Sunday, November 27, 2016

Space Utilization

It doesn't take much to get me excited, does it?

I bought a new fruit basket off Etsy, and BBF took me to the Despot, where we found the right anchor and hung this on my last trip home.

I love it! But of course, I'm not there. I'm in a rental in Hollywood, and my bananas live in a bowl on the windowsill here.

What I need now is a small hanging pot rack to go over the gas burners.






Saturday, November 26, 2016

Cracking Fun

Check out this exciting project waiting for me in my Jersey City basement.

Yeah, I'm gonna have some fun in the spring!


Saturday, November 19, 2016

It's All Gonna Be Okay

“It’ll be okay,” people say. They come from all corners, the left, the right, in-between.

We adapt quickly, forgetting how it felt before, a month ago, a year ago, last decade. I remember 2006 only with benchmarks. Kuwait. Visa runs to Bahrain, to Sinai. Selling an apartment in Jersey City.  

It’ll be okay, because we adapt and continue, no matter how not-okay things become. Even in Mosul, people continue to exist. Even in Aleppo, people laugh as well as cry.

And tonight, I was sick of chasing fruit flies in my apartment, so I went to a coffee shop, stopped at the supermarket, saw the Indian woman who threads eyebrows for seven dollars, and walked along Hollywood Boulevard, thinking about how “okay” is just getting up every day with food, water, and power.  Will we interrupt our migrant-worker food chain, bomb people for no clear reason, incite hatred, cut taxes on billionaires and the filthy-rich?

We might.

Will we mobilize?

We may.

Or will we adapt and not notice when redistricting gets a little worse, similar to how we do little as the environment changes incrementally?

Likely.

We’ll keep calling Senators, writing the mayor, and posting links about how easy humans are to hack. We’ll march on Washington, we’ll march on New York, we’ll march on MacArthur Park until no one ever talks about cake in the rain ever again. Some of us will quietly check the expiration dates on our passports, look at multiple routes to Mexico, to Canada, to Terminal Island.

We’ll keep working, making our rent and mortgage payments, getting haircuts, shopping for jeans that don’t make a muffin top, and trying to eat more vegetables in case Rome doesn’t burn. But it will be, in the end, okay, simply because we will adapt to whatever reality we get, whether it is the same as now or as bad as our favorite apocalypse movie. 

Because that’s what humans do.

On Hollywood Boulevard, I thought about the definition of okay as I put my feet down over the stars of Melissa Gilbert, Lowell Thomas, Eddie Albert, and celebrities long forgotten. I stopped at Alex Trebek and looked up at sunset over Los Angeles.

Tomorrow could bring anything. Let’s hope for a bit of luck, and keep mobilizing, doing all these little things, being the fruit flies in the White House dining room, until we run out of ideas.




Monday, November 14, 2016

Nostalgia

Opposite ends of the Nile here—first is Kampala (2005), second is Cairo (2007). 
I've been at a regular job for a while now, and this week, facing reality without being able to diminish it with an airplane ticket and a rental abroad, I've been nostalgic for the times I could.



Friday, November 11, 2016

Multiple Choice

What do you see in this photo?
  1. Poverty. 
  2. Pity. 
  3. A place I should volunteer though I have no professional skills. 
  4. The best way from A to B where roads do not exist. 
The answer is, of course, #4.

For a long time, I wrote travel books and articles and daily accounts about experiences. I had a few goals, but the most important one was to DEMYSTIFY THE OTHER. Demystify the world. Demystify travel. Demystify the shapeless mass called humanity in places outside of our daily lives. Demonstrate that the travel porn industry is just silly, that there is no exoticism in THE OTHER, that the Noble Savage myth is absurd, that humanity is just you, but in a hut with fewer available channels and more beans. I succeeded with my audience, which unfortunately wasn't all that large.

I reach more people now as an editor—we do not hold back in our material there either. But with travel, I always tried to show that people are pretty much the same around the world and that things that seem impossible are really just a series of small, mostly inconvenient steps.

 The real question here is not multiple choice. It's how do you encourage people to develop critical thinking skills, to learn to dig into something they overhear or inherently believe, at least enough to question assumptions just enough to grasp the world is nuanced?

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Good-byes

You know how you get those middle of the night missed calls, and you hope it's a bar-butt-call, but it never is?

I had one of those recently, and the morning "Call me immediately" sealed the deal. Something awful had happened. And I was on a plane to Oakland, having gotten the news while on the runway on a cheap-o airline without in-flight wifi.

As the plane ascended into the sky, I started thumb-typing on my phone, jotting down some memories of artist Steve Dillon. None of them worked quite right, but they all had bits and pieces of things I wanted to say.

Partial Ramble #1:

Back in June of 1991, a few years before Vertigo launched, I was at over at the competition, finding my way past my Akira and Moebius reprints, looking for a way to distinguish my comics. 

I found one when Carl Potts returned from UKCAC. He'd met an artist there, Steve Dillon, and we had a limited series needing a team. Maybe I'd like to try him out. 

The series was called Car Warriors--it was based on a game. You probably don't remember it. But I remember it, because it came out pretty well in spite of its questionable source material.

Steve enlisted a friend to do finishes, Phil Winslade. Phil sent me samples by a British writer he knew, one Warren Ellis, and my comics stable, and possibly the entire medium, took a screeching turn at that moment.


Partial Ramble #2: 

One night, after midnight in the early 2000s, I flew into Newark from San Diego Comic-Con, got my car from the long-term lot, and drove to my apartment in Jersey City, only to find my key didn't work. I'd made a copy in San Diego and given the original to John McCrea who'd been planning to arrive there before I did, and the copy just didn't work. John was nowhere to be found. 

I got back in my car and drove straight to Openers. Or Johnny Fox's, whatever it was at the time. I figured McCrea would be there along with my key. 

He wasn't, but Steve Dillon was. He was a little surprised to see me--I don't even drink--but he welcomed me and we chatted for an hour. It was so fun to talk to Steve--he was so easygoing, friendly, open. He was in his element, planted at the bar, never a table, never making the social rounds. Steve didn't feel the need to circulate and make small talk. Wherever he went, he emanated a kind of habitat, radiating out a comfort zone. "This is Dillon-land. Stop by for a visit."

I forgot about my key and we just chatted about this and that for a hour, until finally, I called and woke up Yancey, who had my emergency spare, and got home around three. 

I don't get home that late anymore--that's probably the last time I was out truly late. I'd think fondly back on that night for years, any time I went into a bar and didn't know anyone.

Partial Ramble #3: 

The phone on my desk rang three weeks ago, the display showing a UK number. So few people use the phone, and even fewer call me from the UK, so I was surprised. 

Years ago--before email, before texting, before Skype, heck, before Marvelution brought the industry to the edge of ruin--my desk phone rang all the time from country code 44. 
This was before Preacher, before Vertigo, before the British Invasion of US comics was fully in force. Steve Dillon was penciling a comic for me, one called Car Warriors, based on a game. He'd enlisted a guy he knew, Phil Winslade, to do finishes. Phil in turn sent me samples by a writer he knew, one Warren Ellis. I got a lot of +44 calls back then. 

When I picked up my phone three weeks ago, the caller said "Hey, it's Steve." I stuttered a bit and said "Sorry I'm so shocked. It's just...no one calls anymore." 

Steve laughed--he was generous with his laughs. We chatted a bit, and he told me when he was drawing the last Sixpack and Dogwelder cover. He'd created Dogwelder, I bet late one night in a bar with Garth. 

That was my last call from Steve. I'll miss him. 



Friday, October 21, 2016

Hotober

Came home to...this?


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

On the Way Home

One of the many benefits of living in Hollywood is stopping to see music on the way home from work. This was a good one.


Sunday, October 09, 2016

A Trip to Fresh Kills

BBF and I took a little Sunday trip when I was in New York for the annual comic book convention. I'd bought us a field trip for his birthday, the sort of thing I do all the time, but the sort of thing he mostly does when I make him come along with me.

I'd bought us two tickets on a boat trip to the former Fresh Kills Landfill, now underway to becoming a park.

Unfortunately, the afternoon was overcast and rainy, which put a real, uh, damper on things. One of the lecturers on the yacht was someone I'd met once, but she didn't remember me, so I didn't say anything. We left from Chelsea Piers--I can't visit that place without remembering my 30th birthday party on the Lightship Frying Pan when she was anchored there. I remember reasoning with myself that I should have a big party on the scale of a wedding, since I'd never have one of those. I wasn't wrong, it turns out. Even 20 years ago, I knew me pretty well.

 We motored out past home—hi, Jersey City!—and into the harbor, under the Bayonne Bridge and past Elizabeth, past the Goethals Bridge, and finally to Fresh Kills.

The best part was the quick look we got at the ship graveyard off Staten Island.

The trip was a bit of a letdown due to the gray sky and the constant chattering by the lecturers, but the experience wasn't one I've ever had before, and BBF enjoyed it, so it was worth skipping an afternoon of comic-book-dom to check this out.






I tried making a sunny day in Photoshop.