“The hardest-working man in show business”

Have been immersed lately in Preston Lauterbach’s The Chitlin’ Circuit, And the Road to Rock ‘n’ Roll. Yesterday afternoon, I grabbed it off the “new nonfiction” shelf and flipped through while the kids played on the Boyle County Library computers; kept reading last night; and woke up at 5 a.m. to stoke the wood stove and finish the book. It’s terrific. Can’t recommend it highly enough.

Google around for summaries and reviews. Robert Christgau has a good one here. I just wanted to share this excerpt, which was shocking and amazing to me, about the early days of Little Richard’s and James Brown’s careers, in and around Macon, Georgia.  The two were close. Despite being upstaged dramatically one night by James and the Famous Flames (after which Richard conceded, “You’re the onliest man I’ve seen who has everything”), Richard’s career would be the first to take off, and led to Brown actually performing AS Little Richard!

 Little Richard’s abrupt  departure for the West  Coast after the “Tutti Frutti” session left [Legendary Chitlin’ Circuit promoter Clint] Brantley with a problem, namely, unfulfilled bookings. So for a few weeks during the Fall of 1955 around Georgia, you could see James Brown as Little Richard, and Bobby Byrd as James Brown with the Flames.  Brantley plugged James right into Richard’s gigs, touring with Richard’s Upsetters, traveling in a station wagon adorned with Richard’s name and song titles. James took it in stride, teasing about Richard’s magical ability to perform in two places at the same time. Emcee Luke Gonder worked the joke into his nightly introduction of the band on stage. After rattling through the lineup, he reached the star of the show.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the hardest-working man in show business today–Little Richard.”

The Chitlin’ Circuit, And the Road to Rock ‘n’ Roll by Preston Lauterbach

Well, at least JB got a pretty good nickname out of his tribute band gig.

Later, apparently, as per Wikipedia, James again took Richard’s tour slots when the architect of rock n roll turned to preaching in 1957. Their careers were so intertwined, it’s sort of surprising that there are few images of them together. The screen capture of their appearance on Wheel of Fortune was the best Google Images could come up with…..  which fact alone makes me want to smile and weep  at the same time.

Three headlines, three songs, two (and a half) thumbs up

Emma Sullivan
Emma Sullivan

Readin’ the news, and it’s all bad…

Quelle Surprise! Banks Lied About Bailout Funds and Got $13 Billion in Profit from Them
Yves Smith: And the bottom line is everybody close to the process lied like crazy.

An Assault, a SWAT Team, a Drug Raid, and Some Sex Toys
This one’s from Friday, but mind still being boggled by it.
“When our cops are focused on executing large-scale, constitutionally questionable raids at the slightest hint that a small-time pot dealer is at work, real police work preventing and investigating crimes like robberies and rapes falls by the wayside.”

Senators Demand the Military Lock Up American Citizens in a “Battlefield” They Define as Being Right Outside Your Window
“Senators need to hear from you, on whether you think your front yard is part of a “battlefield” and if any president can send the military anywhere in the world to imprison civilians without charge or trial.”

Rainy Monday morning tunes

Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelli – Manoir de Mes Reves

Acid House Kings – This and That

Belle & Sebastian – Sukie in the Graveyard


Elvis Costello recommends you NOT buy his boxed set, says to spend your money on Satchmo, instead!

Emma Sullivan won’t apologize, Brownback still blows!

Finally, not entirely sure how I feel about this, but Miley Cyrus and OWS??! Interesting take.

“The horribly anti-democratic nature of all this”

I really liked Ian Welsh’s “What passes for smart on the Greek Debt Crisis,” a response to a Kevin Drum piece, in which Welsh makes a convincing case that Drum kind of didn’t really know what he was talking about.

Basically, Welsh says, Drum and other leading liberal bloggers accept without skepticism a number of conventional (and wrong) assumptions about the catastrophic things that will happen in the event of a country not doing what it’s told to do by the world’s banking establishment. Welsh points to the less-than-cataclysmic consequences of Argentina’s and Iceland’s default. And a commenter brings up another alternative to Playing the Game According to the Rules–Malaysia, which in the 90s, instituted currency controls as opposed to doing to IMF’s bidding.

Anyway, I’ll be honest: a detailed discussion of the economics is a little beyond me (and, as per Welsh, beyond Drum and Digby, among others), but the insightful part of the Welsh piece, and the chunk I’d like to share, is in his summation of “the horribly anti-democratic nature of all this.” I’ve highlighted the best, most quotable, bits…..

There is no actual democracy in any part of the world which is attached to the Wall Street centered financial system. Calls can run up to 1000:1 against TARP and it will pass. Strong majorities can be for or against particular policies and if the elite disagrees, that’s all that matters. There are no parties to vote for if you are against the current system.

In a sense, this is fair. Westerners thought that they could have consumer democracy: they didn’t have to participate in it except at election time, when they would vote for parties and platforms paid for and produced by someone other than them. Coke(tm)/Pepsi(tm) politics – you have a choice, you can choose either Coke or Pepsi! Politicians aren’t paid by you (their salaries are the least part of their real income) why would you think they care about your concerns?

You don’t pay for politicians or politics. This is the Facebook rule: if you don’t pay the freight, you aren’t the customer, you are the product. Politicians compete for the money and favors of the rich, and what they sell is the ability to wrangle you: to pass the austerity bills, to cut the benefits, to privatize the jewels of the public system, to force through the multi-trillion dollar bailouts. They control government for the benefit of the rich.

And the rich pay all the way down the line. They control the media, right down to the bottom, to make sure that what is discusses is what they want discussed, in the terms they want it discussed. That default isn’t that bad: forbidden. That currency controls mitigate damage in these circumstances: forbidden. That lenders will lend to defaulting countries almost immediately: forbidden.

That the mere mention of a directly democratic approach to Greece’s debt woes led to widespread panic in global markets tells you all you need to know about how robust, and how undemocratic (that word again), the system is.

Papandreou has recanted, sort of, and the Greek referendum is off the table. Temporarily, I think. Whatever his motivation, the Greek PM (or former Greek PM, depending on when you read this), has let the democracy Genie out of the bottle. I don’t think it will be easy for whoever takes over to refuse a referendum in Greece. And perhaps, perhaps, this is a precedent.