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New podcast w/Noah Van Sciver, thoughts on family + time on the Acela, a little art & more
I’m on a train to Washington for some afternoon lobbying visits. The wifi’s awful today (it’s been better recently), so no idea when I’ll be able to post this. I woke up way too early (from too much noshing yesterday, not because of the train schedule) and am hoping some just-about-expired armodafinil keeps me cruising well enough at 8 or 9 tonight to make the drive home safely.
I’m in the Quiet Car, but some young businessman’s gabbing on the phone a few seats away. I’m boxed in by the passenger next to me, otherwise I’d have already gone train-rage on his ass.
As mentioned last week, I went to St. Louis to see my family after a 6-year gap. I was glad to see everyone again, and look forward to getting back out there for my niece’s bat mitzvah next August. I wasn’t as tedious as I feared I’d be, although I noticed that my most animated mode came when I talked about some demented pharma-related stuff from work.
My niece told me how puzzled she was about my two distinct lives: pharma and podcast. Because people aren’t supposed to have two jobs like that. I told her in simple-ish terms why it’s important to have some personal passion no matter how encompassing one’s professional world is, and how each side benefits from the other, and then compared it to her father’s Bruce Springsteen fandom.
When people ask me, “How are you so productive?”, I usually tell them, “I don’t drink, I have no social life, and I don’t have kids.” I don’t mention the OCD, anxiety, shame, and other stuff that helps me keep this up.
But I suppose I should point to that 6-year gap between family visits as one of the many tradeoffs necessary for me to find enough hours in the day to waste.
Baltimore coming up; time to hit Send & see what happens.
Here’s me & some of my family last Sunday, incl. my mother who’s apparently auditioning for the role of Roy Orbison.
HOUSEKEEPING: I’m gonna send an extra e-mail later this week that’s just about the chat-threads I’ve started, and Substack’s new Notes feature, which is kinda like Twitter, but you only follow accounts whose newsletters you subscribe to.
This week, I posted Episode 534 of The Virtual Memories Show, feat. an Artist’s Spotlight with Noah Van Sciver, live from MoCCA Fest 2023! I host a live session with Noah (with audience Q&A) to talk about his career in comics, his return to autobiography with his new Maple Terrace comic (Uncivilized Books), what his graphic biography of Joseph Smith taught him about comics, when he realized/accepted he was Alt and not Mainstream, and the great wisdom his father gave him about comics (and how his dad named one of his sisters about a character from a Conan comic). We also get into looking at 40 and how it compares to the comic he did about turning 30, why ex-Mormons appreciate his Joseph Smith bio, the challenges of getting work done as a father, the influence of Kerouac and the Beats on his writing and art, the original comic art that made him plotz, his sense of obligation to share the work of older artists, and plenty more. Give it a listen! And go check out Maple Terrace & listen to our 2022 conversation!
Last week, I posted Episode 533 of The Virtual Memories Show, feat. Dr. Stevan M. Weine and his amazing, illuminating and important new book, BEST MINDS: How Allen Ginsberg Made Revolutionary Poetry From Madness (Fordham University Press),. We get into the nexus of poetry, suffering and trauma that enveloped Ginsberg’s life, what it took for him to write Howl, and his mother Naomi’s schizophrenia and what it meant for him to wrestle with it in Kaddish. We talk about the history of psychiatry, the legacy of some truly terrible practices, and what lies ahead for the field, the discoveries he made in the Ginsberg family’s psychiatric records, the power of self-mythology, and how Ginsberg balanced on the fine line between madness and great art. Plus, we discuss Ginsberg’s activism and advocacy, the impact of his best-known poems on the public’s understanding of mental illness, and a lot more. Give it a listen! And go read Best Minds!
Links & Such
That pic above is me & Al at the Society of Illustrators in 2017. I pitched him on a podcast later but he turned me down. After I took that pic, I was walking to the bathroom and a guy said to me, “Excuse me, but is that Al Jaffee?” I told him it was, and he said, “Oh, my god, he was the biggest influence on my whole sense of humor,” so I told him, “Go over there, introduce yourself, and tell him. He’ll appreciate it; trust me.”
Kinda interesting profile of Edward Jay Epstein and the contingency of life.
How to organize your books. If you’re a monster.
FYI, I haven’t updated it in a while, but here’s the Virtual Memories site on Bookshop.
Sure, it’s from a drug company, but this CLL support site’s pretty good, speaking as someone who has CLL (stage zero, no treatment).
V. - by Thomas Pynchon
On Christopher Street - Michael Denneny
I made a couple of quick sketches, but really didn’t give myself time to draw. On the trip, I sketched a little bird. Can’t remember when. Maybe it was during the flight, although that would’ve made my lines even bumpier. It’s a Connecticut warbler, from a photo by Caleb Crain at Green-Wood Cemetery last September. You should go to the Flickr album of most of the art I’ve made & find something you like.
Sound Body, Fractured Mind
Only got in 2 days of my weights & yoga cycle, Monday-Tuesday, because of last weekend’s travel (+ the ongoing serious pain from my toe procedure last Tuesday). I didn’t even get my morning floor-routine in, as I don’t trust hotel floors. I thought about reverting to a Mon-Fri workout schedule starting this week, but I’m used to weights-workout and mega-flex Accountability Photo on Sundays, so I’ll stick with my current routine.
Until Next Week
Thanks for reading this far! I’ll be back next with a new podcast, great links, some art, & maybe a little profundity or something.
I remember being richer than a king / The minutes of the day were golden,