Cindy Incidentally

Some of our readers have reached out to ask how we’re faring with Tropical Storm Cindy. Thus far, very well indeed: Della Street remains defiant. We still have power but since the storm is lurking offshore, I thought I better post before we lose it. My friends who *always* lose power when it rains, have lost it but not their shit. Sorry, y’all.

I woke up this morning and wondered if  it was all over but the teevee shouting. Instead, it’s the lull before the next band of rain comes our way. It is not, however, anything comparable to past systems and most of us are using it as a dress rehearsal. Weather Channel danger guy Jim Cantore will just have to be disappointed. He’s reduced to hanging out with the Mayor:

I’d like to point out that Mayor Mitch seems not to know that one runs away from Cantore. What a poser.

The current storm names, Brett and Cindy, sound like high school prom royalty to me. Not scary at all. At least it’s not Cindy with an I. Of course, then we could crack jokes about the eye of this wet but relatively minor storm.

First Draft pun consultant James Karst summed up the local reaction to Cindy last night on the tweeter tube:

The chair recognizes the Faces for the last word:

The Keepers

I approached the Netflix documentary The Keepers with some trepidation. The story is grisly to say the least: a young nun was murdered in 1969 and the perpetrator *may* have been a priest accused of sexually abusing high school girls. It sounded  depressing and like something I’d seen before. I was wrong, In the hands of director Ryan White, The Keepers is more than just a fascinating real-life whodunit, it’s a moving story of survival.

We meet some remarkable people (mostly women) as the 7-part documentary unfolds. They include Sister Cathy Cesnik’s devoted former students Gemma Hoskins and Abbie Schaub who are the most effective real life amateur detectives ever. The central figure of the film is clerical rape survivor Jean Wehner. She’s a brave, feisty woman who was given the runaround by Archdiocese of Baltimore who are still lying about the activities of the demonic priest around whom much of the action revolves: Joseph Maskell.

Because the series is set in Baltimore, comparisons to The Wire are inevitable. They’re also spot-on as Kathryn Van Arendonk points out at Vulture:

When I say that the series is like The Wire, this is a large part of what I mean: The shape of events at Archbishop Keough High School becomes clear through a multiplying, crisscrossing network of individuals with their own personal narratives, telling different pieces of the story from different vantages and wildly diverging interests. In one scene we watch Gemma Hoskins and Abbie Schaub talking about how important it is to find justice for their beloved high-school teacher. In another, we see Jean Wehner struggling to recount her memories of abuse by the school’s chaplain. In yet another, the filmmakers interview Sharon May, who blankly explains why she never brought charges against the school during her time in the district attorney’s office. The total view of what may have happened at Archbishop Keough High School in 1969 only becomes clear from a distance, as an interlocking network of many, many stories.

Ryan White and his team ran down many diverse leads; most of which are plausible but all of which cannot be true. They chose to let the viewers decide. Wise choice. Most of the leads do, however, involve Maskell and the Archdiocese that chose to cover up his crimes. The church was lying about serious issues as recently as 2016. So much for reform.

For those interested in reading more about the people we meet in The Keepers, here are two more links:

The filmmakers seem to have inspired a renewed cold case investigation led by a detective who appears to be sincerely interested in solving the case. But the problem never seemed to be with the police, it was with the Archdiocese and the Baltimore state’s attorneys office. If there was a cover-up, it’s on them and the local political system. Joseph Maskell was not worth protecting: he should have died in prison instead of a church run hospice.

I give The Keepers 4 stars, an Adrastos Grade of A, and an exuberant thumbs up. This was just the sort of documentary that Siskel and Ebert championed when they were still with us. It’s a classic and I don’t say that lightly.

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Batman Soundtrack

I still have the Bright Knight on my mind. Here’s more evidence of that:

Legislation Needs to Actually Do Stuff

For shit’s sake, THIS: 

The Senate bill, like the House bill, has two aims: to complete the final act of the Republicans’ six-year-long performance art piece, “Repeal and Replace Obamacare,” and to cut taxes for the very rich.

[snip]

Now that they have it all, though, the only thing they’re missing is an actual plan. Rather than push for a viable alternative like Medicare for All, or concede the ACA represents the best solution for insuring more people in a private insurance system and work to remedy its flaws, Republicans have decided to insure fewer people while shoveling money towards the rich. But they will be able to say that they finished their greatest work: They repealed and replaced. That’s why House Republicans passed their repeal largely without reading it, and before its effects could be scored by the Congressional Budget Office. And no one captured the sentiment better than President-elect Trump in January. When asked at a press conference what his plan to repeal and replace Obamacare was, he offered the perfect answer: “It will be repeal and replace.”

But CNN will indulge them if this blobfish of a bill passes, with a FINALLY A WIN FOR TRUMP AND RYAN AND MCCONNELL, as if they’re the dumbass kid on the team who finally hit a run in T-ball. That’s all they know, and it’s all that matters to them now.

The abortion fights taught them this. Say what you like about the movement pro-lifers and I will say plenty, but on their laziest days they work harder at supporting their cause than do the politicians they elect.

To get voters, and donors, and get re-elected, the GOP didn’t have to address any societal problems related to women’s bodily autonomy or the economic realities of bearing children or the thorny medical issues that arise in trying to balance the life of a woman and the life of a fetus. They just had to show up at church and bleat about IT’S A CHILD STOPS A BEATING HEART IRRESPONSIBLE SLUTS PUNISHMENT ARGLE BLARGE FLAP. That was all they needed to do to win, and it worked, for the past 40 years. They won.

There’s going to be so much winning.

We’re tired of it, that’s for sure. We’re tired of people in office who don’t know how to do anything, these know-nothing Teawads who primaried actual adults (evil adults, but still) and need to have recent history explained to them like they’re children. Who think withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement is good because fuck you. Who think you can yell North Korea into becoming another country. And who don’t have to care about what’s in health care legislation, to vote for it.

We’re tired of all the winning.

A.

Someone Told People to Resent Others

This thread is worth reading, referencing as it does the ongoing “resentment politics” that have devastated Scott Walker’s Wisconsin:

As I keep saying, people do not independently come to the conclusion that all minorities are T-bone buying welfare cheats dragging on the system and burning down the ‘hood. Someone TELLS them that. We can’t just accept that outlook as the reality and address it with policy without squarely facing who is pushing the message and how they are doing it.

Because until we counter the voices yelling at them through their speakers, it won’t matter if Democrats DO come out strongly in favor of Medicare for All, if they remind people they were the only ones who gave even half a fuck about reining in rapacious health care companies, if they run ads every other second touting free community college and support for organized labor. It won’t matter if they all turn into St. Bernie Sanders, or for that matter St. Hillary Clinton as she was instead of as she was portrayed. It won’t matter if we run Obama 12 more times.

So long as there is a chorus of wingnut dickbags on Fox and talk radio (and talk radio, in Wisconsin especially, is a mental cancer) telling them Democrats want to give all your hard-earned money to lazy black women who are having too many babies, that will always drown anything else out. So long as cable news continues to poison the well of public discourse and define the narrative as “politics is broken, everybody is bad, just give up,” so long as local papers run four pages on a good day and three of those are syndicated columns talking about “Washington” being the problem, the only thing people are going to hear is what Republicans want them to hear.

It’s understandable, sure, to my fellow palefaces. Give me a choice between studying and shooting heroin, I’m gonna show you my veins. I know these people, I meet them on the regular, and you do not have to dig very far under the surface to find the jokes about people getting fat on soda and public assistance while they, the virtuous, just marvel at the destruction of their neighborhoods by “those” elements.

They side-eye every low-hanging-pantsed dude they see on a trip to the mall because THAT is who they picture taking everything away from them. It’s all one thing. They don’t separate their contempt into rural vs. urban vs. black vs. white boxes. I’m not making a joke. You can’t counter vagaries like that with specifics of policy.

You have to counter it with entertainment and right now we have no show.

A.

Why Don’t They Just Move?

Because this, you dipshits: 

Activists took to the streets in the summer of 1967 for 200 consecutive days of fair housing protests, and were sometimes greeted with racial slurs, eggs and rocks as they crossed the Menomonee River, via the 16th Street Viaduct, into the white South Side.

The Common Council eventually ratified a fair housing law in 1968, weeks after the federal government passed its landmark measure.

The racial dividing lines were already drawn, however, and barriers to black upward mobility remained. Even the neighborhood where the baseball slugger Hank Aaron moved in the late 1950s could not avoid a downward spiral. While the black population in the Rufus King area grew from 0.4 percent in 1960 to 89 percent in 1980, its median home value dropped from 9 percent above the city’s median to 23 percent below it, according to “Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods,” a book by John Gurda.

Those historic dynamics of race and housing have not disappeared, either. As recently as 2006, a city government report found that affluent, nonwhite Milwaukeeans were 2.7 times likelier to be denied home loans than white people with similar incomes.

So the bank wouldn’t give your grandparents a home loan, so they had no money to use to lift other family members up, so those family members couldn’t lift up others, and by the way even if they DID bootstrap and such, they’d have had rocks thrown through their windows. For shit’s sake, this is in living memory, this isn’t an ice age ago, so let’s stop with the “why does everything have to be about race anyway” nonsense. It has to be about race because it is about race.

A.

First Draft Potpourri For $200, Alex

Last week’s potpourri post smelled sweeter than jasmine so I thought I’d do it again. Actually, I hate potpourri: I had a distant relative who had it everywhere in her house even in the urn with her late husband’s ashes. I am not making this up. It made me sneeze: the potpourri, not the ashes. I do, however, like Jeopardy-style potpourri.

Eat Two, Brute? We begin with the Trumpers who are outraged about the Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar depicting the Insult Comedian as Caesar. I guess the protesters never studied Julius Caesar in high school or they’d know that the plotters are NOT the heroes of the piece. Besides, there was a production a few years back with an Obama-like Caesar, which ran without incident. Details are beyond people who say shit like this:

“People like me, I don’t even know if they’d let me in,” Ms. Pujol said outside the Delacorte Theater, the home of Shakespeare in the Park. “I am not far right. No one here is far right. We’re only accused of being far right because we love America.”

You could have bought a ticket, ya cheap bastid. Shakespeare did not have the Scalise shooting on his mind when either he, Christopher Marlowe, or Francis Bacon wrote the play. It was first staged in 1599, after all. Besides, if you were a film buff you’d know that James Mason was in his villain phase when he played Brutus in the 1953 film version. Btw, he looked almost as good in a skirt as Brando.

Is He Is Or Is He Ain’t? Team Trump is confused. Anyone surprised? Me neither. Trump’s new mouthpiece Jay Sekulow claims the president* is not under investigation as opposed to what a certain Insult Comedian with cotton candy piss hair tweeted out:

It’s more likely than not that Trump hired Sekulow because the wingnut lawyer makes frequent appearances on Fox News. He’s NOT a criminal defense lawyer. For all we know, Trump hired John Dowd because the latter wrote the report that got Pete Rose banned from baseball in 1989. Trump *is* a Yankees fan and the Big Red Machine swept them in the 1976 World Series.

Trump’s defense is going to be as entertaining as it is inept. He’ll inevitably pit them against one another, not listen to any of them, and refuse to pay. Fun times. Believe me.

Rumor Mill Blues: This is a weird one. The Hill is mentioning New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu as a Democratic “dark horse” for the 2020 presidential race. The Mayor has shown no interest in running to replace Trump, Pence, or Ryan. It’s hard to tell which one will be Oval One in 2020. The Gambit’s Kevin Allman has the details.

Speaking of the local alternative weekly, they quoted yours truly in their commentary on the Scalise shooting. Thanks, y’all.

Tweet Of The Weekend: There’s a weird cat related tweet going around. I’m uncertain if it’s meant literally or as satire:

What about white cats? I had one that-to my everlasting shame-I named Q-Tip. He was too dim as well as too sweet to plot against anything or anyone. Believe me.

Finally, a more uplifting message from the NYT’s Charles Blow:

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – “Ann up” edition

Morning, good people – I’m not even going to touch on The Darnold’s Very Bad Week, since everyone else in blogtopia has that pretty well covered.

Instead – let’s look at a Freeper favourite  – well, EX-favourite – who has dared to mention that The Darnold is long on promising and short on delivering.

Remember these pics?  Ah – how they loved her.  Jimbo’s about to bust a nut in this photograph of record :

JimRobAnneCoulter

      “Etchings? Etchings?? I said, come up and see me ITCHING!”

Now?

She goes there.

And the Freeperati are livid!

Ann Coulter Unleashes on Trump for ‘Zero’ Progress on Border Wall
Fox News Insider ^ | June 16, 2017

Posted on 6/16/2017, 3:25:46 PM by 2ndDivisionVet

Ann Coulter was a big supporter of then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, but so far she’s been underwhelmed by the Trump presidency.

On Friday, Coulter unleashed a series of tweets, ripping Trump for his lack of progress on building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, addressing illegal immigration and halting the flow of Middle Eastern refugees into our country….

1 posted on 6/16/2017, 3:25:46 PM by 2ndDivisionVet
Oh no you didnt
To: 2ndDivisionVet 

Ann has trouble seeing the big picture or she’s just bi-polar.

InigoKeepUsingThatWord

There will be no wall built if Trump is removed from office.

5 posted on 6/16/2017, 3:29:15 PM by Electric Graffiti (Obama voters killed America. Treat them accordingly.)

“Oh, we’re going to build a wall, don’t worry about it. We’re building the wall. We’re building the wall,” he said in an apparent aside from his prepared remarks. “In fact, it’s going to start soon. Way ahead of schedule. Way ahead of schedule. Way, way, way ahead of schedule. It’s going to start very soon.”
Uh huh.
Any day now.
To: 2ndDivisionVet

 

What is Ann’s problem? Did she think this was going to be easy? Did she think the swamp would be quick and easy to drain. Does she not realize this is “war” and the opening shots have just been fired?

I’m starting to think she may be just a silly girl…

9 posted on 6/16/2017, 3:29:52 PM by MichaelRDanger

Just now you’re figuring that out?
To: 2ndDivisionVet

 

Well, I do agree that he should be ignoring the courts and doing what the law clearly says he is allowed to do. We elected him BECAUSE he was going to break the china! Right now, he seems to be a very careful bull.

11 posted on 6/16/2017, 3:30:09 PM by An.American.Expatriate (Here’s my strategy on the War against Terrorism: We win, they lose. – with apologies to R.R.)

And we all know the end product of bulls…
BullshitDetector2
To: 2ndDivisionVet

 

Lincoln and TR sure started their projects their first year in office or at least laid concrete plans to do so. She is right on target. This promise will rank up there with read my lips….. if he doesnt get it done. And the Dreamer amnesty and taking Australia’s refugee problem do not look good for the future at all.

12 posted on 6/16/2017, 3:30:40 PM by Uncle Sam 911

Git her done?
To: TangledUpInBlue
Ann Coulter was pushing Mitt Romney to run again in 2016 as recently as 2014. How you go from Mitt Romney to Donald Trump in the same election cycle is beyond me.It’s probably beyond her, too.

20 posted on 6/16/2017, 3:34:10 PM by Alberta’s Child (“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” — President Trump, 6/1/2017)
More Dudley Ann-love below the fold.

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They Could Have Stopped It Long Before Now

I know it seems ridiculous to think about it being over, but I want to start thinking about this being over.

Because it will be, eventually. Trump’s presidency will end either with him being impeached or voted out in 2020 (three more years of this please no), and it will be over.

And then we have to start remembering it, which is hard. Look at the presidency of George W. Bush. People who were actually alive during that shitshow treat it now like it was a goddamn ethics symposium and it drives me nuts. Oh, he’s painting and his former spokesmen are saying anti-Trump things on Twitter right now? How great, I’m sure 100,000 dead Iraqis are thrilled. Let’s call them up and ask them, right after we make sure the NSA can hear us loud and clear.

Remembering anything is hard. Our minds fade things out for a reason; they’re designed that way. There’s no room for the shining joy and pain of everyday life. You have to blur the edges so you can go on seeing.

We don’t remember something the way it happened. We remember it the way it had to happen for us to survive it. And for the GOP to survive Trump, America has to remember him as an aberration, and the GOP as helpless before him.

It’ll be tempting to go along with it, to nod along with whatever hazy remembrances are put forth with platitudes like, “it was a different time” and “no one could have known how bad it was going to get.” It’ll be tempting for everyone to exonerate themselves and each other, have a drink, and go home.

We did it, after all, after Watergate and Vietnam, pretending apologies outweigh the dead. We did it after W, looking forward and not back. We turn things into documentaries and tell ourselves we’ve learned from them, when if we truly had learned, we never would have let Trump happen.

For the GOP to survive Trump America has to remember him as an aberration, but for AMERICA to survive Trump, America has to remember all the ways the GOP could have stopped it.

Knowing he was a corrupt, morally bankrupt, venal old asshole who had no interest in their party beyond using its racist members to support his family’s grift, the GOP could have excluded him from the debates.

They could have denied him their media, making it known that featuring Trump on your show was a good way to get your news organization (or conservative jerkoff butthole podcast, whatever) blacklisted.

They could have kept him off the ballot, or at least fought to do so. They could have demanded he stop using their name. They could have told every surrogate who praised his rise to sit down and shut up and quit fucking helping him.

They could have blocked his convention. Every single person in that hall had bodily autonomy and human free will. They could have all walked out. The electors could have turned, en masse. Following his convention, they could have stood united, instead of dithering around one by one, supporting but not really supporting.

Don’t tell me they couldn’t have. They managed unanimity in their opposition to a president who for the past eight years passed pretty solidly moderate Republican legislation, just because said president was black and liked by many liberals. They managed to hold the caucus together against THAT.

Sure, Trump might have won anyway, had they done all these things. He might have won even bigger, given the electorate’s overpowering need to say fuck you last year, to OWN YOU LIBTARDS and make a great big noise. Trump might have profited even more from the enmity of the GOP than he did from its lukewarm public support.

But at least we all would have been spared the coming embarrassment of every single Republican in Congress who, after Trump is brought up on charges, will deny him thrice before the cock crows. At least we wouldn’t have to listen to them all insist they weren’t even THERE, man, like they didn’t even really know the man. At least then we wouldn’t have to watch them crawl.

Crawl they will, all of them. They bet the lives of the working people about whom they pretend to care that Trump’s crazy racist xenophobic sideshow wouldn’t outweigh the chance to cut their own taxes. It will be amazing how many of them knew all along Trump was garbage but were powerless in his thrall.

And we’ll have to say, as many of us have been saying about former wingnut speechwriters and former wingnut bloggers and former wingnut talk radio hosts who’ve recently found their spines and want a fucking parade for it: Don’t tell me you didn’t know, and don’t tell me you couldn’t have stopped it anyway.

You did, and you could have. A thousand times.

A.

 

Sunday Morning Video: Women Of Song Infinity Hall Live

It’s an Infinity Hall Live compilation featuring Tori Amos, Aimee Mann, Shelby Lynne, The Wailin’ Jenny’s, Wilson Phillips, and Joan Osborne

Saturday Odds & Sods: Get Back

Collage from Une Semaine de Bonte by Max Ernst.

The celestial switch has flipped and it’s full-tilt summer in New Orleans. We’ve also had a lot of rain but not in the classic downpour between 2 and 3 every afternoon pattern. Instead, we’ve had the sort of all day rain that makes one want to curl up in a ball. Of course, Oscar and Della Street need no such excuse, it’s what they do. It’s probably down to climate change but I’m not a meteorologist so what the hell do I know?

Today is the 45th anniversary of the arrest of the Watergate burglars. That scandal is much in the news for some peculiar reason. #sarcasm. One major difference between then and now is that many people argued that Tricky Dick was too smart to be involved in such a stupid crime. We’re not hearing that about the Current Occupant who is easily the most self-destructive and stupid president* in our history. Many think he’s already the worst ever. It’s too early to say, but he’s in a race to the bottom along with George W. Bush, Andrew Johnson, and James Buchanan

Let’s move on to a happier subject, this week’s theme song. The Beatles have tightly restricted online access to the original studio versions of their tunes. Fortunately, Get Back was performed by the Fab Four during their legendary London rooftop concert.  We also have Macca on the kinda sorta rooftop of the Ed Sullivan Theatre. I guess that’s what they mean by shouting from the rooftops.

Yeah, I know. It’s called a marquee; not be confused with les Maquis.

It’s unclear to me if Jo Jo ever got back to where he once belonged. We’ll resume our rooftop shout-a-thon after the break. Marquee my words…

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A Golden Anniversary Explained

Fifty years ago tomorrow, two scared 20-somethings gathered with family and friends in a cathedral-esque church on the south side of Milwaukee to pledge their lives to one another. Her father thought the man wasn’t good enough for his daughter. His father thought the woman was far too strident and interested in a career to be a good wife.

Nobody, least of all these two kids, knew if they’d make it, if they’d be OK.

Still, there they were in front of a three story slab of pink and white marble with a giant crucifix, saying they would live together in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, until death shall they part. When they emerged onto a set of concrete stairs that led to East Plankinton Avenue and slipped into a borrowed 1965 Plymouth Roadrunner, they were on the way to the rest of their lives.

Husband and wife.

Mr. and Mrs.

A married couple.

The fact that my mom and dad remain married and relatively happy often amazes me, given that almost everyone I knew as a kid had divorced or miserable parental units. When they fought or yelled, I never once thought, “Wow, this is the end.” Things would calm down, peace with honor would emerge and life would move on.

When I considered marriage, I asked them how they made it work. “What keeps you together, even when things are bad or when you are really pissed?” I would ask. Neither of them could really put a finger on it, so I kind of “observed a lot by watching,” to quote the late Yogi Berra.

Here’s what I figure makes them tick:

See the problem, fix the problem: My parents had a very “work the problem” approach to life when it came to the day-in, day-out stuff that confronts married people. When they realized they were often broke early in their marriage, the looked at where the money went. Granted, there wasn’t a lot to go around, but they were able to find a couple things that ate into their budget. On Sundays, they’d get the newspaper, look through the circulars and go to the store to buy “a bargain.” Turned out, they tended to not need the stuff they bought and it cut into other things they did need, so they stopped going to the store. The same thing was true for groceries, linens and other things. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it just because you think you should.

 

Commit to it: Promises and commitments ran deep in our household. Dad loves to tell the story about how he and Mom would make envelopes for all the monthly expenses and put their pay into those envelopes. Whatever was left over was for fun, and usually that wasn’t much. Still, they found a process that worked for keeping the lights on and the rent paid, so they committed to it.

They also stuck to the commitments regardless of if they were positive or negative. When they said, “We’re doing X,” I knew we were doing it. That’s how I ended up getting to see my first Brewers game, even though it was on a Friday night, in the heat of a pennant race and on bat day. It was the worst game to attend for traffic, crowds and generally everything else my dad hated. Still, he committed to it. Same was true with punishments. When I got caught for speeding, he and Mom agreed I lost car privileges for a month. That meant he had to drive me to and from after-school commitments and I had to take the bus to school, which cut into other plans. It sucked as much for them as it did for me (or at least sort of), but they stuck with it because they said so.

 

Have a united front: Agreement wasn’t always the first word that came to mind when it came to my parents. They argue about half of everything, from what we should do for dinner to who was the lady who ran the corner store on Packard Avenue in the 1950s. However, when they had to make a decision about something important, they never threw one another under the bus. This made life difficult for me as a child, since you couldn’t play Mom off of Dad. Whenever I screwed up badly enough that life and limb became a potential punishment, they would send me to my room and talk things over. When they figured out what they were going to do to me, they both came and told me. Together. At the same time. No bullshit.

 

No grudges: Even with the arguments, I never saw them hold a grudge. Whatever arguments happened before bed were settled before the kiss goodnight. In the morning, life moved on. I imagine that over 50 years of marriage, there could be plenty of the “Y’know in 1978, that thing you did REALLY pissed me off” conversations that could emerge on any given day. They never did. It was, “OK, what’s next?”

 

Laugh: Humor, even some truly crude stuff, always flowed through the house. If Dad wasn’t telling a bad joke, he was telling a weird story. Mom always found humor in the dumb things her students did that day and loved to share with the family. I spent my allowance on joke books, trying to find the one joke that neither of them had heard before but would still make them laugh.

In some of our darkest hours, humor became the thing that kept us going. I remember when Dad’s mom died, something that hit us out of the blue. We never saw it coming. It was the first time I ever saw my father really cry. I wondered if he would ever snap back from this or if his whole sense of being would merely crumble away. The funeral home was a hatchet-job of a place that charged him in advance for everything, going so far as to interrupt the visitation to tell my dad his credit card wasn’t going through. They charged him time and a half for everything done on Saturday as well. We drove in silence from the funeral home to the cemetery, passing by the very spot along the road where my grandmother would be interred. Dad looked over past me, out my window and took a deep breath. I was waiting for him to come up with some deep, dark sense of mortality and love. Instead, he muttered, “They better’ve dug that fucking hole already if they’re charging me time and a half for it.”

After that, I knew he’d be OK.

Saturday marks 50 years of marriage for two of the most incredible people I know. They always knew to talk and to listen to one another, even if they didn’t fully understand or agree. However, when it came to a vow renewal, they both saw this as something to behold.

Thus, they will once again be in that church, standing in front of that giant slab of marble, pledging their love to one another. They will be surrounded by the family and friends who remain, telling each other and anyone who will listen that they will stay together, through good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, until death do they part.

One thing that is different now, however, is they already know they’re going to be just fine.

Friday Catblogging: Crazy Eyes

This was an attempt to take a devil-eyed Della picture. As usual, Oscar was oblivious.

Speaking of Crazy Eyes, here’s a classic tune by Poco:

 

 

 

Quote Of The Day: Trump Mocking Down Under

It comes from center-right Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at an event that was supposed to be off the record. I’ll let the Guardian handle the rest of the set-up:

In his speech to the Canberra press gallery’s Midwinter Ball, the Australian equivalent of the White House correspondents’ dinner, Turnbull says: “The Donald and I, we are winning and winning in the polls. We are winning so much, we are winning, we are winning like we have never won before. We are winning in the polls. We are, we are. Not the fake polls. Not the fake polls. They’re the ones we’re not winning in.

“We’re winning in the real polls.

“You know, the online polls. They are so easy to win. I know that. Did you know that? I kind of know that. They are so easy to win. I have this Russian guy.

“Believe me it’s true, it’s true.”

That was tremendous, Malcolm. The US embassy in Canberra reacted correctly to this bit of minor satire by pooh-poohing it, but the Insult Comedian has yet to be heard from. He may compare Turnbull to Alec Baldwin and call him a LOSER. Trump loves fighting with our allies, after all.

This minor kerfuffle has given me a swell benign earworm. I’ll give Colin Hay and Men At Work the last word. It’s a tremendous tune. Believe me.

I hope Trump doesn’t try to force feed Turnbull a vegemite sammich when next they meet. Stay tuned.

Is It Just Me?

james-t-hodgkinson

But my reaction to seeing this photo of James Hodgkinson made me think of…

walter_sobchak.jpeg_2

Here’s a visual

james-t-hodgkinson_sobchek

Not to belittle a horrible act and what I assume will be several counts of attempted premeditated murder, but from what I’ve read, Hodgkinson shared at least a few temperamental if not psychological characteristics with Goodman’s movie character. Which can be interesting and even funny in the movies…not so much in reality…

Besides that, I’m out of town on vacation this week, so I hope you don’t mind the even-shorter-than-usual post…

 

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Dark Wanton

Peter Cheyney was a British crime fiction writer who was very successful between 1936 and 1951. One reason was his “Dark” espionage series. Dark Wanton was one of that series. Given the fact that two of the people on the cover appear to be Chinese, it’s also a helluva pun on the word wonton. Rumor has it that I like puns.

 

The Scalise Shooting

This one hit close to home for me. Steve Scalise represents the district next to mine. I don’t like his politics, but I want him taken out peacefully at the ballot box, not violently in a park.

I wrote about the good part of social media earlier today. We’re seeing the dark side of it now. This time around, it’s bipartisan malakatude since the shooter was a Sanders volunteer. To his credit, the Senator has already taken to the Senate floor to denounce the shooter. It’s not about him, it’s not about right or left, it’s about fundamental human decency.

Not everything is a political issue to be instantly batted about by social media trolls and keyboard warriors. That’s too abstract for my taste, it shows a fatal lack of empathy; a quality we need now more than ever. This is how I summed it up on my Facebook timeline:

Things were already terrible and this will only make it worse. Today, I don’t care that the shooter was a Berner. Today, I don’t care that Scalise has horrible views on everything under the sun. He does. I’ve even made him malaka of the week. But this is not how we *should* do things in America. Unfortunately, violence is as American as apple pie. Our reaction to this event should not be colored by our personal politics. We need to try to be better than that. There’s plenty of time to discuss gun violence and health care. This sort of event doesn’t lend itself to instant analysis. A deep breath is called for.

I told a funny story earlier today,  it’s time for a more serious one. I was a high school freshman when George Wallace was shot. I was a young McGovernite. It was the first time I volunteered in a campaign. As horrible as it sounds, I was in the mood to celebrate when I arrived at my Poli Sci class. My teacher was just as liberal as I was: we stuffed envelopes together at McGovern HQ both before and after the shooting. She informed me that gun violence is wrong regardless of the target. She reminded me that the main reason we both supported George McGovern was to end the war in Vietnam. I realized she was right and felt ashamed for trying to score political points over the Wallace shooting. If it had been George McGovern, I would have cold cocked a kid who was celebrating. She said something that has always stuck with me: “There’s a fatal lack of empathy in the world and that’s what we need.”

It’s true to this very day. The world needs not only love but empathy. Today’s social media discourse reminds me of Adrastos’ first two rules of satire:

  1. Always kick up, never down.
  2. Violence, especially gun violence, is only funny if its slapstick. It’s never funny when it’s real and life threatening.

I learned the second part the hard way when I wanted to tell Wallace jokes way back in 1972. I’m glad I had a teacher who straightened me out. I learned that what the world needs more than anything else is empathy.

I realize some of you won’t agree with parts of this post. So it goes. There will be a time when this is grist for the political mill. I think it’s a good idea to let the dust settle and know what we’re talking about. I prefer the clarity of facts to the fog of social media.

Make sure you read Athenae’s post on the shooting, You Never Thought. She comes at it from an entirely different angle. It’s good stuff.

You Never Thought

Really? You never thought? 

WASHINGTON – “I never thought I’d go to baseball practice and get shot at,” said Rep. Rodney Davis R-Ill., who was at bat Wednesday morning when a gunman started shooting at GOP lawmakers practicing for their annual charity congressional game.

“I was at bat. I was hitting. I heard a loud bang,” Davis said, talking at the Capitol, still in his scoffed practice clothes.

“It felt like somebody…dropped a big piece of metal. The next thing I heard was ‘everybody run, he’s got a gun. And we immediately ran and got into the dugout.”

You never thought, Rep. Davis?

You never thought you’d be subject to violence at baseball practice?

You never thought a madman with a gun would be staring YOU down?

You never thought you’d be running from bullets?

That was nice. That you never thought.

Nice for you to be safe. Nice for you to be protected. Nice for you to feel secure. Nice for your colleagues. I mean that sincerely. I don’t begrudge you that sense of safety. I think a lot of people like you share it. I think that’s a good thing.

You should feel safe. Everybody should.

I don’t want you to feel endangered. I don’t want to join the chorus of “see, don’t you get it now?!” going on on social media today. You shouldn’t have been scared to be in public, enjoying yourself. Enjoying your life. Feeling able to do that.

You shouldn’t have been afraid of a random hail of bullets. Nobody should.

Children in elementary school shouldn’t have had to feel that way, either.

Families on city streets. People at a shopping mall, attending a football game, going to work, coming home on the train, walking to church, playing soccer, swimming in the community pool. None of those people should have to be afraid.

None of them should have to expect, because of where they live or who they are or what they love, that they will be in mortal peril, just for going outside. Just for living in the world. Just for living their lives.

None of them should have to think about getting shot at.

None of them, none of us, should have to spend every day cowering in fear of a culture of armed paranoia that makes ordinary acts into reckless endeavors. None of us should have to delude ourselves — and we all have to, to a certain extent — that we can’t be touched by violence. Violence should not be so common that we have to lie to ourselves in order to avoid going mad.

I am not glad you were afraid, Rep. Davis. Your fear doesn’t make anyone else less fearful. Your actions could. Because you shouldn’t have to think you’ll go to baseball practice and get shot at.

I’m sorry that now, you do.

A.

Tweet Of The Day: Larry Tribe Edition

One of the pleasures of Twitter is following people one admires. One is apparently not the loneliest number. I guess Harry Nilsson was wrong. Enough of this one-upsmanship. Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe is one of the ones I refer to. Below is one of the Tribal tweets about the Sessions Session:

I called it preemptive executive privilege in my instant analysis post but I yield to the distinguished gentleman from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  He literally wrote the book on American Constitutional Law. It’s one of the few readable legal treatises I’ve ever picked up; most of them make good door stops when not in use. That explains why Tribe is good at the whole 140 character thing.

In addition to one punning, the reason for this post is that I have a Tribe-related law school war story to tell. I have omitted the name of the Professor because I can. He was my “con law” prof so I’ll call him Con Law. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and enjoy.

Con Law was a small man who was originally from New York and had the accent to prove it. My contemporaneous impression of him sounded like Jon Lovitz’s SNL character Tommy Flanagan (not to be confused with the actor who played bad ass biker Tig on Sons of Anarchy.) Unlike the pathological liar dude, Con Law was a good man and an excellent professor as well. He was, however, prone to bragging about the well-known people who knew and loved him. In short, Con Law was a name dropper. I know what you’re thinking: so I am. That’s true but it’s beside the point. I’m not sure what the point is but there’s bound to be one somewhere.

One of the names Con Law dropped was Laurence Tribe. He never called him by either his full name or title and surname, he was always Larry Tribe. Con Law turned both names into a multi-syllabic pronunciation extravaganza. There would come a point in most classes that I’d nudge a friend and whisper, “here IT comes.” The IT in question was a Larry Tribe name drop; usually about how they’d discussed an issue and agreed on it. It was Con Law and Larry Tribe against the world, y’all.

Con Law’s relentless braggadocio was the reason I used the voice of the pathological liar character in my impression. Not because Con Law was lying but because of his OTT boasting. It was actually charming in a cocky short man kind of way. Con Law may have been short but he ran with the big boys including Larry Tribe.

To this day when I see Professor Tribe on teevee or read his tweets, I think of Con Law and hear his voice in my head saying Larrrr-eeee Tryyyyyy-buh. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Jim Kweskin’s America

Jim Kweskin was a respected folkie in the Sixties. He got involved with a semi-cult in Boston that was founded by the harmonica player in his Jug Band, Mel Lyman. There was a hair-raising story about the Lyman Family by David Felton in Rolling Stone in 1971. It was one of the magazine’s early forays into investigative reporting and it remains a helluva yarn.

The Lyman Family did not have an apocalyptic end a la the Manson clan or the Heaven’s Gate cult. Mel Lyman died in 1978 and members of the family founded a construction company, which is still active in Los Angeles. Jim Kweskin is a VP of that company: Fort Hill Construction.

Jim Kweskin’s America was recorded in 1971 during the heyday of the Lyman Family. It has a much longer official title as you can see from the cover. Richard D. Herbuck was a pseudonym for Mel Lyman. One cannot make this shit up. So it goes.

I’m not sure who did the album design but it’s a pretty good Sgt. Pepper inspired photo montage.

Here’s the album in the You Tube playlist format: