Mostly Monday Reads: Shooting Down the Sky

Hervé Télémaque
No Title (The Ugly American)
1962/64, MoMA

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Each new day I sit here, reading the news, thinking about which headlines are most substantive and meaningful, I soon discover we’ve got a bizarre timeline going on. Every day gets more surreal. I’m writing songs again to deal with it.  It’s probably why I’ve been so inspired by the works of Warren Zevon. I worked on “Living Next Door to the Ugly American Inn” this week.

Facebook punished me for using that term to describe Airbnb invaders and the local tourist pimps and whores that drag them into our neighborhoods. Facebook told me “Ugly American” was a slur instead of an essential politically-themed novel written in 1958 by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer. The movie of the same name came out in 1964 featuring Marlon Brando.  It’s also the name of an American adult animated sitcom created by Devin Clark and developed by David M. Stern.  That came out in 2010 on Adult Swim. It’s also a video game.  I’ll probably be suspended for publishing this there, but who cares?

The novel so moved President Eisenhower that he created additional protocols on how diplomatic personnel should behave abroad. It focused on making the corps understand the culture and values of where they were stationed.  It was cited in LBJ’s remarks in his speech at the University of Michigan. The speech is known as The Great Society Speech.

A few years ago we were greatly concerned about the “Ugly American.” Today we must act to prevent an ugly America.

Hervé Télémaque,
“One of the 36,000 Marines over our Antilles”

Those words have never been so valid as at this moment. LBJ spoke of pollution and its threat to the country’s national resources. Today it seems more accurate to define it in terms of how our society interacts with one another in the political environment.  It seems odd that I think of it in terms of how Americans from the rest of the country tend to act when they stay in our neighborhoods instead of the Motel Six by the airport. Although  I spent enough time in Europe and saw the behavior. I tried hard to be a chameleon wherever I went, lest I be considered among that number. I got so good at it that I was frequently mistaken for a Canadian by folks that didn’t know I came from Omaha when I attended the University of Nebraska. Then they said, you must be from the east. I was like, yup, eastern Nebraska, which is Omaha.

Many of these folks pimping out houses in neighborhoods don’t even live here.  Lots of them are LLCs that aren’t located here.

I cannot understand how someone could do that to their neighbors and neighborhood.  Then, I saw this and realized that money changes everything.  (Thank you, Cyndy Lauper.)

I thought it couldn’t get worse on the Parade routes uptown, where the visiting Chads and Karens try to stake out viewing areas with chairs, red spray paint, and all kinds of things that the city daily picks up and dumps. Wow, do they have fits when that happens? But it’s in our law here.  So, this is the next thing reported by one of our local TV news krewe at WWL. “Mardi Gras’ newest hustlers are making money holding spots on the parade route. Some people are making hundreds, even thousands of dollars holding spots on the parade route.”  I’m not sure this is what is meant in Economics texts as a “Problem of the Commons”.  There are always collaborators.

And nobody does it better than Freebird Dittmar.

“Gonna have to start petitioning to have Mardi Gras three times a year and I can stop going to work on these houses!” Dittmar, who works as a carpenter outside of Carnival Season, said.

It’s his second year holding down a spot on the parade route and his services don’t come cheap. This year, he’s got three “big groups” paying him $2,500 each to hold their St. Charles Avenue spots and one group paying another $800 for a spot on the Endymion route.

Just a block away, Vera Hendriks and Alex Foley are holding a spot for their boss, who’s paying them with tickets to MOM’s Ball.

And while they were eating lunch, they got an offer to expand their turf for another $100 each.

“Once you’re out here you’ll meet people who offer you money to just sit here,” Foley said. “I haven’t had an experience like this.”

But it’s not just the hustlers making money on the route. Working from home has revolutionized how people stake out parade spots for people like Michael Scruggs, who was technically on the clock Friday morning.

“Unfortunately not all my clients are on Louisiana time, so they don’t realize it’s Mardi Gras time,” Scruggs said as he answered emails from a folding chair on the neutral ground.”

And if you’re thinking about getting in on the game, Freebird has some advice for you.

“Stay out of it! It’s mine,” he said with a laugh. “Or do it somewhere else. Uptown is my route!”

“Clients!”  Give me a fucking break!

Red Cross (You and Me)
1985,Hervé Télémaque

Let me just take a moment to talk about the artist of the paintings here.  This is from an artist that just died last November, as reported by ARTnews. Please don’t mention this to Ron DeSantis, or we’ll have museum collection bans next.  “Hervé Télémaque, Artist Whose Piercing Work About Racism and Colonialism Brought Him a Late-Career Rise, Dies at 85.”

Hervé Télémaque, a French artist born in Haiti whose poignant works tackling racism and colonialism have only recently garnered mainstream recognition in Europe and the U.S., died in a hospital near Paris on Thursday. He was 85.

The Aspen Art Museum in Colorado, which is now hosting a version of Télémaque survey that first appeared at the Serpentine Galleries in London, announced Télémaque’s passing. The museum said he had been battling an autoimmune disorder.

Télémaque has proven a hard figure to classify. During the ’60s, he was grouped in with the Narrative Figuration movement, a French style that sought to revive representational painting as a leftist political strategy. He has also been considered a Pop artist, and in a recent show presenting a global history of Surrealism, he was labeled a tangential figure of that style, too.

But to say Télémaque is a member of any of these movements would not adequately capture the vibrancy and the complexity of his art, which often took up histories of racism and colonialism—and their continued influence on the present—in striking, ambiguous ways

Okay, now, some Gratuitous Warren Zevon music.

I heard Woodrow Wilson’s guns
I heard Maria crying
Late last night I heard the news
That Veracruz was dying
Veracruz was dying

Someone called Maria’s name
I swear it was my father’s voice
Saying, “If you stay, you’ll all be slain
You must leave now, you have no choice”
Take the servants and ride west
Keep the child close to your chest
When the American troops withdraw
Let Zapata take the rest

So, why am I writing a Song called “Shooting Down the Sky”?  Well, it’s not often you live in times where Reuters reports this. “Ruling out aliens? Senior U.S. general says not ruling out anything yet“.  I’m curious why no one is telling us about these four unidentified sky objects that Biden called NORAD to shoot down.  After all, I probably paid for a bit of an F-22 raptor, even if it’s only part of a bolt.

 The U.S. Air Force general overseeing North American airspace said on Sunday after a series of shoot-downs of unidentified objects that he would not rule out aliens or any other explanation yet, deferring to U.S. intelligence experts.

Asked whether he had ruled out an extraterrestrial origin for three airborne objects shot down by U.S. warplanes in as many days, General Glen VanHerck said: “I’ll let the intel community and the counterintelligence community figure that out. I haven’t ruled out anything.”

Okee dokee, then.

Hervé Télémaque: “Fonds d’actualité No1 (Current Affairs No1)”

The Chinese aren’t wasting time playing tit-for-tat in the big game in the sky.  This is from the Washington Post.  “China says at least 10 U.S. balloons have flown in its airspace since 2022.” I thought Donald Trump had created the US Space Force so we could have some really high-tech budget busters to deal with them.  I guess it was all about the uniforms, decals, and soundbites.

China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday said the United States has sent at least 10 unsanctioned balloons into Chinese airspace since last year, as the two countries feud over a Chinese airship discovered and shot down by the U.S. military this month. The United States denied the allegation.

Hitting back at allegations that Beijing had used the balloon, discovered floating over the western United States, for surveillance, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in a press briefing that it was “common” for U.S. high-altitude balloons to fly into other countries’ airspace.

“The United States should first reflect on itself and change course, rather than slander, discredit or incite confrontation,” Wang said.

The comments come after a U.S. fighter jet shot down another unknown object flying off the coast of Alaska on Friday. U.S. and Canadian officials then said a U.S. fighter jet shot down an unidentified object in Canadian airspace on Saturday. A fourth object was shot down over Lake Huron on Sunday afternoon.

Hervé Télémaque:
“Inventaire, un homme d’intérieur”

So, our next big conflict is about balloons?  Isn’t that a bit like World War 1? At least the Zeppellins Airships were visually interesting.  The BBC sums it up here.  “Mystery surrounds objects shot down by US military.”  This is not what all those 90s movies told me to expect.  Will Smith, the nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

The US military is unsure what three flying objects it shot out of the skies over North America were – and how they were able to stay aloft.

President Joe Biden ordered another object – the fourth in total this month – to be downed on Sunday.

As it was travelling at 20,000ft (6,100m), it could have interfered with commercial air traffic, the US said.

A military commander said it could be a “gaseous type of balloon” or “some type of a propulsion system”.

He added he could not rule out that the objects were extra-terrestrials.

The latest object – shot down over Lake Huron in Michigan near the Canadian border – has been described by defence officials as an unmanned “octagonal structure” with strings attached to it.

It was downed by a missile fired from an F-16 fighter jet at 14:42 local time (19:42 GMT).

The incident raises further questions about the spate of high-altitude objects that have been shot down over North America this month.

US Northern Command Commander General Glen VanHerck said that there was no indication of any threat.

“I’m not going to categorise them as balloons. We’re calling them objects for a reason,” he said.

“What we are seeing is very, very small objects that produce a very, very low radar cross-section,” he added.

Speculation as to what the objects may be has intensified in recent days.

Well, of course, speculation is intensifying!  You’re not telling us a damned thing!  Paging, Ron Serling!!!

Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon Xbox Live and PSN

Okay, one more thing about hot bags of air, and then I’m done.  “Steve Bannon Ran Up Huge Legal Bills and Stiffed His Lawyers”. His Godfather, Donnie Trumpo, taught him well.

Steve Bannon—the nativist American media personality who’s backed by a Chinese billionaire—hasn’t paid the lawyers who spent years defending him against an onslaught of criminal charges, according to three sources who spoke exclusively to The Daily Beast.

With massive legal bills still outstanding, Bannon is now scrambling to find new attorneys, as he faces a looming trial over the way he scammed the MAGA crowd with a dubious plan to build a privately funded U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Bannon’s refusal to fully pay his bills has stunned some of his close advisers who’ve stuck around for years.

“I don’t have any reason to believe he doesn’t have money,” one associate said.

Then again, Bannon is also a known grifter and liar with a long history of peddling disinformation.

You don’t get any uglier than Steve Bannon. That’s for sure!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

More  gratuitous Warren Zevon

8 Comments on “Mostly Monday Reads: Shooting Down the Sky”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Have a good week! I hope I haven’t weirded you out too much!!!

    • Enheduanna says:

      Always, always interesting Dak!

      We do live in weird times but personally I think the speculation about UFO’s is just cover for experiments within the global spy communities. Better to have us scratching our heads about “aliens” than what’s really going on. The media loves that angle because it sells.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Really interesting post, Dak. I hope you’ll share those songs with us someday.