Deer in Somebody's Headlights a Little to Your Left
Everything is falling apart at our house. It's been eleven years since we re-did the kitchen and the appliances are all going. We had the Sears guy out to look at the dishwasher and he charged us $149 to tell us it was shot. A plumber came out to look at the tankless water heater. Both need to be replaced. Recently we had to replace the toilet. There’s a list of house repairs on our refrigerator as long as my arm and growing by the day. We put on a new roof recently, which cost a fortune, now we have to decide where to sink our money next. Sometimes I wish we had a characterless ‘80s tract home in Manteca. It’s bad timing too because Hae’s major client disappeared. I might have to get off my ass and make some money.
Life in California has been gorgeous though. We’re having a spell of summer right in the middle of winter, in fact it’s nicer now than it was anytime between last June through August. The flowers are starting to come up. Nature is confused. We’ve been out hiking and taking bike rides in the hills. There was mud everywhere and my bike tires are the smooth kind made for roads, so I was fishtailing all over and almost went off the steep cliff on the side of the trail. Oscar and Hae ride bikes the same way they ski, fast and fearless, while I pull up the rear being cautious, hands on the brakes, trying not to get killed. I don’t want to make it sound like I’m exercising a lot or anything. I’m still ninety percent sedentary.
We went to Tilden Park on Sunday and afterwards took Oscar out to the place called Oscar’s where he had a burger. Hae and I watched him eat. The semi-vegetarian lifestyle is suiting us fine. We’re shedding pounds and looking fabulous.
Despite feeling great, or perhaps because of it, I skipped out on my deadline and ran a classic Troubletown cartoon this week. I don’t do it often but once in a while it’s necessary to take the week off.
It's been another week of making proposals and chasing a dollar like a rat on a wheel. All of the projects I have hanging out there are going to come through at once, I know it, and then I will be backed up and stressed out. But for now all I can do is wait. I also filmed my short graphic recorder promo video and chopped it up in iMovie. I guess one of these days I’ll have to learn Final Cut Pro. I hate to learn new programs.
I got my webmaster, Pat Broderick, to make a few changes to the site which you may have noticed. We got rid of all the ads. I wasn’t making any money off of them and they were always coming up as troubled youth boot camps, feminine hygiene products, or my books on sale for a penny. Screw that! We also got rid of the second page so now if you click on “More Cartoons” you get the archive viewer in a pop up window. Enable your pop-ups! I’ve also been going through my piles of old sketchbooks and pulling out my favorites for the Lloyd Dangle sketchbook, one of my most popular features. Please take a few minutes and click through. Also, keep sending in those donations! Troubletown still delivers more for your entertainment dollar than any other cartoon blog on the web.
Watched Man Inside, which managed to make a daring heist very boring. And Lives of Others which made living in East Germany during the Cold War look very creepy. That’s the kind of country you leftist Marxist Frankfurt School Obama socialists want to turn America into! Bad, very bad!
Some of my critics are way into this stuff. It touches on SEIU, political correctness, the liberal academy, and all the stuff the right hates. Warning: the Frankfurt School and Saul Alinsky are eating your brains!
-- July 2008: A gunman named Jim David Adkisson, agitated at how "liberals" are "destroying America," walks into a Unitarian Church and opens fire, killing two churchgoers and wounding four others.
-- October 2008: Two neo-Nazis are arrested in Tennessee in a plot to murder dozens of African-Americans, culminating in the assassination of President Obama.
-- December 2008: A pair of "Patriot" movement radicals -- the father-son team of Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, who wanted "to attack the political infrastructure" -- threaten a bank in Woodburn, Oregon, with a bomb in the hopes of extorting money that would end their financial difficulties, for which they blamed the government. Instead, the bomb goes off and kills two police officers. The men eventually are convicted and sentenced to death for the crime.
-- December 2008: In Belfast, Maine, police discover the makings of a nuclear "dirty bomb" in the basement of a white supremacist shot dead by his wife. The man, who was independently wealthy, reportedly was agitated about the election of President Obama and was crafting a plan to set off the bomb.
-- January 2009: A white supremacist named Keith Luke embarks on a killing rampage in Brockton, Mass., raping and wounding a black woman and killing her sister, then killing a homeless man before being captured by police as he is en route to a Jewish community center.
-- February 2009: A Marine named Kody Brittingham is arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate President Obama. Brittingham also collected white-supremacist material.
-- April 2009: A white supremacist named Richard Poplawski opens fire on three Pittsburgh police officers who come to his house on a domestic-violence call and kills all three, because he believed President Obama intended to take away the guns of white citizens like himself. Poplawski is currently awaiting trial.
-- April 2009: Another gunman in Okaloosa County, Florida, similarly fearful of Obama's purported gun-grabbing plans, kills two deputies when they come to arrest him in a domestic-violence matter, then is killed himself in a shootout with police.
-- May 2009: A "sovereign citizen" named Scott Roeder walks into a church in Wichita, Kansas, and assassinates abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.
-- June 2009: A Holocaust denier and right-wing tax protester named James Von Brunn opens fire at the Holocaust Museum, killing a security guard.
-- February 2010: An angry tax protester named Joseph Ray Stack flies an airplane into the building housing IRS offices in Austin, Texas. (Media are reluctant to label this one "domestic terrorism" too.)
-- March 2010: Seven militiamen from the Hutaree Militia in Michigan and Ohio are arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate local police officers with the intent of sparking a new civil war.
-- March 2010: An anti-government extremist named John Patrick Bedell walks into the Pentagon and opens fire, wounding two officers before he is himself shot dead.
-- May 2010: A "sovereign citizen" from Georgia is arrested in Tennessee and charged with plotting the violent takeover of a local county courthouse.
-- May 2010: A still-unidentified white man walks into a Jacksonville, Fla., mosque and sets it afire, simultaneously setting off a pipe bomb.
-- May 2010: Two "sovereign citizens" named Jerry and Joe Kane gun down two police officers who pull them over for a traffic violation, and then wound two more officers in a shootout in which both of them are eventually killed.
-- July 2010: An agitated right-winger and convict named Byron Williams loads up on weapons and drives to the Bay Area intent on attacking the offices of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, but is intercepted by state patrolmen and engages them in a shootout and armed standoff in which two officers and Williams are wounded.
-- September 2010: A Concord, N.C., man is arrested and charged with plotting to blow up a North Carolina abortion clinic. The man, 26-year--old Justin Carl Moose, referred to himself as the "Christian counterpart to (Osama) bin Laden” in a taped undercover meeting with a federal informant. [Digby]
Last week’s cartoon was inspired by a line I read in the New York Times, probably by the useless Matt Bai, who said something to the effect that there are dangerous elements on both ends of the political spectrum. I immediately thought of my neighborhood because my town represents the extreme end of the political spectrum. It’s arguably the most liberal county in the United States. When I look around at the “far left” I’m certain that there couldn’t be a group of more soft and harmless people anywhere. Contrast that with the people who show up at tea party rallies with guns strapped to their legs and t-shirts with jokes like, “liberal hunting permit,” and “water the tree of liberty.” I’d say there’s no equivalence between the two groups, and, hence, the cartoon. Anyway, that sparked a lot of discussion about guns here and on my Facebook page that’s been fun to read but hasn’t changed my mind. It’s that same old, guns don’t kill people, people do, argument the NRA must publish on the back of the membership cards. You could kill your spouse or brother-in-law with an ice pick but a gun is so much easier and more convenient. I also posted a porny sketch of a guy getting off on a gun as a sex fetish. Potential corporate clients are going to love that. “Let’s not hire that sick Dangle character,” they’ll say.
I remember when, as an adolescent, I used to go to a rifle range, the ROTC range and the University of Michigan. My friend Mike Krebs and I were competitive in every sport, whiffle ball, bowling, tennis, billiards, you name it, so we decided to compete at shooting guns at targets. Of all the sports we played shooting guns was the most boring. It’s probably more fun when you’re firing a Glock or an Uzi that blasts the target into little bits, but we were shooting 22s, which just make little holes. The instructors and people there reminded me of the church youth groups I used to crash for the girls and pizza. I didn’t like the atmosphere. The people were very upright and religious about their guns.
Speaking of Michigan, my friend Geoffie is still juggling his thirty projects and hounding me to go to work for him. Now he’s going to make records (he has bands lined up) and movies (he’s got twelve ideas that are fully formed, he just needs me to write them) in addition to the nightclub he’s opening in Ann Arbor. He told me that of the top fifty ideas for economic development in Michigan the thirty-five best ones are his. A couple weeks ago he was trying to get me to go to Detroit for the auto show so that he could announce the launch of his media company (and take all the attention away from the new car models). This is a guy who spent a few nights recently sleeping in his car. I didn’t go but he attended the show without me. First he went to a hip hop store and got all pimped out. Everybody was coming up to him and introducing themselves because he looked so cool. He says he’s coming to California next week and that I should open up a few days to sit around and brainstorm with him.
Hae, our friend Irene, and I took Oscar to see a vault print of Walt Disney’s Fantasia at the Paramount Theater Friday night. Oakland has become hip quite recently, so downtown was bustling, but we still found a parking place. I didn’t see any guys with guns at all in the theater. Fantasia is pretty amazing and it runs the whole gamut from dinosaurs, to satan, to Walt Disney’s peculiar ideas about sexuality. We also watched The American, kind of a lame hit man drama but with George Clooney’s chiseled mug. Also watched the Scorsese documentary on Bob Dylan, No Way Home. It was way more fun than Nazis a Warning from History. We also took Oscar to see the Harlem Globetrotters. There were some fantastic stunts and a few yucks. Good for the kids.
My zodiac sign changed from Taurus to Aries. What is that going to do to my personality?
Hae said that this week’s cartoon was the most depressing thing she’s ever seen. I kind of thought so too after I did it, but it was a reaction to all those new year’s top ten lists and year-in-review things. I decided to do one for the down and out. I thought it was a funny concept. I had to make it all up of course because I've been living comfortably, skiing and vacationing while you were huddled over your laptop in a doorway with a can of Sterno. MTK and Rosencrantz have been saying such things behind my back, how nice it must be to be a soft, old cartoonist. Well if it makes you feel any better the only way I can do it is by living beyond my means.
Anyway all that vacationing is behind me. It’s 2011! The ‘leven. I’ve got to clean the cobwebs out of my websites, rev up the promo machine, start shucking and jiving, tweeting every day, and being funny, funny, funny.
I sent out this year’s Troubletown calendar expecting a lot of intense blowback, but so far––hardly anything. Maybe it’s the silence of people unfriending me and unliking me. In case you haven’t gotten one, sorry, it’s an ass-a-month calendar dedicated to Sarah Palin. It’s all about ass, tacky and tasteless, and I cringe every time I put a stamp on one. I hope you folks get the spirit of it, because it wasn’t easy to find such sleaze. Give me your address if you want one.
Oscar is back in school. He’s such a grumpy kid (wonder where he gets that from) that we instituted a rule: at dinner everybody has to say one positive thing that happened to them that day. Oscar and I both started out by saying things like, “Today didn’t suck nearly as bad as I thought I would.” I think I said, “I lost four pounds instead of gaining more weight like I usually do.” Those aren’t positive statements. One’s therapist might ask why Oscar and I would answer the question that way? It reflects a certain world view. We’re working on it together.
I finished some exceedingly complex proposals to make whiteboard animation videos that took me days. The projects ended up being so expensive once I added all the production costs that the clients immediately bailed. Another client has paid me in advance to do some cartoons. In advance? Who pays for things in advance? How am I possibly going to do the work now, without the carrot? I honestly don’t know. I may take the money and disappear to Acapulco except it’s not that much.
Hae and I are making an effort to clean ourselves up and stop eating so much meat and garbage and sucking down booze and try to ease ourselves into a vegetarian lifestyle. It’s not one of those new year’s resolution things, I hate those. This is something that started in December, stopping during the holiday bacchanal, and is continuing now with a new sense of purpose. I am going to miss the barbeque grill and chomping all those carcinogen-coated ribs I make all summer long. I may still do it once during the summer, a rack of baby back pork ribs with my amazing sauce. Otherwise, pure vegetarian.
Looking forward to seeing Matt Taibbi’s article on John Boehner in Rolling Stone. I’ve been going down people’s blogrolls to dig up some new sources of information, the old ones are getting stale. Saw Time Bandits, which I wanted to love but I thought it sucked. I fell asleep actually. What else? I watched part of Nazis A Warning from History. In the first episode the Nazis are just a fledgling movement, considered a joke, Hitler is considered a clown. It’s exactly like the Tea Party.
My friend Warren Bernard, who works at the Library of Congress, sent me this Art Young cartoon from 1921. It works just as well today. Notice the heavy use of labels...there's one on every damn thing in the drawing!
Our Tahoe vacation’s over. I made it through three days of skiing without killing myself and we escaped before the latest huge snowstorm hit in the mountains. During all that skiing and falling my old injured knee never bothered me, then I slipped on some ice and jerked it so that it started hurting again. I’ve been icing it and limping.
Christmas was full of the usual sparkly joy. We put on an internet radio station playing syrupy Christmas tunes that ambianced the background. Oscar opened all his Chinese-made plastic toys and there was an ocean of wrapping paper left on the floor. Within an hour he was complaining that he was bored. Yes, we've spoiled the child.
We were back in Oakland for New Year’s eve and had dinner at Carrie’s house with her and her friends, Johnny and Lynn, who we re-met after a ten-year hiatus. We popped the corks and poured the wine down our gullets and talked about music and bands Hae and I had never heard of. We have an eight-year-old, so it’s been at least eight years since we were hip to the music scene and even then we weren’t really. From Carrie’s apartment we could see the fireworks over San Francisco and the night was free of gunshots as far as we knew. We stood by the window without fear. I remember New Year’s in the past where Hae and I would hit the deck and stay on the floor until the shooting stopped.
I drew a lot in my sketchbook during the vacation. I wasn’t disengaged from the family though, which sometimes can be a problem when you draw too much. I built snowmen and played and cooked meals and did all that stuff. In the sketchbook I made lots of pictures of me skiing and falling on my ass in gruesome ways. I was trying to get one that was just right. Oscar asked if I ever drew anything but pictures of people getting hurt. He should talk, all his pictures are of bombs and guns and wars.
Hae, Auntie Soo, cousin Sarah and I all had our computers with us and we checked our email and Facebook constantly. Every time I read my email I learned from the Yahoo group of another break-in in the neighborhood. An attempted one happened on our block but was thwarted by some alert vigilantes. We had the visiting family of some other neighbors staying at our house and feeding Coco for part of the time we were gone so that may have deterred the burglars from hitting our place. We were happy to find that everything was intact when we got home.
The roads were slick and icy some of the time we were up in Tahoe and one day I drove up to an intersection where a type of giant snow-blowing truck was clearing snow. On the front was a set of rotating blades three or four feet tall that churn the snow up so it can be shot up into the air. When I hit the brakes we just slid. We were helplessly sliding straight toward those grinding blades. Luckily the snow-blower driver had control and made a quick maneuver so that we could slide right past. As the skiers say, we just about ate it, dude!
Anyway, it’s good to be home. Soo and Sarah came back to Oakland with us, but they left today for LA. It’ll be great to get Oscar back in school so that I can work and no longer have to entertain his spoiled ass. (I love him more than anything). I have some complicated proposals to write and of course I’m hoping to book some graphic recording gigs for January and February so I can get to work and make some bucks. I have to draw a Troubletown cartoon tomorrow and have zero idea of what I’m going to do. I’ll spend the day reading news then get up at five tomorrow morning and crank it out.