I wrote this thing - this Fireworks giant png file - after my lovely, hard-working first car, which I bought when I was 30 for 1600 dollars. It's a long time since I saw it. Write your journal online, I recommend it.
It's been more like a month, actually.
I did not know who Anthony Bourdain or Kate Spade were before this week, but they're kin to me now. Vic Chesnutt described himself as a suicide long before he did it, and I was struck by the comfort it gave me to privately call myself the same thing. Always nice to have a name for a thing. I'm not a likely candidate, having the amazing life I have, but I have understood the impulse forever, and have an unhelpful homunculus who suggests it regularly. I never exclaim "Why?!": I know.
People are wondering, wondering, with each death, and this article really has the answer (thanks to the Info Pusher for sharing). Things are shitty. Depending on where you're looking, and who's around you, it can be unbearable. Why lie about that? I don't believe we can change it until we admit it. Consumerism, unbridled greed, passive overstimulation, the murder of the environment, the decimation of war, radical individualism - these are shit. They kill people's souls - why wouldn't they kill people?
I'm not pretending to know why these two people became suicides. I'm not even interested. I didn't read the details on that dude in the States who lit himself on fire in a park... I just see the headline and go, Yep, I get it. I'm interested in the general idea, and the general reasons, and in joining honest conversations.
I imagine dinners, shared, being the solution. I suspect that admitting and discussing our need for love, our need for company, will help us. That talking about how things are - rather than overdosing on shitty news, all alone with our phones - will be healing. And that talking about nothing - fucking sports, even - is healing. I want to throw more parties. I think it's a good alternative to suicide, and in terms of solving things, a reasonable course of action.
I will always respect a person's choice to check out. It is not stupid, or cowardly, or evil. It's lonely and sad. Suicides need a hug. They need community and love, and trees and water and dinner.
The lesson of our age might be that Too Late is Too Late. Act now.
I've been off FB for a month or something now, and I did not miss it one second, until today. Today I wanted to commiserate about our Ontario election last night, and couldn't. That's a specifically emotional groupspace, and I missed the comics, one-liners and articles that would have let me feel my people feeling what I felt. I missed that. Facebook is good at that.
And how do I feel? I know that you, missing my wit and insight, have travelled over here to my house to find out. I feel the way I do when something bad that happens a lot happens again. Sort of shocked, but not. I thank Donald Trump, that wizard, for over-preparing me for this. I can't really worry about a looting thug with sociopathic tendencies who DOESN'T have nuclear weapons. What's he gonna do? Wreck schools? Hospitals? Seen it. Fuck over the poor? What else has ever happened? Doug Ford is going to loot, in that way that rich people loot, by selling everything to their friends, cheap. Doug Ford is gonna get you a Deal.
I AM disappointed. I took some hope from the idea of an NDP groundswell. I imagined that Ontarians were clever enough to smell which way the wind blows. I prepared my heart for the shock of EITHER outcome. It could have been nice ... [sigh] ... but also: I think I'm sort of OVER it. I have read and heard so many ideas that are bigger and smarter than this silly cycle of corrupt Liberals and sociopathic Conservatives, that I can't believe that an NDP win would have changed the world much. 5% Better, maybe. I'm really feeling a couple of things:
1. The revolution, if it is real and a thing we're considering, can only be spiritual and cultural. I'm not interested in indulging my fantasies (suddenly kill everyone who has a billion dollars and then just act like it didn't happen) because I know what fantasies are..
2. There are thinking people and non-thinking people. However lovingly I think we should behave towards the Junior Adults among us - VERY - who vote on single issues and consider only what is in eyesight, I'm not pretending to be equal anymore. I'm not discussing social issues with someone who can't see one move ahead, who can't imagine a second perspective. I'm not going to berate them, either. I'm just not going to engage.
3. I want to shut up. I want to immerse myself in the ideas of other (thinking) people, to swim in conversation without being active. I'll hold my shit for places like this, where hundreds of people from Facebook flock to read my words because no one else can do it quite like me.
Enough Politics, We Remember Your Trump Comics
I've finished making two little books - the 8th issue of the true adventures of jepcomix (yes I regret choosing that long name), which contains the story of the time M and I lived with a crazy dying cloud lawyer; and Squarehead, a 32 page comic about my 7th grade exchange trip to Trois Rivieres, Quebec (sucked!).
I'm going to print them nicely, for the first time, in a 6x9 format, nice covers, good paper. This is the first time I've felt like the work deserved more than the Photocopy Treatment - and the first time I've thought, I should do something to promote them. That's interesting to me - i've been actively at it for about 14 years, so it's a milestone. I think I'll try to get into a couple of festivals, maybe. Marjan will dig that, cuz ... more travelling.
(Sir Duke is playing right now. I had to stop and enjoy.)
Here's my dopey plan: jepcomix 8 has a really colourful cover, which might make people notice it. Inside, not a bad story, and an advert for Squarehead. I release that soon (that involves giving it away to about 9 people around the world, maybe to sell, maybe to review). THEN, a few months later, take Squarehead over to The Beguiling and see if, maybe, all this work means they don't chuck it into the Zine pile.
Then: apply to TCAF, and maybe fly to Chicago (where I will go in and offer to buy everyone at Quimby's and Chicago Comics a beer, because of their generous openness to Zines and minis of all kinds) for one of their conferences.
I thought about re-engaging the Religion theme again for an ongoing strip like That's Me in the Corner or Fights, but couldn't muster the energy. All this meditation is sort of sucking my Rage Mojo, sort of cooling my Hate Engine. I guess I'm glad, but ... I don't want to write about meditating.
I think, rather, that I will pour some energy into the comic I imagine when I'm paddling out around the Leslie Spit, about a mouse and a ball who become friends and try to understand their huge world, together. I've got so many silly ideas about this story, and writing it won't interfere with this Retiring, Uninterested, or Above-It monk thing I'm trying to cultivate: all pictures and nature and imagination.
The first story I wrote about them - the fraught project that took YEARS too long Because:Assholes - won't have much to do with the newer idea, but that's good. That's honest. I spent many years on projects that weren't worth the time. I want, as the man said, to live deliberately. Apparently this involves some pretty silly stuff. You know, for kids.
Anyway, shut the fuck up already Jeff. I saw Solo, it was fun. I saw Deadpool 2, and it was very funny. I read that Chinese sci-fi book the Three Body Problem - very cool. I am right this second listening to that first Darkness single (I Believe in a Fing Called Love), which still does the trick for me. Oh - song's over: next is Jay Z and Alicia K singing about
New York. I love this song. Toronto will never make a song like this until Toronto says Suck a Dick to the provincial rest of this province. Suck a dick, Ontario. Doug Ford, I'll fight you anytime, you Good Ol Boy, you fraudulent piece of shit, you shitty older brother. Call me.
This morning I had a great bath - really hot, down to a freezing shower. I'm trying to feel my body more, to come to terms with being corporeal (an ongoing life-long process).
I also finished reading Box Brown's new Andy Kaufman book (First Second, 2018). It's great - his work is always great, I think - and it follows the Andre the Giant book he did nicely, focussing its lens on Kaufman's wrestling life.
I love Andy Kaufman a lot and adore the Intergender Wrestling Champ period of his life. I was getting into this when Marjan and I met (the mid-90s), and we went down the rabbit hole together. We called what Kaufman was doing Post Post Modernism (we both did English Lit degrees), and spent a lot of time trying to draw out what that meant. We entertained creating a manifesto, but never quite nailed down how to explain it: something about the relationship to reality and artifice, about holding something in between True and Not in your mind.
I wish I had known more then about the reality of "professional" wrestling because it was the best example of the idea back then: RealnotReal, total commitment to a performance, full of artifice and sincerity. Now, this idea is fully mainstream.
That same time, I had my first real interaction with Trolling (not that we had that word for it). I threw a party for a friend who was getting married in my tiny slummy apartment. His actual best man had failed to organize anything, so I and another friend had thrown it together fast. I didn't know most of the people there, just a few friends. One guest, later in the evening, started getting really obnoxious - spouting off vulgar sexist opinions to the women in the room and relishing their anger and irritation. Objections got him laughing and doubling down, and the mood got really weird.
I found it deeply irritating, and when asking him to cut it out failed to stop it, I told him to get out of my home. Bob, the friend who'd invited him, was laughing and explaining that it was funny because the guy meant none of it - it was all a "bit". He never blinked, and he did wind up leaving. It was a confusing situation, and everybody felt stupid afterward. We added "Post Post Modernism can be used for Good OR Evil" to the unfinished definition.
In better examples, the playful relationship with Truth was very interesting to me, and ultrafunny when done right. It was a new way of thinking for me. (I just realized: my first interaction with it was The Garry Shandling Show in high school.) Joe Matt's waaaay too real comics and their fallout were fascinating; Crad Kilodney's total commitment to his persona and work; Man Bites Dog - and Andy Kaufman.
What was real? Was he even dead? Pre-Google, we sought out random clips and recordings at Suspect Video and reveled in every new level. (The movie Man on the Moon was fucked, IMO. Ignore it.) Marjan and I adopted a style of joking based on saying the opposite of what we meant - Fuck You as I love you; responding to kisses by yelling Ouch! It was a lot of fun. It tickled my intellect's G spot.
Fast forward 20 years and that behaviour has become absolutely The Norm. Bold lying has its own TV channels; the president is a Pro Wrestling villain, and nobody wonders if Wrestling is real anymore - it doesn't matter, because we've evolved to not CARE. Isn't that wild?
I am enjoying the part of Aging that gives me a longer history to consider. It's interesting to see a terrible, powerful idea grow out of a smaller, sillier one over time. It's interesting to be complicit in the wide trend just by being part of a culture. It is interesting to watch the evolution of ideas, good or bad. It's interesting to live with a puzzle like Andy Kaufman, with pieces being filled in over decades.
As for the book, Is This Guy For Real: The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman is fantastic. Brown is deeply economical and shares a great deal of information without a ton of text (I'm throwing shade on you, me). He fully grasps his subject and gives a broad, full picture of the human being, as well as the relationship between the aspects of Kaufman's act. It will serve as a corrective to Carrey's obnoxious, overconfident caricature if enough people read it. So go read it.
love, your real father,
Today - May 6, 2018 - I had my first paddle of the season. I've been aching and dying to do so, and it was glorious(ly simple) and lovely.
Yesterday - May 5th, probably - I deactivated y FB account and passed administration of the Misterjep FB page to Marjan while I figure it out. I've struggled for years with my relationship with Facebook, just like everybody else, and don't want to blab on about the reasons, except to say that it isn't because of Privacy concerns. I have no idea how to think about that. But I DO miss the old internet, the one that wasn't like a mall.
I THINK I'd like to just leave the mall. I like the idea of having an internet home, and of sharing and opining and remarking. It isn't superimportant to me that anyone reads any of it. I think the rest of the near future for me is here. If you like what I do, please visit this website once in a while.
Other news: I've finished two comics this Spring, and am working on publishing them. SQUAREHEAD is my first long story (not done in episodes, but across 32 pages). It took about three years to figure out and create, and I'm a bit proud of it. It's the story of my Cultural Exchange trip to Trois Rivieres in the Summer of 1983.
The other is the eighth issue of JepComix, my mini, which continues and collects the latest Fights story - about Elizabeth, an evil wizard lady Marjan and I fought about 20 years ago. I like that too.
I have been building towards this moment for years: I am more or less happy with the crappy comics I'm making, and approaching a level where I might show them off a bit. Both comics will be properly printed and bigger than the 5.5 x 8.5 mini size, with colour and better paper. I'll make a proper effort to promote them a bit, and will try and get into TCAF in 2019. That'll be 15 years since I started trying to do this for real. I've got solid ideas for at least three other books, and have developed a routine. Let's see how this goes.
It's Spring, and after a rough couple of years, I feel like I've got my head on right. I'm focussing on small things and near things, with the hope that enjoying and loving life will somehow help with the strange and possibly disastrous context we find ourselves in. The whole catastrophe, as a man said. Hope you're doing well too.
Onward and upward -
Because almost nobody comes here - but for continuity, here's the next Elizabeth comics, in case you are reading.
I keep thinking about the other thread of Fights - the one about Our Trump Year and my feelings re all that. I abandoned that for this story back in early Summer, and am glad, but ... all of that is of course still going on, still provides the background for most days (even if I'm not reading news or allowing it much space in my mind). Maybe I'll write up an ending for the year.
I've also been working for a couple of years on a long story about an exchange trip to Quebec; something like 30 pages. It's sort of approaching done-ness now, and a discussion today with Marjan sorted out a missing piece I was stuck on.
Anyway. Here's Elizabeth 14.
Done for a friend at work to put up in the staff room. :)