Category Archives: Television

Saturday Odds & Sods: Deeper Water

Gulf Stream by Winslow Homer.

Since we have something of a nautical-as opposed to naughty-theme I thought we’d dive right in without any dockside formalities. I won’t invite you into my stateroom because this might happen:

I would never take a cruise. The thought of doing so reminds me of the not so great Poop Cruise of 2013. Hell, I get seasick contemplating the Winslow Homer painting above.

Let’s move on to this week’s theme song. Singer-songwriter Paul Kelly is often called the Bob Dylan of Australia but he never broke through stateside. Kelly co-wrote Deeper Water in 1994 with Randy Jacobs of Was (Not Was) in case you was (not was) wondering.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. First, the 1995 studio version that was the title track of Kelly’s tenth album. Second, a 2013 live version from a show Kelly did with Neil Finn. For some reason it’s listed as Deep Water but it’s the same tune. Wow, that’s deep, man.

I hope we’re not in over our heads. Let’s mount the diving board and jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Boulevard Of Broken Dreams

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

I survived jury duty. I even got a diploma of sorts. I’m uncertain if it’s for good behavior; more like bored behavior. I was called upstairs for voir dire on the last day. I tweeted about it after graduation:

Canny is Leon Cannizzaro, Orleans Parish District Attorney. Here’s what I said about him in the Bayou Brief in 2017:

He’s a notoriously hardline, tough on crime District Attorney with the demeanor of an irritable undertaker and the strange uncharm of a grim Dickensian authority figure such as Mr. Murdstone. I had dealings with Canny when he was a criminal court judge and I was lawyering. He was arrogant, biased, rude, and dismissive. His success in electoral politics has always been a mystery to me but some people confuse assholery with strength. The Current Occupant of the White House is the best example I can think of. At least Canny has better hair.

Well, they asked for full disclosure…

People have been asking me if I planned to write at length about the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock. The answer is no. Why? Too many people focus on things other than the music and mud. Too many get bogged down in generational politics; one of the dullest subjects on the planet. It’s dull because it’s cliche laden: not all Baby Boomers sold out, not all Gen-Xers are slackers, and not all Millennials are twitter obsessed airheads. More importantly, not all members of the greatest generation were all that great. I often thought that my late father’s motto could have been, “We won the war so we don’t have to listen.” That concludes my rant about generational stereotypes.

This week’s theme song was written in 1933 by Al Dubin and Harry Warren. It was featured in the 1934 movie Moulin Rouge and sung by blond bombshell Constance Bennett. Ooh la la.

We have three versions of this torchy torch song for your listening pleasure: Constance Bennett,Tony Bennett, and Diana Krall. Ooh la la.

Constance and Tony are not related. His real name is, of course, Anthony Benedetto.

It’s time for a trip to Disambiguation City with a song written for the 2004 American Idiot album by the boys in Green Day. Same title, different song. Ooh la la.

Now that I’ve shattered your dreams, let’s jump to the break. Ooh la la.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Meet On The Ledge

Rain, Steam, and Speed by JMW Turner.

It’s the final day of one of the greatest musical festivals in the world: Fairport’s Cropredy Convention. Dr. A and I attended the event’s 40th anniversary in 2007. We actually took a tour, which gave us insider access including a chance to hang out with the super-nice members of Fairport Convention: Dave Pegg, Simon Nicol, Ric Sanders, Chris Leslie, and Gerry Conway. Nancy Covey’s Festival Tours organizes tours for people who don’t like tours. It was the trip of a lifetime and we formed many friendships that still endure. End of travelogue.

This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson in 1968 for Fairport’s What We Did On Our Holidays album. Meet On The Ledge is a song about death that is somehow life-affirming. It’s often played at funerals and is typically the last song played at every Fairport Convention show. At Cropredy, a cast of thousands joins the band onstage for an epic sing-along.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: the Fairport original with Sandy Denny on lead vocals; a solo acoustic version by Richard Thompson, and Fairport and friends closing Cropredy in 2017 with Simon Nicol and Iain Matthews on lead vocals

Now that we’ve met on the ledge and seen all of our friends, let’s jump to the break.

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Deadbeat Asshole In El Paso

The Insult Comedian loves being an uninvited guest in places where he’s not wanted. What’s reality teevee without conflict? Boring, that’s what. The people of El Paso will be extras on Trump’s whirlwind “message I care” tour. He does not: he’s all hat and no cattle.

Team Trump has stuck the citizens of El Paso with a bill of over $500K for security costs associated with one of his hate fest rallies a mere six months ago. The president* should have  had the decency to pay up but his entire life is a string of unpaid bills and broken promises. Why should he do the decent thing now? He’s never done it before. He’s all hat and no cattle.

Teleprompter Trump’s muted critique of racism and white supremacy endured almost a whole day but, predictably, Twitter Trump is back in the saddle. The MSM bought into his “moderate” rhetoric because they’re desperate for him to be normal so they can resume covering politics as a horse race. He’s not normal. He’s already back to sowing the seeds of division and grievance like a one-man Festivus:

It’s scary that Donald Trump makes Frank Costanza look like a nice guy.

It’s folly for the MSM to expect the Insult Comedian to be the consoler-in-chief when he’s really the despoiler-in-chief.

Repeat after me: Donald Trump is all hat and no cattle.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Washable Ink

Salome With The Head Of John The Baptist by Aubrey Beardsley.

My first day of jury duty was uneventful. We waited to be called for voir dire but the call never came and we were out of there by 11 AM. They’re trying fewer cases at Criminal District Court since the DA’s office stopped prosecuting possession of small amounts of weed. An odd but effective move by our old school tough-on-crime DA. Ironies abound.

This week’s theme song was written by a very young John Hiatt for his 1979 album Slug Line. It was so long ago that he had a full head of hair as well as a unibrow.

We have two versions of Washable Ink for your listening pleasure: the Hiatt original and a cover by the Neville Brothers.

Let’s check if this spilled ink is really washable. Color me skeptical: black, red, or blue.

Do they still call newspaper reporters ink-stained wretches? Probably not but it was swell slang.

Time to ink up and jump to the break. I’m not sure what ink up means in this context, but I’m always talking shit. Y’all should know that by now.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: River Of Life

Elegy For Moss Land by Clarence John Laughlin.

It’s been a noisy week at Adrastos World HQ. The utility company is doing some work on our block: they’ve dug holes and marked off spaces for new gas mains and meters. Here’s hoping they finish soon.

I’ve had the Neville Brothers on my mind since Art’s passing. But he did not write River Of Life; one of the most underrated songs in the Neville Brothers canon. It was written by Cyril Neville, Daryl Johnson, and Brian Stoltz for the band’s 1990 album, Brother’s Keeper.

Here are two versions of this week’s theme song. I dare you not to get up and rock:

Now that we’ve flowed with the river of life, let’s swim to the break. No drowning, please.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Moon Rocks

This Image Should Have Been On The Cover Of Life Magazine by Alan Bean.

History was made 50 years ago today when Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon. It was controversial among some at the time for being a waste of money and has become the subject of wackadoo conspiracy theories. I watched the moon landing unfold and I thought it was magnificent; even better than Star Trek or 2001. The truth is not only stranger than fiction, it can be much better. I still think the heyday of the space program is way cool or perhaps even wicked awesome.

This week’s featured image is a painting by the late Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean. It’s based on a picture taken by Buzz Aldrin of Neil Armstrong; hence the epic title. I thought it was high time to give it, uh, new Life.

There are a wide variety of moon songs to choose from. For this week’s theme song, I went with one that’s lunar landing specific. Moon Rocks was written by David Bryne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, and Tina Weymouth for Talking Heads monster hit 1983 album, Speaking In Tongues.

Now that we’ve done a bit of space walking, let’s cut the tether and float to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: The Other Side Of Summer

o-GUSTON-900

City Limits by Philip Guston.

I wrote the opening, now second, paragraph below before posting yesterday. I’m too stressed and/or lazy to change it. So it goes:

It’s been the week from hell in New Orleans. Our car flooded during Wednesday’s deluge and there’s a tropical system nearby. I’m writing this on Thursday: our internet is wonky so I want to have something in place in case it and/or the power goes out. I refuse to be buried by Barry.

I don’t have the full-blown Odds & Sods spirit BUT since I’d assembled a post,  I figured I’d put it out there for y’all to enjoy. I know our Saturday readership is devoted so I don’t want to let you down. Instead of our usual three acts, we have a first act followed by what would usually be our third act of regular features. Highly irregular but what can ya do?

Elvis Costello wrote The Other Side Of Summer for his 1991 album, Mighty Like A Rose. I used it the other day in the post about my Bayou Brief newspaper war piece. This time we have two versions: the video and EC live.

Now that we’ve seen the other side of summer for what it is, let’s jump to the break.

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The Fog Of History: 1992

When Ross Perot died the other day there was a surge of hits on a post I wrote in 2015, Enough Already With The Perot-Trump Comparisons. Thanks, y’all.

I never voted for Ross Perot but he was much better person than Trump. Perot was a genuine self-made man who had “a very good brain.” Perot also knew his way around a folksy aphorism whereas Trump merely babbles and repeats himself; NO COLLUSION, NO COLLUSION, NO COLLUSION. Additionally, Perot gave freely of his time and money to a variety of good causes and we all know about the Insult Comedian’s stingy ways.

The New York Times obit of Perot is a classic of the genre:

And in 1992 he became one of the most unlikely candidates ever to run for president. He had never held public office, and he seemed all wrong, like a cartoon character sprung to life: an elfin 5 feet 6 inches and 144 pounds, with a 1950s crew cut; a squeaky, nasal country-boy twang; and ears that stuck out like Alfred E. Neuman’s on a Mad magazine cover. Stiff-necked, cantankerous, impetuous, often sentimental, he was given to homespun epigrams: “If you see a snake, just kill it. Don’t appoint a committee on snakes.”

Timesman Robert D. McFadden also described Perot as a “wiry Texas gadfly.” I’m fond of gadflies. I’m one myself.

1992 was one of the most exciting elections of my lifetime. It had everything: sex scandals, a huge Democratic field, and an incumbent president who was good at governing but rotten at campaigning. Poppy Bush was challenged by wingnut gadfly Pat Buchanan whose insurgent campaign damaged the incumbent enough to doom his candidacy. Thanks, Pat.

And then there was Ross Perot. He entered the race on Larry King Live, exited the race during the Democratic Convention, then re-entered the race just in time to debate Bush and Clinton.

The featured image is of my favorite moment in the first debate: Bush checking his watch. Does anybody really know what time it is, does anybody really care?

Perot did well in 1992, winning 19% of the popular vote and his candidacy was the final blow to Poppy Bush’s chances.

Perot was quirky and idiosyncratic. The term eccentric billionaire seemed to have been coined for him. I’d like to thank him at this point for helping to elect the Clinton-Gore ticket thereby breaking the Democrats losing streak in presidential races. It was a helluva campaign y’all.

Perot’s third party candidacy in 1992 showed the utility of such an effort whereas his 1996 campaign showed its futility: he won only 8% of the popular vote and wasn’t invited to debate Clinton and Dole.

I used to do a wicked Ross Perot impression but I lost it after he left center stage. It typically involved the phrase “great sucking sound,” which he used to describe NAFTA but is equally applicable to the Trump Regime.

The last word goes to Patsy Cline with the song Team Perot played as he hit the stage to concede in 1992:

 

 

The Dictator & The Dotard Do The DMZ

Original image by Greg Biermann.

I know I shouldn’t have been, but I was stunned by the MSM’s sycophantic coverage of Trump’s “historic trip” to the Korean DMZ. For the acronymically impaired, that’s demilitarized zone. While it’s true that Trump is the first American president to set foot on North Korean soil, it wasn’t much of a trip. The real history is that Trump walked anywhere. I guess the North Korean secret police didn’t let them bring a golf cart along so the president* was obliged to waddle across the border.

The MSM showed additional mass gullibility in accepting the notion that this happened on a moment’s notice after a tweet by the Insult Comedian. I concur with New York Magazine’s Chas Danner:

Trump later said that he was also willing to cross the border into North Korea. Pyongyang eventually responded that it was an “interesting” idea, but was waiting for an official proposal before agreeing. Within less than a day, the meeting was on. But while few people are as impulsive as Trump is, there are several holes in his spontaneity claim (apart from the fact that he rarely tells the truth, or the full truth, ever.)

First, the two leaders exchanged letters earlier this month. And the New York Times reported on Sunday that an unannounced visit to the DMZ was already part of the Trump team’s itinerary and that the president “had actually been musing out loud about [meeting with Kim] for days in advance.” He’s also been dreaming of a DMZ meet-up since last year.

Furthermore, there are doubts that the meeting could have possibly been organized by both countries on such a short timetable, as one expert commented to the Washington Post:

“Andrei Lankov, a professor at Kookmin University in Seoul, said it was inconceivable that the leaders of two powerful nations had arranged a meeting at such short notice, calling it a “show” designed to send a political message, without raising expectations about them making actual progress.”

Bravo’s Andy Cohen would be more skeptical of a Richards-Vanderpump reconciliation on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills than the MSM was of this publicity stunt. The reality teevee allusion was deliberate: Trump has deployed reality teevee tropes throughout his presidency. Not an original observation but an accurate one. Hell, Real Housewives Nene Leakes and Theresa Giudice were contestants on Trump’s crappy reality game show.

I’m old enough to recall the impact of Tricky Dick’s visit to China in an election year. That trip, however, accomplished something as opposed to the emptiness of this visit, which was shorter than Trump’s memory. Once again, the Dotard gave something of value to the Dictator without getting anything in return. Why not ask for the release of  foreign nationals held by the world’s last Stalinist regime? Why not ask the North Korean secret police not to assault his own press secretary?

In addition to the whopper about the “spontaneity” of the trip, Trump claimed that this “visit” was something his predecessor was desperate to do:

“President Obama wanted to meet, and Chairman Kim would not meet him,” the President said. “The Obama administration was begging for a meeting. They were begging for meetings constantly, and Chairman Kim would not meet with him.”

“Trump is lying,” tweeted Ben Rhodes, who served as Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications during the Obama administration. “I was there for all eight years. Obama never sought a meeting with Kim Jong Un. Foreign policy isn’t reality television it’s reality.”

We’re all used to Trump’s incessant and egregious lying but it isn’t as funny as it used to be now that he’s “palling around” with dictators. He also plans to run against Democrats in 2020 by denouncing them as “socialists.” The nerve: his little North Korean buddy is an old school communist. I remember when conservative American presidents denounced dictators, especially communist dictators. That’s another reason president* Trump gets an asterisk: he’s an illegitimate president* who thinks human rights are for suckers.

A closing note about the featured image. The Magic Mirror Maze was created by Greg Biermann from the hall of mirrors/fun house/crazy house scene in the Orson Welles classic The Lady From Shanghai. It has particular resonance for me as that scene was filmed at Playland at the Beach in San Francisco; a place that I frequented as a child with my parents. Playland closed in 1972; as we New Orleanians would say, “Ain’t dere no more.”

I used the image in a June post, The Fog Of History: Semantic Antics and brought it back because it’s perfect for this moment in history. These are crazy times and our political life is replete with fog, mirrors, and lies. As the Seventies British band Slade put it, Mama Weer All Crazy Now. They get the last word:

Not Everything Sucks: Cleveland Rocks

Cleveland Heights to be precise but Ian Hunter didn’t write a song about it. Ted Koppel doesn’t give a toss about the Mott the Hoople head honcho, but he does care about a group of Ohioans who are helping Haitian school teacher, Ansly Damus, in his effort to be granted political asylum. Here’s hoping that Ansly’s Army helps him realize his American dream.

The last word goes to Ian Hunter:

Instant Analysis: Cattle Call Debate Act Two

I hate these large joint appearances: that’s why I call them cattle calls. There are too many candidates talking at once and too many bodies on stage. Why were a one note guy like Andrew Yang and a second rate new age guru type like Marianne Williamson allowed on the same stage as the real candidates? I hope we don’t see them again. It’s a waste of the voters time and it’s as annoying as hell.

Speaking of annoying, Chuck Todd is a windy nitwit. I was astonished that he didn’t tweak his performance after the first night’s debacle. He kept asking the “reply in one word” questions that never work in this setting. Give it a rest, Chuck.

The second round was more contentious than the first. The Democratic base was fed more raw meat, which is okay for casual observers but I find it unappetizing. It’s early so I’d rather get to know the serious candidates as opposed to hearing how much they hate Trump. That’s a given.

Unlike the first night, there was a clear winner. The envelope please:

Harris: The junior Senator from California showed that she hasn’t lost her chops as a trial lawyer despite years as an administrator. She ignored the clock and kept talking but in such an authoritative way that she got away with it.

The best moment of the debate was when she went after Biden. He effectively told her to get off his lawn. She declined the invitation.

I think Harris has finally found her groove. I’ve long thought she should embrace her inner prosecutor. We have a criminal president* why not a prosecutor as his opponent?

There was much talk on social media of how Harris would mop the floor with Trump in a debate. Repeat after me: Hillary and Kerry kicked ass in their debates and lost. Debates are a sideshow.

Biden: He was terrible. I wasn’t surprised that he rambled but didn’t expect him to come off as angry. Harris really pushed his buttons and threw him off his game. He needs to get back to being avuncular Uncle Joe or his candidacy will start circling the bowl sooner than expected.

Another reason I think Biden won’t be the nominee is that his staff was backstabbing him DURING the debate. It’s not how winning campaigns operate. It’s starting to look like 1988 all over again.

Sanders: In a word: angry. I’m not sure that the country wants someone who is stylistically similar to the Current Occupant. They’re both shouty old white guys with heavy New York accents.

Buttigieg: I don’t get the Mayor Pete craze. He leaves me cold. I think his troubles back home will eventually tank his campaign. At least he didn’t start speaking Norwegian. I would have thrown something at the teevee if he had.

Gillibrand: I thought she might break through but she was almost as annoying as Chuck Todd. She’s been a good senator. She should stick to her current job.

Swallwell: “People try to put us down. Talking ’bout my generation.”

Bennet: In a word: erratic. The stuff about his family fleeing Nazi persecution was excellent but the rest was a mish-mash. I dig his bushy eyebrows though. They have a life of their own.

I still don’t understand why he’s running against longtime ally John Hickenlooper. Perhaps he thinks he has a better chance because his name is shorter.

Hickenlooper: Despite a record of progressive reform as Colorado Governor, he’s running as an anti-socialist capitalist or something. He should drop out and run for the Senate against Cory Gardner who is the most vulnerable Republican up in 2020.

Yang: Holy one issue candidate, Batman.

Williamson: She should go rub a crystal.

Here are words I never thought I’d write, the last word goes to Eddy Arnold:

Instant Analysis: Cattle Call Debate Act One

Nothing that happened on that glitzy stage in Miami mattered all that much. Some candidates performed well and others bombed but in the end, a good ground game in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina will matter infinitely more.

Hell, I don’t even think general election debates matter all that much: Hillary and Kerry destroyed their opponents, which is the political equivalent of winning the battle and losing the war.

One jarring thing about the debate was the performative Spanish speaking by several candidates. It started to feel as if it were a Canadian debate where they break into French from time-to-time. You say gracias, I say merci. Let’s call the whole thing off.

I have a few random thoughts about this random group of candidates:

Warren: My candidate performed well as always. There were stretches where she was quiet but she’s the frontrunner in this group so she didn’t need to mix it up with the likes of DeBlasio, Ryan, Delaney, and Gabbard.

Her closing argument was superb. It’s a good example of why I believe she’ll win the nomination and go on to be our first woman president.

Booker: He helped himself. He was strong, forceful, and passionate. He seems to have good chemistry with both Warren and Castro. A good thing since they’re her most likely running mates if she picks within the field of candidates.

Castro: The strongest performance of the night. He’s an impressive guy with a great back story. He’s making a real contribution to the race with his focus on immigration. It’s easy to imagine him cleaning up the Homeland Security Department in the next Democratic administration.

Beto: He’s an outstanding stump speaker but a poor debater. He came off as a nervous windbag who was trying too hard to be a 21st Century Bobby Kennedy.

It finally occurred to me who Beto reminds me of:

Like Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder, Beto never uses one word when ten are available. And they both have big, scary teeth.

He should reconsider running against Senator Cornhole in Texas. Running for president was a bad Beto…

Klobuchar: I like the Senator from Minnesota, but this was not her best performance. Her closing argument was a dud: I’m electable yadda, yadda, yadda. Why? At this point in time, Trump looks like a stone cold loser unless his pals in the Kremlin bail him out again.

Inslee: In a word, inconsistent. Gave some good answers on climate change but rambled at other times. His makeup was a disaster. It made him look 20 years older than he is.

DeBlasio: Tall, annoying, and loud.

Delaney: Why was this bozo even onstage? He looks like a wrestling coach.  I halfway expected him to apply a Half-Nelson to one of his opponents.

Ryan: He gave a decent answer early on about guns then became increasingly incoherent. He spent much of the second half giving forgettable answers about the forgotten people. I forget exactly what he said.

Gabbard: Ryan was so inept that he gave Gabbard a chance to shine. I hate to say that because she’s awful and should exit the race, stage left.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Every Picture Tells A Story

The Sorrows Of The King by Henri Matisse.

It’s a solemn day in New Orleans: Dr. John’s memorial service and second line are later today. There was already an informal, impromptu second line but this is the real deal. Rest in peace, Mac. We’ll miss you.

The news has been relentlessly bleak of late, which is why I’ve turned my attention to the New Orleans Pelicans success in the recent NBA draft. Zion Williamson seems to be a real game changer. While I’m uncertain if he’ll be the next LeBron James, he may be the next Charles Barkley. We needed some good news after the way Anthony Davis pouted his way out of town. New Pels honcho, David Griffin, took the Lakers to the cleaners in trading away AD and seems to have drafted and traded wisely. This pre-draft tweet sums things up quite well:

Here’s hoping the Zion era doesn’t end like the Baron Davis, Chris Paul or Anthony Davis eras. That concludes the inside New Orleans basketball portion of the Saturday post.

I’m “I remember when Rod Stewart was a respected artist and critics darling” years old. This week’s theme song was the title track of Stewart’s 1971 commercial breakthrough album. Every Picture Tells A Story was written by Rod Stewart and Ron Wood. It’s the opening track of one of the best albums of the 1970’s. Unfortunately, Rod the Mod threw it all way artistically when he moved to Los Angeles and released the shitty “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” and other horrendous hits. I hope I didn’t give anyone an earworm.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the original and a live medley of Too Bad and Every Picture Tells A Story. The Faces are the backing band in both instances and, as always, they rock hard.

Now that you’ve got the picture, let’s hop into one of those prop planes and fly to the break. I’m reluctant to say jump because I don’t want to bail out on y’all.

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The First Church of David Milch

I’ve been trying to find a way to write about the Deadwood movie since I saw it, and Deadwood in general, and David Milch’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, which he talks about in this interview in the context of writing his memoir: 

Singer: Would you pick up a new novel and read it now?

Milch: It’s not likely.

Singer: Is that because the hours in the day you’re able to focus are diminished?

Milch: To some extent. But more so I feel the constriction of possibility, what I’m able to undertake responsibly. I have only a certain amount of energy.

Singer: Do you feel like you’re in a race?

Milch: Yes.

Singer: You’re racing to finish this memoir?

Milch: More so a larger enterprise, of which this is just a part.

Singer: Can you be more specific?

Milch: I’m trying to make work, the undertaking in general, coherent. To restore a dignity to the way that I proceed, and it’s a demanding process. You’re tempted to . . . toss it in. Just to quit.

Singer: Before this, were you someone who had preoccupying fears?

Milch: No.

Singer: And now what is it you’re afraid of, if you could identify it?

Milch: I intuit the presence of a coherence in my life which I haven’t given expression to in an honorable fashion.

Singer: So this is an opportunity. Is that what you’re saying?

Milch: Yes.

Singer: The rush to get to work, that inner necessity to make something. You still have that? Do you wake up every day with that?

Milch: Yes.

Good God. And if there’s a parallel in Deadwood, which has always cast an unflinching gaze on both human suffering (the filth and the language) and human grace (the filth and the language as well), other than the above video, it’s this:

Sol Star: I’m guessing you’ve done things today you wish you could amend.
Seth Bullock: What kind of man have I become, Sol?
Sol Star: I don’t know. The day ain’t fucking over.

And:

Al Swearengen: Every fuckin’ beatin’ I’m grateful for. Every fuckin’ one of them. Get all the trust beat outta you. And you know what the fuckin’ world is.

There’s a moment in the movie (which if you’ve been putting off watching it because you loved the show and don’t want it “ruined” get thee to a TV, not only will it not ruin it, it will redeem the parts you didn’t like) that absolutely took me to church, baptized me in the waters and wrote my name in the holy book.

SPOILERS FOLLOW

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Gangster Love

I’ve had a lot of fun during the Trump era comparing the Insult Comedian and his minions to a variety of gangster movies and teevee shows: from The Sopranos to The Untouchables to The Godfather. I’ve also written about Trump’s ties to the real Mafia in a post wherein I gave him his wise guy nickname, Don Donaldo, Il Comico Insulto.

It turns out that one of the most treacherous and blood-stained real life gangsters of all, Whitey Bulger, was an ardent Trump supporter. I’m not surprised: Tony Soprano and Paulie Walnuts dug W’s war on terror, after all.

NBC News got ahold of some prison era correspondence between Bulger and one of the jurors who convicted him. I am not making this up. Here are some Trump related passages:

In several handwritten letters shared with NBC News, Bulger expressed gushing praise for Trump, offering rave reviews of the president’s foreign policy and combative relationship with the media.

“Trump is tough and fights back instead of bowing down to pressure — and caving in to press!” Bulger wrote in August 2018. “U.S. agrees with him press attacking and his reaction increases his popularity — He has my vote so far.”

“History may show Trump was the man of the hour,” Bulger wrote in a different letter earlier that month. “Feel China respects him and hesitant to try to bully him.”

<SNIP>

The legendary gangster, who was beaten to death inside a West Virginia prison cell last fall, was an ardent Trump supporter and fan of conservative media figures such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, according to the letters shared with NBC News.

“I get some strange mail at times — a grandmother from Kansas — hates Trump wants him ‘impeached,'” Bulger wrote in one letter. “She assumes I hate him? Why Because I’m in prison?”

The missive goes on to reference the allegations that Trump paid off two women with whom he had extramarital affairs. The aging gangster wrote that he believed Trump was a changed man and would never, for instance, engage in a romantic encounter with an intern in the Oval Office.

“My bet is he’s happy with present wife and settled down,” Bulger says in the letter. “No way would he wind up in Oval Office with a Monica Lewinsky — That was a scandal! Same media that attacks Trump would cover up for Bill Clinton.”

Bulger also railed against former special counsel Robert Mueller. An assistant U.S. attorney in Boston in the 1980s, Mueller went on to lead the FBI at a time when it was grappling with a sensational scandal involving agents protecting mob leaders like Bulger.

“Sorry to hear Trump is being boxed in by so many,” Bulger wrote last August.

“Trump is experiencing what Mueller and company can orchestrate,” Bulger said in a different letter from September. “[Mueller] should observe biblical saying – ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.'”

I’m not sure why anyone should be surprised that Bulger *hated* the FBI with whom he co-operated for years, then pursued him until his capture in 2011. In his lamster days, he spent some time hiding out in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. I wondered if he pretended to be a Saints fan?

Like most modern gangsters, Whitey identified with the political right. The days of Democratic hoodlums like Frank Costello and Meyer Lansky are behind us and I’m fine with that. Why wouldn’t Whitey identify with his fellow gangster, Don Donaldo Il Comico Insulto? They had a lot in common even if one of them was a Red Sox fan and the other a Yankee rooter.

It’s a pity that Bulger didn’t live to see this year’s Red Sox visiting the White House controversy. It’s obvious he would have been down with the white boys who went and hard on manager Alex Cora and those who stayed away. They didn’t call him Whitey for nothing.

I have a sudden urge to re-watch, The Departed, Martin Scorsese’s fictionalized version of part of the Whitey Bulger story. What dude wouldn’t love having Jack Nicholson play him? I could have called this post Life Imitates The Departed but chose not to because Whitey Bulger’s story is an epic tale of murder, mayhem, and mendacity. Even Black Mass doesn’t quite do him justice. It was one of the last good movies Johnny Depp made. I reviewed it as part of a genuinely epic 2015 Odds & Sods post. End of self-plug.

Like Speaker Pelosi, I would be thrilled if the Current Occupant emulated his devoted follower, Whitey Bulger, and died in prison. It’s a possibility if he isn’t re-elected in 2020. Let’s make it so.

The last word goes to Stephen Stills with the song that inspired this post title:

Not Everything Sucks

Asia Kate Dillon exists: 

Taylor quickly became a fan favorite. When the character was introduced, a representative from Showtime asked Dillon how much they wanted their personal story to be part of how Taylor was discussed publicly in the press — and Dillon wanted to go all in. “Right from the beginning, I didn’t feel any kind of pressure or like, Oh my God, what did I get myself into? Because I felt immediately like the autonomy was mine,” they tell me. “And then, on top of that, I spent almost 32 years not living in the full truth of my experience. I was more than ready to talk about it as much as I could, engage with my newfound community, and really just live fully in my truth for the first time in my life.” Despite this eagerness, Dillon is quick to demur on being called a trailblazer. “I am one part of the community, whose visibility would not be possible without the work that had been done before me by the people who continue to be the most marginalized from the movement,” they say, picking at a heaping plate of vegetarian lo mein. “That trail existed long before me.”

They’re a frickin’ genius. Like a whole scene is just a look or an aside, and they can make you hold your breath and not even notice you’re doing it until the next commercial break.

I haven’t seen John Wick 3 yet (I KNOW) but Taylor Mason is a very real person to me and I think all the time about if Taylor is okay, what they’re up to, if anybody’s bringing them coffee or checking in.

Who else is watching Billions?

A. 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Estimated Prophet

Le Cirque by Henri Matisse.

It was a difficult week in New Orleans. In addition to the passing of Dr. John, we lost Chef Leah Chase who died at the age of 96. Her family’s Creole eatery, Dooky Chase’s, has fed presidents, civil rights leaders, and freedom riders as well as the hoi polloi since 1941. A reminder: feeding an integrated group such as the freedom riders was against the law in the Jim Crow Era. Chef Leah did it anyway. After her death, Picayune columnist Jarvis DeBerry wrote a piece about Chef Leah’s role in the Civil Rights movement. She didn’t scare easily, not even when a bomb was thrown at her Orleans Avenue restaurant.

As she aged, Chef Leah was the smiling, welcoming face of this Treme institution but she never stopped cooking. In recent years, she was a sort of secular saint in our community; something most would find burdensome but she wore it lightly. She led a long and eventful life. She will be missed.

Last month in this space I mentioned the Krewe of Nyx’s hare-brained scheme to stage a summer parade. The city government has finally responded. Here’s how Gambit editor and Adrastos crony Kevin Allman characterized it on the tweeter tube:

This week’s theme song, Estimated Prophet, was written by Bob Weir and John Perry Barlow in 1976. It was tested onstage many times before it became the opening track on one of the Dead’s better studio albums, Terrapin Station.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the studio original, then a boss reggae cover by Burning Spear.

Now that we’ve visited the burning shore of California, let’s jump through a hoop of fire to the break. Hopefully, we won’t get scorched.

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A D-Day Reading List

75 years ago today marked the beginning of the end of Nazi tyranny in Europe. It was a day on which young men sacrificed their lives on the bloody beaches of Normandy to defeat the scourge of Nazism. It’s an important chapter in the history of both the United States and Europe. It resulted in the post-war formation of NATO and later the European Union; institutions that have prevented the outbreak of a continent wide war since 1945.

There are many fine articles on the internet about D-Day. Here are links to some of them:

The Man Who Told America The Truth About D-Day by David Chrisinger. A piece about the great war correspondent, Ernie Pyle.

I Never Saw My Grandfather’s Secret D-Day Journal by Barry Svrluga.

The next three pieces were posted by Dr. A on her Facebook feed:

D-Day’s 75th Anniversary: Remembering One Small Town’s Big Sacrifice by Mel Allen.

Remembering The Man Who Built The Natonal World War II Museum by Eric Paulsen and Dominic Massa. A tribute to the late UNO historian Stephen Ambrose the author of Band Of Brothers.

Saving Private Ryan Got My Dad To Finally Talk About The War by Ben Mankiewicz. Ben is, of course, the prime-time host at Turner Classic Movies.

Speaking of TCM, they’re doing a month-long tribute, WWII In The Movies: Allied Powers. The movies will run every Thursday in June. The series begins with D-Day movies today.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Wooden Ships

A New Frontier by Alan Bean

Summer colds are the worst. I have one so I’m keeping this introduction brief. This time I mean it.

This week’s theme song, Wooden Ships, was written in 1968 by David Crosby, Paul Kantner, and Stephen Stills. There are two original versions of this song but I’m posting the Crosby, Stills & Nash one first because it was released in May of 1969 whereas Jefferson Airplane’s version came out that November.

Now that we’ve fled planet Earth, let’s jump into the void, I mean, jump to the break. I’m not sure if Kantner, Crosby, and Stills provided parachutes. They were hippies so I have my doubts. I’ll guess we’ll find out on the other side.

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