Tuesday, May 15, 2007

R.I.P. Jerry Falwell

The Reverend Jerry Falwell was pronounced dead today at Lychburg General Hospital in Lynchburg, Virginia after being found unresponsive in his office at Liberty University this morning. Founder of the "Moral Majority" and one of our times' most flamboyant opponents to modernism in all of its forms, Falwell held himself out as a segregationist, a homophobe, an enemy of secularism in schools, a millenialist and apocalypse-heralder, a proponent of South African Apartheid, and a crusader against pornography and the Teletubbies. Although Falwell lost his fabled case against Hustler Magazine publisher Larry Flint (precipitated by Flint's publishing of a fake Campari add purporting to quote Falwell as recounting his first sexual experience--with his own mother in an outhouse), Falwell prevailed in a case the SEC prosecuted against him for allegedly issuing unsecured bonds fraudulently on behalf of his church. Falwell founded Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1971. His Thomas Road Baptist Church of Lynchburg presently counts its membership at 24,000. Falwell, never shy about making outrageous public statements, was fond of claiming that God is a Republican. With regard to Falwell's passing, of this much we are certain: the political dialogue in our nation will not be the same without him.

Maxim Declares LL Hottest Woman In World For 21 Years Running

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the girl who everyone in the entire effing world can't stop talking about and taking pictures of and making those pictures the wallpaper on their computers and obsessing over each and every one of her supposedly "bad" penchants and habits even though absolutely none of her behavior is any different from everyone else in LA and pretending that her movies aren't always totally the shit and that it's all just an ironic in-joke and that they could eventually learn to live without her even though they think about her first thing in the morning when they get up and their lives would be reduced to abject and nihilistic despair if they couldn't sit rapt through repeated showings of Just My Luck and spend hours every day at work google-ing "Lindsay strapless oops"? I'll give you one guess.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Indian Brewer To Buy Venerable Scotch Blendinghouse

An Indian beer magnate named Vijay Mallya, is expected to sign a deal to buy the Scotch stalwart Whyte & Mackay this week. The Whyte & Mackay brand dates from 1844, when whisky merchants James Whyte and Charles Mackay began blending their "Special" whiskey from 35 different malts at their place of business in Glasgow. Apparently India is the world's largest market for whisky, and consumption of whiskey is growing rapidly among its public. Due to tariffs, most of the whiskey consumed in India is produced domestically. Commentators note that the Whyte & Mackay deal could greatly improve Indian blends because Whyte & Mackay's vast stock of single malts would be made available to Indian blendinghouses.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Icon of Underground Comics Publishes Voluminous Retrospective

I started reading King-Cat Comix when I was fourteen years old. I had read a glowing review of King-Cat # 45 in Destroy All Comics, a zine put together by Jeff Levine that I had found at a local comic book store. At that age, just coming out of middle school, I had been fascinated by the underground comics made by auteurs like Mike Allred and Dan Clowes that I had discovered in a column in the very normal Wizard Magazine. Soon after comics like Grafik Muzik and Eightball opened the door leading to the possibility of individualized expression in comics for me, my discovery of King-Cat blew the hinges right off it.

King-Cat # 45 received the most glowing review that 1994 issue of Destory All Comics had to offer, and, floored by the idea of totally home-made comics as a viable medium and product, I took Levine’s advice and sent John Porcellino a letter requesting a copy of K-C # 45 along with 2 dollars cash. What I received changed forever how I thought about comics, and about art; and I am confident to go so far as to say that it changed my life. Through my high school years (and into college and law school) I consumed John’s work voraciously, and through his work I discovered, very quickly, an entire world of hidden art and unnoticed culture, through the many comics, zines and records that John directed me to. But the most important thing that I discovered from all of this was the sheer power that can only come from the realization that the ability to create is instantly available to everybody. There is absolutely nothing that can stop any willing person from making something that can invent a culture—that’s what John showed me.

Aside from this general realization, the content of John’s images were powerful to me as well. As a youth I was delighted to receive an example of how to be a real man—a man’s man—at the same time as being ponderous, anxious, self-critical, and scared. This, of course, is the way that every self-reliant man is and we all know it (the reader should think of his own father), but this reality is hardly ever validated and almost never developed in art. I also related to the interest in Buddhism that John cultivated in the mid 1990’s and felt an irresistible kinship with John’s conscious dedication to the tragically ephemeral details in our lives and to the undeniable importance of our experiences, our selves, our tastes, our reactions, and our cherished memories. King-Cat has always been a good bargain for the consumer; John, I trust, has never really made any money to speak of from what is a very rich and valuable repertoire, and his life’s work. King-Cat is really just a thoughtful gift from John to you and me—just like our own lives are generous gifts to us, and our persons and personalities are rare prizes that we may choose to disclose to other people.

King-Cat Classix is a voluminous compendium of John’s best, most iconic works to be drawn from the first 50 issues of his peerless series King-Cat. The book’s presentation is at once professional and private, a carefully constructed collection that embodies King-Cat's position at the nexus of the ephemeral world of zines and the steady sphere of libraries and archives that John’s work will inhabit for the rest of our history. The book costs 30 dollars, it’s hard bound, and you can buy it from Amazon, but this thick collection of black and white pen drawings is nothing less than a true record of John’s 1990’s zine revolution. I give it, as I would give all of John Porcellino’s work, my absolute highest recommendation.

Released May 1, 2007 by Drawn & Quarterly, Montreal.