Category Archives: Sports

Saturday Odds & Sods: Running On Empty

Carnival Tryptich by Max Beckmann

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

Willie McCovey, R.I.P.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday Odds & Sods: Season Of The Witch

The Witch of Endor by William Blake

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Vanishing American

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

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

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

Without further adieu, here are two covers:

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

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

Saturday Odds & Sods: Late In The Evening

Father Mississippi by Walter Inglis Anderson.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Play It All Night Long

The Automat by Edward Hopper.

It’s been a crazy news week: the Woodward book, Hurricane Florence, exploding houses in  Massachusetts, the Kavanaugh letter, and the Manafort flip. How far Paulie flips remains to be seen but, given his connection to the Former Soviet Union, his plea deal is *potentially* the Kremlingate kill shot. I’ve long thought Manafort was either placed on Team Trump by Russian intelligence or encouraged to sign up by them. Stay tuned.

This week’s theme song, Play It All Night Long was written by Warren Zevon for his 1980 album, Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School. It has one of the greatest opening verses in rock history:

Grandpa pissed his pants again
He don’t give a damn
Brother Billy has both guns drawn
He ain’t been right since Vietnam

As well as a killer chorus:

“Sweet home Alabama”
Play that dead band’s song
Turn those speakers up full blast
Play it all night long

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. The original studio recording and a live solo version from Learning to Flinch with WZ on piano.

Now that we’ve played “that dead band’s song,” let’s jump to the break in lieu of turning the speakers up full blast.

Continue reading

Kenna Brah Malakatude Update

I’m sure none of you have forgotten Ben Zahn who was crowned malaka of the week on Monday. Zahn took what he thought was a heroic stand for the flag and against Nike and Colin Kaepernick. Yesterday, Zahn caved and took a knee after four days as a punchline and punching bag:

“Acting upon advice of the city attorney, I have rescinded my memorandum of Sept. 5,” he said. “That memorandum divided the city and placed Kenner in a false and unflattering light on the national stage.”

<SNIP>

“I looked at what I saw happening on a national level with Nike as a whole, and I stayed to my values on that,” he said in response to a question during his brief news conference late Wednesday afternoon.

But he said he never meant to be divisive.

“This was not meant to do anything like that,” he said. “This was meant … to protect our patriot values, our fire, our police and also our taxpayers.”

It’s a pity that Mayor Kenna Brah didn’t make any sense while caving, but what can you expect from a bush league Trump? The original model doesn’t make any sense either.

Zahn conveniently neglected to mention the likelihood of litigation by the Gret Stet ACLU but the allusion to the Kenna Brah city attorney meant they knew it was a LOSER. Defending unconstitutional acts in defense of your “patriot values” is an expensive proposition.

I am convinced that another reason Zahn caved was the widespread circulation of these images on social media:

H is for Hypocrisy.

 

Can We Talk about How Shitty that Serena Cartoon Is?

We’ve been talking about how racist it is, but can we also talk about how it sucks? How it’s obvious and badly drawn and doesn’t make any point that anyone hasn’t ever made before about anything?

Australian cartoonist Mark Knight has defended his widely condemned cartoon of US tennis star Serena Williams, claiming that it was a true reflection of the events of the US Open women’s final.

The cartoon appeared in Monday’s edition of Australian tabloid The Herald Sun, and drew outrage on social media for depicting the 23-time Grand Slam winner with enlarged lips, a larger figure, a broken racket and a pacifier on the ground.

The guy who drew it says he “isn’t racist,” of course, because nobody “is racist” even if they are “doing racist things” and “saying racist stuff.” I’m less interested in how whether or not he’s racist than I am in how he’s so bad at his job.

I mean it. Our shittiest comedians and editorial cartoonists and columnists are so shitty because they grew up watching South Park and Bill Maher and reading The Onion and they think that anybody who says mean things is funny. So if they say loud rude fratty things about bitches and “aren’t politically correct” then that makes them comic geniuses or bleeding-edge social commentators. Usually this sort of thing gets beaten out of you in college but apparently these guys didn’t have editors who challenged their juvenilia.

“Area Homosexual Saves Four From Fire” is not a gay joke. The 9/11 issue wasn’t making fun of the terrorists. Bill catches shit not because he’s anti-Muslim and showily anti-religion but because he took on the powerful at a time when we didn’t do that so much. “Suicide bombers are braver than soldiers lobbing missiles from a distance” was a new thing to consider, at the time.

If you want to make people laugh or shock them, you have to be funny or original. You have to be smart, and willing to step to hard truths sure, but “black caricature” isn’t a hard truth. You think you’re the first person to make this crack, Mr. Australian Cartoonist? You’re not even the first person in a two-mile radius of my house to make this crack.

Someone needs to teach an entire generation or three the difference between an unpopular important opinion that people need to hear about because it’s truly critical, and something that will be “unpopular” because it’s just nasty and dumb.

A.

Malaka Of Week: Ben Zahn

I’m convinced that the great sneaker war of 2018 is the stupidest development yet of the Trump era.  It’s led to the stupid “boycott” of Nike branded products and to egregious malakatude of the part of a suburban mayor in the New Orleans metro area. And that is why Ben Zahn is malaka of the week.

Ben Zahn, a florist by trade, is a longtime GOP politico in Jefferson Parish. He’s the latest in a long line of “distinguished” mayors of an undistinguished burg:

That may have been overly self-referential but what’s wrong with a bit of self-branding among friends? The current mayor of Kenna, Brah caused a shitstorm with a memo dated September 5th that hit social media this weekend. There are pictures of the damn thing all over the interweb, but they’re hard to read so here’s the full quote in all its idiotic glory:

Effective immediately, all purchases made by any booster club operating at any Kenner Recreation Facility for wearing apparel, shoes, athletic equipment, and/or any athletic product must be approved by the Director of Parks and Recreation, or his designee. Under no circumstances will any Nike product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any City of Kenner Recreation Facility.

The booster clubs mentioned are private groups many of which help underprivileged kids. That’s the face of modern authoritarian conservatism: government telling private groups what products they can purchase and where they can wear them. I believe it’s called censorship. Additionally, this proclamation of malakatude was issued by a second-generation small business owner. So much for free enterprise.

I suppose it’s time to explain the Kenna, Brah meme. I wrote about it back in 2012 when his predecessor, sexting perv Mike Yenni, was outraged by this Dirty Coast t-shirt :

The sexting perv, who is now Jefferson Parish president, was also outraged that people pronounced and spelled Kenner, Kenna. It’s called a Yat accent, Mikey. You’ve been topped in Kenna, Brah malakatude by Ben Zahn.

Mayor Malaka has thus far declined comment, but there are already moves to roll back this rolling First Amendment violation as you can see from a tweet from a friend of mine:

Julie pronounces her name Zhulie in the French manner, which uniquely qualifies her to comment on the latest Kenner/Kenna controversy.

I doubt that Mayor Malaka’s order will stand for long. Except for hardcore racists and Trumpers, the local reaction has been scathing. Any legal defense is doomed because of some earlier Zahniac comments at the ironically named Kenner Freedom Fest:

“I’m going to ask y’all to stand for what’s about to happen. … Because this is not the NFL football players, right?” he said before the anthem was sung, eliciting cheers from the crowd. “This is the city of Kenner. In the city of Kenner we all stand. We’re going to be proud of that”

Holy content based censorship, Batman. Then there’s the matter of freedom of association and on and on and on.

Perhaps Zahn is so strident about the stupid sneaker war because he’s a white politician pandering to his base in a community that’s majority minority. According to the last census, Kenna, Brah has a population of 66,954 of whom 47.8% are white, 23.9% Black, and 22.9% Hispanic.  If the non-white majority votes in greater numbers in future elections, you’d be wise to watch your back Mayor Kenna, Brah.

Ben Zahn fancies himself a super-patriot. He’s really a bush league Donald Trump with his own set of impulse control issues. The good news is that this unilateral move appears to be blowing up in his face. And that is why Ben Zahn is malaka of the week.

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Tears Of A Clown

Circus Sideshow by Georges Seurat.

The big local news of the week was a non-event that I alluded to yesterday: Tropical Storm Gordon. I was reasonably confident it wouldn’t pay us a visit. For whatever reason, storms in the Gulf tend to jog to the east as they approach New Orleans. I’m much more concerned when the early bullseye is to our west than on us.

The new Mayor’s team surprised me with a calm reaction to Gordon:

Mitch Landrieu was prone to overdramatize storm threats by dressing in combat-like gear and declaring unnecessary curfews. Team Cantrell played it cool. If they can transfer this mojo to other city issues, I might be less critical. I’m not holding my breath because I don’t feel like turning blue. It’s a bad look for me.

A depressing local story took place across Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville. A synagogue was defaced with anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi graffiti. Anti-Semitism is fashionable on the alt-right and, in some quarters, the hard left. In the UK, Jeremy Corbyn has damaged Labour’s reputation as an anti-racist party with remarks such as the ones described by the Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone:

He mentions an impassioned speech made at a meeting in parliament about the history of Palestine that was “dutifully recorded by the thankfully silent Zionists who were in the audience” (audience members he presumably knew nothing about). So far so bad. But it gets worse. He goes on to say that these unnamed Zionists in the audience “clearly have two problems. One is they don’t want to study history, and secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony either … So I think they needed two lessons, which we can perhaps help them with.”

This is classic anti-Semitism as it treats British Jews as the unassimilated OTHER. It was too much for Jewish Labourite Josh Glancy who stated categorically in the New York Times that he wouldn’t vote Labour again until Corbyn is ousted as leader. He describes Corbyn’s views as follows:

I’d always thought that if Mr. Corbyn was ever nailed down on this issue, he’d be spouting the anti-Semitism of the international left: Shadowy Zionist lobbyists. Omnipotent Rothschilds. Benjamin Netanyahu glorying in the slaughter of innocent children.

Instead we got something much closer to home. This was the anti-Semitism of Virginia Woolf and Agatha Christie. It was T.S. Eliot’s “lustreless” Bleistein puffing on his cigar and Roald Dahl insisting that “there is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity.” The comments were more redolent of the genteel Shropshire manor house where Mr. Corbyn was raised than the anticapitalist resistance movements where he forged his reputation.

Ouch. Labour’s anti-Semitism controversy has derailed efforts to oust the inept and incoherent Tory government of Theresa May. It’s a vivid illustration of how the far left and far right can converge. It’s happened before: the dread Oswald Mosley was a Labour MP before forming the British Union of Fascists.

A final note before moving on. I am staunchly anti-Netanyahu: his government’s moves against Israeli-Arabs are repugnant and amount to imposing an Apartheid regime in Israel. Having said that, anti-Netanyahu-ism shouldn’t morph into anti-Semitism. Many Jews in both the UK and the US are opposed to the current Israeli government. But even those who support it, should not be othered in their own country. Genteel bigotry is just as bad as synagogue desecrating bigotry. Now that I think of it, it’s worse: the genteel bigots should know better.

It’s time for me to dismount my sopabox and move on to this week’s theme song. The Tears Of A Clown is one of my all-time favorite records. It was written by Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, and Hank Cosby for the Miracles in 1970.  It’s one of the songs that made me into the music geek that I am today. It’s on Smokey with Pagliacci as an unindicted co-conspirator.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. The original Miracles single and Smokey with Daryl Hall on the latter’s teevee show.

Now that we’ve wept the tears of a clown, it’s time to dry off, then jump to the break.

Continue reading

The Stupid “Boycott”

Today on Stupid Trumper Tricks:

They really don’t get it, do they? A commercial boycott involves REFUSING to buy a product, not destroying a product that you’ve already bought and paid for. Jimmy Kimmel got it right when he posed the immortal question: “Why not burn your money?”

The right’s pathological hatred of blacklisted QB Colin Kaepernick has merged with its moronic desire to “own the libs.” That’s a funny phrase to apply to a “boycott,” innit? To own one usually spends money, to boycott one usually withholds spending. Their terminology is as confused as their thinking. Anyone surprised?

Nike is a massive corporation that’s all about profit. They wouldn’t do this if their market research didn’t establish that there was something in this for them. It’s increasingly obvious that hardcore MAGA maggots are a diminishing sector of the populace and that they’re losing the culture war. Nike is all about winning, something Donald Trump claims to be all about. Instead, he’s losing it, both literally and figuratively.

The stupid “boycotters” should take a knee. Just Do It.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Too Late To Turn Back Now

Parade by Jacob Lawrence

It was Katrinaversary week along the Gulf Coast. I wrote about that on the day itself. Nuff said. In related news, former Nagin henchman Greg Meffert aka Muppet crawled out from whatever stone he’s been hiding under since testifying against C Ray. He has a new book out, which I will be reviewing for the Bayou Brief next week. It’s bound to be unintentional comedy gold.

This week’s theme song, Too Late To Turn Back Now, was written by Eddie Cornelius. It was a monster hit in 1972 hitting #2 on the Billboard charts. It’s featured in the new Spike Lee joint; more about that later.

We have 2 versions for your listening pleasure. The original hit song by the Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose and a reggae-fied cover by the Chi-Lites.

It’s too late to turn back now, which is why we’re jumping to the break. Make that falling…

Continue reading

Saturday Odds & Sods: Chain Of Fools

Aube a Monserrat by Andre Masson.

I’m thinking globally, not locally this week so I’m kicking things off on a celebratory note. We all need verification that not everything sucks. Today’s good news is that the Insult Comedian’s damn fool military parade has been cancelled. The Pentagon initially delayed it until next year, then the president* got all pouty and cancelled it outright. It’s those mean old local politicians who thwarted his will. Poor baby. Give him his binky and he’ll be okay. Sad.

We’ve all had Aretha on our mind since her passing. I had to do some restructuring of this post as a result. How could I possibly NOT have another Aretha tune as this week’s theme song? Hence Chain Of Fools. The song was commissioned by Atlantic Records honcho Jerry Wexler for Otis Redding. Once he heard songwriter Don Covay’s demo, Wexler realized it was perfect for Aretha. Yeah you right, Jerry.

We have two versions of Chain Of Fools for your listening pleasure: Aretha’s original and a 2004 cover by the late Joe Cocker:

Grab on to the chain, chain, chain, chain of fools while we jump to the break.

Continue reading

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Calling

Tales from Topographic Oceans by Roger Dean.

Summer colds are the worst. I’ve been laid low by one. Achoo. My nose looks as if it belongs to Rudolph and I sound like Froggy in The Little Rascals. Shorter Adrastos: I’m going to keep this introduction concise lest writing it winds me. Hopefully, the rest of the post will make sense: I’m blogging hurt. Make that wheezy. Jeez, that sounds like an episode of The Jeffersons.

This week’s theme song is the stirring album opener from 1994’s Talk by Yes. Like many other fans, I call the Trevor Rabin-era band, Yes West. They moved their base of operation to Southern California in the 1980’s, and had a different sound than classic Yes; pop-prog as opposed to pure prog. Hence Yes West. The Calling was written by Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Chris Squire and it rocks like crazy.

We have two versions for your entertainment. First, a video featuring a goofy cosmic introduction by Jon Anderson. Second, a live version from the Talk tour that commences with an instrumental Perpetual Change.

While we’re on the subject of Yes, the featured image is Roger Dean’s cover of Tales from Topographic Oceans without the lettering.

Now that I’ve gone all art rocky on your asses, let’s jump to the break.

Continue reading

Annual Fundraiser: The Capone Shakedown

I had a lot of fun writing Life Imitates The Untouchables: Scarface Paul Manafort. It occurred to me that I missed the chance to raise some money for First Draft. The last I heard from our publisher/Chancellor of the Exchequer, Athenae, we were 2/3 of the way to our goal of $1650. It’s time to go gangster on your asses:

Don’t worry, Gabby Hartnett won’t get it. The Hall of Fame Chicago Cubs catcher died on his birthday in 1972. Capone was long gone.

Hartnett got in trouble for signing an autograph for Capone’s kid at Wrigley Field. Then commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis called the Cubbie on the carpet and told him not to consort with gangsters. There are many versions of this story but my favorite is that Gabby said to the irascible commish, “You try saying no to Al Capone, Judge.”

That was a long-winded way to ask you to support our annual fundraiser. We’re the most benevolent shakedown artists you’ll ever encounter except for Della. She’s a badass.

The last word goes to the Grateful Dead. Let’s take a trip to Shakedown Street:

Let’s see, I gave you gangsters, baseball, cats, and the Dead. How can you not donate after that? Here’s the link again.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Sweet Dreams

Any Eye For A View by Paul Fleet.

I vowed not to complain about the heat this week. It’s always hot in New Orleans in July, after all. Besides, much of the world is having a heat wave so we’re not alone. Suffice it to say that even people who like warm weather are complaining about it. I’m trying my best to be stoical in the face of it all. I’m not sure if I’ll succeed in this but who the hell wants to hear a grown man whine about the humidity?

A big local story was the anointment of Zach Strief as the new play-by-play announcer of the New Orleans Saints. He has huge shoes to fill: Jim Henderson was to the Saints and their fans what Vin Scully was to the Dodgers. I’m skeptical that the inexperienced Strief is up to the job: he’s a recently retired Saints offensive lineman, and while he’s a bright, articulate guy, he’s unqualified to be a play-by-announcer.  Of course, this is the age of the unqualified.

Our theme songs this week are variations on a dreamy themey. Patsy Cline’s Sweet Dreams was written by Don Gibson who recorded it 8 years before Patsy. Her version is the one we remember. Sweet Dreams was also the title of the fabulous Jessica Lange starring 1985 bio-pic.

Yes’ Sweet Dreams comes from their second album, Time and a Word. They were still finding their way in the musical world at that point.

Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) was a monster hit for the Eurythmics in 1983. There was an epidemic of teenage girls who cut their hair very short because they wanted to be Annie Lennox. Who could blame them?

That concludes this foray to Disambiguation City. It’s time to awaken from your dreams, sweet or otherwise, and jump to the break.

Continue reading

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Best Is Yet To Come

Shattered Color by Lee Krasner.

It’s been a long and difficult week for Americans who haven’t imbibed the MAGA Kool-Aid. I already wrote about it on Thursday and Monday so we’re going to keep this introduction snappy and mercifully brief. I wonder if the Insult Comedian would call that a double positive?

This week’s theme song is upbeat and positive in response to all the gloomy shit going on in the world. The Best Is Yet To Come was written for Tony Bennett in 1959 by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Count Basie, and Chaka Khan. That’s right, Chaka Khan. She can sing anything, y’all.

This is the second time I’ve used The Best Is Yet To Come as a post title. The first was after President Obama’s re-election in 2012. It’s time for him to eschew the non-political Jimmy Carter post-presidential model, make like Harry Truman and hit the stump this fall. His party and country need him. Give ’em hell, Barack.

I’m not sure where the tree of life is right now, but I long to “pick me a plum.” I’ll figure out how to do so after the break.

Continue reading

Quote Of The Day: Trump As Bill Laimbeer

 It comes from an Esquire piece by Ryan Lizza:

Jenkins, the congresswoman from Kansas, relayed a conversation she recently had with a factory owner back home, who told her that while the guys on his shop floor “hate” Trump—they are from the Bible Belt, after all, she noted—“they love what he’s doing.” She then offered the most honest explanation I’ve heard for this phenomenon. “It’s kind of like supporting your favorite team and there’s a talented trash-talking personality on the other team,” she said. “That player is the worst human being on the face of the earth, but if that same talented player is on our team, well, you know, they’re our team, so we give him a pass.”

I realize that the Bill Laimbeer reference is dated; make that deliberately dated. He retired from the NBA some 24 years ago. The closest thing in the current NBA is Draymond Green of the Warriors. I googled Green’s politics and learned that he’s a liberal who has been sharply critical of the Current Occupant. Bill Laimbeer, on the other hand, is a wingnut whose relative silence about Trump has more to do with his job as head coach of the WNBA Las Vegas Aces than anything else. Draymond may be a dirty player BUT he doesn’t deserve to be lumped in with the Insult Comedian. Laimbeer does.

In a 2015 malaka of the week post I described Laimbeer thusly:

Bill Laimbeer was the ultimate hiss-provoking cartoon villain of the 1980’s NBA. He was the biggest asshole on the jerkiest great team of all-time, the “Bad Boys” Detroit Pistons.

<snip>

In his time in the NBA, Laimbeer was the biggest braggart and blowhard in the game. He and his fellow goon Rick Mahorn were known as the “bruise brothers.”

Back to the quote of the day. It strikes me as bang-on correct, which is one of many reasons that I think Trump’s support will slowly wither and die except among hardcore MAGA maggots. It was rocked by Monday’s submissive and low energy performance at the presser with his spymaster. Here’s hoping that more of them will realize that he’s playing for the other team. You know, the one coached by the short guy who’s into poisoning his enemies.

The Strzok Hearing: Shitshow Or Kangaroo Court?

The post title is a rhetorical question: that fakakta hearing was both. It was inevitable in the Trump era that a joint hearing of two Congressional committees would be a shitshow.

I only watched a few hours of the Strzok hearing. In addition to having other shit to do, I found the posturing and Kangaroo Court antics of Congressional GOPers to be tiresome in the extreme. Perhaps that’s because they’re extremists as well as extremely stupid. I’m old enough to remember when *some* Congressional right-wingers were intelligent. The door slammed on that era in 2010 with the teabagger wave election.

As to the witness, he’s a badass with an awesome first name. Peter Strzok held up under withering fire and never called Louis Gohmert Piles and Jim Jordan stupid or Trey Gowdy a weasel. It must have been hard: Strzok is so much smarter than the Kangaroo Court critters who were grilling him. To use a grilled cheese analogy, he did Gouda…

Republicans tried to flip the old adage “actions speak louder than words” on its head. As far as they were concerned, Strzok’s texted words were more important than the fact that he never acted on them. The hearing could have been shut down after the witness pointed out that all he had to do to torpedo the Trump campaign would have been to leak word of the investigation. Instead it went on for 11+ hours of madness.

I learned this week that Peter Strzok was the counter-intelligence agent who cracked the case that inspired The Americans. I saw some members of the twitterazzi compare Strzok to Stan (The Man) Beeman when in fact (fiction?) Strzok is comparable to his first boss, Frank Gaad who was played by Richard Thomas. Good night, John Boy.

The Strzok shitshow won’t change any minds. It was a performance piece staged by House Republicans to support the Kaiser of Chaos by blowing enough smoke to cover the Capitol Dome. You cannot shame the shameless.

Let’s circle back to the post title.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a Kangaroo Court as:

  1.  a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted
  2.  a court characterized by irresponsible, unauthorized, or irregular status or procedures

I first heard of Kangaroo Courts when I was a kid. It’s customary for baseball teams to hold them to boost morale and esprit de corps. The judge is usually a veteran player, the best player on the team, or the funniest guy in the locker room. Holy locker room talk, Batman.

Two of the greatest players of the Sixties, Bob Gibson and Frank Robinson, were the judges for the Cardinals and Orioles respectively. That was a long-winded way of posting a picture of Judge Robinson and teammate Davey Johnson both of whom were later managers:

Obligatory San Francisco Giants reference. Frank Robinson was not only the first African-American manager in baseball history, he managed the Giants from 1981-1984. F Robby could do it all: hit, run, field, manage, and judge.