Archive for April, 2011

Suzanne Geha…

Intended to be published in the Grand Rapids Press, April 30, 2011

This was supposed to be run in tomorrow’s Press, but unfortunately it won’t be able to. Last week, longtime news anchor Suzanne Geha was let go from Grand Rapids TV station WOOD TV 8. Geha was more or less an icon at the station and certainly the face of their news organization. I have no idea of the details, but it struck me as, well, cold. You put all those years into an organization and then, this? Actually, Ben Folds captures the feeling awfully well in his song, “Fred Jones Part 2”:

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The Difference Between Investment and Waste…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press, April 23, 2011

My only additional note is that it’s a bit of a cop out to use a generic “Michigan Politician” here when, of course, we all have a tendency to like our own ideas the best. But that’s certainly more forgivable in cases where we are not elected to represent other people.


Relative Happiness…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press, April 16, 2011

I had a history teacher in high school (Mr. Winchester, I believe) who explained one of the major causes for the Civil War this way: Slavery was integral to the South’s economy. The large plantations needed the inexpensive labor it provided. But if it was just that, the large plantation owners alone would not have been able to rally support for and support a massive four year war. Ultimately, they would have found other sources of cheap labor. But slavery was also integral to the South’s society. Poor whites lived largely the same difficult lives as blacks. The only thing the poor whites had going for them was that they felt better about their lives relative to blacks — they had more supposed freedom, more supposed opportunities. It was the poor whites who made the bulk of the soldiers who actually fought the war for the South.

I get a similar vibe these days when I hear and read people talking about things like health care benefits or tax structures. We don’t mind so much having crappy benefits or paying unfair taxes as long as somebody else (like our neighbor) has it worse. In tough times, we trend toward living relative lives when obviously we should be concentrating on solving the actual problems. Best results come from shared sacrifice and shared rewards, not satisfaction in being slightly further ahead than the guy down the street.         

That said, if anybody in my family gets more candy than me in their Easter basket, I’m going to throw a fit.


Budget Fat…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press, April 9, 2011

It was easy to draw the raw steak in the first panel. Having been raised on Flintstones reruns, there was at least one raw piece of meat in each episode, and it looked exactly like this. But for the second panel, I searched the web and printed out several raw steak photos and taped them on my drawing board so I could semi-accurately render how fat is marbled. Made the board look a bit like a butchery (or a slaughterhouse). I was starting to take notice of this when what should pop up on my iTunes shuffle but, you guessed it, those 1980s post-new wave, alt-rock, proto-goth boys from Manchester, The Smiths, with their happy-go-lucky lead singer and lyricist, Morrissey, singing that snappy tune, “Meat Is Murder.”

So take a little trip down memory lane (and into a dark, cold, hopeless abyss of guilt and depression). Enjoy your weekend!

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Going to Hell with Rob Bell…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press, April 2, 2011

The very first cartoons I ever drew starred an angel and devil. I was about 8 years-old, and I can’t remember exactly why I found the whole heaven/hell concepts so fascinating. Part of it I’m sure was being raised a Roman Catholic with churches steeped with Renaissance-era art. Part of it was not ever having seen a newspaper-type cartoon with angels and devils, which appealed to my oddly innate need to always create something new. Part of it might have to do with definable characters writing their own lines — an angel that loses his temper or a devil with a kind soft spot — there is potential for funny there.

So I loved drawing this week’s cartoon. Perhaps a little disturbing to think of cartoon satan as an old friend, but let’s not analyze too much, shall we?

The backstory is that Rob Bell — a local but internationally known pastor from a church right here in Grandville (Mars Hill) — just had a book published called “Love Wins.” I haven’t read it yet, but I would like to at some point. So of course that allows me to make sweeping generalizations about the contents. (What? That’s what everybody else does!) A particular controversy about the book revolves around Pastor Bell’s thoughts about Hell. Who supposedly goes there? Why the fascination with it? Does it take focus away from Jesus’s central messages? Could Gandhi really be stuck there for eternity? Those sorts of things. Then — BOOM! — it blew up, as religious issues often do.

Next week: Guardian angels! (to keep things fair and balanced)