Category Archives: Sports

Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

Orestes by Willem de Kooning.

It’s been a weird week in New Orleans. I know, this is a weird place so why is that surprising? It’s not but I had a deeply strange encounter with a City Council candidate who I do not plan to vote for. Here’s how I described it at Zuckerville:

Seth Bloom is the candidate I mentioned last week in this space.  One of his opponents said this about him:

Having the temperament to work with the rest of the councilmembers is of the utmost importance – nothing passes the City Council without a minimum of four votes. Seth Bloom has habitually displayed a lack of self-restraint, professionalism, respect, and sincerity as he has campaigned for another public office. I am convinced that Seth Bloom is volatile, hostile, and vindictive – the residents of District B deserve better. The City of New Orleans deserves better.

BURN.

The good news is that his run-off opponent, Jay Banks, is qualified, famous for being nice, and was King Zulu in 2016. How you like dem coconuts, Bloomy?

Speaking of the 2017 New Orleans run-off election, my latest column on the increasingly bat shit crazy mayor’s race is up at the Bayou Brief: An Uncanny Mess.

I’ve been feeling a bit anti-social of late. That’s one reason I selected Don’t Get Around Much Anymore as this week’s theme song, but mostly because it’s a fucking great song. It was written in 1940 as an instrumental by Duke Ellington. The original title was Never No Lament:

Bob Russell’s lyrics were added two years later. I’m glad they changed the title: Never No Lament doesn’t sound like a hit to me.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure. First, the Ink Spots’ mega-hit version.  Second, the Duke and Louis Armstrong from what many call their genius sessions. Immodest but true. Finally, my favorite version. It was arranged by Billy May for the great Nat King Cole.

There’s nothing quite as good as jazz Nat even though lush string pop Nate is pretty swell as well. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s jump to the break.

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First Draft Potpourri: Dead Modem Blues Edition

I’m back online with an itchy trigger finger. There’s been so much news while I sat modem Shiva that I don’t know where to begin. That was a fib, I’d like to start with a few thoughts on the malakatude of my countryman, George Papadopoulous. We’ll break things down in segments Odds & Sods style but first a musical interlude:

Greek-American Hustler: There’s been some dispute as to the importance of George Papadopoulous. He’s been called the “coffee boy” by one Trump adviser and their opponents have tried to inflate his importance. The truth is, as is often the case, somewhere in between. Papadopoulous is a classic American figure: a young man on the make.

Team Trump is full of equally unqualified people who have been given important government jobs. As illustrated in this tweet/article by the WaPo’s Dana Milbank:

Recently defenestrated USDA appointee Sam Clovis is an Iowa talk show host who was appointed to a job usually filled by a scientist. His withdrawal came on the heels of the news that he testified before the Mueller probe grand jury. The ranking Democrat on theSenate AG committee, Debbie Stabenow of the mitten shaped state of Michigan planned to ask him about it. Oops.

Back to Papadopoulous. He clung to Team Trump like a barnacle on a shipwreck, which is an apt analogy for both. He did not get a job, but was a frequent visitor to the White House and was put in charge of schmoozing Greek dignitaries at the most attended inauguration in world history. #sarcasm. Here’s a tweet showing a picture of Georgie with the President of the Hellenic Republic:

It’s a photo-op, dude. Do you really believe the Insult Comedian thinks Greece is an important country?

It seems apparent that Georgie was making himself useful to the Trumpers whilst hatching hare brained schemes to write a book, run for Congress, or become the Patriarch of Constantinople. I made that last bit up: Georgie doesn’t have a beard so he’s SOL on that score. His plans to become Trump’s link to the Russians is also SOL. But George’s loss is Team Mueller’s gain.

I’m one of the few people who remembers that dirty money from the Greek Junta played a minor role in Watergate. George Papadopoulous was also the name of the Colonel who became dictator/President in that benighted era of Greek politics. Actually, they’re all benighted but the Junta was worse than average.

The name George Papadopoulous brings two stories to mind. First, the most popular mass market cookies in Greece during the dictatorship were made by the Papadopoulous bakery. Greeks who disliked the junta were prone to say in a loud voice “I don’t like Papadopoulous” before lowering their voice and whispering “biscota” aka biscuits aka cookies.

The second story involves how the name Papadopoulous is mispronounced in the media. My Greek relations (among whom are some Pappas’, which is a frequent shortening of that name) pronounce it Papa-dough-poulous not Papa-dop-poulous. Dough, not dop. That reminds me of the time I met the outstanding Democratic Senator from Maryland, Paul Sarbanes. I shook his hand and said, “Nice to meet you Senator Sar-ban-as.” He smiled and said, “You must be Greek.” That led to a pleasant chat that included this name-based exchange:

Adrastos: “Does it bug you that nobody pronounces your name correctly? It sounds like sardines or something.”

The Senator: “It did at the beginning of my career and I tried correcting people. I soon learned that correcting voters was a sure way to lose an election, so I gave up. I’m still glad when someone gets it right.”

Adrastos: “And they’re always Greek.”

The Senator: “They’re always Greek.”

Btw, as a Congressman, Paul Sarbanes was a member of the House Judiciary Committee and voted to impeach Tricky Dick. It’s a lesson lost on the coffee boy. I wonder if it was Greek or Turkish coffee? Oh well, that’s a distinction without a difference except in Greece. Don’t use the T word there, y’all.

Repeat after me: dough, not dop.

Your President* Tweets: The Insult Comedian never uttered a peep about the Las Vegas shooter on his favorite medium. Instead of calling Bill DeBlasio or Andrew Cuomo, Trump sent out a series of inflammatory tweets followed by inflammatory comments on the electric teevee machine. I’ll keep it brief and post only one tweet. That’s more restraint than Trump will ever show:

If I were in the unenviable position of representing this defendant, I’d use Trump’s rhetoric in his defense. This intemperance reminded me of Tricky Dick whose pronouncement on a notorious case led to this legendary court room moment.

Nixon was more popular in his Southern California home region than Trump is in his hometown, so this came close to causing a mistrial. Plus, Tricky knew he fucked up: Trump shows no signs of getting it. So much for being tough on terrorism. Also, the much-ballyhooed travel ban doesn’t cover Uzbekis. Oops.

Sign of the Times: There was a second line in honor of the late Fats Domino Wednesday; ending at his former house on Caffin Avenue in the Lower 9th Ward. I didn’t make it, but my social media feeds were full of pictures including this one:

Photograph by Dakinikat.

Holy errant apostrophe, Batman.

Confessions Of The Fuck The Dodgers Guy: I had a lot of fun on social media during the World Series. I was rooting for the eventual champion Houston Astros for a variety of reasons: Hurricane Harvey and the presence of former LSU All-American Alex Bregman. Geaux Tigers.

I was, however, mostly rooting against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers and my San Francisco Giants are ancient rivals dating back to their days in New York. I’m a confirmed life-long Dodger hater, which is not that unusual for a Giants fan. I’m old enough to have experienced the blood feud of the mid-1960’s when the Mays-McCovey-Marichal-Perry Giants faced off against the Koufax-Drysdale-Wills Dodgers.

It’s strictly “sports hate” but I may have been guilty of a bit of overkill on the Tweeter Tube and Facebook. I earned a new nickname to go along with Shecky: The Fuck the Dodgers Guy. I can live with that.

Here are a few representative tweets in reverse order. My personal favorite skips the FTD shtick and mocks Larry King whose Dodger fandom dates from their days in Brooklyn.

That’s not a picture of the Dodger third sacker, it’s just  a dude who looks like him.

I hope I don’t experience Fuck the Dodgers Guy withdrawals but ya never know.

That’s it for this dead modem memorial edition of First Draft potpourri. Long live the new modem.

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Goodbye Pork Pie Hat

Swing Landscape by Stuart Davis.

We finally had a chilly day this week. New Orleanians tend to overdress when it cools off so there were many coats, sweaters, and scarves about town. This cold-ish snap is another example of how extreme the weather has been this year: the first cold weather doesn’t usually arrive until around Thanksgiving. I am opposed to turning on the central heat until November but dragged out the space heaters. It warmed up yesterday, but it’s going to be cold today. We’re back on the autumnal weather yo-yo. So it goes.

The big local story is the precipitous fall of celebrity chef John Besh. Picayune restaurant critic Brett Anderson spent 8 months investigating charges of sexual harassment in Besh’s empire. The story landed last weekend and Besh has resigned from his company and lost two casino based locations. I’d heard that he was a hound and a creep but hadn’t heard how systematic the problem was. The timing couldn’t have been worse for Besh since it followed the Weinstein revelations.  I am trying out a new word to describe the outing of sexual harassers: Beshed. It probably won’t catch on but if it does, you heard it here first.

Another big local news story popped up as I was Oddsing and Sodsing. It’s a flap involving  mayoral frontrunner LaToya Cantrell, her use of city credit cards, and the heavy-handed intervention of District Attorney Leon Cannizzarro who is supporting her opponent. So much for that campaign being dull. It’s New Orleans politics in all its seedy glory but I’m going to save it for the Bayou Brief. I’ll let y’all know when my column drops. I’m uncertain if it will be Ionic, Doric, or Corinthian. Corinthian leather?

Now that I’ve incited the wrath of Khan, let’s move on to this week’s theme song. It was composed by Charles Mingus in honor of his friend the great jazz sax player, Lester (Prez) Young.

Here are three versions for your enjoyment. First, Charlie’s original instrumental followed by Joni Mitchell who added lyrics for her Mingus album in 1979. Finally, a guitar driven version by Jeff Beck from his Wired album:

Now that we’ve tipped our pork pie hat to the great Lester Young, it’s time to say goodbye and jump to the break or something like that. Sometimes I even confuse myself.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Lover Of The Bayou

Photograph by CC Lockwood.

Fall has fallen. We finally had a week of temptingly temperate temperatures. Unfortunately, it’s oak pollen season, which means I’ve been wheezier than Weezer or Isabel Sanford who played Louise (Weezy) Jefferson on the electronic teevee machine back in the day. Where have you gone George Jefferson? Achoo.

It’s the week after the primary election and the Mayoral  run-off campaign is mostly bubbling under the surface. There was some horrible news involving third-place finisher Michael Bagneris. His daughter, Mia, was hit by a drunk driver while exiting her car after attending her father’s election eve soiree. Since New Orleans is the world’s largest small town, we have several friends in common. Her injuries were severe but it appears that she’ll make it. It’s going to be a long recovery. Best wishes to the Bagneris family. Drunk drivers are the worst.

This week’s theme song was written by Roger McGuinn and Jacques Levy. It has an interesting history. I’ll let the Wikpedia entry for the Byrds album (Untitled) fill you in:

For most of 1969, The Byrds’ leader and guitarist, Roger McGuinn, had been developing a country rock stage production of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt with former psychologist and Broadway impresario Jacques Levy.[16] The musical was to be titled Gene Tryp, an anagram of the title of Ibsen’s play, and would loosely follow the storyline of Peer Gynt with some modifications to transpose the action from Norway to south-west America during the mid-19th century.[5] The musical was intended as a prelude to even loftier plans of McGuinn’s to produce a science-fiction film, tentatively titled Ecology 70 and starring former Byrd Gram Parsons (no relation to Gene) and ex-member of The Mamas & the PapasMichelle Phillips, as a pair of intergalactic flower children.[12] Ultimately, Gene Tryp was abandoned and a handful of the songs that McGuinn and Levy had written for the project would instead see release on (Untitled) and its follow-up, Byrdmaniax.[4]

I told you it was a long story. We have two versions for your enjoyment, the original live Byrds version and a cover by Mudcrutch, which was Tom Petty’s original band brought back to life in 2008. Holy reanimation, Batman.

That concludes our trip to the bayou or does it? You’ll find out after we jump to the break.

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Quick & Dirty Thoughts About The NOLA Primary Election

It was an eventful weekend at Adrastos World HQ. The LSU Tigers came back from a 20-0 deficit to the Other Tigers of Auburn to win 27-23.  Auburn has still not won at Tiger Stadium in the 21st Century. The Saints won a wild and wacky home game against the Detroit Lions. It resembled a rugby match at times but a win is a win is win.

The most important event, of course, was the New Orleans primary election. For the majority of you who don’t live in New Orleans and need some context, here’s a link to my page at the Bayou Brief. I need to pitch something there soon but the Oscar crisis and its aftermath left me lower energy than Jeb Bush. Believe me.

The headline is that two African-American women will be competing in the run-off and one of them will become the first woman mayor in the city’s history. LaToya Cantrell and Desiree Charbonnet combined for 69% of the vote. It was expected to be a close three-way struggle but Cantrell led by 9%; the other major candidate Michael Bagneris (also African-American) won among white voters but finished out of the money with 18%. Bags pandered to wealthy local Lost Causers by criticizing the removal process, calling for a referendum on future controversies, then declining to say how he would vote. Oy just oy. To be fair, none of the candidates wanted to go there but he gave the worst answer by far.

A quick note about also-ran and recent malaka of the week, Frank Scurlock.  My friend and Bayou Brief publisher Lamar White Jr. crunched the numbers and informed us that Scurlock spent more per vote than any candidate in Gret Stet history, $926 per vote. He received 385 votes. He said he’d stimulate the economy and he kept that promise.

The run-off campaign should be more interesting than the primary. The two contenders are fairly close on the issues but have contrasting styles and backgrounds. The front-runner, Councilmember LaToya Cantrell, is a transplant who made her bones as a post-Katrina/Federal Flood activist. She’s a little rough around the edges but in a good way: it makes her interesting and somewhat unpredictable. She has a bit of a potty mouth, which is something we at First Draft fucking like. And she’s been known to call a motherfucker a motherfucker. There are many of those in local politics. Fuck, yeah.

As to Desiree Charbonnet, it’s become a truism to say that she’s the establishment candidate. As you know, I hate to echo the Conventional Wisdom, but in this case the truism is true.  She raised the most money and gained the most endorsements, which is a two-edged sword. On the sharp side, she has the support of Congressman Cedric Richmond; on the dull side, District Attorney Leon Cannizzarro who is unpopular in many circles because of his office’s habit of coercing witnesses to testify. Canny has the demeanor of an irritable undertaker so seeing him next to the chipper candidate on election eve was most amusing. Smile, Canny, smile.

Back to  Charbonnet. She’s a polished speaker and the camera loves her. Those should be advantages but her poorly run campaign hasn’t taken advantage of her talent. They’ve given her dubious advice about how to deal with criticism as I pointed out in a post called The Empty Podium Ad. I’ve had a series of run-ins with her supporters online. They seem to regard her as the Creole messiah or some such shit. That’s another contrast with her opponent: Charbonnet comes from an old Creole family who have been in New Orleans forever. One of her cousins implied on election eve that differences between locals and transplants that would be a theme of her run-off effort. Of course, she has so many relatives that this guy may not be in the loop. In any event, it’s a rotten idea.

LaToya Cantrell ran first for several reasons: an Obama-style GOTV effort, and negative ads run by Charbonnet’s detractors. It’s unclear how resonant those attacks will be in the run-off but Cantrell benefited from them and the back-and-forth between Charbonnet and third place finisher Michael Bagneris. Charbonnet may have made it difficult for Bags to endorse her because of the nature of her attacks on him, especially comments in the final televised debate implying that he cheated on his wife: “he has a lovely wife who has stood by him.” I know how to read between the lines, y’all.

The open question is who, if anyone, incumbent Mayor Mitch Landrieu will endorse. Despite taking a well-deserved beating over drainage issues, his approval rating remains in the mid to high 50’s. He’s neither politically nor personally close to either candidate so he might be wise to stay out of the fray. I asked around yesterday and the consensus is that the Mayor is unlikely to endorse soon. I think his best course is to praise both candidates, the history they’re about to make, and stay out. Mitch can read the election results and they favor Cantrell. They’ve had a prickly and contentious relationship but she’s the front-runner until proven otherwise.

I didn’t support any of the leading candidates in the primary. I leaned towards Cantrell but have reservations about her position on short-term rentals. I also had a friend and krewe mate, Ed Bruski, who ran as an outsider candidate so I was one of 450 people who voted to give New Orleans a Bruski. In the run-off, the choice is clear. Cantrell is my council member  and she has been responsive to her constituents, which means she’ll listen to the voters. As to Charbonnet, she’s the latest in a long line of machine politicians to run as a reformer or, as she is fond of saying, an innovator. I don’t have a problem with machine politicians but I prefer they be honest about it. My rule of thumb in Louisiana politics is that when someone calls themselves a reformer, check your wallet. C Ray Nagin ran as a reformer, after all.

It looks as if  my post title is a misnomer. It was dirty but not quick. Hell, it could have been longer but I decided to skip the Councilmanic races. That would have been far too manic. I guess that means I should give the Bangles the last word:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: So Far Away

Speciality Drawing by George Herriman, 1936.

It’s election day in New Orleans. It’s time to winnow down the lackluster mayoral field from 3 major contenders to a face off in the run-off in this off-year election. I hope that wasn’t off-putting. Only a mug would try to predict who will be in the run-off with the so-called big three clustered so tightly in the polls. As Dan Rather would surely say at this point: it’s tighter than a tick. Besides, I threw away my crystal ball after it cracked on 11/9/2016.

One more note on the New Orleans municipal election. I did a podcast about it with my friend Ryne Hancock yesterday. Here’s a LINK.

The featured image is a 1936 drawing by the great George Herriman. In hopes of uncovering a title, I asked Herriman biographer Michael Tisserand. It is, in fact, untitled. It was executed by the artist for a fan named Morris Weiss. It’s unclear if he was a Morris dancer. Btw, if you haven’t read Michael’s book Krazy, pick up a copy. It’s one of the best biographies I’ve read in years. He’s funny on twitter too. Believe me.

This week’s theme song was used in the penultimate episode of AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, which is one of the most underrated teevee shows ever. There’s only one more episode left in the series but the first three seasons are streaming on Netflix. Check it out and tell them Adrastos sent you; not that they’ll give a shit but it will be good for my self-esteem.

So Far Away is my favorite Dire Straits song. I’m a big fan of wistful lyrics and Mark Knopfler’s guitar playing. This song obviously has both. I’m throwing in a partially acoustic live version as lagniappe.

 Since we’re so far away from one another, let’s bridge the gap by jumping to the break. I hope that made more sense to you than to me. Adrastos thy name is confusion.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Tenderness On The Block

Surrealism and Painting by Max Ernst.

It’s still too darn hot in New Orleans and the municipal election drones on like annoying background music. I should be more engaged but (with the exception of Frank Scurlock’s malakatude)  it’s duller than tarnished silver. Hopefully, the run-off will be more interesting.

There is an interesting political story happening next door in Jefferson Parish. I wrote about Parish President Mike Yenni’s perv issues in this space last year. Yenni survived a recall attempt and is clinging to office. One sign that he doesn’t expect to be re-elected is that he’s spent over $200K  to redo his office to make it look like George W. Bush’s Oval Office. I am not making this up.

I hope Mike doesn’t get a Yenni to invade Arabi in nearby St. Bernard Parish. There’s enough weird shit happening in Da Parish already y’all.

This week’s theme song is Warren Zevon’s Tenderness On The Block. I have a confession: I like Shawn Colvin’s 1992 cover even more since it features my homeys, the Subdudes:

Speaking of subdued, I’m feeling that way this week because of Oscar’s illness so I’m going to keep this snappy. So snappy, in fact, that I’m skipping the break and jumping in with both feet or something like that.

My Anglophilia is in bloom this week so we begin with a hilarious piece by the Guardian’s Marina Hyde about the recent Labour Party conference in Brighton. I dig the headline; here it is in its exuberant entirety:

Oh Jeremy Corbyn. I Bet You Think This Song Is About You: The reason I love the Guardian so much is the quality of the writing. They let their funny people be funny. Ain’t nobody funnier than  Marina Hyde:

If you are a political archivist, there are two seriously covetable gigs in the world right now. The first is conceptualising the unprecedented annals facility that will one day be the Donald Trump Presidential Library. The second is collating the many different euphemisms for the Labour party having not won the recent general election.

At party conference in Brighton, you gotta catch ’em all. “We didn’t lose,” Emily Thornberry declared. “The real losers were the Tories.” At Momentum’s parallel event, the official literature noted that Labour had “witnessed possibility being snatched from the jaws of disaster”. In the conference hall proper, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey elicited a huge cheer for “the biggest narrowing of the polls in British electoral history”.

My favorite bit was about the folks from Momentum, which is a hard left pressure group made up of British dudebros:

Momentum gets a lot of stick for a certain strain of its needling – branding people “centrist dads” and so on. But it rather reminds me of that episode of The Simpsons where Bart inquires of a man: “I’m Bart Simpson – who the hell are you?” “I’m Dave Shutton,” comes the stuffy reply, “an investigative reporter who’s on the road a lot, and I must say that in our day we didn’t talk like that to our elders.” “Well, this is my day,” shrugs Bart, “and we do.” And so with many of Momentum’s in-jokes – there is something Bartishly irreverent and invigorating about them, and pants ought not to be wet in response. All the grownuppery was far more off-putting, anyway. Emily Thornberry kept insisting Labour were “the grownups”, while Keir Starmer echoed that the party was “the grownups in the room”.

It’s unclear as to whether Labour’s performance in the late election was a real political shift or a massive anti-Tory protest vote. I lean in the second direction: many of the new, younger Labour voters are passionate “remainers” whereas Corbyn’s inner circle are soft-Brexiteers. It will be interesting to see what happens when UK voters go to the polls believing that it’s possible for Corbyn to be their next Prime Minister. I threw away my crystal ball on 11/9/2016 so I make no predictions. Stay tuned.

We remain in England (not the EU) for our next segment, which is about one of the more sympathetic royals, the Queen’s late kid sister Princess Margaret.

Princess Margaret’s Misadventures In Bohemia: I’ve long had sympathy for Margaret because she’s one of the few people my main man Gore Vidal never said anything catty about. Hell, Gore even mocked people he liked and admired but not Princess Margaret. He felt sorry for her and admired her snooty wit. Gore was always big on snooty wit.

The Guardian has published a fascinating excerpt from a book by Craig Brown about Margaret, Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret. I knew that she hung out with the Rolling Stones when they were at their most hedonistic but I did not know that Pablo Picasso was madly in love with the Princess and hoped to marry her. I am not letting the catty cat out of the bag by telling you this never happened. Picasso may have not been a surrealist artist but he was a surrealist in everyday life.

I’ve had Puerto Rico on mind since Hurricane Maria. I posted a series of pictures of great Puerto Rican baseball players on Twitter, which led to this list, which is strictly for baseball history buffs but what can I say? It’s made up of players who were born on the island.

Adrastos’ Puerto Rico All-Star Team

1B: Orlando Cepeda.

2B: Roberto Alomar.

SS: Jose Valentin.

3B: Mike Lowell.

OF: Roberto Clemente, Carlos Beltran, Bernie Williams.

DH: Carlos Delgado.

C: Ivan (Pudge) Rodriguez.

Starting Pitchers:  RH:Javier Vasquez. LH: Juan Pizarro.

Relievers:  RH:Roberto Hernandez.  LH: Willie Hernandez. No relation.

The outfielders, catchers, and first basemen were the toughest position to winnow down. Pitching, however, is not a strength. So it goes.

That concludes this tribute to Puerto Rican baseball. Let’s go back to woody old England.

Saturday Classic: Steeleye Span were one of the bands who helped create British folk rock. Parcel of Rogues was one of the albums that emphasized the rock part of the equation. As always, Maddy Prior’s vocals are sublime.

That’s it for this week. I wrote about Ripper Street last week. This time around I’ll give the last word to the cast in their Victorian finery:

First Draft Potpourri: Why Not Madman Across The Water?

Remember when weekends used to be relatively quiet and people could focus on sports and other leisure activities, not national politics? It wasn’t that long ago. Although in my case the change might be a good thing: my San Francisco Giants are having their worst season since the 1980’s, LSU was blown out in Starksville, Ms of all places, and Saints fans are ready to wear bags after yesterday’s thumping at the hands of the Patriots. Perhaps I should skip the sporting lamentations and get down to it

Rocket Man? One of the reasons I nicknamed Donald Trump the Insult Comedian is his propensity to nickname his enemies. He’s not that good at it: Low Energy Jeb, Lyin’ Ted, and Crooked Hillary are uninspired but serviceable. He’s no threat to me or Charlie Pierce or my friend Dakinikat at  Sky Dancing who calls Trump, Kremlin Caligula. Of course, John Hurt as Caligula was much better looking and I shudder to think of Donald dancing in drag:

The Insult Comedian decided to take his empire of shtick abroad by nicknaming his fellow lunatic leader, Kim Jong Un:

I bet the South Korean President is over the moon after that call and subsequent tweet. I wonder if they discussed the local milk people as well or whether that topic is reserved for Aussie PM Malcolm Turnbull? I’m sure Malcolm would be willing to share: he’s used to being in the middle…

Trump clearly think he’s being clever, but nicknaming a crazy man with nukes is unwise. Like the Kaiser of Chaos himself, Kim Jong Un is not known for his ability to take a joke. Remember the shitstorm over the James Franco-Seth Rogen movie The Interview? Like Trump or any other bully, Rocket Man can dish it out but not take it. I’m concerned that Trump will follow-up the Kim Jong Un dubbing by posting this infamous version of the John-Maupin hit:

I suppose we should be grateful that Trump didn’t nickname Kim Jong Un after another Elton John song even if that would have been wittier:

We don’t want Rocket Man to Burn Down The Mission, after all.

Ty Cobb Slides Into Trouble: The MSM keeps telling us that Trump mouthpiece Ty Cobb is somehow related to the baseball hall of famer of that name. They never bother to explain the consanguinity. It’s starting to feel like my father’s tales of being related to scads of prominent Greek-Americans but I digress.

It seems that Cobb the lawyer *does* have some qualities often ascribed to the Detroit Tiger great, he’s hyper aggressive and has a big mouth:

The friction escalated in recent days after Mr. Cobb was overheard by a reporter for The New York Times discussing the dispute during a lunchtime conversation at a popular Washington steakhouse. Mr. Cobb was heard talking about a White House lawyer he deemed “a McGahn spy” and saying Mr. McGahn had “a couple documents locked in a safe” that he seemed to suggest he wanted access to. He also mentioned a colleague whom he blamed for “some of these earlier leaks,” and who he said “tried to push Jared out,” meaning Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who has been a previous source of dispute for the legal team.

 After The Times contacted the White House about the situation, Mr. McGahn privately erupted at Mr. Cobb, according to people informed about the confrontation who asked not to be named describing internal matters. John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, sharply reprimanded Mr. Cobb for his indiscretion, the people said.

Mr. Cobb sought to defuse the conflict in an interview over the weekend, praising Mr. McGahn as a superb lawyer. “He has been very helpful to me, and whenever we have differences of opinion, we have been able to work them out professionally and reach consensus,” Mr. Cobb said. “We have different roles. He has a much fuller plate. But we’re both devoted to this White House and getting as much done on behalf of the presidency as possible.”

Ty Cobb, Esquire is better known for his exuberant mustache than sharpening his spikes, but he clearly has a sharp tongue. And like the ballplayer, he feuds with his “teammates.” I love stories of disarray at the Trump White House, especially when they make it apparent that the “Kelly discipline effect” is having limited impact. Keep up the good work, y’all.

Here’s the Original Ty Cobb “sliding” into home plate. Looks more like a kick to me. Dan McGhan better watch out.

The Trump-Russia scandal seems to be heating up again. It’s time for another dose of dossier dish.

The Not-So Dodgy Dossier: The original dodgy dossier was assembled by British intelligence to help Tony Blair sell the Iraq War to a wary Labour Party and a skeptical public. Many people thought that the dossier former British spook Christopher Steele assembled about the Trump-Russia mishigas was equally dodgy. One reason for  that was the incessant, infantile focus on the so-called pee tape by the twits of twitter.

There was an excellent piece on the Steele dossier last week in Slate by former American spook John Sipher. Sipher argues that much of the dossier has already been verified and that Steele is a credible person.

Given his name, I was relieved that the Sipher piece wasn’t written in cipher. I hope Sipher’s meticulous analysis will help dampen down the golden showers chatter amongst the resistance.  Toilet humor is for lame bro comedies and elementary school kids. It should be flushed by adults.

My Tribe: 22 and counting

I didn’t know they sucked so bad when I fell in love with them. Given my life-long love of the underdog, I might have picked the Cleveland Indians as my team anyway.

I was about 10 or 11 years old, I think, when my dad bought into a season-ticket package with a bunch of guys who had four front-row seats at Milwaukee’s old County Stadium. The seats were along the tarp, between third base and the outfield wall, giving us the visitor’s view of the field.

When you’re a kid, you have certain magical ideas about what can happen when you are THAT CLOSE to the action. I think it comes from the old movies, where players sidled up to the railing and signed autographs or shook hands with the fans.

For me, all I wanted was a ball. The idea that a major leaguer (or two or three of them) had touched it made all the difference to me. Now, I see those balls, fouls caught by fans or batting practice tokens tossed to the stands, at rummage sales for a couple bucks apiece. You can buy brand new ones, still in the box, online for less than $20 each.

Back then, though, the only way to get one was to have a player toss you one. Your hand grabbing the orb first in that sea of hands along the edge of the field.

In our first game in those seats, it rained. My dad bought me an Indians hat so maybe one of the guys would come by and say hi or at least wave. As I sat there, a little drown rat alone in the front row, Jamie Easterly emerged from the dugout with another player and began walking toward the bullpen.

If you don’t know who Jamie Easterly is, you’re not alone. A second-round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves in 1971, Easterly and I crossed paths near the end of his amazingly pedestrian 13-year career in which he went 23-33 with a 4.62 ERA. He played for the Brewers during their 1982 World Series run before being sent to Cleveland in 1983, which at that point served as the Devil’s Island of baseball.

Easterly was walking away from me, the distance nearly 20 feet and growing, when I surprised him and myself by yelling, “Throw me a ball!” For a polite, diminutive hermit of a child, that was pretty damned bold. However, I really wanted that ball.

Easterly took the ball out of his pocket and flipped it at me. I was alone, so it was mine for sure. It got closer, closer and then…

Bam. It hit my hands and bounced out, trickling out onto the stadium’s warning track. A precious prize, just out of reach.

I stared at it, as if I could some how make it come closer. There it was. Here I was. Never the twain shall meet. It was over. My ONE shot at a ball, done in by my complete lack of coordination.

Easterly looked back and noticed my plight. He stopped walking toward the pen and jogged over to the ball.

He picked it up and placed it firmly in my hand. “Now don’t drop it this time, kid, OK?” he said with almost a chuckle in his voice. He then trotted back to his teammate and prepared for the game, the rest of which was a total blur for me.

What I didn’t know at the time was that Jamie Easterly had set me up for a lifetime of heartbreak and disappointment. There was no rationale reason to like the Indians other than that one moment. However, they just grew on me. The more the guys at school teased me about my choice, the more I dug in and learned more about “my guys.” The worse they got, the more I kept waiting for “next year.”

I didn’t care that Sigmund Snopek was an asshole who wrote and heartily performed a song at Summerfest each year called, “Thank God This Isn’t Cleveland” in which he always promised if the Indians EVER finished higher than the Brewers in the standings, he would stop singing it. I think ten years had passed between his pledge and that moment. Even so, it was just because both teams sucked that year. My team just happened to suck less.

I so wanted Brook Jacoby to be the next Mike Schmidt when he slugged 32 homers in 1987, seemingly on an upward trajectory toward stardom. Instead, he became the next Joe Charboneau of my life: A brief flame, doused by the nature of playing in Cleveland. He would only hit 44 homers over the rest of his career, petering out in the early 1990s.

Greg Swindell would anchor a pitching staff that looked like it was put together for some goofball comedy. We had Tom Candiotti, a young knuckleballer, and Phil Niekro, an old knuckleballer. About 20 years separated the bookends of a “ship of fools” approach to pitching.

Still, I remember those guys like Rich Yett, Scott Bailes and Jim Kern because they would come to the rail at County Stadium every time I went to a Brewers/ Indians game and they would sign autographs for fans who essentially said, “Hi, could you sign this to me from whoever you are?”

I also remember someone telling me that when you’re a Cleveland fan, you don’t just get the regular heartbreak. God goes out of his way to really fuck with you.

We had Ray Chapman, the only man to be killed while playing a baseball game, in our history. We had the Curse of Rocky Colavito. We had Gabe Paul, who ran the team for about 20 years and treated it like a delusional family member standing over a brain-dead relative, saying, “I think he twitched there! He’s going to make it!”

However, in my lifetime, we had Little Lake Nellie, something that sounds far too benign to ever bring heartbreak. In 1993, the team looked a little less lifeless. Mike Hargrove was the manager (the man who played for us in the 1970s and ’80s and who was once dubbed “the Human Rain Delay” for his at-bats that seemed to last longer than the director’s cut of “The Godfather.”) and he had his guys moving up in the world. Young talent was surrounded by a few veteran pick ups and hope was eternal.

As a reward for a strong effort in spring training, Hargrove gave his guys a day off. Tim Crews, Steve Olin and Bob Ojeda decided to go fishing, using the time to bond as new teammates. What happened that day still has not been fully understood, but somehow, Crews had failed to see a 165-foot dock and slammed into it at a high rate of speed. Olin died instantly, Crews shortly after. Ojeda survived, but he would never again be the same. The team had to trade pitcher Kevin Wickander, as he couldn’t handle being in the locker room where he always saw his best friend, Olin. The team staggered to a sixth-place finish in the old AL East.

Even when we became good, it was always someone else’s year: In 1995, we bludgeoned our way to the World Series, pairing an aging, retread pitching rotation with a murderer’s row of homerun threats. When all-star Jack McDowell gave up six runs in five inning to the Tribe, a reporter asked about his performance. “It’s pretty fucking good when you only give up six runs to those guys,” he replied.

Still, our year turned out to be the year the Braves finally got their ring.

In 1997, it was the Marlins’ turn to show that a team whose owner was willing to spend ridiculous sums on a group of mercenaries could buy a World Series title before gutting the team and dumping players all over the league.

In 1998, it was the Yankees and their record-setting pace.

In 2001, it was the Mariners and their record-setting pace.

In 2007, it was 3-1 in the ALCS when Boston decided it needed another World Series.

Last year, it was the Cubs’ turn. Up 3-1 in the World Series, we couldn’t get it done.

Sisyphus in cleats.

There was always a reason why: Jim Poole’s slider to David Justice, Joe Brinkman running Doc Gooden out of the game, Ichiro, Ichiro, Ichiro…

Eric Wedge going for the kill in Boston, pushing his two best pitchers to go on short rest, getting drilled for it. Cliff Lee going from pitching God to shitbox for that ONE YEAR WE NEEDED HIM to pitching God again.

Fucking Trevor Bauer’s drone injury. Who else but the Indians would lose a guy to a fucking drone?

How we still have fans, I’ll never know.

And yet, there I was last night, glued to my TV, watching as the Tribe went for 22 wins in a row, a sentence so absurd to my younger self that it seems foreign to type it.

Down 2-1 to the Royals, the Indians had run themselves out of multiple chances:

  • Runners on first and second, two outs in the fourth. 0 runs
  • Ramirez caught stealing on a bullshit play in the sixth, right before Encarnacion singled and Bruce walked. Should have been bases loaded, one out, but instead it was first and second, two away and Santana grounded out to end the threat.
  • Bases loaded, one out in the eighth with our two best hitters coming up. Both fouled out.

The pattern of that game and the history of that team just screamed, “Yep, this is my Tribe.” We’re batting against a closer with 26 saves and a nearly triple-digit fastball. We haven’t done shit since the third inning.

And yet, down to our last strike, the fans were screaming. They weren’t beaten. It was Francisco Lindor, who had gone 0-for-4 to that point in the game, who took a fastball the other way and smashed it off the wall, just grazing the tip of the outfielder’s glove, driving in pinch runner Erik Gonzalez to tie the game.

In the 10th, Ramirez led off with what should have been a pedestrian base hit, but instead, he was flying out of the box and went for two. This is the same guy who got caught stealing earlier in the game. The same guy who wouldn’t be playing this year at second if Jason Kipnis weren’t constantly injured. He’s a utility guy that looks more like your local grocer than a baseball player, at 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds.

He challenges the arm of one of the better centerfielders in the game, who had no reason to be concerned that this human fireplug might try to take an extra base. The fact Ramirez did startled him and the throw was off line. The next batter, Jay Bruce (a financial dumping trade by the Mets), lined a pitch into right field, scoring Ramirez.

22 in a row. And counting.

I don’t expect the Indians to keep this up. In fact, watching this streak, the Indians fan in me keeps saying, “They’re peaking too soon!” I see a 3-2 series loss in the Division Series and a lot of people second-guessing Terry Francona and asking if the streak did more harm than good.

I see more heartbreak, because that’s what you get when you are a Tribe fan.

And yet, I’ll be back again.

Watching, hoping, aching, crying.

And I never once got mad at Jamie Easterly for getting me into this mess in the first place.

Saturday Odds & Sods: This Summer

Windmills on the Hill by Francoise Gilot.

Prologue/Forward: I wrote this post and timed it for publication before Hurricane Harvey made full landfall. It will be onshore as you read this. It’s gonna be a wet sumbitch. Best of luck to all my friends and readers in the impacted area whether you evacuated or hunkered down. Our thoughts are with you.

Enough sincere shit, it’s time for the main event:

The tropics are becoming more active as August nears an end. It’s unfortunate because the drainage system in New Orleans is still fucked up. I don’t usually get overly nervous when I hear about a new tropical system in the Caribbean, but this year is different. The odds of Adrastos World HQ flooding are slim. As to the rest of the city, that’s not the case. Hopefully, the City will get its shit together but competence is not a hallmark of government in the Crescent City. It’s time for an Adrastos nursery rhyme: Harvey stay away, don’t come again another day.

Have I complained about storm names this year? It’s high time.  The latest storm is Harvey, which is a funny name, not a scary one. Hurricane Harvey reminds me of Harvey the invisible rabbit, Harvey Korman, and this former major league baseball player, coach, and manager:

Admittedly, the chaw is a bit scary, but Harvey Kuenn was famous for being nice and for being the only batting champion traded for a home run champion, Rocky Colavito. Enough about the boys of summer since only Doc and I give a shit about Harvey Kuenn. I would, however, never knock the Rock…

Summer may be winding down where you live but September is often as hot as August in my sultry neck of the woods. We usually get a tease of fall weather but it rarely lasts long before the heat and humidity settle back in until October. That’s life in the Big Easy. Speaking of which, there’s a swell cover story in the Gambit Tabloid about post-Katrina life here: Is New Orleans worth it?  It’s, uh, worth a glance. It proves that old adage: the more things change the more they remain the same. So it goes.

Speaking of summer, it occurred to me this week that my favorite rock songwriting team, Difford and Tilbrook, have written a passel of tunes about summer. This week’s first theme song,  This Summer, begins with a classic line: “Brain engages mouth, mouth expresses thoughts.” That’s how it works in my experience.

I hope you noticed that the late Keith Wilkerson looks like Huntz Hall in this video. He’s the bloke in the blue ball cap. Not only was Keith was more likely to be an East Side Kid than a Bowery Boy, neither Difford nor Tillbrook resemble Leo Gorcey. End of obscure lowbrow comedy reference. I have a million of them…

Happy Days is a song of more recent vintage. It’s about getting out of London on holiday. As a non-resident, London is one of my favorite places to go on vacation. I would propose a house swap but who the hell wants to come to New Orleans in August?

Our final Squeezey ode to summer was one of the band’s first hits and evokes the beach on a warm summer day:

Now that we’ve gone behind the chalet and pulled mussels from the shell, it’s time to insert the break.

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One more wedge play for Jerry Kramer

He had been screamed at by a relentless tyrant in front of his peers. All it did was make his mistakes multiply in hot August sun that burned brightly above the training camp field.

The NFL was not a place for the weak back then, and coaches were gods among men, the deities who controlled the future of these mortals. This man in particular, Vince Lombardi, had gained near mythic status as he used a domineering style to reshape the failing Green Bay Packers into a winning machine.

The player had jumped off sides during one drill and missed a block in another. Lombardi screamed the “Concentration Lecture” at him:

“The concentration period of a college student is five minutes, in high school it’s three minutes, in kindergarten it’s 30 seconds. And you don’t even have that, mister. So where does that put you?”

After practice, the player sat dejected in front of his locker, his future uncertain, his talent unsure. Lombardi entered the room and went right to him. The man braced for another set of insults and attacks. Instead, Lombardi gently slapped him on the back of the neck and said, “Son, one of these days, you are going to be the best guard in all of football.”

From that moment on, Jerry Kramer often said, his motor was always running, his body filled with energy and his goal set before him in the words of his immortal coach: Be the best guard in all of football.

When Kramer’s career was over, Lombardi’s prediction had become fact. Five times he was an NFL champion, two times he was a Super Bowl champion. He earned five first-team All-Pro honors and had been placed on the all-decade team for the 1960s. He was named one of the two guards for the NFL’s 50th Anniversary All-Time team.

He also threw the most famous block in NFL history: The 31 Wedge play that sealed Jethro Pugh and allowed Bart Starr to sneak the Packers to an Ice Bowl victory.

If one blemish remains on his resume, it is one that lies at the feet of lesser men who somehow never got around to seeing what Lombardi saw. For years, Kramer watched his teammates on those legendary Packer teams get called to Canton, enshrined as Hall of Famers for all time. Eleven players from that era are in the hall, including two of Kramer’s line mates, Jim Ringo and Forrest Gregg.

Each year, Kramer figured he’d be next. Each year, he was denied.

Conspiracy theories abounded from the idea of having too many Lombardi Packers in the hall to the idea that Kramer was not that good himself, but rather the beneficiary of greatness around him. Some said the gods of the hall don’t like to admit when they are wrong, so it has become a waiting game to see who gives first.

For some reason, organizations like this seem to “undo” their mistakes only after the players have died. It seems more “legendary,” I guess, to deify those who aren’t here anymore. The NFL did it to Ken Stabler. MLB did it to Ron Santo. It’s a sad statement of what happens when politics trumps common sense.

Kramer is 81 years old and has made the finalists list once again, this time as a “senior finalist.” I’ve gotten to meet him several times over the years and he has always been kind, patient and generous. People have introduced him as a “Hall of Famer” before, something he politely corrects or works around by noting something like, “Yep, I’m in the Packer Hall of Fame.” He has also slowed down considerably, the ache of age and multiple surgeries shrinking a man who stood as a giant during the game’s golden era.

How we measure a person comes down to what they do when everything is on the line and they have nothing left to give. With no time outs and only 16 seconds left in the Ice Bowl, Bart Starr turned to him in that frigid huddle and asked, “Can you get your footing for one more wedge play?” Kramer, frozen and battered, said he could and made sure his quarterback and coach were not made a fool.

This year will be the 50th anniversary of that Ice Bowl block. Somebody needs to gird up and throw a block for Jerry Kramer.

He shouldn’t have to sneak into the Hall. He should be able to walk right in.

SMV- A City On Fire: The Story Of The ’68 Detroit Tigers

It’s the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit riot.  This 2002 HBO documentary takes a look at the riot and why it didn’t happen again the next summer. The main reason was the 1968 World Champion Tigers.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Down On The Riverbed

Valley Farms by Ross Dickinson.

Dr. A and I are going to the Antiques Roadshow at the Morial Convention Center today. We’re not 100% certain what we’re taking as of this writing but I’m nervous that she’ll use me as her antique. While I have some patina, I’m not sure how valuable I am. On the other hand, if puns add value I might be worth a few bucks.

A quick political note. Here’s a tweet I sent out marking the resignation of Sean Spicer, the press secretary who could lie and chew gum at the same time:

I chose this week’s featured image because our theme song is tres Californian. So is the artist. The late Ross Dickinson was our friend Bonny’s grandfather. The Bonster went to grad school with Dr. A. End of cronyistic shout-out. Is cronyistic a word? Since I’m Greek I should know; of course, we specialize in nepotism. Unfortunately, the current administration* is giving nepotism a bad name. I take that as an affront to my heritage.

Down On The Riverbed was written by David Hidalgo and Louis Perez for Los Lobos’ fabulous 1990 album, The Neighborhood. The original studio version features John Hiatt singing harmony with some grit but without the syrup. Hominy grits you want with your eggs, Mr. Hiatt? Dave Alvin’s version comes from the 2006 album West of the West whereon he recorded some of his favorite songs written by California tunesmiths.

Now that we’ve been down on the riverbed without drowning, it’s time to don a life jacket (I wish they were still called Mae Wests) and go to the break.

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No, OJ, No…

I remember exactly where I was on Oct. 3, 1995 when the jury found O.J. Simpson not guilty of the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. A bunch of J-majors were stuffed into the broadcast lab, which was the only place that had a TV with cable in those pre-real-Internet days of news. Back then, we all wanted to know, RIGHT NOW, what was going to happen with this guy. The verdict was stunning but, for us, not in the way you saw portrayed in retro shows where people were screaming and fighting and whatever. I know it mattered in a lot of ways to a lot of people, and it must still matter to me, as I remember where I was back then.

Thursday’s similarly breathless coverage of Simpson’s parole hearing felt for me like one of those “one-hit wonder” bands you catch on a side stage at Summerfest: You recognized one or two of the people, one or two of the songs, but it really wasn’t much to write home about. I seemed to be in a minority on that point, as Tweets were flying, networks broke in to show the hearing live, video clips played on an almost constant loop and it seemed like every website on earth had a different angle on this. TV morning shows found the Goldman family and brought them out for a “hot take” on this 70-year-old parolee. Netflix was plugging its original film on “Kardashian: The Man Who Saved O.J. Simpson” in the wake of the hearing. My friend even sent me, a die-hard Cleveland fan, a snarky article on how the Browns had just signed The Juice to a 2-year, $14 million contract to anchor their backfield.

O.J. Simpson was about “the moment” for so long. The 1968 Rose Bowl, where he scored twice and rushed for 128 yards. The snowy night at Shea Stadium in 1973 where he piled up 200 yards to break the seemingly unbreakable barrier of 2000 yards in a season. The Thanksgiving Day in Detroit where he ran for 273 yards as the team’s only weapon.

In later years, he was also about “the moment” in life: The famous low-speed Freeway Chase that had every Ford executive wondering why AC couldn’t have grabbed the keys to a Bentley or something. The moment he put on that glove with all the exuberance of a man cleaning out a septic tank with his own toothbrush. The look on his face when the jury acquitted him. The years of random “pop up” moments like his book, “If I Did It…”

CNN noted that we need more “OJ moments” for a variety of reasons.

I’m more with Crash Davis on this one:

The moment’s over.

“I had to eat.”

Three elderly men sat at an 8-foot plastic table outside the ballroom of the Red Carpet bowling center in Milwaukee. Among them, they possessed five NFL championships, three NBA titles, one World Series ring and the most famous home run ever hit in the annals of baseball.

It was the summer of 1987, still the height of the nation’s sports card craze. The card show was packed with people just inside the door behind this makeshift shrine to sports immortality. As was the case during that era, older athletes who lived near these shows would gladly pocket a few hundred bucks from the promoters to show up, sign autographs and tell stories.

The bald, gregarious man on the left was once the most feared man to ever remove his teeth and don a helmet. Ray Nitschke anchored the Lombardi defenses of the 1960s, prowling about his linebacker position like an animal waiting for the opportunity to ravenously pounce upon a fearful prey.

The dour-faced man on the right kept to himself, writing his name upon photos of himself in penmanship that bordered on artistic calligraphy. His claim to fame as a Milwaukee Brave was that he broke his ankle early in the 1954 season, forcing the team to call up a minor-league prospect by the name of Hank Aaron. Three years earlier, on Oct. 3 in the Polo Grounds, Bobby Thomson hit “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” to earn the New York Giants the pennant. At the time he signed a personalized picture for me, I knew none of that and only years later, after I had sanctified that homer, did I realize I had met Thomson. It was a sad disappointment in retrospect, in which the man had already undermined the legend.

The round-faced fellow in the middle was Gene Conley, a pitcher for the 1957 World Series championship team, who died this week at the age of 86.

Nitschke took off his Super Bowl ring and let me try it on. The golden circle heavily dangled from my 12-year-old finger, looking something like an expensive game of ring toss. Thomson wouldn’t say a word to anyone and refused to interact with the other men. My father tried to engage him and was cut down with a glare for his trouble.

Yet it was Conley, a man I never knew about before that day, who made the biggest impression on me.

As “Big Gene” signed a photo for me and a card for Dad, my father informed me that this gentle giant had not only won a World Series title, but also had three NBA championships to boot. It was around this time that Bo Jackson was playing for the Royals and considering a “hobby” as a running back for the Los Angeles Raiders.

“I don’t know why they’re giving Bo Jackson such a hard time for playing two sports,” Dad began. “This man played for the Braves AND the Celtics!”

Conley stopped in mid-signature. A blip in his penmanship remains a reminder in Sharpie of the moment I’ll never forget.

“Hey, wait a minute!” Conley said in a contradictory tone, punctuated with a laugh. “Don’t be comparing me to Bo Jackson! I had to EAT!”

The 6-foot-8 Conley earned $10,000 as a rookie in 1954, with $20,000 being the most he’d ever earn in as a pitcher. Like most players of his era, the off season meant it was time to find a Joe Job to hold the fort until the next season came in.

Yogi Berra sold hardware and worked as a restaurant greeter.

Phil Rizzuto sold suits at a store in Newark, New Jersey.

Jim Bunning and Rogers Hornsby were just two of hundreds who sold insurance.

Willie Mays and Willie McCovey sold vehicles of all kinds.

Jackie Robinson had a traveling vaudeville routine.

Conley’s height and basketball experience at Washington State College made him appealing to Red Auerbach and the Boston Celtics.

He earned about $4,500 a season playing basketball, a much better deal than having to hawk clothes or cars.

Baseball players weren’t alone in this need for off-season employment. The minimum wage for an NFL player in 1977 was $14,500, or about $60,000 in today’s dollars. As Herm Edwards said in the documentary “Broke,” players he coached in the 1990s and 2000s would ask him what he and his teammates did in the off season as a player.

“Guys WORKED!” he shouted.

Conley lived long enough to see men in his profession have enough money to never need an off-season insurance gig or even a deal selling autographs at a card show. Less than a week before Conley passed, Steph Curry signed a five-year, $201-million contract, the richest ever for an athlete. Seventeen years earlier, Alex Rodriguez became the first “quarter-billion-dollar man,” signing a 10-year, $252-million deal with the Texas Rangers.

Even in his comedic rebuke of my father, I never sensed that Conley begrudged the players of today for their fortunate timing of birth. I also never got the sense that he wished he could have spent his off seasons lounging around at one of his half-dozen McMansions. In 1960, the Phillies offered Conley $20,000 to NOT play for the Celtics. Conley refused and was shipped to the Red Sox in midseason.

He liked both games and enjoyed playing them. He also knew his deteriorating rotator cuff made it more likely that he could stick with basketball longer than baseball.

Plus, a man has to eat…

First Draft Potpourri For $200, Alex

Last week’s potpourri post smelled sweeter than jasmine so I thought I’d do it again. Actually, I hate potpourri: I had a distant relative who had it everywhere in her house even in the urn with her late husband’s ashes. I am not making this up. It made me sneeze: the potpourri, not the ashes. I do, however, like Jeopardy-style potpourri.

Eat Two, Brute? We begin with the Trumpers who are outraged about the Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar depicting the Insult Comedian as Caesar. I guess the protesters never studied Julius Caesar in high school or they’d know that the plotters are NOT the heroes of the piece. Besides, there was a production a few years back with an Obama-like Caesar, which ran without incident. Details are beyond people who say shit like this:

“People like me, I don’t even know if they’d let me in,” Ms. Pujol said outside the Delacorte Theater, the home of Shakespeare in the Park. “I am not far right. No one here is far right. We’re only accused of being far right because we love America.”

You could have bought a ticket, ya cheap bastid. Shakespeare did not have the Scalise shooting on his mind when either he, Christopher Marlowe, or Francis Bacon wrote the play. It was first staged in 1599, after all. Besides, if you were a film buff you’d know that James Mason was in his villain phase when he played Brutus in the 1953 film version. Btw, he looked almost as good in a skirt as Brando.

Is He Is Or Is He Ain’t? Team Trump is confused. Anyone surprised? Me neither. Trump’s new mouthpiece Jay Sekulow claims the president* is not under investigation as opposed to what a certain Insult Comedian with cotton candy piss hair tweeted out:

It’s more likely than not that Trump hired Sekulow because the wingnut lawyer makes frequent appearances on Fox News. He’s NOT a criminal defense lawyer. For all we know, Trump hired John Dowd because the latter wrote the report that got Pete Rose banned from baseball in 1989. Trump *is* a Yankees fan and the Big Red Machine swept them in the 1976 World Series.

Trump’s defense is going to be as entertaining as it is inept. He’ll inevitably pit them against one another, not listen to any of them, and refuse to pay. Fun times. Believe me.

Rumor Mill Blues: This is a weird one. The Hill is mentioning New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu as a Democratic “dark horse” for the 2020 presidential race. The Mayor has shown no interest in running to replace Trump, Pence, or Ryan. It’s hard to tell which one will be Oval One in 2020. The Gambit’s Kevin Allman has the details.

Speaking of the local alternative weekly, they quoted yours truly in their commentary on the Scalise shooting. Thanks, y’all.

Tweet Of The Weekend: There’s a weird cat related tweet going around. I’m uncertain if it’s meant literally or as satire:

What about white cats? I had one that-to my everlasting shame-I named Q-Tip. He was too dim as well as too sweet to plot against anything or anyone. Believe me.

Finally, a more uplifting message from the NYT’s Charles Blow:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Eight Miles High

A New Frontier by Alan Bean.

It’s been a wet week in New Orleans. The rain, however, hasn’t stopped the Lost Causers from sitting hillbilly shiva. They’re down to the dead enders as I pointed out in this tweet last week:

One of the banners was a Trump for President flag. Now that’s one I’d consider burning…

Speaking of the Insult Comedian, he made news on Thursday. As usual, it was the bad kind. Bowing out of the Paris Climate Accord will be reversible when we have a sane and asterisk free president again. His “reasoning” was the bigger problem with this move. First, Trump wanted a “win,” he promised his supporters constant winning. Instead there’s been constant losing. He’s abandoned most of  his other promises, so he kept this one. The Russia scandal makes keeping the MAGA maggots happy paramount. Second, his baby man feelings were hurt by the mean old Europeans. They didn’t kiss his ass. The Darnold doesn’t like that. He was pouting over Merkel’s speech and Macron’s handshake victory so he lashed out and did something stupid and short-sighted.  This president* has made petulance the centerpiece of what passes for his foreign policy. Trump’s Razor remains in effect.

This week’s theme song was inspired by the featured painting by Apollo astronaut, Alan Bean. Eight Miles High was written by Gene Clark, Roger McGuinn, and David Crosby for the Byrds 5th Dimension album. I have three very different versions for your enjoyment. First, the Byrds original followed by spirited covers from Roxy Music and Husker Du.

Now that we’ve flown Eight Miles High, we’ll touch down after the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Into The Great Wide Open

The Millinery Shop by Edgar Degas.

It’s the first weekend of Jazz Fest. Absent free tickets, we’re not attending this year. We will, however, be going to our top secret location just outside the Fairgrounds to hear Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I’d be heartbroken if we didn’t do that. I hope that the weather will co-operate. There’s a chance of severe thunderstorms tomorrow. So it goes.

Hats are popular at Jazz Fest. That’s one reason I posted the Degas painting as the featured image. Another is that Degas spent time in the Crescent City visiting his Creole family; some of whom identified as black and others as white, much like the Herriman-Chasse clan I recently discussed in this space. It’s why gumbo is used so often as a metaphor to describe the natives. I’m equally inclined to compare New Orleans to a crazy quilt. The creator of Krazy Kat was born here, after all.

In other local news, the Saints have signed 32-year-old running back Adrian Peterson. His age is not my problem with the signing: it’s his status as a child beater. I wrote about it 3 years ago: Adrian Peterson Did Not Spank His Son, He Beat Him. So much for all of Sean Payton’s blather about bringing in players with “character.” This one has or had a “whooping room” in his Houston area house full of belts, switches, and the like.

This week’s theme song comes from the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album of the same name. Into The Great Wide Open is best known for its swell video and “rebel without a clue” chorus. The latter surely applies to the current occupant of the White House. The deplorables among his supporters are a rabble without a clue.

While we’re on the subject of Tom Petty, here’s a sleeper track from that very album:

I’m fond of that song because it reminds me of one of the main drags of my native Peninsula: El Camino Real. That’s the king’s highway in Spanish.  It spans several Bay Area counties and was where teenage me used to cruise. We didn’t have the internet to occupy us so we drove about aimlessly. One of my cronies always called it the Elk. That’s a bit too gamey or clubby for my taste. It must be time for the break.

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You can’t spell “PENIS” without “E-S-P-N”

ESPN experienced the journalistic version of a mob hit on Wednesday, when 100 staffers (or about 10 percent of the “front-facing” staff) found out they no longer had jobs. According to published reports, the staffers got called in early in the morning, were placed around speaker phones and had prepared statements read to them to let them know their services would no longer be needed.

The firings weren’t culling deadwood analysts or former jocks who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with a searchlight and a posse. The firings included people with nearly 20 years of experience, such as college basketball expert Andy Katz, NFL insider Ed Werder and investigative reporter Steve Delsohn.

Network President John Skipper dug deep into his “The Pointy-Haired Boss’ page-a-day buzzword calendar” to explain the firings:

“Our content strategy — primarily illustrated in recent months by melding distinct, personality-driven SportsCenter TV editions and digital-only efforts with our biggest sub-brand — still needs to go further, faster … and as always, must be efficient and nimble. Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent — anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play — necessary to meet those demands.

Wait… Where have I heard something like this before?

Today we underwent and completed a reduction in personnel in our news division in several of our Tennessee markets, as part of a transformative strategy for the USA TODAY NETWORK–Tennessee.   We recognize that this has been a tough day, and we respect and appreciate the work of all our colleagues, especially those who have been impacted by these actions — through no fault of their own.

We’ve previously spoken about the new ways we will be able to better serve readers, communities and customers as we fully form the statewide network.   Today was the first step as we re-secure and level-set our economic vitality to support our journalism.

Right, but I thought I heard that somewhere else…

Gannett president and CEO Bob Dickey explained in a memo to employees announcing the cuts: “These moves are central to our transformation into a leading, next-generation media company. The positive impact of these efforts will take time, which in the near-term requires us to assertively manage our costs.

Looking ahead, Dickey wrote: “Over the next 18 months, we will continue to build our scale and invest in important digital capabilities and experiences — such as critical e-commerce infrastructure and significant upgrades to our digital content platforms.”

Maybe, but I remember some other bullshit phrasing…

“In essence, we are resetting the legacy side of our business so we can continue to publish a high-quality newspaper delivered to loyal subscribers’ homes seven days a week,” Silvestri wrote in an email to employees on Monday. “At the same time, we also push ahead on adding to our growing digital audiences and developing new revenue segments such as premium magazines, e-commerce, paid RTD events, sponsored content, and archive products and services.”

Reeeeallly close but…

The story, which can be accessed through this link, details the formation of NOLA Media Group, a digitally focused company that will launch this fall and that will develop new and innovative ways to deliver news and information to the company’s online and mobile readers. NOLA Media Group will be led by Ricky Mathews. Also this fall, The Times-Picayune will begin publishing a more robust newspaper on a reduced schedule of Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays only … Many current employees of The Times-Picayune and NOLA.com will have the opportunity to grow with the new organizations, but the need to reallocate resources to accelerate the digital growth of NOLA Media Group will necessitate a reduction in the size of the workforce.

THAT WAS THE ONE!

Trying to make sense of this is like trying to fuck a porcupine: It’s not worth it and even if you pull it off, it still hurts. ESPN decided that it wanted to save money and it’s always easier to cut people than it is to improve anything else. In doing so, it looked like the company just started throwing darts at an employee list and made the cuts accordingly. Anyone with a brain has already made the obvious realization that a) this won’t save ESPN money in any meaningful way and b) won’t improve the product.

If anything, we are supposed to learn from the fuckups of others. When newspapers were fucking over subscribers, cutting content and wasting money on “re-envisioning content-based engagement” with readers, most intelligent observers saw this as nothing more than a profit grab: Save money in the short term, kill the publication in the long term. As that continues to come to fruition, ESPN (which had always been a cut above when it came to seeing where things are going and getting there first) decided to follow the same shitty path as their ink-stained counterparts.

In some cases, we won’t notice the missing people, just like you don’t notice when your team cuts some fourth-round draft pick during training camp. However, overall, as the team begins to atrophy and the overall quality of play sags, you start wondering what happened to all those guys (and in ESPN’s case, gals) who used to be able to help win games.

It is fair to say that it is unclear what will happen next at ESPN, but it is also realistic to say it’s obvious it won’t be positive.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Fate’s Right Hand

Reply To Red by Yves Tanguy.

Spring is prime time for crawfish boils or as the natives say, berls. We’ve been to two in the last three weeks. The first one involved some of the usual suspects and nothing unusual happened other than a five-year-old girl pointing at the sacks of live crawfish and asking, “When will they be dead?” That’s a sassy Louisiana child, y’all. It’s one reason why her mama nicknamed her the Benevolent Dictator. I’m not so sure about the first bit though…

Something quite eventful happened last weekend at the second shebang. The berl was thrown (not by Milton Berle or Burl Ives) by one of Dr. A’s first year medical students. He’s an older student who was a helicopter pilot in the Army and is still a reservist. That’s one reason he lives at Jackson Barracks near Arabi, Louisiana. That’s right, it was an Arabi spring crawfish berl…

When I first heard our host’s name, I remarked that it was the same name as the man who sold us our house after renovating it in 2000. It’s a fairly common name so we agreed it was unlikely that her student was a Junior. Guess what? It’s a small fucking world after all. Our host’s father had indeed renovated Adrastos World HQ and Dr. A’s student had worked on the project. The latter was somewhat freaked out by the string of coincidences but I told him not to sweat it because it made him de facto teacher’s pet. Besides, the man knows how to boil crawfish. It’s an indispensable skill as far as I’m concerned.

This week’s theme song is the title track of Rodney Crowell’s 2003 album, Fate’s Right Hand. It seems that one of his daughters didn’t care for the song at the time. Somewhere in my archives I have a circa 2004 Crowell concert at which he introduced Fate’s Right Hand  more or less as follows:

“My daughter hates this song. She told me it’s undignified for me to talk about poontang and the narrator of the song having a pole in his pants. I told her that I’m a country singer and her mother and grandfather are both country singers. We’re not dignified people.  She reminded me that Grandpa Johnny was the most dignified person she knew. I couldn’t argue that point so I changed the subject.”

Fate’s Right Hand is a list song. The most famous list song I can think of is Irving Berlin’s You’re The Top. Another list song classic is REM’s It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine.) I don’t feel like listing list songs so here’s Fate’s Right Hand:

Rodney is fond of list songs. He wrote one about greedy yuppies for his 2005 album, The Outsider complete with the refrain: give it to me, give it to me. I will comply:

Give it to me, give it to me. You may not be as demanding as the coked-out greed head in the song but let’s take a break anyway. Give it to me, give it to me.

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