Category Archives: Television

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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Not Everything Sucks

Deadwood is still with us and so is David Milch, who I’d take a bullet for and laugh about it: 

Still, the studio’s faith in Milch never wavered. It just wanted him to focus on more potentially lucrative projects, and persuaded him to create a new series, “John from Cincinnati,” set in a California surfing community, a collaboration with Kem Nunn, a novelist whose books can be found in the surf-noir section. It lasted only one season, a consequence generally attributed to a plot-coherence deficit. In the years that followed, Milch remained fiercely industrious. He created “Luck,” set at the Santa Anita Park racetrack and starring Dustin Hoffman, which was shut down in its second season after multiple horses died during filming. Milch also made a pilot—the only episode shot—for an HBO series called “The Money.” (Milch described it to me as “King Lear meets Rupert Murdoch and family.”) Two other HBO projects never progressed beyond the pilot-script stage: adaptations of Peter Matthiessen’s novel “Shadow Country” and “Island of Vice,” a history of Theodore Roosevelt’s tenure as the police commissioner of New York City. Earlier this year, HBO’s “True Detective” aired a new episode written by Milch and Nic Pizzolatto.

What I love more than anything in this world are masters of the craft who still go out and fuck up all the time. Like they could just sit around on their Greatest Hits and chill knowing they’ve created something eternal, but they’re like, “Hey, why don’t I go make this person-shaped hole in the wall, this sounds interesting.”

Do as much stuff as you can for as long as you can. God damn what a life.

A. 

Saturday Odds & Sods: I Want You Back

Rayograph by Man Ray.

This is the week Mother Nature flicked the celestial switch to turn on the steam bath that is summer in New Orleans. It hit 90 degrees for the first time in 2019. The cats slowed down, and your humble blogger started sweating like Bogie in the greenhouse scene in The Big Sleep. This sort of heat is why people in more sensible countries such as Spain and Greece take siestas. Did I just call the Greeks sensible? There’s a first time for everything.

The big local story was the death of writer, raconteur, and local character Ronnie Virgets at the age of 77. His prose style was unique as was his voice, which landed him on local teevee and radio. Ronnie was a man about town so I ran into him from time-to-time over the years. The last time was at the Krewe du Vieux captain’s dinner. Ronnie was our king in 1996. I told him how much I missed his Razoo column in the Gambit. His reply: “I ran out of shit to say.” It was said with a wink so I didn’t believe it for a second. Our mutual friend, Clancy DuBos, wrote a lovely tribute to Ronnie in which he compared him to both Damon Runyon and Jimmy Breslin. Yeah, you right, Clancy. They broke the mold when they made Ronnie Virgets.

Motown May continues with this week’s theme song. I Want You Back was written in 1969 by “The Corporation” aka Berry Gordy, Freddie Perren, Alphonso Mizell, and Deke Richards. The song was originally intended for Gladys Knight & the Pips but ended up being the Jackson 5’s first hit. Let me address the monster in the room: Michael Jackson did monstrous things as an adult but he was an abused child in 1969. Besides, my favorite thing about I Want You back is the production, especially the guitar riff that propels the song.

We have two versions for your entertainment. The Jackson 5 original and a cool cover by Graham Parker:

I hope you’ll still want me back after we jump to the break. If you don’t, who can blame you?

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Perspective

I had no plans to write about the Game Of Thrones series finale. It feels like I’m poaching on Milady Athenae’s territory but some of the more overwrought reactions to the final season compelled me to write. Some of the agita was caused by the showrunners’ willingness to engage in “fan servicing,” a dreadful term that I’m loathe to use but what can I tell ya? When some Sopranos fans demanded “less yakking and more whacking,” David Chase didn’t give a shit. Pandering to one’s dumbest and most bloodthirsty viewers is folly.

I’m a casual fan who hasn’t read the books. I don’t bleed GOT dragon blood or even fire and ice. Here’s my verdict: season 8 was erratic. It had one of the best episodes of the series, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, and one of the murkiest, The Long Night. And I’m not 100% certain that I found the finale 100% satisfying but I never expected perfection. The show has always been messy and uneven: don’t get me started about Arya and the faceless whozit story line, which was the GOT equivalent of Vito in New Hampshire on The Sopranos.

The reaction I’ve found most annoying is the notion that the Khaleesi’s fiery atrocities came out of nowhere. I’ll let Vulture’s Hillary Kelly do the heavy lifting in her recap of the penultimate episode: 

In the days to come the battle among viewers will revolve around one big idea: Daenerys the Mad Queen giving in to her worst impulses and torching an entire city and its people to the ground. How can they drag a good woman down? the Twitterverse will wail. Crowds of angry viewers are going to revolt against the fact that this single woman isn’t keeping their feminist fantasies alive, that the showrunners would dare do something so complex as have a woman with rather questionable DNA, a devout belief in her divine rights, a propensity for crucifixion, a long storied history of being talked out of vicious acts by her advisers, and a savior complex the size of Wun Wun actually do the logical thing and go HAM. If you’re wondering how long this has been building, go back and rewatch Daenerys burn Mirri Maz Dur in season one, watch her burn Pyat Pree in season two, watch her burn Astapor in season three, watch her crucify the Masters in season four, watch her burn the slave owners of Meereen in season five, Vaes Dothrak in season six, the loot train and the Tarlys in season seven.

If anything, this squabble has intensified after the finale.  But I think everyone dug Drogon melting the iron throne, which was reminiscent of the death of Danny’s brother, Viserys, at the hands of Khal Drogo back in season one; before America had its own version of the Mad King.

Yeah, I know that I mocked bloodthirsty viewers but that was wicked awesome.

I am less mystified than many by the series ending since it seems to be based on history. The Council was the Westerosi version of the conclave that produced the Magna Carta in 1215. The British lords met and came up with a way to limit the so-called divine rights of kings. That’s a concept that would work quite well in a fictional landscape plagued by endless and endlessly violent power struggles. Westeros would do better as a confederation of principalities than a centralized monarchy. Think Germany before it was Prussianized by Bismarck and the Hohenzollern dynasty. That did not end well.

As to the installation of Bran the Broken as fictional monarch of the fictional seven kingdoms, it’s not entirely satisfying. I would have preferred his sister, Sansa. BUT it’s based on a venerable notion that the reluctant ruler is the best ruler. It’s part of America’s founding myth that George Washington did not want to be the first president and had to be talked into it by, among others, Alexander Hamilton. I guess that makes Tyrion the diminutive Hamilton. I can’t wait for the musical.

In a show about power, there was never going to be a happy ending. This is as close to that as Team GOT was likely to get. It was their creative choice, which pleases some people and outrages others. So it goes.

In the end, some perspective is called for. It’s just a teevee show.

The last word goes to Peter Gabriel whose position on GOT is unknown to me:

There Were Hundreds of Ways Out / But Only One Way Here: Final #GameofThrones Thread

This show and these books and every single bit of terrible merchandise from all of it will be worth it forever for introducing us to this goddess. Go argue elsewise if you must but do it away from my hearing.

Since this is the last one ever I have a few things I’d like to address from previous episodes.

First, no, Sansa Stark did not thank her rapist in that scene with the Hound.

Second, of course this all could have gone another way. That’s THE POINT.

People make choices and those choices have consequences and nobody HAD to do any of this. Lysa Arryn could have burned Littlefinger’s note and none of this shiz would have happened and Robert would still be falling down drunk at jousts and stuff.

“What if Dany went crazy but in like a sympathetic way?” is not a way of arriving at the same point. It’s another story, which is fine, but you’re not writing the one that’s on TV.

Third, Danaerys Targaryen was not being ruined by sexist showrunners who turned her from a heroine into a villain. What books did you all read? Forget the books, what show did you all watch?

Dany has always been problematic AF. So has Jon, frankly, with his martyr complex and his whinging about Ned and his refusal of the throne Because A True Ruler Never Wants It. So has Varys. So has Tyrion (so, so much, has Tyrion). So, honestly, have Arya and Brienne. If you think you’ve been watching a show about heroes and villains buddy have I got beachfront in Arizona for you to buy.

This is a story about power. About what it does.

To everyone.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: You Keep Me Hangin’ On

Golconda by Rene Magritte.

After a deluge on Mother’s Day, we’re having Indian spring in New Orleans. Is there such a thing? If there’s not, there should be. The best thing about it is that the oak pollen that plagued me got its ass kicked by the rain.

I’ve never re-used an Odds & Sods featured image within a month before, but it’s a perfect fit with this week’s theme song. Besides, if you blog long enough, you end up repeating yourself, repeating yourself, repeating yourself. One side benefit of the vinyl revival is that everyone knows what a broken record is, what a broken record is, what a broken record is. It’s time to lift the needle and move on.

Motown May continues with the Supremes. The crack songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote You Keep Me Hangin’ On in 1966. It was a number one hit song with a bullet, with a bullet, with a bullet. The preceding was an inside joke for hardcore Zappa fans. Everyone else can move on to the next paragraph.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the Supremes original and a 1967 “psychedelic rock” cover by Vanilla Fudge, which was also a  top ten hit. I put psychedelic rock in quotes because it’s one of those phrases that’s like ketchup or mayo: some people slather it over everything.

Now that we’ve hung on as well as out, let’s jump to the break. Perhaps all this hangin’ means we’ll land in a hangar. One more thing:

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Doris Day, R.I.P.

My parents were both Doris Day fans, so I grew up watching her eponymous sitcom, then her movies on the late, late show. They owned some of her records and my mom was known to sing along with Doris. She got a kick out of informing me that Doris Day was my dad’s celebrity crush. His response, “She’s my type. She’s a beautiful Midwestern blonde. Just like your mother.”

Doris Day died today at the age of 97. She lived a long, productive, and difficult life. She was a survivor: she made it through a series of bad marriages and outlived her only child, Terry Melcher, by 15 years. Terry was Manson’s real target on the night that Sharon Tate was murdered. He was never quite the same again but his mother persevered. People who grew up during the Great Depression and lived through World War II were as tough as nails; even America’s Sweetheart.

As much as I loved her movies with Rock Hudson and Tony Randle, it was a revelation when I saw her in the two movies whose lobby cards are this post’s featured image. She was a mom and wife in the Hitchcock flick but her turn in Love Me Or Leave Me as Ruth Etting, a torch singer married to a gangster, was unlike any other part she ever played. Ruth was one tough cookie as was Doris.

Doris Day was a legend: singer, movie star, actress, and animal lover. What a life, what a broad. She will be missed.

The last word goes to Doris herself with the theme song from Love Me Or Leave and the song from The Man Who Knew Too Much that became her signature number, Que Sera, Sera:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: You Haven’t Done Nothin’

Der Vogelmensch by Max Ernst

It’s been a good news, silly news week in New Orleans. I’m a good news first person: with the help of Governor Edwards, Mayor LaToya Cantrell has secured millions in tourism money to help fix our aging infrastructure. Here’s what I mean by aging infrastructure:

In silly local news, the Krewe of Nyx is planning a summer parade. Just what we needed: a sweaty-n-steamy faux Carnival parade. This is why I call them the krewe of mediocre themes and bad ideas. The only good thing is that they won’t be sweat-rolling on the traditional parade route near Adrastos World HQ. It’s a terrible idea: the allure of Carnival is enhanced by its seasonality. This is like eating oysters in a month without an R. Shorter Adrastos: Nix on Nyx.

Motown May continues with this week’s theme song. Stevie Wonder wrote You Haven’t Done Nothin’ in 1974 in response to the news of the day: Watergate. That’s right, it’s about Nixon. I’ve used it before but never as an Odds & Sods theme song. Since we’re in a slow-motion constitutional crisis, it works. Just think of Trump instead of Tricky Dick.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: Stevie’s original and a 2018 cover by Roger Daltrey.

Now that we’ve trashed talked Tricky-n-Trumpy, let’s jump to the break.

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Headline Of The Day: Surprise, Surprise

It’s comic relief time. The headline in question (questionable headline?) comes from Slate’s homepage:

Dear Care and Feeding: My Mother-In-Law Is Apparently Planning A Surprise Bris

A surprise bris? Oy, just oy.

Care and Feeding is Slate’s parenting advice column, which I rarely read but this headline grabbed me by the balls. The first paragraph of the letter grabbed me as well:

My fiancé was raised as a reform Jew; I am a casual Christian. We have mutually decided not to circumcise our forthcoming son. His family is, to put it lightly, up in arms about our not hosting a bris. (“Because it’s a Jewish rite of passage!”)

I’m not sure what a casual Christian is. Does it mean she wears flip flops and shorts to church?

It’s unfortunate that the absence of a mohel is causing such turmoil but columnist Nicole Cliffe offers some good advice on how to avoid the surprise bris and a break with the Mother-In-Law.

A surprise bris? Oy, just oy.

The main reason this tickled me so much is that it reminded me of this classic SNL sketch:

I was absolutely convinced that there was a Samurai Bris sketch with John Belushi as Samurai Futaba, but I couldn’t find any record of it on the interweb. I did, however, find a site with a Samurai Mohel joke on it.

I guess a Samurai Bris sketch would have been too cutting edge even for the original SNL. Oh well, this Samurai Deli GIF will just have to do:

A surprise bris? Oy, just oy.

F Is For Fluid

I took a mental health break from political news and social media this weekend. We attended a Kentucky Derby party at the home of some friends who hail from the Bluegrass State. I drank too much Bourbon from our host’s collection. Like Maximum Security, I was disqualified…from driving. I may, however, have bumped someone for all I know.

Upon my return to the fray, there was panic and paranoia in the air.  It’ seem to be taken as a given in some quarters on the left that Trump *will* be a dictator unless impeachment proceedings were started yesterday. And that anyone who disagrees is like a German Jewish merchant who refused to believe that the country of Bach had become a country of pogroms. I wish I had “liked” that tweet but it was so OTT hysterical that I moved on. Team Liberal Freak Out is playing into the Trumpers’ hands. They want us to turn on one another. It shows that someone is paying attention to Democrats’ tendency to form the proverbial circular firing squad. Don’t do it, y’all.

Sowing chaos and confusion is what Team Trump does best. That’s why I adopted the phrase the Fog of Scandal and call the president* the Kaiser of Chaos. The Trump regime press operation is a giant smoke machine and sometimes they hit the target.

A more understandable reason for alarm is that Bill Barr is the first major figure in Trumpworld who is neither stupid nor incompetent. He’s a wily bastard who engineered the end game of the Iran-Contra cover-up so neatly that his role was forgotten until he took on the Kremlingate cover-up. He’s a cover-up specialist disguised as an establishment lawyer

One thing I’ve learned in life is that freaking out never made anything better. Observing a relative who has spent their life freaking out over everything has led me to skew in the opposite direction. Team Liberal Freak Out would be well-advised to take a deep breath and calm down. We need clear heads to fight Trumpism. Repeat after me: freaking out never made anything better.

I realize that the worst case scenarists could be right. In my thirteen years as an internet pundit, I’ve been wrong before and I could be again. The only certainty in the fight against Trumpism is that the situation is fluid. Trump changes his mind on important things at least twice daily. He acts out of anger, panic, and fear, which is why his opponents should think things through and act out of reason, not blind emotion. I seem to be channeling Mr. Spock today: better a Vulcan than a Ferengi. Trump is the latter:

Actually, he’s a Ferengi who thinks he’s a Klingon. End of Star Trek fanboy digression.

At the risk of sounding like the late mystery writer Sue Grafton: F Is For Fluid. Anyone who is certain they know how this will turn out is kidding themselves. It’s like the out of control carousel at the end of Strangers on a Train: round and round it goes, where it stops nobody knows. In that Hitchcock classic, the carousel was wrecked but the good guys prevailed in the end  Let’s hope life imitates art.

The last word (video?) goes to the aforementioned carousel scene:

Saturday Odds & Sods: What’s Going On

Jazz Fest is in its second weekend. I used to love this event, but it’s like an ex-girlfriend who I still like but am not always eager to see.  It’s become just another pop/roots rock/kinda sorta jazz festival in the last decade, which has made me lukewarm about attending. I broke up with Jazz Fest a few years ago and have an awkward relationship with it. I still may go this weekend but the thrill is gone, y’all.

In other New Orleans news, a water main broke a few miles from Adrastos World HQ. We had no water pressure for a few hours and are still under a boil water advisory. The pipe was laid in 1905. I should make a crude joke at this point but I try to ignore my inner Beavis and Butthead.

This week we celebrate the music of Marvin Gaye who would have turned 80 on April 2nd, which was the day that the USPS issued the Marvin Gaye stamp. I remember the dark day in 1984 when I heard about Marvin’s death at the hands of his father. It was April Fool’s day so I wondered briefly if the news was a cruel hoax. It was not. I even shed a few tears. I rarely cry but I wept that day. Rage, jealousy, and firearms are a toxic combination. For Marvin, they were fatal.

This week’s theme song was the title track of Marvin’s best album.  We have two versions of What’s Going On for your listening pleasure: Marvin’s original followed by a swell 1986 cover by Cyndi Lauper who really rocks Marvin’s composition.

Now that we’ve seen what’s going on, let’s jump to the break with our eyes wide open. I’ll skip the obvious Kubrick joke.

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Cuts Deeper: Game of Thrones Thread

Swift as a deer. Quiet as a shadow. Fear cuts deeper than swords. Quick as a snake. Calm as still water. Fear cuts deeper than swords. Strong as a bear. Fierce as a wolverine. Fear cuts deeper than swords. The man who fears losing has already lost. Fear cuts deeper than swords. Fear cuts deeper than swords. Fear cuts deeper than swords.

What an incoherent, half-ass, mumbling nutsack of an episode, coming on the heels of perhaps the show’s finest hour of all time. I was amped for this one. I was ready for some serious mind-fucking time-traveling landing-sticking and what we got was a muddily staged episode of The Walking Dead backed inexplicably by the Westworld soundtrack.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Back In The High Life Again

Mesas In Shadows by Maynard Dixon

I had a stupid kitchen accident this week. The sink was full-ish so I decided to pour boiling water into an airborne/hand-held colander. I missed and mildly scalded my left hand. It hurt like hell for a day or so but barely qualified as a first degree burn. I did, however, feel like a first degree dumbass. It was not unlike being an honorary Trump.

I just finished reading John Farrell’s fine 2017 biography of Richard Nixon. I learned two positive things about Tricky Dick. First, he broke his arm as a young politician after slipping on the ice outside his DC area home. The break occurred because he held onto his daughter instead of bracing for the fall with his hands. Second, Nixon was a good tipper. He tipped 25% in the late Sixties when 10% when standard and 15% was a big tip. Hell has frozen over: I just said something nice about Nixon.

After last week’s sad theme songs, I decided to elevate the tone a bit. Back In The High Life Again was written by Steve Winwood and Will Jennings in 1986. It was a big hit; surely aided by James Taylor’s gorgeous harmony vocals.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: Winwood’s chirpy original and a mournful interpretation by Warren Zevon, another wry and sardonic guy. We’re everywhere, y’all.

Now I want some Miller High Life, which is my favorite cheap beer. It’s even good enough for my beer snob/home brewer friend Greg. On that note, let’s take a swig of Miller, then jump to the break. Try not to spill any. Wasting beer is a sin.

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