Stephen Colbert vs. CPAC
Plus: Jim Morrison's school days, Mick & Tina Turner, and the Stones' Crawdaddy Club debut. And new Billie Eilish and John Prine films, too.
Apparently today’s newsletter has not been “canceled.” So enjoy, and then Comment or Share if you wish…and subscribe, it’s still free!
Stephen Colbert on CPAC titling this week’s conference America Uncancelled: “I didn’t know America was canceled. Although, I’m not surprised — the last season was pretty unbelievable.” Also: “Of course, with all the crises facing our nation, conservatives are focusing on the most pressing issue of all: fascists being kicked off of Twitter.” Naturally, “they kicked things off by canceling one of their panelists with a history of making anti-Semitic claims. Conservatives don’t want to be associated with anyone like that. It could sully the good name of the mob with aluminum bats trying to murder Mike Pence.” And finally:
The canceled man in question is a rapper named Young Pharaoh, who was pulled from the lineup after journalists pointed out his record of publicly rejecting the existence of Judaism outright….You know who could tell Young Pharaoh that Judaism exists? Old Pharaoh. There’s a pretty famous old book about it. There’s even a new book about it.
Headline at The Onion: “Mitch McConnell Presses Merrick Garland On Legal Philosophy On Vengeance.” The New Yorker has a more serious blast at the GOP’s stance on Garland. And this morning the Homeland Security Committee postponed its Neera Tanden confirmation hearing as trouble continues to brew.
Al Franken: “Sen. Ron Johnson is obviously ANTIFA, posing as a nutcase Trump supporter to discredit Trump backers in Congress. It’s working!”
Today court drops drunk driving charge against Springsteen, though fines him for imbibing in the park. Fun exchange when judge asks if he can come up with the dough.
A scary report from California on the new Covid variant there and chance it may even defy vaccines. “The devil is already here,” says one expert. But at least we are learning today that the coming “one-shot” Johnson & Johnson vaccine seems to work very well.
Finally have to agree with Fox’s Greg Gutfeld on something, as he questions wall-to-wall media coverage of the Tiger Woods accident when “there’s so many people who are suffering right now.”
Note to Snow White: No more whistling while they work.
In big surprise, and reversal of last week’s reports, former Sen. David Perdue now eschews running against Sen. Raphael Warnock in GA next year. That means Kelly Loeffler is back on the clock.
Already shaping up as possibly the most closely-watched Dem primary race of 2022 (as I noted last week), it’s Big John Fetterman vs. Malcolm Kenyatta—each an MSNBC favorite—for the open PA seat in the U.S. Senate. My friend Will Bunch of the Philly Inquirer with a lengthy take today, here is just a bit of it:
Despite President Biden’s narrow, critical victory here, losses in state legislative races and wo statewide row-office elections have activists wondering what’s the best way forward. Can the party woo back some of the white, working-class electoratewho drifted away to Trump, with a pro-worker focus [via Fetterman]? Or should Democrats keep trying to boost turnout from their most reliable backers — Black voters, and college-educated suburbanites [with Kenyatta]? If political scientists cooked up candidates in a lab to test these theories, Fetterman and Kenyatta would likely burst from their test tubes….
But in the end, a Fetterman victory in 2022 may convince Democrats to embrace a more pro-labor, Bernie-flavored populist platform, while a Kenyatta win would boost the argument that the party needs to squeeze even more turnout from the 2020 Biden coalition.
Remember the horrid Christmas bombing in Nashville? Man arrested, we did not learn much about him, then media moved on. Major piece today catches us up. Among other things: “He was a computer specialist with a deep distrust of government, according to his own writings and to those who knew him. A loner, he had made at least one female friend feel manipulated and frightened. And he had cultivated a bizarre obsession with shape-shifting alien lizards and a dense thicket of other peculiar ideas.”
As you probably have heard, one of the West Coast giants of our time, San Francisco poet and City Lights Bookstore owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti has died at 101, the store announced (you can now easily find full obits). He also brought us Ginsberg’s “Howl” and won a huge court case in defending it, among other things. Far too much of him to cover here, so let’s just part with his brief but memorable appearance in The Last Waltz.
As I’ve long advised, here from Politico: “Nearly three dozen House Democrats on Monday called on Biden to relinquish his sole authority to launch nuclear weapons, in the latest appeal to reform the command-and-control structure so that no single person can initiate a nuclear war.”
I guess we were a little ahead of our time yesterday with our cartoon of flag for Rush Limbaugh at half-staff (the banner looking suspiciously like a KKK hood). Now we see that there is a heated debate across Florida as deplorable Gov. DeSantis considers ordering flags there at half-staff for Rush. One reaction from a top state official: “To lower the flag for somebody who’s spent his entire career talking hate and bigotry and dividing our country and spewing conspiracy theories is not the way we honor those who have fought for our flag.”
On this day in 1963, the Rolling Stones got their first steady gig. But here’s the key part (given my magazine history): They would be performing on Sunday afternoons at the Crawdaddy Club. It was from this gig that Paul Williams would take the name for the first serious “rock magazine” in 1966, which I would help re-launch five years later, after it folded.
The Beatles would come to see the Stones at the club less than a month after their first show. Ringo would recall:
I remember standing in some sweaty room and watching them on the stage, Keith and Brian – wow! I knew then that the Stones were great. They just had presence. And, of course, we could tell – we’d had five weeks in the business; we knew all about it! We talked to them. I don’t know what about.
Soon signed to a record label, the Stones produced a mediocre Chuck Berry cover, then John and Paul gave them “I Wanna Be Your Man”—which the Beatles then did themselves, and better, a little later. Finally, the Stones hit their stride with this Bobby Womack cover which became their first UK #1 (and which is now a subject of debate, though factually flawed, in current movie One Night in Miami).
There’s a new documentary marking 40 years of John Prine’s Oh Boy Records.
I stopped loving the Doors after they broke on through with their first lp, but fans of Jimbo will like to know there is a massive collection of his writings coming in June, ready to rest on a coffee table near you, half of it unpublished before. Tom (“Even Cowgirls Get the Blues”) Robbins, who I interviewed for Crawdaddy way back in 1976, provides the forward. Details:
To be published June 8th by HarperCollins, The Collected Works of Jim Morrison: Poetry, Journals, Transcripts and Lyrics promises to be something of a Morrison motherlode. At nearly 600 pages long, the book — compiled with the cooperation of his estate — pulls together most of his previously published work, from song lyrics to poetry (“Horse Latitudes,” “The Celebration of the Lizard”), as well as the entirety of the posthumously published writing collections Wilderness and The American Night….
Other rarities include Morrison’s treatment for The Hitchhiker, a movie project in which he played a murderous drifter…An accompanying audiobook includes the first-ever release of Morrison’s final poetry recording session, held in an L.A. studio on his 27th birthday in December 1970; it’s accompanied by a transcript of that tape.
Below, amazing little clip of Jim around 1963 appearing in a promo for Florida State University. Watch him as his college application gets rejected—and then later he meets with an admissions officer. He did attend Florida State briefly (no, he did not major in Lizard Studies) but soon ended up at UCLA film school.
We learned yesterday that Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny are writing State of Terror, a political thriller set for release in October about a secretary of state confronting terrorism threats.
A major doc on Tina Turner coming to HBO on March 27. Here’s the first trailer. Even better, one of the great rock songs and performances ever, below, with footage from 1973. Or if you prefer an earlier live version sans Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound.” Amazingly, the single was famously not a hit.
A doc about Billie Eilish up on Apple TV this Friday, directed by R.J. Cutler, titled The World’s a Little Blurry. She was doing the promo thing last night on Colbert show and in a NY Times interview.
One of the most star-studded music specials ever is coming to PBS on March 6— for brief highlights see here. From legendary dj Murray the K, It’s What’s Happening, Baby first aired in 1965. Dig the star list: Ray Charles, The Drifters, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Martha and the Vandellas, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Patti Labelle and the Bluebelles, Righteous Brothers, Johnny Rivers, The Ronettes, The Supremes, The Temptations, Dionne Warwick, and more.
Song Pick of the Day
One of the best albums of the 1990s was The Charity of Night by oft-underrated writer and guitarist Bruce Cockburn. It has everything: rocking tunes and ballads, political and global consciousness, extended song poems, much of it pushed along by the late Rob Wasserman on bass. Bruce had gone from “if I had a rocket launcher” to “everything is bullshit except the open hand.” Here’s the opening cut, plus links here and here to two other hot cuts.
Greg Mitchell is the author of a dozen books, including the bestseller The Tunnels (on escapes under the Berlin Wall), the current The Beginning or the End (on MGM’s wild atomic bomb movie), and The Campaign of the Century (on Upton Sinclair’s left-wing race for governor of California), which was recently picked by the Wall St. Journal as one of five greatest books ever about an election. For nearly all of the 1970s he was the #2 editor at the legendary Crawdaddy. Later he served as longtime editor of Editor & Publisher magazine. He recently co-produced a film about Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and now has written and directed his first feature, Atomic Cover-up, which will have its American premiere at a festival this spring.