New Orleans dodged a wet and windy bullet earlier this week. Hurricane Sally dumped two feet of rain in some areas on the Florida-Alabama border. I don’t guilty for being relieved. If I were Poseidon, I’d send all tropical systems out to sea. I do, however, feel bad for folks in the affected areas. They got slammed by that evil bitch Sally. Blow ill wind, blow.
I had put this feature to bed and tucked it in when I learned of Justice Ginsburg’s death. I wish everyone would dial their predictions back. It’s unclear what impact RBG’s death will have on the election. I also wish that those who admire Justice Ginsburg would show more respect for her passing, especially since it’s Rosh Hashanah. There was, however, a moment of unintentional levity when the crowd outside the Supreme Court started singing Amazing Grace. It’s a Christian hymn, y’all. I’ll have more on Ginsburg’s passing on Monday.
In some ways, this week’s theme song matches the featured image. Three Musicians = Crosby, Stills & Nash. Graham Nash wrote Wasted On The Way for CSN’s 1982 Daylight Again album. Eagle Timothy B. Schmitt added harmony vocals making that Four Musicians. So much for the Picasso analogy. Oh well, it was imperfect to begin with.
We have two versions of Wasted On The Way for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a live version without Timothy B. Schmitt. Go, Team Picasso.
Stills’ intro to the live version is poignant. I rarely do poignant but sometimes the mood strikes me.
Before we jump to the break, a Neil Young song from the Buffalo Springfield days:
Holy Wall Of Sound-style production, Batman.
Time to take the plunge. See you on the other side.
It’s September and it’s still hotter than hell in New Orleans. Pandemic fatigue is widespread here just like everywhere else. Unfortunately, America didn’t do the work needed to suppress COVID-19 so we’re still muddling through.
The NFL season opens this week and I find myself utterly indifferent. I’m mildly amused by wingnut fans who say that they’ll boycott the season because the NFL has gone BLM on their asses. These are the same people who claim they want sports and politics on separate plains, make that separate planets. The Saints will be playing on Sunday at an empty Superdome. It’s hard to get excited about any of this. So it goes.
This week’s theme song was written by Tim Finn in 1982 for Split Enz’s Time and Tide album. It refers to the amount of time that it took British pioneers to sail to New Zealand and is also a metaphor for the songwriter’s nervous breakdown. That’s a lot of substance for a song that still rocks like crazy.
We have three versions of Six Months In A Leaky Boat for your listening pleasure: The Split Enz original; a 2000 live version by Tim Finn, Bic Runga, and Dave Dobbyn and a 2006 performance by a reunited Enz featuring some stellar keyboard work by the great Eddie Rayner.
Kiwi singer-songwriter David Dobbyn has his own nautical classic:
Now that we’re all seasick, it’s time to don a life jacket and jump to the break.
I’ve been rationing my Twitter use lately so I missed out on Trump soup canapalooza. This week’s featured image is my sole contribution now that it’s been beat to death. I’m also tired of talking about the Impeached Insult Comedian. It’s Joey Shark’s secret weapon in the campaign: people would like a break from politics from time-to-time. I’m not the only one suffering from Trump fatigue.
It’s time for a First Draft housekeeping note. The Friday Cocktail Hour was bumped so My Uncle Was A ‘Loser’ wouldn’t have to share the spotlight. I put a great deal of emotion and passion into that post. The reaction has been most gratifying. The Friday Cocktail Hour will return next week with a Duke Ellington song. Nothing but the best for my readers.
This week’s theme song was written by Tony Banks, Phil Collins, and Mike Rutherford for the 1980 Genesis album, Duke. Rutherford’s lyrics are about someone who watches way too much teevee and confuses it with real life. Much like the Kaiser of Chaos. So much for my avowed Trump fatigue.
We have two versions of Turn It On Again for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a live version:
One could even describe the character in this week’s theme song as follows:
Since we’ve reached a turning point in this week’s outing, let’s jump to the break.
I’ve been meaning to write about the “return” of big-time American sports. I’ve been a skeptic and a critic. They claim to have plans and safety protocols, but they seem to be winging it. It’s the current national style, after all. Of course, using President* Pennywise as a role model strikes me as injudicious at best, disastrous at worst.
I thought that baseball was the sport that *might* be able to do it since social distancing is built into the game. Unfortunately, baseball is run by greedy idiots who only care about money. Sounds mighty Trumpy to me, y’all. And I’m talking about the owners *and* the players. I’ve wished a pox on both their houses for years, but I never meant it literally.
We were given a job to do if we wanted our games back, a very simple job, and we couldn’t do it. Instead we did wings and sheetcake. “You are what your record says you are,” Bill Parcells said. It’s an axiom in sports: Your results speak for themselves. The scoreboard says more than a dozen major league baseball players are sick after just five days of play, and the only record this country is leading in is the number of deaths.
If there is one thing sports teaches, it’s that just wanting to win is not enough. You have to do the work, or you’re going to fail and maybe even embarrass yourself. You can’t cheat the grind, or you’ll lose every time. In this case, the work was easy. Wear a mask. Stay home unless it’s a real emergency. It’s not exactly running wind sprints up hills. Americans still didn’t do it.
Itching to get out, pale and restless, lethal in our boredom and urge to self-gratify, we’ve been unable to sit the hell down and stay there. Instead we’ve club-crawled and dined until swollen on lemon pepper chicken rub and store-bought icing.
Jenkins’ words of wisdom apply across the board to every industry and walk of life. They didn’t do the hard work of shutting down tight for a few months while a concrete national plan was devised to deal with the pandemic. Germany did it. France did it. New Zealand did it. Even Italy did it after a rocky start. Italians are every bit as individualistic as Americans. They stared COVID-19 in the face, didn’t like what they saw, and locked things down tight. Now they’re returning to normal.
The United States didn’t do the work. Neither did Brazil or the United Kingdom. It’s no coincidence that both countries have Trump-like leaders. Both Bolsonaro and Boris have tested positive whereas Trump is tested constantly because, while he claims the virus will disappear like magic, this is one time that he doesn’t believe his own lies.
Another country that has done a good job coping with the pandemic is Ireland. They’ve even gone through an election stalemate that resulted in a coalition of the two major parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. As you might imagine, the UK’s inept response has resulted in some mockery from the Irish including the Guardian’s Seamus O’Reilly with this instant classic zinger:
“Ireland is not outflanking a competent, longstanding neighbour. She just has the pleasure of being compared with the gurning claptrapocracy next door.”
Claptrapocracy is my new favorite word. It’s something that Boris’ Britain and Trump’s America have in common.
Ireland did the work. Great Britain and America did not.
So, let me speak to those Republicans cowering in closets and hiding under stairs in Washington and the state capitals, muttering prayers that Trump might somehow calm the flames that threaten to consume them.
Run away. Close your eyes and duck your heads and sprint as fast as you can away from Trump. Claim amnesia. Say you’ve been hiking the Appalachian Trail. Blame your spirit spouse — whatever. A fury is building in Middle America that has nothing to do with Russia or impeachment or “Access Hollywood.” It’s rising among people who managed to look past all of that to find something they liked about the president. And now he’s repaying them with a stubby middle finger in their faces.
These folks don’t get daily covid-19 tests with results in 15 minutes. Their every contact is not screened and scanned. They live in the real world, a place Trump looks down on from his jets. They understand that covid-19 is not a joke.
The only joke, and a very bad one indeed, is the Current Occupant.
He said he was optimistic because readers have become accustomed to paying for online content, noting the sports fans who subscribe to The Athletic. He added that vendors like Pico, Stripe and MailChimp have made it easier for media companies to outsource business functions. In addition, he said, the thinning of newspaper sports sections, the dissolution of ESPN the Magazine and layoffs at Sports Illustrated may have created a vacuum.
Defector staff members said they did not expect the kind of growth coveted by the venture capitalists who have increasingly dominated online journalism. Rather, they said, they hoped to be able to pay themselves competitive salaries while developing a sustainable media business that produces content they are interested in.
What if you could pay your bills and yourselves and that was like, okay? What if you weren’t tying yourself into knots to appease some bullshit trust-fund asshole who wants you to show an 18 percent margin or you’re all fired? What if you just, like, did the job you said you were gonna do and it was cool?
I mean goddamn. I am not trying to be a sarcastic bitch, but my entree into journalism was at a nonprofit, where if we had literally 10 cents more in the bank than we needed it was Christmas fuckin’ morning. It wasn’t, say, a COMFORTABLE way to live, I’m pretty sure I still have anxiety about money based on those three years alone, but we made it work and published what we needed to publish.
I cannot fathom where most of legacy journalism is right now, with money out the ass for investors and profit margins that would make Walmart blush, furloughing reporters while the world is on fire. How can you, with a straight face, tell people there’s no money to pay them when you’re paying your last sexually harassative exec $15 million to get himself gone?
Why did this industry allow that kind of thing to make sense for so long?
God, I’m glad to see people just fucking going for it. Even the tone of this story is different than it would have been five years ago. There’s less skepticism, less gratuitous bitchery about “wowee, a new model” and maybe things have just finally gotten bad enough everywhere that people are noticing this is an insane way to live.
I wish so many good papers and good reporters hadn’t had to die broke while we figured this out.
Something went right for the Kaiser of Chaos this week. His former Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, lost a bid to regain his Senate seat. Jeff Bo was Trump’s favorite whipping boy after he recused himself from the Kremlingate investigation. It was the only worthwhile thing he did as AG.
Sessions was defeated in the Republican primary by former Auburn head football coach, Tommy Tuberville, who campaigned with his head firmly up Trump’s ample rump. Can he go from Coach Tubs to Senator Tubs? Let’s hope not.
Tubs is not only a bigot-a given for an Alabama GOPer-he’s a corrupt piece of shit whose former business partner was convicted of fraud. No wonder President* Pennywise supported him. The real reason was payback, not pay-offs although Trump loves those too.
College football is some serious shit in Alabama. It will be a factor in the race. Senator Doug Jones went to the University of Alabama so perhaps he should start wearing a houndstooth hat a la Bear Bryant. He can’t very well walk around with a constant scowl like current Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban.
The Alabama Democratic party has a pretty good twitter troll game:
He lost his last Iron Bowl 36-0, collects millions of dollars in pension money from hard-working Alabamians, and bilked investors based on their trust in his investment advice.
The Iron Bowl is, of course, the annual game between Auburn and Bama, which may not be played in 2020 because of the grotesque incompetence of the Impeached Insult Comedian. Perhaps Senator Jones should blame Trump if the SEC cancels football this fall. They take their football seriously in Alabama, y’all.
Politics make strange bedfellows. As an LSU fan, I hate the Crimson Tide, but I think Doug Jones should leverage the Auburn-Alabama rivalry. He’s the underdog in deep red Alabama so bleeding crimson isn’t the worst strategy.
I’m rooting for Doug Jones. He’s a fine man who has been such a good Senator than one could even call him a Solon.
I like Senator Jones enough to say this: Roll Tide, Roll Doug.
I suspect that the original Bountygate is forgotten everywhere but in New Orleans. It was the accusation that there was a bounty system on the New Orleans Saints for hits against opposing players. The NFL came down hard on the “implicated” coaches and players including head coach Sean Payton who was suspended for a year. It turned out to be sound and fury signifying nothing after further investigation. That’s a fancy way of saying that it was bullshit.
American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops — amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter.
The intelligence finding was briefed to President Trump, and the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March, the officials said. Officials developed a menu of potential options — starting with making a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and a demand that it stop, along with an escalating series of sanctions and other possible responses, but the White House has yet to authorize any step, the officials said.
The Trump regime is tripping over itself to explain away the latest foreign policy scandal. My favorite excuse is that the Impeached Insult Comedian didn’t read the briefing papers. That’s the presidential* equivalent of that old standby “the dog ate my homework.” Trump, of course, hates dogs. I wonder when they’ll move on to “my grandmother died.” That won’t work either: his grandparents are long dead.
Shortly after the meeting cited by the NYT, President* Pennywise resumed his push to restore Russia to the G-7. How dare Obama ban Putin for attacking and conquering the Crimea? They were just taking it back. #sarcasm. Of course, Trump doesn’t know it used to be part of the Soviet Union and Russian Empire. All he knows is that Putin is a tough guy, not a fake tough guy like himself.
“Not only has he failed to sanction and impose any kind of consequences on Russia for this egregious violation of international law, Donald Trump has continued his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin,” the former vice president said.
Biden called it a “betrayal of the most sacred duty we bear as a nation — to protect and equip our troops when we send them into harm’s way.”
FYI, the featured image shows the aftermath of Putin throwing the ball and Trump fetching it like a good dog. It’s unclear if Putin scratched his head or gave him a treat as a reward. Good boy, Donald.
On a more serious note, this is NOT the first time that a Republican president has endangered the lives of our soldiers. In its rush to war, the Bush-Cheney administration failed to give the troops proper equipment such as body armor. Like W, President* Pennywise can’t be bothered with the details. So much for caring about the military.
I called this post Bountygate Nouveau because it’s a fresh scandal but reminiscent of past scandals. If it were a wine, it would be Beaujolais Nouveau, which a friend of mine insists on calling Boojelly. I’m not sure if the wine image works but I’m not a sommelier. There ain’t no cure for the sommelier blues…
The last word goes to the Lincoln Project with an instant response ad to this newly vinted (decanted?) scandal:
It’s been a big week on the symbolic front. There’s been some direct action involving statues of Christopher Columbus and Jefferson Davis as well action taken by NASCAR and a dialogue within the military about renaming bases named for Confederate generals. I’m almost dizzy from the whirlwind of activity.
I have mixed feelings about the direct actions taken by protesters in Boston and Richmond. I prefer the sort of process we had in New Orleans, but I understand the jubilation of the exuberant crowds that took matters into their own hands. I think it’s wiser to allow the Lost Causers some time to grieve but decapitating Columbus has some wit to it.
It’s a good thing The Sopranos is fictional. Silvio, Paulie, and company busted some heads in Newark one Columbus Day:
In other symbolic news, NASCAR is banning the Confederate flag at its events. Boy Howdy. This will prove to be controversial since peckerwoods and rednecks love them some racing as well as the Stars and Bars. This move took some guts, y’all. It’s unclear what the cast of The Dukes Of Hazzard thinks of this change:
I never expected to write in praise of a NASCAR driver named Bubba. The world really has gone crazy, y’all. In this case, good crazy.
The military continues to rebel against bases named for rebel generals. An early public blow was struck by retired General David Petraeus at the Atlantic. He made the point that most of the honorees weren’t even very good generals:
It also happens that—Lee excepted—most of the Confederate generals for whom our bases are named were undistinguished, if not incompetent, battlefield commanders.* Braxton Bragg, for example, left a great deal to be desired as a military leader. After graduating from West Point in 1837, he served in the Second Seminole War and the Mexican War. His reputation for physical bravery was matched by one for epic irascibility. Bragg’s temper was so bad, Ulysses S. Grant recounted in his memoirs, that an old Army story had a superior once rebuking him, “My God, Mr. Bragg, you have quarreled with every officer in the army, and now you are quarrelling with yourself!” Bragg’s inability to cooperate diluted his effectiveness until his resounding defeat at the Battle of Chattanooga, in November 1863, precipitated his resignation from the Confederate army.
Honoring inept, traitorous generals is a funny way to honor the troops. The Pentagon is currently in a tug of war on this subject with the Impeached Insult Comedian. It’s ironic that Donny from Queens seems to see himself as the second president of the confederacy. But there won’t be any statues of him topple when the dust finally settles; only shame and defeat.
Finally, closer to home and my heart: Plans are afoot at LSU to rename the Middleton Library. Troy Middleton was an openly racist segregationist who was president of LSU from 1951-1962. It’s about fucking time. Here’s hoping they’ll put some money into the building as well. Perhaps they should name it after this former LSU honcho:
I wish I could say that the Impeached Insult Comedian’s attack on Buffalo activist Martin Gugino showed that he’d hit rock bottom but there is no bottom with this fucker. It’s merely the latest new low.
Yesterday, Trump applied his unique brand of Twitter crazy to what happened in Buffalo:
Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?
I’m surprised he didn’t call it a flop, which is what an exaggerated fall to draw a foul is called in the NBA:
Flopping used to work but eventually the refs caught on; much like the voters with President* Pennywise. Everything he does, says, or tweets strikes the wrong note. His aides are said to be despondent over the how the flopping tweet flopped. Good. They *should* be despondent about what the Trump regime is doing to the country.
The reason I’m bringing up yesterday’s example of cluelessness, insensitivity, and cruelty is the nature of what happened. I’ve spent a lot of time around elderly people in the last 15 years. The thing they, quite rightly, fear most is falling. A broken hip can transform a spry old man into a broken one. Hopefully, Mr. Gugino will bounce back but he’s unlikely to ever be quite the same after being pushed around by the police.
I just came upon this tweet from a friend of Martin Gugino:
Kinda surreal when the President starts accusing your 75 yr old friend of being an agent of ANTIFA.
My friend Martin Gugino is an old man with cancer who is now in the hospital with brain damage after being pushed to the ground by a police officer he was trying to talk to.
President* Pennywise is spiraling as his failures mount. In the past, he was able to recover from his missteps because the crises were largely self-inflicted. This time, events are in the saddle, riding him. It’s about fucking time.
The sharks sense blood in the water. Suddenly, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is willing to stand up to the Kaiser of Chaos. When the kneeling shit hit the fan in 2017, the NFL was paralyzed with fear. Goodell is not mouthing Black Lives Matter rhetoric out of conviction; he’s blowing with the wind. The prevailing breeze is NOT coming from Trumpistan. Hell, even Drew Brees is suddenly a repentant sinner.
The White House somehow thinks that an oval office address on race and policing is the cure for what ails it. Such a speech has never helped Trump before and this one is being written by neo-Fascist Steven Miller. It’s unclear who will translate the text from the original German. Maybe William Hermann Goering Barr can lend a hand. He should change his name to Wilhelm.
Finally, it’s time to pitch a new theme song to President* Pennywise. It’s a tune that fits the moment even if it’s 53-years-old. That’s still younger than Martin Gugino. The last word goes to The Hollies and CSNY:
I don’t have a helluva lot to add to what I said as the 13th Ward Rambler earlier this week. I’m still keeping my head down during the lockdown. We’ve had a few front porch visitors, which breaks the monotony and allows Paul Drake to make goo-goo eyes at company and get his nose prints all over the lower glass panes of our front door.
This week’s theme song was written by Paul Samwell-Smith, Keith Relf, and Jim McCarty in 1966 and represented a sonic breakthrough for The Yardbirds. The tune’s Wikipedia entry is absurdly detailed and argues that Jeff Beck should have received a songwriting credit as well. It’s okay: Beck assumed de facto ownership of the song after recording it with The Jeff Beck Group on 1968’s Truth album.
We have three versions of Shapes Of Things for your listening pleasure: the Yardbirds original, the Jeff Beck Group, and David Bowie from Pin-Ups. They’re all shapely and thingy:
Now that we’ve shaped things and contemplated Jeff Beck’s guitar virtuosity, let’s jump to the break.
Perhaps I should have used Zachary Richard’s Snake Bite Love as our theme song while we were Festing In Place but I couldn’t let go of using Can’t Let Golast week. Besides, it’s never too late for a Zack Attack.
We have two versions of Snake Bite Love for your listening pleasure: the 1992 studio original and a 2009 live version from a Jazz Fest set I attended.
One more snake song before we slither to the break:
If it’s Monday, it’s time for another Panic In The Streets image. I’m not sure if Pandemic Chronicles will become a thing, BUT the image of Paul Douglas’ cop character trying to shake some sense into one of Jack Palance’s criminal cronies fits my mood today.
I find the dialogue in the country increasingly worrisome. Initially, I was among those who thought we’d go back to a modified version of Gamaliel’s normalcy when lockdown restrictions were eased. That was wishful thinking and whistling past the graveyard. I am a self-confessed optimist, after all. Better stir crazy than dead. And it’s a slow painful death.
The world right now is like a snow globe or kaleidoscope that’s been shaken thereby producing a new and much messier place. In many ways, it will resemble the old world, but the underlying reality will be very different.
Thanks to the slow and incompetent reaction of the corrupt nitwits in charge of our federal government, we’re facing the worst economy since the Great Depression. I guess that makes Trump Herbert Hoover with bad hair. It took a World War to finally end that depression. God only knows what will do the trick this time around but it won’t be jeremiads against China, immigrants, or the MSM.
It’s time to return to the pre-Reagan counter-revolution federal government: higher tax rates on the 1% and massive federal programs to put people back to work. We used to have a strong social safety net and many employers who gave a shit about their employees. It will be easier to rebuild the former than the latter. It’s time for the era of big government to return.
I’m also alarmed by the people on my side of the fence who blithely believe that the cavalry, in the form of a vaccine, will ride in to save the day in the last reel of the movie. It’s going to take more than a year regardless of how much money Bill Gates throws at it. COVID-19 is analogous to HIV and there’s still not a vaccine that prevents that plague. We’re in for the long haul. It will take 18 months to 2 years for this to happen; even then it may not be as comprehensive as one would hope. This virus morphs like crazy, which is why it’s so hard to nail down the symptoms.
The event cancellations have only just begun. I got a kick out of Saints fans debating the merits of the team signing accused rapist and shoplifter Jameis Winston to backup Drew Brees. No point in getting outraged when the NFL season may be another casualty of the plague. I hope I’m wrong about this but the only way the season can safely progress is to play in empty stadia and to isolate the players from their families. I’m not sure if the players will want to perfect the gladiator analogy by going along with such a plan. They love their families too. The alternative is for the NFL to stock up on body bags.
As a member of the New Orleans Carnival community, I’m worried that the 2021 season might be cancelled. The odds became 60-40 in favor of cancellation after Germany cancelled Oktoberfest, which is just as culturally important to them as Carnival is to us. And they have a competent federal government; something we are sadly lacking.
Unless there’s an effective vaccine, holding Carnival as usual is asking for trouble. It would be a crying shame but another spike in Coronavirus deaths is the possible alternative. Talk about a lose-lose situation.
We’re having the wrong discussion in this country right now. It’s not a choice between the economy and public health, we should be debating how to contain the pandemic with the fewest casualties possible. Americans are impatient and not good at focusing on the big picture. That needs to change but it won’t as long as the GOP controls the Senate and White House. It’s time for them to go.
That concludes this rare edition of Apocalypse Adrastos. I hope I’m wrong about most of this stuff, but the country is suffering from a surfeit of magical thinking, so some pessimism is in order.
Repeat after me: This is some serious shit.
The last word goes to Old 97’s from the Graveyard Whistling album:
Richard Thompson-Edward Hopper month continues. We begin with with a weather bulletin of sorts. Y’all are used to my weather obsession by now.
We had a cold front in New Orleans this week. Nighttime lows hovered around 50 several nights in a row. That may not sound like much to people from the frozen north but by our standards that’s cold for mid-April. Some locals whined about the cold, but I like it. Some folks just like to bitch. You know who you are; piss off out of my virtual kitchen.
Every time I search for Hopper paintings online, I’m told he was an “American realist” painter. That’s what he called himself, but his work is deeply weird. The painting above reminds me of Hitchcock’s Rear Window. I’ve never thought of Hitch as a realistic filmmaker even if regular guy Jimmy Stewart starred in that flick. His character was a laid-up photographer turned peeping tom. That’s weird, not realistic.
Sunday is Greek Easter, so I decided to pick a Richard Thompson tune with religious undertones. According to Mark and other bible dudes, Gethsemane was the garden at which Jesus prayed before his betrayal and arrest. It still exists and is a tourist attraction with an elaborate web site.
Gethsemane is also the title of this week’s theme song. It was written by Richard Thompson in 2003 for The Old Kit Bag. It’s an ominous sounding song that opens with this ominous verse.
“Among the headstones you played as boys
Crypts and tombs like a roomful of toys
Just up the river from the smoke and the noise
We have two versions of Gethsemane for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a recent solo acoustic interpretation by the songwriter.
There’s also a song from Jesus Christ Superstar called Gethsemane (I Only Want To Say.) Here’s the original cast recording with Deep Purple frontman Ian Gillan in the title role.
I suspect playing Jesus Christ Superstar was nothing like working with Ritchie Blackmore. They did, however, produce some swell music:
Christ on a cracker, that rocked.
All this talk of Jesus and betrayal reminds me of this Asia tune:
Edward Hopper is associated with scenes of urban isolation and alienation. As you can see, the same thing applies to his rural scenes. That gas station isn’t hopping, which is par for the course for Hopper.
The Gret Stet of Louisiana is making progress with the pandemic. The curve is flattening slightly BUT there’s a big problem with racial disparity among the afflicted. Twice as many black folks have died of COVID-19 related illnesses as white folks. Terrible is an accurate but still inadequate word to capture the horror of this discrepancy. If I believed in using emojis here, I’d insert a sad face BUT:
This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson in 1981 for the final Richard and Linda Thompson duo effort, Shoot Out The Lights.
Walking On A Wire is one of the ultimate breakup songs. It’s some serious shit, y’all. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a recent solo acoustic version by the songwriter.
I’m still feeling wiry. Time for some Leonard Cohen as channeled by Aaron Neville.
I’m a bit wired from all that walking on a wire. Keep your balance as we jump to the break.
College football and politics have long been inseparable in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. Huey Long was a fanatical LSU Tiger backer and meddler. He was even known to suggest plays. I have no idea if they were any good but he was the Kingfish so the coaches had to listen.
The intersection between college football and politics continues in the 21st Century. One of the perks of Governor John Bel Edwards’ job is his friendship with Ed Orgeron. When it came time for the state to make a COVID-19 PSA, there was only one choice: Coach O.
My feelings about Coach O are well known. Putting his gravelly voice to use in this way is a masterstroke. He has credibility with the people who think this pandemic is a hoax cooked up by liberals. Will they listen to this Louisiana folk hero? Beats the hell outta me, but it couldn’t hurt. We need all the help we can get in this crisis.
As everyone else read from papers and spoke formally, Orgeron approached the lectern, firmly placed his hands on each side and took control like he was in his own football element. He looked confident. They provided him no script or guidance. He just took over.
“I’m here on behalf of the state of Louisiana,” Orgeron said. “I’m a guy who was born in Louisiana, loves Louisiana and is head coach of the national champion LSU Tigers.”
He told the crowd he just sat in on the briefing and said it was the most organized, most intense, most well-informed meeting he’d ever been in. “I can promise you this, the state of Louisiana is fortunate to have Governor Edwards be our leader,” he continued.
Orgeron urged young people to not be selfish and stay inside. He said there’s no need to be on the streets doing “all kinds of stuff.” He continuously spoke of following the game plan.
Then, after Edwards took questions from reporters for nearly 15 minutes, a question came specifically for Orgeron. Edwards ceded the floor to the coach. “Lots of people are afraid right now,” the reporter asked. “Why is fear not the appropriate response, and what would you tell folks who are afraid?”
“Have faith,” Orgeron said, his hands behind his back calmly. “Have faith in the game plan. We’re gonna get through this. There’s gonna be some rough times, but we can’t give in to it. Fear makes you give in to it. Have faith. Grow strong. Grow as a team. Lean on each other.”
The Athletic’s Brody Miller missed one detail. Coach O closed by saying this:
Before long, word of the project had spread, and about two dozen people came together to help, working 13-hour days to turn the abandoned house into a welcoming checkpoint. “The house was full of 3-4 feet of snow,” said Bekoalok, who has limited mobility and volunteered from home as a coordinator. “They had to shovel the house out, and they put Visqueen on the windows, so that light comes in but the cold doesn’t.”
People donated hot plates, a generator, lights and a wood stove. They drilled a hole in the river for water, chopped firewood so that mushers would have a ready supply, and hung up a banner to welcome them. They put encouraging signs along the trail to tell teams they were almost there. “We had our youngest elders to babies hauling wood and water,” said Sookiayak, estimating that the youngest helpers were 4 years old.
The featured image is of Max von Sydow playing chess with Death in the Ingmar Bergman classic, The Seventh Seal. Von Sydow had a long acting career in America; often playing in horror movies. He died earlier this week at the age of 90. This is the first time I’ve ever started a Saturday post with an obit. I like to change things up.
The Seventh Seal is set during the Black Plague. It was an era with clueless and ignorant leaders; much like the US&A in 2020. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
This week’s theme song continues our board game theme. The Game Pieces was written by Chris Leslie and Nigel Stonier for Fairport Convention’s 1999 album, The Wood and the Wire. Here’s a woody and wiry live version:
I’m a lousy chess player but I know a good song about chess when I hear one. Just say Yes:
Now that we’ve established that we’re all good people, let’s take a straight and stronger course to the break.
Last night, Dr. A and I made groceries for the first time store since the first New Orleans COVID-19 cases were announced. It’s been a week of firsts as well as worsts. It was like a preview of hurricane season but twice as frantic. One could even call it the TOILET PAPER APOCALYPSE. For some reason, people are convinced that if the world ends, there will be no TP. Locally, there’s always this:
Krewe of Tucks riders also throw plungers in case you overuse their terlet paper. Glug.
Okay, no more toilet humor. Promise. I’m not Mike Myers, after all. Or Friday the 13th’s Michael Myers for that matter. I seem to have misplaced my hockey mask…
In addition to Pulp Fiction Thursday, it was cancellation Thursday yesterday as most major sports leagues and events pulled the plug on 2020. I have some friends who are going to have withdrawal symptoms any time now. My suggestion: read a book or watch a sports movie. Bull Durham has been known to lift one’s spirits.
It’s time to slice this post into segments like an orange. Hopefully, nothing is overripe. It’s hard to keep up with events, y’all.
The Politics Of COVID-19: President* Pennywise’s Oval Office address laid an egg, bombed, and flopped. It led to mass confusion and the stock market tanking. Heckuva job, Trumpy.
One of my friends insists that Trump snorted coke before the speech. I don’t think so. He was too low energy for that; much like Jeb Bush during the 2016 GOP primary race. My hunch is that the Impeached Insult Comedian would test positive for the super crud. He’s been exposed to carriers at least twice. He should be tested and quarantined in a rubber room for his own safety and that of the country.
The COVID-19 clusterfuck is the most graphic illustration yet of the OTT incompetence of the Trump regime. They had no pandemic plan and were caught with their pants down. This criminal negligence is in stark contrast to the way Team Obama handled the Ebola Virus. It was contained in Africa and we helped impacted areas with our dollars and medical expertise. We still have the latter if only the White House would get out the way. Heckuva job, Trumpy.
Repeat after me: Incompetence Kills.
A Coronavirus Primer: A piece by Tomas Pueyo at Medium has been making the rounds on social media. It’s one of the things that convinced me to practice social distancing. If you haven’t read it, there’s no time like the present:
The image/link thing showed up when I previewed this post. If it doesn’t on your device, this link works.
Tweets Of The Day: First, some historical perspective:
Does social distancing work? Here is a historical example: During the 1918 flu outbreak, Philadelphia didn't institute social distancing fast enough and held one of the largest parades in its history. Compare that with St. Louis, who quickly implemented social distance policies. pic.twitter.com/gjeGFkXrfQ
Boo to Philly in 1918. Hurrah to St. Louis in 1918.
Our second tweet comes from a beloved member of the First Draft family:
I have always cringed with the jokes about boomers. Well here we are now with coronavirus being called boomer remover and it is a top trending #. Could folks please stop with everything boomer for a few months at least while the elderly will be dying horrible deaths…..christ
They must be people who have never lost anyone close to them. I watched someone die when I was 28 years old. I have a dark sense of humor, but I don’t make jokes about randos dying. Talk about bad karma.
People have been asking me if I planned to write at length about the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock. The answer is no. Why? Too many people focus on things other than the music and mud. Too many get bogged down in generational politics; one of the dullest subjects on the planet. It’s dull because it’s cliche laden: not all Baby Boomers sold out, not all Gen-Xers are slackers, and not all Millennials are twitter obsessed airheads. More importantly, not all members of the greatest generation were all that great. I often thought that my late father’s motto could have been, “We won the war so we don’t have to listen.” That concludes my rant about generational stereotypes.
Another day, another self-quote.
Finally, the featured image with Richard Widmark and Paul Douglas comes from Elia Kazan’s classic contagion movie, Panic In The Streets, which was set in New Orleans. I have another one in the hopper but it’s for when things get even worse:
I have it on DVD, but this stone cold 4 star classic can be rented from Amazon Prime. Besides, we’re all going to have time on our hands as we try to get through this crisis.
In dog mushing — a sport where both humans and dogs compete regardless of gender — Mountain, 40, has found a welcoming community. It’s a privilege few trans athletes get to experience, he acknowledged, and one the musher has rarely encountered himself. Gender always posed problems for the athlete, who was assigned female at birth but described himself as a gender-nonconforming kid throughout his youth. He remembered trying out for the softball team at his Wisconsin high school. Despite being faster and more aggressive than many of the girls, he said he didn’t make the cut.
“I don’t know what it was, but I had a lot of trouble taking part in girls’ sports,” Mountain said. “I was often told that I was too aggressive, that I didn’t fit in with the team, wasn’t good for the cohesion of the team, that kind of thing.”
As an adult, Mountain found support in the small community of dog mushing. His fans, the “Ugly Dogs,” a group of mushing enthusiasts who follow him and his wife, fellow musher Blair Braverman, on social media, raised $57,000 for him to compete in the Iditarod and qualifying races. Whenever he’s feeling down or discouraged, he said he can turn to the Ugly Dogs for support.
My family used to vacation near Mountain, where BraverMountain Mushing is located, and it’s … people don’t believe me when I tell them suburban Wisconsin is far more Trumpist than the rural areas are. But out in the wild nobody cares about anything except what you can do, and everybody helps everybody else because everybody will need help at some point because that’s how it is.
I don’t know shit about shit when it comes to dogs, or sports, or outdoor anything (my idea of roughing it is a hotel without a pool) but I’m a sucker for good stories about unlikely victories in the face of impossible odds. I started reading Blair Braverman’s work last year, before her first Iditarod, and that’s how we all wound up mailing LEGOs to Alaska.
As much as I hate to quote the dread Joe Lieberman in a post title, it works. Before South Carolina, the punditocracy had declared it a two-geezer race between Sanders and Bloomberg with the former as the likely nominee. My candidate, Elizabeth Warren, had a terrible night but it’s still refreshing to see the wind knocked out of the pundits’ sails. Nobody saw the Biden surge coming and if they claim they did, they’re lying.
I knew I would not be alone in using the phrase Joementum but as Bob Marley said, “who the cap fit, let them wear it.” At least I’m not claiming that I saw this coming. I did not. It shows the importance of having 100% name recognition and close ties to a popular former Democratic president. It also shows the importance of ignoring the posers of political Twitter who were certain that nobody would vote for Biden because nobody in their echo chamber supported him. Never mistake social media for the real world.
I’m not exactly celebrating this morning because Biden is not my first choice. MSM sexism and the voters’ fear of losing to Trump gutted the Warren campaign. I remain convinced that she would be the best nominee and general election candidate, but I’ve felt the same way about past candidates who weren’t nominated. She proved her mettle with her brilliant and savage takedown of Bloomberg. Team Warren is making brave noises about continuing but finishing third in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts makes their argument a weak one. I still plan to vote for Senator Professor Warren in the Louisiana primary.
Team Sanders and its mouthiest supporters are already playing last night as a triumph for their candidate, despite losing Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Maine. He *did* win California and thus far has 33% of the vote with many ballots to be counted. Biden’s come from behind victory in Texas was quite frankly gobsmacking since Team Sanders has made substantial inroads into the Hispanic vote; something they’ve failed to do with black voters. Nobody without substantial African American support can or should win the Democratic nomination.
In retrospect, it shouldn’t shock people that voters want a safe hand to replace Trump. Suburban college-age women drove the Democrats victory in 2018, not “woke” Twitterati. Btw, I hate the term woke: it’s pompous, pretentious and a plethora of other P words.
People are tired of waking up and learning about the latest outrage or scandal perpetrated by this president* and his people. Many want a calm and normal person as their next president after 4 years of the Trump freak show. I don’t think Charlie Pierce completely nails it but there’s something to his Biden-Harding comparison.
An even more interesting analogy comes from my friend Joe Casale’s Facebook feed:
Joe Biden is the 1996 version of Joe Torre with the Yankees. Torre was a baseball lifer like Biden is a political lifer.
Torre had some success as a manager. Like Biden, Torre never won the big one. The World Series.
The day Joe Torre was hired as manager of the Yankees, the NY Daily News headline was, Clueless Joe.” Sound familiar?
What happened? Under Torre, the Yankees became a dynasty. They won 4 World Series in 5 years.
Joe Torre was the right guy at the right time for a team that was ready to win. The perfect fit.
In many ways, so is Joe Biden. If you look around, you can assemble a pretty good team of policy makers among Democrats. Assembling the right team around Biden (with his VP choice being the most important decision) will be vital for his chances to win.
Done right, Joe Biden could be the country’s version of Joe Torre with the Yankees.
For the country’s sake, that should make everyone a Yankees fan. At least for one day.
Not gonna happen, my friend. I may hate the Dodgers more than the Yankees but I’m only willing to bend my principles so far. I’m not running for office, after all.
I’ll have something tomorrow about the Veepstakes, which will be more important than usual since the two leading candidates are both septuagenarians. I wanted to publish this post quickly because when I say instant analysis, I mean it.
The last word goes to Jimi Hendrix and Ella Fitzgerald with a couple of Joe songs: