Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 10/08/08


Note: My friend Mishka has urged me to inform the reading public that I now have a MySpace profile. He assures me that I am not too old for this to be pathetic. So feel free to become imaginary friends with me via the magic of the internet.


Artist's Statement

For those who enjoyed Matt Taibbi’s essay on the Sarah Palin phenomenon last week: I don't know how much stomach you have for this sort of thing, but I greatly enjoyed a very long debate between Taibbi and David Ray Griffen, author of no fewer than seven books on the 9/11 conspiracy. Sample line from Taibbi: "I was greatly saddened when I read this answer, because it forced me to rewrite the entire first chapter of my next book, The 10 Most Retarded Things I Have Read This Year." Just as it served as a sort of mental palate cleanser for me to turn from the Biden/Palin debate to the news story about a 7-year-old boy feeding rare lizard after rare lizard to a crocodile at the Canberra zoo, it was deeply cheering me to read this back-and-forth. Good, healthy, cleansing laughter. In deadly serious grim times, mere frivolity is no help; the only effective antidote is absurd, hilarious grimness.

So I finally broke down and drew a Sarah Palin cartoon. I regret it. Partly this was a time-saving maneuver on my part, since I had two other deadlines this week and a single-panel cartoon only takes me a whole day to draw instead of two days. Also, I watched the Vice-Presidential debate, against my better judgment, on the New York Times website. Like all modern political debates, it was a pointless piece of predictable theater in which talking points were recited, dial words were repeated, no actual issues were debated, and everybody went away feeling like their candidate had obviously won. However, I had never seen Sarah Palin on TV before. (For reasons of emotional health I did not watch the Republican National Convention.) Something about her voice and her face just about rips my skin off. Talking it over with my friend Boyd this morning, we decided that, although Sarah Palin is in fact stupid, she is pretending to be a whole different kind of stupid from the stupid she actually is. She’s condescending to affect the provincial, aw-shucks simplemindedness of the voters she appeals to, but in reality she’s the kind of a dumb cunning bitch who likes to push people around on the PTA or church board. She doesn’t know anything at all but she has absolutely no doubt that God wants her to be the President. She is the new George. I have had to coin a new acronym to describe her: she’s a total M.I.L.K.

At least this cartoon makes no pretense at taking her seriously as an issue and indulges in the very lowest, silliest, most puerile level of humor. You know this scheme would work. Every women I know who has ever personally met Big Bill confirms the power of his mysterious magnetism. And I also believe that there is attraction at the heart of all aggression (and vice versa). (Cf. the disturbing faux confession "I Fucked Ann Coulter," floating around somewhere near the bottom of the internet, or the brilliant cartoon from Player magazine, ca. 1960s, of a Klansman on a street corner watching a hot black chick walk by and envisioning her, in his thought balloon, as a.) naked and b.) lynched.) Sarah Palin could not resist the filthy thrill of giving herself up to that big loutish libertine, symbol of the self-indulgent Sixties and wasteful liberalism, Slick Willie. (The slang term “spend” for ejaculation is archaic but the double-entendre was too ripe to resist.) Plus you just know she would carry that baby to term, even though it might be the one thing that would make the Republican party rise up in passionate renunciation of its historic pro-choice policy. Bill, where are you? This is a situation uniquely suited to your superpowers, one last chance to be an American hero. Into the breach!

I had to leave my apartment to draw this cartoon, because at home alone I can mope and laze endlessly and ignore the anxiety and guilt of not doing anything, but being in public usually shames me into drawing. I ended up at one of the few pleasant, quiet little bars in the east village that’s not crammed with bellowing sports fags on a Sunday afternoon. As I was sitting there sipping a Leffe and drawing Bill Clinton giving Sarah Palin the old Shock-‘n’-Awe treatment, a couple came in with their two little daughters, maybe six and four years old, who proceeded to take the stools on either side of me. The younger one was carrying a hamster in a sort of Habitrail escape pod with a handle. The older one immediately leaned way over into my personal space and watched with unabashed absorption as I drew. The drawing was already well underway and clearly recognizable as a couple of figures fucking, if you were at all familiar with the configurations of fucking. It made me pretty ill at ease, having this little girl sitting there watching me, but, on the other hand, I figured, I was here first, and it is after all a bar, customarily an exclusively adult venue. (I have no objection to kids being in bars but it’s sort of like me being on a playground; it’s by definition their home turf, and I had better have a pretty good reason for being there, like accompanying a legitimate patron of the facilities, and defer to them and not be an asshole and take over the slide or something.) I thought, it’s not as if I’m rushing up to little girls on the street brandishing a dirty cartoon at them. So I just kept drawing. The only thing the girl asked me was, “How come you can draw so good?” (She had an English accent, which only made everything worse.) I answered that I’d had a little bit of natural talent when I was a kid, and I’d kept doing it, a lot, for a long time, and so gradually I got better and better at it.” “Practice,” said her mom, emphasizing the moral lesson and politely ignoring the fact that I was drawing people fucking. The girl just kept sitting there intently watching everything I did for a long time. She had a bunch of ATM receipts clutched in her hand which she apparently cherished. I asked her what was the deal with the receipts and she explained that she was saving them to give to her friend Elizabeth, because her name was on them (they’d come from the ATM in the bar, which is located on Elizabeth street). At no point did we discuss the fact that I was drawing people fucking. She had a surprising degree of decorum for a six-year-old. Maybe it comes from being English.


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