On “Binky Brown”

Reading about this groundbreaking undergrounder in Hillary Chute’s Why Comics? reminds me of the time I first came across it (I believe it was the second printing) in a Missoula “head shop.” The cover alone was “WHAAAAAAT?” This will fill you in on its history and significance.

I couldn’t believe this comic — every page was a revelation (as well as disturbing) that touched on society, the sexes, religion, growing up, and of course psychological disorder of the OCD type. It’s a bit like Elvis — it’s impossible to convey the jolt of surprise as one encountered “Binky Brown” when it was new.

I was on the inexperienced and naive side myself. I was certain Justin Green was going to become a prolific comix genius. For a long time I thought of him with a twinge of disappointment. Older and at least a couple (white) hairs wiser, I now see what an unrepeatable performance “Binky Brown” was. But hey — lots of artists have long and large careers without producing even one masterpiece. I bought the fancy 2009 reprint and thought Green’s work deserved every bit of the celebration.

Short List of Bogus Philosophies Sure To Be Big Hits

If you find a way to dress them up in new terms and spins.

  1. There’s a way to eat and eat and eat and not get fat.
  2. Big organizations and institutions can’t be understood by anybody.
  3. Gender roles are really in the genes and can’t be fundamentally changed, ever.
  4. The government is hiding some big secret about (pick one): UFOs and aliens; paranormal mind powers; why gun violence really happens.
  5. Being an asshole isn’t really being an asshole.


R.I.P.: Hef

A very thorough and fair assessment.

Two points:

When I thought of him at all (very infrequently since I graduated from college) I wondered how much he might have wished to pass from the scene when his empire was, so to speak, more potent portent than it became.

The aspect I respected and praised throughout was that he paid writers and artists serious money — I didn’t care about the motives, it elevated the game.

A sharp, more corrosive remembrance jam.

R.I.P.: Kate Millett

Cornerstone spirit and thinker. I had puttered around in The Second Sex during my exploration of French lit in high school, but ultimately found it too arty and indirect (the translation seemed terrible, too). Millett’s Sexual Politics came right out and said it. Unless you were a sex-stereotyper yourself, her arguments were undeniable. That my mother had always been a working professional probably helped my understanding. Also had a growing conviction that “the Revolution” was freeing men while leaving women in chains.

Musicends, Valentine’s 2017

Early: Joy of Cooking/Joy vinyl for the first time in years.

Late: New album by the Feelies.

Joy of Cooking changed my life at the start of the ’70s. (Wow, that debut album was a lot stronger than I remembered.) And they don’t seem stuck in the amber of the past at all — they don’t sound contemporary, they simply raise a lot of male and female stories, issues and emotions that have barely budged from where they left off.

Feelies — very very pleasant, very very smart, couple twists in a grand twisty. But mission accomplished long ago.