Sunday, September 25, 2016

Jagger -- "I Call My Baby Candy" (1970)

And when I pick her up at home
To take her out on a date
Don’t have to take her to a fancy restaurant
For a five-dollar T-bone steak

I go to Las Vegas every fall with several of my law firm colleagues to attend a trade show.  I think the first time I went to that show was 1991, and I’ve gone back every year since then.

Unlike most people, I don’t gamble when I’m in Las Vegas.  The last time I placed a bet there was 1998, when I put $10 on the San Francisco 49ers to beat the Washington Redskins by more than seven points in a Monday night game.

When I turned on the TV that night, the ’Skins were up 7-0 and I was kicking myself for throwing away my ten bucks.  But not to worry – the Niners shredded the hapless Washington defense for 504 yards and ending up prevailing by a 45-10 margin.

This matchup was a winner for me in 1998
The next day, I went to my hotel’s sports book and got in line to collect my winnings when I noticed an employee of one of my clients waiting in a different line.  He had bet on San Francisco as well, so we congratulated each other on our mad handicapping skills.

I got to the front of my line, handed the cashier my ticket, and collected my $10 in winnings.

He got to the front of his line, handed his cashier his ticket, and collected $500.  (This guy was no more than 25 years old, and was nothing more than a glorified go-fer for the client – I’m guessing $500 was at least a week’s pay for him.)

I haven’t bet since then because I can’t stand to lose.  Losing money at a casino would make me feel like an idiot – after all, you know you’re going to lose if you play long enough, right?  I don’t care how small the bet is . . . I would feel like I was just throwing away my money.

So why was I considering a bet that might have cost me $600 on my most recent Las Vegas trip?

It all started at a business dinner with some clients and other lawyers from my firm – including a very talented and successful young female partner who I’ve known since she was hired just a couple of years out of law school.  I’ll call this woman “Ellen,” since that is her name.

Ellen grew up in Pittsburgh, and she’s a big Steelers fan.  After watching her team pound the Redskins a few days earlier, Ellen had decided to put a Benjamin on the Steelers to win the Super Bowl while she was in Las Vegas.

The Wynn's sports book
The trade show was at the Wynn, which was offering 6-to-1 odds on that bet.  So if Ellen bet $100 on Pittsburgh at the Wynn and the Steelers did win the Super Bowl, she would be $600 richer.  But the Wynn’s sports book was closed by the time we finished our client dinner, and Ellen was leaving on an early morning flight the very next day.  

“Give me the $100,” I said.  “I’ll place the bet for you tomorrow.”

If she had given me $100 and told me to play red at the roulette table, I would have simply kept the money.  Better I have Ellen’s money than the casino — right?

But I couldn’t do that on a sports bet — they give you a printed ticket when you place a sports bet, and I couldn’t return to our offices without her ticket.

What I could do, however, was take Ellen’s bet myself . . . like I was a bookie.  If I covered her bet and one of the other 29 NFL teams won the Super Bowl, I would be $100 richer.

If the Steelers won, however, I would owe Ellen $600.

Let’s face it — if a big Vegas hotel is willing to take a bet, it must be a pretty smart one.  But I wasn’t sure I wanted to handle Ellen’s action.  

For one thing, the Super Bowl is over four months away.  The Steelers aren’t likely to collapse early – they are a solid bet to make the playoffs — so I would have had the possibility of having to pay Ellen $600 hanging over my head until January.  

I was still mulling over whether to take the bet or not that night when I went to the Venetian to have dinner and do a little shopping.  When I walked by the Venetian’s sports book, I was surprised to see that it was giving 8-to-1 odds on the same bet.  So if I placed Ellen’s bet at the Venetian instead of the Wynn, she would stand to win $800 instead of $600.  That’s a big difference.

The Venetian in Las Vegas
I could have still covered Ellen’s bet at 6-to-1 — she would never know that I could have gotten her 8-to-1 odds.  But I’m just not that kind of guy.

So I placed her bet at the Venetian.  Later, I told her the whole story.  I also told her that I expected a nice piece of that extra $200 if her bet ended up paying off.

I feel much better about the whole thing now.  The most I could have won if I had taken her bet was $100 – Ellen will give me at least that much if she wins, so my potential upside is the same.  

Steelers WR Antonio Brown celebrates a TD
But my downside is limited.  Now I’m not risking $600 if the Steelers win it all.  And I’d rather be on the same side of this bet as Ellen rather than be hoping that she loses. 

The favorites to meet in the AFC championship game are the Steelers and Patriots.  I’ve had a huge man crush on Tom Brady for years, so ordinarily I’d be sad if the Steelers knocked the Pats off in the playoffs.  But $100 would go a long way to assuaging that sorrow.

Don’t you just love a story with a happy ending?  Where virtue and honesty and loyalty to one’s friend is rewarded?

*     *     *     *     *

The Jaggerz were a Pittsburgh pop band whose name derives from the Pittsburghese slang term, “jagger bush,” which means a bush that’s thorny.  

“Pittsburghese” is one of the terms used to describe the American English dialect spoken in the Pittsburgh area.  Speakers of Pittsburgh’s are sometimes called “Yinzers” because they use “yinz” as their 2nd-person plural pronoun instead of the more common “you all.”  Click here to learn more about Pittsburghese and Yinzers.

The Jaggerz were best known for “The Rapper,” a fabulous single that made it all the way to #2 on the Billboard “Hot 100” in 1970.  But “I Call My Baby Candy,” another track on the group’s We Went to Different Schools Together album, is almost as good.  (I found that LP in a cutout bin about forty years ago -- I'm sure it  cost less than a buck.)

“I Call My Baby Candy” praises the singer’s girlfriend, who would have been called a cheap date in 1970.  According to the song, he doesn’t have to buy her fancy dresses or take her to expensive restaurants – a candy bar is enough to get him where he wants to go:

With a little help from milk chocolate
You should see the results I get

If the Steelers win Super Bowl LI next February 5, I’ll be expecting a lot more than a five-dollar T-bone steak.

Here’s “I Call My Baby Candy”:

As a bonus, here’s a really bad video of the Jaggerz performing the song on television.  I hope they fired the director immediately after this performance aired — the visual effects he used to cover his cuts from one shot to the next are incredibly annoying:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, September 23, 2016

Albert Collins – "Too Many Dirty Dishes" (1986)

Too many dirty dishes in the sink just for us two
You got me wondering, baby
Who's makin' dirty dishes with you?

You would think that the invention of the personal computer would have resulted in such an increase in workplace productivity that everyone would be working a four-day week and taking the whole month of August as a vacation (like the French do).

My theory is that for every hour that an office worker saves by being equipped with a computer, he or she wastes an hour screwing around on the Internet – watching cat videos, posting photos to Instagram, playing fantasy sports, or watching porn.  So there’s no net increase in the productivity of the American work force.

To wit . . .

Someone recently sent me a link to a piece of clickbait titled 30 People Share The Biggest “Lazy Genius” Moment Of Their Lives.

Most of the 30 ideas on this list were unbelievably lame:

Started brushing my teeth in the shower. Saves a bunch of time in the morning.

How exactly does that save time, Mr. Genius?  I’ve got a better idea.  You pee in the shower — it doesn’t save time, but it saves water — so you’re helping save the planet at the same time.  (You do care about protecting the environment, don’t you?)

When I make a can of soup for myself, I just use the pot as a bowl.  Half the dishes.

I’ve been doing that since I went to college, and I’m betting you have as well.  We don’t need some website to tell us some elementary trick that everyone has already figured out.

I used to pretend to be asleep after car rides so my dad would have to carry me inside.

Sad — very sad.  (Whoever contributed this item is obviously a big loser.)

Had to write a paper on existentialism.  Had to write a paper on Billy Budd.  Wrote one paper on the existentialist aspects of Billy Budd and turned copies in for each course.

That’s not a bad idea, I guess.  

When I was a freshman in high school I was a member of the academic team. . . . During one of the competitions there was a challenge to create some sort of aircraft from paper, and the one that went the furthest would win the challenge and receive a certain amount of points.  Anyways, our group took the paper and made a paper ball, easily outclassing all the paper airplanes that other teams made and winning the competition.

I actually like that idea.  Let all your fellow nerds waste an hour folding up a piece of paper in a hundred different ways in the hope that your final design will have a tiny edge when it come to aerodynamics.  You simply wad up your piece of paper into a ball and throw it as far as you can — no fuss, no muss.

Here’s my favorite tip from 30 People Share The Biggest “Lazy Genius” Moment Of Their Lives:

I was out of clean dishes, so rather than wash my dirty dishes I wrapped a dirty plate in plastic wrap and ate off it.

I like that idea . . . I like it a lot!  It doesn’t really save you any time or effort — it would probably be easier to just wash the damn plate instead of finding the plastic wrap, tearing off a piece of appropriate size, struggling to keep the plastic wrap from sticking to itself, and then wrapping the plate in the plastic wrap.  But it’s the principle of the thing.

*     *     *     *     *

The late Albert “The Iceman” Collins was perhaps the greatest blues guitarist to come out of Texas.   “Too Many Dirty Dishes” was released in 1986 on his Cold Snap album.

The protagonist of “Too Many Dirty Dishes” wonders why the kitchen sink is empty when he leaves his house to go to work in the morning, but chock-full of dirty dishes when he returns home at night. 

It’s obvious that the dude’s wife is creepin' when he’s not around:

That glass over there, got a cigar in it or somethin’
I don't smoke no cigar

But his main concern seems to be that he gets stuck cleaning up the mess:

Makes me so mad, I don't know what to do
Thought I was her husband instead of a maid!

Wake up and smell the cat food, you big dope!  Your wife is two-timing you, bud – maybe even three- or four-timing you!  She’s letting her back-door man get a leg over with her while you’re working your ass off at your crappy job!

And all you’re worried about are the dirty dishes in the sink?

Here’s “Too Many Dirty Dishes”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Four Lads – "Standing on the Corner" (1956)

Brother, you can't go to jail
For what you're thinking
Or for the woo look in your eye

Here’s what critic James Wood had to say about the first volume of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle, a lengthy autobiographical magnum opus that some critics have compared to Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past:

Many writers strive to give you the effect, the illusion, of reality.  Knausgaard seems to want to give his readers the reality of reality – to strip away the literary tricks, to burst through language, to explode the artifice.  And he achieves this.  You read Knausgaard almost as if in real time. . . . [E]ven when I was bored I was interested (which is pretty much like life itself).

Karl Ove Knausgaard
The early part of book two of My Struggle, which picks up several years after the first volume ends, focuses on mundane events involving Knausgaard and his very young children.  

For example, the author takes one of his young daughters to a birthday party for a nursery-school classmate.  Reading his lengthy and detailed description of the party is like viewing an unedited home video of the event.

The author loves his children, but finds the experience of modern fatherhood to be emasculating:

When I pushed the stroller all over town and spent my days taking care of my child, it was not the case that I was adding something to my life, that it became richer as a result, on the contrary, something was removed from it, part of myself, the bit relating to masculinity.  

Knausgaard questions whether women and men in modern relationships are really happier than those in more traditional ones:

[I]t may be that women who followed their careers until they were almost in their forties and then at the last moment had a child . . . may have been happier than women in previous generations.  It was possible that men who stayed at home and looked after their infants for six months may have increased their sense of being alive as a result.  And women may actually have desired these men with thin arms, large waistlines, shaven heads and black designer glasses who were just as happy discussing the pros and cons of BabyBjörn carriers and baby slings . . . . They may have desired them with all their hearts and souls.  But even if they didn’t, it didn’t really matter because equality and fairness were the parameters, they trumped everything else a life and a relationship consisted of.  It was a choice, and the choice had been made.

Like father, like son
Knausgaard could have told his wife before they had children that raising them would be her responsibility — that he wanted no part of being a househusband.  But he understands that his silence implied his assent to  going by the "rules of the game" for enlightened young fathers in 21st-century Stockholm:

In the class and culture we belonged to, that meant adopting the same role, previously called the woman’s role.  I was bound to it like Odysseus to the mast . . . . As a result I walked around Stockholm’s streets, modern and feminized, with a furious nineteenth-century man inside me.  

Knausgaard believes that a man pushing a stroller is somehow less of a man:

The way I was seen changed . . . the instant I laid my hands on the stroller.  I had always eyed the women I walked past the way men always have, actually a mysterious act because it couldn’t lead to anything except a returned gaze, and if I did see a really beautiful woman I might even turn around to watch her, discreetly of course, but nevertheless: why, oh why?  What function did all these eyes, all these mouths, all these breasts and waists, legs and bottoms serve?  Why was it so important to look at them? . . . When I came along with a stroller no women looked at me, it was as if I didn’t exist.  

Et tu, Lego?
I don’t worry about women seeing me pushing a stroller.  That’s because the baby in the stroller that I’m pushing these days is my new grandson.  Let’s face it: women don’t look at grandfathers even if they aren't pushing strollers.

*     *     *     *     * 

As today’s featured song says, you can’t go to jail for what you’re thinking — at least not yet.  But I’d suggest that you keep your mouth shut and wipe that woo look off your face when you're standing on the corner, watching all the girls go by. 

From the September 5, 1902 issue of the New York Times:

Here’s “Standing on the Corner,” which was a #3 hit single for the Four Lads in 1956:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Krista Siegfrids – "More Is More" (2013)

Be hardcore
More is more

I just finished reading volume one of Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six-volume novel, My Struggle.  (We’re talking 3600 pages altogether, boys and girls.)

My Struggle is officially classified as fiction, but it’s really autobiography.  The author is the protagonist, and his family members – in particular, his father, brother, wife, and grandmother, all of whom are referred to by their real names – are among the most important characters.

Karl Ove Knausgaard
Critic James Wood had this to say about Knausgaard’s magnum opus:  

Many writers strive to give you the effect, the illusion, of reality.  Knausgaard seems to want to give his readers the reality of reality – to strip away the literary tricks, to burst through language, to explode the artifice.  And he achieves this.  You read Knausgaard almost as if in real time.

Wood goes on to say that "even when I was bored, I was interested."  That is exactly right.  My Struggle is both compelling and boring, and what makes it compelling is the same thing that makes it boring.  The book doesn’t just appear to be about real life — it is about real life.  

Knausgaard leaves very little out of the book.  Relatively mundane events are described in excruciating detail.  For example, he spends about seventy pages describing one New Year’s Eve when he was a teenager living in a rural area in Norway.  (Like American teenagers, Norwegian teenagers believe that the only point of New Year’s Eve is to go to a party and get drunk.)  

One volume down, five to go
Much of the second half of the volume one is an account of the aftermath of Knausgaard’s estranged father’s death.

After separating from his second wife, the father had moved in with his mother – the author’s grandmother.  Both of them became hopeless alcoholics who lived in absolute squalor.  When the author and his brother showed up to make arrangements for their father’s funeral and their grandmother’s care, they were faced with a cleaning job of Herculean proportions.  

I personally would have rather tackled the Augean stables and let good old Hercules deal with the Knausgaard family home, the contents of which included hundreds of empty beer and liquor bottles, several months’ worth of unwashed dishes and carryout containers full of rotting leftovers, and massive piles of urine-soaked and feces-stained clothing – not to mention a house full of urine-soaked and feces-stained mattresses, couches, and chairs.  

Hercules cleaned out the stables of King Augeas
Many writers believe in wringing the excess verbiage out of a first draft until no unnecessary words are  left behind — the more time such an author spends on a book, the shorter it gets.  That’s how Knausgaard wrote, but one day he found himself facing a creative dead end:

The critical reading of the texts always resulted in parts being deleted.  So that was what I did.  My writing became more and more minimalist.  In the end, I couldn't write at all.  For seven or eight years, I hardly wrote.  

Suddenly the proverbial light bulb went on over his head:

I had a revelation. What if I did the opposite?  What if, when a sentence or a scene was bad, I expanded it, and poured in more and more?  After I started to do that, I became free in my writing.  Fuck quality, fuck perfection, fuck minimalism.  My world isn't minimalist; my world isn't perfect, so why on earth should my writing be?

Knausgaard is a man after my own heart.  I’ve been following his example for years even though I had never heard of him until recently.  

Not really
Like Knausgaard, I say f*ck quality, f*ck perfection, f*ck minimalism.  Just pile the prose higher and higher.  That’s what 2 or 3 lines is all about.

Less isn’t more, Mies van der Rohe notwithstanding.  More is more.

(Isn’t that obvious?)

*     *     *     *     *

Krista Siegfrids is Finnish, which isn't exactly the same thing as being Norwegian – but it's close enough for 2 or 3 lines

“More Is More” is the first track on her debut album, Ding Dong!, which was released in 2013.  If you’re running short on Katy Perry and Ke$ha songs, Krista is the answer to your prayers.

Here’s “More Is More”:

Friday, September 16, 2016

Tomorrow – "My White Bicycle" (1967)

Moving fast
Everything looks great
My white bicycle

My new Trek 7.3 is matte black – not white – but everything still looks great when I'm moving fast on it.

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter e-mailed me about a biking event in Frederick, Maryland, where she and her husband live.

The “Tour de Hops” – a 17-mile ride on the streets of Frederick, punctuated by tastings at four local breweries – was a fundraiser for Heartly House, which provides comprehensive services for victims of domestic abuse.  It was scheduled for a Sunday afternoon when the weather forecast looked good and I had no particular place to be.   

(It was closer to 17 miles.)
The ride started at noon at Monocracy Brewery.  Some of the 53 Tour de Hops participants pregamed by knocking down a pint (or two) before the ride got started, but I refrained.  (I figured there was going to be plenty of beer along the way.)

The organizers of the ride had wisely constructed the route so we rode the longest brewery-to-brewery segment first.  Our first stop was Flying Dog Brewery, the largest and most widely distributed of Frederick’s breweries.  (I’m guessing there’s some Flying Dog for sale at your neighborhood liquor store.)  Our next stops were Barley and Hops (a brewpub with a large dining room that sells craft beers from many other brewers as well as the ones made on the premises) and Olde Mother Brewing (a modest-sized operation that had opened less than a year previously).

The ride ended where it began, at Monocracy Brewing, where there were four food trucks, a couple of musicians, and cornhole boards to entertain us.  We were given tickets for three samples and a pint – which was gilding the lily a bit after our three previous tastings – but I politely drank ever drop I was offered. 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so let’s get right to my photos of the Tour de Hops and save some words for a future 2 or 3 lines:

Tour de Hops bikes parked outside
the Flying Dog tasting room
Best reason I know to get a tattoo
Free beer for all Olympic medalists at Flying Dog
Replenishing our precious bodily fluids
It wasn't easy choosing only four to taste
Bathroom sign at Flying Dog
A ride leader's growler-equipped bike
Hop vines at Flying Dog
On the road to brewery number two
The Barley and Hops brewpub
A sweet Cannonade fixie
Tasting on the Barley and Hops patio
On the way to our third brewery
Olde Mother Brewing
More precious bodily fluid replenishment
The owner's puppy was a chick magnet
Wobbling down a quiet street to our final stop
The ride's end – which was also its beginning
*     *     *     *     *

Tomorrow was a short-lived English psychedelic band that broke up only a year after it formed in 1967.  

The brains behind the operation was singer-songwriter Keith West, who continues to record and produce music today.  The group’s lead guitarist, Steve Howe, later achieved fame and fortune as a member of Yes, while drummer John “Twink” Alder is best known for his work with the Pretty Things.  (Alder later converted to Islam and changed his name to Mohammed Abdullah.)

“My White Bicycle” was Tomorrow’s first single.  (It’s only other single was titled “Revolution.”  It preceded the Beatles’ “Revolution” by a year.) 

According to “Twink” Adler, the song was inspired by some Amsterdam anarchists who called themselves the Provos: 

[T]hey had white bicycles in Amsterdam and they used to leave them around the town.  And if you were going somewhere and you needed to use a bike, you'd just take the bike and you'd go somewhere and just leave it. Whoever needed the bikes would take them and leave them when they were done.

John and Yoko on a white Provos bike
“My White Bicycle” inspired “Bike Ride to the Moon” by The Dukes of Stratosphear – which was a tongue-in-cheek pseudonym used by XTC, one of the cleverest English rock bands that ever was.  (“Bike Ride to the Moon” was the second track on that group’s first record, the six-song mini-album 25 O’Clock, which was released on April Fools’ Day 1985.)

Here’s “My White Bicycle,” which was one of the first records to feature a backwards guitar recording:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Randy Newman – "Kingfish" (1974)

Ain't no Standard Oil men gonna run this state
Gonna be run by little folks like me and you

In the last 2 or 3 lines, I introduced you to William Goebel, who was the Democratic candidate for Governor of Kentucky in 1899.  

Only four years earlier, Goebel and a political enemy had drawn their revolvers and shot it out on a street in Covington, Kentucky.  Goebel was a better shot, killing his rival by putting a bullet in his head.

Goebel used every trick in the book to secure the Democratic nomination in 1899, but his high-handedness resulted in a number of Democrats holding a separate convention and nominating former governor John Y.Brown on the “Honest Election Democrats” ticket.

William Goebel
Brown won only 3.0% of the popular vote — roughly 12,000 votes — in November.  But that was enough to throw the election to the Republican, William S. Taylor, by a narrow margin.   

Democrats alleged election fraud, but the state Board of Elections — which consisted of three Democrats who were political allies of Goebel – refused to overturn the results.

So Goebel asked the Democrat-dominated state legislature to step in.  A committee consisting of ten Democrats and one Republican was appointed to investigate the validity of the election results.  

Sensing that the fix was in, gun-toting Republicans began to descend upon Frankfort, the state capital.  (A number of them were arrested by local police, but promptly pardoned by the Republican governor.)

On the morning of January 30, 1900, Goebel and two friends were walking into the state capitol building when Goebel was struck by a bullet fired by an unseen assassin.  He was taken to a nearby hotel and a number of doctors were summoned to treat him.

Historian Marianne C. Walker’s 2013 article for Humanities magazine describes what happened next:

News of the shooting spread like wild fire; Republicans panicked, fearing retaliation, and hundreds of teary-eyed Goebel supporters packed the Capital Hotel hallways, lobby, and grounds, while others gathered in the streets.  Many onlookers carried guns and pistols.

Within a half hour, Governor Taylor declared a state of emergency and ordered the militia to Frankfort.  He ordered the legislature to adjourn immediately and meet the next week in London, Kentucky, a solidly Republican location, miles away from Frankfort.  Reporting threats and rumors of assassinations, newspapers carried headlines warning of violence and bloodshed, such as “Irresponsible Armed Men Brought to Frankfort.”

That night, Democrats from both Houses quietly searched for a place that was not barred by soldiers and yet large enough for them to meet to vote on the Contest Committee’s decision.  They finally found a secret location – right there in the Capital Hotel, where Goebel lay dying.  By entering the lobby a few at a time, they escaped detection.  Meanwhile, as snow fell outside, Taylor and his colleagues remained locked in their offices in the Executive Building, protected by armed soldiers.

The next day, January 31, the Contest Committee declared Goebel had received the highest number of legal votes and had been lawfully entitled to the governorship of Kentucky for the term beginning December 12, 1899.  The report was signed by a quorum of senators and representatives, all Democrats.

Chief Justice James H. Hazelrigg, along with several others, rushed to the hotel and swore Goebel in as governor.  Although Republicans tried to spread the rumor that he was dead when he was sworn in, eight witnesses testified that Goebel, dressed in a clean white nightshirt, raised his right hand and took the oath of office. . . .

A plaque commemorating Goebel's assassination
At that point, Kentucky had two governors, two lieutenant governors, two adjutant generals, two militias, and two legislatures, each conducting its own business as if the other side did not exist.  But something had to give.

Walker’s account continues:

With his lungs filled with blood, Goebel died at 6:44 on the evening of February 3, 1900.  Before he was buried, two prominent Republicans, David W. Fairleigh, a lawyer from Louisville, and John Marshall, lieutenant governor under Taylor, met with Democratic senator J.C.S. Blackburn at the Capital Hotel.  They proposed a peace conference between Republicans and Democrats, saying that Governor Taylor had agreed to it.

On the cold, rainy morning of February 6, 1900, while Goebel’s body was being carried on a train – not the L&N – home to Covington, a meeting was held at the Galt House in Louisville between an equal number of Republicans and Democrats.  After a few hours of quiet discussion, they signed an agreement “to end the unfortunate condition of political affairs now existant in Kentucky.”  Most important was the statement saying William Taylor and John Marshall would voluntarily retire, leaving Beckham governor of Kentucky.

A statue of Goebel on the grounds
of the Kentucky State Capitol
Four days later, at a mass meeting of anti-Goebel Democrats, Republicans, and representatives from L&N, Taylor refused to sign the agreement . . . .  After Louisville Circuit Court judge Emmet Field ruled in favor of the Democrats, Republicans went to the Court of Appeals, which upheld the lower court’s decision.  The Republicans then took the question to the U.S. Supreme Court, which said [that] the issue was not a federal one and sent it back down to the state.  Fearing prosecution, Taylor fled to Indiana, where he lived the rest of life.

By May 22, 1900, life in Kentucky had finally settled down. The double governments had disappeared. Beckham was governor, and peace prevailed in the old Bluegrass State – at least for a while.  

No fewer than 16 people were indicted in connection with Goebel’s murder.  One of the 16 was Governor Taylor, who promptly skedaddled to Indiana to avoid prosecution.  (Indiana’s Republican governor refused to extradite him.)  

Governor William S. Taylor
Three men were eventually convicted of assassinating Goebel, including Kentucky’s Republican secretary of state, Caleb Powers.  In fact, Powers was convicted three times, but all three convictions were reversed on appeal.  (A fourth trial resulted in a hung jury.)  

Powers and the man who allegedly pulled the trigger were eventually pardoned by a Republican governor.  The same governor pardoned former governor Taylor and several of the others who had been indicted.  

Not surprisingly, Taylor chose to stay in Indiana despite the pardon.  He became an insurance executive, and I’m guessing he didn’t miss politics one bit.

*     *     *     *     *

Like William Goebel, Huey Long of Louisiana was a demagogic populist who demonized a powerful business corporation to win the support of working-class voters.

Goebel’s bête noire was the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, while Long’s was the Standard Oil Company, which had built the largest oil refinery in the world in Baton Rouge.

Huey "Kingfish" Long
Long, who was nicknamed “Kingfish” after the fast-talking conman character on The Amos and Andy Show, was only 35 when he was elected governor of Louisiana in 1928.  Four years later, he was elected to the United States Senate.  But he was assassinated in 1935 shortly announcing that he was going to challenge FDR for the 1936 Democratic presidential nomination.

Goebel is the only American governor to have been assassinated while in office.  Long was one of two sitting U.S. Senators to have been shot and killed – the other was Robert F. Kennedy.

“Kingfish” was released on Randy Newman’s 1974 album, Good Old Boys, which paints a less-than-flattering portrait of white Southerners.  Good Old Boys has been described as “venomous,” “scabrous,” “mean-spirited,” and “infuriating,” and I have a feeling that Newman is OK with that.

Here’s “Kingfish”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon: