The Packers exist:
I love this team of large adult sons so very much.
The Packers exist:
I love this team of large adult sons so very much.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the impeachment hearings ate my week. It wasn’t a snack, it was a tasting menu of scandal, malakatude, and heroism. Democrats have found their mojo: I was proud of their performance in the face of Republican shouting and conspiracy theorizing. That was down to Chairman Schiff who refused to take any shit from committee GOPers. I’m less confident of the performance of Judiciary Chairman Nadler but the ball will soon be in his court. Stay tuned.
This week’s theme song was written by the late, great Pat DiNizio in 1986 for The Smithereens debut album, Especially For You. The band had been kicking around New Jersey for years before hitting the big time with this great rock song.
We have two versions of Behind The Wall Of Sleep for your listening pleasure: the original video and a 21st Century live version.
There’s a Black Sabbath song with the same title but metal is not my thing so I’ll pass.
Now that we’ve caught up on our sleep, let’s jump to the break.
It’s been colder than hell in New Orleans this week. It’s not Wisconsin cold but it’s fucking cold. We had some electrical issues that one of my Spank krewe mates fixed. It’s good to know “people who need people” I understand they “are the luckiest people in the world.” I cannot believe I just went there. In order to salvage my cool cred, here’s some Oscar Peterson:
It’s election day in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. I’m cautiously optimistic that Blue Dog Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards will be re-elected. I hope the voters will remember that Coach O wants them to vote for the Governor. Geaux, Tigers. Geaux, Team Blue.
This week’s theme song was written in 2003 by Rodney Crowell. It’s the opening track of his Fate’s Right Hand album and features one of his finest couplets: “Life’s been good, I guess. My ragged old heart’s been blessed.”
We have two versions of Still Learning How To Fly for your listening pleasure. The original with a full band and a live acoustic rendition.
While we’re in mid flight, how about a song with a similar title by an equally great artist?
It’s time to land. See you on the other side of the break.
My latest column at the Bayou Brief is online. In which I tell my Tiger fan origin story and discuss the ultimate underdog, Ed Orgeron.
I’m literally waiting for the electrician so I’m not sure if I’ll post again today. That’s why I’ve decided to share today’s earworm. It’s winter music from the North Country:
I know what you’re thinking: isn’t that a Dixie Chicks song? True dat but it was co-written by Gary Louris.
I had a head cold this week so I’m going to keep this introduction terse and, uh, heady. If nothing else, I want to prove that I’m capable of brevity. I gave the world a straight line when I called my bi-weekly Bayou Brief column, 13th Ward Rambler. As Captain Beefheart would surely say at this point, Woe-Is-Uh-Me-Bop.
This week’s theme song was written by bluesman Junior Parker in 1953. He cribbed some lyrics from the Carter Family’s Worried Man Blues, which, in turn, borrowed from an old Celtic folk song. That’s American music in a nutshell, y’all. In 1973, Robbie Robertson added some lyrics to The Band’s version of this classic locomotive tune.
We have three versions of Mystery Train for your listening pleasure: Junior Parker, Elvis Presley, and The Band.
In case you were worried, man, here’s the Carter Family with some hillbilly lagniappe:
Now that I’ve worried you half to death, let’s jump to the break.
The scattered off-year election returns largely confirmed what happened in 2018. Suburban voters are dubious of Donald Trump and prepared to vote Democratic. The MSM and some Democrats, however, remain afraid of the Trump base despite all evidence to the contrary. As Michael F wrote yesterday, the MSM has been going to the wrong diners.
I know nothing about local politics in the Philadelphia suburbs. I do know what it means when voters expel Republicans from power in favor of Democrats. They’re tired of the farce that is the party of Trump. They voted to send out the clowns as did voters in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
It’s time to slice this post into segments like an orange. It may involve some navel gazing but what’s a bit of navel gazing among friends?
Bluegrass State Goober Race Goes Blue: Tuesday’s most delightful upset took place in Bourbon country where Democrats restored the Beshear dynasty to power. Adding to the pleasure was the Insult Comedian’s election eve rally where he attempted to make the race about him and impeachment. His man, Governor Matt Bevin, lost.
Trump’s sycophants then claimed that Bevin was trailing badly until their dear leader intervened. Another lie: the race was as tight as a tick in all the polls. I guess Trump forgot to pack his coattails. He’s a terrible surrogate, he spends most of the time talking about his favorite subject, himself.
It’s unclear what Bevin’s next move will be. The Commonwealth of Kentucky does not seem to be set up for successful recounts or challenges, but Bevin is whining like a stuck pig about the injustice of it all.
A reminder that Bevin was extraordinarily unpopular with voters, especially in suburban communities across the river from Cincinnati. I have a fairly conservative friend from Kentucky who calls Bevin, Governor Prick.
Then there’s the McConnell factor. The Turtle and Bevin are strange political bedfellows. Bevin primaried Moscow Mitch in 2014 thereby setting the stage for his victory the next year. I’m not sure how far the Turtle is willing to stick his neck out for Bevin since his own numbers are low. Stay tuned.
Whither The Gret Stet Goober Race: President* Pennywise brought his tail-less coat to Monroe, Louisiana to campaign for fake outsider Eddie Rispone. I wish Gret Stet Democrats had had the same reaction as their Bluegrass counterparts: defiance in the face of Trumper provocation. Instead there was whimpering among the tweeting classes who are convinced the incumbent Blue Dog Goober, John Bel Edwards, will lose badly.
There’s no evidence that Rispone has rolled to a big lead, in fact, the race remains as tight as a tick. I’m going to ride that Ratherism until it limps.
I’m on the record as being a clothespin Edwards supporter but all Rispone has to offer is vague promises of a Trumpier future with the reality of a return to the failed policies of Bobby Jindal. No, thanks.
A final reminder that, while Trump rallies may rev up his base, they should have the same effect on his opponents. The Emperor not only has no clothes, he has no coattails.
Who The Hell Is Afraid Of Mike Bloomberg? Not me. He’s running because he’s afraid of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Sure, he’s richer than God but Democratic primary voters are unlikely to look favorably on a guy who went from Democrat to Republican to Independent back to Democrat, Make up your plutocratic mind, dude.
New York City Mayors do not have a distinguished track record as presidential candidates. Remember Presidents Lindsay, Giuliani, or DeBlasio? Me neither.
Of greater concern is Bloomberg switching back to independent for a vanity run that would help his former constituent, the Insult Comedian. Stay tuned.
The Alabama Comeback Kid? Pinhead former Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants his old Senate seat back. President* Pennywise is not amused and seems poised to oppose Sessions. The most likely benefactor of this scrum is the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent, Doug Jones.
Run, Jeff, run.
Finally, the Insult Comedian plans to attend the epic LSU-Alabama game tomorrow in Tuscaloosa. There was a brief flap over the Bama student body president threatening students who boo the First Boor, but he walked that back. Free speech, academic freedom, and all that shit.
LSU has lost 8 straight to Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide but I’m cautiously optimistic about the game. Good luck to Ed Orgeron and his charges. I plan to yell myself hoarse tomorrow, which means I’ll sound like Coach O by halftime. Btw, he’s supporting Edwards for Governor. A Tiger win could be a good omen for the Gret Stet Goober run-off. I expect the game to be as tight as a tick.
The weather has been wacked out this week in New Orleans. The temperature dropped 40 degrees in 24 hours. Mother Nature decided to skip fall and move on to winter. That means I’m looking for my winter clothes and turning on the heater early this year. That usually happens after Thanksgiving. Mother Nature is a card.
The response on social media to my Paul Barrere tribute has warmed my icy blue heart. Paul deserved no less. This week’s theme song was written by Paul and Billy Payne for Little Feat’s 1975 release, The Last Record Album.
We have three versions of All That You Dream for your listening pleasure: the Little Feat original with Lowell George on lead vox, a 2010 live version with Paul singing lead, and a 1978 cover by Linda Ronstadt.
It’s time to awaken from our collective dream and jump to the break.
President* Pennywise attended part of a World Series game last night. The Washington Nationals did not invite him so baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred is the most likely culprit. He went golfing with the Insult Comedian and Little Lindsey yesterday. Manfred Mann and the Red Baron should sue to get their name back.
Anyway, the fans greeted Trump with boos and catcalls:
I wouldn’t have yelled “lock him up” because it’s unoriginal but I have no problem with those who did unlike the pompous Morning Joe guy:
It’s called exercising your First Amendment free speech rights, Joe. Use it or lose it. The Insult Comedian would prefer the latter.
Here’s the Boss Lady’s take on the civility chorus:
America has a proud tradition of dissing the Chief Magistrate, especially when they’re not magisterial. We’ve held elections during wars for national survival: the Civil War and World War II; in both cases the incumbents were worried they’d lose. The Republic can survive a bit of heckling. The real question is whether it can survive an Insult Comedian with a nutria pelt atop his head.
Here’s an example of lese majeste circa 1974:
I considered making the Morning Joe guy malaka of the week but, as always, went with the better title. Besides, he’s not the only one pearl clutching this morning. I can still, however, call him Malaka Joe. That felt good.
As Americans we have the right to heckle, hector, boo, and even chant “lock him up.” The latter is called sarcasm, which is a tool the Insult Comedian uses all the damn time. It’s all projection which is a tool that the Kaiser of Chaos uses all the damn time. Civility and Trump are strangers. Why should we be polite to this mook? Rudeness is what the fucker understands. Fuck the civility chorus.
Remember when Trump mentioned Al Capone in the same breath as Paul Manafort? I had a ball with that. Capone, of course, was a Cubs fan and attended many games. Matthew Dowd name dropped Scarface Al:
I’m pretty sure that’s Wrigley Field but the analogy is still apt. At least Capone took his kid to a ballgame, not Matt Gaetz, who’s just a juvenile delinquent.
Speaking of the Cubs:
It *was* Wrigley, not Comiskey. I like being right, as Gore Vidal once said:
This was fun. I got to mock one of my favorite targets, talk baseball, and quote one of my favorite writers. In the end, Trump might want to take this advice from WC Fields, which is not on his tombstone but should be:
That’s bad advice. It’s called irony like anti-Trumpers using a Trump rally chant. They’ll boo anyone or anything in Philadelphia. Philly Boobirds make DC Boobirds look sedate. I’d hate to give Malaka Joe the vapors again.
Repeat after me: heckling at a ballgame is as American as baseball and apple pie.
Finally, a reminder that the great Tommy T is overheated from wearing a hazmat suit and dealing with the Freeper cesspool. He’s taking a well-deserved break. See ya in the funny papers, pal.
Fall has finally fallen, fuck yeah. The AC is switched off since it has been in the low to mid 70’s all week. Autumn is a short season in New Orleans so we have to enjoy it while it lasts. I even wore a sweatshirt the other day. Not a big deal where many of you live but after the hottest September on record, I am giddy
In honor of the season, I’m growing a beard for the first time in several years. But if it gets too itchy, I’ll shave it off. Perhaps I should try some hipster beard oil or some such shit. I draw the line at a man bun; not that I have enough hair to have one but if I did, I wouldn’t.
The big local story continues to be the Hard Rock Hotel collapse. They imploded the cranes last Sunday, which made things less bad. We’ll take less bad, y’all. I’m hoping that City Hall will learn a lesson from this mess and stop letting developers run over them in the future. Real estate developers are the worst.
This week’s theme song is credited to Lennon & McCartney but it’s more Macca than John. It’s one of my favorite early Beatles songs, yeah, yeah, yeah. Or as Paul would say, WOOOOO.
We have three versions of Things We Said Today for your listening pleasure: the Beatles original, Dwight Yoakam’s 1997 cover, and a more recent version by New Orleans singer, Debbie Davis.
It’s time to stop talking and jump to the break.
The Trump regime has been good for satirists, but I have Trump fatigue. I swore that I’d write about something, anything other than the Insult Comedian at least once this week. You’re probably fatigued by this expository paragraph. I certainly am but there’s a bit more to be said about the Insult Comedian before getting down to the matter at hand.
As you’re well aware, Trump is a fake tough guy. He’s been waging an “easy to win” trade war with China. The biggest losers thus far have been American farmers and consumers.
I remember when American conservatives disliked the Chinese Communist government for its repressive nature, not its trade policy. Who would have thought that aspect of the Cold War would qualify as the good old days? Before Nixon’s trip to China in 1972, right-wingers referred to members of the ruling party as Chicoms. It was a political, not racial slur. When not conflating the two, conservatives used to hate commies more than liberals.
Now that I’ve emulated Rachel Maddow’s A block, on with today’s post:
I’ve been closely following the China-NBA mishigas. Last week, Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted in mild support of the Hong Kong protesters. The Chinese government flipped out, then demanded and received an apology. Morey nearly lost his job before the NBA placated the Chinese government. Apparently, the A in NBA stands for appeasement, not association.
This Chicom sitcom exploded because the Rockets are one of the most popular NBA teams in China. The greatest Chinese hoops player of all, Yao Ming, played for Houston from 2002-2011. Yao is currently China’s basketball honcho and NBA commissioner Adam Silver described him as “extremely hot” over this mishigas.
In recent years, the NBA has presented itself as the “woke” sports league, especially in contrast to the NFL. This claim is under pressure from the Chinese government, which cannot abide any criticism from its business partners. It’s a reminder that while China’s economic policy is capitalistic, they’re still Communists when it comes to human rights. Free markets have not translated to freedom on the home front and never will if entities such as the NBA kowtow to the Chinese government.
There was such a backlash to the NBA’s initial supine stand that Commissioner Silver felt obliged to defend freedom of speech but when push comes to shove, the almighty dollar will prevail. The Bubba Gump guy who owns the Houston Rockets will insist.
The Maddow Doctrine clearly applies to this unsporting sports fracas:
What are you going to do, after all, turn your back on 1.4 billion people? Or 1.399 billion, if you don’t count the 1 million Uighurs reportedly held in prison camps where their culture is trained out of them by force (in a territory where the NBA established a training camp)?
Yes. That is what to do. Especially for the NBA, whose relationship with China is chiefly monetary. NBA China is reportedly worth $4 billion. That’s a lot of money to walk away from over one tweet. And that’s exactly why the NBA should walk away now.
China has already played its hand. If Hong Kong is nonnegotiable, there’s nothing to discuss. The subject will become more sensitive, not less, if the Hong Kong police move from tear gas and rubber bullets to the routine use of live ammunition, or if the People’s Liberation Army moves in. Would the NBA muzzle its employees then? Would the players and staff of a globally prominent American company censor their own feelings to protect the Chinese market? Why not take the stand before it gets to that?
Ironies abound in this story. The Trump regime is not interested in Chinese human rights abuses and cozies up to the vicious Communist dictator in North Korean while resorting to red baiting in domestic politics. It also shows the shallowness of the NBA’s claims of “wokeness.” To paraphrase Smokey Robinson and Bobby Rogers, first they look at the purse.
The last word goes to the J. Geils Band:
It was the hottest September in recorded history here in New Orleans. It’s still fucking hot: we had record highs the first four days of October. I complained about it in the Bayou Brief the other day so I thought I should here as well. We’re allegedly getting some relief next week but I’ll believe it when I see it.
We went to an event at the fancy new-ish Picvocate/Gambit HQ to see local pundits and Adrastos friends Clancy Dubos and Stephanie Grace. I considered heckling but Dr. A wouldn’t hear of it. They talked local and statewide elections. I’m still having a hard time deciding who to support for State Rep since there are 4444 candidates running in our district.
They only took questions via Twitter so I was unable to do my Eddie Rispone impression on the live stream: “Hi, I’m Eddie Rispone. I’m a conservative outsider and Trump supporter.” It’s their loss, y’all.
For the non-Louisianans out there here’s one of Rispone’s ads:
Moderator and Paul Drake fan Kevin Allman moved the questions to the Tweeter Tube because he did not want to have long-winded questions. A wise choice since I was in the audience. To placate me, he asked one of my tweeted questions and Clancy dropped my name so I guess I’ll survive.
Here’s the video of the live stream:
This week’s theme song was written by Hank Williams in 1952. We have two versions of You Win Again for your listening pleasure.: Hank’s original followed by the Grateful Dead. I discovered this and many other classic country song because of them. Thanks, Jerry
Let’s pay a visit to Disambiguation City and meet up with singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter. Her You Win Again was written and recorded in 1990:
Guess what? There’s also a 1987 Bee Gees song with the same title:
Now that we’re three-time winners, let’s jump to the break again and again and again.
Dr. A and I went to the batshit crazy Saints season opener against the Houston Texans. The game had everything: bad calls, great plays, and a crazy ending. Most importantly, the Saints won with a 58 yard field goal by Will Lutz. It was his career long. The crowd was stunned in a good way. My personal streak of the Saints always winning when I sit in our friend Fred’s end zone seats was imperiled but it’s intact. Stay tuned.
This week’s theme song was written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter in 1968. The music of Dark Star is often credited to the entire band, which seems only fair as it’s the ultimate jam band song.
We have two versions of the Dead’s Dark Star for your listening pleasure. First, the single version, which clocks in at a modest 2:44. It’s followed by a more typical second set medley that commences with Dark Star. It comes from the 12/31/78 closing of Winterland show that my younger self attended.
It’s time for a visit to Dismbiguation City with a swell song written by Stephen Stills and recorded by Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1977.
Now that we’ve bathed in the glow of the Dark Star, let’s jump to the break before the Dead go into The Other One. “Coming, coming, coming around.”
I wrote about Drew Brees and his unfortunate relationship with Focus on the Family in my new not-so secret identity as the Bayou Brief’s 13th Ward Rambler, I should give credit where it’s due to Jenn Bentley of Big Easy Magazine for breaking the story, which, in turn, raised a ruckus on social media. I have a reading assignment for my readers: watch the video, read my piece, then Ms. Bentley’s before proceeding.
The Saints QB responded yesterday in an awkward not terribly straightforward way, which made matters worse with the folks who were angry and/or disappointed with him. He provided an answer to the question I posed at the Bayou Brief: Wingnut or Conservative. Unfortunately, it’s the former but he’s still a great QB.
My friend Picvocate/Advoyune columnist Stephanie Grace wrote about Drew’s weaselly response so I don’t have to:
After several day of controversy, Brees responded that he knew nothing of the group’s anti-gay activities or “any type of hate-type related stuff.”
“I was not aware of that at all,” he said. He also insisted that the video was not meant to promote any group, and certainly not any group “that is associated with that type of behavior.”
“To me, that is totally against what being a Christian is all about,” Brees said.
Maybe he should have just stopped there, instead of adding that it’s a shame that people are using the controversy to “make headlines” and get clicks. Brees really has nobody to blame for that but himself.
Yeah you right, Stephanie.
Liberal Saints fans seem to be divided into two camps. Those who didn’t already know about his politics are up in arms about the whole mess. Others, like me, are well-aware that Brees is a right-winger. His association with the Focus on the Family fucks dates back at least to 2015 and perhaps even farther. I’m inclined to view this flap as part of what might call the Brees bucket, which contains both The Bad and the Beautiful as the title of one of my favorite movies goes.
One thing we’ve learned about Drew Brees this week: He’s a genius on the gridiron, not off field. Nobody should be surprised by this: the NFL is full of wingnutty white boys. Drew Brees is just one of many.
This episode is simultaneously saddening and maddening. The New Orleans Saints have long been a unifying force in our community. When owner Tom Benson threatened to move the team to his other hometown of San Antonio post-K, the community arose in such righteous indignation that they remained here. Saints fandom was an integral part of what I’ve previously referred to as The Spirit Of ’05.
Drew Brees’ first year with the Saints was 2006 and the team went to its first NFC Championship game. Then they won the Super Bowl after the 2009 season. This season there are high hopes, which, hopefully, will not be dashed on the rocks of controversy.
This mishigas is a vivid reminder of the perils of athletes dabbling in politics, particularly in the Trump era. If you take a stand, someone in your fan base will be offended. That’s especially true in New Orleans, which is a very blue city whereas the Gret Stet of Louisiana is ruby red.
Repeat after me: I’m disappointed by his wingnuttery but not surprised.
The last word goes to one of my favorite writers, the 13th Ward Rambler:
Does this alter my Saints fandom? Hell, no. Football is full of right-wing white boys and I’ve known for years that Drew Brees is one of them. Besides, his views on the Kaepernick kneeling contretemps were more nuanced than expected; he even criticized President* Trump. That’s why I have no plan to renounce my Saints fandom or return my tickets for the season opener.
I simply want to know if our QB is a wingnut or a conservative.
The answer is, alas, wingnut. As Stephanie put it, Drew Brees should have known better.
I like watching others play football. I never wanted to play the sport because it’s painful and I’m not a masochist. That’s why I refuse to judge those who play or when they choose to hang it up. For NFL players, it should be called working football, not playing. It’s hard and dangerous work.
That brings me to the case of recently retired Indianapolis Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck. Luck is only 29 but here’s a litany of the injuries he’s suffered as a pro:
… a lacerated kidney, injured ribs, at least one concussion, torn cartilage in his throwing shoulder and, most recently, a calf and ankle injury.
His retirement leaked during a preseason game and Luck was booed mightily by his Hoosier fan base. He was also attacked by observers for lacking the intestinal fortitude to take a beating for a living:
This bozo is a Fox Sports loudmouth. Thanks for trotting out an imbecilic generational cliche, fuckhead. I’m on the record as hating generational stereotypes:
Too many get bogged down in generational politics; one of the dullest subjects on the planet. It’s dull because it’s cliche laden: not all Baby Boomers sold out, not all Gen-Xers are slackers, and not all Millennials are twitter obsessed airheads. More importantly, not all members of the greatest generation were all that great. I often thought that my late father’s motto could have been, “We won the war so we don’t have to listen.”
Perhaps Mr. Fox Sports Loudmouth envies Luck for attending Stanford and having done more than play football. It’s his body and his choice to retire. Playing pro football is a tough way to make a living, talking about it is easy. Watching it and judging the players on their “toughness” is easier still.
It’s easy to see football players as gladiators but they’re people, not chess pieces. I don’t know about you but I’m not fond of pain. I’ve had to live with minor aches and pains for most of my life. I cannot imagine having a lacerated kidney and continuing with the activity that caused such an injury. If that means I can’t “man up” sufficiently, so be it.
The reaction to Luck’s retirement is particularly horrific because we’ve learned so much about the deleterious impact playing pro football has on the players. If Luck wants to walk away from the sport while can still walk, that’s his choice; just as it’s Drew Brees’ choice to keep playing at age 40. It’s up to the players, not the fans or sportscasters. They don’t feel the players pain, they just think they do.
I went down a YouTube rabbit hole and watched a pretty good documentary about Denny McLain. McLain was the last pitcher to win 30 games and won 2 Cy Young Awards. He was also a egenerate gambler and wannabe bookie. His pitching career flamed out by the age of 28. He also played a mean organ:
If you’re feeling like a lounge lizard, here’s the whole damn album:
My first day of jury duty was uneventful. We waited to be called for voir dire but the call never came and we were out of there by 11 AM. They’re trying fewer cases at Criminal District Court since the DA’s office stopped prosecuting possession of small amounts of weed. An odd but effective move by our old school tough-on-crime DA. Ironies abound.
This week’s theme song was written by a very young John Hiatt for his 1979 album Slug Line. It was so long ago that he had a full head of hair as well as a unibrow.
We have two versions of Washable Ink for your listening pleasure: the Hiatt original and a cover by the Neville Brothers.
Let’s check if this spilled ink is really washable. Color me skeptical: black, red, or blue.
Do they still call newspaper reporters ink-stained wretches? Probably not but it was swell slang.
Time to ink up and jump to the break. I’m not sure what ink up means in this context, but I’m always talking shit. Y’all should know that by now.
It’s been a noisy week at Adrastos World HQ. The utility company is doing some work on our block: they’ve dug holes and marked off spaces for new gas mains and meters. Here’s hoping they finish soon.
I’ve had the Neville Brothers on my mind since Art’s passing. But he did not write River Of Life; one of the most underrated songs in the Neville Brothers canon. It was written by Cyril Neville, Daryl Johnson, and Brian Stoltz for the band’s 1990 album, Brother’s Keeper.
Here are two versions of this week’s theme song. I dare you not to get up and rock:
Now that we’ve flowed with the river of life, let’s swim to the break. No drowning, please.
History was made 50 years ago today when Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon. It was controversial among some at the time for being a waste of money and has become the subject of wackadoo conspiracy theories. I watched the moon landing unfold and I thought it was magnificent; even better than Star Trek or 2001. The truth is not only stranger than fiction, it can be much better. I still think the heyday of the space program is way cool or perhaps even wicked awesome.
This week’s featured image is a painting by the late Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean. It’s based on a picture taken by Buzz Aldrin of Neil Armstrong; hence the epic title. I thought it was high time to give it, uh, new Life.
There are a wide variety of moon songs to choose from. For this week’s theme song, I went with one that’s lunar landing specific. Moon Rocks was written by David Bryne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, and Tina Weymouth for Talking Heads monster hit 1983 album, Speaking In Tongues.
Now that we’ve done a bit of space walking, let’s cut the tether and float to the break.
You’re not hallucinating. That is indeed a signed John Paul Stevens baseball card. It was created by David Mitchner who mailed it to Justice Stevens during the 2016 World Series. You know, the Cubs’ first championship since 1908. Justice Stevens returned the signed card and the rest is history. The photo of Stevens in Cubs gear dates from 2005 when he threw out the first pitch at a Cubs-Reds game in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.
You’re probably wondering why I paired Justice Stevens and pitcher/author Jim Bouton in a tribute. They’re both people I admired who died recently, that’s why. Besides, I’m notorious for my oddball combinations. Stevens and Bouton were both genial, kindly men who loved baseball. It’s time to uncouple this Odd Couple; one that’s almost worthy of the late Neil Simon.
Let’s take them in order of demise. We’ll use the time-honored Odds & Sods device of the New York Times link thingamabob as subject headers/dividers.
I failed to pay proper tribute to Jim Bouton last week because of the Wednesday flood and the approach of Whatever That Was Barry. He had a mediocre career highlighted by two fine seasons with the New York Yankees in 1963 and 1964. He blew out his arm in 1965 and by 1969 was trying to make a comeback as a knuckleball pitcher with the expansion Seattle Pilots. The Pilots lasted one year before being sold and moved to Milwaukee where they ditched the awful uniforms and became the Brewers.
1969 was the dividing line in Jim Bouton’s life. It was the year that he recorded the diary entries that would become the sensation that was Ball Four. Bouton was pilloried by the stuffy, ultra-conservative baseball establishment for admitting that ballplayers were human beings. Mickey Mantle drank and played hungover? A huge shocker in 1970 but no surprise to anyone who actually knew the Mick.
Along with Catch-22, Burr, and Breakfast of Champions, Ball Four was my favorite book of that era. Heller, Vidal, and Vonnegut were pretty lofty company for a washed-up pitcher to keep. But all four books were irreverent and hilarious; influences I try to put to good use as a writer.
Teen-age me was thrilled to learn that someone who played my favorite sport was an anti-war liberal with a wicked sense of humor. Ballplayers pretended to be apolitical paragons in those days. Bouton was a breath of fresh air.
One of the best tributes I’ve read to Bouton is by my friend Vince Filak. He focuses on Bouton’s unique voice and exceptional story-telling ability. It’s a helluva good read.
“A ballplayer spends a good piece of his life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.”
Let’s move on from a former Yankees/Pilots/Astros/Braves pitcher to a zealous Cubs fan.
John Paul Stevens always maintained that he was a conservative and that SCOTUS had moved so far to the right that he looked like a liberal in contrast. I think of Stevens as the sort of liberal Republican that is largely extinct in 2019.
He grew up in Chicago, which was a town dominated by a corrupt Democratic political machine. The natural thing for an independent minded lawyer was to become a liberal Republican in the tradition of fellow Supremes Charles Evans Hughes, Harlan Stone, and Earl Warren. Stevens’ appointment was by far and away the best thing that Jerry Ford did during his brief presidency.
As a Supreme, Stevens was an independent force with a fervent belief in the rule of law. I think Jeffrey Rosen best summed up Stevens’ credo as a judge:
In our conversation, three consistent themes in his jurisprudence emerged: his belief in the duty of the government to be neutral; the duty of judges to be transparent; and the need for judges to interpret the Constitution in light of the entire scope of its history, including the post–Civil War amendments, rather than stopping in the founding era.
Those are themes that all judges should aspire to but are sadly lacking among today’s conservative justices who are eager to gut precedents they dislike. That’s what John Paul Stevens meant when he called himself a conservative. He wanted to conserve what was best in the law and reform the worst.
Circling back to our baseball theme. As a young lawyer, Stevens was involved in Congressional hearings that addressed baseball’s anti-trust exemption. There’s a swell piece in the archives of the Atlantic about how Stevens changed baseball.
That concludes this odd couple tribute to two men I admired. Jim Bouton and John Paul Stevens made the world a better and livelier place. They will be missed.
I usually bitch and moan about the heat on Saturdays. There’s an exception to every rule: the heat has been inescapable and oppressive the last few days. It’s been as hot as I can ever recall since I moved to New Orleans in the Eighties. Our air dish keeps the house nice and cool when it’s 90 but struggles in the heat of the day when it’s over 95. We’re forced to huddle in cooler/smaller enclaves such as the study and guest room when it’s this hot. Cower might be a better word than huddle. It’s too damn hot, y’all.
The heat has got me down but so has the news. It’s the summer of child abuse stories. Notorious super-perv Jeffrey Epstein has been arrested by the feds for assorted disgusting malefactions including child trafficking. He supposedly has bipartisan buddies: the feds should follow the facts and disregard who ends up in the bulls-eye. Let the chips fall, y’all.
A worse example of child abuse is the ongoing babies in cages scandal perpetrated by the Trump regime. The reason it’s worse is that cruelty is the point of this despicable exercise. The regime claims that it’s not that bad, that it’s all fake news, but it’s said with a wink by liars.
I’m not much on soccer but the victory of the American women in the World Cup was uplifting as was this chant:
One could call it beautiful noise for the beautiful game.
The last word goes to Eddie Cochran and the Who: