05 January 2018

Ramblin' Man: A Piece by Ellis Millsaps

Ramblin’ Man

A piece by contributing writer Ellis Millsaps * Special to The Chronicles

I choose this title because I intend to ramble on, but while we’re here let’s talk about the Dickie Betts classic. A Southern anthem, I think it’s one of the Allman Brothers’ best tracks. Another one of my favorites is “Midnight Rider” off their second album, though most people are more familiar with Gregg’s re imagined version on his first solo record. It’s a classic because of that underlying guitar riff. I love it when the soaring guitar solo drops back to the killer riff.

Beck, brilliant musical innovator of the 21st century, for his first hit, “Loser,” could have called it Beck and Gregg, because the underlying guitar part is unvarnished “Midnight Rider.”

But meanwhile ramblin’ on, I’ve been a politics junkie since high school. It was Eugene McCarthy’s opposition to the war that first electrified me. For my generation, “the war” isn’t WWII the big one, it’s Vietnam, a place where I might be sent to die to satisfy the lies of a bunch of old white guys, including my maternal cousin Dean Rusk.

I watch election returns with the enthusiasm that some watch the lottery numbers fall. The election returns from the recent Alabama senate race were for me riveting TV.

There was amazing drama. With 75% of the vote in, I think Roy Moore was leading by six percentage points, but the networks considered it “too early to call.” They were calling it that way because the precincts out there were the cities: Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, Tuscaloosa, and Auburn, the places with concentrations of black votes.

We know what happened after that.

I watched these returns partly on my favorite TV show, “The Rachel Maddow Show,” but I think it was the next day, the aftermath, when her show had for a backdrop a banner proclaiming “Alabama Shakes.” One has to be as cool as Rachel and I to appreciate that slogan, but the music I thought about was Neil Young, “Oh, oh, Alabama, the devil fools with the best laid plans.”

Of course when we hear Neil’s “Alabama” we white trash shift immediately to Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home,” which to Rolling Stone Neil famously conceded was a much better song than his, "And then when I found out I was in it…” more superlatives.

I need a theme here to tie this piece together, something like the Dude’s rug.

Remember about a year ago when you could wake up in the morning and know the President of the United States wasn’t a deranged, pathological liar?

Man, that was awesome.

And “Well, how did I get here?”

I of course voted for Clinton, but I didn’t give her any money. I sent my 29 dollars to Bernie. She didn’t need my money. What she needed was my advice which, as you may have assumed, she didn’t ask for.

Had she, the advice I would have given was that which Lou Grant gave to Ted Baxter on the occasion of Ted’s upcoming nuptials. Lou didn’t want to give Ted advice, but when Ted kept insisting said, “Ok, Ted, you know the way you always are (pause) well don’t be that way.”

Remember when you could wake up in the morning and know the President wasn’t an egomaniacal imbecile.

I’m loving watching Trump’s undoing as much as I did the Watergate hearings in my early twenties. I was glued to the television for months. I was thrilled to see Tricky Dick go down. But while Nixon was also dishonest and criminal he wasn’t an imbecile, and he did despite that, in a plausible way, try to president good.

At last check, the Vegas betting line is still slightly in favor of Trump serving out his term. If I had any money I’d take that bet.

You may not have read it here first, but the Democrats will sweep to power in the house in ten months, then Trump will be impeached. They may not take the senate, but there are enough honorable Republicans there to complete the deal. Aah, the art of the deal.
They might not be able to dump Pence the way they did Agnew, because that would require Trump approving a replacement which he will not do. But maybe if they told him that  Obama thinks he shouldn’t go along with the replacement…

And what will happen after we’ve dumped Trump? I’m thinking the rest of the world will let us back in the club if we agree to stand in the corner and think about what we’ve done.

*Author’s note: this piece was written before the recent blockbuster news about the new Trump expose.  Ellis Millsaps

Ellis is a recovering Attorney but has worn many hats over the years: father, bus boy, stand-up comedian, novelist, wiffle ball player, rock'n'roll band manager, and at one time wrote a popular and funny column for The Covington News. A Fannin Co. mountain boy originally, Mr. Millsaps now stays at the mill village of Porterdale by way of 20 years in Mansfield. Usually funny and at times irreverent and subversive, he leans left in his political philosophy but can always be counted on for a pretty darn good write-up. The Chronicles are proud to have him involved...