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New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Admire John McPhee, Bill Bryson, David Remnick, Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr and James Martin (and most open and curious minds)

2.12.16

Video: 'New Orleans Swamp' with Dr. John, Professor Longhair, The Meters and Earl King

Video: 'New Orleans Swamp' with Dr. John, Professor Longhair, The Meters and Earl King



https://youtu.be/Kr5YaCP0a10

Christmas Music

The B Side by Ben Yagoda. 
Christmas music has long been big business for the recording industry:

"Seasonal songs [became a recording industry] commodity, especially when it came to the big kahuna of seasons. The trailblazer was Crosby's record of Berlin's 'White Christmas,' which annually made the top ten from 1942 through 1949 and topped out at number thirteen the next two years. The example was impossible for songwriters, publishers, and A&R men to ignore, and they made the postwar years the heyday of the holiday novelty number, producing scores of contenders each year. The most direct imitation of Berlin was 'Blue Christmas,' a country-and-western hit for Ernest Tubb in 1950 and for Elvis Presley seven years after that. But it turned out that the most successful Christmas records tended to have two common qualities: catchy, upbeat melodies and imagined unlikely scenarios for anthropomorphized yuletide characters. 'Frosty the Snowman' was a triumph in 1950 for the cowboy turned mainstream singer Gene Autry, and 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus' for thirteen-year-old Jimmy Boyd in 1952. The biggest Christmas song of all came about with Johnny Marks's 'Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.' Gene Autry's recording, released by Columbia just before Mitch Miller's arrival at the label, shot to number one and had impressive legs.


Bing Crosby
 
"In 1950, Paramount was putting together a Bob Hope movie called The Lemon Drop Kid; based on a Damon Runyon story, it was an obvious attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Frank Loesser's Broadway hit Guys and Dolls. It was set in New York at Christmas, and the studio asked Livingston and Evans for a holiday number. Ever the efficient and compliant craftsmen -- and aware that their contract was up for renewal in a brutal time for studio songwriters -- they produced a simple but memorable song called 'Tinkle Bells,' about the Salvation Army workers on busy city streets. When Jay told his wife about it she said, 'Are you out of your mind? Do you know what the word 'tinkle' means to most people?' The boys kept the melody and changed title to 'Silver Bells.' Bing Crosby and Carol Richards's recording, released before the film, was so popular that the studio called Hope co-star Marilyn Maxwell into the studio to reshoot a more elaborate production number. Hope made 'Silver Bells' his Christmas theme, performing it every year on his holiday television special. The website devoted to Ray Evans's legacy website lists 224 recordings of a song, from Clay Aiken through Stevie Wonder. And, yes, their contract was renewed.
"Another postwar holiday hit was 'The Christmas Song,' which is sometimes known by its opening line, 'Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.' Mel Tormé and Bob Wells had written it back in 1944, and it shared some of the wartime melancholy of Berlin's own chestnut and 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.' The first recording was by King Cole Trio, a jazz combo consisting of guitar, bass, and Nat King Cole on piano. The sharp-eared Johnny Mercer signed the group after cofounding Capitol Records, and the group produced jump jazz of the highest order, often featuring Cole's intimate, precise, and swinging vocals. Through 1946, the group charted with a half-dozen numbers, including 'Straighten Up and Fly Right' and '(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66.' But they didn't crack the top ten until they replaced swing with sentiment. That word was part of the title of their first big hit, '(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons,' which was number one for six consecutive weeks in the fall of 1946. 'The Christmas Song' was originally recorded with just the trio. But Cole, shrewd about the market, insisted on a new session, with strings and a harp. That version became a perennial classic."
The B Side: The Death of Tin Pan Alley and the Rebirth of the Great American Song
Author: Ben Yagoda
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Copyright 2015 by Ben Yagoda

Large

Knocking on Heaven's Door by Lisa Randall. The "Large Hadron Collider" (LHC) is the largest, coldest, most magnetic, and most expensive machine ever built:

"The collisions [scientists] study at the LHC are akin to those that took place in the first trillionth of a millisecond after the Big Bang. They will teach us about small distances and about the nature of matter and forces at this very early time. You might think of the Large Hadron Collider as a super-microscope that allows us to study particles and forces at incred­ibly small sizes -- on the order of a tenth of a thousandth of a trillionth of a millimeter.

"The LHC achieves these tiny probes by creating higher energy par­ticle collisions than ever before achieved on Earth -- up to seven times the energy of the highest existing collider, the Tevatron in Batavia, Il­linois. ... Quantum mechanics and its use of waves tells us these energies are essential for investigating such small distances. And -- along with the increase in energy -- the intensity will be 50 times higher than at the Tevatron, making discovering the rare events that could reveal nature's inner workings that much more likely.


The Large Hadron Collider is the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator
"Despite my resistance to hyperbole, the LHC belongs to a world that can only be described with superlatives. It is not merely large: the LHC is the biggest machine ever built. It is not merely cold: the 1.9 kelvin (1.9 degrees Celsius above absolute zero) temperature necessary for the LHC's superconducting magnets to operate is the coldest extended re­gion that we know of in the universe -- even colder than outer space. The magnetic field is not merely big: the superconducting dipole magnets generating a magnetic field more than 100,000 times stronger than the Earth's are the strongest magnets in industrial production ever made.


Map of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN
 
"And the extremes don't end there. The vacuum inside the proton­-containing tubes, a 10 trillionth of an atmosphere, is the most complete vacuum over the largest region ever produced. The energy of the colli­sions are the highest ever generated on Earth, allowing us to study the interactions that occurred in the early universe the furthest back in time.

"The LHC also stores huge amounts of energy. The magnetic field itself stores an amount equivalent to a couple of tons of TNT, while the beams store about a tenth of that. That energy is stored in one-billionth of a gram of matter, a mere submicroscopic speck of material under or­dinary circumstances. When the machine is done with the beam, this enormously concentrated energy is dumped into a cylinder of graphite composite eight meters long and one meter in diameter, which is encased in 1,000 tons of concrete.


"The extremes achieved at the LHC push technology to its limits. They don't come cheaply and the superlatives extend to cost. The LHC's $9 bil­lion price tag also makes it the most expensive machine ever built."

Take a Virtual Tour of the Large Hadron Collider at http://home.cern/topics/large-hadron-collider

1.12.16

Say no More

SEX

Good sex in fiction

It’s easy to sneer at the Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award – sneering at the sneerers, as it were – but it’s no lie that writing well about sex is difficult, and perhaps more difficult in prose than in poetry. I think there are three main reasons for this. Firstly, the vocabulary: the words for human genitalia, when they aren’t puerile or bluntly medical, are semantically loaded with enough sexual-political freight to capsize any sentence. Secondly, the activity itself: however pleasant it may feel to those involved, most variations of the sexual act are pretty obviously open to ridicule. The third reason relates to those feelings. The brain may be “the largest sexual organ”, but orgasm switches important parts of it off. We barely know ourselves when having sex; how should we be expected to write it?
Nevertheless, good sex writing does exist – and here, sticking to the parameters of the award, I essentially mean the sex scene in the literary novel or short story, ignoring outright pornography or its kissing cousin, erotica. Which is not to say the scene should not be arousing, but its primary object should be to serve the story. The writing should teach us about the characters. Ideally, it should teach us about sex, too.
One recent novel that would surely be nominated for a Good Sex in Fiction Award, if such a thing existed, is Eimear McBride’s The Lesser Bohemians (2016). McBride’s book, about an Irish drama student who has a relationship with an older British actor, refuses to recognize a barrier between what might be termed “sex acts” and any other part of the characters’ interaction – and further buries the physical descriptions in McBride’s distinctive prose style:
Bit harder? he wonders. I. I. But the mouth on my breasts then – tickle and strange delight of being seen – surprises me, if not to everything, to something. Like first foot inveigle toward what this could be. With the look in his eye. With his body in me. Going and going and harder until Oh fuck, he says Hold still, I’m way too close, any chance you are?
This reminds me of, firstly, Niall Griffiths’s intense novel about a sado-masochistic relationship, Kelly + Victor (2002) and, further back, James Salter’s A Sport and a Pastime (1967). Salter’s novel of a young expat American’s affair with a French shopgirl in provincial Autun is a frequent reference point for good sex writing. Much of its lyricism comes from the fact that the details of the affair are imagined by the narrator, who seems as much in love with the relentlessly debonair Philip as he is with Anne-Marie. Here they are, in a typical bedroom scene:
With a touch like flowers, she is gently tracing the base of his cock, driven by now all the way into her, touching his balls, and beginning to writhe slowly beneath him in a sort of obedient rebellion while in his own dream he rises a little and defines the moist rim of her cunt with his fingers, and as he does, he comes like a bull.
“Like a bull” is a false step, to be sure, but this contrast between unabashed, precise physical description and more unexpected, imaginative leaps is characteristic of Salter’s approach to the subject. The image of the bull pales next to another animal simile in Salter’s last novel, All That Is (2013). In it he describes a man as coming “like a drinking horse”, so falling foul of Gibbs’s Law of Reversible Similes: if you can describe something as being like something else, then that comparison should work equally well in reverse. I am yet to see a horse drink “like a man coming”, and hope I never will.
You can see a lot of Salter in the sexual adventures of Geoff Dyer’s novelistic heroes, who for all their frustrations and self-deprecation have immensely enviable sex lives. In Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi(2009), the titular freelance journalist and the woman of his dreams have barely met at the Venice Biennale before they are having sex.
He licked down her stomach and then moved lower so that he could smell and see her. She reached down to hold her underwear aside. He stayed there motionless, inhaling deeply through his nose, exhaling through his open mouth. Only his breath touched her. Neither of them moved. He tilted his head and she moved from the edge of the desk, bending her legs slightly until she was almost touching his tongue and then was. She kissed his face with her cunt, moving over his mouth, moving in synch with him.
Dyer spoke of being inspired to write such passages by reading the novels of Alan Hollinghurst. From The Line of Beauty (2004): “He twisted his own pants down to his knees, and smiled at the liberated bounce of his dick in the cool night air, and kissed his smile into Leo’s sphincter”.
Similarly renowned for her descriptions of lesbian sex, Sarah Waters started out with cunnilingus and strap-on dildoes in Victorian London, in Tipping the Velvet (1998), but showed a particularly gritty realism in The Night Watch (2006), set in the capital during the Blitz.
She had what must have been her four fingers inside Helen, up to the knuckle; but her thumb, outside, was rubbing at Helen’s swollen flesh. Helen raised and lowered her hips, to keep pushing against her. The blankets were rough against her bare back, and as well as the pressure between her legs she could feel Julia’s dry, trousered thigh bearing down on her own naked damp one; she could make out separate points of discomfort – the chafing against her of the buckle of Julia’s belt, the buttons on her blouse, the strap of her wrist-watch… She stretched out her hands behind her head, wishing with some part of herself that Julia had bound her, fastened her down: she wanted to give herself up to Julia, have Julia cover her with bruises and marks. Julia began to push almost painfully inside her, and she liked it. She was aware of herself growing rigid, as if really pulled by tightening ropes.
Naturally you have to look harder for sex scenes the further you go back in time – and I don’t just mean those written by the likes of D. H. Lawrence and Anaïs Nin. Literature has always had sex on the brain, but the eroticism and lyrical beauty in, for example, The Thousand and One Nights and the Kama Sutra tend not to play themselves out through realistically drawn characters, against whom one can directly measure oneself, and one’s experience of the world.
Most of these examples have been of good sex writing (as in sex that is a happy experience for the participants), although your average novel is as likely to have bad (as in unpleasant or unedifying) sex in it as good. One of the sex scenes I’ve read in recent years that has made the strongest impression on me is in Elena Ferrante’s The Days of Abandonment(2005). When Olga, dumped by her husband and spiralling into despair, goes to seduce her downstairs neighbour, she does so as much out of fury as desire.
Carrano bent over me, licked my nipples, sucked them. I tried to abandon myself, I wanted to eliminate disgust and desperation from my breast. I closed my eyes cautiously, the warmth of his breath, the lips on my skin, I let out a moan of encouragement for me and for him. I hoped to notice in myself some nascent pleasure, even if that man was a stranger, a musician perhaps of little talent, no quality, no capacity for seduction, dull and therefore alone.
If anyone ever wanted to know what goes on inside the male mind with its mind on sex, I’d push them firmly in the direction of Nicholson Baker’s splendid The Fermata (1994). The book has some perfectly effective pornography in it, but its general schema, of a man who is able to stop time and move around in and manipulate the stopped world at will, produces a frighteningly accurate picture of the male gaze.
But possibly my favourite sex scene in a novel – the one that has best explained to me the meaning of my experience of sex, that filled in the gaps erased by all those rampaging endorphins – is from Flesh, by Brigid Brophy (1962). Flesh is a reverse Pygmalion story, in which the intelligent, intrepid Nancy decides to train and develop the shy, virginal Marcus. Here is the description of their wedding night:
[Nancy] appealed to his body, and roused it, with a couple of caresses. She had small, swift, soft, brown, cool hands. She also had her – as it was in relation to him – gift of tactlessness. She talked to him. Marcus had always imagined that when he did at least make love to a woman it would be in terrible silence, interrupted only by such noises as their bodies might involuntarily make, which he had already conceived might be embarrassing. But Nancy talked to him about what he was to do, about what he was doing, in a low, rather deep, swift voice which provoked in his skin almost the same sensation as her hands. When he entered her body, he felt he was following her voice.
Jonathan Gibbs is a London-based writer and critic. His novel Randallwas published by Galley Beggar Press in 2014, and he lectures in Creative and Professional Writing at St Mary’s, Twickenham.

30.11.16

Restaurants

Inbox – gmagnuson@gmail.com



Ten Restaurants that Changed America by Paul Freedman. We all recognize the cuisines of places like France, Mexico, and Thailand. What is America's cuisine?:

"Is there such a thing as American cuisine? In many countries the very idea provokes amusement because Amer­icans are assumed to be uninterested in any food that doesn't come from McDonald's. More knowledgeable foreign observers admire the variety of American 'ethnic' restaurants but are mystified about what, if anything, native to the United States underlies this diversity. Even in a country like Germany, with a multitude of Italian, Greek, Turkish, and Thai restau­rants, there is a strong sense of regional and national ingredients and recipes -- something missing from the modern United States.

"In the nineteenth century, the United States presented considerable regional culinary variety, from Chesapeake Bay terrapin (turtles) to New Orleans gumbo; from Low Country (South Carolina) perlou (a rice dish) to Western bison and other game. The twentieth century witnessed the ero­sion of regional distinction caused by a decline in the number of farms and the rural population; the degradation of the environment, thus endanger­ing local specialties; and the proliferation of burgers, pizza, doughnuts, and other fast-food items that are the same from one end of the country to the other. ... Antoine's [Restaurant in New Orleans] ... exemplifies the most robust of American regional food traditions -- that of Louisiana and particularly New Orleans. Apart from isolated areas of the country, however, there are few other places that have preserved their culinary legacies except in an artificial and commercialized sense, as found in Texas chili cook-offs, Maine lobster festivals, and the like.


Antoine's New Orleans
"Dividing the country into culinary regions is too weak to support a unified concept of American cuisine, however, and so dining out in the United States might better be considered in terms of an eclectic collection of options, particularly with the availability of dozens of different ethnic restaurant types. As early as 1873, the indefatigable and celebrated French writer Alexandre Dumas observed that, after Paris, San Francisco had the most restaurants and that unlike Paris, there were restaurants represent­ing the cuisine of every country, even China. Twenty years later, L. J. Vance, writing in Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly, could boast of New York's culinary internationalism, where it was possible to 'breakfast in London, lunch in Berlin, dine in Paris and have supper in Vienna.' In 1892 San Francisco was again singled out for its variety. A reporter named Charles Greene, writing in The Overland Monthly, said that San Francisco provided the gastronomic equivalent of a grand tour, and he was a little more adven­turous than his New York colleague in including Chinese, Italian, Jewish,
and Mexican possibilities.

"A correspondent for a magazine called The Steward in 1909 declared that with regard to food, as with much else, 'Europe lives on tradition, America lives on variety,' a perceptive remark that shows a fundamental difference between what Americans look for in food in contrast to the approach of almost everywhere else. To take just one example: Lucknow, India, has a local specialty called shirmal -- a flat, leavened bread flavored with saffron. Derived from Persian influence, this bread is found elsewhere in northern India but is associated particularly with Lucknow, where, in fact, there is a street whose shirmal makers are renowned. On that single lane crammed with shirmal vendors, one stand is generally regarded as producing the best example (in terms of taste and texture) of something that can be found everywhere on this street, in the city, and throughout this part of Uttar Pradesh. The shirmal has only a few ingredients, but it requires skill in preparing, resting, and baking the dough. Factors affecting the quality of the shirmal include the difficult process of incorporating the ghee (clarified butter) into the dough, where to place the dough in the tandoor oven, when to splash on the saffron milk, oven temperature, timing, and so forth.


Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana  
 
"This fanatical attention to basic products is not what built the culinary world of the United States. True, there are examples of local competition for a specific dish. In New Haven, Connecticut, the rivalry between Pepe's and Sally's for thin-crusted, charred pizza is legendary, and aficionados line up on either side. Generally, however, the United States has been about choice, not craft. Even in this special pizza sector, Pepe's now has branches outside of New Haven, and New Haven-style pizza is available in New 
York and elsewhere.

"The erosion of regionalism and the standardization of food supply and preparation have tended to promote variety rather than comparison among different kinds of the same thing. Instead of discussions over who can best make tortellini in Bologna, or dosas in Chennai or rice pilaf in Isfahan, the American scene has offered mass-produced products in many flavors. The yogurt might not be very good, since it is produced in a fac­tory and consumed hundreds of miles from where it was prepared, and weeks afterward, but it is available in dozens of flavors; the orange juice in the market comes to processing plants in trucks and then is sealed in plastic-coated paperboard cartons, but it can be purchased with pulp, added calcium, without pulp, or mixed with grapefruit juice. Providing options is a way of diverting the subject away from quality."

Ten Restaurants That Changed America
Author: Paul Freedman 
Liveright Publishing Corporation
Copyright 2016 by Paul Freedman

Garrison Keillor: Maybe a Trump presidency is what God intended - The Washington Post

Garrison Keillor: Maybe a Trump presidency is what God intended - The Washington Post

A tour of New Orleans' thriving restaurant scene | Travel | The Guardian

A tour of New Orleans' thriving restaurant scene | Travel | The Guardian



Vendor at Good Bird rotisserie chicken stall in New Orleans’ St Roch food market

29.11.16

#45

Hostile Takeover

Lewis Lapham on the 2016 presidential election.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2016
IMAGE:
 Donald Trump in Reno, Nevada, on January 10, 2016. Photo by Darron Birgenheier, Flickr.
The populace may hiss me, but when I go home
and think of my money, I applaud 
myself.
—Horace, Satires
It’s been three weeks since the election, and in the mirrored halls of the news and social media the contributors of uplifting opinion have been telling themselves that no matter what else might be said about the campaigns and the vote, it was a great day for democracy. Rough-and-tumble democracy in the raw, free-range, artisanal, and organic, the will of the people trampling out the vintage of political correctness, emerging from the ash heap of vicious cant, texting yes to the Declaration of Independence, no to an uncivil transfer of power. Cue the music, roll the camera and the flag. The people have spoken. Our democracy lives. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people is not perished from the earth.
Which might have been the case had Bernie Sanders been on the ballot. He wasn’t, and neither was democracy. What was on the ballot was plutocracy, complacently stupefied and transparently corrupt at the top of the Republican and the Democratic ticket. Two gold-plated names on the same boardroom door, both candidates representative of and privileged by a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich that for the last thirty years has been arranging the country’s political and socioeconomic affairs. The election campaign was the struggle for control of corporate management, Hillary Clinton seeking to fend off a hostile takeover by Donald Trump, the lady and the lout both standing foursquare and true blue for the freedom of money, steadfast and vigilant against the freedoms of movement and thought.

Clinton lost the election because she tried to pretend what she was not—a caring friend of all the people, ardent believer in the rule of law. She could talk the prerecorded talk, but she couldn’t walk the walk, her prior record, like her every move and gesture, showing her to be in it for herself, deserving of the deference owed to the Queen of England, the jack of diamonds, and the ace of spades.
Trump won the election because he didn’t try to sell the Gettysburg Address. Upfront and fascist in his scorn for the democratic idea, he declared his candidacy on June 16, 2015, a deus ex machina descending by escalator into the atrium of Trump Tower on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, there to say, and say it plainly, democracy is for losers. Money, ladies and gentlemen, is power, and power, my friends, is not self-sacrificing or democratic. Never was and never will be; law unto itself, and the only one that counts. Name of the game, nature of the beast.
The mogul could afford the luxury of truth because he was really, really rich, unbought and unbossed, so selfishly and fearlessly rich he was free to do and say whatever it came into his head to do and say, whatever it took to root out the cowardly incompetence in Washington, clean up the mess in the Middle East, plant well-paying jobs in the American heartland. His was the greatest brand on earth come to make America once again the greatest show on earth, revive it with the sweet smell of his signature men’s colognes, Empire and Success.
Trump didn’t need briefing papers or policy positions to refine the message. He embodied it live and in person, an unscripted and overweight canary flown from its gilded cage, telling it like it is from the inside looking out. Had he time or patience for messing around with books, he could have sourced his wisdom to Supreme Court Justice Lewis Brandeis, who in 1933 presented the case to Franklin D. Roosevelt at the outset of the New Deal:
We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.
In the world according to Trump, as it was in the worlds according to Alexander Hamilton and Ronald Reagan, democracy is a tip on a dead horse. An idea as far past its sell-by date as FDR’s straw hat, not up to the task of keeping America safe or running the trains on time. Too long-winded and slow, soft in the head and weak in the knees, no match for the barbarians (Mexican and African, radical Islamist and leftist academic) at the gates of Westchester County and Palm Beach.
Not the exact words in Trump’s self-glorifying mouth, but the gist of the commandment he brought down from his Mount Sinai penthouse suite in June 2015, the one that for the next eighteen months he tweeted to phone and shouted to camera in red states and blue, pandering to the popular resentment and loathing of the Washington politicians and Wall Street masters of the universe who for two generations have been playing ordinary Americans for suckers.
Trump never tired of trash-talking the system of which he was a proud and ornamental figurehead, and the fans on fairgrounds in Kentucky and Ohio screamed and stamped in agreement because what he was saying they knew to be true—not as precept from a high-minded think tank but from their own downwardly mobile experience. Up close and personal they had suffered the consequences of the plutocracy’s ongoing and bipartisan slum-clearance project—class warfare waged by the increasingly frightened rich against the increasingly debt-burdened, disenfranchised, and angry poor, the bulk of the nation’s wealth (actual and virtual, animal, mineral, vegetable, and intellectual) amassed by 10 percent of its population, more laws restraining the freedom of persons, fewer laws limiting the license of property, the systematic juggling of the public light and land and air into the private purse, a national security apparatus herding sheep into the shelters of heavy law enforcement and harmless speech, every occupant of the White House from Reagan to Obama pleased to hold himself above the law, both houses of Congress reduced to impotent paralysis, a political discourse made by a news media presenting presidential candidates as game-show contestants mounted on selfie sticks and played for jokes until brought to judgment on election night before the throne of cameras by whom and for whom they are produced.

The camera doesn’t do democracy; democracy is the holding of one’s fellow citizens in respectful regard, not because they are beautiful or rich or famous but because they are one’s fellow citizens and therefore worth the knowing what they say and do. The work is tedious and slow; too many words with too little action doesn’t sell tickets. What sells tickets is celebrity, and because the camera sees but doesn’t think, it makes no meaningful or moral distinction between a bubble bath in Las Vegas staffed by pretty girls and a bloodbath in Palmyra staffed by headless corpses. The return on investment in both scene settings is the bankable flow of emotion drawn from the bottomless wells of human wish, dream, ignorance, and fear.
It didn’t matter what Trump said or didn’t say, whether he was cute and pink or headless. The journalists on the road with the mogul’s traveling circus weren’t covering a play of ideas; like flies to death and honey, they were drawn to the sweet decaying smell of overripe celebrity, enchanted, as is their custom, by the romance of crime.
Blind to homespun shoes on common ground, the camera gazes adoringly at leather boots on horseback. So does the America moviegoing public. Always a sight for sore eyes, the boots on horseback. They ride into town with the lonesome-pine hero in the trail-weary saddle, knight errant, deadly and just, up against the odds and the system, come to remove the corrupt sheriff and redeem the God-fearing settlers, clean up the mess in the Middle West saloon, set the crooked straight, distribute moral fabric, civic virtue, and a fair share of the loot to the storekeep, the shepherd, and the schoolteacher.
Trump pitched his campaign on the storyline the moviegoing electorate likes a lot better than the one about Honest Abe Lincoln. The networks, the cable channels, and the self-adoring social media hoisted him up there in lights with robber barons Vanderbilt and Rockefeller, gunslingers Eastwood and Stallone, mafia dons Corleone and Soprano. November 8, 2016, may become a night to remember, but it wasn’t a great day for democracy.