The Pittsburgh Three Rivers Arts Festival could book Nickelback from 2017 until the end of time, and I would forgive them, because in 2013 they booked Ralph Stanley, and I got to see him sing, and to shake his hand and fawn over him.

He was frail already, but it was still one of the finest concerts I have ever seen. That voice will not come again.

“Ralph Stanley is not immortal. In spite of refrains — at least half a dozen at the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Arts Festival alone — of his status as a “living legend,” Stanley is 86 years old and frail. One half of the first-generation-of-bluegrass duo The Stanley Brothers, as well as a solo artist in his own right, Stanley might have just a few years left in him. He already can’t play his famous clawhammer-style banjo. On Saturday, his band, the Clinch Mountain Boys, gave Stanley a lyrics sheet so he could remember the words to “Angel Band”, a song which someone in the crowd requested. A song he must have sung hundreds of times.”

Read the rest.

  • One gasmask from World War I, crumbling
  • One child-sized modern gasmask
  • Five American Civil Defense manuals from before 1970 relating to surviving nukes and/or fallout
  • One Soviet equivalent
  • Signed copy of The Mothman Prophecies by John A. Keel addressed “To Suzy”
  • Copy of The Federal Siege at Ruby Ridge by Randy and Sara Weaver, signed “Mark Laursen, Freedom at any Cost! Randy Weaver”
  • Black and white photograph of people in a market with their backs to the camera, captioned “Empty shelves, Moscow”
  • Three World War I soldier postcards, one of which has a cartoon of a Tommy in oversized uniform and the words “Wanted: five minutes with the guy who said it’s clothes make the man.”
  • Two ’78s: “When They Found The Atomic Power” and “When the Atom Bomb Fell”
  • A painfully racist postcard from 1907, with a cartoon of a black man being stung by bees
  • A fascinatingly racist bumper sticker with the confederate flag over the White House, and the words “I have a dream.”
  • A confederate flag bumper sticker with the words “Dead Yankees don’t lie!” written on it.
  • A Chairman Mao magnet from China
  • Four or five Soviet pins from the 1980s
  • A button that says “Nixon: now more than ever”
  • A black and white picture of Jesus from about the ’50s, and Jesus waves his arm if you shake it
  • An entire photo album of a family of strangers from the teens into the ’20s
  • Numerous SWAT Playmobils
  • Two WWII ration books from my Grandmother
  • A 10,000 Reichsmark bill from 1923
  • An Outline of Abnormal Psychology, 1929
  • A blue and an orange wind-up, plastic chattery teeth with feet
  • Sixty-year-old face powder in a pink box
  • Oh God, I haven’t written on this blog in ages, and I have SO MANY PLAYBOY PIECES NOW. Read them all.  The most interesting ones are my every candidate is the worst ever series, brilliantly suggested by editor Joe Donatelli. I also did a Clinton rally, a Sanders rally, and an upcoming Trump and Kasich rally piece, as well as some odds and ends about privacy and drugs and stuff.
  • I also wrote a thing for The Federalist about the LP debate, the most important part of which was clearly Gary Johnson kissing John McAfee.
  • I sassed David Harsanyi’s Federalist piece about Hiroshima over at Antiwar.com.
  • I have — after years of Dan Bier harassing — published exactly one piece at FEE, which was excitingly republished at Newsweek (I don’t think that means I get to add Newsweek.com to my official list. Will have to ask the committee).
  • Though I put my beloved Politics for People Who Hate Politics on hiatus AGAIN due to my lack of time management skills, Sheldon Richman and I have had many bracing Free Association podcasts.  The most recent was on voting, bathroom bills, Sanders selling out on war, presidents, and other bad things:

  • Speaking of podcasts, the killer trio of Kmele Foster, Matt Welch, and Michael Moynihan have started their own, called The Fifth Column. It’s addictively entertaining, even when Moynihan dominates (this is only a problem when he talks about blowback badly) and Matt talks not enough, and Kmele almost, but not quite lets the anarchy out. It’s really good. It’s like hanging out with three hilarious, smart dudes because it is that, but for your ears. It’s also basically a podcast full of the people I am too chicken to invite onto my podcast.
  • Someone pointed out a decent libertarian look at the notion of rape culture (there are longer, and lefter versions of this, like Charles W. Johnson’s Hayekian analysis) and as culture wars never die, it’s worth a read.

Also, Meat Loaf:

 

FullSizeRenderJohn Kasich of Ohio is not BS-ing when he says he knows how to get things done in Washington.

He’s been proving it since he was a freshman at Ohio State.

In 1970, young John was so much in love with Richard Nixon he wrote a 3-page letter of encouragement to Tricky Dick.

Kasich was just an unknown, unconnected 18-year-old working-class Republican kid  from Pittsburgh  — a mailman’s son, etc. etc.

But his letter — probably the only love note Nixon ever got from a college student during the Vietnam War — was so persuasive the president invited him to meet him man-on-man in the White House.

Unfortunately, Kasich talked to the hometown press afterwards and said some sweet things about Nixon that he might wish now he hadn’t.

The mailman’s son told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he thought Nixon “was very dynamic.”

Worse, the young war hawk also defended Nixon, saying that before people criticize the president they should realize that he “knows more about Vietnam than the public does.”

Kasich is the last Pittsburgh native left in the presidential race. A good bet to beat Donald Trump in the Ohio primary, he’s the Republican establishment’s last hope to derail the Trump Circus Train.

What happens after Kasich wins Ohio, not even Joe Scarborough and Mika can predict.

****

Kasich is really not from Ohio.

He defected there after college, when Pittsburgh’s steel industry was dying, and made his political career in the Buckeye State as a Reagan conservative with a soft heart and a yearning for balanced budgets and a strong military.

Except that he’s not a union-loving Democrat, he remains a typical Pittsburgher.

He’s not a phony. He’s a regular guy, a rumpled, kind of cranky Everyman, forever the son of a mailman.

He’s still a big foolish hawk, unfortunately, but he’s grown as a Republican.  Now he’s also a big hugger.

It says in the PG’s article that Kasich is from Stowe Township, but he was really from McKees Rocks, which is just an extension of working-class Pittsburgh a few miles up the Ohio River.

He grew up in the humble 1950s suburban brick house pictured below, which,  if Republicans are luckier than they deserve,  someday may be the 20th-century equivalent of Abe Lincoln’s log cabin.

kasi

I know Andrew Kirell from his former tenure as Mediaite’s Ed in Chief, and now for the Daily Beast. I also know him to be refreshingly scornful of politics and the worst people in media. I also know him as that guy I met twice, and wish I could hang out with more because he’s pretty legit.

I heard whispers for several years that Kirell had musical yearnings and talents, and I was curious to hear what he sounded like. If you talk to someone a lot, but you don’t know their musical self, it feels mysterious. They could be a secret Bowie or Britney Spears or Paul Simon. You just don’t know.

A few weeks ago, Kirell had me listen to his song “On My Own” and it was completely not what I had expected, in a fun way. I knew Kirell had great taste in music — Townes Van Zandt and Bob Dylan and all — but I didn’t expect him to sound like the alt country Ian Curtis. He does. He sounds like the alt country Ian Curtis, and it is awesome. Go have a listen over at his Bandcamp page. I’m excited to hear what he does next.

  • images (2)I wrote a thing about Harley Quinn (or Harleys Quinn, considering her different origins) for Bounding Into Comics. Be gentle, boys, it’s my first time writing about comics (even if I am mostly writing about a cartoon).
  • Fascinating B.K. Marcus piece on — among other things — the etymology of “Nazi” and what “national socialism” is or isn’t.
  • Tom Cotton is the worst, and someday he will be president.
  • Joan Walsh is joyfully voting H. Clinton, in spite of her “wonder[ing] whether she’ll be more hawkish on foreign policy than is advised in these dangerous times.” (That is the single sentence devoted to the issue in a long, luxurious piece about how feminism and something something glass ceiling.)
  • The author of a new (for the US) bio of Raoul Wallenberg is convinced he was indeed executed in 1947, and did not die of a heart attack as the Russians still claim. (There were wild rumors of Wallenberg alive into the ’70s, which are arguably more horrifying than if he had just been killed in ’47.)
  • Someone needs to tell the Christian Science Monitor that Vicki Weaver was shot in the head by an FBI sniper, and did not die in a “shootout.” They should also mention 80 Branch Davidians did not die by gunfire. I wrote my thesis on this, AND I know how to Google.
  • Today in 1967, the Apollo 1 capsule caught fire during a test. Gizmodo has an interesting, short piece on how that influenced NASA safety (including inspiring them to make Snoopy a mascot, which explains the names that came later).
  • RIP Concepcion Picciotto, who you may have passed outside of the White House once or twice.
  • Well, the Guillotine is more humane for the death penalty, but also the governor of Maine is nuts. 
  • Several people I like and whose work I follow came out of or have written for Wonkette, and God damn do they make Gawker look sincere and serious sometimes.
  • Possibly the Onion might chill with Hillary Clinton.

Today’s video reminds us that if they weren’t so amusing, Flight of the Conchords could have done more of a Milk Carton Kids thing (well, except that the one dude in the Milk Carton Kids is hilarious, so never mind):