Category Archives: Sports

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, R.I.P.

I’m about to do something I’ve only done before on special occasions: repost a previously published piece. This qualifies as a special occasion. The great American poet, bookseller, and rabid San Francisco Giants fan, Lawrence Ferlinghetti has died at the age of 101.

Larry was not only a literary legend, he was a helluva nice guy. I knew him in another lifetime. Last October, I wrote about it in A Coney Island Of The Mind.

I closed by saying:

“I originally planned to save this story for a tribute to the great man but thanks to Amy Coney Barrett, I’m telling it today. Go figure.”

Let’s begin again with with the featured image:

“I am waiting for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe for anarchy”
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems

Ever since the Impeached Insult Comedian nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, I’ve had Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poetry collection, A Coney Island Of The Mind on my mind. I know it’s strange, but you must be mindful of how my mind works. I’m not only a punster, I free associate like crazy. Just don’t call me crazy, okay? If I were rich, you’d call me eccentric.

Another reason I have Felinghetti on my mind is a thread going around Twitter asking who is the most famous person you’ve ever met and spoken to. My reply was “a toss-up between Frank Sinatra and Willie Mays.”

I also met Lawrence Ferlinghetti in my wayward youth but beat poets aren’t as famous as saloon singers and baseball superstars.

I used to hang out at Vesuvio Cafe, which is a bar in San Francisco across the alley from Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Bookstore. I got a kick out of bellying up to the Beatnik Bar, drinking Irish coffee, smoking Camels, and pondering if Jack Kerouac or Neal Cassady had ever sat on the same bar stool. The only beatnik accoutrement I lacked in those days was a proper beret.

One day a bearded gent sat next to me and struck up a conversation. I realized that it was the legendary poet. I knew Ferlinghetti loved baseball, so we talked about the Giants Sixties glory days when immortals such as Mays, McCovey, and Marichal were blown about windy Candlestick Park. I told him that I knew Gaylord Perry from my suburban neighborhood. I scored points by telling him that Perry’s daughter, Allison, deflected the notion her dad threw a spitball by calling it “a hard slider.” It was a wet slider: Gaylord’s memoirs were called Me and The Spitter.

Being a relatively well-brought up young man, I called him Mr. Felinghetti. He shook his head, slapped me on the back and said, “Call me Larry.”

I chatted with Larry several times without getting the sub-text until he joined me and my future first wife at a table at Vesuvio’s; not its name but I always called it that. Dee was more of a poetry buff than me, so they talked about Anne Sexton and Sylivia Plath instead of flashy former Giant infielder Tito Fuentes who was a particular favorite of Larry’s. I realized that she was holding my hand rather tightly. She explained why after Larry left us:

“He was cruising you.”

“Really? I had no idea.”

“It’s okay. He’s obviously a man who can take no for an answer.”

I realized she was right. It was the first time she’d been with me when I spoke with Larry. I was flattered then and even more so as I look back on that evening in North Beach. Nobody’s going to cruise me in my current decrepitude so it’s nice to remember that I was once cruiseable.

I originally considered weaving my thoughts about Amy Coney Barrett into this post but why spoil a pleasant memory?

Lawrence Ferlinghetti is still very much with us at the age of 101. His longevity is impressive but unsurprising. He’s a life force.

I mentioned Larry’s love of baseball. One of his poems is called Baseball Canto and it mentions the aforementioned Tito Fuentes:

And Tito Fuentes comes up looking like a bullfighter
in his tight pants and small pointy shoes.
And the right field bleachers go mad with Chicanos and blacks
and Brooklyn beer-drinkers,
“Tito! Sock it to him, sweet Tito!”
And sweet Tito puts his foot in the bucket
and smacks one that don’t come back at all,
and flees around the bases
like he’s escaping from the United Fruit Company.
As the gringo dollar beats out the pound.
And sweet Tito beats it out like he’s beating out usury,
not to mention fascism and anti-semitism.

I originally planned to save this story for a tribute to the great man but thanks to Amy Coney Barrett, I’m telling it today. Go figure.

The last word goes to Lawrence Ferlinghetti reading Baseball Canto:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Stage Fright

Two Comedians by Edward Hopper.

I’m  a slacker publisher. I have not formally welcomed Shapiro and Cassandra to the First Draft family. I’ve known both of them for years and they still speak to me. They’re clearly tolerant types.  Thanks for bringing your life experiences and insights to our humble blog. There’s only one rule:

It’s still cold as hell in Louisiana but our infrastructure has held up better than that of Texas, which is a much wealthier state. It helps to have a competent governor as opposed to one who lies on Fox News. Cue Lou Costello impression:

When I searched for the phrase HEY ABBOTT, I kept seeing images of wingnutty former Aussie Prime Minister Tony Abbott. He’s much scarier than the Mummy Bud and Lou met but not quite as scary as Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Even scarier is the thought of Ted Cruz on the beach in Cancun as his constituents freeze their asses off. Are you in a narcissism contest with Pennywise, dude? Tommy T will have more on Teddy Boy on Monday. Stay tuned.

This week’s theme song was written by Robbie Robertson for The Band’s 1970 album of the same name. It was inspired by Robbie’s own issues with stage fright. FYI, a 50th anniversary remixed and reordered version of that album was released last week. It’s a dramatic sonic improvement on the original. It also features an insanely great 1971 live show from the Royal Albert Hall in London. 4 stars all the way, baby.

We have two versions of Stage Fright for your listening pleasure: the studio remix and a live version from The Last Waltz.

I didn’t know until recently that there’s an instrumental of the same title. These dudes composed it.

In addition to stage fright, I’m contemplating mummy’s right now. I guess it’s time to meet the Son Of The Mummy:

None of that Brendan Fraser shit for me, dude. It’s Karloff and Lee all the way.

Now that I’ve exhausted my mummy jokes, let’s wrap our first act up and jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Pirate Radio

Rooms By The Sea by Edward Hopper.

It’s been a long week at Adrastos World HQ. I’ve been tidying up my study/home office to make it easier for an AT&T tech to upgrade my internet service. It’s a daunting task. I’m a notoriously bad housekeeper so I’ve discovered dust bunnies the size of the late, great Paul Drake as well as the odd desicated peanut and Cheerio under the desk and book stacks. Clutter thy name is Adrastos.

Because of my clean-up attempt and hours spent watching the inauguration, I’m keeping this short by ditching our second act altogether. Who has time to write about longread-type articles when you’re at war with dust and clutter?

This week’s theme song is a lesser-known John Hiatt rocker. It’s a particular favorite of mine. It’s a road song that was written in 1997 for the Little Head album.

We have two versions of Pirate Radio for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a 1997 live version with Hiatt’s then crack band, the Nashville Queens:

While we’re being all piratical and shit, here’s ELP with a prog pirate song:

It’s time to shiver me timbers and jump to the break.

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Guest Post: The Dead Fish Problem

I’m Greek and believe in cronyism and nepotism if the person is talented. My old friend Shapiro is a talented writer. He has requested that I only use his last name. Request granted. Just don’t call me Chief.

I hung out with Shapiro a lot when we both lived in San Francisco. We went to many ballgames at Candlestick Park together. The ballpark sucked, but the company was excellent.

We were known to heckle opposing players. I’ll never forget the time we went after Pittsburgh Pirates 2B Rennie Stennett. Our group was merciless. Oddly enough, Stennett signed with the Giants the next season and was an expensive flop. That concludes this episode of when I was young and obnoxious theatre. It wasn’t very theatrical, was it?

-Adrastos

The Dead Fish Problem by Shapiro

Hear me out about this.

I don’t claim to be a lawyer (much to my parents’ dismay) or a political operative or a public relations wizard (that position is held by my younger son). I am wrong about political maneuvers I see in the media as often as I am right which probably means I should go into the political operative business because that gives me a higher batting average than many of them.

But I digress.

My point is I am not a pro when it comes to political posturing. But I am a pro when it comes to knowing how to rid yourself of a dead fish.

Dead fish smell. They smell bad. Go ahead, smell one for yourself and see. Told you so. Problem is you can’t just throw a dead fish out. Doing that just stinks up the garbage pail in your kitchen, then the garbage can in the side yard, and if you live in an area that outdoor critters are known to prowl the smell of the dead fish will encourage said critters to tip over your garbage cans in attempts to retrieve what it considers to be a tasty treat and you’re left with your neighbor Fred’s icy stares for being such a slob.

So you must be careful in the disposal of a dead fish. You have to wrap it in plastic to segment it from the rest of the trash, then you have to acknowledge there is a dead fish in the garbage (“Hey Fred sorry about the smell from the dead fish in my garbage”) even if the smell can’t be detected. You have to tightly secure the lid to the garbage can, so no roving band of raccoons get wind of the deliciousness awaiting them inside. Once the garbage company comes and hauls it away no one need think about it again.

Which brings us to the Republican Party and the dead fish that is Donald J. Trump.

Up until January 6, 2021 the Republican Party fully embraced Donald Trump. That embrace covered a wide gauntlet from full on “the election was rigged and unfair” to “we need to investigate possible irregularities in the voting” to “the election was fair, and he lost”, but they embraced him. Why not? He might have lost, but he got the second highest number of votes for president in the history of the country. That’s not a number to sneeze at. That’s a number a Republican challenger in 2024 would like to emulate. Add in the “hold my nose and vote for Biden because Trump is cray-cray” Republicans who you want to return and that’s a winning combination. Embracing him makes full political sense. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley know that and that’s why they are at one end of the embracement scale while Mitt Romney is at the other. The little procedural BS they were going to engage in over the certification of the electoral college was all just so much talk to be able to chop up into fund raising media, a little red meat to throw to the fanatics.

Instead on January 6, 2021 that scale got thrown to the wolverines. Embrace Donald Trump? The man who incited a mob to march on the capitol, break through the doors, desecrate the chambers, and end up with one shot dead before they were pushed out? The man who set up a watch party in a tent on the White House lawn and let his son live cast a few minutes of him cheering on the mob via TV? The man who, when finally forced to attempt to calm the mob down, did so on YouTube instead of network TV even though cell service and Wi-Fi had been cut off to the capital and it’s surrounding area so none of the mob could see it? Who in that message said he loved them and just wanted them to be safe?

For those of you impatiently waiting for Trump’s Lonesome Rhodes comeuppance moment this was it.

Republican senators who had said they would sign on to the notion of a challenge to the electoral vote count began to drop. What once was 15 ended up at 4 (4 others changed votes after the measure was defeated). In the House, the numbers didn’t drop as dramatically, but they did drop. Suddenly congressmen who were afraid to speak against Trump for fear of being primaried in 2022 now had to worry about being primaried for not coming out hard enough against the main instigator of the mob. They were worried that the stink of Trump, like a dead fish, would cling to them long after the carcass had been thrown away.

In the spirit of bringing America together, allow me to offer a suggestion for the Republican Party.

While it’s tempting to just dump Trump in the garbage can, that would not solve your problem. I understand your need to walk a balance beam more agilely than an Olympic gymnast. You don’t want to piss off his supporters who, for the moment and with nowhere else to go, vote for you. But you also need to signal to the vast majority of Republicans, the people who didn’t storm Capitol Hill, and the independents who truly are the difference makers in elections, that you won’t stand for mob rule no matter what the mob was for.  If you urge the VP and the cabinet to invoke the 25th you’re pretty much admitting Trump was crazy from the beginning with the inference being that you enabled him which you did but we’re trying to work on solutions here. If you work for impeachment that just reminds voters, you had your chance a year ago to be rid of him and didn’t take it. Get him to resign? Fat chance he’d do that unless you can guarantee him a billion in gold, a plane to Moscow, and the promise to not try and extradite him back. Whatever you do, his stink will be in your Dolce & Gabbana outlet store suits for years to come.

Unless.

Crazy times call for crazy stunts. You know all that talk about working together to do what’s in the best interests of the country? How about you try it. I know it goes against everything you stand for McConnell, but right now the American people want to see something done. They watched on their TVs as a group of wild-eyed radicals, egged on by a defeated election loser, attack the very bastion of our democracy. That’s crap that happens elsewhere, not here in the good old US of A. They’re scared and anxious about what’s going to happen in the next two weeks. And when parents are scared and anxious their kids get scared and anxious and that’s one thing parents don’t forget easily, especially when it comes time to put that x next to a name on a ballot.

It would be so easy for you to do it. “Hey, you know what, we got conned. We thought he’d be a breath of fresh air, coming in and draining the swamp, but it turns out he’s nothing but a game show carny and we’re glad to see him go”.  Let his most vociferous champions throw their crap at you like apes in a cage, it won’t matter because they themselves will no longer matter. Their fifteen minutes are up. The funniest part of this is that of all things he was the one who handed you the perfect “we’re all gonna work together” issue — $2000 stimulus checks. Send everybody that check and then go one better. We know Biden’s coming in with a national mask mandate. Declare the pandemic to have jumped the fire line, desperate measures need to be taken, masks for all. This isn’t taking away your freedom, it’s giving you a fighting chance against a microscopic killer until everyone gets the vaccine.  If Trump says anything Republicans could turn this into the political equivalent of “new phone, who dis?”

You will have carefully wrapped him, his family, his Proud Boys, all up in plastic, carefully place them in the garbage, made sure all your neighbors know to be aware of the potential stink, secured the lid, and sent him to the garbage heap of history. Hell you might even get some Democrats to vote for you next time.

(To Democrats, that last line was just a tease to Republican leadership, a trail of Reese’s Pieces to coax them out into the world of reality.)

Shapiro Out.

Quote Of The Day: The Incredible Mr. Lindsey

There’s a lot of chatter on the Tweeter Tube about the man who convinced John McCain to put Sarah Palin on the ticket, Steve Schmidt. He’s currently the Lincoln Project’s honcho or co-honcho or big cheese or some such shit.

Schmidt’s new teevee persona is old testament prophet warning the world about Trumpism in hyperbolic terms. He often gets red faced as he rants, which happened yesterday on Nicholle Wallace’s MSNBC show.

I take Schmitty’s grandiose ranting with a grain of salt. He’s gone from an overly literal conservative true believer to overly literal Never Trumper. He’s also quite the drama queen. He’s one of those guys who insists on calling the absurd antics of Team Trump a coup. It’s not even a putsch, it’s an extended tantrum or hissy fit. Calling it a coup gives it a gravitas that it doesn’t deserve. Schmidt should cease the coup chatter, drink a Big Golpe, and import some edibles from Colorado. Calm the fuck down, man.

Warning: Baseball analogies ahead.

As a pundit, Schmitty usually swings and misses. If there were a Mendoza Line for pundits, he’d be below it. In this instance, that means he’s a .200 hitter who thinks he’s a slugger because of his orotund vocabulary.

Steve Schmidt is no Mike Schmidt who struck out 1,883 times, but also hit 548 homers in his 18 years with the Philadelphia Phillies.  Steve Schmidt wanted to be the MVP of this campaign but he’s no Mike Schmidt who was a three-time National League MVP. Both, however, would be booed in Philadelphia: Steve because he’s a former GOPer, Mike because he’s a retired Phillie. They boo everyone in Philly; even the greatest player in the history of their baseball team. End of the Schmidt comparison part of the post.

Occasionally, Schmitty digs through his over elaborate vocabulary and hits it out of the park. Hell, even Mario Mendoza hit 4 homers in his 9 years in the majors.  I said we were done with Schmidt comparisons, not baseball analogies.

I somehow missed this Schmidt gem from a January 6th article about Lindsey Graham in Rolling Stone. I’m glad it turned up on Twitter this morning:

“People try to analyze Lindsey through the prism of the manifest inconsistencies that exist between things that he used to believe and what he’s doing now. The way to understand him is to look at what’s consistent. And essentially what he is in American politics is what, in the aquatic world, would be a pilot fish: a smaller fish that hovers about a larger predator, like a shark, living off of its detritus. That’s Lindsey. And when he swam around the McCain shark, broadly viewed as a virtuous and good shark, Lindsey took on the patina of virtue. But wherever the apex shark is, you find the Lindsey fish hovering about, and Trump’s the newest shark in the sea. Lindsey has a real draw to power — but he’s found it unattainable on his own merits.”

That’s why I used the poster for the 1964 Don Knotts flick The Incredible Mr. Limpet as the featured image. In his Sixties heyday, Knotts’ persona was that of a nebbish who thought he was a tough guy. That’s Lindsey Graham in a wingnut shell.

When Don Knotts played Deputy Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show, kindly Sherriff Andy wouldn’t let him load his gun. I suspect kindly Senator Walnuts didn’t let Lindsey put bullets in his gun either. But President* Pennywise is a reckless predator who allows pilot fish Lindsey to load his gun. That’s the Trump-Graham relationship in a wingnut shell.

That concludes this basebally fishy post. The last word goes to The Jayhawks:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Help On The Way

New York Movie by Edward Hopper.

It’s a been a cold week in New Orleans. Not Minnesota cold but our hundred-year-old raised house is designed to stay coolish in the pre-AC era, not stay warm in the winter. It’s drafty but we love it anyway.

It’s runoff election day in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. I discussed the DA’s race at Bayou Brief but there’s also a local ballot measure that would mess up our public library system, which is one of the few things that works well in New Orleans. I’m voting NO and if you’re in the Crescent City, you should too. If you don’t believe me, read this piece by my friend Kevin Allman.

This week’s theme song was written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter for the Dead’s 1975 album, Blues For Allah. The attached instrumental Slipknot came out of a jam by the whole damn band.

I selected Help On The Way to remind our readers that the Trump regime will only be in power for 46 more days. Help is on the way, y’all.

What’s a Grateful Dead theme song without a live version? It’s not only helpful, it rolls away the dew too:

I’m in a helpful mood right now, so here are songs by The Beatles and Joni Mitchell that should help elevate your mood:

Now that I’ve extended a helping hand, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Do It

Lake George Reflection by Georgia O’Keefe

Today is our last day under quarantine. I’m relieved that neither of us were ever symptomatic. We were damn lucky.

This week’s theme song was written by the great Motown songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland in 1964. It was originally intended for the Supremes but wound up being recorded by Marvin Gaye. Its real title is Baby Don’t You Do It but I prefer The Band’s re-titling, Don’t Do It. Either way it’s a great song that’s been recorded oodles of times or is that scads? Beats the hell outta me.

We have five versions of Don’t Do It aka Baby Don’t You Do It for your listening pleasure.

The IT in question is “don’t you break my heart.” Here’s a Stones song that says doo doo doo doo instead of don’t:

Now that we’re all heartbroken and shit, let’s jump to the break.

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It’s All Over But The Pouting

Image by Michael F.

I’m still batting away coup chatter like a cat with a cornered cockroach. If someone wants to claim there’s a coup, I tune them out. I’m not even sure if many people who use the term even know what a coup really is. It’s certainly not what’s going on right now, which is driven by presidential * payback, petulance, and pouting.

Here’s what’s going on right now: President* Pennywise is pouting. One man’s petulant refusal to accept reality is slowing down the transition of power. Making matters worse are his GOP enablers. That’s the real problem right now, not a golpe de estado, which is Spanish for coup d’état. A real coup would make us all golpe, I mean, gulp…

President* Pennywise walked up to the edge of admitting defeat last weekend but couldn’t quite get there. A concession would be nice and good sportsmanship, but this guy is never going to concede. He’s incapable of doing the right thing. It’s not in his DNA. Instead, he pouts.

I have long thought that playing team sports is good for the participant even if they’re no good at the sport. I was a terrible Little League baseball player and an even worse church league basketball player. In fact, my father was the Holy Cross church hoops coach and he taught us the virtue of good sportsmanship and the vice of sore loserdom.

Trump claims to have been the best high school baseball player in New York state in his day but it taught him nothing about being a good sport. His claim is, of course, a lie. He played ball against future Hall of Famers Jim Palmer and Rod Carew. I think they were a smidgen better than the Impeached Insult Comedian. The only thing this asshole could have led the league in was trash talking. That he’s good at. And he excels at pouting.

Back to the transition. It’s being blocked by the Trump regime’s GSA honcho, Emily Murphy. She’s trying to score points with the boss when he only has 65 days left in office. She’s going to be replaced by Team Biden after this stunt, so she might as well go out in a blaze of glory by authorizing the full-blown transition required by law. Trump would fire her, but such a firing might help her employment prospects after the Kaiser of Chaos is out of office.

Perhaps a musical interlude will encourage Emily Murphy to do the right and legal thing:

The pandemic is the main reason the transition is so important. Team Biden is concerned that Trumpist recalcitrance will make the distribution of any vaccines problematic. Incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain put it this way:

“We now have the possibility — we need to see if it gets approved  — of a vaccine starting perhaps in December, January,” Klain said, appearing to refer to Pfizer’s recent announcement that early, independently reviewed data suggests that its COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in preventing infections. “There are people at HHS making plans to implement that vaccine. Our experts need to talk to those people as soon as possible so nothing drops in this change of power we’re going to have on January 20th.”

Klain stressed the urgency for Biden’s transition team to get the ascertainment from Trump’s GSA chief so that it can begin its plans to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What we really want to see this week is the General Services Administration issue that ascertainment, so we can start to do the kinds of things you and I talked about a few minutes ago,” Klain said. “Meet with these vaccine officials, kind of get the intelligence briefings for the president-elect, the vice president-elect. That’s really the measure of how this is moving forward this week, I think.”

Unfortunately, neither Trump nor his party gives a rat’s ass. The GOP is the party of COVID denialism, which is not a good place to be as the virus surges. They seem to think that, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, if they click their heels together three times COVID will magically disappear. Freedom, man.

I think that Trump and other GOP bigwigs should be forced to wear this hat seen on last week’s Shark Tank:

There’s no doubt that COVID denialism and false claims of a rigged election are hurting the country. It’s what they do. Everything Team Trump has done since day one has hurt the country. They’ve graduated from owning the liberals to reckless disregard for human life during the pandemic. In many states, reckless disregard = manslaughter. That’s some serious shit. The GOP should care but they don’t. Freedom, man.

At some point the transition will kick into high gear, a rising body count may force the GSA’s hand. As to President* Pennywise, he can go fuck himself. All his lies and conspiracy theories don’t change the fact that he lost the election.

Putting Rudy Giuliani is charge of the post-election litigation is a sign of desperation. They haven’t won a single court case and the Million MAGA March flopped. So much for the civil war and coup chatter. The MAGA Maggots are pussies. They should grab themselves.

This whole mishigas reminds me of the venerable expression: It’s all over but the shouting. The Trumpified version is: It’s all over but the pouting.

The last word goes to Bobby Womack & Bill Withers, The Rolling Stones, and Grateful Dead:

 

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Nice Guys

This week’s edition is inspired by my plug of my Bayou Brief column. I stumbled into the other cover while doing my research. I hope Conroy was wrong about that.

Guest Post: The All-Time, No-World Series Starting Nine

Tommy T is on the mend and still not quite up to doing that voodoo that he does so well.

For the second consecutive week, we have a guest post by Ryne Hancock. This time, he’s talking baseball.

-Adrastos

The All-Time, No-World Series Starting Nine by Ryne Hancock

One thing my friend Peter and I bond over is our love of baseball history (in fact I had floated around the idea of a podcast that focused on baseball history before the Great Pause). Despite the fact that I’m a diehard Cardinals fan and the fact that Peter’s Giants have beaten us three times in the postseason in my lifetime, we can both say that we’ve seen our teams reach the Fall Classic in our lifetimes.

With baseball playoffs in high gear, I thought about a starting nine of players that never saw their talents showcased in the Fall Classic. While I’m pretty certain that you, the reader, have different opinions on who should be on this list, I encourage you to leave comments in the comment section on who I left off.

 OF Dale Murphy:  Sandwiched between Hank Aaron & Chipper Jones, Dale Murphy was the only reason why most people during the 1980’s gave a damn about the Braves. In 15 years with the Braves, Murphy won two MVPs and led the Braves to the 1982 NL West title, where they would lose to the Cardinals in the NLCS. After that season, the Braves would have one more winning season during his time in Atlanta, an 88-win season in 1983. Despite the fact that he put up numbers that were Hall of Fame worthy, Murphy’s name isn’t etched in the annals among the immortals in Cooperstown.

OF Ken Griffey Jr. The greatest tragedy in baseball history was not the Indians choking away a 3-1 lead to the Chicago Cubs and extending the misery of the Cub fans, but kids of a certain generation never got to see Ken Griffey belt a home run with that sweet swing or rob someone of a home run in the World Series. The closest Griffey ever got to the Fall Classic was in 1995, when they beat the vaunted Yankees (more on one of their players later on) to reach the ALCS. Another postseason appearance followed two years later that ended in the ALDS with the Mariners, which would be the last one for Griffey until 2008 when he played on the White Sox.

I thought about that the other day when I was watching a softball game at the Fly when I had a conversation with a 14-year-old kid about Mike Trout and how the Angels were wasting his prime.

“Kid, when I was your age,” I told him, “we didn’t see Griffey in the World Series. You’re getting that with Trout”.

OF Vlad Guerrero: There were a bunch of names that stood out for me for the rightfield position. Of the four names I had (Andre Dawson, Vlad Guerrero, Sammy Sosa, Juan Gonzalez) the one that stuck out for me was Vlad Guerrero.

Of all the players I grew up watching, no one hit the ball more violently than Guerrero, especially balls that were out of the strike zone. Despite all the success the Angels had during that time, with five division titles in six years, Guerrero could never reach the Fall Classic.

3B Ron Santo: Kids of a certain generation in Chicago saw the primes of Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Ernie Banks, & the third baseman on this team, Ron Santo, squandered like an Atlanta Falcons lead in the Super Bowl.

A key cog in the Cubs’ resurgence in the 1960’s, Santo didn’t get a chance to sniff a winning season until 1967, when the Cubs finished third behind my Cardinals, who of course won the World Series that year. In 1969, the first year of divisional play, the Cubs looked primed to reach the playoffs and possibly the World Series when thanks to the managerial malpractice of Leo Durocher and the fact that Wrigley didn’t have night games, the Cubs squandered an eight-game lead in the new National League East to the New York Mets.

The Cubs wouldn’t reach the playoffs until 1984.

SS Ernie Banks: When the Cubs won four years ago, the first person that came to my mind was Ernie Banks. In 1958 & 59 Banks won the National League MVP when the Cubs finished fifth and seventh, respectively. It wasn’t until his 11th season in which the Cubs had a winning record, when the Cubs finished 82-80.

Banks had to deal with not only racism, but also an eccentric owner that was more focused on the ballpark than fielding a competent team. He saw the dregs of a pennant race late in his career, but never got a chance to see the Fall Classic.

Just think how things would have been had he had a competent front office.

2B Ryne Sandberg: Despite my fandom for the Cardinals, I was named for Ryne Sandberg. Long before Sosa made his sojourn to the North Side, Sandberg was the face of the Cubs. Fifteen years after their collapse in 1969, the Cubs reached the playoffs for the first time since 1945 when they won the National League East. Another trip would follow in 1989 as they won the division by six games over the New York Mets.

Unfortunately, those two trips would be the closest Sandberg would get to the Fall Classic. In 1984, the Cubs would blow a 2-1 lead to the Padres and five years later, the Giants behind the bat of Will Clark would derail pennant hopes for the Cubs.

1B Don Mattingly: Similar to Dale Murphy in Atlanta, Mattingly was the gap between Reggie Jackson and Derek Jeter. Despite putting up solid numbers during his time in the Bronx, Mattingly could never showcase his talents in the World Series. Many baseball scholars suggest that had the 1994 strike not happened, the Yankees would have probably made the postseason.

P Jim Bunning: Lost in the shuffle of great pitchers in the 1960’s and long before he became a quack politician, Jim Bunning was one of the best pitchers in baseball. In a 17-year career, most notably with the Tigers and the Phillies, Bunning led the American League in wins once and strikeouts three times. During his time in Detroit, Bunning got close to the World Series once, playing on the 1961 team that won 101 games and finished second behind the Yankees. In Philadelphia, he played on the 1964 team that collapsed down the stretch and lost the pennant to the Cardinals.

C Joe Mauer: In a perfect world Joe Mauer is like Kent Hrbek, a local kid who made good by playing for the local baseball team and won two world championships.

Despite being the face of the Twins for over a decade, Mauer didn’t have the same luck in the postseason as Hrbek. In five trips to the postseason, Mauer never won a postseason series.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Delta Lady

Hummingbirds by Walter Anderson.

It’s been an unduly stressful week in New Orleans. For the sixth time this hurricane season, we were in the cone of uncertainty. My friend Chef Chris DeBarr calls it “hurricane dodgeball.”

Hurricane Delta obeyed what could be called Adrastos’ First Rule Of Hurricane Forecasting: If there’s a bull’s eye on New Orleans 4 or 5 days before a storm hits, it will not come here. It happened again. It’s pure luck but it beats the hell outta the alternative. Delta is following an eerily similar path to Hurricane Laura, alas. Best wishes to everyone in Southwestern Louisiana.

All is not gloom and doom in the New Orleans area. In suburban Pearl River, a man saw a Catholic priest having sex with two women. In the church. On the altar. The scene was being recorded. Instead of beating off like a proper pervert, the peeper called the cops. One could call this an altercation. But were they doing it dog collar style?

This story is funny because it involves consenting adults, which makes it an anomaly for the Catholic church. It turns out the women were rough trade. There’s been a raging dispute as to the plural spelling of dominatrix. Some say dominatrices but I’m sticking with dominatrixes because X is a funnier letter than C.

I’m feeling terse this week, so this will be a relatively short Saturday Odds & Sods. We will dispense with our second act altogether. I’m worn out from all the presidential* acting up so one less act sounds good to me.

This week’s theme song was written by Leon Russell in 1969. It was first recorded by Joe Cocker but I’m still putting Leon’s version first. I don’t want to trip over his beard or some such shit. Of course, both Leon and Joe are no longer with us.

We have three versions of Delta Lady for your listening pleasure: Leon Russell, Joe Cocker live with Leon Russell, and a mostly instrumental version by the great Rick Wakeman. It’s unclear if his cape attended the session.

One reason for the avian Walter Anderson featured image is that Leon Russell also wrote a song called Hummingbird:

Let’s fly or hover to the break. There may be pollen on the other side. Achoo.

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A Coney Island Of The Mind

“I am waiting for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe for anarchy”
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems

Ever since the Impeached Insult Comedian nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, I’ve had Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poetry collection, A Coney Island Of The Mind on my mind. I know it’s strange, but you must be mindful of how my mind works. I’m not only a punster, I free associate like crazy. Just don’t call me crazy, okay? If I were rich, you’d call me eccentric.

Another reason I have Felinghetti on my mind is a thread going around Twitter asking who is the most famous person you’ve ever met and spoken to. My reply was “a toss-up between Frank Sinatra and Willie Mays.”

I also met Lawrence Ferlinghetti in my wayward youth but beat poets aren’t as famous as saloon singers and baseball superstars.

I used to hang out at Vesuvio Cafe, which is a bar in San Francisco across the alley from Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Bookstore. I got a kick out of bellying up to the Beatnik Bar, drinking Irish coffee, smoking Camels, and pondering if Jack Kerouac or Neal Cassady had ever sat on the same bar stool. The only beatnik accoutrement I lacked in those days was a proper beret.

One day a bearded gent sat next to me and struck up a conversation. I realized that it was the legendary poet. I knew Ferlinghetti loved baseball, so we talked about the Giants Sixties glory days when immortals such as Mays, McCovey, and Marichal were blown about windy Candlestick Park. I told him that I knew Gaylord Perry from my suburban neighborhood. I scored points by telling him that Perry’s daughter, Allison, deflected the notion her dad threw a spitball by calling it “a hard slider.” It was a wet slider: Gaylord’s memoirs were called Me and The Spitter.

Being a relatively well-brought up young man, I called him Mr. Felinghetti. He shook his head, slapped me on the back and said, “Call me Larry.”

I chatted with Larry several times without getting the sub-text until he joined me and my future first wife at a table at Vesuvio’s; not its name but I always called it that. Dee was more of a poetry buff than me, so they talked about Anne Sexton and Sylivia Plath instead of flashy former Giant infielder Tito Fuentes who was a particular favorite of Larry’s. I realized that she was holding my hand rather tightly. She explained why after Larry left us:

“He was cruising you.”

“Really? I had no idea.”

“It’s okay. He’s obviously a man who can take no for an answer.”

I realized she was right. It was the first time she’d been with me when I spoke with Larry. I was flattered then and even more so as I look back on that evening in North Beach. Nobody’s going to cruise me in my current decrepitude so it’s nice to remember that I was once cruiseable.

I originally considered weaving my thoughts about Amy Coney Barrett into this post but why spoil a pleasant memory?

Lawrence Ferlinghetti is still very much with us at the age of 101. His longevity is impressive but unsurprising. He’s a life force.

I mentioned Larry’s love of baseball. One of his poems is called Baseball Canto and it mentions the aforementioned Tito Fuentes:

And Tito Fuentes comes up looking like a bullfighter
in his tight pants and small pointy shoes.
And the right field bleachers go mad with Chicanos and blacks
and Brooklyn beer-drinkers,
“Tito! Sock it to him, sweet Tito!”
And sweet Tito puts his foot in the bucket
and smacks one that don’t come back at all,
and flees around the bases
like he’s escaping from the United Fruit Company.
As the gringo dollar beats out the pound.
And sweet Tito beats it out like he’s beating out usury,
not to mention fascism and anti-semitism.

I originally planned to save this story for a tribute to the great man but thanks to Amy Coney Barrett, I’m telling it today. Go figure.

The last word goes to Lawrence Ferlinghetti reading Baseball Canto:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Wasted On The Way

Three Musicians by Pablo Picasso.

New Orleans dodged a wet and windy bullet earlier this week. Hurricane Sally dumped two feet of rain in some areas on the Florida-Alabama border. I don’t guilty for being relieved. If I were Poseidon, I’d send all tropical systems out to sea. I do, however, feel bad for folks in the affected areas. They got slammed by that evil bitch Sally. Blow ill wind, blow.

I had put this feature to bed and tucked it in when I learned of Justice Ginsburg’s death. I wish everyone would dial their predictions back. It’s unclear what impact RBG’s death will have on the election. I also wish that those who admire Justice Ginsburg would show more respect for her passing, especially since it’s Rosh Hashanah. There was, however, a moment of unintentional levity when the crowd outside the Supreme Court started singing Amazing Grace. It’s a Christian hymn, y’all. I’ll have more on Ginsburg’s passing on Monday.

In some ways, this week’s theme song matches the featured image. Three Musicians = Crosby, Stills & Nash. Graham Nash wrote Wasted On The Way for CSN’s  1982 Daylight Again album. Eagle Timothy B. Schmitt added harmony vocals making that Four Musicians. So much for the Picasso analogy. Oh well, it was imperfect to begin with.

We have two versions of Wasted On The Way for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a live version without Timothy B. Schmitt. Go, Team Picasso.

Stills’ intro to the live version is poignant. I rarely do poignant but sometimes the mood strikes me.

Before we jump to the break, a Neil Young song from the Buffalo Springfield days:

Holy Wall Of Sound-style production, Batman.

Time to take the plunge. See you on the other side.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Six Months In A Leaky Boat

Blue Painting by Wassily Kandinsky.

It’s September and it’s still hotter than hell in New Orleans. Pandemic fatigue is widespread here just like everywhere else. Unfortunately, America didn’t do the work needed to suppress COVID-19 so we’re still muddling through.

The NFL season opens this week and I find myself utterly indifferent. I’m mildly amused by wingnut fans who say that they’ll boycott the season because the NFL has gone BLM on their asses. These are the same people who claim they want sports and politics on separate plains, make that separate planets. The Saints will be playing on Sunday at an empty Superdome. It’s hard to get excited about any of this. So it goes.

This week’s theme song was written by Tim Finn in 1982 for Split Enz’s Time and Tide album. It refers to the amount of time that it took British pioneers to sail to New Zealand and is also a metaphor for the songwriter’s nervous breakdown. That’s a lot of substance for a song that still rocks like crazy.

We have three versions of Six Months In A Leaky Boat for your listening pleasure: The Split Enz original; a 2000 live version by Tim Finn, Bic Runga, and Dave Dobbyn and a 2006 performance by a reunited Enz featuring some stellar keyboard work by the great Eddie Rayner.

Kiwi singer-songwriter David Dobbyn has his own nautical classic:

Now that we’re all seasick, it’s time to don a life jacket and jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Turn It On Again

Tomato Soup Cans by Andy Warhol.

I’ve been rationing my Twitter use lately so I missed out on Trump soup canapalooza. This week’s featured image is my sole contribution now that it’s been beat to death. I’m also tired of talking about the Impeached Insult Comedian. It’s Joey Shark’s secret weapon in the campaign: people would like a break from politics from time-to-time. I’m not the only one suffering from Trump fatigue.

It’s time for a First Draft housekeeping note. The Friday Cocktail Hour was bumped so My Uncle Was A ‘Loser’ wouldn’t have to share the spotlight. I put a great deal of emotion and passion into that post. The reaction has been most gratifying. The Friday Cocktail Hour will return next week with a Duke Ellington song. Nothing but the best for my readers.

This week’s theme song was written by Tony Banks, Phil Collins, and Mike Rutherford for the 1980 Genesis album, Duke. Rutherford’s lyrics are about someone who watches way too much teevee and confuses it with real life. Much like the Kaiser of Chaos. So much for my avowed Trump fatigue.

We have two versions of Turn It On Again for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a live version:

One could even describe the character in this week’s theme song as follows:

Since we’ve reached a turning point in this week’s outing, let’s jump to the break.

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They Didn’t Do The Work

I’ve been meaning to write about the “return” of big-time American sports. I’ve been a skeptic and a critic. They claim to have plans and safety protocols, but they seem to be winging it. It’s the current national style, after all. Of course, using President* Pennywise as a role model strikes me as injudicious at best, disastrous at worst.

I thought that baseball was the sport that *might* be able to do it since social distancing is built into the game. Unfortunately, baseball is run by greedy idiots who only care about money. Sounds mighty Trumpy to me, y’all. And I’m talking about the owners *and* the players. I’ve wished a pox on both their houses for years, but I never meant it literally.

The WaPo’s Sally Jenkins brilliantly sums up why this “return” was doomed:

We were given a job to do if we wanted our games back, a very simple job, and we couldn’t do it. Instead we did wings and sheetcake. “You are what your record says you are,” Bill Parcells said. It’s an axiom in sports: Your results speak for themselves. The scoreboard says more than a dozen major league baseball players are sick after just five days of play, and the only record this country is leading in is the number of deaths.

If there is one thing sports teaches, it’s that just wanting to win is not enough. You have to do the work, or you’re going to fail and maybe even embarrass yourself. You can’t cheat the grind, or you’ll lose every time. In this case, the work was easy. Wear a mask. Stay home unless it’s a real emergency. It’s not exactly running wind sprints up hills. Americans still didn’t do it.

Itching to get out, pale and restless, lethal in our boredom and urge to self-gratify, we’ve been unable to sit the hell down and stay there. Instead we’ve club-crawled and dined until swollen on lemon pepper chicken rub and store-bought icing.

Jenkins’ words of wisdom apply across the board to every industry and walk of life. They didn’t do the hard work of shutting down tight for a few months while a concrete national plan was devised to deal with the pandemic. Germany did it. France did it. New Zealand did it. Even Italy did it after a rocky start. Italians are every bit as individualistic as Americans. They stared COVID-19 in the face, didn’t like what they saw, and locked things down tight. Now they’re returning to normal.

The United States didn’t do the work. Neither did Brazil or the United Kingdom. It’s no coincidence that both countries have Trump-like leaders. Both Bolsonaro and Boris have tested positive whereas Trump is tested constantly because, while he claims the virus will disappear like magic, this is one time that he doesn’t believe his own lies.

Another country that has done a good job coping with the pandemic is Ireland. They’ve even gone through an election stalemate that resulted in a coalition of the two major parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. As you might imagine, the UK’s inept response has resulted in some mockery from the Irish including the Guardian’s Seamus O’Reilly with this instant classic zinger:

“Ireland is not outflanking a competent, longstanding neighbour. She just has the pleasure of being compared with the gurning claptrapocracy next door.”

Claptrapocracy is my new favorite word. It’s something that Boris’ Britain and Trump’s America have in common.

Ireland did the work. Great Britain and America did not.

Finally, another quote from a WaPo columnist. This time it’s David Von Drehle who fancies himself a sensible centrist. He has some unsolicited advice for Republicans:

So, let me speak to those Republicans cowering in closets and hiding under stairs in Washington and the state capitals, muttering prayers that Trump might somehow calm the flames that threaten to consume them.

Run away. Close your eyes and duck your heads and sprint as fast as you can away from Trump. Claim amnesia. Say you’ve been hiking the Appalachian Trail. Blame your spirit spouse — whatever. A fury is building in Middle America that has nothing to do with Russia or impeachment or “Access Hollywood.” It’s rising among people who managed to look past all of that to find something they liked about the president. And now he’s repaying them with a stubby middle finger in their faces.

These folks don’t get daily covid-19 tests with results in 15 minutes. Their every contact is not screened and scanned. They live in the real world, a place Trump looks down on from his jets. They understand that covid-19 is not a joke.

The only joke, and a very bad one indeed, is the Current Occupant.

He didn’t do the work.

It’s time for him to go.

Enough Money

AMAZING: 

He said he was optimistic because readers have become accustomed to paying for online content, noting the sports fans who subscribe to The Athletic. He added that vendors like Pico, Stripe and MailChimp have made it easier for media companies to outsource business functions. In addition, he said, the thinning of newspaper sports sections, the dissolution of ESPN the Magazine and layoffs at Sports Illustrated may have created a vacuum.

Defector staff members said they did not expect the kind of growth coveted by the venture capitalists who have increasingly dominated online journalism. Rather, they said, they hoped to be able to pay themselves competitive salaries while developing a sustainable media business that produces content they are interested in.

What if you could pay your bills and yourselves and that was like, okay? What if you weren’t tying yourself into knots to appease some bullshit trust-fund asshole who wants you to show an 18 percent margin or you’re all fired? What if you just, like, did the job you said you were gonna do and it was cool?

I mean goddamn. I am not trying to be a sarcastic bitch, but my entree into journalism was at a nonprofit, where if we had literally 10 cents more in the bank than we needed it was Christmas fuckin’ morning. It wasn’t, say, a COMFORTABLE way to live, I’m pretty sure I still have anxiety about money based on those three years alone, but we made it work and published what we needed to publish.

I cannot fathom where most of legacy journalism is right now, with money out the ass for investors and profit margins that would make Walmart blush, furloughing reporters while the world is on fire. How can you, with a straight face, tell people there’s no money to pay them when you’re paying your last sexually harassative exec $15 million to get himself gone?

Why did this industry allow that kind of thing to make sense for so long?

God, I’m glad to see people just fucking going for it. Even the tone of this story is different than it would have been five years ago. There’s less skepticism, less gratuitous bitchery about “wowee, a new model” and maybe things have just finally gotten bad enough everywhere that people are noticing this is an insane way to live.

I wish so many good papers and good reporters hadn’t had to die broke while we figured this out.

A.

What Will Crimson Tide Fans Do?

Something went right for the Kaiser of Chaos this week. His former Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, lost a bid to regain his Senate seat. Jeff Bo was Trump’s favorite whipping boy after he recused himself from the Kremlingate investigation. It was the only worthwhile thing he did as AG.

Sessions was defeated in the Republican primary by former Auburn head football coach, Tommy Tuberville, who campaigned with his head firmly up Trump’s ample rump. Can he go from Coach Tubs to Senator Tubs? Let’s hope not.

Tubs is not only a bigot-a given for an Alabama GOPer-he’s a corrupt piece of shit whose former business partner was convicted of fraud. No wonder President* Pennywise supported him. The real reason was payback, not pay-offs although Trump loves those too.

College football is some serious shit in Alabama. It will be a factor in the race. Senator Doug Jones went to the University of Alabama so perhaps he should start wearing a houndstooth hat a la Bear Bryant. He can’t very well walk around with a constant scowl like current Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban.

The Alabama Democratic party has a pretty good twitter troll game:

The Iron Bowl is, of course, the annual game between Auburn and Bama, which may not be played in 2020 because of the grotesque incompetence of the Impeached Insult Comedian. Perhaps Senator Jones should blame Trump if the SEC cancels football this fall. They take their football seriously in Alabama, y’all.

Politics make strange bedfellows. As an LSU fan, I hate the Crimson Tide, but I think Doug Jones should leverage the Auburn-Alabama rivalry. He’s the underdog in deep red Alabama so bleeding crimson isn’t the worst strategy.

I’m rooting for Doug Jones. He’s a fine man who has been such a good Senator than one could even call him a Solon.

I like Senator Jones enough to say this: Roll Tide, Roll Doug.

That hurt. I hope Coach O will forgive me.

I’m feeling obvious today, so the last word goes to Steely Dan:

How about a paraphrase? “They call Alabama the Crimson Tide, call me Senator Jones.”

That’s all, y’all.

Bountygate Nouveau

I suspect that the original Bountygate is forgotten everywhere but in New Orleans. It was the accusation that there was a bounty system on the New Orleans Saints for hits against opposing players. The NFL came down hard on the “implicated” coaches and players including head coach Sean Payton who was suspended for a year. It turned out to be sound and fury signifying nothing after further investigation. That’s a fancy way of saying that it was bullshit.

Bountygate Noveau is infinitely more serious:

American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops — amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter.

<SNIP>

The intelligence finding was briefed to President Trump, and the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March, the officials said. Officials developed a menu of potential options — starting with making a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and a demand that it stop, along with an escalating series of sanctions and other possible responses, but the White House has yet to authorize any step, the officials said.

The Trump regime is tripping over itself to explain away the latest foreign policy scandal. My favorite excuse is that the Impeached Insult Comedian didn’t read the briefing papers. That’s the presidential* equivalent of that old standby “the dog ate my homework.” Trump, of course, hates dogs. I wonder when they’ll move on to “my grandmother died.” That won’t work either: his grandparents are long dead.

Shortly after the meeting cited by the NYT, President* Pennywise resumed his push to restore Russia to the G-7. How dare Obama ban Putin for attacking and conquering the Crimea? They were just taking it back. #sarcasm. Of course, Trump doesn’t know it used to be part of the Soviet Union and Russian Empire. All he knows is that Putin is a tough guy, not a fake tough guy like himself.

Joe Biden pounced on the latest Trump-Putin scandal:

“Not only has he failed to sanction and impose any kind of consequences on Russia for this egregious violation of international law, Donald Trump has continued his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin,” the former vice president said.

Biden called it a “betrayal of the most sacred duty we bear as a nation — to protect and equip our troops when we send them into harm’s way.”

FYI, the featured image shows the aftermath of Putin throwing the ball and Trump fetching it like a good dog. It’s unclear if Putin scratched his head or gave him a treat as a reward. Good boy, Donald.

On a more serious note, this is NOT the first time that a Republican president has endangered the lives of our soldiers. In its rush to war, the Bush-Cheney administration failed to give the troops proper equipment such as body armor. Like W, President* Pennywise can’t be bothered with the details. So much for caring about the military.

I called this post Bountygate Nouveau because it’s a fresh scandal but reminiscent of past scandals. If it were a wine, it would be Beaujolais Nouveau, which a friend of mine insists on calling Boojelly. I’m not sure if the wine image works but I’m not a sommelier. There ain’t no cure for the sommelier blues

The last word goes to the Lincoln Project with an instant response ad to this newly vinted (decanted?) scandal:

Crashing Symbols

It’s been a big week on the symbolic front. There’s been some direct action involving statues of Christopher Columbus and Jefferson Davis as well action taken by NASCAR and a dialogue within the military about renaming bases named for Confederate generals. I’m almost dizzy from the whirlwind of activity.

I have mixed feelings about the direct actions taken by protesters in Boston and Richmond. I prefer the sort of process we had in New Orleans, but I understand the jubilation of the exuberant crowds that took matters into their own hands. I think it’s wiser to allow the Lost Causers some time to grieve but decapitating Columbus has some wit to it.

It’s a good thing The Sopranos is fictional. Silvio, Paulie, and company busted some heads in Newark one Columbus Day:

In other symbolic news, NASCAR is banning the Confederate flag at its events. Boy Howdy. This will prove to be controversial since peckerwoods and rednecks love them some racing as well as the Stars and Bars. This move took some guts, y’all. It’s unclear what the cast of The Dukes Of Hazzard thinks of this change:

One NASCAR driver, Bubba Wallace, drove a Black Lives Matter branded car after the announcement. I am not making this up:

I never expected to write in praise of a NASCAR driver named Bubba. The world really has gone crazy, y’all. In this case, good crazy.

The military continues to rebel against bases named for rebel generals. An early public blow was struck by retired General David Petraeus at the Atlantic. He made the point that most of the honorees weren’t even very good generals:

It also happens that—Lee excepted—most of the Confederate generals for whom our bases are named were undistinguished, if not incompetent, battlefield commanders.* Braxton Bragg, for example, left a great deal to be desired as a military leader. After graduating from West Point in 1837, he served in the Second Seminole War and the Mexican War. His reputation for physical bravery was matched by one for epic irascibility. Bragg’s temper was so bad, Ulysses S. Grant recounted in his memoirs, that an old Army story had a superior once rebuking him, “My God, Mr. Bragg, you have quarreled with every officer in the army, and now you are quarrelling with yourself!” Bragg’s inability to cooperate diluted his effectiveness until his resounding defeat at the Battle of Chattanooga, in November 1863, precipitated his resignation from the Confederate army.

Honoring inept, traitorous generals is a funny way to honor the troops. The Pentagon is currently in a tug of war on this subject with the Impeached Insult Comedian. It’s ironic that Donny from Queens seems to see himself as the second president of the confederacy. But there won’t be any statues of him topple when the dust finally settles; only shame and defeat.

Finally, closer to home and my heart: Plans are afoot at LSU to rename the Middleton Library. Troy Middleton was an openly racist segregationist who was president of LSU from 1951-1962. It’s about fucking time. Here’s hoping they’ll put some money into the building as well. Perhaps they should name it after this former LSU honcho:

T is for both Tecumseh and T-shirt. It’s part of the Bayou Brief collection.

The times they really are a-changin’. The last word goes to The Byrds and Bryan Ferry. The former are introduced by Michael Landon and a parrot. I am still not making this up: