Birdspot. On the road. Drawing birds.

Detail of the same drawing.

14 Responses to “june 21”

  1. Still not enough time for me to get to bullying in detail, but I loved the story! (Mark’s links, too.) The first thing I saw was J.G. Ballard: the strangeness of the academic environment, the “unwritten codes” Cathy mentions. The carpool, someone treating you badly and then asking you for a ride home — that’s far enough outside my experience that it could be Noh theatre to me. Cathy, don’t think I’m making a you-were-bullied-and-I-wasn’t gloat out of that. I’m fascinated by it, because I don’t know whether it’s Caltech or California or the female perspective that makes the whole setting strange and interesting for me.

    The rococo nature of the revenge also made me think of Gerald Kersh. Caged monkeys as the weapon of choice! It’s like causing an open bag of flour to fall on the head of a hemophiliac that you lured into a knife factory, triggering a fear of clowns and a fatal spasm. If you haven’t read Kersh, there are few people I could recommend more. NIGHT AND THE CITY has what may be my favorite scene in all of literature. I’ll even tell you which one I mean, but not in a blog post.

    Cathy, if only you could have made it to the National Museum of American Illustration today! All the N.C. Wyeths were as good as you’d expect and the Rockwells were better than anticipated. The Parrishes (nobody loves Parrish more than I do, and I can go on about him at any length) were absolutely unbelievable. I can’t imagine a better collection or a better museum. Also of note: Leyendecker. Frighteningly accomplished but also just frightening: hyper-geometric, every surface leaping into extraplanar space.

  2. It’s amazing how calm and how alien this face looks. It’s hard to believe that a direct look into the eye of the beast could trigger such outrage. My first thought would be that the look would be one of love and understanding, which is probably the same type of misunderstanding that caused those undergrads to get maimed by these midgets. So how does one take the alpha role in the world of monkeys?

    Just in case I need to know……(planet of the apes style)

  3. “Charleton Heston and a monkey with a gun…Film at 11.” Eddie Izzard

  4. Bullying. This one doesn’t end well.

    I was substitute teaching at Ryde Secondary College in Sydney, and it was a class of thirteen-year-olds. (That’s normal in Australia, where high school starts at age twelve.) Sitting at my desk watching as they worked, and there was one of those split-second reality inversions: eight or ten quietly working kids turning on another student in an instant, throwing balls of wadded-up paper: “Lachlan’s a faggot! Lachlan’s a faggot!”

    He was a little blond kid in the same uniform as the rest of them. I’ve never been that angry in my life; I tore into them. Then I went to the principal with all of their names and the most strongly-worded letter I could write. He told me they’d be disciplined, and I assume that they were.

    That night, I dreamed that I was working in a prison camp, and Lachlan was one of the inmates. For some reason, he needed to be separated from the others, and I led him in silence through the empty building to a new room. At the doorway, he balked, and wouldn’t move even when I shoved him. I pushed again, and he dug in his heels. Threw my arm around him, to lift him, and –what?– found my hand slipping against something wet. Frantic, I threw the two of us into the room and looked down: both my hands were red. There was a wide mirror on the far wall, and the last thing I saw before the dream ended was Lachlan slumping back against me, chest torn open by the hidden knife that he’d used. He was trembling; his face was upturned, eyes wide in shock and sadness at his own bravery.

    Like I said, I’ve never been bullied. But the monkeybrain in me is taking the injuries to my tribe, my troop, as hard as if I were suffering them myself. When I see computer games or superhero movies (or, unbelievably, Dungeons + Dragons!) pitched to the guys who would’ve beaten up someone on the playground for tinkering with a TRS-80 or reading Dr. Strange or rolling polyhedral dice, I go half-crazy.

  5. Jesse:

    For years (almost decades) I taught animation (the making of) at the Worcester Art Musuem as well as classes in comics. Particularly the animation class was rigorous, time consuming, and insanely detail-oriented. It was one tough studio class. It was monkey animation, Super-8, 24 frames per sec, lots of work just to crank out 1 minute of film at the end, which we would transfer to vid. Those classes were magnets to every geek and nerd within a radius of about 20 miles. It was a safe haven for every kid who listened to weird music, fervently read comics (esp. Manga), collected Hello Kitty (before it was ironic cool) had funny-colored hair and piercings et. Every kind of high school outcast was there. They would show up 2 hours early (I started to too, even though I was off the clock) and stayed 2 hours after class was over. I literally had to kick people out. Even though they were all different kinds of outcasts from regular school, somehow, and I cannot say I know why this worked, everyone was great in class together. Part of it was everyone helped out on each others productions. You had to to get it done. And kids really flourished, grew and had a freakin’amazing time. I even had an Asperger’s student (all Ghost Busters all the time, absolutely no social skills). I had students come out IN class (really tough for high school students of course)and even had a cross-dressing student (very tough for teens), all of it was considered safe within the confines of this one small class probably because it wasn’t public school. Students felt they could let their geek flag fly. Music was huge in the class, as we were often immersed in filming and had to listen to SOMETHING. Students brought in their own CDs and tapes which they rotated playing. Music ranged from ABBA to heavy metal to My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. We all listened to it all. I introduced them to Shonen Knife, Kraftwerk, The Pixies, Ska, Brit Punk and a bunch of other bands. Because they ended up with a very cool product at the end, an animated film, and they could do anything they wanted in that film, and I encouraged REALLY crazy stuff, over the years, many of these kids actually redefined cool on their own terms. It was really amazing over the years (they kept coming back and taking the same damned class!) to watch these students extend who they were into very interesting creative young adults and go their own ways. I am still in touch with a good number of them. I have to say I really learned a lot from that class about geekdom, tolerance and providing a safe and creative learning place that also pushed students to sample other challenging stuff. . The only thing I really consciously did was make it clear that crap like you described would not be tolerated one jot and that you would be ejected from the class forever. That kind of soul crushing behavior drives me to distraction too.

    RE: Dr. Strange. Look, if you read anything OTHER than the original Marvel done by Steve Ditko, you are a loos-ah, Big Time.


  6. Mark:

    Big up, bruh! You bring profound good cheer on another lousy morning. Crawling across the waste to find you sitting in a crater, sharpening spears and lifting banners.

    I don’t know the Pixies as well as I should, but I’m a Frank Black fan. “Los Angeles” is one of my favorite songs of all time.

    Ditko is easier: know him well and love him, although there was some very strong Dr. Strange being produced at certain points in the 80′s if my time-sense is right.

    I’m a big Kirby fan, too. I opened up Volume 1 of the FOURTH WORLD OMNIBUS a little while ago and there was one panel that almost threw me on the floor. He created this machine that’s a Ditkoesque cyclopean tripod combined with something that looks like a Japanese heraldic flag, Kirby dots erupting from the center. Utterly genre-busting and amazing.

  7. Don’t get me started on Kirby! I understand his importance of course, but by the time he started all those series for DC (Kamandi; New Gods; the Demon et) it was like he was phoning it in. He was trying to do too much and it became all extreme foreshortening all the time and dramaturgy till the cows of Valhalla came home”Lo! There shall be an ending!”Earlier Marvel-era Kirby (Fantastic Four et) was great, especially the 100th issue in which Reed and Sue get married (which is still freakin’ hilarious). But to fess up, I am a dyed in the wool DC SILVER AGE geek, especially the sci-fi sorta stuff like Green Lantern and (swoon) Adam Strange. I am also a HUGE Magnus Robot Fighter

    fan (Gold Key:love the Russ Manning clean lines on Leeja’s translucent space-age mini-skirt). I am one of those uber-geeks who like 50s era Batman more than Dark Knight (and afterwards) and am forever saddened that the future doesn’t look like one of those Carmine Infantino futuristic cities always seen in the distant horizon when the Flash traveled to the future. All that said, you just can’t beat Chris Ware and Dan Clowes for what they did to the medium, Chris especially.

    God! I am SUCH a geek!Look what you have started by mentioning Kirby! To me (no disrespect) later Kirby is to comics what Hanna-Barbera is to animation.


  8. BTW: for those of you who are not familiar with Adam Strange or Carmine Infantino, see:

    for a view of a distant futuristic city that Infantino was known for.

    Where, oh where is my jet pack? What happened to that future? Funny that no 50s-60s comic ever foresaw the Internet or blogs. It was all cool suits with head fins, intergalactic love affairs and JET PACKS. Lots of jet packs.

    Mark, jet-pack deprived

    BACK TO CATHERINE’S WORK: CATHERINE: is there a show in the future for all these Rhesus works? It is truly an amazing, complex series that needs to be viewed in toto but also discussed.

  9. Yes! I want to hear about a future show(s) of your work Catherine! I love how your work brings up some killer conversations. I’ve enjoyed lurking in on the comment section of your blog. The bully conversations interest me as well as the ‘alpha’ behavior stuff. I’m forever anti-bully and forever resistant to ‘alpha’ types. Sometimes to a fault.

  10. Alina:
    Wouldn’t you say that only alphas really LIKE alphas? Everyone not an alpha always resists an alpha. And is alpha just another polite name for a bully? AND: What can FIGHT CLUB tell us about this?

    CATHERINE’S WORK: in an ideal world, it would great to have a show of her Rhesus work with a panel discussion invloving various artists (Catherine’s choice), THE ARTIST of course, an experimental neurologist; a primatologist; a cognitive psychologist; if you can find one: a reasonable animal rights person who can talk and debate and not shout: may be impossible to locate; and probably a psycho-therapist with a Jungian background, and maybe an expert on the Ramayana to add the historical color commentary. CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT WOULD COME OF THAT?

    Mark, in another life, Talent Manager for the Roman Games.

  11. BTW: Jesse:
    Do you know how great it is to read on this blog that someone even KNOWS Jack Kirby? And if you haven’t read it yet check out KIRBY: KING OF COMICS by Mark Evanier. The cover is just one humongeous foreshortened fist punching through a wall at the viewer to the tune of “Waaaam!” OK, to me it would have been better if it was to the tune of “Wake me up when you go-go”. But that’s me.
    Hope your days are going to be better,

  12. Hi,

    I’ve been on another planet. A planet of very tiny scratched lines. I’ve been immersed in studio, in other words, trying to push the scratchboard drawings away from illustration land and into something a little different. Less is more, make it my own, that kind of thing. Problem is, economy of scratch marks means that each and every one of the lines has to be pretty much exactly how you want it. Fussy medium. Stressful. And, as always, loaded with potential cheesiness and “pictorial” banality.

    Love the comic thread. I used to collect some comics, but have to admit I loved The Dark Knight, Moonshadow, Electra… Yeah, I know. But the combination of Moonshadow and the Cocteau Twins was too much for my teenage hormones to resist. The two are completely (synesthetically?) linked to this day.

    Chris Ware makes me very happy as well.

    Re: exhibits: I am “shopping around” right now, having people over for studio visits, getting drenched in art world b.s., going to openings and parties when I’m up for it. Doing the dance – I’ll keep you guys informed!

  13. Ouch! Too much good stuff to talk about. Mark, you’re probably right about Kirby’s plots. I guess what I like is the ideas, the atmosphere, the machines that are like non-Euclidean Platonic ideals: pictures of machines that don’t look anything like actual machines but are more recognizable as quintessentially machinelike than any real-life machine you’ve ever seen.

    (And you’re dead-on with the Evanier. I bought it the day it came out.) I also love the idea of the rhesus panel discussion.

    I’ve got to tie up Kirby quicker than I’d like because of some thoughts that Cathy’s post inspires:

    1) The idea of getting every line perfect. Dave Sim was saying the exact same thing about a very different type of project, the photorealistic Glamourpuss. Check it out here:

    2) Heroes on the fringes of the Marvel/DC universes. Moonshadow especially is a great example: for me it’s (as I said) Dr. Strange and the Silver Surfer and a few others. Something about the fact that they’re less popular letting us claim them as “ours” more easily?

    3) Synesthesia is a great topic that I’d like to see more about. Music associated with a time period is interesting enough (like Cathy, I was a huge Cocteau Twins fan as a teenager, but a friend of mine thinks of HEAVEN OR LAS VEGAS as freshman-year-in-college music), but music associated with art or food or comics would be even better.

    4) Cocteau Twins! I was and am still a huge fan. I’d also be interested in people commenting on the way their musical tastes have evolved. Up until college, I barely listened to anything that wasn’t 4AD. (Dead Can Dance are still my all-time favorites: Lisa Gerrard is the second woman I ever fell in love with and is, I think, one of the greatest creative talents of the century.) Around 2000, I started listening to electronica and dance music (mostly centered around UK Garage), which became my world for years and is still a huge influence. Saved my life, as the song says.

    So, is that enough to talk about? ;)

  14. Back from atlasing. No bears, just coyotes dammit!. This area in HAWLEY is amazing, and I have done all the work getting it declared an IBA (Important Bird Area). There is a network of questionable dirt roads into Dubuque SF (remember, I am still quite a bit wobbly and weak-legged, but I am getting better, if damnably slowly, so I need roads, if even bad ones)that lead to breeding Swainson’s Thrushes and Mourning Warblers, and so many breeding Blackburnian Warblers its hard to believe. We also seem to be on the verge of confirming MA first state breeding record of Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. The Swainson’s, Mourning and Yellow-bellied Fly are all species more common in northern Maine of New Hampshire and are state-listed species here. This is as far south as they get as breeders. We recorded 97 species breeding in two small blocks. This is a place I have wanted to show Catherine since I met her. The dirt roads run through extremely deep mixed forest (lots of hemlocks, spruce) and often on one side is a huge wooded precipice down to a mythic cascading stream. Nearby is Hawley Bog with 8 species of orchids and 3 species of carnivorous plants. Bears, Moose and Fisher are around. Cool.

    DARK KNIGHT: it’s a generational thing. Yeah I read it and the others, but it didn’t have the kick the Silver Age stuff did for me at least. I often find the new stuff too calculated in it’s drama, overwraught. But look at me, I’m reading Hawkman!

    COCTEAU TWINS: I have to agree. There was something about the summer of HEAVEN OR LAS VEGAS that was dreamy erotic. That’s one of those groups I have gone back to, and thier music is still interesting and great to listen too.

    MY AGES OF MUSIC: Beatles; ROLLING STONES (only real early stuff); all 60′s Brit Pop/Brit Invasion (I still swoon over NEEDLES AND PINS by the Searchers.); The complete Mo-Town catalogue; found the Beach Boys “ironic”; Hendrix (saw live: it was as amazing as you can imagine); The Who (saw them live perform Tommy); Janis (saw live too); the usual psychedelic bands; Poco; discovered Neil Young early on and forgot Poco and Crosby et (Hello Cowgirl In the Sand changed my listening habits) true story: missed WOODSTOCK (friends went) cuz I didn’t think it would be that great (thwack of palm to forehead); Had Leonard Cohen throw up on my sneakers; Met Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention and made them burgers at the Student Union; saw Captain Beefheart; musically lost for about 6 years there; JONATHAN RICHMAN AND THE MODERN LOVERS and THE TUBES (major turning point in life: seeing NOBODY EVER CALLED PABLO PICASSO AN ASSHOLE as well as Fee Waybill of the Tubes singing “Town Without Pity” (Gene Pitney) in a bathrobe while applying cold cream as an encore); joined WICN alt rock dept JUST BEFORE Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, Ramones, and everyhting else happeend and had it happen on my watch while on the air: just too much fun to even begin to describe. Got to meet all the bands. Almost ran away with the Brit lead singer of the Passions; Met a lot of idiot. but me a lot of very nice people too. HARDCORE punk (How Much Art Can You Take? by SS Decontrol was my anthem; was moshed many times); Lene Lovich; was set to see JOY DIVISION with the whole department when you know what happened; settled for New Order several years later; SMITHS (still a Mos fan); Ska; reggae (got to interview genuien stars like Mutabaruka and never understood a word they said); brought the Stray Cats to Worcester; Sheila made them lasagna; brought my son to B-52′s, his first concert; yada yada yada yada: Run DMC; Public Enemy; NIRVANA (by now most of the former rock staff was working in the music biz in Seattle); teaching and getting older meant giving up DJing till 4AM; second Brit Alt Invasion: Pulp; Belle and Sebastian; Karma Coma; Everyhting But The Girl; Bjork; Portishead; Oasis; then rapidly stuff like The Eels; CSS; Ghostland Observatory; Supercollider; The Shinns; MIA; Weezer; the list is endless. And throw in th entire history of jazz until 1970 or so, especially Be-bop. Love the Nicholas Brothers.

    Mark, must shower

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