Over at Rolling Stone, they’ve got a pretty solid list up. Don’t miss it.
Monthly Archives: May 2015
It’s a love letter to Dave
Superfan Adam Nedeff has cataloged each of the 500+ moments included in the show-ending montage. Enjoy.
I remember an almost alarming number of these.
Let’s do more of this
Confederate flags were reportedly burned and buried on Monday in several southern states as part of a movement to get rid of the flag and its offensive historical context.
A good start.
More highway robbery from the DEA
These people are fucking criminals, and should be fired, shunned, and jailed.
They are actively seeking out sleeper car passengers on Amtrak to harass, illegally search, and steal from. This is a regular practice.
The tributes are coming fast and furious this week, which makes sense: Letterman’s swan song is tonight, easily the biggest talk show event since Carson’s retirement over twenty years ago.
Two of the most moving I’ve seen so far are from other, younger comedians who grew up idolizing Letterman.
The first was from Norm MacDonald, who was on Letterman a couple nights ago to do a final standup set there. He’s funny, but he gets real towards then end as he talks about seeing a young Dave as a standup comic when he was a teenager in Toronto.
The second is from Jimmy Kimmel last night, who is no less choked up at the prospect of Letterman’s retirement. He talks openly of watching Late Night as a teen, just as everyone in our generation of a certain bent did.
He closes with something kind of awesome: he announced that tonight’s show will be a rerun, and that all his viewers should watch Dave’s final show instead.
The final bit of Kimmel’s tribute includes a segment from early in Dave’s career that I remember quite clearly, though my memory doesn’t have tracking problems.
“A man who knows it’s Letterman’s show, and he’s just borrowing it…”
Last night, Seth Meyers’ show changed its opening to a shot for shot remake of the original Letterman show opening from 1983.
(The exercise also points out just how much Manhattan has changed in 30 years.)
The finest son of Itta Bena
I saw him, once.
It was 27 years ago, when I was a lad of 18. In those days, he’d play with some frequency in a Palmer’s Crossing juke joint called the Hi-Hat Club, which was under ordinary circumstances not a place a skinny white kid would likely be welcome. Shootings there weren’t unheard of. Only four years later, a policeman would be hailed as a hero for killing a gunman there, which I remember only because the cop was married to a high school acquaintance. PTSD nearly did the cop in, too.
It was that kind of place, except when it wasn’t. And one of the times it wasn’t was when BB was in town.
Then as now, Mississippi doesn’t have a whole lot to be proud of, but music is something we do well, and BB has been a jewel in the Magnolia crown since the 1940s. He toured tirelessly, playing both fancy venues and dodgy clubs like the Hi-Hat (which, violent reputation or no, is also a stop on the Mississippi Blues Trail).
Anyway, so I went out there. I don’t remember my mother protesting at all, which is either selective recollection or evidence that she didn’t realize exactly where he was playing — and the latter seems really unlikely, because the Hi-Hat wasn’t exactly obscure; even going to Palmer’s Crossing at night was probably enough to worry some folks. Still, out I went, in a 1971 Chevy pickup.
As I recall, I tried to take my girlfriend, who refused to even ask her parents about going. Her relationship with them was weird, I guess, but she was clearly wrong because after I paid my cover and walked in — past the bar, where they served me a Michelob as quickly as I could ask for one, drinking age notwithstanding — I was immediately hailed by her father. In the absence of anyone else I knew, I sat with him and enjoyed the show in a room that was surprisingly mixed. We were absolutely the minority, but BB was BB, and I guess people who loved the music were welcome regardless of shade.
BB has been old forever. He was 89 when he died, which means he was “only” 62 for this particular gig, not that you could tell — the man knew how to work a crowd even though he played from a chair. He was famous for his guitar’s beautiful tone, but let me tell you no recording I’ve yet heard really captured it like I heard it that night. I was thrilled and a little shocked at how blue his stage patter was, but I suspect he tailored that to the room. At the Hi-Hat, where he’d played for decades, my guess is he probably did a lot less editing than he’d do in fancier clubs.
I’ve never sought out another set for whatever reason. I’ve had opportunities, sure, but truth be told my own blues preferences are a little louder and a little later — more Buddy Guy, say. But I’m awful glad I got to see the King, and do so in a small room in a no-shit Mississippi juke joint, illegally drinking beer with my girlfriend’s dad, late into a warm Mississippi night in 1988.
More DEA Criminality
Imagine you’re a small business owner, and one of your employees ends up needing to be a DEA informant. His handlers entice him to take one of your company trucks, fill it with weed, and haul it back to a place where they can bust the buyers.
Bad shit happens. Your driver is killed, and your truck basically destroyed in a gun battle with Mexican gangsters.
I wouldn’t even be blogging this if the next step weren’t obvious, but: clearly the DEA is refusing to take responsibility for the truck or the death, and a judge has backed them.
The government argued that it is neither culpable for the damage nor under any obligation to inform the owner of any property that it wishes to use in its operations, because “clandestine.”
No statute, regulation, or policy “specifically prescribe[d]” or prohibited the course of action Patty alleges the DEA agents followed. The DEA derives its authority from the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. § 801, its implementing regulations, and various executive orders…
In this case, Task Force Officer Villasana submitted a similar declaration. He states that the DEA’s decision “to proceed with such an operation is entirely discretionary, and not mandated by any statute, rule, or policy.” Whether and how to conduct such an undercover investigation and operation is “necessarily discretionary in nature.” Villasana did not try to give advance notice to Patty that the Task Force would be using his truck because of operation’s covert nature, the risks of injury and potential for damage if something went wrong, and the uncertainty about whether other individuals (including Patty) could be trusted.
The business owner’s attorney summarized it thusly:
A federally deputized corporal from the Houston Police Department decides to pay your small company’s driver to drive your truck to the Mexican border, load it up with illegal drugs, and try to catch some bad guys. He knows that the driver is lying to “the owner” – although he doesn’t know your name or identity and doesn’t bother to find out. The bad guys outwit the cops. Your company’s driver is killed. Your truck is riddled with bullet holes.
Query: is our federal government liable to pay for the damages to you and your property?
The DEA and the court have taken the position, apparently, that the government can come and take your stuff, fuck it up, and bear no responsibility afterwards if they say “clandestine operation” enough. You’d think the Takings Clause would have something to say about this, you know?
Republican refuses insurance, now blames Obama. Shocker.
This story is floating around this week. You ought to look at it, because it’s sort of a distillation of know-nothing Republicanism, and it’s the rare sort of such example that illustrates how far they are from reality.
The gist: a South Carolina Republican handyman has found himself facing both blindness and financial ruin because of a health problem — and he’s blaming the ACA for it.
As the Charlotte Observer explains, Lang is a self-employed handyman who works as a contractor with banks and the federal government to maintain foreclosed properties. He was making a decent living, enough to be the sole breadwinner in the family. As the Observer puts it, Lang “he has never bought insurance. Instead, he says, he prided himself on paying his own medical bills.”
All seemed good until this February when a series of headaches led him to the doctor. Tests revealed that Lang had suffered a series of mini-strokes tied to diabetes. […] He now also has a partially detached retina and eye bleeding tied to his diabetes. The initial medical care for the mini-strokes ran to almost $10,000 and burned through his savings. And now he can’t work because of his eye issue and can’t afford the surgery that would save his eyesight and also allowing him to continue working.
More from the Charlotte Observer story:
That’s when he turned to the Affordable Care Act exchange. Lang learned two things: First, 2015 enrollment had closed earlier that month. And second, because his income has dried up, he earns too little to get a federal subsidy to buy a private policy.
Lang, a Republican, says he knew the act required him to get coverage, but he chose not to do so. But he thought help would be available in an emergency. He and his wife blame President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats for passing a complex and flawed bill.
“(My husband) should be at the front of the line, because he doesn’t work and because he has medical issues,” Mary Lang said last week. “We call it the Not Fair Health Care Act.”
Anyone who’s remotely familiar with insurance knows there’s no system that lets people skip payments while they’re healthy and cash in when they get sick. Public systems tax everyone. Private ones rely on the premiums of the well to cover the costs of those who are ailing.
And Democrats might point out that the ACA was designed to provide Medicaid coverage for people whose income falls below the poverty line. The federal government pays 100 percent of the ACA expansion to cover low-income, able-bodied adults, but 21 Republican-led states, including North Carolina and South Carolina, declined to participate. Emph added.
Lang’s position is utter bullshit on its face, but I’m not here to point and laugh. The good news is that many donors have stepped forward to help him out, despite the fact that this shitstorm is of his own making.
The bigger issue here is that the conservative media, which we may safely assume Lang consumed voraciously given his positions, was so foursquare against the ACA (and, really, any health care law, and anything espoused by Obama) that he came away from the public debate thinking his path was a safe and rational one. That’s completely fucking criminal.
The right wing media worked themselves into a goddamn frenzy about the ACA and spouted such amazing fountains of bullshit that people still think death panels are a risk. In deciding to become the propaganda arm of the GOP, though, these people abandoned their public mission: inform and protect the public with information. In their rush to deny the President and his party a victory, they refused to engage the bill on its merits and instead obfuscated any real points with hyperbole and outright lies while fueling the idea that having insurance isn’t even necessarily something you want.
The saying points out that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. The story of Luis Lang is an example of what happens when knowable facts make clear the opinions you’ve held are bankrupt. Sure, it’s partially on him for not doing his own research, but Americans have traditionally been able to trust “news” organizations not to lie to them. That you and I know this is no longer true is probably cold comfort to someone like Lang.
Can we just admit that the DEA is a criminal organization?
How is this not just straight up highway robbery?
The agents found nothing in Rivers’s belongings that indicated that he was involved with the drug trade: no drugs, no guns. They didn’t arrest him or charge him with a crime. But they took his cash anyway, every last cent, under the authority of the Justice Department’s civil asset forfeiture program.
There is no presumption of innocence under civil asset forfeiture laws. Rather, law enforcement officers only need to have a suspicion — in practice, often a vague one — that a person is involved with illegal activity in order to seize their property. On the highway, for instance, police may cite things like tinted windows, air fresheners or trash in the car, according to a Washington Post investigation last year.
Once property has been seized, the burden of proof falls on the defendant to get it back — even if the cops ultimately never charge them with a crime. “We don’t have to prove that the person is guilty,” an Albuquerque DEA agent told the Journal. “It’s that the money is presumed to be guilty.”
This means that the DEA can basically steal any cash they ever find, and the onus is on their victims to prove the money was legitimately theirs. Because the DEA overwhelmingly target young, poorer people, they rarely have the means to contest the seizures.
Frankly, I’d like to see a RICO action against the DEA generally. Maybe not everyone there is actively involved in these sorts of thefts, but by working they they enable what has become a fundamentally criminal enterprise — and by getting paid, they receive benefits at least in part because of these crimes.
What’s in YOUR wallet?
A couple years ago, when United ruined Continental and ended the carrier’s relationship with Amex, I picked up a fancy United-branded Chase Visa in order to retain some status with United. I don’t fly much anymore, and when I do I prefer Southwest, but carrying the card gets me into the club if I need it, and just having it makes me the equivalent of their lowest elite flier tier (which is something my Amex Platinum didn’t do).
Anyway, so, fancy Visa. When I got it, I was stunned at how oddly heavy it was. I assumed they used some denser plastic for it and didn’t really give it any thought beyond that. And since I mostly just have the card for travel, I don’t pull it out of my wallet much, and so the oddness was mostly forgotten.
Yesterday I got a replacement card in the mail, as the initial one had expired (without me noticing, actually). The new one is just as heavy, which renewed my curiosity a little — but not nearly as much as what came next.
I pulled out the heavy scissors to destroy the old card, as you do, and found the card basically un-cuttable. The scissors had no shot at all. In retrospect, I’m super glad I wasn’t downstairs in my office, where I would have blithely dropped the old card into my shredder and probably ruined it in the process. I didn’t really even get very far doing the bend-it-back-and-forth thing.
What did Chase use to make this demon card? Well, the scissors WERE game enough to scratch it deeply, and this is what I found when I pulled on the top layer:
The damn thing is heavy because it’s made of metal with a thin layer of plastic on either side. WTF?
Baby doll I recognize / you’re a hideous thing inside
I’m sure I’ve done this before, but it’s a cover worth noting.
Now that we got gone for good
Writhing under your riding hood
Tell your gra’ma and your mama too
It’s true, true, true, true
Your Friday Reward, Classical Division
Hilary Hahn playing Partita No. 2 for Violin in Dm, BWV 1004: 1. Allemande:
Oh my sweet lord yes.
(Via @DavidSMacLean over on the Twitters.)
Because he’s goddamn Stringer, duh.
Idris Elba has broken a land speed record in a Bentley.
I’m having a hard time unpacking the sheer weapons-grade awesome here.
h/t: My Attorney
“The Mayor’s head is, in fact, a giant and conceivably edible cheeseburger.”
A brilliant TBT from the Onion: McDonald’s Drops ‘Hammurderer’ Character From Advertising:
Responding to widespread public outrage, McDonald’s executives defended the coloring book as “not nearly as violent or socially irresponsible as it has been made out to be, given that the Mayor’s head is, in fact, a giant and conceivably edible cheeseburger.”
Read the whole thing; they finish strong.
Updated: Link fixed. Thanks, Gar!
The Last Month of Letterman
The NYT has a nice interview piece up about Dave’s impending retirement (on May 20).
He sounds remarkably unguarded and open, vs. all prior interviews with him I’ve read. I rarely watch anymore, but I’ll definitely miss him.