Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It
NOTE: I have finally compiled the letters pages from July through October out of the administrative shambles left in the wake of Ms. C.-H.’s departure. My sincere apologies to those readers who have not yet received responses to their letters of the last few months. I have read all your messages and intend to respond to all of them, although I’m afraid I won’t be able to do so at the length or with the thoroughness that some of them deserve. Without Ms. C.-H.’s assistance in this area I frankly find myself overwhelmed.
I set out this week with the intention of drawing something wistful and melancholy, a metaphor about what an unprecedentedly shitty year it’s been. Instead I ended up drawing Boyd’s head in a jar. Oh well. There comes a time in every humorist’s life when he has to give up delusions of artistry, put on his big floppy shoes, and solemnly take a pie in the face.
I think it would not be an exaggeration to call this the worst year of my life. I lost a lot of friends and had to leave a place I loved. Earlier this week my friend Anita and I agreed, “At least this year can’t get any worse.” Within three days of this conversation the woman I’d been dating told me she was going to start seeing someone else, and Anita had been run down by a Mexican bicycle delivery guy. I guess the moral here is something like: No Matter How Hard Things Suck, They Can Always Suck Harder. There must be a Thurber fable to that effect.
But let us not dwell on all we have lost or squandered. That way lies operatic madness. Let us remember, instead, a few of the good things that happened in 2007:
My friend Carolyn flew me to Seattle for my 40th birthday, where she and our old friend Aaron and I watched a whole season of Land of the Lost on DVD, broke open geodes and dissected owl pellets, and hiked to a mountain waterfall.
I read The Life of Johnson,The Road,Waiting for the Barbarians, The End of the Affair, some P.G. Wodehouse (always a pleasure), a history of the Cold War, Tree of Smoke, Bridge of Sighs, The Sun Also Rises, and Blood Meridian. I saw Frost/Nixon and Peter and Jerry onstage. I watched The Passion of Joan of Arc, Michael Apted's Up series, and discovered the films of Takashi Miike.
I sat on the roof of a Buddhist temple listening to the weird unearthly blasts of the long horns while looking out at the ice-rimed ridge of the Himalayas.
I sat in a warm, musty New York theater on a Sunday afternoon when torrential rains were pouring down outside and watched all of Grindhouse while eating popcorn laced with Peanut M&Ms.
In the crucible of heartbreak I learned which of my friends I could count on. Webmaster Dave made an emergency trip to my Undisclosed Location to offer his counsel. Megan Kelso held me while I went to pieces in public and urged me to draw with my non-dominant hand. Boyd White swore terrible revenge. Jenny Boylan took me to the grave of Miles Davis to cheer me up, where we lay on the grass listening to his music and chatted with the drivers of a passing hearse. And all my beloved evil ex-girlfriends rallied to my side.
My friend Ellen and I ate gourmet Hawaiian pizza and I smoked a cigar while watching Raiders of the Lost Ark outdoors in Tompkins Square Park.
Big Jim and I threw a great fucking funeral for our friend John. With the aid of Webmaster Dave (and without the permission of the officiating clergyman) I contrived to have the organist play “Kashmir” as the casket was wheeled from the church. Jim and I swigged Irish whiskey from the bottle and listened to the Rolling Stones while following the hearse. Larger-than-life characters from years ago showed up and we all drank Mystery Shots in the Rendezvous Lounge like we were were in our twenties again, and for a night it was like being back in the Baltimore I loved.
I wept while listening to a beautiful violinist play the prelude of Bach’s cello suite #1 in Central Park.
I spent a week goofing off with Jim and Sarah, driving around New Haven in their Arctic Cruiser listening to Maplewood and Jay Farrar and Blue Mountain and Frog Holler.
I went ice-skating at Rockefeller Center with my friend Steve and his daughters, Emma and Lily. Afterward I bought roasted chestnuts, which neither of the girls had ever had before. After eating her first one Emma said to me, very seriously: “I love these.”
On Christmas Eve, I bought a raccoon coat on eBay. I have a vision of myself wearing this coat and smoking a cigar like some sinister uncle out of Edward Gorey. People are going to covet the shit out of this coat. I really think this is what's finally going to turn things around for me.