Category Archives: Sports

Saturday Odds & Sods: Fly Like An Eagle

Women and Birds at Sunrise by Joan Miro

Once again, New Orleans showed the world how to turn adversity into a party. I’m talking about the widespread local boycott of the Super Bowl. It was easy for me. I rarely watch unless I have a rooting interest in one of the teams. I wasn’t down for some of the dumber aspects of “no-call gate” such as claims that the Saints wouldn’t have gone to the big dance after a similar bad call, or that the Rams were cheaters BUT we *wuz* robbed. I blame the league and the referees, not the Rams who lost in one of the dullest Super Bowls in years. Yawn. Brady and Belichick won again. Yawn.

New Orleanians quickly moved from the Super Bowl controversy to an argument over the Krewe of Chewbacchus. It’s a geek/sci-fi parade that sprung up a few years back. I like the idea but hate the execution. I like parades to move quickly and not stall for hours as Chewbacchus invariably does. Yawn.

The head of the krewe styles himself, not as a humble Captain, but as “The Overlord.” He floated a trial balloon that they *might* exploit a loophole in city ordinances and allow commercial sponsorship. That’s a big NOLA no-no: the krewes, not corporations, throw a party for the city and its citizens. The “Overlord” quickly crawfished and claimed he was just joking but I know a deflated trial balloon when I see one. Pop goes the geek weasel.

This week’s theme song was written by Steve Miller and was the title track of his1976 hit album. The Fly Like An Eagle single was a monster hit, peaking at number two on the Billboard charts.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: the original SMB hit, a live version with guitarist Joe Satriani, and a cover by my homeys, the Neville Brothers:

Now that we’ve soared like eagles, let’s jump to the break, Hopefully, there will be a tailwind so we won’t break our tail feathers or is that bend? Beats the hell outta me.

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Bleak News In Review

There’s so much going on right now that I don’t quite know where to begin. I’m tempted to crawl back into my Carnival bubble and not deal with the perennially bleak state of the world BUT we have space to fill since Michael F has been on vacay. Like Lassie, he’s coming home right now, I’m not sure if I’d cast Roddy McDowell to play him but what can I tell ya? End of obscure, even for me, movie reference.

You’re probably wondering where this is headed. Me too. I think I’ll just throw some shit at the wall and see what sticks. I realize that’s how the Trump regime governs but it’s an approach that works when it comes to blogging. I’ll let you be the judge of that.

When Did Virginia Become Florida? Virginia politics used to be staid and buttoned down. That presumption of staidness began to erode during the zany and corrupt administration of Bob McDonnell. Two statewide candidacies by the Lost Causer from Minnesota, Corey Stewart, confirmed the transformation of Virginia into Florida; only without Disney World. It’s gotten much Wilder than when the Governor of that name was in charge.

Doctor/Governor Ralph Northam is still clinging to office like a barnacle on the body politic. The line of succession is a complete clusterfuck:

  • Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax is facing such credible allegations of sexual assault that he’s retained the law firm who represented Brett Kavanaugh aka Justice Bro. I wonder if Fairfax likes beer?
  • Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring is next in line but he admitted yesterday to having worn blackface as a misguided youth. It seems to have been a thing for young white dudebros back in the 1980’s. I’m glad I didn’t get the memo.

Third in line is the Speaker of the House of Delegates, Kirk Cox, who is a Republican.

A Virginian active in Democratic politics described the situation as follows to TPM:

[Carolyn] Fiddler is now the Daily Kos’s political editor and an expert on state legislative politics. She warned that the sins of the leaders would end up damaging other Democrats who’ve worked decades to build up the party, cautioning that the scandals could upend Democrats’ hopes to recapture both chambers of the capitol — their first real chance at doing so in decades.

“Shit rolls downhill,” she said. “To say I’m nervous is a bit of an understatement.”

She’s not fiddling about. They’re in deep shit and sinking fast.

I have a long-term solution to this problem: end the one-term limit on Virginia Governors. If not for that, Terry McAuliffe would still be Governor.

Designated Survivor: Former Texas Governor and twice failed GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry was the DS in more than one way this week. The Energy Secretary is still a dumbshit but he was also the Trump regime’s designated survivor for the SOTU.

Rick Perry as president is a scary thought but it’s better than Wilbur Ross. At least Rick Haircut has a zany side, I bet Wilbur has never hugged a jug of maple syrup:

I doubt that Wilbur has ever hugged anything except his money.

The Cubbies Have The Ricketts: Baseball’s former lovable underdogs have a racist right-wing owner problem. It’s well-known that patriarch Joe Ricketts was a wingnut but we didn’t know he was stupid enough to send his more bigoted thoughts via email:

Major League Baseball and the Chicago Cubs moved to distance themselves from one of their own Tuesday, after the news outlet Splinter published a cache of racist emails sent and received by Joe Ricketts, the billionaire whose family owns the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field.

Many of the published emails, sent between 2009 to 2013, focused on a fear of Muslims and contained conspiracy theories about former President Barack Obama. The false assertion that Obama, who identifies as Protestant, was Muslim and born outside the United States were prevalent in right-wing politics during his presidency.

In one email, Ricketts wrote to somebody identified only as S.V. that “Christians and Jews can have a mutual respect for each other to create a civil society,” but “Islam cannot do that.” He went on to write that, “we cannot ever let Islam become a large part of our society,” and that “Muslims are naturally my (our) enemy.”

Since email is involved I’m waiting for the rickety Ricketts clan to blame Hillary or Huma. Trey Gowdy is out of office, perhaps they can hire him to consult. BENGHAZI. BENGHAZI.

The Ricketts affair *almost* makes me nostalgic for former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott who got into trouble for saying stupid shit like this:

  • “Some of the biggest problems in this city come from women wanting to leave the home and work.”
  • “Sneaky goddamn Jews are all alike.”
  • “Only fruits wear earrings.”
  • “Everybody knows [Hitler] was good at the beginning, but he just went too far.”

That concludes this edition of First Draft potpourri. Since Michael F is off and we miss his wit and insight, he gets the last word with a Rick Perry image created in January 2017:

Oops.

Bayou Brief: Confessions Of A Krewe du Vieux Member

Carnival 2019 is as long as Anthony Davis’ arms. Unlike AD it doesn’t want to be traded to the Lakers. I’m not sure what LeBron would make of this on his home court:

Earlier today my latest piece for the Bayou Brief went live: Confessions Of A Krewe du Vieux Member. It’s a photo essay about my life and times as a member of Krewe du Vieux; something y’all have heard me go on about here at First Draft.

I picked the title because it’s catchy not because I confess to all that much. I must confess that it’s a relief not to write about a certain asshole president* who lied his way through the SOTU. I didn’t watch. Dr. A and I were babysitting our de facto nieces and nephew aka the Child Army. There was, however, snark and shade involved:

That’s why her nickname is the Benevolent Dictator. In the immortal words of Rodney Dangerfield, I don’t get no respect. It’s an open question as to whether I deserve any.

The last word goes to Jay McShann and the Rolling Stones with this confessional classic:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Rainy Night In Georgia

Hummingbirds by Walter Inglis Anderson

The Super Bowl  will be played tomorrow in Atlanta, but ratings in New Orleans will be abysmal because of the infamous blown call. The game is being boycotted by most locals: Dr. A and I are going to two non-watching parties. I’m unsure if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will be burnt in effigy at either soiree. One of them is a birthday party so perhaps there will be a Goodell pinata. Probably not: my friends Clay and Candice have a small child and the sight of Goodell is traumatic to most New Orleanians.

New Orleans and Atlanta have a longstanding and intense rivalry. And not just in football. They’ve topped us economically but we have better food as well as charm up the proverbial wazoo. Saints fans are also disappointed not to be Super Bowling in Atlanta because they’re losing out on some trash talking opportunities. So it goes.

This week’s theme song was written in 1967 by Louisiana native Tony Joe White who died last fall at the age of 75. Rainy Night In Georgia is a song that proves the adage that the best songs are sad songs: “looks like it’s raining all over the world.”

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: the songwriter’s original, Brook Benton’s 1970 hit version, and a mournful 2013 interpretation by Boz Scaggs.

Let’s put away our umbrellas and jump to the break. We’ll try not to splash land.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Back To Black

Bird Collage by Max Ernst

It was overwrought drama week in New Orleans. Saints fans are genuinely angry in the aftermath of the blown call but things have gotten silly. There’s a futile lawsuit filed by lawyer Frank D’Amico who advertises his services on the tube. He’s getting some free publicity by filing what is best described as a “feel-good frivolous” lawsuit seeking a Saints-Rams rematch. It has as much chance at success as I have of playing in the NBA.

My Congressman, Cedric Richmond, is doing a major pander by threatening a Congressional hearing over the blown call. Hey, Cedric, we’re having a constitutional crisis, and you want to spend time grilling Roger Goddam Goodell?

This week’s theme song was written in 2007 by Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson. Black To Black was the title track of Amy’s final studio album and the sub-title of the great documentary about her life. We have two versions for your listening pleasure:

While we’re at it, let’s throw two more blackened songs into the musical skillet:

Did I really use the term musical skillet? I must be slipping. Speaking of which, let’s slip away and jump to the break.

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America Held Hostage Day 31

The Trump shutdown goes on and on and on. As does the president* himself: he tweeted 40 times yesterday according to Politico.

The Insult Comedian’s attempt to impose a “compromise” flopped. Bigly. It’s what happens when the “negotiations” involve only Republicans. It pissed off anti-immigration hardliners and was rejected out of hand by Nancy Smash *before* Trump spoke. She continues to play contract bridge while the president* plays go-fish.

The Turtle finally poked his head out of his shell but the proposal went nowhere Saturday and will not get 60 votes in the Senate. Democrats remain united even though reports of suffering federal employees are painful. We can’t negotiate with a gun pointed at our heads. If we give in, Trump will pull this stunt over and over again.

It’s Martin Luther King Day everywhere in the country except in Mississippi and Alabama where it’s MLK/Robert E. Lee Day. The Lost Cause dream dies hard in the cradle of the confederacy. I wonder if Jeff Beau Sessions is wearing gray today?

It’s “we wuz robbed” day in New Orleans after that egregious blown call in the NFC Championship game. There are even calls for a Saints parade on Super Bowl Sunday. I’m not crazy about the idea. I’d prefer placing the refs in the stocks and pelting them with stale King Cake, but that’s just me. Vengeance is sticky…

That concludes this edition of America Held Hostage. The last word goes to U2:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Drinking Again

Subway Portrait by Walker Evans

The weather roller coaster continues in New Orleans but nobody cares because the Saints are playing the Rams in the NFC championship game tomorrow. Our loud fans are bound to blow the roof off the Superdome and it’s going to be raucous everywhere in town. There’s some overconfidence among the fans but very little on the team itself. I still refuse to say Who Dat but I will say Geaux Saints.

In other local news, the Rolling Stones are playing Jazz Fest. I’ve seen the Stones 6 times, but I’m not shelling out $185 for their special day, which is especially expensive. I may just have to listen for free from my top-secret location nearby. Here’s my  only comment on the continuing gentrification of Jazz Fest:

This week’s theme song, Drinking Again, was written in 1962 by Johnny Mercer and Doris Tauber. We have versions by two of the greatest singers ever: Aretha Franklin and Francis Albert Sinatra. Bottoms up.

The song was reworked in 1968 by the Jeff Beck Group:

I hope you’re not too tipsy to jump to the break.

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Tweets Of The Day: Protest NOLA Style

The Insult Comedian came to Nashville New Orleans today. I wasn’t able to attend the protest but some very talented people did.

The tweets come from some local media types who covered the protest.. We begin with two food oriented tweets from the Gambit Tabloid:

Here’s a close up of the guillotine from the Advocates’s Jeff Adelson:

I’ve saved the best for last: a Krewe du Vieux worthy mini-float that the unknown (to me) artist calls Fat Man and Little Boy after the first two nukes, They’re definitely da bomb.

Finally, after a shaky start the Saints beat the Eagles 20-14. Next up are the Rams in the NFC Championship Game. We’ll see if Jared Goff handles the crowd noise better than Nick Foles. We witnessed a Foles fail yesterday and it wasn’t even the fall.

I still refuse to say Who Dat but I will say GEAUX SAINTS.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Elf’s Lament

House on Tchoupitoulas Street by Dr. A

I was under the weather for several days, which means that this week’s outing will be somewhat truncated. I don’t have the full Odds & Sods spirit but I’m working on the Christmas spirit. It’s hard for someone inclined to root for Scrooge, the Grinch, and Mr. Potter but I’m giving it the old school try. I’m not quite sure which old school to apply to.

The featured image is a picture of a house a few blocks away from Adrastos World HQ. It’s always seasonally decorated by the elderly black lady who lives there with her son. During Carnival, they like to blast old school soul music. Good god, y’all.

This week’s theme song was written in 2004 by Ed Robertson for Barenaked for the Holidays. The studio version features a guest appearance by crooner Michael Bublé.  It’s unknown if Bublé brought bubbly to the session. The live version flat out rocks in an elvish way.

I’m still a bit enervated from my malady but let’s jump to the break anyway. Hopefully, that pesky Santa and his sleigh won’t be in the way. Neither Donner not Vixen likes me at all. I find Vixen vexatious so the feeling is mutual.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Look Now

Dresden Street by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

I don’t usually go in for cross-cultural generalizations about the state of the world but for every rule, there’s an exception. And 2018 has been an exceptionally bad year. Hell meet hand basket.

The US, UK, and France have gone to political hell and back in 2018. Our main problem is obvious: a corrupt and deeply stupid president*. In Britain, they’re still paying the price for the Brexit referendum catastrophe, which has resulted in bad leadership in both of the “big parties” and political paralysis. In France, Emmanuel Macron compared himself to Charles DeGaulle once too often, now there are riots in the streets just like in DeGaulle’s day. In 1968, they waved red flags. In 2018, they wear yellow vests. There’s a good chance that Macron will be France’s third consecutive one-term president. Burning it down is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I wish I had solutions for these problems but I’m a pundit, not a prophet. I don’t even have a prophet and loss statement. I can hear them groaning all the way to Bunkie, so it’s time to move on.

This week’s theme song was written in 1969 by John Fogerty for CCR’s Willy and the Poor Boys album. The title has been shortened over time from Don’t Look Now (It Ain’t You or Me) by dropping the parenthetical aside. You may have noticed that I live for parenthetical asides but I can live with the deletion of this one. In fact, it’s a delightful deletion.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the Creedence original and a 2005 cover by my main man Dave Alvin.

Don’t Look Now is also the title of a fine film by director Nicolas Roeg who died last month. And don’t look now is excellent advice when one jumps to the break: every time I peek, I get dizzier than Tommy Fucking Roe.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Tangled Up In Blue

The Large Blue Horses by Franz Marc.

The weather has been wild and wacky in New Orleans. It was 80 degrees last weekend, then it plummeted to a day time high of 50 a mere two days later. It’s like being an extra in The Pit and The Pendulum. I have no idea what that means but it sounds good.

We had some car trouble this week. We convinced ourselves we might have major electrical issues. It turned out the car needed a new battery. Whew. Dr. A has named the new used car Hildy, after Rosalind Russell’s character in His Girl Friday. Neither Cary Grant nor Ralph Bellamy were consulted.

Am I allowed to brag? I promise not to go all Insult Comedian on your asses. The response to my Neelyisms: Translating Louisiana’s Junior Senator piece has been very favorable indeed. Thanks, y’all. I hope it will further one of my quirkier causes: getting people to stop calling him by his real name instead of my nickname for him. Repeat after me:  In politics, there’s only one John Kennedy, and his middle initial was F, not N. Just call him Neely.

This week’s theme song was written by Bob Dylan for his great 1975 album Blood on the Tracks. Tangled Up In Blue is one of my favorite Dylan tunes. It’s an almost foolproof song, which is why it has been covered so many times.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Dylan’s original, a 2017 cover by Joan Osborne, and a live version by the Jerry Garcia Band.

Now that we’re all tangled up, let’s jump to the break. I hope I can find my blue ripcord.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Deportee (Plane Crash At Los Gatos)

Roots by Frida Kahlo

I’ve been following the horrific events at the US-Mexico border. After a few weeks of relative quiet on the caravan front, the Insult Comedian has ramped up the war of words in this fake crisis. He added a new weapon to his usual arsenal of hot air and bullshit: tear gas. Trump claimed that it was “very safe tear gas” but there’s no such thing, especially since they tear gassed babies. Exposure to tear gas has detrimental effects on childhood development. It’s some nasty shit. I was exposed to tear gas in the Paris Metro many years ago. I don’t recall what the protest was about, but I recall feeling woozy, raspy, and weepy for hours after being tear gassed. I guess it wasn’t the “very safe” kind that Trump is so proud of. #sarcasm

Trump’s ridiculous claim that tear gas is “very safe” reminds me of an encounter with one of my Greek Greek relatives. I called him Theo (Uncle) Panos but he was married to my father’s  cousin. He was a proud and boisterous man who had a small business making and selling taverna-type chairs in the Monastiriki district in old Athens. He believed that everything Greek was the best. It was one reason he and Lou got on so well. I’ll never forget dining al fresco one evening with Panos and his family. There were flies swarming and  I kept shooing them away. Panos laughed and said, “Don’t worry. In Greece, the flies are clean and very safe.”

This week’s theme song was written in 1948 by Woody Guthrie and Martin Hoffman in protest of the racist treatment of Mexican nationals who perished in a plane crash in Los Gatos, California. 32 people died: 4 Americans and 28 Mexican migrant workers who were being deported to Mexico. The media of the day listed the names of the dead Yanquis but referred to the Mexicans solely as deportees.

Sometimes the “crash” in the title is replaced with “wreck” but the song remains the same. Deportee (Plane Crash at Los Gatos) is one of the great protest songs and has been recorded many times over the last 70 years.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Woody Guthrie, Dave Alvin & Jimmie Gilmore, and Nancy Griffith.

Now that we’ve been deported, it’s time to jump to the break. We’ll try not to crash-land but I make no guarantees. Now where the hell did I put my parachute?

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Holiday

The Stillness Of Time by Salvador Dali

I originally thought I’d be able to write a full-blown Odds & Sods post this week. I was wrong. We spent Turkey Day pinballing from New Orleans to Baton Rouge and back again. Unlike Tommy, I’m not a deaf, dumb, and blind Pinball Wizard but I *am* stiff and sore from sitting in the car in heavy traffic and our pre and post Saints game hikes.

The Saintsgiving game was a bigger rout than the 31-17 final score indicates. The Saints-Falcons rivalry is intense but this isn’t the Dirty Birds’ year. It belongs to the New Orleans Saints. This is a special team: they’re fun to watch and have fun playing. The players are as likely to break out in random acts of dancing as the fans. This Saints team seems determined to put the fun back in the No Fun League.

The fans do their bit to support the team by getting LOUD. Check out the decibel level when the Falcons had the ball:

That’s Who concert loud, y’all. I kept waiting for them to play Long Live Rock There was the obligatory We Will Rock You sighting (sounding?) as well.

This week’s Saturday post may be truncated but we do have a theme song as well as a follow-up by the same artist. Ray Davies wrote Holiday for the klassic Kinks album Muswell Hillbillies. The follow-up comes from the Kinks underrated concept album, Soap Opera. Every time I hear Holiday Romance, I visualize Astaire and Rogers gliding across the dance floor.

That’s it for this abbreviated edition of Saturday Odds & Sods. I opened the post with a Salvador Dali painting. Let’s close things out with a picture of Dali and Alfred Hitchcock who are presumably discussing the dream sequence conceived by the artist for Spellbound.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Too Close For Comfort

Think Flag by William N. Copley

I’m keeping this week’s outing snappy because the time change has messed me up. My sleep patterns have been disrupted, as a result I’ve been groggier than hell. Additionally, Della and Paul do not respect day light savings time and demand to be fed at odd hours. Oddly enough, such oddity will inevitably impact Odds & Sods.

A quick note on the featured image. I cheated on Jasper Johns with a 1961 flag painting by William N. Copley aka CPLY. I think the think flag fits this moment eerily well. The country needs more thinking and fewer hot takes right now. Why are people bleating over Tucker Carlson when there are babies in cages?

This week’s theme song was written in 1956 for the musical Mr. Wonderful by Larry Bock, George David Weiss, and Larry Holofcener. I selected Too Close For Comfort because of all the votes that are still being counted, especially in Florida, Arizona, and California.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: Frank Sinatra with the Billy May Orchestra, and a fabulous Ella Fitzgerald-Joe Williams duet with the Count Basie Orchestra. You know that I love me some Bill Basie.

Now we’ve gotten way too close for comfort, it’s time to jump to the break but first a reminder that Too Close For Comfort was also the title of a long-running Ted Knight sitcom that I watched only once.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Running On Empty

Carnival Tryptich by Max Beckmann

It’s been an uneasy week in the Big Easy. There’s much outrage at the local utility company, Entergy, for hiring actors to attend City Council meetings. The company has made it worse by continuing to lie about it. It’s called Astroturfing, it’s not illegal it’s just sleazy. The more Entergy lies, the longer the story persists. Lying seems to be contagious in the age of Trump. Knock it off, y’all.

In other Gret Stet news, we’re voting on a constitutional amendment to end non-unanimous jury verdicts. Louisiana and Oregon are the only two states that have this system and we’re in a race for repeal. The odds are good that voters will end the practice next Tuesday: there’s broad bi-partisan support for the change. It’s good when the Gret Stet good guys win one. In fact, it’s great. Hopefully, that Tony the Tiger-ish sentiment will help LSU when they play Alabama tonight. Geaux Tigers.

This week’s theme song, Running On Empty, was written and recorded by Jackson Browne in 1977. It’s been used in two movies: Forrest Gump and gave Sidney Lumet’s great 1988 movie its title. We’ll have more about *that* Running On Empty after the jump.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. Both feature brilliant lap steel playing by the great David Lindley of whom I’ll have more to say at the end of the post. Holy previews, Batman.

We may be low on gas but there’s enough in the tank to jump to the break.

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Willie McCovey, R.I.P.

Willie McCovey was one of my childhood heroes. His death at the age of 80 makes me feel old, old, old. I was too young to be gutted by the savage line drive he hit for the final out of the 1962 World Series but I’m crushed in retrospect. Charlie Brown was crushed at the time:

Willie McCovey was a tall and graceful man whose nickname was Stretch. Previous players had been called that, but it fit Willie Mac like a glove; a baseball glove.

I was a baseball nerd in my youth. I loved going to the ballpark early to watch batting practice. The main attraction was Willie McCovey. His swing was savage yet still elegant. One could almost feel the breeze stirred up by his mighty swing. Of course, that was at Candlestick Park where the wind was so ferocious that I once saw a small pitcher blown off the mound.

I was lucky enough to meet Stretch several times when he was still an active player. He was always gracious and friendly. It’s one of many reasons he belonged to San Francisco Giants fans in a way that his teammate Willie Mays never did. Mays remains the greatest all-around player I’ve ever seen but interacting with fans, especially kids, was not his forte. Willie Mac always had a smile on his face as well as the firmest handshake I’ve ever encountered. Crunch.

Stretch was one of those players who played in difficult circumstances. He played in a pitcher’s park in a pitcher’s era but still hit 521 career homers, led the league in homers 3 times, and was National League MVP in 1969. If he’d played in the 1990’s, he might have hit over 700 homers and made vast sums of money, but it never bothered him. Willie McCovey’s picture was in the dictionary next to Gentle Giant.

I learned patience and fortitude growing up a Giants fan. We were always in contention but always fell a bit short. I’ll never forget then Giants owner Horace Stoneham’s 1972-1974 fire sale when he traded Mays and McCovey. He was trying to keep the lights on and the liquor flowing. His liquor: Stoneham was rumored to have traded Gaylord Perry to Cleveland for Sudden Sam McDowell to have a drinking buddy. Perry went on to win 2 Cy Young Awards and 180 more games. McDowell  won 19 more games and drank his way out of baseball by 1975.

I attended Willie McCovey’s return to Candlestick as a San Diego Padre. He got a standing ovation and we all commented how terrible he looked in the Padres shit brown uniform of that era. Mercifully, Stretch returned to the Giants for the last four years of his career. Back where he belonged.

I also attended Stretch’s final home game. Willie’s knees were giving out and word got out that he planned to retire mid-season. It was Thursday July 7, 1980. They played the Cincinnati Reds.  I hopped on the bus and saw his last home game alone. I wasn’t really alone: I had 26,133 friends with whom to cheer Willie’s every move. It was a  big crowd for a Thursday afternoon game for a mediocre Giants team destined for fifth place. The Giants won 4-3 and Stretch knocked in a run. Everything he did merited a standing ovation. I was hoarse from hollering for my favorite player. Our favorite player.

There have been ballplayers with gaudier stats but Willie McCovey was one-of-a-kind. He was a genuinely modest superstar who lived a long life and was loved by the Giants fan base. The man even has a statue and a cove named for him at the Giants’ current ballpark. He will be missed but McCovey Cove is eternal as are my memories.

The last word (image?) goes to Willie McCovey’s hall of fame plaque:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Season Of The Witch

The Witch of Endor by William Blake

We’ve finally had some cool weather in New Orleans. I considered devising some sort of ceremony for turning off the AC, but I kept it simple. Besides, I didn’t want to scare the cats.

It’s been a difficult week, which is why I plan to keep this post on the short and sweet side. Make that short and snarky. I don’t want to ruin my well-deserved reputation as a curmudgeon.

This week’s theme song, Season of the Witch, was written in 1966 by Donovan Leitch and Shawn Phillips. It has been covered a bazillion times, which gave me many versions to choose from. I like choice, it’s cherce as Spencer Tracy said in Pat and Mike.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: the Donovan original followed by a Richard Thompson cover that was recorded for the NBC show, Crossing Jordan. I recall watching the episode it appeared in and nearly falling off the couch in surprise at hearing RT on a network show. Finally, Lou Rawls brings some soul to the proceedings.

Now that we’ve gotten seasonal, it’s time to make like a witch, jump on a broomstick and fly to the break. I may not have magical powers but I have a broom.

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Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Vanishing American

The Vanishing American was an atypical work for Zane Gray. He was best known as the author of cowboy oriented Western novels. But he always had a soft spot for Native Americans. Here’s how Goodreads describes this book:

 Considered one of Zane Grey’s best novels, The Vanishing American was originally published in serialized form in the Ladies Home Journal in 1922. It reveals Grey’s empathy for the Native American and his deep concern for the future survival of that culture.

It is the story of Nophaie, a young Navajo, who is picked up by a party of whites at the age of seven. White parents bring the child up as though he were their own, eventually sending him to a prestigious Eastern college where he distinguishes himself by his outstanding athletic skill. The Vanishing American is about Nophaie’s struggle to find a place in society. On a larger scale it is about all Native Americans and their future in America.

Without further adieu, here are two covers:

Baseball historian John Thorn wrote a piece about the book because the main character seems to be based on Jim Thorpe.

Finally, the two film versions of the novel treat it like your basic Zane Grey oater.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Late In The Evening

Father Mississippi by Walter Inglis Anderson.

It’s finally showing signs of cooling off in New Orleans even if it appears to be a cruel autumnal tease. The cool front helped keep Hurricane Michael away from us. It was a beast of a storm that battered the Florida panhandle and provoked PTSD flashbacks in the New Orleans area. Best wishes to everyone in the affected areas.

In more savory local news, Advocate food writer Ian McNulty wrote a piece about the surfeit of new restaurants in the city. Ian is worried that we’re losing the thread with so many eateries dependent on the tourist trade. New Orleans didn’t become a great food city with tourist traps but with restaurants serving locals. One Oceana Grill is enough. Just ask Gordon Ramsay:

You didn’t have to take that so personally, Chef Ramsay. Piss off out of my post.

This week’s theme song is appropriate because I usually post Saturday Odds & Sods at the stroke of midnight. Some of my regular readers look for it then. One would hope they’d have something better to do.

Paul Simon wrote Late In The Evening in 1980 for his One-Trick Pony album. Simon also wrote and acted in a movie of the same title, which sank without a trace. I always thought horses could swim…

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. The original hit single followed by a scorching hot live version from 1992’s Born At The Right Time tour.

I used a painting by New Orleans/Ocean Springs, MS artist Walter Anderson as the featured image because he famously tied himself to a tree during Hurricane Betsy. We grow them eccentric in these parts. If things had gone wrong, it would have given a whole new meaning to the term tie-dyed.  If that pun doesn’t make you want to jump to the break, nothing will.

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Not Everything Sucks: In Milwaukee It’s Still Baseball Season

My dad has a tiny little radio, upright, leather wrist-strap. It’s at least 40 years old and spotted with paint from having sat on dozens of ladders while he painted the house. On baseball afternoons he put the radio on his nightstand and would nap beside it, and sometimes I could climb in bed, too, and we could listen to this voice together:

I grew up loving the Brewers, hating the Yankees (“bunch of millionaires,” said my father, with disdain), and laughing at the Cubs, whose fans Dad still loves to mock on sports radio the morning after a loss. I grew up loving the Brewers no matter how terrible they were, and they were terrible. Went to one series in 1982, lost, and then into the wilderness for the next two and a half decades, while Uecker tried to find something else to talk about: 

If the cause is lost, Uke tries to get you lost in something else. Sometimes he starts early, such as on July 4, 2007, after Uecker stumbled upon a convention of animal-costume fetishists at the Pittsburgh Westin, where the Brewers were staying. Uecker, his then partner Jim Powell recalls, “was like a kid on Christmas morning.” The game had barely begun when they went on a 15-minute digression:

“Furrier Society, I believe it is,” Uecker said. After putting the topic on hold to call a Braun home run, he resumed: “That’s no big deal, that’s what they feel. They wear animal costumes because they feel a little animalish. And I’ve felt that way myself a couple of times. I haven’t dressed up for it. I’ve worn a fig leaf or two.” Later Uecker emitted a sort of bird whoop and directed Powell to provide listeners with a website for more information on the Furry movement. Presumably this is the first time “alt dot lifestyle dot furry” was said during a major league broadcast.

Usually the one thing you could count on as a Brewers fan was being able to tune baseball basically out by mid-July, start making mental space for the NFL. This year took me entirely by surprise.

I really want them to win it all this time. That voice of my childhood is still at it, and my dad’s still listening.

A.