Category Archives: Television

New Orleans Politics: The Bonfire Of The Vanities

New Orleans made a helluva lot of history during the 2017 election cycle. Most notably, we elected our first woman mayor, LaToya Cantrell who won in a landslide over her hapless opponent, Desiree Charbonnet. We also elected our first Hispanic councilmember in the primary, Helena Moreno, and our first Asian councilmember, Cyndi Nguyen on Saturday. I’ll talk about the council races and explain the post title in a bit. All good things come to those who wait or some such shit. Despite stealing Tom Wolfe’s book title, I have no plan to wear a white suit any time soon. It’s fall, y’all.

Cantrell is not well known outside Orleans Parish, so this oopsie was posted by the AP  after the race was called:

That is, of course, a picture of her vanquished foe, Desiree Charbonnet. Oopsie redux.

I got a few things right about the election. I predicted a Cantrell landslide, which hardly makes me the second coming of Karnak:

Did anyone know that Karnak was into Jeopardy? I wonder what the answer was and how he predicted my bloggerhood. We’ll never know. Inserted because I miss Johnny.

Back to shit I got right and wrong. I was wrong about Charbonnet not getting white conservative votes but right about how unimportant that would be. The Steve Scalise flyer hurt her in most of this deep blue city. Repeat after me: there are very few white conservative voters left in Orleans Parish. I was also right about the 2 council races on the ballot but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Other people have done some excellent analyses of the mayoral election so I don’t have to. I’d rather tell a few jokes:

Clancy DuBos on Da Winnas and Loozas.

Lamar White Jr. on the new paradigm in New Orleans politics.

Jeff Adelson on the Cantrell coalition and how it was built.

Back to me. Team Charbonnet ran a traditional top-down consultant driven campaign. They spent more money than Team Cantrell but not wisely: over $450K on consultants. Cantrell assembled the Obama coalition locally and ran a bottom-up campaign. In short, Cantrell out organized her well-heeled opponent. Perhaps the MSM will stop obsessing about fundraising in the future and take this song off their karaoke menus:

I was more engaged in the council races during the run-off. There was a major upset by the aforementioned Cyndi Nguyen in district E. The incumbent Jame Gray is, to be blunt, a crook. He was Dollar Bill Jefferson’s law partner back in the day and is one of the few Dollar Bill associates still active in politics.  Here’s why I call him a crook: Gray’s law license was suspended by the Louisiana Bar Association for misusing client funds and he’s currently under investigation for the same offense. That’s something the Saul Goodmans of the world do. I’m not shy about calling a shyster a shyster.

Nguyen is a community activist who ran a bottom-up campaign and defeated an African-American incumbent in a district that’s over 80% black. Gray didn’t deliver for the poorest district in the city and he’s out. It’s a Nguyen-Win situation, which is why she defeated her Pho with 59% of the vote. I promise to stop making puns on Vietnamese food but some Pho would be swell right now.  It’s a cold Monday in New Orleans, y’all. And, yes, I know it’s pronounced fuh. Just tryin’ to make trouble fuh ya after Cindi’s win. Somebody make me stop.

The race in which I was most engaged was district B where I live, natch. It was won by my candidate, Jay Banks, by a mere 133 votes. Banks will be the first Zulu King to serve on the council since the late Roy Glapion who was honored posthumously by the krewe. This is a Zulu heavy district y’all: our former councilman Jim Singleton was the Captain for many years. Enough Mardi Gras nostalgia.

I mentioned Jay Banks first so you wouldn’t think I was *just* opposed to his obnoxious opponent, Seth Bloom. I’ve written about Bloom here, there,and everywhere. Here’s how I described my run-in with Bloom on social media:

I had several run-ins with Bloom and his annoying supporters on twitter as well. It’s all over but the whining. Bloom has demanded a recount, which will take place tomorrow. It’s unlikely to succeed. A challenge against Kristin Palmer in district C went nowhere and she won by 22 fewer votes than Banks. I think those two should form the “landslide” caucus when they join the council.

I’m on the verge of letting the cat out of the bag and/or spilling the beans about the post title. Seth Bloom was the yard sign king in this election cycle. They were everywhere, especially the big ones with a vanity head shot of the candidate. My friend Ryne Hancock even asked Bloom to explain all the signs on abandoned buildings in Central City:

Central City is an overwhelmingly black neighborhood and Bloom was a terrible cross-over candidate. He got 9% of black votes whereas Jay Banks got 27% of white voters including this somewhat swarthy Greek-American.

It’s time for the big post title reveal:

FYI: Bonfires are a holiday tradition in the Gret Stet of Louisiana so all I was doing was urging the Bloomites  (Bloomers?) to get in the seasonal spirit.

I asked for help on the tweeter tube:

I got several submissions via direct message. The best one came from someone who wanted their name kept out of it:

I particularly like the eyebrows. I’m not sure if the submitter was the defacer but I sure hope so. The good news is that Seth Bloom will not be de face of my city council district.

A final campaign note. Last week’s malaka, Rob Maness aka Col. Mayonnaise, lost his legislative race. I was wrong about that one. It’s a pity. I thought it would be entertaining to have him throwing bombs in the lege. The guy who beat him is a bog standard conservative Republican so he’ll vote the Mayonnaise line but it won’t be half as fun.

The last word goes to Col. Mayonnaise. I wonder if he said it to his opponent?

Starbuck Speak

You listen: 

 “In this business as a woman I was trained to always keep my mouth shut. I was trained that a woman speaks up she’s a bitch and she’s difficult, if a guy does it he’s strong.”

Sackhoff shared her insider’s experience of having been told numerous times to never open her mouth or have an opinion. “I have fought back against it, but I’ve done it terrified,” she said bluntly, “I can’t tell you how many times I was told by my team, ‘Katee don’t be difficult.’ I think we have to face the reality of what the world and business we’re in looks like.”

 

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Land Of Confusion

From The Dictatorship Of Porfirio Diaz To The Revolution- The People In Arms by David Alfaro Siqueiros, 1957-1965.

It’s election day in New Orleans. We’re about to make history and elect our first woman mayor. I wish I were more excited about it but as I said Thursday, the campaign has been anything but elevating. I’m more engaged in my District City Council race, which pits Mr. Nice Guy (Jay Banks) against an entitled jerk. The race has gotten heated in the last week as the jerk (Seth Bloom, not Steve Martin) has gotten nervous that he’s going to lose. I sure hope he does. I’ve been feuding with him and his supporters online since they think it’s a good idea to fight with voters. Where they got that idea, I’ll never know. Schmucks.

In addition to being King Zulu 2016, another thing Jay Banks has going for him is the crucial child army endorsement:

Lagniappe, the Benevolent Dictator, the Gladowling.

With that much cuteness on his side how can he lose? They’re also his neighbors so Jay can harness the powers of the army of darkness at will. Btw, their mother nicknamed them that, not me. It fits: I’ve seen all of them in meltdown mode. If you live in District B, get out and vote for Jay Banks or they’re coming after you. It won’t be deadly, just loud and sticky.

A quick note on the featured image. It’s a section of a Siqueiros mural depicting the Mexican Revolution. In it, we see the dictator Porfirio Diaz who ruled the country for over 30 years. One of my guilty movie pleasures is the 1939 Warner Brothers “bio-pic” Juarez in which nice Jewish boys Paul Muni and John Garfield play Juarez and Diaz respectively. Oy, just oy. It’s a hoot but terrible history as you can see from the trailer:

This week’s theme song is a genuine rock classic. The video for Land Of Confusion is a mini-movie and one of the best of its kind. The use of the Spitting Image puppets is genius. The live version comes from a 2007 reunion tour which shows that Phil Collins has turned into his Spitting Image puppet.

Now that I’ve confused everyone, let’s jump to the break.

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Louie Gohmert’s Brain Scan

Reunion week continues at First Draft. Our old “friend” Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert Piles is spinning conspiracy theories this week. It doesn’t matter that the Uranium One mishigas has been debunked by Snopes and even by Fox Newser Shep Smith. Gohmert Piles and his ilk want a special prosecutor and they want one now. The president* is threatening to hold his breath until he turns blue.  It’s what wannabe dictators do.

Louie Gohmert Piles was so upset by the mockery he’s received outside the right-wing bubble that he went in for a brain scan. Here’s the feverish result:

That is, of course, not a brain scan; one must have a brain to be scanned, and Gohmert Piles has an empty space inside his head. Instead, it’s a flowchart he presented before the House Judiciary Committee. Your tax dollars at work.

Contemplating the stupidest member of Congress always gives me a stupid earworm of one of the stupidest rock songs of all-time. Here’s a quirky-n-off-kilter version from Cajun music titan, Michael Doucet of Beausoleil fame:

It’s lagniappe time. My nickname for the nasty dumbass Congressman is inspired by the lovable dumbass teevee character, Gomer Pyle who was the only Marine never deployed to Vietnam. Semper Fi, y’all.

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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Saturday Odds & Sods: Positively 4th Street

Night View of the Brooklyn Bridge by Joseph Stella.

I learned how important my home internet connection is to me this week. It was not a shocker even if Halloween fell on Tuesday. We had a record number of trick or treaters including the cutest cop I’ve ever seen. She let Dr. A photograph him without breaking out the cuffs:

What an arresting image.

This will be a somewhat abbreviated Saturday post since I didn’t throw it together until Friday morning. It’s usually an involved, gradual, and carefully assembled process even if it appears slapdash to the casual observer. It’s slapstick, not slapdash.

I spent part of my week writing a Bayou Brief column on the increasingly bat shit crazy New Orleans mayoral contest. I didn’t submit it until Thursday because I had to hyperlink the living shit out of it. I’ll link to it here when it goes live. Speaking of the run-off election, there was an astonishing takedown in the District B city council run-off. The third place finisher, Timothy David Ray, was so pissed off at the leader, Seth Bloom, that he not only endorsed the other candidate, Jay Banks, he scorched Bloom. Burn, Bloomy, burn.

Speaking of epic takedowns,  this week’s theme song was written and recorded by Bob Dylan in 1965. I was worried that he’d sing it in Stockholm in lieu of a speech. Fortunately, he did not attend the Nobel Prize ceremony. I’m posting Positively 4th Street as a pretext to play more Byrds. Listening incessantly to Tom Petty eventually leads to the Byrds and Roger McGuinn.

A quick note about the featured image. It comes from Joseph Stella’s impressionist phase. He returned to the Brooklyn Bridge as a subject many times over the years. I  hate bridges, which is ironic given that I grew up in an area full of them and now live in New Orleans. I white knuckle every time I cross a bridge. On one visit to New York City, the friend with whom I was staying asked if I wanted to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I gave him a withering look and the moment passed.

I’m skipping the break this week. I do not feel like jumping, especially after contemplating bridges.

We begin our second act with one of my favorite stolen features.

Separated At Birth: Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the worst White House press secretary since the days of Ron Ziegler. She makes Ziegler look honest and in the loop and makes Ari Fleischer look charming. Ugh.

The picture below crossed my Facebook timeline. It compares and contrasts Huck’s horrible spawn with Jackie Coogan as Uncle Fester on teevee’s Addams Family.

I think Jackie was cuter but the raised eyebrow and facial expression are eerily similar.

Saturday GIF Horse: While we’re on the topic of Uncle Fester, here’s his most famous stunt:

Tabloid Front Page Of The Week: I’ve never been a Smashing Pumpkins fan but I am a fan of the New York Daily News and its smashing front pages. This Halloween edition is a classic:

I wonder if Billy Corgan and his buddy Alex Jones have discussed this front page…

Tweet Of The Week: I retweeted this image of Sebastian Gorka, David Clarke, and Sean Hannity with a clever caption but the picture didn’t show on my tweet. Time for a re-take.

THE THREE HORSE’S ASSES OF THE APOCALYPSE.

Sorry for shouting but sometimes you gotta be loud to get your point across. It’s the only thing Fox News Meathead Sean Hannity and I agree on.

I mentioned I’d been in a Byrds phase, here’s the evidence.

Saturday Classic: Younger Than Yesterday is among the Byrds finest albums. It has one of David Crosby’s best song, Everybody’s Been Burned, and his absolute worst, Mind Gardens.  I used the former as a Saturday post theme song last year, as to the latter UGH.

Crosby was fired for being a raging, gaping asshole when the band commenced recording their next album. It obviously worked out for him as he became the C in CSN.

That’s it for now. My regular features will be back in full force next week. One reason that I was frustrated by the modem death is that Dr. A and I had watched the first 6 episodes of Stranger Things 2 and then it was nerdus interruptus. We finished it Thursday night. It’s swell. That’s why I’m giving the boys from Hawkins the last bat word.

Flaking Out

I briefly considered calling this post Republicans in Disarray. It has the virtue of counter punching against years of Democrats in Disarray type headlines. It’s also true. Then I came to my senses, stuck to my punny guns, and went with Flaking Out, which has the virtue of sounding like the Bravo  reality teevee show, Flipping Out,  featuring the antics of another Jeff, designer/house flipper Jeff Lewis.  Of course, flipping out is what Donald Trump does whereas the junior senator from Arizona just flaked out on the people he should be leading into battle: Republicans who still have a semblance of common decency.

When historians ponder why members of his own party let the Insult Comedian get away with his shit, they’ll also wonder why his most prominent senatorial critics have punworthy names: Corker and Flake. I know I’m pondering it while trying not to be a ponderous pundit.

I’m somewhere in the middle on the Jeff Flake/Bob Corker question. Unlike some in the MSM, I don’t view either as “heroes” for standing up to a president* of their own party. I’m also not as hard on them as my publisher and others on the left, notably Rude Pundit and Charlie Pierce. I think it’s important for GOPers to call Trump on his shit regardless of their voting records. Remember: Trump does not care about substance so attacks on his  persona and style, or lack thereof, are infinitely more wounding that attacking his shifting views on taxes, health care, and Bob Corker’s height or lack thereof.

Flake’s speech to the senate was excellent but it would have been more effective if he planned to run for re-election, especially as an independent. His colleague Lisa Murkowski did so after losing in the primary to a teabagger in 2010. The Alaska Senator isn’t as eloquent as Flake but she was rewarded for her stand against extremists in her own party. Grit and determination matter. Jeff Flake lacked those qualities in handing a temporary victory to Trump and Bannon.

In fairness, Flake looks like a gone pecan right now BUT there’s over a year to the 2018 general election and an anti-Trump conservative might look appealing to Arizona voters by then. If standing against Trumpism and white nationalism is as important to Flake as he says it is, he should be willing to stand for re-election against long odds. Now that’s heroic.

One significant difference between Flake and Corker is to the former’s credit. Flake refused to endorse Trump in 2016 whereas Corker drank the orange Kool-Aid and campaigned with the Insult Comedian. It’s one reason I’m more critical of the Tennessean than the Arizonan. I do, however, believe that converts to the anti-Trump cause should be welcomed. We need all the help we can get in alerting people to the perils of having a deranged president* with his  tiny finger on the nuclear trigger.

The reason for my relative indulgence of dissident Republican is rooted in my formative political experience: Watergate. I know what you’re thinking, there he goes again. The reason Nixon was driven from office is that elected officials in his party turned against him. It was a slow process but it was devastating as the Republican dominoes tumbled; culminating in the Senate and House GOP leaders, Hugh Scott and John Rhodes, and 1964 nominee Barry Goldwater telling Tricky the jig was up in August, 1974. The latter two were Arizonans who showed courage in bucking a president who they owed politically. It should be easier to break with Trump but at this point in time Jeff Flake, who still opposes impeachment, is showing more profile than courage. He still has more balls than Trump’s chief enabler Speaker Ryan.

Unless more Congressional GOPers grow a pair, it will take a Democratic takeover of the House for an impeachment process to commence as I believe it should. Even if they lose their majority, Senate Republicans will be crucial to removing a corrupt, stupid, and deranged president* from office. The reason Bill Clinton survived impeachment is that he held Democrats whereas Nixon’s GOP support melted like an ice-cube in the Louisiana summer.

That’s why I look at the big picture and believe in encouraging Republican office holders when they break with Trump. The stakes are high: Trump shows signs of bumbling into war with both Iran and North Korea. The latter would be a catastrophe for our friends in the Republic of Korea and Japan. And war in the Middle East is folly as we’ve learned to our eternal regret.

Stop the madness.

Sunday Morning Video: VH1 Does Tom Petty

I’m still mildly obsessed with Tom Petty. Here are two VH1 programs featuring TP.

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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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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SMV: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Live In 1978

Here’s an appearance on the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test:

Your President* Speaks: The Boy Ain’t Right

Just when we think the Insult Comedian’s behavior can’t get more bizarre, he tops himself by throwing paper towels to a crowd of Puerto Rican hurricane victims. It’s hard to tell if the stupid bastard thinks he’s on a Carnival float or believes he’s a mascot at an NBA game. For the latter, he’d need the T-shirt cannon. I’m glad Reince is gone, he probably would have gotten one for him.

The president’s* brief visit to Puerto Rico shows why I call him the Insult Comedian. I have to give him credit for originality, past presidents did not insult storm victims. Dubya left it to Congressional Republicans but Trump does his own dirty work. He has paper towels to clean up with, after all.

He gave us a lot of material to work with yesterday. There was the lazy Latin shtick. There were attacks on the Mayor of San Juan for insufficient subservience as well as the inevitable  bragging about what a beautiful and perfect job his minions have done. Another day, another lie.

I’ll let TPM’s Esme Cribb (my new favorite name) provide the gobsmacking narrative:

When he landed on the island, Trump informed Puerto Ricans that the federal relief effort to rebuild their shattered infrastructure is coming out of government coffers.

“I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack, because we spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico, and that’s fine,” Trump said.

He then compared Hurricane Maria to Katrina, which he called a “real catastrophe.”

“If you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overbearing, nobody has seen anything like this,” Trump said.

He compared the number of fatalities after each storm, though the present death toll on Puerto Rico is not final, and Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said before Trump’s arrival that he expected the count to rise.

“What is your death count as of this moment?” Trump said. “Sixteen people versus in the thousands. You can be very proud of all of your people, all of our people working together. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people. You can be very proud.”

There’s so much to unpack here. First, as someone who went through Katrina, the federal flood, and its aftermath, I’m not big on playing comparative catastrophes. Before landing in San Juan, Trump talked about the island being “destroyed.” That’s a catastrophe where I come from.

Then there’s the bit about the budget. These are American citizens in need: penny-pinching should be on nobody’s agenda. Besides, this is the president* who wants to cut taxes on the rich without releasing his own taxes to prove that he won’t benefit. Of course, every time he opens his mouth, he lies. Sometimes impulsively, sometimes with calculation but he always lies. Believe me, not him.

I never thought we’d have a president* who would make Bush the younger look statesmanlike. Bush was capable of delivering a “national unity” speech and once he sent General Honore to take charge of the Katrina relief effort, shit got done. The General put in charge of Maria relief has only 5,000 troops whereas Honore had 10 times that many. The good people of Puerto Rico are being nickeled and dimed to death by Team Trump.

We’ve had some bad presidents in my lifetime but we’ve never had one who had no idea how to behave in public. I had to watch the video of Trump tossing paper towels to the crowd several times before I believed it.

Who does shit like that? It’s something one would expect an 18th Century autocrat to do. It’s as if Marie Antoinette lost her head and tossed cupcakes at the Parisian rabble. Trump expects the people of Puerto Rico to survive on crumbs provided by their betters. What a maroon.

I never thought I’d find myself quoting cartoon Texan and propane aficionado Hank Hill about a POTUS* even one with an asterisk. Hank did not understand his zany, non-conformist son Bobby. His stock line about the fat kid who wanted to be a rodeo clown can be seen below:

Of course, Bobby Hill was not only fictional, he was a kid.  Donald Trump only seems like a fictional character but he’s for real. He *is* a clown but this is no rodeo, it’s deadly serious. We’ve survived bad presidents, but Trump is already circling the bowl and he’s only been in office for 256 days.

Heckuva job, Trumpy. The boy ain’t right.

Saturday Odds & Sods: How About You?

Court of the Patriarchs by Ansel Adams.

We had another boil water advisory in New Orleans this week. I’ve gotten used to them by now and don’t freak out. I’m married to a microbiologist so we ignore the “don’t shower” bit. It’s okay to bathe as long as one doesn’t have wounds or open sores. Besides, I’m not about to be stinky because the Sewerage and Water Board can’t get its shit together. Fuck that shit.

Oscar Update. It looks as if doubling his head meds and changing his diet has done the trick. Knock on wood. He hasn’t marked in several days and doesn’t look and act  like a scaredy cat. His tail is in the air when he walks instead of drooping. Let’s hope it lasts. Knock on wood. I had forgotten about that live Bowie version. Make sure you click on that last link.

In other New Orleans news, I wrote a second column for the Bayou Brief about the Mayors race. The campaign is so dull and listless that I refer to the candidates as The B-List.

This week’s theme song is inspired by last week’s Gershwin brothers reverie. How so? The opening lyrics:

I like New York in June, how about you?

I like a Gershwin tune, how about you?

That works for me.

How About You? was written by Burton Lane and Ralph Freed for the 1941 MGM musical Babes on Broadway starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. We have two versions for your enjoyment. First, the Chairman of the Board with a Nelson Riddle arranged version from an album you’ll hear more about later. Second, Harry Nilsson did an album of standards with *another* Sinatra arranger, Gordon Jenkins. Harry’s version was featured in Python alum Terry Gilliam’s best film, The Fisher King.

Heh, heh, heh. We just saw Robin William’s furry butt, he said in his best Beavis and Butthead voice. On that supremely lowbrow note, lets jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Nice Work If You Can Get It

Golconda by Rene Magritte

U2 came to town this week but I was involved in another spectacle: babysitting the legendary Child Army so that their parents Cait and Dave could see the Bono bunch. I like early U2 and even the Mick and Keith dynamic between Bono and the Edge but I’m not a fan. Why? I detest the preternaturally pompous Paul Hewson.

Additionally, U2 played the Superdome and I hate, hate, hate stadium concerts. I saw the Stones at the Dome and the sound was atrocious. Dealing with the Benevolent Dictator, Gladowling, and Lagniappe (their social media names) was just as raucous and none of them is a pompous prat like Bono.

Here’s a photo taken by Dr. A that could be entitled Child Army Surrealism. Note the smiling malice of the girl child Lagniappe who is a cross between a cat and Harpo Marx; only she hands you objects instead of her leg.

Lagniappe and the Gladowling.

Eat your heart (hat?) out, Rene Magritte.

Oscar Update: He continues marking but otherwise is feeling fine. We’ve tried everything suggested by the vet and various kitty savants, but are starting to feel like people on My Cat From Hell. At least we understand that it’s not about us but Oscar’s own furry demons. It doesn’t make it easier to deal with. The good news is that our vet has a new plan: to up Oscar’s meds and change his diet. Hopefully, that will help; otherwise we may need Jackson Galaxy.

You may have noticed that I love George and Ira Gershwin’s music. This isn’t the first Gershwin tune to be the Saturday Odds & Sods theme song and it won’t be the last. Nice Work If You Can Get It was written for the 1937 Astaire-Rogers movie A Damsel In Distress. It’s lesser Astaire BUT a major Gershwin tune. I’ll shut up and let Tony Bennett and Billie Holiday carry on.

My friend Kevin at the Gambit Tabloid and I use different words to describe what’s about to happen. He calls it a jump, I call it a break. This insignificant dispute leads to the inevitable Gershwin joke: you say jump, I say break. Let’s call the whole thing off.

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Mnuchin The Mooch

To paraphrase Scott Fitzgerald, the super rich are different from you and me. That’s hardly an original insight but it certainly describes the latest antics of Donald Trump’s fellow grifter and Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin:

 On Wednesday, ABC News added fuel to that fire reporting that the Treasury Secretary requested the use of an Air Force jet on the couple’s European honeymoon this summer.

Mnuchin, 54, married the 36-year-old Linton in June and the pair later honeymooned in Scotland, France, and Italy. “Officials familiar with the matter say the highly unusual ask for a U.S. Air Force jet, which according to an Air Force spokesman could cost roughly $25,000 per hour to operate, was put in writing by the secretary’s office but eventually deemed unnecessary after further consideration of by Treasury Department officials,” according to ABC News. While the pricey lift to Europe didn’t end up happening, the request itself was unusual enough to trigger the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General to launch an inquiry into the circumstances under which Mnuchin might need a Top Gun-style honeymoon.

A Treasury spokesman explained to ABC News that the reasoning behind the request was that Mnuchin, as a member of the National Security Council, needed to maintain secure line of communication with the White House while sipping aperitivos in Italy. “The Secretary is a member of the National Security Council and has responsibility for the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence,” the spokesman said in a statement. “It is imperative that he have access to secure communications, and it is our practice to consider a wide range of options to ensure he has these capabilities during his travel, including the possible use of military aircraft.”

Holy lame excuse, Batman. Did the dog eat his briefing papers too?

I stayed out of the whole Louise Linton-Instagram fracas back in August. It was funnier than hell but it was merely a tempest in a designer teapot. Besides it was unimportant: she’s not part of Trump’s criminal enterprise masquerading as an administration. But her husband is. He also “kicked past the coverage” as my friend Cait is wont to say. In short, he’s a frog and Linton is a snooty princess much like Donald and his future ex-wife,

I’ve known some extremely wealthy individuals (used in the same way cops use the word as a synonym for skel) in my lifetime. They tend to be some of the cheapest people on the planet unless, that is, they want something from you. They rarely pay for anything: you think they got rich by throwing their dosh about? I’m sure Mnuchin doesn’t carry cash or a wallet: he’s clearly above such things since he’s a very important, very pompous man.

The mere fact that Mnuchin spent some time as a movie producer is proof positive that he’s a cheapskate and grifter. Remember the Sopranos episode where Christopher went to Hollywood to pitch Cleaver? He saw the rich getting richer with their swag bags. He wound up mugging Betty Bacall.

As a classic film fan, Tony would not have approved. Perhaps he learned about it and that was one of the reasons Tony wacked Christopher. Nah. The mouthy recovering addict thing was enough. That concludes this edition of How Life Imitates The Sopranos.

I’m sure this won’t be the last time Mnuchin pulls a stunt like this. It just goes to show that Anthony Scaramucci wasn’t the only Mooch in the Trump regime. Hence the Two Mooches meme at the top of the post. I guess Minnie couldn’t make it that day.

Instead of Cab Calloway, the last word goes to Richard Thompson with a song about greed:

 

Walter Trump: Teevee Western Con Man

Lawrence Dobkin as Walter Trump.

I usually check Snopes.com when something on the interwebs sounds either too good to be true or bogus.  It’s usually the latter. I try not to go down the Snopes rabbit hole too often because one could spend days there. It’s better when one of my friends does it for me. My old pal, fellow OG NOLA blogger, and Spank krewemate, Lisa Palumbo linked to this intriguing and surprisingly true Snopes item about a fifties teevee con man:

The television series Trackdown really did produce an episode featuring a “Trump” character who came to town claiming that only he could prevent the end of the world by building a wall (and also sold special force propelling umbrellas to deflect meteorites). The episode (S1, E30) aired on CBS in 1958 and was titled “The End of the World,” featuring actor Lawrence Dobkin playing the role of “Walter Trump.”

We even have a snippet of dialogue from the episode in question:

Narrator: The people were ready to believe. Like sheep they ran to the slaughterhouse. And waiting for them was the high priest of fraud.

Trump: I am the only one. Trust me. I can build a wall around your homes that nothing will penetrate.

Townperson: What do we do? How can we save ourselves?

Trump: You ask how do you build that wall. You ask, and I’m here to tell you.

While it’s highly unlikely that Trump was inspired by an episode of a long-forgotten teevee oater, it’s a startling coincidence. Like Donald, Walter Trump is a flim flam man selling a cure to a non-existent problem. He also claimed to be the “only one” as did the president* in his apocalyptic acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican Convention. Holy Messianic Complex, Batman.

The guy who wrote the teleplay, John Robinson, died in 1999 without revealing any Nostradamus-like qualities. He’s best-known for producing the Steve McQueen western Wanted: Dead or Alive and for writing for Dragnet. That means that, like Joe Friday, he presumably stuck to “the facts, m’am, just the facts.” Nobody would have predicted the rise of the Insult Comedian in 1958 back when candidates were usually qualified to be president. Imagine that.

There’s another difference between Real Trump and the character actor who played Reel Trump, Lawrence Dobkin. The latter was an honest bald man as you can see in the featured image above whereas Donald wears a dead nutria atop his head.

It’s gobsmacking that there was a flim flamming, wall building fictional character named Trump in 1958. It’s equally gobsmacking that I hadn’t heard about it until this morning. I only know because of my pal Lisa Pal. I’ll be a pal and post the whole damn episode of Trackdown:

I *have* written about life imitating The Sopranos but I never expected to write about life imitating Trackdown. Hell, I’d never heard of Trackdown until today. It’s a funny old world.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy

From Rock Dreams by Guy Peellaert.

We’re in the throes of our annual autumnal tease in New Orleans. Summer isn’t over yet but the lower humidity is a sign that the end is nigh. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to enjoy it since I’ve had a bug that left me woozy and congested all week. So it goes.

I’ve got nothing to complain about since Hurricane Irma is going to Florida. I always feel faintly ghoulish at this time of year. It’s not that I *want* a storm to hit Florida or Texas, I just don’t want one to visit Southeast Louisiana. I have friends in South Florida and my thoughts are with them whether they’re evacuating or hunkering. Be careful out there, y’all.

A quick note about the featured image. It comes from a 1973 coffee table book with art by Guy Peellaert and text by Nik Cohn. I chose it because it’s Hopperish: Edward, not Dennis. Rock Dreams was quite the rage when I was a young rock fan; so much so that somebody stole the book from me not long after I moved out of my parents house. Another Rock Dreams image will turn up later but not the one with the Rolling Stones as SS officers. Oy just oy.

We’re back in almost identical title/different song territory this week. Ray Davies and the Kinks and Paul Rodgers and Bad Company offer their own takes as to what a rock ‘n’ roll fantasy is. I love both songs but if I have to choose, my money is on Ray. Sorry, Paul.

The Kinks got there first so we begin with A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy from 1977’s Misfits album:

Bad Company’s less morose Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy comes from 1979’s Desolation Angels.

If you’re thinking that this week’s focus is music, you get a cookie. I’m not sure what kind but probably one with lots of nuts because Odds & Sods is a nutty feature. We’ll go from nuts to soup after the break.

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The Fog Of History: There Is No Such Thing As White Culture

I’m never certain as to whether white nationalists live in a fantasy world or a fugue state. They talk about a world that never existed with absolute certainty, which means they’re absolutely wrong. They filter everything through their warped ideology and it ends up sounding like they’ve followed Alice into the rabbit hole; a reference many of them would not get. The only Alice they know is the zany maid on The Brady Bunch. Why? They believe in white culture, and what’s whiter than the bloody, buggery, bollocky Brady Bunch?

American white nationalists like to speak in buzz words and epithets. They have a label for everyone and everything. I’m not sure what they’d call me: liberal internet snarkmeister comes to mind. One label they insist of affixing to everything is white culture. They’re a little vague as to exactly what they mean by this. High European culture? Bach was into fugues, after all. End of feeble attempt to make a fugue state pun. Do they mean American pop culture? I haven’t the foggiest and, in the end, neither do they. They’re as coherent as the President they so admire.

Speaking of cultural M*A*S*H-ups,  I’m reminded of Radar’s attempt to be cultured:

The cleverer white nationalists like to contrast African and Asian cultures unfavorably with that of Europe. They almost sound like EU fetishists when they go on about European music, literature, and history. Of course, their version sounds very little like the agreed upon facts and more like delusions. It’s always fun to see if they know how much of European high culture was the work of Jewish artists such as Gustav Mahler, his conversion notwithstanding.  They probably think Mahler has something to do with the postal service…

The vast majority of white nationalists only have a vague idea of what could be called Eurocentric culture. They call it white culture, which is something that does not exist. There is Polish culture, English culture, French culture, German culture and on and on and on. There is no such thing as a culture based on skin color, which is is a granfalloon on steroids. There are sub-cultures influenced by one’s ethnicity but there is no such thing as white culture.

American white nationalist bigots have been with us a long time. They used to belong to xenophobic groups like the Know-Nothing party and the 1920’s iteration of the KKK who were rabidly anti-Catholic. Today’s white nationalists have dropped the anti-papist rhetoric in favor of ranting about black and brown people and that old standby, the Jews. It’s an easier sell to the Trump base some of whom are Catholics who skipped the cafeteria stage…

One thing I’ve noticed in my time as a political observer is that we no longer hear much about pols seeking the votes of European ethnic groups. It used to be a big deal to go after, say, the Polish vote in Chicago, the Irish vote in Boston, the Italian vote in New York, the pan-Slavic vote in Cleveland, and the German vote in Milwaukee. That’s a radical oversimplification that leaves out many groups but it’s still pertinent to what passes for analysis in this piece.

People don’t seem to identify as much with their ethnic background as they once did. As someone who does, I’ll often ask someone if their last name is, say, Croatian. It used to be that everyone knew the root of their names but that’s increasingly less common. I guess the whole assimilation thing is working. Those European ethnic groups all had their baggage and discrete and insular prejudices but it was healthier for one to identify as, say, Polish than white.  It’s the difference between a karass and a granfalloon in Kurt Vonnegut’s fictional faith Bokononism. It may be the time for a Bokononist revival. Anyone game? At the very least, we should all read Cat’s Cradle the book from whence Bokononism sprang.

The next time someone mentions white culture as being bound up with Confederate monuments, just shake your head and walk away. I, too, am tempted to argue with them but it’s as futile as  arguing with one of the Robert E. Lee statues that are being taken down across the country. It’s a pity that they’ve settled upon harmful lies as opposed to the Bokononist idea of foma, which are:  “…harmless untruths; lies that, if used correctly, can be useful.” That’s another term for a white lie which exist whereas white culture does not.

Repeat after me: white culture does not exist, and white nationalism is the ultimate granfalloon.