Saturday Odds & Sods: Higher Ground

Blue Night by Edward Hopper.

The tropics have been busy this week. There are two named storms in the Gulf. Neither is headed our way, but it’s been a wet week. Oh, to be on the dry side of a storm.

It was qualifying week for the 2020 election in the Gret Stet of Louisiana.  Senator Double Bill Cassidy gained a name opponent when Democratic Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins filed to challenge him. He has his work cut out for him: he’s not well known in South Louisiana. The spineless incumbent remains a heavy favorite.

The most interesting local race is for Orleans Parish District Attorney. Incumbent Leon Cannizzaro is retiring, which makes it a wide-open race. City Council President Jason Williams looked like a very strong candidate until he was indicted on federal tax charges. The funniest moment of qualifying week was when Williams told us not to be distracted by his indictment. Dude, you’re running for DA. You need a better argument than that.

This week’s theme song was written by Stevie Wonder for his smash hit 1973 album Innervisions.  It’s about reincarnation or some such shit but I like it for the funky groove.

We have two versions of Higher Ground for your listening pleasure: Stevie’s original and a 1989 cover by Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Glad I was able to funkify your lives today. I took lessons from the Meters:

That George Porter Jr. bass line makes me want to jump…to the break. See you on the other side.

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Miss Otis Regrets

As a songwriter, Cole Porter was not known for his social conscience. Miss Otis Regrets is an exceptional exception to that rule.

Cole Porter composed this song in 1934. Miss Otis the heroine of the piece is unable to lunch because she was accused of murder then lynched. That’s pretty strong stuff coming from the man who wrote Anything Goes.

We have four versions that are posted in chronological order. The first one comes from Ethel Waters in 1934:

Miss Otis is one of the highlights of Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Songbook:

I’ve never understood why Bryan Ferry didn’t become THE rock star who sings standards, but that crown went to Rod Stewart who doesn’t have the voice for it. His rasp is more suited for blues, R&B, and rock but life can be strange.

Here’s Ferry’s take on Miss Otis from 1999:

Finally, a Hammond B-3 heavy version from Van Morrison:

Van also has a voice made to sing standards

Have a drink. Relax. It’s the Friday Cocktail Hour. Cheers.

Yoho Ho & A Bottle Of Dumb

I originally hadn’t planned to write about AOC’s smackdown of Florida Congresscreep Ted Yoho until this post title occurred to me. That happens more than you think. It’s why haven’t done a malaka of the week post in quite some time. If anything, there’s more malakatude in the world, but if you have a catchy title, you run with it, especially if it’s piratical.

Why is that every time a white boy wingnut is vexed with a woman, they call her a bitch? A “fucking bitch” in this instance.

Why is that every time a white boy wingnut is vexed with a woman, they issue a non-apology apology? Good on AOC for rejecting it.

Why is that every time a white boy wingnut is vexed with a woman, they talk about the women in their lives? Being married with daughters is not proof that you’re NOT sexist; mentioning them means that you’re probably a chauvinist pig.

Hell, the Impeached Insult Comedian has two daughters. Does that make him a SNAG? That’s Calvin Trillin’s term for a Sensitive New Age Guy. Trump is an accused rapist and notorious misogynist so I guess it doesn’t.

I remain gobsmacked at the poor quality of House Republicans. Is being crazy and/or stupid part of their recruitment program?

I recently posted a list of the worst House Republicans on the Tweeter Tube. I somehow missed Ted Yoho. Here’s a revised list:

  1. Steve Scalise
  2. Gym Jordan
  3. Louis Gohmert Piles
  4. Matt Gaetz
  5. Ted Yoho
  6. Doug Collins
  7. Clay Higgins
  8. Paul Gosar
  9. Mo Brooks
  10. Steve King

The only reason the King of Bigots brings up the rear is that he’s been retired by the voters. It is, however, sad not to have Ratcliffe and Meadows to kick around anymore. They’re now being kicked around by the Kaiser of Chaos.

Back to AOC. Once again, she’s proven herself to be a master politician. As I watched clips of her speech on the House floor, I pictured the head of every woman I know nodding in agreement. They’ve all been Yoho-ed at some point. The malakatude, it burns.

Ted Yoho is cursed with a punworthy name. Try replacing Yo-Yo with Yoho in this Kinks song. It works beautifully. That’s why they get the last word:

Friday Catblogging: Private Eyes

One of the odder things Dr. A and I do is cast our cats in various teevee roles. (Another time, I’ll tell you about how we cast Cheers.) It’s one reason that we ended up with cats named Della Street and Paul Drake.

I recently got a deal on the complete Rockford Files on DVD. Quite naturally, PD was immediately cast as charming rascal Jim Rockford:

The last word goes to Hall & Oates:

 

Homeland Insecurity

The Department of Homeland Security is a bureaucratic monster spawned by 9/11. The blame usually goes to the Bush-Cheney administration but Slate’s Fred Kaplan has a better memory than most of us:

The DHS was a sham from the get-go. It was the brainchild of Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who proposed the new department in late 2001, just after the 9/11 attacks, as a way of showing that the Republicans in the White House weren’t the only ones trying to tackle terrorism. President George W. Bush opposed the idea, seeing it as burdening the government with another bureaucratic layer. But then, the 9/11 Commission hearings revealed that al-Qaida succeeded in toppling the World Trade Center in part because the FBI, CIA, and other agencies hadn’t shared intelligence about the hijackers’ movements prior to the attack. Coordination and consolidation were suddenly seen as nostrums to our problems.

So, under pressure, in late 2002, Bush signed Lieberman’s idea into law. DHS wound up subsuming 22 agencies from eight federal departments—with a combined budget of $40 billion and a payroll of 183,000 employees—into one hydra-headed behemoth.

The creation of this unwieldy behemoth was the result of partisan politics. This was before Lieberman became a renegade McCainiac. Back then. Holy Joe had his eyes on the 2004 Democratic nomination. He wanted the Dems to look as tough as Team Bush. We’re still paying for his folly in 2020. Fuck you, Joe.

The very name Homeland Security has creeped me out from the beginning. It sounds like something Goering and Goebbels might have cooked up. Americans *never* referred to our country as the homeland before 9/11. It’s one of the manifold ways those attacks adversely impacted our politics.

There’s been much talk of Nixon’s 1968 Law & Order campaign. I’ve done it myself. We should not, however, forget the GOP’s “the terrorists are coming to kill you” campaigns in 2002 and 2004. Anyone who opposed the Iraq War was derided as “soft on terrorism.” Those scare campaigns are also precursors to Trump’s 2020 scare tactics.

If anything, Homeland Security has made the country less secure. It has damaged the mission of the agencies involved including FEMA:

In fact, it made the government less efficient. For instance, before the consolidation, the head of FEMA had been a Cabinet-level official—a member of the National Security Council who attended interagency meetings and enjoyed direct access to the president. Now this official is an undersecretary of DHS. The secretary of DHS can closely follow only a few of the dozen or so issues the department covers. If emergency management is one of the top priorities, then that particularly undersecretary at least has indirect access to the top; if it isn’t, the mission goes largely ignored. This may have been one reason the Bush administration responded so sluggishly to the great natural disaster of 2005, Hurricane Katrina.

Right said, Fred.

It’s time to abolish the Department of Homeland Security and scatter it to the four winds. The advent of the Chaos Squads has made abolition imperative. There’s too much power concentrated in hands of the DHS Secretary and the current creep, Chad Wolf, is the acting secretary. He’s acting in a way that makes us insecure, not secure.

The last word goes to Otis Redding:

The Cruelty Is The Point…And So Is The Rage

trump_rage_711

I’ve been thinking along the same lines (it’s less left vs. right and more modern vs. medieval, etc.) but Roy Edroso puts it way better than I’m able to

…Trump wants the rage and the virus and the unemployment and the financial collapse to continue and, if possible, get worse — because wants his people to have something to be mad about.

He won’t give them any of the stuff he and they claimed he was going to give them in 2016, like mining and manufacturing jobs, new respect in the world, and an improvement on Obamacare. And you know what? I think they know it. In fact, I doubt they ever really thought he would give them those things.

Because just as he wants them to stay mad, they just want to stay mad, too. They want to stay mad that their coal and factory jobs never came back — and they don’t care that it was the globalization their own Republican politicians supported that killed those jobs. They want to stay mad that America is seen globally as a pitiful giant — even though it was Trump who made us a laughing stock. They want to stay mad that protestors are out in the streets of cities they’ll never even visit — even though it’s the smoldering, stinking mess Trump and the Republicans made of everything that put protestors in those streets in the first place.

That’s the really horrifying thing about the situation we find ourselves in now. It’s not a struggle between competing vision of how to fix the country — it’s a struggle between people who want to fix the country and people who just want something to piss and moan about.

Oh, and any major media report citing Trump’s change of tone is bullshit.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: What’s In It For Me?

This is the perfect paperback cover and title for the Trump era. The only thing that would make it Trumpier is if the buxom chick were a blonde.

Overkill/Alone In The Dark

Insomnia day continues here at First Draft. I’ve long thought that Colin Hay is an underrated singer-songwriter. His solo work is even better than the music he made with Men at Work in their 1980’s commercial heyday.

Colin Hay wrote Overkill for Men at Work’s 1983 album Cargo. It was a monster hit Down Under and charted in the US as well.

We begin with the Men at Work version followed by a solo acoustic rendition by the songwriter.

Colin Hay did a guest shot on the surrealist medical comedy Scrubs in 2002. He sang-you guessed it-Overkill:

Our next song, John Hiatt’s Alone In The Dark is a two-fer. It’s about both insomnia and loneliness. Since it’s a two-fer, we have two versions fer your listening pleasure:

It’s hard to top either Ry Cooder or Sonny Landreth on lead guitar so I won’t try.

Everybody Knows

My insomnia has been raging again. When I have insomnia, I have vivid and usually disturbing dreams. The dreams, in turn, wake me up at odd hours. What I can recall of this morning’s dream gave me both an earworm and the idea for this post.

In this dream, I was chased by shadowy figures much like the ones above who are characters out of Sam Fuller’s film noir, Underworld USA. Being transported to Fuller World in one’s dreams is unnerving but oddly invigorating. It’s not unlike what we laughingly refer to as the real world in 2020. It’s a nightmare but we’re wide awake while experiencing it.

My dreams often have musical soundtracks. Anyone surprised? I thought not. I usually can’t remember what the music was, but this was an exception. The music was insistent and persisted after I awakened: Everybody Knows by the Jayhawks. It’s not a list song a la Cole Porter’s You’re The Top but it inspired the following list of sorts:

Everybody knows that every time Donald Trump opens his mouth, he loses votes.

Everybody knows that nobody should express sympathy  for those accused of procuring minors for a wealthy pervert, especially presidents* who have never done so for people who have perished in the pandemic.

Everybody knows that President* Pennwyise is obsessed with golf and money. These twin obsessions have led to the latest impeachable offense.

Everybody knows that Trump’s Confederate statue fetish and belated but insincere embrace of masking are signs of desperation.

Everybody knows that the MSM should ask the Kaiser of Chaos about Bountygate Noveau every time there’s a press availability. It’s been 26 days since the New York Times exposed the Russian bounty scheme. Why don’t they ask about this egregious dereliction of duty?

Everybody knows that I could go on like this indefinitely. but I won’t.

The song that inspired this post, Everybody Knows, was written by Gary Louris and the Dixie Chicks. It was recorded by the latter in 2006 and the Jayhawks in 2018. They get the last word:

Everybody knows that Leonard Cohen wrote and recorded a song called Everybody Knows in 1988. It was covered by Concrete Blonde in 1990 for a movie soundtrack, but not everybody knows that it was recorded  by Stephen Stills and Judy Collins in 2017.

Everybody knows that I shouldn’t have so many last words in a post but sometimes I can’t help myself. Perhaps it was all a dream. That’s the last word of last words.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Clown

Sad clown? Funny clown? Evil clown? It’s unclear what the great Jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus and designer Marvin Israel were after with this cover. Perhaps it’s crappy clown thrown out of the circus for lazy makeup application. Beats the hell outta me.

Mingus described the title track as follows in the liner notes:

“The Clown” tells the story of a clown “who tried to please people like most jazz musicians do, but whom nobody liked until he was dead. My version of the story ended with his blowing his brains out with the people laughing and finally being pleased because they thought it was part of the act. I liked the way Jean changed the ending; leaves it more up to the listener.”

That sums up my attitude about clowns. They creep me out. The Jean Mingus refers to is Jean Shepherd a writer/actor/radio and tv personality who is best known for A Christmas Story. Holy leg lamp, Batman.

Here’s the whole damn album:

 

Who’s going to stop him?

This is one of those things everyone gasps about, like HOW DARE HE and THIS IS FASCISM PEOPLE WAKE UP and A NEW LOW FOR TRUMP and it just makes me tired. 

President Trump and top White House officials are privately considering a controversial strategy to act without legal authority to enact new federal policies — starting with immigration, administration officials tell Axios.

Between the lines: The White House thinking is being heavily influenced by John Yoo, the lawyer who wrote the Bush administration’s justification for waterboarding after 9/11.

Yoo detailed the theory in a National Review article, spotted atop Trump’s desk in the Oval Office, which argues that the Supreme Court’s 5-4 DACA ruling last month “makes it easy for presidents to violate the law.”

Like, these are the kinds of things that, when Trump does them, I think, “that makes perfect sense.” I’m shocked he hasn’t done this MORE. It’s like when he uses the power of his office to personally screw over anyone who’s ever bugged him, or reward his friends, or buy 500 burgers: This is the part of him that makes SENSE. Tell me you wouldn’t hint to the FBI/CIA/ATF that they ought to investigate your bestie’s dirtbag ex. If you wouldn’t, I’d do it for you.

The point is that our system was set up so that if a venal, corrupt scumbag bigot DID make it into this chair, we’d have people empowered to stop him.

Who’s going to stop Trump?

Who stopped Bush? Every dirty fucking hippie I know was screaming bloody murder that these were not powers anyone would ever give up once they had them, so why bestow them upon this feckless fuckwit princeling? Bestow we did, after a terrorist attack, and the voices raised in opposition are gone and going.

To be fair, who stopped Obama? Why should HE have had to give up the ability to do what Bush did, wage war in secret, enact his agenda? The only thing McConnell cared about stopping Obama from doing was improving the lives of people of color; he didn’t really give a shit how many Pakistani schoolchildren got droned.

We don’t have a Congress right now. We have a Republican Party that can’t be bothered to respond to a tweet calling for white power, and we have a Democratic Party that can  hold hearings all day every day for a month and never once get a second on TV or remove a single person from power. Joe Biden is out here every day actually trying to be president, saying everything right, and STILL it’s “WHAR JOE BIDEN” and “WHY WON’T THE OPPOSITION DO SOMETHING” as if this is a question of volume. Heh heh, it sure would be nice to have a nominee, these whiteboy chucklefucks keep posting, as if their refusal to listen to him is HIS fault.

I’m so old I remember the late John Lewis staging a full-on sit-in on the House floor all night to fight for gun safety and like a week later white liberals were still passing around that stupid tweet about how nothing changed after Sandy Hook. Enumerate for me the steps that could be taken and are not, right now, today, to stop Trump from doing what he is about to do, above.

It can’t JUST be on Democrats to hold Trump accountable. Our current national trash fire can’t just be the fault of Democrats that they didn’t stop him. If an arsonist manages to get some kindling going, you don’t blame the firefighters who pick up a hose to put it out. You look at the ones sitting on the sidelines and say, you gonna help, or what?

Because from Trump’s perspective, he’s doing exactly what he can do as president, no more, no less. He’s moving within the limits others set for him. It’s why when this is all over we can send Trump to a hospital but McConnell dies in jail. Trump’s just doing what he’s allowed to do. McConnell is the one who allows it.

A.

ps. FUCK UC-Berkeley for giving John Yoo a job. He should be in chains.

The Chaos Squad

Protests have died down in some parts of the country but not in Portland, Oregon. There are many names one could call the DHS thugs who are operating there right now; ostensibly to protect federal buildings and statues. I think of them as The Chaos Squad. Others have called them Stormtroopers, Trump’s Gestapo, or the Goon Squad:

Whatever you call them, they’re an integral part of the Scandal Tornado that touched down on January 20, 2017. Do I think they’re part of a “dress rehearsal” for a coup when Trump loses the election? I do not.

According to Ken Cuccinelli there are only 2000 of them; not even close to enough to stage a coup in such a large country. Their task is to spread chaos and confusion, which is the only thing Team Trump is good at. They’re also incapable of not bragging about what they’re up to. Thanks, Cooch.

A reminder that any time someone puts the words plan and Trump administration in the same sentence, they’re giving them too much credit. These are the same people who brought you the pandemic response and the paper towel toss relief effort in Puerto Rico, after all.

Does that mean I’m pooh-poohing scenes that are reminiscent of Chicago in 1968? Absolutely not. It reminds me of something said on the podium by then Connecticut Senator Abe Ribicoff:

Just substitute Joe Biden and Portland and the jackboot still fits.

DHS is not the only federal agency complicit in the Portland clusterfuck. Bill Barr is up to his neck in this mishigas. Remember when I compared him to Hermann Goering?

Goering was the founder of the Gestapo.

In a brilliant move to counter the Brownshirt tactics of the Chaos Squad, the Portland protesters have brought in the Moms:

This move is reminiscent of the Children’s March in Birmingham in 1963. They faced Bull Connor’s firehose wielding cops who won the battle but lost the war. This Mom’s March is a brilliant way to shame the Goon Squad. If, that is, they can be shamed. Their so-called “leader”, the Kaiser of Chaos, is incapable of either shame or leadership.

The advent of the Chaos Squad is another example of how Team Trump thinks they can win a LAW & ORDER campaign by sowing the seeds of chaos and confusion. As always, they’re all tactics and no strategy. They’re forever lost in the weeds and incapable of seeing the big picture. That’s a damn good thing.

It’s not 1968. They’re in power and the backlash year on *our* political calendar was 2016. In 1968, Nixon was the challenger. Besides, Tricky was a devious bastard who knew how to hedge and tap on the brakes when need be. Subtlety is lost on the Trump Regime. Overkill is all they know.

In honor of the Mom’s March, the last word goes to Mott the Hoople:

John Lewis, R.I.P.

I selected the image above with some care and thought. It was posted on social media in 2016 by John Lewis upon the 49th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act being signed into law by Lyndon Johnson. John Lewis was not only present at this historic occasion, but his activism helped inspire the bill itself. John Lewis *was* American history and now he’s gone at the age of 80 after losing a battle with pancreatic cancer.

John Lewis was one of my heroes. He never lost his passion or sense of humor. He was a man with a big voice and an even bigger heart. He was never petty and was always willing to accept changes in former adversaries. He famously forgave George Wallace in 1979 when the latter expressed remorse over the chaos and havoc he wrought during the Sixties.

The New York Times has republished a 1998 piece he wrote after Wallace’s death, which those who are using John Lewis’ death to settle petty scores should read:

When I met George Wallace, I had to forgive him, because to do otherwise — to hate him — would only perpetuate the evil system we sought to destroy.

George Wallace should be remembered for his capacity to change. And we are better as a nation because of our capacity to forgive and to acknowledge that our political leaders are human and largely a reflection of the social currents in the river of history.

It’s hard to be as big a person as John Lewis but we should try.

He would, however, note the irony of those who would limit the franchise speaking in glowing terms of his lifetime of service. The best tribute to John Lewis would be to reinstate the Voting Rights Act in all its glory.

Central to my admiration of  John Lewis were his kindness and fundamental decency. He was proof positive that you could be a firebrand without being an asshole. Too many Americans confuse assholery with strength and leadership. John Lewis never did. Again, we should follow his example. Being the bigger person isn’t always easy but it’s the right thing to do.

As I searched the internet yesterday, I came upon a tribute that John Lewis wrote about another one of my heroes, David Halberstam after his death in 2007:

I have often said that without the members of the media, the Civil Rights Movement would have been like a bird without wings. David Halberstam, as a reporter for The Nashville Tennessean, was a sympathetic referee who helped to convey the depth of injustice in the South as well as the heart and soul of a movement that would transform America. We talked to him because we trusted him.

We trusted John Lewis to do and say the right thing. He was always focused on the big picture, which is what made him such a singular figure during his nearly sixty years on the national stage. John Lewis kept his eyes on the prize.

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Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – Unmasked Marauder edition

Welp – this “cancel culture” thing has gotten completely out of hand.

Now, the masked  unmasked marauder has decided to cancel anyone who won’t serve him because he could possibly (and probably, given his refusal to wear a mask) blow his COVID cooties all over the BBQ joint.

Told to wear a mask at Kansas City area BBQ restaurant, man in MAGA hat flashes a gun

Arlo Kinsey was working behind the carryout counter at RJ’s Bob-Be-Que Shack in Mission last week when a middle-aged man dressed in a red Make America Great Again hat — and no mask — walked through the door.

“I asked him if he could wear a mask, since it’s what Gov. Kelly told us to do,” said Kinsey, 18, who was working shifts at the barbecue joint this summer before heading off to college. He had dealt with a handful of customers who refused to wear masks inside the restaurant despite the statewide mandate — but none like this, he said.

The man said he had an exemption to the mask order: He then lifted up his shirt, revealing a gun in a holster on his hip.

1 posted on 7/13/2020, 10:09:44 PM by yesthatjallen

(here’s an unsolicited dick pic of the asshole brandishing his manhood – the tan patch on his left side is the inside of his jacket where he’s pulling it back)

MAGAnutBrandishing

Freepers? How say ye?

To: yesthatjallen

 

I’m not fan of wearing masks, but their business, their rules. If you don’t want to follow a businesses rules, then don’t patronize it. But don’t be an ass.

2 posted on 7/13/2020, 10:13:42 PM by bigdaddy45

No, you dickless wonder – being an ass is unscrewing the top of the saltshaker, or refusing to leave a tip.
Brandishing a handgun to someone inside their business is a felony.
To: yesthatjallen

 

This is not a good story… if it is actually true.

3 posted on 7/13/2020, 10:15:09 PM by Sicon (“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” – G. Orwell)

…says the nitwit too lazy to click on the link to watch the security cam footage…

To: yesthatjallen
jesus. someone lock that guy in a closet until mid-November.

4 posted on 7/13/2020, 10:18:01 PM by JohnBrowdie

Oh, if they catch the moron, he’s liable to be in the closet until well after November. Nice to see you acknowledge that he’s a Trump-humper, though. Polls making you a little nervous?
.
Also, felons can’t vote.
To: yesthatjallen

 

sounds like a “false flag” by to me…

5 posted on 7/13/2020, 10:20:39 PM by samkatz

Bite to me.
To: yesthatjallen

You know folks, we’re the front lines of Conservatism, andall eyes are on us.

Nope – just mine.

One dumb ass like this can cause negative ripples across
a wide body of the public.

Please don’t wear a MAGA and go all postal on folks. Good
grief. Do we need to tell folks that? Really?

7 posted on 7/13/2020, 10:21:35 PM by DoughtyOne (Some of the folks around these parts have been sniffing super flu.)

Looks like you do, sonny.  Looks like you do.
To: yesthatjallen

 

What he did was a felony. If true.

8 posted on 7/13/2020, 10:22:04 PM by JusPasenThru (If Biden wins he will kill Republicans.)

DuhHouse
And yet another one too lazy (or afraid) to click on the link and watch the security cam footage….

To: yesthatjallen

Showings(sic) the gun was probably not a great idea.

YaThink

Just turn around and walk out.

Makes Trump supporters look like dangerous jerks.

9 posted on 7/13/2020, 10:22:06 PM by proud American in Canada (But Gollum and the evil warlock crept up and wslipped away with her …)

It’s not a bug – it’s a feature.

Is the part not mentioned in the story that it was a BLM hat and the perp was black ?

48 posted on 7/14/2020, 12:47:12 AM by elbook

Let’s take a closer look :
.
MAGAgun
.
Yep.   Definitely black.
One eighth.
On his mom’s side.
To: Blue Jays

“…It was definitely a threat…”


Fake. Why were police not called? Where is the security camera footage?


About 99% of these stories are bogus with the retraction posted two weeks later in a small box on page 27 under the classifieds.
55 posted on 7/14/2020, 1:30:34 AM by Blue Jays ( Rock hard ~ Ride free)
No, that would be where they put the stories about Republicans getting caught committing voter fraud, and LBGTQ-bashers getting caught with a rent boy.
.
Continue reading at the “continue reading”….

Continue reading

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Young People Need MONEY

I know, I know it’s Douthat, but for fuck’s sake: 

The scholar Peter Turchin of the University of Connecticut, whose work on the cycles of American history may have predicted this year’s unrest, has a phrase that describes part of this dynamic: the “overproduction of elites.” In the context of college admissions that means exactly what it sounds like: We’ve had a surplus of smart young Americans pursuing admission to a narrow list of elite colleges whose enrollment doesn’t expand with population, even as foreign students increasingly compete for the same stagnant share of slots.

Then, having run this gantlet, our meritocrats graduate into a big-city ecosystem where the price of adult goods like schools and housing has been bid up dramatically, while important cultural industries — especially academia and journalism — supply fewer jobs even in good economic times. And they live half in these crowded, over-competitive worlds and half on the internet, which has extended the competition for status almost infinitely and weakened some of the normal ways that local prestige might compensate for disappointing income.

YOU WORK FOR THE NEW YORK FUCKING TIMES. By your own measure, you are the problem. If there was proof there isn’t a meritocracy at all, it’s your complete entire existence.

The problem isn’t that college students graduate and go live in the big exciting sinful city instead of in Beaver County, Iowa, where they could get a house for nothing. For what it’s worth plenty of young people do that, and Douthat is welcome to quit his lofty sinecure in the biggest city in the country and move to some virtuous community where housing is cheap and plentiful and everyone is married with children by 35.

I’m sure the local college would be thrilled to have him teach there, and he could scold 21-year-olds in person for wanting to live someplace where they could get a job. “The Internet” is not to blame for people wanting to live in cities. A powerful need to EAT is. That the city job doesn’t provide that isn’t the fault of tall buildings and small apartments.

For instance, it was the frequent boast of Obama-era liberalism that it had restored certain bourgeois virtues — delayed childbearing, stable marriages — without requiring anything so anachronistic as Christianity or courtship rituals. But if your bourgeois order is built on a cycle of competition and reward, and the competition gets fiercer while the rewards diminish, then instead of young people hooking up safely on the way to a lucrative job and a dual-income marriage with 2.1 kids, you’ll get young people set adrift, unable to pair off, postponing marriage permanently while they wait for a stability that never comes.

CHRIST, what an asshole. Not everybody views marriage and children as a reward. Christianity and courtship rituals have fuckall to do with getting paid. Which is what everybody really needs to be happy. This isn’t some kind of crisis of FEELINGS we’re having. It’s that everybody’s fucking BROKE.

Young people have, quite rightly, noted that it fucking blows to have kids when you’re poor. It blows to be house-poor, car-poor, poor in general. It’s awful. And so they have taken the steps they were told to take to prevent poverty, and they’re still taking those steps. This isn’t hard. What is hard, apparently, is reading comprehension:

Which brings us to the subject invoked in this column’s title — the increasing appeal, to these unhappy young people and to their parents and educators as well, of an emergent ideology that accuses many of them of embodying white privilege, and of being “fragile,” in the words of the now-famous anti-racism consultant Robin DiAngelo, if they object or disagree.

That is not remotely what DiAngelo’s book is about. It is about the freakout that occurs whenever someone says, “hey, that was a racist thing you did,” the immediate need to scream I’M NOT A RACIST as if you’ve been called a poopyhead on the playground. It’s not about how allyship is the new Christianity, which I think is what he’s blithering on about here:

Part of this ideology’s appeal is clearly about meaning and morality: The new anti-racism has a confessional, religious energy that the secular meritocracy has always lacked.

Plenty of Christianity has always been anti-racist if you’re not a fuckwit. NOT BEING A RACIST PIECE OF SHIT is not an attempt to feel better about oneself. That’s pretty much exactly the opposite of what it’s about, as the kind of self-examination to see if you’ve done any racism lately usually leads to feeling pretty much like garbage, but again, that’s not the point.

The point is making other people’s LIVES better. I know nothing can get inside Douthat’s sweatervest anymore but out here in the actual city, people are trying to, you know, NOT GET KILLED OR EVICTED OR DIE OF A PREVENTABLE PANDEMIC. This doesn’t mean they’re eager to declare themselves anti-racist soyboys or whatever he’s on about here.

Honestly, I’ve read this column three times and all I can think is that everyone at the NYT should be banned from writing about elite education for six weeks. Find a new beat or STFU.

A.

Not Everything Sucks, Succession Edition

Gerri and Roman, our Success May-December romance, exist: 

“To be honest, it’s very tough. Because you want it to ring true, and, I don’t know. I think she’s too savvy to do anything too messy like that. I think she’s way too careful a person,” she said of her mixed-up relationship with Roman. “But on the other hand, he makes a good protege. Right? Maybe. I don’t know. I’m just thinking of it in the back of my mind, she’s like, ‘This is a diamond in the rough. Maybe this is the start of a beautiful friendship if I could just put up with his kinky fun sex.’ But I don’t know. How long can you keep that on ice? I don’t know what they’re writing, and I’m a little bit scared to find out.”

I’ve been madly in love with J. Smith-Cameron since Rectify, something you should watch if you haven’t and not just because a friend worked on it; it’s tender and lovely and she’s the best part of it. And it’s just FUN to see something as weird and ambiguous as their relationship seemingly come out of nowhere and then be like oh, no, that’s perfect, that makes perfect sense.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: This Forgotten Town

Subway Portrait by Walker Evans.

The weather in New Orleans has been almost as crazy as President* Pennywise this week. We’ve had record heat as well as torrential rain that caused some street flooding. There were thunderclaps so loud that they interrupted PD’s beauty rest. Now that’s loud.

It’s also lizard season in the Crescent City. They’re everywhere. I have to look down as I descend our front stairs to avoid stomping on them. The cat is obsessed with capturing and tormenting lizards whenever they get inside. I’ve rescued several already this year. Leapin’ Lizards.

A new Jayhawks album dropped last week. XOXO is more of a collaborative effort than past records. It features songs and lead vocals by band members who are not named Gary Louris. Tim O’Reagan and Karen Grotberg’s lead vocals are a welcome addition to the Jayhawks’ musical arsenal.

This week’s theme song, This Forgotten Town, is the opening track on the new album. It was written by Gary Louris, Marc Perlman, and Tim O’Reagan. We have two versions for your listening pleasure:

This is not Gary’s first town tune. There’s also this unforgettable song from Smile.

Let’s leave this town and jump to the break.

Continue reading

The Man That Got Away

It’s Friday afternoon so it’s torch song time. Raise your glass to Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin who wrote this wonderful song for the equally wonderful Judy Garland-James Mason-George Cukor version of A Star Is Born.

I’ve already posted the clip from the movie multiple times, so we begin with Judy Garland live at Carnegie Hall:

You don’t hear as much about Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Harold Arlen Songbook as you should. It’s one of the best of the series featuring arrangements by the great Billy May.

Who among us can forget Sammy Awards? Sammy gender swaps gal for man despite the listing below.

Finally, some West Coast cool jazz with Cal Tjader:

That’s it for today. Have a drink or three. Bottoms up. Cheers.

The last word goes to Dean, Sammy, and Frank. I had no idea until recently how Rat Pack toons there were out there. Here’s another one.

What Will Crimson Tide Fans Do?

Something went right for the Kaiser of Chaos this week. His former Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, lost a bid to regain his Senate seat. Jeff Bo was Trump’s favorite whipping boy after he recused himself from the Kremlingate investigation. It was the only worthwhile thing he did as AG.

Sessions was defeated in the Republican primary by former Auburn head football coach, Tommy Tuberville, who campaigned with his head firmly up Trump’s ample rump. Can he go from Coach Tubs to Senator Tubs? Let’s hope not.

Tubs is not only a bigot-a given for an Alabama GOPer-he’s a corrupt piece of shit whose former business partner was convicted of fraud. No wonder President* Pennywise supported him. The real reason was payback, not pay-offs although Trump loves those too.

College football is some serious shit in Alabama. It will be a factor in the race. Senator Doug Jones went to the University of Alabama so perhaps he should start wearing a houndstooth hat a la Bear Bryant. He can’t very well walk around with a constant scowl like current Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban.

The Alabama Democratic party has a pretty good twitter troll game:

The Iron Bowl is, of course, the annual game between Auburn and Bama, which may not be played in 2020 because of the grotesque incompetence of the Impeached Insult Comedian. Perhaps Senator Jones should blame Trump if the SEC cancels football this fall. They take their football seriously in Alabama, y’all.

Politics make strange bedfellows. As an LSU fan, I hate the Crimson Tide, but I think Doug Jones should leverage the Auburn-Alabama rivalry. He’s the underdog in deep red Alabama so bleeding crimson isn’t the worst strategy.

I’m rooting for Doug Jones. He’s a fine man who has been such a good Senator than one could even call him a Solon.

I like Senator Jones enough to say this: Roll Tide, Roll Doug.

That hurt. I hope Coach O will forgive me.

I’m feeling obvious today, so the last word goes to Steely Dan:

How about a paraphrase? “They call Alabama the Crimson Tide, call me Senator Jones.”

That’s all, y’all.

Friday Catblogging: Mister Cool

Paul Drake is too cool to open his eyes. When you’re that handsome, you need your beauty rest.