Category Archives: Sports

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:

 

Flopping With President* Pennywise

Image by Michael F.

I wish I could say that the Impeached Insult Comedian’s attack on Buffalo activist Martin Gugino showed that he’d hit rock bottom but there is no bottom with this fucker. It’s merely the latest new low.

Yesterday, Trump applied his unique brand of Twitter crazy to what happened in Buffalo:

 

I’m surprised he didn’t call it a flop, which is what an exaggerated fall to draw a foul is called in the NBA:

 

Flopping used to work but eventually the refs caught on; much like the voters with President* Pennywise. Everything he does, says, or tweets strikes the wrong note. His aides are said to be despondent over the how the flopping tweet flopped. Good. They *should* be despondent about what the Trump regime is doing to the country.

The reason I’m bringing up yesterday’s example of cluelessness, insensitivity, and cruelty is the nature of what happened. I’ve spent a lot of time around elderly people in the last 15 years. The thing they, quite rightly, fear most is falling. A broken hip can transform a spry old man into a broken one. Hopefully, Mr. Gugino will bounce back but he’s unlikely to ever be quite the same after being pushed around by the police.

I just came upon this tweet from a friend of Martin Gugino:

 

President* Pennywise is spiraling as his failures mount. In the past, he was able to recover from his missteps because the crises were largely self-inflicted. This time, events are in the saddle, riding him. It’s about fucking time.

The sharks sense blood in the water. Suddenly, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is willing to stand up to the Kaiser of Chaos. When the kneeling shit hit the fan in 2017, the NFL was paralyzed with fear. Goodell is not mouthing Black Lives Matter rhetoric out of conviction; he’s blowing with the wind. The prevailing breeze is NOT coming from Trumpistan. Hell, even Drew Brees is suddenly a repentant sinner.

The White House somehow thinks that an oval office address on race and policing is the cure for what ails it. Such a speech has never helped Trump before and this one is being written by neo-Fascist Steven Miller. It’s unclear who will translate the text from the original German. Maybe William Hermann Goering Barr can lend a hand. He should change his name to Wilhelm.

Finally, it’s time to pitch a new theme song to President* Pennywise. It’s a tune that fits the moment even if it’s 53-years-old. That’s still younger than Martin Gugino. The last word goes to The Hollies and CSNY:

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Shapes Of Things

Abstraction by Rolph Scarlett.

I don’t have a helluva lot to add to what I said as the 13th Ward Rambler earlier this week. I’m still keeping my head down during the lockdown. We’ve had a few front porch visitors, which breaks the monotony and allows Paul Drake to make goo-goo eyes at company and get his nose prints all over the lower glass panes of our front door.

This week’s theme song was written by Paul Samwell-Smith, Keith Relf, and Jim McCarty in 1966 and represented a  sonic breakthrough for The Yardbirds. The tune’s Wikipedia entry is absurdly detailed and argues that Jeff Beck should have received a songwriting credit as well. It’s okay: Beck assumed de facto ownership of the song after recording it with The Jeff Beck Group on 1968’s Truth album.

We have three versions of Shapes Of Things for your listening pleasure: the Yardbirds original, the Jeff Beck Group, and David Bowie from Pin-Ups. They’re all shapely and thingy:

Now that we’ve shaped things and contemplated Jeff Beck’s guitar virtuosity, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Snake Bite Love

Water Serpents II by Gustav Klimt

Perhaps I should have used Zachary Richard’s Snake Bite Love as our theme song while we were Festing In Place but I couldn’t let go of using Can’t Let Go last week. Besides, it’s never too late for a Zack Attack.

We have two versions of Snake Bite Love for your listening pleasure: the 1992 studio original and a 2009 live version from a Jazz Fest set I attended.

One more snake song before we slither to the break:

Ouch that hurt. Time to turn the virtual page.

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This Is Some Serious Shit

If it’s Monday, it’s time for another Panic In The Streets image. I’m not sure if Pandemic Chronicles will become a thing, BUT the image of Paul Douglas’ cop character trying to shake some sense into one of Jack Palance’s criminal cronies fits my mood today.

I find the dialogue in the country increasingly worrisome. Initially, I was among those who thought we’d go back to a modified version of Gamaliel’s normalcy when lockdown restrictions were eased. That was wishful thinking and whistling past the graveyard. I am a self-confessed optimist, after all. Better stir crazy than dead. And it’s a slow painful death.

The world right now is like a snow globe or kaleidoscope that’s been shaken thereby producing a new and much messier place. In many ways, it will resemble the old world, but the underlying reality will be very different.

Thanks to the slow and incompetent reaction of the corrupt nitwits in charge of our federal government, we’re facing the worst economy since the Great Depression. I guess that makes Trump Herbert Hoover with bad hair. It took a World War to finally end that depression. God only knows what will do the trick this time around but it won’t be jeremiads against China, immigrants, or the MSM.

It’s time to return to the pre-Reagan counter-revolution federal government: higher tax rates on the 1% and massive federal programs to put people back to work. We used to have a strong social safety net and many employers who gave a shit about their employees. It will be easier to rebuild the former than the latter. It’s time for the era of big government to return.

I’m also alarmed by the people on my side of the fence who blithely believe that the cavalry, in the form of a vaccine, will ride in to save the day in the last reel of the movie. It’s going to take more than a year regardless of how much money Bill Gates throws at it. COVID-19 is analogous to HIV and there’s still not a vaccine that prevents that plague. We’re in for the long haul. It will take 18 months to 2 years for this to happen; even then it may not be as comprehensive as one would hope. This virus morphs like crazy, which is why it’s so hard to nail down the symptoms.

The event cancellations have only just begun. I got a kick out of Saints fans debating the merits of the team signing accused rapist and shoplifter Jameis Winston to backup Drew Brees. No point in getting outraged when the NFL season may be another casualty of the plague. I hope I’m wrong about this but the only way the season can safely progress is to play in empty stadia and to isolate the players from their families. I’m not sure if the players will want to perfect the gladiator analogy by going along with such a plan. They love their families too. The alternative is for the NFL to stock up on body bags.

As a member of the New Orleans Carnival community, I’m worried that the 2021 season might be cancelled. The odds became 60-40 in favor of cancellation after Germany cancelled Oktoberfest, which is just as culturally important to them as Carnival is to us. And they have a competent federal government; something we are sadly lacking.

Unless there’s an effective vaccine, holding Carnival as usual is asking for trouble. It would be a crying shame but another spike in Coronavirus deaths is the possible alternative. Talk about a lose-lose situation.

We’re having the wrong discussion in this country right now. It’s not a choice between the economy and public health, we should be debating how to contain the pandemic with the fewest casualties possible. Americans are impatient and not good at focusing on the big picture. That needs to change but it won’t as long as the GOP controls the Senate and White House. It’s time for them to go.

That concludes this rare edition of Apocalypse Adrastos. I hope I’m wrong about most of this stuff, but the country is suffering from a surfeit of magical thinking, so some pessimism is in order.

Repeat after me: This is some serious shit.

The last word goes to Old 97’s from the Graveyard Whistling album:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Gethsemane

Night Windows by Edward Hopper.

Richard Thompson-Edward Hopper month continues. We begin with with a weather bulletin of sorts. Y’all are used to my weather obsession by now.

We had a cold front in New Orleans this week. Nighttime lows hovered around 50 several nights in a row. That may not sound like much to people from the frozen north but by our standards that’s cold for mid-April. Some locals whined about the cold, but I like it. Some folks just like to bitch. You know who you are; piss off out of my virtual kitchen.

Every time I search for Hopper paintings online, I’m told he was an “American realist” painter. That’s what he called himself, but his work is deeply weird. The painting above reminds me of Hitchcock’s Rear Window. I’ve never thought of Hitch as a realistic filmmaker even if regular guy Jimmy Stewart starred in that flick. His character was a laid-up photographer turned peeping tom. That’s weird, not realistic.

Sunday is Greek Easter, so I decided to pick a Richard Thompson tune with religious undertones. According to Mark and other bible dudes, Gethsemane was the garden at which Jesus prayed before his betrayal and arrest. It still exists and is a tourist attraction with an elaborate web site.

Gethsemane is also the title of this week’s theme song. It was written by Richard Thompson in 2003 for The Old Kit Bag. It’s an ominous sounding song that opens with this ominous verse.

“Among the headstones you played as boys
Crypts and tombs like a roomful of toys
Just up the river from the smoke and the noise
Gethsemane.”

We have two versions of Gethsemane for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a recent solo acoustic interpretation by the songwriter.

There’s also a song from Jesus Christ Superstar called Gethsemane (I Only Want To Say.) Here’s the original cast recording with Deep Purple frontman Ian Gillan in the title role.

I suspect playing Jesus Christ Superstar was nothing like working with Ritchie Blackmore. They did, however, produce some swell music:

Christ on a cracker, that rocked.

All this talk of Jesus and betrayal reminds me of this Asia tune:

Let’s flee the garden and jump to the break.

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