WHO WAS SPADE COOLEY ? Cocaine & Rhinestones PODCAST


[DISCLAIMER: This episode o tells an extremely disturbing story. This is not suitable content for children or anyone who shouldn’t read a graphic and detailed account of murder.]


Spade Cooley came to California in the early 1930s, as poor as everyone else who did the exact same thing at the exact same time. Only, Spade became a millionaire. And all he needed to accomplish that was a fiddle, a smile and a strong work ethic. If it sounds like the American Dream, stick around to hear how it became an American nightmare of substance abuse, mental illness and, eventually murder.

Meet Spade

The first 45 years or so of Spade Cooley’s life went more than alright.

Born 1910 in Grand, Oklahoma, with the name of Donnell Clyde Cooley, the official story is that Spade was one-quarter Cherokee. That’s backed up by his attendance at Chemawa Indian School in Oregon, where his family moved when Spade was 4 years old.

Spade’s father played fiddle at local dances and he hoped his son would one day find success as a classical cellist or violinist, a dream that Spade shared as a child and he took his lessons accordingly. Though his classical training did not lead to a classical career, it did eventually lead to paying jobs playing fiddle at local dances, just like his dad.

Spade Cooley studio


Performing music and doing a bit of amateur boxing seems to have occupied Spade’s time until he was around 18 years old, which is when he eloped with Anne, a full-blooded Inuk from school and soon-to-be mother of their son, John. A year deep into what is now known as The Great Depression, this young family would arrive in California with nothing but, and I’m quoting Spade here, “a fiddle under one arm and a nickel in [his] pocket.” The year was 1930 and, as it turns out, he didn’t have much to worry over…

Spade Cooley was always the kinda guy to make you feel like his best friend. He called every man he met “son.” He’d put his hand on your shoulder and a smile in your face. When he showed up for a job, he was there to work hard and make sure it got done right. Knowing his way around the fiddle like he did and the ability to sight read sheet music was enough to place Cooley at the top of several call lists for short-notice, pickup gigs. That “down home” good ol’ boy routine helped him move up the ranks of the Los Angeles music scene fast, which is how he came to play with the Jimmy Wakely Trio, Riders of the Purple Sage and Sons of the Pioneers.

Unless you go add it after listening to this, you won’t find Spade Cooley’s name on the Sons of the Pioneer’s Wikipedia page. To be fair, that legendary group is a bigger part of Spade’s story than he is a part of theirs. By the time Cooley came around, they’d already had their signature hit with “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” and the group’s breakout star, Roy Rogers, had mostly moved on to work in major motion pictures. But Roy would still come around every now and then. Someone pointed out that Spade Cooley bore a passing resemblance to Roy Rogers. Before you know it, Spade was bringing down some extra cash by serving as a stand-in for Roy on movie sets during the day, while still playing pickup gigs with multiple bands on the L.A. dancehall circuit at night. With one foot firmly planted in each of Southern California’s most desirable professions, Spade was about to find himself a very rich and very famous man.

King of Western Swing (Warner Bros. short)



Who Is Spade Cooley?

Every country music fan with more than a passing interest in Western Swing knows the name Spade Cooley.

It’s like a little bit of trivia for the genre.

There are two facts we associate with that name. One – Spade Cooley was “The King of Western Swing” long before that title was transferred to Bob Wills. Two – Spade Cooley murdered his wife.

Spade Cooley murder newspaper clipping


But there’s a lot of story hiding in those two facts.

“The King of Western Swing” was more than just a cool nickname. For most of the 1940’s and 1950’s, Spade kicked as much ass as it was possible for a musician in Los Angeles to kick. It would be difficult to exaggerate his professional success. Not only does Spade Cooley have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame but at the height of his television show’s popularity it’s estimated that 75% of L.A. viewers were tuning in on any given night. Put it this way. In 1951, Frank Sinatra already had over 20 Top Ten singles to his name but his career wasn’t doing so hot anymore. He needed a comeback and part of his plan for that was a singing appearance on Spade Cooley’s hit TV show.

Looking back on it now, we can see things ended up working out pretty well for Frank Sinatra.

Spade Cooley, not so much. Because of that second little piece of trivia.

Now, I don’t know how so many people are comfortable using a simple word like “murder” to sum up Spade Cooley’s actions on the day of his wife’s killing. This was not a domestic argument that got out of hand. Not an accident with a dangerous weapon. Not a so-called crime of passion. This wasn’t even an isolated incident. It was a savage and deliberate execution which many people had to have seen coming.

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In Cuba, the Castro era ends this week as Raúl steps down as ruler ~ An end of an era for many of us … The Washington Post


Through the Space Age, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Internet era, Cubans held one constant: A Castro ruled the nation.

That is about to change.

Raúl Castro, 86, is expected to step aside as Cuba’s president this week, ending the epochal run of two brothers who sent shock waves through 20th-century politics. Nearly two decades into this century, and less than two years after Fidel Castro’s death, his brother’s exit from Cuba’s top job leaves this insular island at a crossroads, weighing how fast, if at all, to embrace change.

“This is an important moment for Cuba, but the truth is, nobody knows what to expect,” said Camilo Condis, general manager of Artecorte, a community project in Havana. “I mean, other than Fidel and Raúl, who is there? You didn’t really know anyone else.”


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“It’s about Raúl Castro saying, ‘I am president, but I have a term, and then someone else is going to lead . . . . If you are someone who really wants the regime to endure, it’s what Raúl needs to do.”

The transition is happening at a time when a decade-long opening under Castro has already begun to alter the fabric of Cuban life. Access to the Internet is still subpar, but hotspots are more widely available than ever before. There are now more than 5 million cellphones in this nation of 11.5 million people. More than 550,000 Cubans work in the private sector. After years in which Cubans were forced to obtain permission to leave the country, Cubans these days can travel freely. It is now possible to buy and sell real estate.

Yet in a country where streets are still swimming in 1950s Chevys and Fords, Cuban life can feel stuck in time, and plagued with problems that never really went away. Locals talk of periodic shortages — eggs, potatoes, toilet paper. In a potential sign of discontent, turnout in recent municipal elections stood at 82.5 percent — the lowest in four decades, and a stunningly low number in a country where citizens face high pressure to vote.

Sean Hannity’s idea of ‘attorney-client privilege’ was right out of ‘Breaking Bad

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Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel, left (Getty); actor Bob Odenkirk of “Better Call Saul.”

On Monday, Sean Hannity walked himself right into an awkward comparison.

It happened after the bombshell revelation in a Manhattan courtroom that Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s client list included the Fox News Channel host. On his afternoon radio show, Hannity explained that his relationship with Cohen was limited to a few “brief discussions” about business matters.

“I might have handed him 10 bucks [and said,] ‘I definitely want your attorney-client privilege on this,’ ” Hannity told listeners Monday afternoon. “Something like that.”

Online, the “handed him 10 bucks” line immediately launched comparisons to an infamous scene from AMC’s smash hit “Breaking Bad.”

In a memorable exchange, one of the shadiest lawyers in television history, Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk, tells the show’s meth-dealing main characters to “put a dollar in my pocket” to ensure that their conversations about criminal misdeeds remain protected.

And if you are trying to steer clear of a scandal, it’s best if your legal thinking does not echo the “Breaking Bad” lawyer, who later became the protagonist of the prequel, “Better Call Saul.”

But both “Breaking Bad” and Hannity’s conception of attorney-client privilege seem to rest on a faulty understanding of the legal concept. In a 2015 article in the New Mexico Law Review, Armen Adzhemyan and Susan M. Marcella compared the popular show’s presentation of the law with the reality of federal court, including what the pair called the “myth of the dollar bill.”

“Saul has a habit of grossly overstating the reach of the attorney-client privilege,” the two authors wrote.

The famous scene between Goodman, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman appears in the show’s second season, in the eighth episode, titled “Better Call Saul.” Hoping to intimidate one of the attorney’s clients, White and Pinkman kidnap Goodman at gunpoint, bind his wrists and take him out into the desert.

But in true sleazy lawyer fashion, Goodman flips the script, instead offering advice on the pair’s criminal enterprise.

“First things first, you’re gonna put a dollar in my pocket, both of you,” Goodman tells them. “You want attorney-client privilege, don’t you? So that everything you say is strictly between us? I mean it, put a dollar in my pocket, make it official.”



The New Yorker, Daily Cartoon: Tuesday, April 17th


Lights. Camera. Fiction!”

Down ‘The River Of Lost Souls’ With Jonathan Thompson ~ An Interview with CPR radio




River of Lost Souls: The Science, Politics, and Greed Behind the Gold King Mine Disaster

Award–winning investigative environmental journalist Jonathan P. Thompson digs into the science, politics, and greed behind the 2015 Gold King Mine disaster, and unearths a litany of impacts wrought by a century and a half of mining, energy development, and fracking in southwestern Colorado. Amid these harsh realities, Thompson explores how a new generation is setting out to make amends.

As shocking and heartbreaking as the Gold King spill and its aftermath may be, it’s merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The disaster itself was the climax of the long and troubled story of the Gold King mine, staked by a Swedish immigrant back in 1887. And it was only the most visible manifestation of a slow–moving, multi–faceted environmental catastrophe that had been unfolding here long before the events of August 5, 2015.

Jonathan Thompson is a native Westerner with deep roots in southwestern Colorado. He has been an environmental journalist focusing on the American West since he signed on as reporter and photographer at the Silverton Standard & the Miner newspaper in 1996. He has worked and written for High Country News for over a decade, serving as editor-in-chief from 2007 to 2010. He was a Ted Scripps fellow in environmental journalism at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and in 2016 he was awarded the Society of Environmental Journalists’ Outstanding Beat Reporting, Small Market. He currently lives in Bulgaria with his wife Wendy and daughters Lydia and Elena.

Baldwin returns to ‘SNL’ as Trump and admits presidency is just ‘a four-year cash grab’

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Alec Baldwin returned to “Saturday Night Live” this week, portraying President Trump at a press briefing during which he admits the presidency is just “a four-year cash grab.”

The episode’s cold open depicted Baldwin as Trump and Kate McKinnon as President Dalia Grybauskaitė of Lithuania at a joint press conference. 

Baldwin’s Trump touches on a number of recent headlines in the skit, including reports that he congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin despite specific instruction not to do so. 

Dee Dee Bridgewater: Tiny Desk Concert ~ NPR

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“This is me coming back full circle in my life,” Dee Dee B told NPR right before this Tiny Desk performance. Ever since her teenage years, she’s wanted to make her latest album, Memphis… Yes, I’m Ready. Now, a gorgeous 67 years young, Bridgewater is connecting openly with her roots, her birthplace and the town she’s loved all her life.

When she was just three years old, her family moved from Memphis, Tennessee, to Flint, Michigan. Years later, Bridgewater could still hear the soul sounds of Memphis on WDIA, the first radio station in America programmed entirely by African-Americans for African-Americans. She recalled, “I could catch it when I was in Flint as a teenager and I would listen to it after 11:00 at night, because that was the only time I could get it — when all the other stations were off the air. I know it was real, ’cause I went through it and these were all songs I heard on WDIA.”

Bridgewater brought three of these songs to the Tiny Desk: First, is the celebrated blues hit, “Hound Dog,” first recorded by not by Elvis Presley but by Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton in 1952. What makes this presentation special is not only Bridgewater’s sultry and soulful interpretation, but her adorable Daisy, perhaps the cutest “Hound Dog” to ever bless this song.


  • “Hound Dog” (Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller)
  • “Why (Am I Treated So Bad)?” (Roebuck “Pops” Staples)
  • “B.A.B.Y.” (Isaac Lee Hayes & David Porter)

Dee Dee Bridgewater’s latest album, Memphis… Yes, I’m Ready, is available on iTunesand Amazon.

Hot Springs Lower Stress in Japan’s Popular Bathing Monkeys ~ NYT

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For the famed snow monkeys, a troop of Japanese macaques that live near Nagano, soaking in hot springs eases the stress of cold winters. But how did they come to adopt this habit?

By JAMES GORMAN and CHRISTOPHER WHITWORTH on Publish Date April 3, 2018.Photo by Toshio Hagiwara. Watch in Times Video »

The snow monkeys of Japan are famous, as monkeys go. This troop of Japanese macaques lives in the north, near Nagano, the mountainous, snowy site of the 1998 Winter Olympics.

Others of their species live even farther north, farther than any other nonhuman primate, so they are able to adapt to winter weather.

But the source of this troop’s fame is an adaptation that only they exhibit: soaking in hot spring bathing pools. Their habitat is full of natural hot springs that tend to be over 140 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that is apparently uncomfortable for the monkeys.

It wasn’t until 1963 that a young female macaque was first observed bathing in a pool built by a hotel, with the water cooled to a temperature comfortable enough for humans and monkeys.

At first, one or two monkeys joining human visitors were a curiosity , but eventually they became a nuisance and health hazard, and a park was built with hot spring pools at a comfortable 104 degrees Fahrenheit, for monkeys only.

The monkeys have been a long time tourist attraction and favorite of photographers, and it looked like they were trying to stay warm. Only recently have scientists investigated this behavior by measuring levels of stress hormones and observing the effects of social structure.

Rafaela S.C. Takeshita and her colleagues at Kyoto University collected and tested the monkeys’ feces for levels of glucocorticoids, which increase with stress. The cold is known to cause levels of these hormones to go up. They published their results in the journal Primates.

As expected, during the periods when the monkeys were bathing, stress levels were down. Another indication of the value of bathing to the macaques was that the higher-ranking females spent more time in the pools.

Dr. Takeshita said that the males are usually on the periphery of the troop at this time of year and did not spend much time bathing, so she only studied the females.

She also said she was inspired by the monkeys, in a nonscientific way.

“I confess that during my research, many times after, I jumped into one of the hot springs pools,” the ones for humans, that is.

When I Met Dr. King By Charlayne Hunter-Gault


My one and only encounter with Martin Luther King, Jr., was during a chance meeting on what was then called “Sweet Auburn Avenue,” the prosperous hub of black-owned businesses in Atlanta. It was the summer of 1961, when King had earned the love and respect of the city’s young civil-rights demonstrators with whom he had marched. I was working as a reporter for the Atlanta Inquirer, an independent black newspaper covering the city’s ongoing segregation, writing stories that mainstream newspapers chose to ignore.

By the time I met King, he and a group of local students had triumphed in their effort to end the racist practice of separate and unequal in local restaurants, shops, and schools. King had joined them on the picket line, at sit-ins, and in jail. The attorney Donald Hollowell represented the students in court. The experience would inspire the young people to add a new mantra to their freedom slogans: “King is our leader, Hollowell is our lawyer, and we shall not be moved.”

King’s support for the demonstrators in Atlanta led to one of the worst experiences of his career. When the students were released after merchants agreed to desegregate, King was forced to remain in jail and was transported to a prison miles away from Atlanta. He was made to lie in the back of a police vehicle with a dog snarling at him the entire way there. Even after his release, challenges remained throughout the South.

I met King many months after his release on a bright, sunny day, when I happened to be on Sweet Auburn Avenue with a colleague, who suddenly turned to me and said, “There’s Dr. King.” I was awed by this chance meeting with a man who, at that point, was already the icon of the civil-rights movement.


I ran up to him, prepared to introduce myself and to lavish praise on him for all that he had done for Atlanta and the students, and for his sacrifices on behalf of black Americans. As I started to introduce myself—before I could get past my name—he reached for my hand, energetically shaking it, while telling me he was proud to meet me.

“You are doing a such magnificent job down there,” he said, a reference to my enrollment at the all-white University of Georgia, where Hamilton Holmes and I were the first African-American students to attend earlier that year. As I recalled, in a book I wrote years later, King told me that education “was the key to our freedom, and then he generously thanked me again and wished me success.”

Before I could tell him how proud of him I was, he was mobbed by other admirers, which prevented him from seeing the tears rolling down my cheeks. I will always remember that moment and what it taught me about King and one of his core values: humility. Over the next several years, I watched King with admiration as I tried to find my way in journalism. In 1963, while sitting at my desk at The New Yorker, I watched the March on Washington, which he and other civil-rights activists organized, and shed more tears as King talked about his dream of living in a country where his four children would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. In the speech, he displayed the humility as well as the strength of his convictions that I had seen in Atlanta, before hundreds of thousands of Americans.

King’s assassination fifty years ago caused me to leave a special fellowship for “new journalism” I had at Washington University, in St. Louis. By then, there were riots in the streets all over the country, and I didn’t think the classroom was where I needed to be.

I went to Washington to cover, for Transaction magazine, the Poor People’s Campaign and the next phase of the civil-rights movement, focussing on human rights and economic justice. Thousands travelled to the nation’s capital to spend their days in tents, undeterred by the pouring rain that left the Mall a muddy mess.

They made their way, each and every day, for six weeks, to the grounds and halls of Congress to make their demands heard, undeterred by nature or by human resistance. And while King was no longer physically among them, surely, they were motivated by his spirit and his determination for all of God’s children to be free at last.

  • Charlayne Hunter-Gault is a journalist and a special correspondent for the year-long PBS NewsHour series “Race Matters: Solutions.”


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Robert F. Kennedy gave what turned out to be an iconic speech following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968.

As darkness took hold on April 4, 1968, newly declared presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy stepped in front of a microphone atop a flatbed truck in a poor, predominantly black neighborhood in Indianapolis.

Looking out onto the crowd, Kennedy turned and quietly asked a city official, “Do they know about Martin Luther King?”

The civil rights leader had been shot a few hours earlier, though the news that he was dead hadn’t reached everyone yet.

Listen to this story on “Retropod”:

“We’ve left it up to you,” the official said.

What unfolded during the next six minutes, according to historians and Kennedy biographers, is one of the most compelling and overlooked speeches in U.S. political history — the brother of an assassinated president announcing another devastating assassination two months before he’d be killed, too.

“I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world,” the 42-year-old senator said in his thick Boston accent, “and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.”

There were audible gasps.

Kennedy, wearing his brother’s overcoat and speaking without notes, quoted the Greek playwright Aeschylus — “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart …” — and to the astonishment of his aides, the audience and even his own family, the senator referenced his brother’s murder for the first time.

Kennedy speaks in a predominantly black neighborhood in Indianapolis. (Courtesy of Indiana Historical Society)

“For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling,” Kennedy said. “I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.”

That night, amid one of the most chaotic years in American history, the country burned. Riots broke out in more than 100 cities, including Washington, where at least a dozen people died.

“I was upset, to put it mildly,” said Abie Washington, then 26 and just out of the Navy, who stood that evening in the crowd listening to Kennedy. “I was pissed. Something needed to be done and I wanted to do it.”

But as Kennedy kept speaking, something came over him.

“My level of emotion went from one extreme to another,” Washington said. “He had empathy. He knew what it felt like. Why create more violence?”

There was no rioting in Indianapolis.

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When MLK Was Killed, He Was In Memphis Fighting For Economic Justice ~ NPR


Striking sanitation workers and their supporters are flanked by bayonet-wielding National Guard troops and armored vehicles during a march on City Hall in Memphis, Tenn., on March 29, 1968, one day after a similar march erupted in violence, leaving one person dead and several injured.

Charlie Kelly /AP


It was a call for help from activists that took the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis in March 1968. Days later he would be fatally shot by James Earl Ray on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.

But before the motel, the shooting, the riots and the mourning, there was the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike.

King broke away from his work on the Poor People’s Campaign to travel from Atlanta to Tennessee and help energize the strikers — his last cause for economic justice.

Fifty years later, Elmore Nickelberry is one of the last strike participants still on the job with the Memphis Sanitation Department. He’s 86 and his night shift starts at the “barn” — mostly a giant parking lot full of garbage trucks.

Today he’s a driver with a crew of two, and his truck is equipped to lift and dump trash bins. Back in the ’50s and ’60s, he did the lifting and dumping.

“When I first started it was rough,” he says. “I had to tote tubs on my head, on my shoulders, under my arms.”

Enlarge this image

Eighty-six-year-old Elmore Nickelberry is one of the last strike participants still on the job with the Memphis Sanitation Department.

Debbie Elliott/NPR

He rode on the back of truck, jumping off to go into people’s back yards to pick up garbage. It was a filthy, and often thankless job.

Nickelberry says the trash tubs would leak, dripping onto his clothes. Sometimes he would have to climb into the back of the truck to help load the garbage.

“And when I’d load the truck there would be maggots in my shoes,” says Nickelberry.

But the city didn’t let African-American workers shower at the barn – that was reserved for the white drivers. And there was no place for them to take shelter in the rain. In early 1968 trash collectors Echol Cole and Robert Walker climbed into the back of a truck to escape a storm, and were accidently crushed to death by its compactor.

In response, workers organized to demand better working conditions and higher pay. Nickelberry says they had no respect.

“Most of the time they’d call us boys,” he says. “Or we’d get on the bus and they’d say ‘look at that old garbage man.’ And I knew I wasn’t no garbage man. I just worked in garbage.”

Then Mayor Henry Loeb rejected the workers’ demands, refusing to recognize their union. They walked off the job. Nickelberry says they marched downtown every morning, wearing sandwich boards and carrying placards that declared “I Am A Man.”

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When Snowpack Is The Concern, Science Keeps A Wary Eye Out For Dust ~ BY GRACE HOOD APR 3, 2018 ~ Colorado Public Radio


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Researchers are watching this year’s mountain snowpack. It’s important work as Colorado falls deeper into drought.

Jeff Derry, executive director of the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies, tracks the amount of dust deposited on snow across the state. He and his assistants snowshoe and ski to 11 high country sites where they measure how much dust there is on the snow surface.

Dust pulls more solar energy into the snowpack, which is essentially a reservoir of water for managers across the West. In dusty years, snow melts earlier. The rate of runoff can increase substantially compared to low dust-on-snow years.

It’s important data for scientists across the West.

“In an extreme dust year, we can see the snowpack disappear on the order of 2 months early,” said research scientist Jeff Deems at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Deems said dust on snow will become an important issue as the West moves toward a future with tighter water supplies.

“Demand is going up and it looks like supply is going down for a number of reasons,” said Deems. “We need to keep the snow on the mountain for as long as possible to allow that water to be available for use in the dry summer months. If it melts off [too early] then all we have are our surface reservoirs which don’t store that much [compared to the volume of water in the snowpack].”