January 20, 2015
I'm reading Van Gogh, The Life, a monumental biography by Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. It is some 800 pages and I'm just now at the 524 mark, where the hapless, crazy-assed Dutchman is in Paris for the second time and is floundering as only he could. I must say this: nobody I have ever known or read about could ever piss off so many people, so quickly and in so many situations (he pulled a knife on his father at the dinner table!) and have absolutely zero to show for it!
Reading it as an artist, it reads as a warning tale and as a human it reads as a tragedy to rival anything Shakespeare ever wrote. But either way, I often find myself looking in the mirror in the morning and asking the obvious question: "Just how flippin' close am I on the artistic continuum to this crazy bastard?"
Which leads me to this quote from the New York Times on Sunday: ""The streets of American cities are haunted by the ghosts of bookstores and record stores, which have been destroyed by the greatest thugs in the history of the culture industry." And by "thugs" he—Leon Wieseltier—means the bastards who steal music and content online. He goes on:
"The distinction between knowledge and information is a thing of the past, and there is no greater disgrace than to be a thing of the past."
Whether or not I resemble Vincent Van Gogh in any capacity, it's clear I'm closer to being in the past than I was yesterday or even two minutes ago. As my grandfather would say, "I'm old hat." Which, in itself is old hat (a saying that's so old, nobody even bothers using it today).
BBB is "old hat"
There was a time when I was somewhat cutting edge. I did a series of cartoons in the eighties on how illegal immigrants could blend in:
A Special Report for Illegal Aliens from the 1980s
When this cartoon ran in the Phoenix New Times, if memory serves correct, I didn't receive even one letter to the editor. But when it ran, later in the year in Tucson, the Tucson Weekly offices were firebombed and when the same cartoons ran in a Santa Barbara newspaper, the editors got so many threats they ran a front page apology for being so tasteless, and promised it would never happen again.
Now I admit, that is not really in the same league as the events in Paris:
But, then again, I am old hat:
BBB in an even older hat
"It was always the case that all things must pass, but this is ridiculous."
—Leon Wieseltier, in the New York Times