Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 08/08/01

Artist's Statement

I came up with this cartoon idea a couple of years ago, when I was living in Fell's Point. One Friday night my roomates and I made the mistake of leaving our own neighborhood to explore neighboring Canton, a waterfront area which in the last few years had become trendy. It turned out to be a repulsive place, for ordinary people--dress codes, cover charges, lines outside of bars and clubs. One place wouldn't let Jim in because he was wearing shorts. We finally found a great little dive where we could drink National Bohemian for ninety cents a can with friendly old drunks who empathized with our incredulity and disgust, and agreed that only someone utterly lacking in self-respect would be seen standing in line to get in someplace.

Plus, whenever you're trying to get to the same place everyone else is, it's a sure sign that that place is going to suck. Just this last weekend Allison and the irrepressible Michael Lynch and I undertook what we thought would be a pleasant day trip to meet a friend in Cape May, New Jersey. We'd forgotten about Beach Traffic. It was the first weekend in August and everyone in Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey, was heading to the beaches in their minivans with their kids' faces in the back windows and those storage shells strapped on top. We had been looking forward to riding the ferry from Lewes, Delaware to Cape May, but when we saw the backup on the highway south we turned around and took the Delaware Memorial Bridge instead. But there were traffic jams all across southern New Jersey, too, and it took us five hours to get there instead of the projected three. When we finally got there, tired and ill-tempered, the woman who ran the bed and breakfast where our friend was staying was suspicious and unhelpful and surly. Then we learned that 1.) you have to pay to get onto the beach in Cape May, as though someone owned and maintained the Atlantic Ocean, and 2.) most of the restaurants in town don't serve alcohol. Like, what the fuck? Cape May turns out to be a sort of creepy heaven for rich white people--white meaning really, really white--no gay people, no Jews, nobody interesting at all, just high-income suburbanites with their young teenage kids. It is horrible. We looked for vacancies for about an hour and a half, but there wasn't one room anywhere in the whole town. So we drove back home. A completely wasted day. The lesson we learn from this: never go anywhere.

Okay. I didn't mean to get off on that whole rant about Cape May. But it does reinforce the point that anytime you are standing in line or stuck in traffic, it means that something has gone seriously wrong with your life. One of the few advantages of having eccentric, geeky tastes and despising the stuff that everyone else enjoys--like going to the beach for the weekend or fashionable clubs on Friday night--is that you don't usually have to put up with other people. "Other fucking people," as my friend Benjamen Walker calls them. I mean, you never have to stand in line for revivals of Barry Lyndon or shoulder your way through crowds at Holy Modal Rounders shows. Waiting in line is just a tacit admission that you are no better than anyone else. It is for losers. I'm sorry, I realize this makes me sound like a snob but that is because I am a snob. I believe I am better than other people. That may sound conceited, but when you look at the other people in the world, it's not saying much.

So at first I'd imagined a long line of people waiting to get shat upon--which I have no doubt they would, if it was, say, Madonna or Oprah Winfrey or Regis Philbin doing the shitting. But then I realized, no, they should be shot in the head and dragged off, one by one. If I'd had enough time and space I would've shown their bodies being stripped of their fancy clothes and dumped in a heap.

I included some acquaintances of mine in the line in this cartoon, just because you gotta draw someone, but I did not intend to imply that they are the sorts of people who would stand in line outside of trendy night spots or that they should necessarily be shot, and I hope they will not take offense at the use of their likenesses here.

I finally got around to drawing this cartoon because the City Paper is changing the format of my cartoon to a vertical one, and this composition had to be horizontal. So I end my days of horizontality with this, the most horizontal cartoon I have ever drawn. Next week I have to start thinking up things that are both funny and vertical. Besides the obvious.