Been feeling unmoored lately. The gravitational force of whatever I imagined is holding me to solid ground is weakening beneath me. The great Photoshop Jockey in the sky has reduced my opacity to 50%. Moving that slider with his fiery finger, and having slid, moves on. Is this how it’s going to be? There’s a sense of wonder at the core, but the edges are curling into brittle self-pity. Am I drifting into “bottoms of my trousers rolled” country? Exposing my pathetic ankles (which the dominatrix valiantly tried to strengthen, to no avail)? I must dig into my desk-drawer detritus and find an old hallucinogen and demand answers! Until then, I’ll see how uncontrollable sobbing works. Yeah, I know, #firstworldproblems. #fuckyou.
This is a drawing that will forever remain unfinished. I lost track of the photo that was supplied me, and even who did the supplying. My suspicion is that this is a phenomenon I had better get used to, as my synapses wink out like dying stars, causing me to
The past is the past. We hurtle through the eternal present. There is a certain amount of continuity, but not nearly as much as we think there is. The physical content of our bodies is totally replaced every…well, some figure that would astound you; I’m too lazy to look it up. Well, I was. That moment’s over. All typing should be done in the past tense: by the time the words appear onscreen, the moment’s passed. I was tiping this. Now I was typing this. I mean THEN I was typing this. Actually the present is even faster than my thoughts, such as they are. Were. I’m gaving myself a headache. I think I will have stopped now/then.
This is a lot more interesting than the photos that were hastily taped to the walls: apparently a shower of ions or whatever, probably from sunspots, caused everyone’s hair to head instantaneously gravity-wise, like a dry cloudburst. It was spooky. See, if I was a Republican, I probably would have guessed that God inflicted this straight-hair plague upon us because of gay marriage, but I look for the scientific explanation first.
Tonight instead of sitting on the porch looking at Facebook on my iPhone I decided to just sit on the porch and watch my street. The first thing I noticed was that several of the cars that were parked head to tail along the street left, one by one. I would hear an electro-metallic chizzle, then a silver car would quietly glide away. An electro-metallic chizzle, then a beige car would glide away. An electro-metallic chizzle, then another silver car would back up a few feet, then quietly glide away. Maybe their drivers had just had enough. The next thing I noticed was the ambient noise of the insects. Building like a wave, then receding. And the whole time you couldn't see a thing. All that invisible noise! It made me think. The next thing I noticed was the voices drifting over from the patio of the pizza place across the street. The women's voices carried the best. And I could see parts of people through the tree limbs as they came out to smoke or talk on their cell phones. Moving pieces of legs and shirts and stuff like a mosaic or whatnot. Then I noticed that all the branches in all the trees were moving constantly, as if they were living things, which I guess they are technically. Then I noticed that things were harder to see, which meant it was getting darker, even though the sky still seemed pretty light. The trees were getting more solid. And the cars pulling away put their lights on. And then I decided to go inside. Okay, I cheated a little bit. I did have my iPhone out and I typed all this while I was noticing it. That still counts, doesn't it?
Without light, night is nothing. You can see how thirsty the night is for light. A walk around the block at 11 pm is measured by light spills poured out on the ground. Some say Abe Lincoln lay in the mud and read by spilled light, but I don't believe it. The internet is rich with things not to believe. It's ruining belief with created things. Something is very very wrong with my synapses. But I know the cure.
No, no no, that's just click bait. No baby bumps today, just reportage on the blossoming of CSDG with the addition of Bernard, Devon, Natalie, and Jen and kids, joining Kathy, Kristena, Jacob and Emily. Sadly, Kristena will soon be abandoning us for--of all places--Nashville. So we need a replacement. Another sweet, kind, talented person would be nice. But a rude, loud, hopelessly untalented person would be fine too.
It's getting ready to rain. The liquor is bought. Large cars are angling in the small parking lot, in a hurry to get home with the liquor. Later, in another parking lot, the rain falls on the shopping cart full of paper bags full of food. The rain is brought inside. The sky is no longer worth looking at, let alone being photographed. Fuck that sky and its promises.
Crack Skull Bob cannot do Lydia Davis. Crack Skull Bob cannot even do Crack Skull Bob. But what else is there to do? I hear footsteps.
B. Kliban has always been one of my favorite cartoonists, and I was reminded the other day of his fine book, "whack Your Porcupine". I used to have all his books, but like almost all of my possessions from more than ten years ago, they've all disappeared down a black hole. If there is a God, He seems to be Hell-bent on obliterating my history, but that's another story. Okay, Kliban. I went to Amazon, repository of every material thing anyone could possibly want, looking for a replacement copy of Whack Your Porcupine. And was shocked to find that it was $80! I guess I'm glad that he's valued so highly, but $80! And why are his books out of print anyway? So anyway, here are a few of his cartoons from that book:
This is clearly the yard of a person who doesn’t like the way foliage grows naturally. Makes you wonder what her you-know-what looks like, doesn’t it? No? Oops, sorry. Yeah, I know there’s a long history of nature-shaping, and sure, stuff need to be trimmed to co-exist with us in our traffic-congested fume-choked garbage-strewn concrete and asphalt world, but for me the pleasure of seeing a bit of natural effusion is missing from a tree like this one. What I like about the presence of nature in our sterile grid of urbanity is the way it grows by its own rules, and fuck us. It sprouts from cracks, it runs up telephone poles, it brings down power lines, it heaves up sidewalks from underneath, and it infuriates lawn Nazis. It’s like Anonymous without the pompous pronouncements and Guy Fawkes masks. And it will probably return in force once we have succeeded in our long-term societal erotic asphyxiation.
From the archives, a series of illustrated anagrams. The funny thing is, I can't remember the original word(s) that these were anagrams of. So they're now just free-floating anagrams, kind of like the space junk you read about, out there in space, just bobbing around untethered. I'm proud to have made my small contribution to the word junk floating around in the great void. The end.
I’m just coming out of an extended blue period. Or going into one, I forget. At any rate, blues, don’t you dampen my door. Parking-garage scenarios I can handle, the wide scatter and whatnot. Doorways, though, are more like sphincters or permeable membranes. I’m in the vicinity now. I understand the situation. But it’s not the right one. I’d charge right through the door, if I knew which side of it I’m on. Alternatively, I can dick with old drawings from earlier times, when things were either better or worse. Case in point.
I was down in the catacombs chasing away the nutria when I came across these rare, never-before-seen--well, I-forget-when-before-seen--watercolor drawings from figure drawing group, and I was so stunned I sat on the nutria. But my loss is your gain!
Feast your eyes on these babies while I try to rescue that pesky testicle. These sketches bear witness to a time when I would actually attend drawing sessions, armed only with the bare necessities, a pad and a brush, and barely hesitated as I proceeded to bare my soul on paper, exposing my ego to the possibility of stark failure, dealing a blow to my naked ambition. Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you.
No, this is not about Kate's fucking baby bump diary. I'm just trying to punch up my numbers with the distaff demographic. God knows my numbers could use punching up. They're not just low, they've become negative. Women who have never heard of my blog have vowed never to visit it, should they be informed of its existence.
So no baby bumps today. What I'm doing today is recycling some old bits from 2006, on the assumption that all my readers from back in the early days have grown old and died, or have finally been apprehended by the authorities and are growing old in a maximum security venue without Internet access, or have their faces planted in a bowl of mushy peas while Ellen blares from the day room tv.
In 2006, I was still working in an office, in a room without windows. I was still a few years away from meeting the people who punted me out of my doldrums. My blog and its drawings were my only escape. I was like a Mennonite woman who, in the midst of the plainest of lives, exuded flamboyant quilts. And that’s the only way I’m like a Mennonite woman, I hasten to add. My output has lost some of that flamboyance these days, but it’s a small price to pay. I think.
This is my Master Plan for the three or four inches remaining in my Whole Nine Yards. As Master Plans go, it’s pretty inscrutable, even to me, because my Original Master Plan didn’t include learning how to craft a scrutable Master Plan. But I forgive myself, since I was only three at the time, and my Original Master Plan consisted mainly of strategies for collecting toys. Which goes a long way towards explaining why I sit here today surrounded by piles of random toys and little else. If you look at it a certain way, my Original Master Plan was phenomenally successful, since I’m still alive and I have toys. It’s only when you look at it one of the hundred million other ways that it’s seen as a failure, the kind of failure that the word abject was created for. If abjectest were a word, then it would be the perfect word for the slot currently occupied by abject, but it hasn’t, as far as I know. So anyway. My New Master Plan, presented here, is intended to carry me from my squalor and toys into a bright new future of...well, I don’t know, I haven’t gotten to that part yet. Phase One was to assemble elements that, together, made no sense whatsoever, and go from there. I’m pretty comfortable with Phase One: nonsense makes few demands of one, don’t you find? It’s the next part that has me nervously biting my knuckles, or would, if I were a fully-realized adult. I just hope it doesn’t feature linoleum-lined hallways smelling faintly of urine. That would be abject.
My mother kept a journal of sorts when we were kids, into which she pasted news clippings, wrote down jokes she liked, and where she stuck cartoons by her brother Donnie. I used to sneak looks at the journal (some of the jokes were what they used to call “risqué”, and she frowned on unsupervised browsing) and I came across this cartoon by Uncle Don. I must have been five or six, and was in the middle of my first artistic period, feverishly drawing soldiers shooting each other, houses with the front door on the ground floor and all the windows on the second floor and the chimney coming out of the roof at an angle, and cars which rolled on the tops of their wheels. Uncle Don’s cartoon was a revelation! Here was a grown man doing this stuff! Was it possible that I didn’t have to go in the army and then get a job in a factory and be a dull grown-up reading the paper and filling his pipe with tobacco? Could I draw cartoons my whole life? Uncle Don had already cultivated a black-sheep reputation in the family. He wrecked his car, he was caught drinking, he smoked (well, they all smoked) and he flunked out of college. When he visited us, his wicked smile lit up our cloister like Lenny Bruce walking into a cathedral. When he began a joke, we’d cast nervous glances at Dad, wondering how long he’d let it go on before shutting things down.
But Uncle Don loved Mom and Dad. Mom we could understand. She was his sister, after all. His affection for Dad made us shake our heads in wonder. One of my favorite moments in the last twenty years was at my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party, where they had chosen Donny as their keynote speaker. Here, in the middle of comfortable middle-aged church-going Ohio, he gave a speech that would have made Don Rickles livid with envy. It was a joy to see these people stunned by his ribaldry and “dirty words”. When he began riffing on Mom and Dad having oral sex on the dining room table, there were audible gasps. It was a beautiful moment.
Several years later, when Dad died, Uncle Don flew in from the West Coast to be with him. When Dad left, Donny cried.
Now it’s Uncle Don’s turn. He died Sunday. I wasn’t close to him; we rarely talked. But there’s an Uncle Don inside me. He gave me permission to draw funny pictures for a living. He told me it was not the end of the world to flunk out of college. He taught me the pleasures of being scandalous among stuffed shirts. He’ll live as long as I do.
Flying over the mountainous terrain of New Zealand, preparing to jump--okay, never mind, it's just some shit on the waterfront. And it was yesterday, not today. And my name isn't really Crack Skull Bob. And this world is an illusion.
Hard to call this reportage when it covers an event that took place a year ago, but I’m going to call it reportage anyway, because it’s my blog and I can. These sketches were distributed internally when it happened, and I had forgotten about them until just now. So now you can view them, totally free of any context. Fun, huh?
This is the little fish pond in our backyard. There are lots of goldfish in it. Hot weather, cold weather, they’re always there. And we don’t do a thing. I mean I avoid peeing in it, as tempting as that is, so I guess that’s something. But I don’t put fish food in there, or pour hot water in it when it’s freezing cold and whatnot. But there they are, swimming around like crazy. That’s my idea of a miracle. Even more of one than the time I was really really hungry for a Whopper but I was broke, and then I found a $10 bill in my coat pocket!! Okay, maybe not more of a miracle than that, but pretty close. Not enough of one to trick me into believing in God, though. There are leagues and leagues of superheroes who could keep goldfish alive in an untended pond, I bet. At least that’s the kind of thing my geeky art friends debate after drawing group. Now if I looked in there and saw a salmon, that might tend to sway me. Or if I got really hungry for some Cheetos and found a million dollars in my pocket. That might do it.