Revisiting Maus and Visting Arizona

Monday, April 11, 2005

Last week I committed blasphemy by admitting I wasn’t too impressed by the first Maus book. I assured the reader that the second book would likely “wow” me and I would “get” the whole story. Well, I just read the second book and if I were to review it in a word, I would have to go with: “Eh.” One of the issues I had with the first book is still there, the black and white metaphorical representations of races, and some of the characters are still highly unlikable. Vladek redeemed himself; I liked Vladek more in this book. He was more human, we saw more of his motivations. Francois was great and even Mala was strong and quirky likable towards the end. But Art just got worse and it really made the book hard for me to enjoy, I just didn’t like him. He’s an unappreciative, exploitative man and as honest as he may have been about his own weaknesses, an honest, unappreciative and exploitative man is still an unappreciative and exploitative man. His personality just didn’t jive with mine, enough so to stop me from truly enjoying the book. I guess what it comes down to is that I’ve heard many Holocaust stories before, and usually they are told in a voice that I like to hear. I don’t want to take away from Vladek’s story, it was real, heartbreaking and inspiring, but overshadowed by Art’s shallow interludes for me. It seems like the reader gets more out of Vladek’s story than Art did and that’s a shame.

Ok, now that I’ve alienated myself from the rest of the comic world...

While I was “dating” MDT I made a trip out to Arizona to visit my Uncle Alex. Now, I’ve lied about my age to get a girl three times in my life, all three times before I was a teenager. With the Arizona trip, however, I took it to a new level and created a brand new persona for myself. I still do this today, whenever I go on business trips I come up with a fake name and occupation that I use at bars, just because it amuses me. Arizona started that trend, except with Arizona I might have taken it too far.

I was having a good time visiting my uncle but all kids need to get out every once and a while. On my last day I decided to venture out and meet some people.

My uncle lived in a condominium complex and I decided to head on down to the pool where I met Teddy, an older guy with a boom-box blasting some Public Enemy, my kind of people. I walked up to him, introduced myself, told him I was from New York and I was here visiting my uncle. At some point he discovered my age, 17, and he kept inquiring about what it was like growing up in Brooklyn. I preceded to tell him about the drug game, the hip-hop game and the intricacies of gang warfare. I never dealt drugs, I told him, but I did occasionally run some lla for Poppo, a member of my crew, 4DBC. For those of you reading this for the first time, these were all lies, and the extent of my gang activity was summarized in this story.

Anyway, Teddy sweated me and we hung out by the pool all day, cycling through cassette tapes. He was a horrible singer but he thought he was good and I remember when he popped in some Shai and sang “If I Ever Fall in Love” to some girls that were sitting by the pool. They giggled, probably partly flattered but mostly laughing at his horrible voice.

As an aside, I’d like to point out that the particular song Teddy chose made no sense to sing to a complete stranger. “If I ever fall in love again, I will be sure that the lady is a friend.” Basically, it won’t be you, random girl that I am singing to. You’ll just be a fuck-buddy at best.

Either way, Teddy’s advances scored us a “date”, of sorts, and the two girls hung out with us that night. They were both 17 years old. And now all three of these people thought I was a 17 year old tough-guy from Brooklyn.

We went out for pizza, talked, came back to the pool in the condo complex. At one point we partnered up, I was with this girl that was pretty damn attractive and I believe her name was Anna. Not entirely sure because the third girl that I lied to about my age, her name was definitely Anna. It’s all so long ago and I get confused easily.

Anna and I found a nice quite spot and started making out. Not bad for an eleven year old kid, within the span of two months I’ve made out with a sixteen year old and a seventeen year old. With Anna, who was obviously enthralled with my made up stories about Brooklyn, I actually tried to have sex with her but she wasn’t all into doing that on the first date. Prude.

But, she did say she would like to keep in touch with me. So I gave her my number (fake number) and told her I’d try to come back her before I entered the air force.

Yes, that’s right, in an attempt to put the sense of urgency in her; I told her I was entering the air force. I would try to make it back to Arizona before I go but there are no guarantees.

She still wouldn’t have sex with me, but promised SHE WOULD WAIT FOR ME.

I doubt she waited long, probably stopped waiting once she realized my phone number was a fake, but still, I left Arizona the next day and had some soon to be high school graduate promising she’ll wait for me. That’s fucking awesome.

And, not only that, in my final discussion with Teddy he told me he might be interested in running llallo in Arizona and asked if I could hook him up with some of my connections. I said yes and gave him a fake phone number.

Luckily, for me, my uncle moved the following summer to a new condominium complex or else I would have never been able to visit there again.

I’d like to point out that I’m not a liar, despite how it may sound with this posting. All the stories I’m telling here are true and in most cases they can be backed up. The whole fake persona thing is a game for me; it’s a great way to entertain myself. So I’m not lying to you right now, but if I’m out of town and see you in a bar I might flirt with you and tell you my name is Reginald Grey, motorcycle designer (a name I now have to officially retire after using it for the past 6 years, it's ok, I was getting bored with it anyway and too many people have seen me use it).

equilibrium sucks, fanboy: Raising Arizona


posted by Jason at 6 Comments


Blogger saulcolt said...

Wait a second.......YOU ARE REGINALD GREY!!!

You dated my sister and never called her again!

If I ever find you!

Just kidding. Great Story!


7:07 AM  
Blogger Chris Fabulous said...

I haven’t read the second “Maus” book, but the first one was pretty "meh" for me. I wasn't impressed enough to continue on to the second one. What's more, the tiny trickle of work that Spiegelman's put out since has sucked. Or all of it that I've read has. That rip-off 9/11 book was, like, $20 for 42 pages. Come on.

It's like the Oscars - if you have a movie about the holocaust, people are going to fall over for it. The work itself doesn't have to be as skillfully constructed because there's got all that broad emotional baggage to lean on. Hitting an emotional note writing about the holocaust is no more of an accomplishment than hitting a home run in tee ball. That's why Spiegelman had to wait till 9/11 to put something else out that played with people's emotions. He had to have something broad and horrific.

As far as comics in the 80s go, Clowes, Burns, and the Hernandez brothers run circles around Spiegelman, even though they still didn't put out their best material until the 90s.

I know Ted Rall ( feels the same way I do about Spiegelman's work. I'm sure there are other comics people that regard it in the same light.


7:12 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Saul -
You know what else? I had sex with you once under the name Eugene Stefans.

Chris -
Glad to know I got back-up out the gate. I was thinking about it some more and I think what really pissed me off from both a story and real life perspective is that Art didn't change. He was the same character in the end that he was in the beginning. And the thing is, he was challanged quite often, heard some heart wrenching stories and went through some tough things but still, he didn't change. It's kind of creepy.

7:45 AM  
Blogger Jorge Vega said...

I've never read Maus. And you know what...I have no intention of reading it in the near future. Partly because, eh, I don't want to. But, MOSTLY because your review said it was a piece of shit.

You didn't say "shit", but you meant it, Jason.

You meant it.

So, I hope your soul can rest easy with the knowledge that I will now NEVER read Maus because of the words you've written on your electronic dictation machine.

BTW, I am 100% impressed by your pre-adolescent macking and subterfuge skills.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Chris Fabulous said...

I think your new fake name should be Rutigar Conwell or Stefan Fakenstein. Or Chris Stevens.


7:59 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Jorge - You're really not missing much, so I don't feel bad.

Chris - I have a feeling I use Chris Stevens people would think I was the Chris Stevens cause he's kind of vocal online. Thinking about it, it would be really funny to use Michael Shiavo when I go down south and then when I get a look say, "Not THAT Michael Shiavo."

12:48 PM  

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