Category Archives: Religion

Malaka Of The Week: John Milkovich (Not Malkovich)

38aJohn_Malkovich_at_a_screening_of_-Casanova_Variations-_in_January_2015

They say that great minds think alike, so do twisted minds. Michael F and I came up with similar ideas yesterday: to mock the same Gret Stet legislator today. When I first saw his piece I thought I’d *accidentally* posted but then I noticed the title: Being John Milkovich. I considering scrapping this malaka of the week post but since it was 75% complete, I decided to issue whatever the hell this is: an introduction or disclaimer? Beats the hell outta me. Let’s get on with it:

Many state legislatures have been bringing the big stupid of late; come on down, North Carolina. I guess the Gret Stet lege got so jealous that they just had to join in on the fun. And that is why Louisiana State Senator John Milkovich (Not Malkovich) of Shreveport is malaka of the week.

I must confess that the similarity between the State Senator’s name and that of actor John Malkovich is one reason Milkovich is this week’s “honoree.” The other is that Milkovich (Not Malkovich) said something really stupid. I’ll let my pal Lamar White explain what happened when one of Milkovich’s colleagues proposed a bill to repeal a 1987 creationism  bill that was ruled unconstitutional years ago:

Newly-elected State Sen. John Milkovich, like Sen. Claitor, is also an attorney, except that, as he revealed today, he lacks a basic understanding of the law and science education, the only two things he should have familiarized himself with before debating a law about science education. Curiously, he seemed completely unfamiliar with the Louisiana Science Education Act.

<SNIP>

Sen. Milkovich wasn’t done yet, though. He wanted Sen. Claitor to know that science actually agreed with new earth creationism, and he rattled off a list of talking points that seemed memorized from Discovery Institute flash cards. Hadn’t Sen. Claitor heard about the discovery of Noah’s Ark? Apparently, they’re not receiving the same chain e-mails. And what about all of the “new scientific discoveries” that proved the Genesis account of new earth creationism? Sen. Milkovich asked.

“In fact, scientific research and developments and advances in the last 100 years, particularly in the last fifty, twenty, ten years have validated the Biblical story of creation by archeological discoveries of civilizations in the Mideast that secularists said did not exist and further archeological research determines are true. There’s some published research that an ark or large boat was found on the top of Mount Ararat and then in addition the point of the notion of instantaneous creation has been validated by the scientific study of heliocentric circles in rocks, which is consistent with an instantaneous…. I’m guess I’m asking this,” Sen. Milkovich concludes, “are you aware that there is an abundance of recent science that actually confirms the Genesis account of creation?”

I wonder which movie Noah Sen. Milkovich (Not Malkovich) prefers: John Huston or Russell Crowe? As a classic film buff, I’d go with Walter’s son/Anjelica’s daddy-o:

Huston-Bible

We in the Gret Stet of Louisiana have been laboring for many years under a variety of moronic laws that purport to protect us from heathen science and the Darwinian anti-Christ. It has been the source of considerable embarrassment and, more importantly, costly litigation. I wish these bible-thumping bozos would come up with a pie-in-the-sky-god fundamentalist explanation of climate change since they refuse to believe that it’s man-made. Now *that* would be constructive.

Back to State Senator John Milkovich (Not Malkovich.) I’d never heard of him until this week and hope NOT to hear much more of him in the future, especially since he’s a Democrat. As the kids say I’m SMH. I mostly followed in Michael F’s wake to milk the whole Milkovich (Not Malkovich) joke within an inch of its life. I guess you could call it flogging a dead milk cow as opposed to a beating a dead horse, either qualifies as malakatude. I, for one, would rather not be inside the head of a guy who believes in the Noah’s Ark fairy tale.

The Zombie-Picayune has video of Malaka Milkovich’s (Not Malkovich) remarkable exchange with State Senator Dan Claitor:

The worst thing about people like Malaka Milkovich (Not Malkovich) is their need to paint a scientific gloss on their religious beliefs. It’s a cynical way of skirting Supreme Court establishment clause cases in order to teach children this hokum or is that harum scarum? There’s so much of this nonsense out there that I’m proud to be an agnostic, atheist, or whatever the hell I am. This rank hypocrisy is why Louisiana State Senator John Milkovich (Not Malkovich) is malaka of the week.

I’ll give Nick Lowe and his Jumbo Ark the last word:

SATURDAY ODDS & SODS: SKATING AWAY ON THE THIN ICE OF A NEW DAY

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Medieval Killer Rabbits and Snail-monk via The Poke.

Spring has sprung in New Orleans at last after a brief cold snap. I should say cool snap because the lows were in the mid-forties but that’s chilly for us in March. We ran the AC one day and the heater two days later as we rode on the NOLA weather rollercoaster. So it goes.

The Fox network was in town on Palm Sunday. They filmed a half-assed modern musical version of the Passion Play complete with crappy recent pop songs. I didn’t go downtown to gawk and have only watched thirty minutes of The Passion, but it’s a stinker. It did, however, attract something of a sideshow as the procession weaved through the streets of the Quarter. Anyone shocked? I thought not. Here’s how Advocate music writer Keith Spera described one heckler/riffer who lacked the wit of Tom Servo or Croooow:

Turning onto Canal Street, the procession encountered an interloper who was clearly not an angelic host. He wore red devil horns and pulled a wagon with a boom box. Gyrating provocatively, he was intent on making a nuisance and/or spectacle of himself by mocking the march. The dancing devil tried to pull his wagon into the procession; a police officer quickly shooed him back to the sidewalk. Undeterred, he donned a kitschy cape bearing an image of Jesus.

He stopped to film himself writhing in front of the Golden Wall Chinese restaurant — and dropped his camera phone. The case shattered on the pavement.

 Divine retribution, some might say.
That’s not what I’d say, I might go Ray Charles on their asses though:

One good thing about the unintentional comedy that came to town is that it put me in a Jethro Tull frame of mind. Ian Anderson is well-known as a religious skeptic but Tull recorded an album called-you guessed it-A Passion Play during the heyday of prog-rock. I hadn’t heard it for years but enjoyed it when I gave it a spin last week:

Not only was Tull’s A Passion Play, uh, passionate; it has a storytime-style segment about non-lethal rabbits, hares, what have you. Here’s the video they used in concert way back in 1973:

I hope the poor bastard found his spectacles without making a spectacle of himself.

It just occurred to me that the makers of the 1933 Hollywood version of Alice In Wonderland missed a pun opportunity by not casting Fredric as the March Hare. Perhaps they were worried that he’d show up for work as Mr. Hyde but if that were the case he could have been renamed the March Hyde.

The March Hyde

The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles is NOT this week’s theme song. That dubious honor goes to a tune from the very next Tull LP, War Child. Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of A New Day has an insidiously catchy melody and also features a seasonally appropriate reference to a rabbit on the run. At some of their live shows, some poor bloke was obliged to dress up in a bunny outfit and scamper across the stage. The version below is bunny-free, alas. I asked the March Hare to show up since it’s March but he/she/it declined while muttering something about March madness. Fucking lazy fictional bunny.                    

Speaking of rabbits, I’ve always been somewhat baffled by the merger of pagan fertility rites with Easter. It’s part and parcel of our habit of “secularizing” even the most solemn religious holidays. Easter is about a crucifixion, not Cadbury Creme Eggs although I prefer the latter to the former. I have sensitive hands, y’all. Better still are a local delicacy, Elmer’s Gold Brick Eggs, which are all chocolaty and pecanny. They used to be made on Magazine Street not far from Adrastos World HQ. It filled the air with lovely aromas, which beat the hell out of stale beer and bus exhaust fumes. Elmer Chocolate, however, moved to the burbs quite some time ago. So it goes.

Since this has been Mott the Hoople week here at First Draft, let’s roll away the stone before the break:

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Worse Things Than Poetry

I went looking for this, this week, for a friend, and it seemed to apply to this holiday: 

At the end of the line, where enjambment sings: zero’s the number of the Fool, the shape of the storm. It’s the beginning and the end, depending on where you start counting. It goes around and around … God has to wear masks because you’re not prepared for a faceful of infinity, but that’s not the secret. The secret is: how many masks.

The “war on Christmas” nonsense makes me tired.

Not outraged. Not angry. Not defensive. Tired.

I am not interested in defending Christmas from some imaginary angry force, or help the imaginary angry force make its case. I am not willing to mount a defense that says Jesus was really really really born on December 25 (does anyone other than the most pedantic college sophomore give a shit?) and the Three Wise Men were three and wise and men and followed a star and are we seriously genuinely … like, talk about missing the point.

I am not invested in proving my right to eat frosted cookies for lunch and hang out with my family for a few days. I am not interested in making factual arguments about lighting candles in the early dark, and singing carols against the cold, because it’s indefensible. It’s MAD. It’s absurd, holding the darkness at bay with a spiral-cut ham and mulled wine. You might as well meet a tank division on the battlefield with knitting needles. You might as well try to dance away a nuclear bomb.

But you tell me what else there is to do. You tell me the harm, in one day. In one, silent, night. In one goddamn 24-hour period devoted not to misery and rage but to peace. God, we give ourselves so little time to breathe these days. We give ourselves so little rest. We harry each other through the days, picking at this or that or the other thing, always always always. There is always something wrong. Something lost. Something cold and lacking.

Hear, in this story, a plea for understanding, for a moment’s rest: A poor family, traveling, going from place to place, asking for room. Asking people see behind their masks. Behind their poverty, their choices, their fear. See God in us, see a miracle in our child to be born, and see your own need for a quiet place, even if it’s in stable.

See who we are and why we’re here. Is there ever any other question, any other request? Aren’t we all behind our masks, asking one another for recognition? On this silent night, can we declare a truce, and say that even if it’s only poetry. it’s poetry?

People have died for poetry. For less than poetry. For cheaper, smaller things than the story we tell ourselves today, of God behind a mask, visible only to those with nothing in the way of their vision. People have died for worse poetry than that. That’s worth a holiday. Especially one of grace from unlikely beginnings and hope in dark times.

That’s worth a lit candle after all.

A.

The Fog Of Historical Pictures: Headline News Edition

Donald Trump’s attack on a single religious group is nothing new in American history. Today it’s Muslims. but yahoos, peckerwoods, and xenophobes have attacked other religions in the past. Between 1911-1920, there was a virulently anti-Catholic newspaper based in Aurora, MO called The Menace. It stridently opposed Catholicism, which it characterized as a sort of satanic cult that was out to destroy the American way. The editors and contributors styled themselves as constitutionalists. Sound familiar?

The newspaper went out of business in 1920, but the KKK carried on its work during that decade. That’s right, the Klan was as obsessed with Catholics as with Blacks and Jews at that point in time. Irish Catholic New York Governor Al Smith lost the 1928 Presidential election in part because of a tidal wave of “anti-Papist” prejudice. Yokels in some benighted localities believed that the Pope would move into the White House if Smith was elected. Why? I’ll never know. He had much swankier digs at the Vatican, after all.

Back to the Aurora Menace. Here are two typical front-pages:

la-la-na-menace02

la-la-na-menace04

Note one of the headlines on the second picture: Popery vs. Constitutionalism. All you have to do is substitute Islam and you’re transported to 2015. So much for progress. The French have an aphorism for this: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Today On Bad Idea Theatre: Pope Frank & Yelp For People

We begin with the first major gaffe of  Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s papacy. Here’s Charlie Pierce’s hot take on it:

The big news today seems to be that Kim Davis, the goldbricking county clerk from Kentucky, met secretly with Papa Francesco in Washington and that he endorsed her current status as a faith-based layabout. Given this pope’s deft gift for strategic ambiguity and shrewd public relations, it’s hard for me to understand how he could commit such a hamhanded blunder as picking a side in this fight. And it’s odd that he (or someone) sought to publicize it through an American media entity that is not wholly sympathetic to his papacy. Inside The Vatican, the e-newsletter that broke the story, is edited by Robert Moynihan, a 79-year old whose patron was Benedict XVI.

 God, the crowing from the Right is going to be deafening. Everything he said about capitalism and about the environment is going to be drowned out because he wandered into a noisy American culture-war scuffle in which one side, apparently the one he picked, has a seemingly ceaseless megaphone for its views. What a fcking blunder. What a sin against charity, as the nuns used to say.

I think it was a bad idea but it’s not breaking news that Pope Frank isn’t a fan of marriage equality. He opposed it while Cardinal of Bueno Aires. I don’t think it’s cause for an emotional meltdown by liberals. That’s what the Right wants. I’m not playing their game.

I was also one of the people who thought people were getting carried away by the papal visit. Kindly Doc Maddow was convinced that the “radical” pope would change American politics. Why? I have no idea. Pope John Paul’s early trips to America were the cause of just as much acclaim and hype. I’m not aware that his visits changed American politics for good or ill.

If you’ve collapsed on to your fainting couch just remember: Pope Frank hasn’t changed his positions on poor people, capital punishment, and the environment. He just met with a Protestant non-entity from Podunk. That’s it.

I’ll give Billy Wilder and Izzy Diamond the last word of this segment:

 The other bad idea of the day is this one:

You can already rate restaurants, hotels, movies, college classes, government agencies and bowel movements online.

So the most surprising thing about Peeple — basically Yelp, but for humans — may be the fact that no one has yet had the gall to launch something like it.

When the app does launch, probably in late November, you will be able to assign reviews and one- to five-star ratings to everyone you know: your exes, your co-workers, the old guy who lives next door. You can’t opt out — once someone puts your name in the Peeple system, it’s there unless you violate the site’s terms of service. And you can’t delete bad or biased reviews — that would defeat the whole purpose.

I’d prefer to be unlisted on Peeple but if you must rate me, lie and give me 5 stars. I wonder if Jude is going to petition Peeple and demand recognition of his awesomeness. Stranger things have happened…

That concludes today’s edition of Bad Idea Theatre. I should, however. mention something that’s a helluva good idea: supporting our anthology Kickstarter. There are worse ways to spend your money like this papal pizza box:

Papal Pizza Box

Talk about a bad idea. Time to make like a Philadelphian: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Everyone In Their Own Box: Pope Francis and U.S. Politics

We should listen to our spiritual leaders, always, unless they’re advocating something that would take us out of power, in which case they should just talk nonsense like angels and blessings and “prayers up” and shit:

Still, some of those who were listening took issue with his reference to issues Congress considers in its purview, such as climate change. Inhofe, a leading voice denying climate change exists, says that programs to control carbon emissions would hurt the poor with rising energy costs more than they would save the planet.

And Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., warns that the pope might have overstepped the rhetorical wall between church and state.

“The further religious leaders get into the details of public policy, the less authoritative they tend to be,” Sessions says. “I don’t think the pope went too far. But he was pushing the line. And if you get too close to the political flame, you get burned.”

One of the things that perpetually pisses me off about American Christianity is how easy it’s supposed to be.

I’m a practicing Catholic, in that I’m not very good at it, and the one thing that was drilled into me from day one was how hard life was, on the road to Calvary. The early church had it rough, right? Best bud crucified, hiding in the back room, getting fed to lions, and your only comfort your own vulnerability.

Love your neighbor as yourself? Easy for you to say, asshole. You’re not the one in the Coliseum with Fluffy.

So come to me now, with all I have to do is believe and mouth some words during press conferences, mostly in election years? Bugger off. I’m sorry your God makes you uncomfortable sometimes, but that’s sort of the point. If you were already good at this He wouldn’t bother sending messages across the firing line (or in this case, a pope to tell you all to wake the fuck up).

Our politicians and the pundits who get invited on TV tell us we’re supposed to feel our connection with our deities deeply, to adhere to the dictates of our religious leaders, to revere those who have dedicated their lives to worship regardless of what form that worship takes. They talk about faith and connection all the damn day long, and the minute it makes them itchy, it’s, “Well, that’s just something we do on Sundays, really, and true belief is for rubes. We live in the real world, which by the way is not any warmer, go home.”

You can’t do it like that. Your life is not a series of compartments. I know we like to think it is, because it helps us be mean without thinking we are bad people, and it helps us justify our entire existence, but it’s not a bunch of boxes. You don’t keep God in one box and politics in the other, and then speak of the transformative power of belief and salvation and eternal life. It’s all one thing. Your every action reflects what you believe, and you don’t get to deny and deny and deny. Peter notwithstanding. He wasn’t elected to anything at the time.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Obvious Child

The Grande Jatte Hibernators by Max Ernst. png

The Grande Jatte Hibernators by Max Ernst.

Despite the whole Equinox thing, it’s still summer in New Orleans. I’ve been sweating like Orson Welles in The Long Hot Summer, my Paul Newman days are long gone. In other news, we had our umpteenth boil water order of the year, which means a lot of literal-minded folks didn’t bathe. I’m married to a microbiologist and we, well I, spit on that portion of the order. Even worse than stinky people, the boil orders bring out the same, inane jokes on social media. I wish I could bribe them to make it stop but I can’t. This one, by a crony of mine, is actually not bad:

Dr. A loves the Autumnal Equinox because one can stand an egg upright on the counter. Here’s an old picture of our late, great Torti Window and an egg:

Autumnal Window

As you can see above, some things never change: our messy housekeeping and the red plastic Proteus cup. Let’s move on to weightier topics.

Pope Frank is visiting America for the first time this week. He may be one of the few people to NOT get booed in Philadelphia unless, that is. some Republican politicians show up there. I’m not a Catholic but Dr. A was raised in the church. Like most sentient American Catholics, she has reservations about the church’s stance on many social issues. The genius of Pope Frank is that he has done what polite people do when there’s an ongoing, onerous discussion: he’s changed the subject. In this case to subjects more congenial to American liberals: poverty and the environment. He hasn’t changed the church’s stands on social issues but he’s signaled that he’s more tolerant and flexible. It’s worked thus far but the most important thing is his warm and pastoral nature. He’s managed to charm this atheist into thinking there’s some hope for the Vatican, after all.

Pope Frank is nothing like Jeremy Irons as Pope Alexander VI aka Rodrigo Borgia who posed the eternal question, “Turds? You brought me turds?”

They were cigars from the New World, not turds. But “Turds? You brought me turds?” became a catch phrase in our house after we binge watched The Borgias on Netflix. In the end, Pope Alexander became a turd/cigar addict. I guess it beats the hell out of being a Cameroonian pigfucker…

This week’s theme song is inspired by both Pope Frank’s visit and the first item after the break. The connection is Paul Simon who wrote The Obvious Child after Pope John Paul conducted mass at the songwriter’s personal shrine: Yankee Stadium,

Crosses in the ballpark, crosses in the ballpark. Why deny the obvious child?

We’ll start with the official video:

Dr. A and I saw the Rhythm of the Saints tour when it came to New Orleans. It was a spectacular show. Here’s Simon and his crack band playing The Obvious Child in Central Park:

I made my peace many years ago with the fact that, as much as I admire him as an artist, Paul Simon is not a very nice man. He’s also a very short, vain man. In the live clip, he’s wearing boots with high heels and a toupee. He stopped wearing the rug about 10 or 15 years ago. I’m not sure if it had anything to do with this:

We go from toupees on the table to crosses in the ballpark. Why deny the obvious child? Something else is obvious at this point, it’s time for the break. See you on the other side of this life.

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‘God is Not Angry Daddy’

Go read all of these right now. 

They just keep drawing the circle smaller and smaller, like the point is who you keep out.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Wrecking Ball

Swing Landscape- Stuart Davis

Swing Landscape- Stuart Davis (1938) via IUB.EDU.

I’m not feeling particularly destructive this week but the heat is getting to me. We’re on target to break a record that nobody wants to break: consecutive days of highs of 90+ degrees. We’re at 48 days and counting and the record is 51. I’m just trying to stay cool, which is why I posted Stuart Davis’ Swing Landscape. Ain’t nothing cooler than that, y’all.

In other local news, some knucklehead tried to move a house in Uptown New Orleans and it  got stuck for several days on General Pershing Street between Camp and Magazine, which is not far from Adrastos World HQ.

Photo by Jennifer K. Lloyd.

Photo by Jennifer K. Lloyd.

It’s half a shotgun house sliced lengthwise, which was being moved to another lot where it was to rejoin its woody mate, replacing a circa 1970’s house. I believe the other house was demolished, which brings us to this week’s theme song. Make that theme songs, 3 different tunes with the same title: Wrecking Ball. We begin with a Wrecking Ball written by Neil Young and recorded by Emmylou Harris as the title track of an atmospheric album she made with producer Daniel Lanois in 1995:

Our second song reflects another theme this week, Wrecking Ball as album title. This more political song was written and recorded by some guy from Jersey:

Our final Wrecking Ball is wielded by Joe Walsh. It comes from Joe’s fine 2012 album, Analog Man, which was co-produced by Jeff Lynne. I guess that’s why it sounds like the James Gang meets ELO:

Please follow the bouncing wrecking ball after the break.

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Gospel of Athenae 1:1-15: Fuck This Guy

thisasshole

Behold, a massive jerkoff sits at the controls of the North Mississippi Daily Journal:

I don’t write a column often, but as publisher and CEO of the Journal there are times when I feel a responsibility to share my thoughts on a subject and ensure our company is not misunderstood based on our job to report the news and share both sides of a story. I’ll also preface the following thoughts by saying if you don’t believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God and the source of authority that trumps all others, you’re not likely to agree with the rest of this column.

So you don’t want your company to be misunderstood as a news organization.

Gotcha.

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court gave federal recognition to same sex marriages making it the law of the land. Our governmental authorities, like all of us, are not perfect, and they don’t always follow God’s plans. However, inasmuch as their decisions and authority is not contradicting God’s Word, we must obey according to Romans 13:1-7. On those occasions when government leaders make decisions that are contrary to God’s Word and expect us to do things contrary to God’s will, we must obey and honor God instead as Peter and the apostles did in Acts 5:29.

Does God send a memo as to which laws contradict Him and which don’t? What font does He use? I think He uses Comic Sans just to fuck with people.

Regardless of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, marriage is still what God said it is in Genesis 2:24, the union of one man and one woman for life. While this decision will require states to issue “marriage” licenses to same-sex couples, this does not make it acceptable to God.

As yet the Lazy Sumbitch has not made His dissatisfaction known.

It’s not like He lacks the budget, either. One or two forecasts calling for frogs raining down from the sky and I think we’d all crack His code. Therefore we can all assume He either a) has bigger shit to worry about or b) actively approves of all these gay couples getting hitched in His holy name.

God’s position is consistent and will not change regardless of how any judge rules. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that this is an unacceptable lifestyle before our Almighty God, and the more we condone and embrace it, the more we become a nation that is forgetting God and the principles upon which this great nation was founded.

Which begs this most critical question: So fucking what?

When this country was founded I was the property of my husband and my next door neighbor was three-fifths of a person. All of that was completely acceptable to Almighty God and the principles on which our nation was founded, so you’ll pardon me if I don’t mourn their passing.

Our response and reaction to this decision by the Supreme Court doesn’t need to be one of hate, but rather one of love, including those who experience same-sex attraction, without comprising our beliefs and while maintaining strong convictions on the Bible’s teachings.

Nothing says love like quoting Leviticus and refusing to publish people’s wedding announcements: 

I also questioned Foster in the email about something he did not directly disclose in his anti-gay marriage column: He has directed advertising and sales staff at the Daily Journal to refuse to accept for publication announcements of same-sex marriages. As of now, anyone in Northeast Mississippi who wants to see publication of wedding announcements of marriages of same-sex couples must turn to another news organization.

Or to a company that is not going to be misunderstood as one under any circumstances.

A.

Bloomin’ Good News

Toons for our Timesjpg

Cartoonist, political satirist, and curator of Binkley’s closet of horrors, Berkeley Breathed, has announced Bloom County’s return to the funny papers. I have a funny feeling that the billionaire blowhard’s candidacy might have something to do with it. Trump looks as if he’s wearing one of Bill the Cat’s hairballs on his head, after all.

This post is an excuse to post one of my favorite Bloom County strips. It requires a set-up. For many years, quite by accident, I lived near the domiciles of religious cults. In San Francisco, I lived on Bush Street a few doors down from the Moonies. I even saw deprogrammers snatch some Moonie chick on the street. In Washington DC, I lived near the Hare Kishnas whom I’ve always called by a different name after seeing this strip:

bloom_county_coughupsomedough

Hairy Fishnuts is perfection and that’s what I’ve called these annoying folks ever since. The good news is that in New Orleans, I have never lived near the Moonies or Hairy Fishnuts.  But when I had my shop on Jackson Square, I had to deal with an obnoxious guy who cornered tourists and tried to sell them stupid caps. He was a Hairy Fishnut with, uh, hair who dressed in civvies, but never told anyone that their money was going to his cult. After Katrina and the Federal Flood, he told them an even bigger lie: that the money was going to recovery-related causes. We had many run-ins until I told him, “If you take your bullshit somewhere else, I won’t tell your victims where their money is going.” After some  yelling and screaming, he finally relented. A minor victory against the forces of malakatude

Call Any Vegetable

I’m not sure whether Pat Robertson is descending into senility or if he’s becoming an absurdist comedian. In either case, bless his heart:

 Televangelist Pat Robertson said on Monday that marijuana users and drinkers are “enslaved to vegetables.”

Speaking on his Christian Broadcasting Network television show “The 700 Club,” Robertson said that addiction is contrary to God’s will, because man has dominion over “all the vegetables.”

Robertson continued: “Cocaine is the product of a vegetable, alcohol is the product of a vegetable, marijuana is a vegetable. And yet, people are enslaved to vegetables.”

“Why would you become a slave to a vegetable?” Robertson said. “Why? Why would you do it?”

Beats the hell outta me, Pat. I have no desire to be squashed by a zucchini or in butternut squash bondage. He’s starting to sound like Tom Stoppard’s take on Tristan Tzara in the great play Travesties: his art belongs to Dada. In Pat’s case, to the great dada in the sky, you know Jesus’ dada.

Pat’s latest trip to the weird side gave me this post title and a meaty, beaty, big and bouncy earworm. (Sorry for the Who reference, I couldn’t help myself.) It also reminds me of a vegetable related Captain Beefheart story. Humor me, please. I saw Beefheart and the Magic Band open for Zappa right after the latter had a semi-hit album with Apostrophe. It wasn’t the usual Zappa crowd, it was sprinkled with people who thought Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow was the cat’s ass. Beefheart finally got pissed off by the talkative yahoos in the audience and said, “Playing to you people is like trying to turn pickles back into cucumbers”

That’s my vegetable story, y’all. Call any vegetable, call it by name. Ladies and germs give it up for Frank Zappa and the Mothers:

Odds & Sods: Bubbling Up Edition

the-who odds--sods

I’m back to that whole in the Carnival bubble thing, which I actually like. It means that one doesn’t have to spend too much time thinking about the outside world, but there are a few things on my mind and as J Danforth Quayle once said, “a mind is a terrible thing to lose.”

But before I natter on after the break, here’s a musical interlude from Paul Simon:

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PBJ Unbuckles The Bible Belt

jindalprayer_150124_0014_RMay.23305

Bobby Jindal’s deeply silly attempt to transform his image from dorky butt ugly technocrat to manly butt ugly culture warrior continues. He tried out a new-ish look at last weekend’s Hate Group Prayerpalooza in Red Stick. Note the cowboy boots, tight jeans and Garth Brooks type headset. The only thing missing is a ten gallon hat to complete his transformation into a Bollywood shitkicker.  But don’t call him that because he’s ashamed of his Indian heritage and/or doesn’t want to be a so-called “hyphenated American.” I don’t get it. There’s *nothing* wrong with being proud of your ethnic heritage. It’s the American way. It worked for Jack Kennedy. Insert obligatory Bentsen-Quayle debate reference. Of course, it didn’t work for my countryman, Michael Dukakis.

One thing I neglected to comment upon in my fashion narrative was PBJ’s honking, big-ass belt buckle. Here’s how my pal Lamar White Jr described it in his Hate Group Prayerpalooza post:

“That belt buckle!” Robin exclaimed. “Did you see that belt buckle?”

We had spent the last several hours inside of LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center observing Gov. Bobby Jindal’s controversial prayer rally, four of us huddled behind a fold-out table reserved for members of the press. “It said, ‘Governor Bobby Jindal, State of Louisiana,’ and it had a fleur-de-lis in the middle.

Instant disclaimer. The exclamation points are Lamar’s doing. As you know by now,  homey don’t play that.

Back to PBJ’s fake  Dick Duck Dynasty makeover. If it walks like a dork and it quacks like a dork, it’s a dork and PBJ is a dork. He’d be better advised to wear nice suits and look Presidential instead of like a cut-rate country singer. If he’s going to do that, he should go all the and way and get a Nudie style stage suit with rhinestones and shit. If I were Michael F, I’d insert a photoshopped image of PBJ’s head on Elvis’ body but I’m not so I won’t. He oughta consider it though.

Lamar wasn’t the only young Louisiana liberal gun at the PBJ Corral, Zack Kopplin accompanied Lamar and filed his own fine report at Slate. Just think, I knew those boys when they were tadpoles, now they’re full fledged horned frogs only neither of them went to TCU, but I wanted to carry on the frog theme without slurring the French.

The good news is that PBJ’s Folly laid an egg at the box office: only some 3K people showed up to bible thump, roll on the floor, gay bash, and speak in tongues. Perhaps they were scared away by PBJ’s honking belt buckle, which strikes me as a form of penis envy but that could be the result of spending so much time around the penisy Krewe du Vieux floats of late. Here’s the Krewe of Drips and Discharges’ classic skating dick from last year:

photo (7)

I took that pre-parade picture myself so it’s kind of crappy but it captures the grandeur that is Krewe du Vieux.

Back to PBJ’s new sartorial style. It gives a whole new meaning to the term unbuckling the bible belt…

All this talk of rhinestone Nudie suits has given me an earworm, so I’ll give Glen Campbell the last word:

 

Back By Popular Demand

Probably not, but a few people asked why I wasn’t blogging this week when so much funny shit was happening. It’s not down to Krewe Du Vieux even though that’s eaten my month. According to my ISP “another entity” cut the cable serving my house and other users. My money is on the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board. There was a crew working way after dark Tuesday and they’re not known for their competence.

I’ll be playing catch-up for a few days and then return to the Krewe Du Vieux bubble at the end of the week. I should post something about Gov. PBJ’s prayerpalooza that featured a resurrectionist, faith healer type chick but I’ll stick to posting this tweet:

Since I’ve been in full Sinatra mode this month, I’ll post something by Frank. It’s dedicated to the bozos who cut the cable in my neighborhood. It was yet another TFC moment: This Fucking City. Here’s Francis Albert:

 

 

What We Are Afraid Of

Hearing another’s voice will hurt you: 

“While it might seem an odd juxtaposition to have the adhan chanted in the same tower from which bells toll daily (and twice on Sundays!), it is actually in keeping with the university’s commitment to fostering the spiritual development of all students,” Sapp wrote. “The chanting of the adhan communicates to the Muslim community that it is welcome here, that its worship matters, that these prayers enhance the community and that all are invited to stop on a Friday afternoon and pray.”

By Thursday afternoon, the university had reversed itself. “Duke remains committed to fostering an inclusive, tolerant and welcoming campus for all of its students,” spokesman Michael Schoenfeld said in a statement. “However, it was clear that what was conceived as an effort to unify was not having the intended effect.” There will still be a call to prayer, but it will be delivered from the quad in front of the chapel.

Once, I heard the call to prayer from mosques in Amman, Jordan. I was jet-lagged, and as the light crept over the horizon and I smoked on my hotel balcony, the sound echoed from hillside to hillside. Figures emerged from buildings and  houses, and walked in the same direction. It was a profoundly beautiful sound and response, ancient as the mountains and new as the dawn.

I grew up a Roman Catholic, in Catholic schools from kindergarten on, living four blocks from our church in a neighborhood that was bookended by Christian churches on all sides. If our town had a synagogue, I don’t know where it was, and all I knew about other religions as a child was that when the Jehovah’s Witnesses came around the neighbors would call and we should stay in the kitchen and not answer the door, because the Jehovah’s Witnesses were annoying. They would take up a whole afternoon that could be spent doing laundry, watching soaps and drinking coffee.

On Sunday the church bells rang, and we got up and went to Mass. The church bells rang for weddings and  funerals and at Christmas and Easter, and we responded to that call. Where one or more of you are gathered in His name, and the world is large. Sometimes you need a reminder of where to go, and a voice to call you home.

I spent a good number of my formative working years as a religion reporter, learning about Judaism and Islam and even the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I call myself a practicing Catholic because I’m not very good at it but I am still practicing. Finding the beauty and absurdity in the human urge to understand the divine, in all its iterations, did nothing to convince me either way of anything I wasn’t already sure about, and it created no doubts except where those doubts already were.

If you don’t know the value in your own practice or lack thereof, if you can’t justify for yourself why you believe what you believe, if you have to cover your ears and close your eyes whenever another’s God is mentioned so that yours isn’t somehow diminished, you’re so lost that no call to prayer can find you. Cutting the ropes on the bells and silencing the muezzin won’t do anything but make sure you stay that way.

A.

Smaller

This week, we got just a little bit smaller: 

KENNESAW, Ga. — There will be no mosque in Kennesaw. At least not right away. The Kennesaw City Council voted on Monday to reject the request of a group of Muslims seeking to establish a worship center in the city.

Anti-Islamic demonstrators outside of Kennesaw City Hall made it clear that they believe an Islamic worship center is not welcome in Kennesaw.

The local Islamic group wanting to rent the retail space for their worship center agreed to every limitation that the Kennesaw city attorney wanted to impose, including a two-year only lease, no more than 80 worshipers allowed at a time and no more than 40 parking spaces could be used at a time.

We just get smaller and smaller.

It’s been happening for years, by the way, maybe forever: We take our shoes off in the airport, and go to war based on maybes, and march against health care, and rage against change. We view any acknowledgment of difference, any threadbare recognition of someone who does not work or worship or love or look as we do, with the violent repulsion due an invading virus.

We cut off this piece of ourselves: A 12-year-old boy has a gun, a toy gun, and police shoot him down.

We cut off this piece: A young man walks down a street in the dark, and another man stands his ground.

We cut off this piece: A man might be selling cigarettes, and a cop chokes him to death and watches while he dies.

We cut off this piece: A young man might have robbed a convenience store, and police shoot him to death.

We cut off all these pieces of ourselves. We say, Oh well. We say, he shouldn’t have been there, she shouldn’t have worn that, they shouldn’t act that way. We say, that’s the cost of doing business: Some innocent people get hurt. We say, that’s the price of a free society. We say that we’re a nation under the law, and this is the law, and that’s all we can say. And we get meaner, and more afraid. We get less safe, not more.

We get smaller and smaller. We have less and less room for the unfortunate, the downtrodden, the powerless. We have less and less room for outrage when outrage is called for, let alone when it isn’t.

We make our hearts a bowl of sugar, and say there’s only so much. As if care for others must be rationed, lest we run out, and have nothing left for the war effort.

And in the end, what are we? Some stunted thing, unable to move. What have we gained, by turning those worshippers away? By shutting our doors to the protesters, by closing our ears to the cries of the poor? What do we do now, that we are here, and we are this?

A.

‘The Amount of Concern for the Priest’

Archdiocese of Chicago releases files in abuse cases that show they knew for DECADES that priests were abusing children, but never alerted the authorities: 

After the archdiocese made the documents public Thursday morning, Pat Navin pored over the 362 pages in the file of Richard Bartz. Navin was 18 when Bartz allegedly abused him in 1976 during a Wisconsin ski trip. At the time, Bartz was associate pastor at Ascension Catholic Church in Oak Park.

Bartz was removed from public ministry and resigned as a priest in 2002. He could not be reached for comment.

“What is astounding about the file, in its entirety, is the amount of concern for the priest and the lack of concern for the victims,” said Navin, 57. “Not surprising, really, but a sad commentary on the priorities of the church hierarchy. … Reading this file was sickening. I feel physically ill.

Back when I was reporting I covered the trial of a priest, Vincent McCaffrey, who wasn’t convicted of anything until 2002. Some of the records released today showed that church authorities knew he was molesting kids as far back as 1980.

In one letter [pdf link, scroll all the way to the end] one of McCaffrey’s fellow priests accused the archdiocese of lying about McCaffrey to place him in a new parish after he’d abused children:

“If I had been told of his other problem, I’m sure I would have reacted to my ‘gut feelings’ … How many priests have a young teenager come frequently to stay overnight in his room?”

Then, later, the priest alludes to having the issue hushed up with the local authorities:

“The police in Hometown have been very good about keeping the situation quiet.”

At what point does this become a criminal conspiracy?

A.

 

Ross Douthat, the Pope Is Just Not That Into You

You wanna roll in the Pope’s Mercedes? 

Do not all orthodox Catholics believe that that authority is most certainly to be accepted over the objections of “a minority—sometimes a small minority,” as Mr. Douthat describes himself and his fellow-travelers? This minority self-identifies as orthodox and, it seems, potentially more orthodox than the synod. But it is a self-identification without credentials to validate the claim.

Finally, what are we to make of this: “Remember there is another pope still living!”? “Another pope still living!” This sounds like a threat. Are Mr. Douthat and the like-minded Catholics for whom he speaks appealing to a pope more to their liking over a pope less to their liking? If so, the statement has a regrettable sinister ring. Or what? Let’s hope that Ross Douthat does not mean his reminder to be as schism-suggesting and radically un-Catholic as it sounds to my conservative ears.

The thing about most Benedict fetishists is that they think he gives a shit about their concerns and will ride in to save them mounted on a mighty steed. I don’t like the guy at all, but he would eat Douthat for breakfast and have the rest of the Times editorial board for a tasty snack. He’s not dumb enough to ever, ever, ever take this kind of thing seriously.

Should Ross and the six other people who imagine they’re in a Michael Bay Battle Pope movie approach Benedict on bended knee and humbly beg the honor of dying to put him back on St. Peter’s throne, I can only see the Holy Father Emeritus patting Douthat on the head kindly and signaling for the Vatican psychiatrist.

Plus Benedict is four thousand years old, and in any case not in possession of the Papal Armies of the Borgias, so absent his jacking a Humvee and hiring Blackwater, he’s kind of shit out of luck.

A.

You Want Government Money? You Get Government Rules.

Assholes: 

To give an example, faith leaders said a Catholic charity group that believes sex outside heterosexual marriage is a sin should not be denied government funding because it refused to employ a leader who was openly gay

Um. YES THEY FUCKING SHOULD BE DENIED. 

Look, there's a very easy way to preserve your oh-so-sacred belief that the gays are icky. Don't take government cash. That way, you won't have to touch any dollars a gay person might have touched, and you can continue to be bigots in pointless, stupid ways, and everybody will be happy. Your religious freedom is perfectly preserved. 

This is just whining. BUT MOOOOOOOM, I WANT THE MONEY! Tough fucking shit. If I want to earn money from somebody, I have to do the job he hired me to do in the way he hired me to do it. Government's no different. Government hires you to do a job without discriminating, you do it without discriminating. Otherwise you ain't done the job, and you ain't getting paid. 

Now, you say you're gonna be broke without that sweet government contract? That now you can't have everything your heart desires? That you might have to lay some people off or close some buildings or God forbid melt down a gold crucifix or two?

I'm sure the Lord will provide for you, if you're truly doing His work. 

A.