Category Archives: R.I.P.

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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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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Album Cover Art Wednesday: Make It Big

Eighties pop icon George Michael died on Christmas Day at the age of 53. I’ve always had a soft spot for George: partially because he’s Anglo-Greek but mostly because of that big voice. He was one of the best of the “blue-eyed” soul singers.

Michael was not known for his album cover art but I found this little gem whilst running a search. It’s a superhero take by Steve Howard on Wham’s Make It Big album side-by-side with the original:

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Superhero Cover by Steve Howard.

I’m not much of a Wham fan so I’ll post two of Michael’s best known collaborations instead:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Dead Flowers

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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:

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Sunday Morning Video: Leon Russell Live On Homewood Session

It’s our final tribute to the late, great Leon Russell. It’s Leon and friends on a homey Los Angeles teevee show hosted by the film critic Charles Champlin. R.I.P. Leon.

 

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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Pulp Fiction Thursday: Stranger In A Strange Land

Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land struck a chord when it was first published. It still had legs when I was a tadpole. I was not the only annoying kid who used “grok” instead of “understand.” I hope y’all grok what I’m saying.

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I have an ulterior motive for posing Stranger In A Strange Land. The great rock pianist Leon Russell borrowed the title for one of his best songs. Leon died the other day at 74. He was a genuine original. He will be missed.

Thursday Night Music: Bury Me In Willow

2016 has been a year of high-profile deaths: Bowie, Prince, Ali, Safer, Frey, Kantner to name a few. I ran an internal search after Shimon Peres passed and found I’d used the R.I.P. category 18 times thus far this year. I knew it was high but I didn’t realize there were that many, and there could have been more. 2016 needs its own acronym,  TFY for This Fucking Year.

That brings me to Bury Me In Willow. It’s an achingly beautiful song about mortality written by Geoff Downes and John Wetton for Asia’s thirtieth anniversary album XXX. I hadn’t heard the album until a few weeks ago but it’s fucking good. The lyrics of Bury Me In Willow  get me every time, especially these two stanzas:

When I’m gone, do this thing for me,
For this is my final day, and you know I would not joke,
So bury me in willow, not in oak.

Give me no standard, no eulogy,
No red, white and blue, no sceptre and no cloak,
Just bury me in willow, not in oak.

Let’s play the song before we all get too morbid:

Shimon Peres, R.I.P.

Peres, Rabin, Arafat.

BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS.

There are very few people on today’s world scene that I would call a statesman or stateswoman. Shimon Peres was one of the few. He won the Nobel Peace Prize along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yassir Arafat in 1994. Mr. Peres died yesterday at the age of 93. It was a long life well lived.

Mr. Peres started his political career as a hawk but devoted most of his life to the cause of peace. His former colleague, Tzipi Livni, described him as “the realist dreamer” in a tribute she wrote for the New York Times. Ms. Livni vividly describes a trip she took in 2001 with Mr. Peres:

I had hardly moved my things into my new office when Mr. Peres took me on my first ministerial trip to New York.

The moment we stepped off the plane, he transformed before my eyes from an antediluvian Israeli politician into a sprightly statesman. The image I had of him shattered; I saw a person who wanted to make the impossible possible.

That trip, he was on a mission to persuade American skeptics to bring life to the Dead Sea by building a canal from the Red Sea. He wanted to make the desert bloom and, in his region-conscious way, Israel’s neighbor Jordan, too. After a day full of conversations, speeches and events about this plan, I was exhausted — but he wasn’t done. For Mr. Peres, the night was young, and back out we went.

The affection he found abroad and his unflagging personal convictions gave him strength to face the powerful criticisms and hatred that were leveled at him at home. When fellow Israelis called him a traitor and screamed “Oslo criminal,” it hurt him. We could all see it in his eyes; he wanted to be loved — but he was not willing to give up on his beliefs.

I saw it every time I watched him ignore the cynics, risk being called naïve, and continue doggedly to speak for and pursue peace. This was the lesson that every leader needs to learn: Follow your inner compass no matter what.

It’s hard to top that sentiment. All I have to add is this: Shalom.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Better Days

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Arboretum By Flashbulb by Stuart Davis.

Researching and writing about the lunatic fringe is exhausting. Any time I write a post with a picture of, say, the froggy Pepe Le Puke, I am followed on Twitter by alt-right types, the more hateful of whom I block. The rest I disappoint by being a liberal Clinton supporter. You’d think they’d notice the “echoes” around my handle and avoid me like the plague. It’s proof positive that some of these folks are dumbasses as is this GIF from the Daily Show:

The damn thing is animated elsewhere but static here; just like the dude in the Trump hat. He seems to have forgotten a Republican President named George W. Bush. If you note the back of his hat, he’s clearly one of Bill-O’s pinheads; either that or he stuffed socks in his cap. Perhaps he’s Beldar Conehead’s redneck brother. Nah, he doesn’t look French.

On a lighter note, the Krewe of Spank had our first meeting of the 2017 Carnival season. Yes, we actually plan in advance. Hard to believe, isn’t it? We have at least one promising theme idea but my lips are sealed with or without a kiss. Hush-hush.

We have a doubleheader for this week’s theme song, featuring two of my all-time favorite artists. We’re in the different songs with the same title zone once more. Let’s begin with Bruce Springsteen’s Better Days, which is the opening track of the Lucky Town album. It features one of Bruce’s best lyrics:

Well I took a piss at fortune’s sweet kiss
It’s like eatin’ caviar and dirt
It’s sad funny ending to find yourself pretending
A rich man in a poor man’s shirt

It’s hard to do much better than those lyrics but Gary Louris gives it a shot in *his* Better Days, which comes from the Jayhawks’ Smile album.

Now that I’ve finished bettering you up, let’s go to the break fast. Mmm, toast…

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Showdown

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Three Musicians by Pablo Picasso, 1921

It’s been another “hot even for New Orleans” week. It was the second warmest August in recorded history; at least we weren’t number one. We dodged the Hermine bullet but apparently not everyone understands the gravity of even a lesser tropical system:

Florida is also where this charming chap resides:

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Holy Florida Man, Batman.

If you’re ever in Fort Lauderdale, you might want to give him a holla. I think the exclamation point was over the top but that’s just me. He looks like he mixed cigarettes, meth and Vodka. Ouch.

The college football season starts this weekend. My LSU Tigers are playing the Wisconsin Badgers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay later today. It should provide some diversion for all the flooded Tiger fans in South Louisiana. There’s even a comedic sub-plot: some LSU players are threatening to do the “Lambeau leap” after scoring. Les Miles has vetoed the idea and warned his players that they’ll be hitchhiking home if they try it. I’m seriously bummed about this. I was hoping Les would take the leap after our first score. Guess he’s channeling his inner Bo Schembechler this season. I prefer Goofy Les to Serious Les.

This week’s theme song selection started off simply but grew like bamboo. One of my earworms this week has been ELO’s hit song, Showdown. Just for the hell of it, I did a search on allmusic.com and learned that there are oodles of tunes with the same title.

I picked two Showdowns of a similar vintage to the ELO smash hit: one by the New York Dolls and the other by the Isley Brothers. Who among us does not love the flying fingers of Ernie Isley as well as his nifty headband?

Like the Isley Brothers’ Showdown, the Saturday post typically has two parts. We’ll part for the break and then resume the festivities such as they are.

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Album Cover Art: Pete Fountain

We’re still mourning the man the Advocate called Mr. New Orleans in its front page obit on Sunday. That’s why I’m extending my Pete Fountain tribute to this feature. Some of the covers illustrate Pete’s lively and irreverent sense of humor as well as the bad toupee he used to wear.

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I mentioned Pete’s friendship with Al Hirt on Sunday. Here’s the cover of one of the albums they recorded together:

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Finally, Johnny Carson was a big Pete Fountain fan and had him on the Tonight Show 59 times. Here’s an appearance from 1979:

Sunday Morning Video: Pete Fountain R.I.P.

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Jazz icon and hometown hero Pete Fountain died Saturday morning at the age of 86. Pete was a beloved figure here in New Orleans and even those of us who never met him feel like we lost an old friend. Pete and his clarinet were a part of the cultural fabric of our city. Every Mardi Gras morning, Pete and his Half-Fast Walking Club would meander from Uptown to the French Quarter barhopping and playing music along the way. It was familiar and comforting to know they’d be on the street with the rest of us. I suspect they’ll roll next year but Pete will be missed. He was irreplaceable.

This week’s Sunday Morning Video is a 1979 set by Pete and his crack band at Wolf Trap:

Pete is gone but his music is eternal; if there’s an afterlife he’s already jamming with his old pal Al Hirt like it was 1979:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Crazy Man Michael

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Finding Neverland by Clarence John Laughlin.

I’ve spent much of the week contemplating July Madness aka the Trumpvention. It’s one of the strangest spectacles I’ve ever witnessed. In an odd way, it provided comic relief for all the shit that’s going down until Trump’s despicable acceptance diatribe. First Draft alumna Southern Beale hit on something I neglected to mention: acceptance speeches are typically optimistic and forward-looking as opposed to angry and bitter harangues. In 2004, Athenae’s boy friend, John Kerry, was criticized for being too negative, leading to this ad:

That’s called a pivot, which Trump, apparently, has no plans to do. I’m waiting for an ad entitled Mourning in America.

I’m going to keep it relatively short since I’ve written so many epic posts this week. The transformation of the home of the Cleveland Cavaliers into the world’s largest loony bin got me contemplating songs about insanity. Crazy Man Michael by Richard Thompson and Dave Swarbrick is as good as it gets; even if there are no Michael mentionings in this week’s post. The song first appeared on Fairport Convention’s 1969 album, Liege & Lief and was sung by the sublime Sandy Denny:

Here’s a solo acoustic version by RT:

I like messing with my readers, in that spirit, we’ll skip the customary break. Nothing for y’all to become accustomed to. I just felt like taking a break break…

We begin with an article that set the internets ablaze. A friend of mine ranted about the ghostwriter, but he never thought Trump would be a major party nominee for President. Who the hell did until 2016?  We both think he’s a giant toddler in a septuagenarian’s body.

The Art Of The Sell-Out: Trump ghostwriter Tony Schwartz has a guilty conscience for making Trump look 100,0000 times better than he actually is in the best-selling book, The Art of Deal.(Actually he was Trump’s co-writer who wrote the whole damn thing. Ghostwriter sounds way cooler.)  He recently sat down with the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer. Here are some worthy excerpts:

“I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”

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“Trump didn’t fit any model of human being I’d ever met. He was obsessed with publicity, and he didn’t care what you wrote.” He went on, “Trump only takes two positions. Either you’re a scummy loser, liar, whatever, or you’re the greatest.

<SNIP>

“Trump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesn’t seem to be fully understood,” Schwartz told me. “It’s implicit in a lot of what people write, but it’s never explicit—or, at least, I haven’t seen it. And that is that it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement. He regards Trump’s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said.

<SNIP>

When challenged about the facts, Schwartz says, Trump would often double down, repeat himself, and grow belligerent. This quality was recently on display after Trump posted on Twitter a derogatory image of Hillary Clinton that contained a six-pointed star lifted from a white-supremacist Web site. Campaign staffers took the image down, but two days later Trump angrily defended it, insisting that there was no anti-Semitic implication. Whenever “the thin veneer of Trump’s vanity is challenged,” Schwartz says, he overreacts—not an ideal quality in a head of state.

There’s more of the same in Mayer’s article. I *already* thought Trump was unfit to be President but Schwartz fills in many details that confirm the obvious. I don’t think a marginally literate, hyperactive, mendacious Insult Comedian should ever be elected President.

I, for one, am glad Schwartz came forward, which has led to Trump’s lawyers sending him a cease and desist letter demanding that he return 28-year-old royalties. Yeah, right. It’s typical of Trump’s need to dominate, abase, and silence everyone he knows. I wonder if his shysters will devise a non-disclosure agreement for the entire country.

Tony Schwartz is on Twitter. Thursday night’s Tweets are quite interesting. Check them out.

Trump’s Razor: Josh Marshall has been digging deep into Trump’s shallow psyche and has come up with a theorum of sorts, Trump’s Razor

ascertain the stupidest possible scenario that can be reconciled with the available facts” and that answer is likely correct.

Trump’s Razor has been slicing its way through the Trumpvention as well as the entire campaign. I’m glad Josh gave it a name. Thanks, man.

Speaking of political clusterfucks, the Labour Leadership battle rages on. The war between the Corbyinite hard left and center left  MPs looks more likely to cause a split with each passing day.

Labour Daze & The Gang Of Four: For people of a certain age, it’s been like deja vu all over again. The hard left of Labour took control of the party after the 1979 skunking by the Tories. The Callaghan government wasn’t insufficiently left-wing. It was weak and tired. Labour’s left flank turned to open warfare against party moderates. Sound familiar? This time it happened after back-to-back defeats.

The mad dash to the hard left led four former cabinet members, led by Roy Jenkins the former Chancellor of the Exchequer and, more importantly the radical reforming Home Secretary of the 1960’s, to leave Labour and form the Social Democratic Party (SDP.) For a brief shining moment it looked as if the SDP might take off, but things didn’t go as hoped for.

The Guardian’s Andy Beckett compares what happened in 1981 to the current Labour imbroglio. It’s something of a cautionary tale: the SDP no longer exists, it merged with the Liberals in 1988. They’re now known as the Liberal Democrats who did quite well until they went into government with the Tories. They got slaughtered in the 2015 election and only have 8 MPs. Yet another cautionary tale. Here’s the SDP Gang of Four:

SDP Gang of Four

The SDP Gang of Four: Bill Rodgers, David Owen, Roy Jenkins, and Shirley Williams.

These center-left rebels are not to be confused with the band Gang of Four who were hardcore lefties. Life abounds with ironies. I might as well play some punk rock at this point:

You know it was a tough week when an R.I.P. segment amounts to lightening things up:

Garry Marshall, R.I.P.: One of the nicest people in show biz, Garry Marshall, died this week at the age of 80. Marshall dominated the small screen in the 1970’s and made stars of Michael McKean, Robin Williams, and Julia Roberts among others. My favorite Marshall endeavor was The Odd Couple with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman who *became* Oscar and Felix.

Marshall was also hilarious as network suit, Stan Lansing, on Murphy Brown:

The best Garry Marshall tribute I’ve read was by comedy writer/blogger Ken Levine:

Garry Marshall was an extraordinary man. In the world of comedy where anger is a primary tool for getting laughs, Garry Marshall built an empire by showing that comedy could be humane, comedy could have heart, and comedy could be funny without being mean-spirited, spiteful, and crass. He was a rebel.

Saturday Standards: I’ve never been quite sure why Bryan Ferry didn’t become the go-to “rock star standards singing guy.” He fits the part much better than Rod Stewart; plus Ferry started recording standards in the 1970’s. Ferry’s fine 1999 album, As Time Goes By, should provide some balm after a blistery week; at least I hope so. I’m particularly fond of his take on The Way You Look Tonight:

That’s it for this post-GOP apocalyptic edition of Saturday Odds & Sods. Since I actually praised Ted Cruz for the first, and likely only, time, I thought he should resume his status as a Republican Super Villain:

Cruz meme

 

No Lives Matter

I went to bed with a half-written post on the Philando Castile shooting, opting not to include the Alton Sterling shooting because Adrastos had already covered it. Within five minutes of my head hitting the pillow, I got update after update from various news sources that multiple police officers had been shot and killed in Dallas during a peaceful protest.

More died during the night. What’s worse, is more and more and more of us will die in the days to come as our country reaches a spasmic crescendo of anger, fear and violence.

We argue these days about who owns the “lives matter” movement. “Black Lives Matter” started after the George Zimmerman acquittal and became a rallying call and social media zeitgeist during 2014, as it seemed we couldn’t go more than a few days without a cop killing and unarmed black man.

Others co-opted the concept with “All Lives Matter,” trying to show equality but actually just perpetuating the tone-deafness that is majority privilege. Police picked it up as “Blue Lives Matter,” in the wake of several murders of police officers.

And on and on it went.

White Lives Matter. Gay Lives Matter. Pet Lives Matter.

Sadly, no. They don’t.

We are going through “lives” like a third-grader with a cold goes through Kleenex.

We don’t have enough time to fixate on one random shooting before another one occurs. Can anybody name the last black guy shot by a cop prior to Alton Sterling?

A few names stick out over time: Eric Gardner. Tamir Rice. Michael Brown.

Other than that it’s “Wait, why does that name sound familiar?”

How I know life has changed in this regard is because I still remember the name Ernest Lacy. When I was growing up in Milwaukee, his name was everywhere after police arrested him while on the lookout for a rape suspect. He died in a police van shortly after that.

Everyone who was in Milwaukee during that era knew that name. It was the symbol of racial inequality and police brutality. Year after year, his name came up, as protests took place and people filed lawsuits.

It’s been 35 years and I still know his name.

But the last black guy a cop killed before Sterling? Nope.

If “All Lives Mattered,” I’d be able to recall the name and age of every single kid killed in Newtown. I’d have a memory of each of their school pictures burned into my head forever.

When I was a night cops guy, I got sent out to cover a lot of death and mayhem.

Dead kids were always the worst. I still remember the name and age of every dead kid I covered. In some cases, I can see my article in the paper as it was laid out in the print edition.

I can recite them and recall them and when I do, I feel the same gut-wrenching feeling I felt all those years ago as a 22-year-old reporter.

I can’t remember the Newtown names. Or the Jonesboro names. Or even those at Northern Arizona, Northern Illinois or Virginia Tech.

The names I remember are those of the shooters. Maybe. About half the time.

Life is such a wonderfully abstract concept. It’s clinical and yet it’s metaphorical all at the same time. You can clinically live a long time and yet have “no life.” You can “live life to the fullest,” even if you die far too young. Life sits in front of “liberty” and “property” and “the pursuit of happiness” in some of our most basic and treasured documents, even though this recent spate of shootings tells us that those words aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

I hate thinking like this, as fatalism isn’t my bailiwick. I’d like to think that whenever I die, I will have mattered at some point to someone or something. I’d like to think that some people somewhere will hold a memory of me in a way that shows what I did had some value and that whatever ended my life, be it old age or something much more severe, will give rise to thoughts of who I was and what I did.

And yet, what I see every day just reinforces the idea that no lives truly matter, but to a few people who know those who are gone and a spate of people who see the loss as emblematic of a larger concern.

Do me and all the rest of us a favor.

Find a way to prove me wrong, each and every day.

Find a life that matters. Then two. Then three.

Maybe if we can interlink those circles of “important” lives, we can “Six Degrees of Separation” this chaos into a better version of all of us.

And maybe then life will matter.

Neutrality Only Ever Aids the Aggressor

Rest in peace, Elie Wiesel.

A.