CSotD: The Week Ends With Bernies

The Oatmeal has it right: Enough already with the Bernie memes.

Timing is everything and you had your chance and if you haven’t placed Bernie somewhere and posted it on social media, it’s too late now.


We’re fixated now on the horror of Joe Biden owning an expensive watch and a Peloton exercise system, which is such a contrast with the modest, monastic lifestyle of our previous president.

Note that the current president favors raising taxes on the sort of people who have Rolex watches and Pelotons, while the previous one lowered taxes on people who live in what appear to be 19th-century bordellos.

Meanwhile, if you’re tired of Bernie and horrified that NYTimes and WashPo are pissing away precious newsroom resources watching the watches instead of the watchers, there’s this

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Michael Ramirez – Creators)

(Steve Sack – Star Tribune)

When Ramirez posted this cartoon on social media, he was immediately called out by several of his professional colleagues for the obvious dishonesty.

I suppose it could be that he did the cartoon the day before, relying on GOP talking points and assuming this would be how it happened.

Still, in the words of Jules Winnfield, “(Y)ou’re aware that there’s an invention called television, and on that invention they show shows?”

I didn’t even watch the whole Inauguration and I know damn well that what he depicts did not happen or even come close.

And that Al Gore never claimed to have invented the Internet, that John Kerry served with honor and that George Bush never dealt cocaine.

Meanwhile, Steve Sack echoes the plaintive words of disappointed Republicans who were told they could listen to the radio at a reasonable volume from 9 to 11.

Enough cinematic references and conservative anguish.


But I won’t leave the Bernie thing without a salute to Mark “Off the Mark” Parisi for this mockup of a Terri Libenson novel, because there are several levels on which to love it, starting with the fact that they create kids’ graphic novels with some genuine success, Parisi with the Marty Pants series and Libenson with Emmie & Friends.

Also because he simply sent it to her; she’s the one who posted it on-line.

Also because it took more skills than Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V.


And also because he’s a wiseass but, when he’s being a wiseass about Ted Cruz, it qualifies as political satire and becomes admirable.

Though, to be honest, making Ted Cruz look like an idiot isn’t a lot harder than cutting and pasting Bernie into various places.

What made the Bernie thing work is that it was done affectionately. Except for two years in Maine, I’ve lived next door to Bernie, first in northeastern NY and now in New Hampshire, for more than three decades, starting when he was mayor of Burlington, and I can tell you, some very crusty old New Englanders love the guy.


I’ve even forgiven him for leading his grandchildren right past my lighted door on Halloween five years ago.

Pretty much.

Steve Brodner gets credit for extracting the best part from this Esquire interview with the photographer of that pic, though the “how I got the shot” parts make the whole thing worth reading.

But, yeah, enough already. It’s been done and you’re not going to improve on it.


Elsewhere in the Comics Universe …

They’re just wrapping up an extended Thimble Theater story at Comics Kingdom Vintage, which gives me a chance to suggest you go there in time to start the next adventure.

Plus it gives me a chance to describe this fellow as “Popeye the Sailor Mensch.”

Now excuse me while I change into something more furious.


This Bizarro (KFS) landed just after I’d heard a program on NPR in which several people discussed why “The Great Gatsby” is the Great American Novel.

Which it isn’t.

But we live in a world in which quality of fiction is defined by how well it mimics the predictable, pretentious drivel extruded like pink slime from Writer’s Workshops, and, by golly, Gatsby surely fits the bill.

Fitzgerald kept a notebook of clever phrases which he should have burned, because once you’ve leafed through his collection of pre-programmed non-contextual wit, you realize that The Great Gatsby is just Mad Libs with a Princeton pedigree.

My journalism background may be showing, but I read both Gatsby and The Sun Also Rises back before I wrote for newspapers, and, even at 20, I fell in love with Hemingway’s novel and was left cold by Fitzgerald’s.

Several decades later, I re-read them both, and here’s the difference between extrusion and artistry:

Art is not supposed to impress you. It’s supposed to move you.

And a great book, like a great painting or any great art, changes with each new exposure.

Gatsby still left me cold, but now I could see the wires by which his characters purported to fly, and recognized the pre-fab nature of his self-conscious wit.

By contrast, I found I now had contempt for Hemingway’s whole crew of drunken, self-indulgent, cruel wastrels, and perhaps hated them even more in light of how, at 20, I had wanted to go join them so we could all watch bullfights and pass around botas of cheap red wine.

As for Brett … a deep sigh.

Brett Ashley is like an ex-lover years after a nasty break-up: I hate her mostly because I’m still smitten and know that I would still be completely vulnerable to her heartless manipulation.


Hemingway writes like Chagall paints: He keeps it simple, he doesn’t add a lot of fancy, impressive strokes, but somehow it gets under your skin and into your heart and stays there.

Here’s the real payoff: I know how I feel about Brett and Jake, but I’ve even read a book-length analysis of the novel featuring large segments of the first draft and editor’s correspondence and more, and I still don’t know how Ernest Hemingway felt about them.

Similarly, I’m pretty sure that goats can neither fly nor play the violin.

Though I’m sure it would become a point of serious discussion at an Artist’s Workshop.


7 thoughts on “CSotD: The Week Ends With Bernies

  1. Mike, you amaze me with the variety of stories, videos, art and music, all the different sources and links, that you use in your posts. I subscribe to the Dallas News and had read the story about the Cruz post and enjoyed it. I can’t imagine how you found it, but I’m glad you did.

    And, yes, the Bernie meme is definitely done affectionately — something fun during a very serious time, like kerfuffle about the Time magazine cover that Fox News complained about (adult language):

  2. In re: the Ramirez cartoon : “the orifice of supplements” sounds more like the 2017 oath-taking.

    When I was 20 I read both Fitzgerald and Hemingway and wasn’t blown away by either of them I guess you had to be a guy.

  3. Not only are the Bernie memes done affectionately, but HE laughs at them too. Saw an interview of him, and when the was asked about the memes, he just laughed. Can anyone even imagine the orange one taking something like that with any kind of grace?

  4. Mike, if you ever grow out of this silly comics stuff you’d be quite welcome in any book club.

  5. Totally agree about Gatsby, but what IS the Great American Novel? The Scarlet Letter? Moby Dick? Huckleberry Finn?

  6. Good point, Mary McNeil. It wasn’t Biden who said “Two Corinthians,” “Yo – semite,” “Even through the great cathedral” (the word was supposed to be “though”) etc etc. In the near future we can expect the return of the teleprompter joke, and Trump’s repeated garblings even while using one, with extra-large type, will go down the memory hole.

  7. Ignatz, I have been pondering that one, handicapped in part by not having read a lot of Americans in a classics major — we mostly read British and European novelists, and, if the question were “Great English Language Novels,” Austen, Maugham and even Dickens would leave most Yanks in the dust.

    I should try some Hawthorne, but I’ve never been able to get into (read: through) Moby Dick or Huck Finn despite several tries. My favorite American novel so far is Catch-22, but he hasn’t been dead long enough to be considered. Gotta have that Merchant/Ivory thing goin’ on.

    I’ll say this, though: With the rise of over-workshopped writing, we can be sure that, whatever turns out to be the Great American Novel, it’s already been written.

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