Cartoon: If Global Warming Were Real

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Transcript of cartoon

Panel 1
A white man wearing a collared shirt and glasses, sitting at a desk. He’s typing furiously on a laptop. In front of the desk, a dog watches him adoringly. Behind the desk, there are two windows; outside, it is dark and pouring rain, and the trees lean in the wind.

A caption tell us what he’s typing:

CAPTION: “Global warming” is FAKE NEWS! If global warming were real,

Panel 2
Glasses dude is looking out the window at the storm. Large objects – a boot, a coffee mug, a chair, a mailbox – fly by in the wind as the rain pours down.
GLASSES: Uh-oh! Look at that!

Panel 3
Glasses dude, now with a backpack and carrying a duffel bag, splashes through puddles as he walks away from his house, the dog following him.
GLASSES: This is AWFUL! Come along, Arf Rand!
ARF RAND: Arf!

Panel 4
A far shot of a car driving uphill through the storm. Glasses dude’s word balloon comes from the car.
GLASSES: Get upland get upland get upland get upland get upland…

Panel 5
High on a mountain, Glasses Dude has set up a tent. The sky is only partly cloudy here, and there’s no storm.
GLASSES: Phew! I think we’re safe here!
ARF RAND: Arf!

Panel 6
Glasses dude sits on the grass, next to Arf Rand, who is taking a snooze. Glasses dude is typing on his cell phone; a caption shows us what he’s typing.
CAPTION: As I was saying, if global warming WERE real, wouldn’t we see SOME sign of it?

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Environmental issues | 24 Comments  

Giles Coren: Garbage Human, Fatphobe and, Horrifyingly, Father (Guest Post)

[This post is by Ragen Chastain, reprinted with her permission from Dances With Fat.]

Giles Coren writes a column for Esquire about fatherhood. His most recent piece is titled: “I Don’t Care What My Son Becomes… As Long As He Isn’t Overweight.” I thought I couldn’t be shocked by fatphobia anymore but I was wrong.

Before we get into his advocacy of child abuse and killing fat people, let’s take a look at his kid, who he calls “morbidly obese”

I’m going to take his letter and break it down. Please consider signing and sharing the petition to get this piece, and Giles’ column, pulled from Esquire UK. If you’d like to give Giles some feedback on his piece, you can find him on Twitter here . If you’re a dad, it would be particularly helpful if you would step it up and let him know that this is completely unacceptable, and let the world know that whatever the hell he’s doing, it’s not fatherhood.

I’d also like to be clear that this isn’t Giles first day as a human-shaped piece of garbage, having previously published a piece (also for his Esquire column) where he said it was ok if his daughter didn’t do well in school because she could just marry a banker.

Finally, the quotes from his piece will be indented. All are offensive, many cross the line into blatant, violent, hate speech, including discussion of burning. They may be extremely triggering. If you want to skip this post entirely, I don’t blame you. If you want to skip the quotes you will still get the gist of the post without reading all of his bigoted drivel.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re looking at that picture of my son and you’re thinking, “Fat little bastard”. Sure, he’s cute. He’s got a nice little face. He looks a bit of an idiot because his mum took him for a haircut on the morning of the photo shoot (completely failing to grasp the first rule of shoots which is, “never have a haircut closer than two weeks before, or you’re going to look like a chump”) but on the whole he is a good-looking boy.

Wrong right off the bat there Giles.  What I’m thinking is “Please, please, please don’t let this article be about a dad who is taking out his size bigotry on his four year old son.”

Except he’s fat. Arse on him like Vanessa Feltz and a full frontal presentation at bath time that puts one in mind of a Gavin and Stacey-era James Corden or a well-waxed Christopher Biggins, all giggly on too much rosé.

At this point (while I know full well that regardless of his kid’s size it’s wildly inappropriate for Giles to think of him this way, or to involve so many other people in his blatant size bias) I am compelled to look again at the picture. While it would be perfectly fine if his kid fit this description, he absolutely does not. I’m forced to assume that Giles wanted to splash around in a pool of fat hate and decided to facilitate that by pretending that his kid is fat. Regardless, there is no size his kid could be that would possibly justify fat-shaming him.

It’s all very well to say that it’s puppy fat. It’s all very well to pinch his cheeks and go, “Who’s a cheeky chubby-chops? Awww, wittle fatty boom-boom…” and nuzzle your face in his tummy and blow raspberries and feel how they ripple through him like a fart in the bath, but what if… IT DOESN’T GO AWAY?

If it doesn’t go away, then you will have a fat kid. If he doesn’t have a growth spurt, then you’ll have a short kid. The thing about kids growing up is that they grow up into adults of all kinds of shapes and sizes and none of that requires ALL CAPS HISTRIONICS because all bodies are good bodies.

You know what I’m saying? Adele’s parents probably thought it was puppy fat too. And Paul Hollywood’s. And Russell Grant’s. No doubt Diane Abbott’s family assumed that she would change shape when she was out of nappies. But the change never came.

Giles seems really, really angry that fat people are allowed to exist and he continues to try to involve as many of them as possible in his bigoted farce of an article.

It’s reasonable to assume that the parents took their eyes off the ball, let their porky pups feast on a shitty diet and do fuck-all exercise into adolescence and now look at them: ostensibly successful, yes, but laughable to behold with their untucked shirts and stretched, shiny faces.

It’s not reasonable – it’s fatphobia and stereotyping. People, including young people, come in lots of different sizes for lots of different reason. People of all sizes eat whatever Giles’ definition of a “shitty diet” is, and people of all sizes choose not to exercise. People’s choices and sizes are none of Giles’ business. People of all sizes wear untucked shirts and have shiny faces. Giles, needs to get ahold of himself, he has completely failed at keeping his blatant bigotry subtle while pretending that he cares about his son.

The sort of people you want to follow down the street playing “Flight of the Valkyries” on a tuba.

No dude, YOU want to follow them down the street playing the tuba because you are an absolute garbage human.  I continue to be absolutely stunned that Esquire would allow a piece that is nothing but hate speech to be published, especially under the guise of how to be a father.

And I’m worried as fuck that my little Sam could go the same way. Not only because of how it will ruin his life but because of how it will reflect on me.

I don’t give a single solitary fuck about Giles. I’m worried that Sam “could go the same way” because his father is a raving fatphobe who will undoubtedly do unimaginable damage to him every day until he can escape. (Pssst, Sam, find the Fat Acceptance Movement, a lot of us grew up with parents who were worse than useless as well, we’ve got your back!)

For while obesity as a demographic phenomenon can be classed as disease, epidemic, socio-economic tragedy, whatever, on an individual, case-by-case basis, each actual fat person is blatantly just a badly brought-up, greedy little son of a bitch committing the unforgivable sin of gluttony in a world where there is not enough food to go round.

Being fat doesn’t ruin your life. The thing that ruins your life is this kind of (fact-free) fatphobia. “Obesity” isn’t a disease, it’s not an epidemic, or a tragedy – it’s just a ratio of weight and height. Granted, a ratio onto which some people (many for profit, others for attention, others because they are simply bigots) have heaped tons of negativity.

Also be clear that there is plenty of food to go around. Hunger is a complex issue that has to do with things like capitalism, nationalism, racism and more. And even if it wasn’t indisputable fact that there are thin people who eat far more than fat people, it would still have literally NOTHING to do with fat people existing. This is just another way that people who want to be bigots try to justify their bigotry, and using people who are starving to do it is particularly despicable.

I’d kill them all and render them down for candles.

Let’s be absolutely clear what he is saying here.  He is saying that, given a chance, he would kill all fat people, then burn us. It’s not funny, it’s not cute, it’s a call for genocide. (People will immediately suggest that I’m going to far in saying this, those people are a part of the problem. “I’d kill them all” is not an unclear statement.) Anytime you say that everyone who shares a single characteristic should be killed, you are going down a very bad road. I would love to know the name of the editor at Esquire UK who read that sentence and said “Sure, kill all the fat and burn them, that’s totally reasonable. Leave that in.”) Here, again, is the link for their complaints section.

It may sound harsh but how else are we to recoup the tens of billions of pounds they cost the NHS and the wider economy each year with treatment needed, working days lost, hospital beds broken, chairs smashed to splinters and good workers accidentally killed when fat people sit on them?

Here Giles seems to be trying to make another wild stab at justifying his bigotry (won’t somebody please think of the tax dollars?!)  But he’s so overcome with his desire to say horrible things about fat people that he can’t even keep it together for a single paragraph.

It is no business of mine what Sam does with his life. I’m not ultimately bothered whether he’s rich or poor, artist or scientist, crackhead or alcoholic, married or unmarried, gay or straight… I don’t care if he runs every letter of the LGBTQI spectrum to the end and back, and comes home with a cock in every hole and says he’s changed his name to Rita. As long as he isn’t fat.

The first sentence may be the only correct and appropriate thing he says in the entire piece. The rest is obviously total bullshit. Now might be a good time to remember that someday, who knows how soon, Sam (who might end up being fat) will read this. The idea that he would be more upset if his son had a larger body that if he was addicted to crack is obviously incredibly troubling, but also troubling is – again – Giles’ tendency to feel free to use some marginalized groups in his quest to oppress fat people.  Here he uses people who struggle with addiction as well as queer and trans people showing that while he’s is definitely a fatphobe, he’s certainly not a single issue bigot.

My daughter I am less worried about. Possibly because she is as skinny as a cricket. But if at some point in adult life she pulls the ripcord, well, there are uses for a fat woman. She can be kind of cosy. Whereas a fat man has nothing to offer but his ability to consume. To bring forth upon the world a fat son is indeed a shame before God.

Not satisfied at simply inappropriately (some might say abusively) using his son for this ridiculous exercise, Giles brings his daughter into it and makes the transition to blatant and disgusting misogyny. Unfortunately he doesn’t even have enough new ideas to support the entire diatribe, so we’re back to the old “fat people eat a lot” crap. Even if this was true it would be a tired argument at this point but, again, it’s simply not.  And once again I’d remind you that his son will someday learn just how conditional his father’s love for him really is. So while I’m angry at Giles for being such a blatant and vocal bigot, I’m terrified for Sam growing up with an abusive, misogynist, fatphobe for a father, and I would support child services if they removed the kids from the home.

But it’s hard to know what to do about it. I’d put him on a strict diet and buy him a hamster wheel but my wife is not the moral absolutist that I am and she is the one who does the Ocado orders. And cooks most of the food. But is a bit of a lazy tart. Sorry — a busy working mother with many other important things to think about, who knows her way down the path of least resistance.

So Giles also doesn’t respect his wife. This is my not-surprised face. In good news, it looks like Sam may have one decent parent.

So the boy eats a lot of white carbs, sugary cereals, pizza, fried chicken… much like a poor child in America’s morbidly obese central heartlands. Which is why Sam looks like one of them. He doesn’t like fruit or veg and none of us can be arsed to force them down him. But he does like a tub of ice cream and a long run at the television of an afternoon. And on even the shortest car journey he expects his iPad and a sack of Kettle chips.

So he gets them. And I say, “Can’t you give him a carrot instead?”

And my wife says, “If you want him to eat carrots, you try feeding him a fucking carrot!”

So I let it go. And I feel ashamed. But then I see these middle-class kids with their weekday screen bans and their steamed fish and vegetables and no chocolate or sweeties and 10 hours’ oboe practice a day and it makes me want to puke. And I find that I’m kind of proud of our somewhat slutty stance on it all, or lack of one. Otherwise, I suppose, I wouldn’t be admitting to it here.

This is quite the juxtaposition of bigotry – marginalizing an entire swatch of America, middle-class kids, and those who play the oboe is not beginner level oppression. Giles is a piece of shit, but at least he’s good at it? Let’s be clear – giving kids (of all sizes) lots of food choices and helping them to develop a healthy relationship with food is a positive thing, giving kids food and then shaming them for eating it is just fucked up and is basically trying to give your kid an eating disorder.

I try to look on the positive side. Such as the possibility that having a fat adult son — who I will unquestionably continue to love with all my heart no matter what — might help me to lay aside my prejudices regarding fat people and bring me to a more respectful place vis-à-vis the fat and ever fatter future we unquestionably face as a race. And that being grotesquely flabby, sweaty, knock-kneed and impotent would mean that Sam was unlikely ever to have a girlfriend or any mates or be invited to parties, so he’d have more time to work at becoming a nuclear physicist or getting filthy rich and supporting me in my old age.

And then other times I think, “I’d best get the chubby fucker’s jaw wired before he’s old enough to stop me.”

Classic abuser technique. First he spends the entire article being clear that if his son is fat he would be perfectly happy to kill him and burn him, that he would rather he struggle with a drug addiction than be large, that he would consider him to be a “shame before god,” and that his son would (continue to) be the recipient of every piece of fatphobia with which Giles’ little essay is dripping. Then Giles does the whole “I still love you, maybe I can be better” rap. But, as we’ve learned, Giles can’t hold it together for long, so he throws in a few more stereotypes and then leaves a little reminder that he is capable of physical abuse.

My heart goes out to Sam, I hope that he can somehow escape this situation clinging to a  healthy relationships with food and his body, and I also hope that he can avoid becoming the super bigot that his father is modeling to him and anyone else who will read his work.

As far as Giles goes, I think we all know where he should go:

Move to Trash

Red box around a picture of a trash can with the text “Moved to Trash”

Final reminder to take some action here:

Sign (and share) the petition

File a complaint with Esquire UK
They will require the following info (you can copy and paste to avoid giving the article traffic.)

  • The piece is called “Man & Boy: Giles Coren “I Don’t Care What My Son Becomes… As Long As He Isn’t Overweight”
  • The link is http://www.esquire.co.uk/life/a18073/giles-coren-overweight-son/
  • The publication date is November 9, 2017

Here is the link for Giles Twitter.

Posted in Fat, fat and more fat | 32 Comments  

Cartoon: Ghost of Rehnquist

If you enjoy these cartoons, please support them on Patreon! A $1 or $2 pledge makes a big difference to me.


It seems like it happens every few weeks – a policeman shoots an unarmed civilian (more often than not a Black civilian) and then claims to have been in mortal terror.

Sometimes, of course, they really were terrified (police training can have the effect of making police feel like every encounter is likely to turn deadly at any moment). But every single time? But the truth is, the Supreme Court has set things up so that any police officer involved in a questionable shooting has an enormous incentive to claim mortal terror, no matter what the situation was.

(For a good discussion of this, read this Shaun King article.)

The reason the US has so many police shootings isn’t just, or primarily, bad cops. It’s a bad system – a system that makes police shootings, and the lack of accountability, pretty much inevitable. And any real solution will need to be systematic, too.

I don’t often do caricatures of real-life people, so it was interesting trying to convert Rehnquist (who was, for the record, very damned racist) into my adorable cartoon style. But honestly, when I look at the drawing in this cartoon, I see something that I hope won’t be a focus for my readers – I was experimenting with a new way of drawing shine in hair. I’m still using this method, but I think I’ve gotten a bit better at it since this strip.


Transcript

Panel 1
A young Black woman is in a park, wearing a striped sleeveless shirt and black pants, talking on her cell. She looks angry. Behind her, William Rehnquist appears with a big “Poof!” He’s wearing black judicial robes (which sort of trail off into nothing, rather than him having legs) and is smiling benevolently.
WOMAN: I can’t believe the jury let that cop off! What is it with these juries? Are they just racist?
REHNQUIST: Don’t blame the juries!

Panel 2
The woman turns around, jumping back in shock. Rehnquist continues speaking cheerfully.
WOMAN: Who are YOU?
REHNQUIST: I’m the ghost of William Rhenquist! I was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court until I died in 2005.

Panel 3
The woman listens, somewhat bewildered, as Rhenquist leans closer to explain.
REHNQUIST: When I was on the court, we ruled that it doesn’t matter if a suspect really was dangerous. If a cop says he believed the suspect was dangerous, any police shooting is legal.
(Footnote: See Tennessee v Garner & Graham v Connor.)

Panel 4
The woman calmly asks a question.
WOMAN: But doesn’t that give cops a huge incentive to say they thought hey were about to die no matter what the circumstances?
REHNQUIST: Clearly!

Panel 5
The woman now appears agitated, horrified. Rehnquist answers cheerfully, giving her a thumbs-up.
WOMAN: So even if a cop shoots a 9 year old kid, he just says he was terrified and he’s in the clear?
REHNQUIST: Now you’ve got it!

Panel 6
The woman yells angrily; Rehnquist, puzzled, shrugs.
WOMAN: So is the Supreme Court going to FIX that?
REHNQUIST: Er… Fix what?

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Contemporary Racism, cops, Institutionalized Racism, police brutality, Race, racism and related issues | 23 Comments  

Open Thread and Link Farm, The Pants Have Eyes Edition

(Photo found on Bill Mudron’s twitter.)

  1. Open Enrollment for AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE Started Yesterday | And Taking It Personally
  2. Rigged: How Voter Suppression Threw Wisconsin to Trump – Mother Jones
  3. Unsealed Documents Show That Kris Kobach Is Dead Set on Suppressing the Right to Vote | American Civil Liberties Union
    Also note that Kobach directly lied about the existence of these documents.
  4. Things That Are Hillary Clinton’s Fault, Starting With Harvey Weinstein | Literary Hub
  5. Is Washington bungling the Census?
    The statistics branches of the government – not only the Census, although the Census is crucial – are critically underfunded.
  6. EPA cancels talks by 3 agency scientists at Providence event – News – providencejournal.com – Providence, RI
    Because Republican policy is to shut up scientists rather than permitting them to talk about climate change. They really are the anti-science party.
  7. Activists at Reed College are disrupting lectures to protest “white supremacy,” but many students are taking steps to stop them – The Atlantic
  8. Chattanooga man loses job after sitting during national anthem at weekend event | WTVC
    It’s perfectly legal for them to fire this dude, but imo it shouldn’t be. Private employers aren’t the government, of course – but in practice, most working people are not rich and cannot risk losing their job. Employers policing what employees say off the job is an enormous threat to people’s real freedom to speak out.
  9. Stop Calling Women Nags — How Emotional Labor is Dragging Down Gender Equality
    Thanks to Grace for the link.
  10. Inside Sammy’s Bowery Follies, the scuzziest, greatest dive bar of all time (circa 1940s).
  11. The Bump Stock Millionaire and the Las Vegas Massacre – Bloomberg
    But he needn’t worry about his invention being outlawed: Three Weeks After Las Vegas, Legislation to Ban Bump Stocks Has Stalled Out In Congress
  12. The Obamas Choose Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald to Paint Their Official Portraits for the Smithsonian
    Both artists produce works that are very skilled (as is always the case for the artists selected for these gigs) and very interesting (which is not always the case).
  13. Schrödinger’s Fat Girl – Medium
    “The replies come to no consensus but rather devolve into arguments about whether Blizzard’s art of Mei has depicted her as fat or not.”
  14. There’s No Fire Alarm for Artificial General Intelligence – Machine Intelligence Research Institute
    Linked for the intro, which argues that the main function of fire alarms isn’t to tell us that there’s a fire, but to make it socially acceptable for us to flee the building.
  15. Many of us know this famous picture of Tommie Smith and John Carlos. But few know the bravery and tragedy of the white guy, Peter Norman.
  16. Distinctions Between Natalism Positions | Thing of Things
  17. The Inequality Beneath the Sexual-Harassment Headlines – The Atlantic
    “The problem is worse in low-profile, low-accountability, and low-wage industries.”
  18. When I was nineteen years old, Elie Wiesel grabbed my ass.
    “While other men have done, technically, worse things to me, Wiesel’s actions were, in some ways, more sorrow-inducing. Perhaps bad people do bad things. Conversely, one might hope, good people don’t do bad things.”
  19. America’s affordable-housing stock dropped by 60 percent from 2010 to 2016 – The Washington Post
  20. A Catfishing With a Happy Ending – The Atlantic
    This story did not go where I initially expected it to go.
  21. The Giant Frog Farms of the 1930s Were a Giant Failure – Atlas Obscura
    And the most basic problems with the frog-eating industry continue today.
  22. Why Is Virginia Tech Silent About a White Supremacist Instructor Threatening and Harassing an Undergrad? 
    And why hasn’t he been fucking fired yet?
  23. Wolverine’s head legitimately looks like two Batmans kissing in front of a sunset.”
  24. Ryan Murphy’s new show ‘Pose’ will feature the largest transgender cast in TV history / LGBTQ Nation
    Very cool. I’m a bit disappointed not to see Jamie Clayton on the cast list, I thought she was amazing in Sense8.
  25. School shootings and the brutalisation of boys
    ” It seems to me that the feminist mainstream is eager to condemn the brutality of masculinity and the violent excesses of men, but surprisingly reluctant to concern itself with the violent brutalisation of boys that instils that brutality in the first place.”
  26. The Legion Lonely | HazlittA longer article asks, why are so many men lonely? (Men in particular seem more likely to be lonely as we age.) Lots of interesting material here, too much to sum up in this format.
  27. Democrats add to ‘Better Deal’ platform with a slew of pro-labor-union ideas – The Washington Post “The main problem facing this installment of the Better Deal is one that’s bedeviled every Democratic policy rollout: The difficulty of getting anyone to notice.” Also quotes some disenchanted union folks saying they’re going to try to advance the cause through referendums.
  28. Awaiting Trump’s coal comeback, miners reject retraining
    This is just depressing.
  29. The Civil War Was Not a Mistake – The Atlantic
  30. The Monster Eating Our State and City Budgets : Democracy Journal
    “The monster” is underfunded pension benefits, and rising Medicaid costs. This long article outlines the problems and suggests some solutions, focusing mainly on the pension issue.

Posted in Link farms | 26 Comments  

Come break the rules with me! (in a class. on Sunday. with Cat Rambo.)

Consider this your invitation: start (or continue) to Break the Rules with me in less than three days! After Daylight Savings Time is over and the clock falls back, I hope you’ll spend some time with Cat Rambo, me and your writing this Sunday, November 5th at 9:30am PST 

Breaking the RulesBreak the Rules!

Tell, don’t show. Dump your information. Write in second person. Write in passive voice. Use adverbs. To heck with suspense.

Rules mark what’s difficult, not what’s impossible. There’s a whole range of exciting storytelling possibilities beyond them. Not every story needs to be in second person, but when it’s the right voice for the right story, it can be magic. The right information dump, written perfectly, can become a dazzling gymnastic feat of beauty, fascination and horror.

“Break the Rules!” will teach you inspirations and techniques for rowing upstream of common knowledge. You can break any rule–if you do it right.

Register by mailing Cat Rambo at cat AT catrambo.com and specifying whether you would prefer to pay by Paypal or by check.

The cost for a single session live workshop is $99 for new students; $79 for students who have formerly taken a class with Cat (or Rachel). Classes are taught via Google Hangouts; all you need is a computer with a microphone and reliable Internet connection, but a webcam is suggested.

(At least a few secrets: If you register for this class, you’ll be able to learn from all of the other storytellers going first. If sign up for my newsletter, you can learn about when I’m teaching next. If you support my Patreon, you can learn what and where I’m writing first.)

Posted in Teaching, Writing Advice, Writing resources | Leave a comment  

Cartoon: Questions You Probably Shouldn’t Ask A Stranger

If you enjoy these cartoons, please support them on Patreon. Even a $1 pledge makes a big difference to me.


So Mandolin handed me this script for a four-panel comic strip, written in marker on a sheet of typing paper.

Several days later I had created a sketch, which I submitted to The Nib, not necessarily expecting them to accept it, and then forgot about it. Then a Nib editor emailed to ask me if I could get the strip done by the end of they day. Which I did, if by “end of the day” one means 2am. But it got done! And when I was finally done, my back felt like someone had stabbed it with a shoe horn. A day later, my drawing shoulder is still a bit sore. But it’s still sort of exhilarating to get a rush job done every now and then.

I’m pleased with the art for this, despite the circumstances under which it was produced. If I had more time, I would have done a real background in panel 4, and perhaps more supermarket shelves in panel 2. But I like how the colors came out, the figure drawing looks decent, and I actually took the time to measure out perspective in three of the four panels.

The sketch is 90% as Rachel’s script described it, although I did suggest a couple of changes (like making the stranger in the supermarket dress as a cliched spy).

Rachel’s script didn’t specify race or sex for any of the characters, so that was something I had to put thought into, to avoid accidentally using any ugly cliches. So, for example, in the original sketch the photographer in panel 3 was male; but then Rachel asked for over-the-top limp-swinging enthusiasm, and I didn’t want the character to look like a flaming gay man bothering someone in a public restroom, so that character became female. Then the other character in the panel had to become female, too, since I didn’t want to have a panel that could be misinterpreted as “wrong sex intrudes into bathroom” in a trans rights cartoon. Thoughts like this go into almost every “casting” decision; that’s just part of the job of being a progressive cartoonist, I think.


Transcript of cartoon.

A BIG CAPTION AT TOP OF CARTOON says “Questions You Probably Shouldn’t Ask a Stranger.”

Panel 1
A man turns back from an ATM machine, surprised at a woman putting her hand on his shoulder.
WOMAN: How much money do you make?

Panel 2
A grocery store. A woman in the foreground examines a can of food, her back to her little son in the cart. Another woman, dressed like a movie spy (trenchcoat, dark glasses, cig dangling from lips) leans towards the toddler and whispers to him.
WOMAN: How can you know for sure your mommy loves you?

Panel 3
A public bathroom with several stalls. A woman is just emerging from a stall, and stumbles back in surprise as another woman, who bears a camera and has extremely energetic body language, approaches her, talking very cheerfully.
WOMAN: Can I take a picture of your poop?

Panel 4
A woman sits behind a table. The table has a big sign that says “Trans Student Union.” Another woman cheerfully asks her a question.
WOMAN: So, do you have a penis?

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Transsexual and Transgender related issues | 5 Comments  

Cartoon: Seeing Global Warming

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Extra thanks to SocProf, who is thanked in the sidebar of this cartoon. All $10 patrons occasionally get “sidebar thanks” as appreciation for the extra support.


This is what distresses me about global warming: As long as powerful people benefit from not seeing it, they won’t see it. I don’t know if global warming is a solvable problem, but it seems like it’s a mitigatable problem. But mitigation won’t begin if powerful people – and to be clear, I mean the Republican party – are choosing not to see what inconveniences them.

Artwise, this cartoon is up and down for me. The up: I really like how the colors came out. The cool-colored figures and water standing out from the reddish world really work, at least for my tastes. Normally I’m happy if my colors just reach the level of “pleasant looking,” but I think the colors here actually add to the impact of the cartoon.

The down: That car. I keep on trying to learn how to draw cartoons of cars, and it’s slow going. I have an upcoming cartoon with a better-drawn car, but this one looks “wrong” to me.

I said “cartoons of cars,” by the way, because I can draw realistic cars. That’s not hard, exactly; it just takes finding reference and taking time to do the work. Here’s a VW Bug I drew in the second “Hereville” graphic novel, for example:

But just because I can (with reference) draw a realistic car doesn’t mean I can draw a satisfying cartoon of a car. But I’m going to keep trying until I get the hang of it.


Transcript of Cartoon

This is a single-panel cartoon (although there’s a mini “kicker” panel in the bottom right corner). The main panel shows a comfortable-looking white man, standing on top of a cliff, facing away from the cliff’s edge. He has a huge SUV parked nearby, and in the background a factory is spewing huge clouds of smoke from smokestacks. The sky is red. Behind him, way at the bottom of the cliff, standing in five feet of water, stand four people, all looking up angrily at him. All four are non-white.

MAN: Is global warming real? I just don’t see it!

Kicker panel shows a woman who was in the water in the main panel; she’s now in front of the white man and speaking to him, with a frustrated expression. Facing her, the man folds his arm and replies cheerfully.
WOMAN: Just turn around!
MAN: I’d rather not.

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Environmental issues | 4 Comments  

“Words for What Those Men Have Done” – It’s Official and It’s a Launch!

I cannot tell you how excited I am that Words for What Those Men Have Done, my second full-length collection of poetry, is officially in the world. And I am equally excited to announce the New York City book launch, which will be on Sunday, November 5th, from 7:00-8:30 PM, at Kew & Willow Books, 81-63 Lefferts Boulevard in Kew Gardens. There’ll be wine and cheese; I’ll read some poems and sign some books; we’ll drink and chat; and it’ll be a celebration of what poetry should celebrate: community and truth and the importance of language in maintaining both those vital aspects of life. I’m looking forward to making that celebration with each of you! (There will also be a launch out in Suffolk County and one in Toronto, home of my publisher, Guernica Editions. I will send out more information about those events at a later date.)

The poems in Words for What Those Men Have Done continue the exploration I began in The Silence of Men, my first book, of how surviving childhood sexual violence has shaped my life. In The Silence of Men, I focused on ending the silence into which the men who violated me pushed me—a silence that encompassed much more than the facts of what they did to me—forcing me to live without the words I needed to give meaning to my life. Word for What Those Men Have Done, on the other hand, is animated by this question: What has it meant for me to commit myself never to standing on the same side of anything as those men? The book, in other words, is not a “survivor’s memoir” in poetic form; it’s goal is not to arrive at a moment of transcendent healing, though there are moments of healing throughout. Rather, Words for What Those Men Have Done explores what the not-always-comfortable process of holding myself accountable as a survivor—personally, politically, culturally, and socially—feels like. This excerpt from the poem “Gender Politics” captures some of that feeling:

Learning to write poems
has been easier than loving people
and harder than counting syllables
but words grow
and sentences shape
time into meaning
and learning to let that happen
has been learning to shape my body
and I am my body
into somewhere I can live.

If you can come to the launch, it would be lovely to see you. If you can’t, and you’d like to get a copy of the book, you can buy it on Amazon or directly from the publisher. If you can, I hope you’ll consider doing the latter, even though you may have to pay a little more for shipping. It’s more important than ever to support independent book publishers and Guernica does important work, publishing both American and Canadian authors.

Posted in Writing | 2 Comments  

My novel is going well! Yay! Here are some excerpts.

I’m really excited about how well my novel project is going. I’m close to a third done which is a big marker for me. I though tit might be fun to post a couple excerpts from the first two chapters (they each have a different point of view character). I’ve put some up excerpts on my Patreon before (where you can get a new story or poem from me each month for as little as $1, plug over, thank you.) These are new excerpts.

Chapter One

Smog hovers over the mountains ringing the valley, grey underbelly lit orange by the last rays of sunrise. In winter, Marie’s garden is filled with pale color, splashed with infrequent dapples of red from dogwood and witch hazel. The woodchip path threads from the back porch through the flowerbeds, pausing to circle the wide-crowned whitebud tree. Droopy-headed snow drops and star-shaped glories of the snow drowse along the path, clustered close to the ground. Crocuses, violas, and camellias grow in higher beds, pastel blues and violets shimmering like chiffon.

 

Breeze shivers through the whitebud’s branches, tumbling a snowfall of tiny, bell-like white blossoms. It stirs the evergreen hedges encircling the garden, casting shifting shadows across green, white and brown. Lavender hellebore scales the leafy walls, its contrasting color creating the illusion of depth, as if the hedges could continue forever. Marie’s roses remain a few months from blooming. Their branches scratch bare and thorny against the dawn.

Chapter Two

More kids arrived, and everything was glowy and strobey, and a bunch of people had put music on their phones and all the different genres rattled and clashed against each other, and some people asked if she wanted to buy something, which she did, but she didn’t have money. She set up singing near the front where there was better music, and some people stopped and told her she sounded like Beyonce, and a couple of guys told her she was a cunt, and someone else told them to fuck off.

 

So much spark. So much sizzle. Dancing wasn’t enough to get the lightning out of her fingers and her elbows and her toes. Her skull was full of electric fists that kept punching and punching and if she couldn’t break loose then they were going to hammer shards straight through her scalp and she needed to move, to move, to move.

 

Some guy danced with her and grabbed her tit, and she elbowed him in the ribs, but when another guy came up behind her later, she let him kiss her for a while until she got bored. There were other girls dancing and she watched them, the slither and sleek of their legs beneath their cut-offs, the chocolate dart of their eyes beneath jagged liner. She slipped between them and their bodies were close and press, and she licked the taller one’s neck, and her skin was salt and sweat, and Jamie was singing again, and someone’s hand was soft on the small of her back. There was so much smoke everywhere like haze, and people’s colored lights beaming through it and making everyone look pink and blue and weird and wonderful.

 

Posted in Fiction | 4 Comments  

Some Thoughts About Harvey Weinstein and What He Represents

I met my Harvey Weinstein when I was around 13 years old. He was the head waiter at the catering hall where I worked, and he spent the next three or four years groping and fondling me as often and in as many ways as he could. Once, when we had back-to-back jobs to work and had almost no time to sleep, he gave me Black Beauties to take so I could stay awake. This was when Black Beauties were really Black Beauties, not the diet pill that later had that name, and he hinted very hard that I owed him something in return, and that, if I couldn’t afford to pay him money, there were “other ways” he’d agree to be compensated. Nothing ever came of that, though. I think he backed off in part because he was sort of a friend of the family and he was worried what would happen if I told. It’s important to remember that, at this time—around 1978 or so—while people were beginning to talk more openly about sexual violence against women, no one was talking about the sexual abuse of boys. Even if I had wanted to tell someone, there was no language in which to describe what he was doing to me as the sexual assault that it was. I literally did not have the words to understand and name my own experience.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this man lately, as I’ve been thinking about the significantly older male colleagues of mine who, when I was first hired at 27 at the college where I teach almost thirty years ago, would pull me aside at the beginning of every semester to ask, “How many really hot women do you have in your class?” When I refused to answer, which I did every time they asked, they would look at me incredulously and tease me by saying that I wasn’t answering because I probably had my eye one or more of those women. I have often wondered at my own silence back then, which—while it was a form of resistance—was a relatively passive one, in that it did not confront those men with an open and explicit refusal of the sexist, exploitive male bonding in which they were trying to engage me. In the late 1980s, there wasn’t much of a language yet—I’d say it was just starting to develop—in which men could confront other men on those terms. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what was going on, but I didn’t yet have the words to assert and insist on my own disloyalty to that male code.

Those are just two examples of how impoverished our language for talking about not just manhood and masculinity, but also male sexual vulnerability, was back then. That language is far less impoverished now, and I have been listening to and reading the words of men who are using it to talk about who Harvey Weinstein is, what he did, and what he represents. It is heartening. At the same time, though, I am very aware that, because the people Weinstein targeted were women, this talk, from both men and women, tends to render my own experience with my own Harvey Weinstein invisible. It is, in other words, explicitly heteronormative—a fact that poses a serious challenge.

On the one hand, it would be dishonest and irresponsible to hold sexual violence against women and sexual violence against men as entirely equal in every respect. Regardless of what may be true about the frequency with which men experience sexual violation (ETA: studies suggest the numbers may not be all that different from women), or the kinds of violation we experience (ETA: we are assaulted by both men and women, and, in some contexts, some studies suggest, more frequently by women), it is not the case that sexual violation is used against men in the pervasive and systemic way that it is used against women as a class, to keep them silent and subservient, to hold them back, etc. We have to be able to talk about what Harvey Weinstein did and what he represents as part and parcel, and as perpetuating of that system, and we have to be able to have that discussion without it being diluted by calls to pay simultaneous and equal attention to sexual violence against men.

At the same time, though, if we do not find a way within the larger context of this discussion to give sexual violence against men and boys the weight it deserves on its own terms (not in a weighted comparison to women’s experience), then we will be telling an incomplete and ultimately impoverished story about sexual violence in our culture. Not only would that be doing real harm to the men and boys who, like me, are survivors of sexual violence (or, perhaps more accurately, not only would it perpetuate the harm that is already pervasively being done); it would, in the end, precisely because of its heteronormativity, perpetuate many of the notions about manhood and masculinity with which all too many people seek to normalize, excuse, rationalize, justify, and/or minimize what Harvey Weinstein did and what he represents; and that would do real harm to the women whom men like Harvey Weinstein continue to target. Not to mention how much more difficult it makes things for those men who are working out ways of being men that are not exploitive, and for those men and women who are trying to raise sons who will stand in opposition to the Harvey Weinsteins of the world.

Posted in Uncategorized | 74 Comments