Note: a reader has asked me to share the
following news story with my readers and ask for their help:
a ten-year-old girl was sprayed with a burning chemical in
a mosque in Dayton, OH this week, and local police are failing
to treat it as a hate crime. We at The Pain are
adamantly anti-hurting-little-girls. You can read
the story for yourself and, if you want to get involved,
contact the Dayton police at 937-333-1311, the mayor's office
at 937-333-3636, and write letters to the Dayton Daily News
Let the record show that I considered drawing
a cartoon about Sarah Palin this week and opted not to, not
because it wouldn’t have been funny (O, it would’ve)
or because it would’ve been too hard to draw (in fact
it would’ve been easier) but because I decline to treat
her seriously as an issue or a legitimate news story. I will
simply refer you instead to Matt
Taibbi’s flaying of her in the current Rolling
Stone. It is the bitterest, most vicious piece of political
invective I may have read since H.L. Mencken’s eulogy
for William Jennings Bryan. Sample line:
Here's what Sarah Palin represents: being
a fat fucking pig who pins "Country First" buttons
on his man titties and chants "U-S-A! U-S-A!" at
the top of his lungs while his kids live off credit cards
and Saudis buy up all the mortgages in Kansas.
It's all written in a kind of frenzy of disgust.
Matt Taibbi is clearly a man whom coverage of national politics
has driven to the brink of utter and irredeemable loathing
Hey has anyone taken a good look at the President’s eyes lately?
They do not bode well for us, my friends. They do not bode
well. Although I have not seen the President's face on TV
for years, I happened to see it on the front page of
the Times over the weekend, and I immediately deduced two
things from a careful study of his eyes: one, that he is
heavily medicated; the other, that he is afraid. I’ve
read rumors before that George Bush is on massive doses of
antidepressants, which rumors I gave no particular credence
until now, but that dude is utterly narcotized. Antidepressants,
tranqs, ‘luudes, who knows---you know the President
of the United States gets only the best stuff. Of course
this is only a suspicion. But the fear is shockingly plain
to see on his face. This is my opinion as a professional.
Part of my job is to look at faces and see what’s in
them, and I am telling you: George Bush is scared shitless.
He has no idea what is going on or how it happened or what
he’s supposed to do. I think it’s possible that,
for the first time in his Presidency, George knows that he
is in way over his head. God didn’t tell him jack shit
about no mortgage crisis. God’s got nuthin’ for
him. George is on his own. I now believe that there is no
one in this country who more eagerly awaits the day George
Bush leaves office—not me or Tom Tomorrow or Janeane
Garofolo or Michael Moore or Noam Chomsky or Howard Zinn
or those guys with the giant puppets and drum circles you
see at protests--than George Bush. He is going to go home
to Texas and begin drinking Jack Daniels straight out of
the bottle and cut a shitload of brush and forget all about
this whole terrible eight-year-long being-the-President nightmare.
It even occurred to me last week, for the first time, that
is was possible that George might commit suicide. Maybe he’ll
cut his own head off with his chainsaw. Now that would be
a manly death. Schoolkids in 3010 would memorize that Presidential
fact alongside the cherry tree and the stovepipe hat.
Terror is not an emotion you like to see on
the face of the man in charge of your country. It's alarming.
But hey, as my friend Steve pointed out, what’s the
alternative?--they’d still be stealing our money and
the news would be boring. At least the cards are on the table
now. And there is much to savor in the present situation.
The Wall Street types who pay for politicians' elections
are astonished to find themselves denied what they ask for;
George is trying to scare everybody and tell them what to
do like he always has but nobody believes him anymore; and
the Republicans who've delayed the bailout will soon look
like idiots and villains when the economy worsens. Of course,
we're the ones who'll suffer most in the end, so my may as
well enjoy our petty vindictive little kicks while we can.
We live in interesting times, my friends, interesting as
in the famous Chinese curse.
Speaking of whom: so yes, the Chinese have
walked in space. Which big whoop, we did it over forty years
ago, but, like the President's eyes, it does not bode well
for us. I didn’t have space to explain this in a caption,
but the Chinese are also building a demonstration version
of something called an Emdrive
engine, a controversial proposal for a propulsion system
that would use different frames of reference to convert electromagnetism,
via microwaves, into thrust, expending zero fuel. This is
a theory devised by British scientist Roger Shawyer, a radar
and communications engineer who’s worked for a European
space company. A lot of his peers are dismissing this claim
as perpetual-motion malarkey that violates the law of conservation
of momentum. But the Chinese are going ahead and building
one just to see if it works. If it does, they’ll soon
be taking 41-day shuttle trips to their bubble-domed cities
on Mars (although those bubble-domes will be opaque with
smog and crammed full of hideous block-wide apartment buildings).
Meanwhile, the U.S. is still working on that Missile Defense
Shield, the Maginot Line of the 21st Century. (Cf. last week’s
artist’s statement about Megan’s observations
RE the Olympics.) For future reference, Mandarin for “Very
good, sir,” is "Hao, shi fu."
Nor am I making up this
shit about the universe getting sucked toward one spot.
A microwave survey of superclusters of galaxies a billion
light years across showed that those superclusters are
all moving, at 2 million miles per hour, toward one ellipsoid
area between the constellations Centaurus and Vela. This
survey takes in like one-twelfth of the observable universe,
which makes it seem fair to infer that the whole universe
is involved in this motion. This motion is distinct from
the general expansion of the cosmos left over from the
Big Bang. It is believed that this creeping drift is caused
by “the gravitational attraction of matter that lies beyond
the observable universe [italics mine].” No
elaboration on what exactly this might mean—whether
this matter is in another dimension, or on a different
brane, or in another universe, or Shub-Niggaurath, the
Black Goat of the Woods With a Thousand Young. It is one
of those big creepy unknowns like Dark Energy and Dark
Matter. They’re calling it Dark Flow, a more ominous-sounding
name than which would be hard to think up.
The smiley face is an allusion to Infinite
Jest, and is also how Dave Wallace occasionally used
to sign off on letters and notes. I’m afraid this
last panel comes close to doing the very thing I cautioned
against in my essay on DFW—reading his death as some
sort of omen, symptom of some terminal malaise in the culture.
It was, of course, no such thing. A couple of friends forwarded
me an article from Salon which interviewed some
members of Wallace’s immediate family, detailing
the sad facts of last year of his
life. It was the sort of thing I thought I had to know
and then, once I did, wished I hadn't. It was just a personal
tragedy from which there’s not much to be learned
other than that if your meds are working, stay on them.
It bodes nothing. It just happened to be a gut-punching
bummer on top of all the other grim news in the last weeks.
To quote the movie Airplane!: "Looks
like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue!"
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