A Little Knowledge Can Be a Fortunate Thing

When I was an undergraduate, I had a fantastic professor named Dr. Bryan who taught Art History 101 in a large auditorium that could accommodate a couple hundred students.[1] I learned so much in his class, which featured a superb, richly illustrated textbook that I perused religiously whenever we had an assignment.  I took meticulous notes during his engaging lectures and tried my best to keep up with his rapidly administered slide shows projected on the giant screen behind the podium. 

I remember that a missed more than a few identifications on his first test, a midterm exam; however, my essays on that exam so impressed him that he awarded me extra points, so I ended up getting an A despite than more than 10 points of deductions on the objective portion. However, somewhat surprisingly, I received a B+ on our one outside paper (some damn TA graded it), so I had an A- going into the exam.

Perhaps, to keep students interested, Dr. Bryan would occasionally announce that if a student could answer some obscure question he threw out, he’d give them an A for the semester no matter what grade they had earned. Well, a couple of weeks before exams, he said, “If anyone in this auditorium can tell me who invented kindergarten, I’ll give them an A on the exam.”

My hand shot up, but he ignored me, until I leapt to my feet, waving my arms above my head, and the auditorium started booing him.  “Okay,” he finally said, pointing to me, “Who started the first kindergarten?”

“Fredrich Froebel,” I hollered. I had learned this bit of trivia literally the day before in my History of Education class.[2]

“Okay,” he said. “I can’t give you an A on the exam.” 

The auditorium erupted in a chorus of boos, so he relented a bit. “Meet me in my office after class and bring your midterm and essay.”  

Thunderous applause.

So later that day, I met him in his office with assessments in hand. I explained that I had an A- average anyway, so he allowed me to exempt the exam, which I really appreciated given the load I carried (see footnote 2).

Anyway, when I began teaching myself, I would occasionally follow Dr. Bryan’s model and announce that I’d give a student an A for the year if he or she could answer an obscure question, which I made damned sure no one would get right.

E.g., “Okay, if anyone who can name the comic butt in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, I’ll give you an A for the year. You’ll still have to do the work and try your best, but you’ll get an A.”

Then a volley of incorrect answers would ricochet off the walls of the room.

Ophelia, Bottom the Weaver, Falstaff, Casca, etc.

“Time’s up,” I’d say. “Sorry. You were so close. It’s Thersites, who spoke these immortal lines: “Great Agamemnon has not so much brain as earwax.”

However, one time, I came really close to blowing it. I gave the A option to the question “Where did I see Dr. John perform the last time I saw him, and to my astonishment, a student answered correctly Newberry.

“Oh shit,” I thought, then said. “Great! Where in Newberry?”

“What do you mean?”

I mean the venue. What building?”

“Um, the Newberry Auditorium.

“Sorry. It was at the Newberry Opera House.”

I can’t remember if I stopped asking A questions after that close shave. I wonder if Dr. Bryan did. I, however, did dub for the student a compilation c.d. featuring some Dr. John tunes, which in the long run was probably worth more than an A.

Newberry Opera House

[1] An unfortunate event occurred at another one of these auditorium classrooms when I fell asleep during an astronomy film with my legs draped over the two empty seats in front of me. When the film ended, the student to my right roused me, and startled, I leapt to my feet. Unfortunately, both of my legs had fallen asleep, so I immediately collapsed and fell to the floor. Again, I attempted to rise and again I fell, so students began to gather around me, thinking I had had a seizure or stroke. Luckily, class was over, so I sidled over and sat down until blood returned to me feet.

[2] I didn’t declare my major until the second semester of my junior year, and because I had dropped several courses and never attended summer school, I had to take 21 hours that semester to graduate on time. The good news that most of them were basic level freshmen courses like Music Appreciation or fairly easy sophomore English courses like Contemporary Fiction, so it wasn’t all that burdensome taking such a massive load.

Darkness

Bosch

Since Halloween is the day after tomorrow and tonight I’m headed to a costume party dressed up as Dr. John, the Night Tripper, a practitioner of voodoo, I thought I’d darken your day (or night) with some musings on the concept of evil.

Frankly, in my philosophical musings, I’ve avoided the origin of evil.  I’ve read a bit of Augustine, a bit of Hume, but the left side of my brain leaves much to be desired; it is a virtual empty lot where tumbleweed tumbles and winds of distraction drown out the lecturer who argues in soporific sentences like these:

From [the idea that nature is not as good as its creator] there follows that there is nothing to be called evil if there is nothing good.  A good that wholly lacks an evil aspect is totally good.  Where there is some evil in a thing, its good is defective or defectible (sic).  Thus, there can be no evil where there is no good. This leads us to a surprising conclusion: that, since every being, in so far as it is a being, is good, if we can say a defective thing is bad, it would seem to mean that we are saying that what is evil is good, that only what is good is ever evil and that there is no evil apart from something good.

                                                        Augustine: Enchiridion

Illustration by Wesley Moore: “The worlds revolve like ancient women,/ Gathering fuel in vacant lots.”

Like I said, my analytical skills leave much to be desired, but Augustine’s argument that evil is a privation of good (thus letting God off the hook for evil’s existence) strikes me as whistling past the boneyard.

Hume ain’t buying it:

The whole presents nothing but the idea of a blind nature, impregnated by a great vivifying principle, and pouring forth from her lap, without discernment or parental care, her maimed and abortive children!

                                                             Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

Ignoring the incredibly complicated question of why a morally perfect Deity would allow evil into his creation, the Hebrew myth of Lucifer’s Fall does a pretty damned[1] good job of capturing evil’s innate human cause – pride and territorial dominance.  

In a sense, we can attribute the Fall to a kinghell[2] case of sibling rivalry, Lucifer’s jealousy of Yahweh’s power (or in the Miltonic version, the creation of Jesus as favorite son).  Of course, that other pillar of Western Civilization, the Hellenic, also has much to say about the evils of hubris, the harmatia of many an ancient tragic hero and contemporary public servant.

Oedipus

If we’re to accept Hume’s bleak assessment (finished in 1776, eighty-three years before Darwin published Origen of Species), then perhaps a peek at our maimed and abortive cousins chimpanzees might shed some light.   

Territory and sex seem to be the two main motives for chimpanzee murders.  Clara Moskowitz is a little easer reading than Augustine or Hume:

“The take-home is clear and simple,” said researcher John Mitani of the University of Michigan. “Chimpanzees kill each other. They kill their neighbors. Up until now, we have not known why. Our observations indicate that they do so to expand their territories at the expense of their victims.”

Sex is also a motive, especially in infanticide.  Further down the chain, langur monkeys, like their more sophisticated chimpanzee cousins, also engage in infanticide:

If the alpha langur is not successful [in defending his place in the pecking order], the young males then take over the troop, and systemically and brutally kill infant langurs, smashing them against the trees, crushing their skulls, until all infants are dead.

The young female langurs in the troop remain unhurt, as they are the love object of the young males.

The young males then begin to seat themselves at the head of their own helm, to take many females who will then bear offspring only to them.

Biologically, it is important for the band of marauding young males to to kill the infants, because the infants are preventing the females from bearing new young.

The females are suckling the infants, and by so doing, are incapable of having new infants.

                                                         Kathryn Esplin “Why Do Chimpanzee Murder

We share ~ 98.7% of our DNA with chimps, interestingly enough, the same percentage we share with bonobos, who are less studied than chimps.  They and chimps were at one time the same species, but after the Congo River formed, they separated into two distinct species, chimps organizing along patriarchal lines and bonobos along matriarchal lines.  

Can you guess which species relieves its tension through sex and which through violence?

So I say we let Eve and Pandora off the hook. What do Charles Whitman (University of Texas August 1966), Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech 2007), and Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook December 2012) have in common?

Y chromosomes, a sense of entitlement, thin skin, territorial insecurity, and pride.

Happy Halloween!

Dr. John, the Night Tripper

[1] Forgive the execrable pun, loves.

[2] I’m on a roll.

Robert Lighthouse, Swedish Bluesman Extraordinaire

What do you think of when you think of Sweden? Viking ships? Ingmar Bergman? The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? The blues?

The blues? What in the hell am I talking about?

I’m talking about Robert Lighthouse – nee Ivan R. Palinic[1], the Swedish blues guitarist who at the tender age of fourteen heard an Alan Lomax field recording of Muddy Waters – boom – Road to Damascus. Farewell, Nazareth, hail, Dr. Ross, John Lee Hooker, and Jimi Hendrix.

“Muddy ’67” photograph by David Gahr

I chatted with Robert in bright sunshine on our dock yesterday before his gig at the Singer/Songwriter’s Soapbox at Chico Feo, the best free music you’ll find in anywhere in what once was called Tri-County Area.[1]

Prompted by my questions, Robert related a CliffNote summary his life: moving to the States at eighteen, playing for tips on DC street corners, getting discovered by Charlie Sayles, the one-eyed harp master (who also got his start in music playing for tips on street corners).

Charlie Sayles

Robert toured Belgium and Holland with Charlie’s band and ended up landing a record deal of his own. His critically acclaimed first album, Drive-Thru Love, available on Smithsonian Folk Ways Recordings[2], includes both covers and originals. In addition to his second record, Deep Down in the Mud, Robert also appears on the Folkways compilation 1996 album, The Blues You Would Just Hate to Lose, Vol. II.  He has shared a stage with Dr. John and opened for Taj Mahal and Johnny Winter, whom Robert describes as a man of few words but many bong hits.

The pianist/blues impresario Gary Erwin (aka Shrimp City Slim) recruited Robert to appear at blues festivals in Camden, Greenwood, and Charleston, and somehow, Robert and my brother Fleming met, and, the rest, as they say, is history.

If you ever get the chance, check him out.

Here’s a clip of his version of the Charlie Patton tune “Rattlesnake Blues.”

And him warming up at Chico Feo last night (8 March 2021)

photo credit I-and-I


[1] That be Charleston, Dorchester, and Berkeley Counties. The Soapbox runs on Mondays from 6 to 10. Be there are be square.

[2] How cool to share a label with Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger Leadbelly, and Dave Van Ronk. I made the mistake of clicking on their website and see a Lord Lavender calypso record I can’t live without.


[1] Robert tells me that his surname, which is Croatian, means fire-starter, as in arsonist, so he anglicized it to “Lighthouse” in the sense of setting a house on fire, not in the sense of guiding sailors safely to shore. 

Goodnight, Dr. John, May Flights of Brass Bands Blow Thee to Thy Rest

 

dr john keeper

Okay, Mac Rebennack’s dead, which means so is Dr. John, which means no more gumbo music, no more funkificated word coinages, no more “mos’ scociouses,” no more “desitively bonnaroos.”

Unique is too weak a word.  Dig this from his Nite Tripper days:

Although Dr. John put on great shows right up until recently (I’ve seen him three times over the last twenty years), I think his best album is 1974’s Desitively Bonnaroo.  Music critic Nick Deriso: “Even today, there’s really no roadmap for the crazy-eyed co-mingling of R&B, jazz, island beats, blues, boogie funk and hoodoo whackadoo splashed across this LP, recorded alongside fellow New Orleans legends Allen Toussaint and the Meters more than 35 years ago.”

I still got the copy I copped from a sidewalk record sale in ’76.  Take a peek at the musicians, if you’re interested, while you listen to a snippet of the title song.

The first time I saw Dr. John live was at an outdoor street festival, again in Columbia, and I’ll never forget his entrance, sporting canary yellow socks, bopping his cane on the sidewalk, strut-dancing his way up the piano to play and croak and banter.

After Katrina, my friends Jake, Keith, and my late wife Judy Birdsong saw him at the Newberry Opera house.  You could see Katrina had taken a toll, and he kept saying throughout the show, “They put me on psych meds.”  That was back in his way-over-weight days, and he occasionally got up from the piano and do these gyrations that didn’t quite qualify as a dance.

In 2013, I saw him for the last time at the Leaf Festival where he played the guitar. He had started out as a guitarist until he got a finger shot in a scuffle and turned to the piano.

dr on guitar

photo by Wesley Moore

Given his hanging out in smokey bars and strip clubs since his teens, his three-decade heroin addiction, his doing some time in prison, I doubt that Mac would ever dream he’d make it to 77, a lucky number.  At any rate, he follows Professor Longhair, Earl King, and James Booker, whom Dr. John once described as “the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced.”

So long, old friend. Gonna miss your music, gonna miss your rap.

jb_tragedy

James Booker

 

Strutting, Cakewalking, Pimp Walking?

“A Man Swaggering” by Paul Standby 1760

He came up maybe to their armpits, the dudecats accompanying him, this ten-ish-year-old mannishboy strutting up King Street in Charleston swinging a watch chain and tapping a cane.

Back then, 1968, I thought naively zoot suit, not pimp outfit. The hat was cocked, the smile triumphant, the cane tapping a tattoo, the chains cycling in time with the jaunt-step.

It was like the two other older taller teens accompanying him were underlings. It was like he was royalty, had some power conferred upon him, this princeling. For what and why I had and have no clue.

I’ve squandered today’s sunlight scouring the 1s and 0s of cyberspace searching for an equivalent, i.e., of a video of a prepubescent boy strutting on a sidewalk, but guess what? There ain’t none but this lighter-shade-than-pale approximation hardly worth plopping down:

 

I wouldn’t see locomotion quite like the King-Street-Strut until I saw Dr. John take the stage for the first time at Columbia’s 3 Rivers Festival in 2002 or 3.

Hat, cane, strut.

This snippet from the 2008 Newport Jazz Festival is a mere shadow of what I witnessed that evening when I first saw the Doctor making his way to his piano.

 

Of course, males have been swaggering and females jiggling since time immemorial. Even in the Age of Reason it appears homo sapiens succumbed to the jungle beats of their pulses in attempt to enhance their chance for romance, dominance, offspring.  [See the Paul Standby illustration above]

But back to the 60s and that Mannishboy. Those moves didn’t come from nowhere:

 

John Jeremiah Sullivan has a fascinating piece in the Winter Swanee Review on the origin of the blues.   Much of the essay deals with “cakewalking,” an African American tradition dating back to plantation days but that was all the rage in the early 20th Century. a staple of minstrel shows.

 

 

Did cakewalking in some ways influence what became known as jive-ass-walking/pimp-walking?

This snippet narrated by retired pimp Bishop Don Magic features watch-chain spinning, but it’s really, really lame compared to the vertical twirling of the mannishboy I saw on King Street that day.

 

So what’s the point of all this?  Good question.  I might have to get back to you on that except to say that if you’re lucky, you might see something amazing you’ll never forget, something that goes way back, has evolved, decayed, and all that jazz.  Or maybe, given how all my memories seem to sport an enhanced version, maybe time burnishes memories?

Or maybe there’s no fool like an old fool:

Dr Seuss on the Juice (as performed by Dr. John)

 

 

When I read Kafka

I get wasted on Vodka,

 

Though Mr. William Faulkner

Go better with Johnnie Walker.

 

Can’t do Proust

With no gin in my juice.

 

Obviously, Guinness be the choice

When I open up my Joyce.

 

(Finnegan’s Wake sober

Mean a walloping hangover).

 

Never do Virginia Woolf

Unless the bottle say 100 proof.

 

Nobel Laureate TS Eliot

Requires an even stronger inebriant.

 

And remember,

if you want to stay alive,

Don’t read and drive.

 

 

 

A Guided Tour of Last Night’s Insomnia

Insomnia by ~diablozz

Insomnia by ~diablozz

On the Sunday night before the Monday morning of my return, given that I had missed seven consecutive days of school, I could have predicted that when I lay me down to sleep in my half-empty bed, I would suffer a potent spell of insomnia.

My wife and I had been on a medical junket to Houston, Texas, where she received a PET scan, an MRI, an extra-scheduled brain MRI, and subsequent “lumbar puncture” (née spinal tap). Add to that existential dread the students’ missed work, the now screwed-up syllabi, my dislike of grog-producing sleep aids, and insomnia was, as Richard Nixon once said, a foregone conclusion.

When that switch goes off in my head and those darkened corridors become suddenly illuminated and I’m instantaneously wide, wide awake, I don my imaginary Sigmund Freud mask with its glasses, white beard, and cigar. A re-visitation and evaluation of recent dreams is in order.

Dream 1: During my absence the government has constructed a road that runs through the marsh and river that are in essence my back yard. So long serenity; hail ceaseless traffic. [Interpretation: cancer invasion].

road-in-marsh

Dream 2: I’m at a family reunion where my mother and father are among the quick, and some female baby relative cousin is screaming her head off — no one can quiet her — so I pick her up to see what I can do and discover that feces is flowing lava-like from her dripping diaper onto a Persian rug, so I hand her off to my mother and grab rags and paper towels and try to sop up the diarrheic outpouring. [Interpretation: cancer has shitted on our lives].

Dream 3: I’m in some exotic location in the South Seas where a swimming pool overlooks the most pacific of Pacific seascapes. I’m having a conversation with two of my former students, Allen and Willy Hutcheson, and Allen is telling me about his life when I detect some commotion in the pool. I look down and see a dead Macaw lying at the bottom, which I know will upset Willy because he is an ornithologist, but then there’s this terrible thrashing, and low and behold, an exotically neon-hued very alive crocodile has replaced the dead parrot. [Interpretation: sigh].

croc-in-pool

Okay, perhaps a different mental activity might be in order.

This is probably stupid, but when I have these spates of insomnia, I create overly metric nonsense verse, stupid adult versions of nursery rhymes, and the following is what I came up with last night, and I share it, not because it is any good at all, or even particularly clever, but because of where it leads us next.

Dr. John and I

shared a piece of apple pie

baked by that angel grandma

Chloe of Senegal

who is as scrawny

as the doctor is brawny,

though if I weren’t

bound by rhyme

I might opine

that big-bellied would be better

to describe a waistline so unfettered.

The Great Dr. John, aka Mac Rebennack

The Great Dr. John, aka Mac Rebennack

This exercise leads me to think about English, that hybrid language with its blunt Anglo-Saxon roots, supple Norse syntax, and treasure trove of French words. We’re talking here the assimilation, not of immigrants, but of invaders, yet Anglo-Saxon girls married Vikings, their offspring married Normans, who ate poultry instead of chicken, the combination of the three languages creating such a wealth of ways to express ourselves.

Scrawny, brawny – a potent spell of insomnia . . .

[scrawny – probably from Old Norse skrælna to shrival]

[brawny – from Old French braon fleshy or muscular part, buttock]

[potent – from Latin potentem powerful]

[spell – from Old English gespelia – a substitute, shift work, continuous stretch]

[spell – from Proto German spellam “report, tale, fable. ” From c. 1200 as “an utterance, something said, a statement, remark”; meaning “set of words with supposed magical or occult powers, incantation, charm, first recorded 1570s; hence any means or cause of enchantment.” (Oxford Dictionary of Folklore via Online Etymology Dictionary)

I think of the ad in Back of the Boy’s Life magazines I read when I was a Cub Scout, the ad with the 98 pound weakling sharing a beach blanket his a buxom companion, their outing spoiled by having sand kicked in their faces.

“Hey, you pathetic emaciated excuse for a hominid,” ejaculates the muscular ruffian.

“Hey, you scrawny bitch,” spews the rock-hard bully.

shapeimage_2

And these thoughts of assimilation lead me to think of how many Muslims I saw in Houston, all the women in hijabs, both at the Galleria Mall and at MD Anderson, one woman sitting in the hospital in a black niqab but also wearing a mask beneath the veil to ward off infection, and then there was the Iraqi veteran who had worked as a translator for the US Army and who was now working as a concierge at the Wyndam Suites, and also we met with a former student and his Pakistani wife, their marriage being the first non-arranged union in the history of her family, and she told Judy and me that even as a coed at the University of Georgia her curfew at her home in the summertime was seven p.m. and, oh boy, a yawn, a good sign, my body hinting to just breathe, and maybe the mind will empty if I pay attention to inhalation and exhalation, if I just let go and allow the swirls of grey behind my eyelids to take whatever shape whatever.

Jim Crow, Treme, Iago, Dr. John, and I-and-I

James T Crow, Spiritual Advisor

James T Crow, Spiritual Advisor

Last night the shamanic JT Crow, one of my spiritual advisors, came over for pizza, and we started yapping about the HBO series Treme, which chronicles the travails of (perhaps too many) characters trying to get their lives together in those wretched days just after Katrina wasted New Orleans.

Although Mr. Crow, who goes by Jim (and, by the way, voted for Obama), and I agree that New Orleans itself is the protagonist of the narrative and that the music [cue James Brown] is bam BAM BAM BAM BAM! – OUT-OF-SIGHT!!!! – we mildly disagree about the overall quality of the production.

For one thing,, I think some of the acting sucks — the Hindenburg of my disbelief has crashed a few times.  For example, the Davis McAlary character’s parents don’t seem like the decadent uptown parents of a wastrel son but like actors playing the decadent uptown parents of a wastrel son. I start wondering where they’re really from, if they get along off the set, etc.

Even Declan MacManus doesn’t do a very good job of playing Elvis Costello.

Davis McAlary played by Steve Zahn

Davis McAlary played by Steve Zahn

Anyway, the most interesting difference of opinion between Crow and me concerns the above-mentioned character Davis McAlary, whom Jim likes but whom I’d like to see sporting orange overalls and a leg shackles while gigging trash amid swarms of mosquitoes on the side of a desolate Louisiana road.*

Do I need mention that Jim’s nicer than I am**?

Jim considers Davis a good person at heart, but to me his picture should appear next to asshole in the American Heritage Dictionary of Vulgarity.*** Because of some sort of megalomaniac disorder, Davis feels entitled to ignore the playlist of the radio station where he works because the playlist isn’t authentic enough, never mind that it’s during a Beg-O-Rama (aka Pledge Drive) and the station is teetering on the edge of financial collapse.   Davis feels entitled to steal a bottle of $200 wine from a lover’s restaurant even though it’s teetering on the edge of financial collapse (though he does leave her as compensation some vintage out-of-print music he looted from a record store). He also aims his speakers outwards from his windows towards his neighbors’ house and blasts them with New Orleans’ hip hop. Working as a concierge, he sends young Mormon volunteers to authentic but dangerously located clubs so they can experience the real New Orleans, etc.

The would-be cat ain’t got no clue about existentialism. He’s about as tolerant as Boko Haram.


 *Obviously, Zahn is going a terrific job of acting if I’ve developed such an animus towards his character.
** E.g., I was sitting on Jim’s couch one evening getting machine-gun blasted with hate tweets from a disgruntled former colleague, and when I started punching in a retaliation, Jim stopped me and said, “Don’t do that.  The poor man is suffering.”
Also, Jim has seen two seasons as opposed to my two episodes.  Maybe Davis changes as the narrative progresses (but it seems to me to be dramatically viable it would take a road-to-Damascus Jesus-hurled thunderbolt).
***Aaron James’s definition from Assholes, A Theory: n., a person who “allows himself to enjoy special advantages and does so systematically” because of “an entrenched sense of entitlement,” and who “is immunized by his sense of entitlement against the complaints of other people.”

But then, sitting there with Crow, I had to concede that if Davis lived on Folly Beach, my little slice of purgatory, it would be fun to hang with him on a casual basis, given his passion, knowledge, and exquisite taste in music. That got me to thinking about some less than noble characters I hung with in my troubled youth, which, of course, got me thinking about Shakespeare’s Othello.

[Feared reader response: WTF! Huh? Time to click out of this joint].

Sample Page from Shakespeare Insult Generator

Sample Page from Shakespeare Insult Generator

As it happened, Jim’s Xmas present to me, a Shakespeare Insult Generator, was on the table next to us, and it got me to thinking.

A SIG allows you to randomly select two adjectives from any play in the canon and affix them to a Shakespearean noun to create curses for, as PEE WEE GASKINS might say, “them what we love to hate.” For example, flipping through the kit with my left hand as I type, I see I could call Davis a “churlish, beef-witted braggart” or a “mammering, hollowed geck.”

One of the adjectives in the kit is “swag-bellied,” which I actually recognize from 2.3 of Othello. In the scene, Iago, as sociopathic a character in all of literature, is regaling his comrades with descriptions of the English’s domination in the consumption of alcohol over formidable but lesser rivals:

Cassio: Fore God, an excellent song!

Iago: I learned it in England, where indeed they are most potent in potting. Your Dane, your German, and your swag-bellied Hollander – drink, ho! – are nothing to your English.

Cassio: Is your Englishman so exquisite in his drinking?

Iago: Why he drinks with facility your Dane dead drunk; he sweats not to overthrow your Almain; he gives your Hollander a vomit ere the next pottle can be filled.

Let’s face it, if you were on Iago’s good side, i.e., if he’s not robbing you blind or plotting to bring about your total destruction, he’d be an entertaining drinking buddy, much more clever than pretty boy Cassio.

Ah, but here’s the rub. Shakespeare inserts this true-to-life comic skit in the infernal machinery of a tragedy, the skit underscoring dimensions of character, e.g., Cassio’s naivety and Iago’s verbal cleverness.

Shit, then, why am I watching Treme when I could be watching Henry IV, Episodes 1 and 2?

Because, for one thing, Falstaff can’t rip up a piano and sing like Dr. John.

Oh yeah, Mac Rebennak does an Emmy-deserving job of playing Dr. John in Treme.