Archive for the ‘Bad news’ Category

This bites

August 16, 2022

Glass don’t be even half full, yo.

It’s bleakly amusing that The New York Times water scribe is named Henry Fountain.

And that’s about the only giggle in the “news” that we’re draining the Colorado River like a parched gaggle of Draculas tapping a hot blonde while not doing much to answer the question, “Why does the Southwest have so many vampires working out on this one skinny gal?”

It should go without saying that when you’re long on bloodsuckers and short on arteries you’re gonna start running a deficit. Is it too late to hit the Home Depot for a shitload of wooden stakes and hammers?

My fellow Burqueño John Fleck is on the case as per usual. See “How We Got Into This Mess on the Colorado River,” and a “strongly worded letter” from John Entsminger of the Southern Nevada Water Authority about the failure to reach a deal on Colorado River cutbacks.

NPR also has a piece, from The Associated Press.

And yes, I know, having spent much of my life bouncing around four of the states that draw water from the Colorado River, that I am part of the problem. What can I tell you? I am a creature of the desert, known to howl at the moon of an evening.

The children of the night! What music they make!

Just call me Bozo Lugosi.

Empty rituals

May 25, 2022

Mia’s bagged it.

In a perfect world, I would be writing about a cat in a sack, the hummingbird snuggled into a nest outside my office window, or the bunny that just hopped by underneath it.

This is not a perfect world.

I have nothing pertinent to add to what James Fallows has written on the four themes in “the empty rituals of a gun massacre.”

Closer to home, Texas Monthly Dan Solomon reminds us that Gov. Greg Abbott, who has overseen a steady expansion of gun rights, is even more clueless than the rest of us if he really thinks the latest massacre is “incomprehensible.”

Abbott, who first won election in 2014, has had a lot of opportunities to learn how to comprehend this kind of violence. In November 2017, a man entered the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs and killed 26 people. Six months later, a seventeen-year-old high school student shot and killed eight of his classmates and two teachers at Santa Fe High School, outside of Houston. A little more than a year later, in August 2019, a far-right gunman who had posted a manifesto online drove from Dallas to El Paso and murdered 23 shoppers in a Walmart. Later that month, a shooter killed 7 people in Odessa and injured 25 others. Thus far in 2022 alone, there have been 21 mass shootings in Texas. Uvalde is just the deadliest.

I’m not singling out Texas. Here in The Duck! City we have teenagers shooting up gas stations (and killing all the wrong people) over drug deals gone sideways. Plus, New Mexico leads the nation in pedestrian deaths per resident population, traffic deaths being another problem we have decided to do nothing about (beyond jacking our jaws, that is).

These are problems with solutions. We have decided not to solve them. We love our SUVs and our AR-15s. The body count is something the survivors have agreed we can live with.

Outside+ looking in

May 20, 2022

Ask not for whom the bike bell tolls.

Ring-a-ding-ding, bitches.

It was never a question of if, but of when. The Greater Outside+ Globe-Spanning Vertically Integrated Silo O’ Sports & Fitness, LLC, has begun excreting magazines and scribes, because that’s what vulture capitalists do: Gobble and shit, gobble and shit.

I knew my time was up last year when I saw the thousand-pound sack of boilerplate contract Outside’s drones expected me to sign if I cared to keep drawing funnies for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

After a quick semantic analysis boiled their bullshit down to its smoky essence — “All hope abandon, ye who enter here!” — I trimmed it to a few salient grafs that cut straight to the chase, sent them off, and never heard another peep.

Not long afterward, I retired.

Now, the folks who stuck around and did the work are getting the old heave and also the ho. Talented types like Ben Delaney and Nicole Formosa, to name just two. It’s basically v2.0 of Competitor Group Inc., which gave Charles Pelkey and John Wilcockson the bum’s rush Back in the Day®. Same old guillotine, just different heads and an Outside Gear Box instead of the usual basket.

I can’t speak to the quality of the publications that lost staffers or are going dark entirely. I don’t read them. My subscription dollars are spent elsewhere.

But if these pubs aren’t profitable, I’m guessing it’s probably not Ben’s fault, or Nicole’s. Might have something to do with an overabundance of supernumeraries who don’t write, edit, shoot, sketch, or sell.

If I were showing people the door in an effort to save money I might start with anyone who uses the bloodless words “product” and “content” to describe “stories” and “photographs.” There’s always work for people who think everything is a commodity, including their souls.

R.I.P., Neal Adams

April 30, 2022

The Batman got a chance to feel what it was like to be me in 1969. From “The Secret of the Waiting Graves,” drawn by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano, story by Denny O’Neil, © 1969 National Periodical Publications, Inc.

The inimitable Neal Adams has finally stepped away from the drawing board. He was 80.

Adams was, in a word, a legend. I devoured comic books from my early childhood through college, from Superman to the X-Men, the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers to Mr. Natural, and I’d never seen anything like his art. When Adams took on a character, he nailed it.

“Yeah, that’s how [insert your hero here] is supposed to look,” I’d think. And if some other artist took over, I’d be all like, “Nope.”

Adams helped put the dark back in the Dark Knight, a.k.a. The Batman; made the Green Lantern-Green Arrow series actually worth a look (a not inconsiderable chore); and fought Frank Frazetta to a draw when it came to depicting Conan the Barbarian.

The Batman may have been his crowning achievement, but Adams didn’t limit himself to Gotham City. He drew for both DC and Marvel, tackling Deadman, the X-Men, the Avengers, Superman, even the gleefully blasphemous Son O’ God Comics for National Lampoon. He was like the Buddhist deity Avalokiteshvara, with a pen in each of his one thousand hands. And like Chickenman, he was everywhere.

He was also a pain in the ass, which as you may imagine only further endeared him to me. He worked to see that creators were treated better than Manpower temps and helped win some long-overdue recognition for “Superman” visionaries Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, without whom we’d all have been stuck reading “Archie” comics … another title Adams had a hand in early on.

Peace to him and to his family, friends and fans.

R.I.P., Gilbert Gottfried

April 12, 2022

Gilbert Gottfried, one of the least predictable comics ever, has left the stage. He was 67.

The family says only that he died “after a long illness,” though his publicist told The Washington Post that the cause was complications of muscular dystrophy. I thought he seemed unwell (or at least ill at ease) in Neil Berkeley’s “Gilbert,” a look at the comic’s other life as a family man circa 2017.

The dude never saw a line he wouldn’t cross, and it cost him occasionally. But he kept crossing them, and at the 2001 Friars Club roast of Hugh Hefner, when boos and cries of “Too soon!” spurred Gottfried to pivot from a 9/11 bit to a particularly vile take on the inside joke captured in “The Aristocrats” documentary, it reminded everyone who was in charge here — the little fella with the big voice.

“OK. A talent agent is sitting in his office. A family walks in. …”

“It was arguably the dirtiest roast the Friars had ever done,” said roastmaster Jeff Ross, who knows from filth, believe you me.

But Gottfried’s bit was more than just a dirty joke — OK, so, more like a filthy, grotesque, eye-popping juggernaut of preposterous vulgarity — it was a joyous, raucous reminder that some scumbag may be able to take your life, but only you can let one take your laughter.

I still can’t watch that bit without heehawing like a donkey. What a gift Gilbert Gottfried gave us.

River of fools

March 22, 2022

Every little bit helps.

What’s black and white and cold all over?

The Duck! City at dawn.

We got a little smooch from the gods as they thundered eastward to kick the shit out of Texas. Rained all day Monday, then started snowing overnight.

The Mad Dog Weather Widget says we got slightly less than half an inch, and we will take it, thank you very much, if only to keep the dust and pollen out of our snouts and eyeballs for a little while. Shoutout to Thor and Mjolnir for not taking the roof off en route.

Elsewhere, the water news is not as cheery. Reporting from the University of Utah’s Stegner Symposium on the Colorado River Compact, John Fleck notes, among other things, that:

  • Colorado River Basin water users are currently consuming 14-15 million acre feet of water from a river that for the 21st century has averaged 12.3 million acre feet.
  • Lake Powell is sinking toward “minimum power pool” – its lowest level since filling in the 1960s.
  • Summer drying is making it harder for snowpack the following winter to make it to headwaters rivers.

Hey Zeus, etc. “The crisis situation on the river made for some pointed conversations,” says Fleck, and I believe him.

“Would you like a whiskey with your wee-wee?”

“Yes, please.”

“Sorry, it takes water to make whiskey. It’s straight wee-wee for you, pal. Shall I catheterize you or would you prefer to sample our Wee-wee of the Week? This week it’s Pima Pee, and yes, we stole it.”

‘Anyone can get an auto loan’

March 16, 2022

For when the M1126 Infantry Carrier Vehicle just isn’t big enough.

OK, so, with the Russian war in Ukraine, random gun violence here at home, and inflation everywhere, we all have plenty to worry about.

But wait! There’s more!

Cyclists, pedestrians, and anyone else hoping for safe streets in a livable environment will hop the first dick-missile to Mars after scanning this New York Times story on what the quarter-point hike in the Fed’s key interest rate means for any of us chickens who’d like to cross the road without winding up fried and breaded in one of the Colonel’s buckets.

A couple key pull-quotes:

“There is far more variation in auto lending than in, say, the mortgage market because there are more credit types. Anyone can get an auto loan.” — Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Cox Automotive, an industry consulting firm.

“Car-loan rates will move up as the Fed hikes interest rates, but it will be a nonissue for car buyers because it has such a limited impact on monthly payments. Nobody will need to downsize from the S.U.V. to the compact because of rising rates.” — Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com.

Damn straight. Fuck a bunch of Prius. Whadda I look like, some hippie? I got an image to maintain. What are the Russian oligarchs driving this season?

R.I.P., P.J. O’Rourke

February 15, 2022

One of the many P.J. O’Rourke books in the Mad Dog library.

P.J. O’Rourke, The Last Funny Republican, has shoved off, stage right. He was 74.

I first read P.J. in the National Lampoon, where he was frequently hysterical. If you never read “How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink,” you have not lived. You can can find that 1979 gem in his collection “Republican Party Reptile.”

His book “Parliament of Whores” is a must-read, if, like P.J., you often wonder: “Our Government: What the Fuck Do They Do All Day, and Why Does It Cost So Goddamned Much Money?” (An actual section header.)

He got his knife into just about everyone, including cyclists (“A Cool and Logical Analysis of the Bicycle Menace”). The dipshit fools who excrete their own feeble takes on this original every spring should hang their heads in shame, or simply hang.

There wil never be another P.J. O’Rourke, which is a tremendous pity. The right needs to learn how to laugh at itself, if only so the rest of us can catch our breath.

The cat’s meow

January 14, 2022

Up in the air, junior birdperson. …

This is why I wish I had a better camera.

“Whatchoo lookin’ at?”

I was out for a ride yesterday and noticed a hang glider freshly launched from the Sandia Crest. If you squint you can just barely make him/her out in the upper right-hand corner there. The original iPhone SE camera doesn’t exactly bring ’em back alive. Not from that altitude, anyway.

It was a good day to be above it all. Cyberattacks shut down the Albuquerque schools and FUBARed various Bernalillo County operations; the county clerk is not amused. My fellow Burqueños are back to croaking each other in bulk after setting a record last year that will be hard to top. And I forgot to invoice The Greater Outside+ Vertically Integrated Globe-Spanning Title-Killing Silo O’ Sports & Fitness, LLC, for my final cartoon of 2021.

The good news is, today is a fine day to be a cat in a sunny spot. But then when is it not?

 

R.I.P., VeloNews

January 12, 2022

The first edition of VeloNews in which a cartoon
by You Know Who appeared.

VeloNews was found dead on Jan. 1. It was just 50 years old.

Was it murder? Suicide? Natural causes? (i.e., a slow-moving form of frontotemporal dementia?)

Nah. Darwinism. Nature red in tooth and claw, baby. Or, if you prefer your poetry in the original Sicilian, “It’s strictly business.”

• Editor’s note: A tip of the VeloNews cycling cap to Steve O. for the sharp eye on the velo-news.