April 2007

1 April 2007

This morning I had a cartoon idea so unGodly funny--and offensive--that I just had to ask someone to draw it. Being one of the best artists I've ever seen, I could think of no better person to mention it to than Mister Kreider.

Get this...in order to get George to pay sexual attention to her, Laura gets desperate and tattoos a map of the Middle East onto her pubis and inner thighs. Iraq is, obviously, the "runway strip," while Iran is on her left thigh and Saudi Arabia is on her right. I have no idea what captions should be in the panels, or indeed how many panels there should be. Perhaps George can be giving it to ol' Laura, with her begging to have "Baghdad surged!" and him pulling out to drop his load all over her left thigh (Iran).

I release all rights to the above idea to Mister Kreider, and ask only that the idea be credited to "Riptide Monzarc." The flattery of having the idea drawn would be all the compensation I needed.

Thank you for your time,



Although generally the suggestions of the readers are used only as a recall useful to Mr. Kreider why he is the man who draws the funny images and you who must read them, in the truth this idea is "high right in his lane. " (He imagines George further to refuse "to withdraw himself prematurely," though he cannot "finish the job. ") But in general Mr. Kreider prefers to thieve of the ideas of the personal friends. He needs the medium of beer to confuse them with humour. However let us thank you for your inspiration. If he wants to, he will attribute it with the idiotic pen name of your choice.




2 April 2007

Mr Kreider,

I love your comic and visit the site 6 times a week, just to see if there is a new one up.

I was however, annoyed to see that in this weeks' comic you have a pannel saying "Because Islam was the right religion!", and you had (representing Islam) Osama bin-Laden and Saddam Hussein. Saddam was a seccular leader, concerned more with ethnicity than religion. And Osama is as much a Muslim as George Bush.

I write this because I respect you and the cartoon and because the advancment of understanding is fundamental to combating the idiocy of our leaders and some fellow citizens.

Best of luck,



Hm. Well, you are inarguably in the right about this one (though I think it'd be more accurate to say that Osama is a Muslim the same way that Bush is a Christian--which is to say, fervent but perverted) and yet I think we've come to one of those awkward cartoon moments where accuracy and humor are at odds, and I generally err in the latter direction in this conflict. This was the very first panel that occurred to me to draw, the one that made me want to do this cartoon, and although your criticism is entirely fair I cannot honestly say I would do it any differently now. Saddam and Osama at least call themselves Muslims, and they're by far the most recognizable of America's antagonists in the so-called War on Terror. It just wouldn't have been as funny to have anybody else up there gloating naked in the garden. Besides, more to the point, if the afterlife really were as arbitrary an all-or-nothing crapshoot as is depicted here, Allah wouldn't make any distinction between thugs like these guys and the truly pious, just as long as He kept Whitey out of the club.



4 April 2007

1: Herodotus reports that the ancient Persians had a rule of "reconsidering any decision made drunk, while sober, and reconsidering any decision made sober, while drunk."  Admirable thinking, glad Tim's come to see the wisdom of it.

2: Has Tim ever considered vanity publishing?  I hear Chris Onstad has like five Mercedes now thanks to his flotilla of self-published cookbooks, zines, limited-edition canvas prints and whatever the hell.  Failing that, would Tim consider tantalizing his tens of fans with a hint regarding what exactly the hell it is he's written?  Given his range of interests I'm imagining anything from Doc Savage fan-fiction to a stridently-worded manifesto for the establishment of a new, more perfect society.  Or more likely some combination of the two.

2-1/2: Now that I think of it, I would definitely purchase a "The Pain" cookbook.

K. Signal Eingang,

Mr. Kreider respects the wisdom of the Persians. He wishes that they would reconsider their foreign politics while drunk.

Mr. Kreider published two books through Fantagraphics. His other writings can now be seen by the page of "writings" on this Web site. As for his cooking, it is surprisingly tasty but he works only of the recipes, except for the Small Horrible Sandwiches, which no-one should wish to emulate.




6 April 2007

STOP the presses!

Dear Phelaetia,

Please tell Tim about this Important Idea as soon as possible. His career depends on it.

Öa cartoon--which may be bad, or already done, but what the heck, I am not a cartoonist. This Friday on the front page of the Post is a story about the Defense IG report saying, yet again, that Al-Queda had, at best, "limited" contact with HusseinÖduh. But the same day the report came out, VP Cheney was out there again telling Rush Limbaugh that Hussein was in Osama's pocket.

  Anyway, the comic turns on the idea of reality TV vs. non-reality TV, which is what "reality TV" actually is, which then poses the question, what would non-"reality TV" be, which would have to be regular TV, right? which is things like Cheney charging around claiming WMD's, al-Queda links, pacificist=traitor, etc., which, ironically, is about as non-reality-based as I can imagine. The Bush administration gets all the air-time it wants from reality-based news media, but their product is non-reality-based. Hence the joke.
  As I am not a cartoonist, I hesitate to suggest visuals, but maybe the headline is "Reality TV?," (or maybe (non)-Reality TV?) and it's the usually left-right side comparison of panels, with stuff like Survivors or that mob-daughter's family (personally, I have never seen these programs) or whatever they do--I gather a lot of it is very far-fetched, matched to the greatest hit moments from Bush's incredibly non-reality-based news feed--landing on that boat (Hostilities Are Over!), getting Osama is unimportant, Vote against Bush=Vote for Saddam, Cheney growling that WMD's are a proven fact, etc.

 and then you get to rant about whether there is actually a difference between reality TV and non-reality TV, which, as far as the Bushies go, clearly there isn't.  They live in a non-reality-based bubble, but push this crap at us through channels that also predict the weather, which is very confusing, because I am finally beginning to trust the weather reports (I was born in 1951, and for much of the 50's the weather reports (aka snow days) were about as trustworthy as the Bush Administration), which is very confusing because the rest of the broadcast, insofar as it covers the Bushies, is complete bullshit.

Keep cartooning, please.

Jonathan Coddington

Jonathan Coddington:

I make excuses to delay in this answer. The things were "balled to the top with the office" for these several months, complicated much by the sordidness which is sadly usual in the life of a cartoonist. Mr. Kreider is intrigued by your idea, although he did not decide how to employ it.

He may or may not choose to continue cartooning. In fact it is a dull businesses that oppresses him. But he appreciates your compliments and good wishes.




6 April 20007

Dear P.,

Please do not express my affection for Mr. K's cartoons to Mr. K 
himself.  Doubtless, such  endearments would fall on deaf ears anyway. It's my understanding that Mr. K habitually sees only the half-empty glass, as opposed to the glass which is merely not-more-than-50%-full. With that in mind, instead I would entreat you to pass along to Mr. K 
my heartfelt sense of utter scorn and loathing towards his work.  It is my hope that Mr. K will (somehow) glean the Yin amidst the ugly Yang, and so discover the Glorious Whole. (Currently located on Biddle St., betwixt the large, green dumpster and the third crackhouse on the left.) However, if it were possible I would greatly wish to hear Mr. K's thoughts on Baltimore's recently passed legislation banning the smoking of cigarettes within the city's limits, in all bars and restaurants.  It is my own belief that there are far more important things that our city's (no doubt) Noble Legislators could've been filling their days with.  For instance, perusing the vast archives of The Pain.....

Best wishes, Good Tidings and all that cal....

Jay Visor

Balto. MD

Jay Fez:

I will transmit your scorn for his work to Mr. Kreider. He accepts it with the rue.

It astonishes Mr. Kreider that his hard-drinking, health-scorning home city of Baltimore should pass such a legislation. (In fact he recently won a bet against his colleague Ms. Emily Flake that this would not come to pass in the year. Now she knits him hats for life.) He is of two spirits about this development. On the one hand he supports all the people to express their defects, especially in the public taverns, which are dens of iniquity. On the other, he hates smoke which it worries his eyes, and to awake putrid no more he is not sorry. Thus it comes to the rights of others against the comfort of Mr. Kreider. There is only with single direction that such a contest finishes.




6 April 2007

Oh, Tim, Tim, Tim....(My friend Paul insists there is no Phelætia.)

I feel bad for you. You have seem so discouraged, of late. Have you thought about how depressed we've become since November 2000. I frequently wonder if anyone has done studies of the increase in depression...and suicide...in this country since that date. Ironically, I feel better when I read your artist's statements. That misery loves company thing, I suppose.  I'd like nothing more than for you to reach a wider audience and be phenomenally successful. But, then, would you still be ours? Would you turn in to Nancy Grace..? God..that would be terrible. 

I do love you, Tim.

See you next week.


Jeff Socorso,

Neither Mr. Kreider nor I knows the grace of Nancy but he claims he would become her gratefully if so only his work were better known. It is true that he feels a failure and despairs. I will communicate your love with him if that will do it any good. On his behalf I will thank you for your words of comfort.



P.S. You can say to your friend, "Yes, Virginia, there is Phelætia Czochula-Hautpanz."


7 April 2007

Ok, just saw the comment on April 4's entry. Something about Accomplishment not accomplishing much?

I'm not unsympathetic on that count, after all, it's a fairly well known fact that hard work, at least in the American workplace is NOT rewarded, but only ever exploited. Think about it: what happens when we work hard and aren't in any position of authority? Simple -we are made to work HARDER. The idea apparently being that people can be made to work harder and harder until such time as they either quit in rage, start going postal or die of heart attacks. It seems only the lazy, the ones just sort of getting by, are the ones put in any authority. Don't take me word, just see any given installment of Dilbert sometime.

Happiness? Well, I hate to say this, but maybe it's overrated. Sour grapes, say you? OK, fine; but still true.

As for why we, the faithful readers are not in a position of power, I would guess offhand it's because: 1. we didn't pledge the right frat back in college (if we did go) and 2. we just don't have enough in savings right now for the kickback.

In any case, don't blame US because we're not in any position to help you!


Marty Fuller:

Mr. Kreider will take your word, and trust his own experiments, that hard work disappears without reward. He certainly does not intend to read any installment of "Dilbert," a low parody of a horizontal presentation on microfilm drawn by Commodore 64.

He suggests that unhappiness, also, is over-estimated considerably.




12 April 2007

As someone who has crashed and burned under his own weight, I can see the warning signs in others.  Watch Lebowski and Strangelove, and remember that the genius isn't in the exhumation of some grand farcical object, it's merely a matter of clearly displaying the farcical object.  The joke then writes itself.  That we have an evil evil man jumping around and chanting rap lyrics is the joke itself.  The fucking attourney general can't defend himself in a courtroom setting; funny.  The pouting childish petulence of King George; funny. He refused to throw out the first pitch on opening day because of a real good chance he would be booed; funny.  The guy who bashed the Saddam statue now says he wishes Saddam was back; funny.

On another topic, you had two excellent illustations in "My New Policy", the jet-pack cat reaction and your pro-Shiite chanting both go up there with your muppet-like dance of when the U.S. gets liberated and you gleefully greet them.  Outstanding drawings. 

Hang in there buddy,

Ed Weidemann

Ed Weidemann:

Mr. Kreider appreciates your council as regards the funny mood of funniness. Always he tries to emulate Strangelove and Le Dude. More he appreciates your compliments on his drawings. He is happy when the readers note the nuances which he tries so hard to capture.

We all hope he will not break and will not burn in an imminent manner.




12 April 2007

Tim Ė

Your work is awesome.  It's so good I feel bad for the future, given that cartoons seem to be very 'of their time' and incomprehensible within a century.  Plainly the future will be unable to puzzle out the meaning of The Pain.  Poor, poor future.  But then, maybe the reason old cartoons seem to suck so much now is that they always sucked. Maybe now is the golden age of cartooning.  I could believe it.

I'd love to take you up on your usual standing offer a drinking partner when on the road, but unfortunately, I am in the middle of starting my own company so I'm even sleeping all that much.  Drinking and tomcatting is out of the question.  Crap.

Let me know the next time you're in town and I'll take you out for a booze-up.

Please keep up the great work.

-Ethan Herdrick

Ethan Herdrick:

Mr. Kreider smells less badly for the people of the future than for himself of the present, who disappears without being recognized. The other readers have suggested that perhaps the work of Mr. Kreider's will be only understood by the future generations--that, as said Nietzsche, "some are only alive on a purely posthumous basis." As for Mr. Kreider, he is to believe when he sees it.

Mr. Kreider considers it regrettable that you are inalienable for the heavy drinking and "tom-catting" We wish you well with your company and ask that if it is success you send large amounts of money to Mr. Kreider in the mark of your respect for sound inspiration.




14 April 20007

"When are some of you losers who read my cartoons and artistís statements every week going to rise to positions of power and influence from which you can start paying me money and making me famous? Why donít you guys get off your asses and take some concrete steps toward becoming agents and editors and publishers?"

Point taken. Some friends and I are working on starting a not-for-profit press that pushes people to actually DO something rather than sitting around on their asses. So hopefully we can be the ones echoing your statement.

--Mike Miller

Michael Miller:

You badly understand the intentions of Mr. Kreider's. It is of no importance if you make an echo of his report or inspire others with the action or save the world from itself. It is only of importance for him that you give publicity to his work and advance his career. The "not-for-to-benefit" effort is useless with him. He seeks benefits massive and obscene. You understand that it is my job of speaking for him here. I personally would applaud your efforts but Mr. Kreider is to brood above old regrets and the missed occasion. I wish you the well with your futile but good effort.




18 April 20007

Mr. Kreider,

This was posted to a news forum that I frequent, and I thought you might appreciate it.  You've probably seen it already, but I hope you get a chuckle out of it if you haven't.

Thank you for your work, both the comic and the artist's statements.  As our heroes pass on, I am heartened to see their worthy heirs step up to the plate.

~ Rob

Dear Dalai Lama:

Mr. Kreider appreciates the majority of the amusement connected to H.P. Lovecraft and the Circus That Is the Family. While speaking about our heroes, he supposes that you refer to the late Kurt Vonnegut and is flattered to be considered a successor to that highly estimated author. Unless you referred to H.P. Lovecraft; in this case he is flattered much more.

He wonders whether you are the Dalai Lama real or a virtual impostor. If you are in fact the Dalai Lama true, he wishes us to inform you that he recently looked at your room in the old Potala. The Chinese have maintained it jus as you left it. Your clock of bedside is always on the table. However, a rat drank an alcoholic drink out of a basin offertory on an altar nearby. He wonders whether this rat is a trouble and a parasite, arrived since your departure, or a loved pet to you.




18 April 2007

I've been a fan of The Pain for a while now, and I was just surfing through the archives and came across this (relatively) old gem. I just wanted to write to give you another quote that I feel would have been entirely appropriate (and incredibly poignant) to include in this cartoon:

"The people can always be brought to do the bidding of the leaders. Just tell them they are under attack, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism."
-Hermann Goering

Just thought you'd like to know that your comparison between the Bush administration and the National Socialists was, in fact, perhaps even more accurate than you let on in that particular cartoon. Actually, I"m going to be doing a presentation on the question of whether or not Bush and his administration are Fascists in my East-West Perspectives on Fascism class (it's a class attempting to define a "theory of Fascism" by examining the movements in Germany and Japan) at Tufts.

Anyways, keep up the great work, hope you enjoyed the quote (as much as you can possibly enjoy the realization that you were correct in believing our government to be similar to a Fascist dictatorship).

--Jim Wright

James Wright:

Mr. Kreider is well informed this quotation of Goering, which appears with a certain frequency on the blogs and the Tee-shirts of the liberal zanies at gatherings of the protest. He does not need any confirmation further of his opinion of the Bush administration. Always the techniques of propaganda and warmongering are identical. They are only the citizens bovine who do not learn any history who are credulous with them. He despairs.




19 April 2007

dear ms hautpanz

i advise you as tim kreider's guide, to make sure that he doesn't see the trailers for this new movie comicn out, called the tripper. the reason i advise against mr tripper seeing it

is because of the unnatural zombie ronald reagan in it. i donít think mr kreider's life could take such a strain; reagan's death was the one thing that all good people looked forward to, with mr kreider leading the charge. so, to keep him sane, please don't let him go check out the trailer:


also, please thank mr kreider for me for using his drawings to make me realize that the democrat party was the right choice.


john zuidema

John Zuidema:

Alas, Mr. Kreider saw this film promotion. He cannot say if this premise is brilliant or stupid. He appreciates the line "That it is morning in America! ", a slogan of the campaign of Ronald Reagan, for those who do not remember.

He shivers to consider that it could have been only his drawings that caused you to realize that the Democratic vote was the correct choice.




21 April 2007

Dear Ms. Czochula-Hautpänz/Tim Kreider :

A friend of mine sent me this, and it reminded me of your "Nietzsche Family Circus" link. I don't know why this is funny, but it is:



Much more intense and poignant is the Garfield Sans Words, in which Jon the protagonist becomes a figure of pathos deluded:





24 April 2007

Hey all!

Send my congrats to Tim Kreider on all his brutal and much needed work over the last 6 years (especially). Also his absolutely brilliant film criticism. He should do a whole kubrick book, doing what he did for Eyes wide shut for all the other films. The EWS essay on the kubrick site was the first I ever heard of Mr. Kreider, actually.

Also enjoyed the A.I essay....i will have to watch that one again with his insightful comments in mind since I more or less dismissed it the first time around wishing wistfully that kubrick had ended up making it.

Anyway....to the point:

When I clicked on the artist's statement link for this week's strip I ended up seeing the statement for LAST week's strip. Just a heads up. I find the statements almost as hilarious and informative as the strips!


Eli Friedmann


Eli Friedmann:

This error was fixed. Thank you to bring it to our attention.

I will pass along your compliments to Mr. Kreider on his comics and writing of film. He will be encouraged, one hopes.



Thanks for the help!!

Looks like I got what I complained about and MORE....what a great artist's statement it is this week!! Completely right on and something I have thought about for years: condemning humans of the past when our current behavior is just as bad (especially in the areas of animal cruelty and the environment).

How much more intelligent and deserving of our love (or at least our "not killing") are dogs and cats than are pigs and cows anyway? A fine line indeed and one that is largely cultural rather than logical (I admit that I feel less bad for fish, lobster and other "seafood" than I do for other mammals).

All I can add is....if you are in "that" headspace, as I am, don't watch "fast food nation", especially the last 5-10 minutes featuring the "kill floor". If you are not a vegetarian...you will want to be.

Enjoy your trip overseas mr. kreider.....bring us fresh insights. China is THE next battleground in the environmental battle. Gonna make the U.S look like small potatoes in 10-20 years in that and other departments.

Also I grew up on buckaroo banzai although I did not adopt the wardrobe.

Cheers and more thanks

Eli Friedmann


28 April 2007

Dear Madam,

Please pass this note on to Mr. Kreider, provided it meets your criteria:

Just another email saying I read you every week, and I like what I read.  Based on what I read I find we have very similar political views, but I still find new ideas when I take the time to read your Artist's Statements so it never feels like I'm in a choir while some guy preaches at us.  Oh, and thank you for pointing out what too many have forgotten -- that we will never be forgiven for neglecting to continue the Buckaroo saga.  Nor should we, says I!

Best Wishes,


P.S.  I'm really not an insane Buckaroo Banzai fan.  I just watched the movie a lot growing up, and I always wanted to see that sequel.

P.P.S.  Please do not end up in jail in China.

Charlie Barr:

Mr. Kreider appreciates your compliments on his work. You will be relieved to know that he is returned safe and a free man of China. He makes now with freedom with the badmouth of the fascistic Chinese without fear of imprisonment. It is only the fascistic Americans of whose reprisals he must fear. Anywhere you go, he observes, there is you.




29 April 20007

well though i suppose that this will never get read i still felt the urge to simply say thank you. its so refreshing to read satire that not only is some of rawest truth i have ever seen but it also make me happy to know that there is someone out there with the same sense of humor and sharp tongue as myself. mind you i am not comparing the two of us b/c you have actually made something of your life and i.....well anyways. upon discovering your site i am am starting to think that a humble lifestyle in satire the way of Bill Hicks or Kurt Vonnegut is the path for me. i will include my rant that i posted a while back.... while its very simple and somewhat in the realm of teenage angst i still like it for the fact that it is raw truth.


ok since writing is a good way to get the anger out and i am fucking off the wall right now, i thought it would be good to write. i just have a few things to say.....i wont name names but if some people where to read this and understand that the a comment was directed towards them, sorry but fuck you.......i have enough pain, anger, and hatred in my life without your fucking ass. and so i begin

Girls who send mixed signals: This is my all time favorite....i admit i know jack shit about women in general but i am nice guy (except in this blog) and i am not fucking ugly just regular ugly. and then we meet and talk thru various means and our body language is connecting and then you avoid me when all i wanted was a fucking call or message.....but you know thats ok....i can forgive, not forget. then all of a sudden you are VERY close with the guy that was being an asshole to you. this has happened to me a few times with various candidates. let me say this when someone tells you that they truly like you and wouldnt mind taking the relation to the next level............DONT HANG OFF THEIR BEST FUCKING FRIEND AT A PARTY AND/OR DONT POST PICS OF YOU SNUGGLING WITH SOME COCKSUCKER! its funny before i posted this i felt the urge to crush someones skull in....all better

Religious People, the preachy ones: FUCK YOU! just because you are "saved" and i think differently means i am going to hell? that makes me lost?  take ur judgment and shove it up ur fucking ass. and even better is when people preach and then dont live the way they preach...Evangelical Hypocrites....i would actually pray to DOG i mean god that you get the worst kind of virus.....hanta virus and ebola are too fucking good for you. i hope hell is a welcome release. oh and by the way... i am not a satanist but i would gladly join just to piss you the fuck off. and to those people you stand in parks and roads with jesus signs and etc, the next time i fucking see you, i will hit you with my fucking car, my 2000 Impala can get some fucking speed. by the way, Heavy Metal doesnt promote suicide. i have NEVER listened to a band to feel more depressed. i listen to them to be lifted out of my darkness. and to those parents that consider that music the devil, if ur kid is depressed... its ur fucking fault! my parents and my music SAVED MY LIFE!  i could make a whole blog ranting on these cocksuckers but i want to address a few others.

PS. Tattoos are a valid expression of art plus the reason i have tattoos are to manifest the emotional and mental pain that i have suffered for years and if you dont like that look away or go piss up a rope

Religious Anti Abortion People: listen, abortion is a fucking terrible thing. if my wife or girlfriend aborted my child that would be the end of my life. but just b/c it doesnt seem right to me doesnt mean it applies for everyone! holding up dolls with blood on them just show the world that you are a fucking asshole! if women want to choice that is THEIR right! and if there is an afterlife they will be judged so shut the fuck up. also to those that are absolute pro life... what happens if a handicap girl gets raped? you would make them have the baby? and if you would, i would personally lead you into the woods and disembowel you with something blunt.

Guys that have no clue how lucky they are: this is funny... guys so fucking dumb that they cant tell that they landed a princess for a girlfriend... and usually they cheat on the girlfriend. its that fucking cool? then they figure out that the original girl was perfect and that the whore they were with is not worth the time and effort. but hopefully but then their lives are ruined and they can wallow in their own personal hell. ah! Karma is WONDERFUL!

Girls who take cheating boyfriends back: this is a doozy. do you really think he has changed? if you do, you are incredibly fucking stupid and should be hit in the head with something hard til you wake up or die....i am not choosey. and these are usually the girls who say that they are strong and dont need that bastard but tearfully say that they want the guy back and that is when he knows that he controls you. WAKE THE FUCK UP! but you wont and you fucking deserve to be fucking miserable

Winey Liberal Douche Bags: i have picked on the Converatives (b/c most conservatives are all jesusy) so now the other end of the spectrum. Extremeist with PETA, Greenpeace, or any other organization should have their vocal cords forcibly removed. waa waa waa WAA! all those people that say fur is murder and that we should be eating raw vegs go fuck urself. Cow, Pig, Turkey, and Chicken are wonderful and would eat a bowl of raw meat if i thought it would make u faint. YUM!

Child Predators: this is simple... if you have ever done anything sexual to a child, you arent going court. you should be anally raped by a shotgun and then shot in the head in the middle of a fucking street. then the rodents and other filth can pick ur bones dry. there that solves that problem.

Emo Bands and Emo Kids (mainly guys that wear womens pants): while they dont piss me off nearly as much as the other listed items, i feel that i must address them. Life sucks but fucking smile and it wont be as bad. shit is bad but do something more creative then fucking whine. honestly its getting to a point that if you want to kill urself...GO AHEAD! kill the band, kill ur parents and kill urself...just make sure that you get ur whole face in front of the Shotgun. was that too insensitive? boo fucking hoo... as a person who seriously considered suicide and had a razor blade to his wrist, suicide and cutting urself isnt trendy. its much more fucking sinister and if you are still reading after all my rants let me say this. dont call me emotionally disturbed...i am not and the reason is i just let out the evil in a creative and non violent way. and if you dont like it then look at something else. Its called Freedom of Speech and i am exercising it to the extreme. and tho this rant is different then their works, i still dedicate all this to Mushroomhead, true patriots, and the memory of Bill Hicks, a true philosopher. DOG BLESS AMERICA!

Dear A Fan (Regrettably, Not a Groupie),

You are generous to include me in the same category as the late Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. I would point out, however, that one of the few similarities between us is a lack of faith in the meaning and usefulness of our own work. By his own account, Vonnegut was a bitter man with no hope for the future, glad to be quit of the world. This is not how I want to end my own life, and neither, if I may presume to suggest so, should you. Youíre an angry guy. This is fine. I am an angry guy myself, and Iím well aware that angry isn't the same as sick or mean-spirited; there is, after all, much in this world for a decent man to be angry about. It is a truism that a cynic is only a disillusioned idealist, and better men than we, from Vonnegut to Mark Twain, have been driven to terminally malignant misanthropy and pessimism by the outrages and injustices of this world. Writing is, as you say, a good way of expressing anger, one of the best--certainly preferable to the increasingly popular black-trenchcoat-and-automatic-weaponry route. But it is not without its occupational hazards. The transmutation of rage into laughter is a trick we satirists have to perform over and over for a living, and, like the liver metabolizing alcohol, it takes a toll over the long term. Anger is not unlike a lot of other vices--extremely fun to indulge, but not very good for you in the long term.

I just read J.M. Coetze's "Waiting for the Barbarians," a fable which is, regrettably, perennially relevant but particularly so right now in America. I copied down the following passage especially because I wanted to share it with you. It occurs when the narrator, a decent but ineffectual civil bureaucrat, sees captured "barbarians" about to be brutally flogged before crowds:

"For me, at this moment, striding away from the crowd, what has become important above all is that I should neither be contaminated by the atrocity that is about to be committed nor poison myself with impotent hatred of its perpetrators."

This latter is something of a trick. For me, it takes the form of finding within myself a perverse sympathy for George Bush, rendering him as a feckless and pathetic character in my cartoons (which he most certainly is not in real life). No doubt about it: some weeks finding the funny side of a police state, torture, preemptive invasion, global ruin, and, worst of all, my fellow citizens' fatassed bovine complicity in it all, can be a chore and a drag. I don't always feel up to it. But that's the goddamn job.

I'm kind of playing the role of Marley's Ghost here, trying to ward you away from a path that may lead to your becoming chronically embittered while there's still time to turn back. My hope is that I might be able to alter your course just enough to avoid this fate, the way that detonating a nuclear weapon on an asteroid might deflect its trajectory just enough, over the millions of miles, to avoid a catastrophic collision with Earth. Don't get me wrong, I'm not telling you not to be angry; the world is an inexcusable botch, and it is someone's fault, and it's the responsibility of satirists to point fingers and name names. I would just gently direct you away from the examples of Vonnegut and myself and toward humorists like H.L. Mencken, Molly Ivins and, yes, Bill Hicks, who despite their unsentimental view of people and politics somehow managed to retain an enviable joi de vivre and to regard this imperfect world as a hilarious pageant mounted for the delectation of connoisseurs of human folly such as themselves. A less bilious view, and a lighter touch, are better not only for your art but for your soul. In other words, to quote one satirist: "Life sucks but fucking smile and it wont be as bad. shit is bad but do something more creative then fucking whine."

As a personal aside, I agree with you RE the misguided and cowardly blaming of any kind of music for teen depression and suicide. Back when I was your age, young man, and contemplating suicide as all sensitive young men must, I was doing it to the accompaniment of Tchaikovskyís Sixth, "The Pathetíque," a better soundtrack for suicidal ideation than which you will not find anywhere. (Please do not kill yourself with this piece on the CD player or I will be blamed.)

As for girls, well, I must admit this is a subject that occasionally gets even the most indefatigably cheerful men down. It's often true that women--especially young and inexperienced ones--are more attracted to pure testosterone-fueled self-confidence, even of the most obnoxious and abusive variety, than to kindness, intelligence, or other worthier traits. It can take a while--like, the duration of a first marriage--for them to learn from experience and outgrow this tendency. And some never do. This is regrettable, but no more superficial or reprehensible than men being predictably attracted to stupid and boring but hot women. It is, in other words, human nature, and to hate people for being the way they are comes perilously close to a kind of life-denying insanity.

Believe me, I am pretending to an equanimity and wisdom I do not really feel here. All I can say is, women are just as perverse and self-sabotaging as men in their own way, but no worse than we are. You definitely don't want to become the sort of depirved, embittered guy who hates women, because this is wrongheaded and, more importantly, unattractive. For what itís worth, my own experience is that if a girl doesn't like you there's nothing so heroic you can do that it'll make her like you, and if she does like you there's nothing so stupid you can do that it'll make her stop.

Sexual predators, on the other hand, are fair game. Except of course for those hot female sexual predators who seduce their male students! Rrrowl!




30 April 2007

Dear Ms. Czochula-Hautpänz:

While I usually appreciate the erudition and suave social commentary  found in Mr. Kreider's work, I'm afraid that his fact-checkers have caused the quality of his work to suffer in last week's installment.  

In the upper right-hand quarter panel of his drawing entitled "Why Will They Hate Us in the Future?", we find two post-apocalyptic or dystopian characters (dressed apparently in the now-worthless flotsam of today's consumerist society) opining trenchantly on a billboard  representing an advertisement for an automobile.  The caption leads us to believe that the depletion of fossil fuels has caused the characters to find themselves in a state of paupery, clothing themselves in trash.  It is, of course, obvious and well-known to the simplest of third-world peasants that tires are highly combustible sources of fossil fuels, and that therefore the ample and bearded satyr-like figure on the left, clothed in a used auto tire, belies the central trope (or "gag") of the piece.  

You will do Mr. Kreider a service by discovering the source of the apparent reverse-anachronistic error in the strip and terminating the employ of this minion.

Your humblest servant, etc.,

Paul Vetter, Ph.D.


Paul Vetter, PhD:

After being returned recently of Tibet, where many heat their houses and make cook with the dry manure of yaks, Mr. Kreider goes well-informed on such sources of energetic alternatives. But you propose that these characters should run their cars on the flaming tires of the future? And that these cars will roll on what, once all tires are aflame? It is an implausible future which you pose in theory, Mr. Kreider feels. Moreover, the waist-tire makes an excellent drinking-support/coaster.