6 Announcements and Movie Making

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Stay with me, I have several announcements before I get to the story.

My last entry before I take my two week vacation, come back refreshed and ready to finish up the year or story-telling. But fret not, my faithful fans. Once again redefining the personal blog, I am bringing guest writers on board to fill in for me for the next two weeks. You will be seeing stories from 10 people including Joshua Hale Fialkov, Guam, my mom, Chris Fabulous and more. It’ll be good, my friends. It’ll be damn good (my mom’s story is wicked cute, by the way).

I will be at San Diego Comic-Con. Stop by the Hoarse & Buggy booth (1833). We will have:
1) Signers: Phil Hester, Ryan Ottley, Tom Mandrake, Stuart Moore, Juan Ferreyra, Dan Wickline, Tone Rodriguez, Marco Magallanes, Greg Thompson, Benjamin & Marlena Hall, Raven Gregory, David Hopkins and Saul Colt.
2) Western Tales of Terror 1-5 and Elk’s Run 1-3.
3) Information about our new deal with Speakeasy.
4) Previews for our new properties.

My new Here’s the Thing… is up. It’s all about spinning, go check it out.

Sometime early next month I’ll be appearing in a collaborative column over at Buzzscope talking about kids and comics. I’ll be sure to plug it when I get back but look for it anyway, Buzzscope is a rockin’ site.

CHUD.com is giving away 15 copies of Elk’s Run #1. Go look.

And finally, I finished my first cartoon page for the Washington Spark. It features cartoons from Matt Dembicki, Chris Piers, Paul Maybury, Jamie Dee Galey and this little gem that Jacob Warrenfeltz and I collaborated on:


I’ll share the page after it gets approved. Ok, story time.

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I got a video camera for Christmas my sophomore year in college. It was a VHS-C little guy, nothing ultra fancy but it was functional. Like any 20 year old kid with a video camera I think the first thing I used it for was to tape me and my lady having sex. That’s standard; it was even in the instruction manual as part of the set-up routine. It was fun taping it, awkward watching it back. I don’t know why. We didn’t really do it again.

I would take the camera around with me wherever I went, trying to capture “precious memories” but it wasn’t until that summer that I actually decided to have some structured fun with it. That fun was Moose the Movie, staring RJ, Luis and myself. We set out with one goal in mind – to make the worst movie we possibly can while making it as entertaining as possible.

The whole Moose the Movie thing was a derivative of “The Moose in the Closet” which, before this blog, was some pseudonym I freestyled under for laughs with a “backup band” that consisted of a karaoke machine, drum machine and guitar. The whole Moose thing was always associated with B, Jeromeo and other cats that I really didn’t talk to anymore after the whole Mike getting shot incident and the strip poker with B’s ex-girl thing. So I think the movie was the Moose’s first solo-attempt, because there was absolutely no correlation to anything we’ve done in the past.

The plot of the movie was: Luis gets kidnapped and RJ and I need to save him. The opening shot was Luis walking down a dark street and getting lured into a car by a jelly doughnut. RJ and I then decide to break Luis out, formulating plans to the Wallflowers’ cover of “We Could Be Heroes”.

Turns out Luis is on the roof, tied up and RJ and I have to fight each other to free him. We pick up some swords and film the worst fight sequence ever made thanks to horrible cuts and lame attempts at special effects. And this is where the movie gets weird.

We had this whole plot where we were supposed to find three pieces of a map that were to lead us to the sacred dogfood. The three places were these remote parts of the world that we made sure to film in front of obvious New York landmarks. We only got to actually film one quest and that was RJ’s. He was supposed to go to Paris, we filmed it on the Red Hook pier with the twin towers in the background.

RJ, for some reason, knew these dudes with wet suits that agreed to let us kick the shit out of them and throw them into the east river. It was this surreal moment, RJ and I sitting on his fire-escape, having a smoke, and I turn to him and said, “The wetsuit guys said they’ll be here at one, right?”

RJ looks down the street and here comes five guys in full frog gear. “Here they come.”

We go down to the pier, one kid plays the main bad guy and RJ throws down with the ninjas in the wet suits, throwing them into the filthy, disgusting east river. As to why ninjas were wearing wets suits we never bothered explaining. They didn’t come out of the water. It was as if these ninjas were prepared to get their asses handed to them and thrown into the east river.

What’s funny was, as we were filming the movie we kept fucking up lines and what not which would prompt one of us to say, “We’ll fix it in editing.” We had this dinky, shitty quality VHS-C camera and a VCR and we were going to edit this bitch with just that set-up. Thank god we never finished the movie; it would have been a let down when I gave up on “editing” it two hours in.

But, we had fun for a few days, and it kept my mind off R who was out in Europe still and that was good. And the footage, looking at it now, was pretty friggin funny.

Our second attempt at a movie was Max, G, Ciro and I fucking around while drinking a couple of four-liter jugs of Carlos Rosi Red Sangria. Typically, you drink enough of that Rosi Red and the movie you film is one you don’t wind up talking about. These type of stories always end with, “And next thing I know I had a dick in my ass!”

But not this time.

We decided to fuck around and film an improv detective story. It lasted about ten minutes until I rammed someone’s head into a table too hard during an interrogation scene. Improv for me always had a little too much violence, I’ll admit to that. When I was doing it in college I would be the one slapping asses, faces and throwing people against walls. It got to the point where the only person that could really work well with me was my boy Guam and only because he is highly skilled at taking pain and rolling with the punches. I can’t be so rough with him anymore, however, cause the bastard had to go and get a pacemaker that I occasionally punch by accident.

Anyway, our improv movie was killed on account of my fucking people up.

That trend, however, did not stop the production of Mr. Sandman in college. A movie so glorious that the director, Pete the Bastard, demanded we actually hit each other to make the pain look real.

But that, as I love to say, is a story for after my two week vacation. See you bitches on the 18th.

Unless my plane crashes.

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I'm Awesome, C-List, and Sound Prediction & Some Movie Memories

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Shane Bailey, who occasionally visits this site, thanked a bunch of people for sending visitors his way but neglected to thank me for being awesome. It’s ok, Shane, I know it was implied in the subtext. I’m so awesome that there are no words to describe it, hence the lack of mention.

Oh, and while we’re at it, I’m apparently a blogebrity which is pretty cool except I’m rocking the C-List. I guess C-List wouldn’t be so bad, you know, if there was a Z-List or something. But, nope, C-list is the worst list you can be on. Balls, blogebrity. Balls.

____________________

The time between R going to Europe and her returning is a bit of a blur. A couple of random memories here and there, aside from Hooker Hand, of course, which I will never forget. I’ll throw a little hodge-podge of memories out at ya to get this story up to date.

Jackie, G, Max and I went to Sound Factory this one night. I remember telling them I wanted to cheat on R because I was pretty sure she was cheating on me. The more I think about it, the more it amazes me that I didn’t see our break-up coming. But I digress.

When we got there Max couldn’t get in for some reason. Sneakers, I think. Jackie and I decided that was his fault and we went in anyway. We danced all night. At one point I went into the unisex bathroom and some dude was sitting on a stall, door wide open, drunk off his ass, taking the loudest shit imaginable. And there were girls in the mirror, putting their make-up on like it was no big thing. It amazed me; I don’t like busting ass in the bathroom if there’s one other dude in there, let alone a bunch of sexy ladies.

Sound Factory used to have ice-cream vendors which I always thought was wicked cool. I bought a bomb pop to go with my Gin & Tonic. Good stuff.

Jackie and I danced until 4AM or so. At one point these two greased up guys wearing nothing but a thong and these two greased up women wearing a thong and stars on their nipples got up on the stage and started grinding while shooting each other with water balloons. I turned to Jackie and screamed, in case she didn’t know, “This is the best club ever!”

I miss The Sound Factory. Stupid asses distributing party drugs and running my good times.

I remember a talk RJ and I had about women, about a week before R came home from Europe and therefore about two weeks or so before we broke up. We went bike-riding down to the Promenade to just watch over the east river and talk about life.

Oh man – I hope Francis doesn’t read this site. Maybe I’ll skip this memory, for now, until I get the go-ahead. Suffice to say, RJ called the break-up three weeks in advance, when I was still clueless and told me why it was my fault that she was going to leave me.

Another memory, which evolved into something that defined my summer, was going to see DePalma’s Snake-Eyes with Max and G. At the very beginning of the movie we all agreed that “Gary Sinese did it” because “Gary Sinese always does it” and realized that would be a pretty rocking t-shirt. On the way home from the movie theater Brooklyn T-Shirt Company was born and we brainstormed on several t-shirt ideas.

One was going to be a replica of an F-train sign (which has since been duplicated but never perfected), one was going to represent all of the neighborhoods in Brooklyn, one was going to represent Johnny-Pumps and one was going to note the fact that if Brooklyn was a city it would be the fifth most populated one, which may or may not be the truth anymore.

We even had a one year anniversary shirt planned. It was going to be a clothes-line with each of our t-shirts made to date hanging from it.

Of the four original designs we made two of them and added one more. But, that’s a story for another day.

We went to see Pi, stoned off our asses and I got scared watching it. I left that theater feeling more stoned than when I entered.

Beyond that there was Moose the Movie and the Improvisational Murder Mystery movie which I’ll be talking about tomorrow. Let me just say, I love doing this iron-man story telling challenge. It's been almost 5 months. 7 to go. Haven't skipped a day. I'm looking forward to the upcoming two-week vacation. Really. I need a little rest.

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Black & White and Red Allover

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

No plugs today. Too tired. Worked until 9, trying to get all my shit done before California road trip of insane fun. Also needed to get Spark Cartoon page near completion, waiting on one last toon. Page looks great. Story time…

________________________

Halloween, junior year, a friend of mine threw a party at his house. He had a nice place down in Allston that he shared with his well-off, Hindu friends. The Hindu-house housed many a fine party. It was ultra swank, balcony, windows that went up to the ceiling, nice couches and sound system, oversized old-school movie posters, 3 floors.

The Halloween party was ridiculously packed. I got there early but as the night rolled on it was getting to the point where people couldn’t move, so many people dressed like devils and cats and vampires just packed into this townhouse. Eventually the Hindus had to start turning people away.

The kegs were kicked but most people were smart enough to bring their own flasks so the lack of beer wasn’t getting people to go home. The DJ was getting pissed because his space was so crowded that people kept bumping his turntables. He was threatening to pack it up so we all had to squish in even more – the confined space was getting to me so I decided to sneak outside for a smoke and some air.

It took about twenty minutes just to get out of the door and I must have brushed up against more breast, cock and ass than most men will brush past for the rest of their lives. It got to the point where I was angling towards the better looking people because, if I was going to brush and get brushed, might as well do it with someone I normally wouldn’t be able to touch, know what I’m saying?

I finally make it out and I see something glorious, something you only see in movies and even then you only see it in the most awesome movies ever made.

Eight, loud, obnoxious, beefed up, white frat-boys dressed as nuns, drunk off their asses, and screaming at one of the Hindu-house residents because the dude won’t let them in.

“We’re too crowded and we’re out of beer.”

I tell the Hindu-house resident that I’m going to get some more people. I go downstairs, to the bedrooms, where fewer people where hanging out, and grab a couple of dudes I know. We all roll upstairs to make sure the kid doesn’t get beat-up. Now we’re back outside, rolling 6 or 7 deep, and the nuns keep yelling and cursing. One of them pushes the kid that lives in the house.

And that’s when the first fist flew. It’s the kind of thing I wished some passer-by could have seen – a Hindu guy socking a nun right in the face. The nun stumbled back, wiped the blood from his nose and just like that it was on.

We made short work of the nuns; they were tanked and had no coordination. A coupled of them got licked and they must have realized it was a lost cause and went away. As they were walking away they were screaming that they’ll be back, we were just yelling after them, telling them, “Come back, fuckers, and we’ll beat your asses again!” and other various challenges.

Again, I have to picture that little old lady, with her shopping cart, walking to her apartment building and seeing a bunch of nuns, habits speckled in blood, screaming at a front yard full of people in various costumes, calling us “fags” and “fuckers” and threatening to come back with more people and weapons.

I’ve thrown down a few times; I’m a fan of a good ‘ole brawl and I’ve had friends through the years who had the tendency to start shit with a large crew of people. Not a lot of fights, mind you, and never instigated by me – but this little fight was by far the most fun I’ve ever had throwing fists. I would fight that fight every day for the rest of my life.

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Big Times, SD Signings, and The Latino Strikes Back

Chris Piers has a new Ready for the Big Time up, all about submissions. Go check it out.

Also, I’ve been spending some time setting up the signing schedule for San Diego Comic-Con; we’re going to have a good crew. Phil Hester, Stuart Moore, Tom Mandrake, Ryan Ottley and about 12 more people so far. Hoarse & Buggy booth is where it’s at. We’ll be at booth 1833, be sure to stop by.

________________________

Nico from Rico got his jacket stolen at a party one day. It was a nice, leather jacket and judging by how often he wore it and talked about, it was most likely his prized possession.

He came home one night from a party and all he could talk about was how much he hated white people because he went to some party with nothing but white people and one of them stole his jacket. He didn’t understand why; white people have money, why do they need to steal his jacket? From that night on, Nico had a personal vendetta against white people – one that he harbored within him until a week later.

We were all going to a party. Nico was his normal self, laughing and cheerful, ready for a good night of heavy drinking and some dope smoking. Nico still hasn’t replaced his jacket so he’s just wearing a thick sweater. We hop on the T to go out to Allston, pushed our way into the car and made our way out to some dude’s house.

We get to the party – nothing out of the ordinary. Keg stands, funnels and Jell-O shots off of a ladies stomach, all standard college party kind of stuff. Nico was having a good old time, trying to make out with the ladies, little dancing, a little joke telling and a lot of drinking.

And then he disappeared. It’s the kind of thing where I saw him leaning against the wall, turn to get a cigarette, turn back and Nico’s gone. Ninja style.

I think nothing of it and go back to the party, joining up with the rest of our friends. The party progresses as it normally would.

Until Nico comes slinking through the shadows, with a jacket on, holding a second jacket in his arms. He puts the jacket in my arms and says, “Take this. I’m gonna steal these white mother fucker’s jackets.”

I think about it for a second and realize I at least need to get my jacket out of the coat room so I give the white mother fucker’s jacket to Nico and make my way to the coat room, put my coat on and go back to Nico, slip the white mother fucker’s jacket under mine.

Nico and I sneak out, two stolen jackets, a rage in his eyes but a sense of justice hanging about him.

He settles down as we get closer to the dorm, his need for vengeance satisfied and no longer requiring a new jacket. I didn’t keep the one I stole; it was some ugly J. Crew piece of crap. I donated it to the Salvation Army drop-box on the way home.

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True Stories and Ground Zero

Monday, June 27, 2005

Caught up on some comics this weekend. Read a months worth of floppies along with True Story Swear to God: This One Goes to Eleven. That book just hurts me. I mean, it’s so good, and I feel like I connect with it on such a personal level, but it just bums me out; mainly because it’s such a great story. I look at what I do on this site and I tell so much shit – I talk about my fears and my faults and my heartaches and I sometimes I feel I do it in such a way that it feels likes I’m hamming it up for the audience. Tom, he tells his story so simply and honestly that it feels more real than anything I ever do here. I guess the sign of a great book is when it makes another writer feel like a hack.

I already wrote first drafts of my stories for this week and last night in a drunken stupor I tried to write a different one that I thought was going to be powerful and moving. Read it this morning – fucking incoherent. It was like this weird blend of five stories that I was trying to connect but it just made no sense. I probably should share it for comedic value but, maybe in the book version it’ll be bonus material.

____________________

Avi was this freshman on my floor during sophomore year. At first he seemed like an OK guy, I kind of took a shining to him. His jokes seemed funny and he was friendly and outgoing. The first weekend back to school we were crashing some MIT frat party and I took him along with us.

Once we got there, I realized that he wasn’t really that funny. He must have gotten lucky with the jokes he told me at first because now everything he said was just corny and uncomfortable. He’d laugh really loud after the punch line while tapping your chest or back and saying, “You know what I’m saying?”

And he was a Yankee fan, turns out.

The whole night consisted of my friends and I trying to get away from Avi which was almost impossible. We might lose him for five or ten minutes but he’d always find his way back, tell some retarded joke and laugh.

He was getting drunker as the night went on and he tried to hit on every girl at the party. At one point he came up to me, drunk off his ass, and says, “I don’t get it – I keep going to talk to these girls and they just walk away.” It was so sad. And I was kind of embarrassed I brought him along. So, I gave him a pep-talk.

“Avi, dude, this is college. The girls – they like a guy that’s persistent. Next time she walks away from you, you gotta follow her. Grab her arm, turn her around – make her listen. This ain’t high-school anymore, bro.”

Five minutes later Avi gets kicked out of the party. Feeling a little responsible, I carry his drunk ass home.

We get to the dorm and he tells me he has to take a shit. We’ve all been there before, I already told my version of this story. No shame in it.

I take him to the bathroom, he pulls his pants down and I plop him on the bowl and start to walk away. With his head leaning against the wall of the bathroom stall he asks me, “Jay. Wait, wait, wait. Can you jus’ hang out fer a sec?”

I feel bad for the kid so I decide to hang out, I don’t know, in case he needs help. And he’s squirting pretty loud, blasting ass, door to the stall wide open and making all these grunts and I’m standing off to the side, dying inside.

And then he exploded.

What I mean by exploded is, he falls off the bowl, begins convulsing on the floor, while vomit, shit and piss come out of him at the same exact time. He fucking exploded.

And he’s writhing around on the bathroom floor in his own puke, piss and shit and I just stand there, shocked, having no idea what to fuck to do in this situation.

He finally stops and lies there peacefully on his side – the most disgusting spectacle I’ve ever seen. My opinion, at the time, was that I did plenty for this annoying bastard and there was no way in hell I was going to go near him.

“Avi, you ok?”

Very faintly I hear a “Yeah.”

“Cool, listen, I gotta go to bed. Don’t roll over on your back, ok? Stay on your side.”

Quietly but audible Avi tells me, “Jay. Put me in the shower.”

“Gotta go, buddy. Great party tonight. Sleep well.”

Went to the lounge, told everyone what just happened. They all had to go in to at least look. We laughed our asses off for the rest of the nights and the weeks that followed.

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The House

Friday, June 24, 2005

Here’s the Thing #3: Your Worth is up, go check it out. Also, Super F*ckers is super f*cking good. Just read it.

Before I get into my story for today I want to talk a bit about karma. I talk about my parents a lot on this blog, they’re good people. I also talk about how we grew up always needing money, my father didn’t make a lot and my parents never really had much for themselves. He’d work two jobs just to get by, 16 hours a week plus commuting. They took care of me and my sister but looking back now, they sacrificed everything for us. Twenty some-odd years ago my parents bought the house we were living in along with the family that lived downstairs and the family that lived upstairs. They paid a little less than 80k for a four story house between Red Hook and Carroll Gardens.

My parents would do for anybody that asked. They racked up a lot of debt and couldn’t get out of it. Little things keep piling on but despite their disposition, they were always there for anybody that needed it. The upstairs neighbor passed away and my parents were forced into a situation where they needed to sell the house because the woman’s kids were forcing it. The house was run like a family for years, and certain things lapsed, like back-taxes, and I had to step up and help them out with that in order to get them to a point where they could sell the house. It was tough on all of us.

Well, they sold the house yesterday. For over a million dollars. And now here are my parents that struggled and scraped to get by and now they have enough money to get out of debt, bank a ton of money and start over, thirty years wiser than when they first got married. And they deserve it and I’m happy for them and it goes to show that sometimes, good things do happen to good people. So, that’s all. Congrats to them.

______________________

My earliest memory takes place in our house in Brooklyn. Danny, my good friend growing up, was sleeping over and his parents where playing poker with my parents in the dining room.

Our apartment doesn’t have a lot of doors so my parents always found ways to compensate. Back in the day, we had this plastic, collapsible, brown “door” that folded down the middle separating the living room/dining room from my parents bedroom. Danny and I were goofing around when we were supposed to be asleep and decided to sneak out and see what our parents were doing.

We sneak to the brown plastic door, split the middle slightly and peer out. Almost instantly I see my father turn to us and, as a kid, he looked like he was furious (it was probably just the adrenaline, my father never gets furious). I fucking booked it, back into the room and crawled under the covers, pretending to be asleep. I don’t remember Danny coming back in the room and I didn’t care, I was safe.

The next morning I walked out into the living room and Danny was on the couch, eating cereal and watching the Smurfs. I was so pissed off because I thought Danny got caught and his punishment was to eat cereal and watch cartoons all night. I don’t remember what happened after that, but I’m pretty sure that is my oldest coherent memory.

The house was my playground as a kid. Only child and all, if I wasn’t outside with the neighborhood kids I was in the house all day while my mom cleaned or cooked. My mom would take me out occasionally; drag me around while she did her chores and once a week take the two mile hike down to the Promenade for ice-cream and jungle gyms. But the rest of the time it was me, my Hot Wheels, G.I.Joes and puppets.

I didn’t have any Hot Wheel playsets but I had tons of cars. I’d carry them around in a little plastic carrying case and line them up on the windowsill in perfect columns. I’d spend hours doing that. Now-a-days, if a child would do that the parents would think he was autistic but for me, I was just an anal retentive perfectionist early on.

I’d put a lot of preparation into my G.I.Joe adventures as well. I’d set up the Joes and the Cobras on different sides of the dining room, putting them in elaborate formations, taking advantage of the washing machine for elevation or the dining room chairs for guerilla attacks. By the time I was finished setting them up it looked so perfect I didn’t even want to mess them up so I’d take one or two Joes at a time and have them fight over Scarlet. As I grew older I just started making Baroness hook up with Scarlet, being obsessed with lesbianism at a very unhealthy age.

The puppet thing was my jam, though. I had a lot of puppets. Muppets, Sesame Street…My Pet Monster (or Creepy, as I called him) was my right hand man. And then I had a bunch of random puppets. I’d actually play with them, throw them around and have fun. We’d play baseball, I’d position them around the table as if it where the diamond and have them play, batting and fielding and running the bases.

I’d pile them all onto the couch and pretend it was a rocket ship (or sometimes a regular ‘ole 747) and pilot them around, fighting enemy space-ships as we darted across the universe.

Embarrassingly, probably influenced by the Muppets Take Manhattan move, I’d even have wedding ceremonies between Kermit the Frog and Mrs. Piggy. I’d line up all of the puppets and marry those two off and throw some of my momma’s rice at them.

And I’d sing Rainbow Connection as they walked the aisle because that song was my jam.

I remember when my father redid my room for the first time. My room was attached to my parent’s bedroom, a doorframe with no door. When I was really small I believe I had Raggedy Anne and Andy wallpaper. When I got a little older my father put up this awesome Star Wars wallpaper with The Return of the Jedi curtains. He even got me a new bed, a big bed with drawers attached to the frame which I thought was the coolest thing ever.

My room had a radiator in it, like every apartment in Brooklyn does. The radiators have this long protruding object that sticks out of the side, I’m not sure what it’s for. On Christmas I got all excited about the lights outside and I ran to get my parents. On the run back to the window I tripped and fell and the radiator thing went through my cheek. First stitches. I remember that so well, I remember the doctor putting this white piece of cloth on my cheek with a box cut out. It’s such a weird moment in the stitching process but it’s stuck in my head.

Cramming the family in for New Years Eve, every year. My birthday party where my father took away my Beastie Boys’ tape because they were talking about drugs. Weeding the yard with my mother and complaining every minute. Dressing up like superheroes with my cousin Tommy and running all over the hallway.

The statue of the Virgin Mary we keep in the hallway. It’s fallen several times and we’ve glued it back together each time. The stairs that shook every time you walked up them. The toilet that never flushed and we had to keep a bucket of water in the bathroom at all times. The ladder in our backyard that stretched up three stories to the telephone wires and how I always wanted to climb it but always chickened out. Hanging clothes out to dry in the winter before we got a dryer and hoping they didn’t freeze, laughing when they did.

The wall that we punched a hole through at least once a year. The sofa bed we broke when I body slammed Luis onto it.

First kisses. First trip to third base.

I had sex for the first time on the floor of my room.

The electronic female elf that was in my window during Christmas time that I was attracted to. Watching the Mets beat the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series. The box on the top of the TV with a single knob that was used for turning HBO on or off. Sitting in my room at night, in the dark, with a typewriter. Reading Hardy Boys and horror books while lying on the floor, legs stretched up and resting on the wall.

The occasional mouse, the occasional water bug. Several pets. A couple of family members down on their luck.

It was a good house – I’m going to miss it.

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The Worst Comic, A Good Comic, Clowes Wants you to Fuck Yourself and Tap Water of Death

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

In case you all were wondering I just read the worst comic ever made. Worse than Civilian Justice. I’m not going to say what it was, but I will say it just came out and I have faith that anyone who has read it knows exactly what I’m talking about. To the people that made this book, congratulations – you are officially bad for comics.

On the flip side I finally got to read Grant Morrison's We3, keeping with the tradition of being way behind in my reading. It was good. It wasn’t so good as to offset the scarring caused by the worst comic ever made but it was good enough to make me smile. Here’s why I love Grant. Everyone and their momma (including us H&B folk) is trying to make a “Hollywood comic”. It’s where the money is, you know? You look at We3 and you know,as it's written right now, it would never be anything more than a comic. It’s not a movie, it has no elements in it that would resonate with a movie going audience. That book was written strictly for comic fans. And Grant's just like, “Fuck it. This is my story. Fuck it and fuck you.” I admire that. In honor or Grant and We3 I’d like to say to my reader, “Fuck you. Here are my stories. If you don’t like them, fuck a duck.”

I also read the first half of Dan Clowes Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron. That shit is the definition of “Fuck you, here’s my story.” That book is so “fuck you” that even if you like it Dan wants you to go fuck yourself. Thanks to Chris Fabulous for turning me on to Clowes.

Oh yeah, and Matt Dembicki has a new Small Presser up, read it, it’s inspiring. Unlike my article going up tomorrow which promises to crush the weak. Seriously, I have so much trouble coming my way.

_________________________

The yearly science fair in elementary school was always a big thing. I haven’t mentioned this yet but in 58s there was a program for fourth, fifth and sixth graders called “G&T” which stood for Gifted & Talented. Whenever I tell this to Robin she flips out, saying how unfair of a label it is. I just tell her she’s jealous because the G&T program she was in stood for “Garbage & Trash”. She then proceeds to withhold sex from me.

But I digress; I was in G&T and for G&T students, Science Fair was like the fucking circus and Christmas all rolled into one. Winner went on to the CITY Science Fair. New York City Science Fair is the balls.

Unfortunately my projects were always sort of lame. The solar system diorama. The colored water and celery. The 9V battery powering a light bulb. All shit you can rip out of a book called “Science for Dummies”.

But one year, G, Ross and I hooked up and actually used our brains and made a science fair project worthy of the city competition…hell, maybe even the state.

The Gowanus Canal was a Red Hook/Carroll Garden resident’s equivalent of a ghost house. You were never supposed to touch the water in the canal because it would instantly eat your skin. It was just bad juju, it smelled like shit and there were so many legends about bank robbers trying to swim across it and dying almost instantly. We decided to take two identical plants and feed one tap water and one water from the Gowanus canal.

The only problem we didn’t consider was, someone had to get the water.

G, Ross and I stood at the bank of the canal for a good twenty minutes arguing over who gets the water. We held a jar and went back and forth until finally Ross gets fed up, grabs the jar and goes to get some canal water.

And falls in.

Not submerged but he slips in up to his waste. It was so scary that I’m pretty sure G and I started crying immediately. Ross gets out, his legs were not melted off, and just starts cursing. He smells like sewage and his pants just looks grimy. We walk home with our jar of canal water, keeping a safe distance from the contaminated bastard.

We get to Ross’ house and feed the plants. I remember Ross’ brother came out and started telling us these racist jokes that weren’t even remotely funny. Such as: What do you call a black smurf? A smigger.

Not funny. It’s not even really a joke.

We also flipped through these R. Crumb comics he had lying around. I remember being intimidated by the voluptuous women that inhabited those books – it was way different than the Spider-Man books I was used to. Well, as in you actually saw nipple and not just implied nipple through bursting spandex.

Anyway, we let our experiment sit for a few weeks, up until the science fair. You see, the strangest thing happened. The Gowanus plant was vibrant. The tap water plant was dead. Now, if we were real scientists, we would have seen that our little discovery was fucking huge. But we wanted to go to the city science fair. And our hypothesis was that the Gowanus plant would die.

So we lied.

And, you know what? We went to the city fair. Our project was all hip because it was focusing on the environment and community health. Of course, the real problem was the fact that our tap-water was potentially killing us but who needs science when you got cash, money, bling.

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Speakeasies, Sparks and Magic Glasses

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

What an interesting article about Speakeasy Comics and the books they’re adding to their line-up. So interesting. Huh. Don’t you find it to be interesting? Here's a hint - I edit Elk's Run and all of Hoarse & Buggy's books.

This Washington Spark Comics’ Page is going to win awards. You have to see the guys I have lined up. Best fucking comic’s page ever. Sam Keith, Sergio Aragones and Craig Thompson won’t be doing a strip, unfortunately. BUT, the people that will be doing one will equally rock you. I’m just amped, I just got two more yeses from people that I LOVE LOVE LOVE. All I need to do now is learn Quark.

____________________

Our Principle in PS58 was Mrs. Seehof and this woman was NUTS.

And I don’t mean nuts as in “crazy”, I mean nuts as in crazy magic powers and sixth sense kind of stuff. She was five-foot tall, stocky, old and always calm and in control – she never lost her shit. And she didn’t need to, either. Because she had to of been in-line with Satan.

She knew everything. Every morning we had to line-up in the schoolyard, by class, before being allowed in the building. Mrs. Seehof would sit in her office on the second floor, look out the window at the hundreds of kids that attended her school, turn on her microphone and pass judgment before letting us in.

I’m not even joking when I say Mrs. Seehof spotted G chewing gum from about 600 feet away through a dirty window and steel bars. She picked him out.

“Mr. Monaco!” the loudspeaker attached to the outside of 58s blared, “Remove that gum from your mouth before entering this building!”

She’d call us on everything. If we were talking, she’d hear us, through brick walls and storm windows. If someone wasn’t standing straight she’d reprimand him. Oh man, and god-forbid someone wasn’t wearing their red-tie on assembly day.

“Mr. Rodriguez? Where if your tie, young man?”

Before I can even answer she comes right back, as if she read my mind.

“Left it at home, Mr. Rodriguez? I hope your mother didn’t have plans today because she will be bringing that tie here before you’re allowed in this building.”

And then, there were the Magic Glasses.

The Magic Glasses. I know that you read that and you probably laughed, because there’s no such thing as Magic Glasses. Bullshit, man, those glasses were so magic Harry Potter wouldn’t be able to handle them. They’d fuck him up.

She only busted them out when we were unruly. When there was too much chattering, laughing, gum-chewing and slouching going on in the schoolyard. When it came to that, Mrs. Seehof would take off her glasses. We’d see it happen, through the window, we’d see that meaty paw reach up to her face and come down with those coke-bottle glasses in hand. And then she’d fuck us all up.

“Nicole, Christina, Mike, Ross and James are talking. Ritchie, Charles and Max are chewing gum. Jessie – you are NOT standing straight. Madeline and Michelle are laughing. And John Smith – your shoes are untied.”

“Now, I’m going to count to three and put on my Magic Glasses. When I do that, I better see five-hundred students that are ready to come into this building.”

“One.”

“Two.”

“Three.”

Want to know what happened next? We looked like a fucking military line-up. Nobody even swayed. Say what you will about the Magic Glasses, they worked every time. Maybe it was because no-one wanted to know what would happen if the evil black-magic spinning Satan spawn would put them on and we weren’t all prim and proper but, you know what? Seven years in that school and it never happened. Not once.

Fuck that. Magic Glasses.

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Big Times, Rant and Lettin' a Playa' Play

Monday, June 20, 2005

Continuing with the awesomeness that is the DC Conspiracy blog, Chris Piers is now dropping a column called Ready for the Big Time, this week’s article focusing on portfolio reviews. Add that to Matt Dembicki’s The Small Presser and my very own Here’s the Thing… and you have some quality resources going down at the DCC. I finished my article for this week and it’s guaranteed to raise a few objections and quite possibly piss off a few people. But it’s the truth, dammit, and the truth cannot be silenced. Unless, of course, the American media just doesn’t cover it…

Ok, one quick rant and then story time. The Downing Street memo. Big news. Really big news. Impeachment news. I’ve only seen it on Yahoo so far and the memo was published in May. And on Yahoo, they have that “rate the news” feature now – it’s rated at 2-stars by you, the audience. It’s a fine report. It’s the truth. But guess what? We don’t like the truth. The Tom Cruise/Katy Holmes report – 4-stars. What the fuck is up with rating news anyway? Going to hell…we’re all going to hell…

_______________

My friends and I used to go on dates with girls in elementary school. Ten, eleven years old and we’d pass a note to a girl we thought was cute that said, “Do you want to go out with me?” It would have a yes/no check-box. If she liked you, she’d check “yes”. If not, she’d check “no”. If she didn’t like you but didn’t want to be mean, she’d add the “maybe” box and check that. Nothing was worse than the “maybe” box mainly because kids our age pretty much ran out of material once we passed the note – we didn’t know how to pursue. The “maybe” resulted in us fretting for a day and then passing a new note to a new girl.

I got paired up with a girl named Christina Rodriguez since the second grade, pretty much. The elementary school logic was: Christina and I made sense; if we ever got married she wouldn’t have to change her last name. And just like that I got my elementary school partner.

We’d pass notes in class and be partners in the field-day water-balloon toss, all standard partner stuff. And, of course, we’d occasionally go on dates.

A date consisted of all of Christina’s friends and all of my friends going to Molar Pizza. The guys would sit at one table, the girls at another. In between the two tables, Christina and I would sit at our own table but positioned in such a way that all we would need to do is turn around to talk to our friends. This was standard, pre-sixth grade date set-up. The guy and the girl that are on the date together wouldn’t even talk to each other, they’d split some mozzarella sticks, have a slice of pizza and spend the entire lunch turned around and talking to their friends.

If the girl kept checking the “yes” box you were obligated to buy her the fake-diamond earrings they sold at the craft festival every year – shell out the five bucks, leaving you with fifty cents for a cupcake and four-fifty for a mother’s day gift. You give her the earrings and she says they’re beautiful and hopefully throws them away when you’re not looking, those things would have probably given her an infection.

In the sixth grade things got harder. We no-longer did buddy-system dates. The guy and the girl went out alone to Molar Pizza.

Alone.

I went on my first sixth grade date with none-other than Christina Rodriguez. I was so nervous. We walked to Molar Pizza and didn’t say a word. Got some pizza and some mozzarella sticks and didn’t say a word. We started walking home and I have yet to say a single word to this girl, totally hosed the date and knew that it would be my last one if I didn’t say something soon. I finally opened my mouth and talked and I will never forget the conversation we had.

“So, I heard you got a Nintendo.”

“Yeah.”

“What games did you get?”

“Anticipation.”

“Oh. Cool.”

“I want a power pad.”

“Yeah. Those are cool.”

We then went into the schoolyard, date over.

Play on, playa’.

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Turtles, Small Pressers, Sparks and Shot-puts

Did you have a good weekend? You don’t even want to know what I did:



Fellow Conspirator Matt Dembicki has began to post a counter to my Here’s the Thing… article over at the blog. It’s called The Small Presser and the first issue is all about Xerox vs. small print shops. I suggest you check it out.

Also, I’ve been getting some wonderful submissions for the Washington Spark and began designing the page yesterday. I think I should have no problem filling my first page with some great comics. I also plan on doing a spotlight on an Indy creator or two every week, depending on how much space I have. The plan for now is to actually have an entire editor’s corner where I say a quick blurb and then spotlight some cats. It’s kind of funny – we feel that Elk’s Run and Western Tales of Terror do good numbers but we hope to get them over 3k an issue. The Washington Spark distributes 20k papers and it’s considered small-time. Makes you wonder about comics, doesn’t it?

_________________________

In either the fifth or sixth grade we had instructors from the local dance school come to PS 58s and teach us interpretive dancing. We had a couple of lessons, a workshop of sorts where we acted out some scene in dance. It was kind of odd for an inner city Brooklyn elementary school but PS58 was always a bit progressive.

After the workshop we were tasked to break up into groups of five and come up with our own interpretive dance number. Each group will compete against each other and the winner wins free ballet lessons.

My friends and I didn’t take it too seriously, we were the guys that were cutting violin after all, free ballet lessons was more of a punishment for guys like us. Never-the-less we needed to do something so G, Ross, George, James and I teamed up to create our own interpretive dance.

We needed a theme and since the 1988 Summer Olympics was approaching we figured that would be as good a theme as any. We had our theme and we had our dancers and we had our desire to lose – all that was left to set out and create the worst interpretive dance of all time.

We acted out several Olympic events in a whimsical, fleet-footed manner. First was the torch, where the five of us took turns prancing across the stage and handing an imaginary torch to each other. The last guy to get it went up to James, who was pretending to be the cauldron thing you light at the Olympics, and put the “torch” to James head. James jumped up, arms moving through the air, pretending to be the Olympic flame.

And it only got worse.

Our hurdle dance that was basically leap-frog with dramatic hand-movements. Our gymnastics dance which was basically the lot of us attempting to do cartwheels (to this day I have yet to perform a successful cartwheel – I just don’t think it’s possible). Our marathon dance consisted of us pretending to be really tired while running, taking fake cups of water from peoples hands and shooting them down.

My personal favorite was the shot-put. Instead of pretending to have a shot-put, we made Ross our shot-put. As a reminder, everything bad happened to Ross. Everything. So for some reason we thought it was perfectly fine to have me pick Ross up, swing him around three times and fling him across the auditorium stage, which of course actually meant I dropped him on his ass and watched him get up and limp-run to the far end of the stage as if I threw him.

Poor Ross.

The crazy part – besides trying to make the worst interpretive dance imaginable, the instructors seemed to really love our dance. They were talking about ours more than anyone else’s and we were all worried that we were going to win the free ballet and our parents were going to make us go.

When it was all said and done we luckily lost. But let this be a lesson to you, interpretive dance is kind of, you know, dumb. If a couple of fifth graders can pick it up in ten minutes, try to do it bad and get some praise – it’s a really, really, really stupid “talent” to have.

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The Moose Comes out of the Closet

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I’ve been going onto message boards less and less lately. It’s too time consuming and aggravating and makes me lose focus. I have, however, been going to Digital Webbing again and hanging out at the writer’s forum. I figure, if I’m, going to waste time posting stuff I might as well help some aspiring writers out. I’ve been mainly focusing on pitches and synopsis but it’s been refreshing. Anyway, one guy was talking about how he can’t seem to whittle the first arc of his story down below 12 issues. I basically told him he has to get it down to three or four and make the ending have closure. I think that’s a good intro for today’s story, where I basically expose myself and sum up my single motivating factor for the past eleven+ years of my life, the one thing that is at the root of most of my stories if you look hard enough, in two pages.

_____________________________

I never really knew Steven. Or his older brother RJ or his younger brother Jonathon. They family lived down the block from my Grandma’s house in Red Hook and we’d occasionally play a game of hide & seek or maybe some basketball but beyond that they were pretty much distant third cousins.

Things changed when we found out that Steven was HIV+.

I always talk about my tragic family but in almost every death there’s a lesson there. At this point the tragedy ball just started rolling. Poppy died some time ago, I don’t even remember him. But in the few years before Steven we lost my Uncle Joe to lung cancer (smoker), my Uncle Mike when his liver failed (alcohol) and my Cousin Frankie, who I hardly knew, of AIDS (drugs when he was younger, cleaned up). Everyone so far could lead to a lecture from my mom, crying as she tells me not to get addicted to cigarettes, alcohol or drugs. My life was basically an after-school special.

There was no lesson to be learned from Steven except for the fact that life isn’t fair sometimes. At least on the surface.

Steven was eleven years old. He was born premature and got a blood transfusion before they screened blood. The blood was bad and he got HIV as a result. And that’s it. Eleven years old and it’s all over for no good reason except for the fact that old white-men in suits were ignoring an emerging health crisis because it was considered a homosexual disease. Where’s the lesson there?

Steven’s illness brought the family together. RJ, Luis and I became crew. We spent every Friday night together as a standard but there were many days and nights when we hung out as well. We never really talked about Steven. We laughed and watched movies and played games but Steven never came up.

I got closer with Steven as well. I’d go visit him in the hospital, bring him comics. The kid always smiled, even when he looked bad. The hair was gone and the body was frail and he looked like a skeleton but despite it all he had this smile stretched across his face whenever somebody came to visit him.

He was supposedly never told what he had but he had to know. But he didn’t let it get him down, at least not in front of people. I look at myself and I think that if I was slowly dying, I would be the most selfish bastard imaginable. I would be whining and bitching and complaining and looking for pity. I bitch for days when I bite a piece of my tongue off.

But this kid just kept with it.

The Make a Wish Foundation set him up to hang out on the set of THE LAST ACTION HERO. Steven was always a huge fan of Schwarzenegger and the pictures of him on the set are something else. The kid looks like he can hardly stand and he’s next to the biggest man in the world, with that same smile.

As he got worse his body started to fall apart. But I’d come to the hospital to see him and the smile would instantly go back on. Towards the last week my mom told me that Steven said he didn’t want me to see him like he was, to no longer go to the hospital. In retrospect, I know that my mom didn’t want me to see Steven like he was. I’m willing to bet if I’d see Steven he would be unable to move but the minute I walked into that room he’d smile.

RJ and Luis were sleeping over my house when my mom came in to get RJ. RJ went to the hospital and Steven died that night. I was awake when my mom came in the room but I didn’t say anything. We didn’t talk about Steven.

His funeral was packed. The whole neighborhood came out. I went up to his coffin once, at the insistence of my father, and had to be carried out because I broke down. I couldn’t take it. It was so heartbreaking and all of the past months just exploded out of me.

Steven, when he was alive, was a rock. RJ was a rock. Steven’s mother was a rock. The whole family was strong, on the outside, at least. Me, the third cousin that hardly spoke to Steven before we got the news of his condition, who only got close with him over the last few months, was the one they had to be pulled out of the funeral parlor.

I don’t think it was guilt. I know I did what I can with the time I had. I think the problem was, I just didn’t have enough time.

A lot of people that read this blog are friends of mine that constantly tell me that I take on too many responsibilities. They ask how I do it, how I squeeze it all in.

I don’t know if you call it a lesson or a complex but if there was one thing I learned from Steven’s death is that we don’t have enough time. None of us do. Your life can change, fall apart and end in an instant. Whereas I should have gotten a celebrate life message out of that, I think I got this illogical urgency to get where I want to be as quick as I possibly can, even if it means sacrificing relationships in the process.

RJ, Luis and I remained close after Steven’s death, through high-school and college. There’s been distance recently, geographical and social, I guess. It seems to be my schtick. I let people drift further away than they should. The only ones I really hold onto are the ones that can put up with me avoiding them. I would call more often, write, whatever.

I just don’t have enough time.

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New Gig, New Article, Wiping and Slapping dat Ass

First of all, I am the new editor for The Washington Spark’s cartoon page, an alternative paper centered here in the district. It is a growing publication, making the transition from monthly to weekly as we go through the year. Admitedly, I haven’t read it before getting the gig but I checked a couple of issues out yesterday and it is quite nice, high production values for a newspaper. So I’m looking for cartoonists now, I need to put together my first page in a week. Calling on my fellow Conspirators to help me out as much as they can for now.

Speaking of the Conspiracy, feel free to stop by and check out my second edition of “Here’s the Thing…” in which I focus on setting a goal, going after it and occasionally screwing over your friends (even if it’s a temporary screw-job). Enjoy a little truth in your daily reading.

Thirdly, before story-time, I want to talk about Sean Maher once again. You see, he does this thing on his site every once and a while where he transcribes a conversation he has with his lady (here and here). It’s usually sweet and kind of silly and I usually say, “awwwww”. And then I wonder what it would sound like if I did something similar for Robin and I. And here’s an excerpt of a conversation I had with Robin just tonight:

Jason: When you pee and shit at the same time, do you use one piece of toilet paper to wipe?

Robin: Yeah. I go back to front with one wipe.

Jason: Really?

Robin: No, idiot. I use one side and then flip it around to do the back.

Jason (laughing): And that’s better?

Robin: What? I do the front first! Otherwise you get an infection.

Jason: That’s fucking nasty. You’re nasty.

Robin: You wouldn’t understand. Other girls understand.

Jason: Whatever.

Robin: You should wipe your dick when you pee.

Jason: I’m not wiping my dick after I piss.

Pause

Robin: It just smells sometimes.

Jason: Yeah, well, apparently you rub fecal matter on your vagina so don’t give me shit.

It goes on like that. For like twenty minutes. And the thing is, every conversation is like that. For the past six years. Either Sean Maher is a lying bastard or Robin and I are just kind of gross.

_____________________

Here’s goes a story that RJ will violently deny in the comments section. Not that he’ll say it didn’t happen, but he’ll swear it didn’t happen like this. Whatever, I know what I saw.

My cousins RJ and Luis came up to visit me one weekend for my birthday. I have two embarrassing stories about this trip. One of them will make Luis turn red, the story of Shitboy. The other will get sand in RJ’s vagina. Since it’s summer time and I love me some beach, let’s throw sand, shall we?

We decided to go out clubbing one night. A bunch of us got together but the only problem was that RJ is a true New Yorker, which means he has no ID with his age on it, and Luis is two years younger and wasn’t 18 yet. They needed IDs.

I know Luis borrowed my friend Eric’s ID, a portly, balding Jewish kid. Luis is six-foot-five, built like a fucking house and has all of his hair. For some reason I keep thinking RJ borrowed Nico from Rico’s ID but he came out with us as well. RJ might have used it to get in and then we may have walked it out to Nic0 from Rico. Either way, they both had dark skin and somewhat crazy hair – it wasn’t as much of a stretch.

So we’re in the club and we get to dancing. Luis is dancing with the fattest girl imaginable and he’s having a fucking blast. We were breaking on him when he came over to us, asking him where he went.

“I was on the floor.”

“Oh man, I guess I didn’t see you behind that fat chick.”

He took the jokes well, he started saying how he couldn’t get his arms around her and shit like that.

Anyway, we all go back to dancing. RJ starts freaking this black-chick, having a good old time. Nico from Rico walks up to me and tells me RJ is freaking some girl and I turn to watch, we’re both kind of smiling because they’re doing it nasty.

Now, here’s what happened. Fuck you RJ.

RJ slaps the girls ass. Hard. She turns around and RJ tells her, “Bitch, I’m from Brooklyn.” The girl slaps RJ and walks away. Nico and I start fucking dying.

I ask RJ what happened. He says, “The song said to slap that ass so I slapped that ass.” The “Bitch, I’m from Brooklyn” was simply his way of telling her that he every right to slap that ass.

Say what you want RJ but here’s the fucking truth. Back in Brooklyn I have a video tape of you, in my room in Boston, telling this fucking story. You can’t deny it several years later. When I get home, I will copy it to my hard-drive and share it with you. I should do it anyway because it also has us doing the Shitboy video.

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Out of the Game and The Mad Gardener

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I owe so many people things right now and I apologize, I really am getting to it. Work has been crazy these past few days and to make matters worse, on Sunday I bit off a piece of my tongue. And then it got all swollen and I was supposed to be careful but it started feeling better. And I bit it again yesterday while trying to eat pizza. Now it’s so swollen that I can hardly talk and I have a big thing at the White House on Monday. I sound like a retard, currently, and I drool when I talk. I may need to pass it off to someone else at my job. And…AND…I’m meeting Frank Frazetta with the DC Conspiracy on Saturday and I won’t be able to say shit. I can’t even eat solid foods; I’ve been eating oatmeal and shit. Tonight I had some chili but I practically had to drink it like it was soup. My tongue is all bleeding and bruised and sore as fuck. Whatever, story time.

_________________

I know it’s not Halloween or anything like that but a picture I found combined with my lost in the woods story from yesterday made me really want to talk about Halloween.

Growing up I had two costumes that I alternated every Halloween. I was either a ninja or Jason (from Friday the 13th). Every year I got some sheets and made a ninja costume or put on some ratty clothes, hockey mask, fake blood and grabbed a fake knife.

The Jason costume was always the best because my pops, knowing I was a bit of a wuss, would always start to poke me when I wore it, prompting me to say, “Cut it ooouuuuttt” in the whiniest voice imaginable. Big, tough, Jason Voorhees. (The constant use of Jason costume is what popped into my head when I was thinking about the woods story from yesterday, by the way).

Then there came that year when I hit the “too old to trick or treat, too young to get wasted” age where Halloween became pointless. So, I didn’t get a costume. A couple of my friends, however, decided to go to this Halloween teen-thing. I decided I wanted to go with them but I needed a costume and I needed it fast.

I didn’t have a Jason mask and there was no time to make a ninja outfit. So I decided to get creative. I started by getting some of my father’s work clothes. He was a printer and he always wore those drab, vaguely scary work clothes. I matched them up with some dirty ‘ole sneakers and messed my hair up, trying to look like a serial killer.

I didn’t look evil enough. I put my fingerless leather glove on my right hand and my bowling glove on my left hand (yes, I bowled…on a league, no less). Still not quite right, I needed to get some props.

Plastic meat cleaver was a given. It even fit nicely in my shirt pocket. Fake shotgun strapped to the back – every madman has a shotgun, right?

I think if I would have left it like that, I probably would have been fine.

But then I attached a wrench to my belt. I don’t know, a wrench could be scary. You know, you can hit someone with it. Maybe turn off their water. I figured it made me look more bad-ass to have a wrench hanging from my belt.

I think if I would have left it like that, I probably would have gotten a few laughs, but otherwise I would have been fine.

But then came the coup-de-grace. The accessory that will forever live in infamy amongst my friends and relatives. The accessory that my own parents made fun of me for. I told them they didn’t understand, they told me I looked like an idiot. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you, the mad gardener:



That’s right. A weed-whacker. A crazed serial killer with a weed whacker. I don’t know why I thought a weed whacker made for a good murder weapon. Despite the fact that you need to plug it in (I’m pretty sure that string around my waste is the chord, which first comes up through my shirt and then around), that little plastic thing that whips around might scratch someone, at worst.

But goddamn I thought everyone would know I was a serial killer.

Nope.

Every single person thought I was a gardener. Despite the cleaver, the shotgun and the horrifying wrench. They saw through all of that, looked at the weed-whacker and thought I was a gardener. I didn’t win the costume contest.

The only failed costume attempt that beats this, in my opinion, was when my father dressed like Mr. T and everyone thought he was an alien. Still looking for that picture. Best part of the costume? We had no gold, ‘cause we were poor, so my pops made fake jewelry out of tin-foil. Classic.

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Keep on Writing and The Outdoorsmen

Monday, June 13, 2005

Michael got the not-guilty verdict. I hope Saddam Hussein’s trial gets half the media attention since, you know, he’s a million times more evil and is costing us billions of dollars and thousands of lives. Oh. Never mind. Katie Holmes is converting to Scientology. We’re all going to hell; I just hope I can get a comic or two out first.

Speaking of which, still trying to find that perfect artist for my baseball project I started cowriting a new project with Joshua Hale Fialkov. I’ll talk more about it as we settle down on the plot. For now I’ll say it’s sort of Natural Born Killers meets Ocean’s 11 in 1950s sci-fi stylized space with a nice touch of comedy.

_______________________________

Pocono PEAK was probably the best thing about Junior High School. I don’t remember what PEAK stands for but the trip was designed to be this three day, two night nature trip of sorts. I have a shit-load of fond memories of this trip, none of them involve learning about nature. I’m just going to go through the highlights.

We formed teams that had to compete in several events. My team was the Trojans. After the first day of competition we ran through the woods yelling “Trojans Rule”, got back to our cabin and used somebody’s spray-on deodorant to write “Trojans” all over the walls. We had to clean that up before we were allowed on the bus home, our classmates pissed because they had to sit on the bus for two hours and wait for us.

The first night there we had a cookout and talent show. My boy Dwayne and I did L.L. Cool J’s “Momma Said Knock You Out” in front of a roaring bonfire and a bunch of cheering eighth graders. We followed it up with Special Ed’s “The Mission”. We won, obviously.

We filled a bath tub with about a hundred water balloons for the evening raid of the girls' cabin. While we were out eating dinner, our cabin-mate Luis “fell” in the tub and busted all of the balloons. I put “fell” in quotes because to this day I still believe he just wanted to know what it would feel like to jump into a tub full of water balloons. We got housed that night with no ammunition to defend ourselves.

The second night, however, we invaded this cabin filled with girls randomly visiting from Australia. My friend Alfred broke through their bathroom window while one of the girls where in the shower, started throwing sticks at her while saying “G’day mate”. Ah, Junior High. When you storm in on a naked foreign chick in the shower and throw sticks at her.

We ended up eventually raiding our girls' cabin. We put itching powder all over their clothes and used a Sharpie to write "Itchy Bitchy" all over the place.

Luis, the kid that “fell” into the tub full of water balloons, also fell into the smelliest stream imaginable. He freaked out when a frog pissed on his hand.

A bunch of us snuck over to the girls cabin and saw this chick Leticia naked. She had the hairiest bush imaginable. Being that maybe 50% of us hit puberty at this point, it was pretty impressive.

And then there was the waterfall. We took a hike through the woods and ended up at this waterfall that we were allowed to swim in. The water was deep enough to dive into and the waterfall was about twenty feet high and was dive-offable if you jumped to the right spot. It was so much goddamn fun.

Coming back, on the other hand, was a little sketchy. A couple of us fell behind and got lost. Brooklyn kids are not made to hike through the woods, when we get lost we freak out. So we just start walking. It’s getting darker and we’re making no progress. I tell the guys we’re going the wrong way but no-one believes me.

So, after learning nothing from the Friday the 13th movies combined with no survival skills or sense of direction I do the absolute stupidest thing imaginable.

I go my own way.

And get lost in the woods for about two hours.

Until I pop out. On a highway.

I kind of had this moment. Junior High sucked. I really hated it, we all did. It just wasn’t a fun experience. A lot of people complain about Junior High or High School and they go off about jocks and preppies. Junior High, for us, was a fucking racial warzone. I’ve had guns pulled on me, knives, bats. I’ve been mugged for hats, sneakers, bookbags and Jansport strings. My old neighborhood friends (B and Nick) that were supposed to have my back used me to garner their own cred. Why the fuck would I want to go back to PEAK?

Here was this moment. Like in the movies, hitch a ride and just disappear. And I actually thought about it for a while. I eventually decided to go back. There was only one year of school left and then it was on to bigger and better things.

I walk along the highway for about a half hour before seeing a sign for PEAK. Someone offers me a ride and I instinctively run away from him as fast as I can.

Get to PEAK about a half hour later. Tired, dirty and depressed.

My friends that I split up with? Yeah, they got back to PEAK about ten minutes after I left. Looking back now I doubt I had the stones to actually run away. Running away was one thing I never put any serious thought into. And it’s for the better, obviously. Otherwise I’d be in the Appalachians right now, making moonshine and beating my five kids.

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Plug Fo' Delf and It Don't Mean a Thing (If it ain't got that sting)

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Little bit of self-promotion today. I started a weekly column over at the DC Conspiracy blog entitled “Here’s the Thing…”. Designed primarily for writers trying to break into the business (but other talents can get plenty out of it as well), it is the brutally honest truth about my observations into the comics’ industry so far. I’ll be updating every Friday and so far I’ve gotten good feedback from the message boards and friends I’ve tested it with (even a couple of “Thank you, so much” type emails). I have plenty of fun stuff planned. I’ll be using dirty words and themes like “lying”, “back-stabbing” and “vanity press”. And the really fucked up part, two of those things are good for you. And one of them isn’t vanity press.

Secondly, I have an interview on Tuesday with the editor of the Washington Spark, an alternative newspaper down here in DC. They need a new cartoon editor and I’m more than happy to do it for them. I’ll keep you all posted.

_________________

Yesterday I got to see Big Bad Voodoo Daddy do a free concert at Crystal City. It was pretty bad-ass and it reminded me of Junior Year in college, when swing peaked, and every Thursday night my friends and I would go to the Roxy and swing the night away as a live band played on stage.

It was good times. I wasn’t very good at it but I had a blast. Guam would come out almost ever week as would Scott who was probably one of the better dancers out of all of us. We’d bring some ladies with us, obviously, and we’d also dance with ladies we met at the club.

We occasionally did the whole dress up thing. Guam and I bought suits at the Salvation Army, same cut, different colors. Mine didn’t fit too well but I tried to incorporate that into the look. I actually posted a picture of the suits one time. Observe:



As Jim Carrey would say, “Sssssssmokin!” The trophy had nothing to do with swinging and everything to do with Upper Bay State Road winning the RA academic cup.

“Sssssssmokin!”

One time we sort of had a weird group. I know R was there (and this was junior year, after we broke up) and my boy Attila. I think Scott was there and at least one more girl. Not sure. This was the end of junior year because we were drinking; Roxy wasn’t the type of club to fall for fake-IDs. I remember Attila and I going up to the bar and ordering our first-ever martinis. The Roxy was swank and the Martinis were twelve bucks a pop.

I actually said to the bartender, “I’ll have a martini. Shaken, not stirred.” She just rolled her eyes, no doubt hearing that at least nightly from the designated biggest dork in the club.

She served up our martinis and I was grossed out right from the start by the humongous, unnatural olive that was sitting in the glass – I despise olives and this wasn’t going to be good. Took a sip and gagged. It had to be the most disgusting thing I’ve ever drank. I don’t waste alcohol. I’ve chugged some nasty stuff before because I think it’s a sin to waste alcohol. But I walked around with the martini for ten minutes, didn’t take another sip, and then ditched it in the trash. A twelve-dollar martini. Attila did the same.

I promptly went back to my beer.

Anyway, we’d always try new moves out and one such move was the one were you put your leg over the girls head (while holding her hands) and pull her through your legs (she slides across the floor). Always a favorite, gets the ladies wet.

Anyway, Attila wanted to try it out (it’s the first “advanced” move you try with Swing because it’s really quite easy and looks cool as fuck) and he grabs R, does some set up moves and then boots her in the head.

When I was younger (I’ve told this story) I watched as a plastic bag flew into my Grandma’s face and firmly attached itself there. As she struggled to get it off, she fell down and began to roll around the floor. I tried not to laugh. Do you know that feeling? When you’re not supposed to laugh and it actually hurts so bad to hold it in?

Imagine that times a million.

Watching my ex-girlfriend take a boot to the head in a crowded club had to be the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I mean, she fell back. She got fucking rocked. It was like a kung-fu flick. While she cursed and covered her swelling eye I turned to Attila, smiled and gave him five. He smiled back and said, “That was awesome.”

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Jilly from Philly, Horizon and Summer Money Attempt # 1 (Variant Source)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

I was hoping Real Player had a service where you can send somebody a song. I was going to do this thing where I’d send a song to the first five people to post in an attempt to promote an artist that’s been housing me lately. Let me start by saying that I love R&B. I really love it, but the good shit from the 60s and 70s. Al Green and Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklyn. When Alicia Keysfirst came on the scene, I knew by the second song on SONGS IN A MINOR she was sent to resurrect R&B. I thought she was the most talented R&B performer since the 70s and I was in love again. And then I heard Jill Scott recently and oh my damn, that girl is so talented. So, what I was going to do was send people a Jill Scott song but I can’t do that. So take my word for it, please, if you want to make love to your lady right, buy Jill Scott. I guess if you want I can send you a song to sample but I’m not just going to post it. I don’t mind stealing from U2 or some shit like that but not from artists that don’t make dizzy amounts of money.

As for a comic plug, I just saw the first page of Ritual Homicide (our new book), full color, and it is stunning. You are going to flip. And I also saw something else that I can’t talk about yet. By an artist that will make you lose your shit working for a project that will make you find your shit again just so you can lose it. Stay tuned folks.

__________________________

When I was 14 I got a job at the video store. I quit that the summer before college to work at my father’s print shop. Once in college I worked at the Late Night Café. The following summer I was back at the print shop. Sophomore year I got shifted to Student Manager and worked the weekend shift in the dining hall while beginning my RA job halfway through the year. The summer between sophomore and junior year I decided not to work – it will be the only time since I was fourteen in which I spent more than a week (not including vacation) not working, up until right now at the age of 27.

R tried to get me to work with her family’s catering company. It would be under the table, one night a week and I’ll pull about 120 bucks in that one night, enough to last me the week. I did one shift which entailed getting to R’s house at noon, preparing the food, loading the van, driving out to Connecticut, cooking the food, setting the tables, serving the food, cleaning up, packing the van and then driving home, usually getting to my parents place at around 3AM all smelly and nasty.

Fuck. That.

I had a plan to make enough money to last the whole summer.

Mother Fucking Flea Market.

Carroll Park has a monthly flea market. I’d buy a table, sell a bunch a shit, and make about a grand to last me the summer. Why not? I already proved that I was one hell of a salesmen, this made perfect sense.

So I used my money from working the catering gig to secure me a table – I think it cost fifty bucks – and I hauled all of my comics, books, video games, tapes, etc down to Carroll Park, prepared to make my summer booze and drug money.

I kept my prized items on the table, in plain site. My autographed copy of Firestarter. My Genesis. My Deathmate #1 Gold Cover variant (I haven’t really followed comics in years, no idea they were in a sorry state). All of the shit that was gonna make me bank.

I did end up selling the Genesis for twenty bucks. No-one agreed to my $40 price tag for Deathmate #1 Gold, though. And one person showed interest in Firestarter. I told him it was first edition. He showed me that it wasn’t and offered me five bucks for it. I begged for twenty which he refused to pay. I still have the book.

The kids’ books I sold went well, a buck a book. Of course, I sold all of my sisters’ books but she wasn’t reading them anymore anyway. I was trying to get rid of my comics according to an old Wizards’ price guide but I eventually had to make it a buck a book and once I did they sold OK. I sold some poor kid a broken He-Man action figure for fifty cents. Some sneakers, some clothes…I didn’t do horrible but I wasn’t pulling in the money I expected to make.

At the end of the day I counted my money and realized I hardly made a hundred bucks. Deduct the cost of the table and I made jack-shit, really. It was obvious the flea-market solution wasn’t the answer to my summer financial woes - I was forced to work one night a week with R’s family.

I got that settled before she left for Europe. While R was out touring the world, I was deep frying a whole fish and garnishing it with parsley. I even got Max in on it at least once, maybe more times.

You ever see those vans that drive up and ten Asian guys poor out of the back, ready for work? Imagine that with a six-foot-three white guy thrown in the mix.

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Cali Plans and Breakdowns

The trip is officially all set. I will be at San Diego Comic Con working the Hoarse & Buggy booth. I will be there all day Friday and most of the day Saturday. For those of you who’d like to try to meet up during my little West Coast romp, here’s the deal:

1) Arrive in San Francisco on Wednesday, July 6th. Staying at the Stratford Hotel in Union Square. Only thing planned so far is a Giants-Cardinals game on Friday.
2) Drive down to LA on the 10th, keeping the car. Staying at the Marina International Hotel in Marina del Rey. PRICE IS RIGHT for Robin on Monday and probably just meeting up with all my LA peeps the rest of the time.
3) Drive down to San Diego on the 14th, staying at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina. Probably go to Viejas on the 14th as well. Con on Friday and Saturday. Probably hang out both of those nights, might catch a Padres-DBacks game on one of them as well, however.

As far as the con goes, we’ll have Western Tales 1-4 and Elk’s Run 1-3 on hand. We’ll also have some big, big news and some preview art of our new book, Ritual Homicide (the first page made me crap my pants it was so good, we should probably slap a disclaimer on that bad boy).

Some of you may be wondering what will happen to this blog while I’m away for almost two weeks. Well…guest writers, actually. I’m pretty excited about it; I got some good people writing some stories. Ten writers total giving me a two week break so I can come back recharged and ready to bang out the second half of this experiment. I’m not going to announce the line-up, that’ll be the surprise. But I will say it’s a nice mix of people from my stories (friends and family) and people that are fans of this site and are good storytellers. So you’ll get stories from the people I’m telling stories about and stories from the people that are outside my own little circle. Same rules apply; stories have to be from before June 2000. I think you’ll dig it.

_______________

I keep getting sidetracked and now I’m so behind on the main story. Since I haven’t touched it in a while, let me recap where we’re at. Sometime in March of 1998 I had a dream about the number 423 that came true, somewhat, on April 23rd but not in the way I expected it to. I was in a horrible situation where my grades were low-enough for me to lose my scholarships, I hardly went to class the entire semester, R and I were falling apart, my two best friends were leaving BU, the rest of my friends were moving off-campus whereas I took a job as an RA and I was smoking way too much dope and drinking way too much alcohol.

Shit got so bad I was actually afraid my parents were going to pull me out of school. Having a history of depression and therapists I had R do something for me that I’m not proud of – I had her call my parents and tell them she was worried about me,; tell them I seemed really fucked up lately. A desperate man does desperate things.

I wasn’t the only one. Mormon Josh had his own breakdown. We corrupted him too much. He had a girlfriend that he was fooling around with, he was drinking – plenty of other stuff he wasn’t supposed to be doing as a Mormon. That’s why he decided to do his mission – two years in Montreal, going door to door and trying to save people’s souls. He was going to keep it on with his girlfriend. I told him that she wasn’t going to wait; he said they were supposed to be together. I was right in the long-run.

Mickey had his. He comes from a strict Hindu family, arranged marriages and a long line of doctors. He fucked up this semester – we all did. We partied way too hard and never did shit for school. He broke down and started crying, telling me how he was going to kill himself rather than face his father. I took him down to the Charles River and we sat there all night, talking about life, until he finally calmed down. I failed my final the next day.

I had my breakdown, already talked about that.

I think R had a different type of breakdown. She was a bio major, doing the pre-med thing. She decided to switch majors to Biomedical Engineering and drop her dream of becoming a doctor. That’s not all, though.

She wanted to go to Europe for the summer. She found a trip that was a month long, one of those 13 country trips. She was adamant about me not going, saying she needed time to see it all for herself. I was a bit weary but I didn’t say “no”, wasn’t my place, and I was secure in where we were. Besides, we had a couple of weeks between the end of school and her vacation and then plenty of summer to hang out together afterwards, you know? Let her have her trip.

I was sort of in a Zen like state at this point, anyway. My grades were just high enough to keep my scholarships and RA position, I was guaranteed at least on more semester. Summer was coming and unlike the last two summers, I was not going to get a job. Max and G decided on the same thing. Maybe some odd jobs here and there but for the first time since I was 14 I was not going to work.

And I picked the right summer, too. Otherwise, I could have missed this experience. This summer was bigger than simply “not working”. This summer was about heart-ache, friendships, death and starting over.

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I Dream of Strippers

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

No comic plug today, I didn’t get to read any yesterday. I don’t talk about my day or the state of my life on this blog but for those of you that don’t know, my day job is doing chemical/bio/nuclear terrorism think-tanking, preparedness and countermeasures for military and civilians. I’m supporting the White House for a demonstration in two weeks, just started Monday, rush-job kind of stuff. So the stories this week (and next) are coming out a bit short but, you know, I’m saving your life you ungrateful prick. Plus, I’m trying to tell some of the better ones.

And on that note, let’s talk about titties, shall we?
__________________

I love strippers. I know it’s wrong of me, a progressive, left-leaning male to love strippers. But I don’t care. I love them. Life would not be fun without strippers. Only in a strip club can I combine my need for beer, cigar and titty at the same time. And strippers got that smell when they pull up close to you; it’s that secret perfume that only they know how to get combined with magic oils and powders – Eau De Stripper. I love their names – my girlfriend’s name is Robin, my stripper’s name is Cinnamon. I love the smile and the voice and the way they move.

Due to this love, I’ve been sneaking into strip clubs since I was a little on the young-side, going with friends to the seedier joints that we were able to sneak into with little effort. So the concept of the stripper was no stranger to me on Mickey’s 20th birthday when we ordered a stripper for him, but the whole private party stripper – I wasn’t prepared for that at all.

We had the party at Mickey’s friend’s house since at the time we were all still living in the dorm. We show up to find that the friend invited a bunch of people as well, there’s about 30 extremely horny dudes in this house, most of them already hammered. The stripper is supposed to show in a half hour so we get to drinking.

She gets there late. We’re all super anxious, almost an hour has passed. Finally this big black guy named Steve comes into the house, gathers us around and tells us the rules. Don’t touch, please tip, she’ll stay around afterwards if anyone wants a “private show” (not sure what that means, I know not to fall for the Champagne Room, this could be the same thing). We all agree. If a big black guy named Steve told me that the earth was flat I’d agree with him, so the whole “don’t touch the titty thing” – no problem.

The stripper comes in, no idea what her name was, and she looks just like Mariah Carey before she hit the wall. Slamming. The whole room lights up as Steve slink into the darkness, watching and waiting for someone to fuck up.

She turns on her radio and starts doing her thing and it is NASTY. This ain’t like some girl at a strip club, this girl is touching herself quite sexually, inserting fingers and showing off the goods for 60 wide eyes.

She really starts getting into it, grabbing guys and grinding them, having us drink beer off of her body. At one point she lays Mickey down and stands over him, naked, doing her little dance, rubbing him in all the right places. She takes his glasses off and rubs them on her chocha, gives them back to Mickey.

And Mickey, the quiet Hindu pre-med student who drinks beer once a month and, as far as I know, never even made out with a girl (he had a pre-arranged marriage for fucks sake), looked at us all, glasses in hand, smiled and licked them. Voraciously.

He licked a hookers snatch-juice off of his coke-bottled dork glasses. And all we could do was cheer him on, Mickey was officially nastier than the stripper.

I don’t think anyone took the stripper up on her private show offer – it was like a hundred bucks. I could get R to do whatever I wanted and all I needed to do was buy her dinner or make her feel bad about herself, depending on how much money I had left over from my pay check.

I still love a good strip club, absolutely. But man, I’m always looking for an excuse to hire a stripper or two to come to a private party. I have to be careful now, though. Protecting you from killer virus’ pays me well and that private show offer would be a lot harder to turn down.

Either way, stripper snatch-juice will not be allowed within two feet of my face – that shit is just nasty.

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The Perfect Victim and Social Disorientation

Two other cats I met at Philly were Paul Michael Kane and Chris Ring, the guys behind the comic THE PERFECT VICTIM. The guys were friendly enough. They asked me how we got ER in Entertainment Weekly and were surprised by the simple answer, “We sent them a copy.” Sometimes it takes doing things a bit differently – no disrespect to comic sites but a lot of them tend to grade with the trend. They’ll pan the books that everyone pans and praise the books that everyone praises. Occasionally a review will pan the book everyone praises to be controversial, bringing up decent points to why the book is a little weak but using them to turn it into something horrendous. The comic sites that do this lose credibility. So we wanted good marks outside of the comic world. Anyway, I read THE PERFECT VICTEM last night. Chris’ art was quite nice, good action and storytelling. The books itself had good dialog and strong writing but it was a little too “Punisher” for me, not really my niche. But there is a niche for it out there and when those people read it, they’ll probably love it.

_________________

Orientation for Boston University was…weird.

I don’t remember any actual orientation festivities. I don’t remember registering, taking any sort of informational classes – nothing.

R was at orientation with me. We did this sort of extended orientation thing where we came down for an entire weekend in the summer and learned all about BU, how the school operated, who everyone was and got to register super early for classes.

The first night R and I didn’t hang out for some reason. No idea why. I think I hung out with my orientation group. There is really no other explanation since they were all hippies and there is nothing in this world I hate more than hippies. Except Goths.

My hatred for hippies is well thought out; I don’t hate them because it’s fashionable. I hate them because, whereas their hearts always seem to be in the right place, their methods and theories are so absurd they drag down the left-leaning activists that actually try to accomplish things and don’t just sing songs in a circle and occasionally come under the influence of Socialists and burn a Starbucks. It’s like having a million vegan Rush Limbaughs on our side.

I hate Goths because it’s fashionable, however.

Despite my hatred I somehow ended up hanging with the dirtiest, smelliest, Lynyrd Skynyrdest hippies to ever walk the campus of BU. Throughout the course of the night I was repeatedly blinded by tie-dye and deafened by Phish. Despite all the stereotypical retardisms associated with hippies, they always have some great dope.

The hippies and I went to this balcony-thing in Warren Towers. Warren Towers was THE freshman dorm, it was always a fucking party. Everyone was drunk all the time, RAs were fucking their residents, people were smoking bowls in the hallway (I ended up at Towers instead which was a different type of fun – one that combined fun with not dropping out of school).

I swear to God this night was fucking surreal. We actually sat in a circle, Indian style, passing a bowl, while some Hindu hippy draped in hemp was playing Pink Floyd on his acoustic guitar. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect to see in a movie when a bunch of old, out-of-touch, white executives sit around and say to themselves, “We need a hippy-scene, what should they be doing?” And then there was me, wearing crisp jeans and a Hilfiger shirt.

But we got fucked up. One of the kids there was obviously faking; he never smoked before in his life. You can tell when someone smokes dope for the first time because they say the most retarded shit imaginable. This kid started going off on how cool it would be to smoke dope in an alley; all excited about the prospect of getting high in the dirtiest and dingiest place imaginable for no explicable reason.

My opinion – if you’re fantasizing about smoking dope in an alley, you’re not destined for great things. We all just kind of made fun of him for the rest of the nigh until he learned to shut the fuck up.

That night I got back to my room and some point met up with R again. I was rooming with this uptight Asian kid that was sleeping so we messed around, trying to convince ourselves that my roommate had no idea what was going on.

As an aside, I have to say that there is almost nothing funnier than the stoned/drunk fucking while the roommate pretends to sleep. I’ve done it to all my roommates and all of my roommates have done it to me. The only thing funnier is the stoned/drunk masturbation while the roommate tries desperately to pretend it’s not happening. Instead of belting it out you try to be as quiet as possible and go slow, not realizing that it’s making the ordeal agonizingly long for your roommate. Again, I’ve done it too all my roommates and all of my roommates have done it to me. Shit, I may even do it tonight if Robin would turn around and face the other way and she's in the same bed; there's no way she wouldn't notice.

Anyway, I wish I could say that’s all I remember from orientation but I’d be lying. The next day I hung out with the hippies again.

And played hacky-sack while the Hindu jammed on his guitar and the pony-tailed freak played with his devil sticks.

Yeah, I hate myself too.

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Atomika and Magic 'Shrooms

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Had a great time in Philly, met some awesome people and got some good books which I am currently making my way through. I’ll probably just plug various people I met each day this week so let me start with Sal Abbinanti, creator and penciler of Atomika for Speakeasy Comics. Atomika is a book worth looking into, without getting too involved it’s a story of super-heroes against Gods set in Communist Russia. Sal himself is a very cool cat, very receptive, fun to talk to and seems to have his head screwed on nicely and knows what he’s doing.

_______________

Confession time – I played Magic (the card game) in college.

Granted it only lasted about three months but I will not deny that I had my deck and I tapped my mana and I cast my spells and called my creatures. It all started Sophomore year when my friend Eric was talking about some tournament he was entering, how the winner got cash, and it got me to thinking I could win cash and maybe quit my shitty job as student manager in the dining hall.

Eric taught me everything I needed to know to become a Magic master. He was the Yoda to my Luke. The Miyagi to my LaRusso. The Rumsfeld to my Hussein.

He gave me a bunch of cards, enough to start off and practice with. My friend Andy also played, he was old school. He had all these cards that were illegal to use in tournaments and cost hundreds of dollars – he got them in the original packs. These cards made him impossible to beat. Andy, Eric and I would take turns playing each other, on a Saturday night, drinking Vodka, wearing a Wizards’ hat (Eric was a Washington Wizards’ fan, always had that hat on, occasionally a jersey).

Anyway, lame joke aside, Eric’s hand-me-down cards weren’t enough for me to beat him, let alone Andy. I started buying packs of cards at Comicopia but I still couldn’t hang against these cats’ decks – they were just in it for too long.

R’s younger brother used to play Magic as a kid and let me have a bag of his cards – a fact that, when looked at closely, is quite pathetic. There were a bunch of good cards in there, if I remember correctly, and I was now able to hold my own. But I thirsted for more power, I needed more cards.

One day I was over at my drug-dealers place picking up some dope. We had the usual conversation, I was telling him how much I loved dope and he tried to rush me out of his place. This time, however, I happened to mention that I was playing Magic (for some fucked up reason I thought my dealer actually cared).

Well, he did care. Turns out he used to play not too long ago and he had a shit load of cards he wanted to get rid of since, you know, the drug game was working out better for him.

He sold most of them to me for fifty cents a card. I specifically remember one time going over his place and purchasing ‘Shrooms and a WRATH OF GOD. Even funnier, since the WRATH OF GOD was rare, he wanted ten bucks for it, same amount I was paying for the ‘shrooms. Hey, it was still cheaper than Comicopia.

One time Eric wanted to come with me, having no idea that this guy supplied me with more than Magic cards. As he was rifling through the cards, pulling out the ones he wanted, I was buying some dope for the week ahead – something that shocked and amused him.

As we were leaving Eric had to admit that it was very convenient to have an all purpose dealer. We went back to the dorm, smoked a bowl and tried out our new cards, wishing the entire time that the kid was capable of also selling us some pizza because Dominos was taking forever.

Eventually the kid stopped selling me Magic cards because he decided to start playing again. Shortly after that he stopped selling me drugs because he got arrested. Shortly after that R left me and her brother wanted his Magic cards back. I was back to the crap cards Eric gave me and the few I bought off of my dealer and I just decided to pack it in.

I was only in for the bitches and the fame anyways, and we all know how that story ends.

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Fashion RAMPAGE!!!!!!! (UPDATE!)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Thank you Jorge Vega of Everyday Cosmic Comics for pimping up one of the better pictures from the following collection:


Four month mark, by the way. Only 8 months of The Moose in the Closet Year I left. A third of the way through. 99 Stories from Moose Year I proper (and a couple of ones that don't count). At an average of a page and a half each, that's about 150 pages of my novel in four months. By the time this is finished we should have 450 pages of material in a year. That's some fucking experiment - and I being that I keep adding stuff that wasn't part of the original plan, I should have plenty of stories to fill this out.

This site is organic, you know. I plan it out as best I could and sometimes I get reminded of something so fucking funny that I just need to roll with it. After depressing Chris Piers with yesterday’s story, he told me I owe him the coat picture. So I started rifling through the pictures I brought home with me from my trip to Brooklyn this past weekend and I noticed something. My parents really tried to instill a sense of hip fashion into me that I completely squandered and instead wore the most ridiculous outfits imaginable once I started dressing myself. Observe and I’ll tell mini stories as I got through them.



Smooth. This one is in our apartment, not much to say here except I’m rocking a Captain America shirt and a cowboy hat. I don’t even remember the apartment looking like this at any point, they must have repainted/floored, etc a short while after that. Now idea who the guy is, either, I would guess he’s the owner of the hat.



This one is in our back yard. Rocking a Pac-Man shirt and jeans – fly. The little girl I’m feeding is my downstairs neighbor, Lisa. She was like a sister to me growing up. We had that swing set until it rusted and literally fell apart. Whenever you swung on it the whole thing would come off the ground and rock with you. Eventually the rusted bar just crumbled on a downswing and the whole set came crashing down. The yard always had that distinctive cement path running down it and the aluminum wall in the back that housed every spider in the neighborhood. One summer we broke up the concrete, laid down Astroturf and put this little pool back there, a two and a half foot wading pool to keep cool in the summer. The aluminum wall was replaced with wood. The whole yard lost its identity; it’s actually kind of sad.



This last one is down at the old Brooklyn Heights Promenade Park, before it went all modern. Check out that bomber jacket – fresh! Every weekend in the summer my mom and I would take the mile walk down there, get some mint-chip ice-cream cones at Baskin Robbins and go to the park. I would play for hours on that jungle-gym pretending it was a space-ship. Occasionally other kids would join me but the only-child mentality meant I had no problem playing by myself.

And then I started dressing myself.



Just kidding, I’ve mentioned this in the past; my elementary school (P.S.58) had a dance festival in the school yard every year. The sixth grade has a special dance where our teacher, Mr. Ringston, designed tuxes for the boys and dresses for the girls and made them himself. And this was my tux. I danced with the tallest girl in the school since I was the tallest boy – we discoed to “More Than a Woman”. In a school yard. In front of all of our parents. In those ridiculous fucking tuxes (the bow-tie was blue, by the way). The really funny part, the clothes I picked out were worse. Observe:



There are several great things about that picture. Ignoring my cousins who are also rocking suspenders and the odd framing of the picture, there is the righteous mullet I’m sporting. The top button of my silk shirt is clasped. The suspenders are stone-washed and I have a belt on securely fastened around my nipples, apparently. My package is the center of the picture. Then there’s the stuff you wouldn’t know unless I told you. Like, for instance, that wall we’re standing in front of is the wall to the trash processing plant in Red Hook, conveniently located across the street from my Grandma’s old house.

The next picture doesn’t just get better, it gets hardcore.



Uh-oh, black suspenders. One of the things that cracked me up about all of these pictures I took home is the fact that I’m a poser, as in, I pose in every shot. Combined with the fact that I’m a poser. So I’m a posing poser. Anyway, rocking the belt again and a San Antonio Spurs shirt with a Charlotte Hornet Hats. The punch-line? I’m a Knicks’ fan. And it’s impossible to look hard when my baby sister is standing next to me, in diapers, holding my leg. Parents’ apartment again, in case you’re wondering. Hasn’t changed much since that picture.

Before I show The Coat picture I want to say it’s the best one I could find. It’s not in its full glory, unfortunately, but that’s good. It won’t completely ruin the image in your mind but it’ll be enough for you to know that it existed. I give you, my African Flag, hooded trench-coat:



I’ve already talked plenty about it and the whole story behind it so I’ll go right to the next picture from my “dope-smoking, slacking, bum days.”



Ah yes, the trippy Chesire Cat T-shirt, the plaid shorts and the white afro. The pinnacle of fashion, right there. It gets worse when I dye the wafro red. Next to me is RJ and next to him is Luis. You might be asking why we’re standing there with my sister, dog, and cousins Andy and Amanda staring at us like we were pop-stars. Short answer: no fucking idea.

And finally I’ll end this with a recent picture to show that I’ve finally found a style I’m happy with. Of course, the style consists of wearing clothes a 1970’s llallo addict would wear but fuck it, better than suspenders and African Flag trenchoats:



That’s G and Robin with me, by the way; about to go out to Smith Street for New Years. Whoever took that picture was apparently the same person that took the picture in front of the dump. Must have a lazy eye or something.

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More Artists and Projecting Pain

How’s about some more artists? I like throwing artist out there, easiest way to do my daily plugs. Kristen – fun, fun, fun illustrations. Retro feel with a modern, sexy twist. The Pencil Haus – all three of these guys are great but Jared’s stuff is just cool as all fuck – one to watch. Chris Tessmer – some of his work leans a little too far to the manga side of things to excite me but the rest of it is so goddamn delicious that I have no qualms with using words like “delicious” to describe it.

_____________________________

I do have some more early art to share with you guys and I'll just dump them throughout the story, in between paragraphs. For those of you that are new here, I recently stumbled across a collection of art and stories from the 8th grade, a time when I took myself way too seriously and wrote (and drew) unintentionally funny pieces of crap. So far I posted my Poetry Portfolio, anti-drug short story, comic-book illustrations and a Hulk Hogan vs. Dan Quayle story. Before I get into my story for today, here’s some Wesley Snipes for your ass (again, I was 13/14 for all of these and I know they're not good, laugh all you want).


After the 8th grade I kept in touch with Mrs. Friedman while I started to write my novel. That’s right, at 13 years old I decided to write a novel and it was as good as you expect a novel to be when written by a thirteen year old. I would post pieces of it with this story but I don’t have it. After writing over a hundred pages, typing actually, I decided I didn’t like it and I threw it away. 100 pages of potential comedy gold in the Fresh Kills Landfill.


The book was weird from what I remember, the first in a trilogy about an evil messiah and God’s hunter sent to kill him. It starts with the hunter as a kid, fitting into society, growing up under the care of some secret cult and eventually falling in love with the woman who’s carrying Satan’s spawn. A bit heavy-handed but fuck it, I was fourteen at this point.


Second book followed the Satan spawn doing a reverse Jesus. Third book was the final showdown. Thinking about it now, it seems like the kind of plot certain comic companies would hype up as their big summer project. I did my research, too. I’ve always been a huge religious nut, I would sit down and read bible stories like they were Hardy Boys. I started getting into the Apocrypha (Macabees remains my all time favorite bible story) and the Dead Sea Scrolls in Junior High and branching into Islam and religions not derived from Judaism. This is what I did for fun the second half of Junior High. Well, this and play the baritone and occasionally hook up with 16-18 year olds (here and here).


Half-way through writing it I got a new computer, a Tandy, complete with a printer. The typewriter went into mothballs. Before the Tandy it was my Apple IIc that we got used off of a friend of the family. The Apple was good for playing King’s Quest, Logo, Beachhead and this game where you were a pig in some elevator and had to shoot balloons; I think a wolf was involved as well.


I was such an awkward dork with the Tandy (any computer, really). One time my uncle came over and my mom yelled at me to come out and say “hi”. I stomped into the living room and with all the attitude a young teen can muster up I said, “I’m busy mom. I gotta reset my scribe.” Reset my scribe. I was putting paper in my printer.


But with the Tandy I was able to save my work, go back and edit it; which I never did. Even now I have to force myself to edit my own work. I usually save that kind of work for “other people”. This website, if anything, has been great for teaching myself discipline.


Speaking of discipline I’m all over the road with this story. It’s not even really a story, just a stream of conscious of sorts. I will say this; I eventually resurrected my novel in college. I felt like this time I was more prepared for it and I really dug into it. Got to about 200 pages this time and I have to admit, it was pretty good. I felt bad, though.

WARNING: This gets a little depressing.

Ah man, this is one of the tough ones. I was dating R when I wrote the story and I based a character on her. R and I were weird; I was so in love with her for the first year we were dating. The year and the half after that should have never happened. I think we can both say that in retrospect. There were a few good times but we just weren’t happy.

So as the relationship with R started going south, the character I based on her did as well. She was originally my leading lady, the strong and dynamic female character. She was being forced to mother the hunter alongside a man she despised, at first, but they were falling for each other as time passed. But, as the book went on, her character started deteriorating. She left the male lead, got hooked on heroin and ended up getting HIV. I never wished this shit on R, but I can’t deny I was projecting bad things onto her. I would always tell myself that it was how the character evolved; it was a great dynamic for the story. The character was no longer R; she was just my starting point. All bullshit, of course, and the story fell apart because of it.

In retrospect the correlation was clear. And the thing is, if I was projecting negative feelings onto her that’s fine. It’s not the healthiest outlet but what can you do? It was the method I went with that kills me. Three of my family members died of AIDS. Two of them I didn’t get to see to closely but for one of them I had a front-row seat; it was bad. And that pain and that suffering – that’s what I projected onto her.

It’s funny; I threw up a link to Post Secret a couple of weeks ago. Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of people saying that many of the secrets were fake, too over the top. Well here’s one of my secrets and if I sent this in on a postcard (I projected death and disease onto my ex-girlfriend because I couldn’t break up with her) I’m willing to bet it would be as fake looking as some of the others. Maybe since I’m throwing my whole life out here for people to read it seems more real when I drop shit like this, but I believe every one of those secrets on that site. We’re all capable of some pretty fucked up shit, especially when things are falling apart and all we want is an out.

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Philly, Some Artists, A Reminder and Doing or Dying

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I will be cruising around WW Philly this Saturday with three fellow conspirators and Chris Fabulous. Try to grab me and say hi – Cubano shirt, blue jeans, shoes, blue book bag and a hat is a safe bet.

Dumping out some artists I’ve stumbled across recently for your viewing pleasure. Isabelle Arsenault is a Canadian artist with some amazing illustrations but I’m particularly fond of her children’s illustrations – very magical and lighthearted. Anthony Zierhut is a storyboard artist that drops some great pencil sketches on his blog. Little slices of life and character studies – a nice collection of tranquil sketches. Club Yaourt – Don’t know much about them, their “info” link isn’t working for me, but I know I like what I see. A good blend of creators producing a wide range of inspiring art – all of it fun in its own way.

Oh, and in case you missed it yesterday, Elk’s Run is the shit:

_________________

As I’ve mentioned several times already this week, 8th grade Junior High is probably when I first decided I wanted to be a writer. I had a teacher that took a shining to me, saw something there, and had me stay after class and helped me with my writing. The result was the unintentionally hysterical poetry portfolio and anti-drug short story. Despite how absolutely horrible they were, looking back at them now, you have to admit, I was trying.

The story that started it all was some piece I wrote as an exercise. Mrs. Friedman dug it, found it pretty funny, and even had me read it in front of the class. It was a touching story about Dan Quayle being kidnapped by Hulk Hogan only to be rescued by George Bush Sr. with a wicked nice twist at the end. And this is what my teacher read and “saw something” in me with. The really funny part is, reading it now, I can remember every single stand-up routine I stole these jokes from. Not a single one is original, I don’t think. My writing career began with plagiary. Can you spot the stand-up routine?



Probably not, want to know why?

I really started digging stand-up at around this age. The thing was, my pops would never let me watch ay Eddie Murphy or Richard Pryor or any of the good stuff. So I had to resort to Comedy Central. This was when Comedy Central first started out and if I’m remembering correctly it was pretty much all stand-up. Despite the fact that it was all stand-up all the time, my love for VCRs caused me to tape about six hours of random comedians that I watched over and over and over again. They weren’t particularly good, don’t even remember who they were, but I watched that tape so many fucking times.

And it made no sense. None. What-so-ever. There was most likely some guy on some late night Comedy Central open-mic stand-up thing that had his one TV moment, doing a set that bombed live and yet despite the fact that he disappeared into obscurity – I could do his entire routine word for word. There is six hours worth of comedians whose sets will live as long as I do. They most likely sit at home, depressed, selling staplers at wholesale prices and wishing they could have been comedians – wishing they could make an impact. Little do they realized how they touched a thirteen year-old boy with Comedy Central and the need to tape and rewatch comedy sets.

The really weird thing about this tape was that I labeled it “Comedy Tape: Do or Die.”

People would always ask me why I named the comedy tape “Do or Die” to which I would respond, “No, I just don’t want people to record over it. Or else I’ll kill them.”

Pause for a minute to return to the failed comic. Would he not take comfort in knowing that some thirteen year old kid cherished his routine so much that he was willing to kill the person that took it out of his life?

Now return to the moment and make fun of me, much like everyone else did, and remind me that “Do or Die” basically means “Record over this tape or I’ll kill you.”

The label was indeed funnier than the tape itself.

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