You are in search of pumpkins. In the cold October rain, you head out of Mordor south on 71, the trail of tears and construction. Southern Ohio greets you with water towers, trailer parks, and Adult! Video signs. You pick up old friends, and head for the show.
The clouds part for the smell of fried food. You eat pork tenderloins. You eat breaded cheese on a stick. You go thirds on a blooming onion, but insist on your own piece of pumpkin pie.
You run into people you thought you’d never see again. You ask them what they’ve been up to.
“Just workin’,” they say. “Just workin’.”
You live in a city with many immigrants. A man sells t-shirts that read, WELCOME TO AMERICA, NOW SPEAK ENGLISH!
Your protest is a chuckle.
A woman in a scarf buys a Fried Twinkie. She shares it with a man wearing assless leather chaps and white tennis shoes. You are too busy gawking to notice the carnies are heckling your girlfriend.
Who are these people? you think. What is this place?
Scribbling in the notebook lately has felt a lot like curling up on Grandma’s kitchen floor with butcher paper and crayons: endless possibilities with limited tools. But, I’m schooling myself. Check out this treasure trove of comics syllabi and drawing lessons, including a great step-by-step how-to by Tom Hart of Hutch Owens fame. I’ve also been printing a few lessons out from The Scientific Artist, a great drawing and design blog run by a guy named Paul Rivoche.
Of course, no education is complete without the work of other artists. Somebody whose work lit a fire under my pants recently: R. Kikuo Johnson. NIGHT FISHER, his new graphic novel, is coming out from Fantagraphics Books and it looks amazing (excerpt above). And the Drawn!, Fantagraphics, and Scott McCloud blogs are all great for checking out new artists, too.
I’ve been splitting my reading between Chris Ware’s new one, and the Novels and Other Writings of Nathaniel West, starting with the short novel Miss Lonelyhearts. The connection? In his “Some Notes on Miss L.,” West says Miss Lonelyhearts started as “A novel in the form of a comic strip.”
The chapters to be squares in which many things happen through one action. The speeches contained in the conventional balloons. I abandoned this idea, but retained some of the comic strip technique: Each chapter instead of going forward in time, also goes backward, forward, up and down in space like a picture. Violent images are used to illustrate commonplace events. Violent acts are left almost bald.
In “Some Notes on Violence,” West hints at the relationship between violence and comedy:
In America violence is idiomatic. Read our newspapers. To make the front page a murderer has to use his imagination, he also has to use a particularly hideous instrument. Take this morning’s paper: FATHER CUTS SON’S THROAT IN BASEBALL ARGUMENT. It appears on an inside page. To make the first page, he should have killed three sons with a baseball bat instead of a knife. Only liberality and symmetry could have made this daily occurence interesting.
Not to mention, the number of 3 is funny. The “liberality” and “symmetry” of violence reminds me of Henri Bergson’s essay, “On Laughter,” in which he analyzes two clowns on stage beating the hell out of each other with baseball bats. If one clown just comes out and clobbers the other, that’s not so funny, that’s cold and violent. We feel for the clobbered clown. However, if the two clowns chase each other around the stage, trading blow for blow without death, there is a symmetry and repetition to the routine, and the clowns become an item of comedy. As Bergson says, “we laugh every time a person gives us the impression of being a thing.”
All three books, at least, worth a read.
Rumor (thanks Mike) has it that Ian Svenonius of Weird War is writing his own book, The Psychic Soviet. Ian’s been ranting for some time now about Wagner and Hitler and tragic vision and life following art and sending Dubya a demo tape that would encourage his own suicide, but here, in all its glory, is a surprisingly coherent (but still nutty) excerpt from the book, “The Responsible Use Of Rock and Roll.”
Ian told New-Noise.net, ““We need to create a narrative for our time, a narrative to guide the future…a narrative that guides the whole culture, that results in the fascists being destroyed….That is the power that art has. Everyone in the ruling class knows the power of art. It is only artists who don’t understand this power. They denigrate themselves and they go along with the denigration.”
Goofily overblown, but yet, strangely makes sense. Like all that is Svenonius.
An e-mail sent to Meg from an Anheuser-Busch representative:
Thank you for contacting Anheuser-Busch. We appreciate your kind words regarding our recent Bud Light Real Men of Genius – Giant Pumpkin Grower commercial and your interest in viewing this ad on our Web site.
Currently, this particular ad is not available on www.budlight.com. From time to time, our Bud Light marketing team will update our Web site in order to freshen up the images and commercial selection. While we have not received information that indicates that this ad will be available on our site, we hope that you will visit us again soon for possible updates.
In addition, is it your intention to download this commercial and then post it on the Pumpkin Show Web site? If so, please understand that this would be illegal, and we cannot give permission to post this ad on the site per our Legal Department and our Bud Light marketing team.
Again, Meghan, thank you for contacting Anheuser-Busch. Please let us know if you have additional comments or questions.
Your Friends at Anheuser-Busch
My buddy Nathaniel is in UVA’s religious studies program, and the other night he went to see Cat Power in Charlottesville. Here’s his report:
Comrades–you know that gossip about Chan Marshall going nuts during live performances? Turns out it’s very, very true.
I saw her last night at the Satellite Ballroom. It’s a small venue, so when she came out she told the whole audience to sit down, which got everyone ready for a low-key, intimate show. She played at least three songs in a row on the piano, with literally no breaks in between. It was halfway through the third song when she got frustrated with the PA sound, banged her hands on the keys a few times, and simply stopped playing.
This went on for TWO HOURS. It was obvious that Chan wasn’t paying any mind to her set list and was playing off the top of her head. At several points she broke down into incoherent rants and even starting talking to herself at one point (“Whatcha gonna do now, biatch?”) She muttered how this night’s performance wasn’t very good because “it was only half of last night’s show,” how she felt “lots of judgement coming from the crowd,” and several other things I couldn’t make out.
When she finally played the opening chords of “I Don’t Blame You,” the crowd cheered. But she barely made it to the first chorus before she had a meltdown and stopped playing. A few minutes later, she muttered something about the KKK, claimed she felt “this weird energy,” and literally RAN off stage.
There was no explicit statement that this was the end of the show, but the audience had had enough. We got up and left without applauding.
That shit is bananas.
Thanks to Stereogum for the link.