Tag Archives: cartoons

Mothers, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Assholes

28 Feb

I am of an age that many of my friends and peers have children. I am high-minded, I don’t hold it against them or judge them for their handicap. Likely they were motivated by fear or guilt to have kids, so really they’re the victim in all of this. And yet no court in the land would sentence a baby to prison for holding adults hostage with their incessant needs. That’s the modern justice system for you.

When I think back to my childhood, which essentially happened during the Reagan administration, I remember feeling like I was the Most Important Person in the Universe. I think that my generation was the first one to be wantonly targeted by marketing departments of various corporations. Not that children weren’t catered to before, but in my time Sesame Street relented after a decade of not licensing their puppets to toy manufacturers. No cartoon or kids’ show existed that did not have a full line of products supporting it. Ewoks were inserted into Return of the Jedi at the last minute simply for franchise opportunities. It seems like my generation was the first to be seen as having a nearly limitless purchasing power.

Still, my childhood did not center around childish things. I liked Transformers a lot, I certainly played with plenty of Fisher Price toys. However, my mother also felt it was important that I see the original King Kong when I was six. She rented Fritz the Cat for me when I was thirteen, a character I was familiar with having seen Robert Crumb comics of my father’s when I was eight years old. I watched Inspector Gadget and Heathcliff and Friends as a kid, but I was also very into The Young Ones and Soap. I feel that as important as it was to my parents that I feel safe and educationally stimulated, they were also concerned that I didn’t grow up to be lame.

When I visit my Friends Who Have Children’s houses, I wonder if I should call a psychiatrist who specializes in hoarding disorders to save these people from the mountains of bulky, plastic crap that threaten to engulf their entire homes. And these are the parents of children who can barely walk, mind you. The DVD collections, alone, wielded by some of these kids would send the most obsessive compulsive completest movie collector into a depression spiral. You’ve got six year-olds with MP3 players, ten year-olds with cellular phones. Most of this shit didn’t exist when I was a kid. I remember it was a big deal when my family got a VCR in 1982, which meant we could accrue a library of movies. The first movie I recall watching on video tape was David Lynch’s Eraserhead.

Maybe my folks were bad parents. I think that by today’s standard, they’d probably be considered negligent or whatever. They encouraged me to do the things I wanted to do, but didn’t feel the need to occupy my every second with targeted entertainment and bullshit. It’s no wonder that each generation increasingly seems to expect the world to be handed to them, because it’s being foisted on them every second of their lives up until they stop developing secondary sex characteristics. I can remember when I felt the steadying hand of focused marketing slip away, I was about twenty-five and suddenly I realized I was older than most of the actors I saw on television and artists whose music I enjoyed. It’s a bittersweet thing when you grow out of your demographic, but I suppose it’s a rite of passage, like falling off your bicycle or acquiring your two-hundredth Pokemon.

Potheads, Please Stop Promoting Pot

10 Feb

There’s nothing in this world that will make you want to smoke weed less than a pothead. These sorry souls get embroiled in their sad world of cartoons and counterculture stickers, and the most pathetic thing of all is they think that they are interesting and their opinions are valid. Look buddy, you may be a certified genius, but the day you catch me taking esoteric advice from some dude with tribal tattoos in a tam o’shanter is the day I can finally be checked in for a lobotomy. First impressions are everything, and the only impression I get from you is “I’m completely unemployable.”

See, I do smoke weed. I enjoy it. Apparently, a lot of people do. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to base a lifestyle around it. Hardcore potheads are annoying the same way that outspoken vegans or virulent racists are: they’re so focused on this one thing that they are not very well-rounded and become boring and redundant in about sixty seconds. Wow, you like to watch Pink Floyd’s The Wall when you’re high? Surprise, EVERY-FUCKING-BODY DOES. We can share these experiences as people that are high, but to go on and on about it as if something has been achieved, well that’s pothead logic for you.

I like smoking weed, but I don’t ever want to have a conversation with you about crunchy nugs, or kind bud, or hairy strains, or any other marijuana fantasies that you masturbate furiously over. I don’t want to debate the methods of smoking pot, I don’t want to see your skull bong with a double ice chamber that you call “Hootie.” Let’s smoke weed, watch this episode of COPS, and laugh together like a couple of stoned jackasses. And the very last thing I want you to do is debate marijuana reform with me. While I’m high.

The problem with marijuana reform in this country is that the organizations seeking reform primarily have potheads at the helm. You get your pot rallies where a bunch of stoner bands take the stage and a stoned crowd cheers because the lead singer lit up right on the nightly news, dude! and everyone’s getting baked in front of police officers and they can’t do a thing about it, bro! It’s a stone groove, man. Some white dude with neatly-packed dreadlocks takes the stage and yammers about medical marijuana for ten minutes, everyone cheers and returns to their salty snacks. And the day is saved! The potheads smoked weed in a public park one day and the society can return to spurning them the other three-hundred and sixty-four days of the year as usual. A lot was done, nothing achieved. Pothead logic.

I think marijuana reformers stick to legalizing medical marijuana because it’s the softest touch. Pretty much everyone has had someone in their lives who died of a painful, terminal illness, and the thought that their pain might have been eased by toking a little reefer makes us regretful. The problem here is that medical marijuana laws have already been abused so much in California and Denver, that mainstream society views “medical marijuana” as a euphemism for “freely available weed.” It doesn’t help that the people promoting medical marijuana aren’t normally doctors, but some guy in an afro wig wearing an ironic t-shirt and Elvis sunglasses. And no, calling yourself “Doctor Feelgood” won’t help matters.

As far as I’m concerned, the reason for legalizing pot is that it isn’t really that bad. It makes you kind of lethargic and corny, but that’s a small price when you consider the murder and crime committed to keep the illegal pot trade afloat. Not to mention the money we hemorrhage trying to curb the stuff both abroad and at home. Tied to any marijuana reform should also be a stipulation for the growing of hemp, that miracle plant that could really, you know, help us out. I do think marijuana should be legalized, frankly I think it should be as available as alcohol or cigarettes. But I’m not going to listen to Shaggy from Scooby-Doo tell me about it. Put on a fucking collared shirt and talk to your political representatives and stop using pothead logic, for crying out loud.

Popeye is the Shit and You Know This

2 Feb

I was raised to like Popeye from a very young age. It isn’t difficult for a young boy to enjoy Popeye, what with the ass-kicking and chick-getting (well, one chick, multiple times) and generally outrageous greatness of the character. To instruct a child to like Popeye is to tell them to eat a heaping bowl of sugared cereal and run around screaming all morning, until a lunchtime temper tantrum lands them in the Naughty Chair. Though my initial liking of Popeye was wholly instinctual and natural, a deeper, nerdier understanding of this fictional character was imprinted upon me by my father, his own obsession with Popeye seemingly unique and not passed down by my grandfather.

It is difficult to describe my father. It seems that whenever I talk about him, I paint a picture of a relatively unpleasant guy. He isn’t really unpleasant at all, he’s just passionate about the things he enjoys and entirely dismissive of everything else. This is not unlike any other pompous type who has refined their tastes to the ultimate, except my dad doesn’t have extremely refined tastes. He likes classical music and has a tremendous collection, and he likes depressing Russian novelists. He also likes Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons from before World War II. He loves Doctor Who. He giddily enjoys underground comix from the 1970s and once had a huge collection of National Lampoon magazines (until I pilfered and destroyed them through poor storage). He enjoys Marx Bros. movies and slapstick shorts from the 1940s and 50s.

My point is that my dad has a pretty eccentric taste which runs the gamut from high art to commercial design and fart jokes. And so it is with Popeye, a franchise he has been waxing about since I can remember. I don’t actually recall the precise moment he decided to school me on Popeye, but if it was like the other times he dropped his brand of condescending science, I suspect the scene was: me watching a post-World War II Popeye cartoon from Paramount on television, he walks in the room and calls it a piece of shit, then alludes to older, better Popeye cartoons, implying that they are so great so as to be withheld from my moronic generation, lest we be too dazzled by their brilliance and stab our eyes out with Transformers toys. The fact of these legendary cartoons having been established, he would then proceed to tell me more about their undeniable awesomeness whenever he happened to catch me watching an inferior Popeye cartoon in television syndication. He’d tell me that the good cartoons were done by the Fleischer Bros., an animation studio that handled Betty Boop and Superman cartoons (not the crappy Superman cartoons that you remember, but other, better, more secret Superman cartoons…)

Then my dad would eventually tell me that these other great cartoons that I hadn’t seen weren’t even the best evidences of Popeye. No, the first, best version of Popeye ran in a comic strip called Thimble Theater in the 1920s through to the 40s (the strip would eventually be retitled Popeye.) Drawn by a guy named E.C. Segar, they captured a movement and wildness that was as indescribable as it was unparalleled. Would that I could see these comic strips, finally I would know beauty. But alas, I am presented with only the inferior, “white sailor’s cap Popeye” as opposed to the incredible “captain’s hat Popeye,” as my dad put it. And so my life was already rendered a pale version of his, a simulation of a much fuller, more interesting time when things mattered.

Around 1987, Fantagraphics Books released some of the old Popeye strips, in a very bad reproduction. The printing was so bad, the ink was barely fixed to the paper and could be rubbed off with your finger. Still, I could see glimpses of greatness through the smudges and blotches, even detecting that elusive movement my father couldn’t stop jawing about. Of course, even staring right at the strips wasn’t good enough for my father, who reminded me over and over that the poor reproductions of the comic strips I was seeing were meager facsimiles of this dimension-shattering piece of serial art. However, I had to admit: my dad was right. These early Popeye comic strips were awesome, as Popeye swore and fought and instructed the reader in proper moral fortitude, they really did kill the Paramount cartoons I was raised on. Right around the same time Fantagraphics released their reproductions, there was a film festival downtown of old Fleischer Bros. cartoons. And you know what? They were fucking awesome. Fuck you, dad, not for being smug but for being right.

Fantagraphics began re-releasing the old Popeye comic strips a couple of years ago; right now they’re about to put out volume five of six. I’m not sure if they’re using original plates or even the original mock ups, but the reproduction is incredible. Well worth checking out if you like Popeye. Chances are, you weren’t instructed to like Popeye as a kid, so you might be unaware of this other, greater character that’s been kept from polite society for decades. Check him out, I think you’ll find him a lot more interesting than that white sailor’s cap Popeye that used to hawk fried chicken.

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