New podcast w/Paul B. Rainey, Fool on The Hill, lots of links, unshareable art, & more
I’d hardly call anything I do triumphant, but I did make my return to Capitol Hill yesterday, for a series of meetings with Congressional staff (a few more this morning, then train home to NJ). I hadn’t done this since Feb. 28, 2020, but fell right back into it, with my local lobbyist acting as sherpa to get me from office to office.
I can’t go into the stuff we discussed [if you care, here’s my day job], but there were some fruitful conversations, even if my lobbyist did say to one staffer, “When you’re working on [topic X], remember that Gil has all the answers.”
I do not, in fact, have all the answers, but I learned early on to say, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I can get you someone who does.” Still, they all showed real interest in the sector that I represent, and seemed to get that it would be good to bring me & my member companies into the legislative process, rather than pass something inadvertently damaging. (Or advertently, I guess.)
At the end of the day, I had to walk across the Capitol to get to my hotel, and passed numerous Congresspeople along the way, including some of your least favorites. I stayed civil, as is my wont, but I only nodded/smiled at the ones I liked.
And now, on with The Virtual Memories Show!
This week, I posted Episode 525 of The Virtual Memories Show, featuring cartoonist Paul B. Rainey as we talk about his fantastic new graphic novel, Why Don’t You Love Me? (Drawn & Quarterly), and how he crafted a deeply human story out of a deeply weird premise, taking the reader from bleak, black humor to the most heartfelt moment of connection. We get into the challenges of serializing this story over 6-plus years, the ways in which science fiction can help us reframe our day-to-day lives, the midlife meltdown that led to the creation of My Imaginary Band, and the ways Why Don’t You Love Me? explores what it’s like to look at one’s life and ask, “How did I get here?” We also talk about the perils of writing a story with such a great twist that it’s difficult to talk about (spoiler alert!), the amazing experience of being published by D&Q after years of self-publishing his comics, the amazing experience of getting a blurb from Neil Gaiman, why he’s never watched Groundhog Day, how Planet of the Apes either ruined or fulfilled his life, how he finally came around on Krazy Kat, and a lot more! Give it a listen! And go read Why Don’t You Love Me?
Last week, I posted Episode 524 of The Virtual Memories Show, featuring artist and illustrator Thomas Woodruff as we celebrated his amazing new graphic opera, Francis Rothbart! The Tale of a Fastidious Feral (Fantagraphics). We got into how Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan floored him and inspired him to make this 300-page extravaganza, what it was like to finally make a comic after decades of critiquing them, and how living through the AIDS crisis forced an emotionalism into his art. We talked about the terrible glamour of his art, his predilection for making series of works (like his 365 paintings of apples and his ongoing series of apocalyptic, graceful dinosaur paintings), and why he treats teaching drawing is like a religious rite. We also discussed his legacy and why he retired from the School of Visual Arts after 20 years of chairing the Illustration and Cartooning departments, the story of his first tattoo, and more! Give it a listen! And go read Francis Rothbart! The Tale of a Fastidious Feral!
Links & Such
RIP Melinda Dillon . . . RIP Bob Orben . . . RIP Ronald Blythe
Willard Spiegelman (2013, 2016, 2018, and with whom I have to schedule for a followup for Nothing Stays Put, his upcoming bio of Amy Clampitt) reviews Why Dance Matters.
Ross Benjamin in NYT on translating Kafka’s diaries and “groping and straining to make sense of Kafka’s groping and straining to make sense”.
Steven Heller’s (2018, 2019, 2020, 2022) appreciation of design pops up even when he’s in the midst of medical anxiety.
Apparently, Patrick McDonnell’s 2023 incudes collaborations with The Dalai Lama and Jack Kirby. Really need to get him back on the show soon.
John Leland profiles the professor who contends NYC is in a Doom Cycle. A few weeks ago I mentioned that we’re watching Barney Miller reruns in the evenings, and let me tell you, that show portrayed some pretty bleak/apocalyptic conditions for NYC.
If I went past the first few paragraphs of this piece on the midlife crises of NYC women of privilege, I’d be wading into hate-read territory, which is something I try to avoid.
On the other hand, I found this survey-interview of Taliban members from the hinterlands who can’t deal with their new urban office lives in Kabul pretty funny. In both cases, YMMV.
A friend sent me this harrowing cancer memoir by mystery writer Steve Womack, which makes me think “friend” may not be the appropriate term.
Abraham Josephine Riesman shared a beautiful note from Tom Spurgeon, a few months before Tom's death in 2019
Septology, book VII - by Jon Fosse
I Always Think It’s Forever - by Timothy Goodman
The Destroyer of Worlds: A Return To Lovecraft Country - Matt Ruff
I sketched some things, but don’t feel like scanning & sharing any of them. On last week’s guest’s advice, I put down my Micron pens & their uniform lines and took up some brush pens so I could feel the lines more. On next week’s guest’s advice, I started trying to capture more of the areas of tension in my sleeping doggo’s slack-ass body. And overlaying all that is my general sense of doubt, self-criticism, and anxiety about just drawing something again. Maybe I’ll pull out of that spiral soon. I hope it’s not a Doom Cycle like that prediction about NYC. Maybe I’ll even draw something on the train home; I brought some art-gear & sketchbooks just in case. Anyway, you should go to the Flickr album of all the art I’ve made & find something you like.
Sound Body, Fractured Mind
I managed another 5-day cycle of weights & yoga, Friday-Tuesday. I haven’t been eating great, so I feel a little fat, but it’s nothing you’d notice. I got in a few walks in the past week, too. I’m going to try to figure out some new exercises to work into my routine, so I can get some variety and inflate other heretofore uninflated muscles.
Until Next Week
Thanks for reading this far! I’ll be back next with a new podcast, fun links, maybe some art, & maybe a little profundity or something.
We’re the slaves of the phony leaders / Breathe the air we have blown you,
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