to say about the fierce French realist:

My idol is Emile Zola. He was a man of the left, so people expected of him a kind of ‘Les Miserables,’ in which the underdogs are always noble people. But he went out, and found a lot of ambitious, drunk, slothful and mean people out there. Zola simply could not – and was not interested in – telling a lie.

It’s odd to have had so much fun researching a tribute to a recently dead writer but I had a blast visiting quote web sites and reading some of Wolfe’s tastiest bon mots. It’s made easier by the fact that the man lived such a long, eventful, and witty life. As a close friend of mine observed after attending his elderly grandmother’s funeral, “That was the period at the end of the sentence. You only use an exclamation point when it’s someone who was too young to die.”

I’m not certain that Tom Wolfe would agree with that sentiment but I’m writing this piece, not him. He does, however, get the last word. Make that last words.

We begin this section with some pithy quotes, followed by short excerpts from some of Wolfe’s major works:

“If a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged, a liberal is a conservative who’s been arrested.”

“I have never knowingly, I swear to God, written satire. The word connotes exaggeration of the foibles of mankind. To me, mankind just has foibles. You don’t have to push it!”

“The problem with fiction, it has to be plausible. That’s not true with non-fiction.”

“A cult is a religion with no political power.”

“We are all of us doomed to spend our lives watching a movie of our lives – we are always acting on what has just finished happening.”
― The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

“Sir Gerald Moore: I was at dinner last evening, and halfway through the pudding, this four-year-old child came alone, dragging a little toy cart. And on the cart was a fresh turd. Her own, I suppose. The parents just shook their heads and smiled. I’ve made a big investment in you, Peter. Time and money, and it’s not working. Now, I could just shake my head and smile. But in my house, when a turd appears, we throw it out. We dispose of it. We flush it away. We don’t put it on the table and call it caviar.”
― The Bonfire of the Vanities

“Le Corbusier was the sort of relentlessly rational intellectual that only France loves wholeheartedly, the logician who flies higher and higher in ever-decreasing concentric circles until, with one last, utterly inevitable induction, he disappears up his own fundamental aperture and emerges in the fourth dimension as a needle-thin umber bird.”
― From Bauhaus to Our House

“A persistent case of the bingos was enough to wash a man out of night carrier landings. That did not mean you were finished as a Navy pilot. It merely meant that you were finished so far as carrier ops were concerned, which meant that you were finished so far as combat was concerned, which meant you were no longer in the competition, no longer ascending the pyramid, no longer qualified for the company of those with the right stuff.”
― The Right Stuff

That concludes a tribute with more exclamation points than a year’s worth of Adrastos posts. It was a sacrifice well worth making. In his quirky, contrarian, white-suited way, Tom Wolfe had the right stuff. He will be missed.

Saturday Odds & Sods: In The Still Of The Night

Contrasting Sounds by Wasilly Kandinsky.

It’s been an eventful week in New Orleans. The city celebrated its 300th anniversary and inaugurated our first woman mayor. I expressed my reservations about Mayor LaToya Cantrell on ye olde tweeter tube:

The slogans included “We are woke” and “We will be intentional.” I’m uncertain if that’s intentional grounding or an intentional walk. I dislike the latter baseball tactic as much as exclamation points. I still wish the new mayor well. Her propensity to mangle the language is good for the satire business, and there’s no business like giving a politician the business. I believe in taking care of business, every day, every way.

This week’s theme song, In The Still Of The Night, was written by Cole Porter in 1937 for the MGM movie musical, Rosalie. It was first sung by Nelson Eddy who was in a shit ton of hokey costume movie operettas with Jeanette MacDonald. I am not a fan of the duo but I am a die-hard Cole Porter fan as evinced by the frequent appearance of his work as Odds & Sods theme songs. I considered counting them but I’m feeling as lazy as the president* today. Where did all my executive time go?

We have two versions of the Porter classic for your entertainment. First, the elegant jazz-pop baritone Billy Eckstine aka the Voice of God.

Second, the Neville Brothers featuring some gorgeous sax playing by Charles Neville. He was an acquaintance of mine. Charles died recently at the age of 79. He was a lovely man with a kind word for everyone he met.

It’s time for a journey to Disambiguation City. Fred Parris wrote *his* In The Still Of The Night for his doo-wop group The Five Satins in 1956.

Yeah, I know, Boyz II Men also had a hit with the Parrisian song but I’m not going there. Instead, let’s jump to the break. Now where the hell did I put my parachute?

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Up Above My Head

Trout and Reflected Tree by Neil Welliver.

The weather rollercoaster continues unabated in New Orleans. We’ve gone from air dish weather to heater weather and back again. One day of the French Quarter Fest was rained out, which resulted in wet tourists whining about the wash-out. It was a day I was glad to no longer be a shopkeeper. Dealing with drowned Quarter rats was never any fun.

One of Grace’s colleagues gave us fancy club seats to the Saenger Theatre’s Broadway series complete with free food and valet parking. Thanks, Ritu. We saw Rent, which I liked a lot. The best part of the evening was a bossy African-American woman usher who combined sternness and politeness.  One patron was confused about how they ordered the rows and the usher said, “You’re in row H. It’s the alphabet, m’am. It’s the alphabet.” Fuckin’ A.

You’re probably wondering why an agnostic is posting a gospel tune as this week’s theme song. It’s because Sister Rosetta Tharpe was an amazing singer, songwriter, and character.  Up Above My Head is also a real toe-tapper. What’s not to love about a church lady with an electric guitar? We have three versions: Sister Rosetta, Rhiannon Giddens, and the Jayhawks.

Now that we’re imbued with the spirit, let’s jump to the break.

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Barbara Bush

I’ve always had a sneaking fondness for Barbara Bush. I come from a family full of tough outspoken battleaxe type old ladies. She always reminded me of one of my aunts who had a barbed tongue much like Bar.

Unlike many New Orleanians, I’ve even forgiven Mrs. Bush for this insensitive post-Katrina remark:

“What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this … this is working very well for them.”

At the time, I was furious but since then I’ve spent a lot of time with old people and they tend not to have a filter. Bush was 80 when she made those awful remarks so I’m inclined to cut her some slack. Some older women of my acquaintance have said worse and many of them are hard core liberals. And if we’re judging her on politics, she voted for her fellow former First Lady at the last election.

In other Barbara Bush news, there was a silly controversy among the humor-impaired and literal minded on twitter about this remark from a story about her final days:

Even in the final days of her life, Barbara Bush retained the sharp tongue that belied her grandmotherly image. When her eldest son, former President George W. Bush, visited about 10 days before her death, the two playfully needled each other in the way they always did.

At one point, Mrs. Bush turned to her doctor. “You want to know why George W. is the way he is?” she asked.

The doctor looked a little surprised. “Because I drank and smoked when I was pregnant with him,” she said.

 It’s called sarcasm, folks. There were actually twitter lefties whose hearts were bleeding for George W Bush because his mama was mean. It’s a joke: it’s well-known that, for good or ill, W was her favorite child and he told the joke on himself to boot.

I realize that these are polarized times but that doesn’t mean we have to be ugly about everyone we disagree with. It’s why I call Trump the Insult Comedian because that’s what he does. In a time when the president* is a criminal, going after Barbara Bush strikes me as petty and small-minded. This is one case that calls for the high road.

While I’m not weeping copious tears, I’m not inclined to dance on Barbara Bush’s grave either. The last word goes to Squeeze with a song that reflected her conversational style:

 

Never Again

It’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. It’s a movable commemoration so perhaps I should post this explanatory passage from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:

The internationally recognized date for Holocaust Remembrance Day corresponds to the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar. It marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In Hebrew, Holocaust Remembrance Day is called Yom Hashoah. When the actual date of Yom Hashoah falls on a Friday, the state of Israel observes Yom Hashoah on the preceding Thursday. When it falls on a Sunday, Yom Hashoah is observed on the following Monday.

In 2018, today is the day. I take this solemn event personally because one of my mother’s closest friends was a Holocaust survivor. She was always Mrs. Rosenberg or Mrs. R to me. I don’t think I ever knew her first name. That’s okay, I don’t need to know that to honor her memory and that of those who were murdered by the Nazis.

I wrote about Mrs. R twice in 2016. The first passage was written after a series of horrors. I was trying to make sense of things that do not make sense.

July 17, 2016:

In searching for an antidote for this palpable fear and paranoia, I thought of the Holocaust survivors I’ve met. One of whom was one of my mother’s best friends, Mrs. Rosenberg. She was a plump and cheerful woman who lived down the street from us when I was a small child. One day I noticed the tattooed numbers on her arm and asked her about them. I was about 8 years old and my mom gave me a stern look but her friend waved her off and told me what they signified. It was the first time I’d ever heard of the Shoah. I was horrified and asked how she could be so cheerful after so much loss and suffering. Mrs. Rosenberg smiled, patted me on the head, and said: “When you’ve been to hell and back, nothing else ever seems so bad.”

My first post 2016 election post, Sitting Political Shiva, also mentioned Mrs. R.

November 10, 2016:

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

Never Again.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Be Cruel

Two Flags by Jasper Johns.

I suspect you recognize the featured image. I’ve used it many times during government shutdowns; most notably in my epic America Held Hostage series in 2013. It’s nice to have some Jasper Johns flags about the virtual house to plug-in when the GOP next decides to shut the government down. If only they’d shut their fucking mouths…

Easter Sunday and April Fool’s Day coincide this year. I  expect more bunny related hoaxes than resurrection pranks. The pagan spring fertility thing is more palatable than what Easter means to believers. I’m not one but I like holidays to be straightforward. Now that I think of it, I’m surprised that the biblebangers have never banged on about a war on Easter. It’s bound to happen, they’re the whiniest people in the country. It’s probably why they like the Insult Comedian. It can’t be the hair.

This week’s theme song was written by Otis Blackwell in 1956. Don’t Be Cruel was originally the B-Side of Elvis’ Hound Dog 45 before becoming a hit in its own right. We have two versions of the Blackwell song for your listening pleasure. One from Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show, the other from Cheap Trick.

It’s time for Nick Lowe’s variation on the cruelty theme with Cruel To Be Kind on Live From Daryl’s House:

Now that we’ve declared our hostility to cruelty, let’s jump, jive, and wail to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: The Irish Rover

High Spring Tide by Jack Butler Yeats.

The Irish Channel Saint Patrick’s Day parade is on the day itself this year. I’m not sure if this will increase drunken revelry but I plan to do some day drinking. Dr. A and I have been going to our friends Greg and Christy’s open house for the last 11 or 12 years. It’s hard to be precise since whiskey and beer are involved. Whiskey, of course, is the devil.

The big local news is the death of New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson at the age of 90. The local media has done some cringeworthy coverage of this gruff car dealer whose demeanor and voice reminded me of Archie Bunker. The hagiography is a bit much given Benson’s attempt to move the Saints to his *other* hometown of San Antonio as the region reeled from the Katrina and the Federal Flood. He sent his image to rehab with donations to charity, the Super Bowl win didn’t hurt either. He was also a supporter of the GOP and other dubious conservative rich guy causes. As Archie would surely say at this point, goodnight nurse.

This week’s featured image is by the Irish painter Jack Butler Yeats. And, yes, he was related to the poet William Butler Yeats: he was his kid brother. I’m uncertain as to whether he was a pesky one. It would be poetic justice if he were…

Our theme song is a traditional Irish folk song. The Pogues and the Dubliners recorded The Irish Rover together in 1987. It was a hit in Ireland and the UK.

Now that we’ve taken a trip on a ill-fated ship, let’s jump to the break and hope we land in a lifeboat.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Papa Was A Rolling Stone

Hesitation Waltz by Rene Magritte.

It’s been a frustrating week at Adrastos World HQ. Every time I think my pernicious and persistent cold is getting better, I backslide. I would have preferred to be really sick for a few days and then better. Make up your mind, cold.

In local news, the lame duck New Orleans City Council has been up to all sorts of mischief: voting to approve a new power plant for Entergy that won’t solve our blackout  problems and allowing taller buildings to be constructed alongside the Mother of Rivers.  I suspect that the presence of Mayor-elect Cantrell on the Council is one reason they feel free to take such votes. It does not bode well for those who hoped the incoming Mayor would be more neighborhood/citizen friendly. Score another win for real estate developers who are the worst people in the world. Exhibit A for this argument currently lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

This week’s theme song is a tribute to Temptations singer Dennis Edwards who died earlier this month at the age of 74. Papa Was A Rolling Stone was written by Norman Whitfield and Barret Strong and was a monster hit in 1972. Here are two versions for your enjoyment: the Temps and David Lindley.

Now that I’ve dissed real estate developers and my stupid cold, it’s time to roll over to the break. I’m too enfeebled to jump.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Fever

The Grand Jatte Hibernators by Max Ernst.

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

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

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

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

<SNIP>

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

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

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

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

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Night and Day

The Night Cafe by Vincent Van Gogh.

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday Odds & Sods: The Best Of Adrastos 2017

2017 was a terrible year for the country but a great year for satire. It made it hard to winnow down this list. It kept growing like topsy. I’m not sure who or what topsy is but it grows like, well, topsy. I suspect topsy is somehow related to turvy, but where the New Orleans jazz singer Topsy Chapman fits into the scheme of things is unclear; much like this sentence…

I *had* hoped to get the list down to a top forty like the AM rock stations of my youth. It wasn’t happening so I got it down to a top fifty. Yeah, I know: who the hell has ever heard of a top fifty? You have now. Besides, I posted a grand total of 483 times in 2017 so a top fifty is only slightly OTT. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Here it is in chronological order:

1/12/2017: The Fog Of History: Mark Twain On The First Gilded Age.

1/16/ 2017: The Gong Show Presidency.

1/23/2017:  Mock Jazz Funeral For Lady Liberty.

1/25/2017: Sean Spicer Can Lie & Chew Gum At The Same Time.

2/8/2017: The Fog Of History: Explaining Trump.

2/15/2017: Power Before Country.

2/22/2017: The Worst Person Ever To Live In The White House.

3/13/2017: King Of The Bigots.

3/18/2017: Saturday Odds & Sods: Disturbance At The Heron House.

3/22/2017: Tea About The Tillerson.

3/29/2017: The Americans Thread: The World According To Gorp.

4/12/2017: Gret Stet Grifter.

4/17/2017: MOAB DICK.

4/19/2017: The March Of Autocracy.

5/2/2017: Lost Cause Fest: The May Day Melee.

5/8/2017: Le Sigh.

5/17/2017: The World Of President* McBragg.

5/18/2017: The Spirit Of ’73: The Unraveling.

5/24/2017: Book Review: The Selected Letters Of John Kenneth Galbraith.

5/31/2017: Glengarry Glen Ross On The Potomac.

6/14/2017: Tweet Of The Day: Larry Tribe Edition.

6/17/2017: Saturday Odds & Sods: Get Back.

6/29/2017: Mr. Bad Example.

7/3/2017: Back To The Nineties.

7/12/2017: The Beguileds.

7/19/2017: The Finger Of Blame.

7/26/2017: Follow Me Boys To The Trumper’s Jamboree.

7/29/2017: Saturday Odds & Sods: I Should’ve Known.

8/3/2017: The Fog Of Cosmopolitan History.

8/14/2017: Lost Causers Fester In Charlottesville.

8/21/2017: The Fog Of History: There Is No Such Thing As White Culture.

8/23/2017: The Primal Scream President’s* Ego Rallies.

9/13/2017: Walter Trump: Teevee Western Con Man.

9/20/2017: Your President* Speaks: Apocalypse UN.

9/21/2017:  Malaka Of The Week: Bill Cassidy.

9/25/2017: Malaka Of The Week: Frank Scurlock.

10/2/2017:  Oscar R.I.P.

10/19/2017: Quote Of The Day: Movie Monsters Edition.

10/23/2017: Bottom Of The Barrel.

10/25/2017: Flaking Out.

11/8/2017: Fuck Yeah, Virginia.

11/9/2017: Putting The Dope In Papadopoulos.

11/13/2017: Judge Pervert’s Ten Commandments Of Love.

11/15/2017: Malaka Of The Week: Rob Maness aka Col. Mayonnaise.

11/21/2017:  Now Be Thankful.

11/29/2017: The Ugliest American.

12/9/2017: Saturday Odds & Sods: Cold Rain and Snow.

12/13/2017: Fuck Yeah, Alabama: A Perfect Political Storm.

12/14/2017: Only A Memory: Pat DiNizio, R.I.P.

12/18/2017: Seven Dirty Words, 2017.

12/21/2017: Welcome To The New Gilded Age: The Great Tax Heist of 2017.

12/27/2017: Headline Of The Day: The Power Of The Butt.

Some of our more anal retentive readers may have noticed that the final tally was 52. I *had* to include the butt post since the headline was written by First Draft pun consultant James Karst. It was one of the dear boy’s career highlights so what the hell else could I do?

That’s it for this year. The scariest thing about this long and winding list is that it could have been even longer: 483 posts, y’all. The final closing bat meme of 2017 is a tribute to the late Rose Marie who died this week at the age of 94. It was a long life, well lived. Sally Rogers lives on.

 

Only A Memory: Pat DiNizio, R.I.P.

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

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

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

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

Rock and roll genius pure and simple.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Long live rock, be it dead or alive.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Cold Rain and Snow

It snowed yesterday in the surrounding parishes but not in New Orleans. We just had sleet and gloomy skies. Baton Rouge and rural Tangiapahoa Parish had sustained snowfall. Here’s a message from Mike the Tiger:

The New Orleans media had a snow boner all day long. It was all they talked about. All the teevee people got gussied up in their anoraks and boots. They looked like models in the LL Bean catalog. My favorite snow boner moment came on the WWL morning news:

Repeat after me: snow boner.

The featured image is a venerable postcard showing the 700 block of Canal Street after snowfall in 1895. The last time it snowed in the city was 2008, everyone took pictures of the streetcar in the snow as you can see from this tweet from my friend Katy:

She’s from Minnesota. Say no more.

Repeat after me: snow boner.

This week’s theme song is a “tribute” to the weather. I hate the snow, especially when it falls in a place without any snow removal equipment. I am not an ice person. I do not have a snow boner either.

Cold Rain and Snow is a traditional folk song best known as a staple of the Grateful Dead’s live shows. We have two versions for your amusement. First, the Dead at the 1980 Halloween show emceed by Al Franken and Tom Davis. Sigh. Second, a bluegrass rendition by Del McCoury using an alternate title. I like it with Cold better since I am, in fact, cold right now. I still do not have a snow boner.

Boy howdy. Yeah, boy as the bluegrass types are wont to say.

It’s time to jump to the break. If you have one, be careful not to trip over your snow boner. I should apologize for, uh, beating that joke to death but I won’t. Go ahead and jump.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Come Rain Or Come Shine

Amerind Landscape by Roy Lichtenstein.

I started this zany, madcap weekly feature in the spring of 2015. I have a lot of fun putting it together and riffing on the segments every week. It’s become a cult favorite among our readers. If you enjoy Saturday Odds & Sods, please donate to First Draft to help keep the doors to this virtual gin joint open. If you don’t like gin, pick your poison as long as it’s not vodka…

That concludes this brief commercial announcement. It’s time to return to our regularly scheduled programming.

It’s full-tilt fall in New Orleans after summer lingered far too long for my taste. We’ve had highs in the low to mid 70s for most of the last week. That means that many New Orleanians are OB’d: Over-bundled. People are so desperate to wear last year’s Christmas sweater that they’re overdressing for these mild days. So it goes.

The big news hyper-locally is that pesky, annoying twerp Seth Bloom has finally conceded in the District B city council race. The satirist in me will miss mocking him, but the citizen in me is relieved that his steady, experienced opponent, Jay Banks will represent me on the council. I will miss having Seth to kick around so I might as well re-post this:

Arrividerci, Sethy. You can go back to annoying people in your daily life. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass as you exit the local political stage. If you re-enter the arena, the feud will resume. Who among us doesn’t like a feud fight?

A brief return to the weather. It was the driest November in recorded history in New Orleans. How’s that for a lead-in to the theme song? Come Rain or Come Shine is the third Arlen-Mercer song I’ve used as the Odds & Sods theme song. I guess I like Harold and Johnny: the nice Jewish boy from Buffalo and the Southern scamp from Savannah. The song was written for the movie musical St. Louis Woman and first published in 1946.

We have three versions for your enjoyment. First, a swinging version arranged by Billy May for Ella Fitzgerald’s Harold Arlen Songbook, which is a seriously underrated entry in the songbook series. Next up, Lady Day with a mid-tempo version from her Music For Torching album. Finally, a 21st Century version from Eric Clapton and BB King.

Now that we’ve risen and shined or something like that, let’s jump to the break.

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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: