31 October 2011

THE CERTAINTY OF CHANCE

A while back, I mentioned an upcoming book I was really excited about, The Strange Talent of Luther Strode. That's out there in the world now – on its second issue, in fact – and judging from the overall reaction, it's been a great success for newcomers Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore. It's kind of cool, too: Looking through my old email, I see I received Justin's initial pitch on November 12, 2010.

Just off the carefully tousled mop top of my head, Image has only given the green light to a handful of projects that came in as blind submissions. The overwhelming majority of what we publish is the product of existing relationships with creators already working in comics. Established writers or artists pitch series and graphic novels to us all the time, and once someone is working with Image, it's not too uncommon to get recommendations about other books. Sometimes we actively seek out specific creators, cozying up to them at conventions and whispering sweet nothing into their ears about how much we la-la-la-love their work and how proud we would be to publish their next magnum opus.

Blind pitches like Justin and Tradd's do find their way to the Image office on a regular basis, though, trickling in like drops of water from a leaky faucet some days and cascading down on us all waterfall-like others. The kids all dream of making, whatever that means, and since Image does have a reputation of publishing work by new creators, it's only natural that anyone with a story churning in their guts would to want to roll the bones on an unsolicited proposal. Craps probably gives you better odds, ultimately, because like I said: Not many blind pitches make pass. Unless there's something truly exceptional about your submission, the dice really isn't loaded in your favor.

I don't say that to dissuade anyone from submitting to Image. We definitely encourage proposals for new series and original graphic novels. If nothing else, the time spent assembling your pitch is its own reward: You're developing your craft, figuring our what you're capable of and what you want to say. Even if your project isn't picked up, by Image and any other publisher you approach, that's valuable experience you didn't have before.

And there's always a chance that, like Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore, you'll completely spellbind us with your submission.

The Luna Brothers did that years ago with Ultra. Jonathan Hickman did it sometime later with The Nightly News. That's not bad company for Luther Strode. And there are others, of course, but even if I ran down the complete list, Image has approved fewer than a dozen blind submissions in the past 10 years.

The thing all those submission had in common, though, was that they were as different from anything we were already publishing as a leisurely walk is to running the 50-yard dash. These were creators who weren't afraid to strut in with something genuinely all-new and all-different, never mind the trends or conventional wisdom of the day. They were peacock proud to follow their own paths and if anyone else wanted to Pied Piper up behind them, well, even better still. In each case, we knew there was something special about the creators and their pitches, and when someone with something unique shows up at your door, regardless how experienced, it would be an act of sheer foolishness not to invite him or her in.

That goes for everyone with something new to impart on the all-too-often conservative world of comics. There is always room at Image – in this industry – for fearless thinkers. So many of the submissions we receive are merely a writer's take on a pre-existing concept (and if I see one more pitch for any kind of zombie comic, holy barf, there is going to be a mess on my office floor) or an artist aping someone else's style. In situations like that, there's no element of chance at all. It's not on, it's just not happening. But I assure you that, sure as my fingers are rap-a-tap-tapping on this keyboard, someone is going to read what I've just said about the guys who did make it off blind pitches and get the 25-watt idea that sending in something similar to one of those projects will increase his or her chances of getting some time in the spotlight. We've already got The Nightly News, though, and we've already done Ultra. You can run out and buy The Strange Talent of Luther Strode right now. We don't need to dress them up in new clothes and parade them around the like the latest fall fashions.

What we do need is different, honest and daring. That's we respond to, and that's what increases your chances. And "chance" really is the operative word here. There's no guarantee we're going to fall in love with your pitch, even if it is different to all the other books on the market. (Things can be too different, after all, and sadly sometimes different = bad.) Submitting something you genuinely believe in, that's well put together and offers something we haven't seen before (or at least not in a very long time...) makes it less of a guessing game for everyone involved, though, increases your odds exponentially and makes the whole submission process a chance worth taking.

You can be certain of that.

* * * * *
And on a related note, what got me thinking about all this was a new series we'll be launching in early 2012: Hell Yeah. It wasn't a blind pitch – it's actually written by an old Image staffer, Joe Keatinge – but with the initial arc telling the story of a man trying to figure out why alternate versions of himself are being murdered, it definitely qualifies as different, and thanks to the artwork by the up-and-coming Andre Szymanowicz, it looks awesome. The first issue is done, and I think we've got it penciled in for March right now, so if you find yourself hankering for something new come springtime, you can start salivating over Hell Yeah now.

30 October 2011

HOLD ON TO YOUR FRIENDS

My friend Paul left for England this past Wednesday, the third time he's done so since I've known him. Several of his friends got together a few days before his departure, and a good time was had by all. We've seen Paul off before, but this time, there was an mistakable sense of finality, that he is in fact going home, and if he returns to California again, it will be to visit, not to stay.

It's comforting to know your friends are happy, that they're doing what they want or need to do, but that doesn't make it any less sad when they're gone. True, technology has made it easier to stay in touch, but texting, video chat, email and Facebook can't really replace the good times we've shared in "real time," or as we used to say in the old days, "in person." Posting a comment on someone's wall does not equal going out for dinner or sharing a few pints after work, just as winding up online at the same time as a friend halfway 'round the world isn't the same as running into that person in a record shop or on the street.

I met Paul at a record shop, a place called Mod Lang here in Berkeley that he co-owned with his wife, Naomi, right around the time I first moved up here. I'd been to Mod Lang before, on visits to the Bay Area when I was still living in Los Angles, but it wasn't until another dearly departed friend, the late, great owner of Berkeley comics institution Comic Relief, Rory Root, made the introduction that I actually got to know Paul and Naomi. Seven years ago, Mod Lang and Comic Relief were located right next door to one another: new records on Tuesday, new comics on Wednesday. Now Mod Lang is in El Cerrito, and Comic Relief, like Rory, is gone, replaced by two stores opened by former employees, Fantastic Comics and The Escapist.

Time passes, as it must, but some feelings remain the same. I still get my comic books from the comic book store; I still buy my records at the record store. And I'm eternally grateful for the friendship I've acquired in the process. There are so many people I know now, specifically as the result of walking in the door at Mod Lang or Comic Relief, or indeed any number of other places I've frequented since moving to the Bay Area.

So, with an eye toward the notion that friendship isn't something gained by the press of a button, and since it's been a while since I've done a top 10 list, here are my top 10 favorite songs about friendship...


1. Justin Hayward & John Lodge - "Remember Me, My Friend," (Blue Jays, 1975)
2. The Rollings Stones - "Waiting on a Friend," (Tattoo You, 1981)
3. Led Zeppelin - "Friends," (Led Zeppelin III, 1970)
4. Morrissey - "Hold On to Your Friends," (Vauxhall and I, 1994)
5. Gladys Knight & The Pips - "Friendship Train," (single A-side, 1969)
6. The Zombies - "Friends of Mine," (Odyssey and Oracle, 1968)
7. The Kinks - "All of My Friends Were There," (The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, 1968)
8. The Divine Comdy - "Absent Friends," (Absent Friends, 2004)
9. Carole King - "You've Got a Friend," (Tapestry, 1971)
10. Paul McCartney - "Friends to Go," (Chaos and Creation In the Back Yard, 2005)

ALL OVER THE PLACE

A variety of neon signs from a few different places: Downtown San Francisco, Napa, New York...

John's Grill, 1908

Oxbow Public Market, 2007

The Uptown Theatre, 1937

Blue Ruin, 2009

NBC Studios, 1933

28 October 2011

FRIDAY ON MY MIND

Do you remember when new comics day was Friday?

For some reason, I woke up with that on my mind. I feel like the Direct Market switched from a Wednesday in store day to Friday around 1992. By most accounts, that year was the biggest year in comic book history, so based on sales alone, it might be hard to argue changing in store dates had an adverse effect on sales, but with nearly 20 years hindsight, I guess I'm wondering if maybe it did.

The late, great Carol Kalish had argued in favor of a Wednesday in store date because she felt fans would then go to stores twice a week: once on Wednesday to get the books they absolutely had to have, and then again on the weekend to see what they'd missed.

I was actively working in comics by then, so I don't think my own habits are particularly indicative of comics fandom at large, but I do know that when comics came out on Friday, I spent more time in comic books shops than I did on Wednesdays. I also tended to visit more than one shop, but again, maybe that was a habit specific to me. I worked at a library back then, and usually, I'd hit the comic book shop nearest the branch I worked out of when I was on my lunch break. I'd usually buy one or two things to read over lunch, but I usually held of on buying most of my books until I could go to my regular shop, either after work or on Saturday.

I was fortunate to live in area with several comics shops, so if for whatever reason I missed something at my regular on Friday or Saturday, I could drive around town and find it at another store without much trouble. My recollection, though, is that when the in store date moved to Wednesday, I started missing things more often, especially if I couldn't actually get to a shop the day books came out. Often, by the time the weekend rolled around, a variety of comics had sold out and even when I looked around at other shops, they were gone. For me, at least, it trained me to go on Wednesday, and visiting shops on the weekend was something I did less and less, because the expectation was everything good would be gone by then.

Over the years, I've heard lots of Direct Market retailers argue for a Tuesday in store date. The line of thinking seems to be that everything else comes out on Tuesdays, so comics should, too. I've always been puzzled by this rationale, though, because that just means there's more competition for consumer dollars at what is essentially the mid-point between paydays. Especially given how expensive comics have become since many publishers have adopted the $3.99 cover price, it seems more logical to have new comics out at a time when fans are flush with cash.

I know I'm personally more inclined to spend money on the weekend, and I have to imagine the vast majority of consumers share the same instinct. People get paid on Friday, the work week is done – it's why bars and restaurants get packed, and why movie theaters see higher attendance than during the rest of the week. Even given the current economy, money starts burning holes in our pockets the minute it hits our bank accounts, and it seems like it was somewhat counter-intuitive to re-schedule new comics day around a weekday when many people are trying to figure out how to stretch their dollars to the end of the week.

26 October 2011

WEDNESDAY GIRL

Gemma Arterton

24 October 2011

MAD

Once upon a time, Mad was something akin to a national institution. The initial, Harvey Kurtzman-edited issues were beyond brilliant, and every true comics fan should own them in some format, but it was the issues that came after that made the magazine a household name. When I was in elementary school back in the '70s, teachers took copies of the magazine from students on a regular basis, and even kids who didn't read comics usually bought or borrowedMad from time to time.

That said, it's not quite the magazine it once was, but all the same, it's cool to see Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead lampooned on this recent cover:

23 October 2011

BIRTHDAY


The timing is almost perfect: The official biography of Apple chief and all around genius Steve Jobs hits books stores tomorrow. Today, however, is the the 10th birthday of the iPod. That one little device that forever changed Apple's fortunes, but it also changed music, while becoming a virtually ubiquitous part of our lives.

I kind of wish I still had my first iPod. I can't say exactly when I bought it, but it certainly wasn't very long after they went on sale. Image Comics was based in Orange, CA back then, and I think the closest Apple store was in Costa Mesa. I drove there on my lunch one afternoon to get it, and since then I guess I've had over half a dozen of them: an Ipod shuffle, a Nano, a Mini, and of course, ever larger variations on the original model...

I know there are those who aren't in love with the Apple "brand," but speaking as someone who has used Apple products – starting with their computers in 1992 – for close to 20 years, I think they've just gotten better and better. Having lived through such a huge period of innovation and growth, it's sometimes easy to forget, but gadgets were once quite different. In fact, I currently use one of the 160 GB models at work so that I have access to something approximating my entire music collection when I'm not at home. People can say what they like about Steve Jobs, but before the iPod, I couldn't have done that.

So happy birthday, iPod.

And thank you, Steve.

TREES

I was looking at a photo from Paul McCartney's (third) wedding recently, and one of the first comments said something to the effect of, "Don't you realize there are terrible things happening in the world right now?" And you know, fair point. But there's also unmistakable beauty, too, and whether that takes the form of a wedding portrait or the world outside your window, I think it's important to never let the bad cancel out the good.

Which is kind of a long way of saying: I went to Muir Woods yesterday.

21 October 2011

SHE'S A GOOD GIRL

I'm going to hazard a guess that if you were into Britpop during the '90s and you had an eye for the ladies, you were completely and utterly smitten by Sleeper singer/songwriter Louise Wener. I mean, I know I was.

Plenty of people dismissed Sleeper as Britpop also rans, but something about Wener's songs struck a chord with me. Maybe it was just the matter of fact nature of her lyrics, or the fact that her singing voice wasn't particularly polished. She might not have been Britain's best female vocalist, but she did have a mouth on her, and her interviews were always interesting. In fact, she was so charismatic, the rest of the band (whatever their names were) were often referred to simply as "Sleeperblokes."

And every so often, I get one of her songs in my head and Sleeper go into heavy rotation on my iPod, and lately it's this track from their third and final album, called "She's a Good Girl"...

20 October 2011

IMAGINE

I had some time to visit Central Park briefly in New York, and took the above photo at Strawberry Fields, the small section of the park dedicated to slain Beatle, John Lennon. The obvious reference is to his 1971 hit, "Imagine," and the lyrics of that song rolled around in the back of my mind long after I'd left Central Park and strolled past The Dakota, Lennon's former home on nearby 72nd Street.

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one.

It's a remarkably simple song, but its sentiment is sneered at in certain quarters. Described by one of Lennon's many biographers as "anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic," it's definitely not a song popular with the Right. There are those who view it as an open endorsement of communism; others single out the "no religion" line as a specific attack on Christianity. I once had to endure an argument about the anti-American nature of the line "Imagine there's no countries."

Maybe the message is too simple, too naive, but for all the negative reactions to its lyrical content, I've always thought it was basically saying something positive: "These are the things that separate us – just think what it would be like if that wasn't the case." There's no denying that throughout history, much blood has been shed over religion, over borders, over money. Why is it a bad thing to question whether we'd be better off in a world without the things that time and again provoke war?

Cynics might write it off as a fantasy, and Lennon acknowledges as much when he sings, "You may say I'm a dreamer." What's wrong with dreaming of a better world, though? Now, as in the early '70s when Lennon wrote "Imagine," much of the world is at war. Many are without work. Many are impoverished. Religion is a weapon used by those who crave power. It's 40 years later, and not much has changed.

So, maybe it is a fantasy, but at least it's a nice one.

19 October 2011

WEDNESDAY GIRL

Anita Pallenberg

18 October 2011

GLORY

If you're not familiar with Glory artist Ross Campbell's artwork, first off, you should check out his work on Wet Moon. There are five volumes available at present. Secondly, you should take a gander at these early illustrations of Glory. If you've ever bemoaned the fact that female superheroes often have the proportions of porn stars or runway models, whilst kitted out in gear woefully inappropriate for their line of work, I think you'll agree Ross's take on Glory is very much the antithesis of that...

16 October 2011

THE START OF IT ALL


Every so often, I think I've found the last scrap of Style Council memorabilia, but then someone like my friend Paul presents me with something I didn't even know existed. In this case, it's the first U.S. promotional flyer for The Style Council's debut 45, "Speak Like a Child." And yes, it's just '80s Britpop ephemera, and yes, I have accumulated loads of this stuff over the years, but something about this particular promo really excited me.

I guess it's because everything's so readily available in the age of the Internet. Past and present often collide with but the press of a key, and if you're a true fan of something, it's rare to come across some tidbit you weren't previously aware of. Real life always has a knack for making other plans, though, and it's nice to be surprised every once in a while, even if it's just by a 28-year-old piece of paper.

15 October 2011

STARTING ALL OVER AGAIN

One of Image's big announcements yesterday at New York Comic Con was that we're reviving some of Rob Liefeld's old series – Youngblood, Supreme, Prophet, Glory and Bloodstrike – next year with all-new creative teams.

We've been working on all of this for a while, since late last year, actually, and reviving these series is something I've wanted to do for a long time. They're Rob Liefeld's characters, but I worked on them, too, and what can I say? I have something of an emotional attachment to them.

Sometimes, it's strange to think of these characters as being 20 years old. It has indeed been 20 years since Image started, though, and since Rob first launched Youngblood.

Casting my mind back to when I first encountered Rob's work, on an issue of Marvel's New Mutants, in what I'm guessing would have been late 1990, the first thing I was struck by was the energy in his drawing. There are a lot of people who get annoyed when Rob is compared to Jack Kirby, but honestly, that was my first touchstone when I saw his comics. Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying Rob drew like Kirby. There was something about how his characters moved, though, and the dynamism of his layouts, that just made think, "This Liefeld guy's doing kind of an updated version of what Kirby used to do."

I kept buying the book. Cable seemed to be a new character and I was intrigued by him. Turned out he was a Liefeld character. A few issues later, more new characters were introduced: Domino, Shatterstar, Deadpool, Gideon... I was impressed by the forward momentum the book seemed to have, and for some reason, even more impressed when New Mutants ended with #100 to become X-Force. With 20 years of experience in comics under my belt, I could argue that was merely expert marketing, but back then, I thought it took guts to cancel a red hot book that had just reached its 100th issue and start over.

And brilliant marketing or not, it did take guts. Sure, X-Force was going to launch with big numbers, but there was no real guarantee they would hold up after that. Relaunching comcis wasn't as common then as it is now, and for Rob or Marvel knew, the book could have faded fast after the first few issues.

What happened instead was that Rob Liefeld joined forces with Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen, Jim Valentino, Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri and Whilce Portacio to form Image Comics.

By the time that happened, I had become friendly with Jim Valentino and within a short amount of time, I actually met Rob. He was my age and upon first meeting it was clear that the energy in his comics came pouring directly out of him. He loved comics. He loved reading comics, he loved talking about comics, he loved making comics, and that seemingly endless enthusiasm for his chosen medium made him an infectious personality. I wound up spending a lot of time around the nascent Extreme Studios, and one day, after explaining to Rob why I was disappointed with Youngblood #1, I was offered a job there.

From 1992-1998, Extreme Studios was more or less my life. Youngblood, Supreme, Brigade, Bloodstrike, Team Youngblood, New Men, Prophet, Youngblood: Strikefile, Bloodpool, Glory... We put out a lot of comics, and for the most part everyone involved was incredibly young. Rob and I were amongst the oldest at 25. So many of the artists involved in various aspects of production were just out of their teens, and that made the work as frustrating as it was fun. But looking back, the main thing I remember about that time is Rob wanted to share his success with people who loved comics and wanted to make a living in the business as much as he had.

Despite what anyone else may think of the characters Rob created at Extreme back in the '90s, I think he had some good ideas. In fact, the reason I wound up explaining to Rob that day back in May 1992, why I didn't like Youngblood #1, was that after reading so many of his interviews promoting the series, I was let down by how few of his genuinely exciting ideas made it into the finished comic. But I thought Youngblood was a great concept. Ditto Supreme. And Bloodstrike. And Prophet. And so on.

And you know what? I still do.

So, it's a real pleasure to be helping Rob out with these books again, to be bringing these characters back as Image celebrates its 20th anniversary next year. We've assembled some really great talent: Brandon Graham and Simon Roy are doing Prophet. Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell are the Glory team. Erik Larsen is working with finisher Cory Hamscher to provide art for the final Alan Moore-scripted issue of Supreme before taking over the writing chores himself. Tim Seeley is writing Bloodstrike and it's being illustrated by Fracesco Gaston. Youngblood, the comic that begat all these concepts, and lest we forget, the very first Image Comic, is being written by screenwriter John McLaughlin, with art by Jon Malin and Rob Liefeld.

Not everything is going to be what's expected from these books. They're all different, all the product of unique sensibilities.

It's going to be fun reintroducing these guys to the world again.

14 October 2011

CRIMINAL WORLD

I first encountered Ed Brubaker's work back in the '90s when he was doing an auto-bio comic called Lowlife. I liked that quite a bit, but even so, I was completely taken by surprise by how much I loved what he did next, a Vertigo series with artist Sean Phillips called Scene of the Crime in 1999. As a fan of Frank Miller's Sin City books and David Lapham's Stray Bullets, I was thrilled to see someone else not just making crime comics, but making excellent crime comics.

As it turned out, though, I liked just about anything Ed wrote: The Fall with Jason Lutes, Catwoman, Dead Boy Detectives, Deadenders and Point Blank. That last one wound up being a pivotal title for Ed, because it launched his next collaboration with Sean Phillips, Sleeper. If you've been reading comics over the last few years, you know what happened next: Ed went to Marvel to write Captain America, Uncanny X-Men and Daredevil. Despite the acclaim his work on those titles received, though, he found time to team up with Sean again, first on Criminal and then on Incognito. Both of them were magnificent, and man, did I envy Icon for publishing those books.

Well, now Ed and Sean are teaming up on something new. It's called Fatale, and it's coming out in January 2012.

And since as of a few minutes ago it's officially not a secret anymore, I'm proud to say it's being published by Image Comics.

13 October 2011

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET

If you're in New York for New York Comic Con 2011, we're doing another one of these "Robert Kirkman Talks Creator-Owned Comics" panels, wherein Robert and I sit up on a stage with some previously unannounced guests to talk about, um, creator-owned comics. You should check it out.

We did the first one of these at Comic-Con International in San Diego, and were joined by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples, Jonathan Ross, Frank Cho and Jonathan Hickman, and we announced, among other projects, Brian & Fiona's all-new creator-owned series, Saga.

And I don't want to spoil all the fun, but I can tell you that we'll be joined by Cable, Deadpool and Youngblood creator Rob Liefeld, and Hack/Slash creator Tim Seeley. We won't be joined by Ed Brubaker. Or will we?

The panel is tomorrow, from 4-5pm, and it's located in the American Airlines Theater, 1A06.

12 October 2011

NEW YORK CITY

Off to New York today, for New York Comic Con 2011. Con season seems to get longer every year, but this is the last one of the year and since I've never been to New York in the Fall before, I'm really looking forward to it. Image will be making some interesting announcements at the show, so it should be a good time overall.

How about we kick it off with a rundown of my top 10 favorite songs with "New York" in the title?

1. Steely Dan - "Daddy Don't Live In That New York City No More," (Katy Lied, 1975)
2. Simon & Garfunkel - "The Only Living Boy in New York," (Bridge Over Troubled Water, 1970)
3. Bee Gees - "New York Mining Disaster 1941," (Bee Gees' 1st, 1967)
4. Harry Nilsson - "I Guess the Lord Must Be In New York City," (Harry, 1969)
5. Lou Reed - "New York Telephone Conversation," (Transformer, 1972)
6. Belle and Sebastian - "Piazza, New York Catcher," (Dear Catastrophe Waitress, 2003)
7. Serge Gainsbourg - "New York USA," (Couleur Cafe, 1964)
8. Orange Juice - "Salmon Fishing In New York," (The Orange Juice, 1984)
9. Cat Power - "New York," (Jukebox, 2008)
10. Ryan Adams - "New York, New York," (Gold, 2001)

WEDNESDAY GIRL

January Jones

11 October 2011

DRUMMING MAN

It's Art Blakey's birthday today. He would've been 92 if he hadn't passed away in 1990, but considering he was one of the world's greatest jazz drummers for nearly 50 years, it's safe to say his work here was done.

And what work it was.

His band, the Jazz Messengers, was an incubator for some of the music's finest players: Donald Byrd, Stanley Clarke, Lou Donaldson, Kenny Dorham, Freddie Hubbard, Jackie McLean, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver, Bobby Timmons, Cedar Walton...

I discovered Art Blakey through The Style Council. The sleeve for Orgy In Rhythm was on the wall in the imaginary shop they'd created for the cover of their second LP, and since I was just beginning to feel my way around in the world of jazz, the interests of my favorite band inspired my own. It also didn't hurt that the Council's young drummer, Steve White, glowingly mentioned Blakey in interviews. White was only a few years older than me at the time and already an amazing drummer in his own right; I figured he'd knew what he was talking about.

Blakey made a lot of of records; I own around 20 of them. Not every album is perfect, but generally speaking, I never hesitate to pick up a new one. Even if it's not the best in his catalogue, I know I'll find something to like, if only because of his indomitable style of drumming and the seemingly indestructible spirit that infused everything he did.

Here are some clips:

10 October 2011

YOU'RE ONLY JEALOUS

You probably caught some of this already, but in case you missed it, one of candidates for the Republican Presidential nomination, Herman Cain, denounced the Occupy Wall Street protests as "anti-American" on Meet the Press this past weekend, stating that those involved are "jealous."

That's right: If you've lost your job, if you're worrying about how to pay your rent or your car payment, if you can't afford to clothe your children or you can't put gas in your car, despite the fact that the wealthiest in this country continue to grow wealthier with each passing year, you're just jealous.

It has nothing to do with corporate tax breaks or the Bush tax cuts that by design benefit the wealthy; it has nothing to do with the fact that those who create jobs have opted to outsource them to countries that pay lower wages; it has nothing to do with a do-nothing Congress, brought to a screeching halt by obstructionist Republicans who as early as January 2009 stated their chief aim over the next four years was to make sure President Obama was a one term President; it's because you're jealous, and by implication, lazy.

Because the only thing separating the rest of us from millionaires like Herman Cain is that we can't be bothered to get off our asses and work. Never mind that most of us get up every day and do exactly that, and regardless of whether we're earning minimum wage or what used to constitute a decent middle class income, we are in no way as coddled by the government as the 1% that make up the wealthiest people in this country.

Herman Cain thinks we should be upset with President Obama, and you know, there are plenty of things Obama has done that I could criticize. However, Cain seems to be missing something: The financial crisis that first hobbled the world economy back in 2008 and created the Great Recession we are living through now was born out of corporate greed and a Wall Street with little regulation. And that happened on Presient Bush's watch, not President Obama's.

But in Cain's words, "To protest Wall Street and the bankers is basically saying you're anti-captalism." Many of the protestors may, in fact, be anti-capitalist, but I think that's beside the point. Unbridled greed nearly brought the world economy to collapse, when do we step back and say enough is enough?

When do the Republicans – who, by the way, are more than happy to foment civil unrest when it is the work of the Tea Party and they are agitating against Obama and the Democrats – realize that perhaps working to solve the problems facing our nation instead of just trying to make sure Obama does a bad job is the more noble goal? Because right now, the Republicans are essentially branding themselves as the opposition to ordinary Americans everywhere, going so far as to sign a pledge that they will never increase taxes on the rich, even if that means putting their own constituents on the street due to lack of jobs, lack of health care, lack of education.

And if you're upset that your elected officials are putting their corporate puppet masters above the public good?

You're only jealous.

09 October 2011

HIT PARADE

1. The Duke Spirit - "Villain," (Bruiser, 2011)
2. Stevie Jackson - "Where Do All the Good Girls Go?," ((I Can't Get No) Stevie Jackson, 2011)
3. Ryan Adams - "Lucky Now," (Ashes & Fire, 2011)
4. Kenny Dorham - "Una Mas," (Una Mas, 1964)
5. Veruca Salt - "Volcano Girls," (Eight Arms to Hold You, 1997)
6. The Kinks - "Autumn Almanac," (single a-side, 1967)
7. Love - "Willow Willow," (Out Here, 1969)
8. Liz Phair - "Shallow Opportunities," (Comeandgetit EP, 2003)
9. Jimmy James & The Vagabonds - "The Entertainer," (Come to Me Softly, 1968)
10. Bob Welch - "Ebony Eyes," (French Kiss, 1977)

08 October 2011

STROKE IT, NOEL

Look, it's the incredibly strange video for the second single from the upcoming Noel Gallagher solo album:


And plus, the sublime "If I Had a Gun" appears to be set as the third single, and whereas "AKA... What a Life" features entirely too much Russell Brand, this one spotlight's the very pretty Peyton List from Mad Men.

Given how good the new songs are, I'm not sure Gallagher needed to put quite so much effort into his promo videos, but never the less, he's done an exemplary job of building anticipation for his solo debut. I always knew he was the smart one.

07 October 2011

THE DEBT COLLECTOR

Here's a great chart that's making the rounds on the blogosphere, but of course, not in the mainstream media that Republicans love to claim is country by liberals. It's pretty concise and to the point.

WAKE UP THE NATION

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor doesn't get it. He's out there today, condemning the Occupy Wall Street protests, whilst also claiming Obama and his administration are to blame. The key quotes are:

"I, for one, am increasingly concerned about the growing mobs occupying Wall Street."

and

"People are beginning to wake up and see a country they don't really recognize."

What he apparently fails to realize is that he and the conservatives who have aligned themselves with the mega-rich corporations attempting to wrestle democracy away from ordinary Americans are to blame. When people talk about being part of the 99%, that's not an endorsement of the Republican platform that feeds the rich whilst the rest of the country starves.

You should be concerned, Mr. Cantor: You're a lying, cheating, obstructionist who has abused his power to shower the rich with favors at the expense of everyone else. The country we don't really recognize is the one you're trying to create. Here's hoping this "mob" you're so scared of succeeds in rousing the rest of the nation.

06 October 2011

BORN ON A DIFFERENT CLOUD

I've been trying to think of something to say about Steve Jobs' passing, but then I saw this (at wwtdd.com) and you know what? It pretty much says everything I was thinking:

"Fuck. This blows. I know there will be some douchy nerds out there too cool to admit how great Apple is, but they can go fuck themselves. Apple products are better than every other similar product by a million miles. Apple is awesome. I feel like someone in my family just died..."

The one thing I'll add to that is, no matter what you think of Apple products, Steve Jobs was a smart guy. We could always use more of those, but we just lost one of the smartest. When it comes to great thinkers like him, I think it's hard to fully comprehend what we've lost.

Meanwhile, the media continues to let dipshit non-entities suck up our attention, a fact underscored by the amount of time spent discussing Sarah Palin's decision not to run for President in 2012. People like Palin endlessly postulate about the things that make America great. Steve Jobs made America great, whilst making the whole world a better place.

We could use more like him.

05 October 2011

04 October 2011

HERE COMES THE NICE

If you haven't been checking out Phil Noto's Your Nice New Outfit, here are a few reasons why you should start doing so right now: