Archive for the ‘Bad news’ Category

Figures lie, and …

December 1, 2019

Roll the tape.

Ho, ho. It seems the Albuquerque Police Department has copped to a few “inaccuracies” in its crime stats.

As pictures go, this is on a par with Leonardo da Vinci admitting that Mona Lisa was actually a dude, and a car-stealing serial killer to boot.

In a chat with the Urinal, Mayor Tim Keller spake thusly:

“The mirror doesn’t lie and the mirror says violent crime is up, and that’s a huge problem, but it also says that property crime and auto theft are down. I don’t think it’s about people believing one thing or another, I think it’s just what your definition of crime is. And we have always said that crime is the biggest problem in our community and that continues to be the case.”

Boy, I’ll bet he’d like to walk that one back now that it’s limping down the street with a bullet wound, trying to find its stolen car.

The good news: It can take the bus! And for free, too. If you overlook the $133 million startup charge, that is.

R.I.P., Gahan Wilson

November 23, 2019

My lone Gahan Wilson collection.

Gahan Wilson, whose surreal cartoons regularly appeared in National Lampoon, Playboy, and other top-shelf mags, has stepped away from the drawing board.

He died Thursday in Scottsdale, Ariz. Complications of dementia, they say. He was 89.

This guy was funny. Bleak, weird, the owner and operator of left field, he kept you off balance like some psychotic judo master. There was nobody else like him working Back in the Day®, and if he has a successor, I’ve not seen him or her yet.

One of my faves? An overstuffed chair absorbing a reader. Eyeglasses and book lie on the floor. All you can see as the reader vanishes is a pair of hands, protruding from the seat.

Another depicts a gardener who has unearthed a skeleton. His employer, a stately, dessicated husk of a woman, says, “I think you would be advised to locate the new delphinium bed elsewhere, Hobbs.”

Yet another shows a soldier covered in gore, muck and God knows what all, knife in one hand and assault rifle in the other. He stands alone in a smoking hellscape that makes the “Terminator” future look like Disneyland. His eyes pop out of the murk like cue balls. And he smiles. “I think I won!” he says.

Dracula with a vampire hand puppet. Dracula with a salt shaker. (Dude liked Dracula, what can I tell you?) A woman who has stuffed her husband into the trash can outside her apartment door (“You don’t get rid of him that easy, Mrs. Jacowsky,” says a man who may be the building superintendent). A writer for “The National Confidential Weekly” who, stuck for a lively bit of the old Fake News®, finally leaves his typewriter for a while and returns to tap out, “It isn’t easy cutting the heart out of a woman with a dull knife. And it takes time. It takes a good fifteen minutes.”

Oh, Gahan Wilson was one of the greats. I hope he and Charles Addams are hoisting a tall cold one in the Beyond.

R.I.P., Russell Chatham

November 13, 2019

“Crazy Mountains in March” by Russell Chatham, 1991.

The IRS can’t get Russell Chatham now. He’s skedaddled with his paints and brushes, vamoosed to a secret place where his creditors will never find him.

His flight west hasn’t interested the big boys yet. The New York Times, once Johnny-on-the-spot when it came to obits, hasn’t uttered a peep.

But his old hometown newspaper finally got around to writing a little something, days after the San Francisco Chronicle noted his passing.

It was apparently the dementia that got him, among other things. Once a Montanan and rounder, an artist and writer whose running mates included the likes of Jim Harrison, Thomas McGuane, and Rick Bass, Chatham died Nov. 10 in a memory-care facility in Marin County, Calif. He was 80.

Chatham’s landscapes adorn many a book cover, when they aren’t busy elsewhere, selling for tens of thousands of dollars. Indeed, it’s hard to find a Harrison book without one, and he dedicated “Sundog” to Chatham.

The artist also makes frequent guest appearances in Harrison’s essays. While fly-fishing for billfish off Costa Rica both men contracted bad cases of turista, but Chatham’s was by far the champeen, if you believe Harrison. In “The Tugboats of Costa Rica,” he wrote:

“I shall never forget his pathetic yelp in the night as he pooped his bed during a feverish dream about trying to eat a giant Mindanao clam that wouldn’t stop moving,” Harrison wrote. “This artist is a walking field day for a psychotherapists’ convention.”

In his essay “Seasons Through the Net” McGuane described Chatham as “a man who has ruined his life with sport,” a relentless angler and shootist “who “skulks from his home at all hours with gun or rod.”

“Russ never thought of painting as a career. It was just something he did,” said McGuane.

Bass called him “the greatest living landscape painter in America, famous for his outlandish appetites for food, wine, travel, art, music, literature, and the sporting life.”

And Chatham? He was busy doing the somethings he did, sport and art. Working without a net. Everything else would have to take care of itself.

“I’m not a businessman,” he told Charles Schultz for the Point Reyes Light. “If any money crosses my path, it is gone faster than butter in an oven. I have no savings, no retirement. I have whatever’s in my wallet. To a lot of people that would be frightening.”

He added: “The artist has absolutely no safety net.”

This didn’t mean that he was unaware of the ground down there waiting for him. In a chat with Todd Wilkinson for the Mountain Journal, Chatham said:

“Early on, I was never concerned about having a career, so I didn’t have one. And now nothing could interest me less. But I think we all have a programmed tape running inside us, and most of mine is now stored on the right hand side of the cassette. I finally feel I know enough to paint what I could only dream about in my twenties. People say it’s time to slow down, relax, go fishing. Well, I took the first forty years of my life off and went fishing, and now my tape is telling me to finish what I was put on earth to do. Before, time didn’t matter. Now it does.”

It’s fish-thirty, Russell. Time to wet a line.

Ed Zink rides west

October 13, 2019

Ed Zink, one of the founders of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in Durango, has gone beyond.

The Durango native died Friday of complications from a heart attack, according to The Durango Herald. He was 71.

Ed was a rancher, a retailer, and a pillar of the U.S. cycling community. He ramrodded the Iron Horse through good times and bad, helped bring the first World Mountain Bike Championships to his hometown, and was a gent when dealing with irksome cycling scribes who wished to quiz him about this, that and the other.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.

Contributions in Ed’s memory can be made to Trails 2000 and the Mercy Health Foundation. My condolences to his family and friends.

The Terminator is a wordsmith

October 13, 2019

Sweetheart, give me rewrite … and an oil change.

Ho boy. There goes the neighborhood. The Poindexters are building the next Billy Shakespeare out of 1s and 0s.

In this piece for The New Yorker, John Seabrook wonders:

Could the machine learn to write well enough for The New Yorker? Could it write this article for me? The fate of civilization may not hang on the answer to that question, but mine might.

Sigh. Remember the good old days, when automatic writing was limited to the spirits or subconscious? I have a feeling this new breed of writer will rely on a different solvent than did its human predecessors.

“Gimme a benzene. Make it a double. I’m stalled on this goddamn novel.”

R.I.P., Paul Krassner

July 21, 2019

The Yippies were first to run a pig for president back in 1968, but it took the Republicans to actually win with one.

Paul Krassner was instrumental in that first attempt, but we can’t blame him for the second. The founder and editor of The Realist was into absurdity — he had roots in Mad magazine, after all — but he must have left this world shaking his head at how the unreal had become all too regrettably real.

Krassner hit the door running at 87.

Awright, so worry awready

July 4, 2019

This cover of The Nation from 2000 shows Mad’s staying power.

Ecch! Potrzebie! Mad magazine is taking the scenic route to the furshlugginer boneyard.

I spent a lot of time with Mad and its army of funnymen: Harvey Kurtzman, Don Martin, Wally Wood, Will Elder, Mort Drucker, Jack Davis, Sergio Aragonés, and the rest of The Usual Gang of Idiots. And I wasn’t their only fan.

Here’s a superhero Marvel hasn’t wiped its corporate arse with … yet.

In “Comix: A History of Comic Books in America,” Les Daniels called Mad “one of the most popular and influential mass circulation magazines in the country,” adding: “Along with Hugh Hefner’s sexy Playboy, it was one of the only two magazines produced in the Fifties that were successful innovations (excepting, of course, the reader service of TV Guide).”

In mourning the demise of “a true American original” on this Fourth of July 2019, contributor Tom Richmond wrote: “In the end in this day and age, the only reason anything is allowed to exist comes down to money. If something is profitable, it continues. If it is not, it ends. Mad is ending for the same reason anything ends … it’s all about the Benjamins.”

I gave Mad my Benjamins — OK, so maybe they were more like Washingtons — and oy, did it ever influence me. Mad led me down a twisted, anarchic path to Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, The Firesign Theatre, Zap Comics, The National Lampoon, and Monty Python, among others.

It was a trip worth taking, so much so that I’m still on it.

Poit. Sklishk. Sploydoing.

Sergio Aragonés had a go at cycling.

Repsychling

June 21, 2019

Put a lid on it.

Remember that recycling discussion we were having a while back?

According to The Guardian, recycling is mostly a figment of our imaginations. Says The Guardian:

A waste executive from Republic Services, one of the country’s largest garbage haulers, which serves more than 2,800 communities and has 91 recycling centers, said that one-third of everything collected by recycling trucks went to disposal because it was either contaminated, too small to be sorted or not actually recyclable.

“We’re right now landfilling it [plastic],” adds one Arizona operator. And Sierra Vista gets a shout-out, too.

R.I.P., Bruce Gordon

June 7, 2019

The SOPWAMTOS parade, with Himself in full fez regalia.

Well, goddamnit, I hope the Universe isn’t going to make a habit of this, snatching up all the interesting people before we’re finished with them.

This time it took Bruce Gordon, the acerbic framebuilder and one of the Self-Appointed Benevolent Co-Dictators for Life of the Society of People Who Actually Make Their Own Shit (SOPWAMTOS).

My Golden Toiddy

My Golden Toiddy for (what else?) Excellence In Bad Taste.

Back In the Day® Adventure Cyclist honcho Mike Deme and I tried to get Bruce to lay a bike on us for review purposes but we could never make it happen, possibly because Bruce was reluctant to work up a machine for the likes of us when it was tough enough to move product to the actual paying customers. Jagoffs, poseurs and wanna-bes are to be found in abundance, especially among the working press, and their pockets are notoriously shallow.

In the end I had to settle for a couple of SOPWAMTOS T-shirts, a Golden Toiddy from 1995 (I think), and his Rock n’ Road tires, which I still run on the Voodoo Nakisi. I’m pretty sure I paid retail for everything save the Golden Toiddy, too.

The last time I saw Bruce may have been at Interbike 2013.

“We were standing in line at dark-thirty for a cup of Starbutt’s finest and got straight to the kvetching, as a guy will before java is made available in a 20-year-old shopping mall masquerading as a casino-hotel. And afterward, too, come to think of it.

Well, some of us, anyway. One of these years Bruce and I should bring a small square of Astroturf and a couple of patio chairs to the show and while away the hours hollering at people to get the hell off our lawn.

I hope Deme has the Astroturf and patio chairs ready. He’s got company.

• Updated June 13: The hometown paper writes Bruce’s obit.

Bull in a China shop

May 10, 2019

There’s a new tariff in town.

MAGA, etc., et al., and so on and so forth. I’d speculate as to whether Art O. DeDeal is trying to croak the bike biz because of the relentless roasting I’ve given him, but he doesn’t know Schwinn from Shinola.

He apparently wants everyone else to lose money the way he did.

So. Much. Winning.