Category Archives: Television

The Trumpcine?

It’s been swell taking a Trump break. I made a conscious decision to reduce the number of former guy posts. All he’s done since leaving office is lie about the election and everything else. He hasn’t made any news, fake or otherwise until last weekend.

The RNC had its winter retreat at Mar-a-Doorn, if only they’d retreat from their 2016 and 2020 nominee. The joint was jumping with party luminaries and potential 2024 candidates who are Trumpier than the original model.

The keynote speaker was the Kaiser of Chaos. It was a litany of familiar grievances, attacks on fellow GOPers, and lies but he added something new:

The former president said, without saying who, that someone recently suggested to him that the coronavirus vaccine should be called the “Trumpcine.” He bragged about his handling of the pandemic, dismissing the widespread criticism of his approach and not mentioning the more than 500,000 who have died of covid-19.

The Trumpcine? Uh, Donald they name vaccines after living viruses, not living people or monsters in your case.

Just imagine people calling it the Trump Harumph instead of the Fauci Ouchie. Ugh, just ugh.

If the Kaiser of Chaos wants a vaccine named for him, it would be nice if he’d actively promote its use. Never gonna happen, my friend. I’m stealing Paul Reiser’s catchphrase since we’re rewatching Mad About You. I only steal from the best, my friend.

We could, however, use a vaccine against Trumpism and all the forces that former President* Pennywise has unleashed.

If only there was a jab that could cure white supremacy, anti-Semitism, QAnon delusions, and the other maladies that exploded during the Trump Regime. I’d love to jab away my memories of his presidency* as if it were one of those movies or teevee shows that turns out to have been a dream like St. Elsewhere. Now, that would be a happy ending.

In other Trump related news, the investigations in Atlanta and Manhattan are heating up. The Manhattan DA’s office seems to be mounting a full court press to flip the man who knows where Trump’s financial bodies are buried, Alan Weisselberg. Circling around his son, who seems to have lived large and largely tax-free on Trump’s dime, is a classic prosecution tactic. There are no pardons to dangle this time. Break a leg, y’all.

I have a dream that sometime this year, I will augment my original nickname for the former guy and call him the Indicted Impeached Insult Comedian. Make it so, prosecutors, make it so.

Let’s circle back to the Trumpcine with a last word from Roseanne Cash:

Saturday Odds & Sods: A Hard Day’s Night

My second jab side effects were worse than the first but only lasted for 3 days then vanished. It was weird to walk like a drunk when  stone cold sober, which is why I spent most of my time on the couch.

When did the furniture people start calling a couch a sofa? I can go either way, but sofa potato isn’t as evocative as couch potato. I wonder which one the man who couldn’t spell potatoes, J Danforth Quayle, uses. Ah, the small mysteries of life.

I’m still watching bits and bobs of the Chauvin trial. My dislike for defense lawyer, Eric Nelson grows daily. If I were devising a drinking game for the trial every time he says “right” “correct” “agree” you take a shot. A surefire way to get shit faced drunk, right?

Despite the album cover featured image, it’s Saturday, not Wednesday. I didn’t mean to confuse anyone; that was a lie, I take great joy in sowing confusion across the land instead of either sleeping like a log or working like a dog.

This week’s theme song was written by Lennon and McCartney in 1964 for the movie of the same title. It has always been one of my favorite Beatles tunes. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We have four versions of A Hard Day’s Night for your listening pleasure: the Fab Four, Perez Prado, the Smithereens, and Miss Peggy Lee.

Peggy Lee? Yes, Norma Engstrom herself. Paul McCartney was a big fan and gave her a song to record after seeing her perform in London in 1974.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Since that’s my favorite Beatley quote, here’s the song it comes from; in German too.

Ja, ja, ja.

Let’s jump to the break. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

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Friday Catblogging: The Wee Bairn On The Wash Stand

Dr. A and I just finished binging the fabulous British TV show, Vera. We’ve fallen under the spell of Brenda Blethyn and use several of her catchphrases when addressing Claire Trevor. That’s why we call her the Wee Bairn, which is a Northern English and Scottish expression for a baby and a wee one at that. Beats the hell outta calling her the Terror of Tiny Town.

More Hick Schtick From John Neely Kennedy

The junior Senator from the Gret Stet of Louisiana is the man I love to hate. I considered two Sue Grafton inspired titles for this post, P Is For Phony or H Is For Hypocrite, before settling on this one. It would take a crack detective such as Kinsey Milhone to locate Neely’s integrity, after all.

Neely loves to go on teevee and denounce the liberals; one of whom he used to be. That was before he lowered his political IQ and became a Fox News favorite. He did it again the other day but first some background snark about Neely’s hick schtick.

As Treasurer of the Gret Stet of Louisiana for seventeen years, Neely was a publicity hound, but his brand was as a skinflint guarding the public coffers against both Democrats and Republicans, not the rabid wingnut of today. He was every bit as hard on Bobby Jindal as on his Democratic predecessor, Kathleen Blanco. Of course, he was a Democrat until 2007.

Neely didn’t start hicking up his accent and speaking style until he changed parties. Before then, he was not ashamed of being well-educated and articulate. The dumbing down began in his second run for the US Senate in 2008 against incumbent Mary Landrieu who had also served as Gret Stet Treasurer.

Neely perfected his hick schtick in his successful run for the Senate in 2016. Having secured the prize he’d spent his entire life chasing, he became one of the loudest Trump sycophants and enablers in a Republican party full of them. I wrote a long piece for Bayou Brief in 2018 about what I called his Neelyisms: the cornpone “wisdom” he dispenses on the boob tube.

The Neelyisms stopped being funny when he started using them to defend retrograde, racist, and downright stupid policies. After the slaughter in Boulder, Colorado he said that what America needed was idiot control, not gun control. He’s not really an idiot, he just plays one on teevee.

Neely popped up on Fox News the other day and deployed his cornpone “wisdom” against Major League Baseball for relocating the All Star Game from Atlanta to Denver:

Forget Mars. We need to search for intelligent life in the Major League Baseball commissioner’s office. I have never seen anything like this. Commissioner Manfred has a fiduciary responsibility to Major League Baseball. His job is to do the very best that he can not to suck. He has failed at that. Think about what he’s done. Major League Baseball is losing popularity to football and other sports. His job is to grow it. So what is the first thing he does? He decides to get involved in national politics and alienate hundreds of millions of Americans who actually like the Georgia bill and think that it is an honest effort for election security.

The commissioner hasn’t explained why he thinks these hundreds of millions of Americans who support the Georgia effort are a bunch of racists. He hasn’t bothered to explain why he thinks the bill is racist. The only excuse I can think is he made all of these decisions after his morning beer. I have never seen anything like it. It costs $150 to attend a major league baseball game in some cities. Is this going to encourage people to go? I just don’t think so.

This has nothing to do with Jackie Robinson. It has nothing to do with race.

It has everything to do with race, Senator. In fact, Jackie Robinson was born in Georgia, but his family fled Jim Crow and moved to California in search of a better life.

Republicans are afraid that they’re losing their grip on power in Georgia, so that state’s lege passed an atrocious bill that overwhelmingly effects black voters who are overwhelmingly Democratic. It might as well be called the Beat Raphael Warnock Bill.  One would think that logic would reach a man who was an adjunct professor at LSU law school for 14 years, but he’s only interested in the next election. His election.

Neely is also fond of mocking diversity and claiming that racism is not systematic. Our old pal Deep Blog saw the faux idiot on Faux News the other day and got a bellyful of his pseudo ignorant spiel. He sent me a screen shot of Vanderbilt University’s yearbook from 1973. John Neely Kennedy is second from the right on the top row:

The observant among you have surely noticed that, except for two Asian dudes, everyone on this page is of one race. It explains a lot about John Neely Kennedy. He not only mocks diversity, he’s uncomfortable with it. Imagine that.

Presumably, Vanderbilt is considerably more diverse in 2021 than it was in Neely’s day, which was a mere 9 years after that pricey private school was fully desegregated. In the Seventies, Black Commodores were still rare on the University’s Nashville campus unless some students owned records by the band then fronted by Lionel Richie.

John Neely Kennedy is a cornpone con man who thinks diversity is for suckers. To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, Neely talks loudly and carries a hick schtick. I look forward to voting against him in 2022.

Since Neely is so fond of guns, the last word goes to The Commodores with the title track of their debut album:

Gaetzgate: Blankety Blank

We begin with a couple of housekeeping notes. I wrote my maiden Gaetzgate post before hearing that the Panhandle Pinhead himself made a request:

I’ve decided to take pity on a doomed pol and spell it his way instead of in all-caps. Who knew that the Panhandle Pinhead’s fellow whiny man baby had the wit to make such a good pun?

Since Gaetz allegedly sough a blanket pardon, the phrase blankety blank immediately came to mind. I didn’t realize that it was the name of the UK equivalent of The Match Game. Where have you gone Gene Rayburn, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Brett Somers? They’re all long dead, alas.

Dead is also the word that best describes Matt Gaetz’s political career. It’s so dead that not even the Impeached Insult Comedian could revive it. He’s yet to defend his little friend, Matt; only Gym Jordan and Marjorie Taylor Greene have done so. How’s that for:

I know I’ve made that joke before but I can’t get enough of it. That concludes the classic rock jokes section of the post.

How was that for an epic opening tangent? It’s windy even by my standards.

Let’s move on to the opening lines I wrote immediately upon hearing about the latest Gaetzgate twist:

Blankets have been in the news recently. First Andrew Cuomo, now Matt Gaetz.

in the final weeks of Mr. Trump’s term, Mr. Gaetz sought something in return. He privately asked the White House for blanket pre-emptive pardons for himself and unidentified congressional allies for any crimes they may have committed, according to two people told of the discussions.

Around that time, Mr. Gaetz was also publicly calling for broad pardons from Mr. Trump to thwart what he termed the “bloodlust” of their political opponents. But Justice Department investigators had begun questioning Mr. Gaetz’s associates about his conduct, including whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old that violated sex trafficking laws, in an inquiry that grew out of the case of an indicted associate in Florida.

It was unclear whether Mr. Gaetz or the White House knew at the time about the inquiry, or who else he sought pardons for. Mr. Gaetz did not tell White House aides that he was under investigation for potential sex trafficking violations when he made the request. But top White House lawyers and officials viewed the request for a pre-emptive pardon as a nonstarter that would set a bad precedent, the people said.

An idea so bad that even Team Trump flinched at the notion? That makes it a *really* bad even rotten idea. The whole Trump era could be summed up by the title of this failed Mel Brooks sitcom:

While Gaetz may not have known that a gate was to be affixed to his name when he begged for a pardon, he knew that his little friend Josh Greenberg was in deep shit and sinking fast. My hunch is that Greenberg was to be covered in the blankety blank blanket pardon. But was the My Pillow Guy involved? What’s a blanket without a pillow? I deserve to be given sheet for that joke…

I eagerly await the Panhandle Pinhead’s next PR gaffe. Who will he drag into his mess next: Hannity? KMac? BillO? Donnie Junior?

Stay tuned.

The last word goes to The Kinks:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Roll Away The Stone

Notre Dame by Pablo Picasso.

I’ve already blasphemed about Easter in my Son Of Jab Talking post so I’ll resist the urge here. Besides, how can a non-believer blaspheme? A question for the ages.

This week’s theme song was written in 1974 by Ian Hunter for Mott The Hoople’s The Hoople album. They’re one of my favorite bands of that era; all flash and swagger. I like flash and swagger in a rock band.

I saw Mott perform live on that tour on a bill with BTO and a totally unknown band from Boston, Aerosmith. Great show although I’m not sure what Mormon rocker Randy Bachman thought of Ian Hunter and Steven Tyler; not to mention Mott guitarist Ariel Bender. That’s a stage name: his real moniker is nearly as colorful, Luther Grosvenor.

We move from glam rock to roots rock with this week’s co-theme song. It was written by Michael Dempsey and Leon Russell for the latter’s eponymous debut album:

Two more songs with stone in the title:

Let’s crawl to the break then jump if such a thing is feasible.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Pennies From Heaven

Photograph by Stanley Kubrick.

I committed a faux pas the other day and accidentally published something. I planned to curate a quote from a marvelous teevee essay by MSNBC’s Laurence O’Donnell about our border issues. Instead the whole damn  thing went out raw and I pulled it after it lingered overnight. Here’s a link to the transcript. Scroll down 3/4 of the way and Bob’s your uncle. Make that Uncle Laurence. I’m neither Irish nor from Boston but I’ll claim him.

In jab talking news, Governor Edwards has opened COVID vaccinations to all Gret Steters over the age of 16. I welcome everyone to the Half Vaccinated club. On April 3rd, I will enter of the realm of the fully vaccinated. Cue sigh of relief.

Our theme song continues the flow of the week. In this case from my most recent 13th Ward Rambler column. Pennies From Heaven was written in 1936 by Arthur Johnstone and Johnny Burke. It’s been a hit more times and by more artists that you can shake a stick at. Why one would do such a thing is beyond me.

We have three versions of Pennies From Heaven for your listening pleasure: Frank Sinatra, Louis Prima & Keely Smith, and an instrumental by Stan Getz and Oscar Peterson.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Oscar Peterson? I know: repeatedly. My Oscar love will never wane. That goes for my much missed kitty as well.

Before we jump to the break, look up like the girl in the Kubrick photograph so you can dodge the pennies from heaven.

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The Curious Case Of The Tea Party Royalists

I’ve only seen bits and pieces of THE INTERVIEW because I cannot abide Oprah. I am, however, a notorious Anglophile with mixed feelings about the Battenberg/Windsor clan. They make for good costume movie and teevee dramas as well as fodder for the British tabloids. I’m even enough of a Peter Morgan fan to wonder if The Crown will cover the same territory as his earlier drama The Queen. Otherwise, I have no stake in the British monarchy.

The presentism of much of the MSM coverage of the face-off between Meghan-n-Harry and “the Firm” cracks me up. The British royals are like inbred cockroaches or Keith Richards, they’ve weathered many past storms and they’re still standing. If they could survive being a family with a German name at the outset of the Great War they can survive a rerun of the Diana drama.

It’s not a carbon copy of the Diana mishigas since Meghan-n-Harry have run away to Beverly Hills together. Hopefully, nobody will die as a result of this but the threat to the monarchy is the same. They’re still standing.

It’s obvious that Meghan is either naive and didn’t do her homework about her Prince or that she fibbed to Oprah when she said she never googled Harry. That’s how she missed this:

Yes, he was young and stupid but racism in his family shouldn’t shock anyone let alone its newest member. It’s like marrying into the Trump family and being shocked to learn that Donald is an Impeached Insult Comedian with a dead nutria pelt atop his head.

That’s not the only example of Harry’s wicked old ways. There’s this graph from a great piece by Caitlin Flanagan in The Atlantic:

She told Oprah that she had never even Googled her future husband’s name—a remark that united the viewing world in hilarity, time zone by time zone. It was an assertion that strained credulity, but it was necessary to her contention that she’d had no idea that the Windsors had not, as we now say, “done the work” when it came to exploring their own racial biases. Had she herself done some work by punching her beloved’s name into a search engine, she would have understood that she was not marrying the most racially conscious person on the planet. She would have seen pictures of him dressed as a Nazi at a costume party (his great-granduncle—briefly Edward VIII—had palled around with Adolf Hitler) and a videotape of him introducing a fellow cadet as “our little Paki friend.” The Palace said that “Prince Harry used the term without any malice and as a nickname about a highly popular member of his platoon.” But the palace had no good explanation for why Harry introduced another cadet in the video by saying, “It’s Dan the Man. Fuck me, you look like a raghead.”

In the immortal words of one of my favorite British teevee characters:

I believe that people can change and now that Harry has a multi-racial kid, I’m sure he’s left his wicked, racist ways behind. But once again, Meghan shouldn’t be shocked by any of this. It’s like joining my family and being surprised that you don’t say the word malaka in the company of the older generation. They’re all gone now but my Aunt Mary would have boxed my ears if I said the M word in her presence.

You’re probably wondering when I’m getting to The Curious Case Of The Tea Party Royalists. The time is now.

American right-wingers never get the American Revolution right. They bang on about the Boston Tea Party and even wear silly tri-corner hats in public, but they never get the “taxation without representation” thing right. They always overlook the “without representation” bit.

In the early days of the American Revolution, many patriots would have found having American MPs at Whitehall acceptable. If mad King George had given in and listened to the likes of Edmund Burke, we might be a warmer version of Canada right now.

As usual Josh Marshall nails the current controversy:

But I’ve been struck by the recent efflorescence of pro-monarchism on the American right, something that seems to flow in this particular case downstream from hostility to Meghan Markle, but is yet part of something larger. In the midst of the Markle drama, Trump immigration czar Stephen Miller hopped on to Twitter to defend the monarchy as a symbol of national service and praise the royals he met during President Trump’s state visit as “unfailingly gracious and deeply committed to preserving the traditions and heritage of the UK.” (emphasis added). A week later The National Review published An American Defense of Britain’s Constitutional Monarchy.

Some of this defense is merely situational. Markle, who is young and black, has been cast into the morality tale of ‘cancel culture’, with the royals allegedly on the receiving end of being canceled. So Republicans, as enemies of all this cancel culture, have rushed to the Royals’ defense. But again, it’s bit more than that. Miller name checks the telling catch phrases of white nationalism with references to ‘tradition and heritage’. National Review similarly explains that “modern liberalism” wants to “tear down everything the monarchy represents: tradition, authority, virtue, duty, love of country, and biblical religion.”

There was a similar outbreak of weird pro-royalism in the early years of the Regan administration. Reagan took office in the same year the Charles and Diana drama began with a smashing royal wedding. It was one of the first major events that CNN covered wall-to-wall and in those days they were the only cable news game in town.

I recall many conservatives saying that Reagan would have made a great constitutional monarch. That’s a point I never argued because he was a master of the ceremonial aspects of the presidency. You know, the stuff that the Kaiser of Chaos disdained. I recall saying that I might have voted for Ronnie for head of state but never for head of government. Our presidency encompasses both roles, which always seems to baffle the genuine conservatives of 1981 and the fake conservatives 40 years later. So it goes.

Don’t worry I haven’t changed sides, the words “cancel culture” rarely pass my lips and never in the sense that, say, Donnie Junior uses them. I’m exercising my right to be a contrarian who finds both Meghan-n-Harry and the Tea Party Royalists to be equally silly. Perhaps it’s the Monty Python fan in me. Oh well, what the hell.

The last word goes to Oscar Peterson and Nelson Riddle:

One more from my favorite Canadian:

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Oscar Peterson?

Sunday Morning Video: Claire Trevor On TCM

Here’s a 1998 interview with my cat’s namesake. She was 88 at the time and as sharp as a tack.

Saturday Odds & Sods: On The Silent Wings Of Freedom

Photograph by Stanley Kubrick.

A bird got into our house while I was taking a jab nap. Claire Trevor was determined to get the poor wee house sparrow. I tried grabbling CT to close her in somewhere to no avail. I yelled at the cat to keep her away from the open door as the bird hopped from ceiling fan to ceiling fan. It finally flew out the front door. That’s as adventurous as it gets at Adrastos World HQ these days.

Mother-in-Law #1 is 99-years-old and in bad shape at her assisted living joint in Baton Rouge. The good news is that we’ve been able to visit her twice including yesterday. Her body is failing but her mind is still sharp. I’m not sure how long she’ll last but it’s a relief to be able to visit after not having seen her for 14 months because of the pandemic.

I’m voting later today in the special election called to fill Cedric Richmond’s congressional seat. I’m as underwhelmed by the choices on offer as I was by Cedric. The leading candidates are two hacks from New Orleans and a young firebrand from Baton Rouge. Since I do not want to be represented in Congress by someone from Red Stick, I’m voting for the hack I’m acquainted with, State Senator and former City Councilman Troy Carter. I loathe the other hack whose name shall not cross my lips.

This week’s theme song was written by Jon Anderson and Chris Squire for Yes’ 1978 album, Tormato. Yes are known for their great album covers. This is not one of them. The music is still pretty darn good.

We have two versions of On The Silent Wings Of Freedom for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a 2006 live instrumental version.

Follow the flying fingers of Chris Squire and jump to the break. No finger jokes this week. Pinky swear.

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A Postcard From Flavortown

Greetings From Flavortown

Can a clown be a hero?

It’s happened before. After all, it’s the clowns who are able to wring not only the laughs from the belly but the tears from the eyes and the dollars from the wallets. Sure Jerry Lewis played an imbecile on the big screen but there he was every Labor Day on the small screen wedeling millions out of the viewing public. At that point do you think the Muscular Dystrophy Association cared if he did prat falls for a living?

Same thing with Guy Fieri. That’s why he’s a hero around these parts. Up here in Northern California we’ve had plenty of local boys and girls make good, from Academy Award winners to Nobel Prize winners to Electoral College winners. Nobody is going to equate a restaurant owner/chef/television celebrity with the Vice-President of the US but hear me out about what he has done and the efforts he has made not just during the pandemic but for years before.

We’ll start with the money. Over $25 million dollars raised that has gone directly to impacted restaurants and their employees. Fieri’s taken his celebrity and basically said “Hey corporate America, you want us buying what you are selling then cough up so we can stay in business and you can keep selling”. Sort of his own American Restaurant Rescue plan. And his new show on the Food Network, “Tournament of Champions II” has the winner of each round being handed $10,000 to GIVE AWAY to a struggling restaurant of their choice.

You say big deal, get your hands dirty and we’ll talk? Okay, how about this. Three fully equipped food trucks have been pulling up to hospitals across the country to feed medical staffs bombarded by the pandemic. Nothing unusual for Fieri since these trucks are the scions of the work he did during the NorCal fires of the past few years. Hot meals for firefighters and those burned out. He was criticized for bringing a smoker to a burnt-out location but honestly folks isn’t it better to have a covered controlled cooking device than an open grill in that situation? Geez give the Guy a break.

Then there is his newest idea, Flavortown Ghost Kitchens. Take existing unused restaurant kitchens across the country and temporarily turn them into delivery only comfort food emporiums. No, Michelin chefs are not going to be cooking there, but the legions of line chefs, short order chefs, wait staff, and other mid-level and lower restaurant workers currently unemployed will be getting a paycheck and a bit of self-respect while the restaurants’ owners will be getting a much-needed cash influx.

But…but… what about his personality?

What about it? He has been known to ping pong from one idea to another but hey ADHD just works for some people. His adulteration of the English language is nothing new or did you think the etymology of twitter, buzzwords, or Frankenfood reflect their old English lineage? Would I don platinum spiked hair, big rings, and tattoos? I didn’t even do that in my punk days, but it works for him. Besides in these days of 24/7/365 bombastic culture you need something to make yourself stand out from the crowd. I’d rather have kids emulating Fieri’s personal style than have them emulating the Proud Boys or any of their ilk’s style.

And on the subject of kids, he has been quoted as saying:

“My wife always tells me, ‘Stop trying to teach every kid you meet,’ but I can’t help it.”

Wow, an accomplished adult who thinks he might have a chance of reaching a kid who otherwise could be struggling. Last month Fieri purchased the butcher shop he had his first job at as a 5th grader, in the first part to keep the only butcher shop in the county going, but also because the shop is an important contributor to 4-H and Future Farmers of America. You can’t have “farm to table” if you don’t have farms. And you can’t have farms if you don’t have farmers. Maybe the spiked hair is his way of being able to connect the dots.

Most of all he loves his industry. Even more so, he loves his end of the industry, the, well, diners, drive-ins, and dives end. He’s exposed hundreds of small mom and pop joints to national audiences, bringing those establishments boosts in sales no amount of “buy one get one free” coupons in the local Penny Saver ever could. Beyond that he keeps in touch with the owners, letting them know when their episodes are going to be rerun so they can be prepared for the attendant increase in customers. After a taping he has been known to linger at the locations, talking shop long past the hour he was supposed to leave, giving advice, soliciting thoughts, and in general being more than just a TV celebrity who blew into town one day.

Speaking of the great god television if you have ever watched one of the competition shows he hosts you’ll notice that the chefs competing are a solid mix of the American melting pot. All genders, all races, all sizes, all levels of accomplishment, they are all there, all given an equal opportunity to succeed. I would be willing to bet an hour of Guy’s Grocery Games has more diversity on it than any other hour on American television.

So I don’t care if you think he’s a clown. I don’t think he cares if you think he’s a clown. Just like Jerry Lewis, Guy Fieri has taken that image and made something not only for himself but for his community. While that community has spread worldwide its heart originates right here in NorCal, covered in Donkey Sauce, assuming the Big Ass Burger position, and most definitely the real deal.

And I’ll be happy to call him Mr. Mayor.

Shapiro Out.

 

 

 

Murder Among The Mormons

A little known fact about me: I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. Also little known is that there’s a fairly large Greek community there. My papou landed in Salt Lake because he was recruited to work in a Kennecott Copper mine at the docks in New York.

The recruiter was a Greek guy who showed my namesake pictures of Utah and it looked like the Peloponnesian region from which he hailed. He signed up and raised his family there. I still have some kin there and my parents are buried there as well. That concludes this leisurely stroll down memory lane.

The featured image is an example of how popular true crime is. I cannot fathom wanting a throw pillow with the Mormon temple and blood on it but I guess someone will buy it from Red Bubble. There’s no accounting for taste.

Hell, I don’t want a film noir throw pillow, not even a Claire Trevor one. I don’t want to confuse the cat. I’ll leave that to Monty Python:

Let’s exit this long and winding road of an introduction and get down to business. The business of forgery, deception, and murder most foul.

The latest Netflix true crime series Murder Among The Mormons is set in Salt Lake City during the 1980’s. Three pipe bombs exploded in a short period of time. Two people died from the first two bombs and Mark Hofmann was seriously injured by the third. He set the bomb himself. The why of the third bomb is less clear.

Mark Hofmann was a dealer in documents with a specialty in Mormon stuff. Not surprising for a guy who was raised in the LDS church by sternly pious parents. Hofmann turned out to be something of an LDS rebel, which had dire consequences for his friends and family.

Hofmann caused a sensation by “uncovering” the so-called White Salamander letter, which seemed to refute the church’s belief that the Book of Mormon was given to Joseph Smith by the Angel Moroni. That’s the dude on top of most Mormon churches. Instead, Smith was led to the fateful cave by a white salamander. It’s hocus pocus either way as far as I’m concerned and that was true for Hofmann as well.

The White Salamander letter was a fake. Hofmann was on the verge of discovery when he planted the bombs. The investigation was extensive and eventually led to him. He is currently serving a life sentence. He ducked the firing squad by telling his story to the Utah Parole Board.

Murder Among The Mormons tells this story in three parts. It was, of course, a huge news story in Utah and was covered thoroughly by the Salt Lake media. We see a lot of their work and they did a helluva job as did the prosecution team.

We spend a great deal of time with some folks close to the master forger: his ex-wife Dorie Olds, and his former friends Shannon Flynn, and Brent Metcalfe. They’re swell talking heads who we get to know over the course of the series.

Here’s the trailer:

Mark Hofmann’s goal was to make a fortune off his fakery and to blow up the Mormon church in the process. Instead, he blew himself up and destroyed his life and the lives of some good people close to him.

I give Murder Among The Mormons 3 1/2 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B+. It’s true crime at its finest. I’ll skip the throw pillows.

Let’s close out this bloody, bomby, and pillowy post with some music. The last word goes to Johnny Mercer and Bob Weir.

 

Gentle On Tucker’s Mind

I never watch and rarely write about Fox News unless I have to. This is one of those times. Prime time big mouth Tucker Carlson recently said something bizarre even by his own standards:

Followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory are “gentle people waving American flags”, Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed on Friday night – two months since many joined a mob that stormed the US Capitol seeking to overturn Donald Trump’s election defeat, a riot in which five people died.

“Do you ever notice,” Carlson asked his primetime audience, “how all the scary internet conspiracy theorists – the radical QAnon people – when you actually see them on camera or in jail cells, as a lot of them now are, are maybe kind of confused with the wrong ideas, but they’re all kind of gentle people now waving American flags? They like this country.”

Gentle? Really? Has Tucker ever bothered to look into some of their weirder theories like one cited by NYT columnist Michelle Goldberg:

A clear indication that Marjorie Taylor Greene was more than a dabbler in QAnon was her 2018 endorsement of “Frazzledrip,” one of the most grotesque tendrils of the movement’s mythology. You “have to go down a number of rabbit holes to get that far,” said Mike Rothschild, whose book about QAnon, “The Storm Is Upon Us,” comes out later this year.

The lurid fantasy of Frazzledrip refers to an imaginary video said to show Hillary Clinton and her former aide, Huma Abedin, assaulting and disfiguring a young girl, and drinking her blood. It holds that several cops saw the video, and Clinton had them killed.

This is literally a blood libel. It’s based on ancient anti-Semitic tropes about vampires killing babies by Menorah light. This is gentle? It’s certainly concocted by gentiles. Oy just oy.

On his March 4th broadcast, the teevee dinner heir listed a litany of “liberal fears” including this one:

“They’re terrified that someday an army of tattooed high school dropouts in Confederate flag tank-tops is going to rise up from the trailer parks of West Virginia and take over the country. They’ll storm the cities with their 75 calibre AR-15 assault weapon machine guns with flash suppressors, each one of which can fire over a million bullets per minute when mounted on the back of an F-150 pickup truck, plastered with racist bumper stickers. That is their nightmare. That is the monster under every liberal’s bed.” 

I hate to break it to you Tucker but that’s essentially what happened during the Dipshit Insurrection. Remember when those “gentle patriots” stormed the Capitol on 1/6. It was too cold for tank tops, but they wore MAGA hats and carried flagpoles, which they used as weapons to attack cops on behalf of the law and order president* thereby proving that irony is alive and well.

I’m sick and tired of creeps like Tucker Carlson’s fake identification with the masses. He’s a rich dude who went to the snootiest schools and now he’s an apologist for people who shat on the floor of the people’s house. If he loves the ‘gentle patriots” who stormed the Capitol so much he should prove it. How about inviting the QAnon “Shaman” over for a vegan supper if the latter ever gets out of the hoosegow? (Hoosegow is a word I’m trying to revive. It has a weird origin: it’s a mispronunciation of the Spanish word juzgado or panel of judges, courtroom. Shorter Adrastos, it’s a malaprop and I love those.)

In other Tucker Carlson news, his frequent guest Glenn Greenwald seems to have completed his journey from the far left to the far right by describing Tucker, the Kaiser of Chaos, and Steve Bannon as “true socialists.” I am not making this up. This sort of political peregrination was not unusual during the Second American Red Scare as former communists such as Whitaker Chambers, Sidney Hook, and James Burnham made the same journey. Oy just oy.

If Tucker Carlson is a socialist, I believe that Hillary Clinton had Vincent Foster murdered and that General/President Eisenhower was a commie.

Back to Tucker’s description of the Q creeps as “gentle patriots.” It gave me an earworm as well as a punny post title. The last word goes to Glen Campbell:

That’s Glen with one N as opposed to two-N Glenn Greenwald. One-N Glen’s variety show was called the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. Perhaps Tucker should rename his show The Tucker Carlson Bad Time Hour, at least when two-N Glenn Greenwald is a guest. Just the latest in a long line of “helpful” suggestions. It has the virtue of honesty, which is a rare commodity on the far right nowadays.

It has also given me another earworm. The second last word goes to the Jayhawks with their cover of a Grand Funk Railroad song:

That’s the last last word. I promise.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Do You Feel Like We Do

Cocktails by Archibald Motley.

The cold weather is gone for now. We haven’t run the heater for a few days. Yay. I shudder to think what our next utility bill will be, but it won’t be like the budget-busters in unregulated Texas; at least I hope not. Freedom, man.

I’m feeling cautiously optimistic on the COVID front. But some people are already getting carried away. That’s been the pattern and it’s a lethal one. I’m keeping my guard up even after I get vaccinated, which should be in the next few weeks. Let’s be careful out there.

The featured image is by Archibald Motley who was a Jazz Age modernist active during the Harlem Renaissance. The image is of well-dressed Black ladies having cocktails. I’d call them flappers but that could cause a flap, Jack…

This week’s theme song was written by Peter Frampton for his 1973 semi-solo, semi-band album Frampton’s Camel. It’s the ultimate rock hangover song.

An edited version of a live version from the monster hit album, Frampton Comes Alive later became a hit single. How’s that for a version diversion? I hope it was diverting.

We have two versions (there’s that word again) of Do You Feel Like We Do for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a 2000 live performance.

We’ll have more about Peter Frampton after the break. We might as well go now.

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The Lady, The Dale, And I

Liz Carmichael

You wanna see what’s under the hood? That’ll cost ya.

There is a nifty little four part documentary series on HBO called The Lady and The Dale. 

It is about Elizabeth Carmichael, founder of 20th Century Motor Car Company, the maker of The Dale, a three wheeled auto that she proclaimed would get 70 miles to the gallon of gas. When the company was founded in 1973 at the height of the Arab Oil Embargo, an assertion that a car could get 70 miles to the gallon had suckers…er…I mean potential buyers lined up outside her San Fernando Valley showroom/offices.

I ought to know. I saw them lined up when I delivered office supplies to 20th Century Motor Car.

My family owned an office supply company, Crest Stationers, “The Biggest Clip Joint In The Valley” as my father liked to proclaim. Summers I would work there making deliveries, riding around Los Angeles with a driver who might have still had one or two teeth left. We’d pull up in front of the customer’s business, I’d jump out, grab the boxes from the back and shoot into the office while he kept the van running so we could take off as soon as I ran out with the signed delivery slip.

I never saw a car or Elizabeth Carmichael, but then again I wouldn’t have paid much attention if I did. It was easy in, easy out, and as far as I was concerned just another boring business office. That was as opposed to the warehouses with the flimsy wall separating the reception area from the specialty movie studio in the back. What can I say, I was a teenager and it was the mid 1970’s in the San Fernando Valley. PT Anderson made a documentary about those days.

Getting back to this documentary, as you might have guessed it was all a scam. There was a prototype car but no others were ever built, this despite the fact that the men she hired to build it were dedicated to the project and wanted it to succeed even when they stopped getting paid. There was immense hype over the car, but none were ever delivered despite Liz having collected $3,000,000 in deposits for cars and dealerships. And one day the entire house of car(d)s came tumbling down.

The money should have gone into an escrow account. Instead it was used to fund the company. Or perhaps it went somewhere else. In either case that’s securities fraud. The Feds take a rather dim view of that. Not to mention that a little investigating into the background of Elizabeth Carmichael turned up a rather interesting tidbit.

Elizabeth Carmichael was a fugitive wanted for counterfeiting. She might have thought she could get away with it since that charge had been under her original name.

Jerry Dean Michael

Elizabeth Carmichael was a transsexual, what we now call transgender, and for a short period of time she was probably the most famous trans woman in the world. That time was not however when she was promoting the car. It was after she got arrested and was on trial.

Now this is where our antagonist, our Inspector Javert, comes into this drama, the investigative reporter who first broke the case. He was a local KABC TV reporter named Dick Carlson. If you lived in LA you might remember him from those days. He was the reporter whose stories always got the breathless plug during Marcus Welby M.D. that ended with the admonition of “Film at 11”.

This story came along at a unique time in local TV news. “If it bleeds it leads” was morphing into “bring on the freak show”. Journalistic standards were loosening in the scrum for ratings that was local news. And in the mid 1970’s there was nothing more freaky than a man who openly lived as a woman. Add in this person was a scam artist and 26 news reports on this story later Dick Carlson was the king of local Los Angeles TV news.

After she was found guilty and while she was awaiting sentencing Liz Carmichael took off. Fled. Went back to her ways as a fugitive. No one knew where she was. Dick Carlson suddenly found his prized story, which had been about to wrap up, reinvigorated. The hunt was on!

His hunt at one point took him to La Jolla California, just down the road from Los Angeles. Actually it wasn’t so much his hunt but the fact his son was playing in a tennis tournament down there and he went to watch. But while he was waiting for his son to play he watched a women’s match and one of the participants looked familiar. So familiar in fact that he went to one of the tournament organizers and said “That woman’s a man”.

Was it Liz Carmichael? No, but it was a trans woman who was minding her own business, just looking to have some fun playing tennis.

And that’s how the world came to know Renee Richards.

Dick Carlson was making a career of outing trans women.

Meanwhile Liz was still on the run. She was caught in Texas eight years later after an episode of Unsolved Mysteries alerted her new neighbors to her status. Arrested and returned to LA she was sentenced to prison (mens) where she spent 30 months before being released.

The story is fascinating, the documentary is well made (I especially liked the collage animations used), but I have a problem with it’s conclusion. The filmmakers make Carmichael out to be a heroine, a proud trans woman who fought the system but was ultimately beaten down by it. No she wasn’t, she was a con artist and rightly deserved to spend time in prison. Her con was not that she was “passing herself off as a woman” it was that she stole money from people by promising something she knew she couldn’t deliver. Man, woman, or trans, that is wrong.

By all means celebrate those transgenders who endured ridicule to raise the profile of their tribe. Celebrate the ones whose courage to be themselves was and continues to be a principled stand in the face of convention and societal norms. Just don’t celebrate a criminal who stole not just money but hope from the people who worked for her, trusted her, and believed in her.

Oh and Dick Carlson? He got in good with the folks who bankrolled a former California governor to run for president. When that guy was elected part of the payback was that Dick Carlson became the head of the Voice of America. Then he was president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Then ambassador to the Seychelles. And his son (not the tennis player) who ironically shares a name with another famous failed auto, ended up following in his dad’s footsteps and doing his part to destroy the integrity of journalism in America.

Shapiro Out

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Trick Bag

Skeletons Fighting Over A Pickled Herring by James Ensor.

This should be Carnival’s biggest weekend. I’ll miss our pre-Tucks peregrinations on Saturday and company on Thoth Sunday. Wait until next year.

The impeachment trial ate my week, so I’ll keep this short. It’s what usually happens the Saturday before Fat Tuesday in any event. So it goes.

This week’s theme song was written by NOLA’s own Earl King in 1962. It’s tricky, it’s baggy, it’s early, it’s kingy.

We have four versions of Trick Bag for your listening pleasure: the Earl King original, the Meters, Johnny Winter, and Robert Palmer.

Now that we’ve pulled some tricks out of the bag, let’s jump to the break.

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God Only Knows

Since Team Trump is mounting its defense, I thought we all needed an early cocktail. I know I do. I’m sitting through the whole damn thing, after all.

You’re probably wondering where Frank, Dino, and Sammy are this wintry day. Even Rat Packers need a day off. Besides, how could I resist posting Chloe Sevigny, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Bill Paxton from HBO’s show about fictional Mormon polygamists, Big Love.  If you’ve never seen the show, you’re probably wondering why: God Only Knows was its theme song until they foolishly changed it. Bad producers.

God Only Knows was written by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher for the Beach Boys classic 1966 album, Pet Sounds. It’s one of the most beautiful songs ever written. I’ve never heard a bad version of it as you’ll learn as you work your way through this post. Make that drink your way.

We begin at the beginning: the Beach Boys with Carl Wilson on lead vocals.

As a session man, Glenn Campbell played on Pet Sounds. In 1977, he took a stab at God Only Knows.

David Bowie loved God Only Knows so much that he recorded it:

The most unusual version is by Marilyn Scott. She funkified the Wilson-Asher classic:

Dixie Chick Natalie Maines recorded a version for the Big Love series finale:

Here’s the songwriter himself: Brian Wilson live with The Corrs.

Finally, the weirdest version of all. Carl Wilson singing his signature song at a friend’s event in 1992:

That was proof positive that God Only Knows is a foolproof song. It’s a pity that Carl didn’t don a chef’s hat for the occasion.

That’s all for this week. Have an early cocktail and toast the House managers. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

Remembrance of Super Bowls Past

Logo For Super Bowl 50

L if I know what happened to the Roman numerals.

So it’s Super Bowl Sunday, the official unofficial winter holiday of the USA and this year’s first crack at a super spreader event. It’s tempting to go on about The Kid versus The Old Man or the meaning of sports events at a time of limited fan participation, but I’d like to talk about television and Donald Trump.

What, more words?! Just stay with me.

In the before times I worked in the Hospitality Industry, specifically the Destination Management end of the Hospitality Industry. If those phrases don’t mean anything to you don’t worry. Most people’s eyes glaze over when I use them. Then I explain that it means I’m a tour guide for Northern California and I work primarily with large corporate groups who come in for meetings and “incentive” travel. Generally I then get a “oh cool, that sounds like a fun job” and I will nod and say it certainly is an interesting occupation.

I am an independent contractor. Since no one Destination Management company (DMC) could possibly have full time work for me and those like me we all end up working for many companies. Last year I listed 17 of them on my tax return. TurboTax nearly exploded entering in all that data. In any program there will be the Sponsoring Company (the company the attendees work for or the one footing the bill for the trip), the Client (a planning company hired by the sponsoring company), the local DMC (hired by the Client), and then me (hired by the DMC). I’m the low man on the totem pole, but just like the bottom face on the pole, it all falls over if I don’t do my job right. Part of doing my job right is blending into the background, not being noticeable until needed. Which means I get to hear a lot of conversation.

In 2016 the Super Bowl was held in San Francisco, by which I mean the game was played forty miles away at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Pretty much every attendee was staying in The City since pretty much all the parties were being held there. That week I worked for a DMC who had been hired by a Client who had been engaged by…. well let’s just say a major television network. It was my job to take care of many of the executives of that network, pick them up at the airport, get them to their hotels, to the dinners and parties they were invited to, get them to the game itself and back, then get them back to the airport on Monday morning.

Super Bowl week was the first week of February in 2016. Most of my charges were arriving on the heels of the Iowa Caucuses. I’m sure you’ll remember, and if you say you do there’s a 90% chance you’re lying, the winner of that bizarre Midwest beauty pageant that year was Ted Cruz. But nobody I was working with was talking about Ted Cruz.

Everyone was talking about Donald Trump. And ratings.

The Republican primary debates for that election cycle had been gangbusters for the television news divisions. TV ratings for primary debates usually are somewhere between depressing and drive an executive to suicide, but this year they had actually been decent. Every time Trump opened his mouth another bizarre utterance would emerge and the needle on the ratings meter would tick up another point. He had single handedly taken a moribund format full of arcane policy debates and stiff performances and turned it into must see TV. The ultimate reality show.

My executives were trying to figure out how long it was going to keep on going. They liked their ratings going up, they liked the extra dollars they could charge advertisers, and they knew that to keep it going they were going to have to keep Donald Trump in the race. People may not have wanted to vote for him, but they sure didn’t mind tuning in to see him talk about the size of his penis or a woman’s menstrual period.

But let me make this clear: Not a one of them thought he would win the nomination. Cruz or Marco Rubio, maybe Jeb Bush, were the consensus opinions. Even though Trump was the frontrunner they talked about how he had all the voters he was going to get and once the smaller fish got out of the way (remember there were another 14 vying for the nomination) all those votes would go to either Cruz, Bush, or Rubio leaving Trump a distant memory. It would have been their wet dream for Trump to win the nomination.

So there was a lot of conversation about how much airtime to give Trump both on the evening news and on the Sunday political shows. Right now it was easy, he was the frontrunner. Later on, when things were shaking out and one of the “real” candidates took over the lead, that was when they were going to have to get creative.

We know what happened. Television gave him lots of time. The more time television gave to Trump the more he won Republican voters over. In my opinion I think it was the fact that Cruz and Rubio and especially Jeb Bush were horrible candidates. They inspired nothing, they delivered nothing, and they always seemed afraid of saying something that would put them in the crosshairs of Trump’s vitriolic temper. Trump said ridiculous things and his opponents never fired back at him (a lesson Joe Biden learned from). Trump seemed to be unafraid of what the reaction would be. And if Republican voters were honest with themselves, they knew who ever was nominated was little more than a sacrificial lamb to be slaughtered by the Hillary juggernaut. Why not Trump, at least he was entertaining.

So now it’s four years later. News ratings are at an all time high. Even nontraditional news times have been given over to news. Remember soap operas? They’re pretty much gone, replaced with cheery light news shows because Erika versus Kendall can’t compete with Donald versus Bobby Three Sticks. Instead of sitting down to laugh at Archie Bunker, millions are sitting down to nod in agreement with Tucker Carlson (substitute Maude and Rachel Maddow if you like). Information flows on a constant basis, an addiction that needs to be fed. And take your choice, what version of reality do you want to hear? Conservatives opt for Fox, Liberals for MSNBC, moderates for CNN. Even the crazy QAnons have their own news channels if they can find them. Just sit your ass down in front of the tube and consume. Get angry if you want, the tube likes it when you’re angry cause you need to feed on that which makes you angry. It makes you bolder. You want to do something. You want to smash something. There’s a rally in DC and a march on the Capitol? Yes, feed me. Run through those gates, pound in the doors, search for the congresspeople who the tube has told you are bad. Have no fear, the great TV God Trump will protect you….

It was a great game. It got a 46 rating and a 72 share, one of the highest in Super Bowl history. Oh and the Broncos beat the Panthers.

 

Shapiro Out.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Dirty Boulevard

Elevated Columbus Avenue, New York by Gifford Beal.

Lou Reed wrote this week’s theme song for his 1989 album, New York. I’m on the record as thinking Reed was a better musician than a human being. New York is a good example of this dichotomy. It’s one of his best albums complete with catchy songs and razor-sharp insights.

We have two versions of Dirty Boulevard for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a live version with David Bowie.

The spelling of boulevard in listings of the song is erratic. Sometimes it’s spelled out, other times it’s abbreviated. That concludes this abbreviated comment on abbreviation.

Let’s try and clean up before jumping to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Circle Back

Blue Night by Edward Hopper.

Today is supposed to be the Krewe du Vieux parade. It was cancelled because of the pandemic. The timing was good for me: last year was the worst Carnival season I’ve had since coming to New Orleans in 1987. I wrote about some aspects it in a piece called The Cursed Carnival?

Shorter Adrastos: I needed a year off from Carnival so I’m not as unhappy with the situation as most people are. Some of the Krewe du Vieux sub-krewes including Spank are presenting art installations instead of marching. Since I wasn’t feeling it, I did not participate. So it goes.

John Hiatt wrote this week’s theme song for his 2003 album Beneath This Gruff Exterior. It’s one of his fatherhood songs as it describes taking his daughter to college. It also rocks much harder than the cradle ever should.

We have two versions of Circle Back for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a live version. Both feature Sonny Landreth and the Goners.

I mentioned Hiatt’s fatherhood songs. Here are two more:

Now that we’ve rocked the cradle, let’s jump to the break before we get too dizzy.

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