Archive for October, 2011

Lansing Bullies…


 Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press, October 22,  2011

In an earlier version of this comic one of the shouts coming out of the capitol building in panel one was: “Your job is to shut up and take standardized tests!” I liked it because it seemed to distill the basic attitude of Republican legislators toward students. (And to be equally unfair, if it were a Democrat legislator it would have been: “Your job is to shut up!” That’s it. Because the Democrats never seem to be organized enough to have an agenda.)

In any case, it was too wordy, so I likely would have dropped it anyway. But for a while I tried to couple it with what the Republican legislators thought their job is. In other words, “Our job is to <something>, your job is to shut up and take standardized tests!” But for the life of me I couldn’t come up with what that <something> was. I mean, if you are so philosophically against the government having any sort of role in improving the lives of its citizens that you can’t pass anti-bullying legislation, what exactly do you think your job as a government official is?

Fortunately, my school district, Grandville, and several others in West Michigan have been proactive in establishing mental health awareness programs, and the results have been nothing but positive. Grandville has been blessed to have Christy Buck (that’s her in panel two) and the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan behind these efforts. A recent article in the Grand Rapids Press summarizes this nicely: Classroom lessons in mental health could save young lives.

Students in other Michigan school districts should be equally as blessed. What do you say GOP legislators? Are you ready to step up?

Comments (3)

Grand Rapids Still Adjusting to ArtPrize Being over…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press, October 15, 2011

I always wished I could draw skylines like New Yorker cartoonists do….


50 Foot Log Sprinkled with Glitter…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press, October 8, 2011

It’s not that I can’t be snobby. I take a very dim view of mass-produced light beers. My musical tastes run purposely to the unique and away from widely popular. (The new Ben Folds CD arrived yesterday, and I’m beyond thrilled.) And even at my poorest stage in life I could never bring myself to buy the store-brand toaster pasties in lieu of the opulent deliciousness of Kellogg’s PopTarts.

But when it comes to art, I have no tolerance for the snobs — you know, like art critics. The ones who, whether art world educated or self-certified, feel the need to school everybody about what is beyond our ability to understand and what is beneath contempt. (There is no middle ground.) They have come out every year for ArtPrize, but this year they came out with a vengeance. And it’s not as if they don’t have some good points — heck, even Rick DeVos admitted that there was a lot of “crazy crap” strewn about Grand Rapids. It’s the snarky, pretentious way with which they generally delivered it.

Anyway, as a supposed artist who sometimes struggles mightily with the actual art part, I guess I’m predisposed to take a punk rock view of this. Which is, if somebody feels they have something to say, then they should bang it out. If you’re passionate, it’s worth creating. It may not turn out. In fact, it likely won’t turn out, but you shouldn’t let somebody else’s certification criteria stop you. As Ben Folds says, you don’t want to have regrets:

I thought about the hours wasted
Watching TV, drinking beer
I thought about the things I thought about
Until immobilized with fear
And all the great ideas I had
And how we just made fun
Of those who had the guts to try and fail

Comments (2)

What Do I Think About Detroit?…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press, October 1, 2011

Check out this article on MLive inspired by this cartoon and (if you dare) the subsequent comments to get an idea of how disfunctionaly West Michigan’s relationship with Detroit can be….