As members of the fraternity of satiric artists and people who contribute to mainstream and independent media we must focus intensely on Obama; what he says, how his positions may veer off the right course. He needs criticism from us more than a Republican, because he can do more damage in his way. And he can be moved (he reads!).
But for tonight I think pausing and feeling this moment is a good thing. It is hard to be cynical and pissed off tonight, for me. Because there is nothing in our lives to compare this with. It, to me, is the good part of America, after all the sludge it has been covered with, and all its own flaws that have contributed for so long to its isolation, finally reasserting itself. Struggling back into the daylight. And here is the messenger, flawed, gawky, seemingly out of nowhere. But he’s right enough to pin hopes on. And if you are a praying person, to do that too. Things have gotten pretty bad very fast. Here is a thing that reminds us that we are made of better stuff. Sure we’ll take this guy apart as we go. That’s the drill. But here’s hoping he has the talent to transcend, not only tonight, but the horrible trends we and human kind have set in motion. Go Barack.
PS: This from Walter Fauntroy, an aide to King 45 years ago tonight from the wonderful TIMES piece today: “People ask what has changed, and I say don’t trivialize the changes,” Mr. Fauntroy said. “I’m seeing the fruit of the changes that began in 1964. I was close to Bobby Kennedy. He said to me: ‘You know, America’s going to change. Forty years from now, a black man could achieve what my brother has achieved.’ ”
On Night 1 of the Democratic Convention the Cable Networks declared the Hillary War on. With nothing else to report on (as they saw it) the loudest voices were not those of Kennedy or Michelle Obama, but the Really Big Story: themselves. “The dangerous situation for Obama is that there are thousands of reporters with nothing better to do than find a PUMA to talk to.”, Howard Fineman (to Matthew's face last night). As Jon Stewrat would say "Feed me!!!" PS: They could have covered the real Denver, and the real American former middle class, as Bill Moyers did on Friday. Very worthwhile:
Back at last from 10 days in Israel and the International Animation and Cartoon Festival. Israel is by turns and all at once exquisitely beautiful, charmingly friendly and terribly politically neurotic. With the best beach and most delicious feed (served on the beach!). Here are some words and images that remain with me.
On the first night my good friend and traveling companion Cynthia and I were introduced (by Hanoch Piven, who happened to be visiting there as well) to Nissim Hezkiyav, the organizer of the festival, and Shlomo Cohen, who was honored this year for a lifetime of wonderful caricature and political commentary. At dinner Cohen asked his fellow Israelis the question he considered most important in the ultimate survival of Israel: “Are you primarily a Jew or an Israeli?” It was profound and not easily answerable (although Hanoch had no problem being snappily secular). Could his people, he was asking, find the same moral and patriotic resources to survive as do other countries in the world? In a way it was the most clarifying moment of the trip. His work, by the way, is first rate. It would be A-list in any country (shlomocohen.com).
Here’s Orr, scientist and resident of Kibbutz Hot-Zor, about an hour south of Tel Aviv. He says he doesn’t follow political news anymore. He’s too frustrated with being frustrated. The peace process, stalled, was left to rot for 8 years by Bush and his band of experts. Now there is no single Palestinian entity to negotiate with. On the Israeli side there is no consensus for a way forward. The PM is resigning. And people spend a good deal of their time thinking about bad things that can happen.
In the Jaffa Market this merchant, originally from Syria, felt that bombing Iran would be a good thing. Why? “Our God will take care of us.”, he says. I said, “Don’t you think God wants you to be smart?” Oiy. I can’t believe myself sometimes.
Miki Kratzman, an amazing photographer and educator, has devoted the last 2 decades documenting the tragedy of the Palestinian Territories. There is a declining interest in showcasing his work at Haaretz, his paper. People know enough of what’s going on in the West Bank; the daily indignity and suffering of Palestinians, to decide not to know. His work is being pushed from the magazine to the inside pages of the paper.
The second day was the trip to the old city of Jerusalem. Here's a sample of T-shirt satire for sale there. Of the Whatever school.
At the Wailing Wall. These guys' prayers may be stopped for security (never very far away there).
The experience doesn't hit everybody the same way. I was a little like this guy.
Here are some kids at the security checkpoint at the Wall. One in the army, four who weren't.
The Dead Sea is a trip. You float like a cork and feel the minerals seep into you. Some people, clearly, love it. I, however, opened my eyes underwater. Bad move. Believe me it's enough of an altered state otherwise.
Next to the Sea is the spa at Ein Gedi. They have indoor mineral pools as well as a luscious kind of mud that you smear all over yourself and let dry in the sun, for some reason. Like anything else that everyone is doing around you, it doesn't feel strange at all. More fun, though, is the people watching. Here a couple rinse off.
If you stay at the Masada Guest House and can get up at 4:30 and feel like climbing Masada, by the time you get to the top you'll see something like this. An indescribable place. And the sun, rising over the Dead Sea, was about this hot.
There are many youth groups who climb as well. These kids, in their teens are from places in the US and elsewhere. A unshaven guard in sandals with an Uzi seems to be standard equipment.
In Jaffa the merchants are personable and discerning art critics
Blind Man on Plastic Chair with Dog and Scotch. I don't understand it either.
On the bus back to Tel Aviv.
Carmel market. Didn't think he saw me.
Tel Aviv is packed with young people, bars, clubs, restaurants and miles of glorious beach. Hard not to have a great time in this town and absurdly easy, for a little while, to forget all the tension and insanity all around you.
Here's a scene outside the Cinemateque, where the festival was held. To judge by this, clearly the influx of foreigners is a growing problem. They must have some kind of Louie Dobbsman who'd work this issue. Anyway, my thanks to all our hosts for a fascinating and mind altering experience. Here's hoping I can live long enough to know what to make of it . . .and to see genuine peace come to this deeply hurt place.
The McCain Gaff-a-Day Express rolls on . . . on the rims. After handing out tire gauges to mock Obama’s reminder to keep tires inflated, McCain admitted that, yes, it is a good way to affect gas mileage. All the king’s consultants can’t keep this tube pumped.
Our latest Naked Campaign film globe-trots with Johnny Mac. On a personal note: headed for Tel Aviv to show these films at the International Animation and Cartoon Festival. I’ll have pix when I get back. Meantime, tune in, turn on, draw like mad.
Dick Cheney just can’t catch a break these days. 1-Ron Suskind breaks the racket wide open with his new book, showing the case for war was based on a forged document. 2-McCain apparently is not inviting Cheney to the Republican Convention (HA!). And . . 3- dunno if you saw THIS STORY, where a veterans group told him to get lost when he offered to speak to them only if wounded soldiers would be prevented from moving, even going to the bathroom, to insure his safety. No, he’s not going to jail (yet). But at last, he and his rotten mob are toast.
The death of Bruce E. Ivins nails him as the anthrax killer. Or does it? Or does it nail him as someone who knew that the FBI planned for him what it had for Steven Hatfill (to whom they’ve just paid $5.82 million in damages). Besides we all knew all along the real killer was Dr. Saddam! Like this guy says! Besides, you’ll notice, there have been no new anthrax attacks since the surge!