We connect people.

Not everyone gets to stay up late enough to see “The Colbert Report,” and I hope I’m not spoiling anyone who catches it on the next-day reasonable-hour replay, but last night’s guest was David Simon, and guess whose name he dropped? Ashley Morris’. (You can watch the clip here, and thanks, Del, for digging that up.)

I’m so proud of my stupid little blog. It may not have many readers, but it has the right readers.


Where is my money?


For those of you new to this blog, after Ashley left us suddenly in 2008, our web wizard J.C. set up a script that pulled every comment he ever made here into a single thread. The link’s in the right rail, or here. What I find amusing about it is that, even severed from the posts he was talking about, they still make a certain amount of sense, and you can dip in and out of them at will and still get a feeling for the man. Here’s one from near the top:

In St. Petersburg in 1997, I was walking down Nevsky Prospekt, and stopped at the Grand Hotel Evropa. They were advertising “Bud and Burger: $8”. After a week in Eastern Europe, this actually looked good. So I order my burger, get my Bud (they can’t call it Budweiser there because the Czechs own that name), and pound it down. I walk up to the bar for another Bud, and this gorgeous blonde is standing beside me. Being a fearless virile American heterosexual, I say to myself, what the hell. So I look at her and say “Hi, what’s your name”. She responds “Two hundred dollars”. Without missing a beat, I say “Is that your first name, your last name, or is that what your friends call you?” She looks confused, thinks for a second, then says again “two hundred dollars”. Finally, I’m served my Bud, and I walk away. And out in front of the hotel were all of the Russian Mafia guys wearing the uniform: khaki pants, black shirts, italian loafers with no socks, and wrap-around sunglasses. Oh, and they were all leaning on black mercedes, black BMWs, or black somethings. I didn’t follow my Rick Steves guide and try to strike up a conversation…

For those even newer to this blog, Ashley provided the loose framework of the character in “Treme” played by John Goodman. It’s an “inspired by,” not a “based on” characterization, so don’t go getting any ideas; it’s not a line-for-line copy. But knowing that Creighton Bernette’s lines were in some cases lifted from Ashley’s blog, it was funny to read this, in Hank’s review today:

His character was added to the array late in the show’s assembly and his dialogue is saddled with distilling “Treme’s” social commentary.

When a British journalist interviewing Creighton asks if New Orleans is worth rebuilding — since its destruction and sinking is considered by many to be Mother Nature’s fait accompli — the belligerent Creighton assaults him, tries to hurl his TV camera into the Mississippi River and lets loose with the fiery counterargument that is “Treme’s” (and New Orleans’s) broadest concern: The floods were a man-made disaster, triggered by a hurricane but caused by years of government neglect and an inept federal response.

While essential to any story of life in New Orleans, such moments are nevertheless “Treme’s” burden to bear. No matter how hard the writers seemed to have worked to avoid it, much of Goodman’s dialogue in the early episodes has the flavoring of op-ed screeds, and it sometimes seeps into other characters’ scenes.

That’s what a blog is, isn’t it? One long op-ed screed. Ashley’s blog is still up, and while not quite a ghost ship, it’s tended intermittently by his widow, Hana (who was paid for her husband’s inspiration). Spammers have flooded the comments, but I recommend the “greatest hits” links down the left rail, especially “My Life in Porn,” because it links back here in sort of an orgy of log-rolling and ass-kissing.

Hank says “Treme” is good, by the way. It premieres Sunday. Although I will not be seeing it until Tuesday. I’ll explain that later.

Thinking about J.C. and his web wizardry, he asked me once, when we were discussing how I’ve still not made a last will and testament, “All I want to know is, who has control of your online content?” I thought for half a second, and bequeathed it all to him. As far as I’m concerned, if a blood vessel bursts in my brain today, I trust J.C. to keep the bar open. This ghost ship could sail for years. Maybe we can set up a guest-bartender system.

One bit of bloggage today:

By my count, this is the second near-tragedy to strike the Milwaukee Brewers sausage race in my memory. HOW MUCH LONGER MUST THIS DEATH RACE BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE? (This one’s the first.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go chase down a rabbit. Back later.

Posted at 10:43 am in Housekeeping, Television |

36 responses to “We connect people.”

  1. Jenflex said on April 8, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Is it “Goodbye Ruby Thursday?”

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  2. LAMary said on April 8, 2010 at 11:15 am

    We were all pretty lucky to know Ashley. Thanks for running such a cool place to meet people.

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  3. Deborah said on April 8, 2010 at 11:23 am

    It’s the writer’s writer phenomenon. I’ve always aspired to be a designer’s designer. I like knowing it when other designers like my stuff.

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  4. Sue said on April 8, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Cooz, of course, will be guest-bartender #1.
    We live hard in Milwaukee, Nancy. An unfortunate sausage/motorcycle accident that doesn’t even involve alcohol doesn’t register in this tough town.

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  5. beb said on April 8, 2010 at 11:46 am

    When I heard Ashley mentioned on Colbert last night I knew it would be the topic du jour today.

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  6. moe99 said on April 8, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    wrote to Good Housekeeping today:

    Dear Sir or Madam:

    Something that purports to be a photograph of Michelle Obama (I will not say ‘graces’ because it is too ugly for words), is affixed to the current cover of your monthly magazine.

    I think you owe the world a huge apology, especially those of us who have to look at that piece of crap as we wait in line to purchase our groceries. But more than us, you REALLY need to apologize to our lovely First Lady for using photoshop in such a crass and deeply insulting fashion.

    This has demeaned all of us. Your publication most of all.


    H. Regina Cullen

    ps: got an out of office reply from them.

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  7. Nick said on April 8, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    There was a March 15 NYT Sunday mag article about Treme that I didn’t see anyone mention around here. About two thirds of the way into the article there is a section that describes the Ashey Morris inspired character in the context of a writer’s meeting between Simon, Overmyer, Piazza, and Mills.

    …the group discussed a character named Creighton Bernette, the novelist and professor to be played by John Goodman but who, at the time of this writers’ meeting, had not been cast. Creighton was as yet a creature who existed only in the realm of ideas.

    “I’d love to talk that particular story line through,” Mills said. Previously, Simon and Overmyer decided that Creighton would be teaching at Tulane. Mills asked Piazza when he imagined Creighton, who they decided wouldn’t be a native New Orleanean, came to the city and why.

    And on and on it goes without so much as a hat tip to Mr. Morris. I was seriously pissed then, but my mood has improved now that Mr. Simon has given Ashley his props on The Report.

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  8. nancy said on April 8, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    To be sure, Nick, it’s an “inspired by” character. The difference is one of those writer things, but I think what it boils down to is this: They want to take the rough outline of the guy but paint a different picture. Goodman is fat like Ashley, dresses like Ashley, rants like Ashley, has the same job as Ashley. But he doesn’t die young, is married to someone else, says different things from time to time, etc. He’s fiction, but based on reporting, if that makes any sense. I don’t think DS et al are obliged to say Ashley’s name every time they discuss the character; I’m happy they threw a little money to Hana. And I know if there’s an afterlife, and Ashley is aware of his last life, this would please him beyond measure.

    Laura Lippman did a good explication of the based on/inspired by thing after she published “What the Dead Know,” explaining how the book came about — driving past a mall where, years earlier, a pair of sisters had gone missing, and thinking, “What if one of them surfaced today?” The rest of the book was entirely fictional, but there’s no denying its genesis.

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  9. Dorothy said on April 8, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    I am so mad at myself for forgetting to record the Colbert Report last night. I saw it in the paper, meant to log on here and mention it in yesterday’s comments, and then set my DVR to record it. I truly have CRS disease.

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  10. Sue said on April 8, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    ‘is mar­ried to some­one else’
    I imagine if Hank objects to the dialogue that John Goodman’s character delivers, he might think having Creighton married to a six-foot Hungarian(?) roller derby queen is a little over the top.

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  11. coozledad said on April 8, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    On a slightly different note, how difficult is it to prove defamation if you write a character who’s a composite of several people, but is, overarchingly, some hopeless dick you’ve known in real life? Can their surviving relatives make sure you’re never able to afford clothing again? Or would they just garnish the unsold copies of your book?

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  12. nancy said on April 8, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Cooze, Anne Lamott covers that in “Bird by Bird,” and I believe her advice was, “Give that character a tiny little penis. No one will ever say a word.”

    Hana is Czech, not Hunky. You were close, though.

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  13. coozledad said on April 8, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Ooooh.That’s gonna be a problem with this guy. He was practically a life support system for something that looked like a big pink eel. Guys in the gym shower would break their customary silence on such matters to ask him if he passed out when it got hard.

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  14. moe99 said on April 8, 2010 at 2:17 pm


    The New Yorker’s review of Treme.

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  15. Peter said on April 8, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Gee Cooz, my HS History teacher told me that’s how Stephen Douglas got his nickname.

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  16. Sue said on April 8, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    I hope they remember to give Goodman’s character the correct portion of humor. If he does turn out to be some op-ed mouthpiece, a grand opportunity will be missed. Gotta have that mixture of funny and furious to get the true Ashley.

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  17. prospero said on April 8, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    In the land of web logs, this one is literate. Consistently intelligent, and always grammatically correct. And I mean the commentors, too. Somebody that doesn’t just love the English language, but savors it. And wields it well.

    Couldn’t anybody in the world claim to have had sex with Tiger Woods? How do you save voice mails? And why would you ever go through that process if your intention wasn’t blackmail in the first place?

    Writers steal from other writers. How it works, unless you just burn the manuscript of somebody that writes better. I’m writing a novel that is an indirect steal from Dickens. Sidney Carton’s Cat. Now, if one of you steals that idea, that’s plagiarism, or probably not.

    You can’t steal specific words, no douhnut, and if a beignet and chickory make me think one way or another, Proust has no case. Even if that’s why I think what I’m thinking,

    John Goodman’s pretty good, but he ain’t John Candy, and he’d do well to change his diet.

    Katrina was a defining moment for the W misadministration. Defined them as idiots. Bastards cut taxes on rich people to wipe out a budcget surplus, and sold contracts to enrich Cheney, and cut taxes on hedge fund managers. Who should those teabaggers be aiming at, if they weren’t toothless, drooling morons?

    Apologists, please tell me that isn’t exactly what happened. Sonsabitches ran the invasion and occupation off the books, and they tried to pull this shit with Clinton before Scalia appointed the malleable idiot in chief despite the popular vote.

    Despite the manifest evidence, I find it difficult to believe Americans can be so fucking stupid.

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  18. Dexter said on April 8, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Alright then. It’s on. I am looking forward to Treme. New Orleans before Katrina:

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  19. Jolene said on April 8, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Dorothy, if your cable schedule is like mine, you can catch a replay of The Colbert Report this evening. Should be on at 7:30 PM.

    I loved Hank’s characterization of John Goodman’s speeches. Even in the brief clip shown last night, the “speechiness” was apparent and a bit off-putting. Being a good reviewer is its own kind of genius. Very often, I have the experience of finding my own reaction in a review, except that my reaction was an unverbalized half-thought rather than a precise, elegantly phrased characterization.

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  20. prospero said on April 8, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    I suppose it’s trendy, but Colbert is not in a final sprint with Jon Stewart.Real news is funnier and more revolting.

    Here’s the deal, Bag all the polls, Forget about elections, Shouldn’t Michelle Bachmann run the country?

    No joke, a real American. And only possibly certifiable.

    Is the whole country both racist and unhinged?

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  21. crinoidgirl said on April 8, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Dwight, is that you?

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  22. Sue said on April 8, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    No, crinoidgirl, prospero’s actually one of us. Look for a Shakespearean name (he was Caliban for awhile) and a very stream-of-consciousness writing style. He disappears for awhile and then he’s back. He never reveals much personally but he’s got a lot to say.

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  23. brian stouder said on April 8, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    When HBO does a series about how KBR became the 21st century East India Tea Company (for awhile, anyway), I think Caliban/Prospero will be cast as the op-ed stream-of-conciousness

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  24. Jolene said on April 8, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Thanks to Jeff (tmmo) for the link (in the previous thread) to the Alexander Stephens “Cornerstone Speech”. Stephens was the vice-president of the Confederacy, and his speech provides a fascinating look at both the fears and aspirations of the secessionists just after the Confederacy was formed but before the Civil War began. And, as the excerpt Jeff posted indicates, it also contains a fulsome and forthright defense of slavery on grounds of the innate inferiority of black people. The next time anyone argues that the maintenance of an economic system based on slavery wasn’t the central motivation for secession, just point them to this speech.

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  25. Deborah said on April 8, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Moe, I just read Nancy Franklin’s review of Treme in the New Yorker. I’m thinking about getting HBO just to watch it. And Nick I did comment about the NYT magazine’s article about Treme back when it ran. And Coozeldad, that’s quite a concept – a guy being a life support system for his penis.

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  26. moe99 said on April 8, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Deborah, I wonder if http://www.hulu.com will be showing Treme? It may be a week later, but I can wait. HBO is not cheap these days. And I’ve got to take my 7 year old dachshund in to the vet tomorrow to get kidney stones removed. You don’t want to know what that is going to cost….

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  27. Dexter said on April 8, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    moe: Hulu doesn’t show HBO series. And if you get HBO, you can catch up with “The Pacific”, On Demand—the Spielberg-Hanks-Goetzman production of the US involvement in WWII. Don’t listen to the naysayers; it’s damn good acting.
    Life would be a real drag without HBO.
    moe: In 2003 when we left my cat with my daughter in Columbus, the cat developed an abscessed tooth. She took the cat to the OSU vets…one abscessed cat’s tooth, $460 on my Visa card. Good luck.

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  28. Deborah said on April 8, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    Ouch, I’ve had kidney stones myself Moe, I feel for the poor little pooch. Painful, both the cost and the ordeal.

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  29. brian stouder said on April 8, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Just watched the David Simon video, and I’m still smiling.

    This evening was the last Omnibus Lecture of the season at IPFW, and the young folks somewhat reluctantly came with me to see Christopher Buckley – and the man had the audience laughing from front to back, from the beginning right to the end.

    I’d seen him on C-SPAN a few times, and knew he’d be funny, but I wasn’t sure how that would appeal to the young folks – but it turned out to be quite as accessible for them as for me.

    A recurring theme in his talk, around which much of the evening turned, was his quest for a suitably pithy and marketable title for a collection of his essays. One digression was the international implications of english titles on books in foreign markets, wherein he joked that in Japan The Grapes of Wrath translates into The Angry Raisins; and in China The Crying Game becomes Oh No, My Girlfriend Has a Penis.

    A highlight (to me) was when he told the Thucydides story from when he was Vice President Bush’s speech writer back in the ’80’s, and when he discussed how the Secret Service prepares people who are going to regularly be in the presidential entourage, with regard to how to act if really (really) bad things begin to happen.

    It was darkly humorous – but humorous nonetheless – when he noted the odd cultural arc by which America evolved from 1865, when JW Booth murdered President Lincoln to avenge the lost cause of the southern confederacy, to 1981 when JW Hinckley nearly murdered President Reagan to impress Jodie Foster.

    Christopher Buckley only very lightly touched current politics, and then only in answer to questions at the end. He voted for President Obama in 2008, and when he announced that he was going to do this (on The Daily Beast) The National Review – or what’s left of the thing his dad started – fired him(!)

    Against all odds – our 11 year old and 14 year old enjoyed the evening quite as much as I did.

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  30. Dorothy said on April 8, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Dammit anyway, Jolene, I didn’t see your comment @ 19 until just now. I have been pretty busy at work, and today after work we drove down to Columbus to have dinner with the birthday boy and his girlfriend, so I missed my chance. Again. Well I’ve already got the DVR scheduled to record Treme so that will have to suffice for now. Thanks anyway!

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  31. Dorothy said on April 8, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Ooooh -ooooh speaking of C-Span Brian, they’re going to be covering a big event at Kenyon that starts tomorrow. We have a new Center for the Study of American Democracy on campus and we’re having a big conference there tomorrow – here’s a link to info about it. If you’re not doing anything, y’all, check out C-Span tomorrow. You won’t see me, but you will see some of Kenyon.


    Edit: So okay, it started this evening. But it’s over for tonight so I didn’t think it was necessary to mention something that had already happened!

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  32. brian stouder said on April 8, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Dorothy – if they ever have a lecture there regarding David Davis, let me know! I believe that would justify a road-trip

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  33. oyster said on April 8, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    It’s been a while since I’ve been here (at the direction of Ashley). But I loved the post and sure appreciated the link. Big thanks to JC for that collection of Ashley’s comments. What a treasure trove!

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  34. Dexter said on April 9, 2010 at 2:59 am

    I don’t mind sharing that I have lost sleep and had nightmares about this recently released video showing the video-game mentality of the helicopter gunners and commanders in Iraq…the US military’s finest.
    With this story , which should be taken as seriously as My Lain was 42 years ago, is being ignored by the TV media with the largest audiences, we are fed stories of the end of Burger King and Pizza Hut in Iraq. Shameful, pitiful.

    Camera wielding Reuters journalist mowed down like a …I don’t know what…the video and the audio are sickening.

    It’s matter-of-fact, every day stuff, according the the Wikileaks man who was interviewed on Democracy Now.

    As Craig has pointed out on Imus’s show and elsewhere, and here, Obama is ratcheting up the spending for these wars. Along with lack of financial wherewithal to continue fighting, now our viewed national morals build-up has been shot to hell again. The US military experience in Iraq is corrupt. Murderers are flying around wasting civilians and journalists…possibly on a daily basis. Obama must stop this behavior, not go tell the troops they have our support!

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  35. coozledad said on April 9, 2010 at 7:32 am

    Dexter:This must be particularly painful for soldiers who resisted the Limbaugh crap that’s infested military culture, much in the way Regents U has infested the DOJ. They’ve been holding up Bill Calley as a role model instead of reminding people what little Eichmanns do for unit cohesion and morale. One day the kids in that chopper will have to come to terms with what they did, and it will likely involve sticking a gun in their mouths.
    They need to stop blaring the rah rah chickenshit garbage over the PAs at the bases, and they need to reinstitute the draft. The boys from the feed store can’t handle this complicated shit alone.
    Oh, and Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld? Military tribunal. Then remand to international court.

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  36. crinoidgirl said on April 9, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Sue @22: Thank you for reminding me about Caliban. I KNEW I had the wrong name, but couldn’t come up with the right one.

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