Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?

"Astronomical Cartoons"
ca. 1994-96

"Poor Venus"


"Jupiter, Queen of the Gods"


These two cartoons, drawn from deep in the Pain archives, are in honor of yesterday's transit of Venus, which I was happy to witness in the company of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York out on the pier at Riverside Park. NASA was handing out free solar viewing glasses, like carboard 3-D glasses you get in theaters, except for looking at the sun. I got to see the image of Venus's black disc silhouetted against the tremulous yellow rim of the sun through an old brass telescope its owner inherited from its great-grandfather.

Here we see that, bad reputation notwithstanding, the Goddess of Love ends up alone. In all the solar system only Mercury is so bereft, and he, of course, has the Sun to snuggle up to. Even outcast Pluto has faithful little Charon and Nix to keep him company in his frigid exile. I once showed this cartoon at the Lunar and Planetar Institue in Houston during a Forum on Outer Planetary Exploration 2000-2020 and got a big laugh, perhaps the only place in the solar system where this would've been possible.

About the second cartoon I think perhaps let's just say as little as possible.


This Is the Worst" (cont'd.)
An Ongoing Collaborative Art Project

June 6, 2012

Let me just say that the "This Is The Worst" project has improved my life immesurably. Every morning a fresh bouquet of horrors arrives in my mailbox. At least one per day slays me. I have a book coming out in less than two weeks, which I can barely contemplate without suffering a sort of petit mal seizure of anxiety and dread. Meanwhile the projet I am most excited about in life is "This Is The Worst."




Submitted by Paul Osimo

Possibly "This Is the Worst" serves as some sort of projection test. Paul's versions of The Worst all seem to involve mass institutionalized suffering, dehumanization through sheer numbers or repetition--everyone forced to conform through baldness and the standard-issue smocks of Dystopia, the little Lego men being bleached/stripped of their souls, Breughel's vast mob of lamenting/jeering/indifferent humanity on the road to Golgotha.

Notes: Ira Levin is probably best known for his twice-filmed novel The Stepford Wives; thie first image is the cover of a French translation of his novel This Perfect Day, rendered here as "Unbearable Happiness." The "Cool Machine" was constructed by one Shannon Ocean. The painting "Golgotha" is by Jan Breughel the Younger.


Submitted by Julia Miller

Julia writes: " I assume they dislike each other for many reasons, not the least of which is the other's hair. The Donald is insanely jealous of the Mitt's perfect coif, and no one can stand Trump's hair." The real "This is the worst" caption here is supplied by the viewer's own thought balloon. It is some consolation to reflect that fifty years from now nobody looking at this picture will have any idea who either of these people was.


Submitted by Matek Lewczuk

Matek received this poster from a friend in China; it's a re-issue of some vintage Mao-era propaganda. He writes: "I think the guy having a bad time may be Nixon." It usually is, but in this case a Chinese-speaking friend informs me the figure being smushed on the left is an "American Imperialist" and the one on the right is "Soviet Revisionism" (a pretty lame national arch-nemesis, if you ask me). At first I'd thought it might be Gerald Ford, but I'm relieved it's not. Ford deserved better.




Submitted by John D. Martin III

This, apparently, is the aftermath of what is now known as the Miami bath-salts zombie attack. This submission exemplifies the cultivated and discerning connoisseurship we have come to except from anyone with a III after his name.


Submitted by Bonner Doemling

Bonner, a longtime reader, takes unfair advantage of my well-known loathing for William Wegman, world's most risk-averse living artist. Although among all my reasons for despising Wegman, I've never considered the daily humiliations to which he subjects his dogs. Now that I think about it, they must sometimes wonder dimly what it all means. There is something basically wrong about dressing animals up in little costumes; to do it as a career is truly low.


Submitted by J. Domino

I have nothing to say about this submission. It may be the single best thing in the world. A 21st-century response to the the Breughel: mankind poised in the barest flailing instant between launching himself into the abyss and the great gaping maw of annihilation. That penguin is like: Fuuuck me.

Moments ago I was walking on West 42nd Street when I passed a woman who was saying to her friend: "This is the worst." The sky was bright; a light rain was falling, so light you didn't need an umbrells. Unless she was referring to some not-immediately-apparent situation, it was not the worst. But it cheered me up nonetheless.


More submissions are welcome. I hope to make "This Is the Worst" a recurring feature. If you've tried to submit an entry to and it got bounced back, I apologize. I now have a new, functioning email address:

Please note that my literary agent, the fabulous Meg Thompson, has also changed addresses:

I look forward to hearing from you all again.



My old friend Carolyn got into a kind of "This Is The Worst" flame war when I sent her this old photo of her:

and she immediately retaliated by sending me this photograph, apparently of me:

I swear I have no memory of this fucking hat.




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