you’re looking at boots, curled up in the window seat, reading michael pollan and trying to hold down airport food.
were we the kind of people who’d pay twelve dollars for three hours of in-flight internet, we could have indulged in literary diversions that didn’t compound the unpleasantness of our gastronomic predicament. we could, instead, have been dwelling on health care, or haiti, or any number of greater, more momentous unpleasantnesses. hell, we might even have stumbled upon something fun.
○ we could, for example, have found ourselves reading ursula viglietta delgado‘s dear stranger. have you been reading dear stranger? you should. you’ll thank me. and when you pass it along to your friends, they will wonder first why they weren’t already familiar with this wonder, and next, why you were. “oh, i must have read about it somewhere,” you’ll answer vaguely, leaving them no choice but to accept that you are simply a savvier, better-informed, more plugged-in, zeitgeistier individual than they. they’ll thank you. and make you their king. you’re welcome.
[ note: like many (most?) webcomics, dear stranger is built on the comixpress framework, which is, in my opinion, unreasonably difficult to navigate. you’ll want to use the arrows in the upper right hand corner, or the links immediately below the image, to move through the story. which is not to suggest the blog below isn’t also worth reading; it definitely is. it’s just an independent (and somewhat more linear) narrative. ]
○ we might have happened upon the photoblog atmosphere, where travel-pornographer tanveer badal has been chronicling the south african safari from which he recently returned, and forgotten for a time, among the alligators and impala and buzzards and buffalo, the mundanity of our own adventure.
○ maybe we would have discovered the tiny little odd things of l. van nortwick, who’ve finally found a home on the web where their grotesque elegance (think breugel in love) can be appreciated for the marvel it is. we might even have been inspired to address our own miserable illustrator skills.
○ we very likely would have checked in over at the five-page folded mini-comic, where super-fun foldies have been posted by promising rookies josh shalek and megan metzger, along with a beautiful new contribution from elder statesman reid psaltis.
[ note: if you haven’t yet tried one of these, you probably should do so now, and if you have, you probably want to send it our way. ]
○ or perhaps we would have wound our way over to afternoons in tablespoons, where girlcate has illuminated the science of chocolate chip cookies. but then we would again have found ourselves longing for superior foodstuffs, and right back where we started, and twelve dollars poorer.
○ so instead, we were forced to luxuriate in the endangered delights of print media. which is why, this week in the boy blue mile-high book club, we’re reading theo ellsworth‘s capacity, itself a kind of travelogue, albeit of an expedition that ventures in the opposite direction of most.
○ kevin has posted a nice review of the pyramid over at optical sloth. interested parties can now find it, alongside the other oubliette comics and tick, at the legendary quimby‘s bookstore* in chicago, as well as greenpoint’s own indispensable word.
we’ve also begun arranging for the coming season of festivals and expositions,** beginning with mocca in april, at which we’ll be tabling with celebrated cartoonist and award-winning indie comics enthusiast neil brideau.
○ if you find these posts to be unmanageably long-winded, you can now follow our considerably more succinct and slightly more frequent tweets.
○ cultural evolution, like its genetic corollary, has occasional gaps in its fossil record. this is, of course, to be expected; the world can only record and remember so much, and we don’t mean to suggest that seemingly abrupt developments cast any doubt upon the process of change. but they can leave us unable to explain or even comprehend fully how one thing led to another.
this week we were reminded of two such anomalies. and it’s hard, for us at least, to imagine the literary and political muck in which we’d still be slithering about were it not for messrs. salinger and zinn.
○ we flew to san antonio to shoot an interview. tommy and i, who had been there before, tried to prepare the rest of the crew. “it’s like a theme park based on itself,” we explained. “it’s all hotels and restaurants catering to people who’ve come for the restaurants and hotels, plying endless arrays of ‘texas toast’ and ‘lone star burgers’ and ‘alamo fries.’ and there’s this little canal, like the tube-filled ‘lazy river’ at a water park, circling its downtown. they call it a river, but it turns at right angles. it’s the phoniest thing you’ll ever see.”
as it happened, our hotel overlooked the “riverwalk”. we loaded in the gear and broke ranks to freshen up for dinner, agreeing to meet back in the lobby in 20 minutes. because i pride myself on traveling light even when practicality dictates otherwise, the aforementioned freshening consisted mainly of ditching the thermal i’d been wearing between my t-shirt and hoodie, and i found myself with a moment to kill.
stepping outside into the warm january dusk, coatless for the first time in months, i crossed the street to peer over the wall at the umbrellas of the eateries on the “riverbanks” below. a barge-load of out-of-towners floated past, led by a man with a microphone reciting a “tour” of the “city.” the porous weathered “stones” from which the bridges and embankments appeared to be constructed were, i had to concede, pretty convincing; had our stretch of promenade not been under renovation, i wouldn’t have realized they were in fact tiles cemented to concrete.
i knew that people lived here, but, coming from a place that is constantly complementing its own ‘realness,’ somehow couldn’t fathom it. where did they live, exactly?
still, it was nice to be outside. the simple awareness of not clenching my shoulders against the cold was an unfamiliar and welcome sensation. and the air, to be sure, was clean and sweet.
boots, our sound chick and chief food officer, appeared beside me. “that’s pretty ridiculous,” she noted. “although,” she appended after a moment of further observation, “it looks a lot nicer than sidewalk dining in brooklyn. no trucks barreling by, drowning out the conversation and making you cough.”
it was true; i had in fact just been thinking the same thing. graham joined us and stood in silence for a moment, appraising the scene with his cinematographer’s eye. “i don’t know, you guys, i’m having trouble mustering the scorn. i bet people here don’t have rats nesting in their tail pipe.”
“yeah, okay,” tommy allowed, coming to round us up. “but you have to actually see the restaurants. they’re super-cheesy.”
it was comforting to know. “who’s in the mood for tex-mex?” tommy asked. we turned to leave, subduing our doubts with the expectation of a truly terrible meal. the water shimmered and sparkled, seemingly unaware of its inauthenticity.