Category Archives: Television

Saturday Odds & Sods: Up Above My Head

Trout and Reflected Tree by Neil Welliver.

The weather rollercoaster continues unabated in New Orleans. We’ve gone from air dish weather to heater weather and back again. One day of the French Quarter Fest was rained out, which resulted in wet tourists whining about the wash-out. It was a day I was glad to no longer be a shopkeeper. Dealing with drowned Quarter rats was never any fun.

One of Grace’s colleagues gave us fancy club seats to the Saenger Theatre’s Broadway series complete with free food and valet parking. Thanks, Ritu. We saw Rent, which I liked a lot. The best part of the evening was a bossy African-American woman usher who combined sternness and politeness.  One patron was confused about how they ordered the rows and the usher said, “You’re in row H. It’s the alphabet, m’am. It’s the alphabet.” Fuckin’ A.

You’re probably wondering why an agnostic is posting a gospel tune as this week’s theme song. It’s because Sister Rosetta Tharpe was an amazing singer, songwriter, and character.  Up Above My Head is also a real toe-tapper. What’s not to love about a church lady with an electric guitar? We have three versions: Sister Rosetta, Rhiannon Giddens, and the Jayhawks.

Now that we’re imbued with the spirit, let’s jump to the break.

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The Americans Thread: Nothing Is Everything

Nothing is going right for our characters in Mr. and Mrs. Teacup. We see everything from failed missions to projectile vomiting to looming financial failure. It’s not a pretty sight. The only good news is that arms control guy Glenn Haskard’s underdog Twins will win the 1987 World Series.

The Americans is a unique show in several ways. First, as Soviet spies, Philip and Elizabeth are the ultimate anti-heroes. They make Walter White and Tony Soprano look like small fry. Second, the Soviets lose the Cold War while winning the espionage battle, so the Jennings’ efforts are ultimately for naught. This built-in futility is one reason so many of us find the show so perversely fascinating.

Nothing Is Everything is the parenthetical part of the title of a Pete Townshend song: (Nothing Is Everything ) Let’s See Action. It’s an ode to Pete’s guru, Meher Baba, but it somehow captures the spirit of this episode for me. I’m weird that way. Let’s play it before the spoiler break:

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You Beto Your Life

It’s time to revisit the Texas senate race. Beto O’Rourke remains the underdog but I’m glad people are taking a flyer on his candidacy. If there was ever a year to try to win a statewide race in Texas, 2018 is the year. Besides, what would be sweeter than bloodying Tailgunner Ted’s nose even if he survives? It’s win-win.

I have a suggestion for the Beto Bunch. It’s in the nature of a stunt. Those of us who are old enough to have voted in 1992 should recall Chicken George. He was the dude in the chicken suit who followed Poppy Bush around. The chicken came out of the coop when Poppy initially refused to debate. It was a Democratic stunt to bug Bush and benefit the Clinton campaign. It worked.

I think the gag could be updated but with a retro twist. Not only a retro twist but another pun on the Congressman’s nickname. Puns are important, y’all.

Let me clarify something: I may be old but I’m not old enough to have seen You Bet Your Life when it first aired. I saw the re-runs. Ya got that? I don’t want to have to make like the late R Lee Ermey and go Full Metal Jacket on your asses.

Back to Grouco Marx. Anyone who has ever seen his venerable quiz show knows that there was a secret word, when a contestant said it, a duck puppet dropped down and the contestant won some cold, hard cash. The duck puppet/muppet/marionette, whatever it was, looked like Groucho and evoked Duck Soup as opposed to Daffy Duck or Duck Dunn.

I suspect you’re wondering where the 2018 tie-in is. Here it is: the Beto Bunch should station a dude in a duck suit at every Cruz event. He could carry a pole with a You Bet Your Life style duck marionette that looks, not like Groucho, but like Rafael Edward Cruz. Every time Ted lies or mentions the name Donald Trump, the Duck Dude can quack and wave the marionette.

As a reminder of Cruzian spinelessness, there could also be a sidekick waving a placard with these National Enquirer front pages:

On second thought, the placard is probably a bad idea. Some of Cruz’s supporters may be packing heat and if it’s duck season, the Duck Dude and sidekick could be in deep doo doo like Daffy.

Duck Elmer GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

This proposed stunt is a bit complicated and I realize not everyone will get the joke, but I like to be helpful. Maybe the Duck Dude could duck and cover when Cruz advocates bombing a country. The possibilities are endless as well as endlessly silly.

The last word goes to the Kinks:

Client Number 3

Everything involving Michael Cohen has a zany aspect:

In a letter Sunday night, Cohen’s attorneys claimed that Cohen had been engaged in “traditional legal tasks” with at least three clients in 2017 through 2018. The letter named President Donald Trump, who has already sought to get involved in the current dispute over the seized documents, and Elliot Broidy, a GOP fundraiser for whom Cohen arranged a hush payment for a Playboy model he impregnated, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Cohen resisted naming the third client, citing his client’s preference that his identity not be made public.

And Client Number 3 is Sean Hannity.

I wonder if hush money was involved? Hannity has always had a devoted family man facade so it if it is, this is getting juicier by the day. From now on, I shall call Hannity Client Number 3. I’d like to thank Michael Cohen for helping me out. That’s much funnier than Fox News Meathead even if the latter is true.

Pass the popcorn and cue the Hannity GIF:

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Comeypalooza 2018

Comeypalooza 2018 rolled on with his interview with my diminutive countryman, George Stephanopoulos, last night. My evil side wished they’d done it standing up since Comey is 6’8″ and George is 5’7′. Of course, such interviews are filmed with the participants seated but I can dream. This day after kinda sorta instant analysis is *not* a dream.

Watching Comey reminded me of how complex life is. I was every bit as mad at Comey as most Clinton supporters in October 2016. I excoriated him in a post entitled Easy Comey Easy Go. I even unfavorably compared his FBI to one of America’s most distinguished prosecutors, Robert Jackson. I still think he fucked up with his ham-fisted intervention in the election BUT unlike many powerful people he’s willing to admit the possibility that he made a mistake. Comey is not the “untruthful slimeball” of Trumpian tweets but a flawed human being capable of doing fine things but also capable of screwing up. Bigly.

Even if he doesn’t explicitly say that he’s trying to make up for that epic mistake in 2016, it’s obvious that he regrets any role he played in electing Donald Trump. Some of the language he used in the interview with my diminutive countryman was eye-popping. This is the money quote on Trump’s fitness to be Oval One:

A person who sees moral equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like they’re pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it, that person’s not fit to be president of the United States, on moral grounds. And that’s not a policy statement. Again, I don’t care what your views are on guns or immigration or taxes.

There’s something more important than that that should unite all of us, and that is our president must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country. The most important being truth. This president is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be president.

On balance, Comey’s role in the rolling dialogue as to whether Trump is fit to be president* is a useful one. He can be on the annoying side when he’s tending the Comey Myth but his insights into Trump’s personality are fascinating. These two men were destined to clash. They’re not just from different worlds but from different solar systems.

Watching Comey I kept thinking this guy must have been a great trial lawyer. He’s a stellar wordsmith and story-teller. Plus juries love a lawyer with a sense of humor, especially a prosecutor. Nobody expects a prosecutor to be funny. The same qualities will make him an outstanding witness for the prosecution.

The George & Jim show only ran for an hour Sunday night but the conversation went on for 5 hours. The full transcript is fascinating reading and can be found HERE.

Life Imitates The Sopranos: Michael Cohen Edition

I’ve spent a fair amount of time the last few years chastising people for comparing the Trump crime family to The Godfather. The correct comparison is The Sopranos who had a portly hot head as boss as opposed to the dignified Vito and Michael Corleone. I’m glad to see that whoever made this video Josh Marshall posted gets it.

The backdrop may be swankier than the Pork Store in Newark but the feel is the same. I wonder if Cohen ever tans himself Paulie Walnuts style?

Repeat after me: Michael Cohen is a fixer. Fixers don’t get attorney-client privilege. Just having a law degree doesn’t confer privilege on a conversation. If that were the case, my conversations with Della Street and Paul Drake would be privileged. Then the world would learn that they’re both butt-heads. Uh oh, I just pierced the human-cat privilege…

Since we have new Michael Cohen pictures it’s time for a side-by-side picture with a different Sopranos character. It could be called when Paulie met Michael:

Maybe Cohen can help Paulie find the Russian guy they lost in the Pine Barrens. Nah, that would take a modicum of competence.

Watching the video of Cohen walking the streets of New York gave me an earworm, which could be the alternate soundtrack to the Fixer stroll. That’s why the Bee Gees have the last word:

 

The Americans Thread: The Baby Spy Blues

There’s so much food chat in Urban Transport Planning that was I was tempted to call this recap Puckett and Pizza. Puckett after the Minnesota Twins great and pizza after, uh. the doughy delicacy. Glenn the arms control dude is a huge Kirby fan and his Twins were headed to a world’s championship in 1987. Other cuisines mentioned included Chinese and Russian but we’ll get to that after the spoiler break. Hint: the dishes involved are neither chow mein nor borscht. Here’s Puckett without pizza:

Glasnost era tensions continue to fill the Jennings ranch house. Philip is pro-Gorbachev whereas Elizabeth is the hard liner’s hard liner. They bicker about what people think back, back, back in the USSR until they realize the absurdity of the argument since neither has been home in 20 years. The key difference between them is that Philip likes being an American but Elizabeth hates it. It’s spy vs. spy, married couple edition.

A brief pre-spoiler break musical interlude. Macca live at Red Square in Moscow. Woo:

And yes, that *was* Putin in the crowd at the 15 second mark. Rock on, Vlad. Woo. Continue reading

The Americans Thread: Tell Tchaikovsky The News

A sense of doom and foreboding hangs over the second episode of Season-6, Tchaikovsky. Elizabeth seems to think her time on the planet is winding down. She even asks Claudia to look after Paige’s spy life after she’s gone. Remember when she hated Claudia? I do and it had nothing to do Margot Martindale turn as evil hillbilly matriarch Mags Bennett on Justified.

Division continues to be one of the main themes of Season-6. We meet an American hawk who is worried that Reagan is about to give away the nuclear store to Gorbachev. He mutters to Elizabeth about rumors that Reagan is showing signs of senility hence his arm control mania. Reagan *was* showing signs of dementia BUT underneath the bluster, Reagan had long wanted to ban nuclear weapons. He was influenced by his wife, Nancy, and by the sci-fi movies of the 1950’s. This was one time where Reagan’s movie mania put him on the side of the angels. Maybe he was afraid of turning into The Fly after seeing David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake:

Jeff Goldblum GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Now that I’ve grossed you out, it’s spoiler break time. But first, here’s the lone rock song used during the episode. The producers have a thing for Talking Heads. Besides, what’s slipperier than a spy? Only Jeff Goldblum as The Fly. My, my, my.

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They Can’t Help Themselves

In the spirit of the week after Holy Week, I thought I’d write about the disgusting attacks on the Parkland kids by adults. The attacks keep backfiring, leading to apologies from Frank Stallone, Laura Ingraham, and others. Ingraham famously apologized  in the “spirit of Holy Week.” Does that mean she wouldn’t apologize for sliming David Hogg on another week? All Ingraham and her lorons care about is saving advertisers and her shitty show.

Attacking teenagers, tweens, and even younger chirren is not a good look for grown ass adults, but it’s not uncommon on the right. Fox News is a repository (suppository?) of attacks on younger Americans. (It’s particularly  weird for those of us who experienced the young conservatives of the 1980’s who saw Reagan as their political grandpa and became tribal Republicans.)  And it’s not just in the more out of sorrow than anger”kids today” manner, it’s out-and-out hostility:

In the month and a half since the shooting in Parkland, FL, Ingraham herself has said the Parkland students should not be given “special consideration” on gun policy; told her viewers that the March 14 student walkout wasn’t some sort of “organic outpouring of youthful rage,” but rather “nothing but a left-wing, anti-Trump diatribe”; and complained that anti-abortion protesters didn’t get the same attention. Two of Fox’s other primetime hosts, Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, both dismissed the students as pawns being manipulated by gun control advocates. Carlson went a step further, calling the students “self-righteous kids” who “weren’t helping at all” and comparing them to Mao’s Red Guards. The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway, who is also a Fox News contributor, dismissed the students as just “children, not founts of wisdom,” and Fox & Friends Weekend host Pete Hegseth responded to the student-organized March For Our Lives by angrily commenting, “Spare me if I don’t want to hear the sanctimoniousness of a 17-year-old.” Fox’s sustained and hostile attacks on students in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting fit right into the network’s years-long pattern of insulting and belittling students and children.

Wingnuts have only one mode: attack mode. They do it when it won’t work and when it will backfire with anyone *outside* the bubbly right-wing echo chamber. Carlson, Hannity, Ingraham, and their ilk don’t understand how they sound to average Americans because they seem to only talk to people who agree with them. They certainly only care about those people. It’s why they can’t help themselves.

The 24-hour (minute? second?) news cycle and social media can be wonderful things. They can also be dangerous when used by people with no impulse control who don’t seem to realize that what they say and/or tweet is public and archivable. It’s getting harder and harder to trash talk people behind their backs because slurs live forever on the interweb. Impulse control is out of fashion because of the Current Occupant who was born in a bubble and basks in the glow of the bubbly right-wing echo chamber. The Insult Comedian sets the tone for his acolytes, which is why it’s ugly out there and getting uglier every day.

Remember when we had a president who thought before speaking and didn’t trash everyone who disagreed with him? It wasn’t that long ago. It can happen here again.

When I say that the wingnuts and gun nuts can’t help themselves, I’m not excusing their malakatude and verbal diarrhea. It’s a feeble attempt to explain why they do the things they do.  Attacking the Parkland kids is not going to work. It would be better for the flying monkeys of the far right to say something like, “I’m sorry they’ve been traumatized but I disagree with them.” How hard is that? Too hard for them, apparently. Since they live inside the bubbly right-wing echo chamber, they can’t help themselves.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Be Cruel

Two Flags by Jasper Johns.

I suspect you recognize the featured image. I’ve used it many times during government shutdowns; most notably in my epic America Held Hostage series in 2013. It’s nice to have some Jasper Johns flags about the virtual house to plug-in when the GOP next decides to shut the government down. If only they’d shut their fucking mouths…

Easter Sunday and April Fool’s Day coincide this year. I  expect more bunny related hoaxes than resurrection pranks. The pagan spring fertility thing is more palatable than what Easter means to believers. I’m not one but I like holidays to be straightforward. Now that I think of it, I’m surprised that the biblebangers have never banged on about a war on Easter. It’s bound to happen, they’re the whiniest people in the country. It’s probably why they like the Insult Comedian. It can’t be the hair.

This week’s theme song was written by Otis Blackwell in 1956. Don’t Be Cruel was originally the B-Side of Elvis’ Hound Dog 45 before becoming a hit in its own right. We have two versions of the Blackwell song for your listening pleasure. One from Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show, the other from Cheap Trick.

It’s time for Nick Lowe’s variation on the cruelty theme with Cruel To Be Kind on Live From Daryl’s House:

Now that we’ve declared our hostility to cruelty, let’s jump, jive, and wail to the break.

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The Americans Thread: When Oleg Met Philip

I was on the fence about recapping the sixth and final season of The Americans. But the minute the episode commenced with Don’t Dream It’s Over, I was hooked, fished in, captured, and dragged off to a safe house.

There’s been a substantial time shift. The show has moved forward three years to 1987. Holy Quantum Leap, Batman. A lot happened during those three years, especially the seismic changes brought about by the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev. Everyone on both sides is divided as to how to deal with Gorby including our characters.

The 1987 divide remains resonant in 2018. America is badly divided and it’s partially due to Russia. The victory of the “Russian good guys” was ephemeral. We know where Putin stood at the time and he continues to promote irredentist policies to avenge the demise of the Soviet Union. Spies are back in vogue on the Volga.

Before our spoiler break, let’s squeeze into a Crowded House:

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Stormy Sunday: An Interesting Anticlimax

The tweeter tube was wild before Anderson Cooper’s interview with Stormy Daniels aired. They were impatient with the Kansas-Duke overtime whereas I was thrilled to watch Coach Buy-A-Vowel suffer after screwing up at the end of regulation by not calling a time-out. Coach K struck out.

The hype over AC/Stormy was overwhelming. There was no way it could have lived up to expectations greater than Pip’s and it did not. I was underwhelmed by the hype. I hate hype and always view it with skepticism.

People were hoping that the Stormy/Stephanie interview would be the magic bullet that would slay the monster. It was not, unless that is, Michael Cohen is the monster you had in mind. CBS has reported Trump and his Fixer dined at the White House the night before the interview. Presumably, Cohen ate well-done steak and kissed Don Donaldo Il Insulto Comico’s ring as well as his copious rump. Cohen will continue to maintain his Don had nothing to with the hush money. Nobody will believe him. He’s the perfect patsy.

As to the interview itself, not much new news was made but Stormy/Stephanie was very impressive. She came off more like the madam in a Western than a stripper/porn actress. I’m not sure if she was more  Joanie Stubbs in Deadwood or Miss Kitty in Gunsmoke:

Whatever she is, Stormy/Stephanie was impressive and, more importantly, credible. Her portrayal of Trump as a buffoonish blowhard rang true and she didn’t overstate. I suspect some people hoped that she’d denounce him as a monster and the worst president* ever but that would not have been as effective.

Trump comes off as pitiful. He’s definitely got the worst and creepiest pickup line of all-time: “You remind me of my daughter.” He deserved the spanking he got from her just for that line.

I admit to hoping that Stephanie/Stormy would show a bill from an abortion provider that was paid for by Donald Trump. The only new news was this description of the wise guy style threat she received in Vegas, baby:

Daniels said she was on her way to a fitness class with her infant daughter in Las Vegas when she was accosted in the parking lot.

“A guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’ And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ And then he was gone,” she said.

This sounds like something Cohen would hire someone to do but he’s denied it and she, quite rightly, did not tie it to Trump’s Fixer. The Fixer’s lawyer sent a cease and desist letter to Stormy/Stephanie, which will be ignored. Along with flawed non-disclosure agreements, cease and desist letters are a dime-a-dozen in Trumpworld,

I’m not sure where this story goes next. Team Stormy was wise to put her on 60 Minutes, which shows that she’s not in it for a quick pay-off. I don’t think it’s going to cost Trump the support of the horny louts who comprise a slice of his base base. It’s part of the steady drip, drip, drip of scandal. It’s certainly easier for people to understand than Kremlingate. Up to now, the volume of scandals has helped Trump but in the long run, the fog of scandal may prove to be his undoing.

Finally, my favorite part of AC/Stormy fest was when she described Trump watching Shark Week on teevee during their second meeting. I’d like to thank the good people at Slate’s Brow Beat for figuring out which episode it was.

I’m pretty sure Trump identifies with the shark. The problem for him is that the real shark in this case is Team Stormy’s Michael Avenatti, not Michael Cohen who is a fixer, not a litigator. This brings to mind a classic lawyer joke:

Why won’t a shark attack a lawyer swimming in the ocean?
Professional courtesy.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Caravan

The Egg by Tarsila do Amaral.

We suffered from weather whiplash in New Orleans this week. It was 84 degrees on Monday within 36 hours the temperature had dropped 40 degrees. My, my, my.

It’s election day in next door Jefferson Parish where they’re about to elect a new Sheriff. Long-time incumbent Newell Normand resigned last summer to become a talk radio big mouth. I don’t get talk radio: the idea of listening to anyone bloviate for three hours does not float my boat. It might even sink it.

The one certainty of the race is that a Republican with an Italian name will be elected. Interim Sheriff Joe Lopinto was anointed by Normand who, in turn, was anointed by the late Harry Lee. His opponent, John Fortunato, was the department spokescop for many years. He’s best known for bringing Steven Seagal and his crappy reality cop show, Lawman, to Jefferson Parish.

If Lopinto wins, it may be down to an error made on live teevee by Fortunato. He said that he’d support pervy parish President Mike Yenni about whom I’ve written in this space. Oopsie. He changed his mind but the damage was done. This ad tying the unfortunate Fortunato to Yenni has been running constantly this week:

It’s a powerful job and Lopinto has momentum as the campaign winds down. Winning the election could be a guarantee of lifelong employment: Lopinto is only the fourth Sheriff since 1964.

Welcome to Disambiguation City with this week’s theme song. (It’s not far from Sufragette City. Wham, bam, thank you m’am.) We have three different songs titled Caravan for your listening pleasure. I give you in chronological order: Duke Ellington, Van Morrison with The Band, and Todd Rundgren and Utopia.

Now that we’ve ridden across Eastern Europe with a Romany/Gypsy caravan, it’s time to jump to the break. Happy landings.

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When Scandals Collide

I’ve considered starting a regular feature: the scandal of the week. The problem with that notion is that it’s more like the scandal of the day, hour, or second. There are so many Trump administration* scandals, that my head is spinning like Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist:

We’ll skip the projectile vomiting GIF even though Team Trump makes me wanna hurl.

One of the funnier minor scandals is brain-dead retired brain surgeon Dr. Ben Carson’s $31K table at HUD. He’s acting like a character in a sitcom and blaming his wife. You cannot make this shit up, y’all.

This tweet from a Herriman biographer and Laissez Boy Michael Tisserand sums it up:

Of course, Ralph Kramden was smarter than Ben Carson. I’ve decided Dr. Ben is a surgical savant. The man is a blithering idiot in the rest of life. He should heed my advice in this post from 2015: Brain Surgeon, Heal Thyself. I lied about the advice thing. I mocked him relentlessly in that piece. Trumper mendacity appears to be contagious.

Looks like I got sidetracked by what is best described as a brain surgeon fart. The focus of this post is *supposed* to be the two scandals that are consuming the president*: Kremlingate and the Stephanie Clifford Shitstormy. You can tell that Trumpy has retreated to the panic room of his mind when he attacks Hillary Clinton and tweets WITCH HUNT, WITCH HUNT. Insult Comedian meet Kaiser of Chaos.

Trump knows from witch hunters, his mentor the dread, as well as dead, Roy Cohn was Tailgunner Joe McCarthy’s sidekick. Cohn may have been an evil asshole but he was an excellent lawyer as opposed to the misfits, has-beens, never-wases, and wannabes Trump has assembled.  There’s been tremendous turmoil and tumult on Trump’s legal team: they’re playing T-Ball while Team Mueller is playing hardball. It’s been hilarious to watch Dowdy, the Mustache Man, and company bumble. Making matters worse, Trump has added Fox News conspiracy theorist Joseph  diGenova to the team; mostly because he saw him lying on Fox and Friends or some such shit. Shit meet storm.

In the Stormy Daniels case, Trump’s mouthy fixer, Michael Cohen, is up against a superb lawyer, Michael Avenatti. Cohen and his idiot client have stumbled into every trap laid by the cunning Avenatti. The non-disclosure agreement was supposed to keep Trump out of it by calling him David Dennison: chili magnet. Instead, Trumpy filed a massive counter-suit thereby outing himself. Dumbass.

Like Putin, Stormy/Stephanie must have some serious dirt on Trump or he wouldn’t be fighting back so hard. We all know that the overgrown, brain addled frat boys who make up much of Trump’s base envy his affairs with porn stars and Playboy playmates. My hunch is that he’s one of those rich guys who’s submissive and likes his bum bashed. That would not go down well with his debased base who mysteriously think this whiny baby man is a stud. Once again, weak lawyering makes Trump’s situation worse: Michael Cohen is a fixer, not a litigator. He’s in quite a fix right now.

The Stormy/Stephanie shit storm is a mere sideshow to the main event: Kremlingate. Trump is thrashing about, threatening people, and acting like a methy teenager. For the moment, he seems to have abandoned the “be nice to the wolf at your door” approach preferred by Cobby and Dowdy. That does not mean he plans to fire Bobby Three Sticks. Plan is a word that is not in the Insult Comedian’s vocabulary. Anyone who tells you that the Kaiser of Chaos is either going to fire or not fire Mueller is talking through their hat as a character in a Thirties Warner Brothers film would surely say at this pont. Nobody knows. Deranged people are unpredictable. He’s likely to do anything. Right now, he’s dangerous because he’s cornered. I have studied this president* very closely and cannot say for certain what will happen next. Believe me.

We had something confirmed last week with the firing of Andrew McCabe. In addition to liking blondes with big boobs, Donald Trump is a sadist and Jeff Sessions is a weakling. Firing McCabe at 10PM right before he planned to retire is an act of petty vengeance that will backfire. It’s called witness tampering and it’s something that Roy Cohn and your basic mob lawyers are adept at. Cohn would not have done it openly and never would have bragged about it on twitter. Of course, he died in 1986 but maybe they have social media in hell.

The Congressional Republican leadership continues to pretend all is well and that Trumpy is normal and worthy of defending. If the president* were not guilty, he would not be trying to derail the Mueller investigation both publicly and privately. He’s acting guilty because he is. The good news is that his efforts are clumsy and stupid. The bad news is that this criminal was elected at all.

Watching scandals collide is not pretty. It’s what Gret Stet Senator John Neely Kennedy would call “as ugly as boiled sin.” Stay tuned. The worst is yet to come.

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Irish Rover

High Spring Tide by Jack Butler Yeats.

The Irish Channel Saint Patrick’s Day parade is on the day itself this year. I’m not sure if this will increase drunken revelry but I plan to do some day drinking. Dr. A and I have been going to our friends Greg and Christy’s open house for the last 11 or 12 years. It’s hard to be precise since whiskey and beer are involved. Whiskey, of course, is the devil.

The big local news is the death of New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson at the age of 90. The local media has done some cringeworthy coverage of this gruff car dealer whose demeanor and voice reminded me of Archie Bunker. The hagiography is a bit much given Benson’s attempt to move the Saints to his *other* hometown of San Antonio as the region reeled from the Katrina and the Federal Flood. He sent his image to rehab with donations to charity, the Super Bowl win didn’t hurt either. He was also a supporter of the GOP and other dubious conservative rich guy causes. As Archie would surely say at this point, goodnight nurse.

This week’s featured image is by the Irish painter Jack Butler Yeats. And, yes, he was related to the poet William Butler Yeats: he was his kid brother. I’m uncertain as to whether he was a pesky one. It would be poetic justice if he were…

Our theme song is a traditional Irish folk song. The Pogues and the Dubliners recorded The Irish Rover together in 1987. It was a hit in Ireland and the UK.

Now that we’ve taken a trip on a ill-fated ship, let’s jump to the break and hope we land in a lifeboat.

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The Fixer

I’ve written about Michael Cohen before. He was malaka of the week in July, 2015 because of an incident involving Trump’s first ex-wife Ivanka. At that point, I viewed him as a peripheral player in Trump World. In 2018, I think he may be the linchpin to the Insult Comedian’s relationship to dirty Russian and Ukrainian money. Why? He’s Trump’s fixer.

Cohen is currently trying to fix the Trump-Stormy Daniels mishigas. I’m one of the few people who believes that Cohen *may* have paid off the porn star girlfriend with his own money. But I don’t believe that he mortgaged his house to do it. Cohen allegedly owns an apartment building in New York City for which he paid $55 million. Does that sound like a cash strapped guy to you? I think he’s working a future jury pool by posing as a working class lawyer. It’s a lie but what else would you expect from Trump’s fixer?

Here’s the reason I think Cohen might have paid hush money to Stephanie Clifford. He wants to impress and/or pay tribute to the boss. His relationship to Don Donaldo Il Comico Insulto is akin to a Mafia wise guy-don relationship. That’s why I’ve paired him with Soprano family consigliere Silvio Dante. It’s easy to imagine Silvio or one of the capos paying off someone for Tony. Once again life imitates The Sopranos.

The Sopranos analogy breaks down because Tony was *sometimes* loyal to his crew and might have even paid his fixer back. Trump is legendary for disloyalty and refusing to repay debts. That’s right, Don Donaldo is worse than Tony Soprano.

The last word goes to Pearl Jam, not the E Street Band. Sorry, Little Steven.

 

Quote Of The Day: Lost Cause Monuments Edition

Photograph via CBS News.

60 Minutes had a doubleheader last night. I used to be a devoted viewer until the Lara Logan fiasco and the addition of the dread Oprah to the roster. That’s neither here not there: they still do some fine work.

Anderson Cooper did a segment about the monuments controversy covering both New Orleans and Richmond, VA. Outgoing Mayor Mitch Landrieu got off several good lines. This was the money quote:

Anderson Cooper: You look at these monuments. You wouldn’t know the Confederacy lost.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu: Well, that was the whole point. The whole point was to convince people that actually they won, and even in their defeat, it was a noble cause. And of course, the whole point of this is to– is to confront history. I mean, this wasn’t an LSU-Alabama football game where it didn’t matter who won and lost, and you just got braggin’ rights. I mean, we were talkin’ about millions of people enslaved, 600,000 American citizens were killed, and they were trying to destroy the country.

I have mixed feelings about the second Landrieu mayoralty (the first was his father’s run from 1970-1978) but his handling of monuments issue was a high point. The removal of the massive Lee statute was a particular triumph as it loomed over the city. Lee and his ilk did not fight for a noble cause, they were traitors pure and simple.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Heart Of Gold

Tree Of Life by Gustav Klimt.

The weather is playing tricks on us. We’re having February weather in March. That’s fine with me. It beats the hell out of an early New Orleans summer. But the cool temperatures have brought the pollen that torments me in the Spring. Achoo.

In local news, the Mississippi River is on the rise, so it’s time to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway to divert river water into Lake Pontchartrain to prevent flooding. It has me pondering the way folks in South Louisiana pronounce French words. We’re usually off but as not badly as with the Spillway: the local media insist on saying Bonny Carry. That sounds like a blue-haired old lady up river in Duluth. It drives me nuts, y’all. I feel like taking a stroll up Charters (Chartres) Street.

This week’s theme songs are inspired by the layers of golden pollen that are everywhere in Uptown New Orleans. Achoo. Neil Young’s Heart Of Gold was the first of many sonic departures he was to take in his career. It worked: it was Neil’s first big solo hit.

Ray Davies has told two stories about the Kinks’ Heart Of Gold. One is that it was inspired by the birth of his daughter. The other story is that it was inspired by Princess Ann telling some photographers to “naff off.” Only Ray knows for sure. If you asked him, I suspect he’d come up with a third story.

I love Ray’s chorus:

Underneath that rude exterior,
There’s got to be a heart of gold.
Underneath that hard exterior,
Is a little girl waiting to be told,
You’ve got a heart of gold.
She’s got a heart of gold.

Let’s take our rude and hard exteriors and jump to the break. “Watch out, don’t get caught in the crossfire.”

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Malaka Of The Week: Sam Nunberg

Former Trump adviser and Roger Stone protegé Sam Nunberg had a manic Monday. I’m uncertain if it was performance art, an emotional meltdown or both, but it was a spectacular spectacle. And that is why Sam Nunberg is malaka of the week.

Nunberg worked for Trump for five years. He was ousted when the dread Corey Lewandowski became campaign manager. Nunberg blames Lewandowski and Hope Hicks for drawing attention to a bigoted tweet that proved to be his undoing. Ironic, innit? Half of the Insult Comedian’s tweets are bigoted and he won the electoral college. It’s good to be quasi king.

A subpoena from Team Mueller triggered Nunberg’s epic meltdown/publicity stunt. He did four, count ’em four, cable news interviews: two with CNN and MSNBC each. The craziest of the bunch was the one he did with Ari Melber on The Beat. The beat did indeed go on and on and on and on as did Nunberg.

Nunberg spent the segment asking for legal advice and bragging about how he planned to defy the subpoena because he didn’t have time to comply. Additionally, he called Trump stupid and the “most disloyal person you’ll ever meet.” My favorite bit was when he told Sarah Huckabee Sanders to shut up. The entire White House press corps has wanted to do so but have bit their collective tongues until they bled.

Despite the attacks, I wonder if Nunberg was trying to impress the president* with his brash bluster and bravado. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s method to Nunberg’s malakatude, not madness. That’s what New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi and the Atlantic’s McKay  Coppins think and they know him better that the twitteratti. Here’s what the man with the Dickensian name wrote about Nunberg Monday:

But as anyone who’s known Nunberg for a while can attest, his behavior Monday doesn’t necessarily require special explanation. He’s been pulling stunts like this for years—this is just the first time he’s gotten the kind of audience he’s always craved.

I think that’s right. It was a tabloid stunt worthy of the Real Housewives of New Jersey. It’s just a pity that Nunberg didn’t flip a table: he might have gotten a rise out of CNN’s Jake Tapper or Erin Burnett. The latter insisted Nunberg had boozy breath, which wouldn’t surprise me in the least. He denied it, but who believes anything he says?

In the end, Nunberg appears ready to comply after his enormous meltdown/publicity stunt. Wise choice: Bobby Three Sticks will insist. I’m sure Numberg impressed Roger Stone, which doubtless was one of his goals. And that is why Sam Nunberg is malaka of the week.

The Nunbergian stunt gave me an earworm. He’ll have to comply with the subpoena or go to jail. They’ll give him no choice in the matter. The last word goes to Aimee Mann:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Love For Sale

At The Moulin Rouge by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

It’s been a relatively uneventful week at Adrastos World HQ. My cold has gone; only to be replaced by allergies since we’ve gone from winter to late spring without skipping a beat.  It’s hard to believe how damn cold it was just a few weeks ago when we’re slowly moving into air-dish season.  The good news is that a cool front just arrived. It won’t last long but we can dream, dream, dream.

The Toulouse-Lautrec featured image was inspired by a local news story. Last month, some Bourbon Street dancers staged a protest after a police crackdown on strip clubs in the Quarter. They had a lot of support in the community because New Orleans has always had strip clubs and always will. We’ve also always had people who wanted to close or tightly restrict the clubs. The beat goes on.

I suppose I should apologize for using a Cole Porter song for the second time in a month. I decline to do so: Cole was the master. Love For Sale was my earworm when I wrote the Senator For Sale post last Monday. That’s why it’s the theme song. I hope you won’t give me a Cole shoulder for being repetitive…

We have two radically different versions of Porter’s Love For Sale. First,  Anita O’Day’s torchy and sultry version recorded in 1959 with Billy May and his big band. Second, Miles Davis from Kind Of Blue featuring some of his best sidemen: Trane and Cannonball among others.

I should have mentioned the great Bill Evans but he didn’t have a colorful nickname. He was merely a brilliant pianist and arranger.

It’s title disambiguation time. That’s a big word but I bet the brainy members of Talking Heads know it:

Now that I’ve sold you love or some such shit, let’s jump to the break before you demand a refund.

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